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NO 104. FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 1711.
Qualis equos Threissa futigat
VIRG. Æn. i. 320.
Her Thracian courser. It would be a noble improvement, or rather a recovery of what we call good-breding, if nothing were to pass amongst us for agreeable which was the least trangression against that rule of life called decorum, or a regard to decency. This would command the respect of mankind, because, it carries in it deference to their good opinion, as humility lodged in a worthy mind is always attended with a certain homage, which no haughty soul, with all the
; arts imaginable, will ever be able to purchase. Tul.
virtue and decency are so nearly related, that it is difficult to separate them from each other but in our imagination. As the beauty of the body always accompanies the health of it, so certainly is decency concomitant to virtue. As beauty of body, with an agreeable carriage, pleases the eye, and that pleasure consists in that we observe all the parts with a certain elegance are proportioned to each other; so does decency of behaviour which appears in our lives obtain the approbation of all with whom we converse, from the order, consistency, and moderation of our words and actions. This flows from the reverence we bear towards every good man, and to the world in general; for to be negligent of what any one thinks of you, does not only shew you arrogant but abandoned. In all these considerations we are to distinguish how one virtue differs from another. As it is the part of justice never to do violence, it is of modesty never to commit offence. In this last particular lies the whole force of what is called decency; to this purpose that excellent moralist above-mentioned talks of decency; but this quality is more easily comprehended by an ordinary capacity, than expressed with all his eloquence. This decency of behaviour is genera'ly transgressed among all orders of men; nay, the very women, though themselves created it as it were for ornament, are often very much mistaken in this ornamental part of life. it would methinks be a short rule for behaviour, if every young lady in her dress, words, and actions, were only to recommend herself as a sister, daughter, or wife, and make herself the more.esteemed in one of those characters.
The care of themselves, with regard to the families in which women are born, is the best motive for their being courted to come into the alliance of other houses. Nothing can promote this end more than a ștrict preservation of decency. I should be glad if a certain equestrian order of ladies, some of whom one meets in an evening at every outlet of the town, would take this subject into their serious consideration. In order thereunto the following letter may not be wholly unworthy their perusal:
( MR. SPECTATOR,
Going lately to take the air in one of the most beautiful evenings this season has produced; as I was admiring the serenity of the sky, the lively colours of the fields, and the variety of the landscape every way around me, my eyes were suddenly called off from these inanimate objects by a little party of horsemen I saw passing the road. The greater part of them escaped my particular observation, by reason that
whole attention was fixed on a very fair youth who rode in the midst of them, and seemed to have been dressed by some description in a
His features, coniplexion, and habit had a remarkable effeminacy, and a certain languishing vanity appeared in his air. His hair, well curled and powdered, hung to a considerable length on his shoulders, and was wantonly tied, as if by the hands of his mistress, in a scarlet riband, which played like a streamer behind him; he had a coat and waistcoat
of blue camlet trimmed and embroidered with silver; a cravat of the finest lace; and wore, in a smart cock, a little beaver hat edged with silver, and made more sprightly by a feather. His borse too, which was a pacer, was adorned after the same airy manner, and seemed to share in the vanity of the rider. As I was pitying the luxury of this young person, who appeared to me to have been educated only as an object of sight, 1 perceived on my nearer approach, and as I turned my eyes downward, a part of the equipage I had not observed before, which was a petticoat of the same with the coat and waistcoat. After this discovery, I looked again on the face of the fair Amazon who had thus deceived me, and thought those features which had before offended me by their softness, were new strengthened into as improper a boldness; and though her eyes, nose, and mouth seemed to be formed with perfect symmetry, I am not certain whether she, who in appearance was a very handsome youth, may not be in reality a very indifferent woman.
• There is an objection which naturally presents itself against these occasional perplexities and mixtures of dress, which is, that they seem to break in upon that propriety and distinction of appearance in which the beauty of different characters is preserved; and if they should be more frequent than they are at present, would look like turning our public assemblies into a general masquerade. The model of this
. Amazonian hunting-habit for ladies, was', as I take 'it, first imported from France, and well enough expresses the gaiety of a people who are taught to do any thing, so it be with an assurance; but I cannot help thinking it sits aukwardly yet on our English modesty. The petticoat is a kind of incumbrance upon it; and if the Amazons should thiok fit to go on, in this plunder of our sex's ornaments, they ought to add to their spoils, and complete their triumph over us, by wearing the breeches.
• If it be natural to contract insensibly the manners of those we imitate, the ladies who are pleased
with assuming our dresses will do us more honour than we deserve, but they will do it at their own expence. Why should the lovely Camilla deceive us in more shapes than her own, and affect to be represented in her picture with a gun and a spániel; while her eldest brother, the heir of a worthy family, is drawn in silks like his sister? The dress and air of a man are not well to be divided; and those whó would not be content with the latter, ought never to think of assuming the former. There is so large a portion of natural agreeableness among the fair sex of our island, that they seem betrayed into these romantic habits without having the same occasion for them with their inventors : all that needs to be desired of them is, that they would be themselves, that is, what nature designed them; and to see their mistake when they depart from this, let them look upon a man who affects the softness and effeminacy of a woman, to learn how their sex must appear to us, when approaching to the resemblance of a man.
I am, SIR,
• Your most humble servant. [The letter by Hugnes.]
NO 105. SATURDAY, JUNE 30, 1711.
TER. Andr. Act. 1. Sc. I.
much addicted to any one thing. My friend Will Honeycomb values himself very much upon what he calls the knowledge of mankind, which has cost him many disasters in his youth; for Will reckons every misfortune that he has met with among the women, and every rencounter among the mon, as parts of bis education; and fancies he should never have been the man he is, had he not broke windows, knocked down constables, disturbed honest people with his midnight serenades, and beat up a lewd woman's quarters, when he was a young fellow. The engaging in adventures of this nature Will calls the studying of mankind; and terms this knowledge of the town, the knowledge of the world. Will ingenuously confesses, that for half his life his head ached every morning with reading of men over-night; and at present comforts himself under certain pains which he endures from time to time, that without them he could not have been acquainted with the gallantries of the age. This will looks upon as the learning of a gentleman, and regards all other kinds of science as the accomplishments of one whom he calls a scholar, a bookish man, or a philosopher.
For these reasons Will shines in mixed company, where he has the discretion not to go out of his depth, and has often à certain way of making his real ignorance appear a seeming one. Our club however has frequently caught him tripping, at which times they never spare him. For as Will often insults us with his knowledge of the town, we sometimes take our revenge upon him by our knowledge of books.
He was last week producing two or three letters which he writ in his youth to a coquette lady. The raillery of them was natural, and well enough for a mere man of the town; but, very unluckily several of the words were wrong spelt. Will laughed this off at first as well as he could; but finding himself pushed on all sides, and especially by the Templar, he told us with a little passion, that he never liked pedantry in spelling, and that he speit like a gentleman, and not like a scholar : 'upon this will had recourse to his old topic of shewing the narrow-spiritedness, the pride, and ignorance of pedants; which he carried so far, tha: upon my retiring to my lodgings, I could not forbear throwing together such reAections as occurred to me upon that subject.