Printed for James Bulcock, 163, Strand, London. Printed by C. Smith, Angel Court, Strand, London. 1825.
As this little book is intended to instil the principles of piety, uprightness, and Christian humility, as well as to afford information respecting the various duties which will be required of those young persons to whom it is chiefly addressed; and as genuine religion is the only sure foundation of character, it has been considered indispensible to commence with the duties which we owe to God - following the scripture precept, that “other foundation can no man lay” for faith, hope, and immortality, as brought to light by the gospel. The whole of the subjects intended to be taken up may conveniently be divided into the Duties of Behaviour, and the Duties of Knowledge; the first division of which I shall now proceed to consider.
Among the principal duties of behaviour which it will be necessary to notice particularly, is the forming of sound principles of religion, which will be the best guarantee of honesty and fidelity; the more domestic part of these duties will fall under the heads of dress, familiarity with superiors, and correct speaking. I call these domestic because they are not so absolutely essential as piety and good principles, though they are all extremely necessary to make a complete upper servant.
In order to have your mind suitably impressed with a sense of your dependance on Providence, and your thoughts ever with God, it is not required that you become gloomy, dejected, and melancholy; that you assume demure looks; and speak in a whining tone of affectation. These will most readily make you be supposed a hypocrite, though your heart may be single and your faith sincere, and will always expose you to be pointed at with ridicule and scorn. I do not mean by this however, to say, that the opinion of the world ought to regulate your conduct in your spiritual life: far be such a thought from me. I only warn you not to provoke the contempt and scorn of the profane and unbelieving, by peculiarities of behaviour, which are no part of true piety, and are only the characteristics of a base and time-serving hypocrisy. The example and the precepts of the Saviour teach us that though the persecutions and the ridicule of the world ought not to make us swerve a single jot from truth and righteousness, yet that we are not to court persecution for righteousness' sake, nor be vain, ostentatious and boasting, like the hypocritical Pharisee in the Gospel, who said, “stand aside, for I am holier than thou.”
The thoughts of the heart, which are all open and naked before the all-seeing eye of God, are the tests of genuine faith and piety, and not the frame of the outward countenance. We are told indeed, that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh; and consequently, if the heart is with God, your conversation will not be tainted with impiety or profanity; but we are also told not to cast our pearls before swine, a precept which you ought ever to bear in mind, when you have to converse with those who scoff at religion, and talk with contempt of the pious.
The first and great commandment is, to love God with all your heart; the second, to love your neighbour as yourself; and, as the Scripture saith, “Whoso seeth his brother in need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” Study these fundamental rules of duty, and seek fervently the favour of God through the means offered to you in the Gospel, examining yourself diligently; and if you have sinned, resolve to go and sin no more. But as well might we expect, as a pious female writer says, that a house which has no foundation, will stand when the stormy wind blows upon it, as that you should keep such a resolution without grace, faith, and piety. You have a master, even God, to whom you owe higher obedience than to any of your fellow-creatures. In comparison with Him, the greatest masters you can serve here, are less than servants. On them and on you his watchful eye is ever fixed, as though you were the only creatures under his care. He is well acquainted with all your actions, words, and thoughts; for even a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his knowledge, nor can you go any where that He does not observe you. The darkness and the light are both alike to Him. He is one who requires your best services, and commands you to love Him with all your heart, and soul, and mind, and strength; and this you justly owe to Him for all his benefits and his mercy towards you.
He has placed you, it is true, in that station where you have to work for your maintenance; but it is he who gives you health to do so, while, if he chose to command it, your health would fail, and you would droop and die. Or he might plunge you in deep distress, and make you want the necessaries of life. The food which you eat is of his providing; for every beast, saith the Scriptures, is his, and the cattle on a thousand hills. He created every herb yielding seed, and every fruit-tree yielding fruit; all that supports and gratifies you while in health, and all that heals you when sick, comes from Him. He gave wisdom and contrivance to build the house that shelters you, with all its numerous conveniences; and whatever degree of wisdom and prudence you may possess, by which you are rendered useful to others, or by which you provide for yourself, is of His bestowing.
Since this is the case, therefore, it is of the greatest importance that you have God for your friend, that when your day of trouble may come, His promises may comfort you in your distress, and speak peace to your soul; for should He be your enemy, it were better for you that you had never been born, or that a millstone were hanged about your neck, and you were cast into the sea. Your duty to God, then, must be the first object of your care; since, as your Creator and Governor, he claims adoration and obedience; and as your Father and Friend, he demands submissive duty and affection. A sense of benefits received, naturally inspires a grateful disposition, with a desire of making suitable returns. All that can here be made from a devoted heart to the Almighty Father for innumerable favours every moment bestowed, is a thankful acknowledgment and a willing obedience. In these be fervent and diligent, and make it an invariable rule of duty to begin and end the day with private prayer.
It is requisite, however, here to admonish you, that what is commonly called saying of prayers is little better than a mockery of religion - words without knowledge, uttered without devotion, feeling, or attention - mere lip-worship, without the fervency of faith, or the unction of the Spirit - than which nothing can be more inexcusable and displeasing to God. Like the sounding brass or the tinkling cymbal, the customary repetition of a set form of good words, either read or repeated, is an abomination before God. The principal parts of the duty of prayer ought to consist in expressions of your absolute dependence on God, and your entire resignation to his will, with devout thanksgivings for mercies already received, humble petitions for those blessings which you may require in this world, and likewise pious intercessions for all your fellow-creatures.
The proper performance of the duty of prayer is not to be estimated by the number of words, nor the length of time which you employ in it; but the devotion of the heart and the humbleness of the spirit. A few words may be more acceptable to Him who discerneth the heart and trieth the reins, than the tedious prayers of those, who, like the Pharisees of old, think they will be heard for their much speaking. A pious spirit, and a humble dependence on God, will seldom be at a loss for proper words, and as you best know your own circumstances, you will be better able than I can direct you, to frame your acknowledgments and petitions in your morning and evening supplications.
Our prayers, says a popular author, cannot, it is acknowledged, alter the intention of a Being who is himself invariable, and without a possibility of change. All that can be expected from them is, that by bettering ourselves, they will render us more proper objects of his favourable regard; and this must necessarily be the result of a serious, regular, and constant discharge of this branch of our duty, as it is scarcely possible to offer up our sincere and fervent devotions to Heaven every morning and evening, without leaving on our minds such useful impressions, as will naturally dispose us to a ready and cheerful obedience, and will inspire a filial fear of offending. As you value your own happiness, then, never let the force of bad example lead you from the daily practice of secret prayer; nor let an unpardonable negligence so far prevail on you, as to make you rest satisfied with a formal, customary, inattentive repetition of some well chosen words. Let your heart always go with your lips, and you will find prayer to be the most valuable prerogative of human nature, the chief, nay, the only support under all the distresses and calamities to which human nature is liable in this sublunary state of trial and probation - the highest rational satisfaction the mind is capable of receiving on this side the grave, and the best preparative for everlasting happiness beyond it. It is a duty also which it is always in your power to perform, and you can claim no excuse for its omission. Public worship, it may not always be convenient for you to attend, but secret prayer you cannot be deprived of by the closest confinement to domestic services, or the hardest conditions which may be imposed upon you.
To bring your mind into a serious and pious frame, you should often meditate on death, the uncertainty of time, and the endless futurity which awaits you beyond the grave. Have you ever, I may ask, thought of these things; or will you not awake to see your state till some sudden stroke of providence comes to alarm and distress you? Perhaps the first may be a hasty summons to the other world. Think for a moment what this other world may be, if you have lived without God and without hope in this. It is not, be assured, an empty term, but a place of great and awful realities, where all who are now travelling along with you in the pilgrimage of life, will one day meet. There is God seated upon his holy throne, to judge every spirit that passeth from the earth. There is Heaven, the region of eternal bliss; and there also is Hell, the place of retribution for guilt and sin. Think then what shall become of you when the eternal destinies of men are to be fixed, and the secrets of all hearts laid bare and undisguised before the all-seeing eyes of God. Do you feel that you have any title to take your seat in the mansions of Heaven? Does your conscience say you are worthy of the believer's crown, and to sing the holy song of Moses and the Lamb?
Consider and pause over the last scene of human existence - a mournful and awful scene it is! The body lately so strong, vigorous, and healthy, is now motionless and prostrate; the countenance which beamed with intelligence and joy, is fixed in death; and the spirit, the immortal spirit, gone to receive from the judge of all, the final doom of eternal bliss or misery. Such a spectacle, says a female writer, as this change from life to death, will not suffer the mind of the beholder to remain passive, even though apparently absorbed in grief; but while the eyes witness this termination of an earthly course, the mind speaks within us the solemn truth, that sooner or later death will also seal our eyes, will arrest us in the midst of our worldly pleasures, will destroy our schemes of life, and terminate our days. The dying man, if strength permitted, would perhaps tell you that from the hour of his birth till the very term of his existence, he had never truly estimated the things of this life; that his days had been swallowed up in eager pursuit, an unwearied search after supposed blessings, and that until this moment, when death stared him in the face, he was not aware that he had been grasping at bubbles, which now appeared bursting and vanishing into airy nothing, like dreams which pass away from the imagination as soon as the slumbers of the night are shaken off, and the mind recalled to the active employments of the world. Now, with his sole view turned towards eternity, amazement overpowers him at the recollection of the short-sightedness with which he had journeyed through life, at the false views which had so frequently deluded him, and the unavailing cares and anxieties with which he had been tormented. At such an awful moment, no remembrance can give consolation, which does not remind him of the few bright spots of his life, in which virtuous resolves triumphed over temptation, and benevolence over self-interest; or, in which reverence and love to God surpassed his attachment to the world and the things which are passing away.
The awful scene of death, says the same author, whether it occur amongst our nearest relatives, or is most remotely connected with us, cannot fail to awaken us, for a time, from earthly dreams, and to fix our desires upon Heaven. To inquire why such events are ordained is in vain; but to allow them their intended influence over the heart and mind, is the part of true Christian wisdom, as it softens the heart towards suffering humanity, and leads us to resign the will, and humble the spirit towards God. If you have never thought of all this before, I entreat you to think of it now, before the evil days come, and the years draw nigh, in which you will say, I have no pleasure in them. It is high time to awaken out of your sleep. Your friends are dead, or your friends are dying, and the time must come for you. Death, for aught you know, may, at this very moment, be on his way to you; and though you cannot descry his approach, he may be fast hastening on through the mists of a near futurity. Watch, therefore, and pray, there is no time to pause, for this very night may your spirit return to God who gave it.
Think of these things. Search the Scriptures, for in them you will find consolation for all your doubts and fears. Pray for wisdom to guide and direct you through the deceit and wickedness which abound in the world. Put your trust in God, and he will be to you a father and a friend in the time of need.
Good principles will always lead to honest and upright conduct; but it may be necessary for those whose principles are not fixed, to put them in mind, that honesty is always the best policy, and the most certain road to esteem and respect. Fidelity, indeed, is that which is more respected in a servant, than any other quality, and sooner or later you will meet with your reward, if you approve yourself faithful and worthy to be trusted. If you would but think for a moment, how much distress of mind you will have to suffer under the fear of future detection, the constant dread that your conduct has been observed and is known, the alarm which every whisper and inuendo will raise in your mind; you would, I think, be for ever deterred from leaving the paths of rectitude.
It has, unfortunately, become common among servants, to consider it no robbery or dishonesty, to take little things which they think will never be missed, and which, as their employers are wealthy, can do harm to no one. Many will, therefore, make free to appropriate to their own use, or what is more common still, to give away to their relations or friends, what they call trifles, who would not put a hand on money or property of much value. The principle of dishonesty, however, is precisely the same in taking a pin which is not your own, and stealing a bank note or a diamond ring; and if you begin to pilfer small things of little value, the habit, like all evil habits, will certainly increase. Theft is precisely like avarice or covetousness: it is quite insatiable, and knows not when to stop. The less you may suppose yourself liable to detection, the temptation will be the greater; and the more confidence your employer places in you, such as entrusting you with the care of the wardrobe, the less likely you are to be discovered. Sooner or later, however, dishonesty seldom fails to be detected; and even if no human eye should ever discover a fraud or a theft, remember that there is an eye, from which not the most secret actions can be hid, and though you should escape detection in this world, the judge of all will at last bring you to a dreadful retribution.
Reflect, then, seriously, before temptation lead you astray: reflect that when once you break through the barrier of good principle, it is difficult, if not impossible for you, ever to return. Then think what would be the consequences should the habit grow upon you, and lead you to commit a crime, which if detected, might end in ignominious banishment or ignominious death. You may scorn the very idea of this, and even be angry with me for hinting at such a circumstance; but it is done from kind feelings for your welfare, and not from a wish to irritate. I repeat it, therefore, that if you once acquire a habit of thinking it no harm to appropriate to yourself little things which you have no right to, things of more value may afterwards tempt you to commit felony; whereas, if you had never ventured to pilfer trifles, it is very improbable that you would ever have dared to covet or make free with any thing of value.
Be seriously advised then never to take any thing whatever, though of the smallest value, which is not unequivocally your own, and you will have the satisfaction of a good conscience instead of the suspicious alarms of a guilty mind, a blessing which is of more real value than all the wealth which the world can give you. A paltry theft, on the contrary, of something which may not be of more value than a few pence or shillings, will rankle in your conscience for years, and render you unhappy in the midst of the greatest prosperity and good fortune. Who then, that reflects, would involve their conscience in guilt for a very trifle, which, if it had been offered as a present, might have been regarded by them as an insult, and to purchase it, they might never have dreamed of? And is not virtue of more value than any earthly thing, and guilt more base than poverty; and consider, says a recent author, what a few pounds or shillings will avail you, if you lose your character? If you are dishonest to your employers, and it be discovered, you cannot expect either to have a character, or to be retained. Should they be prevailed on to keep you, it must always be under the feeling of distrust, as they can never respect you or trust you as before your detection, while all your acquaintance, who know the circumstances, and your very relatives, will avoid you and be ashamed of you.
An excellent female writer, in treating of this subject, very justly ascribes much of the temptation to pilfer small things, to the impertinent curiosity which so often prompts those who are in the confidence of their employers, to pry into drawers, and rummage over every thing to which they can have access. Now, if you would but consider how you would yourself like to have all your things inspected, scrutinized, and tumbled about, you may well think that your mistress will feel no less aggrieved even should she miss nothing. This consideration alone ought to deter and prevent you from this prying curiosity; and if you can check this, one great temptation to dishonesty will be removed.
Another method of avoiding temptation in the case of money, with which you may be entrusted to discharge small bills, or buy such little things as your mistress may want, is to keep an accurate account, in a little book, of every farthing paid away. This will be a check on your conscience, which will stare you in the face every time you open it, if you have been tempted, in any case, to purloin small sums, or falsify the prices of things, in order to pocket the overplus.
It will still more strengthen your honest principles, if you consider that dishonesty to your employer must be the basest ingratitude for the favours conferred on you by giving you comfortable support. The good offices which you receive, constitute a debt that it is morally incumbent on you to discharge by every means in your power, and not to add to it by fraud. As the obligations of gratitude do not admit of support from the laws, in the same way as the rules of honesty, strictly so called; God has judged it right to enforce their observance by one of the strongest and most delightful impulses of the human frame, the pleasing feeling of benevolent affection; which you must violently break through before you can be dishonest, even in a trifle. With respect to honesty and probity, the subjects before us, I beg to recommend to you the following select maxims:-
It is less difficult and more safe to keep the way of honesty and justice than to turn away from it; yet the baser passions which so beset human nature, are ever ready to lead into wicked bye paths. But be assured, that whoever in one instance relinquishes honesty, banishes all shame for the future, and no vice brings with it so much shame as dishonesty, which the retribution of God will sooner or later overtake.
Whatever you do, act as if it were to be the last moment of your life, and therefore with honesty and integrity. Reverence yourself, keep your conscience pure, and dare not be dishonest, in order to enrich yourself; for by so doing you distrust providence, and become no better than an atheist.
Cultivate a strong feeling against whatever is dishonest, so that even if you were certain of concealing it from both God and man, you may have an abhorrence of purloining.
A promise is a just debt, which you must take care to pay, for honour and honesty are the security. Hasty promises, however, are usually followed by speedy repentance.
Whoever breaks a promise, forfeits the faith which was its security, and becomes an infidel to the person to whom the promise was given.
To deceive one who is not obliged to believe you is bad; but to cheat one, whom by fair promises and pretences you have induced to believe you, is much worse: it is to murder one whom you had deprived of the means of defence.
Be faithful to your trust, and deceive not those who have relied upon you. It is ever a less evil in the sight of God to steal than to betray.
Your time, while you are in place, you must remember is not your own. You have agreed to give it up to your employer for the money, board and lodging, for which you bargain. It is therefore no less dishonest than actual pilfering, to be indolent and neglectful in the services required of you, as by so doing, you are evidently guilty of fraud and gross misdemeanor. Nothing will sooner attach to your character and render you disliked than careless and slovenly habits, and nothing will be more against your own comfort, both in keeping you always in a bustle, and in delaying and confusing every thing you have to do. Besides, time is invaluable. Its loss is irretrievable. The remembrance of having made an ill use of it must be one of the sharpest tortures to those who are on the brink of eternity. Look on every day as a blank sheet of paper put into your hands to be filled up; and remember the characters which you write there will remain forever, for endless ages, and can never be expunged. Be careful, therefore, not to write any thing but what you may read with pleasure a thousand years afterwards. Be diligent in the performance of all the services which you engage to perform; and the more you are so, you will appear the more worthy both in the eyes of God and man. How delightful the anticipation of hearing the blessed words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter ye into the joy of your Lord!”
Order, method, and regularity, are the most necessary things to ensure diligence: for nobody, even with the greatest industry, can ever do much if they attempt to do half a dozen things at once, and always leaving things half done to run to others which have been left in the same unfinished state. To keep every thing in its proper place, employ every thing for its proper use, and do every thing in its proper time, are the three grand rules of diligence. Many people, says a female writer, particularly in youth, have a strange and unaccountable aversion to regularity, a sort of wish to delay what ought to be done immediately, in order to do something else, which might as well be done afterwards. It is of more consequence to you than you can conceive to get the better of this idle procrastinating spirit, and to acquire habits of constancy and steadiness, even in the most trifling matters. Without this, there can be no dependence on your best intentions, which a sudden humour may tempt you to lay aside for a time, and which a thousand unforeseen accidents will afterwards render more and more difficult to overtake. No one can say what important consequences may follow a trifling neglect of this kind.
To ensure diligence in your work, you will find nothing of greater importance than early rising, and putting every thing in order and a state of forwardness, before any body is stirring to disturb or interrupt you. Those who lose an hour in the morning, says Dr. Kitchener, may fidget after it all the following day, but never overtake it; the very attempt to do so, inevitably produces an imperfect performance of every duty and operation which it is their business to have completed by a certain hour. Be assured, that if you do not rise till the last minute, that your employers will interpret such indolence to be evidence indisputable that you will give them as little of your time and do as little work, and that little as badly as possible.
Persons, continues the Doctor, who are actually industrious, are always early risers. Idle lay-a-beds pretend that they cannot wake without being called, but we say to such gentry, “Who wakes the caller?”. Somebody must wake uncalled, and don't flatter yourself, Lucy Lazybones, that anybody is so silly as not to know that early rising is one of those good habits which everybody can easily acquire who is willing. It is acknowledged, says Mrs. Taylor, that young people are sometimes heavy to sleep; yet there have been known those who could always wake at any hour when they were going out for a holiday, but who never could when their business required it, though it was ever so urgent. It is vain, however, for people to rise early unless when they are up they make the most of their time, and do not idle away small portions of it in the midst of their business. Would they, for once, take an account of what such odd five minutes and quarters of an hour amount to in the course of one day, they would perceive the occasion of their being so behind hand.
At certain hours we awake and become sleepy, just as regularly as we are hungry and dry at certain times at which we have been accustomed to eat and drink. All these things are mere matter of habit, and as convenient habits are easily acquired, they become when acquired as agreeable as idle ones. If you wish to make a favourable impression on your employers, you may depend on it, that no cleverness that you can display, no exertion that you can make, will be half so prepossessing as rising at the hour you are desired, or rather a quarter before.
Recollect, also, that no time is spent so stupidly as that which inconsiderate people pass in a morning between sleeping and waking. The sooner that you leave your bed, the seldomer you will be confined to it, for early rising is one of the first maxims of health. If you would be well then - if, as a popular author says, you would have your heart dancing gladly, like the April breeze, and your blood flowing like an April brook - up with the lark, “the merry lark,” as Shakspeare calls it, which is “the ploughman's clock,” to warn him of the dawn; up and breakfast on the morning air, fresh with the odour of budding flowers, and all the fragrance of the maiden spring; up from your nerve-destroying bed, and from the foul air pent within your close drawn curtains. There is something in the morning air, that while it defies the penetration of philosophers, adds brightness to the blood, freshness to the lip, and vigour to the whole frame. Whoever then is found in bed after six o'clock, from May-day till Michaelmas, cannot expect to be free from some ailment or other, dependent on relaxed nerves, stuffed lungs, disordered bile, or impaired digestion. “What a luxury do the sons of sloth lose!” says Harvey, in his Reflections in a Flower Garden. “Little, ah little, is the sluggard sensible how great a pleasure he foregoes for the poorest of all animal gratifications. Is it the surmise of imagination, or do the skies really redden with shame to see so many supinely stretched on their drowsy pillows? Shall man be lost in luxurious ease? Shall man waste these precious hours in idle slumbers? while the vigorous sun is up and going on his Maker's errand? while all the feathered choir are hynming the Creator, and paying their homage in harmony? Yet wonderful it is, that this drowsy indulgence is persisted in by thousands, till their nerves are stewed and unstrung, and feebleness and disease have become their inseparable companions for life. Be persuaded, make an effort to shake off the pernicious habit; “Go forth,” as King Solomon says, “to the fields, lodge in the villages, get up early to the vineyards, see if the vine flourish, and whether the tender grape appears:” -
“Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see,
The dew bespangling herb and tree;
Each flower has wept, and bow'd toward the East
Above an hour since; yet you are not drest;
Nay, not so much as out of bed,
When all the birds have matins said.
And sung their thankful hymns.”
With respect to careful saving and economy, it is also indispensible that you should not waste or squander what belongs to your employers, more than it were your own; for however wealthy they may be, or however little the waste of small things may affect them, it will be a mark of both carelessness and dishonesty on your part to suffer it, if you can possibly prevent it; and the richest will be thankful and pleased to see you careful in avoiding waste, even in little things.
A little thought and attention, says an excellent author, and a very little trouble on the part of a servant, will often save her employers many pounds in the year, and make it worth their while to grant many privileges and indulgences to which the careless could have no claim. Think not and say not then, it is only or it is but a cutting of silk, an odd bit of lace, or a dressing-glass; for when some one or several of these are wasted and destroyed every day, they soon amount to something considerable; and if those whose business it is to take care of those things require to be watched themselves, their character must soon be materially injured. When the Saviour fed five thousand people with five barley loaves and two small fishes, it might appear strange to some of them, that he who could so easily supply their wants by his almighty power, should nevertheless command them to gather up the fragments that nothing should be lost; yet by this care, twelve baskets full of wholesome food were preserved, and the multitude were thus taught to estimate frugality as a Christian virtue. When divine mercy, therefore, bestows abundance, the frugal care of it becomes a duty, as is thus clearly pointed out in the scriptures of truth.
On your own account, also, you ought to practise economy, and save from your earnings what may support and comfort you should you be out of place, or visited with any afflicting disease; for though you may for the present be prosperous, you know not the day nor the hour when calamity may come upon you, as a trial of your Christian patience and resignation to the will of God. Or you may have poor parents or other near relatives whom it will be expected of you to do something for, if it is in your power. This you can only, be enabled to accomplish, by the most careful economy and attention to every penny which you lay out on clothes or any other things you may want.
Remember the old maxim, that those who are negligent when young, will be necessitous when old; for wilful waste, makes woeful want. Take care of the pence, and the pounds will take care of themselves; for remember the proverb, “many a little makes a mickle,” and
A penny sav'd is two pence clear;
A pin a day's a great a year.
Before you make any purchase, first consider whether you actually want it, and if you do, think also whether you cannot do without it, as you may have, done for months or years before.
The following select maxims I recommend to your perusal, as calculated to make you careful, attentive, diligent, economical, and frugal:-
It is said that Cosmo de Medicis, Duke of Florence, being reported to be in possession of the philosopher's stone, was asked by a Venetian nobleman to show him this rare jewel. “It is true,” said the duke, “I do possess this extraordinary article, but it consists wholly in never putting off till to-morrow what I can do to-day, never employing another to do what I can overtake myself, and never neglecting the least things.”
Certain young men being reproved by Zeno for their prodigality, excused themselves saying, they had abundance and did not miss what they spent. “But would you,” said the philosopher, “excuse a cook that would oversalt a dish because she has a store of salt?”
A good-layer-up makes a good layer-out; and a good sparer makes a good spender.
Diogenes asked a thrifty man for a single halfpenny, but of a prodigal he asked a pound, and being asked his reason, he replied, “The former might have to give him often: but the latter would soon have nothing to give.”
That which by sparing is saved, may, with industry, be improved, and what is so improved, may be again spared. Frugality alone is but simple getting, but joined with industry it is double.
Those who are profuse in some kinds of expense, must be saving again in some other; for if they are lavish in all things they will soon come to ruin. Get a habit of frugality, for that will gain upon your mind as well as upon your estate.
The way to much is by little; for, the greatest sum which can be imagined, began in a penny;
A little estate is a great while in getting, but a great one is soon gotten; for when you have raised yourself to independence, riches will come apace.
The, labour of virtue bringeth forth pleasure; but idleness is the parent of want and of pain. The hand of diligence defeateth want; prosperity and success will always attend the industrious.
Diligence alone is a fair fortune, and industry a good estate. Idleness wastes as insensibly as industry improves. Aesop's fisher could catch no fish by playing on his flute; but was necessitated to preserve his existence by casting his nets and tackling into the river, and plying his time with earnest assiduity.
Do not spend time in considering how to do your work, which might serve for the speedy despatch of it, lest you be likened to the musician who spent so much time in tuning his instrument, that he had none left for the music.
Nobody is too old to learn; and the wise and prudent add to their knowledge every day of their lives. It is only the vain and conceited who imagine themselves perfect in every thing. “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit,” says Solomon, “there is more hope of a fool than, of him.” Be ready therefore to learn even from a child, any thing you did not previously know; much more ought you to be thankful to your employers, if they are at the trouble of giving you instructions; for how well soever you may know your duty, something new, or some other and better way may be worth your attention. Even should you not think it better, you must consider that your employers like to have things done their own way, and you will always please them better by attending to this than doing contrary to their instructions, though you may think it better.
When people have a reluctance to be taught, it must proceed from a conceited opinion of their own superiority, from wrong-headedness, or from sheer obstinacy. But you are hired to do what you are bid and obey instructions, not to consider yourself mistress and director, and at your own discretion. You should therefore obey directions with alacrity and cheerfulness, and not look sulky or mutter because those do not exactly accord with your own particular notions, or with what you have been accustomed to, either at your own home or in any other family where you may have lived; for the comfort, habits, and ways of families vary a great deal; and what one may be pleased with, may, very probably, displease another. You should therefore endeavour attentively to learn those variations, and to abide by them. If you are ordered to do any thing which is new to you, do not turn away without answering, as if you did not hear, for this will be a mark of disrespect, quite insufferable, and will be sure to be noticed and give offence.
Think for a moment how you would like to be so served yourself, were you anxious to give instruction to an obstinate and unteachable person; and if you remember the Saviour's golden rule, “Do to others as you would that they do to you,” I think you will be in little danger of acquiring the unamiable character of obstinacy and inattention.
Another requisite of attention is, an observant eye to every thing that you see done; and if you are not perfect for want of practice, try your hand at it privately till you are. The improvements which are daily making in domestic comfort are very numerous, and many of them founded on the soundest principles; but unless you are an attentive observer, these will be all lost upon you. In another part of this little book, I have given instructions in many things of this kind, in the line of the duties which will be required of you, and to these I request that you will be particularly attentive.
Perhaps you are not aware that attentive observation, and taking a lively interest in anything is an infallible cure for a bad memory, and nothing will make you appear more stupid, and prevent you from being trusted with any thing of importance, than the character of having a bad memory. It will be no excuse for you that your memory is naturally bad, and that really you forget, and are very sorry for what you were ordered to attend to. The consequence will be, that some other person, who has not this naturally bad memory, will probably be got to supply your place; for memory is no less indispensible to you than a knowledge of the duties of your station; and you should be as careful to cultivate it as to learn the newest modes of hair-dressing, or the newest French fashions to cut your employers dresses by. I repeat it, therefore, and urge you to impress it on your mind, that attention is certain to strengthen the weakest memory. If you are promised a holiday - even a month, or several months beforehand, you never forget it, because you are interested in the event; and if you are anxious to oblige your employers, you will be no less interested in obeying their orders, and interest is certain to sharpen the memory.
In order to understand properly what you hear, be silent when you receive your orders, and look in the face of the person speaking without interruption; for there are some who foolishly prate all the time, and then know not half what has been said to them, while others will leave the room before they have heard the whole. It will be time enough to answer (if an answer is required) after the speaker has done; interruption produces confusion, and gives rise to the mistakes so often complained of. If you attend carefully, as I have directed, you will save your employers the irksome task of frequently repeating their orders, and gain for yourself a character for careful attention.
Your situation as a confidential upper servant will often bring you into conversation with your employers, and if you have a pleasing and affable manner, they will have you more with them than may perhaps be proper for you. My meaning is, that if you observe yourself respected for your affability, your prudence, or your knowledge, you will be very apt to be put off your guard, and begin to act and talk as if you were amongst those equal to yourself in station and respectability. Now I wish to caution you most anxiously and particularly upon this point, as there is nothing connected with your situation of greater importance to attend to:- if you fail here, your place will soon be forfeited, and you will gain a character for impertinence, which is the worst thing that can stand in your way in procuring another.
It is admitted, that it is very hard for a young person to be consulted about any thing, however, trifling, by ladies of rank or fashion, without feeling a good deal of vanity. Perhaps it is not in human nature not to feel a little of this, under such circumstances. The difficulty is to conceal it when you do feel yourself to be of a little consequence; but if you can succeed in so far subduing your looks and manner as not to appear flattered by the condescension of your superiors, no bad consequences can arise from the mere feeling. It is, indeed, more the showing of it, and appearing elated and conceited which will do you injury.
The feeling yourself of some little consequence to your employers, on account of your knowledge and dexterity, may be very proper, and tend to render your character more respectable, as it will prevent you perhaps from forming any low connexion, or engaging in any improper line of conduct, either to your employers or your fellow-servants. If you have once got a character, indeed, it will operate as a stimulus to make you endeavour to preserve it, by greater exertions of care and assiduity.
What I would particularly caution you against, however, in this respect, is giving advice when you are not asked, or thrusting your opinion upon your mistress, whether she seems desirous of having it or not. This is a fault which many commit from thoughtlessness, trusting to the familiarity with which they may have been treated in other cases; but they are certain to repent it, as nothing is more disliked in a servant, whatever may have been the previous familiarity, than this unbidden giving of opinions and advice. So strictly ought you to guard your behaviour in this respect, even when you are well aware your superiors are wrong upon any point - that you should never thrust in your word unless you are particularly asked. If, also, you observe any mistake committed by your employers or their guests in things which you understand better than they, you should never take the slightest notice of it, nor afterwards mention it.
