« FöregåendeFortsätt »
of her own face in two or three years; which she must not expect from the beau, who is too full of his dear self to copy after another. And I dare appeal to her own judgment, if that person will not be the handsomest that is the most like herself.
We have a remarkable instance to our present purpose in the history of king Edgar, which I shall here relate, and leave it with my fair correspondent to be applied to herself.
This great monarch, who is so famous in British story, fell in love, as he made his progress through his kingdom, with a certain duke's daughter who lived near Winchester, and was the most celebrated beauty of the age. His importunities and the violence of his passion were so great, that the mother of the young lady promised him to bring her daughter to his bed the next night, though in her heart she abhorred so infamous an office. It was no sooner dark than she conveyed into his room a young maid of no disagreeable figure, who was one of her attendants, and did not want address to im. prove the opportunity for the advancement of her fortune. She made so good use of her time, that when she offered to rise a little before day, the king could by no means think of parting with her; so that, finding herself under a necessity of discovering who she was, she did it in so handsome a man. ner, that his majesty was exceeding gracious to her, and took her ever after under his protection: insomuch, that, our chronicles tell us, he carried her along with him, made her his first minister of state, and continued true to her alone, until his mar. riage with the beautiful Elfrida.
N° 606. WEDNESDAY, OCT. 13, 1714
longum cantu soluta laborem
VIRG. Georg. i. 294.
• Mr. SpectATOR,
• I HAVE a couple of nieces under my direction, who so often run gadding abroad, that I do not know where to have them. Their dress, their tea, and their visits, take up all their time, and they go to bed as tired with doing nothing as I am after quilting a whole under-petticoat. The only time they are not idle is while they read your Spectators; which being dedicated to the interests of vir. tue, I desire you to recommend the long neglected art of needle-work. Those hours which in this
age are thrown away in dress, play, visits, and the like, were employed, in my time, in writing out receipts, or working beds, chairs, and hangings, for the family. For my part, I have plied my needle these fifty years, and by my good will would never have it out of my hand. It grieves my heart to see a couple of proud idle flirts sipping their tea, for a whole afternoon, in a room hung round with the industry of their great grandmother. Pray, sir, take the laudable mystery of embroidery into your serious consideration, and, as you have a great deal of the virtue of the last
in you, continue your endeavours to reform the present.
I am, &c.
In obedience to the commands of my venerable correspondent, I have duly weighed this important subject, and promise myself, from the arguments here laid down, that all the fine ladies of England will be ready, as soon as their mourning is over*, to appear covered with the work of their own hands.
What a delightful entertainment must it be to the fair sex, whom their native modesty and the tenderness of men towards them exempt from public business, to pass their hours in imitating fruits and flowers, and transplanting all the beauties of nature into their own dress, or raising a new creation in their closets and apartments ! How pleasing is the amusement of walking among the shades and groves planted by themselves, in surveying heroes slain by the needle, or little Cupids which they have brought into the world without pain !
This is, methinks, the most proper way wherein a lady can show a fine genius; and I cannot forbear wishing that several writers of that sex had chosen to apply themselves rather to tapestry than rhyme. Your pastoral poetesses may vent their fancy in rural landscapes, and place despairing shepherds under silken willows, or drown them in a stream of mohair. The heroic writers may work up battles successfully, and inflame them with gold or stain them with crimson. Even those who have only a turn to a song, or an epigram, may put many va. luable stitches into a purse, and crowd a thousand graces
into a pair of garters. If I may, without breach of good manners, imagine that any pretty creature is void of genius, and would perform her part herein but very awkwardly, I must nevertheless insist upon her working, if it be only to keep her out of harm's way.
* Public mourning on the death of queen Anne.
Another argument for busying good women in works of fancy is, because it takes them off from scandal, the usual attendant of tea-tables, and all other inactive scenes of life. While they are forming their birds and beasts, their neighbours will be allowed to be the fathers of their own children ; and whig and tory will be but seldom mentioned where the great dispute is, whether blue or red is the more proper colour. How much greater glory would Sophronia do the general, if she would choose rather to work the battle of Blenheim in tapestry, than signalize herself with so much vehemence against those who are. Frenchmen in their hearts !
A third reason that I shall mention, is the profit that is brought to the family
where these pretty arts are encouraged. It is manifest that this way of life not only keeps fair ladies from running out into expenses, but is at the same time an actual improvement. How memorable would that matron be, who shall have it inscribed upon her monument, • that she wrought out the whole Bible in tapestry, and died in a good old age, after having covered three hundred yards of wall in the mansion-house !'
The premises being considered, I humbly submit the following proposals to all mothers in Great Britain :
I. That no young virgin whatsoever be allowed to receive the addresses of her first lozer, but in a suit of her own embroidering.
II. That before every fresh humble servant, she be obliged to appear with a new stomacher at the least.
Ill. That no one be actually married until she hath the child-bed pillows, &c. ready stitched, as likewise the mantle for the boy quite finished. "These laws, if I mistake not, would effectually restore the decayed art of needlework, and make the virgins of Great Britain exceedingly nimble-fingered in their business.
There is a memorable custom of the Grecian ladies in this particular preserved in Homer, which I hope will have a very good effect with my country-women. A widow, in ancient times, could not, without indecency, receive a second husband, until she had woven a shroud for her deceased lord, or the next of kin to him. Accordingly, the chaste Penelope, having, as she thought, lost Ulysses at sea, employed her time in preparing a windingsheet for Laertes, the father of her husband. The story of her web being very famous, and yet not sufficiently known in its several circumstances, I shall give it to my reader, as Homer makes one of her wooers relate it.
'Sweet hope she gave to every youth apart,
* Thus she. Nor did my friends mistrust the guile.