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No. 092 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 092
Friday, June 15, 1711.
‘… Convivae prope dissentire videntur,

Poscentes vario multum diversa palato;

Quid dem? Quid non dem?’

Hor.

Looking over the late Packets of Letters which have been sent to me, I found the following one. [1]

Mr. SPECTATOR,

‘Your Paper is a Part of my Tea-Equipage; and my Servant knows my Humour so well, that calling for my Breakfast this Morning (it being past my usual Hour) she answer’d, the SPECTATOR was not yet come in; but that the Tea-Kettle boiled, and she expected it every Moment. Having thus in part signified to you the Esteem and Veneration which I have for you, I must put you in mind of the Catalogue of Books which you have promised to recommend to our Sex; for I have deferred furnishing my Closet with Authors, ’till I receive your Advice in this Particular, being your daily Disciple and humble Servant,

LEONORA.

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. 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 Marshal D’Estrades. Mr. Jacob Tonson Jun. 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, etc.

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 Play-house. The Virtues of Camphire, with Directions to make Camphire Tea. The Pleasures of a Country Life. The Government of the Tongue. A Letter dated from Cheapside desires me that I would advise all young Wives to make themselves Mistresses of Wingate’s Arithmetick, and concludes with a Postscript, that he hopes I will not forget The Countess of Kent’s Receipts.

I may reckon the Ladies themselves as a third Class among these my Correspondents and Privy-Counsellors. 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. Coquetilla begs me not to think of nailing Women upon their Knees with Manuals of Devotion, nor of scorching their Faces with Books of Housewifry. Florella desires to know if there are any Books written against Prudes, and intreats 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. [2]