« PreviousContinue »
lady in the very bloom of youth and beauty, and dressed in the most elegant manner imaginable. Her form was such that it engaged the eyes of the whole congregation in an instant, and mine among the rest. Though we were all thus fixed upon her, she was not in the least out of countenance, or under the least disorder, though unattended by any one, and not seeming to know particularly where to place herself. However, she had not in the least a confident aspect, but moved on with the most graceful modesty, every one making way until she came to a seat just over against that in which I was placed. The deputy of the ward sat in that pew, and she stood opposite to him, and at a glance into the seat, though she did not appear the least acquainted with the gentleman, was lec in, with a confusion that spoke inuch admiration at the novelty of the thing. The service immediately began, and she composed herself for it with an air of so much goodness and sweetness, that the confession which she uttered, so as to be heard where we sat, appeared an act of humiliation more than she had occasion for. The truth is, her beauty had something so innocent, and yet so sublime, that we all gazed upon her like a phantom. None of the pictures which we behold of the best Italian painters have any thing like the spirit which appeared in her countenance, at the different sentiments expressed in the several parts of divine service. That gratitude and joy at a thanksgiving, that lowliness and sorrow at the prayers for the sick and distressed, that triumph at the passages
gave instances of the divine mercy, which appeared respectively in her aspect, will be in my memory to my last hour. I protest to you, sir, she suspended the devotion of every one around her; and the ease she did every thing
with soon dispersed the churlish dislike and hesitation in approving what is excellent, too frequent among us, to a general attention and entertainment in observing her behaviour. All the while that we were gazing at her, she took notice of no object about her, but had an art of seeming awkwardly attentive, whatever else her eyes were accidentally thrown upon. One thing indeed was particular, she stood the whole service, and never kneeled or sat: I do not question but that it was to show herself with the greater advantage, and set forth to better grace her hands and arms, lifted up with the most ardent devotion; and her bosom, the faireșt that was ever seen, bare to observation; while she, you must think, knew nothing of the concern she gave others, any other than as an example of devotion, that threw herself out, without regard to dress or garment, all contrition, and loose of all worldly regards, in ecstasy of devotion. Well; now the organ was to play a voluntary, and she was so skilful in music, and so touched with it, that she kept time not only with some motion of her head, but also with a different air in her countenance. When the music was strong and bold, she looked exalted, but serious; when lively and airy, she was smiling and gracious; when the notes were more soft and languishing, she was kind and full of pity. When she had now made it visible to the whole congregation, by her motion and ear, that she could dance, and she wanted now only to inform us that she could sing too; when the psalm was given out, her voice was distinguished above all the rest, or rather people did not exert their own, in order to hear her. Never was any heard so sweet and so strong. The organist observed it, and he thought fit to play to her only, and she swelled every note,
when she found she had thrown us all out, and had the last verse to herself in such a manner as the whole congregation was intent upon her, in the same manner as we see in the cathedrals they are on the person who sings alone the anthem. Well; it came at last to the sermon, and our young lady would not lose her part in that neither: for she fixed her eye upon the preacher, and as he said any thing she approved, with one of Charles Mather's fine tablets she set down the sentence, at once showing her fine hand, the gold pen, her readiness in writing, and her judgment in choosing what to write. To sum up what I intend by this long and particular account, I appeal to you, whether it is reasonable that such a creature as this shall come from a janty part of the town, and give herself such violent airs, to the disturbance of an innocent and inoffensive congregation, with her sublimities. The fact, I assure you, was as I have related : but I had like to have forgot another very considerable particular. As soon as church was done, she immediately stepped out of her pew, and fell into the finest pittypatty air, forsooth, wonderfully out of countenance, tossing her head up and down, as she swam along the body of the church.' I, with several others of the inhabitants, followed her out, and saw her hold up her fan to a hackney-coach at a distance, who immediately came up to her, and she whipping into it with great nimbleness, pulled the door with a bowing mien, as if she had been used to a better glass. She - said aloud, “ You know where to go," and drove off. By this time the best of the congregation was at the church-door, and I could hear some say, " A very fine lady;" others, “ I'll warrant you, she is no better than she should be:” and one very wise
old lady said, she ought to have been taken up. Mr. Spectator, I think this matter lies wholly before you:
for the offence does not come under any law, though it is apparent this creature came among us only to give herself airs, and enjoy her full swing in being admired. I desire you will print this, that she may be confined to her own parish; for I can assure you there is no attending any thing else in a place where she is a novelty. She has been talked of among us ever since under the name of “ the phantom :" but I would advise her to come no more ; for there is so strong a party made by the women against her, that she must expect they will not be excelled a second time in so outrageous a manner, without doing her some insult. Young women, who assume after this rate, and affect exposing themselves to: view in congregations at the other end of the town, are not so mischievous, because they are rivalled by more of the same ambition, who will not let the rest of the company be particular: but in the name of the whole congregation where I was, I desire you to keep these agreeable disturbances out of the city, where sobriety of manners is still preserved, and all glaring and ostentatious behaviour, even in things laudable, discountenanced. I wish you may never see the phantom, and am,
Your most humble servant, T.
No. 504. WEDNESDAY, OCT. 8, 1712.
Lepus tute es, et pulpamentum quæris.
TER. Eun. Act ii. Sc. 1. You are a hare yourself, and want dainties, forsooth.
It is a great convenience to those who want wit to furnish out a conversation, that there is something or other in all companies where it is wanted substituted in its stead, which, according to their taste, does the business as well. Of this nature is the agreeable pastime in country-halls of cross purposes, questions, and commands, and the like. A little superior to these are those who can play at crambo, or cap verses. Then above them are such as can make verses, that is, rhyme; and among those who have the Latin tongue, such as use to make what they call golden verses. Commend me also to those who have not brains enough for any of these exercises, and yet do not give up their pretensions to mirth.
These can slap you on the back unawares, laugh loud, ask you how you do with a twang on your shoulders, say you are dull to-day, and laugh a voluntary to put you in humour; not to mention the laborious way among the minor poets, of making things come into such and such a shape, as that of an egg, an hand, an axe, or any thing that nobody had ever thought on before for that purpose, or which would have cost them a great deal of pains to accomplish if they did. But all these methods, though they are mechanical, and may be arrived at with the smallest capacity, do not serve an honest gentleman, who wants wit for his ordinary occasions; therefore it is absolutely necessary