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No. 129 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 129
Saturday, July 28, 1711.

‘Vertentem sese frustra sectabere canthum,

Cum rota posterior curras et in axe secundo.’


Great Masters in Painting never care for drawing People in the Fashion; as very well knowing that the Headdress, or Periwig, that now prevails, and gives a Grace to their Portraitures at present, will make a very odd Figure, and perhaps look monstrous in the Eyes of Posterity. For this Reason they often represent an illustrious Person in a Roman Habit, or in some other Dress that never varies. I could wish, for the sake of my Country Friends, that there was such a kind of everlasting Drapery to be made use of by all who live at a certain distance from the Town, and that they would agree upon such Fashions as should never be liable to Changes and Innovations. For want of this standing Dress, a Man [who [1]] takes a Journey into the Country is as much surprised, as one [who [1]] walks in a Gallery of old Family Pictures; and finds as great a Variety of Garbs and Habits in the Persons he converses with. Did they keep to one constant Dress they would sometimes be in the Fashion, which they never are as Matters are managed at present. If instead of running after the Mode, they would continue fixed in one certain Habit, the Mode would some time or other overtake them, as a Clock that stands still is sure to point right once in twelve Hours: In this Case therefore I would advise them, as a Gentleman did his Friend who was hunting about the whole Town after a rambling Fellow, If you follow him you will never find him, but if you plant your self at the Corner of any one Street, I’ll engage it will not be long before you see him.

I have already touched upon this Subject in a Speculation [which [1]] shews how cruelly the Country are led astray in following the Town; and equipped in a ridiculous Habit, when they fancy themselves in the Height of the Mode. Since that Speculation I have received a Letter (which I there hinted at) from a Gentleman who is now in the Western Circuit.


‘Being a Lawyer of the Middle-Temple, [a [2]] Cornishman by Birth, I generally ride the Western Circuit for my health, and as I am not interrupted with Clients, have leisure to make many Observations that escape the Notice of my Fellow-Travellers.

One of the most fashionable Women I met with in all the Circuit was my Landlady at Stains, where I chanced to be on a Holiday. Her Commode was not half a Foot high, and her Petticoat within some Yards of a modish Circumference. In the same Place I observed a young Fellow with a tolerable Periwig, had it not been covered with a Hat that was shaped in the Ramillie Cock. [3] As I proceeded in my Journey I observed the Petticoat grew scantier and scantier, and about threescore Miles from London was so very unfashionable, that a Woman might walk in it without any manner of Inconvenience.

Not far from Salisbury I took notice of a Justice of Peace’s Lady [who [4]] was at least ten Years behindhand in her Dress, but at the same time as fine as Hands could make her. She was flounced and furbelowed from Head to Foot; every Ribbon was wrinkled, and every Part of her Garments in Curl, so that she looked like one of those Animals which in the Country we call a Friezeland Hen.

Not many Miles beyond this Place I was informed that one of the last Year’s little Muffs had by some means or other straggled into those Parts, and that all Women of Fashion were cutting their old Muffs in two, or retrenching them, according to the little Model [which [5]] was got among them. I cannot believe the Report they have there, that it was sent down frank’d by a Parliament-man in a little Packet; but probably by next Winter this Fashion will be at the Height in the Country, when it is quite out at London.