Macmillan's Magazine, ed. David Masson vol. 1 (1859-1860), pp. 211-218

                                         ON THE SUBJECT OF CLOTHES:


MY sight not being so good as it was, 
my granddaughter is in the habit of 
reading the Times aloud to me daily. 
Possibly, this is not always a labour of 
love, I being a rather fidgety listener, nor, 
at the same time, one of those conceited 
old persons who consider that to minister 
unto them is to the young a privilege 
invaluable. There have been times 
when, perceiving Netty's bright eye 
wander, and her voice drop into a 
monotonous absent tone, I have inly 
sighed over those inevitable infirmities 
which render each generation in its turn 
dependent on the succeeding one ; times 
when it would have been easier to me to 
get up a peevish "There, that will do," 
and forfeit my own undeniable pleasure, 
than thus to make a martyr of my little 
girl.  But then, few can have lived 
to my length of days without being 
taught the blessedness of not only 
labours of love, but labours of duty ;

and I am glad, even at the cost of some
personal pain, to see my grandchild 
learning this lesson after me ; conquering 
her natural laziness, accommodating the 
frivolous tastes of youth to the prosy 
likings of old age, and acquiring, even 
in so small a thing as the reading of a 
newspaper, that habit of self-control 
and self-abnegation which we women 
have to practise, with or against our 
will, to the end of our lives.
    So, after going steadily through the 
leading articles—by the way, what a 
curious fact of modern intellectual 
advance is that page of Times leaders, 
thought out with infinite labour, compiled 
with surpassing skill, influencing 
the whole world's destinies one day, to 
become the next mere waste paper— 
after this, I said to Netty, "Now, my 
dear, I leave the choice to you ; read 
anything that you consider amusing."
    "Amusing !" As if she doubted

whether anything in the Times could
come under that head.  But shortly her
countenance cleared.  " ' An American
Bridal Trousseau,' will that do, Grannie
dear ? "
    I nodded, and she began to read.
    " ' Extraordinary Marriage Ceremony.
Cuban Don—Young Lady of New York.
Will no doubt amuse English ladies.'
Why, I declare, it's a list of her clothes !
And such a quantity ; only hear :—
' One blue silk, ruffled to the waist ;
' one green and white double skirt,
' trimmed with black lace ; one light
' blue silk chintz, flowers down the
' skirt, trimmed with deep fringe to
' match ; one steel-coloured silk, with
' purple velvet flowers, trimmed with
' wide bands of purple velvet, edged
' with black lace ; a surplus waist
' trimmed to match the skirt ; one
' Swiss dress, the skirt formed with
' clusters of ruffles and tucks, the waist
' to match ; one white Swiss muslin
' dress, five flounces, edged with narrow
' Valenciennes lace; one white Swiss
' dress skirt, with three flounces, three
' ruffles on each flounce, pink riband
' underneath ; one Swiss dress tucked
' to the waist ; six dresses of poplin,
' merino, and Ottoman velvet ;' "—
    " Stop, stop !  let us take breath, child.
Poplin, merino, Ottoman velvet ; and
how many more was it ?  Swiss muslin,
silk chintz, and something with a 'surplus
waist,' whatever that may be."
    "Indeed, I don't know, Grandmamma,"
laughed the child ; "though you do
think me such an extravagant young
lady.  Not so bad as this one, any how.
O, O, O ! Just listen : 'Eighteen street
' dresses, of rich, plain, and figured
' silks, double skirt and two flounces;
' also moiré antique, made in the newest
' and most fashionable style ; twelve
' afternoon dresses, consisting of grenadines,
' organdies and tissue, all varied
' in styles of making ; twelve evening
' dresses, one pink embossed velvet,
' trimmed with the richest point de
' Venise ; one white silk tunic dress,
' skirt embroidered and trimmed with
' blonde lace ; one pearl-coloured silk,
' double skirt, with bouquets of embossed

