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[-254-] PART III
ADVICE AND RECIPES.
Feminine Diet: Nourishment.
IN order to avoid growing old (that
bankruptcy for the sex!), nourish yourself with food, light, but nutritious and
varied, according to the seasons. It will be found very wholesome to take milk
for one's first breakfast. Eat little at the second, especially if you are going
to do any kind of work after it. The principal meal of Roman soldiers and
workmen took place in the evening, after work was over. At the second breakfast
an egg and a vegetable ought to suffice. Dine at six o'clock, or at seven at the
latest, and do not have too great a number of dishes. Take a small cup [-255-] of milk and a light biscuit when you go to bed.
A diet too rich or too recherché, the abuse of butcher's meat, sauces, liqueurs, and old wines, are very bad for the complexion.
To obtain and to preserve a good colour, you should adopt a light diet, and eat meat once a day, and then in moderate quantity. Vegetables, on the contrary, may play a prominent part in the regimen. Some are more favourable than others to good-looks. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries soups were made of white chickweed, to clear the complexion. These soups were called "soupes au roi" because Odette de Champdivers, who nursed Charles VI., had conceived the idea of giving him the herb in this form as a remedy. White chickweed was also eaten as a salad; decoctions and infusions were likewise made of it, and were taken to clear the face from redness and flushings. This herb might well regain the [-256-] place then given it among eatables, for it still retains all its virtues.
A rhymed proverb of the Renaissance recommends certain vegetables especially, saying that "spinach and leeks bring lilies to the cheeks."
To these may be added cucumbers, carrots, and tomatoes; and many others, if not as good, are good. Gingerbread and rye-bread ought to have a foremost place among the foods preferred. A small slice of either between a second light breakfast and a moderate dinner will not overload the stomach.
Too much butter, bacon, fat, and oil in cooking, is to be deprecated, from the point of view of health as well as from that of the delicacy of the complexion. It is not necessary to exclude pastry absolutely, but only to admit it rarely: once a week at the most. Sugar should be used in moderation, and bonbons hardly ever. Acids are not all desirable. Preserves should not appear [-257-] upon the table every day. In very many cases cheeses are altogether forbidden, except Gruyère, which is considered a purifier. Tea, coffee, and chocolate are harmless, if they are used moderately. Milk and lemonade are, on the other hand, excellent for the complexion. Wine should be largely diluted-at least as much of the same quantity of well-filtered water as of wine.
If it were possible to swallow a glass of hot water before the principal meal, the complexion would be all the better. Mineral and digestive waters are excellent for mixing with wine.
Eat plenty of fruit: that is to say, eat it often, every day at dessert. All fruits are good, but some are better than others. Use strawberries abundantly while they are in season, unless indeed you have a tendency to eczema. They purify the blood and the liver, and are said to cure rheumatism and gout, if their good effects are helped by a [-258-] severe diet. Shall I go so far as to say that they cheer the spirits, as some affirm ? Cherries are also said to have the same quality, and to cure "vesania," a disease of the mind. Red currants are very refreshing, and so are plums. The peach, that queen of fruits, is very good for the stomach.
The apple is the most wholesome of all fruits, and its good properties are innumerable; the orange is also to be specially recommended.
It is said that the Baroness X who was one of the beauties of the Court of Louis Philippe, and who, at the age of eighty, still had bright eyes and the complexion of a young girl, lived almost entirely upon oranges during forty years; she had a dozen oranges for breakfast, a dozen oranges in the middle of the day, and a dozen oranges, a slice of bread, and a glass of claret for dinner.
I cannot say I advise such a diet, but [-259-] certainly the prettiest women are generally as frugal as camels in their food.
The Marquise de Crégny, who lived last century, and died at the age of nearly a hundred, only ate, for fifty years, vegetables stewed in chicken broth, and cooked fruit. She never drank anything but water, except during pregnancy, when the doctors made her take sweetened wine. In the last forty years of her life the water she drank was boiled, and had a little sugar-candy melted in it.
Several of my acquaintances who have exquisite complexions eat nothing but vegetables and cooked fruit all through Lent, and only drink water.
