« PreviousContinue »
OF THE POSSIBILITY OF GROWING YOUNG AGAIN.
IT is an invariable truth, as we have shewn in the course of this work, that beauty and health are inseparable companions. We may thence conclude, without fear of error, that the female who takes the greatest care of her beauty, will, all things else being equal, enjoy the best health, and defer till the latest period the melancholy arrival of frigid age.
If the ancients lived longer than we, if they enjoyed a more robust constitution, and a more constant flow of health, we must certainly attribute these advantages, in a great measure, to the care which they took of their bodies, and in particular to the frequent use of the bath, of frictions, and of oil. They seemed to think it wrong to neglect the minutest details of the toilette. The greatest men, the gravest philosophers, the most illustrious captains, the most celebrated warriors, disdained not to pay the most assiduous attention to this subject. It was the opinion at that time, that a superior soul could not be too well lodged; and to mention only one of the greatest names of antiquity, Cæsar not only bathed regularly, but caused his skin to be scraped in order to remove even the imperceptible scales that were upon it. With these great men, attention to the toilette was not confined, as it is among most of the moderns, to the single object of rendering themselves more agreeable to the fair sex. They did not submit to be enslaved by fashion, which, at the present day, exercises a tyranny not less ridiculous than real. It was not on the form or the nature of their attire that they bestowed their care; it was on the preservation of the beauty of the body, and not on the elegance of their dress. In this respect they differed widely from us, who very often put a wretched picture into a magnificent frame. The theory of the ancients was much more profound: the pains they took originated in the regard which they entertained for themselves, in the persuasion that every thing in nature is connected, and that beauty, health, and moral excellence, almost always accompany each other.
They thought that a machine ought to be in good condition, in order to the perfect exercise of all its functions; and convinced, as well as we, that man is composed of a body and a soul, they justly deemed it incumbent on him to bestow equal pains on both. Accordingly they never affected that contempt, that feigned disdain for the visible part, which certain moralists, of more modern times, have almost presumed to exalt into a virtue. It must, nevertheless, be admitted that some of these ill-humoured moralists have fully justified their opinion, by transmitting to us a delineation of their own features; and when they affect such a sovereign contempt for exterior forms, they compel us, in a manner, to believe that it was first excited by their looking-glasses.
It is, we repeat, from particular attention to the skin, that we have to expect health, a long life, a comfortable old age, and perhaps also, as we shall prove in this chapter, an effect that is, to be sure, still more rare-we mean, the complete renovation of the physical constitution, the restoration of youth, which could not fail to crown the triumphs of cosmetics.
Every thing is on the decline; the world grows old, and Nature is gradually losing her pristine vigour: all her productions now bear the marks of weakness and degeneracy. Such is the ordinary language of all those, who, incessantly acting in opposition to Nature, wish to make her respon sible for their errors, or who, disdaining to consult her, complain that they never obtain of her any favours. Let us beware of uttering such blasphemy. No; Nature is not on the decline: immutable as the Deity, whose indefatigable servant she is, she still possesses the same energy and the same resources as ever; but woe be to those who seek to withdraw themselves from the operation of her laws! They then cease to be entitled to a share of her blessings, and they have nobody to blame for it but themselves.
[To be continued.]
HYMENÆA IN SEARCH OF A HUSBAND.. [Continued from Page 108.]
IN my last letter I concluded where my father had consented that I should spend the winter in London with my aunt. In a few days afterwards Lady Lovelace took her leave, and with high expectations of approaching happiness, and a hearty weariness of the country, I accompanied her. My aunt was in a delightful humour, as, indeed, to do her justice, I seldom knew ber to be otherwise.
"You are going to be introduced, Hymenea," said she, into an entire new world; the town and country have as little resemblance in their manners as in their natural images. You must take leave of all romance, of all simplicity, and by the exertion of that ingenuity which nature has given us from our birth become at once a woman of fashion. You have doubtless read and heard much of this tremendous character a woman of fashion; but you have read it in books, the authors of which have never seen, or at least familiarly seen, the characters which they profess to describe. Give me an idea, Hymenea, what is the conception in your mind of a woman of fashion?"
