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As for particularizing your dress, that were a task quite absurd and impertinent, considering that you are to wear it, and not I, and remembering the variations of fashion. When I was presented to H. R. H. the Prince Regent, in the uniform of the Hammersmith Hussars, viz. a yellow jacket, pink pantaloons, and silver lace, green morocco boots, and a light blue pelisse lined with ermine, the august Prince himself, the model of grace and elegance in his time, wore a coat of which the waist-buttons were placed between his royal shoulder-blades, and which, if worn by a man now, would cause the boys to hoot him in Pall Mall, and be a uniform for Bedlam. If buttons continue their present downward progress, a man's waist may fall down to his heels next year, or work upwards to the nape of his neck after another revolution : who knows? Be it yours decently to conform to the custom, and leave your buttons in the hands of a good tailor, who will place them wherever fashion ordains. A few general rules, however, may be gently hinted to a young fellow who has perhaps a propensity to fall into certain errors.
Eschew violent sporting-dresses, such as one sees but too often in the parks and public places on the backs of misguided young men. There is no objection to an ostler wearing a particular costume, but it is a pity that a gentleman should imitate it. I have seen in like manner young fellows at Cowes attired like the pictures we have of smugglers, buccaneers, and mariners, in Adelphi melodramas. I would like my Bob to remember, that his business in life is neither to handle a currycomb nor a marlin-spike, and to fashion his habit accordingly.
If your hair or clothes do not smell of tobacco, as they sometimes, it must be confessed, do, you will not be less popular among ladies. And as no man is worth a fig, or can have real benevolence of character, or observe mankind properly, who does not like the society of modest and well-bred women, respect their prejudices in this matter, and if you must smoke, smoke in an old coat, and away from the ladies.
Avoid dressing-gowns; which argue dawdling, an unshorn chin, a lax toilet, and a general lazy and indolent habit at home. Begin your day with a clean conscience in every way. Cleanliness is honesty.* A man who shows but a clean face and hands is a rogue and hypocrite in society, and takes credit for
* Note to the beloved Reader. — This hint, dear Sir, is of course not intended to apply personally to you, who are scrupulously neat in your person; but when you look around you and see how many people neglect the use of that admirable cosmetic, cold water, you will see that a few words in its praise may be spoken with advantage.
a virtue which he does not possess.
And of all the advances towards civilization which our nation has made, and of most of which Mr. Macaulay treats so eloquently in his lately published History, as in his lecture to the Glasgow Students the other day, there is none which ought to give a philanthropist more pleasure than to remark the great and increasing demand for bath-tubs at the ironmongers’: Zinc-Institutions, of which our ancestors had a lamentable ignorance.
And I hope that these institutions will be universal in our country before long, and that every decent man in England will be a Companion of the Most Honorable order of the Bath.
THE INFLUENCE OF LOVELY WOMAN UPON SOCIETY.
CONSTANTLY, my dear Bob, I have told you how refining is the influence of women upon society, and how profound our respect ought to be for them. Living in chambers as you do, my dear Nephew, and not of course liable to be amused by the constant society of an old uncle, who moreover might be deucedly bored with your own conversation — I beseech and implore you to make a point of being intimate with one or two families where you can see kind and well-bred English ladies. I have seen women of all nations in the world, but I never saw the equals of English women (meaning of course to include our cousins the MacWhirters of Glasgow, and the O'Tooles of Cork) : and I pray sincerely, my boy, that you may always have a woman for a friend.
Try, then, and make yourself the bienvenu in some house where accomplished and amiable ladies are. Pass as much of your time as you can with them. Lose no opportunity of making yourself agreeable to them: run their errands ; send them flowers and elegant little tokens ; show a willingness to be pleased by their attentions, and to aid their little charming schemes of shopping or dancing, or this, or that. I say to you, make yourself a lady's man as much as ever you can.
It is better for you to pass an evening once or twice a week in a lady's drawing-room, even though the conversation is rather slow and you know the girls' songs by heart, than in a club, tavern, or smoking-room, or a pit of a theatre. All amusements of youth, to which virtuous women are not ad
mitted, are, rely on it, deleterious in their nature. who avoid female society, have dull perceptions and are stupid, or have gross tastes and revolt against what is pure. Your Clubswaggerers who are sucking the butts of billiard cues all night call female society insipid. Sir, poetry is insipid to a yokel; beauty has no charms for a blind man: music does not please an unfortunate brute who does not know one tune from another and, as a true epicure is hardly ever tired of watersouchy and brown bread and butter, I protest I can sit for a whole night talking to a well-regulated kindly woman about her girl coming out, or her boy at Eton, and like the evening's entertainment.
One of the great benefits a young man may derive from women's society is, that he is bound to be respectful to them. The habit is of great good to your moral man, depend on it. Our education makes of us the most eminently selfish men in the world. We fight for ourselves, we push for ourselves ; we cut the best slices out of the joint at club-dinners for ourselves ; we yawn for ourselves and light our pipes, and say we won't go out: we prefer ourselves and our ease — and the greatest good that comes to a man from woman's society is, that he has to think of somebody besides himself - somebody to whom he is bound to be constantly attentive and respectful. Certainly I don't want my dear Bob to associate with those of the other sex whom he doesn't and can't respect: that is worse than billiards : worse than tavern brandy-and-water: worse than smoking selfishness at home. But I vow I would rather see you turning over the leaves of Miss Fiddlecombe's music-book all night, than at billiards, or smoking, or brandy-and-water, or all three.