A group of pretty society women out-do even these; they are not satisfied with the abstinence imposed upon them for forty days, but go on fasting for two weeks after Easter, taking nothing but vegetables and fruit. They explain this extension of penitence by the necessity of counteracting [-260 -] the effects of fish, which has so large a place in the Lenten diet. The inhabitants of the salt waves, when indulged in too freely, bring out pimples on the purest complexions. This is the reason why many women eat fish sparingly at all times. Shell-fish, above all, are to be looked upon with suspicion.
If you will follow the easy advice that has been given here, the results obtained will surprise you. Diet does far more for health than doctors and drugs.
There can be no beauty without health. Directly you feel a little out of sorts, a more or less curtailed diet is generally the best. If you feel unwell, give up at once the more. substantial foods and generous wines; the hours of meals should be regulated, allowing a sufficient time between each.
It is well to remember that that which sustains life may also destroy it. To keep in good health, it is necessary to know how to restrain the appetite. In spring especially, diet is of great importance; and a celebrated [-261-] practitioner told me that the "medical spring begins at the end of January.
As one grows older the quantity of food should be reduced, and only Very digestible dishes should be chosen. After sixty this becomes an absolute necessity.
The Life one should live.
A delightful old lady was asked by some young woman the
secret of her pink- and-white colour, which she retained at an advanced age,
while her contemporaries were sallow and faded; and in reply she sketched out a
whole plan of life, which I will now give you:-
"Sitting up too late and sleeping too long in the morning spoil the complexion. Go to bed early and get up betimes; you will age less quickly, and will long retain your beauty. If, however, your position requires you to go into society, you must take care of yourself in this way: try to get a little sleep in the afternoon of the day on which [-262-] you have to sit up late. When you come in, before going to bed plunge into a warm bath for a few moments; then take a cup of soup and half a glass of Malaga. You will go to sleep immediately, and you will remain asleep until you awaken naturally, which under such circumstances will not be till about ten o'clock. Then take a cold bath, sponging yourself all over; and have a light breakfast of café-au-lait and bread without butter.
The old lady added: "How necessary it is to go out as little as possible! What an amount of precious time fétes and parties make us lose before, during, and after them!"
She continued: "Walking in the open air is very good for the complexion; but out- of-door sports must not be abused. While a daily walk of reasonable length is to be recommended, we must remember that the complexion will suffer if whole days are spent in playing lawn-tennis, croquet, etc. [-263-] Wear warm and light clothing, so as to keep your body always at an equal temperature. In winter keep the spine well protected; it is even more important than to protect the chest. Wear a silk handkerchief under the chemise if you don't like to wear flannel whilst you are young. In any case, though you may be only twenty years old, if you are delicate you should cover the spine with a strip of flannel-tied with a ribbon round the throat, and reaching to the loins. You need not be afraid of colds, bronchitis, or phthisis, if you take this slight precaution, which will not prevent your wearing a dress low in front, cut in a point or square. Do not wear your clothes too tight. To do so is against both the rules of health and real beauty. To compress the vital organs too much, congests the face. The hands swell and grow red, the whole appearance becomes stiff and awkward. Give yourself plenty of breathing-room, let your hand be at ease in your [-264-] glove, and let your foot have all the room it wants in the shoe.
"Take a glass of mineral water occasionally, in the morning-either of Seidlitz, Epsom, or Hunyadi Janos, etc. If your complexion becomes muddy, doctor yourself for three nights running, when you go to bed, with a teaspoonful of an infusion of powdered charcoal mixed with honey. Follow it up with a light aperient."
"Iron and quinine have a disastrous effect on the complexion. Alkalines with a little arsenic are, on the other hand, excellent for it."
"Sponge the body every day with cold water when you are in good health. Live in a healthy house; and in winter do not allow the temperature of your bedroom to fall below about 60º Fahrenheit. Work; employ your time. Read, and take an interest in the great and beautiful things of nature and humanity. Activity of mind and body keeps old age at a distance. [-265-] Avoid excitements and excessive luxury; do not allow your passions to master you.
