No. 53. Tuesday, May 1, 1711. Steele.

... Aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus.

My Correspondents grow so numerous, that I cannot avoid frequently inserting their Applications to me.


'I am glad I can inform you, that your Endeavours to adorn that Sex, which is the fairest Part of the visible Creation, are well received, and like to prove not unsuccessful. The Triumph of Daphne over her Sister Letitia has been the Subject of Conversation at Several Tea-Tables where I have been present; and I have observed the fair Circle not a little pleased to find you considering them as reasonable Creatures, and endeavouring to banish that Mahometan Custom which had too much prevailed even in this Island, of treating Women as if they had no Souls. I must do them the Justice to say, that there seems to be nothing wanting to the finishing of these lovely Pieces of Human Nature, besides the turning and applying their Ambition properly, and the keeping them up to a Sense of what is their true Merit. Epictetus, that plain honest Philosopher, as little as he had of Gallantry, appears to have understood them, as well as the polite St. Evremont, and has hit this Point very luckily.[1] When young Women, says he, arrive at a certain Age, they hear themselves called _Mistresses, and are made to believe that their only Business is to please the Men; they immediately begin to dress, and place all their Hopes in the adorning of their Persons; it is therefore, continues he, _worth the while to endeavour by all means to make them sensible that the Honour paid to them is only, upon account of their cotiducting themselves with Virtue, Modesty, and Discretion.

'Now to pursue the Matter yet further, and to render your Cares for the Improvement of the Fair Ones more effectual, I would propose a new method, like those Applications which are said to convey their virtues by Sympathy; and that is, in order to embellish the Mistress, you should give a new Education to the Lover, and teach the Men not to be any longer dazzled by false Charms and unreal Beauty. I cannot but think that if our Sex knew always how to place their Esteem justly, the other would not be so often wanting to themselves in deserving it. For as the being enamoured with a Woman of Sense and Virtue is an Improvement to a Man's Understanding and Morals, and the Passion is ennobled by the Object which inspires it; so on the other side, the appearing amiable to a Man of a wise and elegant Mind, carries in it self no small Degree of Merit and Accomplishment. I conclude therefore, that one way to make the Women yet more agreeable is, to make the Men more virtuous.

I am, SIR,

Your most humble Servant,

R. B.'

April 26.


'Yours of Saturday last I read, not without some Resentment; but I will suppose when you say you expect an Inundation of Ribbons and Brocades, and to see many new Vanities which the Women will fall into upon a Peace with France, that you intend only the unthinking Part of our Sex: And what Methods can reduce them to Reason is hard to imagine.

But, Sir, there are others yet, that your Instructions might be of great Use to, who, after their best Endeavours, are sometimes at a loss to acquit themselves to a Censorious World: I am far from thinking you can altogether disapprove of Conversation between Ladies and Gentlemen, regulated by the Rules of Honour and Prudence; and have thought it an Observation not ill made, that where that was wholly denied, the Women lost their Wit, and the Men their Good-manners. 'Tis sure, from those improper Liberties you mentioned, that a sort of undistinguishing People shall banish from their Drawing-Rooms the best-bred Men in the World, and condemn those that do not. Your stating this Point might, I think, be of good use, as well as much oblige,


Your Admirer, and most humble Servant,


No Answer to this, till Anna Bella sends a Description of those she calls the Best-bred Men in the World.


'I am a Gentleman who for many Years last past have been well known to be truly Splenatick, and that my Spleen arises from having contracted so great a Delicacy, by reading the best Authors, and keeping the most refined Company, that I cannot bear the least Impropriety of Language, or Rusticity of Behaviour. Now, Sir, I have ever looked upon this as a wise Distemper; but by late Observations find that every heavy Wretch, who has nothing to say, excuses his Dulness by complaining of the Spleen. Nay, I saw, the other Day, two Fellows in a Tavern Kitchen set up for it, call for a Pint and Pipes, and only by Guzling Liquor to each other's Health, and wafting Smoke in each other's Face, pretend to throw off the Spleen. I appeal to you, whether these Dishonours are to be done to the Distemper of the Great and the Polite. I beseech you, Sir, to inform these Fellows that they have not the Spleen, because they cannot talk without the help of a Glass at their Mouths, or convey their Meaning to each other without the Interposition of Clouds. If you will not do this with all Speed, I assure you, for my part, I will wholly quit the Disease, and for the future be merry with the Vulgar.

