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Title: The Fashionable World Displayed
Author: Owen, John
Language: English
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Transcribed from the L. B. Seeley 1817 (eighth) edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org, using scans made available by the British
Library.

                          [Picture: Book cover]



                                   THE
                            Fashionable World
                                DISPLAYED.


                                * * * * *

                                  BY THE
                         _REV. JOHN OWEN_, _A.M._

            LATE FELLOW OF CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE;
                     AND RECTOR OF PAGLESHAM, ESSEX.

                                * * * * *

                             VELUTI IN SPECULUM.

                                                              _THE STAGE_.

                                * * * * *

                             Eighth Edition.

                                * * * * *

                                 LONDON:
                                 PRINTED
                     FOR L. B. SEELEY, FLEET STREET.
                                  1817.

                                * * * * *

                                    TO
                            THE RIGHT REVEREND
                           BEILBY PORTEUS, D.D.
                         _LORD BISHOP OF LONDON_,
                          NOT MORE DISTINGUISHED
                                    BY
                       HIS ELOQUENCE AS A PREACHER,
                       HIS VIGILANCE AS A PRELATE,
                       HIS SANCTITY AS A CHRISTIAN,
                                   AND
                       HIS VARIOUS ACCOMPLISHMENTS
                                    AS
                           A SCHOLAR AND A MAN,
                                 THAN BY
                       HIS INDEFATIGABLE EXERTIONS
                          TO DETECT THE ERRORS,
                           REBUKE THE FOLLIES,
                                   AND
                            REFORM THE VICES,
                                  OF THE
                            FASHIONABLE WORLD,
                          THE FOLLOWING ATTEMPT
                     TO BENEFIT THAT PART OF SOCIETY,
                     BY MEANS TOO FREQUENTLY EMPLOYED
                              TO CORRUPT IT,
                                    IS
                         RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED,
                                    BY
                         HIS LORDSHIP’S FAITHFUL
                                   AND
                             DUTIFUL SERVANT,

                                                               THE AUTHOR.

_Fulham_.



ADVERTISEMENT
TO THE
_EIGHTH EDITION_.


THE following little Work was originally published in the Spring of 1804,
under the assumed name of Theophilus Christian, Esq.  From the high
commendation bestowed on it by the late Bishop Porteus, the Author was
induced to avow himself in the second impression, and to prefix a
Dedication, in which he endeavoured to do some justice to the merits of
that Prelate, whose character he united with the public in revering, and
whose patronage and friendship he had the honour to enjoy.

The Author is not insensible to the degree of improvement in the general
tone of society, which has rendered certain strictures on the grosser
qualities of a Fashionable character, somewhat less appropriate than they
were at the period of their first publication.  He wishes, however, he
could convince himself, that the improvement to which he alludes, and of
which he desires to speak with becoming respect, were not to be
interpreted as originating more in _humour_ than in _principle_, and as
indicating rather the progress of refinement than the influence of
virtue.  The peccant evil, he is sorry to observe, continues to exist;
and, however the form of its operation may have been varied, its spirit
remains the same.  On this account, it did not appear to the Author
expedient to tamper with his text.  He felt persuaded that its
application will be found sufficiently accurate for every practical
purpose; and he could not consent to weaken its force by over-scrupulous
concessions to the pleadings of candour, or the requirements of temporary
accommodation.

If an apology should be thought necessary for the little place which has
been allowed for remarks of a purely religious description, that apology
will be furnished by the nature and design of the Work.  To produce a
disaffection to a life of sense, with all its blandishments, and under
all its modifications, was the end which the Author proposed to himself;
and his means were chosen with a reference to that end.  In whatever
degree he may succeed in effecting it, he will think that he has gained
no ordinary point; inasmuch as they who despair of happiness in the ways
of sin, are so far prepared to embrace that godliness, which is
“profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and
of that which is to come.”

_Fulham_, _February_ 28, 1817.



INTRODUCTION.


I HAVE often been surprised, that among the many descriptions which
ingenious writers have given of places and people comparatively
insignificant, no complete and systematic account has yet been written of
the Fashionable World.  It is true, that our poets and caricaturists have
honoured this people with a great share of their notice, and many
particulars, not a little edifying, have been made known, through the
medium of their admirable publications.  It is also true, that our
prose-writers have occasionally cast a very pertinent glance over this
fairy ground.  Some of these latter have even gone so far, as to write
absolute treatises upon certain parts of the Fashionable character.  Mrs.
More, for example, has delineated the religion, and Lord Chesterfield the
morals, of this singular people with the greatest exactness and
precision.  Nor would it be just to overlook the very acceptable labours
of those writers who, in their Court-calendars and Court-almanacks, bring
us acquainted, from time to time, with the modes of dress which prevail
in the Fashionable World, and the names of its most distinguished
inhabitants.  But after all that has been done, towards exhibiting the
manners, and unfolding the character, of this splendid community, much
remains to be done: for though certain details have been well enough
handled, yet I repeat, that a complete and systematic account of the
Fashionable World, is still a desideratum in Cosmography.

I am far from pretending to either the ability or the design of supplying
this deficiency.  The utmost that I propose to myself, is to bring more
particulars into a group, than former writers have done; and to exhibit
an outline, upon which others of more enlarged experience may improve.
It seems to me of great importance to the interests of society, that its
members should be known to each other: and of this I am persuaded, that
if there be one description of people, the knowledge of whose genuine
character would be more edifying to mankind than another, it is—the
people of Fashion.



CONTENTS.


                             CHAP. I.—PAGE 1.
                 _Situation—Boundaries—Climate—Seasons_.

                            CHAP. II.—PAGE 19.
                         _Government—Laws_, _&c._

                           CHAP. III.—PAGE 46.
                         _Religion and Morality_.

                            CHAP. IV.—PAGE 73.
                               _Education_.

                            CHAP. V.—PAGE 89.
                           _Manners—Language_.

                           CHAP. VI.—PAGE 108.
                           _Dress—Amusements_.

                           CHAP. VII.—PAGE 127.
                   _Happiness of the People estimated_.

                          CHAP. VIII.—PAGE 142.
            _Defect of the System—Plans of Reform—Conclusion_.



CHAP. I.


SITUATION—BOUNDARIES—CLIMATE—SEASONS.

THOUGH I do not undertake to write a geographical account of the
Fashionable World, yet I should think myself highly culpable were I to
pass over this interesting part of the subject wholly in silence.  My
readers must be at the same time cautioned, not to form their
expectations of the geography of Fashion from that of other countries.
The fact is, that the whole community which sustains this appellation,
extensive as it is, can scarcely be treated as having any peculiar or
exclusive locality.  The individuals who compose it, are not, it is true,
absolute wanderers, like the tribes of Arabia; nor yet are they regular
settlers, like the convicts at Botany Bay: but moveable and migratory to
a certain degree, and to a certain degree stationary and permanent, they
live among the inhabitants of the parent country; neither absolutely
mixing with them, nor yet actually separated from them.

This paradoxical state of the people renders it not a little difficult to
reduce their territory within the rules of geographical description.
They have, it is true, their _degrees_ and their _circles_; but these
terms are used by people of Fashion in a sense so different from that
which geographers have assigned them, that they afford no sort of
assistance to the topographical enquirer.  It is, I presume, on this
account, that in all the improvements which have been made upon the
globe, nothing has been done towards settling the meridian of Fashion;
and though the Laplanders, the Hottentots, and the Esquimaux, have places
assigned them, no more notice is taken of the people of Fashion, than if
they either did not exist, or were not worthy of being mentioned.

The only expedient, therefore, to which a writer can resort, in this
dearth of geographical materials, is that of designating the territory of
Fashion by the ordinary names of the several places through which it
passes.  And this is, in fact, strictly conformable to that usage which
prevails in the language and communication of the people themselves: for
London, Tunbridge, Bath, Weymouth, &c. are, in their mouths, names for
little else than the lands and societies of Fashion which they
respectively contain.

Now, the portion of each place to which Fashion lays claim, is neither
definite as to its dimensions, nor fixed as to its locality.  In London,
a small proportion of the whole is Fashionable; in Bath, the proportion
is greater; and in some watering-places of the latest creation, Fashion
puts in her demand for nearly the whole.  The locality of its domains is
also contingent and mutable.  Various circumstances concur in
determining, when a portion of ground shall become Fashionable, and when
it shall cease to be such.  The only rule of any steadiness with which I
am acquainted, and which chiefly relates to the metropolis, is that which
prescribes a _western_ latitude: {5} if this be excepted, (which indeed
admits of no relaxation,) events of very little moment decide all the
rest.  If, for example, a Duchess, or the wife of some
bourgeois-gentilhomme, who has purchased the privileges of the order,
should open a suite of rooms for elegant society in any new quarter, the
soil is considered to receive a sort of consecration by such a
circumstance; and an indefinite portion of the vicinity is added to the
territory of Fashion.  If, on the other hand, a shop be opened, a sign
hung out, or any symptom of business be shewn, in a quarter that has
hitherto been a stranger to every sound but the rattling of carriages,
the thunder of knockers, and the vociferation of coachmen and servants,
it is ten to one but the privileges of Fashion are withdrawn from that
place; and the whole range of buildings is gradually given up to those,
who are either needy enough to keep shops, or vulgar enough to endure
them.  Now, it happens as a consequence from this adoption of new soil
and disfranchisement of old, that the territory of Fashion is extremely
irregular and interrupted.  A traveller, determined to pursue its
windings, would soon be involved in a most mysterious labyrinth; his
track would be crossed by portions of country which throw him repeatedly
out of his beat: insomuch that his progress would resemble that of a
naturalist, who, in tracing the course of a mineral through the bowels of
the earth, encounters various breaks and intersections, and often finds
the corresponding parts of the same stratum unaccountably separated from
each other.

It would be only fatiguing the reader to say more upon the topographical
part of my subject.  It is obvious, from what has been stated, that the
regions of Fashion, considered as a whole, are rather numerous than
compact: and, indeed, such difference of opinion subsists among the
people themselves upon the territories which are entitled to that name,
that no correct judgment can be pronounced upon a question of so great
controversy.  Thus much, however, may be affirmed, that there is scarcely
a market-town in the kingdom, in which some portion of land is not
invested with Fashionable privileges; and designated by such terms, as
mark the wish of the inhabitants, to have it considered as forming part
and parcel of the demesnes of Fashion.

The _Climate_ of Fashion is almost entirely factitious and artificial;
and consequently differs in many material respects from the natural
temperature of those several places over which its jurisdiction extends.
Though changes from heat to cold, and vice versa, are very common among
these people, yet heat may be said to be the prevailing character of the
climate.  They appear to me to have but two Seasons in the year; these
they call, in conformity to ordinary language, rather than to just
calculation, Winter and Summer.  Of Summer little is known: for it seems
to be a rule among this people, to disband and disperse at the approach
of it; and not to rally or re-unite, till the Winter has fairly
commenced.  Though, therefore, they exist somehow or somewhere, {10}
during the Summer months; they wish it to be considered, that they do not
exist under their Fashionable character.  They wash themselves in the
sea, drink laxative waters, lose a little money at billiards, or catch a
few colds at public rooms; but all these things they do as individuals,
and wholly out of their corporate capacity as members of the community of
Fashion.  So that in their mode of disposing of the Summer, they invert
the standing rule of most other animals; they choose the fair season for
their torpid state, and shew no signs of life but during the Winter.  It
is not easy to say exactly when the Winter _begins_ in the Fashionable
World; an inhabitant of Bath would have one mode of reckoning, and an
inhabitant of London another.  To do justice to the subject, the
commencement of Winter ought to be regulated by the former of these
places, and the close of it by the latter.  Supposing, therefore, that it
begins some time in November, there can be no difficulty in settling its
duration; for the 4th of June {12} is, by a tacit yet binding ordinance,
considered as a limit, which a Fashionable Winter can seldom, if ever,
exceed.