Remember, if a house is pleasant, and you like to remain in it, that to be well with the women of the house is the great, the vital point. If it is a good house, don't turn up your nose because you are only asked to come in the evening while others are invited to dine. Recollect the debts of dinners which a hospitable family has to pay; who are you that you should always be expecting to nestle under the mahogany? Agreeable acquaintances are made just as well in the drawing-room as in the dining-room. Go to tea brisk and good-humored. Be determined to be pleased. Talk to a dowager, take a hand at whist. If you are musical, and know a song, sing it like a
Never sulk about dancing, but off with you. You will find your acquaintance enlarge. Mothers, pleased with your good-humor, will probably ask you to Pocklington Square, to a little party. You will get on you will form yourself a circle. You may marry a rich girl, or, at any rate, get the chance of seeing a number of the kind and the pretty.
Many young men, who are more remarkable for their impudence and selfishness than their good sense, are fond of boastfully announcing that they decline going to evening-parties at all, unless, indeed, such entertainments commence with a good dinner, and a quantity of claret.
I never saw my beautiful-minded friend, Mrs. Y. Z., many. times out of temper, but can quite pardon her indignation when young Fred Noodle, to whom the Y. Z.'s have been very kind, and who has appeared scores of times at their elegant table in Up-r B-k-r Street, announced in an unlucky moment of flippancy, that he did not intend to go to evening-parties any more.
What induced Fred Noodle to utter this bravado I know not; whether it was that he has been puffed up by attentions from several Aldermen's families with whom he has of late become acquainted, and among whom he gives himself the airs of a prodigious “swell ;” but having made this speech one Sunday after Church, when he condescended to call in B-k-r Street, and show off his new gloves and waistcoat, and talked in a sufficiently dandified air about the opera (the wretched creature fancies that an eight-and-sixpenny pit ticket gives him the privileges of a man of fashion) — Noodle made his bow to the ladies, and strutted off to show his new yellow kids elsewhere.
Matilda, my love, bring the Address Book,” Mrs. Y. Z. said to her lovely eldest daughter as soon as Noodle was gone, and the banging hall-door had closed upon the absurd youth. That graceful and obedient girl rose, went to the back drawingroom, on a table in which apartment the volume lay, and brought the book to her mamma.
Mrs. Y. Z. turned to the letter N; and under that initial discovered the name of the young fellow who had just gone out. Noodle, F., 250, Jermyn Street, St. James's. She took a pen from the table before her, and with it deliberately crossed the name of Mr. Noodle out of her book. Matilda looked at Eliza, who stood by in silent awe. The sweet eldest girl, who has a kind feeling towards every soul alive, then looked towards her mother with expostulating eyes, and said, “Oh, mamma!” Dear, dear Eliza ! I love all pitiful hearts like thine.
But Mrs. Y. Z. was in no mood to be merciful, and gave way to a natural indignation and feeling of outraged justice.
“What business has that young man to tell me,” she exclaimed, “ that he declines going to evening-parties, when he knows that after Easter we have one or two? Has he not met with constant hospitality here since Mr. Y. Z. brought him home from the Club? Has he such beaux yeux ? or, has he so much wit? or, is he a man of so much note, that his company at a dinner-table becomes indispensable? He is nobody; he is not handsome ; he is not clever; he never opens his mouth except to drink your Papa's claret; and he declines evening-parties forsooth! — Mind, children, he is never invited into this house again.'
When Y. Z. now meets young Noodle at the Club, that kind, but feeble-minded old gentleman covers up his face with the newspaper, so as not to be seen by Noodle; or sidles away with his face to the bookcases, and lurks off by the door. The other day, they met on the steps, when the wretched Noodle, driven aux abois, actually had the meanness to ask how Mrs. Y. Z. was? The Colonel (for such he is, and of the Bombay service, too) said, My wife? Oh! — hum! — I'm sorry to say Mrs. Y. Z. has been very poorly indeed, lately, very poorly; and confined to her room. God bless my soul! I've an appointment at the India House, and it's past two o'clock” and he fled.
I had the malicious satisfaction of describing to Noodle the most sumptuous dinner which Y. Z. had given the day before, at which there was a Lord present, a Foreign Minister with his Orders, two Generals with Stars, and every luxury of the season; but at the end of our conversation, seeing the effect it had upon the poor youth, and how miserably he was cast down, I told him the truth, viz., that the above story was a hoax, and that if he wanted to get into Mrs. Y. Z.'s good graces again, his best plan was to go to Lady Flack's party, where I knew the Miss Y. Zi's would be, and dance with them all night.
Yes, my dear Bob, you boys must pay with your persons, however lazy you may be - however much inclined to smoke at the Club, or to lie there and read the last delicious new novel ; or averse to going home to a dreadful black set of chambers, where there is no fire; and at ten o'clock at night creeping shuddering into your ball suit, in order to go forth to an evening-party.
The dressing, the clean gloves, and cab-hire are nuisances, I grant you. The idea of a party itself is a bore, but you must go. When you are at the party, it is not so stupid ; there is always something pleasant for the eye and attention of an