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night, would be more afflicting to her than the death of a child. She pities all the valuable part of her own sex; and calls every woman of a prudent, modest, retired life, a poorspirited, unpolished creature. What a mortification would it be to Fulvia, if she knew that her setting herself to view, is but exposing herself, and that she grows contemptible by being conspicuous !
I cannot conclude my paper without observing, that Virgil has very finely touched upon this female passion for dress and show, in the character of Camilla ; who, though she seems to have shaken off all the other weaknesses of her sex, is still described as a woman in this particular. The poet tells us, that, after having made a great slaughter of the enemy, she unfor
, tunately cast her eye on a Trojan, who wore an embroidered tunic, a beautiful coat of mail, with a mantle of the finest purple. "A golden bow," says he, “hung upon his shoulder; his garment was buckled with a golden clasp; and his head covered with an helmet of the same shining metal.” The Amazon immediately singled out this well-dressed warrior, being seized with a woman's longing for the pretty trappings that he was adorned with.
-Totumque incauta per agmen
Fæmineo prædæ et spoliorum ardebat amore. This heedless pursuit after these glittering trifles, the poet (by a nice concealed moral) represents to have been the destruction of his female hero.
No. 16. MONDAY, MARCH, 19.
Quod verum atque decens curo et rogo, et omnis in hoc sum. Hor.
I HAVE received a letter, desiring me to be very satirical upon the little muff that is now in fashion ; another informs me of a pair of silver garters buckled below the knee, that have been lately seen at the Rainbow Coffee-house, in Fleet Street: a third sends me an heavy complaint against fringed gloves. To be brief, there is scarce an ornament of either sex, which one or other of my correspondents has not inveighed against with some bitterness, and recommended to my observation. I must therefore, once for all, inform my readers, that it is not my intention to sink the dignity of
this my paper with reflections
red-heels or top-knots, but rather to enter into the passions of mankind, and to correct those depraved sentiments that gave 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 tumours 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 encumbrances of dress, that they stand in need of being pruned very frequently, lest they should be oppressed with ornaments, and overrun with the luxuriance 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 loaden 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 anything of this nature raskly 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 women's hands that are full of blots and calumnies, insomuch, that when I see the name Cælia, 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 day-light. 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 particular criminal. In short, I have so much of a Drawcansir in me, that I shall pass over a single foe to charge whole armies. It is not Lais or 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 Caligula, who wished the whole city of Rome had but one neck, that he might behead them at a 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 nothing spreads a paper like private calumny and defamation; but as my speculations are pot under this necessity, they are not exposed to this temptation.
In the next place I must apply myself to my party correspondents, who are continually teasing 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 everything which looks that way. If I can any way assuage private inflammations, or alláy public ferments, I shall apply myself to it with my utmost endeavours; but will never let my heart reproach me with having done anything 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
hint which he is not able to pursue, if he has met with any surprising story which he does not know how to tell, if he has discovered any epidemical 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. SIR,
March 15th, 1710-11. I am at present so unfortunate, as to have nothing to do but to mind my own business; and therefore beg of you 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 advertisements 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,
No. 18. WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21.
-Equitis quoque jam migravit ab aure voluptas
Hor. It is my design in this paper to deliver down to posterity a faithful account of the Italian Opera, and of the gradual
progress which it has made upon the English stage: for
gave us a taste of Italian music. The great success this opera met with, produced some attempts of forming pieces upon Italian plans, which should give a more natural and reasonable entertainment than what can be met with in the elaborate trifles of that nation. This alarmed the poetasters and fiddlers of the town, who were used to deal in a more ordinary kind of ware; and therefore laid down an established rule, which is received as such to, this day, “ That nothing is capable of being well set to music, that is not nonsense.
This maxim was no sooner received, but we immediately fell to translating the Italian operas; and as there was no danger of hurting the sense of those extraordinary pieces, our authors would often make words of their own, which were entirely foreign to the meaning of the passages they pretended to translate; their chief care being to make the numbers of the English verse answer to those of the Italian, that both of them might go to the same tune. Thus the famous song in Camilla,
Barbara si t'intendo,
“Barbarous woman, yes, I know your meaning." which expresses the resentments of an angry lover, was translated into that English lamentation,
“Frail are a lover's liopes,” &c. And it was pleasant enough to see the most refined persons of the British nation dying away and languishing to notes that were filled with a spirit of rage and indignation. It happened also very frequently, where the sense was rightly translated, the necessary transposition of words which were drawn out of the phrase of one tongue into that of another, made the music appear very absurd in one tongue that was very
natural in the other. I remember an Italian verse that thus, word for word,
“And turned my rage into pity;"