« VorigeDoorgaan »
small beer. There has been likewise a great consumption of cards. It is also said that they observe the law in Ben Jonson's Club, which orders the fire to be always kept in (focus perennis esto) as well for the convenience of lighting their pipes, as to cure the dampness of the club-room. They have an old woman in the nature of a vestal, whose business it is to cherish and perpetuate the fire which burns from generation to generation, and has seen the glass-house fires in and out above an hundred times.
The Everlasting Club treats all other clubs with an eye of 10 contempt, and talks even of the Kit-Cat and October as of a couple of upstarts. Their ordinary discourse (as much as I have been able to learn of it) turns altogether upon such adventures as have passed in their own assembly; of members who have taken the glass in their turns for a week together, without stirring out of their club; of others who have smoked an hundred pipes at a sitting; of others who have not missed their morning's draught for twenty years together; sometimes they speak in raptures of a run of ale in King Charles's reign; and sometimes reflect with astonish- 20 ment upon games at whisk which have been miraculously recovered by members of the society, when in all human probability the case was desperate.
They delight in several old catches, which they sing at all hours to encourage one another to moisten their clay, and grow immortal by drinking, with many other edifying exhortations of the like nature.
There are four general clubs held in a year, at which times they fill up vacancies, appoint waiters, confirm the old firemaker or elect a new one, settle contributions for coals, pipes, 30 tobacco, and other necessaries.
The senior member has outlived the whole club twice over, and has been drunk with the grandfathers of some of the present sitting members.
XI. PARTY PATCHES.
Saturday, June 2, 1711.
Qualis ubi audito venantum murmure Tigris,
As when the tigress hears the hunter's din,
ABOUT the middle of last winter I went to see an opera at the theatre in the Haymarket, where I could not but take notice of two parties of very fine women, that had placed themselves in the opposite side boxes, and seemed drawn up in a kind of battle-array one against another. After a short 10 survey of them, I found they were patched differently; the faces, on one hand, being spotted on the right side of the forehead, and those upon the other on the left. I quickly perceived that they cast hostile glances upon one another; and that their patches were placed in those different situations as party signals to distinguish friends from foes. In the middle boxes, between these two opposite bodies, were several ladies who patched indifferently on both sides of their faces, and seemed to sit there with no other intention but to see the opera. Upon inquiry I found that the body of Amazons 20 on my right hand were Whigs, and those on my left Tories;
and that those who had placed themselves in the middle boxes were a neutral party, whose faces had not yet declared themselves. These last, however, as I afterwards found, diminished daily, and took their party with one side or the other insomuch that I observed in several of them the patches, which were before dispersed equally, are now all gone over to the Whig or the Tory side of the face. The censorious say that the men whose hearts are aimed at are very often the occasions that one part of the face is thus dis30 honoured, and lies under a kind of disgrace, while the other is so much set off and adorned by the owner; and that the
patches turn to the right or to the left, according to the principles of the man who is most in favour. But whatever may be the motives of a few fantastical coquettes, who do not patch for the public good so much as for their own private advantage, it is certain that there are several women of honour who patch out of principle, and with an eye to the interest of their country. Nay, I am informed that some of them adhere so steadfastly to their party, and are so far from sacrificing their zeal for the public to their passions for any particular person, that in a late draught of marriage articles 10 a lady has stipulated with her husband that whatever his opinions are, she shall be at liberty to patch on which side she pleases.
I must here take notice that Rosalinda, a famous Whig partisan, has, most unfortunately, a very beautiful mole on the Tory part of her forehead, which being very conspicuous, has occasioned many mistakes, and given an handle to her enemies to misrepresent her face, as though it had revolted from the Whig interest. But whatever this natural patch may seem to insinuate, it is well known that her notions of 20 government are still the same. This unlucky mole, however, has misled several coxcombs; and like the hanging out of false colours, made some of them converse with Rosalinda in what they thought the spirit of her party, when on a sudden she has given them an unexpected fire, that has sunk them all at once. If Rosalinda is unfortunate in her mole, Nigranilla is as unhappy in a pimple, which forces her, against her inclinations, to patch on the Whig side.
I am told that many virtuous matrons, who formerly have been taught to believe that this artificial spotting of the face 30 was unlawful, are now reconciled by a zeal for their cause, to what they could not be prompted by a concern for their beauty. This way of declaring war upon one another puts me in mind of what is reported of the tigress, that several spots rise in her skin when she is angry; or, as Mr. Cowley has imitated the verses that stand as the motto of this paper,
-She swells with angry pride,
And calls forth all her spots on every side.
When I was in the theatre the time above-mentioned, I had the curiosity to count the patches on both sides, and found the Tory patches to be about twenty stronger than the Whig; but to make amends for this small inequality, I the next morning found the whole puppet-show filled with faces spotted after the Whiggish manner. Whether or no the ladies had retreated hither in order to rally their forces I 10 cannot tell, but the next night they came in so great a body to the opera that they outnumbered the enemy.
This account of party patches will, I am afraid, appear improbable to those who live at a distance from the fashionable world; but as it is a distinction of a very singular nature, and what perhaps may never meet with a parallel, I think I should not have discharged the office of a faithful Spectator had I not recorded it.
I have endeavoured to expose this party rage in women, as it only serves to aggravate the hatred and animosities that 20 reign among men, and in a great measure deprives the fair sex of those peculiar charms with which nature has endowed them.
When the Romans and Sabines were at war, and just upon the point of giving battle, the women who were allied to both of them interposed with so many tears and entreaties that they prevented the mutual slaughter which threatened both parties, and united them together in a firm and lasting peace.
I would recommend this noble example to our British ladies, at a time when their country is torn with so many un30 natural divisions, that if they continue, it will be a misfortune to be born in it. The Greeks thought it so improper for women to interest themselves in competitions and contentions, that for this reason, among others, they forbade them, under pain of death, to be present at the Olympic games, notwithstanding these were the public diversions of all Greece.
As our English women excel those of all nations in beauty, they should endeavour to outshine them in all other accomplishments proper to the sex, and to distinguish themselves as tender mothers and faithful wives, rather than as furious partisans. Female virtues are of a domestic turn. The family is the proper province for private women to shine in. If they must be showing their zeal for the public, let it not be against those who are perhaps of the same family, or at least. of the same religion or nation, but against those who are the open, professed, undoubted enemies of their faith, liberty, 10 and country. When the Romans were pressed with a foreign enemy, the ladies voluntarily contributed all their rings and jewels to assist the government under the public exigence, which appeared so laudable an action in the eyes of their countrymen, that from thenceforth it was permitted by a law to pronounce public orations at the funeral of a woman in praise of the deceased person, which till that time was peculiar to men.
Would our English ladies, instead of sticking on a patch against those of their own country, show themselves so truly 20 public-spirited as to sacrifice every one her necklace against the common enemy, what decrees ought not to be made in favour of them?
Since I am recollecting upon this subject such passages as occur to my memory out of ancient authors, I cannot omit a sentence in the celebrated funeral oration of Pericles, which he made in honour of those brave Athenians that were slain in a fight with the Lacedæmonians. After having addressed himself to the several ranks and orders of his countrymen, and shown them how they should behave themselves in the public 30 cause, he turns to the female part of his audience: “And as for you (says he), I shall advise you in very few words: aspire only to those virtues that are peculiar to your sex; follow your natural modesty, and think it your greatest commendation not to be talked of one way or other."