No. 492. Wednesday, September 24, 1712. Steele.

Quicquid est boni moris Levitate extinguiter.'

Tunbridge, Sept. 18.


'I am a young Woman of Eighteen Years of Age, and, I do assure you, a Maid of unspotted Reputation, founded upon a very careful Carriage in all my Looks, Words and Actions. At the same time I must own to you, that it is with much constraint to Flesh and Blood that my Behaviour is so strictly irreproachable; for I am naturally addicted to Mirth, to Gaiety, to a Free Air, to Motion and Gadding. Now what gives me a great deal of Anxiety, and is some Discouragement in the Pursuit of Virtue, is, that the young Women who run into greater Freedoms with the Men are more taken Notice of than I am. The Men are such unthinking Sots, that they do not prefer her who restrains all her Passions and Affections and keeps much within the Bounds of what is lawful, to her who goes to the utmost Verge of Innocence, and parlies at the very Brink of Vice, whether she shall be a Wife or a Mistress. But I must appeal to your Spectatorial Wisdom, who, I find, have passed very much of your Time in the Study of Woman, whether this is not a most unreasonable Proceeding. I have read somewhere, that Hobbes of Malmesbury asserts, that continent Persons have more of what they contain, than those who give a loose to their Desires. According to this Rule, let there be equal Age, equal Wit, and equal Good-Humour, in the Woman of Prudence, and her of Liberty; what Stores has he to expect, who takes the former? What Refuse must he be contented with, who chuses the latter? Well, but I sate down to write to you to vent my Indignation against several pert Creatures who are address'd to and courted in this Place, while poor I, and two or three like me, are wholly unregarded.

Every one of these affect gaining the Hearts of your Sex: This is generally attempted by a particular manner of carrying themselves with Familiarity. Glycera has a dancing Walk, and keeps Time in her ordinary Gate. Chloe, her Sister, who is unwilling to interrupt her Conquests, comes into the Room before her with a familiar Run. Dulcissa takes Advantage of the Approach of the Winter, and has introduc'd a very pretty Shiver; closing up her Shoulders, and shrinking as she moves. All that are in this Mode carry their Fans between both Hands before them. Dulcissa herself, who is Author of this Air, adds the pretty Run to it; and has also, when she is in very good Humour, a taking Familiarity in throwing herself into the lowest Seat in the Room, and letting her hoop'd Petticoats fall with a lucky Decency about her. I know she practices this way of sitting down in her Chamber; and indeed she does it as well as you may have seen an Actress fall down dead in a Tragedy. Not the least Indecency in her Posture. If you have observ'd what pretty Carcasses are carry'd off at the end of a Verse at the Theatre, it will give you a Notion how Dulcissa plumps into a Chair. Here's a little Country Girl that's very cunning, that makes her use of being young and unbred, and outdoes the Insnarers, who are almost twice her Age. The Air that she takes is to come into Company after a Walk, and is very successfully out of Breath upon occasion. Her Mother is in the Secret, and calls her Romp, and then looks round to see what young Men stare at her.

'It would take up more than can come into one of your Papers, to enumerate all the particular Airs of the younger Company in this Place. But I cannot omit Dulceorella, whose manner is the most indolent imaginable, but still as watchful of Conquest as the busiest Virgin among us. She has a peculiar Art of staring at a young Fellow, till she sees she has got him, and inflam'd him by so much Observation. When she sees she has him, and he begins to toss his Head upon it, she is immediately short-sighted, and labours to observe what he is at a distance with her Eyes half shut. Thus the Captive, that thought her first struck, is to make very near Approaches, or be wholly disregarded. This Artifice has done more Execution than all the ogling of the rest of the Women here, with the utmost Variety of half Glances, attentive Heedlessnesses, childish Inadvertencies, haughty Contempts, or artificial Oversights. After I have said thus much of Ladies among us who fight thus regularly, I am to complain to you of a Set of Familiar Romps, who have broken thro' all common Rules, and have thought of a very effectual way of shewing more Charms than all of us. These, Mr. SPECTATOR, are the Swingers. You are to know these careless pretty Creatures are very Innocents again; and it is to be no matter what they do, for 'tis all harmless Freedom. They get on Ropes, as you must have seen the Children, and are swung by their Men Visitants. The Jest is, that Mr. such a one can name the Colour of Mrs. Such-a-one's Stockings; and she tells him, he is a lying Thief, so he is, and full of Roguery; and she'll lay a Wager, and her Sister shall tell the Truth if he says right, and he can't tell what Colour her Garters are of. In this Diversion there are very many pretty Shrieks, not so much for fear of falling, as that their Petticoats shou'd untye: For there is a great care had to avoid Improprieties; and the Lover who swings the Lady, is to tye her Clothes very close with his Hatband, before she admits him to throw up her Heels.

'Now, Mr. SPECTATOR, except you can note these Wantonnesses in their Beginnings, and bring us sober Girls into Observation, there is no help for it, we must swim with the Tide; the Coquets are too powerful a Party for us. To look into the Merit of a regular and well-behav'd Woman, is a slow thing. A loose trivial Song gains the Affections, when a wise Homily is not attended to. There is no other way but to make war upon them, or we must go over to them. As for my Part, I will shew all the World it is not for want of Charms that I stand so long unasked; and if you do not take measures for the immediate Redress of us Rigids, as the Fellows call us, I can move with a speaking Mien, can look significantly, can lisp, can trip, can loll, can start, can blush, can rage, can weep, if I must do it, and can be frighted as agreeably as any She in England. All which is humbly submitted to your Spectatorial Consideration with all Humility, by

Your most humble Servant,

Matilda Mohair.


Translation of motto:
'Levity of behaviour is the bane of all that is good and virtuous.'