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Having thus taken my resolutions to march on boldly in the cause of virtue and good sense, and to annoy their" adversaries in whatever degree or rank of men they may be found; I shall be deaf for the future to all the remonstrances that shall be 5 made to me on this account. If Punch grows extravagant, I shall reprimand him very freely: if the stage becomes a nursery of folly and impertinence, I shall not be afraid to animadvert upon it. In short, if I meet with anything in city, court, or 10 country, that shocks modesty or good manners, I shall use my utmost endeavors to make an example of it. I must, however, entreat every particular person, who does me the honor to be a reader of this paper, never to think himself, or any of his 15 friends, or enemies, aimed at in what is said: for 'I promise him, never to draw a faulty character which does not fit at least a thousand people; or to publish a single paper, that is not written in the spirit of benevolence, and with a love of mankind.
No. 5. A Lady's Library SPECTATOR No. 37. Thursday, April 12, 1711
Non illa colo calathisve Minerva
Virg. Æn. vii. 805.
Some months ago, my friend, Sir Roger being in the country, enclosed a letter to me, directed to a
certain lady whom I shall here call by the name of Leonora, and as it contained matters of consequence, desired me to deliver it to her with my own hand.
Accordingly I waited upon her ladyship pretty early 5 in the morning, and was desired by her woman to
walk into her lady's library, till such time as she was in readiness to receive me. The very sound of a lady's library gave me a great curiosity to see it;
and as it was some time before the lady came to me, 10 I had an opportunity of turning over a great many
of her books, which were ranged together in a very beautiful order. At the end of the folios (which were finely bound and gilt) were great jars of china 3
placed one above another in a very noble piece of 15 architecture. The quartos were separated from the
octavos by a pile of smaller vessels, which rose in a delightful pyramid. The octavos were bounded by tea-dishes of all shapes, colors, and sizes, which were
so disposed on a wooden frame, that they looked 20 like one continued pillar indented with the finest
strokes of sculpture, and stained with the greatest variety of dies. That part of the library which was designed for the reception of plays and pamphlets,
and other loose papers, was enclosed in a kind of 25 square, consisting of one of the prettiest grotesque
works that I ever saw, and made up of scaramouches, lions, monkeys, mandarins, trees, shells, and a thousand other odd figures in china ware.
In the midst of the room was a small japan table, with a quire of gilt paper upon it, and on the paper a silver snuff-box made in the shape of a little book. I found there were several other counterfeit books upon the upper shelves, which were carved in wood, and served only to fill up the numbers like fagots 5 5 in the muster of a regiment. I was wonderfully pleased with such a mixed kind of furniture, as seemed very suitable both to the lady and the scholar, and did not know at first whether I should fancy myself in a grotto, or in a library.
Upon my looking into the books, I found there were some few which the lady had bought for her own use, but that most of them had been got together, either because she had heard them praised, or because she had seen the authors of them. 15 Among several that I examined, I very well remember these that follow:
middle leaves. Pembroke's Arcadia. 11 Locke 12 on Human Understanding; with a paper of
patches 13 in it.
A Spelling Book.
The fifteen Comforts of Matrimony.15 5 Sir William Temple's 16 Essays. Father Malebranche's 17 Search after Truth, trans
lated into English. A Book of Novels.
The Academy of Compliments. 10 The Ladies' Calling. 18 Tales in Verse, by Mr. Durfey; 19 bound in red
leather, gilt on the back, and doubled down in
several places. All the Classic Authors in wood. 15 A set of Elzevirs 20 by the same hand.21 Clelia : 22 which opened of itself in the place that
describes two lovers in a bower. Baker's Chronicle.23
Advice to a Daughter.?
Mr. Steele's Christian Hero.26
by the side of it.
I was taking a catalogue in my pocket-book of these, and several other authors, when Leonora entered, and upon my presenting her with a letter from the knight, told me, with an unspeakable grace, that she hoped Sir Roger was in good health: 5 I answered Yes, for I hate long speeches, and after a bow or two retired.
Leonora was formerly a celebrated beauty, and is still a very lovely woman. She has been a widow for two or three years, and being unfortunate in her 10 first marriage, has taken a resolution never to venture upon a second. She has no children to take care of, and leaves the management of her estate to my good friend Sir Roger. But as the mind naturally sinks into a kind of lethargy, and falls 15 asleep, that is not agitated by some favorite pleasures and pursuits, Leonora has turned all the passions of her sex into a love of books and retirement. She converses chiefly with men (as she has often said herself), but it is only in their writings; 20 and admits of very few male visitants,33 except my friend Sir Roger, whom she hears with great pleasure, and without scandal. As her reading has lain very much among romances, it has given her a very particular turn of thinking, and discovers itself even 25 in her house, her gardens, and her furniture. Sir Roger has entertained me an hour together with a description of her country seat, which is situated in a kind of wilderness, about an hundred miles distant