« НазадПродовжити »
of the comedy turns upon poor Amphitrion's being tormented by these people for their debts. Mercury uses Sosia in the same manner. But I could not easily pardon the liberty the poet bas taken of larding his play with, not only indecent expressions, but such gross words as I do not think our mob would suffer from a mountebank. Be. sides, the two Sosias very fairly let down their breeches in the direct view of the boxes, which were full of people of the first rank, that seemed very well pleased with their entertainment, and assured me this was a celebrated piece. I shall conclude my letter with this remarkable relation, very well worthy the serious consideration of Mr. Collier. I will not trouble you with farewell compliments, which I think generally as impertinent as curtsies at leaving a room when the visit has been too long already,
LADY M. W. MONTAGUE TO THE LADY R
Vienna, Sept. 20, 1716, 0. S. I am extremely rejoiced, but not at all surprised, at the long, delightful letter you have had the goodness to send me. I know that you can think of an absent friend even in the midst of a court, and you love to oblige, where you can have no view of a return, and I expect from you that you should love me, and think of me, when you do not see me. I have compassion for the mortifications that you
tell me befal our little old friend, and I pity her much more, since I know that they are only owing to the barbarous customs of our country. Upon my word, if she were here, she would bave no other fault but that of being something too young for the fashion, and she has nothing to do but to trans. plant herself hither about seven years hence, to be again a young and blooming beauty. I can assure you that wrinkles, or a small stoop in the shoulders, nay even grey hairs, are no objection to the making new conquests. I know you cannot easily figure to yourself a young fellow of fiveand-twenty, ogling my Lady S-ff—k with passion, or pressing to hand the countess of O- -d from an opera.
But such are the sights I see every day, and I do not perceive any body surprised at them but myself. A woman till five-and-thirty, is only looked upon as a raw girl, and can possibly make no noise in the world till about forty. I do not know what your ladyship may think of this matter, but it is a considerable comfort to me to know there is upon earth such a paradise for old women, and I am content to be insignificant at present, in the design of returning when I am fit to appear no where else. I cannot help lamenting on this occasion, the pitiful case of too many English ladies, long since retired to prudery and ratafia, whom if their stars had luckily conducted hither, would still shine in the first rank of beauties.
LADY M. W. MONTAGUE TO THE LADY X
Vienna, Oct. 1, 0. S. 1710. You desire me, madam, to send you some account of the customs here, and at the same time a description of Vienna. I am always willing to obey your commands, but you must, upon this occasion, take the will for the deed. If I should undertake to tell you all the particulars, in which the manners here differ from ours, I must write a whole quire of the dullest stuff that ever was read, or printed without being read. Their dress agrees with the French or English in no one article, but wearing petticoats. They have many fashions peculiar to tbemselves; they think it indecent for a widow ever to wear green or rose colour, but all the other gayest colours at her own discretion. The assemblies here are the only regular diversion, the operas being always at court, and commonly on some particular occasion. Madam Rabutin has the assembly constantly every night at her house; and the other ladies, whenever they have a mind to display the magnificence of their apartments, or oblige a friend hy complimenting them on the day of their saint, they declare, that on such a day the assembly shall be at their bouse in honour of the feast of the count or countess—such a one. These days are called days of Gala, and all the friends or relations of the lady, whose saint it is, are obliged to appear in their best clothes and all their jewels. The mistress of the house takes no particular notice of any body, nor returns any body's visit; and whoever pleases may go, without the formality of being presented. The company are entertained with ice in several forms, winter and summer; afterwards they divide into several parties of ombre, piquet, or conversation, all games of hazard being forbid.
I saw the other day the gala for Count Altheim, the emperor's favourite, and never in my life saw so many fine clothes ill fancied. They embroider the richest gold stuffs, and provided they can make their clothes expensive enough, that is all the taste they show in them. On other days the general dress is a scarf, and what you please under it.
But now I am speaking of Vienna, I am sure you will expect I should say something of the convents; they are of all sorts and sizes, but I am best pleased with that of St. Lawrence, where the ease and neatness they seem to live with, appear to me much more edifying than those stricter orders, where perpetual penance and nastiness must breed discontent and wretchedness. The nuns are all of quality. I think there are to the number of fifty. They have each of them a little cell, perfectly clean, the walls of which are covered with pictures, more or less fine, according to their quality. A long white stone gallery runs by all of them, furnished with the pictures of exemplary sisters ; the chapel is extremly neat and richly adorned. But I could not forbear laughing at their showing me a wooden head of our Saviour, which they assured me spoke during the siege of Vienna; and, as a proof of it, bid me remark his
mouth, which had been open ever since. Nothing can be more becoming than the dress of these nuns. It is a white robe, the sleeves of which are turned up with fine white calico, and their head-dress the same, excepting a small veil of black crape that falls behind. They have a lower sort of serving nans, that wait on them as their chamber-maids. They receive all visits of women, and play at ombre in their chambers with permission of their abbess, which is very easy to be obtained. I never saw an old woman so good-natured ; she is near fourscore, and yet shows very little sign of decay, being still lively and cheerful. She caressed me as if I had been her daughter, giving me some pretty things of her own work, and sweetmeats in abundance. The grate is not one of the most rigid; it is not very hard to put a head through ; and I do pot doubt but a man, a little more slender than ordinary, might squeeze iu his whole person. The young count of Salamis came to the grate while I was there, and the abbess gave him her hand to kiss. But I was surprised to find here, the only beautiful young woman I have seen at Vienna, and not only beautiful, but genteel, witty, and agreeable, of a great family, and who had been the admiration of the town. I could not forbear showing my surprise at seeing a nun like her. She made me a thousand obliging compliments, and desired me to come often. It will be an infinite pleasure to me (said she, sighing); but I avoid, with the greatest care, seeing any of my former acquaintance, and whenever they come to our convent, I lock myself in my cell. I observed tears come into her eyes, which touched me extremely, and I