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wardly dressed, by saying her clothes are in the mode. A French woman is a perfect architect in dress; she never, with Gothic ignorance, mixes the orders; she never tricks out a squabby Doric shape with Corinthian finery; or, to speak without metaphor, she conforms to general fashion only when it happens not to be repugnant to private beauty.
The English ladies, on the contrary seem to have no other standard of grace but the run of the town. If fashion gives the word, every distinction of beauty, complexion, or stature, ceases. Sweeping trains, Prussian bonnets, and trollopees, as like each other as if cut from the same piece, level all to one standard. The Mall, the gardens, and playhouses, are filled with ladies in uniform; and their whole appearance shows as little variety of taste as if their clothes were hespoke by the colonel of a marching regiment, or fancied by the artist who dresses the three battalions of guards.
But not only the ladies of every shape and complexion, but of every age too, are possessed of this unaccountable passion for levelling all distinction in dress. The lady of no quality travels first behiud the lady of some quality; and a woman of sixty is as gaudy as her grand-daughter. A friend of mine, a good-natured old man, amused me the other day with an account of his journey to the Mall. It seems, in his walk thither, he, for some time, fol. lowed a lady, who, as he thought by her dress, was a girl of fifteen. It was airy, elegant, and youthful. My old friend bad called up all his poetry on this occasion, and fancied twenty Cupids prepared for execution in every folding of her white negligee. He had prepared his imagination for an angel's face; but what was his mortification to find that the Her cap
imaginary goddess was no other than his cousin Hannah, sonie years older than himself!
But to give it in his own words : ' After the transports of our first salute,' said he,' were over, I could not avoid running my eye over her whole appearance. Her gown was of eambric, cut short before, in order to discover a high-heeled shoe, which was buckled almost at the toe. consisted of a few bits of cambric, and flowers of painted paper stuck on one side of her head. Her bosom, that had felt no hand but the hand of time these twenty years, rose, suing to be pressed. I could, indeed, have wished her more than a handkerchief of Paris net to shade her beauties; for, as Tasso says of the rose-bud, Quanto si mostra men, tanto e piu bella. A female breast is gene. rally thonght most beautiful as it is more sparingly discovered.
• As my cousin had not put on all this finery for nothing, she was at that time sallying out to the Park, where I had overtaken her. Perceiving, however, that I had on my best wig, she offered, if I would squire her there to send home the foot. man. Though I trembled for our reception in pub. lic, yet I could not, with any civility, refuse; so, to be as gallant as possible, I took her hand in my arm, and thus we marched on together.
• When we made our entry at the Park, two antiquated figures, so polite and so tender, soon at. tracted the eyes of the company. As we made our way among crowds who were out to show their finery as well as we, wherever we came, I perceiyo ed we brought good-humour with us. The polite could not forbear smiling, and the vulgar burst out into a horse-laugh, at our grotesque figures. Cousin Hannah, who was perfectly conscious of the recti.
tude of her own appearance, attributed all this mirth to the oddity of mine; while I as cordially placed the whole to her account. Thus, from being two of the best-natured creatures alive, before we got half way up the Mall, we both began to grow peevish, and, like two mice on a string, endeavoured to revenge the impertinence of the spectators on each other. I am amazed, cousin Jeffery,' says miss, that I can never get you to dress like a Christian. 1 knew we should have the eyes of the Park upon us, with your great wig, so frizled, and yet so beggarly, and your monstrous muff. I hate those odious muffs. I could have patiently borne a criticism on all the rest of my equipage; but as I had always a peculiar veneration for my muff, I could not forbear being piqued a little; and throw. ing my eyes with a spiteful air on her bosom, could heartily wish, madam,' replied I,' that, for your sake, my muff was cut into a tippet.'
As my cousin, by this time, was grown heartily ashamed of her gentleman-usher, and as I was never very fond of any kind of exhibition myself, it was mutually agreed to retire for a while to one of the seats, and, from that retreat, remark on others as freely as they had remarked on us.
When seated, we continued silent for some time, employed in very different speculations. I regard er the whole compsny, now passing in review before me, as drawn out merely for my amusement. For my entertainment the beauty had, all that morning, been improving her charms: the beau had put on lace, and the young doctor a big wig, merely to please me. But quite different were the sentiments of cousin Hannah: she regarded every well-dressed woman as a victorious rival; hated every face that seemed dressed iu good humour, or
wore the appearance of greater happiness than her own. I perceived her uneasiness, and attempted to lessen it by observing that there was no company in the Park to-day. To this she readily assented;
And yet,' says she, “it is full enough of scrubs of one kind or another.' My smiling at this observation gave her spirits to pursue the bent of her inclination, and now she began to exhibit her skill in secret history, as she found me disposed to listen. • Observe,' says she to me, • that old woman in tawdry silk, and dressed out beyond the fashion. That is Miss Biddy Evergreen. Miss Biday, it seems, has money ; and as she considers that money was never so scarce as it is now, she seems resolved to keep what she has to herself. She is ugly enough, you see; yet, 1 assure you, she has refused several offers, to my knowledge, within this twelvemonth. Let me see, three gentlemen from Ireland, who study the law, two waiting captains, her doc. tor, and a Scotch preacher who had like to have carried her off. All her time is passed between sickness and tinery. Thus she spends the whole week in a close chamber, with no other company but ber monkey, her apothecary, and cat; and comes dressed out to the Park every Sunday, to show her airs, to get new lovers, to catch a new cold, and to make new work for the doctor.
• There goes Mrs. Roundabout, I mean the fat lady in the luring trollopee. Between you and I, she is but a cutler's wife. See how she's dressed, as fine as hands and pins can make her, while her two marriageable daughters, like bunters, in stuff gowns, are now taking sixpenny worth of tea at the White-conduit-house. Odious puss, how she waddles along, with her train two yards behind her ! She puts me in mind of my lord Bantani's
Indian sheep, which are obliged to have their monstrous tails trundled along in a go-cart. For all her airs, it goes to her husband's heart to see four yards of good lustring wearing against the ground, like one of his knives on a grindstone. To speak my mind, cousin Jeffery, I never liked those tails; for suppose a young fellow should be rude, and the lady should offer to step back in the fright, instead of retiring, she treads upon her train, and falls fairly on her back; and then you know, cousin,her clothes may be spoiled.
Ah! Miss Mazzard! I knew we should not miss her in the Park; she in the monstrous Prussian bonnet. Miss, though so very fine, was bred a milliner; and might have had some custom if she had minded her business; but the girl was fond of finery, and, instead of dressing her customers, laid out all her goods in adorning herself. Every new gown she put on, impaired her credit; she still, however, went on, improving her appearance and lessening her little fortune, and is now, you see, become a belle and a bankrupt.'
My cousin was proceeding in her remarks, which were interrupted by the approach of the very lady she had been so freely describing. Miss had perceived her at a distance, and approached to salute her. I found, by the warmth of the two ladies' protestations, that they had been long intimate, esteemed friends and acquaintance. Both were so pleased at this happy rencounter, that they were resolved not to part for the day. So we all cross ed the Park together, and I saw them into a hack ney-coach at St. James's.