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secret arts and mysteries of the toilette, by which we outdo nature at her best, and crown her highest efforts with an added glory.
If we take under our special charge this slighted branch of study, if we seek to bend to its elucidation whatever the austere oracles of medicine and the humbler artisans of the shops can furnish us, let not the effort be disdained. Innocent devices to heighten the effect of beauty have nothing derogatory about them. For, as the wisest of poets has said :
" Nature is made better by no mean,
* This is an art
It is our intent to lay down those rules by which the most desirable form, color, and grace in the human body can be obtained and preserved ; and further to tell of those artifices, if you will, by which these qualities can be imitated when they cannot be acquired. Some of these means are dangerous and injurious. Against them we shall speak words of warning. Others are harmless; and to them there can be no objection from the physician's point of view. But we know our responsibility does not cease here. Do we run the danger of ministering to vanity, or to deceitfulness?
BEAUTY WITHOUT VANITY.
There is no vanity, necessarily, in making the best of ourselves; and a desire to please others in our appearance, as well as in our actions, has nothing about it reprehensible. What good thing may not be applied to some ignoble end? There is nothing blameworthy in the love of beauty, nor in its cultivation; nothing contrary to purity or religious faith.
It has been well said by a genial writer, Mr. James Bruce: “ All the arguments against women using every art to heighten and preserve their charms resolve themselves into the hateful belief of the ascetic, that everything that is offensive to man is agreeable to heaven, and all that is agreeable to man is offensive to God—a belief that has characterized all false religions from the beginning of time to the present hour.” Did we think differently, no word of ours should be spoken in favor of personal beauty and its enhancement.
These cares and arts will enable many a wife to recover and to retain the affections of her husband, and many an unmarried woman to obtain that attention and courtesy the want of which gives her now unhappy moments.
That, as some have said, these arts encourage deceitfulness, is not to be accepted. For the same reason we should discard wigs, false curls, false teeth, and a host of other devices to conceal deformity, which are now in universal use.
What results may not flow from this self-cultivation?
What a fine thing it will be when women shall combine the comeliness of youth with the wisdom of age! It is not without precedent.
Diana of Poictiers, Duchess of Valentinois, was the reigning beauty at the courts of three successive kings of France. The historian Brantôme knew her well. “I saw this noble dame,” he tells us, “when she was seventy years of age, and she was as charming, as fresh, and as lovely as any lady of thirty. Her beauty, grace, and majesty were such as she had ever possessed. 'Tis a pity that such a body is now buried in the earth. It was said that certain skilled doctors and subtle apothecaries prepared for her daily a potion of soluble gold, and that this or some similar drug it was that preserved her beauty.” Soluble gold it was not, Seigneur Brantôme, but another and potent recipe, which is not yet lost.
66 And this recipe is. .?”
Patience! we are not yet at that part of our subject. The secret of the famous Diana of Poictiers is not to be lightly told at the beginning of a book. The prudent traveller spares his funds at the outset of his journey, and is only generous to well-tried companions. But rest assured that the Fountain of Youth yet flows for her who diligently seeks it.
And now we shall try a definition. They are notoriously difficult to make, and probably we shall have no greater success than many another.
QUEEN ELIZABETH, (17th Cent.) QUEEN JOAN, (16th Cent.)