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therefore, once for all, inform my readers, that it is not my intention to sink the dignity of this my paper with reflections upon red heels or top-knots, but rather to enter into the passions of mankind, and to correct those depraved sentiments that give birth to all those little extravagancies which appear in their outward dress and behaviour. Foppish and fantastic ornaments are only indications of vice, not criminal in themselves. Extinguish vanity in the mind, and you naturally retrench the little superfluities of garniture and equipage. The blossoms will fall of themselves, when the root that nourishes them is destroyed.
I shall therefore, as I have said, apply my remedies to the first seeds and principles of an affected dress, without descending to the dress itself; though at the same time I must own that I have thoughts of creating an officer under me, to be entitled The Censor of Small Wares, and of allotting him one day in a week for the execution of such his office. An operator of this nature might act under me, with the same regard as a surgeon to a physician; the one might be employed in healing those blotches and tumors which break out in the body, while the other is sweetening the blood and rectifying the constitution. To speak truly, the young people of both. sexes are so wonderfully apt to shoot out into long swords or sweeping trains, bushy head-dresses, or full-bottomed periwigs, with several other incumbrances of dress, that they stand in need of being pruned very frequently, lest they should be oppressed with ornaments, and over-run with the luxuriancy of their habits. I am much in doubt whether I should give the preference to a Quaker that is trimmed close, and almost cut to the quick, or to a beau that is loaded with such a redundance of excrescences. I must therefore desire my correspondents to let me know how they approve my project, and whether they think the erecting of such a petty censorship may not turn to the emolument of the public: for I would not do any thing of this nature rashly and without advice.
There is another set of correspondents to whom I must address myself in the second place; I mean such as fill their letters with private scandal, and black accounts of particular persons and families. The world is so full of
ill-nature, that I have lampoons sent me by people who cannot spell, and satires composed by those who scarce know how to write. By the last post in particular, I received a packet of scandal which is not legible; and have a whole bundle of letters in womens hands that are full of blots and calumnies, insomuch, that when I see the name CALIA, PHILLIS, PASTORA, or the like, at the bottom of a scrawl, I conclude of course that it brings me some account of a fallen virgin, a faithless wife, or an amorous widow. I must therefore inform these my correspondents, that it is not my design to be a publisher of intrigues and cuckoldoms, or to bring little infamous stories out of their present lurking holes into broad daylight. If I attack the vicious, I shall only set upon them in a body; and will not be provoked by the worst usage I can receive from others, to make an example of any particu lar criminal. In short, I have so much of a DRAWCANSER in me, that I shall pass over a single foe to charge whole armies. It is not LAIS nor SILENUS, but the harlot and the drunkard, whom I shall endeavour to expose; and shall consider the crime as it appears in a species, not as it is circumstanced in an individual. I think it was CALI GULA who wished the whole city of Rome had but one neck, that he might behead them at one blow. I shall do out of humanity what that Emperor would have done in the cruelty of his temper, and aim every stroke at a collective body of offenders. At the same time, I am very sensible that rothing spreads a paper like private calumny and defamation ; but as my speculations are not under this necessity, they are not exposed to this temptation.
In the next place, I must apply myself to my partycorrespondents, who are continually teazing me to take notice of one another's proceedings. How often am I asked by both sides, if it is possible for me to be an unconcerned spectator of the rogueries that are committed by the party which is opposite to him that writes the letter? About two days since I was reproached with an old Grecian law, that forbids any man to stand as a neuter or a looker-on in the divisions of his country. However, as I am very sensible my paper would lose its whole effect should it run into the outrages of a party, I shall take care to keep clear of every thing which
looks that way. If I can any way assuage private inflammations, or allay public ferments, I shall apply myself to it with my utmost endeavours; but will never let my heart reproach me with having done any thing towards increasing those feuds and animosities that extinguish religion, deface government, and make a nation miserable.
