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a rambling fellow: If you follow him, you will never find him ; but if you plant yourself at the corner of any one street, I'll engage it will not be long before
you see him.
I have already touched upon this subject, in a speculation which shows how cruelly the country are led astray in following the town; and equipped in a ridiculous habit, when they fancy themselves in the height of the mode. Since that speculation, I have received a letter (which I there hinted at) from a gentleman who is now in the western circuit. “MR. SPECTATOR,
Being a lawyer of the Middle Temple, a Cornish man by birth, I generally ride the western circuit for my health, and as I am not interrupted by clients, have leisure to make many observations that escape the notice of my fellow-travellers.
One of the most fashionable women I met with in all the circuit, was my landlady at Staines, where I chanced to be on a holiday. Her commode was not half a foot high, and her petticoat within some yards of a modish circumference. In the same place I observed a young fellow with a tolerable periwig, had it not been covered with a hat that was shaped in the Ramillie cock. As I proceeded on my journey, I observed the petticoat grew scantier and scantier, and about three-score miles from London was so very unfashionable, that a woman might walk in it without any manner of inconvenience.
Not far from Salisbury I took notice of a justice of peace's lady, who was at least ten years behind-hand in her dress, but at the same time as fine as hands could make her. She was flounced and furbelowed from head to foot ; every ribbon was wrinkled, and every part of her garments in curl, so that she looked like one of those animals which in the country we call a Friezeland hen.
“Not many miles beyond this place I was informed, that one of the last year's little muffs had by some means or other straggled into those parts, and that all the women of fashion were cutting their old muffs in two, or retrenching them according to the little model which was got among them. I cannot believe the report they have there, that it was sent down franked by a parliament-man in a little packet; but probably by next winter this fashion will be at the height in the country, when it is quite out at London.
' The greatest beau at our next county-sessions was dressed in a most monstrous flaxen periwig, that was made in king William's reign. The wearer of it goes, it seems, in his own hair, when he is at home, and lets his wig lie in buckle for a whole half-year, that he may put it on upon occasion to meet the judges in it.
'I must not here omit an adventure which happened to us in a country church upon the frontiers of Cornwall. As we were in the midst of the service, a lady who is the chief woman of the place, and had passed the winter at London with her husband, entered the congregation in a little head-dress, and a hooped petticoat. The people, who were wonderfully startled at such a sight, all of them rose up. Some stared at the prodigious bottom, and some at the little top of this strange dress. In the mean time the lady of the manor filled the area of the church, and walked up to her pew with an unspeakable satisfaction, amidst the whispers, conjectures, and astonishments of the whole congregation.
'Upon my way from hence we saw a young fellow riding towards us full gallop, with a bob-wig and a black silken bag tied to it. He stopt short at the coach, to ask us how far the judges were behind us. His stay was so very short, that we had only time to observe his new silk waistcost, which was unbuttoned in several places to let us see that he had a clean shirt on, which was ruffled down to his middle.
'From this place, during our progress through the most western parts of the kingdom, we fancied ourselves in king Charles the second's reign, the people
having made very little variations in their dress since that time. The smartest of the country squires appear still in the Monmouth cock, and when they go a wooing (whether they have any post in the militia or not) they generally put on a red coat. indeed, very much surprised at the place we lay at last night, to meet with a gentleman that had accoutered himself in a night-cap wig, a coat with long pockets and slit sleeves, and a pair of shoes with high scollop tops ; but we soon found by his conversation that he was a person who laughed at the ignorance and rusticity of the country people, and was resolved to live and die in the mode.
'Sir, if you think this account of my travels may be of any advantage to the public, I will next year trouble you with such occurrences as I shall meet with in other parts of England. For I am informed there are greater curiosities in the northern circuit than in the western ; and that a fashion makes its progress much slower into Cumberland than into Cornwall
. I have heard in particular, that the Steenkirk arrived but two months ago at Newcastle, and that there are several commodes in those parts which are worth taking a journey thither to see.'--C.
WHEN I came home last night, my servant delivered me the following letter : 'SIR,
I have orders from Sir Harry Quickset, of Staffordshire, Bart., to acquaint you, that his honour Sir Harry himself, Sir Giles Wheelbarrow, Knt., Thomas Rentfree, Esq., justice of the quorum, Andrew Windmill, Esq., and Mr. Nicholas Doubt of the Inner Temple, Sir Harry's grandson, will wait upon you at the hour of nine to-morrow morning, being Tuesday the 25th of October, upon business which Sir Harry will impart to you by word of mouth. I thought it proper to acquaint you before-hand so many persons of quality came, that you might not be surprised therewith. Which concludes, though by many years’ absence since I saw you at Stafford, unknown, Sir, your most humble servant,
'JOHN THRIFTY.' I received this message with less surprise than I believe Mr. Thrifty imagined ; for I knew the good company too well to feel any palpitations at their approach: but I was in very great concern how I should adjust the ceremonial, and demean myself to all these great men, who perhaps had not seen anything above themselves for these twenty years last past. I am sure that is the case of Sir Harry. Besides which, I was sensible that there was a great
point in adjusting my behaviour to the simple squire, so as to give him satisfaction, and not disoblige the justice of the quorum.
The hour of nine was come this morning, and I had no sooner set chairs (by the stewards’ letter) and fixed my tea equipage, but I heard a knock at my door, which was opened, but no one entered ; after which followed a long silence, which was broke at last by, 'Sir, I beg your pardon; I think I know better :' and another voice, 'Nay, good Sir Giles—' I looked out from my window, and saw the good company all with their hats off, and arms spread, offering the door to each other. After many offers, they entered with much solemnity, in the order Mr. Thrifty was so kind as to name them to me. But they are now got to my chamber door, and I saw my old friend Sir Harry enter. I met him with all the respect due to so reverend a vegetable ; for you are to know, that is my sense of a person who remains idle in the same place for half a century. I got him with great success into his chair by the fire, without throwing down any of my cups. The knight-bachelor told me, he had a great respect for my whole family, and would, with my leave, place himself next to Sir Harry, at whose right hand he had sat at every quarter-sessions this thirty years, unless he was sick. The steward in the rear whispered the young Templar, “That is true to my knowledge.' I had the misfortune, as they stood cheek by jole, to desire the squire to sit down before the justice of the quorum, to the no small satisfaction of the former, and resentment of the latter : but I saw my error too late, and got them as soon as I could into their seats. 'Well, (said 1,) gentlemen, aster