"Be temperate, and your features will become refined. Greediness disfigures and coarsens the body. There is nothing like a rigid temperance in everything for keeping or obtaining beauty and freshness of complexion. Do not make up' your face while you are young, if you wish to preserve a pure colour in your old age. When the silver threads begin to streak your hair, do not have recourse to dyes, which only make it come out, or destroy its colour and silkiness. A beautiful white head of hair is a more becoming frame for the face at a certain age than locks as black as a raven's wing or blonde curls. It is better not to have too many heavily-scented flowers near you. 'Flowers,' remarked an old doctor to one of my prettiest aunts, 'are envious of the beauty of women, and are capable of injuring it.' This was a charming metaphor by which he tried to convince his lovely [-266-] patient of the danger of keeping them too near her. Headaches, which are the consequence of doing so, are certainly not an embellishment.
"It is alleged that women of a certain age do well to practise gymnastic exercises. But this would be very unbecoming to them. If they want to use their arms, why should they not do household work, as was lately prescribed to a northern queen, who followed this sensible medical advice? With the hands protected by gloves, one can dust, brush, and sweep to one's heart's content. This is a sufficient and useful form of gymnastics, natural and healthy, and not ridiculous, like the former.
"There is no doubt that the body should be exercised and the limbs kept active. But, above all, we should be cheerful, or at least serene. As we advance in life, let us try to improve ourselves more and more, and to be kind and tolerant. A benevolent disposition and a certain calmness of mind [-267-] are among the indispensable conditions for preserving good-looks.
"In mature age, let us put away all pretensions to juvenility. A dowager in a decolletée tulle dress, with nothing on her head, is hideous, almost odious. It is her part to wear heavy and rich materials; she should cover her head with a lace mantilla, and her thin shoulders should be draped.
"A grandmother dressed like her granddaughter, or even like her daughter, is a horrible sight.
"She should still, however, continue to love youth in others, to welcome it with pleasure, and to smile upon it.
"In short, it is stupid to be afraid of the coming years, and which will come all the same. Let us accept our age. An octogenarian who continues to take care of her person can still be beautiful, charming, beloved by her children and her friends, young and old.
[-268-] Secrets of Beauty.
You must well understand the nature of your skin in order to
keep your good- looks.
If you have a dry skin, you cannot treat it as you would an oily one. If it is a flabby one, it requires quite different treatment from a firm one. But, whatever it is, it is necessary to be on your guard against the cosmetics that are sold, which corrode and coarsen, and even roughen it with horrible little white pimples, which nothing can cure.
Spring, river, and rain water seem to me the first and best of all cosmetics, excellent for every skin. The rather oily juices of melon and of cucumber suit dry skins. Strawberry-juice is good for greasy skins. An infusion of lavender or of marjoram will give tone to a soft skin.
Nevertheless, one must not overdo such remedies. They should never be used daily, [-269-] at the cost of losing their effect after a time.
All treatments should be interrupted for some days from time to time. Our bodies quickly become accustomed to medicaments of all kinds, which then cease to be efficacious.
A faded face (dry skins fade the soonest) will regain some freshness by using a lotion of which the following is the recipe. This lotion softens the epidermis:-
Boil some crumb of bread and roots of mallow in filtered rain-water. When the water is a little reduced, strain it through a clean white cloth, then add a good proportion of yolk of egg and some fresh cream. Stir it well, and perfume it with orange-flower-water.
This lotion has to be made fresh every time it is used. It does not do to apply it even the next day, as it will have turned sour.
Plantain-water is equally to be recommended.
[-270-] Pretty Octogenarians.
An octogenarian, as I have said, can still be beautiful and
charming. I have seen more than one example of good-looks lasting to an advanced
age. At eighty-five the Maréchale Davoust, Princess of Eckmühl, the wife of
the conqueror of Auerstadt, had still a queenly carriage, superb eyes, and the
most lovely complexion in the world, so dazzling as to rival her admirable snow-
The Maréchale had never washed her face with anything but clear water. She kept a perfectly simple table, except on the days when she entertained, and even then she did not diverge from her usual temperate habits. She was generous, benevolent, and hospitable, although (or because) she was such a great lady, and these qualities had caused her to retain her charm and grace, so that her society was sought for to the last.
