The Spectator, Volume 2. eBook

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[Footnote 1:  Iliad, Bk ix.]

[Footnote 2:  Menippus was a Cynic philosopher of Gadara, who made money in Thebes by usury, lost it, and hanged himself.  He wrote satirical pieces, which are lost; some said that they were the joint work of two friends, Dionysius and Zopyrus of Colophon, in whom it was one jest the more to ascribe their jesting to Menippus.  These pieces were imitated by Terentius Varro in Satirae Menippeae.]

* * * * *

No. 392.  Friday, May 30, 1712.  Steele.

  ’Per Ambages et Ministeria Deorum
  Praecipitandus est liber Spiritus.’



  The Transformation of Fidelio into a Looking-Glass.

I was lately at a Tea-Table, where some young Ladies entertained the Company with a Relation of a Coquet in the Neighbourhood, who had been discovered practising before her Glass.  To turn the Discourse, which from being witty grew to be malicious, the Matron of the Family took occasion, from the Subject, to wish that there were to be found amongst Men such faithful Monitors to dress the Mind by, as we consult to adorn the Body.  She added, that if a sincere Friend were miraculously changed into a Looking-Glass, she should not be ashamed to ask its Advice very often.  This whimsical Thought worked so much upon my Fancy the whole Evening, that it produced [a very odd Dream. [1]]

  Methought, that as I stood before my Glass, the Image of a Youth, of
  an open ingenuous Aspect, appeared in it; who with a small shrill
  Voice spoke in the following manner.

The Looking-Glass, you see, was heretofore a Man, even I, the unfortunate Fidelio.  I had two Brothers, whose Deformity in Shape was made out by the Clearness of their Understanding:  It must be owned however, that (as it generally happens) they had each a Perverseness of Humour suitable to their Distortion of Body.  The eldest, whose Belly sunk in monstrously, was a great Coward; and tho’ his splenetick contracted Temper made him take fire immediately, he made Objects that beset him appear greater than they were.  The second, whose Breast swelled into a bold Relievo, on the contrary, took great pleasure in lessening every thing, and was perfectly the Reverse of his Brother.  These Oddnesses pleased Company once or twice, but disgusted when often seen; for which reason the young Gentlemen were sent from Court to study Mathematicks at the University.
I need not acquaint you, that I was very well made, and reckoned a bright polite Gentleman.  I was the Confident and Darling of all the Fair; and if the Old and Ugly spoke ill of me, all the World knew it was because I scorned to flatter them.  No Ball, no Assembly was attended till I had been consulted.  Flavia colour’d her Hair before
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