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No. 354 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 354
Wednesday, April 16, 1712. Steele.

–Cum magnis virtutibus affers

Grande supercilium–



You have in some of your Discourses describ’d most sorts of Women in their distinct and proper Classes, as the Ape, the Coquet, and many others; but I think you have never yet said anything of a Devotee. A Devotee is one of those who disparage Religion by their indiscreet and unseasonable introduction of the Mention of Virtue on all Occasion[s]: She professes she is what nobody ought to doubt she is; and betrays the Labour she is put to, to be what she ought to be with Chearfulness and Alacrity. She lives in the World, and denies her self none of the Diversions of it, with a constant Declaration how insipid all things in it are to her. She is never her self but at Church; there she displays her Virtue, and is so fervent in her Devotions, that I have frequently seen her Pray her self out of Breath. While other young Ladies in the House are dancing, or playing at Questions and Commands, she reads aloud in her Closet. She says all Love is ridiculous, except it be Celestial; but she speaks of the Passion of one Mortal to another with too much Bitterness, for one that had no Jealousy mixed with her Contempt of it. If at any time she sees a Man warm in his Addresses to his Mistress, she will lift up her Eyes to Heaven, and cry, What Nonsense is that Fool talking? Will the Bell never ring for Prayers? We have an eminent Lady of this Stamp in our Country, who pretends to Amusements very much above the rest of her Sex. She never carries a white Shock-dog with Bells under her Arm, nor a Squirrel or Dormouse in her Pocket, but always an abridg’d Piece of Morality to steal out when she is sure of being observ’d. When she went to the famous Ass-Race (which I must confess was but an odd Diversion to be encouraged by People of Rank and Figure) it was not, like other Ladies, to hear those poor Animals bray, nor to see Fellows run naked, or to hear Country Squires in bob Wigs and white Girdles make love at the side of a Coach, and cry, Madam, this is dainty Weather. Thus she described the Diversion; for she went only to pray heartily that no body might be hurt in the Crowd, and to see if the poor Fellows Face, which was distorted with grinning, might any way be brought to it self again. She never chats over her Tea, but covers her Face, and is supposed in an Ejaculation before she taste[s] a Sup. This ostentatious Behaviour is such an Offence to true Sanctity, that it disparages it, and makes Virtue not only unamiable, but also ridiculous. The Sacred Writings are full of Reflections which abhor this kind of Conduct; and a Devotee is so far from promoting Goodness, that she deters others by her Example. Folly and Vanity in one of these Ladies, is like Vice in a Clergyman; it does not only debase him, but makes the inconsiderate Part of the World think the worse of Religion.

I am, SIR,
Your Humble Servant,


Xenophon, in his short Account of the Spartan Commonwealth, [1] speaking of the Behavior of their young Men in the Streets, says, There was so much Modesty in their Looks, that you might as soon have turned the eyes of a Marble Statue upon you as theirs; and that in all their Behaviour they were more modest than a Bride when put to bed upon her Wedding-Night: This Virtue, which is always join’d to Magnanimity, had such an influence upon their Courage, that in Battel an Enemy could not look them in the Face, and they durst not but Die for their Country.