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arts of the toilet within the limits prescribed by the laws of health and good sense, will permit themselves to use it or have it applied.
Within a few years the ancient custom of powdering the hair has come again into vogue. In the last century it was almost universal, and one of William Pitt's famous methods of raising the revenue was to tax hairpowder. He estimated, in 1795, that the amount of flour annually consumed for this purpose in the United Kingdom represented the enormous and incredible value of six million dollars! This must have been excessive.
When we called it an ancient custom we may not have been correct, as it cannot be traced further back than the end of the sixteenth century. Singular to say, the first who introduced it were the nuns in the French convents. Those who had occasion to leave temporarily the walls of the cloisters for any purpose were wont to powder their hair, so as to make it appear gray, and give them a venerable and aged look. The fashionable dames were struck with the excellent and novel effect of white powder on dark hair, and soon appropriated the device as one of the arts of the worldly toilet. The reverend fathers probably thought that here was another instance where the livery of heaven had been seized to serve the devil in, and now
POWDERING THE HAIR.
a-days we do not hear of any nuns who continue the usage.
For our part, we disagree with the reverend father's (if they entertained the notion we have ascribed to them), the judicious use of innocuous powders being fiot in the least hurtful to the hair, and adding unquestionably, in some instances, to its beauty.
The powder usually employed is simply potato starch, ground very fine, passed through a gauze sieve, and scented. It is not, however, the most elegant. To obtain this, the fashionable world levies a contribution upon the icy North, in order to scatter over the heads of its favorites the simulated snows of
age. The moss which the reindeer feeds on is dug from under the drifts, assorted and pulverized. It yields a fragrant, grayish-white powder, which is mingled with an equal part of finest starch, and sold under the name of “ Cyprus powder.” This is prized beyond any other in the boudoirs of Europe.
Whenever the hair is powdered, the following morning it should be carefully washed, and the scalp cleansed with soap and water. Attention should be given that none of the powder remains in or behind the ears, or on the skin, as the secretions of the body soon change it into an irritating mass. In placing it on the hair, if the latter is dry, a very small quantity of glycerine should be used to moisten it, and no more powder be added than will cling to the hairs, as it is exceedingly
disagreeable to have it flying about at every motion or draught of air. None of it should be allowed to fall on the face, or enter the eyes.
In 1860, the Empress Eugenie set the fashion of using gold powder on some occasions. This has been followed to some extent in this country, but instead of gold powder, which is of course exorbitantly dear, bronze powder is used, which is very similar in appearance. Probably both of these metallic substances are hurtful to the hair, but as they would only be applied on rare occasions, we need not preach a philippic against them.
GRAY HAIR, AND HAIR-DYES. Gray hair is not always a sign of years. Many persons have it long before the age of decrepitude, and some from earliest childhood. In more than one instance we have seen it in boys and girls, while it is not at all infrequent to find "a sable silvered" on heads over which not thirty winters have sprinkled their
Much depends upon the original color of the hair. Black and dark brown change sooner than light brown, red, or flaxen, and of course in the former the contrast is more marked. There is a shade of light brown which seems almost never to turn gray. We have seen it preserving its natural hue to the age of fourscore and beyond.
GRAY HAIR AND PASSION.
One of those popular beliefs, long current among the people and long discredited by physicians, but at length conceded by all, is the influence which the mind exerts in changing the color and affecting the growth of the hair. Whether it be that the hair is planted so near the brain, or whether it be that it is so intimately dependent on the nervous system, we do not know, but certain it is that great anxieties, trouble, violent emotions, especially of a dismal character, discolor or debilitate the hair.
This is not extraordinary. Not the hair only, but every part of our system is preserved by serenity of mind, freedom from sorrow, avoidance of passion, absence of care, strong desire, or fear. It is not so much time as trouble that
"Doth transfix the flourish set on youth,
And delves the parallels in Beauty's brow.” Would you learn the composition of the real elixir of life? Seek it not in the volumes of medical or alchemical lore, but in serenity, cheerfulness, and content.
Fontenelle, who lived a hundred years, and was Secretary of the Academy of Sciences for more than half that period, owed his longevity to such a disposition. He even carried it to the extent of impassive
One day he spoke to Madame Tencin in a very calm manner about some occurrence, which he averred touched him to the heart.
“ Heart !” exclaimed she, provoked at his apparent want of feeling, “heart! You have no heart. You are nothing but brains where your heart should be.”
This disposition Fontenelle inherited from his mother. She was niece of the celebrated dramatist Corneille, a pious and excellent woman, but not easily moved. Fontenelle used to say of her: “My mother was a quietist. When I would express some unorthodox opinion before her, she would say, 'My son, you will be damned.' But it did not trouble her."
Gray hairs and wrinkles are slow in coming to such temperaments.
On the contrary, intense grief blanches the hair in a few hours. Every one is familiar with the opening lines of Byron's Prisoner of Chillon :
“My hair is gray but not with years,
Nor turned it white
In a single night,
In a note, the poet mentions Ludovico Sforza as the example he had in mind. The story is this: Ludovico Sforza, called from his dark complexion Ludovico the Moor, was Duke of Milan at the close of the fifteenth century. He was a cruel and unscrupulous man, as were all the Italian rulers of his day, from Alexander Sixth downward. By his political action, but especially by poisoning a nobleman who was under French protection, he drew upon himself the enmity of