' velvet ; three white crape
' dresses, ornamented with bunches of
' raised flowers ; three white tulle
' dresses, with coloured polka spots of
' floss silk, to be worn over white silk
' skirts ; six dinner dresses, one white
' silk embroidered with gold ; one pink
' moiré antique, very elegant side
' stripes; one blue silk, with lace
' flounces ; one amber silk, with black
' lace tunic dress ; one black moiré
' antique, trimmed with velvet and
' lace ; one white moiré antique, with
' puffings of illusion, and the sleeves
' made in Princess Clothilde style ;
' twelve muslin dresses, made with
' flounces and simple ruffles ;' "—
    "That's a mercy, girl. I began to
think the only 'simple' article the lady
possessed was her husband."
    " Grandmamma ; how funny you are !
Well, will you hear to the end ? "
    "Certainly. One is not often blessed
with such valuable and extensive
information. Besides, my dear, it
may be of use to you when the Prince
comes." .
    (This is the name by which we have
always been accustomed to talk openly
of Netty's possible, doubtless she thinks
certain, lover and husband.  Consequently,
to no ignorant lady's-maid or
silly young playfellow, but to her sage old
grandmother, has my child confided her
ideas and intentions on this important
subject, including the imaginary portrait,
physical and mental, of "the Prince,"
what she expects of him, and what she
means to be towards him. Also, in no
small degree, what they are both to be
towards their revered grandmamma. Poor
little Netty, she little knows how seldom
is any dream fulfilled !  Yet, if
never any more than a dream, better a
pure than a base, a high than a low, a
wise than a foolish one.)
    " When the Prince comes," said the
little maid, drawing herself up with all
the dignity of sixteen ; "I hope I
shall think a great deal more of him
than of my wedding, and that he will
think more of me than of my wedding
    " Very well.  Now, go on."

She did so ; and I here cut it out of 
the newspaper entire, lengthy as the 
paragraph is, to prove that I have not 
garbled a line ; that I do "nothing 
"extenuate, nor aught set down in 
"malice," with regard to this young 
American bride, whose name is not 
given, and of whom I know no more 
than the man in the moon :—  
    " Three riding habits, one black 
" Canton crape, trimmed with velvet 
" buttons ; one green merino, English 
" style ; one black cloth, trimmed with 
" velvet ; three opera cloaks, one white 
" merino double cape, elegantly embroidered 
" and trimmed with rich 
" tassels ; one white cashmere, trimmed 
" with blue and white plaid plush ; one 
" grenadine, with riband quilling ; 
" twenty-four pairs of varied coloured 
" satin slippers, richly embroidered ; 
" twelve pairs of white satin and kid
" slippers, plain ; twelve pairs of white 
" satin and kid slippers, trimmed with 
" riband ; six pairs of mouse-embroidered 
" slippers, one pair of kid India 
" mouse, embroidered ; one green and 
" grey chenille, embroidered ; one purple 
" and black silk, embroidered ; two pairs 
" of brown Morocco plain French, all 
" made à la Turque ; six pairs of slippers, 
" variously embroidered in various 
" colours for the toilet ; twelve pairs of 
" silk and satin Français, dress, habit, 
" and walking gaiters ; six pairs of walking 
" and winter gaiters, double soles ; 
" six street bonnets, made of the most 
" recherché Swiss straws, trimmed with 
" handsome riband ; one opera bonnet,
" made of white lace and long fancy 
" marabout feathers ; one black and
" white royal velvet bonnet, trimmed
" with cluster of pink roses, intermingled 
" with black velvet leaves ; six rich 
" head dresses, consisting of chenille, 
" pearl and gold, and other rich materials ; 
" six sets of hairpins, of coral, 
" turquoise, pearl, and gold ornaments ;
" six brettel capes of white tulle, trimmed 
" in various styles of fancy velvet, 
" chenille, and riband ; one Bruxelles 
" point appliqué cape, trimmed with 
" puffings of illusion and riband ; one 
" dozen of French embroidered handkerchiefs, 

