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I am likewise informed, that several wives of my dead men have, since the decease of their husbands, been seen in many public places, without inourning or regard to common decency.
I am further advised, that several of the defunct, contrary to the woollen act, presume to dress themselves in lace, embroidery, silks, muslins, and other ornaments forbidden to persons in their condition. These and other the like informations moving me thereunto, I must desire, for distinction sake, and to conclude this subject for ever, that when any of these posthumous persons appear, or are spoken of, that their wives may be called widows; their houses, sepulchres; their chariots, hearses; and their garments, flannel: on which condition, they shall be allowed all the conveniences that dead men can in reason desire.
As I was writing this morning on this subject, I received the following letter:
“ Mr. BICKERSTAFF, From the banks of Styr.
“ I must confess, I treated you very scurrilously when you first sent me bither; but you have dispatched such multitudes after me to keep me in countenance, that I am very well reconciled both to you and my condition. We live very lovingly to. gether; for as death makes us al equal, it makes us very much delight in one another's company. Our time passes away much after the same manner as it did when we were among you; eating, drinking, and sleeping are our chief diversions. Our Quidnuncs between whiles go to a coffee-house, where they have several warm liquors made of the waters of Lethe, with very good poppy-tea. We that are the sprightly geniuses of the place refresh ourselves frequently with a bottle of mum, and tell stories until we fall asleep. You would do well to send
among us Mr. Dodwell's book against the immor. tality of the soul, which would be of great consolation to our whole fraternity, who would be very glad to find that they are dead for good and all, and would in particular make me rest for ever
JOHN PARTRIDGE. « P. S. Sir James is just arrived here in good health.”
The foregoing letter was the more pleasing to me, because I perceive some little symptoms in it of a resuscitation; and having lately seen the predictions of this author, which are written in a true Protestant spirit of prophecy, and a particular zeal against the French king, I have some thoughts of sending for him from the banks of Styx, and reinstating him in his own house, at the sign of the Globe in Salisburystreet. For the encouragement of him and others, I shall offer to their consideration a letter, which gives me an account of the revival of one of their 'brethren.
December 31. “ I have perused your Tatler of this day, and have wept over it with great pleasure; I wish you would be more frequent in your family-pieces. For as I consider you under the notion of a great designer, I think these are not your least valuable performances. I am glad to find you have given over your face-painting for some time, because I think you have employed yourself more in grotesque figures than in beauties; for which reason I would rather see you work upon history-pieces, than on single portraits. Your several draughts of dead men appear to me as pictures of still-life, and have done great good in the place where I live. The esquire
of a neighbouring village, who had been a long time in the number of non-entities, is entirely recovered by them. For these several years past, there was not an hare in the county that could be at rest for him; and I think, the greatest exploit he ever boasted of was, that when he was high sheriff of the county, he hunted a fox so far, that he could not follow him any further by the laws of the land. All the hours he spent at home, were in swelling himself with October, and rehearsing the wonders he did in the field. Upon reading your papers, he has sold his dogs, shook off his dead companions, looked into his estate, got the multiplication-table by heart, paid his tithes, and intends to take upon him the office of church-warden next year. I wish the same 'success with your other patients, and am, &c.”
Ditto, January 9. · When I came home this evening, a very tight middle-aged woman presented to me the following petition :
“. To the Worshipful Isaac BICKERSTAFF, Esquire,
Censor of Great Britain. “ The humble petition of PENELOPE Prim, Widow, . “ Showeth, , “ That your petitioner was bred a clear-starcher and sempstress, and for many years worked to the Exchange, and to several aldermen's wives, lawyers' clerks, and merchants’.apprentices. "." That through the scarcity caused by regrators of bread-corn, of which starch is made, and the gentry's immoderate frequenting the operas, the ladies, to saye charges, have their heads washed at home, and the beaux put out their linen to common laun.' dresses. So that your petitioner has little or no work at her trade: for want of which, she is reduced to such necessity, that she and her seven fatherless children must inevitably perish, unless relieved by your worship.
« That your petitioner is informed, that in contempt of your judgment pronounced on Tuesday the third instant against the new-fashioned petticoat, or old-fashioned fardingal, the ladies design to go on in that dress. And since it is presumed your worship will not suppress them by force, your petitioner humbly desires you would order, that ruffs may be added to the dress; and that she may be heard by her counsel, who has assured your petitioner, he has such cogent reasons to offer to your court, that ruffs and fardingals are inseparable, that he questions not but two-thirds of the greatest beauties about town will have cambric collars on their necks before the end of Easter term next. He further says, that the design of our great grandmothers in this petticoat, was to appear much bigger than the life; for which reason they had false shoulder-blades, like wings, and the ruff above mentioned, to make the upper and lower parts of their bodies appear proportionable; whereas the figure of a woman in the present dress bears, as he calls it, the figure of a cone, which, as he advises, is the same with that of an extinguisher, with a little knob at the upper end, and widening downward, until it ends in a basis of a most enormous circumference.
“ Your petitioner, therefore, most humbly prays, that you would restore the ruft to the fardingal,. which in their nature ought to be as inseparable as the two Hungarian twins*.
« Ånd your petitioner shall ever pray.” * Helen and Judith, two united twin-sisters, were born at Tzoni, in Hungary, Oct. 26, 1701; lived to the age of twentyone, and died in a convent at Petersburg, Feb. 23, 1723.
I have examined into the allegations of this petition, and find, by several ancient pictures of my own predecessors, particularly that of Dame Deborah Bickerstaff, my great grandmother, that the ruff and fardingal are made use of as absolutely necessary to preserve the symmetry of the figure; and Mrs. Pyramid Bickerstaff, her second sister, is recorded in our family-book, with some observations to her disadvantage, as the first female of our house that discovered, to any besides her nurse and her husband, an inch below her chin, or above her instep. This convinces me of the reasonableness of Mrs. Prim's demand; and, therefore, I shall not allow the reviving of any one part of that ancient mode, except the whole is complied with. Mrs. Prim is, therefore, hereby impowered to carry home ruffs to such as she shall see in the abovementioned petticoats, and require payment on de
** Mr. Bickerstaff has under consideration the offer from the corporation of Colchester of four hundred pounds per annum, to be paid quarterly, provided that all his dead persons shall be obliged to wear the baize of that place.