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To wonder most. I little thought, indeed,
War. And so have I.
Edw. I scorn it, sir! Elizabeth hath charms,
War. 'Tis false !
Edw. How know you, that? But be it as it may,
War. Prerogative! What's that? the boast of tyrants,
Edw. And therefore do I prize it: I would guard Their liberties, and they shall strengthen mine; But when proud Faction and her rebel crew Insult their sovereign, trample on his laws, And bid defiance to his power, the people,
In justice to themselves, will then defend
War. Go to your darling people, then; for soon,
Edw. Is it so, my lord ?
War. Look well, then, to your own :
Edw. Nor he who threatened Edward.
Custom of Whitewashing.
When a young couple are about to enter into the matrimonial state, a never-failing article in the marriage treaty is, that the lady shall have and enjoy the free and unmolested exercise of the rights of whitewashing, with all its ceremonials, privileges, and appurtenances. A young woman would forego the most advantageous connection, and even disappoint the warmest wish of her heart, rather than resign the invaluable right. You would wonder what this privilege of
whitewashing is : I will endeavor to give you some idea of the ceremony, as I have seen it performed.
There is no season of the year, in which the lady may not claim her privilege, if she pleases; but the latter end of May is most generally fixed upon for the purpose. The attentive husband may judge, by certain prognostics, when the storm is nigh at hand. When the lady is unusually fretful, finds fault with the servants, is discontented with the children, and complains much of the filthiness of every thing about her, — these are signs which ought not to be neglected; yet they are not decisive, as they sometimes come on, off again, without producing any further effect.
But if, when the husband rises in the morning, he should observe in the yard a wheelbarrow, with a quantity of lime in it, or should see certain buckets with lime dissolved in water, there is then no time to be lost. He immediately locks up the apartment or closet, where his papers or his private property are kept, and, putting the key in his pocket, betakes himself to flight; for a husband, however beloved, becomes a perfect nuisance during this season of female rage; his authority is superseded, his commission is suspended, and the very scullion, who cleans the brasses in the kitchen, becomes of more consideration and importance than he. He has nothing for it but to abdicate, and run from an evil which he can neither prevent nor mollify.
The husband gone, the ceremony begins. The walls are, in a few minutes, stripped of their furniture; paintings, prints, and looking-glasses, lie in a huddled heap about the floors; the curtains are torn from the testers, the beds crammed into the windows; chairs and tables, bedsteads and cradles, crowd the yard; and the garden fence bends beneath the weight of carpets, blankets, cloth cloaks, and old coats.
Here may be seen the lumber of the kitchen, forming a dark and confused mass; for the foreground of the picture, gridirons and frying-pans, rusty shovels and broken tongs,
spits and pots, and the fractured remains of rush-bottomed chairs. There, a closet has disgorged its contents cracked tumblers, broken wine-glasses, phials of forgotten physic, papers of unknown powders, seeds and dried herbs, handfuls of old corks, tops of teapots, and stoppers of departed decanters. From the rag-hole in the garret to the rat-hole in the cellar, no place escapes unrummaged.
This ceremony completed, and the house thoroughly evacuated, the next operation is, to smear the walls and ceilings of every room and closet with brushes dipped in a solution of lime, called whitewash ; to pour buckets of water over every floor, and scratch all the partitions and wainscots with rough brushes wet with soapsuds, and dipped in stone-cutter's sand. The windows by no means escape the general deluge. A servant scrambles out upon the penthouse, at the risk of her neck, and, with a mug in her hand, and a bucket within reach, she dashes away innumerable gallons of water against the glass panes, to the great annoyance of passengers in the street.
I have been told, that an action at law was once brought against one of these water-nymphs, by a person who had a new suit of clothes spoiled by this operation; but, after a long argument, it was determined by the whole court, that the action would no lie, inasmuch as the defendant was in the exercise of a legal right, and not answerable for the consequences; and so the poor gentleman was doubly nonsuited; for he lost not only his suit of clothes, but his suit
Same Subject, concluded.
These smearings and scratchings, washings and dashings, being duly performed, the next ceremony is, to cleanse and
replace the distracted furniture. You may have seen house-raising, or a ship-launch, when all the hands within reach are collected together; recollect, if you can, the hurry, bustle, confusion, and noise of such a scene, and you will have some idea of this cleaning match. The misfortune is, that the sole object is to make things clean. It matters not how many useful, ornamental, or valuable articles are mutilated, or suffer death, under the operation; a mahogany chair and carved frame undergo the same discipline; they are to be made clean at all events; but their preservation is not worthy of attention.
For instance, a fine large engraving is laid flat upon the floor; smaller prints are piled upon it, and the superincumbent weight cracks the glasses of the lower tier ; but this is of no consequence. A valuable picture is placed leaning against the sharp corner of a table ; others are made to lean against that, until the pressure of the whole forces the corner of the table through the canvass of the first. The frame and glass of a fine print are to be cleaned ; the spirit and oil, used on this occasion, are suffered to leak through and spoil the engravings; no matter; if the glass is clean, and the frame shine, it is sufficient : the rest is not worthy of consideration. An able mathematician has made an accurate calculation, founded on long experience, and has discovered that the losses and destruction incident to two whitewashings are equal to one removal, and three removals equal to one fire.
The cleaning frolic over, matters begin to resume their pristine appearance. The storm abates, and all would be well again ; but it is impossible that so great a convulsion, in so small a community, should not produce some further effects. For two or three weeks after the operation, the family are usually afflicted with sore throats or sore eyes, occasioned by the caustic quality of the lime, or with severe colds, from the exhalations of wet floors or damp walls.
I knew a gentleman, who was fond of accounting for