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upon the closing of the engine, the petticoat was brought into court. I then directed the machine to be set upon the table, and dilated in such a manner, as to show the garment in its utmost circumference ; but my great hall was too narrow for the experiment; for before it was half unfolded, it described so immoderate a circle, that the lower part of it brushed upon my face as I sat in my chair of judicature. I then inquired for the person that belonged to the petticoat; and, to my great surprise, was directed to a very beautiful young damsel, with so pretty a face and shape, that I bid her come out of the crowd, and seated her upon a little crock at my left hand. 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 till 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 give great allowances to the fair sex upon account of the fashion, and therefore was not displeased with the defence of the 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 St. 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 for their client were taken, first, from the great benefit that might arise to our woollen manufactory from this 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 ancient mode. A prodigious improvement of the woollen trade ! and what could not fail to sink the power of France in a few years.
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 whalebone 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 till some years after a peace. I further urged, 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 means give a check to matrimony, an institution always enco
couraged by wise societies.
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, provided it does not interfere with, disguise, or pervert, those of nature.
I consider woman as a beautiful romantic animal, 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 sea 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.
Trial of the tiine-brewers.
THERE is in this city a certain fraternity of chymical operators, who work under ground in holes, caverns, and dark retirements, to conceal their mysteries from the eyes and observation of mankind. These subterraneous philosophers are daily employed in the transmigration of liquors, and, by the power of medical drugs and incantations, raising under the streets of London the choicest products of the hills and valleys of France. They can squeeze Bordeaux out of a sloe, and draw Champagne from an apple. Virgil, in that remarkable prophecy,
Incultisque rubens pendebit sentibus Uva,
•The ripening grape shall hang on every thorn,' seems to have hinted at this art, which can turn a plantation of northern hedges into a vineyard. These adepts are known among one another by the name of wine-brewers, and I am afraid do great injury, not only to her Majesty's customs, but to the bodies of many of her good subjects.
Having received sundry complaints against these invisible workmen, I ordered the proper officer of my court to ferret them out of their respective caves, and bring them before me, which was yesterday executed accordingly.
The person who appeared against them was a merchant, who had by him a great magazine of wines that