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⚫ notice, that at the Hay-Market, the undertakers forgetting to change the fide-fcenes, we were presented with a prospect of the ocean in the midft of a delight• ful grove; and though the gentlemen on the stage had very much contributed to the beauty of the grove, by walking up and down between the trees, I muft own I was not a little aftonished to fee a well-dreffed young fellow, in a full-bottomed wig, appear in the midst of the fea, and without any vifible concern taking fnuff. 'I fhall only obferve one thing farther, in which both dramas agree; which is, that by the fqueak of their voices the heroes of each are eunuchs; and as the wit in both pieces is equal, I muft prefer the performance ⚫ of Mr. Powell, because it is in our own language. R.
I am, &c.
Saturday, March 17.
Parva leves capiunt animos
OVID. Ars Am. 1. 1. ver. 159.
Light minds are pleas'd with trifles. WHEN I was in France, I used to gaze with
great aftonishment at the fplendid equipages, and party-coloured habits of that fantastic nation. I was one day in particular contemplating a lady, that fat in a coach adorned with gilded Cupids, and finely painted with the loves of Venus and Adonis. The coach was drawn by fix milk-white horses, and loaden behind with the fame number of powdered footmen. Just before the lady were a couple of beautiful pages, that were stuck among the harnefs, and, by their gay dreffes and fmiling features, looked like the elder brothers of the little boys that were carved and painted in every corner of the coach.
The lady was the unfortunate Cleanthe, who afterwards gave an occafion to a pretty melancholy novel.
She had, for feveral years, received the addreffes of a gentleman, whom after a long and intimate acquaintance the forfook, upon the account of this shining equi page, which had been offered to her by one of great riches, but a crazy conftitution. The circumftances in which I faw her, were, it feems, the disguises only of a broken heart, and a kind of pageantry to cover diftrefs; for in two months after he was carried to her grave with the fame pomp and magnificence; being fent thither partly by the lofs of one lover, and partly by the poffeffion of another.
I have often reflected with myfelf on this unaccountable humour in womankind, of being fmitten with every thing that is showy and fuperficial; and on the numberlefs evils that befall the fex, from this light fantastical difpofition. I myself remember a young lady, that was very warmly folicited by a couple of importunate rivals, who, for several months together, did all they could to recommend themselves, by complacency of behaviour, and agreeableness of converfation. At length when the competition was doubtful, and the lady undetermined in her choice, one of the young lovers very luckily bethought himself of adding a fupernumerary lace to his liveries, which had fo good an effect, that he married her the very week after.
The ufual converfation of ordinary women very much cherishes this natural weakness of being taken with outfide and appearance. Talk of a new-married couple, and you immediately hear whether they keep their coach and fix, or eat in plate. Mention the name of an abfent lady, and it is ten to one but you learn fomething of her gown and petticoat. A ball is a great help to difcourfe, and a birth-day furnishes converfation for a twelvemonth after. A furbelow of precious ftones, an hat buttoned with a diamond, a brocade waistcoat or petticoat, are ftanding topics. In fhort, they confider only the drapery of the fpecies, and never caft away a thought on those ornaments of the mind that make perfons illuftrious in themselves, and useful to others. When women are thus perpetually dazzling one another's imaginations, and filling their heads with nothing but colours, it is no wonder that they are more attentive to the
fuperficial parts of life, than the folid and fubftantial bleffings of it. A girl who has been trained up in this kind of converfation, is in danger of every embroidered coat that comes in her way. A pair of fringed gloves may be her ruin. In a word, lace and ribbons, filver and gold galloons, with the like glittering gewgaws, are fo many lures to women of weak minds and low educations, and when artificially difplayed, are able to fetch down the moft airy coquette from the wildeft of her flights and rambles.
True happiness is of a retired nature, and an enemy to pomp and noise; it arifes, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one's felf; and in the next, from the friendship and converfation of a few felect companions: it loves fhade and folitude, and naturally haunts grove's and fountains, fields and meadows: in fhort, it feels every thing it wants within itself, and receives no addition from multitudes of witneffes and spectators. On the contrary, false happiness loves to be in a croud, and to draw the eyes of the world upon her. She does not receive any fatisfaction from the applaufes which the gives herself, but from the admiration which she raises in others. She flourishes in courts and palaces, theatres, and affemblies, and has no exiftence, but when he is looked upon.
