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voured, as much as I am able, to extinguish that pernicious spirit of passion and prejudice, which rages with the same violence in all parties, I am still the more desirous of doing some good in this particular, because I observe that the spirit of party reigns more in the country than in the town. It here contracts a kind of brutality and rustic fierceness, to which men of a politer conversation are wholly strangers. It extends itself even to the return of the bow and the hat; and at the same time that the heads of parties preserve towards one another an outward show of good breeding, and keep up a perpetual intercourse of civilities, their tools that are dispersed in these outlying parts, will not so much as mingle together at a cock-match. This humour fills the country with several periodical meetings of Whig jockeys and Tory fox-hunters; not to mention the innumerable curses, frowns, and whispers it produces at a quarter-sessions. I do not know whether I have observed in
former papers, that my friends, Sir Roger de Coverley and Sir Andrew Freeport, are of different principles; the first of them inclined to the landed, and the other to the moneyed interest. This humour is so moderate in each of them, that it proceeds no further than to an agreeable raillery, which very often diverts the rest of the club. I find, however, that the knight is a much stronger Tory in the country than in town, which, as he has told me in my ear, is absolutely necessary for the keeping of his interest. In all our journey from London to his house, we did not so much as bait at a Whig inn; or if by chance the coachman stopped at a wrong place, one of Sir Roger's servants would ride up to his master full speed, and whisper to him that the master of the house was against such an one in the last election. This often betrayed us into hard beds and bad cheer; for we were not so inquisitive about the inn as the inn-keeper; and provided our landlord's principles were sound, did not take any notice of the staleness of his provisions. This I found still the more inconvenient, because the better the host was, the worse generally were his accommodations; the fellow knowing very well, that those who were his friends would take up with coarse diet and an hard lodging. For these reasons, all the while I was upon the road, I dreaded entering into an house of any one that Sir Roger had applauded for an honest man.
Since my stay at Sir Roger's in the country, I daily find more instances of this narrow party humour. Being upon the bowling-green at a neighbouring market-town the other day, (for that is the place where the gentlemen of one side meet once a week,) I observed a stranger among them of a better presence and genteeler behaviour than ordinary; but was much surprised, that notwithstanding he was a very fair better, nobody would take him up. But upon inquiry I found, that he was one who had given a disagreeable vote in a former parliament, for which reason there was not a man upon that bowling-green who would have so much correspondence with him as to win his money of him.
Among other instances of this nature, I must not omit one which concerns myself. Will. Wimble was the other day relating several strange stories that he had picked up, nobody knows where, of a certain great man; and upon my staring at him, as one that was surprised to hear such things in the country, which had never been so much as whispered in the town, Will. stopped short in the thread of his discourse, and after dinner asked my friend Sir Roger in his ear, if he was sure that I was not a fanatic.
It gives me a serious concern to see such a spirit of dissension in the country; not only as it destroys virtue and common sense, and renders us in a manner barbarians towards one another, but as it perpetuates our animosities, widens our breaches, and transmits our present passions and prejudices to our posterity. For my own part, I am sometimes afraid that I discover the seeds of a civil war in these our divisions: and therefore cannot but bewail, as in their first principles, the miseries and calamities of our children.
No. 127. THURSDAY, JULY 26.
-Quantum est in rebus inane ? PERS. It is our custom at Sir Roger's, upon the coming in of the post, to sit about a pot of coffee, and hear the old knight read Dyer's letter; which he does with his spectacles upon his nose, and in an audible voice, smiling very often at those little strokes of satire, which are so frequent in the writings of that author. I afterwards communicate to the knight such packets as I receive under the quality of SPECTATOR. The following letter chancing to please him more than ordinary, I shall publish it at his request.
“ MR. SPECTATOR,
You have diverted the town almost a wbole month at the
expense of the country; it is now high time that you should
give the country their revenge. Since your withdrawing from this place, the fair sex are run into great extravagancies. Their petticoats, which began to beave and swell before you left us, are now blown up into a most enormous concave, and rise every day more and more : in short, sir, since our women know themselves to be out of the eye of the SPECTATOR, they will be kept within no compass. You praised them a little too soon for the modesty of their head-dresses ; for as the humour of a sick person is often driven out of one limb into another, their superfluity of ornaments, instead of being entirely banished, seems only fallen from their heads upon their lower parts. What they have lost in height they make up in breadth, and contrary to all rules of architecture, widen the foundations at the same time that they shorten the superstructure. Were they, like Spanish jennets, to impregnate by the wind, they could not have thought on a more proper invention. But as we do not yet hear any particular use in this petticoat, or that it contains anything more than what was supposed to be in those of scantier make, we are wonderfully at a loss about it.
