Capias Latitat to Miss Prudentia Quickset

Miss Porden

To Miss Prudentia Quickset, Spinster.
thro’ the medium of the Attic Chest


Tho’ in your communication to the Editor of that learned body the Attic Society (of which I have the honor to be an unworthy member) you have denounced again the introduction of a solicitor as one of your court, I hope to adduce such arguments and evidence of the necessity of this officer as to force you to a retraxit, and the court to a verdict in my favour.

The Editor in the view he has taken of the case, besides the illegality of giving an opinion without a fee, was pleased to utter so many slanders against the gentlemen of the long robe, that I think an action will lie for defamation or libel, and would commence the prosecution accordingly could I ascertain the probable amount of damages.

To you whom from your exemplary discretion I consider the best arbiter in this cause, I address my suit. From the aspersions cast upon you in the letter of Annabella Squib, Spinster, you must already have perceived what laxity of conduct, what illegal and informal proceedings, what a variety of misunderstandings, feuds, or divisions must unquestionably arise in a society formed and consisting of so many females if without any legal adviser to compose these differences if unregulated by a proper code of laws and unsubjected to some acknowledged and authorized Supreme.

To prevent these inevitable evils I propose the following plan:

Firstly: I premise, tho’ an object of secondary importance, the appointment of a solicitor to the Society, who shall be duly empowered to enact such laws, rules, and regulations as may appear to him fitting and necessary to the well being of the said Society, to which laws, rules, and regulations the members of the said Society shall enter into a previous agreement to conform.

2ndly: (Supposing that thro’ your interest I have had the felicity of attaining this situation) the said solicitor shall propose that to prevent all dissensions the chief power shall be vested in one of the said Society to be called the Lady Patroness or by any other title better suited to the office. As vanity and the love of sway are allowed to be inherent in the female sex each lady will of course think herself most entitled to the said supremacy and the motion will be carried nem. con. Much dissension may now be expected to arise from so many jarring interests, and the claims of the several candidates will finally be referr’d to the consideration of the Solicitor, who being legally empowered to decide on this important question will after an impartial view of the case, doubtless award the prize to your superior merit.

3rdly: As it is notorious how often on such occasions our sex have been known to take advantage of the unsuspecting innocence of the female nature, I propose that the care and management of the funds be entrusted to the Solicitor under the control of the Lady Patroness, to whose revision his accounts shall be submitted.

From the slight sketch of the laws of the Society given by Mr Barnaby Scratch, the Solicitor foresees that he will find it necessary to abrogate some of the old laws, to insert clauses in others, and to enact new ones. The law which he principally wishes to repeal is that ordaining the diminution of the lady’s fortune on marriage, which he considers wholly grievous and unnecessary, as he is informed from credible authority that all the ladies (yourself excepted) are much to old to kindle a spark of love in the most amorous bosom.

With respect to yourself, your modesty and discretion while it is the surest must be the only safeguard, but from the prudence, the nice sense of propriety, and the exquisite delicacy of sentiment displayed in your letter to the Editor of the Attic Society, joined to his remembrance of a transient glimpse of your person three years ago, the Solicitor cannot help pitying the numbers who must have fallen victims to your unequalled charms. His feelings forbid him to say more, but he subscribes himself,

With the profoundest respect
Your most devoted

Capias Latitat

April 7th 1813