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N° 354. · WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16,
· Cum magnis virtutibus affers
Juv. Sat. vi. 168.
• MR. SPECTATOR, You have in some of your discourses described most sort of women in their distinct and proper classes, as the ape, the coquette, and many
others; but I think
you have never yet said any thing of a devotee. A devotee is one of those who disparage religion by their indiscreet and unseasonable introduction of the mention of virtue on all occasions. She professes she is what nobody ought to doubt she is; and betrays the labour she is put to, to be what she ought to be with cheerfulness and alacrity. She lives in the world, and denies herself none of the diversions of it, with a constant declaration how insipid all things in it are to her. She is never herself but at church; there she displays her virtue, and is so fervent in her devotions, that I have frequently seen her pray herself out of breath. While other young ladies in the house are dancing, or playing at questions and commands, she reads aloud in her closet. She says, all love is ridiculous, except it be celestial; but she speaks of the passion of one mortal to another with too much bitterness for one that had no jealousy mixed with her contempt of it. If at any time she sees a man warın in his addresses to his mistress, she will lift
to heaven, and
cry, “What nonsense is that fool talking! Will the bell never ring for prayers ?” We have an eminent lady of this stamp in our country, who pretends to amusements very much above the rest of her sex. She never carries a white shock-dog with bells under her arm, nor a squirrel or dormouse in her pocket, but always an abridged piece of morality, to steal out when she is sure of being observed. When she went to the famous ass-race (which I must confess was but an odd diversion to be encouraged by people of rank and figure), it was not, like other ladies, to hear those poor animals bray, nor to see fellows run naked, or to hear country 'squires in bob-wigs and white girdles make love at the side of a coach, and cry, "Madam, this is dainty weather.” Thus she describes the diversion; for she went only to pray heartily that nobody might be hurt in the crowd, and to see if the poor fellow's face, which was distorted with grinning, might any way be brought to itself again. She never chats over her tea, but covers her face, and is supposed in an ejaculation before she tastes a sup. This ostentatious behaviour is such an offence to true sanctity, that it disparages it, and makes virtue not only unamiable, but
also ridiculous. The sacred writings are full of reflections which abhor this kind of conduct; and a devotee is so far from promoting goodness, that she deters others by her example. Folly and vanity in one of these ladies is like vice in a clergyman: it does not only debase him, but makes the inconsiderate part of the world think the worse of religion. I am, Sir, your humble servant,
HOTSPUR.' "MR. SPECTATOR, Xenophon, in his short account of the Spartan commonwealth, speaking of the behaviour of their young men in the streets, says, “There was so much modesty in their looks, that you might as soon have turned the eyes of a marble statue upon you as theirs; and that in all their behaviour they were more modest than a bride when put to bed upon
her wedding-night.” This virtue, which is always subjoined to magnanimity, had such an influence upon their
courage, that in battle an enemy could not look them in the face, and they durst not but die for their country,
· Whenever I walk into the streets of London and Westminster, the countenances of all the young
fellows that pass by me make me wish myself in Sparta: I meet with such blustering airs, big looks, and bold fronts, that, to a superficial observer, would bespeak a courage above those Grecians. I am arrived to that perfection in speculation, that I understand the language of the eyes, which would be a great misfortune to me had I not corrected the testiness of old age by philosophy. There is scarce a man in a red coat, who does not tell me, with a full stare, he is a bold mạn: I see several swear inwardly at me, without
any offence of mine, but the oddness of my person: I meet contempt in every street, expressed in different manners by the scornful look, the elevated eye-brow, and the swelling nostrils of the proud and prosperous. The 'prentice speaks his disrespect by an extended finger, and the porter by stealing out his tongue. If a country gentleman appears a little curious in observing the edifices, signs, clocks, coaches, and dials, it is not to be imagined how the polite rabble of this town, who are acquainted with these objects, ridicule his rusticity. I have known a fellow with a burden on his head steal a hand down from his load, and slily twirl the cock of a squire's hat behind him: while the offended person is swearing, or out of countenance, all the wag-wits in the highway are grinning in applause of the ingenious rogue that gave him the tip, and the folly of him who had not eyes all round his head to prevent receiving it. These things arise from a general affectation of smartness, wit, and courage. Wycherly somewhere rallies the pretensions this way, by making a fellow say, “ Red breeches are a certain sign of valour ;" and Otway makes a man, to boast his agility, trip up a beggar on crutches. From such hints I beg a speculation on this subject : in the mean time I shall do all in the power of a weak old fellow in my own defence; for as Diogenes, being in quest of an honest man, sought for him when it was broad daylight with a lantern and candle, so I intend for the future to walk the streets with a dark lantern, which has a convex crystal in it; and if any man stares at me, I give fair warning that I will direct the light full into his eyes. Thus despairing to find men modest, I hope by this means to evade their impudence.
I am, Sir, your humble servant, T.
N° 355. THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 1712.
Non ego mordaci distrinxi carmine quenquam.
Ovid. Trist. ii. 563. I ne'er in gall dipp'd my envenom'd pen,
Nor branded the bold front of shameless men. I have been
very often tempted to write invectives upon those who have detracted from my works, or spoken in derogation of my person; but I look upon it as a particular happiness, that I have always hindered my resentments from proceeding to this extremity. I once had gone through half
a satire, but found so many motions of humanity rising in me towards the persons whom I had severely treated, that I threw it into the fire without ever finishing it. I have been angry enough to make several little epigrams and lampoons; and, after having admired them a day or two, have likewise committed them to the flames. These I look upon as so many sacrifices to humanity, and have received much greater satisfaction from the suppressing such performances, than I could have done from any reputation they might have procured me, or from any mortification they might have given my enemies, in case I had made them public. If a man has any talent in writing, it shews a good mind to forbear answering calumnies and reproaches in the same spirit of bitterness with which they are offered. But when a man has been at some pains in making suitable returns to an enemy, and has the instruments of revenge in his hands, to let drop his wrath, and stifle his resentments, seems to have something in it great and heroical. There is a particular merit in such a way of forgiving an enemy; and the more violent and unprovoked the offence has been, the greater still is the merit of him who thus forgives it.
I never met with a consideration that is more finely spun, and what has better pleased me, than one in Epictetus, which places an enemy in a new light, and gives us a view of him altogether different from that in which we are used to regard him. The sense of it is as follows: 'Does a man reproach thee for being proud or ill-natured, envious or conceited, ignorant or detracting? Consider with thyself whether his reproaches are true. If they are not, consider that thou art not the person whom he reproaches, but that he reviles an imaginary being, and perhaps loves what thou really art, though he hates what thou appearest to be. If his reproaches are true, if thou art the envious, ill-natured man he takes thee