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THE MORAL OF BEAUTY.
Guided by the precepts of wisdom in passions and in tastes, governed by moderation in all things, observing scrupulously that cleanliness which is near akin to godliness, we perceive as we draw near the close of our discourse, that she will find in our story a deeper moral than we have yet drawn; that in the judicious cultivation of the house of our soul we cannot help but improve the inmate. and that a just appreciation of personal beauty leads to a contemplation of, and a nearer affinity to, that Celestial Beauty, which is so closely allied to the Good and the True.
THE LITERATURE OF BEAUTY.
HEN Molière had completed a drama, he was accustomed to take the manuscript to the kitchen, and read it to the old crone who cooked his dinners. He always maintained that her suggestions were the most valuable he received from any quarter.
We entertain a similar respect for the literary acumen of the sex, and therefore submitted our papers from time to time to one of its members, who is none the worse critic because she differs from the dramatist's old woman in being young and pretty. During one of these conferences, it happened that our friend The Librarian (old bachelor and conservative) chanced upon us.
Naturally enough, the conversation found a wider field than our modest duodecimo, and from it as a starting-point extended over the whole literature of personal beauty, and the cosmetic arts. It began by our critic, whom we will here call Portia, saying:
"I certainly think your book will succeed, because it is on so novel a subject.".
"Novel! humph!" interrupted the librarian; "the subject is as worn as some of the faces it pretends to repair. There are hundreds of volumes on the toilet." "It is true," said we. "We cannot claim to be pioneers in this matter."
"But certainly," rejoined Portia, "you remember showing me in the last edition of Brunet's Manuel de Libraire, that he only mentions three books on cosmetics. Here's Brunet now, and the only titles he gives are of one in Italian, and two in French."
THE LIBRARIAN.-Yes, this one by Le Fournier, La Decoration d'Humaine Nature et Aornement des Dames, is a curious little book, printed in black letter. You can see a copy of it in the Philadelphia Library. This other, by "Michel de Nostre Dame," is by the identical old astrologer who predicted everything that has happened since his day, except that he and his book should be immortalized by Goethe in Faust. You remember the lines:
Und dies geheimnissvolle Buch,
WE. To which question of Faust we must hasten to say no, or else people will ask us why we don't republish Nostradamus' old trash, instead of writing—
THE LIBRARIAN.-Some new trash on the same topic. For that matter, Goethe didn't refer to the treatise on Fardemens et Senteurs.
WE.-Sir, the subject of cosmetic surgery now takes rank as a dignified branch of medicine. Trash is not the name for it. Are you aware that Dr. Andry, in his Orthopédique, gives it a long chapter? That Dr. Cid, of Paris, published a suggestive treatise on Calliplastique in 1846? That Royer-Collard wrote several essays on Organoplastie Hygienique? That Dr. Hirzel's Toiletten-Chemie has already passed through two editions? That within a year, Dr. H. Klencke, whose titles would occupy a page of our book, has published a volume of nigh six hundred pages on Kosmetik? That Mr. Cooley, of London, has a bulky octavo of eight hundred pages on the same topic? Not to speak of the loads of books on perfumery, and on the anatomy of beauty, from Sir Benjamin Brodie down to Professor Dussauce, and Mr. Piesse? And the essays on obesity which have multiplied so of late, especially that of Dr. Dancel?
PORTIA. Really, it is not less gratifying than surprising, to learn that men have given themselves so much trouble about improving the looks of us poor women. I am afraid we don't appreciate their disinterested kindness.
WE (ignoring the thrust.)-The story is only half told. According to Jacob le Bibliophile, there were published
THE ACADEMY OF BEAUTY.
in French, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, more than one hundred volumes on the secrets of beauty, and an indefinite number since. Then there are a great many curious treatises in Italian, for the Italians were for centuries the most expert poisoners, perfumers, cosmetic artists, and physicians in the world.
THE LIBRARIAN.-Very true. The ladies of Venice formed a society in the sixteenth century, and elected officers, for the purpose of learning and testing new discoveries in the arts of the toilet. Signora Isabella Cortese was at one time president, and Catherine de Medici was proud to be an honorary member.
PORTIA-Why, that reminds me of the Queen of Navarre's tribunal of love and beauty.
THE LIBRARIAN.-The resemblance is more in name than in object. But tell us, Sir Author, whether you find much of value in these old French and Italian productions?
WE. Not much. The receipts are usually long and complicated, and modern chemistry can tell you secrets worth any dozen these old books contain. Here, for example, is one, the first at hand, from Dr. de Blegny's Secrets concernant la Beauté, which he assures you will give" brilliancy and beauty" to the skin.
"Take white olibanum and myrrh, of each two ounces, benjamin an ounce, and gray amber six grains; powder them; put in a retort with a pound of rose