The familiarities which I am cautioning you to avoid, are more particularly apt to be contracted, should your mistress have required any little attentions from you during sickness, or on any private family concern, which you may have been entrusted to manage. Sickness, danger, and adversity, usually level distinction of rank; but you must never forget that you are a servant, nor assume the airs and the consequence of a gentlewoman so long as you are in the pay and at the command of another. It may, no doubt, give you the wish to be a lady - to have attentions paid you; but you should strive to subdue in your mind all idle repining that it has not been your fate to be placed in such a rank, and that Providence, undoubtedly, for wise purposes, has ordered it otherwise.
There is another point of great delicacy connected with this subject, which I would not willingly omit. If you have any personal attractions, and most young women have something that is agreeable or pleasing, beware of the least approach to familiarity with any of the gentlemen of the family where you live. Any thing of this kind must lead to improper consequences whatever turn it may take. Reflect on the injury which the whole family and their connexions would accuse you of having done them, should you so far gain the affections of any of the young gentlemen as to induce him to marry you. Such marriages have taken place, but they are seldom, if ever, happy ones, and cannot be; for however high you may estimate your own importance, you must always be considered as an intruder by your husband's friends, while he will, probably, look upon your relatives, let them be ever so respectable, as unfit associates, and will despise perhaps your very parents. Be firm, therefore, and resolutely check all advances of this sort, at the very first; and if you cannot otherwise avoid the evil which will certainly await you by rashly listening to the importunities of passion, leave the situation at once, without disclosing to any one the reason of your conduct; because the least hint of such a circumstance would soon spread, and be exaggerated much to your disadvantage.
On the other hand, it is much more likely that without greatly injuring the other party, the familiarities to which I have alluded would terminate in your ruin. Unfortunately for the character of our country, it is considered to be a matter of little moment for a gentleman to ruin an unsuspecting and confiding girl; but the very chance of such a dreadful consequence to you, ought to make you firm and determined to give no inlet, even to familiar conversation. Pray that you may be preserved from all such temptations and you will receive strength from above, to resist them according to the Scripture promise, “in trouble I will be with you”
There cannot be a truer maxim than that familiarity breeds contempt. If, therefore, it tend to lessen the dignity of superiors to make companions of their servants, recollect that the very same thing will operate against yourself, by lessening your respectability. I do not mean that you should bear yourself with a haughty demeanour or proud air, but there is a certain respectful distance which it ought to be your study to maintain, and you will do wrong by either swaying from this, towards pride or to great familiarity. A proper sense of the nature of your situation, if you keep that properly in mind, will be the best thing to prevent you from falling into either of those extremes.
You owe your employers respect and attention, because your engagement implies this, and of course you must never either speak disrespectfully of them yourself, or keep company with any who may do so, for it is exposing your good principles to temptation even to listen to anything improper which may be said of the family whose bread you eat.
We shall preface this chapter with an anecdote which puts in a very clear light the duty of obliging behaviour and good temper. A gentleman in the country hearing his coachman and housemaid quarrelling, and using high words, inquired the cause, and was told by the girl, that John was a very ill-tempered man; for though she had been to the well many times to fetch water to clean the house, and was quite tired, and asked him only to bring her one pail of water - he refused. “Surely,”, said his master, “you could not be so uncivil! the men are always happy to oblige the ladies.” The fellow replied in a surly tone that he was not hired to fetch water for the maids. “True,” said the master “I did not think of that - go, put the horses to the carriage and bring it to the door as soon as possible” - and left him. When the carriage was ready he bade the girl get into, it, and ordered the uncivil coachman to drive her to the well and back as often as she had occasion to go.
Such a temper as this man showed, is a great nuisance to every body, and to none more than the unhappy person who has it, as it becomes a source of endless broils and altercations; whereas a good disposition will always bring its own reward, in the pleasure which it will give both to yourself and to those who employ you, and who will often caress and reward you when you least expect it, if you gain their esteem by always being civil and obliging. A good temper, indeed, is every thing, for you cannot expect your superiors to conform to your whims or humours, and your employers have too many concerns of their own to put up with your vexations. Do you not, I may ask, like to be treated civilly yourself, and to see others kind and obliging? If so, you may in most cases make every body so to you, by only being so to them, and even when you meet with rude and unreasonable people, still you will find it by far the best way to return them civility for incivility. The gospel precept is:- “If a man smite thee on the one cheek turn to him the other also;” and a more effectual check could not be given to the sallies of an irritable temper, than mild, gentle, civil behaviour in return. “A soft answer,” says Solomon, “turneth away wrath.”
I advise you, therefore, to return no answer to anger, unless with much meekness, which will in most cases turn it away; and rarely make replies, much less rejoinders, as this will only add fuel to the flame. It is a wrong time to vindicate yourself, the passionate ear being never open to hear it. Silence, to passion, prejudice, and mockery, is always the best answer, and often conquers what resistance inflames. If, again, you receive rudeness in return for civility, and ingratitude for kindness, be not disappointed nor offended, but pray that you wish to pass on peaceably and quietly, you must find good nature, and endeavour to find good sense, for many of those you meet with in the world. But always be patient, and remember that hasty words will rankle a wound, while soft language will soothe it; forgiveness will heal it, and oblivion will take away the scar.
Never shelter yourself under the baseless excuse that you know your temper is naturally bad, and you cannot help it; for you may, if you will, use the means to subdue the most irritable and passionate disposition, and the excuse is only made by those who will not take the pains to correct themselves. I admit that all are not equally happy in their dispositions; but it should be recollected that religion and virtue require us to cherish and cultivate every good inclination, and to check and subdue every propensity to evil. If you have been born with a bad temper, it may be made a good one, by care and attention; and though you are so happy as to have a good one while young, do not suppose it will always continue so, if you neglect to maintain a proper command over it. Sickness, disappointment, and other misfortunes, may embitter and fret the finest disposition, when not carefully subdued by religious equanimity. “He that ruleth his spirit,” saith the Scriptures, “is greater than he that taketh a city.”
Obstinacy and sullenness are very bad faults of temper, and often lead to bad consequences, by fostering secret resentment and revenge. Take care, therefore, never to brood over resentment which may, perhaps, be from the first ill-grounded, and which is always inflamed by reflecting upon an injury, real or supposed. As soon as you have subdued your own temper, therefore, so as to be able to speak calmly and civilly, and if it appear that you have been to blame, or been in error, acknowledge it fairly and frankly. If you feel any reluctance to do this, you may be assured it springs from pride - a passion which it is your duty, as a christian, to check. Besides, a frank confession frequently does more than atone for an error or a fault. When your natural temper disposes you to be sullen and obstinate, you may find this rather a difficult task; but if you cannot perfectly conquer this temper the first time it incommodes you, be not, therefore, discouraged from another trial when an occasion offers; as the effort will strengthen your mind to withstand a third assault.
But is it not, therefore, desirable, as a celebrated female writer well remarks, that you should hear of your faults without pain? for such an indifference would afford small hopes of amendment, since shame and remorse are the first steps to repentance; yet you should be willing to bear this pain, and be thankful to the kind hand that inflicts it for your good; and you must not, accordingly, by sullen silence under it, leave your kind physician in doubt whether the operation has taken effect or not, or whether it has not added another malady, namely, pride, instead of curing the first. You must consider that those who tell you of your faults, if they do it from motives of kindness, and not of malice, exert their friendship in a painful office, which must have cost them as great an effort as it can be to you to acknowledge the service; and, if you refuse this encouragement, you cannot expect that any one who is not absolutely obliged to it by duty, will, a second time, undertake such ill-recruited trouble. Besides, nothing is more endearing than a frank confession; and you will find such a satisfaction in your own consciousness, and in the renewed tenderness and esteem you will gain from the person concerned, that your task for the future will be more easy, and your reluctance to be convinced will, on every occasion, grow less and less.
Never, on any account, give a pert or a back answer - remembering the proverb, that honey catches more flies than vinegar; and though you are scolded, or treated ever so unreasonably, silence, or a mild answer, will always be the most prudent thing you can do. “Servants,” saith the Scriptures, “be subject to your masters, with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward; not answering again; not with eye-service, with good will doing service, as to the Lord; and showing all good fidelity, that you may adorn the doctrine of God, our Saviour in all things.” If your employers be hasty, an insolent reply may lose you your place; and sulkiness, or muttering, flouncing out of the room, or slapping the door after you, will always be taken to mean that you would be insolent if you dared.
According to the confidence which is reposed in you, it is probable that you may be entrusted with secrets of various kinds; and though some of these may be trivial in themselves, yet it is of the utmost consequence to your character that they may be kept inviolable. Every thing you hear and see, indeed, in the family, if the repeating of it, either to the domestics, or to your friends out of doors, should be, in the remotest degree injurious, ought to be kept as secret as if you had taken an oath not to reveal it. Whatever may be told you, therefore, by your mistress, should be kept inviolable, though she does not particularly enjoin secrecy; unless it plainly appear that she wishes it to be known.
The best way to succeed in this, is to acquire a habit of practising secrecy and reserve. At first, accustom your mind to it in trifles - in things that are of no importance, and when you can resist the temptations which occasionally offer, of divulging these, you will have little difficulty in keeping silence when it is a more express duty.
When you are entrusted with secrets in confidence, remember that this may be done, and is often done, under doubt, or at least suspicions may arise afterwards; and if you, by inadvertence or vanity, give cause for such suspicions, your credit and character will henceforth be forfeited and lost. You may say, indeed, it would be better were the temptation not thrown in your way; but in many situations it is unavoidable, and in all it is requisite to be very guarded and cautious in those particulars; keep up in this as far as you are able, the distinction between virtue and vice, and let those who trust you, not have cause to repent of their confidence. The esteem and respect in which you will be held, probably for your whole life after, depends, in a great measure, upon your faith and secrecy; for go where you will, the character which you have made for yourself will be certain, sooner or later, to follow you.
It is to be regretted, that for want of this important quality of secrecy in confidential servants, there is scarcely a family whose most secret affairs do not come to be known in their neighbourhood, though it be ever so improper that they should be so. Of this breach of trust gossiping servants are always at the bottom. It passes, first as a whisper, from the upper servants to the inferior domestics, or to their friends out of doors, and if there is any thing poignant or mysterious, it is eagerly told, and as eagerly listened to, till it is known by every body who knows the family. Be upon your guard, in the strictest manner, against such gossiping, either as a reporter or a listener, as nothing will sooner tend to destroy both your character and your peace of mind. Do not entrust your best friend, even in a whisper, with such secrets or intelligence as might lead to unpleasant circumstances were they ever to become public. Remember, that if you trust a bosom friend with a secret involving the trust reposed in you, it is as much a breach of confidence, as if you had revealed it to a thousand; as from this bosom friend it may pass to a thousand. Remember, also, that in doing this, you are plainly confessing that you yourself have not the quality of secrecy, and if so, you have no right to expect it in your friend, whose character besides, is not like yours, at stake by divulging what you have revealed. If you cannot keep your own secrets, why should you suppose that another will be more cautious? It is owing, indeed, to this single mistake, of trusting some one person, that the breaches of faith and divulging of secrets have disturbed the quiet of so many families; and you cannot be too strongly forewarned of its danger.
This is enjoined the more earnestly, that there is, without question, a great pleasure in whispering a secret - an uncommon, though a childish pleasure, else why are secrets divulged? Has the friend, it may be asked, to whom you have revealed it, less temptation to repeat it than you had? She will have the same pleasure in telling it to another, be assured, that you had in revealing it to her, and she will place the same confidence in the person to whom she reveals it, that you placed in her.
But this is not all the danger. The secret will run swift enough through all the vicinity in the same way; and while all have it in confidence, all will repeat it; and you will be accused of having told it.
Friendships, you should recollect also, are, for the most part, very frail; they are often contracted without thought, and sometimes broken without provocation, or from a thousand little things of no importance. Now friends who have any misunderstanding or quarrel, seldom remain indifferent, but are usually violent enemies. As they were violent in their friendships without enquiring whether they had good cause; so are they, in a similar manner, outrageous in their animosities. Be prepared, therefore, (without allowing yourself to be too much under the dark influence of suspicion) to expect such changes in those of your friends or most intimate acquaintance, and let prudence dictate to you never to put it in the power of any of them to trust you, so far at least as secrecy is involved. When you are about to entrust any body with a secret, think that you may afterwards quarrel without any fault of your own; and though it is not necessary you should, it is possible you can guard against it.
In some families, there are secrets on which the welfare, and perhaps the very existence of the persons concerned may depend. Should you ever be entrusted or come to know secrets of such consequence, it will be a great means of securing your secrecy, that you have accustomed yourself to it in small matters. Even where there are not great things there are always little ones, and in the deficiency of others, these are made or become important. In the most trifling of these, the breach of secrecy is not less a betraying of trust by reason of the less importance of the subject; for if it once be known that you could not be trusted with a trivial matter, all confidence in your secrecy will for ever be at an end, and if you are not dismissed, you cannot expect to have the same comfort which you may previously have enjoyed.
These consequences, which will so greatly injure your character, all depend upon the little folly of talking of that which should be kept in silence. You need not wonder then at the earnestness with which you have been admonished against the thing itself, because at first it may appear to you inconsiderable; for it is not in reality so in its consequences. It is to such points of conduct, indeed, that this little book is chiefly directed, because it is in these that you are in the most danger of going wrong, from not being aware of their effects on your character, and on the certainty of your continuing in your place, or procuring another of respectability.
When I thus admonish you so strongly to acquire the art of secrecy, I do not mean that you should have your own interest only in view. I would have you act from honest and judicious principles, without which, all the art you can ever make yourself mistress of, will never gain you that respect and esteem which would be so satisfactory both to yourself and your mistress who bestows it. No judicious, upright, girl, who had a proper respect for her own character, would wish to reveal a secret that would bring disgrace upon the family whose daily bread she eats, and who pay her handsomely for her services.
Should you chance to get a situation that you think will suit you, where the lady is kind and indulgent, and seems anxious to make you comfortable, you cannot show too much respect and attention. If, on the contrary, you should go to a place that you do not like, do not by any means listen to the idle gossip of the other servants, abusing and making game of the ways and habits of their mistress, which will always be the case where the lady, perhaps from mismanagement in her household affairs, has not gained the respect of her domestics. By no means make a practice of abusing and exposing the concerns of a family, merely because you do not like your place. In such a case I would have you behave with due respect and circumspection until you can find a place that will suit you better; for depend upon it, you will never gain any thing by exposing the secrets of a giddy, thoughtless, mistress, but, by so doing, degrade your own conscience and your character.
Another very important point in the character of a lady's maid, is her behaviour on going to a new place. It is but too common a practice to show a great deal of attention, politeness, and deceitful flattery for the first two or three weeks; and this practice, with young ladies in particular, has a most pernicious effect; for in consequence of their inexperience, they are apt to mistake the deceitful officiousness of their maids for attention, and in this way place their confidence in them, and impart to them the most important secrets. Afterwards, these become to a lady a source of deep regret; for when she comes to find that her confidence has been misplaced on an impertinent, deceitful girl, she perceives her error, and the consequence is, in such a case, that all future confidence will be withheld, and though, perhaps, you would not be dismissed, you would be retained more from a fear, that in the event of your being sent away, as is too often the case, you would revenge yourself by revealing all you knew, and perhaps adding to it. This I hope will never be the case with you, as no situation could be more humiliating than to be retained from such a feeling, and to be looked upon as a faithless person, not fit to be trusted. I have known instances of girls being foolish enough, where they have found themselves mistress of an important secret, go so far as threaten their young mistress with revealing it, if, at any time she found fault with them. By such conduct, you would entirely work against your own interest.
The best safeguard against tattling then, you will find to be a resolute and determined check upon yourself in prying into what is going forward in the family. Never look into letters if they are left in your way, nor hang about the doors to listen to the conversation when visitors come; nor give encouragement to the servants of your employer's visitors, to be communicative respecting the affairs of either family. If you do not attend to these precautions, and be prudent and circumspect, you will have every chance to get yourself into trouble, though in other respects, you may be the best servant that was ever employed. Many things, also, will be forgiven you in other matters; but no lady will ever forgive a betraying of confidence in family affairs, and you have no right to expect it.
On this subject, the following maxims you would do well to study, and put in daily and hourly practice.
Have neither eyes, ears, nor understanding for what your mistress tries to conceal from you; there is nothing will sooner make you feared, distrusted, and ruined.
Sedeneus, a valiant prince, being discomfited in battle, was compelled to disguise himself and escape with few attendants. After wandering awhile in the desert, he chanced upon a poor cottage, where he asked for a morsel of bread and water. The cottager, knowing him to be the king, shewed him all kindness and courtesy, and conducted him on the way he wished to go. On departing, the king said “farewell mine host,” and the cottager replied, “God save you my prince.” But this gave great uneasiness to the king, and fearing lest he might be discovered, he sent back one of his attendants to kill the cottager, as the only means of secrecy.
She who trusts another with a secret, makes herself a slave; but all who are so bound are impatient to redeem their lost liberty.
As it is not prudent to listen to a secret of importance, so it may often lead to the ruin of the person who hears it, to discover it. King Lysimaehus professed great kindness for Philippides, the comedian, and demanded what he should bestow on him. “Whatever,” said Philippides, “pleases your majesty, provided it be not a secret.”
Cardinal Richelieu having a great esteem for a young person, entrusted him with several affairs of importance; but one day found him reading some private papers left on his table, and immediately dismissed him. - Never read any papers which do not belong to you.
Nobody ever repented of having kept silence, but many of not having done so; and when once the words have been said, it is impossible to recall them. “Into the shut mouth,” saith the Spanish proverb, “a fly never enters.”
So well aware was the philosopher Pythagoras, of the importance of secrecy in servants, that one of his maxims was, “Never entertain a swallow under your roof;” that is, admit no one into your house who is talkative, or cannot keep a secret.
A person without secrecy is an open letter, which every one may read.
Those who tell all they know will often be tempted to tell what they do not know.
Be like a spring lock, readier to shut than to open.
Never communicate any thing which may prejudice you if it were discovered, and not benefit any one to whom you disclose it.
Secrecy is the key of prudence, and the sanctuary of wisdom.
Secrecy and celerity are the two hinges on which all great actions turn.
As you act towards your employers, act on the same principles towards your fellow servants; and if you happen to learn any of their little secrets keep them in the same manner inviolable.
“Every fool”, says Solomon, “is wise in his own conceit;” that is, a vain person thinks it impossible to he in the wrong, or to have any fault. If you can detect in yourself any thing of this dangerous feeling, I advise you most earnestly to check it as soon as you can, for if you do not, it will prove a fruitful source of uneasiness and inquietude. Do not endeavour to show off, either before your employers or their visitors, much less before your fellow servants, any airs of superiority in carriage, nor any acquisition of art; because though it may for the moment gratify your vanity, it will be certain before long, to recoil upon you in the form of envy or jealousy, which are always ready to spring up in the breasts of those who feel themselves outshone. If you are vain of any little acquirement in the line of your duty, rather exert yourself to instruct your fellow servants, who may wish to be as dextrous as yourself, than try to show off your cleverness. Your employers, I may tell you, will soon discover your merits, without any misplaced showing off on your part.
As closely connected with this subject, I shall here give you some directions respecting dress, which is so important an article in female life; the love of dress being natural, and, when properly regulated, very proper and reasonable. In most families, indeed, you would not be kept, much less respected, if you did not attend to your dress, and keep yourself always clean and neat. Your character, indeed, will be in some measure estimated by your dress; for simplicity and neatness will always be a proof of taste and modesty, while carelessness or gaudiness will stamp you as vain, foolish, and conceited. As you are supposed, by your engagement as a lady's maid, to have some taste in dress, be very careful to let it appear in your own; always, therefore, accustom yourself to habitual neatness, so that in your most hastily put on dishabile, you may have no reason to be ashamed of your appearance.
The first thing you ought to consider on this subject, is never to dress out of your station, nor attempt to rival the ladies of the family. This is of more importance for you to guard against than if you were in any other station as a servant; for your knowledge of stuffs, trimmings, and fashions, give you the means of doing this more successfully than any other servant. But recollect, also, that in your situation it will not be so readily overlooked as it would in the case of the dairy maid or the cook, who may be supposed to have less knowledge and taste in dress. Were you to dress ever so fine, or so well, however, you may depend upon it you will never be able, (though you may foolishly imagine so) to pass yourself off for a gentlewoman; for unless your education has been that of a lady, you will betray yourself in every word you speak, and even in your most carefully studied carriage. These are things which you cannot put on as you would do a bit of trimming, or a bouquet of artificial flowers.
If it should unfortunately be your aim to imitate the dress of your superiors, and to appear what you are not - consider for a moment, who it is you are desirous of making believe you are a fine lady, and not a dependant. You certainly can never wish your employers to think so: if you do you will be woefully mistaken; for though they will desire to see you neat and not slovenly, they will only look upon you as a foolish, vain, minx, if you deck yourself out with fine trimmings, and wear brooches, and other trinkets, or misplaced finery, which will be certain to injure the respectability of your character, If you suppose, when applying for a place, that you will be the better thought of for being gaily dressed in gaudy ribbands, you will find you are wrong; for the lady of the house will at once suspect that you will spend more time in dressing yourself than in attending to her; and if there be young gentlemen in the family, a natural suspicion will arise, that you may attract their notice, and give rise to much family uneasiness; for a dressy servant is always suspected not to be over rigid in character, and however much you may be vain of your fine clothes, they will only degrade you in the eyes of the prudent. It can never be expected, even by the most austere, that a young woman is to be denied all the ornaments of dress, and to appear like a grandmother; but if she ape gentility and fashionable finery, she will only become a mark of derision. By dressing out of your place, indeed, you render yourself contemptible; by dressing in your place, you cannot fail to gain respect.
If you dress fine to rival or excel other girls of your acquaintance, a feeling which I fear is but too common, the only thing you can expect to gain by it is their envy or jealousy, and their certain enmity. Should you be desirous of the ill-will of all your fellow servants and acquaintance, (a thing I can hardly suppose possible) you will find nothing more apt to produce this than outshining them in dress. It is a circumstance which few girls will ever forgive, more particularly if it can be construed into the most remote endeavour to attract the attention of their beaux; for this is always a very sensitive point. The remark brings me to another important part of the subject of dress.
The most natural object of dress in a young woman is to attract the notice at the other sex; but you may be assured that you will never succeed in procuring a good husband by vain show and misplaced finery; for very few men, when they are serious in their attentions, will set much value on a showy dress, or be tempted by it into a sincere affection for you. A dashing, dressy girl, has much more chance of attracting the attention of those who will squire her about for mere show and fun, or will spend her time in joking and bantering, or (still worse) who may be of loose character and libertine principles, than of those who would make good and prudent husbands. I have never known an instance of a girl fond of showy dresses, getting well married; and when such do succeed in obtaining a house of their own, they almost uniformly become slatterns, or waste their husband's income in idle, unnecessary gew-gaws, and domestic extravagance. This was the case with a girl, fond of dress and finery, whose history I shall here briefly relate.
Lucy Lacksense is now become the wife of a plain industrious man, whose aim is to provide necessaries, without a hope to procure the luxuries of life. Lucy set out in the world with very good intentions; but by finding herself and her husband free from the clamours of creditors, and in no present, danger of want, she has insensibly acquired a few habits likely to produce it. Since the birth of her last child, she fancies herself “too much a slave;” and tells her husband she “was better off when in service;” that she “had more gowns and ribbands, and less labour; that she “is determined not to stay at home so much as she has done, say what he will.” Her nurse and midwife persuaded her that she must take more nourishment now she suckles; since which, her husband, though he has not found her drunk, has found bottles of liquor concealed in different corners, and when he happens to surprise her in tippling, she is only taking a drop to cure herself or the child of the belly-ache.
He is for stocking his shop, she for stocking her drawers; if he buys an article of household furniture which he finds really necessary, she finds her inclination on edge for something which is not necessary, to complete it. The wives of neighbour Pinchweight and neighbour Swagger, are just gone out in a chaise cart, with new beaver hats, but, for her part, she “can never go like other people; they can get new this and new thats, whose husbands are in debt, but she can get nothing, though her husband owes nobody a farthing.” Though, by the bye, it is not long since he allowed her a guinea for a gown, for which she gave thirty shillings because her husband need not know it. If she gives seven shillings for a laced cap for her boy, she assures him it cost four, and is a great bargain; because, as he spends no money in drink like other men, he can afford it. The poor husband, without knowing why, finds his exertions and care not sufficiently rewarded by success, and becomes unsteady and dissatisfied. Thus from mere want of consideration, or content, and an improvident eagerness for finery, Lucy is likely to reduce herself and family to every other want.
Recollect when you are tempted to buy any thing very fine, that you must purchase many more things to match it, otherwise your dress will not be of a piece. Pride, as the proverb says, is as importunate a beggar as want, and a great deal more saucy. As there will be no end of buying, if you proceed in such a course, you will find it the best and easiest method to suppress the first desire, and then you will have no need to satisfy those which would assuredly follow. Pride that dines on vanity, says another proverb, sups on contempt; it neither promotes heath nor eases pain, while it is certain to create envy and hasten misfortune. If you have any money to spare beyond what your necessities require, it will be of more advantage to put it into the Savings Bank, than to throw it away on feathers or necklaces. You may come to want it, should you be out of place or sick; or, if it be your fortune to marry a deserving man, it will serve to aid in furnishing your house, and making you comfortable, whereas it will only injure you if you spend it on finery.
With these views in your mind, save all you can with propriety - a penny saved is a penny gained, while a penny spent is gone for ever: a little money will be a friend to you in old age, for service is no inheritance. When your little savings are in the Bank, you are in no danger of either losing or spending it; and when you have got a little interest you will be anxious to get a little more, as all persons are. If you do this, you will probably, in time, find yourself rich, when I have no doubt you will take care how you part with the guineas you have so carefully saved: a guinea is a friend that will never see you with a new face. If, on the other hand, you spend but the trifle of one penny a-day, recollect, that this will be no less than thirty shillings a-year; while a “penny and penny laid up will, be money,” for money begets money, and the less you spend, the more you will have.
“Where it is found,” say Dr. Trusler, “that female servants dress beyond the line of life in which they are placed, and which their wages are not adequate to support, it is often the means of their dishonesty, and it is the duty of mistresses to prevent it; nor should they encourage any such disposition in a servant, by giving them such cast of clothes of their own, as it would become them to wear.”
“A lady whom I knew, finding that a girl who lived with her had added a flounce and epaulettes to a white dress she had given her, sent her out on some business, and in her absence went into her room, looked for the dress, found it, picked off the flounce and epaulettes, and replaced it as she found it: the girl, on looking for her dress, was astonished at the metamorphose; soon, however, she was convinced that her mistress had done it; and though at first displeased, became soon reconciled to the change. Nothing was said on the subject on either side, the rebuke was powerful, and it had the desired effect. The impropriety was seen, and the evil was remedied.
“Were mistresses in general to set their faces against all unbecoming dress in their servants, they would do them an essential service, and render them more respectable in the eyes of the world.”
I shall conclude this chapter as some of the preceding, by such maxims of prudence as you will find it useful to study and practise.
As the tulip that is gaudy without smell, and conspicuous without use - as the butterfly who seeth not her own colours; and as the jassmine, which feeleth not the fragrance it casteth around it, so is the woman who appeareth gay to attract the notice of others.
A little vanity or esteem of one's self, prevents a great deal from others; boasting and show may gain applause from fools, but they put the wise to the expense of a blush.
The vain glorious are the scorn of the wise, the admiration of fools, the idols of the designing, and the slaves of their own vanity. When once you come to be blown up with the vanity of adorning yourself, you may bid farewell to all respect and reverence from others; for if you are your own appraiser, you will soon find that you are mistaken in your valuation.
Nothing will be so certain to gain you friends, as simplicity and modesty.
The wise and prudent will rather do things worthy to be admired, than admire what they have themselves done.
The vain delight to speak of themselves, but do not perceive that others like not to hear them. If they have done any thing worthy of praise, if they possess what is worthy of admiration, their joy is to proclaim it, their pride is to hear it reported. The desire of such defeateth itself; for it is not said, behold they have done it, or see they possess it, but mark how proud they are of it.
The vain swallow their own praise with greediness, and in return, they become the prey of flatterers.
A vain prancing horse, and bob-tailed, according to the fashion, who was as brave in his embroidery and velvet as his master and money could make him, got loose upon a time out of the stable, ready bridled and saddled; and there he was bounding and curvetting along as if no ground could hold him. While the fit of vanity was upon him, it was his fortune to meet two asses and a horse upon the way, coming from the market with empty sacks instead of saddles. This equipage, with their long unfashionable tails, all powdered over with chaff and dust, looked so truly fantastical to the spruce steed, that he could not forbear bantering them for so odd a caparison and such unfashionable tails. “I would fain know,” says he, “what you three are thinking of, and what you wear these sweeping tails for, unless it be to clean the way for the next comer?” “Why,” says the horse, “it is a pleasure to us to think how light and easy we shall travel all this day.” “Besides,” cried the asses, “we are going into a part of the country where there are abundance of rare thistles.” “Pitiful wretches,” says the steed, “to entertain yourselves with such mean thoughts!” And with that he began to show off his gambols and capreoles, and put himself into such a heat that he had to throw off his fine saddle. When that was gone, the flies began to plague him so, that he wished earnestly he had his tail again to beat them off. “You are very rightly served,” cried the asses, “to be made smart for your vanity, in prefering the superficial splendour of an unprofitable pomp, to the bounties of Nature and Providence.”
Always recollect, that clothes were first employed to conceal the shame of nakedness.
The performance of your duty ought to constitute your chief pleasure; and it will only render you unhappy, and make you an unprofitable servant if you set your mind upon holy-day-making, and look upon your duty as drudgery and confinement. I do not mean, however, that you are not to be cheerful and happy, or that you are to look demure and sullen, for nothing will be more against your being liked by your employers; and what is of much greater consequence, it is in opposition to the great religious duty of being contented with your lot, and the course which God has appointed you to run.
Neither do I mean that you should never see a friend nor get a single holiday; for how strictly soever your services may be required, some time will always be allowed to visit your relations, or to make what little purchases you may require. One thing I must urge you to attend to when you get permission to visit your friends, and that is, to be carefully punctual not to stay a minute longer than the time which may have been allowed. It will be more to your credit, indeed, to be within, than beyond your time; for whatever may have occurred to detain you, and though it may appear to you a sufficient excuse, yet your story will, for the most part, be listened to with suspicion, and it is unpleasant even to be suspected of trumping up an excuse, as it leads to the notion of your not keeping to the truth - the very worst - next to actual theft, that can be imputed to the character of a young person in your situation.
There is sometimes an agreement for leave to visit friends every six weeks or two months; but where there is nothing of this kind, I advise you not to ask except when you know you can be best spared, for otherwise you will put your employers either to inconvenience, or to the pain of refusal. Even when you have an agreement on this point, you should never press it when you are aware that your absence would produce inconvenience.