" with initials richly embroidered 
" in the corner ; one dozen of real point 
" lace handkerchiefs ; one dozen of guipure 
" lace handkerchiefs ; one dozen of 
" pine-apple handkerchiefs, embroidered 
" and trimmed with lace ; one dozen of 
" fancy illusion sleeves for evening 
" dresses, made flowing à la favorite ;
" two dozens of glove tops to match
" sleeves ; one pair of glove tops of point 
" d'Alençon, trimmed with orange blossoms ; 
" six sets of fancy wristlets, made 
" of velvet and laces ; six French parasols, 
" made of the most magnificent 
" embossed velvet, with rich Chinoise 
" carved handles ; also three coquette
" parasols, simple and elegant ; twelve 
" pairs of open-worked and embroidered
" China silk hose ; twenty-four pairs 
" plain silk hose ; twelve pairs Balmoral 
" hose ; twelve pairs of Paris thread 
" hose, open-worked ; twelve pairs of 
" Paris thread hose, plain ; twenty-four
" pairs of rich French embroidered
" elastics ; twelve pairs of China silk
" under-vests ; twelve dozens of French
" kid gloves, of various colours ; twelve
" pairs of gauntlets, buckskin and kid ; 
" twelve pairs of travelling gloves,
" gauntlet tops. The trousseau lace dress 
" was the exact pattern of that used by 
" the Princess Clothilde at the selection 
" of the Empress Eugénie, having been 
" reproduced in Europe expressly for 
" this occasion. The lace is point plat, 
" point aiguille, Chantilly, and Brussels—
" in fact, a combination of the
" most valuable lace known. Among 
" the handkerchiefs were two of point
" d'Alençon lace, valued at 200 dollars 
" each, and one Valenciennes, worth 250 
" dollars, the richest ever imported."
    Ending, my granddaughter regarded 
me with a puzzled air—"Well?"
    " Well, my dear ? " .
    " What do you think about it all ? "
    " I was thinking what a contrast all 
these gowns are to the one the lady 
must some day, may any day, put on— 
plain white, 'frilled,' probably, but still 
plain enough ; since after her first dressing, 
or rather being dressed, in it, no one 
will ever care to look at it or her any 

Netty started—"Grandmamma, you 
don't mean a shroud ? "
    "Why not, child?—when, flounce 
and furbelow as we may, we shall all 
want a shroud some time."
    " But it is so dreadful."
    " Not when one approaches as near to 
the time of wearing it as I do.  Nor, at 
any age, is it half so dreadful to think of 
oneself, or of any fair body one loves, 
wrapped up in this garment,—as I 
wrapped your mother up when you were 
still a baby,—as to think of it decked 
out like that young creature whose 
'trousseau' forms a feature in the public 
newspapers. She apparently comes 
to her husband so buried in 'clothes' 
that he must feel, poor man, as if he had 
married a walking linen-draper's shop 
instead of a flesh and blood woman, with 
a heart and a brain, a sweet human 
body, and a responsible immortal soul ;— 
ask yourself would you wish to be so 
married, Netty, my dear ?"
    A toss of the curls, a flash of the 
indignant young eyes—
    " Grannie, I'd rather be married like
—like—Patient Griseldis ! "
    Suggesting that, out of the region of 
romance, Griseldis' costume might be, to 
say the least of it, cold—I nevertheless 
cordially agreed with my little girl, as a 
matter of principle. And I half sighed, 
remembering what was said to me about 
forty years ago, when I came, with only 
three gowns, one on and two off, a 
moderate store of linen, and five golden 
guineas in my pocket, to the tender arms 
that would have taken me without a rag 
in my trunk, or a penny in my purse— 
ay, and been proud of it too !  I did not 
tell Netty her grandfather's exact words ; 
—but when she questioned, I gave her 
a full description of the costume in 
which I walked down the aisle of that 
village church with young Doctor Waterhouse
—my dear husband that was then, 
—and is now, though his tablet has been 
in the said church aisle for twenty-two 
    When Netty was gone to her music 
lesson, I sat thinking—you hardly know 
how much we old folk enjoy thinking ; 
the mere act of running over mentally

