Page images

tremble in her own guilty heart lest she with furs and feathers, pearls and diabe that woman of “ weak mind and low monds, ores and silks. The lynx shall education " in danger of every embroid- cast its skin at her feet to make her a ered coat that comes her way and fated to tippet; the peacock, parrot and swan meet her ruin in the lure of a gold gal- shall pay contributions to her muff; the loon. To the experienced lover of finery, sea shall be searched for shells, and the such as I have come with the years to rocks for



every part of nature be, it is of course clear, page by page, furnish out its share towards the embelthat Addison knew the cut and color of lishment of a creature that is the most every fashion as no virtuous moralist consummate work of it. All this I shall ever could, and distinguished between indulge them in; but as for the petticoat the hood and hat with all the emotion of I have been speaking of, I neither can a man of taste. He deplores the inunda- nor will allow it!” tion of brocades from France! Do but Thus, Addison for his own great ends open the covers of The Spectator and you carrying on his hypocrisy, others followed will be swept away on a flood of petti- his famous example, and the beautiful art coats and head-dresses and fans and of dress fell into disrepute among us. powder-bags and puffs and little muffs. To-day finery has become a thing for For all the color and splendor of ladies' fashion-mongers to parley and trade with. dress Addison had appropriated to his Even novelists and romancers dare no imagination and had set ingeniously as a longer dress a girl generously in tradidecoration to his pages! Off his guard tion's pink and white finery; or a fop in he will, moreover, avow his sympathy lavender gloves and gold chains; or put openly, as when he describes the cluster such a muff as Sophia Western never of ladies sitting together at the opera knew the want of into a lady's hands on a “in the prettiest colored hoods.” “I winter's morning, or pattern intricately looked,” he exclaims, “with as much the sunshade she raises above her lovely pleasure on this little assembly as upon a head on a midsummer afternoon. How bed of tulips.” And he notes with charm- different was it in the old days, when a ing pedantry that one hood is blue and poet had no sooner named the dwellinganother yellow and another philomot; place of his heroine and said that the gods that the fourth is of a pink color and the loved the brightness of her hair, than he fifth pale green. “I did not know continued : whether it might be an embassy of Indian

The outside of her garments was of lawn, Queens; but upon going about the pit and

The lining purple silk with gilt stars drawn; taking them in front, I was immediately Her kirtle blue whereon was many a stain, undeceived and saw so much beauty in

Made by the blood of wretched lovers slain.

Upon her head she ware a myrtle wreath, every face that I found them all to be

From whence her veil reached to the ground English."

beneath : Surely it is not the part of an earn- Her veil was artificial flowers and leaves, est Puritan to concern himself either

Whose workmanship both man and beast dewith English beauties or Indian queens, ceives; or to know pink so scrupulously from

About her neck hung chains of pebble-stone, yellow, or blue from green, or to recog

Which lighten'd by her neck like diamonds

shone. nize philomot as a serious enough idea to

She ware no gloves : for neither sun nor wind entertain at all. Nor again can one ac- Would burn or parch her hands but to her count other than whimsical, protests mind, against petticoats, big as canopies, on the Or warm or cool them, for they took delight

To play upon those hands, they were so white. part of the writer of the following sentences :“I consider woman as a beautiful But if she had no gloves, she had a romantic animal, that may be adorned fan.

So on she goes and in her idle flight

Convenient and the Correct. In behalf of Her painted fan of curled plumes let fall the former, the Convenient, there is of Thinking to train Leander therewithal.

course nothing to plead : briefly, the worAnd in the same way all the ladies in the ship of ease is for the vulgar. The beautiold books had finery of their own, ful discomfort of armor, let us say, or of “Gloves, garters, stockings, shoes, and a powdered periwig, was to be endured. strings, of winning colors; " a straw- For the Correct, on the other hand, there berry handkerchief in a tragedy, and in is perhaps an argument to be brought. a tale “a broche of gold,” lettered Amor Its charm is academic, truly; but to temvincit omnia.