There are many circumstances in which the Climate of Fashion stands
peculiarly distinguished from every other.  It has already been intimated
that heat is its prevailing characteristic: it is, moreover, not a little
remarkable, that this heat is at its highest point in the Winter season;
and that the inhabitants often perspire more freely when the snow is upon
the ground, than they do in the dog-days.  The truth is, that, as was
before said, the Climate is wholly created by artificial circumstances,
and the natural temperature of the air is completely done away.  The sort
of communication which these people keep up with each other, is
considered to require a species of apparatus which fills their atmosphere
with an immoderate degree of phlogiston.  Besides this, they are
notoriously fond of assembling in insufferable crowds; and travellers
have assured us, that they have often witnessed from ten to twelve
hundred persons suffocating each other, within a space which would
scarcely have afforded convenient accommodation for a dozen families.
And this may enable us in some measure to account for the little benefit
which modish invalids are said to derive from their frequent removals to
the healthiest spots in the universe.  The original object of such a
prescription was doubtless to change the air; and certainly no expedient
could have been better imagined for bracing a constitution relaxed by too
intense application to the business of a Fashionable life.  But the
usages of the order render a change of air, to any salutary purpose,
utterly impracticable: for the weakest members of the community consider
themselves bound to kindle a flame wherever they go; and thus they
breathe the same phlogisticated air all over the world.

They profess to adopt the ordinary divisions of time; and they talk like
other people of _Day_ and _Night_: but their mode of computing each is so
vague and unnatural, that inhabitants of the same meridian with
themselves scarcely understand what they mean by the terms.  A great part
of this difficulty may possibly arise from the very small portion of
solar light with which they are visited.  For certain it is, that no
people upon earth have less benefit from the light of the sun than the
people of Fashion; so that if it were not for torches, candles, and
lamps, they would scarcely ever see each other’s faces.

With regard to the constitutions of these people, I have been inclined to
think them naturally robust, from observing the astonishing heat and
fatigue which they are accustomed to endure.  And in this respect the
women have appeared to evince an uncommon degree of hardiness: for,
besides that they wear on every occasion a lighter species of clothing
than the men, I have been confidently told that many among them will
appear, in the severest part of the season, with dresses of such
transparency and scantiness, as convince every beholder that they who
wear them are utter strangers to the weaknesses of the sex.  There is,
however, some room for doubting, whether the air which this people
breathe, and the usages which prevail among them, are favorable to the
constitution.  Their patience of fatigue has been thought to be wholly
the result of habit, and their hardiness has been conjectured to be
little more than an air of extravagance and bravado.  The frequent
transitions which they make from heat to cold, and back again from cold
to heat; perhaps half-a-dozen times in as many hours; must very
materially diminish the physical strength of their bodies.  Certain it
is, that their natural countenances do not betray the usual symptoms of
health; and it is, I believe, admitted, that instances of extraordinary
longevity are not very common among them.



CHAP. II.


GOVERNMENT—LAWS, &c.

THE History of the Fashionable World is a sort of undertaking, which, to
be accurately executed, would require abundantly more leisure and
diligence than I could afford to bestow upon it: and I very much doubt,
whether, after all, one reader out of a hundred would be at the pains of
perusing it.  The fact is, that the members of this community are not
sufficiently substantial to form historical pictures.  Their employments
are not of a nature to make their memory an object with mankind.  Hence,
though they make a splendid appearance in a ball-room, they appear to
little advantage in a record; and, like the dancing figures in a
magic-lantern, they seem to have answered the end of their being, when
they have afforded an evening’s amusement.  For these and other reasons
which might be assigned, I shall content myself with giving a brief
account of their Polity and Laws; referring those of my readers who are
desirous of further information upon their history, to Novels and
Romances, and to such Chronicles of antiquity, as have preserved the
memorials of obsolete and superannuated manners.

It is a task of no ordinary difficulty to convey any tolerable idea of
this people, in their aggregate or national capacity.  Consisting, as
they do, of various and detached societies, they are yet considered to
possess a sort of federal relation among each other; and to unite into an
imaginary whole, under the collective denomination of the Fashionable
World.  It is under this aggregate character that they take their rank in
society; and the appellation which denotes their community, is recognised
by the tradesmen who advertise for their custom, and the politicians who
discourse of their affairs.  A very handsome proportion of the daily
newspapers is devoted to their service; and intelligence from their
drawing-rooms is reported with as much regularity as that which is
derived from the first cabinets in Europe.  Indeed, the minuteness with
which their routs and dances, their dresses and dainties, the expressions
they utter, the company they keep, and the excesses they commit, are
detailed, is at once an evidence that these people are considered to have
a corporate existence; and that no little consequence is attached to
their proceedings.  I wish, with all my heart, that they thought a little
more of this; they would then scarcely run into such extravagancies, as
make them, on too many occasions, objects of ridicule to one part of
society, and dangerous examples to the other.

Their _Population_ is more fluctuating and uncertain than that of any
people upon the face of the earth.  There are among them certain tribes,
or families, distinguished by different descendable titles, who are said
to claim a sort of prescriptive right to the name of Fashionables.  In
these the federal appellation continues hereditary; and it is an axiom
among the body, that people of _Quality_ (for this is the term by which
they designate the titled gentry) can never be out of Fashion.

This is, it must be observed, their _own_ representation of the matter;
and I am inclined to suspect that there is no little management at the
bottom of it.  There is something, no doubt, very splendid in the idea of
including all the families of rank within the limits of Fashion; and it
is a mark of no contemptible policy, to have constructed an axiom which
so effectually cuts off their retreat.  But surely, it would be but
decent to allow the gentry of the realm to have a voice in the business.
There _have been_ times, in which many of our Nobles would have thought
themselves dishonoured by being presumed of course to sustain a
Fashionable character.  I cannot but think, that if the modern nobility
were fairly consulted, several of them would _still_ be found to
entertain the same opinion; and that persons of the first distinction in
the country would be among that number.

However that be, these dignified families are, according to Fashionable
computation, almost the only standing members of the community; and, if
these be excepted, all the rest of their body is mutable in the extreme.

There is a perpetual reciprocation of numbers between them and the
society in which they reside.  Scarcely an hour passes without some
interchange.  The gossip of every day announces that some have migrated
from the region of Fashion, and that others have made their appearance
within it for the first time.  The causes which produce these variations,
and the reasons by which they are defended, are in some instances too
mysterious, and in others too frivolous, to become subjects of recital.
In general it may be affirmed, that though persons become Fashionable
_with_ the concurrence of their will, they cease to be such _against_ it.
For, if a few accidental converts to plain sense and sober piety be
excepted, the greater part of those who retire have been superseded; and
resign their places, only because they cannot any longer retain them.
However that be, the fluctuation thus occasioned in the numbers and
characters of those who compose this Fashionable Community, diversifies
its complexion daily; and renders a precise account of its population and
totality utterly impossible.

The form of government subsisting among this people, so far as it can be
traced out, is Oligarchical, and the spirit of it is absolute and
despotical.  The few in whose hands the supreme authority resides, do not
consist of any regular or definite number, nor are they confined to any
particular sex.  In general, they are composed of persons out of both
sexes, who, while they exercise a separate influence in things relating
to the sexes respectively, possess also a common jurisdiction in matters
of universal concern.

The governing few are not invested with their authority by any
formalities of law; nor do they obtain their station by any specific
qualifications.  The magistracy which they hold, appears to be neither
hereditary nor elective, but contingent.  The term of their continuance
in power is also as indefinite and capricious, as the right by which they
acquire it.  One thing, however, is certain, that as a moral reputation
has no influence in recommending them to the stations they fill, so the
forfeiture of it in no degree weakens the stability, or abridges the
duration of their power.  That a government of this independent
description should exist in the heart of the British empire, an _imperium
in imperio_, will appear scarcely credible to my reader.  He may,
however, rely upon it, that the fact is as I have stated it; and if he
should express his wonder, that such contempt of the sovereign authority
as it eventually leads to, has not been properly resisted, he will only
do what thousands have done before him.

But to return:—The laws by which the government of Fashion is
administered, like the common law of England, are unwritten; and derive
their force, as that does, from usage and prescription.  The only code of
any note among this people, is that which they distinguish by the
collective appellation of the LAW of HONOUR.  This extraordinary code has
been defined to be—“a system of rules constructed by people of Fashion,
and calculated to facilitate their intercourse with one another.” {29}
Now if this definition be a just one, (and I presume it is, from the high
authority by which it is given,) it will afford us no indifferent help,
towards unfolding the mysteries of Fashionable jurisprudence.

It seems, then, that the _Law of Honour_, by which people of Fashion are
said to be governed, is wholly and exclusively designed to make them
acceptable to each other.  Now, not to mention other things, persons in a
Fashionable sphere cannot be strictly agreeable to each other, unless
they are well dressed; nor can that intercourse which they chiefly value,
be pleasantly maintained, without splendid equipages, choice wines, and
sumptuous entertainments.  As, therefore, the necessity of the case
requires such accommodations, the _Law of Honour_, to say the least, does
not look very nicely into the means by which they may have been procured.
Hence it follows, by the fairest inference, that a man of Fashion is not
at all the less respectable in his own circle, merely because he is what
the rest of the world calls unjust.  For, whatever may be the law
elsewhere, a man of Fashion can owe nothing to his inferiors: and his
character will therefore suffer no stain, though he should have broken
his word a thousand times with the reptile that made his clothes, built
his carriage, or furnished his table.

This law is also distinguished by many other features of toleration,
which well account for the respect and influence that it possesses in the
Fashionable World.  By a spirit of accommodation, of which there is no
other example, it overlooks, if it does not even encourage, a variety of
actions, which in the mouth of a moralist would be absolute vices; and
which, to say the truth, are scarcely deserving of a much better name.
Thus, a man may debauch his tenant’s daughter, seduce the wife of his
friend, and be faithless, and even brutal to his own, and yet be esteemed
a man of honour, (which is the same as a man of Fashion,) and have a
right to make any man fight him who says he is not.  In like manner, a
man may blaspheme God, and encourage his children and servants to do the
same; he may neglect the interests, and squander the property, of his
family; he may be a tyrant in his house, and a bully in the streets; he
may lie a-bed all day, and drink and game all night; and yet be a most
dutiful subject of the _Law of Honour_, and a shining character in the
society of Fashion.

There is, I own, much convenience in all this, and some consistency.
Persons who live only for this world, should have a proportionable
latitude allowed them for the employment of their animal propensities;
and the law which provides for the regulation of their conduct, should
have a special reference to this consideration.  Supposing, therefore,
that people of Fashion ought to exist, they must have such a law as that
which they possess.  So that, taking the Law of Honour in this connexion,
I cannot but think it a master-piece of political contrivance.

At the same time, I cannot agree with those who have been led to consider
this table of Fashionable jurisprudence as deserving a place in the
temple of Morality.  Into this error a celebrated writer appears to have
fallen, in his Treatise of Moral Philosophy.  For, having defined
morality to be “that science which teaches men their duty, and the
reasons of it,” he proceeds to cite the _Law of Honour_ as one of the
three rules by which men are governed.  That respectable writer has,
indeed, admitted that this law is _defective_, because it does not
provide for the duties to God and to inferiors; he has also proclaimed
that it is _bad_, by stating, that it allows of fornication, adultery,
drunkenness, prodigality, duelling, &c.  Still, however, he has rather
left us to infer, that it ought wholly to be rejected, than absolutely
told us so.  By classing it with the law of the land and the Scriptures,
he has (undesignedly no doubt) prevented its utter condemnation; and
afforded ground for considering it as a moral rule, to which men owe a
qualified obedience.

