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at this circumstance in Mahomet's life, as what was altogether impossible and absurd: but conversing one day with a great doctor in the law, who had the gift of working miracles, the doctor told him he would quickly convince him of the truth of this passage in the history of Mahomet, if he would consent to do what he should desire of him. Upon this the sultan was directed to place himself by an huge tub of water, which he did accordingly; and as he stood by the tub amidst a circle of his great men, the holy man bid him plunge his head into the water, and draw it up again; the king accordingly thrust his head into the water, and at the same time found himself at the foot of a mountain on a sea-shore. The king immediately began to rage against his doctor for this piece of treachery and witchcraft; but at length, knowing it was in vain to be angry, he set himself to think on proper methods for getting a livelihood in this strange country: accordingly he applied himself to some people whom he saw at work in a neighbouring wood; these people conducted him to a town that stood at a little distance from the wood, where, after some adventures, he married a woman of great beauty and fortune. He lived with this woman so long that he had by her seven sons and seven daughters: he was afterwards reduced to great want, and forced to think of plying in the streets as a porter for his livelihood. One day as he was walking alone by the sea-side, being seized with many melancholy reflections upon his former and his present state of life, which had raised a fit of devotion in him, he threw off his clothes with a design to wash himself, according to the custom of the Mahometans, before he said his prayers.
After his first plunge into the sea, he no sooner raised his head above the water but he found himself standing by the side of the tub, with the great men of his court about him, and the holy man at his side. He immediately upbraided his teacher for having sent him on such a course of adventures, and betrayed him into so long a state of misery and servitude; but was won
derfully surprised when he heard that the state he talked of was only a dream and delusion; that he had not stirred from the place where he then stood ; and that he had only dipped his head into the water, and immediately taken it out again.
The Mahometan doctor took this occasion of instructing the sultan, that nothing was impossible with God; and that He, with whom a thousand years are but as one day, can, if he pleases, make a single day, nay, a single moment, appear to any of his creatures as a thousand years.
I shall leave my reader to compare these eastern fables with the notions of those two great philosophers whom I have quoted in this paper ; and shall only, by way of application, desire him to consider how we may extend life beyond its natural dimensions, by applying | ourselves diligently to the pursuits of knowledge.
The hours of a wise man are lengthened by his ideas, as those of a fool are by his passions : the time of the one is long, because he does not know what to do with it; so is that of the other, because he distinguishes every moment of it with useful or amusing thoughts; or, in other words, because the one is always wishing it away, and the other always enjoying it.
How different is the view of past life, in the man who is grown old in knowledge and wisdom, from that of him who is grown old in ignorance and folly! The latter is like the owner of a barren country, that fills his eye with the prospect of naked hills and plains, which produce nothing either profitable or ornamental; the other beholds a beautiful and spacious landscape, divided into delightful gardens, green meadows, fruitful fields; and can scarce cast his eye on a single spot of his possessions, that is not covered with some beautiful plant or flower.
• The plain good sense which runs through the former of these two papers, on the employment of time, and the ingenuity of the last, may satisfy us that the author possessed, in an eminent degree, the two great qualities of a popular moralistsimul et jucunda et idonca dicere vitæ."
No. 98. FRIDAY, JUNE 22.
Tanta est quærendi cura decoris.
THERE is not so variable a thing in nature as a lady's head-dress : within my own memory I have known it rise and fall above thirty degrees. About ten years ago it shot up to a very great height, insomuch that the female part of our species were much taller than the
The women were of such an enormous stature, that we appeared as grasshoppers before them :' at present the whole sex is in a manner dwarfed and shrunk into a race of beauties that seems almost another species. I remember several ladies, who were once very near seven foot high, that at present want some inches of five: how they came to be thus curtailed I cannot learn; whether the whole sex be at present under any penance which we know nothing of, or whether they have cast their head-dresses in order to surprise us with something in that kind which shall be entirely new; or whether some of the tallest of the sex, being too cunning for the rest, have contrived this method to make themselves appear sizeable, is still a secret; though I find most are of opinion, they are at present like trees new lopped and pruned, that will certainly sprout up and flourish with greater heads than before. For my own part, as I do not love to be insulted by women who are taller than myself, I admire the sex much more in their present humiliation, which has reduced them to their natural dimensions, than when they had extended their persons, and lengthened themselves out into formidable and gigantic figures. I
It should further be observed, how exactly the style of these papers corresponds to the subject of them; simple, pure, perspicuous, in the highest degree; such, in a word, as shews the writer to be in earnest, and not, like Seneca, solicitous to illustrate himself, rather than the truths he delivers (which are best seen by their own light), in the false glare of an ambitious rhetoric.
am not for adding to the beautiful edifice of nature, nor for raising any whimsical superstructure upon her plans: I must, therefore, repeat it, that I am highly pleased with the coiffure now in fashion, and think it shews the good sense which at present very much reigns among the valuable part of the sex. One may observe, that women in all ages have taken more pains than men to adorn the outside of their heads; and, indeed, I very much admire, that those female architects, who raise such wonderful structures out of ribbons, lace, and wire, have not been recorded for their respective inventions. It is certain there have been as many orders in these kinds of building, as in those which have been made of marble : sometimes they rise in the shape of a pyramid, sometimes like a tower, and sometimes like a steeple.
In Juvenal's time the building grew by several orders and stories, as he has very humourously described it.
Tot premit ordinibus, tot adhuc compagibus altum
But I do not remember, in any part of my reading, that the head-dress aspired to so great an extravagance as in the fourteenth century; when it was built up in a couple of cones or spires, which stood so excessively high on each side of the head, that a woman who was but a Pigmy without her head-dress, appeared like a Colossus upon putting it on.
Monsieur Paradin says, " That these old fashioned fontanges rose an ell above the head; that they were pointed like steeples, and had long loose pieces of crape fastened to the tops of them, which were curiously fringed, and hung down their backs like streamers.'
The women might possibly have carried this Gothic building much higher, had not a famous monk, Thomas Connecte by name, attacked it with great zeal and resolution. This holy man travelled from place to place to preach down this monstrous commode; and suc
ceeded so well in it, that as the magicians sacrificed their books to the flames upon the preaching of an apostle, many of the women threw down their headdresses in the middle of his sermon, and made a bonfire of them within sight of the pulpit. He was so renowned, as well for the sanctity of his life as his manner of preaching, that he had often a congregation of twenty thousand people; the men placing themselves on the one side of his pulpit, and the women on the other, that appeared (to use the similitude of an ingenious writer) like a forest of cedars with their heads reaching to the clouds. He so warmed and animated the people against this monstrous ornament, that it lay under a kind of persecution; and whenever it appeared in public, was pelted down by the rabble, who flung stones at the persons that wore it. But notwithstanding this prodigy vanished while the preacher was among them, it began to appear again some months after his departure; or, to tell it in Monsieur Paradin's own words, “ The women, that, like snails in a fright, had drawn in their horns, shot them out again as soon as the danger was over.' This extravagance of the women's head-dresses in that age is taken notice of by Monsieur D'Argentre in his History of Bretagne, and by other historians as well as the person I have here quoted.
It is usually observed, that a good reign is the only time for the making of laws against the exorbitance of power; in the same manner an excessive head-dress may be attacked the most effectually when the fashion is against it. I do, therefore, recommend this paper to my female readers by way of prevention,
I would desire the fair sex to consider how impossible it is for them to add any thing that can be ornamental to what is already the master-piece of nature. The head has the most beautiful appearance, as well as the highest station, in a human figure. Nature has laid
. To use the similitude of an ingenious writer] An artful apology for the following hpyerbolical similitude.