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several yards' circumference, and cover some acres of ground. You may easily suppose how this extraordinary dress sets off and improves the natural ugliness, with which God Almighty has been pleased to endow them, generally speaking. Even the lovely empress herself is obliged to comply, in some degree, with these absurd fashions, which they would not quit for all the world. I had a private audience (according to ceremony) of half an hour, and then all the other ladies were permitted to come and make their court. I was perfectly charmed with the empress; I cannot, however, tell you, that her features are regular : her eyes are not large, but have a lively look, full of sweetness; her complexion the finest I ever saw; her and forehead well made, but her mouth has ten thousand charms, that touch the soul. When she smiles, it is with a beauty and sweetness, that forces adoration. She has a vast quantity of fine fair hair; but then her person !-one must speak of it poetically, to do it rigid justice; all that the poets have said of the mien of Juno, the air of Venus, come not up to the truth. The Graces move with her; the famous statue of Medicis was not formed with more delicate proportions : nothing can be added to the beauty of her neck and hands. Till I saw them, I did not believe there were any in nature so perfect, and I was almost sorry that my rank here did not permit me to kiss them; but they are kissed sufficiently, for every body that waits on her.pays that homage at their entrance, and when they take leave. When the ladies were come, she sat down to quinze. I could not play at a game I had never seen before, and she ordered me a seat at her right hand, and had the goodness to talk to me very much, with that grace so natural to her. I expected every moment when the men were to come in to pay their court; but this drawing. room is very different from that of England; no man enters it but the grand-master, who comes in to advertise the empress of the approach of the emperor. His imperial majesty did me the honour of speaking to me in a very obliging manner, but he never speaks to any of the other Jadies, and the whole passes with a gravity and air of ceremony, that has something very formal in it. The
empress Amelia, dowager of the late emperor Joseph, came this evening to wait on the reigning empress, followed by the two archduchesses her daughters, who are very agreeable young princesses. Their imperial majesties rose, and went to meet her at the door of the room, after which she was seated in an armed chair next the empress, and in the same manner at supper, and there the men had the permission of paying their court. The archduchesses sat on chairs with backs without arms. The table was entirely served, and all the dishes set on by the empress's maids of honour, which are twelve young ladies of the first quality. They have no salary but their chamber at court, where they live in a sort of confinement, not being suffered to go to the assemblies or public places in towi, except in compliment to the wedding of a sister maid, whom the empress always presents with her picture set in diamonds. The three first of them are called ladies of the key, and wear gold keys by their sides; but what I find most pleasant is the custom, which obliges them as long as they live, after they have left the empress's service, to make her some present every year on the day of her feast. Her majesty is served. by no married woman but the grande maitresse, who is generally a widow of the first quality, always very old, and is, at the same time, groom of the stole and mother of the maids. The dressers are not at all in the figure they pretend to in England, being looked upon no otherwise than as downright chambermaids. I had an audience next day of the empress mother, a princess of great virtue and goodness, but who piques herself too much on a violent devotion. She is perpetually performing extraordinary acts of penance, without having ever done any thing to deserve them. She has the same number of maids of honour, whom she suffers to go in colours; but she herself never quits her mourning; and sure nothing can be more dismal than the mourning here, even for a brother. There is not the least bit of linen to be seen; all black crape instead of it. The neck, ear's and side of the face, are covered with a plaited piece of the same stuff, and the face, that peeps out in the midst of it, looks as if it were pilloried. The widows wear, over and above, a crape forehead cloth, and in this solemn weed go to all the public places of diversion without scruple. The next day I was to wait on the empress Amelia, who is now at her palace of retirement, half a mile from the town. I had there the pleasure of seeing a diversion wholly new to me, but which is the common amusement of this court. The empress herself was seated on a little throne at the end of the fine alley in her garden, and on each side of her were ranged two parties of her ladies of quality, headed by two young archduchesses, all dressed in their hair, full of jewels, with fine, light guns in their hands, and at proper distances were placed three oval pictures, which were the marks to be shot at. The first was that of Cupid, filling a bumper of Burgundy, and the motto, “ 'Tis easy to be valiant here.” The second a Fortune, holding a garland in her hand, the motto, “ For her whom Fortune favours." The ihird was a sword, with a laurel wreath on the point, the motto, “ Here is no shame to the vanquished." Near the
empress was a gilded trophy, wreathed with flowers, and made of little crooks, on which were hung rich Turkish handkerchiefs, tippets, ribbons, laces, &c., for the small prizes. The empress gave the first with her own hand, which was a fine ruby ring set round with diamonds in a gold snuff box. There was for the second a little Cupid set with brilliants; and, besides these, a set of fine china for
the tea table, enchased in gold, japan trunks, fans, and many gallantries of the saine nature.
All the men of quality at Vienna were spectators ; but the ladies only had permission to shoot, and the archduchess Amelia carried off the first prize. I was very well pleased with having seen this entertainment, and do not know but it might make as good a figure as the prize shooting in the Æneid, if I could write as well as Virgil. This is the favourite pleasure of the emperor, and there is rarely a week without some feast of this kind, which makes the young ladies skilful enough to defend a fort. They laughed very much to see me afraid to handle a gun. My dear sister, you will easily pardon an abrupt conclusion. I believe by this time you are ready to think I shall never conclude at all..
LADY M. W. MONTAGUE TO THE LADYR-,
Vienna, Sept. 20, 1716, 0. S. I AM extremely rejoiced, but not at all surprised, at the long, delightful letter you have had the goodness to send me.
I know that you can think of an absent friend even in the midst of a court, and you love to oblige, where you can have no view of a return, and I expect from you, that you
should love me and think of me, when you do not
I have compassion for the mortifications, that you tell me befal our little, old friend, and pity her inuch niore, since I know, that they are only owing to the barbarous customs of our country. Upon my word, if she were here, she would have no other fault but that of being something too young for the fashion, and she has nothing to do but to transplant herself hither about seven years hence, to be again a young and blooming beauty. I can assure you, that wrinkles, or a small stoop in the shoulders,
nay, even gray hairs, are no objection to the making new conquests. I know you cannot easily figure to yourself a young fellow of five and twenty ogling my lady S-ft-k with passion, or pressing to hand the Countess of Od from an opera. But such are the sights I see every day, and I do not perceive any body surprised at them but myself. A woman, till five and thirty, is only looked a raw girl, and can possibly make no noise in the world till about forty. I do not know what your ladyship may think of this matter, but it is a considerable comfort to me to know there is upon Earth such a paradise for old women; and I am content to be insignificant at presént, in the design of returning when I am fit to appear nowhere else. I cannot help lamenting, on this occasion, the pitiful case of too many English ladies, long since retired to prudery and ratifia, who, if their stars had luckily conducted them hither, would still shine in the first rank of beauties.
LADY M. W. MONTAGUE TO THE LADY R
Hanover, Oct. 1, 1716, 0. S. I AM very glad, my dear lady R--, that you have been so well pleased, as you tell me, at the report of my returning to England, though, like other pleasures, I can assure you it has no real foundation. I hope you know me enough to take my word against any report concerning me. It is true, as to distance of place, I am much nearer to London than I was some weeks ago ; but as to the thoughts of a return, I never was farther off in my life. I own I could with great joy indulge the pleasing hopes of seeing you and the very few others, that share my esteem; but while Mr. W. is determined to proceed in his de