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her husband, but to captivate a gallant. It may perhaps be further objected, that our northern climate is too cold to strip in: but this little inconvenience is amply compensated, by the security the ladies will create to themselves by taking such extraordinary liberties, and carrying matters so very far, that it will be indecent even to reprehend them.
There is, however, a very large part of the sex, for whom I am greatly concerned on this occasion. I mean the old and the ugly. Whatever the belles may get by this fashion, these poor ladies will be great sufferers. Their faces are already more than is agreeable to be shewn; but if they expose sickly skins furrowed and pursed up like a washer-women's fingers, the sight will become too disgusting. During the present mode I have observed, that the display of a yellow neck or clumsy leg has created but few admirers and it is reasonable to conclude, that when the new fashion begins to prevail universally, although our men of pleasure will be glad to see the young and beautiful ladies, whom they would desire to take into their arms, stripping as fast as possible, yet they are not so fond of primitive and original simplicity, as to be captivated by a lady, who has none of the charms of Eve, except her nakedness.
Some persons of more than ordinary penetration will be apt to look on this project in a political light, and consider it as a scheme to counter-work the marriageBut as the chief ladies who concerted it are already provided with husbands, and are known to be very well affected to the government, this does not appear probable. It is more likely to be an artifice of the beauties to make their superiority incontestible, by drawing in the dowdies of the sex to suffer by such an injurious contrast. However this may be, it is very certain, that the most lovely of the sex are about to employ the whole artillery of their charms against us,
and indeed seem resolved to shoot us flying. On this occasion it is to be hoped, that the practice of painting which is now so very fashionable, will be entirely laid aside: for whoever incrusts herself in paint can never be allowed to be naked; and it is surely more elegant for a lady to be covered even with silk and linen, then to be daubed, like an old wall, with plaister and rough-cast.
After this account of the scheme of our modish females now in agitation, which the reader may depend upon as genuine, it only remains to let him know how I came by my intelligence. The parliament of women, lately proposed, is now actually sitting. Upon their first meeting, after the preliminaries were adjusted, the whole house naturally resolved itself into a committee on the affairs of dress. The fig-leaf bill, the purport of which is contained in this paper, was brought in by a noble Countess, and occasioned some very warm debates. Two ladies in particular made several remarkable speeches on this occasion: but they were both imagined to speak, like our male patriots, more for their own private interest than for the good of the public. For one of these ladies, who insisted very earnestly on the decency of some sort of covering, and has a very beautiful face, is shrewdly suspected not to be so much above all rivalry in the turn and proportion of her limbs and the other, who was impatient to be undressed with all expedition, was thought to be too much influenced by her known partiality to a favourite mole, which now lies out of sight. The bill, however, was passed by a considerable majority, and is intended to be put in force by Midsummer day next ensuing.
No 56. THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 1755.
Necte tribus modis ternos, Amarylli, colores:
Necte, Amarylli, modò, et Veneris, dic, vincula necto.
Three colours weave in three-fold knots, and ery,
Thus, God of Love, be my true shepherd's breast
THE idle superstitions of the vulgar are no where so
another person was about to say, she comforts herself that she shall be married first; and if she tumbles as she is running up stairs, imagines she shall go to church with her sweetheart before the week is at an end. But if in the course of their amour she gives the dear man her hair wove in a true lover's knot, or breaks a crooked ninepence with him, she thinks herself assured of his inviolable fidelity.
It would puzzle the most profound antiquary to discover, what could give birth to the strange notions cherished by fond nymphs and swains. The god of Love has more superstitious votaries, and is worshipped with more unaccountable rites than any fabulous deity whatever. Nothing, indeed, is so whimsical as the imagination of a person in love. The dying shepherd carves the name of his mistress on the trees, while the fond maid knits him a pair of garters with an amorous posey and both look on what they do as a kind of charm to secure the affection of the other. A lover will rejoice to give his mistress a bracelet or top knot, and she perhaps will take pleasure in working him a pair of ruffles. These they will regard as the soft bonds of love; but neither would on any account run the risk of cutting love, by giving or receiving such a present as a knife or a pair of scissars. But to wear the picture of the beloved object constantly near the heart, is universally accounted a most excellent and never-failing preservative of affection.
Some few years ago there was publickly advertised, among the other extraordinary medicines whose wonderful qualities are daily related in the last page of our news-papers, a most efficacious love-powder; by which a despairing lover might create affection in the bosom of the most cruel mistress. Lovers have, indeed, always been fond of enchantment. Shakspeare has represented Othello as accused of winning his Desde. mona by "conjuration and mighty magic;" and
Theocritus and Virgil have both introduced women into their pastorals, using charms and incantations to recover the affections of their sweethearts. In a word, Talismans, Genii, Witches, Fairies, and all the instruments of magic and enchantment were first discovered by lovers, and employed in the business of love.
But I never had a thorough insight into all this amorous sorcery till I received the following letter, which was sent me from the country a day or two after Valentine's day; and I make no doubt, but all true lovers most religiously performed the previous rites mentioned by my correspondent.
TO MR. TOWN.
FEB. 17, 1755.
You must know I am in love with a very clever man, a Londoner; and as I want to know whether it is my fortune to have him, I have tried all the tricks I can hear of for that purpose. I have seen him several times in coffee-grounds with a sword by his side; and he was once at the bottom of a tea-cup in a coach and six with two footmen behind it. I got up last May morning, and went into the fields to hear the cuckoo; and when I pulled off my left shoe, I found an hair in it exactly the same colour with his. But I shall never forget what I did last Midsummer Eve. I and my two sisters tried the Dumb Cake together: you must know, two must make it, two bake it, two break it, and the third put it under each of their pillows, (but you must not speak a word all the time) and then you will dream of the man you are to have. This we did; and to be sure I did nothing all night but dream of Mr. Blossom. The same night, exactly at twelve o'clock, I sowed hemp-seed in our back yard, and said to myself, "Hempseed I sow, Hempseed