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No. 325. THURSDAY, MARCH 13, 1711-12.
Quid frustra simulacra fugacia captas 1
Quod petis, est nusquam : quod amas avertere, perdes.
OVID, Metam. m. 432.
[from Thr Fable or Narcissus.]
Will Honeycomb diverted us last night with an account of a young fellow's first discovering his passion to his mistress. The young lady was one, it seems, who had long before conceived a favourable opinion of him, and was still in hopes that he would some time or other make his advances. As he was one day talking with her in company of her two sisters, the conversation happening to turn upon love, each of the young ladies was, by way of raillery, recommending a wife to him; when, to the no small surprise of her who languished for him in secret, he told them with a more than ordinary seriousness, that his heart had been long engaged to oue whose name lie thought himselfobliged in honour to conceal; but that he could show her picture in the lid of his snuffbox. The young lady, who felt herself the most sensibly touched by this confession, took the first opportunity that offered of snatching bis box out of his hand. He seemed desirous of recovering it, but finding her resolved to look into the lid, begged her, that if she should happen to know the person, she would: not reveal her name. Upon carrying it to the window, she was very agreeably surprised to find there was nothing within the lid but a little looking glass; in which, after she had viewed her own face with more pleasure than she had ever done before she returned the box with a smile, telling him she could not but admire at his choice.
Will, fancying that this story took, immediately fell into a dissertation on the usefulness of looking-glasses; and, applying himself to me, asked if there were any looking-glasses in the times of the Greeks and Romans: for that he had often observed, in the translations of poems out of those languages, that people generally talked of seeing themselves in wells, fountains, lakes, and rivers. Nay, says he, I remember Mr. Dryden in bis Ovid tells us of a swinging fellow, called Polypheme, that made use of the sea for his looking-glass, and could never dress himself to advantage but in a calm.
My friend Will, to show us the whole compass of his learning upon this subject, further informed us, that there were still several nations in the world so very barbarous as not to have any lookingglasses among them ; and that he had liitely read a voyage to the South Sea, in which it is said that the ladies of Chili always dressed their heads over a basin of water.
I am the more particular in my account of Will's last night's lecture on these natural mirrors, as it seems to bear some relation to the following letter, which I recived the day before.
"Sm, " I Have read your last Saturday's observations on the fourth book of Milton with great satisfaction, and am particularly pleased with the hidden moral which you have taken notice of in several parts of the poem. The design of this letter is to desire your thoughts, whether there may not also be some moral couched under that place in the same book where the poet lets us know, that the first woman immediately after her creation ran to a looking-glass, and became so enamoured of her own face, that she had never removed to view any of the other works of nature, had not she been led off to a man. If you think fit to set down the whole passage from Milton, your readers will be able to judge for themselves, and the quotation will not a little contribute to the filling up of your paper.
" Your humble servant,
" R. T."
The last consideration urged by my querist is so strong, that I cannot forbear closing with it. The passage he alludes to is part of Eve's speech to Adam, and one of the most beautiful passages in the whole poem:—
" That day I oft remember, when from sleep
Pleas'd it retum'd at soon with answering look«
Of sympathy and love : there I had fix'd
Mine eyes till now, and pin'd with vain desire,
Had not a voice thus warn'd roe.— ' What thou seest.
What there thou seest, fair creature is thyself;
With thee it came and goes : but follow me,
And I will bring thee where no shadow stays
Thy coming, and thy soft embraces; he
Whose image thou art, him thou shalt enjoy
Insepambly thine, to him shalt bear
Multitudes like thyself, and thence be call'd
Mother of human race.' What could I do,
But follow straight, invisibly thus led 1
Till I espy'd thee, fair indeed and tall,
Under a plantain ; yet methought less fair,
Lest winning soft, less amiably mild
Than that smooth wat"ry image: back I turn'd;
Thou following cry'st aloud,—' Return, fair Kve,
Whom fly'st thou! Whom thou fly'st. of him thou art,
His flesh, his bone; to give thee being I lent
Out of my side to thee, nearest my heart,
Substantial life, to have thee by my side.
Henceforth an individual solace dear:
Part of my soul, I seek thee, and thee claim
Mj other half!'—With that thy gentle hand
Seiz'd mine ; I yielded, and from that time tee
How beauty it excell'd by manly grace
And wisdom, which alone is truly fair.
So spake our general mother."
No. 326. FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 1711-12.
Inclutam Danaen turns ahenea,
Nocturnis ab adulteris;
A tnw'r of brats, one would have said,
And locks, and bolts, and iron bars,
Might have preserv d one innocent maidenhead;
But Venut laugh'd, fite. Oowlet.
