Billeder på siden

But here comes an insect of figure! Do not you take no

tice of a little white straw that he carries in his mouth? That straw, you must understand, he would not part with for the longest tract about the mole-hill: did you but know what he has undergone to purchase it! See how the ants of all qualities and conditions swarm about him. Should this straw drop out of his mouth, you would see all this numerous circle of attendants follow the next that took it up, and leave the discarded insect, or run over his back, to come at his successor.

If now you have a mind to see all the ladies of the molehill, observe first the pismire that listens to the emmet on her left hand, at the same time that she seems to turn away her head from him. He tells this poor insect that she is a goddess, that her eyes are brighter than the sun, that life and death are at her disposal. She believes him, and gives herself a thousand little airs upon it. Mark the vanity of the pismire on your left hand. She can scarce crawl with age, but you must know she values herself upon her birth; and if you mind, spurns at every one that comes within her reach. The little nimble coquette that is running along by the side of her, is a wit. She has broke many a pismire's heart. Do but observe what a drove of lovers are running after her.

We will here finish this imaginary scene; but first of all, to draw the parallel closer, will suppose, if you please, that death comes down upon the mole-hill, in the shape of a cocksparrow, who picks up, without distinction, the pismire of quality and his flatterers, the pismire of substance and his day-labourers, the white-straw officer and his sycophants, with all the goddesses, wits, and beauties of the mole-hill.

May we not imagine that beings of superior natures and perfections, regard all the instances of pride and vanity, among our own species, in the same kind of view, when they take a survey of those who inhabit the earth; or, in the language of an ingenious French poet, of those pismires that people this heap of dirt, which human vanity has divided. into climates and regions?


Omnia transformant sese in miracula rerum. VIRG.

I QUESTION not but the following letter will be entertaining to those who were present at the late masquerade, as it will recall into their minds several merry particulars that passed in it, and, at the same time, be very acceptable to those who were at a distance from it, as they may form from hence some idea of this fashionable amusement.

To Nestor Ironside, Esq.

Per viam Leonis.

66 SIR, I could scarce ever go into good company, but the discourse was on the ambassador, the politeness of his entertainments, the goodness of his Burgundy and Champaign, the gaiety of his masquerades, with the odd fantastical dresses which were made use of in those midnight solemnities. The noise these diversions made at last raised my curiosity, and for once I resolved to be present at them, being at the same time provoked to it by a lady I then made my addresses to, one of a sprightly humour, and a great admirer of such novelties. In order to it, I hurried my habit, and got it ready a week before the time, for I grew impatient to be initiated in these new mysteries. Every morning I drest myself in it, and acted before the looking-glass, so that I am vain enough to think I was as perfect in my part as most who had oftener frequented these diversions. You must understand, I personated a devil, and that for several weighty First, because appearing as one of that fraternity, I expected to meet with particular civilities from the more polite and better bred part of the company. Besides, as from their usual reception they are called familiars, I fancied I should, in this character, be allowed the greatest liberties, and soonest be led into the secrets of the masquerade. To recommend and distinguish me from the vulgar, I drew a very long tail after me. But to speak the truth, what persuaded me most to this disguise was, because I heard an intriguing lady say, in a large company of females, who

unanimously assented to it, that she loved to converse with such, for that generally they were very clever fellows who made choice of that shape. At length, when the long wished for evening came, which was to open to us such vast scenes of pleasure, I repaired to the place appointed about ten at night, where I found nature turned top-side turvy; women changed into men, and men into women, children in leadingstrings seven foot high, courtiers transformed into clowns, ladies of the night into saints, people of the first quality into beasts or birds, gods or goddesses; I fancied I had all Ovid's Metamorphoses before me. Among these were several monsters to which I did not know how to give a name;


Than fables yet have feigned, or fear conceived,
Gorgons, and hydras, and chimeras dire.


