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has not been sufficient pains taken in finding out proper employments and diversions for the fair ones. Their amusements seem contrived for them, rather as they are women, than as they are reasonable creatures, and are more adapted to the sex than to the species. The toilet is their great scene of business, and the right adjusting of their hair the principal employment of their lives. The sorting of a suit of ribbons is reckoned a very good morning's work; and if they make an excursion to a mercer's or a toy-shop, so great a fatigue makes them unfit for anything else all the day after. Their more serious occupations are sewing and embroidery, and their greatest drudgery the preparation of jellies and sweet-meats. This, I say, is the state of ordinary women ; though I know there are multitudes of those of a more elevated life and conversation, that move in an exalted sphere of knowledge and virtue, that join all the beauties of the mind to the ornaments of dress, and inspire a kind of awe and respect, as well as love, into their male beholders. I hope to increase the number of these by publishing this daily paper, which I shall always endeavor to make an innocent, if not an improving entertainment, and by that means at least divert the minds of my female readers from greater trifles. At the same time, as I would fain give some finishing touches to those which are already the most beautiful pieces of human nature, I shall endeavor to point out all those imperfections that are the blemishes, as well as those virtues which are the embellishments of the sex. In the meanwhile I hope these my gentle readers, who have so much time on their hands, will not grudge throwing away a quarter of an hour in a day on this paper, since they may do it without any hindrance to business.
I know several of my friends and well-wishers are in great pain for me, lest I should not be able to keep up the spirit of a paper which I oblige myself to furnish every day: but to make them easy in this particular, I will prom
ise them faithfullly to give it over as soon as
grow dull. This I know will be matter of great raillery to the small wits; who will frequently put me in mind of my promise, desire me to keep my word, assure me that it is high time to give over, with many other little pleasantries of the like nature, which men of a little smart genius cannot forbear throwing out against their best friends, when they have such a handle given them of being witty. But let them remember that I do hereby enter my caveat against this piece of raillery.
Spectator No. 101. The Spectator imagines himself described by
an antiquarian of a future age.
I cannot forbear entertaining myself very often with the idea of an imaginary historian describing the reign of Anne the First and introducing it with a preface to his reader, that he is now entering upon the most shining part of English story. The great rivals in fame will be then distinguished according to their respective merits, and shine in their proper points of light. “Such an one," says the historian, “though variously represented by the writers of his own age, appears to have been a man of more than ordinary abilities, great application, and uncommon integrity: nor was such a one, though of an opposite party and interest, inferior to him in any of these respects.” The several antagonists who now endeavor to depreciate one another, and are celebrated or traduced by different parties, will then have the same body of admirers, and appear illustrious in the opinion of the whole British nation. The deserving man, who can now recommend himself to the esteem of but half his countrymen, will then receive the approbations and applauses of a whole age.
Among the several persons who flourish in this glorious reign, there is no question but such a future historian, as
person of whom I am speaking, will make mention of the men of genius and learning who have now any figure in the British nation. For my own part, I often flatter myself with the honorable mention which will then be made of me; and have drawn up a paragraph in my own imagination, that I fancy will not be altogether unlike what will be found in some page or other of this imaginary historian.
“It was under this reign,” says he, “that the Spectator published those little diurnal essays which are still extant. We know very little of the name or person of this author, except only that he was a man of a very short face, extremely addicted to silence, and so great a lover of knowledge, that he made a voyage to Grand Cairo for no other reason but to take the measure of a pyramid. His chief friend was one Sir Roger de Coverley, a whimsical country knight, and a Templar, whose name he has not transmitted to us. He lived as a lodger at the house of a widow-woman, and was a great humorist in all parts of his life. This is all we can affirm with any certainty of his person and character. As for his speculations, notwithstanding the several obsolete words and obscure phrases of the age in which he lived, we still understand enough of them to see the diversions and characters of the English nation in his time : not but that we are to make allowance for the mirth and humor of the author, who has doubtless strained many representations of things beyond the truth. For if we interpret his words in their literal meaning, we must suppose that women of the first quality used to pass away whole mornings at a puppet-show: that they attested their principles by their patches : that an audience would sit out an evening to hear a dramatical performance written in a language which they did not understand: that chairs and flower-pots were introduced as actors upon the British stage: that a promiscuous assembly of men and women were allowed to meet at midnight in masques within the verge of the court; with many improbabilities of the like nature. We must therefore, in these and the like cases, suppose that these remote hints and allusions aimed at some certain follies which were then in vogue, and which at present we have not any notion of. We may guess by several passages in the speculations, that there were writers who endeavored to detract from the works of this author, but as nothing of this nature has come down to us, we cannot guess at any objections that could be made to his paper. If we consider his style with that indulgence which we must show to old English writers, or if we look into the variety of his subjects, with those several dissertations, moral reflections. ..."
The following part of the paragraph is so much to my advantage, and beyond anything I can pretend to, that I hope my reader will excuse me for not inserting it.
Spectator No. 124. Large books versus pamphlets and newspapers.
A man who publishes his works in a volume, has an infinite advantage over one who communicates his writings to the world in loose tracts and single pieces. We do not expect to meet with anything in a bulky volume, till after some heavy preamble, and several words of course, to prepare the reader for what follows: nay, authors have established it as a kind of rule, that a man ought to be dull sometimes, as the most severe reader makes allowances for many rests and nodding places in a voluminous writer. This gave occasion to the famous Greek proverb “That a great book is a great evil.”
On the contrary, those who publish their thoughts in distinct sheets, and as it were by piece-meal, have none of these advantages. We must immediately fall into our subject, and treat every part of it in a lively manner, or our papers are thrown by as dull and insipid: our matter must lie close together, and either be wholly new in itself, or in the turn it receives from our expressions. Were the books of our best authors thus to be retailed to the public, and every page submitted to the taste of forty or fifty thousand readers, I am afraid we should complain of many flat expressions, trivial observations, beaten topics, and common thoughts, which go off very well in the lump.
At the same time, notwithstanding some papers may be made up of
broken hints and irregular sketches, it is often expected that every sheet should be a kind of treatise, and make out in thought what it wants in bulk: that a point of humor should be worked up in all its parts; and a subject touched upon in its most essential articles, without the repetitions, tautologies, and enlargements, that are indulged to longer labors. The ordinary writers of morality prescribe to their readers after the Galenic way; their medicines are made up in large quantities. An essay writer must practise in the chymical method, and give the virtue of a full draught in a few drops. Were all books reduced thus to their quintessence, many a bulky author would make his appearance in a penny-paper: there would be scarce such a thing in nature as a folio: the works of an age would be contained on a few shelves; not to mention millions of volumes that would be utterly annihilated.
I cannot think that the difficulty of furnishing out separate papers of this nature, has hindered authors from communicating their thoughts to the world after such a manner: though I must confess I am amazed that the press should be only made use of in this way by news-writers, and the zealots of parties; as if it were not more advantageous to mankind, to be instructed in wisdom and virtue, than in politics; and to be made good fathers, husbands, and sons, than counsellors and statesmen. Had the philosophers and great men of antiquity, who took so much pains in order to instruct mankind, and leave the world wiser and better than they found it, - had they, I say, been possessed of the art of printing, there is no question but they would have made such an advantage of it, in dealing out their lectures to the public. Our common prints would be of great use were they thus calculated to diffuse good sense through the bulk of a people, to clear up their understandings, animate their minds with virtue, dissipate the sorrows of a heavy heart, or unbend the mind from its more severe employments,