« VorigeDoorgaan »
their confederates, who thereupon took care to prune themselves into such figures as were most pleasing to their female friends and allies.
When they had taken any spoils from the enemy, the men would make a present of every thing that was rich and showy to the women whom they most admired, and would frequently dress the necks, or heads, or arms, of their mistresses, with any thing which they thought appeared gay or pretty. The women observing that the men took delight in looking upon them when they were adorned with such trappings and gewgaws, set their heads at work to find out new inventions, and to outshine one another in all councils of war, or the like solemn meetings. On the other hand, the men observing how the women's hearts were set upon finery, begun to embellish themselves, and look as agreeably as they could in the eyes of their associates. In short, after a few years' conversing together, the women had learned to smile, and the men to ogle; the women grew soft, and the men lively.
When they had thus insensibly formed one another, upo n the finishing of the war, which concluded with an entire conquest of their common enemy, the colonels in one army married the colonels in the other; the captains in the same manner took the captains to their wives: the whole body of common soldiers were matched after the example of their leaders. By this means the two republics incorporated with one another, and became the most flourishing and polite government in the part of the world which they inhabited.
N° 435. SATURDAY, JULY 19, 1712.
Nec duo sunt, et forma duplex, nec fœmina dici,
Both bodies in a single body mix,
A single body with a double sex.-ADDISON.
Mosulj of Lary, but are for ever fixed and
[OST of the papers I give the public are written on
immutable. Of this kind are all my more serious essays and discourses; but there is another sort of speculations,
which I consider as occasional papers, that take their rise from the folly, extravagance, and caprice, of the present age. For I look upon myself as one set to watch the manners and behaviour of my countrymen and contemporaries, and to mark down every absurd fashion, ridiculous custom, or affected form of speech, that makes its appearance in the world during the course of these my speculations. The petticoat no sooner began to swell, but I observed its motions. The party-patches had not time to muster themselves before I detected them. I had intelligence of the coloured hood the very first time it appeared in a public assembly. I might here mention several other the like contingent subjects, upon which I have bestowed distinct papers. By this means I have so effectually quashed those irregularities which gave occasion to them, that I am afraid posterity will scarce have a sufficient idea of them to relish those discourses which were in no little vogue at the time when they were written. They will be apt to think that the fashions and customs I attacked were some fantastic conceits of my own, and that their great grandmothers could not be so whimsical as I have represented them. For this reason, when I think on the figure my several volumes of speculations will make about a hundred years hence, I consider them as so many pieces of old plate, where the weight will be regarded, but the fashion lost.
Among the several female extravagances I have already taken notice of, there is one which still keeps its ground, I mean that of the ladies who dress themselves in a hat and feather, a riding coat and a periwig, or at least tie up their hair in a bag or riband, in imitation of the smart part of the opposite sex. As in my yesterday's paper I gave an account of the mixture of two sexes in one commonwealth, I shall here take notice of this mixture of two sexes in one person. I have already shewn my dislike of this immodest custom more than once; but, in contempt of every thing I have hitherto said, I am informed that the highways about this great city are still very much infested with these female cavaliers.
I remember when I was at my friend Sir Roger de Coverley's about this time twelvemonth, an equestrian lady of this order appeared upon the plains which lay at a dis
No 435. tance from his house. I was at that time walking in the fields with my old friend; and as his tenants ran out or every side to see so strange a sight, Sir Roger asked one of them, who came by us, what it was? To which the country fellow replied, ""Tis a gentlewoman, saving your worship's presence, in a coat and hat." This produced a great deal of mirth at the knight's house, where we had a story at the same time of another of his tenants, who meeting this gentleman-like lady on the highway, was asked by her whether that was Coverley-hall? The honest man seeing only the male part of the querist, replied, "Yes, Sir;" but upon the second question, whether Sir Roger de Coverley was a married man? having droppedhis eye upon the petticoat, he changed his note into No, Madam.'
Had one of these hermaphrodites appeared in Juvenal's days, with what an indignation should we have seen her described by that excellent satirist! He would have represented her in her riding-habit as a greater monster than the centaur. He would have called for sacrifices, or púrifying waters, to expatiate the appearance of such a prodigy. He would have invoked the shades of Portia or Lucretia, to see into what the Roman ladies had transformed themselves.