"In the middle of the first room I met with one dressed in a shroud. This put me in mind of the old custom of serving up a death's head at a feast. I was a little angry at the dress, and asked the gentleman whether he thought a dead man was fit company for such an assembly; but he told me, that he was one who loved his money, and that he considered this dress would serve him another time. This walking corse was followed by a gigantic woman with a highcrowned hat, that stood up like a steeple over the heads of the whole assembly. I then chanced to tread upon the foot of a female Quaker, to all outward appearance; but was surprised to hear her cry out, 'D--n you, you son of a

[ocr errors]


upon which I immediately rebuked her, when all of a sudden, resuming her character, 'Verily, (says she,) I was to blame, but thou hast bruised me sorely.' A few moments after this adventure, I had like to have been knocked down1 by a shepherdess, for having run my elbow a little inadvertently into one of her sides. She swore like a trooper, and threatened me with a very masculine voice; but I was timely taken off by a Presbyterian parson, who told me in a very soft tone, that he believed I was a pretty fellow, and that he would meet me in Spring Garden to-morrow night. The next object I saw was a chimney-sweeper, made up of black crape and velvet, (with a huge diamond in his mouth,) making love to

1 I had like to have been knocked down.] The past time had, in had like, fixes the time of being knocked down to the present. It should, then, be-"I had like to be knocked down."

[ocr errors]

a butterfly. On a sudden I found myself among a flock of bats, owls, and lawyers: but what took up my attention most was, one dressed in white feathers that represented a swan. He would fain have found out a Leda among the fair sex, and, indeed, was the most unlucky bird in the company. I was then engaged in discourse with a running footman, but as I treated him like what he appeared to be, a Turkish emperor whispered me in the ear, desiring me to use him civilly, for that it was his master. I was here interrupted by the famous large figure of a woman, hung with little looking-glasses. She had a great many that followed her as she passed by me, but I would not have her value herself upon that account, since it was plain they did not follow so much to look upon her as to see themselves. The next I observed was a nun making an, assignation with a heathen god, for I heard them mention the Little Piazza in Covent Garden. I was by this time exceeding hot, and thirsty, so that I made the best of my way to the place where wine was dealt about in great quantities. I had no sooner presented myself before the table, but a magician, seeing me, made a circle over my head with his wand, and seemed to do me homage. I was at a loss to account for his behaviour; until I recollected who I was this, however, drew the eyes of the servants upon me, and immediately procured me a glass of excellent Champaign. The magician said I was a spirit of an adust and dry constitution; and desired that I might have another refreshing glass, adding withal, that it ought to be a brimmer. I took it in my hand, and drank it off to the magician. This so enlivened me, that I led him by the hand into the next room, where we danced a rigadoon together. I was here a little offended at a jackanapes of a Scaramouch, that cried out,' Avaunt Satan' and gave me a little tap on my left shoulder, with the end of his lath sword. As I was considering how I ought to resent this affront, a well-shaped person that stood at my left-hand, in the figure of a bellman, cried out with a suitable voice, Past twelve o'clock.' put me in mind of bed-time: accordingly I made my way towards the door, but was intercepted by an Indian king, a tall, slender youth, dressed up in a most beautiful partycoloured plumage. He regarded my dress very attentively; and after having turned me about once or twice, asked me whom I had been tempting; I could not tell what was the

[ocr errors]


matter with me, but my heart leaped as soon as he touched me, and was still in greater disorder upon my hearing his voice. In short, I found, after a little discourse with him, that his Indian Majesty was my dear Leonora, who knowing the disguise I had put on, would not let me pass by her unobserved. Her awkward manliness made me guess at her sex, and her own confession quickly let me know the rest. This masquerade did more for me than a twelvemonth's courtship; for it inspired her with such tender sentiments. that I married her the next morning.

"How happy I shall be in a wife taken out of a masquerade, I cannot yet tell; but I have reason to hope the best, Leonora having assured me it was the first and shall be the last time of her appearing at such an entertainment.

"And now, sir, having given you the history of this strange evening, which looks rather like a dream than a reality, it is my request to you, that you will oblige the world with a dissertation on masquerades in general, that we may know how far they are useful to the public, and consequently how far theyought to be encouraged. I have heard of two or three very odd accidents that have happened upon this occasion, as in particular, of a lawyer's being now big-bellied, who was present at the first of these entertainments; not to mention (what is still more strange) an old man with a long beard, who was got with child by a milk-maid; but in cases of this nature, where there is such a confusion of sex, age, and quality, men are apt to report rather what might have happened, than what really came to pass. Without giving credit therefore to any of these rumours, I shall only renew my petition to you, that you will tell us your opinion at large of these matters, and am,

[blocks in formation]

I HAVE often wondered that learning is not thought a proper ingredient in the education of a woman of quality or

« ForrigeFortsæt »