Having specified the sort of practices which the _Law of Honour_ allows,
I shall take some brief notice of the duties which it exacts.  The
principal of these, and that upon which its tone and spirit are most
peremptory, is the _resentment of injuries_.  Now it must be observed,
that the term _injury_, in the use of people of Fashion, is of a very
wide and comprehensive signification.  It not only means such an act of
outrage as amounts to a manifest and palpable wrong, but extends to every
dubious point of conduct, from which a Fashionable sophist could find
scope to infer an injurious intention.  Thus a sister seduced, and then
abandoned, and a word or a look not satisfactorily explained, are all
equally injuries; and constitute, in the spirit of this code, so many
obligations to the most lively and implacable resentment.  It may be,
that the offended person is of a peaceable disposition, and would rather
endure a moderate injury than revenge it; or he may have too much respect
for the laws of the parent state, to require or accept redress in any
other than the legal way; or he may know, that the offending party is a
man disposed to seek a quarrel, and that he desires nothing so much as to
provoke the innocent person, whom he has purposely insulted, to claim
satisfaction; or, lastly, it may be, that the supposed injury is founded
wholly on mistake, and that the reputed aggressor will not believe or own
himself to have offended, and will therefore make no atonement.  In all
these cases, personal resentment might as well be waved; but this the Law
of Honour positively forbids: and he who should conscientiously decline
to pursue a personal quarrel, upon these, or even higher motives, might
be a better father, a better husband, a better subject, and a better
Christian, for so doing; but he would certainly be a worse man of honour.

It is worthy of remark, that these reputed injuries are sometimes so
minute and transitory, or so remote and obscure, that, if every thing
depended upon the aggressor and the aggrieved, they would either remain
wholly undiscovered, or, at least, be speedily forgotten.  But each of
these consequences is not unfrequently defeated by the officious industry
of some kind-hearted being, who, though he loves his friend too well to
let him be insulted, can govern his feelings well enough to stand by and
see him murdered.  This is, certainly, a refinement upon the theory of
friendship, which may be fairly set down among the most extraordinary
achievements of the _Law of Honour_.  Indeed, this bloody code has many
such refinements.  For, proceeding, as it does, upon principles of its
own invention, it must necessarily clash with many antecedent
obligations.  These, however, it contrives, by the help of a little
sophistry, so to supersede, that neither affinity nor attachment may
impede the progress of honourable revenge: and hence we see, in
compliance with its rigid edicts, the warmest friends sacrifice to
resentment with as little reserve as the bitterest enemies; and that,
perhaps, to settle a tavern dispute, or to avenge a play-house quarrel!

Having said so much of the principal duty enjoined by the Law of Honour,
I shall offer a few observations upon the sort of punishment which it
inflicts.  I trust I shall be excused, if, in treating this part of my
subject, I employ the term _punishment_ in a sense not strictly similar
to that in which it is ordinarily used.  The fact is, that this singular
law makes the parties both judges in their own cause, and executioners of
their own sentence.  The universal award against every convicted offender
is, that he shall fight a duel with the offended party.  So that, if that
may be set down as punishment, which is ultimate in a controversy, and
which is exacted as a satisfaction to the law; death, or exposure to it,
is the lowest punishment which honour inflicts upon the least offender;
and the highest which it enforces upon the greatest.

And this is, I confess, a political incongruity, which I have not a
little difficulty in reconciling with the good sense of many who have
undertaken to defend it.  The law of England has often been blamed (and I
think with justice) as unreasonably sanguinary.  In answer to this charge
it has been said, that, though nearly two hundred offences of almost as
many degrees of guilt, are made equally punishable with death; yet
justice is administered with so much discretion and mercy, that the
penalty is inflicted only on a few.  Feeble as this excuse is, for a law
that deals in blood, it would be well for the law of Honour if it
admitted of such a palliation.  But the truth is, that in the latter case
there is nothing to abate the demand for blood—the prosecution of every
difference is both summary and vindictive: there is no tribunal to
enquire into the original matter of the quarrel; no judicature to
determine the real merits of the controversy: if the judgment be
erroneous, there is no court of equity to reverse the verdict; if
rigorous, there is no arm of mercy to withdraw the victim from suffering.

It must be evident from this view which has been presented of the law,
that, as an injury may be created by the most trivial incident, so
punishment may be inflicted with the most preposterous and unequal
retribution.  I cannot better illustrate the frivolous foundation upon
which an injury may be erected, than by adverting to an occurrence of
very recent date, and of sufficient notoriety in the Fashionable World.
Two men of Fashion, incensed against each other by an accidental quarrel
between their respective dogs, dropped, in their warmth, certain
expressions which rendered them amenable to the bloody code: duel was
declared indispensable: and in less than twelve hours, one of the two was
dispatched into eternity, and the other narrowly escaped the same fate.
{42}

The inequality of the retribution is, indeed, an inevitable consequence
of that article of the code which compels men of Fashion, without
distinction, to decide their differences by fighting a duel.  It results
from this promiscuous injunction, that the peaceable man must fight the
quarrelsome; that the heir of a noble family must meet the ruined
esquire; and that the man who has never drawn a trigger in his life, must
encounter the Fashionable ruffian, who has all his life been doing little
else.  This inequality is further manifest, from the different
circumstances and connexions of life under which the combatants may be
found.  The son of many hopes may be matched against the worthless
prodigal; the virtuous parent against the unprincipled seducer; and the
man of industry, usefulness, and beneficence, against the miscreant who
only lives to pamper his lusts, and to corrupt his fellow-creatures.
Nothing has here been said of the indiscriminate manner in which judgment
is executed.  The innocent and the guilty must both be involved in the
same awful contingency; each must put his life to hazard: and the
probability is, that, if one of the two should fall, it will be the man
whose conduct least entitled him to punishment, and whose life was most
worth preserving.

I forbear to enter further into the system of Fashionable government, or
to meddle with the inferior points of legislation.  What has been said of
the Law of Honour, will apply, with little variation, to every other
institution of minor concern.  To facilitate polite intercourse, and to
exclude, as much as may be, duties to God and inferiors, is a
considerable object in every regulation; and it is but justice to this
people to say, that, in this respect, they are at once consistent and
successful.



CHAP. III.


RELIGION AND MORALITY.

IN attempting to give an account of the _Religion_ of the people of
Fashion, I feel myself not a little embarrassed.  It were, indeed, very
much to be wished, that one of their own number would, in the name of the
rest, draw up a confession of their faith.  This is, perhaps, expecting
too much; and yet I cannot but think that it would be a very good
employment for some of those modish priests, who pass so much of their
time in the circles of Fashion.  They give every proof that they have
leisure for the undertaking: and the access which they have to these
people, by attending them so familiarly at their theatres, their operas,
and their routs, must render them perfectly masters of the subject.
However, as I am not aware that any thing of this nature is yet taken in
hand, I shall lay before my reader such observations as I have been able
to make; partly because it seems necessary to the perfection of my work,
that something should be said on the subject, and partly because I should
be unwilling to afford by my silence any ground for suspicion—that there
is _no_ religion in the Fashionable World.

I am, then, in the first place, decidedly of opinion, that people of
Fashion are not _Atheists_; though I am sufficiently aware, that some
strict religionists have entertained an opposite conviction.  It has been
contended by the latter, in support of their hypothesis, that people who
believed in a God would have some scruple about taking such liberties
with his name, and his attributes, and his threatenings, and, generally,
with all his moral prerogatives, as people of Fashion are accustomed to
do.  There is certainly something plausible in this sort of reasoning,
and I must candidly confess, that I have never yet seen it fairly
overthrown; but then I cannot think, that it proves their disbelief of a
God, though it certainly does prove their want of reverence for him.  It
seems to me, at the same time, probable, that the ideas of this people,
and those of stricter Christians, upon the subject of that reverence
which is due to the Deity, may differ sufficiently, to account for these
offensive liberties, without having recourse to the hypothesis of
atheism.  Indeed, when I consider the spirit and construction of that law
by which these people are bound, I can find other reasons for their
conduct in this respect, besides that which these theorists have
assigned.  For, to say the truth, those obnoxious expressions from which
so much has been inferred, are in perfect unison with the exclusion of a
Deity from the rules which regulate their intercourse with each other.
The more therefore I reflect on this subject, the more I am confirmed in
my opinion, that the charge of Atheism against them is without any just
foundation; and that their appeals to God in levity, earnestness, and
anger, are designed to shew their contempt of His authority, and not
their denial of his being.

I was for a long time of opinion, that these people were believers in
_Christ_; for I had observed, that his name was found in their
formularies of devotion, associated with their baptismal designation, and
frequently appealed to in their conversation with each other.  There
were, I confess, many things at the time which staggered me.  Having
taken up my ideas of the Saviour from those Scriptures which they profess
to receive as well as myself, I was not a little astonished at the
ultimate difference between us.  Their belief of a God was, I knew,
inevitable, and forced upon them by every thing in nature and experience;
I could therefore conceive, without much difficulty, how they could
subscribe to his being, and yet not hallow his name; but I could not with
equal facility conceive, that people should go out of their way to
embrace a solemn article of revealed religion, only that they might have
an opportunity of trifling with the holy name of Him, who was the author
and the object of that revelation.

I had, besides, occasion to remark, that this name was seldom appealed
to, but by the ladies; and it did not appear in the first instance
probable, that the gentlemen would leave them in exclusive possession of
a mode of imprecation by which any thing was meant.  These and other
circumstances excited in my mind a great deal of speculation.  I will
not, however, trouble my readers with the many conclusions which I drew
from them; since an event has occurred, which affords no indifferent
evidence, that belief in a Saviour does _not_ form an article of
Fashionable religion.  The event to which I refer, is the publication of
a Memoir of the late Lord Camelford.  In this Memoir the author professes
to acquaint the world with the last moments of a Fashionable young man
who had received a mortal wound in an affair of honour.  In perusing this
extraordinary narrative, I was much surprised at finding, that neither
the dying penitent (for such he is represented to have been) nor his
spiritual confessor ever once mentioned the name of _Christ_.  But when,
on further attention, I found his Lordship expressing a hope, that his
_own_ dying sufferings would expiate his sins, and placing his dependance
upon the mercy of his _Creator_; {53} I had only to conclude, that the
Divine was deterred from mentioning a name with which his office must
have made him familiar, out of respect for that Fashionable creed from
which it is excluded.

There is some reason for supposing that these people believe in the
immortality of the soul, the existence of an evil spirit, and a place of
future torment.  It must, at the same time, be acknowledged, that their
ideas on each of these points are so loose and confused, that it is
difficult to determine in what sense they apprehend them.

In subscribing, for example, to the immortality of the soul, they give it
a value which infinitely exceeds that of the corruptible body: the
inference from this, in a fair train of reasoning, would be, that the
care of the former is of infinitely more importance than that of the
latter.  And yet this is manifestly not the inference they draw: for the
experience of every week proves, that if they give three hours to the
soul, they think it too much; while they will give six days and nights to
the body, and think it too little.  This is, I confess, a part of their
character, of which no satisfactory explanation has ever been given.

