Your most affectionate humble Servant,
[Footnote 1: amongst]
[Footnote 2: Occasions]
[Footnote 3: A small Spa, in Northamptonshire, upon the Oxford border. From Astrop to Bath the scale of fashion rises.]
[Footnote 4: Bury Fair and Epsom Wells gave titles to two of Shadwell’s Comedies.]
* * * * *
No. I55.  Tuesday, August 28, 1711. Steele.
Hae nugae seria ducunt
In mala ...’
I have more than once taken Notice of an indecent Licence taken in Discourse, wherein the Conversation on one Part is involuntary, and the Effect of some necessary Circumstance. This happens in travelling together in the same hired Coach, sitting near each other in any publick Assembly, or the like. I have, upon making Observations of this sort, received innumerable Messages from that Part of the Fair Sex whose Lot in Life is to be of any Trade or publick Way of Life. They are all to a Woman urgent with me to lay before the World the unhappy Circumstances they are under, from the unreasonable Liberty which is taken in their Presence, to talk on what Subject it is thought fit by every Coxcomb who wants Understanding or Breeding. One or two of these Complaints I shall set down.
’I Keep a Coffee-house, and am one of those whom you have thought fit to mention as an Idol some time ago. I suffered a good deal of Raillery upon that Occasion; but shall heartily forgive you, who are the Cause of it, if you will do me Justice in another Point. What I ask of you, is, to acquaint my Customers (who are otherwise very good ones) that I am unavoidably hasped in my Bar, and cannot help hearing the improper Discourses they are pleased to entertain me with. They strive who shall say the most immodest Things in my Hearing: At the same time half a dozen of them loll at the Bar staring just in my Face, ready to interpret my Looks and Gestures according to their own Imaginations. In this passive Condition I know not where to cast my Eyes, place my Hands, or what to employ my self in: But this Confusion is to be a Jest, and I hear them say in the End, with an Air of Mirth and Subtlety, Let her alone, she knows as well as we, for all she looks so. Good Mr. SPECTATOR, persuade Gentlemen that it is out of all Decency: Say it is possible a Woman may be modest and yet keep a Publick-house. Be pleased to argue, that in