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to be nature, but it is nature in its utmost corruption
No 66. WEDNESDAY, MAY 16, 1711.
Motus doceri gaudet Ionicos
De tenero meditatur ungui.
HOR. 1 Od. vi. 21.
Behold a ripe and melting maid
What nets to spread, where subtle baits to lay;
THE two following letters are upon a subject of very great importance, though expressed without any air of gravity.
'TO THE SPECTATOR.
I TAKE the freedom of asking your advice in behalf of a young country kinswoman of mine who is lately come to town, and under my care for her education. She is very pretty, but you cannot imagine how unformed a creature it is. She comes to my hands just as nature left her, half finished, and without
* How could it be otherwise, when the author of this play was Sir George Etheridge, and the character of Dorimant that of Wilmot, Earl of Rochester?'
any acquired improvements. When I look on her I often think of the Belle Sauvage mentioned in one of your papers. Dear Mr. Spectator, help me to make her comprehend the visible graces of speech, and the dumb eloquence of motion; for she is at present a perfect stranger to both. She knows no way to express herself but by her tongue, and that always to signify her meaning. Her eyes serve her yet only to see with, and she is utterly a foreigner to the language of looks and glances. In this I fancy you could help her better than any body. I have bestowed two months in teaching her to sigh when she is not concerned, and to smile when she is not pleased, and am ashamed to own she makes little or no improvement. Then she is no more able now to walk, than she was to go at a year old. By walking, you will easily know I mean that regular but easy motion which gives our persons so irresistible a grace as if we moved to music, and is a kind of disengaged figure; or, if I may so speak, recitative dancing. But the want of this I cannot blame in her, for I find she has no ear, and means nothing by walking but to change her place. I could pardon too her blushing, if she knew how to carry herself in it, and if it did not manifestly injure her complexion.
They tell me you are a person who have seen the world, and are a judge of fine breeding; which makes me ambitious of some instructions from you for her improvement: which when you have favoured me with, I shall further advise with you about the disposal of this fair forester in marriage; for I will make it no secret to you, that her person and education are to be her fortune.
I am, SIR,
BEING employed by Celimene to make up and send to you her letter, I make bold to recommend the case therein mentioned to your consideration, because she and I happen to differ a little in our notions. I, who am a rough man, am afraid the young girl is in a fair way to be spoiled: therefore, pray, Mr. Spectator, let us have your opinion of this fine thing called fine breeding; for I am afraid it differs too much from that plain thing called good breeding.
Your most humble servant.'
The general mistake among us in the educating our children is, that in our daughters we take care of their persons, and neglect their minds; in our sons we are so intent upon adorning their minds, that we wholly neglect their bodies. It is from this that you shall see a young lady celebrated and admired in all the assemblies about town, when her elder brother is afraid to come into a room. From this ill management it arises, that we frequently observe a man's life is half spent, before he is taken notice of; and a woman in the prime of her years is out of fashion and neglected. The boy I shall consider upon some other occasion, and at present stick to the girl: and I am the more inclined to this, because I have several letters which complain to me, that my female readers have not understood me for some days last past, and take themselves to be unconcerned in the present turn of my writing. When a girl is safely brought from her nurse, before she is capable of forming one simple notion of any thing in life, she is delivered to the hands
of her dancing-master; and with a collar round her neck, the pretty wild thing is taught a fantastical gravity of behaviour, and forced to a particular way of holding her head, heaving her breast, and moving with her whole body; and all this under pain of never having an husband, if she steps, looks, or moves awry. This gives the young lady wonderful workings of imagination, what is to pass between her and this husband, that she is every moment told of, and for whom she seems to be educated. Thus her fancy is engaged to turn all her endeavours to the ornament of her person, as what must determine her good and ill in this life; and she naturally thinks, if she is tall enough, she is wise enough for any thing for which her education makes her think she is designed. To make her an agreeable person is the main purpose of her parents ; to that is all their cost, to that all their care directed ; and from this general folly of parents we owe our present numerous race of coquettes. These reflections puzzle me, when I think of giving my advice on the subject of managing the wild thing mentioned in the letter of my correspondent. But sure there is a middle way to be followed; the management of a young lady's person is not to be overlooked, but the erudition* of her mind is much more to be regarded. According as this is managed, you will see the mind follow the appetites of the body, or the body express the virtues of the mind.
Cleomira dances with all the elegance of motion imaginable; but her eyes are so chastised with the simplicity and innocence of her thoughts, that she raises in her beholders admiration and good-will, but no loose hope or wild imagination. The true art in this case is, to make the mind and body improve to
Erudition seems to be used here in an uncommon sense, for cultivation or instruction.
gether; and if possible, to make gesture follow thought, and not let thought be employed upon ges
N° 67. THURSDAY, MAY 17, 1711.
Saltare elegantiùs quàm necesse est proba.
Too fine a dancer for a virtuous woman.
LUCIAN in one of his dialogues, introduces a philosopher chiding his friend for his being a lover of dancing, and a frequenter of balls. The other undertakes the defence of his favourite diversion, which he says, was at first invented by the goddess Rhea, and preserved the life of Jupiter himself, from the cruelty of his father Saturn. He proceeds to shew, that it had been approved by the greatest men in all ages; that Homer calls Merion a fine dancer; and says, that the graceful mien and great agility which he had acquired by that exercise, distinguished him above the rest in the armies both of Greeks and Trojans.
He adds, that Pyrrhus gained more reputation by inventing the dance which is called after his name, than by all his other actions: that the Lacedemonians, who were the bravest people in Greece, gave great encouragement to this diversion, and made their Hormus, (a dance much resembling the French Brawl) famous over all Asia: that there were still extant some Thessalonian statues erected to the honour of their best dancers; and that he wondered how his brother phi