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In answer to my fair disciple, whom I am very proud of, I must acquaint her and the rest of my readers, that since I have called out for help in my catalogue of a lady's library, I have received many letters upon that head; some of which I shall give an account of.
In the first class I shall take notice of those which come to me from eminent booksellers, who every one of them mention with respect the authors they have printed; and consequently have an eye to their own advantage more than to that of the ladies. One tells me, that he thinks it absolutely necessary for women to have true notions of right and equity, and that therefore they cannot peruse a better book than Dalton's Country Justice.'Another thinks they cannot be without “The Compleat Jockey.'? A third, observing the curiosity and desire of prying into secrets which he tells me is natural to the fair sex, is of opinion this female inclination, if well directed, might turn very much to their advantage, and therefore recommends to me ‘Mr. Mede upon the Revelations.'3 A fourth lays it down as an unquestioned truth, that a lady cannot be thoroughly accomplished who has not read 'The Secret Treaties and Negotiations of the Marshal d'Estrades.' 4 Mr. Jacob Tonson, junr., is of opinion that Bayle's Dictionary'? might be of very great use to the ladies, in order to make them general scholars. Another, whose name I have forgotten, thinks it highly proper that every woman with child should read Mr. Wall's 'History of Infant Baptism'?: as another is very importunate with me, to recommend to all my female readers, 'The Finishing Stroke: being a Vindication of the Patriarchal Scheme, &c.' 3 • In the second class I shall mention books which are recommended by husbands, if I may believe the writers of them. Whether or no they are real husbands or personated ones I cannot tell, but the books they recommend are as follow : 'A Paraphrase on the History of Susanna,' 'Rules to Keep Lent,' "The Christian's Overthrow Prevented,' 'A Dissuasive from the Playhouse,'4 The Virtues of Camphire, with Directions to make Camphire Tea,' “The Pleasures of a Country Life,' “The Government of the Tongue.'5 A letter dated from Cheapside desires me that I would advise all young wives to make themselves mistresses of Wingate's .Arithmetic,' and concludes with a postscript, that he hopes I will not forget "The Countess of Kent's Receipts."
i Michael Dalton's Country Justice' first appeared in 1618.
2 Probably the book referred to is • The Experienced Jockey, Compleat Horseman; or, Gentleman's Delight,' 1684.
3 Joseph Mede's Clavis Apocalyptica was published in 1627, and was translated in 1643. Mede wrote also a Commentary on the Apocalypse.
4 D’Estrades died in 1686. He negotiated the sale of Dunkirk to Louis XIV., and represented France during the preparation of the Treaty of Nimeguen.
1 Tonson published the translation of Bayle's Dictionary in 1710. 2 Dr. William Wall's book appeared in 1705.
3 Published in 1711 by Charles Leslie, the conjurer, in reply to the Original and Institution of Civil Government,' by Benjamin Hoadley, afterwards Bishop of Bangor (Arnold).
4 One of Jeremy Collier's pamphlets, published in 1703.
6 Steele borrowed largely from this book in compiling his • Ladies' Library,' 1714.
6 Edmund Wingate's · Arithmetic' reached a twelfth edition in 1708.
7 The second edition of "A Choice Manual ; or, Rare and Select Secrets in Physic and Chirurgery: as also most Exquisite
I may reckon the ladies themselves as a third class among these my correspondents and privy councillors. In a letter from one of them, I am advised to place * Pharamond' at the head of my catalogue, and, if I think proper, to give the second place to 'Cassandra.'2 Coquettilla begs me not to think of nailing women upon their knees with manuals of devotion, nor of scorching their faces with books of housewifery. Florella desires to know if there are any books written against prudes, and entreats me, if there are, to give them a place in my library. Plays of all sorts have their several advocates: "All for Love' is mentioned in above fifteen letters; 'Sophonisba ; or, Hannibal's Overthrow,' in a dozen; the 'Innocent Adultery' is likewise highly approved of: Mithridates, King of Pontus,' has many friends; ‘Alexander the Great' and 'Aurengzebe' have the same number of voices; but ‘Theodosius; or, the Force of Love,' carries it from all the rest.3
I should, in the last place, mention such books as have been proposed by men of learning, and those who appear competent judges of this matter; and must here take occasion to thank A. B., whoever it is that conceals himself under those two letters, for his advice upon this subject : but as I find the work I have undertaken to be very difficult, I shall defer the executing of it till I am further acquainted with
Ways of Preserving,' &c.; collected by Elizabeth, Countess of Kent, appeared in 1653. There was a nineteenth edition by 1687.
i See No. 76.
2 Cassandre' (the son of Antipater) was, like · Pharamond,' by La Calprenède.
3 Of these plays, “All for Love' and · Aurengzebe' were by Dryden ; the “Fatal Marriage ; or, the Innocent Adultery,' by Southerne ; and the others by Lee.
the thoughts of my judicious contemporaries, and have time to examine the several books they offer to me; being resolved, in an affair of this moment, to proceed with the greatest caution.
In the meanwhile, as I have taken the ladies under my particular care, I shall make it my business to find out in the best authors, ancient and modern, such passages as may be for their use, and endeavour to accommodate them as well as I can to their taste; not questioning but the valuable part of the sex will easily pardon me, if from time to time I laugh at those little vanities and follies which appear in the behaviour of some of them, and which are more proper for ridicule than a serious censure. Most books being calculated for male readers, and generally written with an eye to men of learning, makes a work of this nature the more necessary; besides, I am the more encouraged, because I flatter myself that I see the sex daily improving by these my speculations. My fair readers are already deeper scholars than the beaux: I could name some of them who talk much better than several gentlemen that make a figure at Will's; and as I frequently receive letters from the fine ladies and pretty fellows, I cannot but observe that the former are superior to the others not only in the sense but in the spelling. This cannot but have a good effect upon the female world, and keep them from being charmed by those empty coxcombs that have hitherto been admired among the women, though laughed at among the men.
I am credibly informed that Tom Tattle passes for an impertinent fellow, that Will Trippit begins to be smoked, and that Frank Smoothly himself is within a month of a coxcomb, in case I think fit to continue this paper. For my part, as it is my business in some measure to detect such as would lead astray weak minds by their false pretences to wit and judgment, humour and gallantry, I shall not fail to lend the best lights I am able to the fair sex for the continuation of these their discoveries.
No 93. Saturday, June 16, 1711
--Spatio brevi Spem longam reseces: dum loquimur, fugerit invida Ætas : carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero. :
-HOR., 1 Od. xi. 6. W E all of us complain of the shortness of time, V saith Seneca, and yet have much more than
we know what to do with. Our lives, says he, are spent either in doing nothing at all, or in doing nothing to the purpose, or in doing nothing that we ought to do: we are always complaining our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end of them. That noble philosopher has described our inconsistency with ourselves in this particular, by all those various turns of expression and thought which are peculiar to his writings.
I often consider mankind as wholly inconsistent with itself in a point that bears some affinity to the former. Though we seem grieved at the shortness of life in general, we are wishing every period of it at an end. The minor longs to be at age, then to be a man of business, then to make up an estate, then to arrive at honours, then to
i De Brevitate Vitæ, § 1, Dialogue x.