No. 302. Friday, February 15, 1712. Steele.

Lachrymæque decoræ, Gratior et pulchro veniens in corpore Virtus.
Vir. Æn. 5.

I read what I give for the Entertainment of this Day with a great deal of Pleasure, and publish it just as it came to my Hands. I shall be very glad to find there are many guessed at for Emilia.


If this Paper has the good Fortune to be honoured with a Place in your Writings, I shall be the more pleased, because the Character of Emilia is not an imaginary but a real one. I have industriously obscured the whole by the Addition of one or two Circumstances of no Consequence, that the Person it is drawn from might still be concealed; and that the Writer of it might not be in the least suspected, and for [other [2]] Reasons, I chuse not to give it the Form of a Letter: But if, besides the Faults of the Composition, there be any thing in it more proper for a Correspondent than the SPECTATOR himself to write, I submit it to your better Judgment, to receive any other Model you think fit. I am, SIR, Your very humble Servant.

There is nothing which gives one so pleasing a Prospect of human
Nature, as the Contemplation of Wisdom and Beauty: The latter is the
peculiar Portion of that Sex which is therefore called Fair; but the
happy Concurrence of both these Excellencies in the same Person, is
a Character too celestial to be frequently met with. Beauty is an
over-weaning self-sufficient thing, careless of providing it self
any more substantial Ornaments; nay so little does it consult its
own Interests, that it too often defeats it self by betraying that
Innocence which renders it lovely and desirable. As therefore Virtue
makes a beautiful Woman appear more beautiful, so Beauty makes a
virtuous Woman really more virtuous. Whilst I am considering these
two Perfections gloriously united in one Person, I cannot help
representing to my Mind the Image of Emilia.
Who ever beheld the charming Emilia, without feeling in his Breast
at once the Glow of Love and the Tenderness of virtuous Friendship?
The unstudied Graces of her Behaviour, and the pleasing Accents of
her Tongue, insensibly draw you on to wish for a nearer Enjoyment of
them; but even her Smiles carry in them a silent Reproof to the
Impulses of licentious Love. Thus, tho the Attractives of her
Beauty play almost irresistibly upon you and create Desire, you
immediately stand corrected not by the Severity but the Decency of
her Virtue. That Sweetness and Good-humour which is so visible in
her Face, naturally diffuses it self into every Word and Action: A
Man must be a Savage, who at the Sight of Emilia, is not more
inclined to do her Good than gratifie himself. Her Person, as it is
thus studiously embellished by Nature, thus adorned with
unpremeditated Graces, is a fit Lodging for a Mind so fair and
lovely; there dwell rational Piety, modest Hope, and chearful
Many of the prevailing Passions of Mankind do undeservedly pass
under the Name of Religion; which is thus made to express itself in
Action, according to the Nature of the Constitution in which it
resides: So that were we to make a Judgment from Appearances, one
would imagine Religion in some is little better than Sullenness and
Reserve, in many Fear, in others the Despondings of a melancholly
Complexion, in others the Formality of insignificant unaffecting
Observances, in others Severity, in others Ostentation. In Emilia it
is a Principle founded in Reason and enlivened with Hope; it does
not break forth into irregular Fits and Sallies of Devotion, but is
an uniform and consistent Tenour of Action; It is strict without
Severity, compassionate without Weakness; it is the Perfection of
that good Humour which proceeds from the Understanding, not the
Effect of an easy Constitution.
By a generous Sympathy in Nature, we feel our selves disposed to
mourn when any of our Fellow-Creatures are afflicted; but injured
Innocence and Beauty in Distresses an Object that carries in it
something inexpressibly moving: It softens the most manly Heart with
the tenderest Sensations of Love and Compassion, till at length it
confesses its Humanity, and flows out into Tears.
Were I to relate that part of Emilia's Life which has given her an
Opportunity of exerting the Heroism of Christianity, it would make
too sad, too tender a Story: But when I consider her alone in the
midst of her Distresses, looking beyond this gloomy Vale of
Affliction and Sorrow into the Joys of Heaven and Immortality, and
when I see her in Conversation thoughtless and easie as if she were
the most happy Creature in the World, I am transported with
Admiration. Surely never did such a Philosophic Soul inhabit such a
beauteous Form! For Beauty is often made a Privilege against Thought
and Reflection; it laughs at Wisdom, and will not abide the Gravity
of its Instructions.
Were I able to represent Emilia's Virtues in their proper Colours
and their due Proportions, Love or Flattery might perhaps be thought
to have drawn the Picture larger than Life; but as this is but an
imperfect Draught of so excellent a Character, and as I cannot, will
not hope to have any Interest in her Person, all that I can say of
her is but impartial Praise extorted from me by the prevailing
Brightness of her Virtues. So rare a Pattern of Female Excellence
ought not to be concealed, but should be set out to the View and
Imitation of the World; for how amiable does Virtue appear thus as
it were made visible to us in so fair an Example!
Honoria's Disposition is of a very different Turn: Her Thoughts are
