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world merely • Fruges consumere nati, to consume the • fruits of the earth,' might thus by a proper and just retribution, be employed to produce fruges similar to those which they consumed while in life? What a pleasant and equitable kind of retaliation would it be for a borough or corporation to obtain, from the bodies of a parcel of fat magistrates, swelled up with city-feasts and rich wines, a sum of money that might, in some degree compensate for the expence
which the capacious bellies of their owners one day cost the town revenue ?
The general effects of this plan, and the particu. lar attention it would necessarily produce in the æconomy of sepulture, would remove the complaints I have often heard made, in various cities, of the want of space and size in their burying-grounds. Those young men who die of old age at thirty, and the whole body of the magistrates and council of some towns who are in such a state of corruption, during their lives, might very soon be made useful after their death. It has been often said, that a living man is more useful than a dead one ; but I deny it ; for it will be found, if ever my proposal takes place, that one dead man, at least of the species above mentioned, will be of more use than fifty living ones.
I am well aware, that most of the fair sex, and some such odd mortals as your Mr. Wentworth or Mr. Fleetwood, may possibly be shocked at this plan, and may cry out, That it would be a great indelicacy done to the remains of our friends. I do not, however, imagine this ought to have much weight, when the good of one's country is concerned. These very people, Mr. Mirror, would not, I dare say, for the world, cut the throat of a sheep, or pull the neck of a hen off joint ; yet when they are at table, they make no scruple to eat a bit of mutton, or the wing of a pullet, withcut allowing a thought of the butcher or the cook to have a place at the entertainment. In like manner, when these delicate kind of people happen to see a very beautiful field of wheat, which is a sight every way as pleasant as a leg of good mutton, or a fine fowl, let them never distress themselves by investigating, whether the field owes its peculiar excellence to the church-yard or the stable. As the ladies, however, are of very great importance in this country, I think it is proper that their goodwill be gained over, if possible. I would, therefore, humbly propose, in compliment to the delicacy of their sensations, that their purer ashes never be employed in the culture of oats, to fill the bellies of vulgar ploughmen and coach-horses. No! Very far be it from me to entertain any such coarse idea. Let them be set apart and solely appropriated to the use of parterres and flower-gardens. A philosopher in ancient times, I forget who, has defined a lady to be an animal that delights in finery;' and other philosophers have imagined, that the soul, after death, takes pleasure in the same pursuits it was fond of while united to the body. What a heavenly gratification, then, will it prove to the soul of a toast, while • she rides in her cloud, on the
wings of the roaring wind,' to look down and view her remains upon earth, of as beautiful a complexion and as gaily and as gaudily decorated as ever herself was while alive!
One of your predecessors, Isaac Bickerstaff, I think, tells us, that in a bed of fine tulips he found the most remarkable flowers named after celebrated heroes and kings. He speaks of the beauty and vivid colouring of the Black Prince, and the Duke of Vendome, of Alexander the Great, the Emperor of Germany, the Duke of Marlborough, and many others.
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How much more natural, as well as more proper, would it be, to have our flowers christened after those beautiful females, to whom, in all probability, they really owed their peculiar beauty ? We might have Lady Flora, Lady Violet, Miss Lily, Miss Rose, and all the beauties of our remembrance, renovated to our admiring eyes.
I am much inclined to believe, that the improvement I am here suggesting was known to, and practised, by the ancients, particularly by the Greeks and Romans; for we read in their poets of Narcissus, Cyax, Smilax, and Crocus, Hyacinthus, Adonis, and Minthe, being after their deaths metamorphosed into flowers ; and of the sisters of Phaeton, Pyramus and Thisbe, Baucis and Philemon, Daphne, Cyparissus, and Myrrha, and many more, being converted into trees. Now these stories, Mr. MIRROR, when stripped of their poetical ornaments, can, in my opinion, bear no other interpretation than that the ashes of those people were applied to such useful purposes as "I am now proposing.
You will here observe, Mr. MIRROR, that, besides the great utility of the scheme, there will be much room for the imagination to delight itself, in tracing out analogies, and refining upon the general hint I have thrown out. Your Bath Toyman would have many very ingenious conceits upon the occasion, and would exercise his genius in devising fanciful applications of the different manures he would make it his business to procure. He would have a plot of rue and wormwood raised by old maidens; he would apply the ashes of martyrs in love to his pine-trees; the dust of aldermen and rich citizens might be used in the culture of plums and gooseberries ; a set of fine gentlemen would be laid aside for the culture of cocks. combs, none so-prettys, and narcissuses; the clergy and church officers would be manure for the holly and elder; and the posthumous productions of poets would furnish bays and laurels for their successors. But I tire you, Mr. Mirror, with these trifling fancies: the utility of my plan is what I value myself upon, and desire your opinion of.
I am, Sir,
N° 53. TUESDAY, JULY 26, 1779.
To the AUTHOR of the MIRROR.
I am one of the young women mentioned in two letters which you published in your 12th and 25th Numbers, though I did not know till very lately that our family had been put into print in the MIRROR. Since it is so, I think I too may venture to write you a letter, which, if it be not quite so well written as my father's (though I am no great admirer of his style neither), will at least be as true.
Soon after my Lady -'s visit at our house, of which the last of my
father's letters informed you, a sister of his, who is married to a man of business here in Edinburgh, came with her husband to see us in the country; and, though my sister Mary and I soon discovered many vulgar things about them, yet, as they were both very good-humoured sort of people, and took great pains to make themselves agreeable, we could not help looking with regret to the time of their departure. When that drew near, they surprised us, by an invitation to me, to come and spend some months with my cousins in town, saying, that my mother could not niss my company at home, while she had so good a companion and assistant in the family as her daughter Mary.
To me there were not so many allurements in this journey as might have been imagined. I had lately been taught to look on London as the only capital worth visiting ; besides that, I did not expect the highest satisfaction from the society I should meet with at my aunt's, which, I confess, I was apt to suppose none of the most genteel. I contrived to keep the matter in suspence (for it was left entirely to my own determination), till I should write for the opinion of my friend Lady on the subject; for, ever since our first acquaintance, we had kept up a constant and regular correspondence. In our letters, which were always written in a style of the warmest affection, we were in the way of talking with the greatest freedom of every body of our acquaintance. It was delightful, as her ladyship expressed it, 'to unfold one's feelings in the bosom of < friendship ;' and she accordingly was wont to send me the most natural and lively pictures of the company who resorted to -; and I, in return, transmitted her many anecdotes of those which chance, or a greater intimacy, gave me an opportunity of learn. ing. To prevent discovery, we corresponded under the signatures of Hortensia and Leonara ; and some very particular intelligence her Ladyship taught me not to commit to ink, but to set down in lemon juice. -I wander from my story, Mr. MIRROR; • but I