peraments that love a severe perfection, So too, I remember, had fine gentlemen grave cloth and white linen unvaryingly in the past – whether knights, courtiers, disposed must always make their apwits, or beaux — all in turn their rich peal and who shall pronounce them attires. In the days, that was, when for a monk or an idealist not suitable their armor mirrored the sun and “pa- apparel ? gan knights stood all round bright as To the worldling serge presents grave sky;” when they themselves set the dangers; and this not merely in the case fashion in sleeves, — the sleeve Amadis of fine gentlemen but in that of their fair and the sleeve à la Mameluck, - and confederates as well. Addison himself before the plume à la gentilhomme had noted the gentlewomen of his day who gone to droop from a lady's toque. I can rode as female cavaliers, tying up their believe, indeed, that feathers may still hair in a bag or ribbon in imitation of the float in their fancy, and that the finest smart part of the opposite sex. An imgentleman of all stretches his imagina- modest custom! And I can imagine that tion with the old popes and princes to as in the old world perukes had their peach-colored velvet and the sweet fash- seeming charm for “tall lovely prudes," ion of a brocade.

so in the modern the greatcoat and stiff But unless it be thus in idea, the pride hat


allure them. Such affectations, of dress is for them snuffed out. Velvet I need hardly say, are not for the woman Venetians, doublets in damask, carna- of feeling. Stuffs of pomp and color do tion silk stockings, fringed gloves, knee- rather persuade her; her head is full of buckles all a-glitter, hats furbelowed beautiful intricate patterns; skirts softly with jewels or feathers - all the old cata- flowing, capes and fichus, make her logue of gorgeousness belongs now for proper dress. Nor is the serious lover of them not to the world of every day but finery dressed merely for the flattery of to the stage world. No gentleman of pre- her looking-glass. She is conscious of her sent fashion could squander a fortune on clothes as part of the world's great show; his wedding clothes, if he would; no she dresses for her type, whether it be grave writer of tragedies could go,

like Great Lady, Shepherdess, or Blue StockDr. Johnson, to the extravagance of bor- ing. She is true to her period and will not dering his coat with gold lace for a First aspire to powder and a high head-dress if Night; no “ fortunate youth" of this late she be born to the soft curls of Charles century could drive post through France the Second's day. Fashion, it is well to choose flowered silk for a waistcoat. known, favors the fair, and by an easy The fop of fops once a silken fel

metaphor may be said to turn her wheel low,” a “painted image!

painted image!" -- has at no less than Fortune does. So with a the moment not a garment to appeal to swing she will again dress her votaries à the imaginative lover of finery - but he la Diane and à la Minerve, and let chamust“ love in serge,” must trick him- peaux Henri IV once more become outself out, from boot to hat, according to of-date vanities before Victorian bonnets. the dictates of ugly modern oracles, the For my part I commend a quick chang

[ocr errors]

ing fashion, and, could I have chosen my woman of feeling be about a mere dressperiod, would have fixed on the fickle ing-gown! So can she by her own greatyears of the First Empire, when fash- ness put her finery beyond Time's power ions shifted from week to week; and to fade or tatter! that, too, with such fine shades of differ- Mere fine ladies, fantastical coquettes, ence that only the most frivolous could must look to others to celebrate their follow them. Then the Great Conqueror dresses, — to give themselves existence, I brought to Paris finery from the ends of might say! For apart from their clothes the earth: muslins from India, garlands there is no life, no delight in them. of roses from Bengal, stuffs shining with “All's in the whistling of their snatch't up gold and silver from Cairo; from Turkey,

silks." of course, turbans; and from the far East These, however, they may not only trail shawls; shawls from Cashmere, from

through to-day's pageant, but if they be Persia, from the Levant; shawls parti- born under the pretty star of an auspicolored, blue — bright blue and red cious fashion and chance to catch a poet's and green and black and the clear yellow

ear, they may trust the liquefaction of of the sun; shawls patterned with all the their clothes to last out three centuries interlacings of Asian caprice, and fit, not with Julia's. only to hang from the shoulders of the

