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to conceal. What their design by it is, they themselves best know.
I observed this as I was sitting the other day by a famous she visitant at my Lady Lizard's, when accidentally, as I was looking upon her face, letting my sight fall into her bosom, I was surprised with beauties which I never before discovered, and do not know where my eye would have run, if I had not immediately checked it. The lady herself could not forbear blushing, when she observed, by my looks, that she had made her neck too beautiful and glaring an object, even for a man of my character and gravity. I could scarce forbear making use of my hand to cover so unseemly a sight.
If we survey the pictures of our great-grandmothers in Queen Elizabeth's time, we see them clothed down to the very wrists, and up to the very chin. The hands and face were the only samples they gave of their beautiful persons. The following age of females made larger discoveries of their complexion. They first of all tucked up their garments to the elbow, and notwithstanding the tenderness of the sex, were content, for the information of mankind, to expose their arms to the coldness of the air and injuries of the weather. This artifice hath succeeded to their wishes, and betrayed many to their arms, who might have escaped them, had they been still concealed.
About the same time, the ladies considering that the neck was a very modest part in a human body, they freed it from those yokes, I mean those monstrous linen ruffs, in which the simplicity of their grandmothers had enclosed it. In proportion as the age refined, the dress still sunk lower, so that when we now say a woman has a handsome neck, we reckon into it many of the adjacent parts. The disuse of the tucker has still enlarged it, insomuch that the neck of a fine woman at present takes in almost half the body.
Since the female neck thus grows upon us, and the ladies seem disposed to discover themselves to us more and more, I would fain have them tell us once for all, how far they intend to go, and whether they have yet determined among themselves where to make a stop.
For my own part, their necks, as they call them, are no more than busts of alabaster in my eye. I can look upon The yielding marble of a snowy breast,
with as much coldness as this line of Mr. Waller represents in the object itself. But my fair readers ought to consider, that all their beholders are not Nestors. Every man is not sufficiently qualified with age and philosophy, to be an indifferent spectator of such allurements. The eyes of young men are curious and penetrating, their imaginations of a roving nature, and their passions under no discipline or restraint. I am in pain for a woman of rank, when I see her thus exposing herself to the regards of every impudent staring fellow. How can she expect that her quality can defend her, when she gives such provocation? I could not but observe, last winter, that upon the disuse of the neck-piece (the ladies will pardon me if it is not the fashionable term of the art) the whole tribe of oglers gave their eyes a new determination, and stared the fair sex in the neck rather than in the face. To prevent these saucy familiar glances, I would entreat my gentle readers to sew on their tuckers again, to retrieve the modesty of their characters, and not to imitate the nakedness, but the innocence of their mother Eve.
What most troubles and indeed surprises me in this particular, I have observed,1 that the leaders in this fashion were most of them married women. What their design can be in making themselves bare, I cannot possibly imagine. Nobody exposes wares that are appropriated. When the bird is taken, the snare ought to be removed. It was a remarkable circumstance in the institution of the severe Lycurgus. As that great lawgiver knew that the wealth and strength of a republic consisted in the multitude of citizens, he did all he could to encourage marriage: in order to it, he prescribed a certain loose dress for the Spartan 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
What most troubles, &c.—I have observed.] Imperfectly expressed, for-What most troubles, &c., is this, viz. I have observed. This negligent way of speaking was affected by the author, to intimate his concern in entering on this part of his subject, as if he hardly durst speak out, or, as if the portentous object so occupied him, that he was not at liberty to mind his expression.
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 pleases 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. VIRG.
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 could lie within the compass of a man's imagination. There is everything 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 see 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 savage 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 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