[-271-] She had been one of the most lovely women of her day, but she had resisted the successes of her beauty. In her youth her thoughts were always set upon her absent lover, on the husband far from her side, on the hero ever exposed to danger. Age could neither alarm nor depress her valiant nature, though she had had to endure many sorrows, and years had but made of her a matron at once attractive and dignified. Her eyes and her brow reflected healthy thoughts only, and she wore the halo of a strong, virtuous, and loving woman.
Everyone has heard of her daughter, the Marquise de Blocqueville, whose literary talent sufficed to place her in the front rank. But the Marquise is, besides, one of the most attractive hostesses in Paris, although she, too, has left youth behind her. Endowed with infinite goodness, grace, and generosity, finding her own happiness in making that of others, in bringing out the good qualities, great or small, of those she [-272-] likes; her pure brow shows traces of the most noble pre-occupations of the mind; and although she has suffered, her smile is of a very penetrating sweetness. Like her mother, she wears her own white hair, lightly powdered, which heightens her likeness to the adorable women of the eighteenth century.
The Marquise dresses with rare distinction, without, however, spending so much as most women of her rank. Attractiveness is a womanly duty, even to the last.
In her delightful book of thoughts, poetically entitled "Chrysanthemums" the Marquise writes: "The coquetry of age is a sacred coquetry; it commands us to take more, pains with ourselves not to displease than we take in youth to please." All women of a certain age should follow the example of Madame de Blocqueville, instead of imitating the fashions of their granddaughters. "There comes a time," says the Marquise further, "when every woman [-273-] should dress in her fashion, if she does not wish to lose the dignity of her age by following the fashion.
Here are all the secrets for remaining till the end beautiful and attractive to everyone.
OBESITY AND THINNESS.
EXCESSIVE embonpoint is a disfigurement to the human
body, and causes it to lose all grace of outline. A woman looks forward with
dread to becoming stout, for she must say good-bye to the perfection of her
profile, to the slimness of her figure, and to the grace of her appearance.
Some have indeed the courage to submit to the most severe regimen, to the hardest treatment, so as to preserve their beauty; and they do well, for a woman must absolutely be, remain, or become pretty.
[-274-] An Empress of Austria, perceiving one day that her statuesque chin was getting double and her waist increasing in size, gave a cry of alarm. What! was she about to lose the slimness which made her look twenty years younger than she was, to carry herself no more with the air of a goddess treading the clouds? No, no; she would do anything in order to remain the most beautiful sovereign in Europe. She, the best horsewoman in the would, gave up riding, and took to long walks every day, in all weathers.
A little later it was a Queen of Italy who was threatened with the same disaster. But neither would she submit to losing her character of being a pretty worn an; and at once she grasped the pointed alpenstock of mountain climbers to scale the highest peaks of her kingdom.
In earlier times Diane de Poitiers took a walk every day to preserve her beauty.
A woman who is too fat cannot take a [-275-] step without puffing like a grampus, and being in a bath of perspiration; she is as heavy as an elephant; her waist and the great circumference of her hips give her an appearance of vulgarity, however distinguished-looking she may have been by nature. Her hanging cheeks, her swollen eyelids, give her a repulsive countenance. She loses beauty, shape, and grace.
I would not sketch such a portrait, nor thus dwell upon the ugly effects of obesity, did I not wish to awaken the vanity of those women who have allowed themselves to grow too stout, and did I not know that with good will and courage it is possible to remedy the evil. I wish, before acting as a doctor, to hold up a mirror to them; and if I have been severe, it is only that I may the better persuade them to seek a cure for this annoying defect-a· cure which is within reach of all.
[-276-] How to Avoid Growing Stout.
Obesity can be avoided by never giving way to laziness, by
occupying the mind, and keeping the body active. You must be less given to
taking your ease and indulging in such lengthy repose under your eider-down,
such prolonged dozing in comfortable armchairs. Did anyone ever see a peasant
who had grown too fat?
