Page images

the motion of the glass, and placed it in so many different lights, that each had an opportunity of seeing herself in it.

It is impossible to describe the rage, the pleasure, or astonishment, that appeared in each face upon its representation in the mirror; multitudes started at their own form, and would have broke the glass if they could have reached it. Many saw their blooming features wither as they looked upon them, and their self-admiration turned into a loathing and abhorrence. The lady who was thought so agreeable in her anger, and was so often celebrated for a woman of fire and spirit, was frightened at her own image, and fancied she saw a Fury in the glass. The interested mistress beheld a Harpy, and the subtle jilt a Sphinx. I was very much troubled in my own heart, to see such a destruction of fine faces; but at the same time had the pleasure of seeing several improved, which I had before looked upon as the greatest master-piece of nature. I observed, that some few were so humble as to be surprised at their own charms, and that many a one, who had lived in the retirement and severity of a Vestal, shined forth in all the graces and attractions of a Siren. I was ravished at the sight of a particular image in the mirror, which I think the most beautiful object that my eyes ever beheld. There was something more than human in her countenance: her eyes were so full of light that they seemed to beautify every thing they looked upon. Her face was enlivened with such a florid bloom, as did not so properly seem the mark of health, as of immortality. Her shape, her stature, and her mien, were such as distinguished her even there, where the whole fair sex was assembled.

I was impatient to see the lady represented by so divine an image, whom I found to be the person that stood at my right hand, and in the same point

of view with myself. This was a little old woman, who in her prime had been about five feet high, though at present shrunk to about three quarters of that measure. Her natural aspect was puckered up with wrinkles, and her head covered with gray hairs. I had observed all along an innocent cheerfulness in her face, which was now heightened to raptures, as she beheld herself in the glass. It was an odd circumstance in my dream, but I cannot forbear relat ing it, I conceived so great an inclination towards her, that I had thoughts of discoursing her upon the point of marriage, when on a sudden she was carried from me; for the word was now given, that all who were pleased with their own images should separate, and place themselves at the head of their sex.

This detachment was afterwards divided into three bodies, consisting of maids, wives, and widows; the wives being placed in the middle, with the maids on the right, and widows on the left, though it was with difficulty that these two last bodies were hindered from falling into the centre. This separation of those who liked their real selves not having les sened the number of the main body so considerably as it might have been wished, the goddess, after havi ing drawn up her mirror, thought fit to make new distinctions among those who did not like the figuré which they saw in it. She made several wholesome edicts, which are slipped out of my mind; but there were two which dwelt upon me, as being very extraordinary in their kind, and executed with great severity. Their design was to make an example of two extremes in the female world; of those who are very severe on the conduct of others, and of those who are very regardless of their own. The first sentence, therefore, the goddess pronounced was, that all females addicted to censoriousness and detraction should lose the use of speech; a punishment which

[ocr errors]


would be the most grievous to the offender, and, what should be the end of all punishments, effectual for rooting out the crime. Upon this edict, which was as soon executed as published, the noise of the assembly very considerably abated. It was a melancholy spectacle to see so many who had the reputation of rigid virtue struck dumb. A lady who stood by me, and saw my concern, told me," she wondered how I could be concerned for such a pack of "I found, by the shaking of her head, she was going to give me their characters; but, by her saying no more, I perceived she had lost the command of her tongue. This calamity fell very heavy upon that part of women who are distinguished by the name of Prudes, a courtly word for female hy. pocrites, who have a short way to being virtuous, by showing that others are vicious. The second sentence was then pronounced against the loose part of 1 the sex, that all should immediately be pregnant, who in any part of their lives had run the hazard of it. This produced a very goodly appearance, and revealed so many misconducts, that made those who were lately struck dumb repine more than ever at their want of utterance; though at the same time, as afflictions seldom come single, many of the mutes were also seized with this new calamity. The ladies were now in such a condition, that they would have wanted room, had not the plain been large enough to let them divide their ground, and extend their lines on all sides. It was a sensible affliction to me, to see such a multitude of fair ones, either dumb or big-bellied. But I was something more at ease, when I found that they agreed upon several regulations to cover such misfortunes. Among others, that it should be an established maxim in all nations, that a woman's first child might come into the world within six months after her acquaintance with her husband;

and that grief might retard the birth of her last until fourteen months after his decease.

This vision lasted until my usual hour of waking, which I did with some surprise, to find myself alone after having been engaged almost a whole night in so prodigious a multitude. I could not but reflect with wonder at the partiality and extravagance of my vision; which, according to my thoughts, has not done justice to the sex. If virtue in men is more venerable, it is in women more lovely; which Milton has very finely expressed in his Paradise Lost, where Adam, speaking of Eve, after having asserted his own pre-eminence, as being first in creation and internal faculties, breaks out into the following rapture:

"Yet when I approach

Her loveliness, so absolute she seems,
And in herself complete, so well to know
Her own, that what she wills, or do, or say,
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best.
All higher knowledge in her presence falls
Degraded, wisdom in discourse with her
Loses discountenanc'd, and like folly shews,
Authority and reason on her wait

As one intended first, not after made
Occasionally. And, to consummate all,
Greatness of mind, and nobleness, their seat
Build in her loveliest, and create an awe
About her, as a guard angelic plac'd.”

No 103. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 6, 1709.

Hæ nuge seria ducunt

In mala, derisum semel, exceptumque sinistre.

HOR. Ars Poet. ver. 452.

These toys will once to serious mischiefs fall,
When he is laugh'd at, when he's jeer'd by all.


From my own Apartment, December 5.

THERE is nothing gives a man a greater satisfaction, than the sense of having dispatched a great deal of business, especially when it turns to the public emolument. I have much pleasure of this kind upon my spirits at present, occasioned by the fatigue of affairs which I went through last Saturday. It is some

time since I set apart that day for examining the pretensions of several who had applied to me for canes, perspective-glasses, snuff-boxes, orangeflower-waters, and the like ornaments of life. In order to adjust this matter, I had before directed Charles Lillie of Beaufort-Buildings, to prepare a great bundle of blank licences in the following words:

"You are hereby required to permit the bearer of this cane to pass and repass through the streets and suburbs of London, or any place within ten miles of it, without let or molestation, provided that he does not walk with it under his arm, brandish it in the air, or hang it on a button: in which case it shall be forfeited; and I hereby declare it forfeited,

« PreviousContinue »