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Chapter VII.

In which the Author condescends to be very minute in the Description of our Heroin's Dress.

The Indifference of Mr. Tinsel, convincing Miss Glanville, that Arabella was less to be dreaded than she imagin'd, she had no Reluctance at seeing her prepare for her publick Appearance the next Ball Night.

Having consulted her Fancy in a rich Silver Stuff, she had bought for that Purpose, a Person was sent for to make it; and Arabella, who follow'd no Fashion but her own Taste, which was form'd on the Manners of the Heroines, order'd the Woman to make her a Robe after the same Model as the Princess Julia's.

The Mantua-maker, who thought it might do her great Prejudice with her new Customer, to acknowledge she knew nothing of the Princess Julia, or the Fashion of her Gown, replied at Random, and with great Pertness, That, that Taste was quite out; and, she would advise her Ladyship to have her Cloaths made in the present Mode, which was far more becoming.

You can never persuade me, said Arabella, that any Fashion can be more becoming than that of the Princess Julia's, who was the most gallant Princess upon Earth, and knew better than any other, how to set off her Charms. It may indeed be a little obselete now, pursued she, for the Fashion could not but alter a little in the Compass of near two thousand Years.

Two thousand Years! Madam, said the Woman, in a great Surprize; Lord help us Tradespeople, if they did not alter a thousand Times in as many Days! I thought your Ladyship was speaking of the last Month's Taste; which, as I said before, is quite out now.

Well, replied Arabella, let the present Mode be what it will, I insist upon having my Cloaths made after the Pattern of the beautiful Daughter of Augustus; being convinced, that none other can be half so becoming.

What Fashion was that, pray, Madam, said the Woman? I never saw it.

How, replied Arabella, Have you already forgot the Fashion of the Princess Julia's Robe, which you said was wore but last Month? Or, are you ignorant that the Princess Julia, and the Daughter of Augustus, is the same Person? I protest, Madam, said the Woman, extremely confus'd, I had forgot that, till you called it to my Mind.

Well, said Arabella, make me a Robe in the same Taste. The Mantua-maker was now wholly at a Loss in what Manner to behave; for, being conscious that she knew nothing of the Princess Julia's Fashion, she could not undertake to make it without Directions; and she was afraid of discovering her Ignorance by asking for any; so that her Silence and Embarrassment persuading Arabella she knew nothing of the Matter, she dismist her with a small Present, for the Trouble she had given her, and had Recourse to her usual Expedient, which was, to make one of her Women, who understood a little of the Mantua-making Business, make a Robe for her, after her own Directions.

Miss Glanville, who imagin'd she had sent for Work-women, in order to have Cloaths made in the modern Taste, was surpriz'd at her Entrance into her Chamber, to see her dressing for the Ball, in a Habit singular to the last Degree.

She wore no Hoop, and the Blue and Silver Stuff of her Robe, was only kept by its own Richness, from hanging close about her. It was quite open round her Breast, which was shaded with a rich Border of Lace; and clasping close to her Waist, by small Knots of Diamonds, descended in a sweeping Train on the Ground.

The Sleeves were short, wide, and slash'd, fastned in different Places with Diamonds, and her Arms were partly hid by half a Dozen Falls of Ruffles. Her Hair, which fell in very easy Ringlets on her Neck, was plac'd with great Care and Exactness round her lovely Face; and the Jewels and Ribbons, which were all her Head-dress, dispos'd to the greatest Advantage.

Upon the whole, nothing could be more singularly becoming than her Dress; or set off with greater Advantage the striking Beauties of her Person.

Miss Glanville, tho' she was not displeas'd to see her persist in her Singularity of Dress; yet could not behold her look so lovely in it, without feeling a secret Uneasiness; but consoling herself with the Hopes of the Ridicule she would occasion, she assum'd a chearful Air, approv'd her Taste in the Choice of her Colours, and went with her at the usual Hour, to the Rooms, attended by Mr. Glanville, Mr. Selvin, and the young Beau we have formerly mention'd.

The Surprize Arabella's unusual Appearance gave to the whole Company, was very visible to every one but herself.

The Moment she enter'd the Room, every one whisper'd the Person next to them; and for some Moments, nothing was heard but the Words, the Princess Julia; which was eccho'd at every Corner, and at last attracted her Observation.

Mr. Glanville, and the rest of the Company with her, were in some Confusion at the universal Exclamation, which they imagin'd was occasion'd by the Singularity of her Habit; tho' they could not conceive, why they gave her that Title. Had they known the Adventure of the Mantua-maker, it would doubtless have easily occurr'd to them; for the Woman had no sooner left Arabella, than she related the Conference she had with a Lady newly arriv'd, who had requir'd her to make a Robe in the Manner of the Princess Julia's; and dismiss'd her, because she did not understand the Fashions that prevail'd two thousand Years ago.

This Story was quickly dispers'd, and for its Novelty, afforded a great deal of Diversion; every one long'd to see a Fashion of such Antiquity; and expected the Appearance of the Princess Julia with great Impatience.

It is not to be doubted but much Mirth was treasur'd up for her Appearance; and the occasional Humourist had already prepared his accustom'd Jest, when the Sight of the devoted fair One repell'd his Vivacity, and the design'd Ridicule of the whole Assembly.

Scarce had the first tumultous Whisper escap'd the Lips of each Individual, when they found themselves aw'd to Respect by that irresistable Charm in the Person of Arabella, which commanded Reverence and Love from all who beheld her.

Her noble Air, the native Dignity in her Looks, the inexpressible Grace which accompany'd all her Motions, and the consummate Loveliness of her Form, drew the Admiration of the whole Assembly.

A respectful Silence succeeded, and the Astonishment her Beauty occasion'd, left them no Room to descant on the Absurdity of her Dress.

Miss Glanville, who felt a malicious Joy at the Sneers she expected would be cast on her Cousin, was greatly disappointed at the Deference which seem'd to be paid her; and to vent some Part of her Spleen, took occasion to mention her Surprize, at the Behaviour of the Company on their Entrance; wondering what they could mean by whispering the Princess Julia to one another.

I assure you, said Arabella, smiling, I am not less surpriz'd than you at it; and since they directed their Looks to me at the same Time, I fancy their either took me for some Princess of the Name of Julia, who is expected here to-Night, or else flatter me with some Resemblance to the beautiful Daughter of Augustus.

The Comparison, Madam, said Mr. Selvin, who took all Occasions to shew his Reading, is too injurious to you, for I am of Opinion you as much excel that licentious Lady in the Beauties of your Person, as you do in the Qualities of your Mind.

I never heard Licentiousness imputed to the Daughter of Augustus C~A¦sar, said Arabella; and the most her Enemies can say of her, is, that she loved Admiration, and would permit herself to be beloved, and to be told so, without shewing any Signs of Displeasure.

Bless me, Madam, interrupted Mr. Selvin, how strangely do you mistake the Character of Julia: Tho' the Daughter of an Emperor, she was, pardon the Expression, the most abandon'd Prostitute in Rome ; many of her Intrigues are recorded in History; but to mention only one, Was not her infamous Commerce with Ovid, the Cause of his Banishment?

Chapter VI. | The Female Quixote | Chapter VIII.