« VorigeDoorgaan »
and fall above thirty degrees. About ten years ago it shot up to a very great height, insomuch that the female part of our species were much taller than the men.
The women were of such an enormous stature, that 66 we appeared as grasshoppers before them."
At present, the whole sex is in a manner dwarfed, and shrunk into a race of beauties, that seem almost another species. I remember several ladies who were once very near seven feet high, that at present want some inches of five : How they came to be thus curtailed, I cannot learn ; whether the whole sex be at present under any penance which we know nothing of, or whether
they have cast their head-dresses, in order to surprise us with
With curls on curls they build her head before,
But I do not remember, in any part of my readin
that the head-dress aspired to so great an extravagance, as in the fourteenth century; when it was built up in a couple of cones or spires, which stood so excessively high on each side of the head, that a woman, who was but a pigmy without her head-dress, appeared like a Colossus upon putting
Monsieur Paradin says, 66 That these old-fashioned fontages rose an ell above the head, that they were pointed like steeples, and had long loose pieces of crape fastened to the tops of them, which were curiously fringed, and hung down their backs like streamers."
The women might possibly have carried this Gothic building much higher, had not a famous monk, Thomas Connecte by name, attacked it with great zeal and resolution. This holy man travelled from place to place, to preach down this monstrous commode : and succeeded so well in it, that, as the magicians sacrificed their books to the flames, upon the preaching of an apostle, many of the women threw down their head-dresses in the middle of his sermon, and made a bonfire of them within sight of the pulpit. He was so renowned, as well for the sanctity of his life, as his manner of preaching, that he had often a congregation of twenty thousand people the men placing themselves on the one side of his pulpit; and the women on the other-they appeared, to use the similitude of an ingenious writer, like a forest of cedars, with their heads reach ing to the clouds. He so warmed and animated the peo ple against this monstrous ornament, that it lay under a kind of persecution; and whenever it appeared in public, was pelted down by the rabble, who flung stones at the persons who wore it. But, notwithstanding this prodigy vanished while the preacher was among them, it began to appear again some months after his departure ; or to tell it in Monsieur Paradin's own words, “ The women, that like snails in a fright, had drawn in their horns, shot them out again as soon as the danger was over.” This extravagance of the women's head-dresses in that age, is taken notice of by Monsieur d'Argentre, in the history of Bretange, and by other historians, as well as the person I have bere quoted.
It is usually observed, that a good reign is the only proper time for the making of laws against the exorbitance of power; in the same manner, an excessive head-dress may be attacked the most effectually when the fashion is against
it. I do therefore recommend this paper to my female readers, by way of prevention.
I would desire the fair sex to consider how impossible it is for them to add any thing that can be ornamental, to what is already the master-piece of nature. The head has the most beautiful appearance, as well as the highest station m the human figure. Nature has laid out all her art in beautifying the face ; she has touched it with vermilion ; planted in it a double row of ivory'; made it the seat of smiles and blushes ; lighted it up, ard enlivened it with the brightness of the eyes ; hung it on each side with curious
organs of sense; given it airs and graces that cannot be described; and surrounded it with such a flowing shade of hair, as sets all its beauties in the most agreeable light; in short, she seems to have designed the head as the cupola to the most glorious of her works; and when we load it with such a pile of supernumerary ornaments, we destroy the symmetry of the human figure, and foolishly contrive to call off the eye from great and real beauties, to childish gewgaws, ribands, and bone-lace.
XII,On the Present and a Future State.