Aurelia, though a woman of great quality, delights in the privacy of a country life, and paffes away a great part of her time in her own walks and gardens. Her husband, who is her bofom friend and companion in her folitudes, has been in love with her ever fince he knew her. They both abound with good fenfe, confummate virtue, and a mutual esteem; and are a perpetual entertainment to one another. Their family is under fo regular an œconomy, in its hours of devotion and repaft, employment and diverfion, that it looks like a little commonwealth within itself. They often go into company, that they may return with the greater delight to one another and fometimes live in town, not to enjoy it fo properly as to grow weary of it, that they may renew in themfelves the relifh of a country life. By this means they are happy in each other, beloved by their children, adored by their fervants, and are become the envy, or rather the delight, of all that know them.
How different to this is the life of Fulvia! fhe confiders her husband as her steward, and looks upon difcretion and good housewifery as little domestic virtues, unbecoming a woman of quality. She thinks life loft in her own family, and fancies herself out of the world when she is not in the ring, the play-house, or the drawing-room: the lives in a perpetual motion of body, and restleffness of thought, and is never eafy in any one place, when the thinks there is more company in another. The miffing of an opera the first night, would be more afflicting to her than the death of a child. She pities all the valuable part of her own iex, and calls every woman of a prudent, modeft, and retired life, a poor-fpirited unpolished creature. What a mortification would it be to Fulvia, if the knew that her setting herself to view, is but expofing herself, and that the grows contemptible by being confpicuous.
I cannot conclude my paper, without obferving, that Virgil has very finely touched upon this female paffion for drefs and fhow, in the character of Camilla; who, though she seems to have fhaken off all the other weakneffes of her fex, is ftill defcribed as a woman in this particular. The poet tells us, that after having made a great flaughter of the enemy, she unfortunately caft her eye on a Trojan, who wore an embroidered tunic, a beautiful coat of mail, with a mantle of the finest purple. A golden bow, fays he, hung upon his fhoulder; his garment was buckled with a golden clafp, and his head covered with an helmet of the fame fhining metal. The Amazon immediately fingled out this well-dreffed warrior, being feized with a woman's longing for the pretty trappings that he was adorned with:
-Totumque incauta per agmen
Famineo præda & fpoliorum ardebat amore.
En. 11. ver. 782.
This heedlefs pursuit after these glittering trifles, the poet (by a nice concealed moral) represents to have been the destruction of his female hero.
Monday, March 19.
Quod verum atque decens curo & rogo, omnis in hoc fum. HOR. Ep. 1. 1. 1. ver. 1 1.
I Have received a letter, defiring me to be very fatirical upon the little muff that is now in fashion, another informs me of a pair of filver garters buckled below the knee, that have been lately feen at the Rainbow coffee-houfe in Fleet-ftreet; a third fends me an heavy complaint against fringed gloves. To be brief, there is fcarce an ornament of either fex which one or other of my correfpondents has not inveighed against with fome bitterness, and recommended to my obfervation. I must therefore, once for all, inform my readers, that it is not my intention to fink the dignity of this my paper with reflections upon red-heels or top-knots, but rather to enter into the paffions of mankind, and to correct those depraved sentiments that give birth to all those little extravagancies which appear in their outward drefs and behaviour. Foppish and fantastic ornaments are only indications of vice, not criminal in themselves. Extinguish vanity in the mind, and you naturally retrench the little fuperfluities of garniture and equipage. The bloffoms will fall of themselves, when the root that nourishes them is deftroyed.
I fhall therefore, as I have faid, apply my remedies to the firft feeds and principles of an affected drefs, without defcending to the dress itself; though at the fame time I must own, that I have thoughts of creating an officer under me, to be intitled, The Cenfor of Small Wares, and of allotting him one day in a week for the execution of fuch his office. An operator of this nature might act under me, with the fame regard as a furgeon to a phyfician; the one might be employed in healing those blotches and tumours which break out in
What right, what true, what fit we justly call,