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great deal. I have known those among us who think, if they every morning and evening spend an hour in their closet, and read over so many prayers in six or seven books of devotion, all equally nonsensical, with a sort of warmth, (that might as well be raised by a glass of wine, or a dram of citron) they may all the rest of their time go on in whatever their particular passion leads them to. The beauteous Philautia, who is in your language) an idol, is one of these votaries; she has a very pretty furnished closet, to which she retires at hier appointed hours. This is her dressing-room, as well as chapel; she has constantly before her a large looking-glass; and upon the table, according to a very witty anthor,
Together lie her prayer-book and paint,
It must be a good scene, if one could be present at it, to see this idol by turns lift up her eyes to heaven, and steal glances at hier own dear person. It cannot but be a pleasing conflict between vanity and humiliation. When you are upon this subject, choose books which elevate the mind above the world, and give a pleasing indifference to little things in it. For want of such instructions I am apt to believe so many people take it in their heads to be sullen, cross, and angry, under pretence of being abstracted from the affairs of this life, when at the same time they betray their fondness for them by doing their duty as a task, and pouting and reading good books for a week together. Much of this I take to proceed from the indiscretion of the books theniselves, whose very titles of weekly preparations, and such limited godliness, lead people of ordinary capacities into great errors, and raise in them a mechanical religion, entirely distinct from morality. I know a
lady so given up to this sort of devotion, that though she employs six or eight hours of the twenty-four at, cards, she never misses one constant hour of prayer, for which time another holds her cards, to which she returns with no little anxiousness till two or three in the morning. All these acts are but empty shows, and, as it were, compliments made to virtue; the mind is all the while untouched with any true pleasure in the pursuit of it. From hence I presume it arises, that so many people call themselves virtuous, from no other pretence to it but an absence of ill. There is Dulciamara, the most insolent of all creatures to her friends and domestics, upon no other pretence in nature, but that (as her silly phrase is)“ no one can say black is her eye." She has no secrets, forsooth, which should make her afraid to speak her mind, and and therefore she is impertinently blunt to all her acquaintance, and unseasonably imperious to all her family. Dear sir, be pleased to put such books into our hands, as may make our virtue more inward, and convince some of us, that in a mind truly virtuous, the scorn of vice is always accompanied with the pity of it. This and other things are impatiently expected from you by our whole sex; among the rest by,
Your most humble servant,
N° 80. FRIDAY, JUNE 1, 1711.
Cælum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt.
HOR, 1 Ep. xi. 27.
In the year 1688, and on the same day of that year, were born in Cheapside, London, two females of exquisite feature and shape; the one we shall call Brunetta, the other Phillis. A close intimacy between their parents made each of them the first acquaintance the other knew in the world. They played, dressed babies, acted visitings, learned to dance and make curtesies together. They were inseparable companions in all the little entertainments their tender years were capable of : which innocent happiness continued until the beginning of their fifteenth year, when it happened that Phillis had an bead dress on, which became her so very well, that instead of being beheld any more with pleasure for their amity to each other, the eyes of the neighbourhood were turned to remark them with comparison of their beauty. They now no longer enjoyed the ease of mind and pleasing indolence in which they were formerly happy, but all their words and actions were misinterpreted by each other, and every excellence in their speech and behaviour was looked upon as an act of emulation to surpass the other. These beginnings of disinclination soon improved into a formality of behaviour, a general coldness, and by natural steps into an irreconcilable hatred.
These two rivals for the reputation of beauty, were in their stature, countenance, and mien so very much alike, that if you were speaking of them in their absence, the words in which you described the one must give you an idea of the other. They were hardly distinguishable, you would think, when they were apart, though extremely different when together. What made their enmity the more entertaining to all the rest of their sex was, that in detraction from each other, neither could fall upon terms which did not hit herself as much as her adversary. Their nights grew restless with meditation of new dresses to outvie each other, and inventing new devices to recal admirers, who observed the charms of the one rather than those of the other, on the last meeting. Their colours failed at each other's appearance, flushed with pleasure at the report of a disadvantage, and their countenances withered upon instances of applause. The decencies to which women are obliged, made these virgins stifle their resentment so far as not to break into open violences, while they equally suffered the torments of a regulated anger. Their mothers, as it is usual, engaged in the quarrel, and supported the several pretensions of their daughters with all that ill-chosen sort of expence which is common with people of plentiful fortunes and mean taste. The girls preceded their parents like queens of May, in all the gaudy colours imaginable, on every Sunday to church, and were exposed to the examination of the audience for superiority of beauty.
During this constant struggle it happened, that Phillis one day at public prayers smote the heart of a gay West Indian, who appeared in all the colours which can affect an eye that could not distinguish between being fine and tawdry. This American, in a summerisland suit, was too shining and too gay to be resisted by Phillis, and too intent upon her charms to be diverted by any of the laboured attractions of Brunetta.
Soon after, Brunetta had the mortification to see her rival disposed of in a wealthy marriage, while she was only addressed to in a manner that shewed she was the admiration of all men, but the choice of none. Phillis was carried to the habitation of her spouse in Barbadoes. Brunetta had the ill-nature to enquire for her by every opportunity, and had the misfortune to hear of her being attended by numerous slaves, fanned into slumbers by successive bands of them, and carried from place to place in all the pomp of barbarous magnificence. Brunetta could not endure these repeated advices, but employed all her arts and charms in laying baits for any of condition of the same island, out of a mere ambition to confront her once more before she died. She at last succeeded in her design, and was taken to wife by a gentleman wbose estate was contiguous to that of her enemy's husband. It would be endless to enumerate the many occasions on which these irreconcilable beauties laboured to excel each other; but in process of time it happened, that a ship put into the island consigned to a friend of Phillis, who liad directions to give her the refusal of all goods for apparel, before Brunetta could be alarmed of their ara rival. He did so, and Phillis was dressed in a few days in a brocade more gorgeous and costly than had trer before appeared in that latitude. Brunetta languished at the sight, and could by no means come up to the bravery of her antagonist. She communicated her anguish of mind to a faithful friend, who by an interest in the wife of Phillis's merchant, procured a remnant of the same silk for Brunetta. Phillis took pains to appear in all public places where she was sure to meet Brunetta; Brunetta was now prepared for the insult, and came to a public ball in a plain black silk mantua, attended by a beautiful negro girl in a petticoat of the same brocade with which Phillis was attired. This drew the attention of the whole company,
which twell umer