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Such as had fine necks and bosoms, were wonderfully curious to look over the heads of the multitude, and observe the most distant parts of the assembly. Several clapped their hands on their foreheads, as helping their sight to look upon the glories that surrounded the goddess, but in reality to show fine hands and arms. The ladies were yet better pleased when they heard, that in the decision of this great controversy, each of them should be her own judge, and take her place according to her own opinion of herself, when she consulted her looking-glass.
The goddess then let down the mirror of truth in a golden chain, which appeared larger in proportion as it descended and approached nearer to the eyes of the beholders. It was the particular property of this looking-glass to banish all false appearances, and show people what they are. The whole woman was represented, without regard to the usual external features, which were made entirely conformable to their real characters. In short, the most accomplished (taking in the whole circle of female perfections) were the most beautiful; and the most defective, the most deformed. The goddess so varied the motion of the glass, and placed it in so many different lights, that each had an opportunity of seeing herself in it.
It is impossible to describe the rage, the pleasure, or astonishment, that appeared in each face upon its representation in the mirror: multitudes started at their own form, and would have broke the glass if they could have reached it. Many saw their blooming features wither as they looked upon them, and their self-admiration turned into a loathing and abhorrence. The lady who was thought so agreeable in her anger,
and was so often celebrated for a woman of fire and spirit, was frighted at her own image, and fancied she saw a fury in the glass. The interested mistress beheld a harpy, and the subtle jilt a sphinx. I was very much troubled in my own heart, to see such a destruction of fine faces; but at the same time had the pleasure of seeing several improved, which I had before looked upon as the greatest master-pieces of nature. I observed, that some few were so humble, as to be surprised at their own charms; and that many a one, who had lived in the retirement and severity of a vestal, shined forth in all the graces and attractions of a siren. I was ravished at the sight of a particular
image in the mirror, which I think the most beautiful object that my eyes ever bebeld. There was something more than human in her countenance : her eyes were so full of light, that they seemed to beautify everything they looked upon. Her face was enlivened with such a florid bloom, as did not so properly seem the mark of health, as of immortality. Her shape, her stature, and her mien, were such as distinguished her even there where the whole fair sex was assembled.
I was impatient to see the lady represented by so divine an image, whom I found to be the person that stood at my right hand, and in the same point of view with myself. This was a little old woman, who in her prime had been about five foot high, though at present shrunk to about three quarters of that measure. Her natural aspect was puckered up with wrinkles, and her head covered with grey hairs. I had observed all along an innocent cheerfulness in her face, which was now heightened into rapture as she beheld herself in the glass. It was an odd circumstance in my dream, (but I cannot forbear relating it,) I conceived so great an inclination towards her, that I had thoughts of discoursing her
upon the point of marriage, when on a sudden she was carried from me; for the word was now given, that all who were pleased with their own images, should separate, and place themselves at the head of their sex.
This detachment was afterwards divided into three bodies, consisting of maids, wives, and widows: the wives being placed in the middle, with the maids on the right, and widows on the left; though it was with difficulty that these two last bodies were hindered from falling into the centre. This separation of those, who liked their real selves, not having lessened the number of the main body so considerably as it might have been wished, the goddess, after having drawn up her mirror, thought fit to make new distinctions among
those who did not like the figure which they saw in it. She made several wholesome edicts, which are slipped out of my mind; but there were two which dwelt upon me, as being very extraordinary in their kind and executed with great severity. Their design was, to make an example of two extremes in the female world; of those who are very severe on the conduct of others, and of those who are very regardless of their own. The first sentence, therefore, the goddess pronounced, was,
“ That all females addicted to censoriousness and detraction, should lose the use of speech ;" a punishment which would be the most grievous to the offender, and (what should be the end of all punishments) effectual for rooting out the crime. Upon this edict, which was as soon executed as published, the noise of the assembly very considerably abated. It was a melancholy spectacle, to see so many who had the reputation of rigid virtue struck dumb.