"IfI may judge from what I have read," said I, “a woman of fashion sacrifices every thing to the pleasure of the moment; she is gay and good-humoured till she has wearied herself into spleen and petulance; she puts on her best humours as we country folks put on our clothes; goes a slattern at home, and is only well dressed when abroad. I apply this similitude to the town ladies,
"Your ideas, as far as they go, Hymenæa, are perhaps not very erroneous, but they go a very little way, and exhibit the woman of fashion in what the astronomers call one of her phasis. There are degrees in fashion as in every thing else, and though insignificant and trifling in itself, No. XLV. Vol. VI.
it may be so put under the operation of good sense as to be rendered a kind of an art. A true woman of fashion must have a suitable knowledge of the world and of character; she must be naturally gay, goodhumoured, and must have discretion enough to understand the value of this principle-that nothing in life is of so much consequence as happiness, and there. fore that no folly is so extreme as that of the self-tormentor; she must exert all her efforts not only to please others, but to be pleased herself. Nothing must affect her feelings beyond its due worth; she must on all occasions bury her grief with its object; what she loses she must dismiss from her thoughts for ever; and above all she must adopt the famous maxim of the old philosopher, to admire nothing to such a degree that the difficulty of acquir. ing it may disturb her tranquillity."
"But how does your woinan of fashion stand as to morals?" said I.
" In the same manner," replied my aunt," as she stands with respect to every thing else; there is always a certain kind and degree of morality in fashion, and if a woman of quality be really morally inclined, and more morally inclined than the prevailing fashion, she has only to be an hypocrite in reverse, or in other words, to be secretly good, and to keep her works to herself. I know many of my friends who would as much blush to be detected in their good actions, as your hypocrites in the country would be confounded by a discovery of their evil deeds. Here again is an essential difference between your woman of fashion and your woman out of fashion; the fashionable hypocrisy is to seem worse than we really are; the ordinary hypocrisy is to endeavour to appear better."
"I can see as little occasion or excuse for the one as the other," said I.
my aunt," that the concealment of good actions is more dignified, not to say better in every possible way, than the secret performance of bad. People of quality have often a reputation which they very little merit; they might doubtless have as good a name as others if they would take the same pains to purchase it. All that I want to impress you with is, that in becoming a woman of fashion it is not necessary to divest yourself of all the good qualities which you may possess; fashion requires apparent rather than real sacrifices. It is not necessary, therefore, so much to contradict as to conceal your unfashionable propensities; you are an early riser, for example, the knowledge of this circumstance would render you an object of ridicule amongst a fashionable circle. What, therefore, should hinder you from enjoying this gratification in secret? rise as early as you please, but keep your room. I give this only as an example. There is a certain line of conduct which the practice and precedents of the fashionable world have established as being suitable to a woman of fashion; it is certainly necessary that you should externally conform to this rule, but the obligation does not extend beyond externals. There are innumerable persons of fashion who, contrary to what fashion is supposed to demand or allow, are the most exemplary persons in the world, and without the ostentatious display of any one good quality, of any single moral restraint, are in reality the most strict moralists, and as conscientious in their private practice as they are apparently careless in their public conduct."
In this kind of conversation we reached my aunt's house, and I found that she lived in a style suited to her rank and fortune. I believe I have before mentioned that Lady Lovelace was a widow, and having an elegant person, and a very handsome face, she was still an object of much attraction though past her fortieth year; her jointure was large, and her domestic establishment proportionate to it. She had naturally a taste for magnificence, her parties were in the first reputation, and the mere knowledge that she was in town, the single paragraph in the Morning Post, that the rich and beautiful Lady Lovelace had returned to town still in a state of "single
blessedness," brought visitors in shoals. She received them all with so much gaiety, and so much welcome, as inspired me with some doubts of her general sincerity; I mentioned this circumstance to her, as she extracted a promise from me that I would freely communicate my first impressions.
