« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
No. 434. FRIDAY JULY 18.
Quales Threiciæ cùm flumina Thermodontis
VIRG. En. x. 660.
So marched the Thracian Amazons of old,
From the fierce virgin when the Grecians fled,
HAVING carefully perused the manuscript I mentioned in my yesterday's paper, so far as it relates to the republic of women, I find in it several particulars which may very well deserve the reader's attention.
The girls of quality from six to twelve years old, were put to public schools, where they learned to box. and play at cudgels, with several other accomplishments of the same nature; so that nothing was more usual than to see a little miss returning home at night with a broken pate, or two or three teeth knocked out of her head. They were afterwards taught to ride the great horse, to shoot, dart, or sling, and listed into several companies, in order to perfect themselves in military exercises. No woman was to be married until she had killed her man. The ladies of fashion used to play with young lions instead of lap-dogs, and when they made any parties of diversion, instead of entertaining themselves at ombre or piquet, they would wrestle and pitch the bar for a whole afternoon together. There was never any such thing as a blush seen, or a sigh heard in the commonwealth. The
women never dressed but to look terrible, to which end they would sometimes after a battle paint their cheeks with the blood of their enemies. For this reason, likewise, the face which had the most scars was looked upon as the most beautiful. If they found lace, jewels, ribbons, or any ornaments in silver or gold among the booty which they had taken, they used to dress their horses with it, but never entertained a thought of wearing it themselves. There were particular rights and privileges allowed to any member of the commonwealth, who was a mother of three daughters The senate was made up of old women; for by the laws of the country none was to be a counsellor of state that was not past child-bearing. They used to boast their republic had continued four thousand years, which is altogether improbable, unless we may suppose, what I am very apt to think, that they measured their time by lunar years.
There was a great revolution brought about in this female republic, by means of a neighbouring king, who had made war upon them several years with various success, and at length overthrew them in a very great battle. This defeat they ascribe to several causes; some say that the secretary of state having been troubled with the vapours, had committed some fatal mistakes in several dispatches about that time. Others pretend, that the first minister being big with child, could not attend the public affairs, as so great an exigency of state required; but this I can give no manner of credit to, since it seems to contradict a fundamental maxim in their government, which I have before mentioned. My author gives the most probable reason of this great disaster; for he affirms, that the general was brought to bed, or (as others say) miscarried, the very night before the battle however it was, this signal overthrow obliged them to call in the male republic to their assistance; but notwithstanding their common efforts to repulse the victorious enemy, the war
continued for many years before they could entirely bring it to a happy conclusion.
The campaigns which both sexes passed together, made them so well acquainted with one another, that at the end of the war they did not care for parting. In the beginning of it they lodged in separate camps, but afterwards as they grew more familiar, they pitched their tents promiscuously.
From this time the armies being chequered with both sexes, they polished apace. The men used to invite their fellowsoldiers into their quarters, and would dress their tents with flowers and boughs, for their reception. If they chanced to like one more than another, they would be cutting her name on the table, or chalking out her figure upon a wall, or talking of her in a kind of rapturous language, which by degrees improved into verse and sonnet. These were as the first rudiments of architecture, painting, and poetry, among this savage people. After any advantage over the enemy, both sexes used to jump together and make a clattering with their swords and shields, for joy, which in a few years produced several regular tunes and set dances.
As the two armies romped on these occasions, the women complained of the thick bushy beards and long nails of their confederates, who thereupon took care to prune themselves into such figures as were most pleasing to their female friends and allies.
When they had taken any spoils from the enemy, the men would make a present of every thing that was rich and showy to to the women whom they most admired, and would frequently dress the necks, or heads, or arms of their mistresses, with any thing which they thought appeared gay or pretty. The women observing that the men took delight in looking upon them, when they were adorned with such trappings and gugaws, set their heads at work to find out new inventions, and to out-shine one
another in all councils of war, or the like solemn meetings. On the other hand, the men observing how the women's hearts were set upon finery, begun to embellish themselves, and look as agreeably as they could in the eyes of their associates. In short, after a few years conversing together, the women had learned to smile, and the men to ogle, the women grew soft, and the men lively.
When they had thus insensibly formed one another, upon the finishing of the war, which concluded with an entire conquest over their common enemy, the colonels in one army married the colonels in the other; the captains in the same manner took the captains to their wives; the whole body of common soldiers were matched, after the example of their leaders. By this means the two republics incorporated with one another, and became the most flourishing and polite government in the part of the world which they inhabited. C.
No. 435. SATURDAY, JULY 19.
Nec duo sunt, at forma duplex, nec fæmina dici
Both bodies in a single body mix,
MOST of the papers I give the public are written on subjects that never vary, but are for ever fixed and immutable. Of this kind are all my more serious essays and discourses; but there is another sort of speculations, which I consider as occasional papers, that take their rise from the folly, extravagance, and caprice of the present age. For I look upon myself as one set to watch the manners and behaviour of my countrymen and contem
poraries, and to mark down every absurd fashion, ridiculous custom, or affected form of speech, that makes its appearance in the world, during the course of these my speculations. The petticoat no sooner begun to swell, but I observed its motions. The party patches had not time to muster themselves before I detected them. I had intelligence of the coloured hood the very first time it appeared in a public assembly.' I might here mention several other the like contingent subjects, upon which I have bestowed distinct papers. By this means I have so effectually quashed those irregularities which gave occasion to them, that I am afraid posterity will scarce have a sufficient idea of them to relish those discourses which were În no little vogue at the time when they were written. They will be apt to think that the fashions and customs I attacked were some fantastic conceits of my own, and that their great-grandmothers could not be so whimsical as I have represented them. For this reason, when I think on the figure my several volumes of Speculations will make about a hundred years hence, I consider them as so many pieces of old plate, where the weight will be regarded, but the fashion lost.
Among the several female extravagancies I have already taken notice of, there is one which still keeps its ground. I mean that of the ladies who dress themselves in a hat and feather, a riding coat and a periwig; or at least tie up their hair in a bag or ribbon, in imitation of the smart part of the opposite sex. As in my yesterday's paper I gave an account of the mixture of two sexes in one commonwealth, I shall here take notice of this mixture of two sexes in one person. I have already shown my dislike of this immodest custom more than once; but in contempt of every thing I have hitherto said, I am informed that the high
1 1 V. Nos. 81, 127, 265.-C.