« PreviousContinue »
I fhall not trouble you with recounting what adventures they met for the first seven years, any farther than by taking notice, that they carefully obferved their father's will, and kept their coats in very good order; that they travelled thro' feveral countries, tered a reasonable quantity of giants, and flew certain dragons.
BEING now arrived at the proper age for producing themselves, they came up to town, and fell in love with the Ladies; but efpecially three, who about that time were in chief reputation; the † Duchefs d' Argent, Madame de Grands Titres, and the Countefs d'Orgueil. On their first appearance, our three adventurers met with a very bad reception; and foon with great fagacity guefling out the reafon, they quickly began to improve in the good qualities of the town. They writ, and rallied, and rhymed, and fung, and faid, and faid nothing; they drank, and fought, and whored, and flept, and fwore, and took fnuff; they went to new plays on the firft night, haunted the chocolate houses, beat the watch, lay on bulks, and got claps; they bilked hackney-coachmen, ran in debt with fhop-keepers, and lay with their wives; they killed bailiffs, kicked fidlers down ftairs, ate at Locket's, loitered at Will's; they talked of the drawing-room, and never came there; dined with Lords they never faw; whispered a Duchefs, and spoke never a word: expofed the fcrawls of their laundrefs for billetdoux of quality; came ever juft from court, and were never seen in it; attended the levee fub dio; got a lift of peers by heart in one company, and with great familiarity retaled them in another. Above all, they conftantly attended thofe committees of fenators who are filent in the house, and loud in the coffee-house; where they nightly adjourn to chew the cud of politics, and, are incompaffed with a ring of difciples, who lie in wait to catch
+ Their mistreffes are the Duchefs d'Argent, Mademoiselle de Grands Titres, and the Countess d'Orgueil, i. e. covetousness, ambition, and pride; which were the three great vices that the ancient fathers inveighed againft, as the first corruptions of Christianity. W. Wotton.
catch up their droppings. The three brothers had acquired forty other qualifications of the like ftamp, too tedious to recount; and, by confequence, were juftly reckoned the most accomplished perfons in the town. But all would not fuffice, and the Ladies aforefaid continued ftill inflexible. To clear up which difficulty, I muft, with the reader's good leave and patience, have recourse to some points of weight, which the authors of that age have not fufficiently illuftrated.
FOR, about this time it happened a fect arose whose tenets obtained and fpread very far, efpecially in the grand monde, and among every body of good fashion. They worshipped a fort of idol, who, as their doctrine delivered, did daily create men, by a kind of manufa&tory operation. This idol they placed in the highest parts of the house, on an altar erected about three foot. He was fhewn in the pofture of a Perfian emperor, fitting on a fuperficies, with his legs interwoven under him. This god had a goofe for his enfign; whence it is, that fome learned men pretend to deduce his original from Jupiter Capitolinus. At his left hand, beneath the altar, bell feemed to open, and catch at the animals the idol was creating to prevent which, certain of his priests hourly flung in pieces of the uninformed mass or substance, and fometimes whole limbs already enlivened; which that horrid gulph infatiably swallowed, terrible to behold. The goose was also held a fubaltern divinity, or deus minorum gentium; before whose shrine was facrificed that creature, whose hourly food is human gore, and who is in fo great renown abroad, for being the delight and favourite of the Ægyptian Cercopithecus. Millions of these animals were cruelly flaughtered every day, to appease the hunger of that confuming deity. The chief idol was also worshipped as the inventor of the yard and needle; whether
† This is an occafional fatyr upon dress and fashion, in order to introduce what follows.
By this idol is meant taylor.
The Egyptians worshipped a monkey, which animal is very fond of eating lice, ftyled here creatures that feed on human gere.
as the god of feamen, or on account of certain other myftical attributes, hath not been fufficiently cleared.
THE Worshippers of this deity had alfo a fyftem of their belief, which feemed to turn upon the following fundamentals. They held the univerfe to be a large fuit of cloaths, which invefts every thing: that the earth is invefted by the air, the air is invested by the stars, and the stars are invested by the primum mobile. Look on this glob of earth, you will find it to be a very compleat and fashionable dress. What is that which fome call land, but a fine coat faced with green ? or the Jea, but a waistcoat of water-tabby? Proceed to the particular works of the creation, you will find how curious a journeyman nature hath been to trim up the vegetable beaux: observe how fparkifh a periwig adorns the head of a beech, and what a fine doublet of white fattin is worn by the birch. To conclude from all, what is man himself but a micro-coat* ; or rather a compleat fuit of cloaths, with all its trimmings As to his body, there can be no difpute. But examine even the acquirements of his mind, you will find them all contribute, in their order, towards furnishing out an exact drefs. To inftance no more; is not religion a cloak; honefty a pair of fhoes, worn out in the dirt; felf-love a furtout; vanity a shirt; and confcience a pair of breeches, which, tho' a cover for lewdness as well as naftiness, is eafily flipt down for the fervice of both?
