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No. 314 (from The Spectator) Post by :markp Category :Essays Author :Richard Steele Date :September 2011 Read :1540

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No. 314 (from The Spectator)

No. 314.
Friday, February 29, 1712. Steele.

Tandem desine Matrem
Tempestiva sequi viro.

Hor. Od. 23.

Feb. 7, 1711-12.


I am a young Man about eighteen Years of Age, and have been in Love with a young Woman of the same Age about this half Year. I go to see her six Days in the Week, but never could have the Happiness of being with her alone. If any of her Friends are at home, she will see me in their Company; but if they be not in the Way, she flies to her Chamber. I can discover no Signs of her Aversion; but either a Fear of falling into the Toils of Matrimony, or a childish Timidity, deprives us of an Interview apart, and drives us upon the Difficulty of languishing out our Lives in fruitless Expectation. Now, Mr. SPECTATOR, if you think us ripe for Oeconomy, perswade the dear Creature, that to pine away into Barrenness and Deformity under a Mothers Shade, is not so honourable, nor does she appear so amiable, as she would in full Bloom. (There is a great deal left out before he concludes) Mr. SPECTATOR,

Your humble Servant,
Bob Harmless.

If this Gentleman be really no more than Eighteen, I must do him the Justice to say he is the most knowing Infant I have yet met with. He does not, I fear, yet understand, that all he thinks of is another Woman; therefore, till he has given a further Account of himself, the young Lady is hereby directed to keep close to her Mother. The SPECTATOR.

I cannot comply with the Request in Mr. Trott's Letter; but let it go just as it came to my Hands, for being so familiar with the old Gentleman, as rough as he is to him. Since Mr. Trott has an Ambition to make him his Father-in-Law, he ought to treat him with more Respect; besides, his Style to me might have been more distant than he has thought fit to afford me: Moreover, his Mistress shall continue in her Confinement, till he has found out which Word in his Letter is not wrightly spelt.


I shall ever own my self your obliged humble Servant for the Advice you gave me concerning my Dancing; which unluckily came too late: For, as I said, I would not leave off Capering till I had your Opinion of the Matter; was at our famous Assembly the Day before I received your Papers, and there was observed by an old Gentleman, who was informed I had a Respect for his Daughter; told me I was an insignificant little Fellow, and said that for the future he would take Care of his Child; so that he did not doubt but to crosse my amorous Inclinations. The Lady is confined to her Chamber, and for my Part, am ready to hang my self with the Thoughts that I have danced my self out of Favour with her Father. I hope you will pardon the Trouble I give; but shall take it for a mighty Favour, if you will give me a little more of your Advice to put me in a write Way to cheat the old Dragon and obtain my Mistress. I am once more,


Your obliged humble Servant, John Trott.

York, Feb. 23, 1711-12.

Let me desire you to make what Alterations you please, and insert this as soon as possible. Pardon Mistake by Haste.

I never do pardon Mistakes by Haste. The SPECTATOR.

Feb. 27, 1711-12.


Pray be so kind as to let me know what you esteem to be the chief Qualification of a good Poet, especially of one who writes Plays; and you will very much oblige,

SIR, Your very humble Servant, N. B.

To be a very well-bred Man. The SPECTATOR.


You are to know that I am naturally Brave, and love Fighting as well as any Man in England. This gallant Temper of mine makes me extremely delighted with Battles on the Stage. I give you this Trouble to complain to you, that Nicolini refused to gratifie me in that Part of the Opera for which I have most Taste. I observe its become a Custom, that whenever any Gentlemen are particularly pleased with a Song, at their crying out Encore or Altro Volto, the Performer is so obliging as to sing it over again. I was at the Opera the last time Hydaspes was performed. At that Part of it where the Heroe engages with the Lion, the graceful Manner with which he put that terrible Monster to Death gave me so great a Pleasure, and at the same time so just a Sense of that Gentleman's Intrepidity and Conduct, that I could not forbear desiring a Repetition of it, by crying out Altro Volto in a very audible Voice; and my Friends flatter me, that I pronounced those Words with a tolerable good Accent, considering that was but the third Opera I had ever seen in my Life. Yet, notwithstanding all this, there was so little Regard had to me, that the Lion was carried off, and went to Bed, without being killed any more that Night. Now, Sir, pray consider that I did not understand a Word of what Mr. Nicolini said to this cruel Creature; besides, I have no Ear for Musick; so that during the long Dispute between em, the whole Entertainment I had was from my Eye; Why then have not I as much Right to have a graceful Action repeated as another has a pleasing Sound, since he only hears as I only see, and we neither of us know that there is any reasonable thing a doing? Pray, Sir, settle the Business of this Claim in the Audience, and let us know when we may cry Altro Volto, Anglice, again, again, for the Future. I am an Englishman, and expect some Reason or other to be given me, and perhaps an ordinary one may serve; but I expect your Answer.

I am, SIR,
Your most humble Servant,
Toby Rentfree.

Nov. 29.


You must give me Leave, amongst the rest of your Female Correspondents, to address you about an Affair which has already given you many a Speculation; and which, I know, I need not tell you have had a very happy Influence over the adult Part of our Sex: But as many of us are either too old to learn, or too obstinate in the Pursuit of the Vanities which have been bred up with us from our Infancy, and all of us quitting the Stage whilst you are prompting us to act our Part well; you ought, methinks, rather to turn your Instructions for the Benefit of that Part of our Sex, who are yet in their native Innocence, and ignorant of the Vices and that Variety of Unhappinesses that reign amongst us.

I must tell you, Mr. SPECTATOR, that it is as much a Part of your Office to oversee the Education of the female Part of the Nation, as well as of the Male; and to convince the World you are not partial, pray proceed to detect the Male Administration of Governesses as successfully as you have exposed that of Pedagogues; and rescue our Sex from the Prejudice and Tyranny of Education as well as that of your own, who without your seasonable Interposition are like to improve upon the Vices that are now in vogue.

I who know the Dignity of your Post, as SPECTATOR, and the Authority a skilful Eye ought to bear in the Female World, could not forbear consulting you, and beg your Advice in so critical a Point, as is that of the Education of young Gentlewomen. Having already provided myself with a very convenient House in a good Air, I'm not without Hope but that you will promote this generous Design. I must farther tell you, Sir, that all who shall be committed to my Conduct, beside the usual Accomplishments of the Needle, Dancing, and the French Tongue, shall not fail to be your constant Readers. It is therefore my humble Petition, that you will entertain the Town on this important Subject, and so far oblige a Stranger, as to raise a Curiosity and Enquiry in my Behalf, by publishing the following Advertisement.

I am, SIR,
Your constant Admirer,
M. W.


(The end)
Richard Steele's essay: No. 314 (from The Spectator)

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