Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. IV. Eighteenth Century
Dress and Literature
By Hannah More (17451833)
From the Memoirs
TO a Sister. Our first visit was to Sir Joshuas, where we were received with all the friendship imaginable. I am going to-day to a great dinner; nothing can be conceived so absurd, extravagant, and fantastical, as the present mode of dressing the head. Simplicity and modesty are things so much exploded, that the very names are no longer remembered. I have just escaped from one of the most fashionable disfigurers; and though I charged him to dress me with the greatest simplicity, and to have only a very distant eye upon the fashion, just enough to avoid the pride of singularity, without running into ridiculous excess; yet in spite of all these sage didactics, I absolutely blush at myself, and turn to the glass with as much caution as a vain beauty just risen from the small-pox; which cannot be a more disfiguring disease than the present mode of dressing. Of the one, the calamity may be greater in its consequences, but of the other it is more corrupt in its cause. We have been reading a treatise on the morality of Shakespeare; it is a happy and easy way of filling a book, that the present race of authors have arrived atthat of criticising the works of some eminent poet: with monstrous extracts, and short remarks. It is a species of cookery I begin to grow tired of; they cut up their authors into chops, and by adding a little crumbled bread of their own, and tossing it up a little they present it as a fresh dish; you are to dine upon the poet;the critic supplies the garnish; yet has the credit, as well as profit, of the whole entertainment.