The hope of all finery is in art, I should fair, but to give a coquette of Eastern

say, were it not yet more true that the fancy day-long visions of the Orient. hope of art is in “a good dressing." From the past, for all time as well as all Painters know this and have already the earth was then Napoleon's, came the adorned their canvases with the greatfashion of the troubadours, - chapeaux est garments of our age a haughty à Creneaux, sleeves à la Mameluck, che- Beauty's riding-dress reflected for a mo

à veux à l'enfant, — lending to a very mod- ment in a mirror, a Dancer's yellow ern period, who can say what charming petticoats, an Old Lady's soft black and

, Gothic airs? How do not such revolu- delicate laces. But all these still wait to tions of fashion enlarge the feminine be put into words. It is time for some heart and teach it to live in all ages and poet again to rhyme, all climates!

Lawn as white as driven snow A woman of mind will go even further; And cypress black as e'er was crow; she will not merely have a sense of the for the modern playwright to see to romance of her clothes fetched from the it that his ladies enter the scene as ends of the world, but in the choice of "gallant” as they did in King James's every garment will let her wit play a time; and above all for the student of part. “I have bought myself a robe de

manners to find in present-day fashion chambre," wrote Mme. de Sevigné to her his great theme. Time measures the dudaughter, “ of the same stuff as your last ration of painted dresses no less than of skirt. It is admirable: there is a little those of silk and purple; but a skirt, a green in it, but violet prevails. In a word, flounce, a slipper, set in a beautiful senI was tempted and I fell. They wanted tence, lives more than a mortal life. I me to face it with flame-colour, but that

long for the finery of our time thus to outI thought would have the air of a final date its period; for it to go down the cenimpenitence. The outside is sheer weak- turies in similes, exordiums, and metaness, and such a lining would have been phors; and by its very imagery to suggest wickedness itself, and to my mind con- to less splendid ages all the beauty and trary to good taste.” So charming can a luxury of ours.

[ocr errors]




As a point of departure, listen to a as a net for such a fish. What to do? quotation from Dr. Henry van Dyke:- We must row around with him gently

“Chrr! sings the reel. The line tight and quietly for another ten minutes, ens. The little rod firmly gripped in my until he is quite weary and tame. Now hands bends into a bow of beauty, and let me draw him softly toward the boat, a hundred feet behind us a splendid slip my fingers under his gills to give a silver salmon leaps into the air. “What firm hold, and lift him quickly over the is it?' cries the gypsy, 'a fish?' It is a gunwale before he can gasp or kick. A fish, indeed, a noble ouananiche, and tap on the head with the empty rod-case, well hooked. Now if the gulls were here - there he is,

the prettiest land-locked who grab little fish suddenly and never salmon that I ever saw, plump, round, give them a chance; and if the mealy- perfectly shaped and colored, and just mouthed sentimentalists were here, who six and a half pounds in weight, the like their fish slowly strangled to death record fish of Jordan Pond.” I in nets, they should see a fairer method A good description! A fine, a stirring of angling

description! A masterly record of a mas“The weight of the fish is twenty times terly feat! It makes the blood tingle; that of the rod against which he matches it makes the lover of the rushing torrent, himself. The tiny hook is caught pain- of the still, deep mountain lake and of lessly in the gristle of his jaws. The line the crisp, clear, northern days, impatient is long and light. He has the whole lake

with the city streets, with his desk, his to play in, and he uses almost all of it, papers, and his problems; it whets his running, leaping, sounding the deep hunger and thirst for a holiday, and for water, turning suddenly to get a slack more life in God's magnificent' out-ofline. The gypsy, tremendously excited, doors; it makes him slightly irritated with manages the boat with perfect skill, row- the winter, when perforce he must abaning this way and that way, advancing don nature to itself, and leaves him but or backing water to meet the tactics of the to dream of the days when the warm sun fish, and doing the most important part shall have drawn the ice from the lakes of the work.

