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No. 066 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 66
Wednesday, May 16, 1711.
‘Motus doceri gaudet Ionicos
Matura Virgo, et fingitur artubus
Jam nunc, et incestos amores
De Tenero meditatur Ungui.’


The two following Letters are upon a Subject of very great Importance, tho’ expressed without an Air of Gravity.


SIR, I Take the Freedom of asking your Advice in behalf of a Young Country Kinswoman of mine who is lately come to Town, and under my Care for her Education. She is very pretty, but you can’t imagine how unformed a Creature it is. She comes to my Hands just as Nature left her, half-finished, and without any acquired Improvements. When I look on her I often think of the Belle Sauvage mentioned in one of your Papers. Dear Mr. SPECTATOR, help me to make her comprehend the visible Graces of Speech, and the dumb Eloquence of Motion; for she is at present a perfect Stranger to both. She knows no Way to express her self but by her Tongue, and that always to signify her Meaning. Her Eyes serve her yet only to see with, and she is utterly a Foreigner to the Language of Looks and Glances. In this I fancy you could help her better than any Body. I have bestowed two Months in teaching her to Sigh when she is not concerned, and to Smile when she is not pleased; and am ashamed to own she makes little or no Improvement. Then she is no more able now to walk, than she was to go at a Year old. By Walking you will easily know I mean that regular but easy Motion, which gives our Persons so irresistible a Grace as if we moved to Musick, and is a kind of disengaged Figure, or, if I may so speak, recitative Dancing. But the want of this I cannot blame in her, for I find she has no Ear, and means nothing by Walking but to change her Place. I could pardon too her Blushing, if she knew how to carry her self in it, and if it did not manifestly injure her Complexion.

They tell me you are a Person who have seen the World, and are a Judge of fine Breeding; which makes me ambitious of some Instructions from you for her Improvement: Which when you have favoured me with, I shall further advise with you about the Disposal of this fair Forrester in Marriage; for I will make it no Secret to you, that her Person and Education are to be her Fortune.

I am, SIR,
Your very humble Servant

SIR, Being employed by Celimene to make up and send to you her Letter, I make bold to recommend the Case therein mentioned to your Consideration, because she and I happen to differ a little in our Notions. I, who am a rough Man, am afraid the young Girl is in a fair Way to be spoiled: Therefore pray, Mr. SPECTATOR, let us have your Opinion of this fine thing called Fine Breeding; for I am afraid it differs too much from that plain thing called Good Breeding.

Your most humble Servant. [1]

The general Mistake among us in the Educating our Children, is, That in our Daughters we take care of their Persons and neglect their Minds: in our Sons we are so intent upon adorning their Minds, that we wholly neglect their Bodies. It is from this that you shall see a young Lady celebrated and admired in all the Assemblies about Town, when her elder Brother is afraid to come into a Room. From this ill Management it arises, That we frequently observe a Man’s Life is half spent before he is taken notice of; and a Woman in the Prime of her Years is out of Fashion and neglected. The Boy I shall consider upon some other Occasion, and at present stick to the Girl: And I am the more inclined to this, because I have several Letters which complain to me that my Female Readers have not understood me for some Days last past, and take themselves to be unconcerned in the present Turn of my Writings. When a Girl is safely brought from her Nurse, before she is capable of forming one simple Notion of any thing in Life, she is delivered to the Hands of her Dancing-Master; and with a Collar round her Neck, the pretty wild Thing is taught a fantastical Gravity of Behaviour, and forced to a particular Way of holding her Head, heaving her Breast, and moving with her whole Body; and all this under Pain of never having an Husband, if she steps, looks, or moves awry. This gives the young Lady wonderful Workings of Imagination, what is to pass between her and this Husband that she is every Moment told of, and for whom she seems to be educated. Thus her Fancy is engaged to turn all her Endeavours to the Ornament of her Person, as what must determine her Good and Ill in this Life; and she naturally thinks, if she is tall enough, she is wise enough for any thing for which her Education makes her think she is designed. To make her an agreeable Person is the main Purpose of her Parents; to that is all their Cost, to that all their Care directed; and from this general Folly of Parents we owe our present numerous Race of Coquets. These Reflections puzzle me, when I think of giving my advice on the Subject of managing the wild Thing mentioned in the Letter of my Correspondent. But sure there is a middle Way to be followed; the Management of a young Lady’s Person is not to be overlooked, but the Erudition of her Mind is much more to be regarded. According as this is managed, you will see the Mind follow the Appetites of the Body, or the Body express the Virtues of the Mind.

Cleomira dances with all the Elegance of Motion imaginable; but her Eyes are so chastised with the Simplicity and Innocence of her Thoughts, that she raises in her Beholders Admiration and good Will, but no loose Hope or wild Imagination. The true Art in this Case is, To make the Mind and Body improve together; and if possible, to make Gesture follow Thought, and not let Thought be employed upon Gesture.


[Footnote 1: John Hughes is the author of these two letters, and, Chalmers thinks, also of the letters signed R. B. in Nos. 33 and 53. He was in 1711 thirty-two years old. John Hughes, the son of a citizen of London, was born at Marlborough, educated at the private school of a Dissenting minister, where he had Isaac Watts for schoolfellow, delicate of health, zealous for poetry and music, and provided for by having obtained, early in life, a situation in the Ordnance Office. He died of consumption at the age of 40, February 17, 1719-20, on the night of the first production of his Tragedy of ‘The Siege of Damascus’. Verse of his was in his lifetime set to music by Purcell and Handel. In 1712 an opera of ‘Calypso and Telemachus’, to which Hughes wrote the words, was produced with success at the Haymarket. In translations, in original verse, and especially in prose, he merited the pleasant little reputation that he earned; but his means were small until, not two years before his death, Lord Cowper gave him the well-paid office of Secretary to the Commissioners of the Peace. Steele has drawn the character of his friend Hughes as that of a religious man exempt from every sensual vice, an invalid who could take pleasure in seeing the innocent happiness of the healthy, who was never peevish or sour, and who employed his intervals of ease in drawing and designing, or in music and poetry.]