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Roger de Coverley was a married man,' having dropped his eye upon the petticoat, he changed his note into 'No madam.'
Had one of these hermaphrodites appeared in Juvenal's day, with what an indignation should we have seen her described by that excellent satirist. He would have represented her in her riding habit, as a greater monster than the Centaur. He would have called for sacrifices, or purifying waters, to expiate the appearance of such a prodigy. He would have invoked the shades of Portia or Lucretia, to see into what the Roman ladies had transformed themselves.
For my own part, I am for treating the sex with greater tenderness, and have all along made use of the most gentle methods to bring them off from any little extravagance into which they are sometimes unwarily fallen : I think it however absolutely necessary to keep up the partition between the two sexes, and to take notice of the smallest encroachments which the one makes upon the other. I hopë, therefore, that I shall not hear any more complaints on this subject. I am sure my she-disciples who peruse these my daily lectures, have profited but little by them, if they are capable of giving into such an amphibious dress. This I should not have mentioned, had not I lately met one of these my female readers in Hyde Park, who looked upon me with a masculine assurance, and cocked her hat full in my face.
For my part, I have one general key to the behaviour of the fair sex. When I see them singular in any part of their dress, I conclude it is not without some evil intention; and therefore question not but
the design of this strange fashion is to smite more effectually their male beholders. Now to set them right in this particular, I would fain have them consider with themselves whether we are not more likely to be struck by a figure entirely female, than with such an one as we may see every day in our glasses : or, if they please, let them reflect upon their own hearts, and think how they would be affected should they meet a man on horse-back in his breeches and jackboots, and at the same time dressed up in a commode and a night-rail.
I must observe that this fashion was first of all brought to us from France, a country which has infected all the nations in Europe with its levity. I speak not this in derogation of a whole people, having more than once found fault with those general reflections which strike at kingdoms or commonwealths in the gross; a piece of cruelty, which an ingenious writer of our own compares to that of Caligula, who wished the Roman people had all but one neck, that he might behead them at a blow. I shall therefore only remark, that as liveliness and assurance are in a peculiar manner the qualifications of the French nation, the same habits and customs will not give the same offence to that people, which they produce among those of our own country. Modesty is our distinguishing character, as vivacity is theirs; and when this our national virtue appears in that family beauty, for which our British ladies are celebrated above all others in the universe, it makes up the most amiable object that the eye of man can possibly behold.