A LEWD young fellow seeing an aged hiermit go by him barefoot, “ Father,” says he, “ you are in a very miserable condition, if there is not another world.”
son,” said the hermit; “ but what is thy condition if there is ???—Man is a creature designed for two different states of being, or rather for two different lives. His first life is short and transient; his second permanent and lasting. The question we are all concerned in, is this—In which of these two lives is it our chief interest to make ourselves happy ? Or, in other words—Whether we should endeavour to secure to ourselves the pleasures and gratifications of a life, which is uncertain and precarious, and at its utmost length, of a very inconsiderable duration; or to secure to ourselves the pleasures of a life which is fixed and settled, and will never end ? Every man, upon the first hearing of this question, knows very well which side of it he ought to close with. But however right we are in theory, it is plain, that in practice we adhere to the wrong side of the question. We make provision for this life as though it were never to have an end ; and for the other life, as though it were never to have a beginning
Should a spirit of superior rank, who is a stranger to human nature, accidentally alight upon the earth and take a survey of its inhabitants—What would his notions of us be ? Would he not think that we are a species of beings made for quite different ends and purposes than what we really are? Must he not imagine that we were placed in this world to get riches and honours ? Would he not think that it was our duty to toil after wealth, and station, and title? Nay, would he not believe we were forbidden poverty, by threats of eternal punishment, and enjoined to pursue our pleasures, under pain of damnation? He would certainly imagine that we were influenced by a scheme of duties quite opposite to those which are indeed prescribed to us. And, truly, according to such an imagination, he must conclude that we are a species of the most obedient creatures in the universe; that we are constant to our duty; and that we keep a steady, eye on the end for which we were sent thither.
But how great would be his astonishment, when he learnt that we were beings not designed to exist in this world above threescore and ten years; and that the greatest part of this busy species fall short even of that age! How would he be lost in horror and admiration, when he should know that this set of creatures, who lay out all their endeavours for this life, which scarce deserves the name of existence, when, I say, he should know that this set of creatures are to exist to all eternity in another life, for which they make no preparations ? Nothing can be a greater disgrace to reason, than that men, who are persuaded of these two different states of heing, should be perpetually employed in providing for a m. life of threescore and ten years, and neglecting to make provision for that, which, after many myriads of years, will be still new, and still beginning ; especially when we consider, that our endeavours for making ourselves great, or rich, or honourable, or whatever else we place our happiness in, may, after all, prove unsuccessful; whereas, if we constantly and sincerely endeavour to make ourselves happy in the other life, we are sure that our endeavours will succeed, and that we shall not be disappointed of our hope. The following question is started by one of our school
Supposing the whole body of the earth were a great ball or mass of the finest sand, and that a single grain or particle of this sand should be annihilated every thousand years ?-Supposing, then, that you had it in your choice to be happy all the while this prodigious mass of sand was con
suming, by this slow method, until there was not a grain left, on condition that you were to be miserable for ever after? Or, supposing that you might be happy for ever after, on condition you would be miserable until the whole mass of sand were thus annihilated, at the rate of one sand in a thousand years; which of these two cases would you make
It must be confessed in this case, so many thousands of years are to the imagination as a kind of eternity, though in reality, they do not bear so great a proportion to that duration which is to follow them, as an unit does to the greatest number which you can put together in figures, or as one of those sands to the supposed heap. Reason therefore tells us, without any manner of hesitation, which would be the better part in this choice. However, as I have before intimated, our reason might, in such a case, be so overset by imagination, as to dispose some persons to sink under the consideration of the great length of the first part of this duration, and of the great distance of that second duration which is to succeed it ;-the mind, I say, might give itself up to that happiness which is at hand, considering that it is so very near, and that it would last so very long. But when the choice we have actually before us is this- Whether we will choose to be happy for the space of only threescore and ten, nay, perhaps of only twenty or ten years, I might say for only a day or an hour, and miserable to all eternity; or, on the contrary, miserable for this short term of years, and happy for a whole eternity-what words are sufficient to express that folly and want of consideration, which, in such case, makes a wrong choice!
I here put the case even at the worst, by supposing what seldom happens, that a course of virtue makes us miserable in this life : But if we suppose, as it generally happens, that virtue would make us more happy, even in this life, than a contrary course of vice, how can we sufficiently admire the stupidity or madness of those persons who are capable of making so absurd a choice ?
Every wise man, therefore, will consider this life only as it may conduce to the happiness of the other, and cheerfully sacrifice the pleasures of a few years, to those of an eternity
XIII.-Uncle Toby's Benevolence. MY uncle Toby was a man patient of injuries-not from want of courage. I have told you, in a former chapter, that