We cannot do better than present you with the sensible remarks of Mrs. Taylor on this subject: “to visit your parents and near relations,” says she “is a natural desire; and especially if they are worthy people, such holidays are the pleasantest you can have. But there are fairs, and other places of amusement, which require a word of caution. If a fair were only a few gay stalls, offering to your notice a little fruit and gingerbread, ribbons, and gloves, with perhaps a show of wild beasts, and some music; and if the company were all decent people, who once a-year assembled together to shake hands, and treat each other with a slice of plumb cake, or to purchase some useful article, at that time, which could not be had in their own village or neighbourhood, it might be all very well; but if ever you have been to a fair, you must have perceived that this is not all; what crowds of drunken men are there, who will hardly suffer a modest girl to pass along unmolested! what profaneness and wicked conversation, and lewd songs are to be heard! but, especially, if you have been tempted to see one of their plays, as they are called, one would think that if you have any sense of propriety, you would be deterred from going again. Indeed you may judge of what is going forward within, by that which is seen without. What uncouth figures and shocking grimaces there are, twirling their tambourines, and winding their hurdy-gurdies! what bold and impudent women, who ought not even to be looked at but with a sigh of pity or a frown of disapprobation! and what figures of children, brought up to the same trade, tossed to and fro, and trundling over and over. Do they look like reasonable beings, or can you suppose them to be wise and good, and sober people? They may produce great fun; but fun is a thing that does not always lead to the best consequences; and it is possible to be very happy and cheerful without it. I advise you, therefore, if, after all, you are disposed to visit a fair, that you at least avoid such places as these, where there is much to corrupt, but nothing to instruct you; that you go with decent company; that you do not stay till a late hour, when drunkenness and revelling are at the height; and that you are not too lavish in spending your money, by purchasing unnecessary things because they may seem cheap, or articles which you do not want, for they are bargains only to those who really want them. She who indulges in all the excesses of such a place, is not one whom we should expect to behave well when at home. What has been said relates entirely to country fairs, for a discreet servant would hardly wish to be seen in those which are in or near London.
Instead of spending any spare time you may have from the duties of your situation, in idle frolics, which almost always lead to bad consequences, or in gossiping with your fellow servants, the evils of which I have already pointed out, you should endeavour to employ every minute in improving yourself in such things as you may be deficient in, and in practising what is not sufficiently familiar.
Reading good and useful books is what I would strongly recommend, provided always that you would never allow yourself to spend the time which should be employed in your proper duties, even in reading. But if you are anxious (and I hope you will be so) to gain wisdom, and, as Solomon says, “among all your gettings, to get understanding;” you will find in the busiest day some spare minute to read a page or two of a good book, even though you should steal it from your sleep - in the morning, however, I mean, and never at night; for late watching is as detrimental to health, as early rising is advantageous. “Early rising,” says Trusler, “makes a long day: it is not only a very useful and praiseworthy habit, but a wholesome and healthy one, particularly in the country. That refreshing morning breeze, which we are so sensible of, and charmed with, is owing to the vital air which herbage throws out soon after sun-rise, and is the spring and principle of life. This will repay any one for rising early; and the time gained is another reward. It enables an active servant to get her work done early, and leaves her leisure to say her prayers, work for herself, and read her Bible, or any other book she pleases. Thus two or three hours gained in a morning, from four to seven, is nearly two days in a week; many years in the life of man. Even in Winter, provided a servant be obliged to find her own candle, it is a farthing well laid out; not to work or read in bed, for that may endanger the house and her life, by setting fire to the curtains, bed clothes, &c.; nor should she attempt this on going to rest, lest she fall asleep from fatigue, before her candle be properly put out.”
In recommending reading, however, I must caution you against such books as would not only take up your time unprofitably, but might also tend to corrupt your principles, inflame your worst passions, and make you dissatisfied with your condition. I mean novels, tales, and romances, which have led many a girl to ruin, by drawing fanciful pictures of love and adventures, such as never could have happened. If you wish to be happy, avoid all such, for they will only fill your fancy with vain images, and make you hopelessly wish for miraculous events that never can happen; for it is not once in a hundred years that a rich squire will fall in love with and marry his servant, though it happens every day they will pretend love till the unsuspecting maid is caught in the snare, and ruined for life. The reading of novels and tales, I am quite certain, is usually the forerunner of all such misfortunes.
The books you ought to read, next to those which are calculated to inspire you with pious reflections, and must hold the first place, are such as may give you instruction in the practical duties of your situation. Of these the number is daily increasing, and their utility is keeping pace with their increase. Among others of this description, I shall mention two or three which you may find useful. Mrs. Parkes's Domestic Duties is one of those in which you will find many useful hints; the Art of Beauty, which contains many practical remarks that you could turn to account in dressing and tiring; the Art of Preserving the Hair, which is much fuller upon many of the things necessary for you to know in hair-dressing, than it was possible to insert in this little work; and Mrs. Chapone's Letters, and Dr. Gregory's Advice to his Daughters, together with all the little works of Mrs. Taylor, of Ongar, will be sufficient for a course of reading, such as you will find both interesting and useful.
Another useful mode of filling up your spare time, and the hours which you may steal from sleep by early rising, will be the exertion of your ingenuity in one of the chief duties of your situation - I mean, dress-making. This field is inexhaustible; you may spend your life in contriving improvements, and never get to the end of them. If you are successful in this line, it will establish your character, and give you more influence, and improve your situation, as in that way you may make yourself invaluable. You should always, therefore, investigate every new fashion that comes out till you understand it well, and then think what improvement you could make on it that would enhance its beauty, simplicity, and grace; but before you propose to execute your plan, try it at some spare hour, and see whether it will answer, otherwise you may injure rather than improve, and this will always be much against you in future; whereas, if you try before you commit yourself, you have a much greater chance of success. I know no amusement more interesting, and at the same time more innocent and useful, than this.
As amusements are eagerly sought after for the purpose of procuring pleasure, or with the notion which frequently proves a false one - of increasing happiness, I shall here select a few maxims for your perusal, that may lead you to a better understanding of the nature of happiness, such as we may look for in this sublunary state of trial.
There are two principal diseases of the mind - desire and fear - the first is best subdued by temperance - the second by fortitude. Cut off, therefore, all vain desires, and be contented with the necessaries of life, which are so few and small, that hardly any unkindness of fortune can deprive you of them. On the contrary, if you covet things useless and superfluous, you will not enjoy even those that are necessary; for no place nor kingdom is sufficient for the superfluities of desire, while the mind that is well regulated will be happy in a desert.
Desire nothing but what is within your reach; for if your desires are unreasonable you may be certain of disappointment.
Riches are but cyphers: it is the mind that makes the sum. The desire of having will quickly take away all the delight and comfort of possessing. You never heard that an imperial crown could cure the headache, or a golden slipper the gout; and a fever is as bad on a couch of state as on a flock-bed.
Nobody can be happy that does not stand firm against all contingencies and vicissitudes, and that cannot say in extremities, “I should have been content if it might have been so and so; but since it is otherwise determined, I trust that God will provide for the better.”
Misfortunes are part of the discipline of our state of trial, to fit us for a better life in the mansions above; but it is not required of us to sink under them, but to bear patiently, and when the evil day comes, to creep through those bushes where there are the fewest briars; for they who shrink the least from the storms of fortune, are always in the end the most triumphant.
All the troubles of life, how long soever they may be, have intervals of ease; if short and violent, they either consume themselves or destroy the sufferer, so that either their respite makes them tolerable, or their extremity renders them easy.
The wise look forward to misfortunes, and prevent or provide for them before they come.
When you accompany any of the family with whom you live, to a place of amusement, or upon visits of pleasure, you may enjoy yourself as much as you please, provided that you be attentive, and not forget your duty or appear absent when your services may he wanted, recollecting that it is not for your own gratification that you are there, but for the convenience of others; and nothing will make you more liked and respected than a careful attention to your duty on all occasions of this kind. Particularly avoid making any remarks, or laughing loud at any thing which may occur; for such things will bring you into notice, and that will be disagreeable to the ladies of the party, who have a right to all the notice and attention of those present; and for the time you must consider yourself as nobody, for you are not among your equals in rank and station, where alone your laugh would probably be taken in good part, or your remarks attended to. Observe, then, in silence, whatever is going forward, and reflect within yourself: your mind is your own, and your thoughts are free and cannot be shackled; but it is a different thing altogether with your words and actions.
In such cases, beware, also, of obtruding on the company your opinion of what is going forward, as it will make you appear pert and impudent; and much more if it refer to any remark made by your superiors. Even if you are quite certain that such a remark is either wrong or ridiculous, it is not your part to take any notice of it, or to correct the mistake. You must hear all, and say nothing, otherwise you are almost certain to give offence, for there are very few who like to have their mistakes noticed or corrected, especially by an inferior. If any of the company ask your opinion, or refer to you for information on any point, state what you know with modesty, and without showing that you are glad to be considered of some consequence; and be sure to keep at a respectful distance on such occasions, according to the principles already inculcated in the chapter on Familiarity; for it is in parties of pleasure, and at places of public amusement, that familiarity is most contagious, and may be to you most dangerous.
It will neither be required nor expected of you to speak with the elegance and polish of an accomplished and highly educated lady, nor with the accuracy of a professed governess; but it will add much to your respectability, and will, in most cases, be pleasing to your employers if you avoid vulgar expressions, and gross provincialisms, which are always a mark of low breeding, and may make it suspected that you have kept vulgar company. If you will attend to the remarks which I shall now make, and carefully observe the directions which I shall give, you may avoid the more obvious errors of this kind, without much knowledge of what is called grammar; for this would require more time and study than you could probably spare, and after all would not be, in your station, of particular advantage. I shall first give you one or two general observations, and then such as more particularly apply to the three different parts of the kingdom, England, Scotland, and Ireland.
One of the most common vulgarities, is the use of the words not and none, or no at the same time; as when you say “I have not got none.” The proper expressions would be “I have got none, or I have not got any;” or simply, “I have none, or I have not any,” without the got, which is usually reckoned a vulgar word. Again, you will hear vulgar people say, “I shall not go no more;” but the correct expression is, “I shall not go any more.” The word never must be attended to in the same way, for it is vulgar to say, “I never saw it no more,” or “I never had none of it,” instead of correctly saying, “I never saw it any more,” and “I never had any of it.” I may say the same of the word nothing, which must not be used along with no, none, and never, for it would be vulgar to say, “I did not hear nothing, or “I never heard nothing,” instead of “I heard nothing,” or “I did not hear anything,” or “I never heard anything.”
A little attention and endeavour to correct yourself when you make any mistake in the use of such expressions, will soon make the correct mode of speaking as easy and familiar to you as the vulgar one, and will add, as I have already said, to your respectability. It will be proper, however, to tell you, that you may sometimes fall into mistakes after you are familiar with all which I have now told you, from not observing when you use the word not in a contracted form, as when you say, “It isn't nothing,” or “I can't do none of it,” or “I won't go no more;” all of which you will see, by a little consideration, are vulgar expressions, by using two of the words which should never be employed together.
These contracted forms of speaking are also vulgar, though not so bad as what we have just taught you to avoid. Some contractions, however, are more vulgar than others, for example, “A good 'un,” for “a good one;” “I gave 'em to her,” for “I gave them to her;” are worse than “I can't, or I won't.” But by far the most vulgar of these is the contracted expression for “am not,” “is not,” and “are not,” all of which are vulgarly contracted into “an't;” as when you say, “I an't going,” for “I am not going;” or “an't he at home?” for “is not he at home?” or “an't they come?” for “are not they come?” All these an'ts are very vulgar, and must be carefully avoided in speaking, if you wish to become respectable, and to be looked upon as an intelligent girl, who has not been brought up among low people.
There is one little word which occurs so often, that if it be used improperly is a certain mark of vulgarity, I mean the word them, when it is employed instead of these or those, as when you say “I have done them things now,” instead of “those things;” or when you say, “them colours are very pretty,” for “those colours are very pretty.” The only way in which you can discover this error and correct it, is to try whether you can put those or these, instead of them, and always do so when you can; or it may direct you still better if I tell you never to use the word them just before the name of any thing; such as in the vulgar expressions, “them houses,” “them trees,” “them needles,” “them books;” for the words houses, trees, needles, books, are the names of things, and must never have a them before them. The expression, “do you mean them?” instead of, “do you mean those?” is no less vulgar.
The word for is another of the vulgar class, when employed before the word to, as when you say “I went for to do it,” instead of “I went to do it;” or “she came for to get the muslins,” instead of “she came to get the muslins.”
The word see'd for saw, or seen, ought never to be employed in any way, as when you hear vulgar persons say, “I see'd her,” instead of “I saw her;” or “I have see'd it often,” for “I have seen it often.” The word “see,” without the d to it is also used by the vulgar, as “I see her yesterday, for “I saw her yesterday.” This word see'd, is one of the most vulgar words, and only used by the lowest of the people. I may say the same thing of the word done, when used for did, or have done, as when you say, “I done it yesterday,” for “I did it yesterday;” or “I done it now,” for “I have done it now.”
The next vulgarity which I have to mention, I am not able, I fear, to render quite so plain as the preceding, but I shall try to make you understand it, as it is of the utmost importance in correct speaking. As a general remark then, I may say that when a name includes more than one thing, as in the word houses, or the words they or those, you must not use an s at the end of the word following it. For instance, it is vulgar to say, “the needles is bad,” instead of “the needles are bad;” or “they looks rusty,” for “they look rusty.” It is the s at the end of look which makes it, in this case, vulgar. The words I and you, also, must not have an s at the end of the words following either of them; for it is very vulgar to say “I is going to town,” instead of “I am going to town;” or “I says to him,” for “I say to him;” or”you be's the very person,” for “you are the very person.” You must never, then, according to this remark, say “the streets is dirty,” for “the streets are dirty;” nor “the men who works in the garden is going,” for “the men who work in the garden are going;” or “women easily believes a fair speech,” for “women easily believe a fair speech.” It will require long and careful attention to practice this correctly, as there is scarcely a sentence which you utter that you may not commit mistakes of this kind; but as it is perhaps the most important of all the others, a little care will be well bestowed in avoiding the errors just pointed out.
On the same principle, it would be no less incorrect and vulgar to omit the s at the end of words following the name of a person or a thing, where only one individual person or thing is meant. You may find it somewhat difficult to comprehend this; but a few examples will help you to apply the rule to correct any mistake you may fall into; and it will help you also to understand it, if you consider it as the reverse of what I have just told you about the incorrect use of the s after names of persons or things, where more than one individual is included. Let us take the former examples, then, and it will be no less incorrect and vulgar to say “the needle look rusty,” instead of “the needles look rusty,” than to say “the needles looks rusty,” which is wrong, as I told you above. All such expressions as “it do,” “he do,” “she do,” are extremely vulgar; and should be “it does,” “he does,” “she does,” because the s is to be used when only one person or thing is talked about, but not when there are more than one. I may remark, indeed, that these vulgar expressions, “it look well,” “she make a good servant,” “he like to go,” are rather peculiar to some parts of England; while the incorrect expressions, “the streets is dirty,” “the dresses is badly made,” are common to the uneducated and vulgar classes in all parts of the three kingdoms.
Nothing is more common and more offensive to the ears of those who are well educated, than the following very incorrect expressions for instance, “more greater,” “most beautifulest,” “more prettier,” “most commonest,” and hundreds of others of a similar kind. I do not know any plainer direction I can give you for avoiding this, than telling you that you should in no case use the word “more,” if the following word ends in r; nor the word “most,” if the following word end in st. The “more,” also, must not stand before word “worse.” You are to remark, however, that you may employ the word “more” by leaving out the r the following word, and in the same way you may use the word “most,” by leaving out the st of the following word. For it will be equally correct to say, “this is the prettier of the two,” and “this is the more pretty of the two;” and also, “this silk is the most beautiful,” and “this silk is the beautifulest.” You may also say correctly “this is worse than the more common sort,” or “than the commoner sort;” but you must never say, as the vulgar always do, “this is more worse than the more commoner sort.”
It is likewise a great mark of vulgarity to affect hard terms and long sounding words, for unless you are a very good scholar indeed, you will in many cases misapply them, and render yourself ridiculous. The best rule in this case is never to employ any word which you do not thoroughly understand, and with which you are not quite familiar. If you neglect this caution, and eagerly endeavour to show your acquirements, by introducing every strange word which you may hear from your employers or their visitors, you cannot fail to become a butt for the jests of all who observe your affectation of fine speaking. You may thus hear people say, “tremenduous,” instead of “tremendous,” “genus,” instead of “genius”,” &c. &c.
It is no less vulgar to show a fondness for any particular word, and repeat it on all occasions, frequently in the most inappropriate manner. You may, for instance, observe that many persons will repeat the words vast and vastly in almost every sentence which they utter. They will as readily say “vastly little,” as “vastly great,” though the first is both vulgar and nonsensical. I once knew a tradesman at a fashionable watering-place, who had picked up the word “elegant;” which he applied, without distinction, to every thing, and talked as often of “elegant weather,” or “an elegant day,” as of “an elegant coach,” to the no small amusement of many of his customers, who laughed heartily at his affectation. The words “terrible,” and “frightful,” and “horrid,” and many others of a similar kind, are frequently applied, by vulgar people, in the same way, to things which are the very reverse of terrible or frightful.
Exclamations which mean nothing, are equally vulgar when repeated, as many persons are in the habit of doing: I mean such as “goodness me!” “my goodness!” “la, madam!” and hundreds of others of the same kind. You may have observed, if you have ever read a story or a play, that the vulgar characters are always marked by the continual repetition of some words of this kind; and it ought, therefore, to be your care not to contract a habit of repeating such things, for a habit is much sooner acquired than broken off.
To speak loud or bawl, as if every body you spoke to were deaf, is also a common vulgarity, which you should avoid as carefully as the opposite fault of speaking in an affected whisper.
The first vulgarity which I shall point out to you as prevalent among the lower orders in England, from Cumberland to Cornwall, is the practice of ending every thing they say with a question. For instance, instead of saying “the bonnet looks very smart,” an English girl will add the question, “an't it?” or “don't it?” If this practice of ending what is said by a question, were only employed occasionally, and when it appears necessary, it might be proper enough; but when it is repeated every time a person speaks, as you may observe is the case among the ill-educated all over England, it becomes extremely vulgar. You may thus hear a person say, “I went very quick, did'nt I?” or “I always do, don't I?” or “Susan worked that very well, didn't she? she is a good girl, an't she? and I am very kind to her, an't I?” You must carefully avoid this vulgar practice of ending what you say with a question, if you are desirous of speaking correctly.
Another vulgarity peculiar to England is the use of the word on for of in a very great number of instances. I cannot point out this error to you in all cases, but if you attend to the examples which I shall give you, it will not be difficult for you to discover the error in most of the circumstances in which it occurs. You may hear persons, for example, say “five was the number on'em,” instead of “five was the number of them;” Or “rouge is the name on it,” for “rouge is the name of it;” or “I can't say nothing on't,” for “I can say nothing of it.”
The use of the word “as” instead of “that,” you must also avoid; for example, in the vulgar expression “she wan't here as I knows on,” instead of “she was not here that I know of.” This word “as” indeed should never be employed before “I” except in the meaning of “when;” for example, it is correct to say, “as I was going to town I met Mrs. B.” which means “when was going to town;” but it would be wrong to say “she was not at church as I know of,” because in this expression “as” does not mean “when;” and should, in correct speaking, have been “that.”
Still more vulgar than either of these is a certain use of the words there and here, along with that and this, as when it is said “that there house,” instead of “that house,” or “this here book,” instead of “this book.” You may, however, without impropriety say “this book here,” or “that house there;” but never, “this here” nor “that there.”
The use of the word lot or lots, for number or quantity, is also a mark of vulgarity, in speaking which you ought to avoid. The expressions “lots of things,” or “a great lot of things,” are of this kind, and you should say “a number of things,” or “a great number of things.” It will not, however, be remarked as vulgar, though you say “a quantity of people;” but I may tell you that it is incorrect and you ought to say “a number of people”
One of the very common vulgarities prevalent in England is a peculiarly awkward way of bringing in the name of a person at the end of a sentence, with the words “is” or “was” before it. I cannot describe this more intelligibly, except by an example; for instance, you may hear an ill educated girl say “she was very kind to me, was Mrs. Howard,” instead of correctly saying “Mrs. Howard was very kind to me.” Again, “he is a very worthy man, is Mr. Howard,” instead of “Mr. Howard is a very worthy man.” I say that such expressions are not only vulgar but uncouth and awkward, and more like the blunders of a foreigner than a person speaking in her mother tongue; yet nothing is more common than this awkward vulgarity, which I expect you will never commit after it has been now pointed out to you.
Using the word “lay” instead of “lie,” however common it may be, is decidedly incorrect and vulgar. Thus, to say “the silk lays on the table,” instead of “the silk lies on the table,” or “the book laid on the shelf,” instead of “the book lay on the shelf,” are quite vulgar; though sometimes used by those who ought to know better. “The gauze lays on the sofa,” “she lays in bed,” “the child lays ill of smallpox,” are all vulgar; as well as “I saw it lay there yesterday,” or “it laid there yesterday.” In all such cases “lays” should be “lies;” “lay” should be “lie;” and “laid” should be “lay.”
The manner in which certain words are pronounced is also a very evident mark of vulgarity. One of the most remarkable instances of this kind in England is the sounding of an r at the close of words ending in a or o, as when you say “idear” for “idea,” or “fellor” for “fellow,” or “windor” for “window,” or “yellor” for “yellow.” This is extremely difficult to be corrected when once it has become a habit; and so regularly does it follow in every word of similar ending, that you may hear persons say “Genevar” for “Geneva,” as commonly as children say “mammar” and “papar.”
The natives of London are supposed to commit the greatest mistakes with regard to the sounds of v and w, and in the sounding or not sounding of the letter h properly; but these mistakes are not always confined to London, but may be met with in every part of England. A person who is in the habit of making such mistakes, will talk of a “wery 'igh vindow” for a “very high window,” or of a “hold hoak table” for an “old oak table,” or of “pretty blue heyes” for “pretty blue eyes.” The best way of conquering this vulgarity, and indeed of most of those which I have pointed out, is to make out a list of the words of which you are apt to mistake the correct use, and repeat them frequently till you are familiar with them all. If you have any friend who will assist you in the task, your labour will be greatly facilitated, and you will be more confident of your own correctness.
Such are a few of the English vulgarities. I could easily enumerate many more, but my object is not so much to make you a fine speaker, as to guard you against the more common mistakes which will cause you to be taken notice of.
The greater number of the remarks introduced above, under the head of common vulgarities, will be found of great advantage to you, if you are a native of Scotland. In this case it will not be required nor expected that you shall change your accent, which will seldom appear vulgar unless you commit mistakes in the choice or use of words. If you attempt to change your accent, and speak as you may imagine very fine, you are almost certain to make yourself ridiculous. You may thus hear natives of Scotland talk of “a cyippy of verses” for “a copy of verses.” “He commended the men to put his hend on the beck of the bleck horse,” for “He commanded the man to put his hand on the back of the black horse.” It would be far less vulgar to speak in the broadest Scotch, than to mince the words in this affected manner. To say a “bleck lemb” for a “black lamb,” and “min” for “men,” is an affected vulgarity of the same kind. The words “back” and “black,” indeed, as well as “fat,” and most of the words spelt with an a, you are certain to pronounce wrong if you attempt to imitate the English accent, and you had much better pronounce them broad as you have been accustomed to do; for affectation will always appear more vulgar than the plainest and broadest provincial accent.
I shall here mention a few of the more common vulgarities committed by natives of Scotland in their attempts to speak like their neighbours in the South.
|A bit paper||A bit of paper|
|A burial||A funeral|
|Behind the time||Too late|
|The clock is behind or before||The clock is slow or fast|
|Gloves not marrows||Gloves not fellows|
|I got it in a complement||I got it in a present, or as a gift.|
|Close the door||Shut the door|
|Below your clothes||Under your clothes|
|I go the day||I go to-day|
|The milliner's account||The milliner's bill|
|A drink of beer||A draught of beer|
|In my favours||In my favour|
|Foot of the table||Lower end of the table|
|I feel or find a smell||I smell|
|A servant's fee||A servant's wages|
|She cast it up to me||She upbraided me with it|
|What airt is the wind||How is the wind|
|She is badly or poorly||She is sickly, or in bad health|
|A Chapman||A Hawker|
|A Huckster||A Chandler|
|It hurted me||It hurt me|
|I am hopeful not||I hope not|
|Half six o'clock||Half-past five|
|Five minutes from six||Five minutes to six|
|Come here||Come hither|
|He was lost in the pond||He was drowned in the pond|
|Her linens are fine||Her linen is fine|
|I lay my account with it||I expect it|
|I will go the morn||I will go to-morrow|
|Show me it||Show it to me|
|She was married on him||She was married to him|
|She misguides her clothes||She abuses or sullies her clothes|
|A misguided girl||A misled girl|
|A milk-cow||A milch-cow|
|Going to my dinner||Going to dinner|
|Monday first||Monday next|
|The neck of the gown||The collar of the gown|
|I got it for half nothing||I got it very cheap|
|I have the place in my offer||I have the place in my choice|
|It is a great odds now||It is a great change now|
|She took the pox||She was seized with small pox|
|To plenish a house||To furnish a house|
|Pens||Quills (quills are pens when made)|
|Give me a clean plate||Give me a plate|
|A piece cheese||A piece of cheese|
|The child roars||The child cries|
|I reckon it will||I think it will|
|Roasted cheese||Toasted cheese|
|I have severals||I have several|
|Sore eyes||Weak eyes|
|A sore head||A headache|
|Some better||Somewhat better|
|Scarce of money||Short of money|
|Up the stair||Up stairs|
|The church was throng||The church was crowded|
|I am very throng||I am very busy|
|I had the cold and the fever||I had a cold and a fever|
|I weary to stay||I become weary to stay|
|Butter and bread||Bread and butter|
|Cheese and bread||Bread and cheese|
The phrase “by the bye” is also peculiar to Scotland, and should be avoided. The list might be greatly extended, but this specimen will tend, I hope, to direct your attention to the subject, and if you are attentive you will soon be able to write out a more ample one for your own use. I must not forget, however, to put you right with respect to two little words which frequently occur, and are almost uniformly blundered by natives of Scotland when they try to speak fine - I mean the words “door” and “floor,” which they pronounce with the sound of u, as if they rhymed with poor, but in England they are always pronounced with the sound of long o, and rhyming with bore. The broad Scotch pronunciation, therefore, of “door” is right, while (as it usually happens) the affected or vulgar-genteel one is wrong. The words “habit,” “tepid,” “wax,” “bed,” “leg,” “dog,” &c. should be sounded very short, and “road,” “abroad,” &c. very long. To say “fut” for “foot,” is very bad.
The first vulgarity which I shall remark as peculiar to Ireland is, that instead of answering a plain question, simply by “yes” or “no,” they use a different mode of expression, which will be best explained by examples; thus, if you say to an Irish servant, “Is your mistress at home?” The answer will be, “she is,” instead of “yes.” Put the question, “does it rain to-day?” and the answer will be, “it does,” or “does not,” instead of “yes” or “no.” I do not mean to say that this manner of answering is always wrong, but when it is made a uniform practice of, it becomes a vulgarity that is soon noticed in England.
The words “entire,” “entirely,” used for “the whole,” and “altogether,” are quite Irish and vulgar. Thus, an Irish servant will say, “I have brought the entire of it,” instead of “I have brought the whole of it;” - and “it is impossible entirely,” instead of “it is altogether impossible.”
The word “invite” for “invitation” is also a vulgar Irish expression; for example, “I got an invite to visit her,” instead of “I got an invitation to visit her;” or “she gave me the invite to come,” instead of “she gave me an invitation to come.”
A vulgar expression very common in Ireland, and extremely offensive to an English ear, is used in inquiring after the character of a person; thus, instead of saying “what sort of a girl is she?” The Irish question is, “what kind is she?” This expression must be carefully avoided, as it is only used by the uneducated.
It is more, however, in the pronunciation of particular words, than the use of peculiar words that Irish vulgarity is remarkable, and I shall therefore direct the attention of the reader to this point. The first vulgarity of this kind which I shall mention is peculiar to the South and West of Ireland, and consists in not sounding th in such words as “three,” “through,” “throne,” “throat,” “thirty,” “thread,” “thrift,” &c. which are pronounced “tree,” “trough,” “trone,” “troat,” “tirty,” “tread,” trift,” &c. This vulgarity is not committed in the North and East of Ireland.
It is common, however, to the whole country to use the long open sound of a, as it is pronounced in the words hate, fade, and fare, in many words which should have the sound of long e, as pronounced in the words deer, mere, bleed. What is worse, the two sounds are almost uniformly confounded by those who try to speak correct English. A few examples will show the error.
|Words as Spelt||Vulgar Irish Sound||Correct English Sound|
Both the natives of Ireland and Scotland sound the r very rough and jarring, and can seldom cure themselves of it, while the natives of London and some parts of England go into the opposite extreme, and as incorrectly leave it out altogether; thus, “card” is pronounced “cawd,” “girl” is pronounced “ghell.”
The word “character” is in all parts of Ireland pronounced vulgarly, as if it were written “chareck-ter.” In Scotland the word “success” is vulgarly pronounced with the force of the voice on the first syllable, whereas it should be on the second.
With respect to the names of persons, it is affected and vulgar to say “Louysa,” instead of “Loueesa;” or “Christyna,” instead of “Christeena;” or “Alexender,” instead of “Alexander.”
In adopting the character of a Lady's Maid, you will naturally desire and look out for a good place, by which most servants mean high wages and little to do; but I advise you to look also to the respectability of the family, and to the prospect you may have of being comfortable, as the one will be of great advantage to your character, and the other will be of more advantage than money or idleness. I mention this that you may look forward upon your making an engagement to a continuance of your situation, for many evils and inconveniences attend changes, as I shall show you. But suppose that you are once in place, it must be a very bad one indeed if you cannot make it good by a little management; for the more you endeavour to please your employers, (and endeavouring to please will always succeed) the kinder they will be to you. Be advised then to try this, and if you are unsuccessful in a few months, it will then be time enough to change.
Your character, recollect, is your fortune - your all - therefore you must not only be particular about the respectability of those with whom you live, but you must try to gain their good-will and esteem, that if through any cause you have to leave, you may obtain the best recommendation from them. This you cannot expect, however, if they have only known you a few months; and consequently the longer you can keep in a respectable place, the higher will your character stand; for it is a good recommendation, independent of every other, that you have lived several years in a respectable family without changing. The consideration of this ought to make you put up with many things that you may not exactly like. But you must recollect that there is no place whatever where every thing will be as you wish it, and this ought to make you bear with many little things that are not so agreeable: a new place may have many more unpleasant things than your present one. Besides, what appears unpleasant at first, because it is strange to you, may afterwards by habit be very different.
These considerations will, I hope, prevent you from being impatient to better yourself, as it is called, and being constantly looking out for a new situation. If you indulge in this fidgetty disposition, you will not only injure your character, but you will never be able to save a penny; for as the proverb justly says, “A rolling stone gathers no moss;” and unless you have endeared yourself to your employers by continuing with them steadily for some years, you cannot expect, and have no claim to their assistance if you should fall into a long illness, or when old age overtakes you.
In some cases it will depend much on your attention whether you please your employers and are continued in your situation. In other cases it will depend on the knowledge you possess before entering. You should never therefore undertake at your engagement, to do any thing which you know you do not well understand, or are incapable of doing, for this will often insure your speedy discharge, and will only expose you to disgrace and disappointment.
I hope you will never think of being treacherous enough to secure a new place before you have given warning to quit the one you are in; for it is using your employers very unhandsomely, and may cause them to speak of you in such a way as may afterwards be of material disadvantage to you.
