that not an hour of the day is unemployed, or can hang heavy on my hands: but alas, Sir, how cruelly teasing is it, when I am set down to hear my youngest girl read, with Eliza and Mary at their work seated by me, to be broke in upon by Miss Flounce, who comes to tell me how charmingly she has improved upon Lady Chenille's new trimming, and assures me her bottle-green sattin was the sweetest and most admired dress at last assembly. Then, without observing that she interrupts me by her stay, she proceeds to give me an account of all the different dresses that she took hints from, to convince me how much her superior taste had improved upon that of her companions. When I am just expecting the conclusion of her uninteresting narration, her cousin, Miss Feathers, swims into the room, assures us she is happy to find us together, that she may tell us how Mrs. Panache had almost fainted away on seeing her new Figaro hat, with a plume of feathers in a much higher taste than her own. This introduces a smart dispute between the ladies, whether plain or Figaro feathers are the most elegant and becoming. They at last agree to refer their dispute to Miss Tasty, and leave me in haste to obtain her decision.

I gladly resume my pleasing task, but find that Eliza has misplaced the colours in shading a violet, and Mary broke her needle, by attending too much to the ladies' conversation. I have perhaps got matters adjusted, and little Anne has read half a page, when in totters Mrs. Qualm. This lady, though always sick, is still able to come abroad every day, and wearies her acquaintance with the detail of her numberless complaints. A whole hour is lost to me by this new intrusion! and thus a forenoon is spent without improvement either to my daughters or myself; and I am sorry to say, few days pass in


which I have not cause to regret, that there is no pleasure to be found for idlers at home. Were I a woman of quality, or perfectly independent, I might rid myself of these intruders, by being not at home; but in my situation I dare not shut my doors, lest I should give offence to people who are able to hurt husband's business. In this distressed situation, I hope Mr. LOUNGER will forgive me in offering a hint to him, which, if he would dress out in his sensible persuasive manner, I think I should soon be freed from the fatigue of entertaining Lounging Ladies, and they would be much more suitably amused than in my working parlour. My hint, Sir, is, that you would recommend a forenoon's conversation, or place of meeting, for ladies and gentlemen who must be in any company rather than their own. There, I think, if you would have the goodness to preside, and direct them how to amuse each other till the time of dressing for dinner, you would confer a high obligation on them, and a still greater on those who, like me, suffer now from the heavy burden of their insipid company. You, my good Sir, who have lounged about to such good purpose as to be able to improve others, will, I hope, take your weaker brothers and sisters under your direction; and if you will make Dunn's Rooms a Lounging Hall instead of a Chapel, I think I may venture to assure you it will be better attended in the one character than in the other; and if your lectures can make the forenoons pass easily, and without the trouble of thinking, to those idlers, by drawing them together under your direction, and freeing the more employed part of the world from their unwelcome intrusion, you will greatly oblige many of your readers, particularly your admirer,

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]


There is such an air of goodness in Mrs. Careful's letter, and I consider her morning's employment as of so very important a kind, that I would do much to afford her relief; but really that branch of our family of which she complains is so numerous, and so difficult to deal with, that I am afraid the attempts of any individual for their better regulation or disposal would be fruitless. With regard to our sex, some benevolent young gentlemen have already tried several projects similar to that suggested by Mrs. Careful, but apparently without success. They set a-foot a cock-pit to give play to our minds, and in the frost a drag-hunt to give exercise to our bodies: but the only effect those pastimes produced, was to furnish additional subjects for the idle to talk of, and to plague the busy with hearing them.

The set of people of whom my correspondent complains, are a sort of vagrants, or sturdy beggars, whom, like others of the tribe, idleness sets afloat, to the disquiet of the industrious part of the community, and whom it should be a matter of public police not to suffer to molest our houses. A short clause in the new bill for the improvement of Edinburgh, might provide a work-house for those fashionable mumpers, who so importunately solicit a share of our time and attention, and whom unluckily, as Mrs. Careful observes, those doors only can shut out whose owners would suffer least from their getting in. None but people of a certain rank can always prevent those unwelcome visitors from bestowing,' as Dogberry in the play says, ' all their tediousness upon their honours.'

[ocr errors]

Such an institution as I hint at would be of great use both to the community and to the objects of it, who might be assembled in the different wards, as in the Spin-house of Amsterdam, each employed in the occupation most congenial to their former man

ner of living. For young ladies poupées might be provided, on which to practise the invention of caps, the suiting of ribands, the position and size of curls, and the grouping of feathers. Ladies a little more advanced might be employed in the working up of novels, or the weaving of rebuses and enigmas. At a still maturer age, they could be employed in making matches; and at the inner end of that ward, there might be a close one, for the fabrication of scandal.

The male idlers might have another wing of the building, where the places of reception and employment should be analagous to the female. The same genius that goes to the dressing of a female figure, would suffice for the undressing of a male one; for inventing the bushy club and whiskers, the knotted handkerchief round the neck, the powdered back, the colours for three or four under-waistcoats, the short bludgeon, and the hanging boot. Certain magazines and novels, with the Sportsman's Calendar, might supply the literary wants of the second class; hazard and faro might employ the third; and politics would be the natural occupation of the fourth. For ladies like Mrs. Qualm, mentioned in Mrs. Careful's letter, and for gentlemen of similar temperaments, a sick-ward must be provided, where the nervous, the rheumatic, and the bilious, might find names and consolation for their disorders. But as their chief comfort arises from having patient listeners to their complaints, I would propose their being accommodated with attendants from the academy for the deaf and dumb.

As to what the players call the property of the house, several articles would serve indiscriminately for both divisions. Snuff-boxes, tooth-picks, and mirrors, would be of equal use in both; lap-dogs

might be distributed in one, pointers and spaniels in the other; the crack of fans might enliven the female, and that of whips the male ward. At battledore and shuttlecock they might meet, like the two houses of parliament in the Painted Chamber, and make a noise in conjunction. Tea would of course be furnished to the ladies, and wine to the gentle


Such an institution would serve both as an hospital and a school;-both as a place of retreat for past services, and of instruction for services to come. Here, from the lower orders, great men might find cork-drawers, butts, and hearers; great ladies might procure humble companions, teamakers, and tale-bearers. If from the higher ranks any one should choose a wife or a husband, they would at least have the advantage of choosing them under their real and undisguised characters, and, like dealers at open market, would know their bargain before they purchased it.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

"I AM the descendant of an ancient and respectable family. The estate which I inherit was once reckoned a good one; but it has, comparatively, sunk much in its value by the late inundation of fortunes

« VorigeDoorgaan »