Wednesday, April 25, 1711. Steele.
… Per multas aditum sibi saepe figuras
My Correspondents take it ill if I do not, from Time to Time let them know I have received their Letters. The most effectual Way will be to publish some of them that are upon important Subjects; which I shall introduce with a Letter of my own that I writ a Fortnight ago to a Fraternity who thought fit to make me an honorary Member.
To the President and Fellows of the Ugly Club.
May it please your Deformities,
I have received the Notification of the Honour you have done me, in admitting me into your Society. I acknowledge my Want of Merit, and for that Reason shall endeavour at all Times to make up my own Failures, by introducing and recommending to the Club Persons of more undoubted Qualifications than I can pretend to. I shall next Week come down in the Stage-Coach, in order to take my Seat at the Board; and shall bring with me a Candidate of each Sex. The Persons I shall present to you, are an old Beau and a modern Pict. If they are not so eminently gifted by Nature as our Assembly expects, give me Leave to say their acquired Ugliness is greater than any that has ever appeared before you. The Beau has varied his Dress every Day of his Life for these thirty Years last past, and still added to the Deformity he was born with. The Pict has still greater Merit towards us; and has, ever since she came to Years of Discretion, deserted the handsome Party, and taken all possible Pains to acquire the Face in which I shall present her to your Consideration and Favour.
I desire to know whether you admit People of Quality.
I am, Gentlemen,
Your most obliged
To shew you there are among us of the vain weak Sex, some that have Honesty and Fortitude enough to dare to be ugly, and willing to be thought so; I apply my self to you, to beg your Interest and Recommendation to the Ugly Club. If my own Word will not be taken, (tho’ in this Case a Woman’s may) I can bring credible Witness of my Qualifications for their Company, whether they insist upon Hair, Forehead, Eyes, Cheeks, or Chin; to which I must add, that I find it easier to lean to my left Side than my right. I hope I am in all respects agreeable: And for Humour and Mirth, I’ll keep up to the President himself. All the Favour I’ll pretend to is, that as I am the first Woman has appeared desirous of good Company and agreeable Conversation, I may take and keep the upper End of the Table. And indeed I think they want a Carver, which I can be after as ugly a Manner as they can wish. I desire your Thoughts of my Claim as soon as you can. Add to my Features the Length of my Face, which is full half Yard; tho’ I never knew the Reason of it till you gave one for the Shortness of yours. If I knew a Name ugly enough to belong to the above-described Face, I would feign one; but, to my unspeakable Misfortune, my Name is the only disagreeable Prettiness about me; so prithee make one for me that signifies all the Deformity in the World: You understand Latin, but be sure bring it in with my being in the Sincerity of my Heart,
Your most frightful Admirer,
I Read your Discourse upon Affectation, and from the Remarks made in it examined my own Heart so strictly, that I thought I had found out its most secret Avenues, with a Resolution to be aware of you for the future. But alas! to my Sorrow I now understand, that I have several Follies which I do not know the Root of. I am an old Fellow, and extremely troubled with the Gout; but having always a strong Vanity towards being pleasing in the Eyes of Women, I never have a Moment’s Ease, but I am mounted in high-heel’d Shoes with a glased Wax-leather Instep. Two Days after a severe Fit I was invited to a Friend’s House in the City, where I believed I should see Ladies; and with my usual Complaisance crippled my self to wait upon them: A very sumptuous Table, agreeable Company, and kind Reception, were but so many importunate Additions to the Torment I was in. A Gentleman of the Family observed my Condition; and soon after the Queen’s Health, he, in the Presence of the whole Company, with his own Hand degraded me into an old Pair of his own Shoes. This operation, before fine Ladies, to me (who am by Nature a Coxcomb) was suffered with the same Reluctance as they admit the Help of Men in their greatest Extremity. The Return of Ease made me forgive the rough Obligation laid upon me, which at that time relieved my Body from a Distemper, and will my Mind for ever from a Folly. For the Charity received I return my Thanks this Way.