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countenance lit up by love and intelligence, excites in my soul feelings of a nobler nature; which a sense of kindred, and assimilation, renders infinitely more gratifying and endearing than the highest possible pleasure which mute or inactive nature can produce. I am, therefore, upon principle, a Starer; and I can no more suffer a pretty girl to pass without notice, than I can change my nature. Priscilla's animadversions on staring, under your sapient sanction, bave called forth all my resentment; and the more so, as I do not believe Priscilla is in earnest, or that your reverence is anything better than a Jesuit. As to the lady, I shall not be so rude as to comment upon
her epistle; but I should be glad to know whether she is not verging towards “single blessedness ;” or if she was not, that very day she wrote to you, disappointed of a stare, when she had laid a bait for one. For my part, I have never yet found a really pretty and young woman offended by my staring—for I never meant to offend her. Possibly I may not understand the word in the sense she and you use it, for I should stare only when I saw what was monstrous. If Priscilla has been so stared at, it is another thing. Be that as it may, I contend that I may look at a fine woman, and even let her know by my look that I think her so—(to say nothing of short
sightedness, or the necessity of knowing one's friends)—without either alarming her modesty or breaking the rules of good manners. I am inclined to agree with those who hold that “ and horses are the finest animals in the creation;" but I hope I have always made a distinction, and plainly conveyed it by my manner of looking at each. The thing may be done; and our brother Starers (if we are to be called so) will attend to the hint. But with you, I am afraid, the difference of idea will be very difficult to define; for notwithstanding all “your natural modesty," by your sly remarks and allusions as to female dress, and the exposure of their persons, (not to follow you farther,) it is pretty clear, that you do not merely look at and admire, but you critically inspect the ladies. A fine protector, you,
indeed! since the Starers are now publicly informed where and how they are to stare ! I am, yours, &c.
S. In answer to the observations in the above epistle, I would beg leave to remind my correspondent, that in my comment on Priscilla's letter, I stated that the evil she complained of was not of recent origin; and expressly referred to the account given of a set of Starers existing in the time of the Spectator, of short-faced memory. From
the authority of that, my great predecessor, my facetious correspondent might have learnt what ideas were attached to the word, as used by Priscilla; or even a reference to Dr. Johnson's dictionary would have shown him, that one of the meanings of the word stare, is, to look impudently. “Old though I am"-I was going to repeat the rest of the couplet, but I check myself, lest any of my fair readers should entertain a lower opinion of me than I could wish I am not insensible of the power and force of beauty; and
my correspondent, admire "the grace of form and life of motion, as well as the still more attractive charms that light up the “human face divine.” I should be sorry to deprive any of my fellowmen of the pleasing sensations which the contemplation of such objects is calculated to excite. But I wish to remind them, that even this gratification, when carried beyond its proper bounds degenerates into impudence; and however pleasing on other accounts, then becomes painful to the object itself, unless indeed all sense of modesty is fled, in which case perhaps my correspondent would himself acknowledge, that the charms which previously excited his admiration had likewise vanished. If he will agree to relinquish so much of the liberty he claims, as the word stare evidently implies, I have no doubt
that the whole of my fair countrywomen, and Priscilla among the rest, will be ready to exclaim, with Mercutio
“ Men's eyes were made to look, and let them."
“ Some men there are whom Heaven has blest with wit, “ Yet want as much again to manage it.”—Pope.
It has often been a matter of surprise and astonishment to many, that men of acknowledged talents and superior abilities have yet been so totally ignorant of the common forms of civil society, as to lay themselves open to the impositions of the worthless, and become subjects of ridicule to others, who in literary attainments are incomparably their inferiors. Nor is it at all uncommon to meet with men of the first eminence in some walks of literature, who either affect to despise those pursuits which differ from their own; or expose their ignorance when conversing on them in an almost incredible manner. Of the former of these characters the celebrated Dr. Goldsmith presents a remarkable instance.Whilst engaged in works which will immortalize
his name, this great author was the dupe of every one who came to him in the garb of distress. His feelings, however, were doubtless honourable to human nature, and were productive of unpleasantness only to himself. On the latter I cannot look in so favourable a point of view. If we trace to its proper source the contemptuous manner in which some men pretend to treat certain subjects, we shall find that it does not spring from a conviction of the unprofitableness of those subjects; but that the love of fame, and the wish of standing high in the estimation of the world, induce them to display their information on topics familiar to themselves, and to despise others (though of equal importance) of which they themselves are ignorant. Characters such as these are but too common in the literary world. How much more amiable is the person who unassumingly imparts to those who surround him the benefit of his labours, and in turn listens to those whose inclinations have led them to other pursuits, than he who pompously sets forth his own abilities, and rudely refuses his assent to opinions, which he would insinuate to be beneath the notice of a man of sense. though he be blessed with first-rate talents, yet becomes disgusting to his friends by his self-sufficiency, and affords opportunities to his enemies to expose him to deserved ridicule. Foras in beauty,
Such a one,