times, places, people and things—moralizing 
upon past, present, and future, and 
evolving out of this undisturbed quietude 
of meditation that wisdom which is supposed 
to be the peculiar quality of old 
age. May I be allowed to take it for 
granted, therefore, that I am a little 
wiser than my neighbours, if only, because 
I have more opportunity than 
they to ponder over what comes into my 
head during the long solitudes that any 
age may have, but old age must have ?
A solitude that ripens thought, smooths 
down prejudice, disposes to kindness and 
charity, and, I trust, gradually brings
the individual nearer to that wide-eyed 
calm of vision with which, we believe, 
we shall all one day behold all things.
    I could not get her out of my head—
this New York belle, with her innumerable 
quantity of clothes. For, disguise 
them as you will into "dresses," "costumes," 
"toilettes," they all resolve themselves 
into mere " clothes "—used for the 
covering and convenience of this perishable 
machine of bone, muscle, sinew, and 
flesh—the temporary habitation of that 
"ego"—the true "me" of us all. One 
is tempted to inquire, viewing with the 
mind's eye such a mountain of millinery, 
what had become of this infinitesimal 
"me"—the real woman whom the
Cuban gentleman married ?   If it were 
not crushed altogether out of identity 
by this fearful superincumbent weight—
the weight—vide Times—of 16,400 
dollars' worth of clothes?
    The result of my thoughts is, if an 
old woman may speak her mind, rather 
serious :  on this as well as the other 
side of the Atlantic.  For, not to lay 
the whole burden on our Yankee sister 
—poor girl, how do I know that she 
may not be at heart as innocent a child 
as my Netty ?—here is a paragraph I cut 
out of another paper—headed—"Dress
at Compiègne."
    " Four toilettes a day are about the 
" general requirement, though there are 
" days when only three are necessary ; 
" the invitations are for eight days, and 
" no lady is expected ever to be seen 
" twice wearing the same gown.  Count 
" up this, and you will find an average of

" thirty-two toilettes to be carried to 
'' the Court.  Suppose a female invitée 
" to have a daughter or two with her, 
" you come at once to ninety or ninety-six
" dresses ! Now, the average of these 
" gowns will be 250 francs (10l.), and 
" you reach for each person the figure of 
" 300l. or 320l. ; if two persons, 640l.
" if three, 960l."
    And all for one week's clothes !!
    Far be it from me to undervalue 
dress.  I am neither Quaker, Puritan, 
nor devotee.  I think there is not a 
straw to choose between the monk of 
old, whose washing days occurred about 
twice a lifetime, and the modern "saint," 
who imagines he glorifies God by means 
of a ragged shirt and a dirty pocket-handkerchief ; 
they are both equal, and 
equal fools. Scarcely less so is the 
" religious" woman who makes it a 
matter of conscience to hide or neutralize 
every physical beauty with which 
Nature has endowed her ; as if He, who 
"so clothes the grass of the field" that 
even the meanest forms of his handiwork 
are lovely beyond all our poor 
imitating, were displeased at our delighting 
ourselves in that wherein He must 
delight continually.  As if "Nature" 
and "grace" were two opposite attributes, 
and there could be any beauty in 
this world which did not proceed direct 
from God.
    No ; beauty is a blessing ; and everything 
that innocently adds thereto is a 
blessing likewise, otherwise we should 
never have advanced from fig-leaves and 
beasts' skins to that harmony of form 
and colour which we call good " dress," 
particularly as applied to women. From 
the peach-cheeked baby, smiling from 
behind her clouds of cambric, or her 
swansdown and Cashmere—fair as a 
rose-bud "with all its sweetest leaves 
yet folded''—to the picturesque old 
lady with her silver-grey or rich black 
silks, her delicate laces and her snowy 
lawns—there is nothing more charming, 
more satisfactory to eye and heart, than 
a well-dressed woman.  Or man either. 
We need not revive the satire of Sartor 
Resartus, to picture what a ridiculous 
figure some of our honourable and dignified 

