No truer remark than the above was ever made. Suchan effect can only be produced where every part of thedress harmonizes entirely with the other parts, whereeach color or shade suits the wearer's style completely,and where there is perfect neatness in each detail. Oneglaring color, or conspicuous article, would entirely marthe beauty of such a dress. It is, unfortunately, toomuch the custom in America to wear any article, or shapein make, that is fashionable, without any regard to thestyle of the person purchasing goods. If it is the fashionit must be worn, though it may greatly exaggerate a slightpersonal defect, or conceal or mar what would otherwisebe a beauty. It requires the exercise of some judgmentto decide how far an individual may follow the dictatesof fashion, in order to avoid the appearance of eccentricity,and yet wear what is peculiarly becoming to herown face or figure. Another fault of our fair countrywomenis their extravagance in dress. No better advicecan be given to a young person than to dress always accordingto her circumstances. She will be more respectedwith a simple wardrobe, if it is known eitherthat she is dependent upon her own exertions for support,or is saving a husband or father from unnecessary outlay,than if she wore the most costly fabrics, and by so doingincurred debt or burdened her relatives with heavy, unwarrantableexpense. If neatness, consistency, andgood taste, preside over the wardrobe of a lady, expensivefabrics will not be needed; for with the simplestmaterials, harmony of color, accurate fitting to the figure,and perfect neatness, she will always appear well dressed.
When you arrive at the hotel, enquire at once for theproprietor. Tell him your name and address, and askhim to conduct you to a good room, naming the lengthof time you purpose occupying it. You may also requesthim to wait upon you to the table, and allot you aseat. As the hours for meals, at a large hotel, are verynumerous, it is best to mention the time when you wishto breakfast, dine, or sup. If you stay more than oneday at the hotel, do not tax the proprietor with the dutyof escorting you to the table more than once. Requestone of the waiters always to meet you as you enter, andwait upon you to your seat. This saves the embarrassmentof crossing the room entirely unattended, while itshows others that you are a resident at the house. Thewaiter will then take your order for the dishes you wish.Give this order in a low tone, and do not harass the manby contradicting yourself several times; decide whatyou want before you ask for it, and then give your orderquietly but distinctly. Use, always, the butter-knife,salt-spoon, and sugar-tongs, though you may be entirelyalone in the use of them. The attention to the smalldetails of table etiquette is one of the surest marks ofgood breeding. If any trifling civility is offered by thegentleman beside you, or opposite to you, thank himcivilly, if you either accept or decline it. Thank thewaiter for any extra attention he may offer.
One of your duties will be to see that no young ladieslose their supper for want of an escort to ask them to goout. You may give the hint to an intimate gentlemanfriend, if there is no brother or father to take the duty,introduce him to the disconsolate damsel, and send heroff happy. If all the guests go to the supper-roomwhen it is first thrown open, you must be the last to leavethe ball room. For the hostess to take the lead to thesupper-room, leaving her guests to pair off, and followas they please, is in very bad taste.
Little culture, unfortunately, is bestowed upon thisaccomplishment, which, beyond all others, promotes thehappiness of home, enlivens society, and improves theminds of both speaker and listener. How many excellentwomen are deficient in the power of expressingthemselves well, or, indeed, of expressing themselves atall! How many minds "cream and mantle" from thewant of energy to pour themselves out in words! Onthe other hand, how some, equally well-intentioned,drown the very senses in their torrent of remarks, whichdashes, like a water-fall, into a sombre pool of ennuibelow!
Independent of the strength and polish given to themind by a thorough course of reading, there is anotherreason why a lady should devote some portion of hertime to it; she cannot do without it. She may, lackingthis, pass through life respectably, even elegantly; butshe cannot take her part in a communing with superiorminds; she may enjoy, in wondering, the radiance oftheir intelligence; but the wondering must be composed,in part, of amazement at her own folly, in not havingherself sought out the treasure concealed in the fathomlessdepths of books. She cannot truly enjoy society,with this art neglected. She may, for a few brief years,be the ornament of the drawing-room; but it must be,like many other ornaments there, in still life; she cannever be the companion of the intellectual; and the timeis gone by, when women, with all their energies excited,will be contented to be the mere plaything of brother,husband, or father.
