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maids, in which there were several artificial rents and openings, that, upon putting themselves in motion, discovered several limbs of the body to the beholders. Such were the baits and temptations made use of, by that wise lawgiver, to incline the young men of his age to marriage. But when the maid was once sped, she was not suffered to tantalize the male part of the commonwealth: her garments were closed up, and stitched together with the greatest care imaginable. The shape of her limbs, and complexion of her body, had gained their ends, and were ever after to be concealed from the notice of the public.
I shall conclude this discourse of the tucker, with a moral, which I have taught upon all occasions, and shall still continue to inculcate into my female readers; namely, that nothing bestows so much beauty on a woman, as modesty. This is a maxim laid down by Ovid himself, the greatest master in the art of love. He observes upon it, that Venus pleascs most when she appears (semi-reducta) in a figure withdrawing herself from the eye of the beholder. It is very probable, he had in his thoughts the statue which we see in the Venus de Medicis, where she is represented in such a shy retiring posture, and covers her bosom with one of her hands. In short, modesty gives the maid greater beauty than even the bloom of youth, it bestows on the wife the dignity of a matron, and reinstates the widow in her virginity.
No. 101. TUESDAY, JULY 7.
Tros Tyriusve mihi nullo discrimine habetur.— VIEG.
This being the great day of thanksgiving for the peace, I shall present my reader with a couple of letters that are the fruits of it. They are written by a gentleman who has taken this opportunity to see France, and has given his friends in England a general account of what he has there met with, in several epistles.? Those which follow, were put into my hands with liberty to make them public, and I question not but my reader will think himself obliged to me for so doing.
“ Since I had the happiness to see you last, I have encountered as many misfortunes as a knight-errant. I had a fall into the water at Calais, and since that, several bruises upon land, lame post-horses by day, and hard beds at night, with many other dismal adventures.
Quorum animus meminisse horret luctuque refugit.
My arrival at Paris was at first no less uncomfortable, where I could not see a face nor hear a word that I ever met with before; so that my most agreeable companions have been statues and pictures, which are many of them very extraordinary, but what particularly recommends them to me is, that they do not speak French, and have a very good quality, rarely to be met with in this country, of not being too talkative.
“I am settled for some time at Paris. Since my being here, I have made the tour of all the king's palaces, which has been, I think, the pleasantest part of my life. I could not believe it was in the power of art to furnish out such a multitude of noble scenes as I there met with, or that so many delightful prospects
1 V. 2d vol. Letters and Introduction to the Letters.-G.
could lie within the compass of a man's imagination. There is every thing done, that can be expected from a prince who removes mountains, turns the course of rivers, raises woods in a day's time, and plants a village or town on such a particular spot of ground, only for the bettering of a view. One would wonder to how
many tricks he has made the water play for his diversion. It turns itself into pyramids, triumphal arches, glass bottles, imitates a fire-work, rises in a mist, or tells a story out of Æsop.
“ I do not believe, as good a poet as you are, that you can make finer landscapes than those about the king's houses, or with all your descriptions, raise a more magnificent palace than Versailles. I am, however, so singular as to prefer Fontainbleau to all the rest. It is situated among rocks and woods, that give you a fine variety of salvage prospects. The king has humoured the genius of the place, and only made use of so much art as is necessary to help and regulate nature, without reforming her too much. The cascades seem to break through the clefts and cracks of rocks that are covered over with moss, and look as if they were piled upon one another by accident. There is an artificial wildness in the meadows, walks, and canals; and the garden, instead of a wall, is fenced on the lower end by a natural mound of rock work, that strikes the eye very agreeably. For my part, I think there is something more charming in these rude heaps of stone, than in so many statues; and would as soon see a river winding through woods and meadows, as when it is tossed up in so many whimsical figures at Versailles. To pass from works of nature to those of art. In my opinion, the pleasantest part of Versailles is the gallery. Every one sees on each side of it some. thing that will be sure to please him. For one of them commands a view of the finest garden in the world, and the other is wainscoted with looking-glass. The history of the present king, till the year 16 is painted on the roof by Le Brun, so that His Majesty has actions enough by him, to furnish another gallery much longer than the present.
The painter has represented his most Christian majesty un. der the figure of Jupiter, throwing thunderbolts all about the ceiling, and striking terror into the Danube and Rhine, that lie astonished and blasted with lightning, a little above the cornice.
But what makes all these shows the more agreeable is, the great kindness and affability that is shown to strangers. If the French do not excel the English in all the arts of humanity, they do at least in the outward expressions of it. And upon this, as well as other accounts, though I believe the English are a much wiser nation, the French are undoubtedly much more happy. Their old men in particular are, I believe, the most agreeable in the world. An antediluvian could not have more life and briskness in him at threescore and ten : for that fire and levity which makes the young ones scarce conversable, when a little wasted and tempered by years, makes a very pleasant gay old age. Besides, this national fault of being so very talkative, looks natural and graceful in one that has grey hairs to countenance it. The mentioning this fault in the French, must put me in mind to finish my letter, lest you think me already too much infected by their conversation; but I must desire you to consider, that travelling does in this respect, lay a little claim to the privilege
of old age.
"I am, Sir," &c.
Blois, May 15, N. S. “I Cannot pretend to trouble you with any news from this place, where the only advantage I have, besides getting the language, is, to see the manners and temper of the people, which I believe may
be better learnt here than in courts and greater cities, where artifice and disguise are more in fashion.
“I have already seen, as I informed you in my last, all the king's palaces, and have now seen a great part of the country. I never thought there had been in the world such an excessive magnificence or poverty as I have met with in both together. One can scarce conceive the
appears in every thing about the king; but, at the same time, it makes half his subjects go barefoot. The people are, however, the happiest in the world, and enjoy, from the benefit of their climate, and natural constitution, such a perpetual gladness of heart and easiness of temper, as even liberty and plenty cannot bestow on those of other nations. 'Tis not in the power of want or slavery to make them miserable. There is nothing to be met with but mirth and poverty. Every one sings, laughs, and starves.
Their conversa tion is generally agreeable, for if they have any wit or sense, they are sure to show it. They never mend upon a second meeting, but use all the freedom and familiarity at first sight, that a long intimacy, or abundance of wine, can scarce draw from an English
Their women are perfect mistresses in this art of shewing themselves to the best advantage. They are always gay and sprightly, and set off the worst faces in Europe with the best airs. Every one knows how to give herself as charming a look and posture as Sir Godfrey Kneller could draw her in. I cannot end my letter without observing, that from what I have already seen of the world, I cannot but set a particular mark of distinction upon those who abound most in the virtues of their nation, and least with its imperfections. When, therefore, I see the good sense of an Englishman in its highest perfection, without any mixture of the spleen, I hope you will excuse me, if I admire the character, and am ambitious of subscribing myself,
"Sir, Your's," &c.