I have no other evidence of their belief in an evil Spirit, and a place
of future Torment, than the report of their Prayer-books, and the tenor
of their conversation.  I must, at the same time, acknowledge, that the
looseness and frequency with which they refer to Hell and the Devil, on
the most ordinary occasions, have excited my doubts whether they use
these awful terms in the same religious sense in which orthodox
Christians are accustomed to employ them.  These doubts have been greatly
encouraged by that sceptical facetiousness with which they apply the name
of the evil spirit to their Fashionable amusements, and make the place of
torment a subject of scenic representation.  I will not say that these
people do not believe what they thus caricature; but I think it must be
obvious that they cannot have any very exact notions of their scriptural
import, while they continue to employ them as terms of merriment, and
sources of diversion. {57}

Religious worship, though not inculcated as absolutely necessary in the
Fashionable World, is yet neither prohibited nor renounced.  Certain
persons of considerable influence among them, and whose connexion with
them arose out of the incidental circumstances of birth, or office, or
elevation, have carried into the societies of Fashion some principles
which operate as a check upon the natural libertinism of the community.
I impute it to this circumstance, rather than to any sober consideration
of duty, that religious worship, though it is not esteemed _essential_ to
a Fashionable character, is yet not regarded as any impeachment of it.
My reason, in a word, for ascribing their conformity in this particular
to influence rather than principle, is the difficulty of reconciling it,
on any hypothesis besides, to the other parts of their conduct.  For it
would be a contradiction of ideas to suppose, that persons can seriously
mean to worship a God whom they habitually blaspheme; or to pray against
a devil, whom they are accustomed to hold out as a bugbear or a joke.

Their mode of worship is generally that which prevails in the country in
which they live: they like the credit of an Establishment, and the
convenience of taking things as they find them.  There are, I am told,
some members of Fashion among those who dissent from the established
religion.  These I shall leave to the care of their Pastors; and proceed
to animadvert upon the Fashionable adherents to the religion of the
State.

In their manner of observing the rites of public worship, nothing is so
remarkable as the degree of refinement they contrive to introduce into
every part of it which is capable of being refined upon.  Chapels are,
for the most part, preferred to Churches; and the reason, among others,
for this preference, appears to be, that the modernness of their
structure, and their exemption from parochial controul, render them
better adapted to such elegant improvements as are requisite for
Fashionable piety.  Hence that variety of ingenious accommodations, and
fanciful ornaments, which gives to their favourite place of devotion the
air of a drawing-room: so that a stranger, introduced to their religious
assemblies, might be excused for doubting, whether he was about to
worship the Deity, or to pay a Fashionable visit.  The conduct of their
service is, in many cases, marked by an attention to mechanical effect,
which is more nearly allied to the parade of the theatre, than to the
simplicity of the church.  The orators who fill their pulpits, are
generally preferred in proportion as they display the captivating
attractions of a graceful exterior, and a liberal theology.  These
preachers have, indeed, a task to execute of no ordinary difficulty.  By
the tyranny of custom they are compelled to take their text, and to
produce their authorities, from the canon of Scripture; and I think it is
much to the praise of their dexterity, that so often as they have
occasion to discourse from those offensive writings, they yet contrive to
give so little offence.  How they manage this, I am at a loss to know;
unless it be by blinking every question that involves a moral
application; or else by allowing their audience the benefit of that
Fashionable salvo, that the company present is always excepted.

It has also been remarked by scrupulous observers, that this people
perform almost the whole of their public devotions in a posture which
rather accommodates their indolence, than expresses their respect for the
object of their worship.  If this be the fact, it is not a little
extraordinary; since they use a liturgy which prescribes _kneeling_ and
_standing_, as well as _sitting_; and which contains distinct
instructions, when each is to be used.  I can, indeed, account, without
much difficulty, for the disuse of _kneeling_; because the structure of
the pews does not always admit of it: besides that, it is a posture into
which people cannot be expected readily to fall in public, who have not
much practice in private.  But I cannot so easily account for their
refusing to _stand_: for this is notoriously an attitude to which they
are sufficiently accustomed.  And that they do not consider the posture
in which a thing is done, indifferent, is manifest from the zeal with
which they rise from their seats, and expect others to do the same, when
about to join in a loyal chorus.  I wonder it has not occurred to them,
that there is some indecency, not to say impiety, in _rising_ from their
seats to sing the praises of their King, and _keeping_ them while they
sing the praises of their GOD.

I have before delivered it as my opinion, that this people comply with
the custom of public worship, rather from influence than from conviction;
and this opinion receives some confirmation from the pains they take to
remove those impressions which the offices of religion may have made upon
their minds.  In the metropolis, the visit to the house of God is
succeeded, as soon as may be, by the drive into the Park.  Here they meet
with a prodigious concourse of persons of their own description; and have
the most charming opportunities of seeing the world, exhibiting
themselves, and conversing upon the opera of the preceding evening, or
the parties for the ensuing week.  The effect of this drive, upon their
animal spirits and the whole frame of their mind, is just what might have
been expected.  Though they have so recently assisted at the most awful
solemnities, they can now relax into the most idle levity or the most
boisterous mirth; and satisfying themselves that they have done their
duty, by remembering the Almighty in the first part of the day, they take
no common pains to forget him during the remainder.

In the vicinity of the metropolis, and in other places of Fashionable
residence, other expedients are resorted to, in order to produce the same
happy effect.  No sooner has the priest pronounced his _Morning_
benediction, than the carriage which has conveyed the family to church
must be driven round the neighbourhood; and the bells and knockers of
twenty doors announce, that the restraints of public worship are at an
end.  This pleasant divertisement is not lost upon the great body of the
inhabitants.  Persons the farthest removed from all Fashionable
pretensions, rejoice with their superiors at this speedy termination of
the Sabbath; and, with a servile imitation of _their_ example, pursue
their pleasures in some house of entertainment, instead of seeking a
_second_ blessing in the house of God. {66}

Though there is something very lively and ingenious in this method of
dissipating religious impressions, yet I think it might be an improvement
upon the plan, not to allow them to be made at all.  Experiments to this
effect have been actually tried by some persons of no mean condition, in
the Fashionable World, who have wholly renounced the habit of public
worship; and these experiments would probably have been tried upon a much
larger scale, had it not been for the consideration of setting a
pernicious example: for it seems to be a maxim among many of them, that
persons in a dependent state _may_ really be benefited by the offices of
devotion.  With a charity, therefore, that does them honour, they make a
sacrifice of their feelings and their time to the interests of their
inferiors; and when it is considered, how much whirling in a carriage,
gaping, gadding, and gossiping, it takes them, to recover the true tone
of dissipation, it will be seen that the sacrifice is not inconsiderable.

In observing thus largely upon the religion of the Fashionable World, I
have furnished a sufficient clue to their _moral_ character.  If, from
some hints which have been thrown out in this and the preceding chapter,
rigid Christians should be led to infer, that it is no better than it
should be, they must be reminded, that people of Fashion have a standard
peculiar to themselves; and that, therefore, what are deviations from
_our_ standard, are very often near approximations to _theirs_.  In fact,
they have acted in this respect with the same convenient policy by which
they have been guided in framing every other part of their system.
Pleasure being the object upon which a life of Fashion terminates, it was
sagaciously enough foreseen, that an unbending morality would be utterly
incompatible with the modes, and habits, and plans, of such a career.
There remained therefore no alternative, but that of frittering away the
strength and substance of the morality of the Gospel, till it became
sufficiently tame and pliable for the sphere of accommodation in which it
was to act.  The consequence has been, that while they employ the same
terms to denote their moral ideas, as are in use among Christians in
general, yet they limit, or enlarge, their signification, as expediency
requires.  Thus modesty, honesty, humanity, and sobriety—names, with
stricter moralists, for the purest virtues—are so modified and
liberalized by Fashionable casuists, as to be capable of an alliance with
a low degree of every vice to which they stand opposed.  A woman may
expose her bosom, paint her face, assume a forward air, gaze without
emotion, and laugh without restraint, at the loosest scenes of theatrical
licentiousness; and yet be, after all,—a _modest_ woman.  A man may
detain the money which he owes his tradesman, and contract new debts for
ostentatious superfluities, while he has neither the means nor the
inclination to pay his old ones; and yet be, after all,—a very _honest_
fellow.  A woman of Fashion may disturb the repose of her family every
night, abandon her children to mercenary nurses, and keep her horses and
her servants in the streets till day-break,—without any impeachment of
her _humanity_.  So the gentleman of Fashion may swallow his two or three
bottles a-day, and do all his friends the kindness to lay them under the
table as often as they dine with him; yet, if constitution or habit
secure him against the same ignominious effects, he claims to be
considered—a _sober_ man.

There would be no end of going over all the eccentricities of Fashionable
morality.  To those who exact that truth which allows of no duplicity,
that honour which scorns all baseness, and that virtue which wars with
every vice, I question but every thing in the morals of this people would
appear anomalous and extraordinary: but to those who consider, how
necessary a certain portion of wickedness is to such a life of sense as
these people must necessarily lead, it will not be matter of surprise
that there should be so little genuine morality among them; the wonder
will rather be—that there should be any at all.



CHAP. IV


EDUCATION.

NO people in the universe expend larger sums upon the education of their
children than people of Fashion.  It is a maxim with them to commence the
great business of instruction in the very earliest period of life; and if
the system of education corresponded with the pains bestowed upon it, and
the price at which it is purchased, no persons would do more honour to
society than the subjects of the Fashionable World.  As it is, they are
not a little ornamental to a nation.  They are not, it is true, either
the columns or the base of the building; they neither support nor
strengthen it: but they supply the place of reliefs, and hangings, and
other superadded decorations.

Religion is allowed a respectable place among the studies of the nursery.
All those useful tables of instruction are assiduously employed, which
teach, who was the _first_, the _wisest_, the _meekest_, and the
_strongest_ man; and the nursling is carefully conducted, by a
catechetical process, into the theory and practice of a Christian.  As,
however, the child advances to boyish or girlish years, this religious
discipline is pretty generally relaxed, in order to allow sufficient
scope for the cultivation of those modish pursuits, which mark the man
and the woman of Fashion.

And here I cannot help remarking, how anxious the greater part of
Fashionable parents are, to guard the minds of their children against the
_permanent_ influence of that religion, which they yet have caused them
to be taught.  The fact is, that they would have them acquainted with the
technical language, and expert in the liturgical formalities of
Christianity; for these acquirements can neither disparage their
character, nor impede their pleasures: but a serious impression of its
truths upon their hearts, might disaffect them to the follies and vices
which they are destined to practise; and therefore is the thing, of all
others, that is most to be dreaded.  The parents are, to say the truth,
not a little hampered by the engagements under which they have bound the
child, on the one part; and the character which they wish him to sustain,
on the other.  To leave him in ignorance of a covenant in which he has
been involuntarily included, would be a fraud upon his conscience; and
yet, to have him renounce the devil, the world, and the flesh, would be
the utter ruin of his Fashionable reputation.  What other course, then,
can parents thus circumstanced pursue, than that of inculcating these
lessons before they can be understood, and removing their impression
before they can be practised?

It is, I presume, upon the principle of precaution already mentioned,
that our Fashionable young men are not always intrusted to the care of
persons distinguished for the practice of piety.  It is not impossible,
indeed, that, either from the conversation, the connexions, or the
example of the preceptor, the pupil may contract certain habits, which it
was not the precise object of his education to produce.  But then the
evil is not so great as fastidious moralists would insinuate.  For, as
the youth is to figure in the circles of Fashion, he will only have
learnt, a little before the time, those practices which are to form a
part of his manly character: and though it might, perhaps, be as well, if
he did not learn to swear and rake quite so soon; yet it is some
consolation, that he has escaped those methodistical impressions, which
would have prevented him from swearing and raking as long as he lived.

