The Female Tatler by A Society of Ladies
Issue no. 67
(Wednesday December 7 to Friday December 9)
Emilia and I having at an India house muddled away a little of our own money, were sitting to observe the variety of the company that frequent those places, and how different their fancies were in pictures, fans, china, and such fashionable impertinences. Lady Praise-All surveyed the nick-nackatory, with an amazement, as if she had received a new sense-these cups were charming, those stones unparalleled, and such prodigious jars were never heard of-everything was displaced to oblige her ladyship's curiosity, who protested that she shouldn't grudge to spend an estate on things so prodigiously fine, drank a gallon of tea, and marched off without laying out a sixpence. Mrs. Trifleton came so full of commissions from ladies in the country that we thought she would have emptied the warehouse, and stared at the handsome 'prentice as if she expected to have him into the bargain. She wanted finer things than were ever made, and, could they have been had, would have demanded them cheaper than they were bought. She bid three half crowns for a two guinea fan, wanted chocolate, all nut, for eighteen pence a pound, and beat down the best Imperial tea to the price of Sage o' Virtue. Japan work, she thought at an excessive rate, China images were idolatrous, India pictures were the foolishest things, she'd have had them given her a dozen. At last, having positive orders from my Lady Smoak and Sot of Exeter, to buy her a stone spitting-pot, she shook her head at the dearness of it, and ordered them to set it down to her.
Mrs. Honeysuckle was two hours pleasing herself in a paper nosegay, and Mrs. Delf employed five people to match her grout cup. On a sudden, stops a leathern conveniency at the door, with four fellows of the world behind it, in the gayest liveries I ever saw, out of which comes a couple of quality Quakers. They moved in, like disdainful duchesses who complain of corns if they walk but cross a room, rolled about their sanctified eyes, as if it were condescension in them to appear upon earth, and with abundance of reluctancy, one of them vouchsafed us a bow, instead of a curtsy. Emilia and I were not a little pleased to remark the pride and singularity in dress, speech and behavior in that sect of people summed up in these two statues. Their clothes were costly and without making any show, and though they abominate profane pinners and topknots, yet, by the disposition of their locks and the artful crimping of their hoods upon wires, they showed themselves equally vain, and that they had taken as much pains to be particular as other ladies do to appear like the rest of the world, yet notwithstanding all their seeming plainness, the old man had crept in among them for watches, tweezer cases, and gold chains, and a patch or two to cover pretended pimples. When they had with secret satisfaction received all the ceremonious address of 'Ladies, you most obedient, do me the honor, etc.' which they expect from people of the world without vouchsafing any other return than a precise nod, in a sighing tone, they enquired for fine tea-tables, gilded cabinets, glass sconces, and all the richest things more proper to adorn the palace of a prince than to dizen out a yea and nay parlor in Hand Alley. Whatever bore a moderate price was trash and trumpery. 'Dost thee think my Ananias can his barley gruel out of such coarse ware?' But a Japan basin of ten guineas is fit for the pure ones to make a gooseberry fool in, and the pieces moved as gradually out of their pockets as if the spirit had directed each in its proper place, according to the seniority of their being coined.
Susanna, having drunk to much green tea, was seized with a violent fit of the colic, so that the creature Rosa Solis was forced to be called for. Rachel too, being an apprehensive of that diabolical distemper, by way of prevention, tasted of that tempting liquor, which they say, those carnal women called Duchesses guzzle. At that abominable rate, the demure sisters sipped up a whole quart, but their heads not being the least intoxicated with the pomps and the vanities of the world, it only made them cheerful, and being pure in spirit they were very much rejoiced.
But, as in this wicked age misfortunes will happen to afflict the upright, Colonel Sturdy, one of the greatest rakes that ever kept basset bank or carried doxy out of the side box, happened to reel in, seized upon Susanna, smuggled her as if she had been a beastly orange wench and swore so prodigiously that Rachel staggered, and was falling into a swoon, had not the Colonel left Susanna, and taken her into his arms. Rachel, though in wondrous confusion, had the presence of mind to say, 'Dear man, who art called Colonel, do anything to me, but don't swear.' Susanna, with robust zeal, divides Rachel and the Colonel, and told him that though he had the assurance to accost her in that lustful manner, he ought to have shown more reverence to Rachel, who had been a speaker these seven years. Rachel accused Susanna of incivility, and said, 'What the man did to thee, sister, was blame worthy, and though ought'st to chide him for't, but 'twas kind and tender in him to support my weakness, or I had stumbled and fell.'
In short, the sanctified sisters quarreled so about a libertine, whom even loose women that sin with some restraint abominate for his inconstancy, that 'twas with no small struggling they concealed their enmity from the servants, and went home together in the same coach. Emlia and I were so crowded with reflections on what we had seen, that we had hardly patience to vent them without interrupting each other, but at length our sentiments appeared to be much the same, that Quakers are the most designing, deceitful sect of creatures in the world, who assume more pride and exact more homage from their seeming sanctity, than the truly pious, who are always easy and unconstrained.
Their houses are as richly and gaily furnished as those of quality, their equipages as glaring, and though they affect a ridiculous habit, a primness of air, and screw themselves up like trussed rabbits, yet they are as foppish their way, and by little and little wink at one another in those modes and fancies, which they term Babylonish, idolatrous, and diabolical. They love music and dancing, though they won't practice it themselves, read play though they won't see them, will sneak into a tavern at the back door, fornicate with a Holy Sister, and if, by subtlety in trade, they can over-reach their neighbors, 'tis but engrossing to themselves the spoils of the wicked. The young Quakers of both sexes are so far gone from truth, as to arrive at most libertines of the age. The men play as high at Roly-Poly and the women coquet as much upon the walks, and 'tis no novelty nowadays to see, a Fleet Street Sylvia whip into a tavern with a Damon that had no button holes behind.
Lost in last July, behind the late Sir George Whitmore's, a maidenhead, the owner never having missed it till the person who since married her expected to have had it as part of her dowry. If the pastry cook in Fleet Street, who is supposed to have brought it away out of a frolic, will restore it again to Mrs. Sarah Stroakings, at the Cow-House at Islington, he shall be treated with a syllabub.
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