friends would cut on solemn occasions, 
such as a Lord Mayor's Show, a 
University procession, or a royal opening 
of Parliament, if condemned to strut 
therein after the fashion of their ancestors, 
simply and airily attired in a wolfskin, 
a blanket, or a little woad and red 
ochre, and a necklace of beads,—to be 
quite convinced of the immense advantages 
of clothes.
    No ; whatever Netty may think when 
I check her occasional outbursts of linen-drapery 
splendour, I do not undervalue 
dress either in theory or practice ; 
nor, to the latest hour of conscious volition, 
shall she ever see her grandmother 
looking one whit uglier than old age 
compels me to look. But every virtue 
may be exaggerated into a vice ; and I 
often think the ever-increasing luxury 
of this century is carrying to a dangerous 
extreme a woman's right of making 
herself charming by means of self-adornment.
    First, it seems to me that the variety 
exacted by fashion is a great evil. 
Formerly, our ancestresses used to dress 
richly, handsomely ; but it was in a 
solid, useful style of handsomeness. 
Gowns were not made for a month or a 
year ; they were meant to last half a 
lifetime, or, perhaps, two lifetimes ; for 
they frequently descended from mother 
to daughter. The stuffs which composed 
them were correspondingly substantial ; 
I have a fragment of my grandmother's 
wedding-dress—stripes of pale 
satin and white velvet, with painted 
flowers—which might have gone through 
every generation from her to Netty without 
being worn out. This permanence 
of costume, both as to form and material, 
besides saving a world of time and 
trouble, must have given a certain 
solidity to female tastes very different 
from the love of flimsy change which is 
necessarily caused by the ever-shifting 
fashions and showy cheapnesses of our 
day.  I may have an old woman's prejudice 
in favour of the grave rather than 
the gay ; but Netty never takes me with 
her to choose her "summer dresses," 
that amidst all the glittering display I 
do not heave a sigh for the rich dark

satins of my youth, that "stood alone," 
as dressmakers say—fell into folds, like 
a picture ; and from month to month, 
and year to year, were never taken out 
of the drawer without seeming to dart 
from every inch of their glossy surface 
the faithful smile of an old friend— 
"Here I am, just as good as ever ; I 
can't wear out."
    Looking the other day at the exquisite 
architecture, without as within, of 
Westminster Abbey, and thinking what 
infinite pains must have been bestowed 
upon even every square yard, I could 
not but contrast that century-grown, 
grand old building, in which each 
builder, founder, or workman was content 
to execute his small fragment, add 
it to the slowly-advancing magnificent 
whole, and, unnoted, perish ;—I could 
not, I say, help contrasting this with 
the Sydenham glass palace, the wonder 
of our modern day ; but fifty years 
hence, where will it be ?  No less the 
difference between those queenly costumes 
made permanent on canvas or in 
illuminated missals—rich, sweeping, majestic ; 
conveying, not the impression of 
a gown with a woman inside it, or a 
woman used as a peg whereon to hang a 
variety of gowns, but a woman whose 
gown becomes a portion of herself—a 
half invisible yet important adjunct of 
her own grace, sweetness, or dignity,
though it would never strike one to 
criticise it as fashionable or unfashionable : 
certainly never to ask the address 
of her mantua-maker.
    And this, it appears to me, is the 
limit at which expensive dress becomes, 
in every rank and degree, first a folly 
and then a sin—namely, when the 
woman is absorbed in, and secondary to, 
the clothes.  When the planning of 
them, the deciding about them, and the 
varying them, occupy so much of her 
time or attention that dress assumes an 
importance per se, and she consequently, 
in all circumstances and societies, is 
taught to think less of what she is than 
of how she is attired.  This, without 
distinction of station or wealth ;—for the 
maid-servant, sitting up of nights to put 
a flounce to her barège gown, or stick

artificial flowers under her tiny bonnet,
is just as culpable as the Empress 
Eugénie, wearing and exacting four new 
toilettes per diem. And equally does one 
grieve to contemplate the American 
belle, taking out of her youthful love-dreamings, 
or her solemn meditations on 
the state which, as Juliet says, 
    "Well thou knowest, is full of cross 
            and sin "—

