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Emory Women Writers Resource Project

Mundus Muliebris: Or, The Ladies Dressing-Room Unlock'd, and her Toilette Spread, an electronic edition

by Mary Evelyn [Evelyn, Mary, 1665-1685]

date: 1700
source publisher: Printed for Joseph Wild
collection: Early Modern through the 18th Century

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This Paper was not to come abroad without a Preface, as well as Comment, for Instruction of our young master, who newly launch'd from the University (where he has lost a year or two) is not yet Travell'd, or if happily he has made le petit Tour (with the formal thing his Governour *whom the French call Maitre des ours, a Bearward.) having never yet Read Tully's Offices through, since he came from School, sets up for a Beau, and Equipp'd for the Town at his Return, comes to seek Adventures in an Ocean full of Rocks, and Shelves, and wants a Skilful Pilot to Steer him, as much as any Vessel that goes to the Indies; and oftentimes returns home Leaky, and as poorly Freighted, as those who have been near Shipwrack'd or lost their Voyage.

It is for direction of such as are setting out towards this Great and Famous Emporium (whether the design be for Miss or Marriage) what Cargo he must provide; not as Merchants do for America, Glass-Beads,and Baubles, in exchange for Gold and pearl; but Gold and Pearl, and all that's precious, for that which is of less value than Knives and Childrens Rattles.

You see, Squires, what you are to prepare for as Adventurers, or by way of Barter, if you think to Traffick here, and to carry the Fair One, especially if she be at her own disposal (or being come some considerable time out of the Country) has been initiated into the Conversation of the Town: The Refined Lady expects her Servants and humble Admirers should Court her in the Forms and Decencies of making Love in Fashion: In order to this, you must often treat her at the Play, the Park, and the Musick; present her at the Raffle, follow her to Tunbridge at the season of drinking Waters, though you have no need of them your self: You must improve all occasions of celebrating her Shape, and how well the Mode becomes her, though it be never so Fantastical and Ridiculous; that she Sings like an Angel, Dances like a goddess; and that you are Charm'd with her Wit and Beauty: Above all, you must be sure to find some Fault or Imperfection in all other Ladies of the Town, and to laugh at the Fopps like your self: With this, a little Practice will qualifie you for the Conversation and Mystery of the Ruelle; and if the whole Morning be spent between the Glass and the Comb, that your Perruque fit well, and Cravat-Strings be adjusted as things of importance; with these and the like accomplishment you'll emerge a consummate Beau, Anglice, a Co- But the Dancing-Master will still be necessary to preserve your good Meen, and fit you for the Winter-Ball.

Thus you see, young Sparks, how the Stile and Method of Wooing is quite changed, as well as the Language, since the days of our Fore-Fathers (of unhappy Memory Memory, simple and plain, Men as they were who Courted and chose their Wives for their Modesty, Frugality, keeping at Home, Good-Houswifery, and other Oeconomical Virutes then in Reputation: and when the young damsels were taught all these in the Country, and their Parents Houses, the Portion they brought was more in Virtue than Money, and she was a richer Match than one who could have brought a Million, and nothing else to commend her. The Presents which were made when all was concluded, were a Ring, a Necklace of Pearl, and perhaps another fair jewel, the Bona Parphernalia of her prudent Mother, whose Nuptial Kirtle, Gown and Petticoat lasted as many Anniversaries as the happy Couple liv'd together, and were at last bequeathed with a Purse of old Gold, Rose-Nobles, Spur Royals, and Spankers, as an House-Loom to her Grand-Daughter.

