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ders will be so severely critical as not to like it, they would have been as well pleased with it as myself, had they seen the face of the pretty scribe.
London, Nov. 1712. You are always ready to receive any useful hint or proposal, and such, I believe, you will think one that may put you in a way to employ the most idle part of the kingdom: I mean that part of mankind who are known by the name of the women's men, or beaux, &c. Mr. Spectator, you are sensible these pretty gentlemen are not made for any manly employments, and for want of business are as much in the vapours as the ladies. Now what I propose is this, that since knotting is again in fashion, which has been found a very pretty amusement, that you will recommend it to these gentlemen as something that may make them useful to the ladies they admire. And since it is not inconsistent with any game, or ether diversion, for it may be done in the playhouse, in their coaches, at the tea-table, and in short in all places where they come for the sake of the ladies (except at church; be pleased to forbid it there to prevent mistakes,) it will be easily complied with. It is besides an employment that allows, as we see by the fair sex, of many graces, which will make the beaux more readily come into it; it shows a white hand and a diamond ring to great advantage; it leaves the eyes at full liberty to be employed as before, as also the thoughts and the tongue. In short it seems in every respect so proper, that it is needless to urgé it further, by speaking of the satisfaction these male knotters will find, when they see their work mixed up in a fringe, and worn by the fair
lady for whom and with whom it was done. Truly, Mr. Spectator, I cannot but be pleased I have hit upon something that these gentlemen are capable of; for it is sad so considerable a part of the kingdom (I mean for numbers) should be of no manner of use. I shall not trouble you further at this time, but only to say, that I am always your reader, and generally your admirer.
'P. S. The sooner these fine gentlemen are set to work the better; there being at this time several fine fringes, that stay only for more hands."
I shall in the next place present my reader with the description of a set of men who are common enough in the world, though I do not remember that I have yet taken notice of them,'as they are drawn in the following letter.
'Since you have lately, to so good purpose, enlarged upon conjugal love, it is to be hoped you will discourage every practice that rather proceeds from a regard to interest than to happiness. Now you cannot but observe, that most of our fine young ladies readily fall in with the direction of the graver sort, to retain in their service by some small encouragement as great a number as they can of supernumerary and insignificant fellows, which they use like whifflers, and commonly call "shoeing horns." These are never designed to know the length of the foot, but only when a good offer comes, to whet and spur him up to the point. Nay, it is the opinion of that grave lady, madam Matchwell, that it is absolute> ly convenient for every prudent family to have se,
veral of these implements about the house to clap on as occasion serves; and that every spark ought to produce a certificate of his being a shoeing horn before he be admitted as a shoe. A certain lady whom I could name, if it was necessary, has at present more shoeing horns of all sizes, countries, and colours, in her service, than ever she had new shoes in her life. I have known a woman make use of a shoeing horn for several years, and, finding him unsuccessful in that function, convert him at length into a shoe. I am mistaken if your friend, Mr. William Honeycomb, was not a cast shoeing horn before his late marriage. As for myself, I must frankly declare to you, that I have been an errant shoeing horn for above these twenty years. I served my first mistress in that capacity above five of the number, before she was shod. I confess, though she had many who made their application to her, I always thought myself the best shoe in her shop; and it was not until a month before her marriage that I discovered what I was.
This had like to have broke my heart, and raised such suspicions in me, that I told the next I made love to, upon receiving some unkind usage from her, that I began to look upon myself as no more than her shoeing horn. Upon which, my dear, who was a coquette in her nature, told me I was hypocondriacal, and I might as well look upon myself to be an egg, or a pipkin. But in a very short time after she gave me to know that I was not mistaken in myself. It would be tedious to you to recount the life of an unfortunate shocing horn, or I might entertain you with a very long and melancholy relation of my sufferings. Upon the whole, I think, sir, it would very well become a man in your post, to determine in what
cases a woman may be allowed with honour to make use of a shoeing horn, as also to declare, whether a maid on this side five-and-twenty, or a widow who has not been three years in that state, may be granted such a privilege, with other difficulties which will naturally occur to you upon that subject.
'I am, Sir,
with the most profound veneration,
No. 537. SATURDAY, NOV. 15, 1712
'It has been usual to remind persons of rank, on great occasions in life, of their race and quality, and to what expectations they were born; that by considering what is worthy of them, they may be withdrawn from mean pursuits, and encouraged to laudable undertakings. This is turning nobility into a principle of virtue, and making it productive of merit, as it is understood to have been originally a reward of it.
'It is for the like reason, I imagine, that you have in some of your speculations asserted to your readers the dignity of human nature. But you cannot be insensible that this is a controverted
doctrine; there are authors who consider human nature in a very different view, and books of maxims have been written to show the falsity of all human virtues.* The reflexions which are made on this subject usually take some tincture from the tempers and characters of those that make them. Politicians can resolve the most shining actions among men into artifice and design; others, who are soured by discontent, repulses, or ill-usage, are apt to mistake their spleen for philosophy; men of profligate lives, and such as find themselves incapable of rising to any distinction among their fellow-creatures, are for pulling down all appearances of merit which seem to upbraid them; and satirists describe nothing but deformity. From all these hands we have such draughts of mankind, as are represented in those burlesque pictures which the Italians call caricaturas; where the art consists in preserving, amidst distorted proportions and aggravated features, some likeness of the person, but in such a manner as to transform the most agree-· able beauty into the most odious monster..
It is very disingenuous to level the best of mankind with the worst, and for the faults of particulars to degrade the whole species. Such methods tend not only to remove a man's good opinion of others, but to destroy that reverence for himself, which is a great guard of innocence, and a spring of virtue.
It is truc indeed, that there are surprising mixtures of beauty and deformity, of wisdom and folly, virtue and vice, in the human make : such a
An allusion to the following book, Reflections et Maximes Morales de M. le Duc de la Rochefoucault.-Mad. L'Enclos says of him, that he had no more belief in virtues than he had in ghosts.