It may also be considered as some confirmation of the reasoning above
employed, that parents introduce their children as early as possible to
the amusements of the theatre.  Now, though swearing, and raking, and
gaming, when carried to excess, are blamed even by persons of Fashion
themselves; yet it is notorious, that a reasonable proportion of each is
indispensably requisite to a popular character in the circles of
refinement.  Habits of this sort must not be precipitately taken up.
There must be a schooling for the man of pleasure, as well as for the man
of letters: and certainly no school exists, in which the elements of
modish vice can be studied with greater promise of proficiency, than the
public theatres.  When it is considered, at what pains the managers of
the stage are, to import the seducing dramas of Germany, as well as to
get up the loose productions of the English Muse; when it is further
considered, how studious the actors and actresses are to do justice, and
even more than justice, to the luscious scenes of the piece; to give
effect to the equivoques, by an arch emphasis; and to the oaths, by a
dauntless intonation:—when to all this is added, how many painted
strumpets are stuck about the theatre, in the boxes, the galleries, and
the avenues; and how many challenges to prostitution are thrown out in
every direction: it will, I think, be difficult to imagine places better
adapted, than the theatres at this moment are, to teach the theory and
practice of Fashionable iniquity.

What has been observed on the subject of education, though said
principally with reference to the male branches of Fashionable families,
will yet, with a few changes, be found applicable to the youth of the
other sex.  The principal points upon which their scheme of education is
brought to bear, are those of dissipation and display.  A brilliant
finger on the piano, wanton flexions in the dance, a rage for operas,
plays, and parties, and the faculty of undergoing the fatiguing
evolutions of a Fashionable life, without compunction of conscience,
sense of weariness, or indications of disgust, are qualifications which
she who has acquired, will be considered as wanting little of a perfect
education.

The same assiduity is discovered on the part of the parents, to train
their girls for the sphere of polite life, as has been already observed
with respect to the boys; and the methods that are pursued to accomplish
this end, are very nearly the same.  The blush of virgin-modesty (it is
naturally foreseen) would be extremely inconvenient, not to say
absolutely indecorous, in a woman of Fashion; and therefore it is wisely
resolved, that such steps shall be taken upon the girl’s growing into
life, as may most effectually destroy it.  The theatre seems principally
to be resorted to for this purpose; and it must be manifest, from what
has been already advanced, that no expedient could have been better
chosen.  As intrigue is the life of the drama, and this cannot be carried
on, without expressions, attitudes, and communications between the sexes,
of a very particular nature, there is every reason for regarding the
stage as a sovereign remedy for the infirmity of _blushing_.

There are other things to be said on behalf of the theatre, as a school
of polite morality.

It has already appeared, that the system of Ethics which prevails among
people of Fashion, differs materially from the received system of
unfashionable Christians.  Now, I know not any means by which a stranger,
anxious to ascertain, wherein that difference consists, could better
satisfy his enquiries, than by visiting the theatres.  The doctrine of
the stage, therefore, exhibiting (as nearly as possible) the standard
morality of polite society, nothing could be better imagined, than to
give the embryo woman of Fashion the earliest opportunity of learning to
so much advantage, those lessons which she is afterwards to practise
through life.  What she has imbibed in the nursery, and what she hears in
the church, would inspire her with a dread—perhaps a dislike—of many
things upon which she must learn hereafter to look with familiar
indifference, if not with absolute complacency.  She might thus (if some
remedy were not provided) be led to take up with certain melancholy
principles, which would either shut her out from the society of her
friends, or make her miserable among them.  But the stage corrects all
this; and more than counterbalances the impressions of virtue, by
stratagems of the happiest contrivance.

It is worthy of attention, how much ingenuity is displayed in bringing
about that moral temperament, which is necessary for the meridian of
Fashion.  The rake, who is debauching innocence, squandering away
property, and extending the influence of licentiousness to the utmost of
his power, would (if fairly represented) excite spontaneous and universal
abhorrence.  But this result would be extremely inconvenient; since
raking, seduction, and prodigality, make half the business, and almost
all the reputation, of men of Fashion.  What, then, must be done?—Some
qualities of acknowledged excellence must be associated with these
vicious propensities, in order to prevent them from occasioning unmingled
disgust.  We may, I presume, refer it to the same policy, that in dramas
of the greatest popularity, the worthless libertine is represented as
having at the bottom some of those properties which reflect most honour
upon human nature; while—as if to throw the balance still more in favour
of vice—the man of professed virtue is delineated as being in the main a
sneaking and hypocritical villain.  Lessons such as these are not likely
to be lost upon the ingenuous feelings of a young girl.  For, besides the
fascinations of an elegant address and an artful manner, the whole
conduct of the plot is an insidious appeal to the simplicity of her
heart.  She is taught to believe, by these representations, that
profligacy is the exuberance of a generous nature, and decorum the veil
of a bad heart: so that having learnt, in the outset of her career, to
associate frankness with vice, and duplicity with virtue, she will not be
likely to separate these combinations during the remainder of her life.

To enter further into the minute details of a Fashionable education,
would only be to travel over ground which has been often and ingeniously
explored by writers of the greatest eminence.  Enough has been said to
show, that the system of education adopted by this people, like every
other branch of their economy, is adapted to qualify the parties for that
polite intercourse with each other, which seems to constitute the very
end of their being.  And if it be considered, of what nature that
intercourse is, it will occasion no surprise, that the education which
prepares for it should be expressly adapted to confound the distinctions
of virtue and vice; and to inculcate, with that view,—duplicity in
religion, and prevarication in morals.



CHAP. V.


MANNERS—LANGUAGE.

THE _Manners_ of this people are remarkably artificial.  They appear to
do every thing by rule; and not a word, a look, or a movement escapes
them, but what has at one time or other been studied.  In every part of
their demeanour they have reference to some invisible standard, which
they call the _Ton_, or the Fashion, (from which latter term they have
derived their appellation;) and by this mysterious talisman their
manners, their dress, their language, and the whole of their behaviour,
are tried.  It is singular enough, that this standard which is to fix
every thing, is itself the most variable of all things.  The changes
which it undergoes are so rapid, that it requires a sort of telegraphic
communication to become acquainted with them: and though there is no
regular way by which they may be known, yet nothing is considered so
disgraceful as not to know them.

The fluctuations to which this standard is subject, render it difficult
to catch the features of people of Fashion, or to speak with any
precision upon the exterior of their character.  They are, in fact,
moulded and modified by such capricious and indefinable circumstances,
that he who would exhibit a true picture of their manners, must write a
history of the endless transmutations through which they are compelled to
pass.  It has, indeed, been remarked by nice observers, that a
dissimulation of their sentiments and their feelings, is a feature in the
character of this people, which never forsakes them; and that amidst all
the revolutions which their other habits experience, this
master-principle preserves an unchanging uniformity.  Nor is it
sufficient to overthrow this reasoning, that, among the innovations of
recent times, the manners of people of Fashion have been brought into an
affected resemblance to those of their inferiors.  The cropped head, and
groomish dress of the men, and the noisy tone and vulgar air of the
women, would almost persuade a stranger that these are blunt and artless
people, and that they love nothing so much as honesty and plain-dealing.
The fact, however, is, that though the mode of playing is varied, yet the
game of dissimulation is still going on.  This condescension to vulgarity
is, after all, the disguise of pride, and not the dress of simplicity;
and is as remote from the sincerity which it imitates, as from the
refinement which it renounces.

An exaggerated opinion of their own importance is, in reality, a
prevailing characteristic of the Fashionable World.

The Greeks and Romans were thought to have gone too far, when they called
all nations but their own _barbarians_; but people of Fashion go a step
farther: for they consider themselves _every body_, and the rest of the
world _nobody_.  The influence of this sentiment is sufficiently
discernible over the whole of their character.  It dictates to their
affections, and robs them, in many instances, of their spontaneity, their
sweetness, and their force.  It results from this conceit, that their
love is often artificial, their friendship ceremonious, and their charity
ungracious.  In a word, the whole of their demeanour is such as might be
expected from a people, who idolize the most frivolous or the most
vicious propensities of human nature; and estimate as _nothing_, the
talents, and industry, and virtue, which adorn it.

Their _Language_ would afford great scope for discussion; but the limits
which I have prescribed to my work, will not allow me to embrace it.  I
shall, however, throw together such remarks as may enable the reader to
form some judgment of it; and refer him, for more extended information
upon it, to those modish compositions in which it is conveyed, and to the
circles in which it is spoken.

Their _language_, then, is generally a dialect of the people among whom
they reside.  They do, it is true, intersperse their conversational
dialogue with scraps of French and Italian; they also construct their
complimentary phrases with singular dexterity; they have, besides,
certain epithets; such as _dashing_, _stylish_, &c. which may be
considered as perfectly their own:—but if these be excepted, the rest of
their language is, to the best of my judgment, wholly vernacular.

It must not, however, be supposed, that because these people use the
terms of the country in which they live, they therefore use them in their
ordinary and received acceptation.  Nothing can be farther from the fact.
I verily believe, that if the whole nomenclature of Fashion were examined
from beginning to end, scarcely twenty words would be found, which in
passing over to the regions of Fashion, have not left their native and
customary sense behind them.

In support of this observation I shall cite, for the reader’s
satisfaction, a brief extract from a private memorandum, which I had
originally made with a design of constructing a Fashionable glossary.

 _Vernacular Terms_.                _Fashionable Sense_.
Age                    An infirmity which nobody owns.
Buying                 Ordering goods without present purpose of
                       payment.
Conscience             Something to swear by.
Courage                Fear of man.
Cowardice              Fear of God.
Day                    Night.
Debt                   A necessary evil.
Decency                Keeping up appearances.
Dinner                 Supper.
Dressed                Half-naked.
Duty                   Doing as other people do.
Economy                (Obsolete.)
Enthusiasm             Religion in earnest.
Fortune                The chief-good.
Friend                 (Meaning not known.)
Home                   Every body’s house but one’s own.
Honour                 The modern Moloch, worshipped with licentious
                       rites and human victims.
Knowing                Expert in folly and vice.
Life                   Destruction of body and soul.
Love                   (Meaning not known.)
Modest                 Sheepish.
New                    Delightful.
Night                  Day.
Nonsense               Polite conversation.
Old                    Insufferable.
Pay                    Only applied to visits.
Play                   Serious work.
Protection             Keeping a mistress.
Religion               Occupying a seat in some church or chapel.
Spirit                 Contempt of decorum and conscience.
Style                  Splendid extravagance.
Thing (the)            Any thing but what a man should be.
Time                   Only regarded in music and dancing.
Truth                  (Meaning uncertain).
Virtue                 Any agreeable quality.
Vice                   Only applied to servants and horses.
Undress                Complete clothing.
Wicked                 Irresistibly agreeable.
Work                   A vulgarism.

I am far from pretending to have assigned the precise significations in
which the words above cited are employed by people of Fashion.  Perhaps I
have done as much towards fixing the sense, as will be expected of one
who cannot pretend to be perfectly in their confidence.  In fact, the
transmutation of terms is an operation to which this people are most
devoutly addicted.  It is daily making some advances among them; and
keeps pace with the progress of their ideas, from the correct and
authentic notions of truth and virtue, to those loose and spurious ones
by which they are superseded.

In proof of this statement, I need only adduce those phrases in which
they are accustomed to pronounce the eulogium of their deceased
associates.

For example,—Is reference made to an unthinking profligate who has lately
been hurried from the world?  His vices are glanced at, and cursorily
condemned: but still it is affirmed, that, with all his faults, he always
_meant well_; he had _a good heart __at the bottom_; and he was _nobody’s
enemy but his own_.