wholly bent upon Conquest and arbitrary Power. That she has some Wit
and Beauty no Body denies, and therefore has the Esteem of all her
Acquaintance as a Woman of an agreeable Person and Conversation; but
(whatever her Husband may think of it) that is not sufficient for
Honoria: She waves that Title to Respect as a mean Acquisition, and
demands Veneration in the Right of an Idol; for this Reason her
natural Desire of Life is continually checked with an inconsistent
Fear of Wrinkles and old Age.
Emilia cannot be supposed ignorant of her personal Charms, tho she
seems to be so; but she will not hold her Happiness upon so
precarious a Tenure, whilst her Mind is adorned with Beauties of a
more exalted and lasting Nature. When in the full Bloom of Youth and
Beauty we saw her surrounded with a Crowd of Adorers, she took no
Pleasure in Slaughter and Destruction, gave no false deluding Hopes
which might encrease the Torments of her disappointed Lovers; but
having for some Time given to the Decency of a Virgin Coyness, and
examined the Merit of their several Pretensions, she at length
gratified her own, by resigning herself to the ardent Passion of
Bromius. Bromius was then Master of many good Qualities and a
moderate Fortune, which was soon after unexpectedly encreased to a
plentiful Estate. This for a good while proved his Misfortune, as it
furnished his unexperienced Age with the Opportunities of Evil
Company and a sensual Life. He might have longer wandered in the
Labyrinths of Vice and Folly, had not Emilia's prudent Conduct won
him over to the Government of his Reason. Her Ingenuity has been
constantly employed in humanizing his Passions and refining his
Pleasures. She shewed him by her own Example, that Virtue is
consistent with decent Freedoms and good Humour, or rather, that it
cannot subsist without em. Her good Sense readily instructed her,
that a silent Example and an easie unrepining Behaviour, will always
be more perswasive than the Severity of Lectures and Admonitions;
and that there is so much Pride interwoven into the Make of human
Nature, that an obstinate Man must only take the Hint from another,
and then be left to advise and correct himself. Thus by an artful
Train of Management and unseen Perswasions, having at first brought
him not to dislike, and at length to be pleased with that which
otherwise he would not have bore to hear of, she then knew how to
press and secure this Advantage, by approving it as his Thoughts,
and seconding it as his Proposal. By this Means she has gained an
Interest in some of his leading Passions, and made them accessary to
his Reformation.
There is another Particular of Emilia's Conduct which I cant
forbear mentioning: To some perhaps it may at first Sight appear but
a trifling inconsiderable Circumstance but for my Part, I think it
highly worthy of Observation, and to be recommended to the
Consideration of the fair Sex. I have often thought wrapping Gowns
and dirty Linnen, with all that huddled Oeconomy of Dress which
passes under the general Name of a Mob, the Bane of conjugal Love,
and one of the readiest Means imaginable to alienate the Affection
of an Husband, especially a fond one. I have heard some Ladies, who
have been surprized by Company in such a Deshabille, apologize for
it after this Manner; Truly I am ashamed to be caught in this
Pickle; but my Husband and I were sitting all alone by our selves,
and I did not expect to see such good Company--This by the way is a
fine Compliment to the good Man, which tis ten to one but he
returns in dogged Answers and a churlish Behaviour, without knowing
what it is that puts him out of Humour.
Emilia's Observation teaches her, that as little Inadvertencies and
Neglects cast a Blemish upon a great Character; so the Neglect of
Apparel, even among the most intimate Friends, does insensibly
lessen their Regards to each other, by creating a Familiarity too
low and contemptible. She understands the Importance of those Things
which the Generality account Trifles; and considers every thing as a
Matter of Consequence, that has the least Tendency towards keeping
up or abating the Affection of her Husband; him she esteems as a fit
Object to employ her Ingenuity in pleasing, because he is to be
pleased for Life.
By the Help of these, and a thousand other nameless Arts, which tis
easier for her to practise than for another to express, by the
Obstinacy of her Goodness and unprovoked Submission, in spight of
all her Afflictions and ill Usage, Bromius is become a Man of Sense
and a kind Husband, and Emilia a happy Wife.
Ye guardian Angels to whose Care Heaven has entrusted its dear
Emilia, guide her still forward in the Paths of Virtue, defend her
from the Insolence and Wrongs of this undiscerning World; at length
when we must no more converse with such Purity on Earth, lead her
gently hence innocent and unreprovable to a better Place, where by
an easie Transition from what she now is, she may shine forth an
Angel of Light.


[Footnote 1: The character of Emilia in this paper was by Dr. Bromer, a clergyman. The lady is said to have been the mother of Mr. Ascham, of Conington, in Cambridgeshire, and grandmother of Lady Hatton. The letter has been claimed also for John Hughes (Letters of John Hughes, &c., vol. iii. p. 8), and Emilia identified with Anne, Countess of Coventry.]

[Footnote 2: [some other]]

Translation of motto:
VIRG. AEn. v. 343.
'Becoming sorrows, and a virtuous mind
More lovely in a beauteous form enshrined.'