Gulliver's Travels, part I, chapter VI, opens with a brief description of Lilliputian culture, teasing a forthcoming ethnography (which Swift never actually produced). After describing the average sizes of animals and plants, he writes:
I shall say but little at present of their learning, which, for many ages, has flourished in all its branches among them: but their manner of writing is very peculiar, being neither from the left to the right, like the Europeans, nor from the right to the left, like the Arabians, nor from up to down, like the Chinese, but aslant, from one corner of the paper to the other, like ladies in England.
In other words, Gulliver rules out left to right ("like the Europeans", that is, Latin script), right to left (as Arabic), and top to bottom writing (as contemporary Chinese), concluding that the writing runs "aslant, from one corner of the paper to the other, like ladies in England." Yet English is written with the Latin script, i.e. from left to right. To what habit of "ladies in England" was this intended to refer?