Mr . Spectator, I have observed through the whole Course of your Rhapsodies, (as you once very well called them) you are very industrious to overthrow all that many your Superiors who have gone before you have made their Rule of writing. I am now between fifty and sixty, and had the Honour to be well with the first Men of Taste and Gallantry in the joyous Reign of Charles the Second: We then had, I humbly presume, as good Understandings among us as any now can pretend to.
As for yourself, Mr. Spectator, you seem with the utmost Arrogance to undermine the very Fundamentals upon which we conducted our selves. It is monstrous to set up for a Man of Wit, and yet deny that Honour in a Woman is any thing else but Peevishness, that Inclination is the best Rule of Life, or Virtue and Vice any thing else but Health and Disease. We had no more to do but to put a Lady into good Humour, and all we could wish followed of Course. Then again, your Tully, and your Discourses of another Life, are the very Bane of Mirth and good Humour. Pr'ythee don't value thyself on thy Reason at that exorbitant Rate, and the Dignity of human Nature; take my Word for it, a Setting-dog has as good Reason as any Man in England.
Had you (as by your Diurnals one would think you do) set up for being in vogue in Town, you should have fallen in with the Bent of Passion and Appetite; your Songs had then been in every pretty Mouth in England, and your little Distichs had been the Maxims of the Fair and the Witty to walk by: But alas, Sir, what can you hope for from entertaining People with what must needs make them like themselves worse than they did before they read you? Had you made it your Business to describe Corinna charming, though inconstant, to find something in human Nature itself to make Zoilus excuse himself for being fond of her; and to make every Man in good Commerce with his own Reflections, you had done something worthy our Applause; but indeed, Sir, we shall not commend you for disapproving us.
I have a great deal more to say to you, but I shall sum it up all in this one Remark, In short, Sir, you do not write like a Gentleman.
'I am, Sir, Your most humble Servant.'
From The Spectator Essays. The real ones... The 'letter to the editor' of course written by Steele himself!