No. 631. Friday, December 10, 1714.

--Simplex Munditiis--'

I had occasion to go a few Miles out of Town, some Days since, in a Stage-Coach, where I had for my Fellow-Tavellers a dirty Beau, and a pretty young Quaker-Woman. Having no Inclination to Talk much at that time, I placed my self backward, with a design to survey them, and pick a Speculation out of my two Companions. Their different Figures were sufficient of themselves to draw my Attention. The Gentleman was dressed in a Suit, the Ground whereof had been Black, as I perceived from some few Spaces, that had escaped the Powder, which was Incorporated with the greatest part of his Coat: His Perriwig, which cost no small Sum, [1] was after so slovenly a manner cast over his Shoulders, that it seemed not to have been combed since the Year 1712; his Linnen, which was not much concealed, was daubed with plain Spanish from the Chin to the lowest Button, and the Diamond upon his Finger (which naturally dreaded the Water) put me in Mind how it sparkled amidst the Rubbish of the Mine, where it was first discovered. On the other hand, the pretty Quaker appeared in all the Elegance of Cleanliness. Not a Speck was to be found on her. A clear, clean oval Face, just edged about with little thin Plaits of the purest Cambrick, received great Advantages from the Shade of her black Hood; as did the Whiteness of her Arms from that sober-coloured Stuff, in which she had Cloathed her self. The Plainness of her Dress was very well suited to the Simplicity of her Phrases; all which put together, though they could not give me a great Opinion of her Religion, they did of her Innocence.

This Adventure occasioned my throwing together a few hints upon Cleanliness, which I shall consider as one of the Half-Virtues, as Aristotle calls them, and shall recommend it under the three following Heads, As it is a Mark of Politeness; As it produces Love; and As it bears Analogy to Purity of Mind.

First, It is a Mark of Politeness. It is universally agreed upon, that no one, unadorn'd with this Virtue, can go into Company without giving a manifest Offence. The easier or higher any one's Fortune is, this Duty arises proportionably. The different Nations of the World are as much distinguished by their Cleanliness, as by their Arts and Sciences. The more any Country is civilized, the more they consult this part of Politeness. We need but compare our Ideas of a Female Hottentot and an English Beauty, to be satisfied of the Truth of what hath been advanced.

In the next Place, Cleanliness may be said to be the Foster-Mother of Love. Beauty indeed most commonly produces that Passion in the Mind, but Cleanliness preserves it. An indifferent Face and Person, kept in perpetual Neatness, had won many a Heart from a pretty Slattern. Age it self is not unamiable, while it is preserved clean and unsullied: Like a piece of Metal constantly kept smooth and bright, we look on it with more Pleasure than on a new Vessel that is canker'd with Rust.

I might observe farther, that as Cleanliness renders us agreeable to others, so it makes us easie to our selves; that it is an excellent Preservative of Health; and that several Vices, destructive both to Mind and Body, are inconsistent with the Habit of it. But these Reflections I shall leave to the Leisure of my Readers, and shall observe in the Third Place, that it bears a great Analogy with Purity of Mind, and naturally inspires refined Sentiments and Passions.

We find from Experience, that through the Prevalence of Custom, the most vicious Actions lose their Horror, by being made familiar to us. On the contrary, those who live in the Neighbourhood of good Examples, fly from the first Appearances of what is shocking. It fares with us much after the same Manner, as to our Ideas. Our Senses, which are the Inlets to all the Images conveyed to the Mind, can only transmit the Impression of such things as usually surround them. So that pure and unsullied Thoughts are naturally suggested to the Mind, by those Objects that perpetually encompass us, when they are beautiful and elegant in their kind.

In the East, where the Warmth of the Climate makes Cleanliness more immediately necessary than in colder Countries, it is made one Part of their Religion: The Jewish Law, (and the Mahometan, which in some things copies after it) is filled with Bathings, Purifications, and other Rites of the like Nature. Though there is the above-named convenient Reason to be assigned for these Ceremonies, the chief Intention undoubtedly was to typifie inward Purity and Cleanness of Heart by those outward Washings. We read several Injunctions of this Kind in the Book of Deuteronomy, which confirm this Truth; and which are but ill accounted for by saying, as some do, that they were only instituted for Convenience in the Desart, which otherwise could not have been habitable for so many Years.

I shall conclude this Essay, with a Story which I have somewhere read in an Account of Mahometan Superstitions.

A Dervise of great Sanctity one Morning had the Misfortune as he took up a Chrystal Cup, which was consecrated to the Prophet, to let it fall upon the Ground, and dash it in Pieces. His Son coming in, some time after, he stretched out his Hands to bless him, as his manner was every Morning; but the Youth going out stumbled over the Threshold and broke his Arm. As the old Man wondered at these Events, a Caravan passed by in its way from Mecca. The Dervise approached it to beg a Blessing; but as he stroaked one of the Holy Camels, he received a Kick from the Beast, that sorely bruised him. His Sorrow and Amazement increased upon him, till he recollected that through Hurry and Inadvertency he had that Morning come abroad without washing his Hands.

[Footnote 1: Duumvir's fair wig cost 40 guineas. Tatler, No. 54.]

Translation of motto:
HOR. 1 Od. v. 5.
'Elegant by cleanliness'