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No. 041 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 41
Tuesday, April 17, 1711. Steele.

‘Tu non inventa reperta es.’


Compassion for the Gentleman who writes the following Letter, should not prevail upon me to fall upon the Fair Sex, if it were not that I find they are frequently Fairer than they ought to be. Such Impostures are not to be tolerated in Civil Society; and I think his Misfortune ought to be made publick, as a Warning for other Men always to Examine into what they Admire.


Supposing you to be a Person of general Knowledge, I make my Application to you on a very particular Occasion. I have a great Mind to be rid of my Wife, and hope, when you consider my Case, you will be of Opinion I have very just Pretensions to a Divorce. I am a mere Man of the Town, and have very little Improvement, but what I have got from Plays. I remember in The Silent Woman the Learned Dr. Cutberd, or Dr. Otter (I forget which) makes one of the Causes of Separation to be Error Personae, when a Man marries a Woman, and finds her not to be the same Woman whom he intended to marry, but another. [1] If that be Law, it is, I presume, exactly my Case. For you are to know, Mr. SPECTATOR, that there are Women who do not let their Husbands see their Faces till they are married.

Not to keep you in suspence, I mean plainly, that Part of the Sex who paint. They are some of them so Exquisitely skilful this Way, that give them but a Tolerable Pair of Eyes to set up with, and they will make Bosoms, Lips, Cheeks, and Eye-brows, by their own Industry. As for my Dear, never Man was so Enamour’d as I was of her fair Forehead, Neck, and Arms, as well as the bright Jett of her Hair; but to my great Astonishment, I find they were all the Effects of Art: Her Skin is so Tarnished with this Practice, that when she first wakes in a Morning, she scarce seems young enough to be the Mother of her whom I carried to Bed the Night before. I shall take the Liberty to part with her by the first Opportunity, unless her Father will make her Portion suitable to her real, not her assumed, Countenance. This I thought fit to let him and her know by your Means.

I am, SIR, Your most obedient, humble Servant.

I cannot tell what the Law, or the Parents of the Lady, will do for this Injured Gentleman, but must allow he has very much Justice on his Side. I have indeed very long observed this Evil, and distinguished those of our Women who wear their own, from those in borrowed Complexions, by the Picts and the British. There does not need any great Discernment to judge which are which. The British have a lively, animated Aspect; The Picts, tho’ never so Beautiful, have dead, uninformed Countenances. The Muscles of a real Face sometimes swell with soft Passion, sudden Surprize, and are flushed with agreeable Confusions, according as the Objects before them, or the Ideas presented to them, affect their Imagination. But the Picts behold all things with the same Air, whether they are Joyful or Sad; the same fixed Insensibility appears upon all Occasions. A Pict, tho’ she takes all that Pains to invite the Approach of Lovers, is obliged to keep them at a certain Distance; a Sigh in a Languishing Lover, if fetched too near her, would dissolve a Feature; and a Kiss snatched by a Forward one, might transfer the Complexion of the Mistress to the Admirer. It is hard to speak of these false Fair Ones, without saying something uncomplaisant, but I would only recommend to them to consider how they like coming into a Room new Painted; they may assure themselves, the near Approach of a Lady who uses this Practice is much more offensive.