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Fair but Fierce.

in the name of Zenobia, Boadicea, Moll Flanders, Jean d'arc, and the Maid of Saragossa, we begin this article!

Now that Messrs. Mason and Slidell are “given up,” just, for all the world, like a pair of fugitive “niggers,” another vexatious question has arisen, viz: Did the lovely Miss Slidell, upon the deck of the Trent steamer, slap the face of the unfortunate Lieut Fairfax?

Commander Williams, that gallant tar, who suffered [205] such agonies on the occasion, was the recipient of a dinner of the public variety on his arrival in England. In his post-prandial speech, Commander Williams went at length into the above-mentioned question, and made one of those nice distinctions which would have been appreciated in a middle-age court of love and honor. “Some of the papers,” said this briny Bayard, “described her as having slapped Mr. Fairfax's face. She did strike Mr. Fairfax-but she did not do it with the vulgarity of gesture which has been attributed to her. In her agony, she did strike him in the face three times.”

And what does Commander Williams--sly dog, Williams is, quite a lady's man — what does he add? Why, he says frankly: “I wish that Miss Slidell's little knuckles had struck me in the face. I should like to have the mark forever.” There is something more or less amorous in this frank confession; and, if there be an old, established Mrs. Williams, we hope, for the sake of Commander Williams, that it will not come to her ears. Williams, it seems, likes to be smitten by the sex; in that respect differing from that other ancient mariner, Capt. Edward Cuttle, who lived in continual dread of Mrs. McStinger's “little knuckles.” We wish this British seaman good luck; and trust that he may live to be “slapped,” though without “vulgarity of gesture,” by a great number of the finest women — and that Mrs. Williams may not be one of them.

Two things in the explanation of the Commander, our readers of a Chesterfieldian turn will notice. [206] Miss Slidell committed assault and battery — for which at the Tombs they would have fined her five shillings--without “vulgarity of gesture;” and she did it “in her agony.” From this we infer that Miss Slidell delivered her “one-two-three” with a refinement, suavity, elegance and grace which are at least rare in the Prize Ring. O happy Fairfax, to be so struck by such little knuckles! 0 fortunate mariner, if you did but know it! Williams says that to be assaulted so gracefully and by such little knuckles would make him forego washing his face for the rest of a natural life passed in dreams of that delicious moment. We agree with Williams, although we are not of his marine susceptibility. If one is to be slapped as to the cheek — we beg the refined Williams's pardon — if one is to be struck, “slapped” is vulgar — if one is to be assaulted at all, one would choose to be assaulted by a fair dame, and without “vulgarity of gesture.”

Young ladies who read this newspaper, and we hope profit by it, listen to our admonition! This is a world of mutation. You do not think now that you will ever be called upon “in your agony” to “hit out” at a naval officer three times; but this is a world of extraordinary changes and chances, and you may be compelled in your “agony” aforesaid, to administer castigation to a meandering husband, or impertinent lover. Take a lesson from the exquisite and scientific Miss Slidell! Dear young ladies, when you go reluctantly to your calisthenics, and when you turn a deaf ear to the teacher who begs that you will [207] not neglect the cultivation of the biceps flexor cubiti and the deltoid muscles, remember that the time may come when you will regret your negligence — when, in fact, and not to put too fine a point upon it, you may desire to assault somebody in pantaloons, and may yet be afraid to do it. See what hard training — constant practice, we suppose upon Topsey and Dinah and Phillis — has done for Miss Slidell! Why, the moment she gets into her “agony,” she proceeds as naturally to strike somebody, as if she had been striking somebody all her life. See her squaring off — no, that is vulgar — see her going through the preliminary gesticulations before poor Fairfax! It is a subject for a picture. It should be put upon canvas, and hung up in the Confederate Capitol--when there is one. Miss Slidell, with flashing orbs and tangled hair and crimson cheek and curling coral lips and heaving bosom and small fist clenched-Williams says that she did n't slap, and this proves that she did, not to speak vulgarly, clench her fist — Miss Slidell with her pretty feet in position, her shoulders well thrown back, her “little hands” covering well her “mug and” peepers, “if we may employ those coarse words — she, the petticoated athlete, should be the central figure of the piece. Then poor Mr. Fairfax, looking sheepish, prepared for punishment, with” hit me again, written upon every line of his countenance; while Williams, entering like a true Briton into the spirit of the occasion, brings in the basins and the sponges, and is ready to hold the lady's bottle! Talk no more of a dearth of historical subjects for the [208] easel! Why, the death of Nelson was nothing to this!

Though we are, on the other hand, rather than else inclined to the opinion that no living painter could do justice to Miss Slidell's “agony.” Sir Joshua Reynolds managed Ugolino, but we do not think that our whole National Academy, with the Sketch-Club to boot, could adequately portray this Maid of (New) Orleans in all the sublimity of hysterics. If they are up to it, all we have to say is, that they do not need plaster-heads of Medusa to paint from any longer. Williams may be within reach of a clever brush, as with ears long and erect, and admiration driving stupidity from his countenance, he stands by speechless with gratification (and a large variety of other emotions) and wondering what this charming young woman will really do next. And finally, a companion-piece might represent Mr. Fairfax reporting his dishonor to Commodore Wilkes, with this motto:

Which when the Captain com'd for to hear it, He was werry much astonished at what she had done.

January, 8, 1862.

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