Monday, April 30, 1711.
‘Omnes ut Tecum meritis pro Talibus annos
Exigat, et pulchra faciat Te prole parentem.’
An ingenious Correspondent, like a sprightly Wife, will always have the last Word. I did not think my last Letter to the deformed Fraternity would have occasioned any Answer, especially since I had promised them so sudden a Visit: But as they think they cannot shew too great a Veneration for my Person, they have already sent me up an Answer. As to the Proposal of a Marriage between my self and the matchless Hecatissa, I have but one Objection to it; which is, That all the Society will expect to be acquainted with her; and who can be sure of keeping a Woman’s Heart long, where she may have so much Choice? I am the more alarmed at this, because the Lady seems particularly smitten with Men of their Make.
I believe I shall set my Heart upon her; and think never the worse of my Mistress for an Epigram a smart Fellow writ, as he thought, against her; it does but the more recommend her to me. At the same time I cannot but discover that his Malice is stolen from Martial.
Tacta places, Audit a places, si non videare
Tota places, neutro, si videare, places.
Whilst in the Dark on thy soft Hand I hung,
And heard the tempting Siren in thy Tongue,
What Flames, what Darts, what Anguish I endured!
But when the Candle entered I was cur’d.
‘Your Letter to us we have received, as a signal Mark of your Favour and brotherly Affection. We shall be heartily glad to see your short Face in Oxford: And since the Wisdom of our Legislature has been immortalized in your Speculations, and our personal Deformities in some sort by you recorded to all Posterity; we hold ourselves in Gratitude bound to receive with the highest Respect, all such Persons as for their extraordinary Merit you shall think fit, from Time to Time, to recommend unto the Board. As for the Pictish Damsel, we have an easy Chair prepared at the upper End of the Table; which we doubt not but she will grace with a very hideous Aspect, and much better become the Seat in the native and unaffected Uncomeliness of her Person, than with all the superficial Airs of the Pencil, which (as you have very ingeniously observed) vanish with a Breath, and the most innocent Adorer may deface the Shrine with a Salutation, and in the literal Sense of our Poets, snatch and imprint his balmy Kisses, and devour her melting Lips: In short, the only Faces of the Pictish Kind that will endure the Weather, must be of Dr. Carbuncle’s Die; tho’ his, in truth, has cost him a World the Painting; but then he boasts with Zeuxes, In eternitatem pingo; and oft jocosely tells the Fair Ones, would they acquire Colours that would stand kissing, they must no longer Paint but Drink for a Complexion: A Maxim that in this our Age has been pursued with no ill Success; and has been as admirable in its Effects, as the famous Cosmetick mentioned in the Post-man, and invented by the renowned British Hippocrates of the Pestle and Mortar; making the Party, after a due Course, rosy, hale and airy; and the best and most approved Receipt now extant for the Fever of the Spirits. But to return to our Female Candidate, who, I understand, is returned to herself, and will no longer hang out false Colours; as she is the first of her Sex that has done us so great an Honour, she will certainly, in a very short Time, both in Prose and Verse, be a Lady of the most celebrated Deformity now living; and meet with Admirers here as frightful as herself. But being a long-headed Gentlewoman, I am apt to imagine she has some further Design than you have yet penetrated; and perhaps has more mind to the SPECTATOR than any of his Fraternity, as the Person of all the World she could like for a Paramour: And if so, really I cannot but applaud her Choice; and should be glad, if it might lie in my Power, to effect an amicable Accommodation betwixt two Faces of such different Extremes, as the only possible Expedient to mend the Breed, and rectify the Physiognomy of the Family on both Sides. And again, as she is a Lady of very fluent Elocution, you need not fear that your first Child will be born dumb, which otherwise you might have some Reason to be apprehensive of. To be plain with you, I can see nothing shocking in it; for tho she has not a Face like a John-Apple, yet as a late Friend of mine, who at Sixty-five ventured on a Lass of Fifteen, very frequently, in the remaining five Years of his Life, gave me to understand, That, as old as he then seemed, when they were first married he and his Spouse [could ] make but Fourscore; so may Madam Hecatissa very justly allege hereafter, That, as long-visaged as she may then be thought, upon their Wedding-day Mr. SPECTATOR and she had but Half an Ell of Face betwixt them: And this my very worthy Predecessor, Mr. Sergeant Chin, always maintained to be no more than the true oval Proportion between Man and Wife. But as this may be a new thing to you, who have hitherto had no Expectations from Women, I shall allow you what Time you think fit to consider on’t; not without some Hope of seeing at last your Thoughts hereupon subjoin’d to mine, and which is an Honour much desired by,
Your assured Friend,
and most humble Servant,
Hugh [Gobling, ] Praeses.’
The following Letter has not much in it, but as it is written in my own Praise I cannot for my Heart suppress it.
‘You proposed, in your SPECTATOR of last Tuesday, Mr. Hobbs’s Hypothesis for solving that very odd Phaenomenon of Laughter. You have made the Hypothesis valuable by espousing it your self; for had it continued Mr. Hobbs’s, no Body would have minded it. Now here this perplexed Case arises. A certain Company laughed very heartily upon the Reading of that very Paper of yours: And the Truth on it is, he must be a Man of more than ordinary Constancy that could stand it out against so much Comedy, and not do as we did. Now there are few Men in the World so far lost to all good Sense, as to look upon you to be a Man in a State of Folly inferior to himself. Pray then how do you justify your Hypothesis of Laughter?
Thursday, the 26th of
the Month of Fools.
Your most humble,
‘In answer to your Letter, I must desire you to recollect yourself; and you will find, that when you did me the Honour to be so merry over my Paper, you laughed at the Idiot, the German Courtier, the Gaper, the Merry-Andrew, the Haberdasher, the Biter, the Butt, and not at
Your humble Servant,
[Footnote 1: could both]
[Footnote 2: Goblin]