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THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
CHARLES, EARL OF SUNDERLAND.
VERY many favours and civilities (received from you in a private capacity) which I have no other way to acknowledge, will, I hope, excuse this presumption; but the justice I, as a Spectator, owe your character, places me above the want of an excuse. Candour and openness of heart, which shine in all your words and actions, exact the highest esteem from all who have . the honour to know you; and a winning condescension to all subordinate to you, made business a pleasure to those who executed it under you, at the same time that it heightened her Majesty's favour to all who had the happiness of having it conveyed through your hands. A Secretary of State, in the interests of mankind, joined with that of his fellow-subjects, accomplished with a great facility and elegance in all the modern as well as ancient languages, was a happy and proper member of a ministry, by whose services your sovereign and country are in so high and flourishing a condition, as makes all other princes and potentates
powerful or inconsiderable in Europe, as they are friends or enemies to Great-Britain. The importance of those great events which happened during that administration, in which your Lordship bore so important a charge, will be acknowledged as long as time shall endure; I shall not therefore attempt to rehearse those illustrious passages, but give this application a more private and particular turn, in desiring your Lordship would continue your favour and patronage to me, as you are a gentleman of the most polite literature, and perfectly accomplished in the knowledge of books and men, which makes it necessary to beseech your indulgence to the following leaves, and the author of them: who is, with the greatest truth and respect,
No. CCCXCV. TUESDAY, JUNE 3, 1712.
.....Quod nunc ratio est, impetus ante fuit.
OVID. 'Tis reason fow, 'twas appetite before. : “ BEWARE of the Ides of March,” said the Roman Augur to Julius Cæsar : Beware of the month of May, says the British Spectator to his fair countrywomen. The caution of the first was unhappily neglected; and Cæsar's confidence cost him his life. I am apt to flatter myself that my pretty readers had much more regard to the advice I gave them, since I have yet received very few accounts of any notorious trips made in the last month.
But though I hope for the best, I shall not pronounce too positively on this point, till I have seen forty weeks well over; at which period of time, as my good friend Sir Roger has often told me, he has more business as a justice of peace, among the dissolute young people in the country, than at any other season
of the year.
Neither must I forget a letter which I received near a fortnight since from a lady, who, it seems, could
hold out no longer; telling me she looked upon the month as then out; for that she had all along reckoned by the new stile.
On the other hand, I have great reason to believe, from several angry letters which have been sent to me by disappointed lovers, that my advice has been of very signal service to the fair sex, who, according to the old proverb, were “ Forewarned, forearmed.”.
One of these gentlemen tells me that he would have given me an hundred pounds rather than I should have published that paper; for that his mistress, who had promised to explain herself to him about the beginning of May, upon reading that discourse, told him that “ she would give him her answer in June."
Thyrsis acquaints me, that when he desired Sylvia to take a walk in the fields, she told him; « The Spectator had forbidden her.”
Another of my correspondents who writes himself Mat Meager, complains, that whereas: he constantly used to breakfast with his mistress upon chocolate: going to wait upon her the first of May he found his usual treat very much changed for the worsė; and has been forced to feed ever since upon green tea.
As I have begun this critical season with a caveat to the ladies, I shall conclude it with a congratulation; and do most heartily wish them joy of their happy deliverance.
They may now reflect with pleasure on the dangers they have escaped, and look back with as much satisfaction on the perils that threatened them, as their great-grandmothers did formerly on the burning ploughshares, after having passed through the ordeal trial. The instigations of the spring are now abated. The nightingale gives over her “ love-laboured song," as Milton phrases it, the blossoms are fallen, and the beds of flowers swept away by the scythe of the mower.
I shall now allow my fair readers to return to their romances and chocolate, provided they make use of them with moderation, till about the middle of the month, when the sun shall have made some progress in the Crab. Nothing is more dangerous than too much confidence and security. The Trojans, who stood
pon their guard all the while the Grecians lay before their city, when they fancied the siege was raised, and the danger past, were the very next night burnt in their beds. I must also observe, that as in some climates there is a perpetual Spring, so in some female constitutions there is a perpetual May; these are a kind of valetudinarians in chastity, whom I would continue in a constant diet. I cannot ihink these wholly out of danger, until they have looked upon the other sex at least five years through a pair of spectacles. Will Honeycomb has often assured me, that it is much easier to steal one of this species when she has passed her grand climacteric, than to carry off an icy girl on this side five-and-twenty; and that a rake of his acquaintance, who had in vain endeavoured to gain the affections of a young lady of fifteen, had at last made his fortune by running away with her grandmother.
But as I do not design this speculation for the Evergreens of the sex, I shall again apply myself to those who would willingly listen to the dictates of reason and virtue, and can now hear me in cold blood. If there are any who have forfeited their innocence, they must now consider themselves under that melancholy view in which Chamont regards his sister, in those beautiful lines :
....... Long she flourish'd,