Mr. Sheldrake gives several examples of personstrained upon these initiatory principles to the professionof dancing, who have lived in health to a great age."This," says he, "is not the chance lot of a few; forI have, through life, been accustomed to see many personsof the same profession; I have communicated myown observations to many others, and all have agreedin remarking, that those who follow this profession have,very generally, excellent health, which very many ofthem carry into extreme old age. This indisputable factcan only be accounted for by supposing that the preparatoryexercises which these persons go through, are amodification of what I have called regulated musculartension, or action, and the early and constant practiceof which lays a firm foundation for that high healthwhich accompanies them through life. It is upon thesame principle that a soldier is never seen with spinalcurvature, or other personal deformity, or a stage dancerof either sex with a deformed person; it is, perhaps, impossiblethat such things should exist, for the plain reason,that the exercises which they begin to practice earlyin life, and continue regularly through its whole course,render it impossible for them to become so.
"Copying a real picture, by placing living persons inthe positions of the figures indicated in the picture, appears,at first sight, an easy task enough; and the effectought to be easily attained, as there can be no bad drawing,and no confused light and shade, to destroy theeffect of the grouping. There are, however, many difficultiesto conquer, which it requires some knowledgeof art to be aware of. Painting being on a flat surface,every means are taken to give roundness and relief tothe figures, which qualities of course are found naturallyin a tableau vivant. In a picture the light is madeeffective by a dark shadow placed near it; diminishedlights or demi-tints are introduced to prevent the principallight appearing a spot; and these are linked togetherby artful shades, which show the outline in some places,and hide it in others. The colors must also be carefullyarranged, so as to blend or harmonize with each other.A want of attention to these minute points will be sufficientto destroy the effect of the finest picture, even tothose who are so unacquainted with art as to be incapableof explaining why they are dissatisfied, except by an involuntaryliking or disliking of what they see.
"It becomes the duty of ladies of influence to riseabove the silly vanity which, I fear, affects some of them,of seeing their ladies'-maids as smart as ladies, and tooppose innovations on the decencies of society, so perniciousto the class upon whom much of our comfort depends.In setting out in life, a young married ladyought to be more than ordinarily strict in these matters,for her inexperience will certainly be taken advantageof to some extent. If she be rich enough to have ahousekeeper, let her endeavor to select one of strict religiousfaith, plain in attire, grave, but kind, and of goodsense, and even intelligence; for cultivation of mind willnever, whatever may be stated, detract from the utilityof a servant. It is absurd to attribute to the diffusionof knowledge the deterioration of servants; it is ratherowing to the scanty amount of knowledge among them.Most superficial is the education about which so muchis said and written; were servants more thoroughlygrounded in many branches of knowledge, they would bewiser, less rapacious, more systematic, and better contentedthan they are. They are wretched reasoners,generally losing sight of their own true interest, andgrasping at that which is unreal and visionary. If theywere better educated, this would not be the case; theywould be less vain, less credulous; they would knowwhat qualities to respect; they would weigh better theadvantage of their lot; and they would work better asservants. They would give mind, where now they onlygive hands; and their acquirements, taken from school asthey are in very early youth, are not ever likely to besuch as to make the routine of their work distasteful tothem, from over refinement or cultivation.
"'In the education of women,' writes a modern physician,'too little attention is given to subdue the imaginativefaculty, and to moderate sensibility; on the contrary,they are generally fostered; and, instead of avigorous intellect and healthy condition of mind, we findimagination and sentiment predominant over the reasoningfaculties, and laying the foundation of hysterical,hypochondriacal, and even maniacal diseases.'[B] It is,in fact, this want of judgment in the management ofearly life that produces so much misery when women arecalled upon to perform an important part in society, andwhen all that exertion can do is required at their hands.
"The mischief arising from cold or wet feet is admittedby all persons who have given the subject of healtheven the most casual consideration. In conversing withvery aged people, you will generally find a disregard ofdiet, and very different notions and practices upon thesubject of exercise and ablution; but they all agree inthe necessity of keeping the feet dry. I remember inquiringof a venerable clergyman, who, up to the age ofninety-six, had enjoyed a fair proportion of health, aftera youth of delicacy. I asked him what system he pursued.'Now,' was his reply, 'I never took much carewhat I ate; I have always been temperate. I neverminded the weather; but I always took care to keepmy feet dry and well shod.' Wet and damp are, indeed,more unwholsome when applied to the feet than whenthey affect other parts; 'because they receive a greatersupply of blood to carry on a high degree of perspiration,and because their distance from the heart, or centreof circulation, diminishes the force with which this iscarried on, and thus leaves them more susceptible fromexternal causes.'[D] 2b1af7f3a8