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flect, that she is taking the most effectual methods to shorten that period of youth, on which her triumphs depend. Mistaken creaturé ! thou art cruelly hastening on the time, when thou shalt be frightened to look at thyself; when not only thy mind, but thy face, shall be “ sicklied o'er with the “pale cast of thought;" when languor, disease, and depression, shall undermine and destroy every remaining allurement, and leave thee to lament too late the jading course thou hast run.
You forget also that dressing up beauty continually, wears it out ; that, like strength, or study, or business, it requires the frequent intermission of its toils ; but that, more than any of them, it is enfeebled by constant exertion; and that the arts commonly made use of to heighten and repair it, only accelerate and increase its decay, while the complexion, the skin, and the hair, are all unnaturally disguised and tortured.
Did not this shameful passion destroy, or deaden in a great measure, the worthier sensibilities of good nature, I should also mention here the more serious and important distresses, in which they involve others. But the stretches of credit to parents, the inconveniences to many families, the ruin to not a few, the losses to tradesmen, who are often not paid, the hardships to a vast variety of people whose sufferings are little thought of amidst the glare of ostentation and the triumph of fancy, it were impossible fully to paint. Who does not know, that the parade of one gaudy evening shall sometimes subject a score of honest citizens to difficul. ties for a whole month? Is this christian ? Is this humane ? But where the fury of dress tyrannizes, how can the gentle pleadings of Charity hope to be heard? And as to Charity's eldest daughter, Be
neficence, what chance has she, in general, to contend with that mighty sorceress, the Mode ? Those streams which heaven has committed to the direction of the former, for the refreshment of industry, and the comfort of affliction ; how often are they diverted with sacrilegious violence to the feeding of pride!
But the present age, it will be said, is distinguished by the most diffusive, the most illustrious works of humanity, both private and public. We own it, and rejoice in the effect. Far from denying the people of this country any of their just honours, we are almost tempted to speak of them with exultation. But-I wish the works in question may not be frequently performed by way of atonement for certain fashionable vices, which it is too easy to reconcile with them.-" Charity ho" peth all things."--I know it, and do verily believe that even now, addicted as the world is to ostentation, there are many, very many characters, who nobly deny themselves for the sake of others; or rather, who find the highest indulgence in consecrating to objects of benevolence and piety a large share of their fortunes, without seeking by such means to purchase a dispensation for criminal pursuits. But forgive me, if I say, with regard to numbers, that the flagrant affectation of shining in public, and the dreadful passions thence arising in private life, are not easily reconciled with real principles of religious munificence. These, I know, are unpopular ideas. I am sorry for it; but their being so is no reason why we should suppress them ; it is the very reverse.
To the arguments already urged several may be added. It may deserve your consideration,
In the first place, that to cultivate cleanliness and finery at the same time, is rather perhaps a difficult attainment. Your sex is much belied, if it be a very common one. This I think, is certain, that to attend with exactness to one object at once, is ordinarily sufficient employment for the mind. But can any degree of finery compensáte the want of cleanliness ? A dirty woman-I turn from the shocking idea, to mention,
In the next place, that engaging thing hinted at before, Simplicity of Dress. In all the sciences, in every valuable profession, in the common intercourses of life, and let me add, even in the sublimest subjects, Simplicity is that which above every thing else touches and delights. Without it, indeed, all else is feeble and unaffecting. Where simplicity is wanting, men may be dazzled for á moment. Mere splendour will strike them at first ; but on reflection they will soon discover, that splendour of itself, like every other idol is nothing. On the other hand, where Simplicity, the sister of Truth, appears, the attraction is eternal. Hence the never-failing entertainment and instruction derived from the works of antiquity in all the fine arts ; of which, I suppose for that reason, chiefly, they remain to this day, and will ever remain, the sovereign standards. Those amongst the moderns, who have in this respect copied them most happily, have been always most admired. To instance in the art of painting, with a more immediate reference to our subject; what honour has been acquired by such of its professors as have approached nearest to the noble simplicity of ancient workmanship! its business, we know, is most particularly with Beauty, in all her finest forms. That, I presume, was never studied more
successfully by any, than by the great Raphael. But who, that has an eye for such objects, can avoid being struck with the chaste, sober, and unaffected graces of his females ? And as to his manner of clothing them, what remarkable plainness, what delightful modesty, even where the colours and stuffs are intended to be richest! How different from those painters of the Gothic style, who, not understanding the distinction between ornament, and finery, which is its excess ; between beauty, and show, which is the affectation of it: load their women with jewels, trappings, and other embellishments, magnificent indeed, but tawdry!
Nor is the grand principle of Simplicity confined to the imitative arts ; it runs through all. Hence, in a great measure, the peculiar satisfaction derived from the company of a man well bred and worthy at the same time. He looks, he speaks, he moves with a modest ease; there is nothing artificial or studied in his conversation and deportment. Hence too the superior pleasure from the prospect of a garden laid out with taste, in which the views are natural, ample, and unforced, above that of seeing one cut into a thousand little parterres, and encumbered with a croud of laboured conceits. Let me subjoin, hence the inexpressible power and majesty of Holy Writ itself, even abstracted from its divine original. And, to come to the case directly before us, hence the resistless charm which attends a Virtuous woman attired with plainness and judgment; two things, which, making allowance for the mutability and caprice of fashion in circumstances of less moment, will always give the most genuine and lasting content.
The neat appearance of many females belonging to a sect well known, has been frequently remarked, and generally admired. It would be much more agreeable, could it be disjoined from the stiffness that accompanies it: a defect utterly inconsistent with the rules of taste. But those people are talight to despise every thing of this kind, and to understand literally such passages of scripture as seem to prohibit sumptuous apparel. In short, they plead religious principle for the form of their attire. We should believe them, but for the richness of the materials, and the fineness of the texture, Many of that sect are very intelligent : can they persuade themselves, that through all their affectation of plainness, the world does not perceive the utmost pride of expense?
On this article your judgment will be seen in joining frugality and simplicity together ; in being never fond of finery ; in carefully distinguishing between what is glaring, and what is genteel ; in preserving elegance with the plainest habit ; in wearing costly array but seldom, and always with ease; a point, that may be attained by her who has learnt not to think more highly of herself for the richest raiment she can put on.
Were a system of this kind to prevail, I cannot help thinking, that the effects would be beneficial and happy. What sums would be saved, where they ought to be saved, for more valuable ends ! What sums would be kept at home, that now go abroad to enrich our most dangerous rivals! French gewgaws would give place to British manufactures.
The ladies of this island, inferior to none in beauty, would be the apes of none in dress. They would practise that species of patriotism, which is the most proper for their sex; they would serve their country