Should you come to the determination to leave, never give warning while in a passion, or when you have done wrong and been blamed for it; or though you should be falsely or rashly accused of what you are not guilty. It will be more prudent to wait till you are cool, and have taken at least one night to consider of it; for by being rash and hasty, you may lose a good place. The notion of showing spirit, as it is very improperly called, has in this way been of great disadvantage to many: it is a much greater triumph in the sight both of God and man, to subdue passion and ill-temper, than to let it loose, to the injury not only of ourselves, but of those with whom we live.
In giving warning, therefore, if asked your reasons, mention these modestly and firmly, without ill-nature or passion, and perhaps an explanation may become agreeable to all parties, and you may not have to leave at all. One consideration you should always remember, particularly if you wish to leave, because you think your wages too low - I mean the loss you may sustain by getting no wages at all during the time you are out of place before you get another; for though you have a few pounds saved, that will not go far when you have to maintain yourself and have every thing to purchase. Besides, you must calculate that you will most probably lose the friendship of your employers - a loss, as we have shown you, of great moment, and you will have to begin afresh, and labour for the same number of months and years before you acquire ah equal share of the good will of your new employers - like the traveller, as Mrs. Taylor says, who turns back every few steps, and begins his journey again, vainly hoping thus to reach the end of it.
Never give your ear or your countenance to those malicious gossiping persons, who would put you up against your situation, by telling you all manner of stories of the family; for it is a thousand to one that such stories are untrue, or at all events very much exaggerated. I must also caution you against speaking ill of any place which you may have quitted, for that can do you no manner of good, and may do you much injury; while it also, if it should come to their ears, will probably hurt the feelings of the family. To do any thing like this from revenge, also, is a very bad and unchristian spirit.
If you should have any proposals of marriage made to you while in place, beware of carrying on any secret correspondence, or of stolen assignations; for if these are discovered by the family, and it will be next to impossible to conceal them - your character may suffer. It will be much better to muster courage to tell your mistress at once, and if she is a prudent and reasonable woman, she will not refuse her sanction, provided she be satisfied of the honourable intentions and respectability of your lover, of which also she will probably be a better judge than you, and may save you from an improper connexion, or aid you in establishing yourself respectably. By acting in this manner, you will be safer, and your character will not suffer, whereas the concealment of such things often leads to many bad consequences.
Having thus instructed you in most of the requisites of a proper and polite behaviour, as well as given you the first rules of good principles in conduct, I shall leave you to perfect yourself in these indispensible acquirements, by careful observation and daily practice, and proceed to the second part of my plan, which, by many I have no doubt, will be considered the only part worth perusal.
I intend in this part to give particular instructions and receipts for all that belongs to the toilette, the wardrobe, and the getting up of lace, gauze, and fine linen, which are the things usually required of lady's maids; and a few hints with respect to dress-making may not be out of place, though you cannot get much knowledge of these things by book, without seeing them done by others, and much practice by yourself. This remark, indeed, will apply to almost every thing in this part of my book, for though you may think you understand a thing ever so well by reading about it, you will find when you try, that it is a very different thing to follow the directions given without a little practice; just in the same way as you may understand a particular step in dancing, and know when you see it well done, though you cannot pretend to perform it yourself so well as you would like.
I would caution you, therefore, not to be disappointed if my directions do not quite come up to your expectations, nor to think them altogether useless, and throw them aside; for you will find many things which cannot fail to be of the greatest use to you, provided that you attend to them in practice. Some of the directions have been derived from long experience; and most of the receipts are from the best authorities, both in this country and on the Continent, particularly in France. Without farther prefacing, then, I shall proceed with my instructions for dressing and the toilette.
As there is a fashion in the colours, as well as in the forms of dress, and as every colour does not suit every complexion, it becomes a most important point to determine how far a fashionable colour is to be adopted, when it tends to injure rather than improve the beauty of the complexion. Nothing connected with dress, indeed, will more unequivocally display a lady's taste than proper choice of colours, and it will therefore be of great advantage to you to study carefully the principles upon which this propriety of choice is founded. The following hints on this subject may be of use to direct your observation, but unless you observe with attention the effects really produced on different complexions, by different colours, all that you can learn from mere reading will be of little avail.
With respect to the colours themselves, in order to be beautiful, they must not be dusty nor muddy, nor of a strong glaring kind. Those, says the eloquent Burke, which seem most appropriated to beauty, are the milder of every sort - light greens, soft blues, weak whites, pink reds, and violets. If, however, they are strong and bright, they must be diversified, and never of one strong predominant colour. In nature there are always such a number of them, as in variegated flowers, that the strength and glare of such is considerably modified and softened. If again we observe the colours of a fine complexion, we shall find a delicate variety, though neither the red nor the white strong and glaring, but mixed in such a manner, and with such gradations of imperceptible shading, that it is impossible to fix the bound1. In every individual pink or rose also, whether its predominant colour be white, yellow, or red, there are infinite varieties and gradations of tint produced, not only by the different degrees and modifications of light and shadow, but by the various reflected lights which one leaf casts upon another. When, on the other hand, many sorts and varieties of flowers are brought together in a nosegay, it requires all the skill and judgment of a Vanheuysum to arrange and combine them into a rich and splendid picture. If the transitions of colour be too violent and sudden, and the contrasts of light and shadow too violent and abrupt, the effect will be harsh, dazzling, and unpleasing; while, if they be too monotonous and feeble, the effect will be flat, insipid, and too uninteresting to please. It is on this principle of variety, and to a certain degree of irregularity, that painters delight not only in irregular trees, but irregular buildings and ruins, which afford more varieties of tint, and a more luxuriant play of light and shadow than any regular combination of paints can produce. So far therefore as colours are involved, a water spaniel, to use the words of Mr. P. Knight, of the kind which Weenix so often painted, is more beautiful than a zebra; for his long curling hair affords more play and variety of light and shadow, and the brown and white colours are distributed into a variety of masses instead of regular stripes2.
As a shifting pain, says Lord Kaims, is more tolerable, because change of place contributes to variety, and still more in intermitting pains, by suffering other objects to intervene; so any single colour often returning becomes unpleasant; as may be observed in viewing a train of similar apartments in a great house painted with the same colour, or in hearing the prolonged sound of a bell. Colour and sound also, when varied within certain limits, though without any order, are pleasant, witness the various colours of plants and flowers in a field, and the various notes of birds in a thicket. Increase the variety of colours, crowded upon a small canvass, or in quick succession, and the effect is bad; but may be improved by putting the colours at a greater distance from each other.
Fashion, however, it must he confessed, gives a character to the reigning colours considerably different from that which it naturally possesses. For you may have observed, that fashionable colours, when they first come in, are all often disliked till we become familiar with them, or have seen them worn by high rank, and consequently associate them with the character of the wearers, for fashion and magnificence. We feel, says an elegant author, a kind of disappointment when we see such a colour for the first time on those who regulate the fashions, instead of that used to distinguish them; and this will even occur, although the colour should be such as in other subjects we consider as beautiful, our disappointment still overbalances the pleasure it might give; a few weeks, however, or a few days, alters our opinion; as soon as it is generally adopted by those who lead the public taste, and has become in consequence the mark of rank and elegance, it immediately becomes beautiful.
Now this, it may be remarked, is not confined to colours that in themselves may be agreeable; for it often happens, that the caprice of fashion leads us to admire colours that are disagreeable, and that not only in themselves, but also from associations with which they are connected. One would scarcely believe, on first thinking of it, that the colours of a glass bottle, of a dead leaf, of clay stone, and the like, would ever be beautiful; yet within a few years, not only these, but some much more unpleasant colours that might be mentioned became fashionable and were admired. As soon, however, as the fashion changes - as soon as those, whose rank or accomplishments give this fictitious value to the colours they wear, think proper to desert them, so soon the colour that has been so admired is declared vulgar and intolerable. A new colour succeeds - a new disappointment attends its first appearance; its elegance is gradually acknowledged, and the colour previously the favourite, sinks into neglect and contempt.
All this, however, does not prove that there is no real beauty or elegance in particular colours, or that one colour is not more suitable than another to different complexions. In order to explain this subject thoroughly on sound principles, I shall first venture upon making a simple and easy experiment: take a piece of paper or linen tolerably white, that is, having a tint of yellow or blue which is barely distinguishable. Place this by the side of snow, or any thing of a very pure white, and you will be surprised to find that it looks much less white than you could have imagined before you made the comparison, and the surprise you feel, to find that it appears less white than it was thought, will make you probably conclude that it is not nearly so white as it is in reality. Now, vary your comparison by withdrawing the pure snow white, and putting in its place a deep black, and you will instantly be induced to alter your opinion, and to think that you were mistaken respecting the clearness of the white in the paper, or the linen, which, from contrast with the black, will now appear to be whiter than it really is. Upon this simple experiment the whole art of adapting colours to suit the complexion is founded, and if you once understand it well, and fix it in your mind, you will seldom make any considerable mistake in applying it to practice. It is exactly the same principle, (and this will assist you in recollecting it) that makes the silk mercer set off a fine article; by placing beside it one of inferior quality, and the laceman display the beauty of his patterns, by showing them on a coloured ground, such as pink or black.
This, as a general principle to guide you in your choice of colours, will be of much advantage; but you may be the better also of having a few more particular rules respecting the contrasts and the harmony of colours that are best to select, not only in adapting them to the tint of the complexion, but also in suiting them to one another, as in the important article of trimming, which has more the effect of setting off and enhancing the beauty and elegance of dress, than is generally imagined. The predominant principle of colour in a dress ought, therefore, always to contrast or harmonize as much as possible with the complexion; the colour of the trimmings ought in the same way to, contrast or harmonize tastefully with it. The rules of the contrasts and harmonies of colours as derived from nature, and recognized by painters, who, from the nature of their studies, are the best judges of colours, are the following:- yellow, red, and blue, are contrasts in all their shades, and the harmonizing tints are discovered by the union of two of them. These colours have different qualities; blue is of a cold unassuming nature; yellow illuminates, and red warms; yellow and blue form green; yellow and red form orange, and blue and red produce violet; and, though yellow, blue, and red, as I have observed, are contrasting colours, yet still greater contrasts to each may be procured by the union of two of them; for instance, blue and red form violet, and violet is the greatest contrast to yellow. The other intermediate colours, also, of green and orange, form the greatest contrasts to red and blue.
Grey and black are contrasts to white; yellow and a yellowish green, the harmonizing tints; yellow and a deep purple are contrasts, with which orange and a pale yellow green harmonize. The deepest blue is the greatest contrast to orange, and the harmonizing tint is red: but bright red must be mixed in a very small proportion, and not allowed to interfere, but to be introduced only as a harmonizing principle. Orange and blue, when mixed together, give an olive colour, which may not be unsuitably introduced with the contrasts of blue and orange, as it harmonizes both with red and orange.
Green, graduating from yellow to the deepest shade, has contrasts in red, which should incline to purple when the greens incline to yellow; green, in its deepest shade, is the contrast to bright scarlet; the intermediate colour is red, or very deep scarlet. The colours that are not very unfit to be mixed with these, are orange, blue, a small proportion of yellow, purple, and black.
Light blue is contrasted to orange, and may be subdued by the mixture of black and white, its harmony is deep blue.
The contrast to violet is yellow. The blue, which is a mixture of violet and of white, has its contrast in pale yellow; the intermediate colour is deep purple. Crimson has its contrast, in deep green, and its harmony in violet.
It would be extremely easy from the same principles, to deduce the contrasts and harmonies of all the intermediate shades of colour; but the variety of these is so great - almost infinite indeed - that it would serve no good purpose, and would take up a good deal of room. A little attention will enable you to determine for yourself in cases where any of the mixtures or shades of the colours just mentioned occur.
You are now in some measure prepared to judge of the colours best adapted for particular complexions, of which I shall mention a few of the more obvious, and leave the rest to your own observation and judgment. It may be as well to arrange the varieties of complexions with this view under a few general classes, such as, carnation, florid, fair, pale, sallow, and dark.
 Burke on the Sublime.
 Knight on Taste, p. 85, 4th Edition.
For complexions in which neither the rose nor the lily predominates, you may choose as a harmonizing colour a pale rose, or a fine white, but let not the latter be in such profusion as to throw the tint of the complexion into the shade; its contrasting colours are pink, pale green, and lilac. It will have more effect, however, if the latter are introduced as ornaments, or in trimmings, while the principal dress is of the harmonizing colour. Whatever is glaring or gaudy, will have a bad effect on complexions of a fine carnation. If black or any other dark colour is worn, let it be trimmed with some of the contrasting colours, or its dull effect set off by white, and by brilliants, or other jewels,
As in this kind of complexion, the carnation is too high and obtrusive, it must be your care to select such colours as will tend to diminish it by contrast or comparison. In the experiment of the paper and the linen with the snow, it appeared that the purity of the white in the former was much diminished. In the same manner, if a lady of florid complexion wears, a bright pink, crimson, violet, or purple, and whatever may be the colour in fashion, if she is determined to follow that at all hazards, at least let her ribbons be chosen from some of the shades of bright red or violet; the colours advised above for a fine carnation, would make her florid colour appear much greater than natural, and therefore she must, by all means, avoid pale pink, rose, and lilac, as well as too much white. A coral or garnet necklace will be of great advantage, and also such ornaments and trimming as may be of a brighter or more attractive hue than the high colour of the complexion, which it is by all means requisite to outshine.
By this term, which has by courtesy been long applied to the female sex, I mean the complexion that is distinguished by the delicacy and transparency of the skin, rather than by its fine carnation or its bright colour. The complexion, in a word, which usually accompanies light coloured or red hair, but is seldom met with in those who have auburn or black hair, or who have dark eyes. The French use the term blonde for a complexion of this species. The greatest care ought to be taken then in fair complexions, to set off the tinge of carnation which may be present, and prevent its appearing too white and lifeless, as if it were formed of marble or ivory. For this purpose it will be necessary to choose either very pale colours, or such as are dark, as the one will improve the complexion by comparison, and the other by contrast. It will require attention, however, not to make the contrasts with dark colours too harsh, for in that case the complexion, instead of being improved, will be injured; delicate, green, and lilacs, and in some cases, such as when freckles are abundant on the face, light yellow may be worn with advantage: a pearl necklace will suit well.
The difference between a pale and a fair complexion, is much the same as that between the linen and the snow in the experiment above recommended. In the fair, there is a brilliance and transparency, and at the same time a slight tinge of carnation, which is denied to the complexion that is properly denominated pale. In this complexion, experience dictates that the more pure and bright colours cannot be properly used for dress. All the different shades of grey will be proper, and pale yellows for contrast, with puce and lilac. Black, trimmed with pale rose or pink, will also be proper.
For contrast, all the shades of green and blue will suit this kind of complexion; several shades of red and purple will also be proper; but if grey, black, or dusty colours be worn, they will cause the complexion to appear more sallow, or dark and tanned. Lace, or linen of too brilliant a white, ought to be avoided, and also white dresses, and rose coloured, or light ribbons, as these will harmonize ill with the complexion.
This complexion, which is much admired when accompanied, as it usually is, by dark sparkling eyes and jet black hair, may be suited with bright colours rather than dark, which do not contrast sufficiently with the dark tint of the skin. Yellow, in particular, and orange in all their shades will set off a brunette; and necklaces, bracelets, and other jewels of brilliants, and the more showy species of stones. Pearls, however, are improper, except as hair ornaments.
It is this perfect adaptation of all parts of dress, this harmonizing choice of well assorted colours, that are the peculiar characteristics of refined taste, and it ought to be one of your daily studies to acquire this, as nothing will give you greater value in the eyes of your employers, particularly if they themselves possess discrimination of this sort. And even if they should not be great judges of the art of harmonizing and contrasting colours, they will admire the effect produced, as that will strike the most unskilful eye.
You may remark also, that colours, though contrasted or harmonized according to rule, may be overdone with respect to profusion, and may obtrude themselves too glaringly on the eye, drawing the attention more to the dress than to the person, an error which ought to be most carefully avoided: for you ought never to forget that it is the countenance and the figure which ought to attract, and not this or the other article of dress; when the latter is the effect produced, your art may be said to have completely failed.
It is also of importance to remark, that you may overstep the boundaries of good taste in the number of the colours which you employ; for the fewer that are used, the more simple and graceful will be the effect, whereas many colours, however well assorted, give a taudry and patched air to the whole costume, and put us in mind of a soldier's cockade, composed of red and blue ribbons, a mixture which, though within the painter's rules, does not appear very tasteful in a head-dress, nor in most sorts of trimming. You may sometimes see the same barbarous taste employed in the dress of infants, making the innocent little things appear quite bedizened in misplaced finery.
As this subject is so very important, and will be so very useful for you to be thoroughly acquainted with it, I cannot, even at the risk of a little repetition, withstand the temptation of giving you the following extract, long as it is, from an intelligent author:-
“It is not sufficient” says he “for the skin to be actually beautiful, it must likewise appear so; dress ought to heighten its lustre, or disguise its want of that quality when rather too brown. This object is attained by the selection of colours employed in dress. These colours, when ill assorted, may totally eclipse the charms of the most beautiful carnation; when used with taste they may, on the contrary, enhance the attractions of a very inferior complexion. It is thus that a skilful painter sets off his figures by the colours of the grounds of his pictures; and if the choice of colours for these grounds is considered as a circumstance of the highest importance in painting, it may likewise be affirmed that the selection of colours for dress is highly essential for the exhibition of beauty in its full lustre.
“If a colour appear beautiful in itself, that is not a sufficient reason why it should be made use of in a dress, or adopted by all women. Any colour whatever may be suited to certain persons, and be injurious to the beauty of many others. It is therefore necessary to choose not the colour adopted by the tyranny of fashion, but that which best suits the complexion, and best harmonizes with the other articles of dress with which it is intended to be worn.
“It can scarcely be conceived how much the colour of a robe, or of a shawl, may heighten or destroy the beauty of a complexion and how much so important a circumstance is usually neglected. Is white in fashion? all dress in white; is it black? they all exchange their white for that colour; are yellow ribbons in vogue? all will wear them, and that without consulting either their own colour or complexion; it matters not to them whether they appear brown or pale, black or sunburnt, plain or handsome, or whether they have an engaging or repulsive countenance. Every consideration must yield to the fashion of the day; the great point is, to be in the fashion; and to this tyrant of taste all advantages are sacrificed; women no longer consult their figure, but the whim of the moment.
“It is nevertheless true, that nothing contributes in a more particular manner to heighten the beauty of the skin than the choice of colours. For example, females of fair complexions ought to wear the purest white; they should choose light and brilliant colours, such as rose, azure, light yellow, &c. These colours heighten the lustre of their complexion, which, if accompanied with darker colours, would frequently have the appearance of alabaster, without life and without expression. On the contrary, women of a dark complexion who dress in such colours, as we too frequently see them do, cause their skin to appear black, dull, and tanned; they ought therefore to avoid wearing linen or lace of too brilliant a white; they ought to avoid white robes, and rose coloured or light blue ribbons, which form too disagreeable a contrast with their carnation; and if they chance to be near a fair woman, they will scarcely be able to endure so unpleasant a neighbourhood. Let such persons, on the contrary, dress in colours which are best suited to them; in particular, green, violet, puce, blue, purple, and then that darkness, which was only the effect of too harsh a contrast, will suddenly disappear, as if by enchantment; their complexions will become lively and animated, and will exhibit such charms as will dispute, and even bear away the palm from the fairest of the fair. In a word, fair persons cannot be too careful to correct by light colours the paleness of their complexions; and dark women, by stronger colours, the somewhat yellow tint of their carnation.
“Women of every complexion ought to pay attention to the use of colours. Azure is better suited to a pale tint, and the tender colour of the queen of flowers perfectly harmonizes with the roses of the face; but if the cheeks display rather too lively a carnation, then, sprightly shepherdess, choose the beautiful livery of nature, and by this happy combination, we shall be reminded of the charming flower Adonis, whose elegant foliage is crowned with glowing vermilion.
“Women should not only adopt such colours as are suited to their complexion, but they ought likewise to take care that the different colours which they admit in the various parts of the dress, agree perfectly together. It is in this that we distinguish women of taste; but how many are there that pay no attention to this essential point; we meet every day, for instance, women who have a rose coloured hat and a crimson shawl. Nothing is more harsh than the contrast of colours of the same kind. If to these be added, as is sometimes observed, a light blue robe, the caricature is complete. It would be too long to enter into a detail of the colours which perfectly agree; for this it would be necessary to discuss the nature of colours, their harmony, their oppositions, &c. which would be too tedious for a work like the present.
“We must not omit a very important observation respecting the change of colours by the light. A female may be dressed with exquisite taste, and appear charming in the day time; but at night the effect is totally different and this enchanting dress is quite eclipsed at the theatre or at the ball. Another is charming at night; her taste is extolled. Delighted with these praises, she resolves to shew herself abroad, and her toilette is detestable. To what is this owing? To the choice, or the assortment of colour?
“Thus, crimson is extremely handsome at night, when it may be substituted for rose colour, which loses its charms by candle-light; but this crimson seen by day, spoils the most beautiful complexion; no colour whatever strips it so completely of all its attractions. Pale yellow, on the contrary, is often very handsome by day, and is perfectly suited to people who have a fine carnation; but at night it appears dirty, and tarnishes the lustre of the complexion to which it is designed to add brilliancy. We could adduce many other examples, but it would be difficult to specify all the particular cases; for all these effects depend on different circumstances, as we have already seen; for instance, on the complexion of women, or the greater or less vivacity of their carnation, on their stature, on the other colours employed in their dress, &c. I say, on the other colours employed in their dress, and insist on this remark; for any other particular colour, which alone, or assorted with suitable colours, would appear pleasing, is sometimes rendered ridiculous, unbecoming, or ungraceful, by the contrast with others. Thus, sometimes, a female, who yesterday appeared charming with a hat in an elegant taste, discovers to-day that she is no longer the same, though she has not changed her head-dress. The metamorphosis astonishes her; she finds fault alternately with her hat and her figure. But, dear madam, neither your figure nor your hat is at all to blame, they have not undergone the least change. But why did I look so well yesterday? - Yesterday, madam, the colour of your dress perfectly agreed with that of your hat; to-day a new dress forms a contrast, so harsh as to produce an optical discord as disagreeable to the eye, as a false chord in music is grating to the ear. Put on the dress you wore yesterday, and cease to blame your hat or your charms, neither of which can be in fault.”
Imitations of natural flowers will always be more or less fashionable as ornaments of dress; though nothing can be in worse taste than a profusion of them, particularly when glaring and high coloured. I introduce the subject here, because it is so closely connected with what I have been just teaching you with respect to colours. Are not flowers, it may be asked, the most natural ornament of beauty? Is it not Nature herself that still farther embellishes with her gifts the most perfect of her works? does not the female, who decorates herself with natural flowers, find abundance of ornaments, without having recourse to art? Such are the lovely ornaments used by the rural nymph, and though the opulent and luxurious may sometimes reject with disdain these lovely children of Flora, yet, though the flowers, of the field are thus rejected, Nature has reserved for them two charming thrones, the soft verdant turf, and the snowy bosom of the simple shepherdess. Flowers, indeed, recall so many pleasing ideas, that a handsome woman adds to her attractions when she admits to her toilette these charming children of Spring and Summer.
In speaking of flowers, a very singular whim of fashion should not be forgotten. Some time ago flowers were banished from dress altogether. The humble dark blue violet - the sweet pansy, emblematical of what is rather uncommon - hearts-ease; the golden jonquil with its ambrosial perfume were despised, and ladies looked with disdain on the lily of the valley, and the elegant jasmine, both of which agree so well with the delicate glow of the cheeks, as well as the scented narcissus, whose bending stem seems still to represent the youth enamoured of himself, contemplating his image in the crystal of some limpid stream; and they slighted the brilliant ranunculus, the tufted anemone, the variegated carnation, and the auricula, whose velvet leaves glisten with silver dust, nay, even the rose itself, the image of beauty, and queen of flowers.
And what more charming objects had succeeded flowers? were it not for the known caprice of fashion, it would appear strange indeed to say, though it was the fact that the substitutes were grass, dog's grass, barley, wheat, acorns, &c. During the rage of this fashion, which is still partially adopted, some rather odd occurrences took place. A lady, elegantly dressed, was passing close to a coach which had stopped at the door of a house, when one of the horses turned open mouthed upon her, as if he were going to devour her. And the circumstance was by no means so wonderful, when it is remarked that she wore in her hat a tuft of oats, which the simple horse evidently mistook it for a moving manger, stocked with his natural provender.
It has long been the practice of certain moralists and pretenders to religion to censure dress; but it is of no use to find fault with a propensity interwoven in the very nature of women, and which is in itself a proper and laudable propensity, indicating a love of order and propriety, an esteem for themselves, and a respect for others. Those who have studied the world, have remarked that there is an invariable coincidence between the character and the dress of a person. Indeed, it is extremely easy for an attentive and diligent observer to form an opinion of people by their dress. You may thus be able to distinguish at first sight, the woman of taste by the simple elegance of her dress, equally free from tawdry show and slovenliness; the form becoming the figure; the colours perfectly matched; gracefulness without presumption, and elegance without affectation. In the same way you may distinguish prudery, caprice, vanity, the love of change, and the affectation of singularity.
A popular author has very properly remarked, that those who are naturally attentive to dress, usually display the same regularity in their domestic duties; and young ladies who neglect their toilette, and manifest little concern about dress, indicate in this very particular a disregard of order, a mind but ill adapted to attend to the details of house-keeping, as well as a deficiency of taste, and they will usually manifest a carelessness in every thing. The love of dress is therefore not only allowable, but essentially requisite as an indication of cleanliness, amiableness, and a love of order and regularity, though bad taste and extravagance deserve no quarter.
From this natural love of dress has sprung all the ingenuity exhibited in varying it, which is no less observable in the half naked savage, than in the European lady clad in silks and gold. The Indian beauty, whose whole body is covered with flowers, and the figures of animals delineated in fast colours upon her skin, is as proud of these decorations as an English duchess is of a robe embroidered by a fashionable milliner; and the negress of Zanguebar, who wears a bell about her neck, does so only in conformity with the fashion, as one of our dashing belles suspends from it a medallion encircled with brilliants.
The true principle of taste is, that dress should be to beauty what harmony in music is to melody. It ought to set it off to advantage, and to enhance its lustre, but never to cover or disguise it. Luxury in dress, to follow out the same comparison, is like luxuriance in musical accompaniments, which, so far from giving greater effect to the voice of the singer, only serves to drown it. The toilette also, like an accompaniment in music, ought to harmonize with the person it is intended to embellish. It ought to vary according to the stature, the figure, the features, the physiognomy, the colour of the complexion, and of the hair, and to be modified according to age, condition, and character. It would be as absurd to dress all women in the same manner, as to sing every tune with the same accompaniment.
That the dress ought to be adapted to the wearer, is well known to women of taste, and accordingly they are cautious not to follow any new fashion which would detract from their beauty, or which would not disguise any little natural defect. They are wise enough to consult their own persons and figure rather than fashion, and to invent rather than to imitate; and when the imagination has been guided by taste, and an attention to the figure, not by caprice and fashion, its productions cannot fail to appear handsome and elegant. It is this indeed that distinguishes the woman of taste from those who, regardless of the adaptation of fashion to their persons, eagerly adopt every new whim that comes into vogue.
Fashion, according to this limited signification, is the kind of dress which sometimes is admirably suited to certain figures, and hence all are anxious to have it, under the vain hope that it will become them equally well: it is the robe, for example, which exhibits all the defects in the figure of lady L. but which lady L. is determined to wear, because it enchantingly displays the fine form of the Duchess of B. This being the case, how many contrasts does not a delicate eye perceive between the persons and the dress of women who are the slaves of fashion? In one case, it is a young lady whose arm should have been prudently concealed by the covering of a discreet sleeve, but who, in obedience to the fashion, displays it naked, and exhibits the ominous spectacle of a skeleton-like leanness; in another case, it is, a robe, cut down too low, exhibiting too prominently the deficiencies of the contour. It would be easy to give innumerable examples of similar bad taste, and the absurd tyranny of fashion; and it will not excuse the anomaly to say, because fashion changes so very often, the simple and elegant forms are already exhausted, that makes it necessary to have recourse to those which are discordant to taste.
As it is quite impossible for me to give you instructions in writing respecting every particular form of dress which may or may not agree with the laws of taste, I shall here introduce a few notices of the fashions which have in this respect prevailed in former times, both in our own country and in France, from which you may learn more than from dry rules, inasmuch as example is more powerful than precept.
In the twelfth century, the French costume was a simple tunic or robe, fastened with a girdle, and a mantle and veil. From the girdle was suspended a purse, exactly like the reticules of the present day. In the reign of Louis VIII. the mantle was, by a royal decree, made the distinguishing mark of married women. The daughters of Louis IX. wore petticoats of such length, that when they walked, they were obliged to hold them up before. During the reign of Philip IV. the stomacher was introduced, which was afterwards retained by the nuns; but in the reign of Charles V. and Queen Isabel of Bavaria, young, beautiful, and gallant, a luxury was displayed till then unknown, as no queen had ever appeared so richly dressed. She first introduced the fashion of naked shoulders and neck. The women of those days, likewise, wore gowns with slashed sleeves, which hung down to the very ground. In the reign of Charles VIII. the fashion of white satin gowns was introduced by the queen, who wore one on her wedding day; but on the king's death, she assumed the black veil, which was adopted by all the ladies of the Court, though they soon tired of this dismal colour and adorned their veil with red and purple fringes, and sometimes with pearls and gold clasps.
It was about this period that France began to assume the sceptre of fashion, which she has ever since retained, though England is now become a formidable rival. Anne, of Bretagne, loved splendour, and drew females to the Court, and rivalry led to superior elegance in apparel, but a less modest fashion of dress. But it was not till the reign of Francis I. that the most ridiculous fashion that ever spoiled the shape of woman was introduced, which, under the name of vertugadins or farthingales, continued so long a disgrace to the taste of those who adopted them. The farthingale was a kind of petticoat extended by hoops, which grew larger and larger towards the bottom, so that the body of a woman, from the waist to the feet, resembled a bee-hive. Claude, of France, the wife of Francis I. is the first female represented in the national monuments with this ridiculous petticoat. This increased to so great an extreme in the reigns of Charles IX. and Henry III., that a standard for them was fixed by, royal authority, and by the edict of Blois dated 1506, it is forbidden to all women to wear farthingales of more than an ell, or an ell and a-half in circumference. But notwithstanding this, and the denunciations of the Carmelite friars from the pulpit, the farthingales kept increasing in their dimensions.
In the reign of Henry IV. appeared the prodigious ruffs, invented in Spain to conceal the wen, which is there endemial. The hoops became larger than ever. Margaret, of France, wore so large a ruff, that M. de Fresne remarked in her Majesty's presence, that he was astonished how men and women who wore such enormous ruffs could eat soup without spoiling them. The queen made no reply, but a few days afterwards, having on a very large ruff, and bouillie to eat, she directed a spoon with a very long handle to be brought, and by this means eat her soup without soiling her clothes. Having finished, she turned to M. de Fresne, “There,” said she, “you see that with a little contrivance a remedy may be found for every thing.” Hoops came gradually into disuse, but only to be afterwards revived under the new name of paniers, and of greater dimensions than ever; for we are informed in the Mercure de France, that wives of mechanics, and even the very servant maids would not go to market without hoops, and they had swelled to such a size, as to be three ells in circumference. I shall introduce other particulars of the French fashions in the chapter on head-dresses.
