Obrazy na stronie

did it at a whiff, and consequently triumphed in her superior virtue.

We had no occasion for an almanack or the weatherglass, to let us know whether it would rain or shine, One evening I proposed to ride out with my cousins the next day to see a gentleman's house in the neighbourhood; but my aunt assured us it would be wet, she knew very well from the shooting of her corn. Besides, there was a great spider crawling up the chimney, and the black bird in the kitchen began to sing; which were both of them as certain fore-runners of rain. But the most to be depended on in these cases is a tabby cat, which usually lies basking on the parlour hearth. If the cat turned her tail to the fire, we were to have a hard frost; if the cat licked her tail, rain would certainly ensue. They wondered what stranger they should see; because puss washed her foot over her left ear. The old lady complained of a cold, and her daughter remarked, it would go through the family; for she observed, that poor Tab had sneezed several times. Poor Tab, however, once flew at one of my cousins; for which she had like to have been destroyed, as the whole family began to think she was no other than a witch.

It is impossible to tell you the several tokens, by which they know whether good or ill luck will happen to them. Spilling of salt, or laying knives across, are every where accounted ill omens; but a pin with the head turned towards you, or to be followed by a strange dog, I found were very lucky. I heard one of my cousins tell the cook-maid, that she boiled away all her sweet-hearts, because she had let her dish water boil over. The same young lady one morning came down to breakfast with her cap the wrong side out; which her mother observing, charged her not to alter it all the day, for fear she should turn luck.

But, above all, I could not help remarking the various prognostics, which the old lady and her daughters used to collect from almost every part of the body. A white speck upon the nails made them as sure of a gift, as if they had it already in their pockets. The eldest sister is to have one husband more than the youngest, because she has one wrinkle more in her forehead; but the other will have the advantage of her in the number of children, as was plainly proved by snapping their finger-joints. It would take up too much room to set down every circumstance, which I observed of this sort during my stay with them: I shall therefore conclude my letter with the several remarks on the other parts of the body, as far as I could learn them from this prophetic family for as I was a relation, you know, they had less reserve.

If the head itches, it is a sign of rain. If the head achs, it is a profitable pain. If you have the toothach, you don't love true. If your eye-brow itches, you will see a stranger. If your right eye itches, you will cry; if your left, you will laugh. If your nose itches, you will shake hands with, or kiss a fool, drink a glass of wine, run against a cuckhold's door, or miss them all four. If your right ear or cheek burns, your left friends are talking of you; if your left, your right friends are talking of you. If your elbow itches, you will change your bedfellow. If your right hand itches, you will pay away money; if your left, you will receive. If your stomach itches, you will eat pudding. If your back itches, butter will be cheap when grass grows there. If your side itches, somebody is wishing for you. If your gartering place itches, you will go to a strange place. If your knee itches, you will kneel in a strange church. If your foot itches, you will tread upon strange ground. Lastly, if you shiver, somebody is walking over your grave. I am, dear Cousin, yours, &c.


N° 60. THURSDAY, MARCH 20, 1755.

[blocks in formation]

Let not a word escape the lips-but hist-
And think in silence on the rules of Whist.

WHOEVER has had occasion often to pass through Holbourn, must have taken notice of a pastry-cook's shop with the following remarkable inscription over the door; Kidder's Pastry-School. I had the curiosity to inquire into the design of this extraordinary academy, and found it was calculated to instruct young ladies in the art and mystery of tarts and cheesecakes. The scholars were, indeed, chiefly of the lower class, except a few notable young girls from the city, with two or three parsons daughters out of the country intended for service. As housewifely accomplishments are now quite out of date among the polite world, it is no wonder that Mr. Kidder has no share in the education of our young ladies of quality and I appeal to any woman of fashion, whether she would not as soon put her daughter prentice to a washer-woman, to learn to clear-starch and get up fine linen, as to send her to the pastry-school to be instructed in raised crust and puff paste. The good dames of old, indeed, were not ashamed to make these arts their study; but in this refined age we might sooner expect to see a kitchenwench thumbing Hoyle's Treatise on Whist, than a

fine lady collecting receipts for making puddings, or poring over the Complete Art of Cookery.

The education of females is at present happily elevated far above the ordinary employments of domestick economy: and if any school is wanted for the improvement of young ladies, I may venture to say, it should be a school for whist. Mr. Hoyle used, indeed, to wait on ladies of quality at their own houses to give them lectures in this science: but as that learned master has left off teaching, they can have no instructions but from his incomparable treatise; and this, I am afraid, is so abstruse, and abounding with technical terms, that even those among the quality, who are tolerably well grounded in the science, are scarce able to unravel the perplexity of his cases, which are many of them as intricate as the hardest proposition in Euclid. A school for whist would, therefore, be of excellent use; where young ladies of quality might be gradually instructed in the various branches of lurching, renouncing, finessing, winning the ten-ace, and getting the odd trick, in the same manner as common misses are taught to write, read, and work at their needle.

There seems to be a strange neglect in the education of females, that though great pains are taken with them to make them talk French, they are yet so ignorant of the English language, that before they come to their teens they can scarce tell what is meant by lurching, revoking, fuzzing the cards, or the most common terms now in use at all routs and assemblies. Hence it often happens, that a young lady is almost ripe for a gallant, and thoroughly versed in the arts of the toilet, before she is initiated into the mysteries of the cardtable. I would therefore propose, that our demoiselles of fashion should be taught the art of card-playing from their cradles; and have a pack of cards put into their hands, at the usual time that the brats of vulgar

people are employed in thumbing their horn-book. The mind of man has been often compared (before it has received any ideas) to a white piece of paper, which is capable of retaining any impression afterwards made upon it. In like manner, I would consider the minds of those infants, which are born into a well-bred family, as a blank pack of cards, ready to be marked with the pips and colours of the suits: at least, I am confident that many of them, after they are grown up, have laid in very few ideas beyond them. What therefore Mr. Locke recommends, that we should cheat children into learning their letters by making it seem a pastime, should be put in practice in every polite nursery; and the little ladies may be taught to distinguish ace, deuce, tray, &c. as soon as they could great A, little a, and the other letters of the chris-cross row: As to the four honours, they will readily learn them by the same method that other children get the names of dogs, horses, &c. by looking at their pictures. After this, in order to complete her education, little miss (when of a proper age) should be sent to the whist school, or have lessons from private masters at home. She may now be made to get by heart the laws of the game, read a Chapter in Hoyle, and be catechised in laying and taking the odds: and in process of time, she may be set to solve any of Hoyle's hardest cases, or any of the propositions in his Doctrine of Chances; for which (as Mr. Hoyle himself tells us) no more knowledge of arithmetick is required, than what is sufficient to reckon the tricks, or score up the game.

All sciences appear equally abstruse to the learner at his first setting out: but I will venture to say, that the science of whist is more complex than even algebra or the mathematics. The Ass's Bridge in Euclid is not so difficult to be got over, nor the Logarithms of Napier so hard to be unravelled, as many of Hoyle's cases

[blocks in formation]
« PoprzedniaDalej »