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nial state, a never-failing article in the marriage treaty, is, that the lady shall have and enjoy the free and unmolested exercise of the rights of whitewashing, with all its cere
monials, privileges, and appurtenances. A young woman 5 would forego the most advantageous connexion, and even
disappoint the warmest wish of her heart, rather than resign the invaluable right. You would wonder what this privilege of whitewashing is :- I will endeavor to give you
some idea of the ceremony, as I have seen it performed. 10 There is no season of the year, in which the lady may
not claim her privilege, if she pleases; but the latter end of May is most generally fixed upon for the purpose. The attentive husband may judge by certain prognostics
when the storm is nigh at hand. When the lady is un15 usually fretful, finds fault with the servants, is discon
tented with the children, and complains much of the filthiness of every thing about her, these are signs which ought not to be neglected; yet they are not decisive, as they sometimes come on,
and go off again, without produc20 ing any further effect. But if, when the husband rises in
the morning, he should observe in the yard a wheelbarrow with a quantity of lime in it, or should see certain buckets with lime dissolved in water, there is then no time to be
lost; he immediately locks up the apartment, or closet, 25 where his papers or his private property are kept, and,
putting the key in his pocket, betakes himself to flight; for a husband, however beloved, becomes a perfect nuisance during this season of female rage; his authority is
superseded, his commission is suspended; and the very 30 scullion, who cleans the brasses in the kitchen, becomes
of more consideration and importance than he. He has nothing for it but to abdicate, and run from an evil which he can neither prevent nor mollify.
The husband gone, the ceremony begins. The walls 35 are in a few minutes stripped of their furniture; paintings,
prints, and looking-glasses, lie in a huddled heap, about the floors; the curtains are torn from the testers, the beds crammed into the windows; chairs and tables, bedsteads
and cradles crowd the yard; and the garden fence bends 40 beneath the weight of carpets, blankets, cloth cloaks, old
coats, and ragged breeches. Here may be seen the lumber of the kitchen, forming a dark and confused mass; for the foreground of the picture, gridirons and frying-pans, rusty spovels and broken tongs, spits and pots, and the
fractured remains of rush-bottomed chairs.
There, a closet has disgorged its bowels, cracked tumblers, broken wine-glasses, phials of forgotten physic, papers of un
known powders, seeds and dried herbs, handfuls of old 5 corks, tops of teapots and stoppers of departed decanters;
from the rag hole in the garret, to the rat hole in the cellar, no place escapes unrummaged. It would seem as if the day of general doom was come, and the utensils of
the house were dragged forth to judgment. In this tem10 pest, the words of Lear naturally present themselves, and might, with some alteration, be made strictly applicable :
“Let the great gods,
Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,
-Close pent-up Guilt,
LESSON LXXVI.-SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.-ID. This ceremony completed, and the house thoroughly evacuated, the next operation is to smear the walls and the ceilings of every room and closet, with brushes dipped
in a solution of lime, called whitewash; to pour buckets 5 of water over every floor, and scratch all the partitions
and wainscots with rough brushes, wet with soap-suds, and dipped in stone-cutter's sand. The windows by no means escape the general deluge. A servant scrambles
out upon the pent-house, at the risk of her neck, and, with 10 a mug in her hand, and a bucket within reach, she dashes
away innumerable gallons of water against the glass panes, to the great annoyance of passengers in the street.
I have been told, that an action at law was once brought against one of these water-nymphs, by a person who had 15 a new suit of clothes spoiled by this operation ; but, after
a long argument, it was determined by the whole court, that the action would not lie, inasmuch as the defendant was in the exercise of a legal right, and not answerable for
the consequences; and so the poor gentleman was doubly 20 nonsuited; for he lost not only his suit of clothes but his suit at law.
These smearings and scratchings, washings and dashings, being duly performed, the next ceremony is to cleanse and replace the distracted furniture. You may have seen a house-raising, or a ship-launch, when all the hands within reach are collected together ; recollect, if
you can, the hurry, bustle, confusion, and noise of such a 5 scene, and
will have some idea of this cleaning match. The misfortune is, that the sole object is to make things clean; it matters not how many useful, ornamental, or valuable articles are mutilated, or suffer death under the
operation ; a mahogany chair and carved frame undergo 10 the same discipline; they are to be made clean, at all
events; but their preservation is not worthy of attention. For instance, a fine large engraving is laid flat upon the floor; smaller prints are piled upon it, and the superincum
bent weight cracks the glasses of the lower tier; but this 15 is of no consequence. A valuable picture is placed lean
ing against the sharp corner of a table ; others are made to lean against that, until the pressure of the whole forces the corner of the table through the canvass of the first.
The frame and glass of a fine print are to be cleaned; 20 the spirit and oil used on this occasion, are suffered to
leak through, and spoil the engraving ; no matter,-if the glass is clean, and the frame shine, it is sufficient; the rest is not worthy of consideration. An able mathema
tician has made an accurate calculation, founded on long 25 experience, and has discovered that the losses and de
struction incident to tivo whitewashings, are equal to one removal, and three removals equal to one fire.