“The women give out, in defence of these wide bottoms, that they are airy, and very proper for the season; but this I look upon to be only a pretence, and a piece of art; for it is well known, we have not had a more moderate summer these many years, so that it is certain the heat they complain of cannot be in the weather: besides, I would fain ask these
Ι tender-constitutioned ladies, why they should require more cooling than their mothers before them.
“I find several speculative persons are of opinion, that our sex bas of late years been very saucy, and that the hooppetticoat is made use of to keep us at a distance. It is most certain that a woman's honour cannot be better entrenched than after this manner, in circle within circle, amidst such a variety of out-works and lines of circumvallation. A female who is thus invested in whalebone, is sufficiently secured against the approaches of an ill-bred fellow, who might as well think of Sir George Etheridge's way of making love in a tub as in the midst of so many hoops.
Among these various conjectures, there are men of super
stitious tempers, who look upon the hoop-petticoat as a kind of prodigy. Some will have it that it portends the downfal of the French king, and observe that the farthingale appeared in England a little before the ruin of the Spanish monarchy. Others are of opinion, that it foretells battle and bloodshed, and believe it of the same prognostication as the tail of a blazing star. For my part, I am apt to think it is a
. sign that multitudes are coming into the world, rather than going out of it.
“ The first time I saw a lady dressed in one of these petticoats, I could not forbear blaming her in my own thoughts, for walking abroad when she was so near her time; but soon recovered myself out of my error, when I found all the modish part of the sex as far gone as herself. It is generally thought some crafty women have thus betrayed their companions into hoops, that they might make them accessary to their own concealments, and by that means escape the censure of the world; as wary generals have sometimes dressed two or three dozen of their own friends in their own habit, that they might not draw upon themselves any particular attacks from the enemy. The strutting petticoat smooths all distinctions, levels the mother with the daughter, and sets; maids and matrons, wives and widows, upon the bottom. In the mean while, I cannot but be troubled to see so many well-shaped, innocent virgins bloated up, and waddling up and down like big-bellied women.
“Should this fashion get among the ordinary people, our public ways would be so crowded that we should want street
Several congregations of the best fashion find themselves already very much straitened, and if the mode increase, I wish it may not drive many ordinary women into meetings and conventicles. Should our sex at the same time take it into their heads to wear trunk breeches, (as who knows what their indignation at this female treatment may drive them to,) a man and his wife would fill a whole pew.
“You know, sir, it is recorded of Alexander the Great, that in his Indian expedition he buried several suits of armour, which by his directions were made much too big for any of his soldiers, in order to give posterity an extraordinary idea of bim, and make them believe he had commanded an army of giants. I am persuaded that if one of the present petticoats happens to be hung up in any repository of curiosities,
it will lead into the same error the generations that lie some removes from us; unless we can believe our posterity will think so disrespectfully of their great-grandmothers, that they made themselves monstrous to appear amiable.
“When I survey this new-fashioned rotunda in all its parts, I cannot but think of the old philosopher, who, after having entered into an Ægyptian temple, and looked about for the idol of the place, at length discovered a little black monkey enshrined in the midst of it; upon which he could not forbear crying out, (to the great scandal of the worshippers,) • What a magnificent palace is here for such a ridiculous inhabitant!'
Though you have taken a resolution, in one of your papers, to avoid descending to particularities of dress, I believe you
will not think it below you on so extraordinary an occasion, to unhoop the fair sex, and cure this fashionable tympany that is got among them. I am apt to think the petticoat will shrink of its own accord at your first coming to town; at least a touch of your pen will make it contract itself, like the sensitive plant, and by that means oblige several who are either terrified or astonished at this portentous novelty, and among the rest,
“ Your humble servant,” &c.
No. 128. FRIDAY, JULY 27.
Concordia discors. Luc. WOMEN in their nature are much more gay and joyous than men; whether it be that their blood is more refined, their fibres more delicate, and their animal spirits more light and volatile; or whether, as some have imagined, there may not be a kind of sex in the very soul, I shall not pretend to determine. As vivacity is the gift of women, gravity is that of men. They should each of them, therefore, keep a watch upon the particular bias which nature has fixed in their minds, that it may not draw too much, and lead them out of the paths of reason. This will certainly happen, if the one in every word and action affects the character of being rigid and severe, and the other of being brisk and airy. Men should beware of being captivated by a kind of savage philosophy, women by a thoughtless gallantry. Where these