Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

and sested her upon a little crock at my left hand. My pretty maid, said I, do you own yourself to have been the inhabitant of the garment before us ? The girl I found had good sense, and told me with a smile, that, notwithstanding it was her own petticoat, she should be very glad to see an example made of it; and that she wore it for no other reason, but that she had a mind to look as big and burly as other persons of her quality; that she had kept out of it as long as she could, and until she began to appear little in the eyes of all her acquaintance; that, if she laid it aside, people would think she was not made like other women. I always gave great allowances to the fair sex upon account of the fashion, and therefore was not displeased with the defence of my pretty criminal. I then ordered the vest which stood before us to be drawn up by a pulley to the top of my great hall and afterwards to be spread open by the engine it was placed upon, in such a manner that it formed a very splendid and ample canopy over our heads, and covered the whole court of judicature with a kind of silken rotunda, in its form not unlike the cupola of Saint Paul's. I entered upon the whole cause with great satisfaction as I sat under the shadow of it.

The counsel for the petticoat was now called in, and ordered to produce what they had to say against the popular cry which was raised against it. They answered the objections with great strength and solidity of argument, and expatiated in very florid harangues, which they did not fail to set off and furbelow, if I may be allowed the metaphor, with many periodical sentences and turns of oratory. The chief arguments of their client were taken, first from the great benefit that might arise to our woollen manufactory from this

invention, invention, which was calculated as follows: the common petticoat has not above four yards in the circumference; whereas this over our heads had more in the semi-diameter ; so that, by allowing it twenty-four yards in the circumference, the five millions of woollen petticoats, which, according to sir William Petty, supposing, what ought to be supposed in a well-governed state, that all petticoats are made of that stuff, would amount to thirty millions of those of the antient mode. A prodigious improvement of the woollen trade! and what could not fail to sink the power of France in a few years.

[graphic]

To introduce the second argument, they begged leave to read a petition of the rope-makers, wherein it was represented that the demand for cords, and the price of them, were much risen since this fashion came up. At this, all the company who were present lifted up their

eyes into the vault; and I must confess we did discover many traces of cordage, which were interwoven in the stiffening of the drapery.

A third argument was founded upon a petition of the Greenland trade, which likewise represented the great consumption of whale-bone which would be occasioned by the present fashion, and the benefit which would thereby accrue to that branch of the British trade.

To conclude, they gently touched upon the weight and unwieldiness of the garment, which they insinuated might be of great use to preserve the honour of families.

These arguments would have wrought very much upon me, as I then told the company in a long and elaborate discourse, had I not considered the great and additional expense which such fashions would bring upon fathers and husbands; and therefore by no means to be thought of until some years after a peace. I further vrged that it would be a prejudice to the ladies themselves, who could never expect to have any money in the pocket, if they laid out so much on the petticoat. To this I added, the great temptation it might give to virgins, of acting in security like married women, and by that meanis give a check to matrimony, an institution always encouraged by wise societies.

further that

At the same time, in answer to the several petitions produced on that side, I showed one subscribed by the women of several persons of quality, humbly setting forth that, since the introduction of this mode, their respective ladies had, instead of bestowing on them their cast gowns, cut them into shreds, and mixed them with the cordage and buckram, to complete the stiffening of their under petticoats. For which, and sundry other reasons, I pronounced the petticoat a forfeiture: but to show that I did not make that judgment for the sake of filthy lucre, I ordered it to be folded up, and sent it as a present to a widow gentlewoman who has five daughters; desiring she would make each of them a petticoat out of it, and send me back the remainder, which I design to cut into stomachers, caps, facings of my waistcoat-sleeves, and other garnitures suitable to 'my age and quality.

I would not be understood that, while I discard this, monstrous invention, I am an enemy to the proper ornaments of the fair sex. On the contrary, as the hand of nature has poured on them such a profusion of charms and graces, and sent them into the world more amiable and finished than the rest of her works; so I would have them bestow upon themselves all the additional beauties that art can supply them with, provi-> ded it does not interfere with, disguise, or pervert those of nature. I consider woman as a beautiful romantic animal,

sea

that may be adorned with furs and feathers, pearls and diamonds, ores and silks. The lynx shall cast its skin at her feet to make her a tippet; the peacock, parrot, and swan

shall pay contributions to her muff; the shall be searched for shells, and the rocks for gems; and every part of nature furnish out its share towards the embellishment of a creature that is the most consummate work of it. All this I shall indulge them in; but as for the petticoat I have been speaking of, I neither can nor will allow it.

ADDISON.

STORY. No. 117 I WAš once myself in agonies of grief that are unutterable, and in so great a distraction of mind that I thought myself even out of the possibility of receiving comfort. The occasion was as follows: When I was a youth in-a part of the army which was then quartered at Dover, I fell in love with an agreeable young woman, of a good family in those parts, and had the satisfaction of seeing my addresses kindly received, which occasioned the perplexity I am going to relate.

We were in a calm evening diverting ourselves upon the top of the cliff with the prospect of the sea, and trifling away the time in such little fondnesses as are most ridiculous to people in business, and most agreeable to those in love.

In the midst of these our innocent endearments, she snatched a paper of verses out of my hand, and ran away with them. I was following her ; when on a sudden the ground, though at a considerable distance from the verge of the precipice, sunk under her, and threw VOL. I,

her

F

SELECTIONS FROM her down from so prodigioas a height, upon such a range of rocks, as would have dashed her into ten thoutsand pieces had her body been made of adamant. I is much easier for my reader to imagine my state of mind upon such an occasion, than for me to express it.

I said to myself, it is not in the power of heaven to relieve me! when I awaked, equally transported and astonished, to see myself drawn out of an affliction which, the very moment before, appeared to me altogether inextricable.

The impressions of grief and horror were so lively on this occasion, that, while they lasted, they made me more miserable than I was at the real death of this beloved person, which happened a few months after, at a time when the match between us was concluded; inasmuch as the imaginary death was untimely, and I myself in a sort an accessary; whereas her real de cease had at least these alleviations, of being natural

ADDISON.

and inevitable:

STORY-TELLING CLUB. No. 132. After having applied my mind with more than or to relax and unbend it in the conversation of such as dinary attention to my studies, it is my usual custom are rather easy than shining companions. This I find order to draw my slumbers upon me by degrees, and particularly necessary for me before I retire to rest, in fall asleep insensibly. make of a set of heavy honest men, with whom I have

This is the particular use I with great pleasure. passed many hours with much indolence, though not 6

Their conversation is a kind of

preparative

« ПредишнаНапред »