Слике страница
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

clumsy and inconvenient garments of the savage are attributed to his ignorance of domestic arts; but what can be said in excuse of civilized man, when he wears shoes that project half a yard beyond his feet, or exchanges his own locks for an enormous periwig, filled with powder and pomatum; when the graceful motion of a lady's head is sacrificed to the stiff movements necessary in balancing a tower of linen and wire, half a yard high, with draperies that flow from the top of it to the floor; when the wavy lines of a female form are disguised under a stiff circle of whalebone, which imprisons the body from the hips upward, and a buckram cage so surrounds the lower limbs, that she can with difficulty walk or sit. Some false standard of beauty, invented perhaps to conceal deformity, is set up, and then the very bones and muscles of the perfect body must be made to conform to it. When this is carried so far as it is in the case of small feet in China, its absurdity strikes us at once; but we may find, nearer home, instances of a standard as false, and consequences even more fatal to health and happiness, than the little feet of the Chinese.

"Dr. Johnson once praised a lady's appearance, by saying she was so perfectly well dressed he could not recollect any thing she had on. I would have young people, of cultivated minds, look at every thing with an eye of taste, and, judging of the merits of a certain form of garment, apart from the charm of fashion, so modify their compliance with the reigning mode as not to sacrifice to it their sense of beauty. Mere fashion should never be allowed to triumph over common sense, or good taste, but be kept in check by both. Thus, when your dressmaker recommends you to have your skirt so long as nearly to touch the floor, let common sense interfere, and prevent your compliance with a fashion so evidently inconvenient; and when, a few months afterwards, you are urged to let her make it so short as not to reach the ankle bone, let good taste arrest her scissors, and plead for a few inches more, for the love of grace, if not of modesty.

"When, at midsummer, your milliner shows you the last Paris fashion in a bonnet, and you see that what ought to shelter the face from the sun, is so formed as to leave it entirely exposed, do not lend your countenance to any thing so irrational; but call up your ingenuity to invent a modification of it, which shall combine shelter with beauty.

"I must not dismiss the subject of dress without reminding those ladies who are deeply interested in their studies, and are pursuing knowledge with an eagerness that leaves them little time or inclination for the duties of their toilet, that they are responsible to their sex, for not bringing literary pursuits into disrepute by neglecting their personal appearance. Let them simplify their address as much as they can, but at the same time they should be even more careful than others, to be always neatly equipped, and sufficiently in the fashion to avoid singularity. Let them consider, that for many years it was a standing argument against giving daughters a liberal education, that if they became learned or literary, they would inevitably be slatterns in their dress, and in their conduct of household affairs.

"The connection, in many minds, is still very close between blue stockings and dirty stockings; let nothing be done to strengthen it ; but let ladies of the present day, who have highly cultivated minds, make a point of showing the world that their attainments are not incompatible with due attention to domestic affairs and personal neatness; let them follow the example of those distinguished female writers of the last half century, who have done so much to destroy the prejudice of the other sex against learned ladies.


"I can assure my young friends, from personal observation, that the classic lore of Mrs. Barbauld never interfered with the most exact atteption to personal neatness and propriety of dress; that the poetical inspiration of Mrs. Joanna Baillie never prevents her from being a notable housewife, a very good dresser, and the best of neighbours to the sick and the afflicted. Neither do the scientific researches and high mathematical attainments of Mrs. Somerville interfere with other pursuits more common to her sex, such as botany, mineralogy, music and painting, whilst the peculiar grace and beauty of her toilet would lead a stranger to suppose that more than common attention has been bestowed upon it.” pp. 93—140.

The chapter entitled “Behaviour to Gentlemen,” is full of matter for every young lady," that deserves to be "laid up in a drawer :"

“What a pity it is that the thousandth chance of a gentleman's becoming your lover, should deprive you of the pleasure of a free, unembarrassed, intellectual intercourse with all the single men of your acquaintance! Yet such is too commonly the case with young ladies who have read a great many novels and romances, and whose heads are always ruoning on love and lovers.

