« AnteriorContinuar »
How weak is man! the santon followed the devil's advice, and did what he suggested to him. But the officers, before they would yield to leave the princess, seut one of their number to know the king's pleasure. That monarch, who had an entire confidence in Barsisa, never in the least scrupled the trusting of his daughter with him. I consent,' said he, that she stay with that holy man, and that he keep her as long as he pleases: I am wholly satisfied on that head.'
When the officers had received the king's answer, they all retired, and the princess remained alone with the hermit. Night being come, the devil presented himself to the santon, saying, Canst thou let slip so favourable an opportunity with so charming a creature? Fear not her telling of the violence you offer her; if she were even so indiscreet as to reveal it, who will believe her? The court, the city, and all the world, are too much prepossessed in your favour, to give any credit to such a report. You may do any thing unpunished, when armed by the great reputation for wisdom which you have acquired.' The unfortunate Barsisa was so weak as to hearken to the. enemy of mankind. He approached the princess, took her into his arms, and in a moment cancelled a virtue of an hundred years duration.
He had no sooner perpetrated his crime, than a thousand avenging horrors haunted him night and day. He thus accosts the devil: Oh wretch,' says he, it is thou which hast destroyed me! Thou hast encompassed me for a whole age, and endeavoured to seduce me; and now at last thou hast gained thy end.' Oh santon!' answered the devil, do not reproach me with the pleasure thou hast enjoyed. Thou mayst repent; but what:
is unhappy for thee is, that the princess is impregnated, and thy sin will become public. Thou wilt become the laughing-stock of those who admire and reverence thee at present, and the king will put thee to an ignominious death.'
Barsisa, terrified by this discourse, says to the devil, What shall I do to prevent the publication of my shame?' To hinder the knowledge of your crime, you ought to commit a fresh one,' answered the devil. Kill the princess, bury her at the corner of the grotto, and when the king's messengers come to-morrow, tell them you have cured her, and that she went from the grotto very early in the morning. They will believe you, and search for her all over the city and country; and the king her father will be in great pain for her, but after several vain searches it will wear off.'
The hermit, abandoned by God, pursuant to this advice, killed the princess, buried her in a corner of the grotto, and the next day told the officers what the devil bid him say. They made diligent inquiry for the king's daughter, but not being able to hear of her, they despaired of finding her, when the devil told them that all their search for the princess was vain; and relating what had passed betwixt her and the santon, he told them the place where she was interred. The officers immediately went to the grotto, seized Barsisa, and found the princess's body in the place to which the devil had directed them; whereupon they took up the corpse, and carried that and the santon to the palace.
When the king saw his daughter dead, and was informed of the whole event, he broke out into tears and bitter lamentations; and assembling the doctors, he laid the santon's crime before them, and asked their advice how he should be punished,
All the doctors condemned him to death, upon which the king ordered him to be hanged. Accordingly, a gibbet was erected: the hermit went up the ladder, and when he was going to be turned off, the devil whispered in his ear these words: O santon! if you will worship me, I will extricate you out of this difficulty, and transport you two thousand leagues from hence, into a country where you shall be reverenced by men as much as you were before this adventure.' I am content,' says Barsisa; deliver me, and I will worship thee.' Give me first a sign of adoration,' replies the devil. Whereupon the santon bowed, and said, I give myself to you.' The devil then raising his voice, said, O Barsisa, I am satisfied; I have obtained what I desired;' and with these words, spitting in his face, he disappeared; and the deluded santon was hanged.
N° 149. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 1713.
Uratur vestis amore tuæ.
Your very dress shall captivate his heart.
I HAVE in a former precaution endeavoured to shew the mechanism of an epic poem, and given the reader prescriptions whereby he may, without the scarce ingredient of a genius, compose the several parts of that great work. I shall now treat
of an affair of more general importance, and make dress the subject of the following paper.
Dress is grown of universal use in the conduct of life. Civilities and respect are only paid to appearance. It is a varnish that gives a lustre to every action, a passe-par-tout that introduces us into all polite assemblies, and the only certain method of making most of the youth of our nation conspicuous.
There was formerly an absurd notion among the men of letters, that to establish themselves in the character of wits, it was absolutely necessary to shew a contempt of dress. This injudicious affectation of theirs flattened all their conversation, took off the force of every expression, and incapacitated a female audience from giving attention to any thing they said. While the man of dress catches their eyes as well as ears, and at every ludicrous turn obtains a laugh of applause by way of compliment.
I shall lay down as an established maxim, which hath been received in all ages, that no person can dress without a genius.
A genius is never to be acquired by art, but is the gift of nature; it may be discovered even in infancy. Little master will smile when you shake his plume of feathers before him, and thrust its little knuckles in papa's full-bottom; miss will toy with her mother's Mechlin lace, and gaze on the gaudy colours of a fan; she smacks her lips for a kiss at the appearance of a gentleman in embroidery, and is frighted at the indecency of the housemaid's blue apron: as she grows up, the dress of her baby begins to be her care, and you will see a genteel fancy open itself in the ornaments of the little machine.
We have a kind of sketch of dress, if I may so call it, among us, which as the invention was foreign, is called a dishabille: every thing is thrown on with a loose and careless air; yet a genius discovers itself even through this negligence of dress, just as you may see the masterly hand of a painter in three or four swift strokes of the pencil.
The most fruitful in genuises is the French nation; we owe most of our janty fashions now in vogue, to some adept beau among them. Their ladies exert the whole scope of their fancies upon every new petticoat; every head-dress undergoes a change; and not a lady of genius will appear in the same shape two days together; so that we may impute the scarcity of geniuses in our climate to the stagnation of fashions.
The ladies among us have a superior genius to the men; which have for some years past shot out in several exorbitant inventions for the greater consumption of our manufacture. While the men have contented themselves with the retrenchment of the hat, or the various scallop of the pocket, the ladies have sunk the head-dress, inclosed themselves in the circumference of the hoop-petticoat; furbelows and flounces have been disposed of at will, the stays have been lowered behind, for the better displaying the beauties of the neck; not to mention the various rolling of the sleeve, and those other nice circumstances of dress upon which every lady employs her fancy at pleasure.
The sciences of poetry and dress have so near an alliance to each other, that the rules of the one, with very little variation, may serve for the other.
As in a poem all the several parts of it must have a harmony with the whole; so to keep to the