In which one of our Heroine's Whims is justified, by some others full as whimsical.
This Piece of History, with Sir Charles's Remarks upon it, brought them into Bath. Their Lodgings being provided beforehand, the Ladies retired to their different Chambers, to repose themselves after the Fatigue of their Journey, and did not meet again till Supper was on Table; when Miss Glanville, who had eagerly enquired what Company was then in the Place, and heard there were a great many Persons of Fashion just arrived, prest Arabella to go to the Pump-Room the next Morning, assuring her she would find a very agreeable Amusement.
Arabella accordingly consented to accompany her; and, being told the Ladies went in a Undress of a Morning, she accommodated herself to the Custom, and went in a negligent Dress; but instead of a Capuchin, she wore something like a Veil, of black Gauze, which covered almost all her Face, and Part of her Waist, and gave her a very singular Appearance.
Miss Glanville was too envious of her Cousin's Superiority in point of Beauty, to inform her of any Oddity in her Dress, which she thought might expose her to the Ridicule of those that saw her; and Mr. Glanville was too little a Critic in Ladies Apparel, to be sensible that Arabella was not in the Fashion; and since every thing she wore became her extremely, he could not choose but think she drest admirably well: He handed her therefore, with a great deal of Satisfaction, into the Pump-Room, which happened to be greatly crouded that Morning.
The Attention of most Part of the Company was immediately engaged by the Appearance Lady Bella made. Strangers are here most strictly criticized, and every new Object affords a delicious Feast of Raillery and Scandal.
The Ladies, alarmed at the Singularity of her Dress, crouded together in Parties; and the Words, Who can she be? Strange Creature! Ridiculous! and other Exclamations of the same Kind, were whispered very intelligibly.
The Men were struck with her Figure, veiled as she was: Her fine Stature, the beautiful Turn of her Person, the Grace and Elegance of her Motion, attracted all their Notice: The Ph~A¦nomena of the Veil, however, gave them great Disturbance. So lovely a Person seemed to promise the Owner had a Face not unworthy of it; but that was totally hid from their View: For Arabella, at her Entrance into the Room, had pulled the Gauze quite over her Face, following therein the Custom of the Ladies in Clelia, and the Grand Cyrus, who, in mixed Companies, always hid their Faces with great Care.
The Wits, and Pretty-Fellows, railed at the envious Covering, and compared her to the Sun obscured by a Cloud; while the Beaux dem'd the horrid Innovation, and expressed a Fear, lest it should grow into a Fashion. Some of the wiser Sort took her for a Foreigner; others, of still more Sagacity, supposed her a Scots Lady, covered with her Plaid; and a third Sort, infinitely wiser than either, concluded she was a Spanish Nun, that had escaped from a Convent, and had not yet quitted her Veil.
Arabella, ignorant of the Diversity of Opinions, to which her Appearance gave Rise, was taken up in discoursing with Mr. Glanville upon the medicinal Virtue of the Springs, the Oeconomy of the Baths, the Nature of the Diversions, and such other Topics, as the Objects around them furnished her with.
In the mean time, Miss Glanville was got amidst a Croud of her Acquaintance, who had hardly paid the Civilities of a first Meeting, before they eagerly inquired, who that Lady she brought with her was.
Miss Glanville informed them, that she was her Cousin, and Daughter to the deceased Marquis of -- adding with a Sneer, That she had been brought up in the Country; knew nothing of the World; and had some very peculiar Notions, as you may see, said she, by that odd kind of Covering she wears.
Her Name and Quality were presently whispered all over the Room: The Men, hearing she was a great Heiress, found greater Beauties to admire in her Person: The Ladies, aw'd by the Sanction of Quality, dropt their Ridicule on her Dress, and began to quote Examples of Whims full as inexcusable.
One remembred, that Lady J-- T-- always wore her Ruffles reversed; that the Countess of -- went to Court in a Farthingale; that the Duchess of -- sat astride upon a Horse; and a certain Lady of great Fortune, and nearly allied to Quality, because she was not dignified with a Title, invented a new one for herself; and directed her Servants to say in speaking to her, Your Honouress, which afterwards became a Custom among all her Acquaintance; who mortally offended her, if they omitted that Instance of Respect.