« AnteriorContinuar »
into a sentence or decision, so far will there be in it a tincture of injustice. In short, justice discards party, friendship, kindred, and is therefore always represented as blind, that we may suppose her thoughts are wholly intent on the equity of the cause, without being diverted or prejudiced by objects foreign to it.
I shall conclude this paper with a Persian story, which is very suitable to my present subject. It will not a little please the reader, if he has the same taste of it which I myself have.
As one of the sultans lay encamped on the plains of Avala, a certain great man of the army entered by force into a peasant's house, and, finding his wife very handsome, turned the good man out of his dwelling and went to bed to her. The peasant complained the next morning to the sultan, and desired redress ; but was not able to point out the criminal. The emperor, who was very much incensed at the injury done to the poor man, told him, that probably the offender might give his wife another visit, and, if he did, commanded him immediately to repair to his tent and acquaint him with it. Accordingly, within two or three days the officer entered again the peasant's house, and turned the owner out of doors; who thereupon applied himself to the imperial tent, as he was ordered. The sultan went in person with his guards to the poor man's house, where he arrived about midnight. As the attendants carried each of them a flambeau in their hands, the sultan, after having ordered all the lights to be put out, gave the word to enter the house, find out the criminal, and put him to death. This was immediately executed, and the corpse
laid out upon the floor by the emperor's command. He then bid every one light his flambeau, and stand about the dead body. The sultan approaching it looked upon the face, and immediately fell upon his knees in prayer. Upon his rising up, he ordered the peasant to set before him whatever food he had in his house. The peasant brought out a great deal of coarse fare, of which the
very heartily. The peasant, seeing him in good humour, presumed him, why he had ordered the flambeaus to be put out before
he had commanded the adulterer should be slain? why, upon their being lighted again, he looked upon the face of the dead body, and fell down in prayer? and why, after this, he had ordered meat to be set before him, of which he now ate so heartily? The sultan, being willing to gratify the curiosity of his host, answered him in this manner: “Upon hearing the greatness of the offence which had been committed by one of the army, I had reason to think it might have been one of my own sons, for who else would have been so audacious and presuming? I gave orders therefore for the lights to be extinguished, that I might not be led astray by partiality or compassion from doing justice on the criminal. Upon the lighting the flambeaus a second time, I looked upon the face of the dead person, and, to my unspeakable joy, found it was not my son. It was for this reason that I immediately fell upon my knees, and gave thanks to God. As for my eating heartily of the food you have set before me, you will cease to wonder at it, when you know that the great anxiety of mind I have been in upon this occasion, since the first complaints you brought me, has hindered my eating anything from that time till this very moment.” ADDISON.
ON THE TUCKER. (No. 100).
THERE is a certain female ornament by some called a tucker, and by others the neck-piece, being a slip of fine linen or muslin that used to run in a small kind of ruffle round the uppermost verge of the women's stays, and by that means covered a great part of the shoulders and bosom. Having thus given a definition, or rather description of the tucker, I must take notice that our ladies have of late thrown aside this fig-leaf, and exposed in its primitive nakedness that gentle swelling of the breast which it was used 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
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 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 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 tantalise the 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. Addison.
AURELIA'S HEART. A VISION. (No. 106). SIR, Your two kinsmen and predecessors, of immortal
memory, were very famous for their dreams and visions. and, contrary to all other authors, never pleased their readers more than when they were nodding. Now it is observed, that the second-sight generally runs in the blood; and, sir, we are in hopes that you yourself, like the rest of your family, may at length prove a dreamer of dreams, and a seer of visions. In the mean while I beg leave to make you a present of a dream, which may serve to lull your readers till such time as you yourself shall think fit to gratify the public with any of your nocturnal discoveries.
You must understand, sir, I had yesterday been reading and ruminating upon that passage where Momus is said to have found fault with the make of a man, because he had not a window in his breast. The moral of this story is very obvious, and means no more than that the heart of man is so full of wiles and artifices, treachery and deceit, that there
WOL. II. A A