They had Cupboards of Ancient, useful Plate, whole Chests of Damask for the Table, and store of fine Holland Sheets (white as the driven Snow) and fragrant of Rose and Lavender for the Bed; and the sturdy Oaken Bedstead, and Furniture of the House, lasted a whole Century; the Shovel-Board, and other long Tables both in Hall and Parlour were as fixed as the Freehold; nothing was moveable save Joynt-Stools, Black Jacks, Silver Tankards, and Bowls: And though many things fell out between the Cup and the Lip, when Nappy Ale, March Beer, Metheglin, Malmesey, and Old Sherry got the Ascendant amongst the Blew-Coats, and Badges, they sung Old Symon, and Chevi Chase, and danc'd brave Arthur, and were albe to draw a Bow that made the proud Monsieur tremble at the Whizze of the Grey-Goose-Feather: 'Twas then Ancient Hospitality was kept up in Town and Country, by Tenants were enabled to pay their Landlords at punctual days: the Poor were relieved bountifully, and Charity was as warm as the Kitchin, where the Fire was perpetual.

In those happy days, Sure-Foot, the Grave and Steady Mare, carried the Good Knight and his Courteous Lady behind him to Church, and to visit the Neighborhood, without so many Hell-Carts, Ratling Coaches, and a crue of Damme Lacqueys, which a Grave Livery Servant or two supply'd, who rid before and made way for is Worship.

Things of use were Natural, Plain, and Wholesome, nothing was superfluous, nothing necessary wanting: and Men of Estate studied the Publick Good and gave Example of true Piety, Loyalty, Justice, Sobriety, Charity, and the good-Neighborhood compos'd most differences: Perjury, Suborning Witnesses, Alimony, Avowed Adulteries, and Misses (publickly own'd) avere Prodigies in those days, and Laws were Reason, not Craft, when Mens Titles were secure, and they served their Generation with Honour; left their Patrimonial Estates improv'd to an Hopeful Heir, who passing from the Free School to the Colledge, and thence to the Inns of Court, acquainting himself with a competent Tincture of the Laws of his Country, followed the Example of his worthy Ancestors; and if he Travell'd abroad, it was not to count Steeples, and bring some Feather and Ribbon, and the Sins of other Nations; but to gain such Experience as rendered him useful to his Prince and Country upon occasion, and confirm'd him in the love of both of 'em above any other.

The Virgins and Young Ladies of that Golden Age, Quaesierunt lanam & linum (Prov. 31.13.19.); put their hands to the Spindle, nor disdain'd they the Needle; were obsequious, and helpful to their Parents; instructed in the Managery of the Family, and gave Presages of making excellent Wives; nor then did they Read so many Romances, see so many Plays, and smutty Farces; set up for Visits, and have their days of Audience, and Idle pass time. Honest Gleek, Ruff and Honours, diverted the Ladies at Chrismas, and they knew not so much as the Names of Ombre, Comet, and Basset. Their Retirements were Devout and Religious Books, and their Recreations in the Distillatory, the knowledge of Plants and their Virtues, for the comfort of their poor Neighbours, and use of the Family, which wholsome plain Dyet, and Kitching Physick preserved in perfect Health: in those days, the Scurvy, Spleen, &c. were scarce heard of, till Foreign Drinks and Mixtures were wantonly introduc'd. Nor were the young Gentlewomen so universally afflicted with Hysterical Fits; nor, though extreamly modest, at all Melancholy, or less Gay, and in good Humour; they could touch the Lute, and Virginal, sing like to the Damask Rose- and their Breath was as sweet as their Voices: They danc'd the Canarys' Spanish Pavan, and Selengers Round upon Sippets, with as much Grace and Loveliness, as any Monsieur, or Italian of them all, can Teach with his Fop-call, and Apish Postures. To shew you the, how the World is alter'd among us, since Foreign Manners, the Luxury (more than Asiatick, which was the final Ruine of the Greatest, Wisest, and most Noblest Monarchy upon Earth) has universally obtain'd among us, corrupting ancient simplicity; and in what extravagant form the young Gallant we describ'd, is to Court the Sex, and make his Addresses, (whether his Expedition be for Marriage or Mistress) it has been thought good by some Charitable hands, that have contributed to his Catalogue, to present him with an Enumeration of particulars, and Computation of the Charges of the Adventurer, as follows.

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