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ing politics with her tresses flowing about her shoulders, and examining that face in the glass which does such execution upon all the male standers-by. How prettily does she divide her discourse between her woman and her visitants! What sprightly transitions does she make from an opera or a sermon, to an ivory comb or a pin-cushion! How have I been pleased to see her interrupted in an account of her travels, by a message to her footman; and holding her tongue in the midst of a moral reflection, by applying the tip of it to a patch!
There is nothing which exposes a woman to greater dangers, than that gaiety and airiness of temper which are natural to most of the sex. It should be therefore the concern of every wise and virtuous woman to keep this sprightliness from degenerating into levity. On the contrary, the whole discourse and behaviour of the French is to make the sex more fantastical, or, as they are pleased to term it, more awakened, than is consistent either with virtue or discretion. To speak loud in public assemblies, to let every one hear you talk of things that should only be mentioned in private, or in whisper, are looked upon as parts of a refined education. At the same time a blush is unfashionable, and silence more ill-bred than any thing that can be spoken. In short, discretion and modesty, which in all other ages and countries have been regarded as the greatest ornaments of the fair sex, are considered as the ingredients of narrow conversation and family behaviour.
Some years ago I was at the tragedy of Macbeth, and unfortunately placed myself under a woman of quality that is since dead; who, as I found by the noise she made, was newly returned from France. A little before the rising of the curtain, she broke out into a loud soliloquy, When will the dear
witches enter?' and immediately upon their first appearance, asked a lady that sat three boxes from her on her right hand, if those witches were not charming creatures. A little after, as Betterton was in one of the finest speeches of the play, she shook her fan at another lady who sat as far on the left hand, and told her with a whisper that might be heard all over the pit, We must not expect to see Balloon tonight. Not long after, calling out to a young baronet by his name, who sat three seats before me, she asked him whether Macbeth's wife was still alive; and before he could give an answer, fell a talking of the ghost of Banquo. She had by this time formed a little audience to herself, and fixed the attention of all about her. But as I had a mind to hear the play, I got out of the sphere of her impertinence, and planted myself in one of the remotest corners of the pit.
This pretty childishness of behaviour is one of the most refined parts of coquetry, and is not to be attained in perfection by ladies that do not travel for their improvement. A natural and unconstrained behaviour has something in it so agreeable, that it is no wonder to see people endeavouring after it. But at the same time it is so very hard to hit, when it is not born with us, that people often make themselves ridiculous in attempting it.
A very ingenious French author tells us, that the ladies of the court of France in his time thought it ill-breeding, and a kind of female pedantry, to pronounce a hard word right; for which reason they took frequent occasion to use hard words, that they might show a politeness in murdering them. He further adds, that a lady of some quality at court, having accidentally made use of a hard word in a proper place, and pronounced it right, the whole assembly was out of countenance for her.
I must however be so just to own, that there are many ladies who have travelled several thousands of miles without being the worse for it, and have brought home with them all the modesty, discretion, and good sense, that they went abroad with. Aɛ, on the contrary, there are great numbers of travelled ladies, who have lived all their days within the smoke of London. I have known a woman that never was out of the parish of St. James's, betray as many foreign fopperies in her carriage, as she could have gleaned up in half the countries of Europe.
No. 46. MONDAY, APRIL 23, 1711.
Non bene junctarum discordia semina rerum.
WHEN I want materials for this paper, it is my custom to go abroad in quest of game; and when I meet any proper subject, I take the first opportunity of setting down a hint of it upon paper. At the same time I look into the letters of my correspondents, and if I find any thing suggested in them that may afford matter of speculation, I likewise enter a minute of it in my collection of materials. By this means I frequently carry about me a whole sheetful of hints, that would look like a rhapsody of nonsense to any body but myself. There is nothing in them but obscurity and confusion, raving and inconsistency. In short, they are my speculations in the first principles, that, like the world in its chaos, are void of all light, distinction, and order.
About a week since there happened to me a very odd accident, by reason of one of these my papers of minutes which I had accidentally dropped at Lloyd's coffee-house, where the auctions are usually kept. Before I missed it, there were a cluster of people who had found it, and were diverting themselves with it at one end of the coffee-house. It had raised so much laughter among them before I had observed what they were about, that I had not the courage to own it. The boy of the coffee-house, when they had done with it, carried it about in his hand, asking every body if they had dropped written paper; but nobody challenging it, he was ordered by those merry gentlemen who had before perused it, to get up into the auction pulpit, and read it to the whole room, that if any one would own it, they might. The boy accordingly mounted the pulpit, and with a very audible voice read as follows:
Sir Roger de Coverley's country-seat-Yes, for I hate long speeches-Query, if a good Christian may be a conjuror-Childermas-day, saltseller, housedog, screech-owl, cricket- -Mr. Thomas Incle of London, in the good ship called the Achilles. Yarico- Egrescitque medendo-Ghosts-The Lady's Library-Lion by trade a tailor-Dromedary called Bucephalus-Equipage the lady's summum bonum-Charles Lillie to be taken notice of Short face a relief to envy-Redundancies in the three professions-King Latinus a recruit-Jew devouring a ham of bacon-Westminster-abbey-Grand Cairo-Procrastination--April fools-Blue boars, red lions, hogs in armour-Enter a King and two Fiddlers solus-Admission into the Ugly club-Beauty how improveable-Families of true and false humour
The parrot's school-mistress-Face half Pict half British-No man to be a hero of a tragedy under six foot-Club of sighers-Letters from flower-pots, elbow-chairs, tapestry-figures, lion, thunder The bell rings to the puppet-show-Old woman with a beard married to a smock-faced boy-My next coat to he turned up with blue-Fable of tongs and gridiron-Flower dyers-The soldier's prayerThank ye for nothing, says the galley-pot-Pactolus in stockings with golden clocks to them— Bamboos, cudgels, drumsticks-Slip of my landlady's eldest daughter-The black mare with a star in her forehead-The barber's pole-Will Honeycomb's coat-pocket Cæsar's behaviour and my own in parallel circumstances-Poem in patch-workNulli gravis est percussus Achilles—The female conventicler-The ogle-master.
The reading of this paper made the whole coffeehouse very merry; some of them concluded it was written by a madman, and others by somebody that had been taking notes out of the Spectator. One who had the appearance of a very substantial citizen, told us, with several politic winks and nods, that he wished there was no more in the paper than what was expressed in it; that for his part, he looked upon the dromedary, the gridiron, and the barber's pole, to signify something more than what is usually meant by those words: and that he thought the coffee-man could not do better than to carry the paper to one of the secretaries of state. He further added, that he did not like the name of the outlandish man with the golden clock in his stockings. A young Oxford scholar, who chanced to be with his uncle at the coffee-house, discovered to us who this Pactolus was: and by that means turned the whole scheme of this worthy citizen into ridicule.