" Mr Spectator, " Yodr correspondent's letter relating to fortune-hunters, and your subsequent discourse upon it,* have given me encouragement
• No. 311.
to send you a state of my case, by which you will see, that the matter complained of is a common grievance both to city and country.
" I am a country-gentleman of between five and six thousand a year. It is my misfortune to have a very fine park and an only daughter; upon which account I have been so plagued with deerstealers and fops, that for these four years past I have scarce enjoyed a moment's rest. I look upon myself to be in a state of war, and am forced to keep as constant watch in my seat, as a governor do that commanded a town, on the frontier of an enemy's country. I have indeed pretty well secured my park, having for this purpose provided myself of four keepers who are left-handed, and handle a quarter-staff beyond any other fellows in the country. And for the guard of my house, besides a band of pensioner matrons and nn old maiden relation whom I keep on constant duty, I have blunderlinsses always charged, and fox-gins planted in private places about my garden, of which I have given frequent notice in the neighbourhood; yet so it is, that in spite of all my care, I shall every now and then have a saucy rascal ride by, reconnoitring (as I think you call it) under my windows, as sprucely dressed as if he were going to a ball. I am aware of this way of attacking a mistress on horseback, having heard that it is a common practice in Spain ; and have therefore taken care to remove my daughter from the road-side of the house, and to lodge her next the garden. But, to cut short my story; what can a man do after all? I durst not stand for member of parliament last election, for fear of some ill consequence from my being off my post. What I would therefore desire of you is, to promote a project I have set on foot, and upon which I have written to some of my friends; and that is, that care may be taken to secure our daughters by law, as well as our deer; and that some honest gentleman, of a public spirit, would move for leave to bring in a bill for the better preserving of the female game. " I am Sir, your humble servant."
"Mile-End-Grecn, March 6, 1711-12. " Mr. Spectator, " Here is a young man walks by our door every day about the dusk of the evening. He looks up at my wiudow, as if to see me; and if I steal towards it to peep at him, he turns another way, and looks frightened at finding what he was looking for. The air is very cold; and pray let him know that if he knocks at the door, lie will be carried to the parlour fire, and I will come down soon after, and give him an opportunity to break his mind.
" I am, Sir, your bumble servant,
" Mary Comfit. " If I observe he cannot speak, I'll give him time to recover him•elf, and ask him how he does."
"dear Sir, " I Beg you to print this without delay, and by the first opportunity give us the natural causes of longing in women; or put me out of fear that my wife will one time or other be delivered of something as monstrous as any thing that has yet appeared to the world; for they say the child is to bear a reseinllanco of what was desired by the mother. I have been married upwards of six years, have had four children, and my wife is now big with the fifth. The expenses she has put mc to iu procuring what she has longed for during her pregnancy with them, would not ouly have handsomely defrayed the charges of the month, but of their education too; her faucy being so exorbitant for the first year or two, as not to confine itself to the usual objects of eatables and drinkables, but running out after equipages and furuiture, aud the like extravagances. To trouble you only with a few of them; when she was with child with Tom, my eldest son, she came home one day just fainting, and told me she had been visiting a relation, whose husband had made her a present of a chariot, and a stately pair of horses; and that she was positive she could not breathe a week longer, unless she took the air in the fellow to it of her own within that time. This, rather than lose an heir, I readily complied with. Then the furniture of her best room must be instantly changed, or she should mark the child with some of the frightful figures on the old-fashioned tapestry. Well, the upholsterer was culled, and her longing saved the bout. When she went with Molly, she had fixed her mind upon a new set of plate, and as much china as would have furnished an Indian shop; these also I cheerfully granted, for fear of being father to an Indian pagod. Hitherto I found her demands rose upon every concession; and had she gone ou I had been ruined : but by good fortune, with her third, which was Peggy, the height of her imagination came down to the corner of a venison pasty, and brought her once even upon her knees to gnaw oft'the ears of a pig from the spit. The gratifications of her palate were easily preferred to those of her vanity : aud sometimes a partridge, or a quail, a wheat-ear, or the pestle of a lark, were cheerfully purchased; nay, I could be contented though I were to feed her with green peas in April, or cherries in May. But with the babe she now goes, she is turned girl again, and fallen to eating of chalk, pretending 'twill make the child's skin white ; and nothing will serve her but I must bear her company, to prevent its having a shade of my brown. In this, however, I have ventured to deny her. No longer ago than yesterday, as we were coming to town, she saw a parcel of crows so heartily at breakfast upon a piece of horse-flesh, that she had an invincible desire to partake with them, and (to my infinite surprise) begged the coachman to cut her off a slice as if it were for himself, which the fellow did; and as soon as she came home, she fell to it with such an appetite, that she seemed rather