No. 319. Thursday, March 6, 1712. Budgell.

Quo teneam vultus mutantem Protea nodo?
Hor.

I have endeavoured, in the Course of my Papers, to do Justice to the Age, and have taken care as much as possible to keep my self a Neuter between both Sexes. I have neither spared the Ladies out of Complaisance, nor the Men out of Partiality; but notwithstanding the great Integrity with which I have acted in this Particular, I find my self taxed with an Inclination to favour my own half of the Species. Whether it be that the Women afford a more fruitful Field for Speculation, or whether they run more in my Head than the Men, I cannot tell, but I shall set down the Charge as it is laid against me in the following Letter.

Mr. SPECTATOR,

I always make one among a Company of young Females, who peruse your Speculations every Morning. I am at present Commissioned, by our whole Assembly, to let you know, that we fear you are a little enclined to be partial towards your own Sex. We must however acknowledge, with all due Gratitude, that in some Cases you have given us our Revenge on the Men, and done us Justice. We could not easily have forgiven you several Strokes in the Dissection of the Coquets Heart, if you had not, much about the same time, made a Sacrifice to us of a Beaus Scull.

You may, however, Sir, please to remember, that long since you attacked our Hoods and Commodes in such manner, as, to use your own Expression, made very many of us ashamed to shew our Heads. We must, therefore, beg leave to represent to you, that we are in Hopes, if you would please to make a due Enquiry, the Men in all Ages would be found to have been little less whimsical in adorning that Part, than our selves. The different Forms of their Wiggs, together with the various Cocks of their Hats, all flatter us in this Opinion.

I had an humble Servant last Summer, who the first time he declared himself, was in a Full-Bottom'd Wigg; but the Day after, to my no small Surprize, he accosted me in a thin Natural one. I received him, at this our second Interview, as a perfect Stranger, but was extreamly confounded, when his Speech discovered who he was. I resolved, therefore, to fix his Face in my Memory for the future; but as I was walking in the Park the same Evening, he appeared to me in one of those Wiggs that I think you call a Night-cap, which had altered him more effectually than before. He afterwards played a Couple of Black Riding Wiggs upon me, with the same Success; and, in short, assumed a new Face almost every Day in the first Month of his Courtship.

I observed afterwards, that the Variety of Cocks into which he moulded his Hat, had not a little contributed to his Impositions upon me.

Yet, as if all these ways were not sufficient to distinguish their Heads, you must, doubtless, Sir, have observed, that great Numbers of young Fellows have, for several Months last past, taken upon them to wear Feathers.

We hope, therefore, that these may, with as much Justice, be called Indian Princes, as you have styled a Woman in a coloured Hood an Indian Queen; and that you will, in due time, take these airy Gentlemen into Consideration.

We the more earnestly beg that you would put a Stop to this Practice, since it has already lost us one of the most agreeable Members of our Society, who after having refused several good Estates, and two Titles, was lured from us last Week by a mixed Feather.

I am ordered to present you the Respects of our whole Company, and am, SIR, Your very humble Servant, DORINDA.

Note, The Person wearing the Feather, tho our Friend took him for an Officer in the Guards, has proved to be [an arrant Linnen-Draper. [1]]

I am not now at leisure to give my Opinion upon the Hat and Feather; however to wipe off the present Imputation, and gratifie my Female Correspondent, I shall here print a Letter which I lately received from a Man of Mode, who seems to have a very extraordinary Genius in his way.

SIR, I presume I need not inform you, that among Men of Dress it is a common Phrase to say Mr. Such an one has struck a bold Stroke; by which we understand, that he is the first Man who has had Courage enough to lead up a Fashion. Accordingly, when our Taylors take Measure of us, they always demand whether we will have a plain Suit, or strike a bold Stroke. 1 think I may without Vanity say, that I have struck some of the boldest and most successful Strokes of any Man in Great Britain. I was the first that struck the Long Pocket about two Years since: I was likewise the Author of the Frosted Button, which when I saw the Town came readily into, being resolved to strike while the Iron was hot, I produced much about the same time the Scallop Flap, the knotted Cravat, and made a fair Push for the Silver-clocked Stocking.

A few Months after I brought up the modish Jacket, or the Coat with close Sleeves. I struck this at first in a plain Doily; but that failing, I struck it a second time in blue Camlet; and repeated the Stroke in several kinds of Cloth, till at last it took effect. There are two or three young Fellows at the other End of the Town, who have always their Eye upon me, and answer me Stroke for Stroke. I was once so unwary as to mention my Fancy in relation to the new-fashioned Surtout before one of these Gentlemen, who was disingenuous enough to steal my Thought, and by that means prevented my intended Stroke.

I have a Design this Spring to make very considerable Innovations in the Wastcoat, and have already begun with a Coup dessai upon the Sleeves, which has succeeded very well.

I must further inform you, if you will promise to encourage or at least to connive at me, that it is my Design to strike such a Stroke the Beginning of the next Month, as shall surprise the whole Town.

I do not think it prudent to acquaint you with all the Particulars of my intended Dress; but will only tell you, as a Sample of it, that I shall very speedily appear at Whites in a Cherry-coloured Hat. I took this Hint from the Ladies Hoods, which I look upon as the boldest Stroke that Sex has struck for these hundred Years last past.

I am, SIR,

Your most Obedient, most Humble Servant,

Will. Sprightly.

[I have not Time at present to make any Reflections on this Letter, but must not however omit that having shewn it to WILL. HONEYCOMB, he desires to be acquainted with the Gentleman who writ it.]

X.

[Footnote 1: only an Ensign in the Train Bands.]


Translation of motto:
HOR. 1 Ep. i. 90.
'Say while they change on thus, what chains can bind
These varying forms, this Proteus of the mind?'
(Francis).