the time required merely to choose and 
order those fourscore dresses, which, 
granted that she is rich enough to afford 
them, she can never possibly wear out 
before fashion changes. Lucky will be 
her lady's-maid, or maids, for she must 
require as many "dressers" as a royal 
personage ; and lucky the New York 
buyers of cast-off garments for years to 
    Then—the packing! Even should 
the "Cuban don" travel in the style of 
a hidalgo, he cannot fail to be occasionally 
encumbered by the multiplicity of 
boxes which accompany his fair lady. 
And arrived at home—if he may hope 
for such a word—will it not take an 
entire suite of rooms in which to stow 
away that fearful amount of finery. 
"My love," we can imagine the poor 
gentleman saying, when fairly distracted 
by the goodly array, "get rid of it anywhere 
you like ; I don't care ; I married 
you, and not your clothes."
    A sentiment not uncommon to the 
male species. If women who are supposed 
to dress to please this sex did but 
know how much valuable exertion in 
that line is entirely thrown away upon 
them—how little they care for "white" 
tulle with coloured polka spots"— 
"moiré antique with puffings of illusion,"
—a poor illusion, indeed,—and 
how indifferent they are to the respective
merits of "point plat," "point aiguille," 
Brussels and Valenciennes! Even in his 
most rapturous moment of admiration, a 
man is sure to say, generalizing, "How 
lovely you look!" never, "What a 
sweet pretty dress you have on !"—The 
tout ensemble is all he notices.  Most 
likely, he will approve more of your 
neat gingham or snowy muslin—or perhaps

your rich dark silk with a bright 
ribbon that catches his eye and pleases 
his sense of colour—than  he will for 
your toilette most "soignée," with all its 
extravagance of trimmings and ornaments. 
Especially if he sees upon you 
that ornament which all the milliners 
cannot sell, nor all the beauties buy—" a 
meek and quiet spirit," which is, in the 
sight not only of God but man, "of 
great price."
    " My poor New York bride," moralized 
I ; "I wonder if, among your 
innumerable ornaments, you have ever 
dreamed of counting that !" . 
    Viewed in this mood, the clothes 
question becomes a serious thing. It is 
not merely whether or no a lady is justified 
in spending so much money upon 
dress alone—or even the corresponding 
point, whether or no such ultra expense 
on costume be "good for trade." It 
becomes less a social and political than a 
moral question. Even though this extravagant 
personal luxury be temporarily 
beneficial to commerce, to countenance 
it is most assuredly "doing evil that 
good may come ;" injuring fatally the 
aggregate morals of a country, and lowering 
its standard of ideal right—the 
first step in its decadence and ultimate 
degradation.  For what sort of men and 
women are likely to grow up from the 
children of a generation which has its
pocket-handkerchiefs of "point d'Alençon, 
" valued at 200 dollars each, and 
" Valenciennes, worth 250 dollars—the 
" richest ever imported" ?  O, my sisters 
over the water, these were not the sort 
of brides who became Cornelias, Volumnias, 
and mothers of the Gracchi !
    Perhaps there was some foundation 
in the cry set up and laughed down, a 
while ago, that the terrible commercial 
crisis of 1857 was caused by the extravagance 
of women's dress, especially American 
women. Even with us here, many 
prudent, practical young fellows, not too 
deeply smitten to feel "all for love, and 
the world well lost," yet secretly craving 
for home, and its comforts and respectabilities, 
and acute enough to see that a 
bachelor is never worth half so much, 
either to himself, society, or the State,