I am, SIR,

Your humble Servant.'


'This is to let you understand, that I am a reformed Starer, and conceived a Detestation for that Practice from what you have writ upon the Subject. But as you have been very severe upon the Behaviour of us Men at Divine Service, I hope you will not be so apparently partial to the Women, as to let them go wholly unobserved. If they do everything that is possible to attract our Eyes, are we more culpable than they for looking at them? I happened last Sunday to be shut into a Pew, which was full of young Ladies in the Bloom of Youth and Beauty. When the Service began, I had not Room to kneel at the Confession, but as I stood kept my eyes from wandring as well as I was able, till one of the young Ladies, who is a Peeper, resolved to bring down my Looks, and fix my Devotion on her self. You are to know, Sir, that a Peeper works with her Hands, Eyes, and Fan; one of which is continually in Motion, while she thinks she is not actually the Admiration of some Ogler or Starer in the Congregation. As I stood utterly at a loss how to behave my self, surrounded as I was, this Peeper so placed her self as to be kneeling just before me. She displayed the most beautiful Bosom imaginable, which heaved and fell with some Fervour, while a delicate well-shaped Arm held a Fan over her Face. It was not in Nature to command ones Eyes from this Object; I could not avoid taking notice also of her Fan, which had on it various Figures, very improper to behold on that Occasion. There lay in the Body of the Piece a Venus, under a Purple Canopy furled with curious Wreaths of Drapery, half naked, attended with a Train of Cupids, who were busied in Fanning her as she slept. Behind her was drawn a Satyr peeping over the silken Fence, and threatening to break through it. I frequently offered to turn my Sight another way, but was still detained by the Fascination of the Peeper's Eyes, who had long practised a Skill in them, to recal the parting Glances of her Beholders. You see my Complaint, and hope you will take these mischievous People, the Peepers, into your Consideration: I doubt not but you will think a Peeper as much more pernicious than a Starer, as an Ambuscade is more to be feared than an open Assault.

I am, SIR,

Your most Obedient Servant.'

This Peeper using both Fan and Eyes to be considered as a _Pict, and proceed accordingly._

King Latinus to the Spectator, Greeting.

'Tho' some may think we descend from our Imperial Dignity, in holding Correspondence with a private [Litterato; [2]] yet as we have great Respect to all good Intentions for our Service, we do not esteem it beneath us to return you our Royal Thanks for what you published in our Behalf, while under Confinement in the Inchanted Castle of the Savoy, and for your Mention of a Subsidy for a Prince in Misfortune. This your timely Zeal has inclined the Hearts of divers to be aiding unto us, if we could propose the Means. We have taken their Good will into Consideration, and have contrived a Method which will be easy to those who shall give the Aid, and not unacceptable to us who receive it. A Consort of Musick shall be prepared at Haberdashers-Hall for Wednesday the Second of May, and we will honour the said Entertainment with our own Presence, where each Person shall be assessed but at two Shillings and six Pence. What we expect from you is, that you publish these our Royal Intentions, with Injunction that they be read at all Tea-Tables within the Cities of London and Westminster; and so we bid you heartily Farewell.

Latinus, King of the Volscians.'

Given at our Court in Vinegar-Yard, Story the Third from the Earth.

April 28, 1711.


[Footnote 1: 'Epictetus his Morals, with Simplicius his Comment,' was translated by George Stanhope in 1694. The citation above is a free rendering of the sense of cap. 62 of the Morals.]

[Footnote 2: Litterati]

Translation of motto:
HOR. Ars Poet. ver. 359.
'Homer himself hath been observed to nod.'