No. 410 [from The Spectator] by Joseph Addison

Story type: Essay

No. 410
Friday, June 20, 1712. Tickell.
‘Dum foris sunt, nihil videtur Mundius,
Nec magis compositum quidquam, nec magis elegans:
Quae, cum amatore suo cum coenant, Liguriunt,
Harum videre ingluviem, sordes, inopiam:
Quam inhonestae solae sint domi, atque avidae cibi,
Quo pacto ex Jure Hesterno panem atrum varent.
Nosse omnia haec, salus est adolescentulis.’


WILL. HONEYCOMB, who disguises his present Decay by visiting the Wenches of the Town only by Way of Humour, told us, that the last rainy Night he with Sir ROGER DE COVERLY was driven into the Temple Cloister, whither had escaped also a Lady most exactly dressed from Head to Foot. WILL, made no Scruple to acquaint us, that she saluted him very familiarly by his Name, and turning immediately to the Knight, she said, she supposed that was his good Friend, Sir ROGER DE COVERLY: Upon which nothing less could follow than Sir ROGER’S Approach to Salutation, with, Madam the same at your Service. She was dressed in a black Tabby Mantua and Petticoat, without Ribbons; her Linnen striped Muslin, and in the whole in an agreeable Second-Mourning; decent Dresses being often affected by the Creatures of the Town, at once consulting Cheapness and the Pretensions to Modesty. She went on with a familiar easie Air. Your Friend, Mr. HONEYCOMB, is a little surprized to see a Woman here alone and unattended; but I dismissed my Coach at the Gate, and tripped it down to my Council’s Chambers, for Lawyer’s Fees take up too much of a small disputed Joynture to admit any other Expence but meer Necessaries. Mr. HONEYCOMB begged they might have the Honour of setting her down, for Sir ROGER’S Servant was gone to call a Coach. In the Interim the Footman returned, with no Coach to be had; and there appeared nothing to be done but trusting herself with Mr. HONEYCOMB and his Friend to wait at the Tavern at the Gate for a Coach, or to be subjected to all the Impertinence she must meet with in that publick Place. Mr. HONEYCOMB being a Man of Honour determined the Choice of the first, and Sir ROGER, as the better Man, took the Lady by the Hand, leading through all the Shower, covering her with his Hat, and gallanting a familiar Acquaintance through Rows of young Fellows, who winked at Sukey in the State she marched off, WILL. HONEYCOMB bringing up the Rear.

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Much Importunity prevailed upon the Fair one to admit of a Collation, where, after declaring she had no Stomach, and eaten a Couple of Chickens, devoured a Trusse of Sallet, and drunk a full Bottle to her Share, she sung the Old Man’s Wish to Sir ROGER. The Knight left the Room for some Time after Supper, and writ the following Billet, which he conveyed to Sukey, and Sukey to her Friend WILL. HONEYCOMB. WILL. has given it to Sir ANDREW FREEPORT, who read it last Night to the Club.


I am not so meer a Country-Gentleman, but I can guess at the Law-Business you had at the Temple. If you would go down to the Country and leave off all your Vanities but your Singing, let me know at my Lodgings in Bow-street Covent-Garden, and you shall be encouraged by

Your humble Servant,


My good Friend could not well stand the Raillery which was rising upon him; but to put a Stop to it I deliverd WILL. HONEYCOMB the following Letter, and desired him to read it to the Board.


Having seen a Translation of one of the Chapters in the Canticles into English Verse inserted among your late Papers, I have ventured to send you the 7th Chapter of the Proverbs in a poetical Dress. If you think it worthy appearing among your Speculations, it will be a sufficient Reward for the Trouble of

Your constant Reader,

A. B.

My Son, th’ Instruction that my Words impart,
Grave on the Living Tablet of thy Heart;
And all the wholesome Precepts that I give,
Observe with strictest Reverence, and live.
Let all thy Homage be to Wisdom paid,
Seek her Protection and implore her Aid;
That she may keep thy Soul from Harm secure,
And turn thy Footsteps from the Harlot’s Door,
Who with curs’d Charms lures the Unwary in,
And sooths with Flattery their Souls to Sin.
Once from my Window as I cast mine Eye
On those that pass’d in giddy Numbers by,
A Youth among the foolish Youths I spy’d,
Who took not sacred Wisdom for his Guide.
Just as the Sun withdrew his cooler Light,
And Evening soft led on the Shades of Night,
He stole in covert Twilight to his Fate,
And passd the Corner near the Harlot’s Gate
When, lo, a Woman comes!–
Loose her Attire, and such her glaring Dress,
As aptly did the Harlot’s Mind express:
Subtle she is, and practisd in the Arts,
By which the Wanton conquer heedless Hearts:
Stubborn and loud she is; she hates her Home,
Varying her Place and Form; she loves to roam;
Now she’s within, now in the Street does stray;
Now at each Corner stands, and waits her Prey.
The Youth she seiz’d; and laying now aside
All Modesty, the Female’s justest Pride,
She said, with an Embrace, Here at my House
Peace-offerings are, this Day I paid my Vows.
I therefore came abroad to meet my Dear,
And, Lo, in Happy Hour I find thee here.
My Chamber I’ve adornd, and o’er my Bed
Are cov’rings of the richest Tap’stry spread,
With Linnen it is deck’d from Egypt brought,
And Carvings by the Curious Artist wrought,
It wants no Glad Perfume Arabia yields
In all her Citron Groves, and spicy Fields;
Here all her store of richest Odours meets,
Ill lay thee in a Wilderness of Sweets.
Whatever to the Sense can grateful be
I have collected there–I want but Thee.
My Husband’s gone a Journey far away, }
Much Gold he took abroad, and long will stay, }
He nam’d for his return a distant Day. }
Upon her Tongue did such smooth Mischief dwell,
And from her Lips such welcome Flatt’ry fell,
Th’ unguarded Youth, in Silken Fetters ty’d,
Resign’d his Reason, and with Ease comply’d.
Thus does the Ox to his own Slaughter go,
And thus is senseless of th’ impending Blow.
Thus flies the simple Bird into the Snare,
That skilful Fowlers for his Life prepare.
But let my Sons attend, Attend may they
Whom Youthful Vigour may to Sin betray;
Let them false Charmers fly, and guard their Hearts
Against the wily Wanton’s pleasing Arts,
With Care direct their Steps, nor turn astray,
To tread the Paths of her deceitful Way;
Lest they too late of Her fell Power complain,
And fall, where many mightier have been Slain.

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