as a man who is "married and settled,"
may yet often be deterred from that salutary 
duty by—what ?  A vague dread of 
their wives' clothes.
    Not quite without reason.  No wonder 
that when he comes home from the 
blaze of an evening party to his Temple 
chambers or the snug solitudes of his 
Fellow's den, the worthy gentleman 
shivers inwardly at the idea of converting 
himself into a modern Orestes, haunted 
by winged Eumenides of milliners' bills— 
of having a large proportion of his hard-earned 
family income frittered away in 
"loves of laces," "exquisite ribbons," 
and all the fantasies of female dress 
which a man's more solid taste generally 
sets down at once as "rubbish." In 
which, not seldom, he is quite correct.
    Women's modern propensities in this 
line might advantageously be restrained. 
It is frequently not the dress which 
costs so much as its extras ; which 
rarely add to the effect, but often quite 
destroy that classic breadth and unity 
which, to my old-fashioned eyes, is one 
of the greatest charms in any costume. 
It is astonishing how much may be 
saved in the year by this simple rule, 
Never buy fripperies.
    I have one more word to say, and 
then I have done.
    A woman should always remember
that her clothes should be in expense 
and quantity proportioned to her own 
circumstances, and not those of her neighbour. 
The mingling of classes is good
—that is, the frequent association of 
those persons who in effect form one 
and the same class, being alike in tastes, 
sympathies, moral purpose, and mental 
calibre,—however various be their degrees 
of annual income, worldly station, 
profession, trade, or unemployed leisure. 
Provided always that the one meeting-point, 
which likewise can alone be the 
fair point of rivalry, lies in themselves 
and not their externals. How can 
I, who have but 200l. a-year, dress like 
my friend Mrs. Jones, who has 2000l. ? 
—but is that any reason why I, who 
am, I hope, as true a gentlewoman as 
she is, should eschew her very pleasant 
society, or, out of mere cowardice, ruin

myself by mimicking her in the matter of 
clothes ?—Nothing is so fatal as the ever-increasing 
habit that I notice, of each 
class dressing, or attempting to dress, in 
a style equal to the class above it—the 
maid imitating her mistress, the young 
shop-girl the woman of fortune, and so 
on.  Even mothers of families one sees 
continually falling into this error, and 
wearing gowns, shawls, &c., that must 
of necessity have pinched the family income 
for many a day.  My dear ladies, 
will you not see that a good daily joint 
of meat on your table is far more conducive 
to the health and happiness of 
those sitting round it, than the handsomest 
silk gown placed at the head of 
it ?  that a good, well-paid domestic servant 
(and you cannot expect a good one 
unless well-paid) is of more worth to you 
and yours, in absolute comfort, than the 
very grandest of milliners or dressmakers ?
    I have lived long, my dears, and worn 
out a considerable quantity of linen-drapery 
in my time ; but I can fearlessly 
assert that, at every age, as a young girl 
at home, a matron in her own house, and 
an old lady free to spend her income in 
her own way—the one economy which I 
have always found safest to practise, as 
being least harmful to oneself, and least 
annoying to other people, was—"clothes." 
And I shall try, if possible, to teach it to 
my granddaughter.  Not that mean

economy which hides poor materials by 
a tawdry "making-up"—disguising cheap
silks, coarse linen, and flimsy muslin by 
a quantity of false lace, sham jewellery, 
dirty ribbons, and un-natural flowers,— 
but that quiet independence with which, 
believing that the woman herself is 
superior to anything she wears, we just 
wear fearlessly what suits our taste and 
our pocket—paying a due regard to 
colours, fashions, freshness, and cleanliness—
but never vexing ourselves about 
immaterial items, and as happy in a 
dress of last year's fashion as if we had 
at command the whole establishment of 
the renowned Jane Clarke, who, they 
say,—but for the credit of womanhood I
hope it is untrue,—ordered herself to be 
buried in a point lace shroud.
    Ay, as I reminded my little Netty— 
we must all come to this last garment. 
To an old woman—who never will put 
off her black gown except for that white 
one—the matter of clothes seems often 
a very trivial thing, hardly worth, indeed, 
the prosy dissertation I have been 
led to give upon it. Let us only so 
clothe ourselves, that this frail body of 
ours, while it does last, may not be 
unpleasing in the sight of those who 
love us ; and let us so use it in this life 
that in the life to come it may be found 
worthy to be "clothed upon" with its 
Maker's own glorious immortality.