Imatges de pàgina

in the hinder part of a box, I took notice of a little cluster of women sitting together in the prettiest coloured hoods that I ever saw.

One of them was blue, another yellow, and another philomot; the fourth was of a pink colour, and the fifih of a pale green. I looked with as much pleasure upon this little party-coloured assembly, as upon a bed of tulips, and did not know at first whether it might not be an embassy of Indian queens; but upon my going about into the pit, and taking them in front, I was immediately undeceived, and saw so much beauty in every face, that I found them all to be English. Such eyes and lips, cheeks and foreheads, could be the growth of no other country. The complexion of their faces hindered me from observing any farther the colour of their hoods, though I could easily perceive by that unspeakable satisfaction which appeared in their looks, that their own thoughts were wholly taken up on those pretty ornaments they wore upon their heads.

I am informed that this fashion spreads daily, insomuch that the Whig and Tory ladies begin already to hang out different colours, and to shew their principles in their head dress. Nay, if I may believe my friend Will Honeycomb, there is a certain old coquette of his acquaintance, who intends to appear very suddenly in a rainbow hood, like the Iris in Dryden's Virgil, not questioning but that amoug such a variety of colours she shall have a charm for

every heart.

My friend Will, who very much values himself upon his great insight into gallantry, tells me, that he can already guess at the humour a lady is in by her hood, as the courtiers of Morocco know the disposition of their present emperor by the colour of the dress which he puts on.

When Melesinda wraps her head in Aarne colour, her heart is set upon execution. When she covers it with purple, I would not, says he, advise her lover to approach her; but if she appears in white, it is peace, and he may hand her out of her box with safety.

Will informs me likewise, that these hoods may be used as signals. Why else, says he, does Cornelia always put on a black hood when her husband is gone into the country?

Such are my friend Honeycomb's dreams of gallantry. For my own part, I impute this diversity of colours in the hoods to the diversity of complexion in the faces of my pretty countrywomen. Ovid, in bis Art of Love, bas given some precepts as to this particular, though I find they are different from those which prevail among the moderns. He recommends a red striped silk to the pale complexion; white to the brown, and dark to the fair. On the contrary, my friend Will, who pretends to be a greater master in this art than Ovid, tells me, that the palest features look the most agreeable in white sarsenet; that a face which is overflushed appears to advantage in the deepest scarlet; and that the darkest complexion is not a little alleviated by a black hood. In short, he is for losing the colour of the face in that of the hood, as a fire burns dimly, and a candle goes half out, in the light of the sun. * This,' says he, 'your Ovid himself has hinted, where he treats of these matters, when he tells us that the blue water nymphs are dressed in sky-coloured garments; and that Aurora, who always appears in the light of the rising sun, is robed in saffron.'

Whether these his observations are justly grounded I cannot tell; but I have often known him, as we have stood together behind the ladies, praise or dispraise the complexion of a face which he never saw, from observing the colour of her hood, and (he) has been very seldom out in these his guesses.

As I have nothing more at heart than the houour and improvement of the fair-sex, I cannot conclude this paper

without an exortation to the British ladies, that they would excel the women of all other nations as much in virtue and good sense, as they do in beauty; which they may certainly do, if they will be as industrious to cultivate their minds, as they are to adorn their bodies. In the mean while I shall recommend to their most serious consideration the saying of an old Greek poet: Γυναικί κόσμΘ- ο τρύπG-, κ' έ χρυσια


N° 266. FRIDAY, JANUARY 4, 1711-12.

Id verò est, quod ego mihi puto palmurium
Me reperisse, quomodo adolescentulus
Meretricum ingenia et mores possit noscere;
Maturè ut cùm cognôrit, perpetuò oderit.

TER. Eun. Act v. Sc. 4. This I conceive to be my master-piece, that I have disco. vered how unexperienced youth may detect the artifices of bad women, and by knowing them early, detest them for ever.

No vice or wickedness which people fall into from indulgence to desires which are natural to all, ought to place them below the compassion of the virtuous part of the world; which indeed often makes me a little apt to suspect the sincerity of their virtue, who are too warmly provoked at other people's personal sins. The unlawful commerce of the sexes is of all others the hardest to avoid; and yet there is no one which you shall hear the rigider part of womankind speak of with so little mercy. It is very certain that

a modest woman cannot abhor the breach of chastity too much; but pray let her hate it for herself, and only pity it in others. Will Honeycomb calls these over-offended ladies, the outrageously virtuous.

I do not design to fall upon failures in general, with relation to the gift of chastity, but at present only enter upon that large field, and begin with the consideration of poor and public whores. The other evening passing along near Covent-garden, I was jogged on the elbow as I turned into the piazza, on the right hand coming out of James-street, by a slim young girl of about seventeen, who with a pert air asked me if I was for a pint of wine. I do not know but I should have indulged my curiosity in having some chat with her, but that I am informed the man of the Bumper knows me; and it would have made a story for him not very agreeable to some part of my writings, though I have in others 50 frequently said, that I am wholly unconcerned in any scene I ani in but merely as a Spectator. This impediment being in my way, we stood under one of the arches by twilight; and there I could observe as exact features as I had ever seen, the most agreeable shape, the finest neck and bosom, in a word, the whole person of a woman exquisitely beautiful. She affected to allure me with a forced wantonness in her look and air; but I saw it check ed with hunger and cold: her eyes were wan and eager, her dress thin and tawdry, her mien genteel and childish. This strange figure gave me much anguish of heart, and to avoid being seen with her, I weat away, but could not forbear giving her a crown. The poor thing sighed, curtsied, and with a blessing expressed with the utmost vehemence, turned from me. This creature is what they call

newly come upon the town,' but who, falling, I suppose,

into cruel hands, was left in the first month

The passage

from her dishonour, and exposed to pass through the hands and discipline of one of those hags of hell whom we call bawds. But lest I should grow too suddenly grave on this subject, and be myself outrageously good, I shall turn to a scene in one of Fletcher's plays, where this character is drawn, and the economy of whoredom most admirably described.

I would point to is in the third scene of the second act of The Humorous Lieutenant. Leucippe, who is agent for the king's lust, and bawds at the same time for the whole court, is very pleasantly introduced, reading her minutes as a person of business, with two maids, her under-secretaries, taking instructions at a table before her. Her woinen, both those under her present tutelage, and those which she is laying wait for, are alphabetically set down in her book; and as she is looking over the letter C in a muttering voice, as if between soliloquy and speaking


out, she

Her maidenhead will yield me; let me see now;
She is not fifteen they say; for her complexion-
Cloe, Cloe, Cloe, here I have her
Cloe, the daughter of a country gentleman;
Her age upon fifteen. Now her complexion-
A lovely brown; here 'tis; eyes black and rolling,
The body neatly built; she strikes a late well,
Sings most enticingly. These helps consider'd,
Her maidenhead will amount to some three hundred,
Or three hundred and fifty crowns,'twill bearit handsomely:
Her father's poor, some little share deducted,
To buy him a hunting nag

These creatures are very well instructed in the circumstances and manners of all who are any way. related to the fair one whom they have a design upon.

As Cloe is to be purchased with 350 crowns, and the father taken off with a pad; the merchant's wife next to her who abounds in plenty, is not to

« AnteriorContinua »