THESE poftulata being admitted, it will follow in due courfe of reasoning, that thofe beings which the world calls improperly fuits of cloaths, are in reality the most refined fpecies of animals; or, to proceed higher, that they are rational creatures, or men. For is it not manifeft, that they live, and move, and talk, and perform all other offices of human life? Are not beauty, and wit, and mien, and breeding, their infeparable proprieties? In fhort, we fee nothing but them, hear nothing but them. Is it not they who walk the streets, fill up parliament play, bawdy-houses? "Tis
Alluding to the word microcofm, or a little world, as man hath been called by philofophers.
true indeed, that these animals which are vulgarly called fuits of cloaths, or dresses, do, according to certain compofitions, receive different appellations. If one of them be trimmed up with a gold chain, and a red gown, and a white rod, and a great horfe, it is called a Lord Mayor; if certain ermins and furs be placed in a certain position, we ftyle them a fudge; and fo, an apt conjunction of lawn and black fattin, we intitle a Bishop.
OTHERS of these profeffors, tho' agreeing in the main fyftem, were yet more refined upon certain branches of it; and held that man was an animal compounded of two dresses, the natural, and celeftial fuit; which were the body and the foul; that the foul was the outward, and the body the inward cloathing; that the latter was ex traduce, but the former of daily creation and circumfufion. This last they proved by Scripture; because in them we live, and move, and have our being; as likewise by philofophy; because they are all in all, and all in every part. Befides, faid they, feparate these two, and you will find the body to be only a fenfelefs unfavoury carcafs. By all which, it is manifeft, that the outward drefs muft needs be the foul.
To this fyftem of religion were tagged several fubaltern doctrines, which were entertained with great vogue; as, particularly, the faculties of the mind were deduced by the learned among them in this manner: Embroidery was fheer wit; gold-fringe was agreeable converfation; gold-lace was repartee; a huge long periwig
*The first part of the Tale is the history of Peter; thereby Popery is expofed: every body knows the Papifts have made great additions to Chriftianity; that indeed is the great exception which the church of England makes against them; accordingly Peter begins his pranks with adding a fhoulder-knot to his coat.
W. Wotton. His defcription of the cloth, of which the coat was made, has a farther meaning than the words may feem to import: "coats their father had left them were of very good cloth, and, befides, fo neatly fown, you would fwear they were all of a piece; but at the fame time very plain, with little or no orna"ment." This is the diftinguishing character of the Christian religion: Chriftiana religio abfoluta et fimplex, was Ammianus Marcellinus's description of it, who was himself a heathen. W. Wotton.
was humour; and a coat full of powder was very good raillery. All which required abundance of finesse and delicatele to manage with advantage, as well as a ftrict obfervance after times and fashions.
I have, with much pains and reading, collected out of antient authors this fhort fummary of a body of philosophy and divinity; which feems to have been compofed by a vein and race of thinking, very different from any other systems, either antient or modern. And it was not merely to entertain or fatisfy the reader's curiofity, but rather to give him light into feveral circumftances of the following ftory; that, knowing the ftate of difpofitions and opinions in an age fo remote, he may better comprehend those great events which were the iffue of them. I advise therefore the courteous reader, to peruse, with a world of application, again and again, whatever I have written upon this matter. And, leaving these broken ends, I carefully gather up the chief thread of my ftory, and proceed.
THESE opinions therefore were so univerfal, as well as the practices of them, among the refined part of court and town, that our three brother-adventurers, as their circumftances then stood, were ftrangely at a lofs. For, on the one fide, the three Ladies they addrefied themselves to, (whom we have named already) were ever at the very top of the fashion, and abhorred all that were below it but the breadth of a hair. On the other fide, their father's will was very precife; and it was the main precept in it, with the greatest penalties annexed, not to add to, or diminish from their coats, one thread, without a pofitive command in the will. Now, the coats their father had left them, were, 'tis true, of very good cloth; and, befides, fo neatly fown, you would fwear they were all of a piece; but, at the fame time, very plain, and with little or no ornament. And it happened, that, before they were a month in town, great shoulder-knots came up*: ftraight all the world was boulder-knots: no approaching
By this is understood the first introducing of pageantry and unneceffary ornaments in the church, fuch as were neither for convenience nor edification, as a fhoulder-knot, in which there is neither fymmetry nor ufe.