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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 something 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 under 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 '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 pomp that appears in everything 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 conversation 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 Englishman. Their women are perfect mistresses in this art of showing 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, Yours," &c.
No. 102. WEDNESDAY, JULY 8.
-Natos ad flumina primùm
I AM always beating about in my thoughts for something
that may turn to the benefit of
present season of the year having put most of them in slight summer-suits, has turned my speculations to a subject that concerns every one who is sensible of cold or heat, which I believe takes in the greatest part of my readers.
There is nothing in nature more inconstant than the British climate, if we except the humour of its inhabitants. We have frequently, in one day, all the seasons of the year. I have shivered in the dog-days, and been forced to throw off my coat in January. I have gone to bed in August, and rose in December. Summer has often caught me in my Drap de Berry, and winter in my Doily suit.
I remember a very whimsical fellow (commonly known by the name of Posture-master) in King Charles the Second's reign, who was the plague of all the tailors about town. He would often send for one of them to take measure of him, but would so contrive it, as to have a most immoderate rising in one of his shoulders. When the clothes were brought home, and tried upon him, the deformity was removed into the other shoulder. Upon which the tailor begged pardon for, the mistake, and mended it as fast as he could; but upon a third trial, found him a straight-shouldered man as one would desire to see, but a little unfortunate in a humped back. In short, this wandering tumour puzzled all the workmen about town, who found it impossible to accommodate so changeable a customer. My reader will apply this to any one who would adapt a suit to a season of our English climate.
After this short descant on the uncertainty of our English weather, I come to my moral.
A man should take care that his body be not too soft for his climate; but rather, if possible, harden and season himself beyond the degree of cold wherein he lives. Daily experience teaches us how we may inure ourselves, by custom, to bear the extremities of weather without injury. The inhabitants of Nova Zembla go naked, without complaining of the bleakness of the air in which they are born, as the armies of the northern nations keep the field all winter. The softest of our British ladies expose their arms and necks to the open air, which the men could not do without catching cold, for want of being accustomed to it. The whole body, by the same means, might contract the same firmness and
temper. The Scythian that was asked how it was possible for the inhabitants of his frozen climate to go naked, replied, "Because we are all over face." Mr. Locke advises parents to have their children's feet washed every morning in cold water, which might probably prolong multitudes of lives.
I verily believe a cold bath would be one of the most healthful exercises in the world, were it made use of in the education of youth. It would make their bodies more than proof to the injuries of the air and weather. It would be something like what the poets tell us of Achilles, whom his mother is said to have dipped, when he was a child, in the river Styx. The story adds, that this made him invulnerable all over, excepting that part which the mother held in her hand during this immersion, which, by that means, lost the benefit of these hardening waters. Our common practice runs in a quite contrary method. We are perpetually softening ourselves, by good fires and warm clothes. The air within our rooms has generally two or three more degrees of heat in it than the air without-doors.
Crassus is an old lethargic valetudinarian. For these twenty years last past, he has been clothed in frieze of the same colour, and of the same piece. He fancies he should catch his death in any other kind of manufacture, and though his avarice would incline him to wear it till it was threadbare, he dares not do it, lest he should take cold when the nap is off. He could no more live without a frieze coat, than without his skin. It is not, indeed, so properly his coat, as what the anatomists call one of the integuments of the body.
How different an old man is Crassus from myself. It is, indeed, the particular distinction of the Ironsides to be robust and hardy, to defy the cold and rain, and let the weather do its worst. My father lived till a hundred without a cough, and we have a tradition in the family, that my grandfather used to throw off his hat, and go open-breasted, after fourscore. As for myself, they used to souse me over head and ears in water when I was a boy, so that I am now looked upon as one of the most case-hardened of the whole family of the Ironsides. In short, I have been so plunged in water, and inured to the cold, that I regard myself as a piece of
1 A fine comic stroke, and, I think, an original one, on this well-worn topic of avarice.
true-tempered Steele,' and can say, with the above-mentioned Scythian, that I am face, or, if my enemies please, forehead, all over.
No. 103. THURSDAY, JULY 9.
Dum flammas Jovis, et sonitus imitatur Olympi. VIRG.
I AM considering how most of the great phenomena, or appearances in nature, have been imitated by the art of man. Thunder is grown a common drug among the chymists. Lightning may be bought by the pound. If a man has occasion for a lambent flame, you have whole sheets of it in a handful of phosphor. Showers of rain are to be met with in every water-work; and, we are informed, that some years ago the virtuoso's 1 of France covered a little vault with artificial snow, which they made to fall above an hour together, for the entertainment of his present Majesty.
I am led into this train of thinking, by the noble fire-work that was exhibited last night upon the Thames. You might there see a little sky filled with innumerable blazing stars and meteors. Nothing could be more astonishing than the pillars of flame, clouds of smoke, and multitudes of stars, mingled together in such an agreeable confusion. Every rocket ended in a constellation, and strewed the air with such a shower of silver spangles, as opened and enlightened the whole scene from time to time. It put me in mind of the lines in Oedipus,
Why from the bleeding womb of monstrous night
In short, the artist did his part to admiration, and was so
1 A quibble, so contrived as to introduce a handsome compliment to the editor of this paper.
2 The plural number of Virtuoso is Virtuosos, without a comma, which is the sign of the apostrophe in the genitive case. But perhaps, as the word is foreign, he had better preserved the proper termination, Virtuosi.