For my own part, I am for treating the sex with greater tenderness, and have all along made use of the most gentle methods to bring them off from any little extravagance into which they have sometimes unwarily fallen. I think it, however, absolutely necessary to keep up the partition between the two sexes, and to take notice of the smallest encroachments which the one makes upon the other. I hope, therefore, that I shall not hear any more complaints on this subject. I am sure my she-disciples, who peruse these my daily lectures, have profited but little by them, if they are capable of giving into such an amphibious dress. This I should not have mentioned, had not I lately met one of these my female readers in Hyde-park, who looked upon me with a masculine assurance, and cocked her hat full in my face.
For my part, I have one general key to the behaviour of the fair sex. When I see them singular in any part of their dress, I conclude it is not without some evil inten
tion; and therefore question not but the design of this strange fashion is to smite more effectually their male beholders. Now to set them right in this particular, I would fain have them consider with themselves, whether we are not more likely to be struck by a figure entirely female, than with such a one as we may see every day in our glasses. Or, if they please, let them reflect upon their own hearts, and think how they would be affected should they meet a man on horseback in his breeches and jackboots, and at the same time dressed up in a commode and a nightraile.
I must observe that this fashion was first of all brought to us from France, a country which has infected all the nations of Europe with its levity. I speak not this in derogation of a whole people, having more than once found fault with those general reflections which strike at kingdoms or commonwealths in the gross-a piece of cruelty, which an ingenious writer of our own compares to that of Caligula, who wished the Roman people had all but one neck, that he might behead them at a blow. I shall therefore only remark, that as liveliness and assurance are in a peculiar manner the qualifications of the French nation, the same habits and customs will not give the same offence to that people which they produce among those of our own country. Modesty is our distinguishing character, as vivacity is theirs: and when this our national virtue appears in that female beauty for which our British ladies are celebrated above all others in the universe, it makes up the most amiable object that the eye of man can possibly behold.
N° 436. MONDAY, JULY 21, 1712.
-Verso pollice vulgi
Quemlibet occidunt populariter.-Juv. Sat. iii. 36.
With thumbs bent back, they popularly kill.-Dryden.
EING a person of insatiable curiosity, I could not forbear going on Wednesday last to a place of no small renown for the gallantry of the lower order of Britons, namely, to the Bear-garden, at Hockley in the Hole: where (as a whitish-brown paper, put into my
hands in the street, informed me) there was to be a trial of skill exhibited between two masters of the noble science of defence, at two of the clock precisely. I was not a little charmed with the solemnity of the challenge, which ran thus:
"I James Miller, serjeant (lately come from the frontiers of Portugal), master of the noble science of defence, hearing in most places where I have been of the great fame of Timothy Buck, of London, master of the said science, do invite him to meet me and exercise at the several weapons following, viz.
"Sword and dagger,
If the generous ardour in James Miller to dispute the reputation of Timothy Buck had something resembling the old heroes of romance, Timothy Buck returned answer in the same paper with the like spirit, adding a little indignation at being challenged, and seeming to condescend to fight James Miller, not in regard to Miller himself, but in that, as the fame went out, he had fought Parkes of Coventry. The acceptance of the combat ran in these words:
"I Timothy Buck, of Clare-market, master of the noble science of defence, hearing he did fight Mr. Parkes of Coventry, will not fail (God willing) to meet this fair inviter at the time and place appointed, desiring a clear stage and no favour.-Vivat regina."
I shall not here look back on the spectacles of the Greeks and Romans of this kind, but must believe this custom took its rise from the ages of knight-errantry; from those who loved one woman so well, that they hated all men and women else; from those who would fight you,
* On a large tomb in the great church-yard of Coventry is the following inscription.
"To the memory of Mr. John Sparkes, a native of this city: he was a man of a mild disposition, a gladiator by profession, who, after having fought 350 battles in the principal parts of Europe with honour and applause, at length quitted the stage, sheathed his sword, and with Christian resignation, submitted to the grand victor in the 52d year of his age. "Anno salutis humanæ 1733.
His friend, Serjeant Miller, here mentioned, a man of vast athletic accomplishments, was advanced afterward to the rank of a captain in the British army, and did notable service in Scotland under the Duke of Cumberland in 1745,