In fact, when there is a tendency to grow stout it is necessary to live with a kind of Spartan frugality. But there are people whose greediness is even stronger than their vanity or than their desire for good health. They never dream of giving up good living, rich dishes, old wines, or highly-spiced cooking; and yet we see that the poor wretches who never dine with Lucullus are seldom disfigured by becoming too fat.
Rouse yourselves, ye unfortunate fat ones, for indeed I pity you! Labour till [-277-] you bring the sweat to your brow. Be of some good in the world, for no one has the right to be useless. Reduce your good things in number; to-day have one dish the less, to-morrow another. You can send the unnecessary luxuries to some poor neighbour. You will thus be charitable to two people-to yourself, and to some miserable being who has to look at every crust of bread before eating it.
Take as your motto "Work and Frugality," and by these means you will save yourself.
How to Grow Thin.
Exercise, even rather exaggerated exercise, is one of the
most esteemed means of bringing the body to reasonable proportions.
Even a certain amount of fatigue should not be feared; for when one is tired, the rapidity of breathing is increased, the starchy tissues and sugar are consumed, and therefore do not turn into fat. This once [-278 -] admitted, the habits to be cultivated have all been indicated. Tear yourself from sleep and from your bed very early; be stirring about from the first moment of the day. Go to rest late, and set yourself to some sustained intellectual work.
It is necessary that perfect sobriety and a strict diet should go hand-in-hand with exercise. Foods which make fat largely should be avoided. Of this description are those which contain starch and sugar, especially starch (such as wheat, rye, oats, rice, potatoes, tapioca, sago, etc.), which quickly produce a very undesirable embonpoint.
Excuse odious comparisons, but just consider the case of the cooped-up capon, stuffed with food till it is smothered with fat, and compare it with that of carnivorous animals which have been left by man in a wild state; these know neither idleness nor excess, and they are always lean. Let any of you ladies who are beginning to have too majestic an appearance hearken to my warning call. Give up going to the confectioner's, avoid all cakes, all. sweet things, and sugared knicknacks. Even bread should be parsimoniously dealt out to you, and preserved vegetables prohibited.
You must live upon lean meat, eggs, a milk diet, fresh vegetables, salads, mushrooms, fruits, etc. You are not to be pitied; you can still have a first-rate bill of fare. But you should partake very moderately of the things you are allowed to eat, and leave off while you still have some appetite. Drink very little, even at meals, and mix your wine with Vichy or Apollinaris; these waters help to expel the gas from the body, which is an advantage to people who are much, or even a little, too stout.
It is not true that coffee makes people thin; on the contrary, when it agrees with them, it makes them fat. This result is not so much due to its own nourishing properties as the fact that it is an excellent digestive.
[-280-] It assists digestion, and makes it so complete that no nourishing part of the food eaten escapes assimilation; this powerful stimulant dissolves everything that can nourish or fatten. Tea has the same properties, but in a less degree. Take courage, then, and submit to work and to privation. Corpulence ruins man's strength and woman s beauty, and destroys the elegance of both. Moreover, it impedes the breath, makes it troublesome to move about, and diminishes the strength of the muscles, the nervous energy, and the agility and elasticity of the limbs. The most piquant and spirituelle faces become insignificant if outline and features are lost in superfluous fat, and the enlarged body loses the harmony that Nature has given to the human form divine.
Finally, over-fat people are most liable to suffer from apoplexy and dropsy. "People of full habit," said Hippocrates, "are more subject to sudden death than those of spare [-281-] habit." Fat people hardly ever reach a very old age. Take heed, therefore, all you who love life!
An angular form and a want of flesh that displays the
skeleton under the skin are considered a disgrace in a woman, more especially as
a bad complexion nearly always goes with them.
It requires courage to listen to the fun people make of a thin woman. "She is a stick!" "She is as flat as a board!" etc. etc. You must never imagine that, to be distinguée, it is necessary to be thin, though I have heard this asserted by some dried- up old ladies.
Excessive thinness is sometimes joined to an unpleasant temper-a fact I mention because it is curable. People of this temperament torment themselves; they are busybodies, plaguing themselves and everybody else; they are excitable, impatient, [-282-] always fussing about. All feminine grace disappears in such an existence.