It is supposed, that the reign of Mary was the aera of ruffs and farthingales in England, a fashion that was introduced from Spain. A blooming virgin in that age seems to have been more solicitous to hide her skin, than a shrivelled old woman is at present. The very neck was generally concealed. The arms were covered quite to the wrists, and the petticoats were worn long. Elizabeth was passionately fond of the splendours of dress, and it is a question among the learned, whether jewels, velvets, satins, and rich decorations were not more abundant among the upper ranks in that age than at present. As no woman, says Hume, was ever more conceited of her beauty than Elizabeth, or more desirous of making an impression on the hearts of beholders, so no one ever went to a greater extravagance in apparel, or studied more the variety and richness of her dresses. She appeared almost every day in a different habit; and tried all the several modes by which she hoped to render herself agreeable. She was also very fond of her clothes, so that she would never part with any of them, and at her death she had in her wardrobe all the different habits, to the number of three thousand, which she had ever worn in her lifetime. At this time stays and boddices were worn very low waisted. In the reign of James a strong passion for foreign lace was introduced, and the ruff and farthingale still continued to be worn. Yellow starch for ruffs, invented by the French, and adapted to their sallow complexions, was introduced by Mrs. Turner, a physician's widow, who had a principal hand in poisoning Sir Thomas Overbury. This vain and infamous woman went to be hanged in a ruff of that colour, which brought the fashion into discredit.
Trains, which appear to have been introduced in the time of Richard II. are mentioned by Cowley in his discourse on greatness. “Is any thing,” says he, “more common, than to see our ladies of quality wear such high shoes as they cannot walk in without one to lead them, and a gown as long again as their body, so that they cannot stir to the next room without a page or two to hold it up.” In the reign of William III. the dresses were also worn very long and flowing. They flounced their coats, a fashion probably borrowed from Albert Durer, who represented an angel in a flounced petticoat, driving Adam and Eve from Paradise. Hoops were not in fashion, but the commode was employed to add something more than the natural swell, and was thought to give additional grace to the evening train. This has retained its place under different names and different forms, up to our own times. In the reign of queen Anne the large tub hoop made its appearance again, and was apologized for by its being cool in Summer. It was no more a petticoat, says Granger, than the tub of Diogenes was his breeches. Swift, in one of his letters from Ireland, asks, “Have you got a whalebone petticoat among you yet? I hate them.” Yet every thing, it has been remarked, however preposterous, may be useful: Henry IV. of France was saved from assassination by hiding himself under his queen's hoop. The flounces and furbelows were also increased to such a size, as to become enormously ridiculous. Before this time the bosom was entirely exposed or merely shaded with gauze, an indecency that gave great offence to prudent fathers and to old ladies, whose wrinkles forbade imitation. The chemise had a tucker or border, but it seldom concealed what it ought to have hidden. The sleeves were full, and the boddice open in front, and fastened with gold or silver clasps. It was this fashion that caused Mr. Richard Baxter to publish his book, entitled, “A Just Reprehension of Naked Breasts and Shoulders.”
In the reign of George I. Spanish broad cloth, trimmed with gold lace, was used for ladies' dresses; and scarfs greatly furbelowed were worn from the duchess to the peasant, as were riding hoods on horseback, and masks to shield the face from the Summer's sun, and the Winter's wind.
It has from time to time become a partial, though never, we believe, a universal fashion, for ladies to imitate the male costume; but with all deference to those who think otherwise, we hesitate not to say that it is in bad taste. The dress of women ought indeed to differ in every point from that of the other sex, even to the choice of stuffs; cloth, for example, though sometimes indispensible in cold weather, is always less feminine than light muslin, or soft and shining silk. What lady indeed is there, who does not become an elegant robe better than a massive riding dress? This, when only worn by a woman of a tall and commanding figure while actually on horseback, is very becoming, but as a walking dress, or on those who are rather short or corpulent, is out of all taste.
Although I am unwilling to condemn altogether an article of dress so universally worn as stays, corsets, or whatever other name may be given to the stiff casing that is employed to compress the upper parts of the body; yet I think it will be of some importance to point out to you the inconveniences and even the danger to which this may lead. I admit most readily that stays sometimes add to the elegance of the shape, but if this is done at the hazard of injuring the health, the sacrifice will be allowed to be too great; that stays, corsets, and tight lacing do so may be easily shown; at the same time it continues, as Madame Voïart well remarks; a barbarous custom, contrary to good taste and human comfort. In our gardens, when an unskilful workman tightens the band which supports a feeble shrub, we see the plant deprived of the free circulation of the sap, languish and die, and the buds formed on its branches wither for want of nourishment. Tight lacing and stiff stays produce similar effects on the human body, and the younger or the more feeble the individual is, these effects are the more certainly and speedily produced.
A popular author has justly remarked, that the upright position of the body is chiefly preserved by a number of strong fleshy bands or ribbons, called muscles, which both serve to move the different parts of the body, and to hold the bones firmly in their several positions. Taking this under consideration, medical men lay it down as an invariable rule, that if you cause a pressure on any of those muscular bands by means of dress, it will soon diminish in size, and will consequently lose the power of supporting the bones in the natural position, and its functions of producing easy and natural, or, in other words, graceful movements of the parts to which it is attached. This is strongly exemplified in the case of those impostors, who bandage their limbs till they are diminished, frequently to half their natural size, for the purpose of exciting commisseration and extorting charity. All kinds of dress, therefore, which are made so tight as to compress any part of the body or the limbs, and which, by this means, cramps both the free motion of the muscles, and flattens their natural diameter and plumpness of structure, ought to be carefully avoided. Accordingly, stays, corsets, and bands of every description, as well as tight sleeves or garters, must, infallibly, produce mischief, and there is no possibility of avoiding it. The muscles are squeezed, flattened, and prevented from moving; and their healthy tone and fulness give place to contraction, shrivelling, and emaciation. This has the effect of giving the back a twist, throwing the shoulders out of their natural position, contracting the chest, and causing an ungraceful stoop in walking. The great philosopher Locke, who was a medical man, remarks, and most truly, that whalebone stays often make the chest narrow, and the back crooked; the breath becomes foetid, and consumption probably succeeds; and at best the shape is spoiled rather than made slender and elegant, as has been imagined by the inventors.
It is allowed, however, that corsets may be made not only harmless, but beneficial, if they are contrived so as to aid the muscles in support of the body. If they do more than this, and are made to compress the chest and stomach by tight lacing, they become hurtful and destructive.
It has been well remarked in a recent work on the spine, that the unfettered Indian females, and even our own peasant girls in some parts of the country, are strangers to twists and deformities of the shape; and this evidently arises from their having no unnatural dress to restrain their freedom of motion. In conformity with the principles here advocated, M. Portal, a celebrated French physician, found the muscles of the back much larger, redder, and stronger in women who had worn stays, than in those who had never used them. He also remarked, that where women who had worn stays from their youth, leave them off at a certain age for greater comfort, they are sure to become distorted; for the muscles have been so weakened by want of use, that when the artificial props are removed, they are no longer capable, of supporting the body. We laugh, says Dr. Gregory, at the folly of the Chinese ladies, who compress their feet till they are unable to walk, and, at the Africans, who flatten their noses as an indispensible requisite of beauty; but we are still further from Nature, when we imagine that the female chest is not so elegant as we can make it by the confinement of stays; and Nature, accordingly, shows her resentment, by rendering so many of our fashionable ladies who thus encase themselves in steel and whalebone, deformed either in the chest, the shoulders, or the spine.
Instead of this unnatural practice, we should follow the elegant Greeks, the ease and beauty of whose forms are so much admired They put no unnatural straps on their young ladies. All their garments are easy, loose, and flowing. The effect is seen in their every limb, and every motion. On the contrary, it is easy to distinguish at once, among thousands, from their stiff starched awkwardness, the females who have from their youth up been pinioned and tortured by shoulder braces, and stays, and other wicked inventions, (for such they may well be called) to turn beauty into deformity, and the finest figures into ricketty ugliness. Dr. Macartney, of Dublin, says, he has found the fine proportion of the antique statues only in such busts of women who had never worn such restraints on the shape.
When stays, however, are worn, whalebone and steel ought to be prohibited, as certain to produce injury. The stuff of which they are made should be of the most elastic materials that can be procured, in order that it may yield with ease to every motion of the body, without producing injurious compression. Medical men recommend stays of fine white woollen stocking web, doubled, and cut into forms, and instead of whalebone, stripes of jean stitched closely down on both sides, in the places where the whalebones are usually put. These give sufficient firmness, while the elastic web between them admits of the free motion of the body in all directions. The bosom part may be made of jean, for the purpose of supporting the breasts.
A sort of stays, or corset called storphium by the ancient Romans, has been introduced in our times by the French, under the name of the cincture de Vénus, though it is by no means entitled to such an appellation; for, as a foreign author well remarks, by forcing the breasts to remain in a position much higher than natural, it destroys their elasticity and spring, and renders them soft and flat. It is distressing to think that fashion should give currency to an article of dress so injurious, and that the spirit of rivalry which always comes from an evil service, should lead females to sacrifice without regret the elegance of their figure, the grace of their carriage, and their movements, by a dress which renders them at once deformed, ungraceful, and ridiculous. Young ladies who have followed the injurious fashion, may be seen with their breasts displaced from being pushed too high, and frightful wrinkles established between the bosom and the shoulder.
At other times you may see those to whom Nature has denied the roundness of contour requisite for a fine shape, make themselves still more thin and slender by tight lacing, recalling the ungraceful costume of Catherine de Medicis - a ridiculous fashion, by means of which the body, separated into two parts, resembles an ant, with a slender tube uniting the bust to the haunches, which are stuffed out beyond all proportion. At that period when this was the rage, every body of good sense exclaimed against it. The whalebone cases, says a French author, which young ladies are made to wear to improve their shape, act in a manner precisely opposite, for to lace up the body in such a cuirasse civile, is certain to destroy all natural grace, while it compresses and greatly injures the internal parts.
Medical men, however, and the writings of philosophers, had no power to put a stop to the evil, and satire and ridicule were tried in vain. The Emperor Joseph II. tried what an Imperial decree could effect in abolishing whalebone stays in his dominions. His law prohibited the use of all sorts of corsets in the orphan hospitals, the convents, and the establishments for the education of young ladies; and to throw a sort of disgrace upon this article of dress, the Emperor ordered female convicts to wear them when they were led to punishment. But even the Imperial decree was found to have less power than the decrees of fashion, and corsets continued to be worn.
The fashion, however, which resisted both the voice of reason, the shafts of ridicule, and the authority of a monarch, yielded at last to the love of change. In France the corset was gradually shortened, till the ladies at last reached the middle, between two extremes, which is so difficult to hit in the vicissitudes of fashion. Unfortunately this continued only for a short time, as in the endeavour to imitate the antique, the costume was exaggerated, and the Grecian cincture was placed higher and higher, till at length it was worn as high as the armpits.
In England the fashions have been equally varied from the ant-like figures of the reign of George I., to the bunchy humps and short waists of the reign of George III., and the lengthened waists at present in vogue.
It is justly remarked by D'Israeli, that “the origin of many fashions has been the endeavour to conceal some deformity of the inventor; hence the cushions, ruffs, hoops, and other monstrous devices of former times. If a reigning beauty chanced to have an unequal hip, those who had very handsome ones would load them with that false rump, which the others were compelled, by the unkindness of Nature, to substitute. Patches were invented in England in the reign of Edward VI. by a foreign lady, who in this manner ingeniously covered a wen on her neck. When the Spectator wrote, full bottomed wigs were invented by a French barber, one Duvillier, whose name they perpetuated, for the purpose of concealing an elevation in the shoulder of the Dauphin. Charles VII. of France introduced long coats to hide his ill made legs. Shoes with very long points, full two feet in length, were invented by Henry Plantagenet, Duke of Anjou, to conceal a large excrescence on one of his feet. When Francis I. was obliged to wear his hair short, owing to a wound he received in the head, it became the prevailing fashion at Court. Others, on the contrary, adapted fashions to set off their peculiar beauties, as Isabella, of Bavaria, remarkable for her gallantry, and fairness of her complexion, introduced the fashion of leaving the shoulders and part of the neck uncovered.
“Fashions have frequently originated from circumstances as silly as the following one. Isabella, daughter of Philip II. and wife of the Archduke Albert, vowed not to change her linen till Ostend was taken; this siege, unluckily for her comfort, lasted three years; and the supposed colour of the Archduchess's linen gave rise to a fashionable colour, hence called L'Isabeau, or the Isabella; a kind of whitish dingy-yellow. Or sometimes they originate in some temporary event: as after the battle of Steenkirk, where the allies wore large cravats, by which the French frequently seized hold of them, the circumstance was perpetuated on the medals of Louis XIV.; and cravats were called Steenkirks: after the battles of Ramillies, wigs received that denomination.
Courtiers in all ages, and every country, are the modellers of fashions, so that all the ridicule, of which these are so susceptible, must fall on them, and not upon those servile imitators, the citizens. The complaint is made even so far back as in 1586, by Jean Des Caures, an old French moralist, who, in declaiming against the fashions of the day, notices one, of the ladies carrying mirrors fixed to their waists, which seemed to employ their eyes in perpetual activity. From this mode will result, according to honest Des Caures, their eternal damnation. Alas! (he exclaims,) in what an age do we live: to see such depravity, which induces them to bring even into church these scandalous mirrors hanging about their waists. Let all histories, divine, human, and profane be consulted, never will it be found that these objects of vanity were ever brought into public by the most meretricious of their sex. It is true, at present none but ladies of the Court venture to wear them; but long it will not be before every citizen's daughter, and every female servant, will wear them. Such in all times has been the rise and decline of fashion; and the absurd mimicing of the citizens, even to the lowest classes, to their very ruin, in straining to rival the newest fashion, has mortified and galled the courtier.” In these remarks every body must agree with Mr. D'Israeli.
The fashion of supplying deficiencies by art, for the purpose of concealing them, is perhaps more under the control of those principles than any other, as it is in many cases within the reach of all, and only requires the exercise of ingenuity to contrive and apply such devices as may suit individual instances. It cannot be expected, therefore, that I can here give you in detail instructions for the concealment of every peculiar defect, and I shall content myself with giving you one or two examples of the principles applicable to such cases.
As I have just been speaking of the injurious effects of high bosomed stays, I shall take an example of the art of padding, bandaging, &c. as applied to the bosom. Fashion and taste vary as much in respect of the contour of the breasts, as in any other particular. Some of the ancients, it appears, liked the breasts to be small and terminating in a point. The breasts, says a Greek poet, in order to be beautiful, must not be larger than two turtle dove's eggs; and a modern critic remarks, that in the antique statues, the breasts are never represented with too great a protuberance or with too much elevation; and it was the practice to prevent them from growing too large, to make use of a certain stone from the island of Naxos, which they reduced to powder and applied to the bosom. The Greek and Roman ladies made use of a sort of bandage to support the breasts, and thus prevented their shape from being spoiled, or from growing too large. Pliny informs us, that women, whose breasts were large and pendant, applied to them a certain kind of fish, which possessed the property of rendering them as firm and plump as those of young persons. Some authors assert, that mint pounded and applied to the breasts checks their growth, and that it is used with success to prevent their too great expansion.
In the countries of Circassia and Georgia, so celebrated for the beauty of their women, the greatest care is taken of the breasts, which are carefully preserved in youth by inclosing them in a kind of case made of light and flexible wood. By this invention the breasts acquire a firmness rarely met with in other countries. In this particular the Spanish women exhibit an instance of excessive absurdity, by using every means to flatten and destroy the breasts, as, according to a lady of high rank, it is considered a mark of beauty to have no breasts. To produce this unnatural effect, they bind thin pieces of lead upon them with bandages as close as children are swaddled. The Egyptian and Moorish ladies, who have a taste altogether opposite, encourage the growth of their breasts by drugs, diet, and bathing.
At Paris, they recommend for beautifying the breasts, the corsets of Delacroix, which are light, flexible, firm, and elastic, and adapt themselves so perfectly to the shape, as not to compress nor injure any part. To this are fitted such paddings as may be required to fill up any deficiency, which ought always to be of the lightest and most elastic materials.
The great danger incident to padding, wherever it may be applied, is precisely the same as that arising from tight bandages, for pressure will have the same injurious effect as tightness, and increase the evil which it is employed to remedy. For the stuff used in padding will press upon the parts under it, and prevent the circulation of the blood, which is so indispensible to supply nourishment for the daily waste of the body. Because, if the blood is prevented from flowing freely and in a full current through the parts, they must pine and decrease for want of nourishment. This effect will be farther increased by the waste of the parts immediately under a pad, by the augmented perspiration arising from a greater heat being occasioned by it than by the usual clothing. These are the inconveniences which you must endeavour to avoid in all your contrivances for remedying deficiencies of shape; and unless you are ingenious in your contrivances, considerable injury may sometimes be produced.
If your mistress should be a married lady, it is of still greater importance to be careful in the use of padding and bandaging, as the consequence will be of a worse description than when the case is different; for during pregnancy, tight lacing and bandaging, in order to conceal it, or to render the shape as slender as possible, has been known to produce dangerous and fatal inflammations, and you ought to be aware of this, and endeavour to prevent it. It is a singular fact indeed, well ascertained by experience, that so far from reducing the size, tight lacing and long stays actually increase it; those who dress loosely being uniformly observed to be less incommoded by extraordinary size than those who adopt the opposite plan; Nature, it should seem, being determined to award the punishment of disappointment to those who infringe her laws.
Some married ladies conceiving, most erroneously, that suckling has a tendency to injure the beauty of their breasts, employ a hireling wet-nurse for their children; and in such circumstances have recourse to bandages and plasters to stop the secretion of the milk. In this opinion, however, they are altogether wrong; for nothing has a stronger tendency to improve the form of the breast, than the performance of the natural office of a mother. You ought to know these facts, though you may not always be able to persuade your mistress to follow the path pointed out by Nature. It is your duty to mention it, but it would be impertinent to press its adoption.
The admirers of beauty all concur in opinion, that without a fine forehead, no face can be completely beautiful; while with this alone, the most ordinary looks and the plainest features will attract and fix the, attention. Whether this arises, as has been said, from our being all by Nature instinctively physiognomists, (the forehead being one of the chief features that marks individual character), is too learned a question for me to decide; but it is probable there is some truth in the circumstances. The new sect of physiognomists, if I may so call the followers of Gall and Spurzheim, have even given much more importance to it than Lavater ever dreamed of, and as their system is in fashion in many circles, it renders attention to the careful display of the forehead of consequence.
It is well that you have it so much in your power by a tasteful exercise of the rules of art to set off the best points of the forehead, and to conceal those which may not be considered proper to display. The dispositions of the hair, if the natural hair is worn; or artificial locks, if such are necessary; or the form and arrangement of the head-dress, will give you a command almost unlimited over the display or concealment of the forehead, which it will be necessary to suit to every individual forehead, for you will scarcely find two alike even in the same family.
It may not be amiss, with this view, to instruct you in some of the classical principles of taste respecting the beauty of the forehead! M. Winkelmann, the great critic in painting, says, that to give the face the oval form, and the complement of beauty, “the hair ought to crown the forehead, and to surround the temples, describing a position of a circle, as it is seen, in general, in beautiful persons. This form of the forehead is so appropriate to all ideal heads in the juvenile figures of the ancients, that we meet with none with retreating angles, and destitute of hair above the temples. Very few modern statuaries have made this remark; all the modern restorations which have placed juvenile heads of men on antique trunks are distinguishable at first sight by the faulty compositions of the hair, which advances in salient angles upon the forehead.”
The Greeks and the Romans, however, differed in their taste respecting the beauty of the forehead, the Greeks admiring it when well proportioned and the eye-brows wide asunder; while the Romans preferred a little forehead, and the eye-brows united. They were both however opposed to our absurd taste, that they thought the hair produced a very bad effect, if it came down so low as to hide the forehead. Lucian, the satirist, designing to represent in the most ludicrous manner, the hair of an ugly woman, says, “that it was short, fat, and glued down as it were, to her forehead.” Would it not be supposed, that he was describing some of our handsome women of the present age?
The ancients never represented even men with short straight hair upon the forehead, if we except their statues of Hercules. In this case, it was looked upon as an emblem, in allusion to the hair which grows between the horns of the bull. Let us ask then whether they would have represented women in this manner, and whether they would not have thought this mode of wearing the hair absolutely ridiculous?
I have but one single instance of a head-dress exactly like that which was adopted some years since with such eagerness by the sex, which they, in part, continue to retain, and which is still exactly copied by the men, but even then it was confined to the latter. It is necessary to go back to a very barbarous age, to the Franks of the fifth century. It would scarcely be credited, that the fashion adopted by the men in the fifth century, should become the reigning mode among women of the eighteenth; yet nothing can be more true. I shall quote a passage from a contemporary writer. “You have conquered a monster,” says Sidonius Apollinarius, “whose hair falls down upon the forehead, while it is cropped close behind.” The Franks then dressed their hair fourteen centuries ago like our modern belles, and for this they were denominated monsters.
Not only the women among the Romans wore long hair, but the fashionables of the other sex, who endeavoured, in their costume, to copy the feminine graces, also wore their hair very long, as we learn from Juvenal, Ovid, and other writers.
Among the less civilized nations of modern times, the variety of taste with respect to the forehead is no less remarkable. The inhabitants of the country of Aracan think no forehead handsome but what is large and flat; therefore, as soon as a child is born, they lay a plate of lead upon its forehead, to give it that kind of beauty which they hold in the highest estimation. The Siamese, on the contrary, like no forehead but what ends in a point at the top, in such a manner as to make the head resemble a kind of lozenge, the two points of which are formed by the forehead and the chin, The Mexican women, very different from the natives of Aracan, are desirous of having small foreheads, and employ all possible means to make the hair grow upon them, though they take great pains to eradicate it from the whole body.
It was in the reign of Francis I. (1515), that gallantry and splendour in dress were carried to a higher pitch than they had been before. The women began to turn up their hair; Queen Margaret of Navarre, his grand-daughter, frizzed the hair at both temples, and turned it back in front; that princess sometimes added to this head-dress, a small cap of satin or velvet, enriched with pearls and precious stones, and ornamented with a tuft of feathers. This was both tasteful and handsome.
I think I have satisfactorily demonstrated that the fashion of concealing the forehead with the hair, which is still so general, is contrary to all the principles of good taste. Would you thoroughly convince yourself how much this fashion subtracts from youth and beauty, you have only to perform the following very easy operation. Draw, in outline, the head of some beautiful antique statue, for instance, of the Venus de Medicis: make two similar sketches; let the hair of one be copied from the antique, and that of the other be curled or frizzed. You will be obliged to confess that you never saw any thing that appeared so ridiculous as this latter figure; it is impossible to form any idea of the disagreeable change produced by this head-dress. It is an experiment which any female may easily make upon her own person.
How is it possible that the sex, which of late years has shaken off all remains of the gothic prejudices, that had so long confined it to ridiculous costumes, which disfigured all charms conferred upon it by nature - how is it possible, I say, that it could have adopted a fashion so incompatible with good taste? A fine forehead ought then by no means to be concealed even by the finest hair, but to be set off by parting it in the most tasteful manner, and corresponding with the prevailing fashion.
In the preceding chapter I have in part anticipated some of the remarks which refer, to the most graceful head-dress - so far at least as the forehead is concerned. I shall now direct your attention more generally to the subject of head-dresses. I cannot better introduce the subject than by the following little narrative of the striking effect produced by a change in a head-dress, in a work which you have now little chance of meeting with.
“At a fancy-ball,” says the author, “I met with a lady of my acquaintance, a young and a very handsome woman; but what terms can express the charms with which she was then adorned! Never did I see such brilliancy, such vivacity; never did I behold a physiognomy more open, more interesting; more animated eyes, a more sweet smiling mouth. It was not the same person, but one of those airy nymphs whom the imagination of poets has painted. All eyes were fixed upon her. What was the reason of this extraordinary change? A dress proscribed by custom for several years, the meaning of which nothing but the occasion could then sanction. A simple shepherdess's hat of white straw, placed rather backward on the head - a tuft of flowers - hair gracefully flowing; such was the talisman that created these new charms in Zephirina! “What a pity,” said I, going up to her, that you cannot always wear a hat which becomes you so well! “At any other time than a fancy-ball,” said she, smiling, “I should be thought ridiculous.” “I know it,” replied I, “but then how handsome you would look!”
“Hence it appears that there are extremely pleasing fashions, which custom absolutely proscribes, and that there are others equally ridiculous which its despotic power dooms the fair sex to follow. A few days afterwards I met Zephirina, but alas! how changed! she was no longer the same woman. Under the dark contour of a deep hat, her beauty was totally extinguished, her brow no longer exhibited that graceful display which is so well adapted to youth; her eyes had lost their lustre; her head had not the harmonious accompaniment of an elegant dress; the jocund train of sports and bows no longer frolicked in the waving ringlets of her flowing hair; in a word, Zephirina attracted not the fascinated eyes of man, but Zephirina was dressed after the fashion of the day. Custom, then would not permit her to appear more handsome.”
There are indisputably charming fashions, fashions authorized by good taste; but in every thing there is a perfection, that is, a point which good taste cannot pass without losing its way. As soon as this perfection is attained, no change can be made without removing farther from it. And this is exactly the case in fashions. The sex cannot be too thoroughly convinced that absurdity murders taste, and that simplicity will always have just claims to embellish even beauty itself. The caprices of fashion, so far from increasing the influence which women exercise over the other sex, only serve very often to render them ridiculous or ugly. I will mention but one example out of a thousand. Ought not the figure of the head to be oval? Should not every thing which alters this figure, be considered as detracting from nature? What then are we to think of those bonnets that project both before and behind, and give the head of a woman seen in profile, the form of a hammer! Have savages ever invented any thing more ridiculous?
The time when the women of Greece acted such a distinguished part, when they received the homage of the greatest men, was when the simplicity of their dress harmonized with the perfection of their charms. Their heads were not then overloaded with the vain luxury of useless ornaments; their long dark hair, fell in undulating ringlets on their shoulders, or a single gold pin turned it up with taste, and fastened their brilliant tresses. In the cities they always went with their heads uncovered; if they had occasion to expose themselves to the beams of the sun, then, indeed, a Thessalian hat protected their complexion without giving offence to taste.
In the earlier ages of the French monarchy the head-dress was much the same as it afterwards became in the reign of Louis XIV, when it went under the name of Coiffure à la Ninon. Before the time of Charles V. very large bonnets were also worn, exactly in the shape of a heart, in which the head appeared to be encased, while the point was formed by the chin. In process of time the two uppermost extremities of this heart were gradually lengthened, till, at last, they formed a kind of horns that were truly ridiculous. Hear what Juvenal des Ursins says on this subject:- “The women ran into great excesses in dress, and wore horns of wonderful length and size, having on either side ears of such monstrous dimensions that it was impossible for them to pass through a door with them on. About this time the Carmelite Cenare, a celebrated preacher, exercised his talents against these horns.” In the same period, the women had their hoods strengthened in front with pieces of leather and hoops of whalebone, to give them more consistency. But figure to yourself then, a head, having two huge horns surmounting this kind of funnel, and pads with prodigious ears, and you will have a correct idea of the head-dress of ladies of that age.
It must not, however, be imagined that this head-dress was worn by the generality of women; it should seem that then, as at present, the most ridiculous costumes were more especially adopted by those who courted distinction. They disfigured themselves in proportion to their rank and dignity; and if monuments have handed down to us many ridiculous costumes, the reason is, because painters and sculptors usually perpetuate only the portraits of distinguished persons. Yet were it necessary, the above opinion could be supported by proofs, adduced from what is exhibited in many ancient monuments.
During the same reign, sugar loaf hats began to grow numerous. To these were fastened veils, which hung more or less low according to the quality of the wearer. These hats, I have said, began at this time to grow numerous; but it is not easy positively to assign the period when this fashion originated. It appears to have been first imported from England. This head-dress is exhibited by a miniature in an ancient manuscript copy of Froissart, representing the entré of Isabel, queen of England, and sister of Charles the Fair, into Paris: which princess wears a peaked head-dress, of extraordinary height, trimmed with lace that floats in the air. This is perhaps the earliest monument on which this head-dress is to be found. By the reign of Charles VII. sugar loaf hats, it appears, had become the prevailing fashion.
It is not to be supposed that this head-dress was ever ridiculous. When it was not carried to extravagance, it was simple, and even extremely pleasing. It sometimes consisted of a flat brim, and upon this a turban of moderate height, not pointed but flat at the top. In Montfaucon's “Monuments of the French Monarchy,” there is an engraving representing this fashion, which is more simple, and handsomer, than any which have been since adopted.
But as the women gradually augmented the height of their peaked head-dresses, this fashion became, at length, excessively ridiculous. This is not the only time we have had occasion to remark that a ludicrous effect is produced by exaggeration, and that the handsomest fashion becomes a caricature, when carried to the extreme. Hear what a contemporary writer says of these hennins, for this was the name given to that kind of head-dress:- “Every body was at this time very extravagant in dress, and that of the ladies' heads was particularly remarkable; for they wore on them prodigious caps, an ell or more in length, pointed like steeples, from the hinder parts of which hung long crapes, or rich fringes, like standards.”
We have seen that in the preceding reign the Carmelite Cenare declaimed against the ladies' horns. Another person, we find, of the same order, called Thomas Conecte, preached vehemently now against the hennins. But, alas! the poor monk was ill requited for his zeal; his fate was a truly melancholy one; for six years afterwards, in 1440, he was burned alive at Rome, as a heretic.
“This preacher,” says Paradin, the author quoted above, “held this fashion in such abhorrence, that most of his sermons were directed against this kind of head-dress, which he attacked with the bitterest invectives he was capable of devising, launching out into the severest animadversions on such females as wore these dresses, which he called hennins. Wherever brother Thomas went, the hennins durst not shew themselves, on account of the hatred he had sworn against them. This had an effect for the time, and till the preacher was gone; but on his departure, the ladies resumed their horns, and followed the example of the snails, which, when they hear any noise, speedily draw in their horns, and afterwards, when the noise is past, suddenly erect them to a greater height than before. Thus did these ladies; for the hennins were never longer, more pompous, and more superb than after the departure of brother Thomas. - Such is the effect of warmly contending against the prejudices of some persons.”
It was found necessary at this period to heighten the door-ways, as they had been widened in the preceding reign, on account of the horns. Thus, as Montesquieu observes, the architects were obliged to renounce the rules of their art, in the dimensions of the entrances of apartments, in order to proportion them to the head-dresses of the women.
High head-dresses at length vanished, but only to make their appearance again at different periods, more ridiculous than ever; agreeably to the observation that the most extravagant fashions are those which have always been preferred.
In the first year of the reign of Louis XI. (1461), the women becoming weary of head-dresses a yard high, passed, as is commonly the case, from one extreme to the other, and reduced them to such a degree, that the women appeared as if their heads were shaved.
