No. 33 Saturday, April 7, 1711. Steele.

Fervidus tecum Puer, et solutis
Gratiæ zonis, properentque Nymphæ,
Et parum comis sine te Juventas,
Hor. 'ad Venerem.'

A friend of mine has two Daughters, whom I will call Lætitia and Daphne; The Former is one of the Greatest Beauties of the Age in which she lives, the Latter no way remarkable for any Charms in her Person. Upon this one Circumstance of their Outward Form, the Good and Ill of their Life seems to turn. Lætitia has not, from her very Childhood, heard any thing else but Commendations of her Features and Complexion, by which means she is no other than Nature made her, a very beautiful Outside. The Consciousness of her Charms has rendered her insupportably Vain and Insolent, towards all who have to do with her. Daphne, who was almost Twenty before one civil Thing had ever been said to her, found her self obliged to acquire some Accomplishments to make up for the want of those Attractions which she saw in her Sister. Poor Daphne was seldom submitted to in a Debate wherein she was concerned; her Discourse had nothing to recommend it but the good Sense of it, and she was always under a Necessity to have very well considered what she was to say before she uttered it; while Lætitia was listened to with Partiality, and Approbation sate in the Countenances of those she conversed with, before she communicated what she had to say. These Causes have produced suitable Effects, and Lætitia is as insipid a Companion, as Daphne is an agreeable one. Lætitia, confident of Favour, has studied no Arts to please; Daphne, despairing of any Inclination towards her Person, has depended only on her Merit. Lætitia has always something in her Air that is sullen, grave and disconsolate. Daphne has a Countenance that appears chearful, open and unconcerned. A young Gentleman saw Lætitia this Winter at a Play, and became her Captive. His Fortune was such, that he wanted very little Introduction to speak his Sentiments to her Father. The Lover was admitted with the utmost Freedom into the Family, where a constrained Behaviour, severe Looks, and distant Civilities, were the highest Favours he could obtain of Lætitia; while Daphne used him with the good Humour, Familiarity, and Innocence of a Sister: Insomuch that he would often say to her, Dear Daphne; wert thou but as Handsome as Lætitia!--She received such Language with that ingenuous and pleasing Mirth, which is natural to a Woman without Design. He still Sighed in vain for Lætitia, but found certain Relief in the agreeable Conversation of Daphne. At length, heartily tired with the haughty Impertinence of Lætitia, and charmed with repeated Instances of good Humour he had observed in Daphne, he one Day told the latter, that he had something to say to her he hoped she would be pleased with.--Faith Daphne, continued he, I am in Love with thee, and despise thy Sister sincerely. The Manner of his declaring himself gave his Mistress occasion for a very hearty Laughter.--Nay, says he, I knew you would Laugh at me, but I'll ask your Father. He did so; the Father received his Intelligence with no less Joy than Surprize, and was very glad he had now no Care left but for his Beauty, which he thought he could carry to Market at his Leisure. I do not know any thing that has pleased me so much a great while, as this Conquest of my Friend Daphne's. All her Acquaintance congratulate her upon her Chance. Medley, and laugh at that premeditating Murderer her Sister. As it is an Argument of a light Mind, to think the worse of our selves for the Imperfections of our Persons, it is equally below us to value our selves upon the Advantages of them. The Female World seem to be almost incorrigibly gone astray in this Particular; for which Reason, I shall recommend the following Extract out of a Friend's Letter to the Profess'd Beauties, who are a People almost as unsufferable as the Profess'd Wits.

Monsieur St. Evremont [1] has concluded one of his Essays, with affirming that the last Sighs of a Handsome Woman are not so much for the loss of her Life, as of her Beauty. Perhaps this Raillery is pursued too far, yet it is turn'd upon a very obvious Remark, that Woman's strongest Passion is for her own Beauty, and that she values it as her Favourite Distinction. From hence it is that all Arts, which pretend to improve or preserve it, meet with so general a Reception among the Sex. To say nothing of many False Helps and Contraband Wares of Beauty, which are daily vended in this great Mart, there is not a Maiden-Gentlewoman, of a good Family in any County of South-Britain, who has not heard of the Virtues of May-Dew, or is unfurnished with some Receipt or other in Favour of her Complexion; and I have known a Physician of Learning and Sense, after Eight Years Study in the University, and a Course of Travels into most Countries of Europe, owe the first raising of his Fortunes to a Cosmetick Wash.

This has given me Occasion to consider how so Universal a Disposition in Womankind, which springs from a laudable Motive, the Desire of Pleasing, and proceeds upon an Opinion, not altogether groundless, that Nature may be helped by Art, may be turn'd to their Advantage. And, methinks, it would be an acceptable Service to take them out of the Hands of Quacks and Pretenders, and to prevent their imposing upon themselves, by discovering to them the true Secret and Art of improving Beauty.