and when the released waters go tum“After half an hour the ouananiche bling down to the sea. begins to grow tired and can be reeled in And yet why is it that there are some near to the boat. We can see him dis- whom the description cannot allure to tinctly as he gleams in the dark water. spend their hours of recreation in a kinIt is time to think of landing him. Then dred manner ? Why is it that while each we remember with a flash of despair and every element of the narrative makes that we have no landing-net! To lift him us thrill with longing for the open, the from the water by this line would break story as a whole arouses in a few a feelit in an instant. There is not a foot of ing akin to repulsion ? Why is it that the rocky shore smooth enough to beach

1 Henry van Dyke: “Some Remarks on him on. Our caps are far too small to use Gulls." Scribner's Magazine, August, 1907.

[ocr errors]

some at least would have enjoyed rather his snare. He can almost breathe the the picture of the lake in the wood, girt air, feel the yielding of the turf, and hear with yellow shore line and the green and the ripple of the brook as he lay in the gray of timber, the surface ruffled here long grass in the meadows near Wachuand there by the gulls taking their after- sett and drew the trout from the pools noon bath, the concentric circles telling beneath the banks. He can recall with of the trout just nosing the air to snare that delicious accompaniment of wellthe unsuspecting insect or to touch the earned meat - the watering mouth mystery of a world unlike their own, the spectacle of eleven five-inch beauties, the sudden rush, leap and plunge, the fried in crumbs, the product of his own flash of color,

russet and silver flecked first gamy angling. And he can rememwith black," of the ouananiche rising ber, O! so vividly, with what ardor he from the deep waters he loves so well searched the old files of the Youth's and like lightning returning thither ? Companion and scanned the new copies Why is it that some would rather allow as they came in week by week, so that he these incidents to touch the imagination might hot lose one story of the hunter and to stimulate it to follow the living and the trapper, and with what care he activities of nature, than win their ex- laid aside one dime every seven days hilaration at the expense of suffering? that he might buy Forest and Stream, Why is it that day by day the numbers and in imagination go afield with those seem to increase of those yielding to more fortunate than he, to flush and to mercy rather than to the instinct of the bag the plover, the quail, the woodcock, chase, and of those who rejoice when they and the partridge. The sentimentalist are persecuted with such an epithet remembers the days of his youth and mealy-mouthed sentimentalist ?

all their natural delights. I confess that such is my reaction, that But he can also recall traces, intimaI must count myself among the mealy- tions, as Wordsworth would call them, mouthed sentimentalists. But confession of a nature hardly partaking of the same is not always either heart-cleaning or world. He can distinguish a remnant mind-cleaning. Along with it there must of pity in his reaction after peppering a run a justification which at least palli- young robin with sling-shot; he can at ates the offense in the sight of the one this moment remember the burning who acknowledges his fault. And how shame that consumed him when his first can the sentimentalist sanction his aver- bird tumbled to the ground at his feet, sion to those forms of sport that entail and what a bitter meal it made. He can the suffering of fish and bird and beast ? refresh the sensation, hardly perceptible

The sentimentalist has first to ac- in those eager and impatient days, of knowledge that a radical change in his recoil at the apparent suffering of the feeling toward animate nature has been fish being taken from the hook. These worked since the days of boyhood, and the sentimentalist can remember - the naturally he hopes that the transforma- first stirrings of a changing sentiment, the tion of sentiment is not a sign of atavism beginnings of a different mood. but rather one of deepening sympathy. And now he has to confess that the The days are still fresh in mind when, former things have passed away, and that armed with the sling, he relieved his these intimations of aversion to recreahunter's instinct by plunging into the tion that entails distress have developed woods of summer, there to listen for the into a natural recoil at the sight of any birds, then to find, and then to kill; or suffering and into a keen delight at the into the woods of winter, there to build thought or sight of fish or bird or beast his hut and kindle his fire, and then to enjoying natural freedom. The leisurely follow the trail of the rabbit and to set trout napping in the stone-bottomed pool VOL. 101 - N0. 5



« PreviousContinue »