Under Henry III. Catherine de Medicis set the example of the most unbounded luxury. That voluptuous and intriguing princess, who daily invented new pleasures, produced a change in dress after having effected another in manners, and for the first time paint was introduced into France by Italians invited to the Court. It was at this time the chaperon, or hood, which had come into use previously, became more fashionable than ever. This fashion continued for a great length of time; and how could it have been otherwise? It was a mark of distinction. A sumptuary law gave the exclusive permission to ladies of the Court to wear the chaperon of velvet. The rest of the sex indemnified themselves for this cruel exception by wearing it of cloth; it was still a chaperon, but yet a velvet chaperon was to them an object of the highest importance. Accordingly, La Boursier, midwife to Mary de Medicis, long solicited the favour of wearing a velvet chaperon, which she at length obtained by an express order of the king.
The men then wore small hats with very low crowns, adorned with a feather; and what is remarkable, the women adopted the same kind of head-dress. A portrait of Margaret of France, the third and youngest daughter of Francis I. executed by Corneille, a painter of that age, represents her with a hat exactly resembling that of the king, her brother.
Let us now pass to the seventeenth century. The fashion of lofty head-dresses, which had disappeared for some time, returned at the conclusion of the century more ridiculous than ever. It is true they changed their name, being then denominated fontanges. Figure to yourself a vast edifice of wire, sometimes two feet in height, and divided into several stories. On this frame was put a great quantity of bits of muslin, ribbands, and hair. At the least motion the whole fabric shook, and threatened destruction, which was extremely inconvenient. Every piece of this enormous head-dress had a particular name, and these names were not less ridiculous than the things they denoted. Among these were the duchess, the solitaire, the cabbage, the mouse, the musqueteer, the crescent, the firmament, the tenth heaven, and others equally ludicrous. This fashion was, however, suddenly relinquished. The head-dress became extravagantly low; and; to make amends, the women adopted high heels.
This happy change in the head-dress, however, as on former occasions, was not of long duration. The women soon began to erect magnificent edifices upon their heads. But, alas! the empire of fashion, like all other empires, is subject to violent revolutions. A single day was sufficient to destroy a head-dress - to demolish a Bastile!
It was in the reign of the unfortunate Louis XVI., that extravagance in the head-dress was carried to the highest possible pitch. The women then wore such lofty head-dresses that they were obliged to kneel in their carriages. It is a fact which will scarcely be believed; but many women, says the writer who states this, are still living who formerly submitted to this little inconvenience of the fashion, and he knew some who recollected it perfectly well. I shall never forget, he says, an anecdote related to me a few years since by one of my friends. He was at La Chapelle, near Paris, with some ladies of his acquaintance, who were preparing to set off for Versailles; they were going to a Court-ball, and their dress was in the highest style of elegance. My friend was extremely surprised at the manner in which these ladies placed themselves in their carriage; the height of their feathers would not allow them to sit in it, they therefore both knelt down opposite to each other, and in this uncomfortable manner they passed all the way from La Chapelle to Versailles. This was at that time a very common practice.
The queen herself set the example of these very absurd dresses. She contrived for her sledge-races, says the author of the secret correspondence, a head-dress of prodigious height. Some of these head-dresses represented lofty mountains, enamelled meadows, silvery streams, thick forests, English gardens, and an immense plume of feathers supported the whole edifice behind.
It was at this time that the celebrated Caulini, performing in an Italian piece before the queen, took the liberty of putting into his hat a plume of peacock's feathers of excessive length. This plume being perfectly straight and exact, was too high for any door, which gave occasion to the harlequin to perform a thousand antics. It was intended to punish him for his presumption, but it was found that he had acted by the orders of the king.
The fashions of England have almost always corresponded very exactly with those of France. During the ages which preceded the fifteenth century, most countries of Europe exhibited a uniformity in their fashions; and since that period the fashions of England have generally been governed by those of France. The following are a few of the most remarkable peculiarities of head-dress which the annals of English fashions furnish.
In the reign of Mary, the head-dress in fashion called the head-gear or coiffure, like the rest of the dress, was worn very close, so as to conceal the skin as much as possible; and had sometimes a light veil fastened to it, which fell down behind, and appears to have been intended occasionally to conceal the face.
During the succeeding reigns, down to that of William III., a profusion of ornaments seems to have always been used for decorating the head-dresses of persons of distinction. In his reign the head-dress was like a veil thrown back, rather than a cap; and its sides hung below the bosom. This gradually shrunk into a caul with two lappets, known by the name of mob.
Under queen Anne the flowing coif, or rather veil, of the finest linen, fastened on the head, and falling behind, prevailed; till the high projecting head-dress was restored, after it had been discontinued fifteen years.
In the reign of George I. riding hoods were worn on horseback by persons of all classes, from the duchess to the peasant; as were masks to shield the face from the Summer's sun, and the Winter's wind. These last continued in use till the following reign. French fashions were more eagerly followed in England during the greater part of this century, than in any other country.
France has now, however, lost, and perhaps will continue more and more to lose, her ancient ascendancy over the empire of fashion. The spirit of British fashion has triumphed over the French, and has produced this advantageous change, that neatness and cleanliness in dress are now preferred to dirty pomp, and the quality and fineness of stuffs to tawdry edging, lace, and decorations.
If you ask me what sort of head-dress I would prefer, I should at once say the Grecian, which you should always copy so far as the fashion will allow, modifying the reigning head-dress by the principles of this elegant form. In conformity with the principles of Grecian taste, I must say that bonnets, in all their varieties, are barbarous and clumsy. I have indeed heard of love in a hood, but it was reserved for the present age to exhibit the graces in bonnets. This fashion, however, is attended with some advantages; it produces a very happy effect in caricatures, and some of our artists have not failed to avail themselves of it. The milliners, indeed, bear away from the painters, the palm of invention; and if designers wish to produce something truly ludicrous in this way, they have only to copy the patterns exhibited in the most elegant shops.
How then ought the head to be dressed? This question women would have no difficulty in resolving, if they would take the trouble to seek the head-dress which best becomes them, and not that which is most in vogue; and if they would not all adopt the same fashion, as their persons are so different. A small head cannot possibly look well in the dress required by a head of larger dimensions, and yet this preposterous transposition may be observed every day.
Amelia has a diminutive face and a snub nose. She sees Eugenia, whose elegant and noble head-dress commands universal admiration; but Eugenia's features are cast in a Roman mould; her figure requires larger ornaments, and greater capacity in the articles of attire. Amelia, who knows not why this head-dress looks so well upon Eugenia, adopts it next day because it does look well, and next day the little Amelia appears truly ridiculous.
Sophia has very fine eyes, but her mouth is not so handsome. Juliana's eyes are less beautiful, but her smile is enchanting. A hat placed very low would ill become Sophia, since it would conceal her principal charm, and leave nothing in sight but her imperfections; whereas the same hat would be the most advantageous head-dress for Juliana, since it would throw a favourable shade over her eyes, and give additional beauty to the prettiest mouth in the world.
I could prove by many other examples, that every woman ought to have an appropriate costume, and that she will always be well dressed, if she consults, not the fashion, but her glass; if she does not say, “I will have this head-dress which makes Mrs. such-a-one look so well,” - but I will have the one that will become me best; if she knows, for example, that a head-dress which stands forward and looks very well on a woman with a prominent nose and chin, makes a person with a very small nose and flat chin appear perfectly ridiculous.
But above all, let us have no prodigiously large head-dresses. The frame ought not to have a greater superficies than the picture; for then the former, which ought to be an accessory, would become the principal object. Such is precisely the case with a head-dress of too great size: the face is buried in it. Excess in height or breadth is equally ridiculous, and absurdities of this kind have had their day like all others. Luckily, these barbarous costumes are now proscribed, and we have nothing to fear but their revival, for it is impossible to answer for any thing in such matters. I might likewise have said that too great a projection is also ridiculous, and of this we have an example in what were called poke bonnets.
The following anecdote shews the good taste of Louis XIV. of France, with respect to head-dresses. Two English ladies, who had recently arrived at Paris, went to Versailles in June 1714, to see Louis XIV. at supper. They wore extremely low head-dresses, which was then as ridiculous as one two feet high would appear at present. No sooner had they entered, than they produced such a sensation, that a considerable noise took place. The king inquired the reason of this extraordinary bustle, and was informed that it was occasioned by the presence of two ladies, whose heads were dressed in a very singular style. When the king saw them, he observed to the duchesses and other ladies who were supping with him, that if the women had any sense, they would relinquish their ridiculous head-dress, and adopt the simple fashion of the two strangers. The wishes of a king are commands to his courtiers. The ladies were sensible that they should be obliged to submit: the sacrifice was painful - to demolish such lofty head-dresses was little better than decapitation. There was no remedy; the fear of displeasing the monarch overcame every other consideration, and the whole night was employed in demolishing the edifice of three stories. The two uppermost were totally suppressed, and the third was cut down to one half. Thus ended, rather tragically, the reign of high head-dresses, which had been relinquished and again adopted at various periods during three hundred years; only, however, to appear again, some time afterwards, with increased extravagance.
As this is one of the things which you will be required to understand thoroughly, I shall be as particular as the limits of this little work will allow me, in giving you such useful and practical directions as you may find of advantage, or be able to turn to account. You will probably agree with me, that the plan I have adopted in the preceding articles, of giving a historical sketch of the fashions which have prevailed respecting the mode of hair-dressing, is one of the best means of establishing the principles of elegance and good taste, in so far as it furnishes an extensive field of comparison. I shall therefore first present you with a sketch of the most remarkable fashions of the hair, before I proceed to the practical directions which I have promised you.
I shall begin with the most ancient nation - the Jews, who wore their hair very long, (as they still do) and they reckoned nothing too valuable to increase its beauty. As a proof of the esteem in which the hair was held by them, it may be mentioned, that baldness in any one subjected him to common ridicule; loss of the hair was felt as a heavy calamity, and to deprive one of the hair, or part of it, was resented as the most degrading insult; so essential did they hold it to elegance of appearance, to have their head well furnished with hair. It is recorded of Absalom, that he was the most beautiful of all the men of the land; and a circumstance especially noticed with reference to his beauty, is the luxuriance and fineness of his hair.
We have already hinted at the taste of the Greeks with regard to their hair. Of all the nations of antiquity, with whose character we are at all acquainted, they cultivated beauty with the greatest care, and by them, beautiful and tastefully adorned hair was held to be quite necessary for setting off their persons. The hair in their esteem contributed so much to the perfection of beauty, that their greatest poet constantly denominates the most beautiful of all their women, “the beautiful haired Helen,” intimating that it was her hair chiefly which characterised her beauty, and rendered it striking. Then, however, and till a much later period, when they had attained to the highest pitch of refinement, they continued to dress their hair in a very simple manner. Dividing it evenly on the middle of the crown, from the forehead backwards, they allowed it to flow loosely on either side in waving ringlets on the shoulders, at the same time turning it carefully so as to form a semicircle along the forehead, towards the temples; or instead of allowing their brilliant tresses to flow loosely, turned them up as has been already intimated, and fastened them with a single gold pin. Well dressed hair, differed from that which was the contrary only in this, that the latter was “disordered, dishevelled, or uncombed.” It was their custom to leave their hair undressed in deep distress or grief, and to wring and tear it with their hands.
But in process of time, as luxury increased, this simple mode was entirely relinquished by persons of distinction, who decorated their hair with a profusion of gems, gold, and pearls. It is quite useless for us now to inquire what was the mode according to which the Athenian ladies disposed these ornaments, in order to give them the greatest possible effect. It cannot be supposed that the fashions of a people, who were distinguished above all others for their capricious fickleness, for their love of novelty, and their ardent study of refinement in beauty, would be less subject to variation than those of other nations. It is most probable, therefore, that their modes in decorating the hair would be numerous, and that they would change them very frequently.
Those persons are mistaken who think that the ancients never varied the fashion of their dress. Even the Romans, who were as remarkable for their tenacity of established customs, and for their grave formality, as the Athenians were for the fickleness and vivacity of their character, very often adopted new fashions in dress; so much so, that Ovid says, he would more readily undertake to count the leaves of an oak, than reckon up these ephemeral fashions. One of their authors, addressing the women respecting their hair, says, you are at a loss, “what to be at with your hair. Sometimes you put it into a press; at others, you tie it negligently together, or set it entirely at liberty. You raise or lower it according to your fancy. Some keep it closely twisted up into curls, while others choose to let it float loosely on the wind.”
The colour of the hair has always been esteemed of great importance to beauty; hair of certain colours being esteemed pleasing, and of others extremely disagreeable. Accordingly, among every people who have been at pains in beautifying the hair, means have been eagerly sought for rendering the hair of the favourite colour, where that colour is withheld by Nature, or lost by some casualty. Among the Greeks and Romans various means were employed for this purpose.
Under the Emperors, when the Romans were sunk in luxury, light coloured hair alone was esteemed beautiful among them. In this they imitated the ancient Germans; and as their hair was not so commonly of this colour, it was usual for the Roman ladies to disguise the real colour of their hair, by using wigs composed of the hair of the Germans. The peruke-makers of Rome, Ovid says, bought up all the spoils of German heads to gratify those of his country-women, who were determined to conceal their fine black hair under a light wig. Hair, from Germany, was sold at Rome for its weight in gold. Among the Germans themselves, those persons whose hair happened to be of a different colour, among other expedients to which they had recourse, made use of a kind of soap for staining their hair. It was composed of goats tallow and ashes of beech-wood, and was called Hessian soap, because it was made in the country of Hesse. It was also used to stain the German wigs, in order to give them a flame colour.
During this period the Romans sometimes powdered their hair with gold dust, and thus made it assume a light colour. This practice had been introduced among the Greeks long before; but whether it was because they prized the colour which it was calculated to communicate, or because gold was precious, I shall not take upon me to determine.
From the Romans we shall pass to the Gauls, who occupied the territory of modern France. They were remarkable for the length and abundance of their hair. They took the greatest care of it - formed it into tresses, and fastened it on the top of the head; and esteemed it, when thus disposed, as their chief ornament. By means of several substances they gave additional brilliancy to the light colour, which it commonly had from Nature. When they became subject to the Roman yoke, they, like the rest of the empire, adopted the Roman arts, and most probably copied their fashions.
After five hundred years, the country being relinquished by the Romans and over-run by the Franks, one of those fierce and rude nations of the North, who at that time became masters of Southern Europe, a new order of things was introduced. Among these people the hair was allowed to grow to its full length, and was never cut from infancy to old age. By a law of the Germans, enacted in the year 630, a considerable fine was imposed on any one who should presume to deprive a freeman of his hair without his consent. To have the hair cut, was to be degraded to the condition of a slave.
It appears from records, and the statues of distinguished individuals, which have reached our time, that they parted their hair evenly on the top of the head, and allowed it to flow gracefully over their shoulders.
The women of France continued to wear their hair nearly in the same manner till the extinction of the first race of kings. The variations admitted by them into their mode of dressing their hair seem to have amounted only to this, that they wore it, generally, slightly curled on the temples, and collected behind into distinct tresses, by means of knots of different kinds, or of bands, or rings, formed of different sorts of precious materials, clasps, &c.
The wives of Charlemagne did not display their tresses. They allowed nothing of their hair to appear, except a few curls about the face. Richanda, the wife of Charles le Gros, twisted and plaited the lower half of her hair, so as to form two distinct tresses, and turned them up on each side of her cheeks. This prevailed as the distinguishing fashion of the ninth and tenth centuries. In the eleventh century the hair on the forehead of women disappeared entirely under the bottom of a head-dress invented at this time.
In the end of the twelfth century the manner which prevailed, as we have stated in the first ages of the monarchy, was restored, and continued during the thirteenth. Blanche, of Castile, having assumed the head-dress of the spouse of Clovis, had her hair waving upon her temples. The hair of Jean, of Toulouse, being separated over the forehead, discovered her ears, and fell in tresses upon her shoulders. A tasteful manner of dressing the hair seems, with a few interruptions, to have prevailed till the latter part of the fourteenth century.
In the reign of Charles V. near the end of this century, the luxurious Isabel, of Bavaria, having introduced the high-head dresses, which became afterwards so remarkable, entirely concealed her hair.
In the reign of Charles VIII. (1483), the women throwing aside their high head-dresses, formed a head-dress of their hair. After the hair had again disappeared under black veils about the year 1498, Anne, of Bretagne, wife of Louis XII. who loved splendor, and drew females to the Court, restored the fashion of exposing it to view. About this time, as we have already noticed, France established her influence over the fashions of Europe. In the reign of Francis I. (1515) women began to turn up their hair. His grand-daughter, queen Margaret, of Navarre, frizzed the hair at both temples, and turned it back in front. We have portraits by Leonard da Vinci, of the most celebrated beauties of this age. It appears from some of these, that the fashion prevailed of having the hair parted and bound on the forehead, covering the ears, and connected behind the shoulders. One thing which distinguished the fashion of this age, was the loop. It was placed over the middle of the forehead; and consisted of a black or a small chain of gold or steel: it was sometimes adorned with a diamond.
The unbounded luxury of the Court of Henry III. under Catherine de Medicis was formerly mentioned. It is not to be supposed that a mode of dressing the hair, on the whole so simple and elegant as that which we have been describing, could now maintain its ground. In fact, it expired with the generation who introduced it. We may judge of the fantastical extravagance of the women of this time in dressing their hair, from the state of hair-dressing among persons of fashion of the other sex. The following is extracted from the satirical statement of an eye-witness:-
“No sooner had I entered the room than I saw three men with small pincers in their hair, which certain persons who managed them had just taken from small foot stoves, and which were so hot that the hair seemed to be all in a smoke. At first I could scarcely help crying out, as I thought some outrage was committing. But a little more attention enabled me to perceive, that they were really suffering no harm from those who handled the pincers; for one was reading a book, another talking to his valet, and the third conversing with one who styled himself a philosopher. One would have thought that their intention was to make their hair resemble webs of cloth rolled up, so closely it was wound up between the pincers. They shook the heads of some of them with great violence, just as if they had been shaking the fruit from a tree. Each had several servants about his seat; one undoing, what another had done.”
From this period till the commencement, of the eighteenth century we may easily judge, from what we related concerning the head-dresses during that interval, that the mode of dressing the hair would be sufficiently fantastical and ridiculous. At the latter epoch the ladies frizzled their hair, and used hair powder to an excessive degree. An English lady, celebrated for her literary productions, who visited Paris in 1718, speaking of the dress of the French ladies, describes their hair as cut short and curled round their faces, and so loaded with powder that it made it look like white wool. It will not be required of me to mention later fashions, as with these you must be familiar. I shall therefore proceed to something more practical.
Some people have a strong prejudice against washing the hair, and imagine that it is productive of very serious evils. Were this prejudice confined to the ignorant and illiterate, I might pass it over without notice; but as it is put forth in books, and under the authority of professional men, it requires to be exposed and refuted, more particularly when they threaten those who wash their hair with “head-ache, ear-ache, tooth-ache, and complaints of the eyes,” and not only so, but with premature old age and a shrivelled and wrinkled countenance.
On the contrary, I am of opinion, and it is well supported by fact and experience, that nothing contributes more to prevent these very consequences than frequently washing the head with tepid water, that is, about milk warm. When the hair is very long, or when much use is made of hair oils and pomatum, I cannot imagine how the hair can be rendered comfortable without frequently washing it. It is a strong argument. I think in favour of my opinion, that in taking the general cold bath, if the head is kept dry by a cap, headache, and other bad consequences are almost certain to ensue. Nothing then can be more erroneous than that wetting the hair produces head-aches, catarrhs, and I know not how many evils.
I quote the following remarks from a French author as worthy of attention on this subject: some ladies may say that their hair is too long to be conveniently washed; but as the most beautiful hair is the most difficult to keep clean, it is long hair which requires the more to be frequently washed with care. Water also is by far the best thing for giving a beautiful gloss to the hair, if care be taken to have it instantly dried and well combed and brushed before the fire or in the sun. The same author thinks, that the inconveniences supposed to arise from the head being wetted are to be attributed to its being always kept dry, such as megrims and ear-ache, because the want of moisture in the hair prevents the comb or the brush from completely detaching the scales which form there, and close the pores of the skin through which the perspiration ought to pass.
When the hair has been properly washed and thoroughly dried, it may be useful in order to give it the requisite gloss to have recourse to a little fine pomatum or hair oil, which I shall now teach you to make for yourself, according to the best French receipts which I have been able to procure.
Put into a proper vessel two pounds and a half of prepared hog's lard with two pounds of picked lavender flowers, orange flowers, jasmine, buds of sweet briar, or any other sweet scented flower, or a mixture according to your choice, and knead the whole with the hands into a paste as uniform as possible. Put this mixture into a pewter, tin, or stone pot, and cork it tight. Place the vessel in a vapour bath, and let it stand in it six hours, at the expiration of which time strain the mixture through a coarse linen cloth by means of a press. Now throw away the flowers which you have used as being useless, pour the melted lard back into the same pot, and add four pounds of fresh lavender flowers. Stir the lard and flowers together while the lard is in a liquid state, in order to mix them thoroughly, and repeat the first process. Continue to repeat this till you have used about ten pounds of flowers.
After having separated the pomatum from the refuse of the flowers, set it in a cool place to congeal, pour off the reddish brown liquor, or juice extracted from the flowers, wash the pomatum in several waters, stirring it about with a wooden spatula to separate any remaining watery particles, till the last water remains perfectly colourless. Then melt the pomatum in a vapour bath, and let it stand in it about one hour, in a vessel well corked, then leave it in the vessel to congeal. Repeat this last operation till the watery particles are entirely extracted, when the wax must be, added, and the pomatum melted for the last time in a vapour bath in a vessel closely corked, and suffered to congeal as before. When properly prepared it may be filled into pots, and tie the mouths of them over with wet bladder to prevent the air from penetrating. This pomatum will be very fragrant, and form an excellent preparation for improving the gloss and luxuriance of the hair.
Take six ounces of common pomatum, and add to it two or three ounces of very clean white wax scraped very fine. Melt the whole together in an earthern pan, which is immersed in a larger one, containing boiling water, over a clear and steady fire. When properly incorporated take it off and keep stirring it with a spatula until it be about half cold or congealed, and then put it into small pots, as before directed, or make it up into rolls of the size of the little finger. This pomatum may be scented with whatever agreeable flavour the perfumer pleases. It will keep good, even with less wax than has been above directed, in the East Indies or any other warm climate for a long time.
Take twenty-five pounds of hog's-lard, eight pounds of mutton suet, six ounces of oil of bergamot, four ounces of essence of lemons, half an ounce of oil of lavender, and a quarter of an ounce of oil of rosemary. These ingredients are to be combined in the same manner as those for the English pomatum, and kept in pots for use.
Take five pounds of hog's-lard, one pound of mutton suet, three ounces of eau de Portugal, half an ounce of essence of bergamot, four ounces of yellow wax, and half a pound of palm oil. Mix as directed for hard pomatum, and put it into small gallipots, which must be well covered. Another way is to melt in a water bath the quantity required of common pomatum, and add an equal weight of fresh orange flowers. Let the whole remain for four hours, when it is to be passed through a linen cloth by pressure. Put this with a fresh quantity of the flowers again into the water bath, and continue to repeat the process in this manner for five or six times, when it may be set aside to cool, and in fifteen days remelted in the water bath, and put into pots.
Rowland's Hair Oil
Boil half a pound of green southern wood, in a pint and a half of sweet oil, and half a pint of port wine. - When sufficiently boiled, remove it from the fire and strain off the liquor through a linen bag. Repeat this operation three times with fresh southern wood; and the last time add to the strained materials two ounces of bear's grease. It is excellent for promoting the growth of the hair, and preventing baldness.
Fragrant Hair Oil
Blanch a quantity of sweet almonds in hot water, and when dry reduce them to powder, sift them through a fine sieve, strew a thin bed of almond powder, and a bed of fresh odoriferous flowers, such as lavender, jasmine, roses, &c. over the bottom of a box lined with tin. Do this alternately till the box is full, and leave them together for twelve hours. Then throw away the flowers, and add fresh ones in the same manner as before, and repeat the same operation every day for eight successive days. When the almond powder is thoroughly impregnated with the scent of the flowers, put it into a new clean linen cloth, and with an iron press extract the oil, which will be strongly scented with the fragrance of the flowers.
Russian Hair Oil
Put one gallon of salad oil into a pipkin with a bag containing four ounces of alkanet root, cut and bruised. Give the whole a good heat, but not a boiling one, until the oil is completely impregnated with the red colour. Then pour the whole into a jar, let it stand till cold, and then add four ounces of essence of bergamot, four ounces of oil of jasmine, and three ounces of eau de milfleur. When properly mixed, put the compound liquid into small bottles for use.
These oils which are sold in considerable quantity, are chiefly composed of oil of ben or behen nuts. The oil, like that of almonds, is made first by beating, and then sifting the behen nuts through a coarse wire sieve, and expressing them by means of the press. The nuts are imported from Italy, and are of various quality, but the oil differs from that of almonds in being adapted to keep more years than the latter will months. Its principal excellence consists in its having no smell of its own, and consequently being ready to imbibe the odour of any perfume with which it may be combined.
Huile Antique au Musk
Pound in a glass mortar a drachm of musk with four grains of amber, adding gradually by little and little during the process, eight ounces of oil of behen. When they are all well mixed put the mixture into a small bottle, and take up every particle of the musk and amber; put into the mortar four ounces of fresh oil of behen, which is also to be put into the same bottle. Leave the whole for twelve or fourteen days in a warm place, shaking it every day. Leave it then to rest for one day more, pour off the oil clear, and preserve it in small bottles, well corked for use. In the same manner you may make huile antique à l'ambre by changing the proportions of the amber and the musk.
Huile Antique à l'Orange
With one pound of oil of behen, mix three ounces of essential oil of orange, and put it into small bottles well corked, with wax over them to preserve it from the air and prevent the perfume of the orange oil from evaporating. In the same manner you may make Huiles Antiques au Citron, à la Bergamotte, au Cédrat, au Girofle, au Thym, à la Lavande, au Rosmarin, &c. Take care, as a general rule, to proportion the quantity of the perfumed essence which you employ to its strength.
Huile Antique à la Rose
Procure a tin or white iron box, about a foot square, opening by a grating on one side, and divided in the middle by a portion of white iron drilled full of small holes close to each other. Fold in four a cotton towel, soak it in oil of behen, and place it on the grating, so as to exactly fit the box. Upon this cloth place your rose leaves fresh gathered, leave them for about twenty-four hours, and then replace them with fresh rose leaves. The cloth may then be removed, and the oil now charged with the perfume, carefully expressed. This may be mixed with fresh oil of behen and bottled for use. In the same manner you may make Huiles Antiques à la Fleur d'Orange, à la Violette, à la Jonquille, au Jasmine, &c. and by means of various mixtures - à l'Heliotrope, aux Mille Fleurs, au Pot-pourri, &c.
Huile Antique à la Tuberose
Mix the flowers with ground blanched bitter almonds, and then express the oil; or mix a pint of olive or almond oil, with thirty drops of the essence of tuberose flowers. In this way also several of the above Huiles Antiques can be prepared. A red colour may be given to any of these oils by alkanet root, in the manner directed above for making the Russian Oil.
Huile Antique Verte
Add one drachm of gum guaiac to one pound of olive oil, let it stand for some time, and then strain, adding any of the fragrant essences which you please.
This oil is much talked of, but is not better than many of the others. The following is given in some late works as the genuine receipt for this oil as prepared by several perfumers in London. Take a pound of olive oil, coloured with alkanet root, and add to it one drachm of the oil of origanon. It may be remarked that olive oil is an excellent basis for hair oil, and it is also the most economical; for a thin, stale olive oil, at ten shillings a gallon, will do equally well as a superior oil at fourteen shillings the gallon, because the powerful odour of the perfumes takes off or destroys any disagreeable smell peculiar to stale and thin olive oil. When you have mixed your perfume with it, you must shake the bottle in which it is contained twice a day, for a least one week.
“The hair is more glossy than the skin,” says the author of the Art of Preserving the Hair, “from being of a harder consistence, but as there are inequalities on its surface, these must either be filled up, or the gloss and polish will be very much impaired. Think for a moment what causes the polish of a rosewood or mahogany table, and you will see that the gloss of the hair must follow the same law. If you use varnish for the table, it fills up and smooths the most minute inequality of the surface. If you use oil it does the same, provided a sufficient quantity be left unrubbed off. Water will also produce a similar effect, but as it dries up almost instantaneously, it cannot be used with advantage.
“In order, therefore, to preserve the hair glossy, a substance must be found which will not evaporate readily like water, and which will fill up all the overlappings of the imbrications. If the hair then is wont to be dry, and without gloss or lustre, substances of an oily quality must be selected to preserve it in a due state of moisture, and for this purpose a countless variety of oils and pomatums have been at different periods fashionable. Many of these are so equal in properties as to render it a matter of indifference which of them is employed. Others contain ingredients which improve or deteriorate their qualities. These every individual can best prove by trial, as every different sort of hair will require different proportions to bring it to a gloss, and not to overdo it and make it look greasy. The greater number of the hair oils are prepared by perfumers, from receipts which are kept a secret, and are vended under specious names, each trying to outvie and outsell the rest by the advertising praises lavished on the article. With these we have little to do, and shall not even mention any of them individually. All of the articles, so advertised, however, it may be remarked, are very expensive; and those who have tried them will agree with us, that their qualities are most extravagantly over-rated, and the promises held out are seldom fulfilled.”
The use of these pomatums and hair oils will, in some kinds of hair, assist in the important operation of curling, but in other cases will he disadvantageous. If the hair be soft and very fine, instead of washing and oiling it in the way we have just directed, it will be better to clean it with a brush dipped slightly in spirits of hartshorn, or to dress it with the following composition, which will give it both a fine gloss and strength to remain in the curl:- Cut into small pieces about two pounds of good common soap, and put it into three pints of spirits of wine or brandy, with eight ounces of potass, and melt the whole in a hot water bath, stirring it the while with a glass rod or wooden spatula. After it is properly melted, leave it to settle, pour off the liquor clear, and perfume it with any fragrant essence you please. Or you may mix together equal parts of essence of violets, jasmine, orange flowers, and ambrette, with half the quantity of vanilla and tuberose. With these, mix rose and orange flower water, so as to form in all about three pints of liquid, in which dissolve, as in the first case, two pounds of good soap sliced, eight ounces of potass, and proceed as before. Add some drops of essence of amber, musk, vanilla, and neroli, to make it more fragrant. You will find this as good, if not superior to any of the articles sold under the name of curling fluids, and one half cheaper.
When hair is strong, it is much more easy to curl, and will retain the curl longer than when it is weak and dry or greasy; but if by means of curling irons, or the processes above recommended, you make it weak on the one side and strong on the other, it will both curl well and remain curled along time. The use of curling irons has been much decried as hurtful to the growth of hair, though I cannot see how they can produce injury, except on the portions where they are applied, and not even on these unless the irons be too hot, which you must be careful to prevent. I cannot indeed recommend their constant use, for accidents are continually happening with them from want of care.
Papillotes, the most usual method of curling, are apt to be more injurious than the curling irons; for by being closely twisted, they not only prevent the hair from growing at the roots, but are apt to cause headaches, tooth-ache, ear-ache, and sometimes pimples on the face. None of these consequences, however, will happen, if care is taken not to overdo the thing. Every thing, indeed, which deprives the hair of its free and natural flow, and of its natural moisture, will check its growth, and make it thin and short; so that there can be no doubt that many of the fashionable modes of hair dressing are hurtful to its beauty. Naturally the hairs go out from the skin in a slanting or oblique direction. If, therefore, they are twisted or pulled out of this direction, the passage of the fluid which nourishes them will be obstructed or stopped, and their fine gloss and colour will be injured. It cannot be denied, accordingly, that curling the hair by means of hard twisted papillotes, or twisting up the hair in a hard knot or bow on the top of the head, or even plaiting or binding it with a ribbon or fillet, must all be injurious and detrimental. On the other hand, though the hair should be dressed in any of these fashions, if it be not drawn tight from the skin, but left rather loose and easy, no injury can follow.
