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N° 528. WEDNESDAY, NOV. 5, 1712.
Dum potuit, solita gemitum virtute repressit.
OVID. Met. ix. 165.
• Mr. SPECTATOR,
" I who now write to you am a woman loaded with injuries; and the aggravation of my misfortune is, that they are such which are overlooked by the generality of mankind; and, though the most afflicting imaginable, not regarded as such in the general sense of the world. I have hid my vexation from all mankind; but having now taken pen, ink, and paper, am resolved to unbosom myself to you, and lay before you what grieves me and all the sex. You have very often mentioned particular hardships done to this or to that lady; but methinks you have not, in any one speculation, directly pointed at the partial freedom meu take, the unreasonable confinement women are obliged to, in the only circumstance in which we are necessarily to have a commerce with them, that of love. The case of celibacy is the great evil of our nation; and the indulgence of the vicious conduct of men in that state, with the ridicule to which women are exposed, though ever so virtuous, if long unmarried, is the root of the greatest irregularities of this nation. To show you, sir, that though you never have given us the catalogue of a lady's library, as you promised, we read books of our own choosing, I shall insert on this occasion a
paragraph or two out of Echard's Roman History. In the 44th page of the second volume, the author observes that Augustus, upon his return to Rome at the end of a war, received complaints that too great a number of the young men of quality were unmarried. The emperor thereupon assembled the whole equestrian order; and, having separated the married from the single, did particular honours to the former; but he told the latter, that is to say, Mr. Spectator, he told the bachelors, that their lives and actions had been so peculiar, that he knew not by what name to call them; not by that of men, for they performed nothing that was manly; not by that of citizens, for the city might perish notwithstanding their care; nor by that of Romans, for they designed to extirpate the Roman name. Then, proceeding to show his tender care and hearty affection for his people, he further told them, that their course of life was of such pernicious consequence to the glory and grandeur of the Roman nation, that he could not choose but tell them, that all other crimes put together could not equalise theirs, for they were guilty of murder, in not suffering those to be born which should proceed from them; of impiety, in causing the names and honours of their ancestors to cease; and of sacrilege, in destroying their kind, which proceed from the immortal gods, and human nature, the principal thing consecrated to them : therefore, in this respect, they dissolved the government in disobeying its laws; betrayed their country by making it barren and waste; nay, and demolished their city, in depriving it of inhabitants. And he was sensible that all this proceeded not from any kind of virtue or abstinence, but from a looseness and wantonness which ought never to be encouraged in any civil government. There are no particulars dwelt upon that let us into the conduct of these young worthies, whom this great emperor treated with so much justice and indignation; but anyone who observes what passes in this town may very well frame to himself a notion of their riots and debaucheries all night, and their apparent preparations for them all day. It is not to be doubted but these Romans never passed any of their time innocently but when they were asleep, and never slept but when they were weary and heavy with excesses, and slept only to prepare themselves for the repetition of them. If you did your duty as a Spectator, you would carefully examine into the number of births, marriages, and burials; and when you had deducted out of your deaths all such as went out of the world without marrying, then cast up the number of both sexes born within such a term of years last past; you might, from the single people departed, make some useful inferences or guesses
there are left unmarried, and raise some useful scheme for the amendment of the age in that particular. I have not patience to proceed gravely on this abominable libertinism; for I cannot but reflect, as I am writing to you, upon a certain lascivious manner which all our young gentlemen use in public, and examine our eyes with a petulancy in their own which is a downright affront to modesty. A disdainful look on such an occasion is returned with a countenance rebuked, but by averting their eyes from the woman of honour and decency to some flippant creature, who will, as the phrase is, be kinder. I must set down things as they come into my head, without standing upon order.
Ten thousand to one but thegay gentleman who stared, at the same time is a housekeeper; for you must know they are gotinto a humour of late of being very regular in their sins; and a young fellow shall keep his four maids and three footmen with the greatest gravity imaginable. There are
no less than six of these venerable housekeepers of my acquaintance. This humour among young men of condition is imitated by all the world below them, and a general dissolution * of manners arises from this one source of libertinism, without shame orreprehension in the male yonth. It is from this one fountain that so many beautiful helpless young women are sacrificed and given up to lewdness, shame, poverty, and disease. It is to this also that so many excellent young women, who might be patterns of conjugal affection, and parents of a worthy race, pine under unhappy passions for such as have not attention to observe, or virtue enough to prefer them to their common wenches. Now, Mr. Spectator, I must be free to own to you that I myself suffer a tasteless insipid being, from a consideration I have for a man who would not, as he has said in my hearing, resign his liberty, as he calls it, for all the beauty and wealth the whole sex is possessed of. Such calamities as these would not happen, if it could possibly be brought about, that, by fining bachelors as papists convict, or the like, they were distinguished to their disadvantage from the rest of the world, who fall in with the measures of civil society. Lest you
should think I speak this as being, according to the senseless rude phrase, a malicious old maid, I shall acquaint you I am a woman of condition, not now three-and-twenty, and have had proposals from at leat ten different men, and the greater number of them have upon the upshot refused me. Something orother is always amiss when the lover takes to some new wench. A settlement is easily excepted against; and there is very little recourse to avoid the vicious part of our youth, but throwing oneself away upon some lifeless blockhead, who, though he is without
vice, is also without virtue. Now-a-days we must be contented if we can get creatures which are not bad; good are not to be expected. Mr. Spectator, I sat near you the other day, and think I did not displease your spectatorial eye-sight; which I shall be a better judge of when I see whether you
take notice of these evils your own way, or print this memorial dictated from the disdainful heavy heart of,
N° 529. THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 1712.
Singula quæque locum teneant sortita decenter.
Hor. Ars Poet. 92. Let every thing have its due place.
UPON the hearing of several late disputes concerning rank and precedence, I could not forbear amusing myself with some observations, which I have
the learned world, as to this great particular. By the learned world I here mean at large all those who are any way concerned in works of literature, whether in the writing, printing, or repeating part. To begin with the writers. I have observed that the author of a folio, in all companies and conversations, sets himself above the author of a quarto; the author of a quarto above the author of an octavo; and so on, by a gradual descent and subordination, to an author in twenty-fours. This distinction is so well observed, that in an assembly of