"This is another mistake," said she; "I am truly as happy to see all these people as I appear to be. This succession of visitors is a succession of pleasures; I am happy to see the first that comes in because he is something new, and brings something new; I am happy to see the second because he shifts the scene, and most probably removes the first when he begins to tire me. My expressions of satisfaction therefore are, you see, genuine. I rejoice to see a man of gaiety and sense because he reanimates my spirits and, as it were, feeds and cherishes my understanding. The allegretto of a coxcomb likewise tends to enliven me; and when I am weary with sense and noise, with news and gaiety, the adagio of a grave blockhead comes in excellent time to allow me the necessary rest,-I have only to fall asleep with my eyes open."
A very few days after we were settled in my aunt's town house, a rout was given for the avowed purpose of introducing me into the fashionable world. This was the first time in which I had ever made one of so splendid a mob; I could not imagine that any one could so confound ideas as to denominate such an assemblage a party of pleasure. If by a rout it is intended to express an image of confusion, of disorder, an indiscriminate and ungraceful mixture of young and old, of male and female, and where the crowd admits of every liberty, because from the impossibility of distinction every liberty is secure of impunity,if such, I say, is what is meant to be conveyed by the term a rout, I acknowledge the justice of the appellation, and have nothing more to say; but if by the term rout any of your readers should fancy it to be a party of pleasure, a party in which friends and acquaintances meet to converse, I can only inform them that they are most grossly mistaken. A rout is the delight of the fashionable world for the same reason as a mob is the delight of the vulgar; the pleasure of both is founded
upon the same natural sentiment; every one hurries to see others and to exhibit themselves; every one, moreover, hurries in and hurries out.
As report had circulated the amount of my fortune, and the circumstance of my introduction by my aunt ascertained my rank, I found myself the object of as much curiosity as it was fashionable to feel or to shew. I was soon the dear friend of half a score young ladies, whose manners certainly pleased me, till I discovered that they were only the graceful veil for the most frivolous understandings. Some of them talked very glibly on philosophical questions, and one of them very pleasantly explained to me the laws of gravity, as she had learned them at the Institution; another was eminently loquacious on some French lace, which she hesitated not to acknowledge that her mamma had smuggled, though her father was a member of the British senate, and was a monstrous stickler for the due maintenance of the revenue. One asked me if I had seen the new family Bible with plates, and another invited me to the Exhibition, that I might give her my opinion as to some naked Graces. It is impossible, in short, to give any sufficient idea of the curious medley of subjects of all kinds and tones, and in which every ordinary concordance was violated, and every usual contrariety most happily conciliated.
The gentlemen, at least as they grouped in the great canvass of the rout, appeared to me not a whit less extraordinary than the ladies; they were as insignificantly important, and as frivolously grave; their gaiety was without meaning or substance, it was the mere unmeaning laugh, or at best the simple effusion of the animal spirits.
whom she had seen me converse.-" What do you think, my dear, of Colonel Clubstick? he is notoriously one of the most eminent leaders in the fashionable world; he is, moreover, a brave man, has seen some service, and I believe fought some duels; he has likewise written a book, in which, to the great instruction of the fashionable world, he has exhibited himself in the attitude of hanging.".
"Of all men," said I, “even from the short time I conversed with him, I will take upon me to say, that he will ever be my insuperable aversion. I can see nothing in his abrupt address but the want of that natural gallantry, and even natural sensibility, which should teach him that ladies are to be approached with delicacy, and that there should be some difference of conduct even in the mere personal address to a lady of character and to the unhappy women who have none. I felt myself much offended, aunt, at the manner in which the Colonel addressed himself to me; I can assure you that I feel no intention to come under the discipline of his club-stick."
"Yet this Colonel, Hymenæa," replied my aunt, "will now probably be one of your suitors, for he is in want of two things which you can give him,-a handsome woman, and a handsome fortune."
"Then you may assure yourself, madam," rejoined I," that he will become my suitor to no purpose. I deem modesty, or at least a certain portion of it, as necessary to make a man as a woman valuable characters. I should deem it, moreover, an insult done to my whole sex, and a voluntary degradation of myself, passively to submit to a form of address which implies at the same time a contempt of woman, and an overweening conceit in the man himself. And as to the Colonel's book, I have paused to read it, and it has con
has given me; his taste is on a par with his understanding, and his manners are the natural result of the union of both. Is it possible, madam, that a man like this can be suffered in the fashionable world?"