And for whom is this apology offered, and this praise indirectly
solicited?  For the man who, if he ever meant any thing, meant nothing
more or better, than to gratify his lusts, pursue his vicious pleasures,
drink his wine, shake his dice, shuffle his cards; and thus waste his
existence, and destroy his soul.  Of such a man it is gravely affirmed,
that—_he always meant well_.

And of whom is it said, that he had _a good heart_?—Of the man who rarely
manifested, through the whole of his life, any other symptoms than those
which indicate a bad one.  His mouth was full of cursing and bitterness;
his humour was choleric and revengeful; his feet moved swift to shed
blood; there was no conscience in his bosom, and no fear of God before
his eyes; and yet, because he was occasionally charitable, and habitually
convivial, no doubt is entertained but that—_he had a good heart at the
bottom_.

Lastly, _he_ is said to have been _nobody’s enemy but his own_, who has
wasted the earnings of an industrious ancestor, and bequeathed beggary
and shame to his innocent descendants.  The wretch has distressed his
family by his prodigality, and corrupted thousands by his example; and
yet, because he has been the dupe of his lusts, and fallen a martyr to
his vices, he is pronounced to have been—_nobody’s enemy but his own_.

These instances will serve to throw some light upon the sort of idiom
employed by people of Fashion; and the manner in which they have wrested
expressions of no little importance, from their natural and legitimate
signification.

But before I quit the consideration of their _language_, I think it my
duty to point out another peculiarity; of which, to the best of my
knowledge, no satisfactory account has yet been given.  Whether it arise
from the paucity of their words, the confusion of their ideas, or any
other cause distinct from each of these, so it is, that they have but
_one_ term by which they are accustomed to express their strong emotions
both of pleasure and pain.  On this _term_ you will find them ringing
perpetual changes; and, strange to say, it is to be heard, under one or
other of its grammatical inflections, {104} in almost every sentence
which falls from their lips.  The master has recourse to it in scolding
his servants, the officer in reprimanding his men.  The traveller employs
it in recounting his adventures, and the man of pleasure in describing
his intrigues.  It is heard in the house, and in the field; in moments of
seriousness, and of levity; in expressions of praise, and of blame.  In
short, it is used on occasions the most dissimilar, under impressions the
most contradictory, and for purposes the most opposite; and is, in fact,
the _sine quâ non_ of every energetic and emphatical period.

Now it happens, unfortunately, that this _catholicon_ in Fashionable
phraseology is, of all terms, that to which sober Christians annex the
most awful ideas; and from the use of which they as scrupulously abstain,
as they do from that of the Great Being whose vengeance it so
tremendously expresses.  And it may be worthy of consideration, whether
this familiar and unfeeling employment, by people of Fashion, of a term
which imports _infernal punishment_, does not strengthen those doubts
which have been already suggested, of their real belief in a place of
future torment.

It ought not at the same time to be overlooked, that, in this respect,
they bear a close resemblance to the vulgarest part of the community; and
it would furnish a subject of curious investigation, why two classes in
society, respectively the highest and the lowest, should exhibit so
striking an agreement in a material branch of language.  I know it has
been said, that extremes meet; and the fact before us is so much proof
that the remark is just: but that by no means solves the difficulty.
For, after all, the question returns upon us, _why_ such a fact should
exist?  I confess, for my own part, I know no answer that can be given to
it; and I very much wish that some one of their number would undertake to
explain their real motives for courting a resemblance in _one_ respect
with that description of society, from which they make it their pride to
differ in every _other_.



CHAP. VI.


DRESS—AMUSEMENTS.

THERE are, in the _Dress_ of this people, many singularities, upon which,
he who wished to say every thing that could be said, might say a great
deal.  The peculiarity which a stranger would be most apt to remark, is
that of their striving to be as unlike as possible to the rest of the
world.  This appears, indeed, to be the parent of almost every other
peculiarity; and certainly gives birth to many changes not a little
ridiculous and prejudicial.

It being a sort of fundamental maxim with them, that superiority consists
in dissimilitude, they become engaged in a perpetual competition with the
world at large, and to a certain degree with each other.  In order to
maintain this struggle for pre-eminence, they are compelled to vary the
modes and materials of their dress in all the ways which a fanciful
imagination can suggest.  It happens, through some strange infatuation,
that those who affect to despise the man or woman of Fashion, yet ape
their dress and air with the most impertinent and vexatious perseverance.
What is to be done in this case?—Similitude is not to be endured.  In
order therefore to throw out their pursuers, these monopolizers of the
mode are compelled to run into such eccentricities, as nothing could
justify or palliate, but the distress to which they are reduced.  If, for
example, short skirts and low capes are copied by the herd of imitators,
the Fashionables seek their remedy in the opposite extreme; their skirts
are drawn down to the calves of their legs, and their capes pulled over
their ears with as much solemnity and dispatch, as if their existence
depended upon the measure.  So if full petticoats and high kerchiefs are
adopted by the misses of the crowd, the dressing-chambers of Fashion are
all bustle and confusion:—the limbs are stripped, and the bosom laid
bare, though the east wind may be blowing at the time; and coughs,
rheumatisms, and consumptions, be upon the wings of every blast.

This rage for dissimilitude in the affairs of the _wardrobe_, is allowed
an indefinite scope.  Unfortunately, as far as I can learn, there are no
determinate points, beyond which it would be esteemed indecent or
imprudent to indulge it.  The consequence is, that the _groom_ and the
_gentleman_ may be often mistaken for each other; and he who is
recognised to-day as a _man of Fashion_, may to-morrow be confounded with
_one of the people_.

I confess I have always regarded this part of their conduct as an
impeachment of their political wisdom.  I should have thought _à priori_,
that a people who are so jealous of their pre-eminence in society, would
not have overlooked the degree in which dress contributes to uphold it.
Many a Fashionable man must depend for the whole of his estimation, upon
the cut of his coat, and the selection of his wardrobe.  A frivolous or
preposterous taste may therefore prove fatal to the only sort of
reputation which it was in his power to obtain.  But besides, an
interchange of dress between people of Fashion and those whom they
consider their inferiors, may eventually produce very serious mischiefs.
The distinctions of rank and condition are manifestly matters of external
regulation, and consequently cannot be kept up without a due attention to
external appearances.  He therefore who makes himself vulgar or
ridiculous, is guilty of an act of self-degradation; and the fault will
be his own, if he is displaced or despised; since he has renounced that
appropriate costume, which proclaimed at once his station in society, and
his determination to maintain it.

The fair-sex appear also on their part to set all limits and restraints
at defiance.  They seem to feel themselves at perfect liberty to follow
the prevailing mode, whatever that mode may be.  The consequence is, that
_modesty_ is often the last thing considered by the young, and
_propriety_ as completely neglected by the old.  And this latter
circumstance may serve to account in some measure for the little respect
which is said to be paid to _age_ in the Fashionable World.  To judge
from the histories of all nations, it seems impossible, that length of
days, if accompanied with those characteristics which denote and become
it, should not excite spontaneous veneration.  But if the shrivelled arm
must be bound in ribbands and bracelets, if the withered limbs must be
wrapped in muslins and gauzes, and the wrinkled face be decorated with
ringlets and furbelows, the silly veteran waves the privilege of her
years; and since she disgusts the grave, without captivating the gay, she
must not be surprized if she meets with respect from neither.

A fondness for _amusements_ is one of the strongest characteristics of
this people.—They may almost be said to live for little else.  They pass
the whole of that short day which they allow themselves, in making
arrangements for spending the ensuing night.  Indeed, their preference of
night to day is such, that they seem to consider the latter as having no
other value than as it leads to the former, and affords an opportunity of
preparing for its enjoyment.  And hence I suppose it is, that such
multitudes among them dine by candle-light, and go to bed by day-light.

This passion for diversions renders the _Sunday_ particularly irksome to
persons of any sort of _ton_ in the Fashionable World.  A dose of piety
in the morning is well enough, though it is somewhat inconvenient to take
it quite so early; but then it wants an opera, or a play, or a dance, to
carry it off.  There are indeed some _esprit-forts_ among the ladies, who
are trying with no little success to redeem a portion of the Sabbath from
the insufferable bondage of the Bible and the sermon-book; and to
naturalize that continental distribution of the day, which gives the
morning to devotion, and the evening to dissipation.  It is but justice
to the gentlemen to say, that they discover no backwardness in supporting
a measure so consonant to all their wishes.  It is therefore not
impossible that some considerable changes in this respect may soon be
brought about.  That good-humoured legislature which has allowed a Sunday
newspaper, {116} will perhaps not always refuse a Sunday opera, or play.
People of Fashion will then no longer have to torture their invention for
expedients to supply the absence of their diurnal diversions.  They may
then let their tradesmen go quietly to their parish-churches, instead of
sending for them to wear away the sabbath-hours in some supervacaneous
employment.  In short, Sunday may be set at liberty from its primitive
bondage, and exhibit as happy a union of morning solemnity and evening
licentiousness, as it has ever displayed among the dissolute adherents of
Fashionable Christianity.

But to return:—The rage for amusements {119} is so strong in this people,
that it seems to supersede all exercise of judgment in the choice and the
conduct of them.  To go every where, see every thing, and know every
body, are, in their estimation, objects of such importance, that, in
order to accomplish them, they subject themselves to the greatest
inconveniences, and commit the very grossest absurdities.  Hence they
will rush in crowds, to shine where they cannot be seen, to dance where
they cannot move, and to converse with friends whom they cannot approach;
and, what is more, though they cannot breathe for the pressure, and can
scarcely live for the heat, yet they call this—enjoyment.

Nor does this passion suffer any material abatement by the progress of
time.  Many veterans visit, to the last, the haunts of polite
dissipation; they lend their countenance to those dramas of vanity in
which they can no longer act a part; and show their incurable attachment
to the pleasures of this world, by their unwillingness to decline them.
The infirmities which attend upon the close of life are certainly
designed to produce other habits; and it should seem, that when every
thing announces an approaching dissolution, the amusements of the
drawing-room might give place to the employments of the closet.  Persons,
however, of this description are of another mind; and as every difficulty
on the score of teeth, hoariness, and wrinkles, can be removed by the
happy expedients of ivory, hair-caps, and cosmetics, there is certainly
no _physical_ objection to their continuing among their Fashionable
acquaintance, till they are wanted in another world.

I cannot illustrate this part of my subject better than by presenting my
readers with the following Ode on the Spring, supposed to have been
written by a man of Fashion; it expresses, with so much exactness, the
sentiments and taste of that extraordinary people, that it will stand in
the place of a thousand observations upon their character.



                            ODE ON THE SPRING.


            SUPPOSED TO HAVE BEEN WRITTEN BY A MAN OF FASHION.

                                     I.

   LO! where the party-giving dames,
      Fair Fashion’s train, appear;
   Disclose the long-expected games,
      And wake the modish year:
   The opera-warbler pours her throat,
   Responsive to the actor’s note,
      The dear-bought harmony of Spring;
   While, beaming pleasure as they fly,
   Bright flambeaus through the murky sky
      Their welcome fragrance fling.

                                     II.

   Where’er the rout’s full myriads close
      The staircase and the door,
   Where’er thick files of belles and beaus
      Perspire through ev’ry pore:
   Beside some faro-table’s brink,
   With me the Muse shall _stand_ and think,
      (Hemm’d sweetly in by squeeze of state,)
   How vast the comfort of the crowd,
   How condescending are the proud,
      How happy are the great!

                                    III.

   Still is the toiling hand of Care,
      The drays and hacks repose;
   But, hark, how through the vacant air
      The rattling clamour glows!
   The wanton Miss and rakish Blade,
   Eager to join the masquerade,
      Through streets and squares pursue their fun:
   Home in the dusk some bashful skim;
   Some, ling’ring late, their motley trim
      Exhibit to the sun.

