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Take warning, my fair countrywomen; and you, O! ye excellent ladies, whether married or single, who pry into other people's affairs and neglect those of your own household; who are so busily employed in observing the faults of others that you have no time to correct your own; remember the fate of my dear aunt Charity, and eschew the evil spirit of curiosity.
I was not a little surprised the other morning at a request from Will Wizard that I would accompany him that evening to Mrs.
's ball. The request was simple enough in itself, it was only singular as coming from Will ;-of all my acquaintance, Wizard is the least calculated and disposed for the society of ladies--not that he dislikes their company; on the contrary, like every man of pith and marrow, he is a professed admirer of the sex; and had he been born a poet, would undoubtedly have bespattered and berhymed some hard named goldess, until she became as famous as Petrarch's Laura, or Waller's Sacharissa; but Will is such a confounded bungler at a bow, has so many odd bachelor habits, and finds it so troublesome to be gallant, that he generally prefers smoking his cigar and telling his story among cronies of his own gender :-—and thundering long stories they are, let me tell you : set Will once agoing about China or Crim Tartary, or the Hottentots, and heaven help the poor victim who has to endure his prolixity; he might better be tied to the tail of a jack-o’lantern. In one word—Will talks like a traveller. Being well acquainted with his character, I was the more alarmed at his inclination to visit a party ; since he has often assured me, that he considered it as equivalent to being stuck up for three hours in a steam engine. I even wondered how he had received an invitation ;--this he soon accounted for. It seems Will, on his last arrival from Canton, had made a present of a case of tea to a lady, for whom he had once entertained a sneaking kindness when at grammar school; and she in return had invited him to come and drink some of it: a cheap way enough of paying off little obligations. I readily acceded to Will's proposition, expecting much entertainment from his eccentric remarks; and as he has been absent some few
ipated his surprise at the splendour and elegance of a modern rout.
On calling for Will in the evening, I found him full dressed waiting for me. I contemplated him with absolute dismay. As he still retained a spark of regard for the lady who once reigned in his affections, he had been at unusual pains in decorating his person, and broke upon my sight arrayed in the true style that prevailed among our beaux some years ago.
His hair was turned up and tufted at the top, frizzled out at the ears, a profusion of powder puffed over the whole, and a long plaited club swung gracefully from shoulder to shoulder, describing a pleasing semi-circle of
powder and pomatum. His claret-coloured coat was decorated with a profusion of gilt buttons, and reached to his calves. His white cassimere small-clothes were so tight that he seemed to have grown up in them; and his ponderous legs, which are the thickest part of his body, were beautifully lothed in sky-blue silk stockings, once considered so becoming. But above all, he prided himself upon his waistcoat of China silk, which might almost have served a good housewife for a short gown; and he boasted that the roses and tulips upon it were the work of Nang-Fou, daughter of the great Chin-Chin-Fou, who had fallen in love with the graces of his person, and sent it to him as a parting present; he assured me she was a perfect beauty, with sweet obliquity of eyes, and a foot no longer than the thumb of an alderman ;—he then dilated most copiously on his silver sprigged dicky, which he assured me was quite the rage among the dashing young mandarins of Canton.
I hold it an ill-natured office to put any man out of conceit with himself; so, though I would willingly have made a little alteration in my friend Wizard's picturesque costume, yet I politely complimented him on his rakish appearance.
On entering the room I kept a good look out on Will, expecting to see him exhibit signs of surprise; but he is one of those knowing fellows who are never surprised at any thing, or at least will never acknowledge it. He took his stand in the middle of the floor, playing with his great steel watch-chain, and looking round on the
company, the furniture, and the pictures, with the air of a man “who had seen d- d finer things in his time ; ” and to my utter confusion and dismay, I saw him coolly pull out his villainous old japanned tobacco-box, ornamented with a bottle, a pipe, and a scurvy motto, and help himself to a quid in face of all the company
I knew it was all in vain to find fault with a fellow of Will's socratic turn, who is never to be put out of humour with himself; so, after he had given his box its prescriptive rap, and returned it to his pocket, I drew him into a corner where we might observe the company without being prominent objects ourselves.
“ And pray who is that stylish figure,” said Will, “who blazes away in red, like a volcano, and who seems wrapped in flames like a fiery dragon ?” — That, cried I, is Miss Laurelia Dashaway:-she is the highest flash of the tonhas much whim and more eccentricity, and has reduced many an unhappy gentleman to stupidity by her charms: you see she holds out the red flag in token of “no quarter.” “Then keep me safe out of the sphere of her attractions,” cried Will : “I would not e'en come in contact with her train, lest it should scorch me like the tail of a comet.—But who, I beg of you, is that amiable youth who is handing along a young lady, and at the same time contemplating his sweet person in a mirror, as he passes ?” His name, said I, is Billy Dimple !-he is a universal
iler, and would travel from Dan to Beersheba,