Page images

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 among such variety of colours the shall have a charm for every heart.

My friend W'ill, 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 flame colour, her heart is set upon execution.

When the 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


hand her out of the box with safety. Will införins me likewise, that these hoods may be used as fignals. 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 diverfity of colours in the hoods to the diversity of complexion in the faces of my pretty countrywomen. Ovid in his Art of Love has given some precepts as to this particular, though I find they are different from those which prevail among the moderns. He recommends a red îtriped fill 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 farsanet ; that a face which is overfluihed 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 fun.

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 fun, 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 has been very seldom out in these his guesses.

As I have nothing more at heart than the honour and improvement of the fair sex, I cannot conclude

without an exhortation 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 confideration the saying of an old Greek poet, Γυναικί κόσμος και τρόπος, κ' έ χρυσία.


this paper


Friday, January 4.

Id verò eft, quod ego mihi puto palmarium,
Me reperiffe, quomodo adolescentulus
Meretricum ingenia & mores pofsit noscere :
Maturè ut cùm cognôrit perpetuò oderit.

Ter. Eun. A&t.

5. I look upon it as my master-piece, that I have found

out how a young fellow may know the disposition and behaviour of harlots, and by early knowing come to deteft them.

Sc. 40

indulgence to desires which are natural to all, ought to place them below the compaflion of the virtuous part of the world; which indeed often makes me a little apt to suspect the fincerity of their virtue,



who are too warmly provoked at other people's perfonal fins. The unlawful commerce of the fexes is of all other 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 ;

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 paffing along near Covent Garden, I was jogged on the elbow as I turned into the piazza, cn the right hand coming out of James-Street, by a young slim girl of. about seventeen, who with a pert air asked me if I was for a pint of wine. I do now 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 so frequently said that I am wholly unconcerned: in any scene I am in, but inerely as a spectater. 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 checked with hunger and cold : her eyes were

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 went away, but could not forbear giving her a crown. The poor thing fighed, curtfied, 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, I suppose, falling into cruel hands, was left in the first month from her dishonour, and exposed to pass through the hands and discipline of one of those hags of hell whom we call bawds. But left I should grow


wan and

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 æcono: my of whoredom molt admirably described. The parsage 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 luft, 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 women, both those under her present tote. lage, and those which she is laying wait for, are alpha; betically set down in her book; and she is looking over the letter C, in a muttering voice, as if between soli. loquy and speaking out, she says,

“ Her maidenhead will yield me; let me see now; ! She is not fifteen they say: for her complexionor 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; fhe strike: a lute well, Sings most enticingly: these helps consider'd, " Her maidenhead will amount to fome three hundredi, Or three hundred and fifty crowns, 'twill bear it handHer father's poor, some little share deducted, [somely, ! To buy him a hunting nag"

These creatures are very well instructed in the cir. cumstances 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 have downright money, but the mercenary part of her mind is engaged with a present of plate and a little ambition. She is made to understand that it is a man of quality who dies for her.. The examination of a young girl for business, and the crying down her value for being a flight thing, together with every other circumstance in the scene, are inimitably excellent, and have the true spirit of comedy,


though it were to be wished the author had added a circumstance which should make Leucippe’s bafeness more odious.

It must not be thought a digreffion from my intended speculation, to talk of bawds in a discourse upon wenches ; for a woman of the town is not thoroughly and properly such, without having gone through the education of one of these houses. But the compassionate case of very many is, that they are taken into such hands without any the least suspicion, previous temptation, or admonition to what place they are going. The last week I went to an inn in the city to inquire for some provisions which were sent by a waggon out of the country; and as I waited in one of the boxes till the chamberlain had looked over his parcel, I heard an old and a young voice repeating the questions and responses of the church-catechism. I thought it no breach of good-manners to peep at a crevise, and look in at people so well employed ; but who should I see there but the most artful procuress in the town, examining a most beautiful country-girl, who had come up in the fame waggon with my things, “ Whether she was well educated, could forbear playing the wanton with servants and idle “ fellows, of which this town,” says she, “ is too full :" at the same time, “ whether the knew enough of breed“ ing, as that if a 'squire or gentleman, or one that

was her betters, should give her a civil salute, she “ should curtesy and be humble nevertheless.” Her innocent forfooth's, yes's, and't please you's, and she would do her endeavour, moved the good old lady to take her out of the hands of a country bumkin her brother, and hire her for her own maid. I staid till I saw them all marched out to take coach ; the brother loaded with a great cheese, he prevailed upon her to take for her civilities to his sister. This poor creature's fate is not far off that of her’s whom I spoke of above, and it is not to be doubted, but after she has been long enough a prey to luft, she will be delivered over to famine. The ironical commendation of the industry and charity of these antiquated ladics, these directors of fin, after they can no longer commit it, makes up the beauty of the inimitable dedication to the Plain-Dealer, and is a master-piece of raillery on this vice. But to under

« PreviousContinue »