« PreviousContinue »
But I do not remember, in any part of my reading, that the headdress 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 headdress, appeared like a colossus upon putting it on. Monsieur Paradin says, "That these oldfashioned tages 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
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 sacrifice their books to the flames, upon the preaching of an apostle, many of the women threw down their headdress in the middle. pf 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 reaching to the clouds. He so warmed and animated the people against this monstrous orna nent, 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 person who wore it. But, notwithstanding this prodigy vanished while the preacher was among them, it began to appear agaip Some months after his departure, or to tell it in Mon sieur Paradin's own words, "The women, that like snails in a fright, had drawn in their horns, shot them put again as soon as the danger was over." This extravagance of ths Women's headdresses in that age, is taken notice of by Monsieur d'Argentre, in the history
of Bretagne, and by other historians, as well as the person I have here quoted.
It is usually observed, that, a good reign is the only proper time for the making of laws against the exhorbi tance of power; in the same manner an excessive head' dress may be attacked the most effectually when the fash ion 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, t» what is already the masterpiece of nature. The head has the most beautiful appearance, as well as the highest station in the human figure. Nature has laid out all her art in beautifying the face: She has touched it with Vermillion; planted in it a double row of ivory; made it the seat of smiles and blushes; lighted it up and 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 seemed 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, ribbands and bone lace,
XII. On the present and a future State.-IB.
ALEWD young fellow seeing an aged-hermit go by aim barefoot, "Father," says he, "you are in a very miserable condition, if there is not another world." "True, 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 tad 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 wards Whether we should endeavor to secure to ourselves the pleasures and gratiftcaiions of a life which is uncertain,
and precarious, and at its utmost length, of a very incon siderable duration; or to secure to ourselves the pleas* ures 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 honors ? Would he not think that it was our duty to toil after wealth, and station, and title? Nay, wottW he not be lieve 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, tr\dy; 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 three score and ten years; and that the greatest part of this busy species, fall short even of that. age e! How would he be lost in horror and admiration, when he should know that this set of creatures, who lay out all their endeavors 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
being should be perpetually employed in providing for a life of three score 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 endeavors for making ourselves great, or rich, or honorable, or whatever else we place our happiness in, may, after all, prove unsuccessful; whereas, if we constantly and sincerely endeavor to make ourselves happy in the other life, we are sure that our endeavors will succeed, and that we shall not be disappointed of our hope.
The following question is started by one of our school. men. 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 consuming by this slow method, until there was not a grain left, on condition that you were to be miserable forever after? Or, supposing that you might be happy forever 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 your choice?
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 hesi tation, 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 ear, 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 three score 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 it may conduce to the happiness of the other, and cheerfullj sacrifice the pleasures of a few years, to those of an eternity.
XIII-Uncle Toby's Benevolence,-STERNE.
MY uncle Toby was a man patient of injuries—not from want of courage. I have told you, in a former chap-. ter, that he was a man of courage; and I will add here, that, where just occasions presented, or called it forth, I know no man under whose arm I would have sooner taken shelter. Nor did this arise from any insensibility or obtuseness of his intellectual parts, for he felt as feelingly as a man could do. But he was of a peaceful, placid nature; no jarring element in him; all were mixed up so kindly within him, my uncle Toby had scarce a heart to retaliate upon a fly.
Go—says he, one day at dinner, to an overgrown one which had buzzed about his nosc, and tormented him cruelly all dinner time, and which, after infinite attempts, he had caught at last as it flew by him—I'll not hurt thee says my uncle Toby, rising from his chair, and going across the room with the fly in his hand—I'll not hurt a hair of thy head: Go, says he, lifting up the sash, and opening his band as he spoke, to let it escape—go poor iU,vh; get thee gone: Why should I hurt thee?