It is a very celebrated, and at the same time a very just remark, that first impres-firmed the opinion which his appearance sious generally so powerfully influence all our judgments, that the most mature reason is seldom sufficient to controul them; and so I in fact found it in this circumstance of my first introduction in the fashionable world. What I had admired at a distance appeared now only the most frivolous of all frivolous objects.
On the following day my aunt demanded my opinion of some of the gentlemen with
"He is not only suffered," replied my aunt," but even zealously and ardently courted; and if you do not admire him you would almost do well to conceal your sentiments, for I can assure you that he is
aunt, "leaders of fashion and first-rate characters. Colonel Bijoux is a man who has given up his whole life to one pursuit, that of being a kind of purveyor, or voluntary chamberlain, to the fashionable world; he has formed innumerable societies and institutions for the exclusive admission and entertainment of persons of rank, and is daily employed in endless efforts to meet their caprices and their pride by new inventions; one day he circulates subscriptions for a new chapel, estimates the expences of the parson and of the organ, and
perfectly in fashion. The admiration in || which he is holden by the ladies has, moreover, rendered him the model of many gentlemen; you will scarcely go into any fashionable party but you will see one or more of his shadows. What appears to|| you rudeness and bluster, and coarse manners, are considered by certain belles of fashion as the very perfection of politeness. It is not long since that the Colonel fell into some distressed circumstances, which put his friends to the proof, and the result was very honourable to him; a certain number of ladies set on foot a general sub-importunes the Bishop of London to grant scription, and the amount, as I have heard, was sufficient to establish the Colonel's finances."
"Is it possible," said I, "that there can be any one so mean as to remain in fashionable society upon a subscription fund?"
"There are many of this kind of fashionable pensioners," replied my aunt. "The fashionable world would soon lose many of its most brilliant stars if every one were put to a proof of their independent means; it is in the fashionable world as in the courts of Germany, a certain rank and a certain appearance, but nothing of a certain fortune is necessary to admission. Whoever can maintain the necessary appearance, be his means of maintaining what they may, no inquiry is made; he is admitted into the fraternity, and takes his place according to what he is enabled to maintain; there is a general policy amongst us not to put up too much store, not to estimate too highly what so many of us
This conversation was here interrupted by two cards, with compliments, to inquire the health of my aunt and myself. My aunt, taking the cards and smiling:-"I thought it would be so," said she; here you have two suitors already, for such is the purpose of these incipient approaches. Colonel Bijoux and Lord Sam Foreclose do themselves the honour to inquire the health of Lady Lovelace and Miss Hy. menæa.'-What do you say to them Hymenæa?" continued my aunt smiling.
"I say," replied I," they are as indifferent to me as I imagine my health to be to them; I know neither of them."
"They are both of them," resumed my
a licence for a fashionable auditory; at another time he is full of a new tavern, which shall be conducted on the principles of a private house, where there shall be other essentials, money; where no one shall be admitted unless upon the most respectable introduction, and where every inmate therefore may depend upon each other. You may readily believe that his plans are generally approved; in the first place, because they appeal to the vanity of the persons for whom they are intended; in the second place, because their novelty always meets the caprice of the day, and the Colonel no sooner sees his friends wearied with one folly than he has another at hand."
"Is it possible," said I," that any man of common sense, and common manliness, can occupy his time in such frivolities."
"I will not answer either for his sense or for his manliness," replied my aunt with a smile; "all that I am now saying respects his peculiar pursuits. I have reason to believe that Colonel Bijoux originally adopted this course of life from choice, but that habit and experience have subsequently rendered it both a necessary and a lucrative pursuit to him. It is impossible, you know, to refuse a liberal subscription to a man of a certain acknowledged rank and quality, who entirely lays himself out and expends the whole of his fortune in the contrivance of new pleasures. The Colonel, moreover, with a very happy dexterity, contrives to make us all partners in his institutions, and it would not be very decorous, and certainly not very generous, to put him upon his books; it is, moreover, the fashion to be liberal in our pleasures, and whatever is connected with