"The less your mind dwells upon lovers and matrimony, the more agreeable and profitable will be your intercourse with gentlemen. If you regard men as intellectual beings, who have access to certain sources of knowledge of which you are deprived, and seek to derive all the benefit you can from their peculiar attainments and experience; if you talk to them as one rational being should to another, and never remind them that you are candidates for matrimony, you will enjoy far more than you can by regarding them under that one aspect of possible future admirers and lovers. When that is the ruling and absorbing thought, you have not the proper use of your faculties; your manners are constrained and awkward; you are easily embarrassed, and made to say what is ill-judged, silly, and out of place; and you defeat your own views, by appearing to a great disadvantage.

“Where there is a fair chance of every woman's being married who wishes it, the more things are left to their natural course the better. Where girls are brought up to be good daughters and sisters, to consider the development of their own intellectual and moral natures as the great business of life, and to view inatrimony as a good, only when it comes unsought, and marked by such a fitness of things inward and outward, as shows it to be one of the appointments of God, they will fully enjoy their years of single life, free from all anxiety about being established, and will generally be the first sought in marriage by the wise and good of the other sex ; whereas those who are brought up to think the great business of life is to get married, and who spend their lives in plans and manæuvres lo bring it about, are the very ones who remain single, or, what is worse, make unhappy matches.

“There is no objection to your having a great deal of friendly talk, and many social visits from gentlemen of approved character and known moral worth; but do not fall into the prevailing fashion of talking about Platonic love, and having one gentleman devoted to you in public and in private, as your chosen friend and confidant. That is a folly pregnant with mischief, where it is entered upon in good faith, and it is rendered doubl odious by the use some ladies make of it, merely to secure to themselves a beau upon all occasions. Much nonsense is talked about Platonic love, by girls who know not the real meaning of the word, and



who designate by that term the restless craving of their hearts for sympathy, but who are the farthest removed from the calm and pure sentiment described by Plato.

"Mistrust a flatterer, whether he make the graces of your person or your mind the theme of his eulogiums. Many women who are proof against the flattery addressed to their personal charms, are blinded by that which touches their intellectual endowments; but it is all equally injurious, and equally to the discredit of the person who offers it. A gentleman may make you sensible that be admires you, that he has a due appreciation of your powers and attainments, without flattering you; but if he does that, if he entertains you with your own praises, and is constantly paying you fine compliments, he does not respect and esteem you; and you should let him perceive that he has mistaken the means of recommending himself to your good graces.

Some gentlemen try to make themselves agreeable to one young lady, by disparaging others of her acquaintance. This shows ihat a man has a poor opinion of the sex, and that he considers you envious of the charms of your companions; and you will do well to convince him of his mistake.” pp. 286—308.

Once more: “Equally common with the love of ridicule is the spirit of exaggeration. How many persons, who would be shocked at the idea of telling a deliberate falsehood, yet daily violate truth by exaggerated statements and extravagant expressions. This fault often shows itself in childhood, and has its origin in the activity of the imagination, joined to an imperfect knowledge of language; where it is not early corrected, it grows with the growth and strengthens with the strength, and becomes one of the most incurable maladies of the mind. By some it is suddenly assumed, as a means of making themselves agreeable to their companions, or by way of equalling them in their style of conversation. Now Í would earnestly beg those who are voluntarily adopting this habit of speech, as they would learn an accomplishment, to avoid it whilst it is yet in their power, and to regard it in its true light, as a sin against God, against their fellow-beings, and against their own natures.

"It is a sin against God, inasmuch as it violates his holy laws, which require perfect truth of speech. It is a sin against our fellow-creatures, because it lessens the confidence necessary to social intercourse, and because it leads to misrepresentation and injustice. It is a sin against our own natures, because it deadens the conscience, lessens the reverence for truth, blunts that nice perception by which we were intended to see things as they really are, and accustoms the mind to entertain distorted and inflated visions of its own creating.

“Besides all this moral evil attendant on a habit of exaggeration, it is a great mistake to suppose that it makes a person more agreeable, or that it adds to the importance of her statements. The value of a person's words is determined by her habitual use of them. 'I like it much,' 'It is well done, will mean as much in some mouths, as 'I am infinitely delighted with it,' "'T is the most exquisite thing you ever saw,' will in others. Such large abatements are necessarily made for the statements of these romancers, that they really gain nothing in the end, but find it difficult sometimes to obtain credence for so much as is really true; whereas a person who is habitually sober and discriminating in his use of language, will not only inspire confidence, but be able to produce a great effect by the occasional use of a superlative. “The frequent use of some favourite word or phrase is a common VOL. XXII.NO. 43,



defect in conversation, and can only be guarded against by asking your friends to point it out to you whenever they observe such a habit; for your own ear, having become accustomed to it, may not detect it. Some persons apply the epithet glorious, or splendid, to all sorts of objects indiscriminately, from a gorgeous suoset to a good dinner.

