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I have always been very much pleased with the sight of those creatures, which being of a foreign growth, are brought into our island for show: I may say, there has not been a tiger, leopard, elephant, or hyghgeen, for some years past, in this nation, but I have taken their particular dimensions, and am able to give a very good description of them. But I must own, I never had a greater curiosity to visit
any of these strangers than your lion. Accordingly I came yesterday to town, being able to wait no longer for fair weather; and made what haste I could to Mr. Button's, who readily conducted me to his den of state. He is really a creature of as noble a presence as I have seen, he has grandeur and good humour in his countenance, which command both our love and respect; his shaggy mane and whiskers are peculiar graces. In short, I do not question but he will prove a worthy supporter of British honour and virtue, especially when assisted by the unicorn: you must think I would not wait upon him without a morsel to gain his favour, and had provided what I hope would have pleased, but was unluckily prevented by the presence of a bear, which constantly, as I approached with my present, threw his eyes in my way, and stared me out of my resolution. I must not forget to tell you, my younger daughter and your ward is hard at work about her tucker, having never from her infancy laid aside the modesty-piece. I am, venerable NESTOR,
"Your friend and humble servant, P. N."
"I was a little surprised, having read some of your lion's roarings, that a creature of such eloquence should want a tongue, but he has other qualifications which make good that deficiency."
No. 134. FRIDAY, AUGUST 14.
Matronæ præter faciem nil cernere possis,
Cætera, ni Catia est, demissâ veste tegentis. HOR.
My lion having given over roaring for some time, I find that several stories have been spread abroad in the country to his disadvantage. One of my correspondents tells me, it is confidently reported of him, in their parts, that he is silenced by authority; another informs me, that he hears he was sent for by a messenger, who had orders to bring him away with all his papers, and that, upon examination, he was found to contain several dangerous things in his maw. I must not omit another report which has been raised by such as are enemies to me and my lion, namely, that he is starved for
want of food, and that he has not had a good meal's meat for this fortnight. I do hereby declare these reports to be altogether groundless; and since I am contradicting common fame, I must likewise acquaint the world, that the story of a two hundred pound bank bill being conveyed to me through the mouth of my lion, has no foundation of truth in it. The matter of fact is this: my lion has not roared for these twelve days past, by reason that his prompters have put very ill words in his mouth, and such as he could not utter with common honour and decency. Notwithstanding the admonitions I have given my correspondents, many of them have crammed great quantities of scandal down his throat, others have choked him with lewdness and ribaldry. Some of them have gorged him with so much nonsense, that they have made a very ass of him. On Monday last, upon examining, I found him an arrant French Tory, and the day after a virulent Whig. Some have been so mischievous as to make him fall upon his keeper, and give me very reproachful language; but as I have promised to restrain him from hurting any man's reputation, so my reader may be assured that I myself shall be the last man whom I will suffer him to abuse. However, that I may give general satisfaction, I have a design of converting a room in Mr. Button's house to the lion's library, in which I intend to deposit the several packets of letters and private intelligence which I do not communicate to the public. These manuscripts will in time be very valuable, and may afford good lights to future historians who shall give an account of the present age. In the mean while, as the lion is an animal which has a particular regard for chastity, it has been observed that mine has taken delight in roaring very vehemently against the untuckered neck, and, as far as I can find by him, is still determined to roar louder and louder, till that irregularity be thoroughly reformed.
"GOOD MR. IRONSIDE,
I must acquaint you, for your comfort, that your lion is grown a kind of bull-beggar among the women where I live. When my wife comes home late from cards, or commits any other enormity, I whisper in her ear, partly betwixt jest and earnest, that, I will tell the lion of her.' Dear sir, do not let them alone till you have made them put on their tuckers
again. What can be a greater sign that they themselves are sensible they have stripped too far, than their pretending to call a bit of linen which will hardly cover a silver groat, their modesty-piece? It is observed, that this modestypiece still sinks lower and lower, and who knows where it will fix at last?
"You must know, sir, I am a Turkey merchant, and lived several years in a country where the women show nothing but their eyes. Upon my return to England, I was almost out of countenance to see my pretty countrywomen laying open their charms with so much liberality, though at that time many of them were concealed under the modest shade of the tucker. I soon after married a very fine woman, who always goes in the extremity of the fashion. I was pleased to think, as every married man must, that I should make daily discoveries in the dear creature, which were unknown to the rest of the world. But since this new airy fashion is come up, every one's eye is as familiar with her as mine, for I can positively affirm, that her neck is grown eight inches within these three years. And what makes me tremble when I think of it, that pretty foot and ancle are now exposed to the sight of the whole world, which made my very heart dance within me when I first found myself their proprietor. As in all appearance the curtain is still rising, I find a parcel of rascally young fellows in the neighbourhood are in hopes to be presented with some new scene every day. "In short, sir, the tables are now quite turned upon me. Instead of being acquainted with her person more than other men, I have now the least share of it. When she is at home, she is continually muffled up, and concealed in mobs, morning gowns, and handkerchiefs; but strips every afternoon to appear in public. For aught I can find, when she has thrown aside half her clothes, she begins to think herself half dressed. Now, sir, if I may presume to say so, you have been in the wrong, to think of reforming this fashion by showing the immodesty of it. If you expect to make female proselytes, you must convince them, that, if they would get husbands, they must not show all before marriage. I am sure, had my wife been dressed before I married her as she is at present, she would have satisfied a good half of my curiosity. Many a man has been hindered from laying out his money on a show, by seeing the principal figures of it hung out before the
door. I have often observed a curious passenger so attentive to these objects which he could see for nothing, that he took no notice of the master of the show, who was continually crying out, Pray, gentlemen, walk in.'
"I have told you, at the beginning of this letter, how Mahomet's she-disciples are obliged to cover themselves; you have lately informed us, from the foreign newspapers, of the regulations which the pope is now making among the Roman ladies in this particular; and I hope our British dames, notwithstanding they have the finest skins in the world, will be content to show no more of them than what belongs to the face and to the neck, properly speaking. Their being fair is no excuse for their being naked.
"You know, sir, that in the beginning of the last century, there was a sect of men among us who called themselves Adamites, and appeared in public without clothes. This heresy may spring up in the other sex, if you do not put a timely stop to it, there being so many in all public places, who show so great an inclination to be Evites.
I am, sir," &c.
No. 135. SATURDAY, AUGUST 15.
Virtute me involvo
A GOOD Conscience is to the soul what health is to the body; it preserves a constant ease and serenity within us, and more than countervails all the calamities and afflictions which can possibly befall us. I know nothing so hard for a generous mind to get over as calumny and reproach, and cannot find any method of quieting the soul under them, besides this single one, of our being conscious to ourselves that we do not deserve them.
I have been always mightily pleased with that passage in Don Quixote, where the fantastical knight is represented as loading a gentleman of good sense with praises and eulogiums. Upon which the gentleman makes this reflection to himself: "How grateful is praise to human nature! I cannot forbear being secretly pleased with the commendations I receive, though I am sensible it is a madman bestows them