face, and to be an honest, just, good-natured man, in spite of all those marks and signatures which nature seems to have set upon him for the contrary, This very often happens among those, who, instead of being exasperated by their own looks, or envying the louks of others, apply themselves entirely to the cultivating of their minds, and getting' those beauties which are more lasting, and more ornamental. I have seen many an amiable piece of deformity: and have observed a certain cheerfulness in as bad a system of features as ever was clapped together, which hath appeared more lovely than all the blooming charins of an insolent beauty. There is a double praise due to virtue, when it is lodged in a body that seems to have been prepared for the reception of vice; in many such cases the soul and the body do not seem to be fellows.

Socrates was an extraordinary instance of this nature. There chanced to be a great physiognomist in his time at Athens, who had made strange discoveries of men's tempers and inclinations by their outward appearances. Socrates's disciples, that they might put this artist to the trial, carried him to their master, whom he had never seen before, and

did not know he was then in company with him. # After a short examination of his face, the physiog

nomist pronounced him the most lewd, libidinous, drunken old fellow that he had ever met with in his whole life. Upon which the disciples all burst out a laughing, as thinking they had detected the falsehood and vanity of his art. But Socrates told them, that the principles of his art might be very true, notwithstanding his present mistake; for that he himself was naturally inclined to those particular vices which the physiognomist had discovered in his countenance; but that he had conquered the strong dispositions he was born with, by the dictates of philosophy*.

We are indeed told by an ancient authort, that Socrates very much resembled Silenus in his face; * Cicero's Tusculan Questions.

+ Plato,

[ocr errors]

which we find to have been very rightly observed from the statues and busts of both, that are still extant; as well as ou several antique seals and precious stones, which are frequently enough to be met with in the cabinets of the curious. But however observations of this nature may sometimes hold, a wise man should be particularly cautious how he gives credit to a man's outward appearance, It is an irreparable injustice we are guilty of towards one another, when we are prejudiced by the looks and features of those whom we do not know. How often do we conceive hatred against a. person of worth, or fancy a man to be proud or illnatured by his aspect, whom we think we cannot esteem too much when we are acquainted with his real character? Dr. Moore, in his admirable System of Ethics, reckons this particular inclination to take a prejudice against a man for his looks, among the smaller vices in morality, and, if I remember, gives it the name of a prosopolepsiu*.

[ocr errors]



NO. 87. SATCRDAY, JUNE 9, 1711.

-Nimirim ne crede colori.

VIRG. Ecl. ii. 17.
Trust not too much to an enchanting face.

DRYDEN. It has been the purpose of several of my speculations to bring people to an unconcerned behaviour, with relation to their persons, whether beautiful or defective. As the secrets of the Ugly Club † were exposed to the public, that men might see there were some noble spirits in the age, who are not at all displeased with themselves upon considerations which they had no choice in ; so the discourse concerning

* A Greek word, translated in our New Testament (Roin. ii. 11. and Eph. vi. 9.) • A respecter of persons

† See No 17, &c.


Idols * tended to lessen the value people put upon themselves from personal advantages and gifts of nature. As to the latter species of mankind, the beauties, whether male or female, they are generally the most untractable people of all others. You are so excessively perplexed with the particularities in their behaviour, that to be at ease, one would be apt to wish there were no such creatures. They expect so great allowances, and give so little to others, that they who have to do with them find in the main, a man with a better person than ordinary, anda beautiful woman, might be very happily changed for such to whom nature has been less liberal. The handsome fellow is usually so much a gentleman, and the fine woman, has something so becoming, that there is no enduring either of them. It has therefore been generally, my choice to mix with cheerful ugly creatures, rather than gentlemen who are graceful enough to omit or do what they please; or beauties who have charms enough to do and say what would be disobliging in any but themselves.

Diffidence and presumption, upon account of our persons, are equally faults; and both arise from the want of knowing, or rather endeavouring to know ourselves, and for what we ought to be valued or neglected. But indeed I did not imagine these little considerations and coquetries could have the ill consequence as I find they have by the following letters of my correspondents, where it seems beauty is thrown into the account, in matters of sale, to those who receive no favour from the charmers.



June 4. AFTER I have assured you, I am in every respect one of the handsomest young girls about town, I need be particular in nothing

but the make of my face, which has the misfortune to be exactly oval. This I take to proceed from a temper that naturally inclines me both to speak and hear.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

• With this account you may wonder how I can have the vanity to offer myself as a candidate, which I now do, to a society, where the Spectator and Hecatissa * have been admitted with so much applause. I don't want to be put in mind how very defective I am in every thing that is ugly; I am too sensible of my own unworthiness in this particular, and therefore I only propose myself as a foil to the club.

" You see how honest I have been to confess all my imperfections, which is a great deal to come from a woman, and what I hope you will encourage with the favour of your interest.

• There can be no objection made on the side of the matchless Hecatissa, since it is certain I shall be in no danger of giving her the least occasion of jealousy: and then a joint-stool in the very lowest place at the table, is all the honour that is covet

ed by

Your most humble
and obedient servant,


• P.S. I have sacrificed my necklace to put into the public lottery against the common enemy. And last Saturday, about three o'clock in the afternoon, I began to patch indifferently on both sides of my face.

London, June 7, 1711. UPON reading your late dissertation concerning Idols, I cannot but complain to you that there are, in six or seven places of this city, coffee-houses kept by persons of that sisterhood. These Idols sit and receive all day long the adoration of the youth within such and such districts. I know, in particular, goods are not entered as they ought to be at the custom-house, nor law-reports perused at the Temple, by reason of one beauty who detains the young merchants too long near 'Change, and -apother fair one who keeps the students at her house


* See No 48.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

when they should be at study*. It would be worth your while to see how the idolaters alternately offer incense to their Idols, and what heart-burnings arise in those who wait for their turn to receive kind aspects from those little thrones, which all the company, but these lovers, call the bars. I saw a gentleman turn as pale as ashes, because an Idol turned the sugar in a tea-dish for his rival, and carelessly called the boy to serve him, with a

66 Sirrah ! why don't you give the gentleman the box to please bimself?” Certain it is, that a very hopeful young man was taken with leads in his pockets below břidge, where he intended to drown himself, because his Idol would wash the dish in which she had but just drunk tea, before she would let him use it.

I am, Sir, a person past being amorous, and do not give this information out of envy or jealousy, but I am a real sufferer by it. These lovers take any thing for tea and coffee; I saw one yesterday surfeit to make his court, and all his rivals, at the same time, loud in the commendation of liquors that went against every body in the room that was not in love. While these young fellows resign their stomachs with their hearts, and drink at the Idol in this manner, we who come to do business, or talk politics, are utterly poisoned. They have also drams for those who are more enamoured thań ordinary ; and it is very common for such as are too low in constitution to ogle the Idol upon the strength of tea, to fiuster themselves with warmer liquors : thus all pretenders advance, as fast as they can, to a fever, or a diabetes. I must repeat to you, that I do not look with an evil eye upon the profit of the Idols, or the diversions of the lovers; what I hope from this remonstrance, is only that we plain people may not be served as if we were idolaters

; but that from the time of publishing this in your paper, the Idols would mix ratsbane only for their

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* This Idol was a young widow who kept the Widow's coffee-house (then so called) in Devereux Court, in the Strand.

« VorigeDoorgaan »