« הקודםהמשך »
“ Set woman in his eye, and in his walk,
Dear FRIEND, In my last I expressed some diffidence respecting the propriety of committing to paper my thoughts on a particular subject ; I have since weighed it with due caution, and the consideration of my having during the long course of my epistolary correspondence always declared my sentiments freely on every subject, soon determined me not to degrade myself by shrinking back, now it is so near drawing to a conclusion.
The subject then is--that bright lovely part of the creation, woman !- the source of all our joys, the assuager of all our griefs ; deprived of whose powerful and attractive charms, man would be a wretch indeed. But alas ! the utmost efforts of my abilities are far inadequate to do justice to their merits ; happily that pleasing theme has engaged the attention of the ablest and worthiest of men, from the remotest period down to the present time; and I trust ever will, nay must, so long as a spark of virtue remains in the human breast.
« Weak tho’ her frame, nor hers to yield
“ They are not only fair, but just as fair," I have nought to fear.
I therefore proceed with cheerfulness to say, that in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Sterling, &c., there are more really fine women to be found than in any place I ever visited. I do not mean to say that we have not as many handsome women in England; but the idea I wish to convey is, that we have not so many in proportion: that is, go to any public place where a number of ladies are asseinbled, in either of the above towns, and then go to any place in England where an equal number are met, and you will notice a greater number of fine women among the former than among the latter. It must be obvious that, in making this declaration, I allude to the genteeler part ; for among the lower classes of women in Scotland, by being more exposed to the inclemency of the weather, the majority are very homely, and the want of the ad. vantages of apparel, (which those in a higher sphere can avail themselves of, and know how to apply) together with their sluttish and negligent appearance, does not tend in the least to heighten their charms.
Having both read and heard much related of the manner of washing their linen, which I must confess I could not credit without having ocular demonstration, during my continuance at Glasgow, curiosity led me to the mead by the river side. For the poor
women here, instead of the water coming to them, as in London, are obliged to travel loaded with their linen to the water ; where you may see great numbers washing, in their way; which if seen by some of our London prudes, would incline them to form very unjust and uncharitable ideas of the modesty of these Scottish lasses. Many of them give a trifle to be accommodated with the use of a large wash-house near the water, where about a hundred may be furnished with every convenience for their purpose; but by far the greatest part make fires, and heat the water in the open air, and as they finish their linen they spread it on the grass to dry, which is the uni. versal mode of drying throughout Scotland. Here
“ Maidens bleach their summer smocks." I had walked to and fro several times, and began to conclude that the custom of getting into the tubs and treading on the linen, either never had been practised, or was come into disuse ; but I had not waited more than half an hour, when many of them jumped into the tubs without shoes or stockings, with their petticoats drawn up far above the knees, and stamped away with great composure in their countenances, and with all their strength, no Scotchman taking the least notice, or even looking towards them, constant habit having rendered the scene perfectly familiar.
On conversing with some gentlemen of Glasgow on this curious subject, they assured me that these singular laundresses (as they appeared to me) were strictly modest women, who only did what others of unblemished reputation had been accustomed to for a long series of years ; and added, that at any other time a purse of gold would not tempt them to draw the curtain so high. By way of contrast let me observe that
inany of our London servant-maids, though not always so nice in other respects, would not be
seen thus habited in public on any terms, lest their precious characters should be called in question. A striking instance of the powerful influence of habit !
“ Custom, the world's great idol, we adore,
And knowing that, we seek to know no more." Most of the female servants in Edinburgh, Glas. glow, &c., do all their work, and run about the town the fore part of the day without stays, shoes or stockings; and on Sundays I saw the countrywomen going towards kirk in the same manner (stays excepted ;) however, they do not go into kirk till they have dressed their legs and feet; for that purpose they seat themselves on the grass somewhere near, put on their shoes and stockings, and garter up very deli. berately.
“ Nor heed the passenger who looks that way." Most of those poor young countrywomen go without any caps or hats : they have in general fine heads of hair ; many plait it, others let it hang loose down their backs; and I assure you, my friend, they look very agreeable.
I returned each time through Buxton, where staying a week or two, I visited Castleton, and spent several hours in exploring that stupendous cavern, called the Devil's A- in the Peake. I also sur. veyed Poole's Hole, near Buxton, and purchased a great variety of petrifactions. In our way home I saw the great marble manufactory at Aston, in the water, spent some days at Matlock, the most romantic village that I ever saw, but the sight of it cost me dear; as we were conveyed there in an old crazy post-chaise, in which I caught a violent cold, the lining being very damp.
I am, dear friend, yours.
“ Good scene expected, evil unforeseen,
Are of inconstant chance the constant arts;
She comes, embraces, nauseates you, and parts.
The wise man little joy or little sorrow knows;
And few there be that're always fortunate.
The frugal destinies have only left
How's Indian Emperor.
DEAR FRIEND, I did not intend to trouble you or the public with an account of any more of my wonderful travels, but being now at Lyme, for want of other amusement this rainy morning, I thought that a short account of this journey might afford you some entertainment.
My state of health being but indifferent, and Mrs Lackington's still worse, I was induced to try what effect a journey would produce;
“ When med'cine fails, amusement should be sought,
Though but to soothe the miseries of thought." It being immaterial what part I travelled to, and as I had not for a long time seen my native place, and perhaps might not be furnished with another opportunity, we resolved to visit it.