A lady who stood by me, and saw my concern, told me, she wondered how I could be concerned for such a pack of I found, by the shaking of her head, she was going to give me their characters; but by her saying no more, I perceived she had lost the command of her tongue. This calamity fell very heavy upon that part of women who are distinguished by the name of Prudes, a courtly word for female hypocrites, who have a short way to being virtuous, by showing that others are vicious. The second sentence was then pronounced against the loose part of the sex, " That all should immediately be pregnant, who in any part of their lives had ran the hazard of it.” This produced a very goodly appearance, and revealed so many misconducts, that made those who were lately struck dumb, repine more than ever at their want of utterance, though at the same time (as afflictions seldom come single) many of the mutes were also seized with this new calarnity. The ladies were now in such a condition, that they would have wanted room, had not the plain been large enough to let them divide their ground, and extend their lines on all sides. It was a sensible affliction to me, to see such a multitude of fair ones either dumb or big-bellied; but I was something more at ease, when I found that they agreed upon several regulations to cover such misfortunes. Among others, that it should be an established maxim in all nations, That a woman's first child might come into the world within six months after her acquaintance with her husband; and that grief inight retard the birth of her last fourteen months after his decease.
This vision lasted till my usual hour of waking, which I did with some surprise, to find myself alone, after having been engaged almost a whole night in so prodigious a multitude. I could not but reflect with wonder, at the partiality and extravagance of my vision; which, according to my thoughts, has not done justice to the sex. If virtue in men is more
venerable, it is in women more lovely; which Milton has very finely expressed in his Paradise Lost, where Adam, speaking of Eve, after having asserted his own pre-eminence, as being first in creation and internal faculties, breaks out into the following rapture :
-Yet when I approach
No. 103. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 6, 1709.
-Hæ nugæ seria ducunt
From my own Apartment, December 5. THERE is nothing gives a man greater satisfaction, than the sense of having despatched a great deal of business, especially when it turns to the public emolument. I have much pleasure of this kind upon my spirits at present, occasioned by the fatigue of affairs which I went through last Saturday. It is some time since I set apart that day for examining the pretensions of several who had applied to me for canes, perspective-glasses, snuff-boxes, orange-flower-waters, and the like ornaments of life. In order to adjust this matter, I had before directed Charles Lillie, of Beaufort Buildings, to prepare a great bundle of blank licences in the following words :
“You are hereby required to permit the bearer of this cane to pass and repass through the streets and suburbs of London, or any place within ten miles of it, without let or molestation: provided that he does not walk with it under
brandish it in the air, or hang it on a button : in which case it shall be forfeited; and I hereby declare it forfeited to any one who shall think it safe to take it from him.
“ ISAAC BICKERSTAFFE.” The same form, differing only in the provisos, will serve for a perspective, snuff-box, or perfumed handkerchief. I had placed myself in my elbow-chair at the upper end of my great parlour, having ordered Charles Lillie to take his place upon a joint-stool with a writing-desk before him. John Morphew also took his station at the door ; I having, for his good and faithful services, appointed him my chamberkeeper upon court days. He let me know, that there were a great number attending without. Upon which I ordered him to give notice, that I did not intend to sit upon snuffboxes that day ; but that those who appeared for canes might enter.
The first presented me with the following petition, which I ordered Mr. Lillie to read. “ To Isaac Bickerstaffe, Esq., Censor of Great Britain.
“The humble Petition of Simon Trippit,
Showeth, “ That your petitioner having been bred up to a cane from his youth, it is now become as necessary to him as any other of his limbs.
“ That a great part of his behaviour depending upon it, he should be reduced to the utmost necessities if he should lose the use of it.
“ That the knocking of it upon his shoe, leaning one leg upon it, or whistling with it on his mouth, are such great reliefs to him in conversation, that he does not know how to be good company without it.
" That he is at present engaged in an amour, and must despair of success, if it be taken from him.
"Your petitioner therefore hopes, that (the premises tenderly considered) your Worship will not deprive him of so useful and so necessary a support.
“And your petitioner shall ever,” &c.
Upon the hearing of his case, I was touched with some compassion, and the more so, when upon observing him