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DESERVEDLY popular sentiment allows careless neglect of dress only to the eccentric genius or to the very poor. The one is regarded on that point with an amused tolerance, the other is pitied. There is no doubt that humanity in general considers becoming dress to be essential; and every normal person takes, according to leisure and opportunity, thought as to what is suitable and becoming. But the standard of beauty for one person is the standard of ugliness for another. A man clothes his legs in pipes, wears a pipe with a curly brim on his head, and binds his neck with a hard white band which gives the effect of semi-strangulation. Then he goes abroad pleased with and proud of himself as a well-dressed, fine-looking gentleman. woman places a bee-hive or an inverted flower-pot on her head, puffs out her chest like a pouter-pigeon, wears a yard-wide skirt tied round her ankles or her knees with a piece of ribbon, and totters along the pavement with a sickly show of self-content. Both man and woman believe that they touch the point of beauty, and if Beau Brummell, Beau Nash, or Count D'Orsay were mentioned, both would probably inveigh against the idle, useless fools of a bygone time, who gave so much care to dress.
Yet the balance of good sense is with the Beaux, who were strong-minded enough to lead the modes, while the well-dressed (?) man and woman of to-day follow servilely any foolish and ugly fashion that may be presented by some professional dressmaker or tailor, presumably with the desire to prove the depths to which humanity will go in sartorial folly. Since beginning to write this book I have heard such unqualified scorn poured upon the Beaux by my friends, who carry their chins high because of the stiffness of their collars, and seem so unhappy about their knees when they sit down, evidently fearing lest the straightness of their nether garments will not be maintained when they once more rise to their feet, that I ardently wish some new Beau would burst upon the world in sufficient glory and strength to induce men to dress comfortably and beautifully.
To pass to another subject, I would acknowledge with gratitude the kindness of Mr. Lewis Melville, who has helped me out of more than one difficulty which arose when preparing my manuscript.