“A young lady once tried to describe a pic-nic party to me in the following terms :- There were ten of us, four on horseback and the rest in carriages; we set off at a glorious rate, and had a splendid time in getting there; I rode the most elegant, perfect creature you ever saw, and capered along gloriously. When we got there, we all walked about in the woods, and gathered the most splendid flowers, and dined under the shade of a glorious old elm tree. We had our cold provisions spread out on the grass, and every thing was elegant. We had glorious appetites, loo, and the ham and ale were splendid, and put us all in fine spirits. Some of the gentlemen sang funny songs, but one sang such a dreadfully sentimental one, and to such a horrid, doleful tune, it made us all miserable. So, then, we broke up, and had a splendid time packing away the things. Such fun! I almost killed myself with laughing, and we broke half the things. But the ride home was the most splendid of all; we arrived at the top of the hill, just in time to see the most glorious sunset I ever beheld."" pp. 376—381. • But there may be such a thing as quoting too much. Of reading the book too much, or too osten, there is no danger. It is not made of that material which does any thing save good by its application. This is the best reason for every sensible person procuring it, even as a pleasant and faithful friend is welcomed as an increase to the stock of information and enjoyment in a household.

ART. VI.-Discoveries in Light and Vision. With a short

Memoir containing Discoveries in the Mental Faculties. New York : 1836.

Although we have the title of a recent work prefixed to this article, yet it is not our intention to analyse its merits, our object being to see how far our views can bear the author out in the doctrines of the inverted image, the phenomena of lenses, and the generation of light. We shall begin with light, pursuing it as far as the limits of an article will allow, and speaking of vision, incidentally, before we close the exposition.

Light, both in its latent and perceptible state, as well as in its connection with heat, has not occupied sufficient attention. As to light, or luminousness, it cannot be determined whether it consist of material particles, or be made perceptible by mere undulations. It is surprising that Professor Leslie's theory of central light from centripetal pressure, has not given fresh impulse to the investigation.

Almost all the phenomena of light can be as well explained by one theory as the other ; but there is one remarkable point which is always left untouched in these discussions—which is, that heat, odours, moisture, gas, and a number of other things which we allow to be matter, are produced by the same means, that is, rendered perceptible by the same mechanical processes that elicit light.

We do not attribute odours to undulations; they are considered as composed of perceptible particles, and, as such, act upon the organs of smelling. There are many plants, and inanimate substances, that give no external evidence of possessing odourous particles, until friction, or chemical disintegration, makes them perceptible. Even then, there are still other odorous particles within those bodies that remain in a latent state, requiring a different power to elicit them. Sometimes combustion, and sometimes the slow process of decomposition, produced by atmospheric influence, develope odours very different from those given out by the same substance spontaneously or by friction. There is no undulatory movement in this, excepting that the material particles of these odorous bodies may be transmitted to the organs of smelling in an undulatory movement.

Unless the particles of light and heat were perceptible, tangible matter, they could not excite the particles of other bodies to action. That which causes a new development of character in substances with which it comes in contact, must itself possess ponderosity and form. Whatever can be set free, or be reproduced at pleasure, must be a perceptible body, and, as such, will have power to impress itself on our faculties; in fact, our senses can only be excited by material particles externally.

Light, heat, odour, moisture, gas, cold, can be set free in places where their particles were never known to penetrate ; they can be rendered visible and perceptible in a variety of ways, and can be extinguished at pleasure. To follow the particles of light from their latent to their perceptible state, is, therefore, easy of accomplishment, for the means are simple, and within our reach. To describe the power of light in its latent state is impossible; one can only know it by the effects it produces on matter. Whatever may be the nature of the cause of light, we can only know it by its effects; but that the agents of secondary causes, in the physical economy of nature, are always composed of material particles, our senses fully assure us.

When we speak so unhesitatingly of the undulatory theory, we must comprehend by it something peculiar, and should be

« ПретходнаНастави »