페이지 이미지

• Among these various conjectures, there are men' of superstitious tempers, who look upon the hooppetticoat as a kind of prodigy. Some will have it that it portends the downfal of the French king, and observe that the farthingal appeared in England a little before the ruin of the Spanish monarchy. * Others are of opinion that it foretels battle and bloodshed, and believe it of the same prognostication as the tail of a blazing star. For my part, I am apt to think it is a sign that multitudes are coming into the world rather than going out of it.

• The first time I saw a lady dressed in one of these petticoats, I could not forbear blaming her in my own thoughts for walking abroad when she was

so near her time,' but soon recovered myself out of my error, when I found all the modish part of the sex as far gone'as herself. It is generally thought some crafty women have thus betrayed their companions into hoops, that they might make them accessary to their own concealments, and by that means escape the censure of the world; as wary generals have sometimes dressed two or three dozen of their friends in their own habit, that they might not draw upon themselves any particular attacks from the enemy. The strutting petticoat smooths all distinctions, levels the mother with the daughter, and sets maids and matrons, wives and widows, upon the same bottom. In the mean while, I cannot but be troubled to see so many well-shaped innocent virgins bloated up, and waddling up and down like big-bellied women.

Should this fashion get among the ordinary people, our public ways would be so crowded, that we should want street-room. Several congregations of

[ocr errors]

the best fashion find themselves already very much straitened; and if the mode increase, I wish it may not drive many ordinary women into meetings and conventicles. Should our sex at the same time take it into their heads to wear trunk breeches (as who knows what their indignation at this female treatment may drive them to?) a man and his wife would fill a whole pew.

You know, sir, it is recorded of Alexander the Great, that in his Indian expedition he buried several suits of armour, which by his directions were made much too big for any of his soldiers, in order to give posterity an extraordinary idea of him, and make them believe he had commanded an army of giants. I am persuaded that if one of the present petticoats happens to be hung up in any repository of curiosities, it would lead into the same error the generations that lie some removes from us; unless we can believe our posterity will think so disrespectfully of their great grandmothers, that they made themselves monstrous to appear amiable.

• When I survey this new-fashioned rotunda in all its parts, I cannot but think of the old philosopher, who after having entered into an Egyptian temple, and looked about for the idol of the place, at length discovered a little black monkey inshrined in the midst of it, upon which he could not forbear crying out, to the great scandal of the worshippers, “What a magnificent palace is here for such a ridiculous nhabitant!"

• Though you have taken a resolution, in one of , your papers, to avoid descending to particularities of dress, I believe you will not think it below you, on so extraordinary an occasion, to unhoop the fair sex, and cure this fashionable tympany that is got among them. I am apt to think the petticoat will shrink of

its own accord at your first coming to town; at least a touch of your pen will make it contract itself like the sensitive plant, and by that means oblige several who are either terrified or astonished at this portentous novelty, and among the rest,

• Your humble servant, &c.'

No 128. THURSDAY, JULY 27, 1711.

[blocks in formation]

Women in their nature are much more gay and joyous than men; whether it be that their blood is more refined, their fibres more delicate, and their animals spirit more light and volatile; or whether, as some have imagined, there may not be a kind of sex in the very soul, I shall not pretend to determine. As vivacity is the gift of women, gravity is that of men. They should each of them therefore keep a watch upon the particular bias which nature has fixed in their minds, that it may not draw too much, and lead them out of the paths of reason. This will certainly happen, if the one in every word and action affects the character of being rigid and severe, and the other of being brisk and airy. Men should beware of being captivated by a kind of savage philosophy, women by a thoughtless gallantry. Where these precautions are not observed, the man often degenerates into a cynic, the woman into a coquette; the man grows sullen and morose, the woman impertinent and fantastical.

By what I have said, we may conclude, men and

[ocr errors]

women were made as counterparts to one another, that the pain and anxieties of the husband might be relieved by the sprightliness and good-humour of the wife. When these are rightly tempered, care and cheefulness go hand in hand; and the family, like a ship that is duly trimmed, wants neither sail nor ballast.

Natural historians observe (for, whilst I am in the country, I must fetch my allusions from thence) that only the inale birds have voices; that their songs begin a little before breeding time, and end a little after : that whilst the hen is covering her eggs, the male generally takes his stand upon a neighbouring bough within her hearing: and by that means amuses and diverts her with his songs during the whole time of her sitting.

This contract among birds lasts no longer then till a brood of young ones arises from it; so that in the feathered kind, the cares and fatigues of the married state, if I may so call it, lie principally upon the female. On the contrary, as in our species the man and the woman are joined together for life, and the main burden rest upon the former, nature has given all the little arts of soothing and blandishment to the female, that she may cheer and animate her companion in a constant and assiduous application to the making a provision for his family, and the educating of their common children. This however is not to be taken so strictly, as if the same duties were not often reciprocal, and incumbent on both parties; but only to set forth what seems to have been the general intention of nature, in the different inclinations and endowments which are bestowed on the different sexes.

But whatever was the reason that man and woman were made with this variety of temper, if we observe the conduct of the fair sex, we find that they choose rather to associate themselves with a person who resembles them in that light and volatile humour which is natural to them, than to such as are qualified to moderate and counterbalance it. It has been an old complaint, that the coxcomb carries it with them before the man of sense. When we see a fellow loud and talkative, full of insipid life and laughter, we may venture to pronounce him a female favourite. Noise and flutter are such accomplishments as they cannot withstand. To be short, the passion of an ordinary woman for a man is nothing else but self-love diverted upon another object. She would have the lover a woman in every - thing but the sex. I do not know a finer piece of

satire on this part of womankind, than those lines of Mr. Dryden:

Our thoughtless sex is caught by outward form,
And empty noise ; and loves itself in man.

This is a source of infinite calamities to the sex, as it frequently joins them to men, who in their own thoughts are as fine creatures as themselves; or if they chance to be good humoured, serve only to dissipate their fortunes, inflame their follies, and aggravate their indiscretions.

The same female levity is no less fatal to them after marriage than before. It represents to their imaginations the faithful, prudent husband, as an honest, tractable, and domestic animal; and turns their thoughts upon the fine gay gentleman that laughs, sings, and dresses so much more agreeably.

As this irregular vivacity of temper leads astray the hearts of ordinary women in the choice of their lovers and the treatment of their husbands, it ope. rates with the same pernicious influence towards their children, who are taught to accomplish themselves in all those sublime perfections that appear captivating in the eye of their mother. She admires

« 이전계속 »