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No. 037 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

I was taking a Catalogue in my Pocket-Book of these, and several other Authors, when Leonora entred, and upon my presenting her with the Letter from the Knight, told me, with an unspeakable Grace, that she hoped Sir ROGER was in good Health: I answered Yes, for I hate long Speeches, and after a Bow or two retired.

Leonora was formerly a celebrated Beauty, and is still a very lovely Woman. She has been a Widow for two or three Years, and being unfortunate in her first Marriage, has taken a Resolution never to venture upon a second. She has no Children to take care of, and leaves the Management of her Estate to my good Friend Sir ROGER. But as the Mind naturally sinks into a kind of Lethargy, and falls asleep, that is not agitated by some Favourite Pleasures and Pursuits, Leonora has turned all the Passions of her Sex into a Love of Books and Retirement. She converses chiefly with Men (as she has often said herself), but it is only in their Writings; and admits of very few Male-Visitants, except my Friend Sir ROGER, whom she hears with great Pleasure, and without Scandal. As her Reading has lain very much among Romances, it has given her a very particular Turn of Thinking, and discovers it self even in her House, her Gardens, and her Furniture. Sir ROGER has entertained me an Hour together with a Description of her Country-Seat, which is situated in a kind of Wilderness, about an hundred Miles distant from London, and looks like a little Enchanted Palace. The Rocks about her are shaped into Artificial Grottoes covered with Wood-Bines and Jessamines. The Woods are cut into shady Walks, twisted into Bowers, and filled with Cages of Turtles. The Springs are made to run among Pebbles, and by that means taught to Murmur very agreeably. They are likewise collected into a Beatiful Lake that is Inhabited by a Couple of Swans, and empties it self by a litte Rivulet which runs through a Green Meadow, and is known in the Family by the Name of The Purling Stream. The Knight likewise tells me, that this Lady preserves her Game better than any of the Gentlemen in the Country, not (says Sir ROGER) that she sets so great a Value upon her Partridges and Pheasants, as upon her Larks and Nightingales. For she says that every Bird which is killed in her Ground, will spoil a Consort, and that she shall certainly miss him the next Year.

When I think how odly this Lady is improved by Learning, I look upon her with a Mixture of Admiration and Pity. Amidst these Innocent Entertainments which she has formed to her self, how much more Valuable does she appear than those of her Sex, [who [3]] employ themselves in Diversions that are less Reasonable, tho’ more in Fashion? What Improvements would a Woman have made, who is so Susceptible of Impressions from what she reads, had she been guided to such Books as have a Tendency to enlighten the Understanding and rectify the Passions, as well as to those which are of little more use than to divert the Imagination?

But the manner of a Lady’s Employing her self usefully in Reading shall be the Subject of another Paper, in which I design to recommend such particular Books as may be proper for the Improvement of the Sex. And as this is a Subject of a very nice Nature, I shall desire my Correspondents to give me their Thoughts upon it.


[Footnote 1: very delightful]

[Footnote 2: John Ogilby, or Ogilvy, who died in 1676, aged 76, was originally a dancing-master, then Deputy Master of the Revels in Dublin; then, after the outbreak of the Irish Rebellion, a student of Latin and Greek in Cambridge. Finally, he settled down as a cosmographer. He produced translations of both Virgil and Homer into English verse. His ‘Virgil’, published in 1649, was handsomely printed and the first which gave the entire works in English, nearly half a century before Dryden’s which appeared in 1697.