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public assembly, possibly as requisite to master a set of more disagreeable scents, so that they no sooner begin to dance, than the room is filled with the stench of this plant, made still more nauseous and horrible by its digestion in the human body, and its excrementious emission through every pore, great and small.
As she finished these words, I said, Pray be so good as to tell me, who, or what that figure is, which I see bustling in the crowd with so much eagerness to approach the throne. Her head and breast are set off in the highest pink of the mode, and surely, at a vast expense in lace, in jewels, &c. but, downward, her clothes look mean and tarnished, her stockings are coarse and worn to pieces, and her feet are bare. Never did beauty (for I confess she is extremely pretty) make so grotesque a figure. Her name, said my guide, is, Ireland. Did you never see her before? Yes, I replied, I now recollect I was once a little acquainted with her, but never saw her look so very like a mixture of fool and pageant.
My curiosity was but half allayed on this subject, when I cast my eyes on a sort of country dance, wherein I observed none but persons of the first figure were engaged. A parson acted as dancing-master, married the partners, divorced, and married them anew to the partners of others, as they changed hands in dancing down. What, madam, is this? cried I, in the deepest amazement. This, she answered, is the newest dance, lately invented at court, and soon to be practised throughout the empire, down to the lowest ranks of people. It is called the dance of duchesses. As it is directly contrary to all the religions of the country, the great ones have been forced to give it a sanction by some special acts of the national council.
Life here, continued she, is nothing but a masquerade, conducted by the prime minister's son. All is disguise, you see no real person, no real face; nor do you hear one syllable of truth. Here is infinite civility, but no sincerity; much profession, but no performance.
It is my opinion, said I, that these people are far from being happy. You are not mistaken, she replied. They aim, as all do, at happiness, but a course, so wide of nature and reason, can never lead to it, can only end in its
reverse. The reigning maxim of every individual fashionist is to figure as high, and to be as much a man of pleasure, as he who depends on a larger fortune. Pomp therefore and poverty, go here hand in hand, and pleasure soon loses itself in distress, made more keen by the remembrance of past enjoyments. There are not above four or five of those fine people you see, of either sex, who are able to pay their servants' wages, or who are not hunted every moment by duns, for the very clothes on their backs. To remedy this by a short method, they have recourse to gaming and sharping; but the numerous associations of gamblers, who lie in wait for them, being much greater adepts in this species of villany, and carrying on the trade in concert, frequently turn their dependence on chance into absolute ruin. Is gaming a fashion too? said I. O yes, said she, and one of the queen's most favourite passions. Family is another. She hath established it as a rule, that nobody in her dominions shall be truly a person of fashion, to whom wealth hath not descended, through at least seven generations of ancestors, so as that the contemptible son of a dunghill, who first raised his race out of obscurity, is wholly forgotten as a nonentity. This prevailing principle detaches respect from office, and wonderfully weakens the power of magistracy. As it requires a length of time to set up a family, so it does to pull it down again, after extravagance and vice have wasted the estate. You see the airs of that shabby woman there. She is by birth a person of distinction, but subsists at present only on the niggardly bounty of some gentry, which she receives with the haughtiness of one conscious of older blood than that of her benefactors, and will tell you, that they are but upstarts in comparison of her
As she was saying this, the whole court, city, and country crowded round an altar, where they where going to make a sacrifice to the queen, of themselves, their health, fortune, reputation, life, conscience, soul. Ha! said my guide, infatuated wretches, what are you about to do? The words were hardly out of her mouth, when a confused medley of tailors, dukes, milliners, duchesses, frisseurs, ladies of earls and shoemakers, dancing-masters, mistresses of boarding
schools, gamblers, gentlemen ushers, masters of ceremonies, and I know not who else, fell upon her all at once, spit at her, buffeted her, trampled her under their feet, and having tied her on the altar, set fire to the fuel under her. Seeing this, I had but just began to interpose in her defence, when a volley of spittle was discharged on me too, and lady U, to shew the fineness of her leg, gave me so violent a chuck under the chin with her toe, that, shocked at her impudence, and tortured with my own pain, I instantly awoke.
SEVERAL writers, and they not of the first magnitude, have given the title of Sylva, wood, or forest, to their performances. This would be too magnificent an appellation for the following medley. It deserves no better name, than that of an underwood, copse, or shrubbery; wherein there is a mixture, without order, of plants, many of them wild, some higher, some lower; some of more, and some of less thickness; from a tree of middling growth, down to a weed or flower; some straight, some crooked, some stunted; many medicinal, none poisonous; briers, brambles, thorns; all thrown, just as chance, or nature gave them a root. Here, reader, you are not to expect a beam for the roof of a palace, nor a top-mast for a first-rate man of war; but you may be fitted for a walking staff, or switch, to a short ladder. Here you shall not find a tulip, a ranunculas, or a carnation. Such do not grow spontaneous in my soil or climate. But you may pick up, here and there, a daisy, a primrose, a hyacinth. Here is no quinquina, nor ginseng, nor balm of gilead; but valerian, camomile, and gladiolus, grow up and down in plenty. I have no grapes, nor peaches, nor oranges, nor pine-apples for you; if however you can be content with nuts, strawberries, and raspberries, you may have them here for pulling. Use your freedom. Take what you want. Though all is in confusion, you can hardly lose yourself, as few of the trees are higher than your own head. I only recommend it to you, to defend your shins from the briers, and your eyes from the thorns.
1. Ignorance, knavery, diffidence, accidents, make business a crooked road. All that the most skilful can do towards expediting his affairs, is to keep the inside of the course, and turn the corners as short as safety will permit
2. If digestion, when applied to memory and the acquisition of knowledge, is a metaphor, it is certainly one of the most just and beautiful metaphors ever made use of. But it seems to be more, and to express the thing intended
directly and properly as it is in itself. To digest, signifies to set off and separate the several parts of a compound or aggregate, into distinct places or receptacles. To digest our food is to separate the nutritious from the useless part, to throw out this through the natural orifices of evacuation, and to send that through the lacteals, into the mass of blood, and from thence by subsequent strainers or concoctions, into the several parts of the body as new supplies are wanted. A regular appetite and digestions are necessary to health and strength; and so is wholesome food. A defect in these is, in proportion, the occasion of sickness or debility; an excess, of crudities, obesity, and of still more violent disorders. It is just in like manner that knowledge is brought in by reading, conversation, experience, reflection; and the ideas of which it consists, either discarded as useless, or stored in the memory for the farther purposes of the understanding. Distinction, which is but another word for digestion, is necessary in this first concoction, and afterward to the regular classing of our ideas in their repository, to their being easily and clearly recollected, and to their being brought without confusion before the judging faculty, in order to a right formation of propositions. A strong but regular appetite of knowledge, with a power of well digesting, and classing our ideas, produce sound judging, right reasoning, true wisdom, and even virtue, which constitute the health and vigour of the mind, provided the materials of our knowledge are of a proper and useful kind. A defect in these occasions ignorance, stupidity, absurdity, errors, and vice itself, wherein consists the state of a disorderly mind. There is an atrophy of mind, for want of curiosity and retention, or for want of that digestion which is necessary to retention. And there is a pingue ingenium, an obesity of understanding the result of much reading, and of little or no power or care to distinguish. Of the two it is better to disgorge our ideas as soon as received than retain them in huddled assemblages, which produce nothing but wild imaginations and false reasonings. It is better to be ignorant than to pervert the religion, philosophy, or politics of mankind, as these bloated and overgrown scholars hardly ever fail to do. A depraved appetite does not produce worse effects in the stomach than