                                     IV.

   To Dissipation’s playful eye,
      Such is the life for man;
   And they that halt, and they that fly,
      Should have no other plan:
   Alike the busy and the gay
   Should sport all night till break of day,
      In Fashion’s varying colours drest;
   Till seiz’d for debt through rude mischance,
   Or chill’d by age, they leave the dance,
      In gaol or dust—to rest.

                                     V.

   Methinks I hear, in accents low,
      Some sober quiz reply,
   Poor child of Folly! what art thou?
      A Bond-Street Butterfly!
   Thy choice nor Health nor Nature greets,
   No taste hast thou of vernal sweets,
      Enslav’d by noise, and dress, and play:
   Ere thou art to the country flown,
   The sun will scorch, the Spring be gone,—
      Then leave the town in May.



CHAP. VII.


HAPPINESS OF THE PEOPLE ESTIMATED.

I TRUST my reader is by this time sufficiently acquainted with the
general outline of Fashionable life: it would only be accumulating
observations unnecessarily to enter further into the subject: I shall
therefore devote the present chapter to a brief investigation of the
state of happiness among a people who, it must be observed, claim to be
considered—the _happiest of their species_.

Happiness is, as moralists agree, a relative expression; and indicates
the excess of the aggregate of good over that of evil in any given
condition.  The foundation of happiness therefore must be traced to the
ideas which those, upon whose condition the question turns, are
accustomed to entertain, of good and evil.  So that if we wished to
ascertain the amount of happiness in a life of Fashion, we must make our
calculation out of those things, which constitute respectively good and
evil in a Fashionable estimation.  I have had occasion to observe before,
that a Fashionable life is a life of sense; consequently all the sources
of happiness in such a condition must be confined to the pleasures of
sense.  Now, it must be considered, that the pains of sense are at least
as numerous as its pleasures; and that, by a law of Providence subject to
very few exceptions, those who will have the one, must take their
proportion of the other with them.

This observation is abundantly confirmed by what occurs in the experience
of the parties under consideration.  The pleasures which men of Fashion
derive from the gratification of their animal appetites at the table, the
gaming-house, and the brothel, have a very ample set-off in the
inconveniences which they suffer from arthritic, nervous, and a thousand
other, painful and retributive complaints.  Nor are the gay and
dissipated of the other sex exempted from the same contingency of
constitutional suffering.  Beside the common lot of human nature, they
have a class of evils of their own procuring; and, by excesses as
imprudent as they are immoral, they bring upon themselves a variety of
diseases, for which neither a name nor a remedy can be found.  There are
those, it is true, who avoid much of this inconvenience, by mixing some
discretion with their folly, and setting some bounds to their favourite
gratifications: but then it is to be remembered, that these are
restraints which render persons of licentious minds singularly uneasy;
and they may therefore be considered as administering to pain, nearly in
proportion as they abridge indulgence.

But supposing that we were to throw these severer items out of the
calculation: there would still remain evils enough in a Fashionable
condition, to keep the scale from preponderating on the side of pleasure.
To shine in a ball-room, is, no doubt, a high satisfaction; but then to
be outshone by another, (which is just as likely to happen,) is at least
as great a mortification: to be invited to _many_ modish parties, is
really delightful; but then to know those who are invited to _more_ than
ourselves, is certainly vexatious: to find one’s-self surrounded by
people of the first Fashion, is charming; but then to be dying with heat
all the time, is something in the opposite scale; to wear a coat or a
head-dress of the newest invention, is indeed a pleasure of the highest
order; but then to see, by accident, articles of the same mode on the
back of a man-milliner, or the head of a lady’s maid, is a species of
vexation not easily endured.  An opera, a play, a party, a night passed
at a dance, or at a cassino, or a faro-table, are all events, to be sure,
of the happiest occurrence; but then, to be disappointed of _one_, makes
a deeper impression on the side of pain, than to be gratified with
_three_, does on that of pleasure: and disappointments will happen, where
many objects are pursued, and where the concurrence of many instruments
is necessary to their accomplishment.  A drunken coachman, a broken
pannel, a sick horse, a saucy footman, a mistaken message, a dull play,
indifferent company, a head-ach, a heart-burn, an epidemical disease, or
the dread of it, a death in the family, Sunday, Fast-day, Passion week,
and a thousand other provoking casualties, either deprive these
entertainments of their power of pleasing, or even set them wholly aside.
I should only weary my reader were I to lay before him in detail half the
catalogue of those minor distresses which embarrass the idea of a modish
life: he must however perceive, from the little which has been said, that
every pleasure has its countervailing pain; and that every sacrifice to
diversion and splendour has its correspondent chastisement in vexation
and disgrace.

Hitherto those principles have been assumed as the basis of calculation,
upon which people of Fashion have _some_ advantages in their favour; but
there is another ground upon which (to say the whole truth) it ought to
be put, and on which all the advantages are _against_ them.

Man (it is notorious) is a reflecting being; and, do what he will, he
_must_ reflect.  He may choose an _habitual_ career of sense; but still
he must have, whether he seek or shun them, moments of _Reflection_.
This is I admit, extremely inconvenient; but then it is without a remedy.
My business, however, is, neither to impugn, nor to vindicate the
existence of such a principle; but to show its bearings upon the sort of
life which people of Fashion must necessarily lead.  Not to enter into
particulars, what can constitute a heavier affliction, than for a man of
Fashion (or, which is the same thing, a man of the world) to be obliged
to think over again the events of his licentious career?  To be
persecuted with recollecting the property he has squandered, the wine he
has drunk, the seduction he has practised, and the duels he has fought?
These things were well enough at the time; they had their humour and
their reputation, and they were not without their pleasure: but then they
were designed to be _acted_, and not _reflected_ upon.  The woman of
Fashion is under the same law, and is therefore exposed to the same
mental torments.  She, too, must trace back (though she would give the
world to be excused) the steps she has trodden in the enchanting walks of
dissipation.  She must live over again every portion of a life which,
though too fascinating to be declined, is yet too shocking to be thought
of.  Her memory, also, must be haunted with frightful scenes, which
remind her, at the expence of how much health, and property, and time,
and virtue, she has sustained the figure which made her so talked of, and
the gaieties which rendered her so happy.  Now these are real
afflictions; and that _Reflection_ from which they result is, not without
reason, felt and acknowledged as the scourge of their existence, by the
ingenuous part, at least, of the Fashionable World.

Many expedients have indeed been suggested for laying this busy principle
asleep, and many plans struck out for rendering its pangs supportable;
but hitherto without success.  For though it has been proposed to laugh
it away, dance it away, drink it away, or travel it away; yet not one of
these projects has answered the end: and Fashionable casuists are as far
as ever from finding out a remedy of sufficient potency, to cure, or even
abate, in any material degree, the pains of Reflection.

And here I cannot but remark, how grievously the seat of this disease
(for such it is considered) has been mistaken by those who have so
lightly undertaken to prescribe for its removal.  They have manifestly
considered it as a disorder of the _nerves_; and hence all the remedies
which they have recommended, are calculated to promote, either by change
of scene, or by some other mechanical impulse, a brisker circulation of
the animal spirits.  The ill success with which each has been attended,
sufficiently proclaims the fallacy upon which they all are founded.  If
Reflection had been only a nervous disturbance, if it had arisen out of
any disarrangement of the _animal_ economy, some, at least, of the
Fashionable nostrums would have dispersed the complaint: whereas it is
notorious, that, under every regimen which has been tried, while the
stronger symptoms have disappeared, the disorder has remained in the
system; and neither Bath, nor Weymouth, nor Tunbridge, nor Town, has ever
effected a cure.

The plain truth is, (whatever may be insinuated to the contrary by these
_Médecins à-la-mode_,) that the disease is altogether _moral_; and,
consequently, the seat of it is not in the nerves, but in the
_Conscience_.  There is, in fact, nothing new in the complaint: it is
inseparably connected with a Fashionable career; and has been more or
less the scourge of all, in every age, who have declined the duties which
they owe “to God and their inferiors.”  I take it to have been a malady
of the very same description which afflicted Herod in his communication
with the Baptist, and which made Felix tremble under the reasoning of
Paul.  It is not a little remarkable, that both these men of Fashion (for
such no doubt they were) fell into the error which has been condemned, in
the treatment of their disease; and each, there is reason to believe,
carried it with him to his grave.

If my reader now adverts to the particulars which have been stated, he
will be compelled to draw conclusions not a little humbling to the lofty
pretensions of a Fashionable life.  In few states of society, under its
present imperfection, is happiness very high: and it might not perhaps be
easy to assign the particular condition which embraces it in the greatest
proportion.  But surely after the discoveries which this discussion has
made, we run no risk in affirming, that a life of Fashion is _not_ that
condition.  The lot of mankind would be wretched indeed, if those were
_the happiest of the species_, who, without exemption from the pains of
sense, are excluded from the pleasures of Reflection: and who, as the
price of enjoyments derived from the _one_, become subject to the
chastisement inflicted by _both_.



CHAP. VIII.


DEFECT OF THE SYSTEM—PLANS OF REFORM—CONCLUSION.

A SYSTEM which does so little for the happiness of its members, as that
which has been unfolded in the course of this work, must have some
radical defect; and it is worthy of consideration, whether some steps
should not be speedily taken, in order to discover the nature of that
defect, and to provide a competent remedy for it.

I am perfectly aware, that it would be most decorous, to let such a
measure of enquiry originate in the community to which it primarily
relates; and if I thought there was any chance of the affair being taken
up by the body, I should satisfy myself with having intimated the
necessity of such a procedure, and leave the people of Fashion to reform
themselves.

But I will honestly confess, that I see not at present any prospect of
such an event.  It has not, so far as I can understand, been hinted, in
those assemblies which legislate for the body, that the system of Fashion
requires any revision: nor can I discover, among the projected
arrangements for future seasons, any thing like a committee of reform.
There is, on the contrary, every reason to believe, that designs of a
very different nature occupy the minds of those who influence the
community.  I very much mistake, if it is not their intention, to carry
the system more extensively into effect; to make still further conquests
upon the puny domains of Wisdom and Virtue; and to evince, by new modes
of dissipation and new excuses for adopting them, the endless
perfectibility of Folly and Vice.  Under such circumstances, it will
scarcely be imputed to me as a trespass upon their privileges, if I
venture to perform that office for them, which they are never likely to
do for themselves.

I scruple not then to affirm, that INCONSISTENCY is the radical fault of
the Fashionable system.  This truth is demonstrated by every thing that
has been said upon their polity and laws, their religion and morals,
their plans of education, and their institutes of life.  Under every view
which has been taken of this people, they have exhibited appearances
truly paradoxical; and been found involved, from the beginning to the end
of their career, in the most palpable and extraordinary contradictions.
The fact indeed is, as their history has shown, that the principles upon
which they act, are essentially at variance with each other; and the
effect which these principles have upon their conduct and their feelings,
is only such as might be expected, from an everlasting struggle for
mastery among them.  The hand of this people is given to Self-denial, but
their heart to Sensuality; and the manner in which they are obliged to
equivocate with both, will not allow them the complete enjoyment of
either.  The libertinism they practise shows them nothing but _this_
world, the piety they profess hides every thing from them but the world
to _come_: thus alternately impelled and restrained, deluded and
undeceived, they follow what they love, and condemn what they follow:
neither blind enough to be wholly led, nor discerning enough to see their
path;—with too much religion to let them be happy here, and too little to
make them so hereafter.

Now I see but two ways by which this INCONSISTENCY can be removed; and as
I wish to make my work of some use to the people of whom it treats, I
shall briefly propose them in their order.