The growth of the hair is best promoted by keeping it clean as I have directed, and by frequently brushing and combing it, which will tend to counteract the injuries I have pointed out, as arising from curling and other modes of dressing it. It is recommended in most of the books to dip the comb or the brush, before using it, in a little eau de Cologne, or angel water, or, as we should prefer, perfumed spirits of hartshorn. Cutting the hair frequently is also considered as one of the best means of promoting its growth. The oils and waters usually puffed by their proprietors, for this purpose, have but little if any effect. The palma christi oil, which is not in the hands of any monopolist, is one of the best of these, as it is gently and harmlessly stimulant. Bear's grease is no better than common pomatum, or even than hog's lard, which it much resembles.
When the hair has become grey, ladies are usually extremely anxious to conceal this mark of age, by having recourse to hair dyes, and it will be useful for you to know the composition of some of these, that you may be able to make them for use at a much cheaper rate than they can be purchased from perfumers. I may inform you, however, that all the advertised hair dyes, under whatever name they may appear, such as Grecian Water, Vegetable Hair Dye, Essence of Tyre, &c. are all nothing more than several ways of disguising the nitrate of silver, or lunar caustic, as it was formerly denominated, the same substance which is used for preparing permanent marking ink. This will, to a certainty, produce an immediate black colour upon every sort of hair, by dissolving it in water, and applying it carefully. You must take care, however, not to burn yourself with it, as it will eat through your skin like a piece of red hot iron. It has the great disadvantage that the hair soon changes from black to purple. It has also been said, but I know not on what authority, that the use of it causes headaches. At all events it will be better for you to make it, as I have directed, for a few pence, than give away shillings and pounds to perfumers and patentees. I have collected the following receipts for dyeing the hair; but as they may not all prove effectual, I recommend you to try them privately before committing yourself with your employers.
Manner of Staining the Hair Black
Break to pieces a pound of gall nuts; boil them in olive oil till they grow soft, then dry them, and reduce them to a very fine powder, which incorporate with equal parts of powdered charcoal of willow and common salt, prepared and pulverized. Add a small quantity of lemon and orange peel, dried and reduced to powder. Boil the whole in twelve pounds of water, till the sediment at the bottom of the vessel assumes the consistence of a black salve. With this anoint the hair, cover it with a cap till dry, and then comb it. This is an excellent composition for staining the hair black; it should be used once a week, which will prevent it from afterwards turning red.
It should be observed, that as fast as the hair grows, it resumes its original colour in the part next the skin; therefore, in whatever way the hair is stained, it is necessary from time to time to repeat the operation.
Tinctures for Staining the Hair Black
Boil an ounce of lead ore, and a like quantity of chips of ebony, for an hour, in a quart of clear water. Wash the hair in this tincture, and dip the comb into it before you use it. It turns the hair black; but this colour is rendered more lively, brilliant, and beautiful, by the addition of two drachms of camphor.
Or, boil on a slow fire, for half an hour, lemon juice, vinegar, and pulverized litharge, of each equal parts. Wet the hair with this decoction, and in a short time it will become black.
Or, first wash your head, then dip your comb in oil of tartar, and comb your hair in the sun. Repeat this operation thrice a day, and in a week your hair will grow black. To give it an agreeable scent, anoint it with oil of benzoin.
Or, dissolve steel filings in good vinegar. With this vinegar, which will then resemble thick oil, wash your hair as often as you think fit, and it will make it black in a very short time.
Or, wash your head with ley made of the ashes of plants, in which a small quantity of alum has been dissolved. This wash prepares the hair to receive whatever tint you choose to give it. Then comb it with a leaden or horn comb, dipped in any matter that can impart a black colour, such as oil of cedar mixed with liquid pitch, or myrtle oil beaten up for a considerable time in a leaden mortar.
How to Blacken the Eye-lashes and Eye-brows
Rub them often with elder-berries. For the same purpose, some make use of burnt cork, or clove burned at the candle. Others employ black frankincense, resin, and mastic: this black, it is said, will not come off with perspiration.
Wash for Blackening the Eye-brows
First wash with the decoction of galls; then rub them with a brush dipped in the solution of green vitriol, and let them dry.
Black for the Eye-brows
Take one ounce of pitch, a like quantity of resin and of frankincense, and half an ounce of mastic. Throw them upon live charcoal, over which lay a plate to receive the smoke. A black soot will adhere to the plate; with this soot rub the eye-lashes and eye-brows very delicately. This operation, if now and then repeated, will keep them perfectly black.
Directions for Staining Light Hair a Chesnut Colour
First clean the hair with dry bran, or warm water, in which alum has been dissolved. Then take two ounces of quick lime, which kill in the air, one ounce of litharge of gold, and half an ounce of lead ore. Reduce the whole to powder, and sift it. Wet a small quantity of this powder with rose water. Rub the hair with it, and let it dry again in the air, or dry it with cloths a little warm. This powder does not stain the skin, like the wash made of aqua fortis, and assaying silver.
It has been asserted that the hair may be stained black by impregnating it with lard, mixed with minium and lime; but, in my opinion, this composition would produce only the chesnut colour, of which we are here speaking.
The hair may likewise be turned black with different vegetable substances boiled in wine, with which the head is to be washed several times a day: but this operation ought to be continued for some time. The substances preferred for this purpose are, leaves of the mulberry, myrtle, fig, senna, raspberry, arbutus, and artichoke; the roots of the caper-tree; the bark of the walnut, shumac, skins of beans, gall-nuts, and cores of cypress. It is also necessary to make use of a leaden comb.
Another subject to which I beg leave to call your attention, is the removal of hairs, which grow where they are not wanted on the face, neck, and arms. Roseate powder and other nostrums are sold for this purpose, but as these all contain arsenic, whatever the venders may assert to the contrary, they ought to be employed with the greatest caution. Where hairs grow from moles, you should know that, any tampering with them is extremely apt to produce cancer. The best and safest depilatory which I know is the razor, or, if carefully used, the tweezers.
One of the most indispensible things for the toilette of a lady, is a good selection of cosmetics. Many ladies never use paint, but it is necessary for you to be acquainted with paints, lest you may have to use them. Without going into a tedious detail on the nature of these cosmetics, I shall here lay down the way in which you may prepare them, at the same time cautioning you that the cosmetics usually sold under the imposing names of Kalydor, Gowland's Lotion, &c. are mostly all dangerous repellents, being composed of mercury, and other deleterious drugs. The directions which I have to give you, will come in with most interest under the heads of the defects of the skin, for which they are applied.
Spots on the Skin
Spots or moles sometimes gives a certain archness to the countenance, and expression to the looks, and serve as foils to set off the lustre of the skin, and in women of dark complexions, they are particularly becoming; for such spots are real patches which they have received from the hand of Nature. On the contrary, these marks, if too numerous, are real imperfections; they distort, and impart a coarseness to the features, and totally destroy the harmony of the figure. In this case, all the means which art can afford us should be used for their removal; but care must at the same time be taken to avoid those violent caustics, which, when indiscreetly employed, might leave behind marks upon the skin, that would disfigure it for ever. Among the caustics, therefore, the mildest ought to be selected. For this purpose, the distilled water of the great blind nettle is recommended. If this should prove ineffectual, recourse may be had to more powerful caustics. Make use, for instance, of oil of tartar, mixed with a little water to weaken it. There have been cases, though they are indeed rare, in which amputation has been resorted to; but this remedy, in my opinion, is much more to be dreaded in this instance, than the disease.
The sun produces red spots, which are known by the name of freckles. These have no apparent elevation but to the touch it may be perceived that they give a slight degree of roughness to the epidermis. These spots come upon the skin in those parts which are habitually exposed to the air. To prevent freckles, or sunburn, it is necessary to avoid walking abroad uncovered; a veil alone, or a straw hat, is sufficient for most women. There are however others whose more delicate skins require a more powerful preservative. The following is recommended by an intelligent physician:-
Take one pound of bullock's gall, one drachm of rock alum, half an ounce of sugar candy, two drachms of borax, and one drachm of camphor. Mix them together, stir the whole for a quarter of an hour, and then let it stand. Repeat this three or four times a day, for a fortnight, that is to say, till the gall appears as clear as water. Then strain it through blotting paper, and put it away for use. Apply it when obliged to go abroad in the sunshine or into the country, taking care to wash your face at night with common water, those who have not taken the precautions mentioned above must resort to the means which art has discovered for removing these spots. The following process is recommended as one of the most efficacious for clearing a sunburnt complexion, and imparting the most beautiful tint to the skin; at night on going to bed, crush some strawberries upon the face, leaving them there all night and they will become dry. Next morning wash with chervil water, and the skin will appear fresh, fair, and brilliant.
Or, take a bunch of green grapes; dip it in water, and then sprinkle it with alum and salt; wrap it in paper, and bake it under hot ashes. Express the juice and wash the face with it. This liquor removes freckles and scars.
Or, take half a pint of milk, squeeze into it the juice of a lemon, add a spoonful of brandy, and boil the whole. Skim it well, after which take it off the fire, and put it aside for use. It would not be amiss to add also a small quantity of loaf sugar, and rock alum.
Or, take equal parts of roots of wild cucumber and narcissus; dry them in the shade; reduce them into a very fine powder, and put it into some good brandy. Wash the face with it till you begin to feel it itching, on which wash with cold water. Repeat this every day till the freckles are removed, which they cannot fail to be in a very short time, because this liquid is somewhat caustic. The princess Louisa Colonna, adds the author, from whom we borrow this process, made use of this remedy with very great success. She learned the secret of a Neapolitan gentleman, who had travelled in Turkey.
Some persons, in order to remove the effects of sun-burning, use asses or even women's milk, alkalies or lixivial salts, ointments composed of butter of Cacao, spermaceti, and balm of Mecca, a yolk of egg beaten up in oil of lilies, &c.
Wash for removing Black Spots on the Skin
Take one pound of bullock's gall, and mix with it half an ounce of powdered alum. Beat the whole up together; a considerable ebullition with effervescence will take place, and the liquor will become turbid like thick mud, of a yellowish green; but a deposit is gradually formed at the bottom of the vessel, the liquid clarifies in the sun, and turns to red, approaching to gridelin, let it stand five or six days, and separate the scum which floats at the top, and the thick sediment at bottom. Put this clear liquor into a phial, cork it well, and expose it to the sun for three or four months. Another sediment will be formed at the bottom of the vessel, and a lump of grease, very white and hard, of the size of a walnut, will by degrees accumulate on the surface of the liquor, which will change from a red colour to a lemon yellow, and will smell like boiled lobster.
This liquor is an excellent remedy for black spots on the skin. To apply it, take a drachm and a half of this liquid, and the same quantity of oil of tartar: add an ounce of river water; mix the whole together, and keep it in a well corked phial. Only a small quantity of this mixture ought to be made at a time, because it will not keep long. To apply it dip a finger in the liquid, and wet the spots with it; let it dry, apply more, and repeat this seven or eight times a day, till the place, when dry, begins to appear red. A very slight smarting, or rather tickling, will thus be felt, and for a day or two the skin will look somewhat mealy. This farinescence falls off, and the spots disappear.
Another kind of spots are those of old age, and these are incontestibly the most disagreeable of all. Perhaps my readers may be surprised that I should mention them.
“At that age,” I hear some of them exclaim. At that age, I reply, people are very often as proud of their persons as in their youth. Are not aged people indefatigable in their search after the means of disguising the cruel ravages of unsparing time? They will not be angry, I hope, to find something for them. Besides, the young will, at the same time, be made acquainted with the means of silencing those indiscreet witnesses of the rapid progress of years.
These spots of which I am speaking are formed with age, and more particularly with those females who have not made a regular use of the cosmetics which preserve the delicacy, the suppleness, and the flexibility of the skin. They first attack the nose, forming on either side a kind of plate, which looks like boiled leather. They sometimes extend to the cheeks and forehead; the skin then acquires a very considerable thickness. This thick crust it is necessary to destroy, and that is no trifling affair: it cannot be effected without employing successively two different processes. The part must first be moistened and softened sufficiently with emollients, and afterwards caustics, of the kind we have indicated above for marks, must be applied. If these caustics should prove too weak, then make use of water distilled from bullock's gall, in which a small quantity of salt has been dissolved. But we repeat, that the skin must previously be thoroughly softened; and if the caustics fail to produce all the effects that is expected, the reason is, because the first direction has not been exactly complied with; and it is necessary to begin again with the emollients.
These spots are said to attack particularly such women as have not been in the habit of using cosmetics. This is the hideous stamp which the deity of the toilette impresses upon all those who have not frequented his altar. It is thus that he punishes them sooner or later, for their neglect of his worship, and that he demonstrates to the whole fair sex the utility of cosmetics.
To remove the Wrinkles of the Face
Take two ounces of the juice of onions, the same quantity of the white lily, the same of Narbonne honey, and an ounce of white wax. Put the whole into a new earthen pipkin till the wax is melted; then take the pipkin from the fire, and in order to mix the whole well together, keep stirring it with a wooden spatula till it grows quite cold. You will then have an excellent ointment for removing wrinkles. It must be applied at night when going to bed, and not wiped off till morning.
Or, take the second water of barley, and strain it through a piece of fine linen. Add a few drops of balm of Mecca; shake the bottle for a considerable time till the balm is entirely incorporated with the water, when it will assume a somewhat turbid and whitish appearance. This is an excellent wash for beautifying the face and preserving the freshness of youth. If used only once a day, it takes away wrinkles, and gives surprising brilliancy to the skin. Before it is applied, the face ought to be washed with rain water.
The wrinkles which disfigure a fair face are not the only ones that are dreaded by beauty. They sometimes appear after pregnancy upon the bosom and belly, in consequence of violent tension to which the skin of those parts is then exposed. It is necessary in this case to have recourse to those precautions which art dictates, and to employ such means as art affords to remedy this deformity. To prevent the too great depression of those parts, they ought to be supported by bandages drawn tolerably tight: The following process is borrowed from that intelligent physician, Le Camus:-
“Melt some of the best white wax; add unequal parts of spermaceti, which incorporate well with the wax, and pour into this mixture a small quantity of spirit of wine. Dip into it pieces of linen, which apply very hot to the belly soon after delivery, and fasten them with bandages. Take care to turn the piece of cloth dipped in the wax every morning, and renew it at the end of a week. This easy process will be sufficient entirely to prevent wrinkles, and to preserve the firmness and the delicacy of the skin. When this application is intended for the breasts, it is necessary to make a hole for the nipples, as too violent a compression of them might be attended with disagreeable consequences.”
Balm of Mecca
The balm of Mecca, which is likewise called balm of India, white balm of Constantinople, balm of Egypt, balm of Grand Cairo, and opobalsamum, is a liquid resin of a whitish colour, approaching to yellow, with a strong smell resembling that of a lemon, and pungent and aromatic taste. It is one of the most highly esteemed cosmetics, but it is very dear, and extremely difficult to be procured genuine. What is sold by the name of balm of Mecca at London and Paris, is made by the perfumers of those cities. “It is,” says M. A. Monzey, in the Memoirs of the National Institute, “a mixture of the finest aromatic oils, whose aroma approaches nearest the genuine balm. These imitations sell at the rate of twenty-five to thirty-five shillings an ounce, whereas the same quantity of the real balm of Mecca cannot be procured under four guineas.”
It is very certain that the balm of Mecca, manufactured in the west of Europe, possesses none of the qualities of the genuine balm; it would therefore be desirable to know how to distinguish them. The following method has been pointed out by a person who has resided at Constantinople:- Pour a drop into water, and put into this drop an iron knitting needle. If the whole of the drop of balm adheres to the needle, this proves that it has not been adulterated. To ascertain the degree of dependence that is to be placed on this kind of proof, it is necessary to have some of the balm which we are well assured is genuine.
The ladies of Constantinople, and those of Asia and Egypt, hold the opobalsamum in the highest request, and use it to render the skin soft, white, and smooth.
The women of the East slightly anoint their hands and face at night when they go to bed; next morning minute scales are detached from the skin in every part on which this precious balm has operated. This renovation of the skin renders it incomparably white.
The Egyptian females make use of it in a different manner. The dark colour of their complexion, it is true, requires a stronger dose.
It is at the bath that they anoint themselves with this balm. They remain in the bath until they are very warm; they then anoint the face and neck, not slightly like the women of the East, but with an ample and copious ablution, rubbing themselves until the skin has absorbed the whole. They then remain in the bath until the skin is perfectly dry; after which they remain for three days with the face and neck impregnated with the balm. On the third they again repair to the bath, and go through the same process. This operation they repeat for the space of a month, during which time they take care not to wipe the skin.
The European ladies who have an opportunity of procuring a quantity of this valuable balm, are more frugal of it; they seldom use it pure, but mix it with other similar substances, and compose a cosmetic balm, which is thought to possess considerable efficacy in preserving the beauty of the skin. The best method of making it is as follows:- Take equal parts of balm of Mecca and oil of sweet almonds, recently extracted. Mix these drugs carefully in a glass mortar, till they form a kind of ointment, to three drachms of which, previously put into a mortar, pour six ounces of spirit of wine. Leave it to digest until you have extracted a sufficient tincture. Separate this tincture from the oil, and put one ounce of it into eight ounces of the flowers of beans, or others of a similar kind, and you will have an excellent milky cosmetic.
Others make it with a kind of virgin milk. For this purpose it is sufficient to dissolve the balm of Mecca in spirit of wine, or Hungary water; then put a few drops of this solution into lily water. The balm of Mecca, notwithstanding its great reputation has been decried by some. Lady Wortley Montague describes it as having agreed ill with her; notwithstanding it cannot be denied that the balm of Mecca is used to advantage by the most beautiful women, and that the Turkish ladies, who make use of it, have, as her ladyship observes, the loveliest bloom in the world.
This cosmetic is not a milk, though it bears that appellation. This unmeaning name has been given to several liquids of a very different nature, rendered milky, that is opake and whitish, by means of a slight precipitate formed and suspended in them.
I have observed that the appellation of virgin milk has been given to liquids widely differing in their nature, and this assertion I shall maintain. Is it not indeed ridiculous, that under the same name one perfumer shall give me an innocent cosmetic and another a noxious drug, or that I may receive both at different times from the same perfumers? For this reason I would exhort the ladies to compose their virgin milk themselves, which would be the easiest thing in the world.
The virgin milk which is in most general use, and is the most salutary, is a tincture of benzoin precipitated by water. To obtain the tincture of benzoin take a certain quantity of that gum, pour spirit of wine upon it, and boil it till it becomes a rich tincture. Virgin milk is prepared by pouring a few drops of this tincture into a glass of water, which produces a milky mixture. This virgin milk, if the face be washed with it, will give a beautiful rosy colour. To render the skin clear and brilliant, let it dry upon it without wiping.
The tincture of benzoin is likewise recommended for removing spots, freckles, pimples, erysipelatous eruptions, &c.; but its effect is very doubtful, or rather, for the truth ought to be spoken, it is incapable of producing any effect in these cases. I shall give, in another place, directions for preparing more powerful remedies.
The following kinds of virgin milk are rather more powerful in their effects:-
Take equal parts of benzoin and storax, dissolve them in a sufficient quantity of spirits of wine, which will assume a reddish colour, and emit a very agreeable smell. Some add to it a quantity of the balm of Mecca; pour a few drops into very pure common water. The ladies make use of it with success for washing their faces.
Pound some house-leek in a marble mortar, express the juice and clarify it, put a small quantity into a glass, and pour upon it a few drops of spirits of wine; the mixture instantly forms a kind of curdled milk, exceedingly efficacious for rendering the skin smooth and removing pimples.
Take an ounce of Roche alum and an ounce of sulphur, reduced to a very fine powder; put the whole into a quart bottle, and add to it a pint of rose water. Shake these substances for half an hour, which will give the water the appearance of milk. Shake the bottle every time before it is used. Steep a cloth in this liquid, leave it all night upon the face, which must afterwards be washed with rose and plantain water.
The name of virgin milk is likewise applied to a very different liquid; I mean the vinegar of lead precipitated with water. This is extolled as a remedy for the eruptive disorders of the skin; but it is repercussive, and of course is often attended with danger. As a remedy it ought therefore not to be employed, without the necessary precautions; but as a cosmetic it should never be used, because it dries and blackens the skin. It is nevertheless a fact, that most of the liquids sold by the name of virgin milk, are nothing but an extract of lead dissolved in vinegar.
To spare them the dangers attendant on the use of this pernicious drug, I again recommend to the ladies to compose their virgin milk themselves, rather than apply to the perfumers, who make at least fifteen or twenty different sorts.
Oil of Cacao
This is the best and most natural of all pomades. It is particularly suitable for such ladies as have a dry skin, rendering it soft and smooth, without giving it the appearance of being greasy. It is much used by the Spanish ladies of Mexico. In France and England it cannot be used pure, because it grows too hard: it is, therefore, necessary to mix it with some other oil; for instance - oil of ben, or oil of almonds, extracted without fire. Oil of ben is likewise used with success as a lenitive for burns, acrid eruptions, chapped lips, and sore breasts.
Oil of Ben
This oil is extracted by expression from the nuts known by the same name. It possesses the property of never becoming rancid; it has neither taste nor smell. In consequence of this latter quality, the perfumers make use of it with advantage to take the scent of flowers, and to make very agreeable essences.
The ladies also use this oil to soften the skin. When mixed with vinegar and nitre, it is employed for curing pimples and itching.
The ancients bestowed high encomium on a water, or oil of talc, which, according to them, possessed the property of whitening the complexion, and ensuring to women the freshness of youth till the most advanced age. We know not in what manner the ancients composed this precious cosmetic. A French author gives the way of composing a liquid that may serve as a substitute for it; and a German chemist has also published a method of supplying the loss of this secret possessed by the ancients.
“All those who have directed their attention to cosmetics,” says Abdeker, “have regretted the loss of the secret of making water of talc, and have looked upon it as a discovery of the utmost importance to the graces. The following composition, perhaps, approaches nearest to that highly vaunted cosmetic. Take any quantity of talc, divide it into laminae, and calcine it with yellow sulphur. Then pound it, and wash it in a great quantity of warm water. “When you are sure you have extracted all the salts by this washing, gently pour off the water, and leave the pulp at the bottom of the vessel to dry. When dry, calcine it in a furnace for two hours with a strong fire. Take a pound of this calcined talc and reduce it to a powder, with two ounces of sal ammoniac. Put the whole in a glass bottle, and set it in a damp place. All the talc will spontaneously dissolve, and then you have nothing more to do than to pour off the liquor gently, taking great care not to disturb it. This liquor is as clear and as bright as a pearl, and it is impossible to present the fair sex with a cosmetic, the effects of which are more astonishing.
Oil of Talc
According to M. Justi, a German chemist, who has likewise endeavoured to recover a secret of such importance to the fair sex, this process is as follows:-
He took one part of Venetian talc and two parts of calcined borax. After he had perfectly pulverized and mixed these substances, he put them into a crucible, which he covered with a lid, and placed in a furnace. He exposed it for an hour to a very violent heat, and at the end of that time he found the mixture transformed into glass of a greenish yellow colour. This glass he reduced to powder, then mixed it with two parts of salt of tartar, and again melted the whole in a crucible. By this second fusion he obtained a mass, which he placed in a cellar, upon an inclined piece of glass, with a vessel underneath it. In a short time the whole was converted into a liquid, in which the talc was perfectly dissolved.
Oil of Tartar
Take a pound and a half of white-wine tartar, two ounces of saltpetre, an ounce of Roche alum. Pound them all together, put them into an earthen plate, and expose them to a reverberating fire till they are calcined; then put an ounce of this substance, calcined quite white, into a pint of brandy.
Though writers on the subject of the toilette have recommended this composition as one of the best cosmetics that can be used for giving a clear complexion, it is necessary to be careful not to use it to excess. I have already introduced a caution respecting the danger of applying to the skin such compositions in which metallic calces are ingredients.
Take equal parts of bean-flour, of the four cold seeds, that is - of pompion, melon, cucumber, and gourd - and of fresh cream; beat the whole up together, adding a sufficient quantity of milk to make an ointment, which apply to the face. This receipt is extracted from the Ami des Femmes. Another author asserts, that the wash used by the Danish ladies is totally different; it is what is called l'eau de Regeon. It is composed in the following manner:-
Take juice of water lilies, of melons, of cucumbers, of lemons, of each one ounce; briony, wild succory, lily flowers, borage, beans, of each a handful; eight pigeons hashed. Put the whole mixture in an alembic, adding four ounces of lump sugar, well pounded, one drachm of borax, the same quantity of camphor, the crumb of three French rolls, and a pint of white wine. When the whole has remained in decoction for seventeen or eighteen days, proceed to distillation, and you will obtain pigeon-water, which is such an improver of the complexion.
It is by washing themselves with this water, we are told, that the Danish ladies, who have naturally a fine complexion, preserve all the freshness of youth till the age of fifty.
Some persons in order to give lustre to their skin, make use of water in which alum has been dissolved; but this practice is pernicious. Alum, which possesses a highly astringent property, gives the skin too great a degree of tension. It becomes brilliant, it is true, but the tension takes away its elasticity, and premature wrinkles are the consequence. The astringent quality of the alum must, therefore, be attempered. This is done by means of the following composition, which may be used without danger:-
Boil some eggs and alum in rose-water; make them up in a paste, which mould into the form of small sugar-loaves. The ladies use this paste to give greater firmness to the skin.
Or, take two ounces of borax, two ounces of alum, and two drachms of camphor. Pulverize the whole, and boil it in a considerable quantity of spring water. Then dilute the whites of two eggs with a little verjuice, and throw them into the water, when it is taken from the fire. Leave the mixture exposed to the sun for the space of twenty days. “This wash,” says Dr. Le Camus, “produces wonderful effects, and seems to restore youth to decayed faces.”
Eau de Veau
Take a calf's foot, and boil in four quarts of water until it is reduced to half the quantity. Add half a pound of rice, and boil it with crumb of white bread steeped in milk, a pound of fresh butter, and the whites of five fresh eggs, with their shells and membranes. Mix with them a small quantity of camphor and alum, and distil the whole. This cosmetic is one that may be strongly recommended.
Or, take three calves feet, chopped small, three melons of middling size, three cucumbers, four or five fresh eggs, a slice of gourd, two lemons, a pint of skimmed milk, a gallon of rose-water, a quart of juice of water-lilies, a pint of juice of plantain, and wild tansey, and half an ounce of borax. Distil the whole in a balnea mariae.
Take half a dozen of lemons, cut them small, and infuse them in a quart of cow's milk, with an ounce of white sugar, and an ounce of Roche alum. Distil the whole in a balnea mariae. Rub the face at night with the product.It gives great lustre to the skin; it may be recommended with safety, and its effects are certain.
Or, take an ounce of sulphur, two ounces of olibanum and myrrh, six drachms of amber, and one pound of rose-water; distil the whole in a balnea mariae, wash yourself with the products at night before you go to bed, and in the morning with the barley-water mentioned further on. It will not fail to give your face a younger look.
Or, infuse wheat bran for three or four hours in vinegar, add to it a few yolks of eggs, and a grain or two of ambergris, and distil the whole. You will obtain a wash that will give an astonishing lustre to the face. It is advisable to keep it for eight or ten days in the sun, with the bottle carefully corked.
Or, take equal parts of lemon juice and whites of eggs; beat the whole together in a varnished earthen pot, and set it upon a gentle fire. Stir the matter with a wooden spatula till it has acquired nearly the same consistence as butter. Before you make use of it add a small quantity of any odoriferous essence. Before the face is anointed it should be carefully washed with rice water. This is one of the best methods of rendering the skin beautiful and brilliant.
Or, take equal parts of mastic, olibanum, and resin, pound them together on marble, and dilute the mixture with very good white wine, so that the whole may be perfectly clear; and distil it in a glass alembic. Anoint yourself with the product before you go to bed, and you will find it communicates a brilliant white, which no other wash can take away.
Or, take equal parts of water of wild tansey and water of house-leek; for every half pound, add two drachms of sal ammoniac.
Catch the drops which distil from the vine in the months of May and June, and wash your face with them. Such is the cosmetic, which Nature presents to us ready made.
This is an excellent cosmetic, but it cannot be made except in one particular season. Gather the barley when the yet unformed grain resembles a milky substance. Pound these grains in a mortar with asses milk, and then distil the whole in a balnea mariae. Wash yourself with this liquid; it gives extraordinary beauty to the face, and is productive of no inconvenience.
Though this water does not possess many virtues as a cosmetic, the ladies make a good deal of use of it on account of its agreeable smell; and perhaps too, on account of its name, consecrated to the loves and the graces. My fair readers will not be displeased if I inform them how they may procure it in a very short time, and in the easiest manner. For this purpose it is sufficient to put roses into water, and to add two or three drops of vitriolic acid. The water assumes the colour, and becomes impregnated with the aroma of the flowers.
The effects of this water for whitening the complexion are highly extolled. “It ought,” says the author of the Art of Perfumery, “to be continually on the toilette of every lady.”
This name is given to the liquid distilled from strawberries. When wood strawberries are used for this purpose, the water has an exquisite smell, and ladies have recourse to it at their toilette to remove freckles and spots upon the face. Hoffman, however, prefers the distilled water of the whole plant which he regards as more efficacious and detergent. We treat in a distinct chapter of spots on the skin, and the remedies to be applied to them.
We have admitted into this work but a very small portion of the numerous receipts given by the authors who have treated of cosmetics. We thought it our duty to make a prudent selection, and to confine ourselves to such processes as are attended with the greatest advantage and the least inconvenience. In the succeeding chapters of this work will be found other compositions, which likewise contribute to the embellishment of the skin, but which are devoted to particular uses, of which we shall treat separately. We shall conclude this chapter with a few general observations.
Cosmetics appear under different forms: some are liquid, others mucilaginous, and others have vinegar for their vehicle. Others again resemble pastes and ointments. People should avoid the use of cosmetics with the composition of which they are not acquainted. There are cosmetics which at first produce an astonishing effect, and ultimately ruin the skin. Females should therefore abstain generally from all the cosmetics which are offered by empirics.
Mucilaginous cosmetics possess the property of rendering the skin more supple, softer, and more polished. They are in general the best adapted to the purpose for which they are designed, and are not attended with any inconvenience.
I cannot say the same of vinegars, which are used by ladies, and are often very pernicious. They evidently give lustre to the skin, and brilliancy to its colour, and sometimes even remove spots; but they alter the texture of the cutaneous organ, dry it, and produce premature wrinkles. I cannot warn you too strongly against the frequent use of them.
Pastes have a utility which is not attended with the same inconvenience. They contribute in an efficacious manner to preserve the suppleness and elasticity of the skin.
Ointments produce a still more certain effect, because they remain longer on the surface of the skin. They may be kept there all night, in which case they preserve the parts which are covered with them from the influence of the air, check the matter of insensible perspiration, and produce, in a far superior degree to those which are properly called oily cosmetics, all the effects that M. de Senne expected of the latter, as we have already observed. But, in order that ointments and liniments may possess the perfection that is requisite for producing none but good effects, they ought, says an able physician, whom I have already quoted, “to contain nothing irritating; and the fatty substances which form their basis, should be in a state of great purity and extreme division.
