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such a height as to require the above kind of thwarting, the evil may be counteracted. The very first indication of a love of personal decoration in children of either sex, ought to be checked without loss of time. Some pretend that it is inherent in the female breast; but without its being so, there are, I think, circumstances wbich might account for its influence there becoming more powerful than in the other sex. Female apparel, for instance, by its perpetual changes of fashion, its multiplicity of articles, its infinite variety of materials, admits of, and encourages the indulgence of this propensity in a much greater degree than masculine attire. Then the shops abound in temptations, especially at the present day, so that the ladies of our great cities may be said to live in a perpetual “Vanity Fair.”
This ostentatious display in the shop-windows, combined with the present mode of carrying on business within, I hold to be another flagrant evil requiring amendment. It is absolutely painful to enter any one of the metropolitan mercers' shops, to make a moderate purchase. Not content with unfolding to view the article sought, in all its varieties, sufficient in itself hopelessly to perplex the choice, other articles, wholly dissimilar and uncalled for, are spread before the eyes of the customer, nay obtruded upon her notice with an importunity sometimes amounting to persecution; and she may feel truly thankful if able to extricate herself and get safely, and with a whole purse, out
TO THE LOWER CLASS OF FEMALES.
of the shop. In this manner many a guinea is wiled out of the pockets of the weak and unwary; a habit of purchasing bargains, as they are called, is engendered; things are bought which, but for the above-mentioned mischievous system, would never have been thought of, or sought for; and husbands and fathers without number, in middle life, have cause to rue and execrate the practice.
The effects on the characters and fortunes of females of a still lower class, are even more disastrous-servants and others, dependant for their livelihood on their daily labour. They too, imitating their superiors, must dress up to the standard of the times, and far beyond their means. The passion once powerfully excited, cannot be appeased: instead of saving a little sum for their support in old age, or to establish them in life when they enter into the married state, all is spent, and frequently debts incurred besides. Worse than this often happens: they begin by coveting, and end with theft. They sink into the depths of vice and infamy, or their career is cut short by imprisonment or transportation, victims of the ostentatious spirit of the age. Have there not even been instances of the same fatal propensity, the same
“desire of the eye,” the same covetousness which proves so oft the ruin of the poor servant girl, prompting females, from whose station and presumed education better things might have been expected, to commit acts of dishonesty, which have brought them also under the penalty of the law? And what has been their temptation? almost invariably articles of dress.
GOOD TASTE IN DRESS. While the subject of female apparel is under consideration, I shall take occasion to make a few remarks upon it, not on moral or religious grounds, but solely relative to good taste; for I trust that it is not incompatible with higher and more important duties to bestow a moderate degree of attention on such matters.
We have the highest poetical authority for affirming that beauty cannot be rendered more beautiful by a profusion of ornaments. It is in itself sufficiently attractive, and seems even to lose a portion of its attraction, and to become obscured by the accessories of art. Youthful beauty, in its simple robe of virgin white, has ever been the beau ileal of the poet and the romance writer; the ne plus ultra of good taste. And their opinion is correct. So thinks the painter; and truly the fair elégante, if she would have her costume perfect, ought to dress herself after the painter's model, instead of that of the Parisian modiste.
Nothing, by the by, can be more prejudicial to female beauty than that servile adherence to the laws of fashion, that universal livery which it seems the despotic pleasure of French milliners all should
It cannot be that one style, or one prevailing colour, should suit all alike, the dark, the fair, the short, the tall: the Allegra and the Pen
DRESS, IN ADVANCED LIFE.
serosa, and yet all are willing and anxious to adopt it. To the odious and disreputable fashion of deminudity with which some persons dare to outrage not only correct taste, but correct morals, I find it impossible to allude with patience; but when health, nay life itself, is sacrificed to the caprices of fashion, what wonder that propriety and good taste should also ?
A few simple and general rules might be laid down which would at least prevent any very obvious violation of good taste. Avoid all glaring contrasts of colours: and as the bloom of youth departs, and a more sober period of life approaches, let the graver tints prevail. If trinkets are worn, let them be few in number, and selected, in appearance at least, to unite utility with ornament. Let simplicity always be the guiding principle, and no great mistake need be apprehended. Persons overdressed themselves are often seen to pay, by their looks, a silent and involuntary tribute of admiration to the appearance of the simply attired. They feel the influence of correct taste, although vanity may overcome their candour, and they may not choose to acknowledge it.
DRESS, IN ADVANCED LIFE. If a shewy style of dress be objectionable in the young, still more so is it in advanced life; indeed I know not a more pitiable or incongruous spectacle than an old person decked out, or, as it is technically termed, made up with a view to simu
late youth. Were it not so very pitiable, it would be ludicrous. No course could be pursued so well calculated to defeat the end in view. Whence arises the failure I know not, whether from force of contrast, or some other cause; but certain it is that the ravages of time become much more obvious, both in men and women, when art is thus called in to disguise them. The shrivelled skin looks more shrivelled, the faded eye still more lustreless from approximation to shining ringlets, gay ribbons, and sparkling jewels. Themselves they may deceive, the world they cannot; and the world revenges itself upon them for the attempted imposture, by withholding that respect, that reverence which otherwise would be freely tendered.
Let nature alone, and she will maintain her rights and dignity. There is a solemn, an impressive beauty in the deeply marked lineaments of age, which the painter well understands and appreciates. Indeed many persons, far from handsome in the palmy days of youth, acquire, from the touch of time, a certain something which renders their physiognomy both more interesting and intellectual. Let them, then, not destroy these advantages by incongruity of attire.
What would persons of correct taste say, were any one, exercising ownership, to cover with white or yellow stucco the time-tinted, time-hallowed walls of some venerable ruin; one of those ancient abbeys or castles which are the pride of our isle? And not content with doing this, were to proceed