The cleaning frolic over, matters begin to resume their pristine appearance.
The storm abates, and all would be 30 well again; but it is impossible that so great a convulsion, in so small a commi
munity, should not produce some further effects. For two or three weeks after the operation, the family are usually afflicted with sore throats or sore eyes,
occasioned by the caustic quality of the lime, or with se35 vere colds, from the exhalations of wet floors or damp
LESSON LXXVII.-SAME SUBJECT CONCLUDED.-ID. I know a gentleman, who was fond of accounting for every thing in a philosophical way. He considers this, which I have called a custom, as a real periodical disease,
peculiar to the climate. His train of reasoning is inge5 nious and whimsical; but I am not at leisure to give you the detail. The result was, that he found the distemper to be incurable ; but, after much study, he conceived he had discovered a method to divert the evil he could not sub
due. For this purpose, he caused a small building, about 5 twelve feet square, to be erected in his garden, and fur
nished with some ordinary chairs and tables ; and a few prints, of the cheapest sort, were hung against the walls. His hope was, that, when the whitewashing frenzy seized
the females of his family, they might repair to this apart10 ment, and scrub and smear and scour to their hearts' con
tent; and so spend the violence of the disease in this outpost, while he enjoyed himself in qu:et at head-quarters. But the experiment did not answer his expectation :
it was impossible it should, since a principal part of the 15 gratification consists in the lady's having an uncontrolled
right to torment her husband, at least once a year, and to turn him out of doors, and take the reins of government into her own hands.
There is a much better contrivance than this of the 20 philosopher, which is, to cover the walls of the house
with paper; this is generally done ; and, though it cannot abolish, it at least shortens, the period of female dominion. The paper is decorated with flowers of various fancies,
and made so ornamental, that the women have admitted 25 the fashion without perceiving the design.
There is also another alleviation of the husband's distress: he generally has the privilege of a small room or closet for his books and papers, the key of which he is
allowed to keep. This is considered as a privileged place, 30 and stands like the land of Goshen amid the plagues of
Egypt. But then he must be extremely cautious, and ever on his guard; for should he inadvertently go abroad, and leave the key in his door, the housemaid, who is al
ways on the watch for such an opportunity, immediately 35 enters in triumph, with buckets, brooms, and brushes ; takes
possession of the premises, and forthwith puts all his books and papers to rights,—to his utter confusion, and sometimes serious detriment. For instance:
A gentleman was sued by the executors of a tradesman, 40 on a charge found against him in the deceased's books, to the amount of thirty pounds.
The defendant was strongly impressed with the idea, that he had discharged the debt, and taken a receipt; but, as the transaction was of long standing, he knew not where to find the receipt.
The suit went on in course, and the time approached, when judgment would be obtained against him. He then sat seriously down to examine a large bundle of old pa
pers, which he had untied, and displayed on a table, for 5 that purpose. In the midst of his search, he was sudden
ly called away on business of importance ;-he forgot to lock the door of his room. The housemaid, who had been long looking out for such an opportunity, immedi
ately entered with the usual implements, and, with great 10 alacrity, fell to cleaning the room, and putting things to
rights. The first object that struck her eye was the confused situation of the papers on the table; these were without delay bundled together, as so many dirty knives
and forks ; but in the action, a small piece of paper fell 15 unnoticed on the floor, which happened to be the very re
ceipt in question; as it had no very respectable appearance, it was soon after swept out with the common dirt of the room, and carried in the rubbish-pan into the yard.
The tradesman had neglected to enter the credit in his 20 book; the defendant could find nothing to obviate the
charge, and so judgment went against him for the debt and costs. A fortnight after the whole was settled, and the money paid, one of the children found the receipt
among the rubbish in the yard. 25 There is another custom, peculiar to the city of Phila
delphia, and nearly allied to the former. I mean, that of washing the pavement before the doors, every Saturday evening. I, at first, took this to be a regulation of the
police ; but, on further inquiry, find it is a religious rite, 30 preparatory to the Sabbath ; and is, I believe, the only re
ligious rite, in which the numerous sectaries of this city perfectly agree. The ceremony begins about sunset, and continues till about ten or eleven at night. It is very
difficult for a stranger to walk the streets on those evenings; 35 he runs a continual risk of having a bucket of dirty water
thrown against his legs; but a Philadelphian born is so much accustomed to the danger, that he avoids it with surprising dexterity. It is from this circumstance that a
Philadelphian may be Irnown anywhere by his gait. The 40 streets of New York are paved with rough stones; these
indeed are not washed; but the dirt is so thoroughly swept from before the doors, that the stones stand up sharp and prominent, to the great inconvenience of those who are not accustomed to so rough a path. But habit reconciles