Very fresh cream,” he adds, “is often preferable to all those preparations, which, on account of the wax which they contain, and their super-oxygenation, are not fit to be used by women whose skin is too dry and too irritable.
“In order to give whiteness and lustre to the skin,” continues the same author, “or even to protect it in some cases from certain contagious diseases, they may use steatite, reduced to a very fine powder, which then forms an excellent cosmetic. Professor Chaussier has employed this powder with success to preserve himself from the hospital fever. He applied it to the surface of his fingers, and touched with safety, patients who were most dangerously affected.”
Concerning the different cosmetics which are sold by perfumers; and of which the inventors, or sellers, make a secret, I shall say nothing. Some of them may be very good, but till I know their compositions, I cannot give any opinion respecting them. Nevertheless I am inclined to think that all those washes which are sold at a high price, are merely new combinations of processes that have long been known. A new name is often sufficient to bring again into vogue an old process as well as an old fashion; and very often the cosmetic which lay forgotten on the shelf or in the drawer, and wanted nothing but the kind aid of a new wrapper to obtain a ready sale.
Must not be confounded with the cosmetics of which we have treated above, as they are far from answering this description, being not only incapable of embellishing the skin, but those who make use of them are extremely fortunate when they do not contribute to increase their defects, for they cannot give the skin the desired qualities, and only instate them in a manner more or less coarse. But paints are used for various reasons. In the first place they are sooner and more easily applied; they produce a higher, more brilliant and speedy effect; and in the next, in cases where cosmetics would be of no use; for instance, for persons too plain or too old, paints afford a convenient resource, a last and only method of disguising either the defects of the complexion or the ravages of time.
In these observations I allude more particularly to white, for if ever paint were to be proscribed, I should plead for an exception in favour of rouge, which may be rendered extremely innocent, and be applied with such art as sometimes to give an expression to the countenance which it would not have without an auxiliary. I therefore think it would be very wrong to include rouge in the same prescription as white. The latter is never becoming; but rouge, on the contrary, almost always looks well. It will be necessary, however, to show you how to prepare white paints, as they are often used.
Whites are extracted from minerals more or less pernicious, but always corrosive. Let us attempt a faithful sketch of the baneful effects inseparable from the use of them. White paint then, affects the eyes, which it swells and inflames, and renders painful and watery. It changes the texture of the skin, on which it produces pimples; it causes rheums, attacks the teeth, makes them ache, destroys the enamel, and loosens them. It heats the mouth and throat, infecting and corrupting the saliva. Lastly, it penetrates through the pores of the skin, acting by degrees on the spongy substance of the lungs, and inducing disease. Or, in other cases, if the paint be composed of aluminous or calcareous substances, it stops the pores of the skin, which it tarnishes, and prevents the perspiration, which is of course carried to some other part, to the peril of the individual. Some white paints are extracted either from lead, tin, or bismuth. To the inconveniences which I have just enumerated, that of turning the shirt black when it is exposed to the contact of sulphureous or phosphoric exhalations. Accordingly those females who make use of them, ought carefully to avoid going near to substances in a state of putrefaction, the vapours of sulphur and liver of sulphur, and the exhalations of bruised garlic. I shall not give the way of composing the different metallic paints; but should rather wish that these receipts were entirely lost. I shall only subjoin the process for making a cheap paint, which if not wholly free from inconvenience, is not, however, accompanied with those dangers which always attend the use of whites prepared from bismuth, tin, or lead.
Take a piece of Briançon chalk, of a pearl grey colour, and rasp it gently with a piece of dog's skin. After this sift it through a seive of very fine silk, and put this powder into a pint of good distilled vinegar, in which leave it for a fortnight, taking care to shake the bottle or pot several times each day except the last, on which it must not be disturbed. Pour off the vinegar, so as to leave the chalk behind in the bottle, into which pour very clear water that has been filtered. Throw the whole into a clean pan, and stir the water well with a wooden spatula. Let the powder settle again to the bottom; pour the water gently off; and wash this powder six or seven times, taking care always to make use of filtered water. When the powder is as soft, and as white as you would wish, dry it in a place where it is not exposed to dust; sift it through a silken sieve, which will make it still finer. It may be either left in powder, or wetted and formed into cakes like those sold by the perfumers. One pint of vinegar is sufficient to dissolve a pound of talc.
This white may be used in the same manner as carmine, dipping your finger, or a piece of paper, or what is preferable to either, a hare's foot, prepared for the purpose, in ointment, and putting upon it about a grain of this white, which will not be removed even by perspiration; if the ointment with which it is applied is properly made, this white does no injury to the face. The same ingredients may be used for making rouge.
Of these powders there are several sorts; the first and finest is a magistery made from real pearls, and is the least hurtful to the skin. It moreover gives the most beautiful appearance, but is usually too dear for common sale or use; still the good perfumer ought never to be without it, for the use of the curious and the rich, who seldom care for expence in an article, which gives beauty to the complexion.
There are other kinds of powder for the face, in imitation of the above. Some of these are made from mother of pearl, and also from oyster shells; but, as the magistery made from these is never so impalpably fine as the former, they leave a shining appearance on the face, which shows the art that has been used, on the very first view.
Bismuth Pearl Powder
which can be made next in quality to the genuine sort above mentioned, is as follows:- Take four ounces of the whitest and driest magistery of bismuth, and two ounces of fine starch powder; mix them well together and put them into a subsiding glass, which is wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. Now pour over them a pint and a half of proof spirits, and shake and stir the whole well; after which let them remain together, to subside for a day or two. When all the powder has fallen to the bottom, pour off the spirit from it quite dry; and then place the glass in the heat of the sun, in order to evaporate any remaining moisture.
Now turn out the white mass, which will be in the shape of a cone; all the dirty parts, if any, forming the top or small end. If there be any dirty particles, they are carefully to be scraped off, and the remaining part of the cake is to be again pulverized, and to have more proof spirits poured over it. Now proceed, in all respects, as before; and if there be any moisture remaining a second time, the cone is to be placed on a large piece of chalk, made very smooth, to absorb all its moisture.
Now cover the whole with a bell-glass, to preserve the compound from dust and dirt, and set it in the heat of the sun, which, if it be very hot, will soon dry and whiten it. After this, grind the mass with a muller on a marble stone; and keep the powder in a glass bottle, having a ground stopper, free from any communication with external air.
Place a little oxide of bismuth on a dish, and pour over it some Harrowgate water. Its beautiful white colour will instantly be changed to black. It is the sulphurated hydrogen gas, with which the water is impregnated, that acts thus on the oxide.
There is a curious anecdote related of the influence of this gas on the oxide of bismuth. It is well known that this oxide under the name of pearl white, is used as a cosmetic by those of the fair sex who wish to become fairer. A lady thus painted was sitting in a lecture room, where chemistry being the subject, water was impregnated with sulphurated hydrogen gas, (Harrowgate water) and handed round for inspection. On smelling this liquid, the lady in question became suddenly black in the face. Every person was of course alarmed by this sudden chemical change, but the lecturer explaining the cause of the phenomenon, the lady received no further injury than a practical lesson to rely more upon natural than artificial beauty in future.
To one part of Venice talc, pulverized, put two parts of oil of camphor; let them digest in the balnea mariae till the whole becomes very white.
A White Salve which may be used for Paint
Take four ounces of very white wax, five ounces of oil of bitter almonds, one ounce of very pure spermaceti, one ounce and a half of white lead washed in rose water, and an ounce of camphor. Mix the whole up into a salve, which may be preferred to all other whites.
Our ladies make much less use of rouge than they did some years ago, and they look much better for it; at least they apply it with more art and taste. With very few exceptions, they have absolutely renounced that glaring, fiery red, with which our antiquated dames formerly washed their faces.
It were much to be wished that females would compose their rouge themselves. They would not then run the risk of using those dangerous reds in which minerals are ingredients; of spoiling the skin, and exposing themselves to the inconveniences which, as we have observed, result from the use of metallic paints.
These dangerous reds are those compounded with miniums, which is a calx of lead, or cinabar, otherwise called vermilion, produced by sulphur and mercury. Vegetable reds, therefore, should alone be used. These are attended with little danger, especially if they are used with moderation.
The vegetable substances which furnish rouge, are red sandal wood, root of alkanet, cochineal, Brazil wood, and especially the bastard saffron, which yields a very beautiful colour, that is, when mixed with a certain quantity of talc.
Some perfumers compose vegetable rouges, for which they take vinegar as the excipient. These reds are liable to injure the beauty of the skin; it is more advisable to mix them with oily or unctuous matters, and to form salves. For this purpose you may employ, for instance, balm of Mecca, butter of Cacao, spermaceti, or oil of ben. There are females whose skin cannot bear unctuous matter; such may make use of the following preparation:-
Take Briançon chalk, reduce it to a very fine powder, add to it carmine in proportion to the vividness of the red which you intend to produce, and carefully triturate this mixture which may be applied to the skin without danger.
The makers of rouge, out of economy, sometimes substitute cinabar for carmine. You should ascertain if carmine be genuine, which will be the case if it is not altered either by the mixture of salt, of sorrel, or by that of alkali.
The rouge, of which we have just given the composition, may likewise be made up into salves; it then produces a superior effect, being a better imitation of the natural colours.
From among the numerous processes for making rouge, I shall also select the three following:-
Take a pint of good brandy, put into it half an ounce of benzoin, an ounce of red sandal wood, half an ounce of Brazil wood and rock alum. Pound and put them into red wine, which boil till it is reduced to one fourth part. To make use of it, dip into it a little cotton, and rub the cheeks.
Take half an ounce of red sandal wood reduced to powder, half an ounce of cloves, and five pounds of sweet almonds. Pound the whole together. Upon this paste pour two ounces of white wine, and an ounce and a half of rose water. Stir the whole well every day. In about eight or nine days stir this paste in the same manner as you do to extract the oil of sweet almonds, and you will obtain a very good red oil.
To prepare carmine boil an ounce or two of cochineal, finely powdered, in eleven or twelve pints of rain water, in a tinned copper vessel for three minutes, then add twenty-five grains of alum, and continue the boiling for two minutes longer and let it cool; draw off the clear liquor as soon as it is only blood warm, very carefully into shallow vessels, and put them by, laying a sheet of paper over each of them, to keep out the dust for a couple of days, by which time the carmine will have settled. In case the carmine does not separate properly, a few drops of a solution of green vitriol will throw it down immediately. The water being drawn off, the carmine is dried in a warm stove, the first coarse sediment serves to make Florence lake; the water drawn off is liquid rouge.
Carmine is the highest and finest red colour we have. It comes chiefly from Germany, and is prepared from cochineal; it may, therefore, very easily be used. There are two or three sorts of this article. The finest, which is nearly double the price of the common kind, is, in the end, by far the cheapest. The difference between the two sorts will not easily be discerned by mere inspection; besides it is painful for the eyes, on account of the intensity of its colour, to look upon it, even for a minute. Comparison will certainly point out a difference, but the most certain way of detecting adulteration, is to fill a very small silver thimble, successively, with each sort. The finest and best sort will not weigh above one half or two-thirds of the worst, being commonly adulterated with vermilion and red-lead both very heavy powders.
Of these there are two sorts; one is made in Portugal, and is rather scarce; the paint contained in the Portuguese dishes being of a fine pale pink hue, and very beautiful in its application to the face. The other sort is made in London, and is of a dirty muddy red colour; it passes very well, however, with those who never saw the genuine Portuguese dishes, or who wish to be cheaply beautified.
The most marked difference between these two sorts is, that the true one from Portugal, is contained in dishes which are rough on the outside; whereas the dishes made here are glazed quite smooth.
There are several sorts of Spanish wool for similar use; but that which is made here, in London, by some of the Jews, is by far the best; that which comes from Spain being of a very dark red colour, whereas the former gives a light pale red; and, when it is very good, the cakes, which ought to be of the size and thickness of a crown-piece, shine and glisten between a green and a gold colour.
This sort of Spanish wool is always best, when made in dry and hot Summer weather, for then it strikes the finest blooming colour; whereas, what is made in wet Winter weather, is of a coarse dirty colour, like the wool from Spain. It is, therefore, best always to buy it in the Summer season, when, besides having it at the best time, the retailer can likewise have it cheaper; for then the makers can work as fast as they please; whereas, in Winter, they must choose and pick their time.
These papers are of two sorts; they differ in nothing from the above; the red colour, which in the latter tinges the wool, is here laid on paper; chiefly for the convenience of carrying it in a pocket-book.
This coloured wool comes from China, in large round loose cakes, of the diameter of three inches. The finest of these gives a most lovely and agreeable blush to the cheek; but it is seldom possible to pick more than three or four out of a parcel, which have a truly fine colour; for, as the cakes are loose, like carded wool, the voyage by sea, and the exposure to air, even in opening them to shew to a customer, carries off their fine colour.
These boxes, which are beautifully painted and japanned, come from China. They contain each two dozen of papers; and in each paper are three smaller ones, viz., a small black paper for the eyebrows; a paper of the same size, of a fine green colour; but which, when just arrived and fresh, makes a very fine red for the face; and lastly, a paper containing about half an ounce of white powder, (prepared from real pearl) for giving an alabaster colour to some parts of the face and neck.
These are not commonly to be bought; but the perfumer may easily procure them by commissioning some friend who goes to China, to purchase a parcel for him.
This ought by no means to be neglected, as these paints are exceedingly well adapted for his delicate customers, who pay less regard to price, than to the goodness of the article they purchase.
As to the carmine, the French red, the genuine Portuguese dishes, the Chinese wool, and the green papers in the boxes of all colours, are all preparations of cochineal, which is allowed to be of such sovereign service, even in the art of medicine, that the least harm need not be dreaded from its use, nor from any of its preparations, by those ladies who are accustomed to paint their faces, either from custom, or from a strong desire to be thought beautiful and handsome.
The red powders, above described, are best put on by a fine camel-hair pencil. The colours in the dishes, wools, and green paper, are commonly laid on by the tip of the little finger, previously wetted. As all these have some gum used in their composition, they are apt to leave a shining appearance on the cheek, which too plainly shews that artificial beauty has been resorted to.
The Spanish wool, the papers, and the English-made Portuguese dishes, are all made from a moss-like drug, from Turkey, called saf-flower, well known to scarlet dyers, &c.; but whether this drug, and its preparation, be equally innocent with those of the cochineal, is a subject which deserves further inquiry. These paints are all wetted previous to being used, and leave a shining appearance on the face, like the colours described, and from the same cause.
There is nothing more important in the management of a fine complexion and a delicate skin, than the proper choice of the soaps used in bathing and washing. As your knowledge of these may be of much use to your employers, I shall here give you such instructions as you will find it of advantage to attend to.
In the first place then, I must remind you that the skin is extremely thin on the arms, the hands, and the face, where soap is most frequently applied. You will understand this better if you have ever ruffled the skin of your hand, and observed the piece that was rubbed off, which is thinner and finer than the finest, tissue paper; and though it is very strong and tough, considering its delicacy of texture, yet by improper management it may be rendered coarse, rough, and scaly, as you often see it is, in those persons who have not attended to it with care. If, for instance, it is too dry, it will shrivel up, and appear very coarse; and if it is too moist, it will look greasy and disagreeable. Sometimes it will be partially abraded, and leave the parts chapped and sore, which will cause either the hands or the face to look bad and unsightly.
Now, all these effects which I have just enumerated, may be more or less caused by the improper use of soap in bathing or washing. Soap is composed of pearl-ash, pot-ash, or soda, and of oil or tallow, to mellow the effects of the other ingredients, which would otherwise be too strong. Pearl-ash, or soda, if applied in a moist state to the bare skin, without any oil or ointment to defend it, would be apt either to burn or blister it, and the least you could expect would be a painful smarting. But if you cover the skin well with pomatum, or hair oil, or any thing of that kind, before applying the pearl-ash or the soda, these effects will be in a great measure prevented. It is the same thing, therefore, in the case of soap, in which the strong ingredients of the pearl-ash or soda are rendered milder by their combination with oil or tallow. That these, however, do not altogether mollify the acrid qualities which we have described, you will be convinced, if you have ever, while washing yourself, got a little of the soap within the eye-lid, and felt in consequence the smarting of the pearl-ash or soda, for the oil or the tallow would not of course smart the eye.
You may ask me what is the use of soap in washing? This question is very easily resolved according to the explanation which I have just given you of the composition of soap. The skin is naturally softened with a delicate oil, which is manufactured from the blood in thousands of little vessels not so big as a grain of sand, which are placed under every part of the skin. In some persons there is too much of this natural ointment of the skin produced, and their skins are consequently rendered greasy. In others there is too little, and their skin is of course much harsher and drier than is comfortable or pleasing. In all, however, there is more or less of this natural oil produced; and as it always, sooner or later, makes its way to the surface, the dust and other impurities with which the air is always filled, will unite with it and form a crust on the skin. This crust, indeed, is continually forming, every minute of our lives, on every part of the skin which is exposed to the air; but it is frequently so thin and fine as to be invisible. It can always, however, be proved to exist, by washing the hands in pure water; for though they may appear perfectly clean, yet the water will always be rendered more or less turbid.
But water alone, you must remark, can never make the skin quite clean; for it cannot unite with any thing of an oily nature, as the natural ointment of the skin is; and for this purpose we must have recourse to something which will unite with and cleanse away the combination of dust and oil which incrusts the skin. Now, pearl-ash, pot-ash, and soda, are the only things of this kind which can properly be used; but as it would not be safe, as we have seen, to use them alone, they are manufactured for the purpose into soap. I may remark for your satisfaction, that the soap-makers never use so much oil or tallow as wholly to kill the pearl-ash or soda, a portion of which is always left ready to combine with whatever grease or oil it meets with when applied to use. Now it is this uncombined portion which will unite with the natural ointment it meets with on the skin, and by forming a soap with it, dissolves the incrustation of dust, and makes the skin clean and pure.
The grand secret, then, of using soap properly, and without injury to the skin, is, to employ only enough to remove the superfluous natural oil, and the dust combined with it, and no more. If a greater quantity is used, as soon as the pearl-ash or soda finds no more oily matter to take up, they will attack the skin itself, and probably may injure it very seriously, causing red excoriations, scorbutic blotches, and eruptions, which nobody thinks of accusing soap for producing.
I shall now give you some receipts for preparing the least objectionable kinds of soap. To obtain a two-fold advantage, soaps are composed that give the skin the whiteness and suppleness which are so desirable. These soaps are very numerous, every perfumer having a particular way of making his own. We shall content ourselves with giving one or two processes, selecting those which produce the most advantageous effects; and this will, I think, be quite sufficient.
Soap for improving the Colour
Dilute two ounces of Venice soap in two ounces of lemon juice; add one ounce of oil of bitter almonds, and a like quantity of oil of tartar. Mix the whole, and stir it till it has acquired the consistence of honey.
Take half a pound of iris, two ounces of benzoin, one ounce of storax, a like quantity of yellow sanders, half a drachm of cinnamon, a few cloves, a little lemon peel, St. Lucia wood, and nutmeg. Well pulverize the whole; take about half a pound of white soap, grate it and put it to soak for four or five days in a pint and a half of brandy, with the powder; knead up the whole with about a quart of orange-flower water; make a paste of this soap, with a sufficient quantity of starch, and mould it into any size you please, adding whites of eggs and gum-dragon, dissolved in some kind of scented water. If you wish to give it a stronger scent mix with the paste a few grains of musk, some essential oil of lavender, bergamot, roses, carnations, jasmine, cinnamon, or, in short, any other matter the smell of which you may prefer.
Take two ounces of roots of marsh mallows, cleaned and dried in the shade. Reduce them to powder; add half an ounce of starch, and a like quantity of flour, three drachms of fresh pine apple kernels, one ounce of orange pippins, one ounce of oil of tartar, and of oil of sweet almonds, and a quarter of a drachm of musk. Reduce these articles which are to be pulverized to a very fine powder, and to each ounce of powder add half an ounce of Florence iris. Then steep four ounces of fresh roots of marsh mallows in orange flower water; let them stand a whole night, squeeze the whole well, and with the mucilage that comes from them, make a paste with the powder. Let this paste dry, and mould it into round balls. Make use of it, when necessary, with a little water that must be poured over the hands. Nothing softens the skin more or makes the hands whiter.
The hands should always be washed in hot water, as it softens and makes the skin look delicate and white. It is the duty of a lady's maid, therefore, to carry up hot water at all times when her lady goes to dress, and also when she retires for the night. Should the lady be very nice about her hands, she should wear leather gloves in the night, having previously rubbed them with some of the various pastes, the compositions of which you ought to be thoroughly acquainted with.
To prepare a paste for the hands, take one pound of sweet almonds, a quarter of a pound of bread crumb, half a pint of spring water, the same quantity of brandy, and the yolks of two eggs. After skinning the almonds, pound them and sprinkle them with vinegar that the paste may not turn to oil; add the crumb of bread, which moisten with the brandy as you mix it with the almonds, and the yolks of eggs. Set this mixture over a slow fire, and keep stirring it, lest the paste should adhere to the bottom of the vessel.
Pomades are also made for rubbing the hands and arms on going to bed. Of these the, following may be used with success:- Take two ounces of sweet almonds, three drachms of virgin wax, and three drachms of spermaceti. Warm these three substances in separate vessels, and then pour them all into one, taking care to stir them well with a wooden spatula; then throw them into a basonful of very clear fresh water; keep stirring, and change the water often, till your pomade becomes very white; put it up in rose water, or spring water, which must be changed every day.
As a considerable portion of your time will be occupied in making and altering your lady's dresses, you ought to study all the branches of needle-work with great care; for on your taste and skill in this department, much will depend. By studying with attention the principles of taste above laid down respecting the forms of dress and the adaptation of fashions, you may learn a good deal of what will be necessary, and become daily useful to you; but nothing which I can tell you will be of much use, unless you are very observant, and careful to turn every thing you learn into practical account.
The daily change of fashions will claim your constant attention; though, as I have so often hinted, you must study your lady's figure, and all the other circumstances connected with her person, in order to suit the fashions to these, according to the established principles of good taste; as, however imperative the authority of fashion may be, ought to be under the subjection of taste. Ladies are always more or less aware of this, and like to introduce some little variation of their own in the fashion of the day. A dress, indeed, may be made in the first style of fashion, and yet may infringe on every rule of good taste, and altogether disfigure the lady for whom it has been made. For example, when a lady is of a figure disproportionately broad in the bust, the more plainly the shoulders of a dress are trimmed, the better; as in that case a diminished effect is required. On the other hand, if the bust is disproportionately narrow, the epaulette ought to be very full, the sleeve falling rather off the shoulder, and the trimmings to correspond in producing an increase of breadth, to make up for the natural deficiency. This plan will be frequently more successful than any attempt at padding and stuffing, which, unless very well done, are apt to give a stiff unnatural appearance to the whole figure.
According to similar principles, all trimmings ought to be suited to the figure of the lady for whom a dress is intended. That is, if the figure is slender, the trimmings will not require to be so very full as when there is much embonpoint. By studying the effects which may be thus produced, particularly by frequent trials, you will acquire a tact of suiting your trimming to the figure, which will stamp your character for taste and cleverness, and make your services be considered valuable by your employers.
In taking patterns, attention to the preceding principles will also be advantageous; but you must, above all, be careful to form a correct notion of the figure to which you are to adapt the dress, and have correct measurements of the principal distances, according to which you are to shape out your pattern before cutting the stuff. Those who have had much cutting out can guess at this very nearly by the eye; but it will always be the safest way to have recourse to actual measurement, particularly when the dress you are about to make is required to fit tight to the shape. In the case of full, loose dresses, it will not be so necessary to be very exact; yet even in this instance, accurate measurements will enable you to make a dress fit better than the best guess measure you can take by the eye alone.
When you have once procured a pattern, however, which fits a lady's figure, (and this you ought to make of soft paper or cloth) you will not require to measure a fresh one for every new dress, though the fashion should change ever so considerably; for the same measurements must be kept to, how much soever the fashions may vary.
In cutting-out dresses, you will have great room for the display of economy, and may, by proper attention and ingenuity, save many pounds to your employers - a circumstance which is by no means unimportant, even to the most wealthy. By trying your patterns and shapes on the stuff, before you begin to cut, you may in this manner so manage it, that you will have but few useless pieces to throw away. According to this careful plan, you may frequently save a yard or two of valuable stuff; which may be of great use for trimmings or alterations. In cutting out figured silks, and other stuffs of the same kind, it is requisite to be very attentive to the manner in which they are to hang, otherwise you may spoil the whole dress, or, at least, occasion a considerable waste of the stuff before you can rectify any mistake of this description.
In working upon very fine dresses, such as those of white satin, &c., you must be careful not to crease or stain them, nor to injure their gloss, which will readily suffer from the slightest perspiration of the hands, and even by exposure to the heat of a fire or the glare of sunshine. As soon as you have finished a dress of this kind, it ought to be carefully folded up and wrapped in an envelope of fine paper; or, what is in some cases better, hung up in a wardrobe closet, on a peg, at full length, without being folded at all.
Fancy needle-work and embroidery will, for the most part, be only an occasional thing to fill up a vacant hour, when there are no other things pressing; but you should in this, as in all your services, endeavour as much as possible to excel, as it will greatly recommend you if you are capable of working a fine evening dress for your employers. It is of some importance to make a tasteful selection of the figures and the colours in such cases; but you will easily perceive that it is impossible for me to give you such directions upon paper as would be of much utility to you in practice. It will only require attention on your part, however, to become an adept in this as in all the other duties of your situation; and above all, I recommend to you a careful perusal of the principles above laid down respecting the colours and forms of dress, as regulated by taste and fashion.
As you will be entrusted with the charge of keeping your lady's dresses, it will be requisite that you carefully examine every article which has been worn, before you place it in the wardrobe, to see whether it has been soiled, or received any stain. If the weather be dusty, the dress ought to be wiped with a silk handkerchief; if stained, or otherwise soiled, you must have recourse to some of the following methods:-
If a silk or a cotton dress have been stained with grease, a very excellent method of removing the spots, without taking out the colour, is to grate raw potatoes to a pulp, in clean water, and pass the liquid through a coarse sieve, into another vessel of water; let the mixture stand till the fine white particles of the potatoes have fallen to the bottom; then pour the liquor off clear, and bottle it for use. Dip a sponge in the liquor and apply it to the spot till it disappear; then wash it in clean water several times. Two middle-sized potatoes will be enough for a pint of water. Be very careful not to wet more of a dress than is necessary, as some delicate colours will look slightly marked even with clean water; and I have known a very costly dress more spoiled by mismanagement in the taking out of the stain than by the stain itself. Spirits of turpentine you will find as effectual for the same purpose as any thing you can try. Apply it to the spot with a clean sponge, and rub it with a dry linen rag till the spots disappear, which will very soon be the case, as the turpentine quickly evaporates. You need not, therefore, be sparing of it, as it will not spoil the most delicate colour, and its effects are certain. It may be used for articles of all descriptions. A little essence of lemons will prevent all smell from the turpentine.
Another method of taking out grease spots is, to powder a quantity of French chalk, and mix it with lavender water, or with turpentine, to make a paste about as thick as table mustard, a little of which is to be put upon the stain; over which a piece of blotting paper is to be laid and run over with a hot smoothing iron: or, a little piece of the dry powder may be placed on the stained part, which is then to be put on a pewter or tin pot filled with boiling water. This will melt the grease, which will be dried up by the powder, and may then be brushed off.
In putting away furs, or any articles made of woollen, for the Summer, it is necessary for you to be aware that they are liable to be injured by the grub, or caterpillar of a small moth, which lives upon these as its food. Valuable articles are frequently, by this means, rendered entirely useless. A little bit of camphor, or a piece of tallow candle, will be the best means of preventing such accidents. You must likewise take care that the things be quite dry when put away, and that the place where they are kept is free from damp; otherwise, they may mould, mildew, or rot. Taking them out occasionally during Summer, and exposing them to the sun on a fine day, will be advantageous to prevent this.
The best way of cleaning silk of a black colour is to sponge it with hot ox gall on both sides, and then rinse it in clear water, and drying it by stretching it out smooth on a board. If the silks are of any other colour than black, make a strong lather by dissolving soft soap in boiling water, and when it is about as hot as the hand will bear, or rather less, put the article in and soap it thoroughly, either rinsing it or not, as the texture will bear without injury. It is then to be rinsed in warm water, to which dye stuffs may be added in small quantity, according to the colour; such as sulphuric acid for crimson, scarlet, maroon, or bright yellow; solution of tin, or lemon juice, for pink, rose, or carnation; pearl-ash for blue and purple; and for olive-green a little verdigris. When the colour is fawn, brown, or orange, no acid must be used. When this part of the process is finished, squeeze the liquid out of the stuff carefully and gently, then roll it in a coarse sheet and wring it. Hang it in a warm room to dry, and finish with fine gum-water, or dissolved isinglass, to which add some pearl-ash. This is to be rubbed on the wrong side before drying, calendering, and mangling.
Either black or plain silks may be cleaned by laying them smooth upon a board, and spreading a little soap over the dirty place. Then make a lather with fine soap, and, with a brush dipped into this, pass over the stuff the longway till one side is done, when the other is to be done in the same manner. It must then be put into hot water, and afterwards rinsed through cold water, taken out, squeezed, dried, and smoothed on the right side with an iron moderately hot. If the silk stuffs are white, or flowered, the best method of cleaning them will be to mix sifted stale bread crumbs with powder blue, rubbing it thoroughly over them, and then shaking it off and dusting them well.
Chintz may be cleaned by boiling two pounds of rice in two gallons of water till soft, when the whole is to be poured into a tub and used, not as soap lather is for linen. Wash it till quite clean, and then rinse it in the water the rice has been boiled in, which will do as well as starch. In drying it must be hung smooth, and rubbed with a smooth stone, but not ironed.
Fine lace and linen may be washed advantageously with the ashes of furze blossoms, in which case only about half the usual quantity of soap will be necessary. Lawns are done with soap in the usual way; but are put through gum arabic water instead of starch, and to be ironed on the wrong side. In the case of point lace, if it be not very much soiled, it need not be washed at all, but fixed in a tent and gone over with fine bread from which the crumb has been pared, afterwards dusting out the crumbs. When it is to be washed, fix it in a tent in the same manner, draw it straight, and make a warm lather of Castile soap, and with a fine brush dipped into this, rub over the whole gently. When one side is clean, you may then do the other; after this throw over it some clear water in which a little alum has been dissolved. It is then to be gone over on the wrong side with some fine thin starch; when dry, ironed on the same side, and finished by opening it with a bodkin. Veils are cleaned much in the same way, black ones being done with ox gall, as directed for black silk, and white ones being put into a lather of white soap, simmered for a quarter of an hour, then squeezed and rinsed in cold water, with a drop of liquid blue in it. It is then to be starched, clapped between the hands, and dried on a frame, or by pinning it out straight.
The method of clear-starching usually practised is, after rinsing the things in three waters and drying them in the sun, to dip them into a thick starch, previously strained through muslin. After squeezing them out of the starch, shake them gently, and again hang them up to dry by the fire or in the sun. When dry, dip them twice or three times into a large bason of clear water; squeeze them, spread them on a linen cloth, roll them up in it, and let them lie thus for about an hour. They will then be ready for the irons, and will look beautifully clear. Muslins and cambrics do not require the starch so thick as net or lace, but are in all other respects to be treated as I have directed.