In order to this, before I touch upon it directly, it will be necessary to lay down a few Preliminary Maxims, viz.

That no Woman can be Handsome by the Force of Features alone, anymore than she can be Witty only by the Help of Speech.That Pride destroys all Symmetry and Grace, and Affectation is amore terrible Enemy to fine Faces than the Small-Pox.That no Woman is capable of being Beautiful, who is not incapable ofbeing False.And, That what would be Odious in a Friend, is Deformity in aMistress.

From these few Principles, thus laid down, it will be easie to prove, that the true Art of assisting Beauty consists in Embellishing the whole Person by the proper Ornaments of virtuous and commendable Qualities. By this Help alone it is that those who are the Favourite Work of Nature, or, as Mr. Dryden expresses it, the Porcelain Clay of human Kind [2], become animated, and are in a Capacity of exerting their Charms: And those who seem to have been neglected by her, like Models wrought in haste, are capable, in a great measure, of finishing what She has left imperfect.

It is, methinks, a low and degrading Idea of that Sex, which was created to refine the Joys, and soften the Cares of Humanity, by the most agreeable Participation, to consider them meerly as Objects of Sight. This is abridging them of their natural Extent of Power, to put them upon a Level with their Pictures at Kneller's. How much nobler is the Contemplation of Beauty heighten'd by Virtue, and commanding our Esteem and Love, while it draws our Observation? How faint and spiritless are the Charms of a Coquet, when compar'd with the real Loveliness of Sophronia's Innocence, Piety, good Humour and Truth; Virtues which add a new Softness to her Sex, and even beautify her Beauty! That Agreeableness, which must otherwise have appeared no longer in the modest Virgin, is now preserv'd in the tender Mother, the prudent Friend, and the faithful Wife. Colours, artfully spread upon Canvas, may entertain the Eye, but not affect the Heart; and she, who takes no care to add to the natural Graces of her Person any excelling Qualities, may be allowed still to amuse, as a Picture, but not to triumph as a Beauty.

When Adam is introduced by Milton describing Eve in Paradise, and relating to the Angel the Impressions he felt upon seeing her at her first Creation, he does not represent her like a Grecian Venus by her Shape or Features, but by the Lustre of her Mind which shone in them, and gave them their Power of charming.

_Grace was in all her Steps, Heaven in her Eye,In all her Gestures Dignity and Love._

Without this irradiating Power the proudest Fair One ought to know, whatever her Glass may tell her to the contrary, that her most perfect Features are Uninform'd and Dead.

I cannot better close this Moral, than by a short Epitaph written by Ben Johnson, with a Spirit which nothing could inspire but such an Object as I have been describing.

Underneath this Stone doth lieAs much Virtue as cou'd die,Which when alive did Vigour giveTo as much Beauty as cou'd live. [3]

I am, Sir, Your most humble Servant, R. B.


[Footnote 1: Charles de St. Denis, Sieur de St. Evremond, died in 1703, aged 95, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. His military and diplomatic career in France was closed in 1661, when his condemnations of Mazarin, although the Cardinal was then dead, obliged him to fly from the wrath of the French Court to Holland and afterwards to England, where Charles II granted him a pension of £300 a-year. At Charles's death the pension lapsed, and St. Evremond declined the post of cabinet secretary to James II. After the Revolution he had William III for friend, and when, at last, he was invited back, in his old age, to France, he chose to stay and die among his English friends. In a second volume of 'Miscellany Essays by Monsieur de St. Evremont,' done into English by Mr. Brown (1694), an Essay 'Of the Pleasure that Women take in their Beauty' ends (p. 135) with the thought quoted by Steele.]

[Footnote 2: In 'Don Sebastian, King of Portugal,' act I, says Muley Moloch, Emperor of Barbary,

Ay; There look like the Workmanship of Heav'n: This is the Porcelain Clay of Human Kind.]

[Footnote 3: The lines are in the Epitaph 'on Elizabeth L.H.'

'One name was Elizabeth, The other, let it sleep in death.'

But Steele, quoting from memory, altered the words to his purpose. Ben Johnson's lines were:

'Underneath this stone doth lie, As much Beauty as could die, Which in Life did Harbour give To more Virture than doth live.']

Translation of motto:
HOR. 1 Od. xxx. 5.
'The graces with their zones unloosed;
The nymphs, with beauties all exposed
From every spring, and every plain;
Thy powerful, hot, and winged boy;
And youth, that's dull without thy joy;
And Mercury, compose thy train.'