What I have said under the three foregoing, heads, will, I am afraid, very much retrench the number of my correspondents: I shall therefore acquaint my reader, that if he has started any hint which he is not able to pursue; if he has met with any surprising story which her does not know how to tell; if he has discovered any peidemical vice which has escaped my observation, or has heard of any uncommon virtue which he would desire to publish; in short, if he has any materials that can furnish out an innocent diversion-I shall promise him my best assistance in the working of them up for a public entertainment.
This paper, my reader will find, was intended for an answer to a multitude of correspondents; but I hope he will pardon me if I single out one of them in particular, who has made me so very humble a request. that I cannot forbear complying with it.
TO THE SPECTATOR.
MARCH 15. 1710-11:
"I AM at present so unfortunate as to have nothing to do but to mind my own business; and therefore beg that you will be pleased to put me into some small post under you. I observe that you have appointed your printer and publisher to receive letters and ad vertisements for the city of London; and shall think myself very much honoured by you, if you will appoint me to take in letters and advertisements for the city of Westminster and the duchy of Lancaster. Though I cannot promise to fill such an employment with sufficient abilities, I will endeavour to make up with industry and fidelity what I want in parts and genius. I am, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
SINCE Our persons are not of our own making, when they are such as appear defective or uncomely, it is, methinks, an honest and laudable fortitude to dare to be ugly; at least, to keep ourselves from being abashed with a consciousness of imperfections which we cannot help, and in which there is no guilt. I would not defend a haggard beau for passing away much time at a glass, and giving softnesses and languishing graces to deformity: all I intend is, that we ought to be contented with our countenance and shape, so far, as never to give ourselves an uneasy reflection on that subject. It is to the ordi nary people, who are not accustomed to make very proper remarks on any occasion, matter of great jest, if a man enters with a prominent pair of shoulders into an assembly, or is distinguished by an expansion of mouth or obliquity of aspect: It is happy for a man that has of these oddnesses about him, if he can be as merry upon himself as others are apt to be upon that occasion: when he can possess himself with such a cheerfulness, women and children, who were at first frighted at him, will afterwards be as much pleased with him. As it is barbarous in others to rally him for natural defects, it is extremely agreeable when he can jest upon himself for
Madam MAINTENON's first husband was a hero of this kind, and has drawn many pleasantries from the irregularity of his shape, which he describes as very much resembling the letter Z. He diverts himself likewise by representing to his reader the make of an engine and pulley, with which he used to take off his hat.
there happens to be any thing ridiculous in a visage, and the owner thinks it an aspect of dignity, he must be of very great quality to be exempt from raillery: the best expedient, therefore, is to be pleasant upon himself. Prince HARRY and FALSTAFF, in SHAKESPEARE, have carried the ridicule upon fat and lean as far as it will go. FALSTAFF is humorously called Woolsack, Bed-presser, and Hill of flesh; HARRY, a Starveling, an Elves-skin, a Sheath, a Bow-case, and a Tuck. There is, in several incidents of the conversation between them, the jest still kept up upon the person. Great tenderness and sensi bility in this point is one of the greatest weaknesses of self-love. For my own part, I am a little unhappy in the mould of my face, which is not quite so long as it is broad: whether this might not partly arise from my opening my mouth much seldomer than other people, and by consequence not so much lengthening the fibres of my visage, I am not at leisure to determine. However it be, I have been often put out of countenance by the shortness of my face, and was formerly at great pains in concealing it by wearing a periwig with an high foretop, and letting my beard grow. But now I have thoroughly got over this delicacy, and could be contented it were much shorter, provided it might qualify me for a member of the merry club, which the following letter gives me an account of. I have received it from Oxford; and as it abounds with the spirit of mirth and good humour, which is natural to that place, I shall set it down word for word as it came to me.
"MOST PROFOUND SIR,
HAVING been very well entertained in the last of your speculations that I have yet seen, by your specimen upon clubs, which I therefore hope you will continue, I shall take the liberty to furnish you with a brief account of such a one as perhaps you have not seen in all your travels, unless it was your fortune to touch upon some of the woody parts of the African continent, in your voyage to or from Grand Cairo. There have arose in this university, long since you left us without saying any thing, several of these inferior hebdomadal societies, as the Punning Club, the Witty Club,