1.  The _first_ plan of _melioration_ which I would submit to the
Fashionable World, is that of _renouncing the Christian religion_.  In
recommending this step, I proceed upon a supposition, that the government
and laws and manners which now prevail, must _at all events_ be retained:
and upon such a supposition, I contend, that _renouncing the Christian
religion_ is a measure of indispensable necessity.  For surely if duels
must be fought, what can be so preposterous as to swear allegiance to a
law which says—“_Thou shalt not kill_?”  If injuries must _not_ be
forgiven, where is the propriety of employing a prayer in which the
petitioner declares, that he does forgive them?  If the passions are to
be _gratified_, what end is answered by doing homage to those Scriptures
which so peremptorily declare, that they must be _mortified_?  In a word,
if swearing, prevarication, and sensuality; if a neglect of “the duties
to God and inferiors,” be necessary, or even allowable, parts of a
Fashionable character; where is the policy, the virtue, or even the
decency, of connecting it with a religion which stamps these several
qualities with the deepest guilt, and threatens them with the severest
retribution?  If a religion of _some_ sort be absolutely necessary, let
such an one be chosen as may possess a correspondence with the other
parts of the system: let it be a religion in which pride, and resentment,
and lust, may have their necessary scope; a religion, in short, in which
the God of this world may be the idol, and the men of this world the
worshippers.  Such an arrangement will go a great way towards
establishing _consistency_: it will dissolve a union by which both
parties are sufferers; and liberate at once the people of Fashion from a
profession which involves them in contradiction, and Christianity from a
connexion which covers her with disgrace.

2.  If, on the contrary, it should be thought material (as I trust it
will) _to retain Christianity at all events_, the plan of reform must be
exactly _inverted_; and the sacrifices taken from those laws, and maxims,
and habits, which interfere with the spirit and the injunctions of that
holy religion.  It is altogether out of the character of Christianity to
act a subservient or an accommodating part.  Her nature, her office, and
her object, are all decidedly adverse to that base alliance into which it
has been attempted to degrade her.  Pure and spotless as her native
skies, she delights in holiness; because God, from whose bosom she came,
is holy.  Girt with power, and designed for dominion, she claims the
heart as her throne, and all the affections as the ministers of her will:
nor does she consider her object accomplished until she has cast down
every lofty imagination, extinguished every rebellious lust, and brought
into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.  It is obvious,
therefore, that if she is to be retained at all, it must be upon her
_own_ terms; and those terms will manifestly require an utter
renunciation of every measure which, under the former plan, it was
proposed to retain.  Duels must _now_ no longer be fought, nor injuries
resentfully pursued, nor licentious passions deliberately gratified.
Swearing must be banished from the lips, prevarication from the thoughts,
sensuality from the heart; and that law be expunged, which dispenses with
“the duties to God and inferiors,” in order to make way for that
immutable statute which enjoins them.

It must not be dissembled, that, in the progress of such a reform,
certain inconveniences will be unavoidably encountered; but these will be
speedily and effectually compensated by an influx of real and permanent
advantages.  The pangs which accompanied the “death unto sin,” will soon
be forgotten in the pleasures which result from a “life unto
righteousness;” and the peace and hope which abound in the way, will
efface the recollection of those agonistic efforts by which it was
entered.

In the mean time, all things will be done with decency and order.  The
whole economy of life and conduct will be scrupulously consulted; and
such arrangements introduced, as will make the several parts and details
correspond and harmonize with each other.  Duty and recreation will have
their proper characters, and times, and places, and limits.  Every thing,
in short, will be preserved in the system, which can facilitate
intercourse without impairing virtue; and nothing be struck out but what
administers to vanity, duplicity, and vice.

Whether changes of such magnitude as those which I have described, will
ever take place upon an extensive scale, I cannot pretend to conjecture;
but certain I am, that, if ever they should, not only the Fashionable
World, but society at large, will be very much the better for them.
Greatly as I wish the “Reformation of Manners,” and “the Suppression of
Vice,” I see insuperable obstacles to each of these events, while rank,
and station, and wealth, throw their mighty influence into the opposite
scale.  Then—_and not till then_—will Christianity receive the homage she
deserves, and produce the blessings she has promised—when “the makers of
our manners” shall submit to her authority; and the PEOPLE of FASHION
become the PEOPLE of GOD.

                                * * * * *

                                 THE END.



_Lately published by the same Author_,


THE CHRISTIAN MONITOR for the LAST DAYS; or a Caution to the professedly
Religious, against the Corruptions of the latter Times, in Doctrine,
Discipline, and Morals.  Second Edition, corrected.—8vo. 6_s._

                                  ALSO,

THE HISTORY of the ORIGIN and FIRST TEN YEARS of the BRITISH AND FOREIGN
BIBLE SOCIETY.  2 Vols.  Extra Boards.  Demy, 1_l._ 4_s._  Royal, 1_l._
15_s._

This Work contains an Authentic Account of the Origin of the Institution,
and of the several Societies in connection with it: together with a
Chronological View of the Controversy concerning it, and other Matters of
an interesting Nature, not before made Public.

_The following are some of the Testimonies borne to the Work_.

    “The general Narrative is clear and manly, and in many parts rises
    into true eloquence.

    “There is one department, especially, of the Work, which is entirely
    _new_, and that is the History of the _Origin_ of the various
    Societies.  We do not hesitate to consider it as in the highest
    degree interesting and valuable.”  _Christ. Observ. for Nov._ 1816.

    “Mr. Owen, in detailing the History of the British and Foreign Bible
    Society, has conferred an obligation, not only on the particular
    Patrons of it, but on Literature in general.”  _Gent. Mag. for Oct._
    1816.

    “We trust that every one of our Readers, who can afford to purchase
    the Work, will possess himself of this intellectual treat.”  _Christ.
    Guard. for Feb._ 1817.

                   _See also British Review_, _No. XV_.

Sold by the same Booksellers; of whom may be had the other Works of the
Author.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

               _Tilling and Hughes_, _Printers_, _Chelsea_.



FOOTNOTES.


{5}  For the geographical solecism of “a western _latitude_,” the author
has only to plead, that the people of whom he treats, acknowledge no
points of the compass but those of _east_ and _west_; and that the term
_longitude_ has scarcely any place in their language.

{10}  This _somehow_ and _somewhere_ existence of people of Fashion might
lead a stranger to suppose, that they have no permanent dwelling-place.
He must, however, be told, that, while they are thus migrating from place
to place, without comfort, and without respect, many of them are actually
turning their backs upon the conveniences of a family mansion, and the
consequence of a dependent tenantry.  This disposition to emigration in
persons of distinction, has been so admirably noticed in a late elegant
and interesting work, that I cannot refuse myself the pleasure of
transcribing the passage.

    “That there exists at present amongst us a lamentable want of rural
    philosophy, or of that wisdom which teaches a man at once to enjoy
    and to improve a life of retirement, is, I think, a point too obvious
    to be contested.  Whence is it else, that the ancient mansions of our
    nobility and gentry, notwithstanding all the attractions of rural
    beauty, and every elegance of accommodation, can no longer retain
    their owners, who, _at the approach of winter_, _pour into the
    metropolis_, _and even in the summer months wander to the sea-coast
    or to some other place of Fashionable resort_?  This unsettled
    humour, in the midst of such advantages, plainly argues much inward
    disorder, and points out the need as well as the excellency of that
    discipline which can inspire a pure taste of nature, furnish
    occupation in the peaceful labours of husbandry, and, what is nobler
    still, open the sources of moral and intellectual
    enjoyment.”—_Preface to Rural Philosophy_, _by_ ELY BATES, Esq. p. 9.

{12}  His Majesty’s Birth-Day.

{29}  Vide Paley’s Mor. Philos. vol. i. p. 1.

{42}  For an account of this transaction, see the trial of Captain
Macnamara for the murder of Colonel Montgomery; in which it will appear,
that though the Captain admitted _the fact_, yet the jury acquitted him
of the _crime_.  Such complaisance on the part of juries is particularly
favourable to this summary mode of terminating differences.  Fatal duels
are now become almost as common as highway robberies, and make almost as
little impression upon the public mind.  The _murdered_ is carried to his
grave, and the _murderer_ received back into society, with the same
honour, as if the one had done his duty in sacrificing his life, and the
other had only done _his_ in taking it away.

{53}  “In the worst moments of his pain he cried out, that he sincerely
hoped, _the agonies he then endured might expiate the sins he had
committed_.” * * * * “I wish with all my soul (says the writer of the
Memoir) that the unthinking votaries of dissipation and infidelity could
all have been present at the death-bed of this poor man; could have heard
his expressions of contrition for his past misconduct, and of _reliance
upon the mercy of his Creator_.”—_Vide Memoir of the late Lord
Camelford_, _by the Rev. —_, &c.

{57}  Vide the titles of certain country-dances, the Pantomime of Don
Juan, and the ballets at the Opera House, on the vigils of the Sabbath.

{66}  The Bishop of Durham animadverts (with just severity) upon “_the
great neglect of church in the Sunday afternoons_, _when the duties of
religion are deserted for the fashions or friendship if the world_.”
Vide Charge for 1801.

{104}  If the reader should have a difficulty in discovering the full
import of this remark, he is requested to consider that the peculiar
_term_ appropriated to _swearing_ is capable of becoming either a verb, a
substantive, a participial adjective, or an adverb: and he will find that
it is used under all these forms by people of Fashion.

{116}  How much the Fashionable World are indebted to the legislature for
refusing to accede to Lord Belgrave (now Earl Grosvenor’s) motion against
Sunday newspapers, in 1799, may be learnt (among other things) from the
following advertisement which appeared in the Morning Post for October
26, 1805:

    “The British Neptune, or Naval, Military, and _Fashionable_ Sunday
    Advertiser, _will always contain real critiques upon Theatrical
    Performances_.”

Such entertaining publications as these, issued and hawked about on the
Lord’s Day, are a concession to the Fashionable infirmities of the age,
for which those who are wearied of their Bibles, cannot be sufficiently
thankful.

If any of my readers wish to see this subject seriously discussed, he
will find something to his purpose in the 6th chapter of “The Christian
Monitor for the last Days.”

N.B.  While this note was passing through the press, a Sunday _Evening_
Paper was announced for publication: and, as if it were not sufficient to
break the laws, without at the same time libelling them, this “Sunday
Evening Gazette,” which is to employ compositors, pressmen, venders,
hawkers, &c. on the Lord’s Day, is to be called—The Constitution!!!

{119}  A distinguished Prelate, who gained the ear of the Fashionable
World to a degree beyond all former example, has adverted to this “rage
for amusement” with such apostolical earnestness, at the close of a
lecture delivered to perhaps the greatest number of Fashionable people
that ever assembled for a similar purpose within the walls of a church,
that I shall avail myself of the passage, as well to confirm my statement
as to embellish my pages.

    “When I consider that the time of the year is now approaching, in
    which the gaieties and amusements of this vast metropolis are
    generally engaged in with incredible alacrity and ardour, and
    multitudes are pouring in from every part of the kingdom to take
    their share in them; and when I recollect further, that at this very
    period in the last year, a degree of extravagance and wildness of
    pleasure took place, which gave pain to every serious mind, and was
    almost unexampled in any former times, I am not, I confess, without
    some apprehensions that the same scenes of levity and dissipation may
    again recur; and that some of those who now hear me (of the younger
    part more especially) may be drawn too far into this Fashionable
    vortex, and lose, in that giddy tumult of diversion, all remembrance
    of what has passed in this sacred place.”  _Bp Porteus on St.
    Matthew, Vol. II. Lect._ 18, p. 161.





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