Fuss is not activity; but a well-ordered activity is advantageous to beauty, to health, to a wisely-regulated life.
A thin woman generally has a muddy complexion, because she is often-vulgarly, but truly, speaking-making bad blood. It is her own fault if she does not become pink and white, and rounded in form.
How to Acquire Flesh.
Thinness is often caused by too poor living-that is, by
badly-chosen and insufficient food-and by over-fatigue, especially when brought
on by prolonged brain-work and excessive anxiety. It is also promoted by a
nervous and bilious temperament and a gloomy disposition.
"Laugh and grow fat." Cultivate peace of mind. Go to bed early, get up late, but keep regular hours. Do not overwork yourself; take moderate exercise when the [-283-] weather is fine. Take your meals punctually ; you require a diet that is abundant and wholesome, but without excess, composed chiefly of farinaceous foods, well selected, of the best quality, easy to digest and to assimilate - above all, bread, thickened soups, tapioca and sago, Indian sago, oatmeal, Carolina rice. Meat should have a subordinate place in your diet, but it should be of the best quality. Your early breakfast should consist of café-au-lait or chocolate; black coffee you should take after luncheon, a glass of good old claret after dinner, a cup of tea in the evening. Lead a quiet life, with as few emotions as possible; amuse yourself in your own home. Take tepid baths, and, above all, keep good-tempered and cheerful. In this way you will conquer your excessive thinness. A slim woman with graceful lines may be very attractive. A thin woman is ugly, or at least uglier than she need be. A proverb of the Ardennes affirms that [-284-] there is no such thing as a beautiful skin on bones.
Concerning Aesthetics - Rational Coquetry.
It is not enough to be a good wife and a good mother in order
to retain the affections of your husband, the father of your children; you must
also be an attractive and pleasant woman. It is sometimes easy to become pretty
and agreeable to look at. Begin by choosing, in your dress, colours which suit
your complexion and your hair; make the best of your feet by wearing becoming
shoes; put on occasionally a wide open sleeve (in your summer peignoirs, for
instance) - a sleeve which will allow a rounded white arm to be seen; mark by a
girdle the slenderness of your waist, instead of wearing shapeless garments;
dress your hair so as to frame the face softly, and not to hide the shape of the
Instead of this, what does one often see?
[-285-] A woman who adores her husband, and yet never thinks of what will please him, who wears dresses of dark and gloomy colours, giving her a dull and sad appearance. She will stuff her feet into huge and common slippers, and always hide up her pretty arms, which may be so attractive. She appears in a shapeless dressing-gown, which makes her look all of a piece; twists up her hair, tidily enough perhaps, but without taste, so losing the best opportunity of enhancing her beauty.
Believe me that a certain amount of vanity is not only allowable, but that it is even our duty to make the best of ourselves in the eyes of the man we love. He will love us all the better, more warmly and faithfully. Is not this well worth the trouble? If we give up the battle, no matter how comfortable and cosy we make his home, he may be fascinated by someone else who is cleverer than we are. Perhaps he will remain faithful to us, his heart may [-286-] still be ours, but duty only keeps him at our side. He must be made to feel attraction as well as duty, so that he should make no disadvantageous comparisons between us and another.
Many women may surpass the wife in beauty, but if the latter makes the most of her natural gifts, and knows how to enhance them by the care of her person and her dress, her husband will not be conscious of the fascinations of others.
It is a mistake to take no heed when the complexion becomes muddy, or when anything happens to diminish good-looks; a remedy should, on the contrary, be sought as quickly as possible. In fact, it is not wise to neglect our appearance, even for a moment, if we value our own happiness or that of our husband or children.
When I see a woman with her hair badly done, wearing a faded and ugly dress in her own home, I feel that it augurs badly for the future, even if the present is happy.
[-287-] It is for the companion of our lives that we should keep all our pretty womanly ways; it is for him that we should try to look beautiful, cared-for, and sweet. Overcome your indolence, take outdoor exercise, or indoor if you have not time for long walks, and do not neglect baths and ablutions, which will help to preserve both beauty and health.
If you are intelligent, you can both keep and improve your good-looks. Add culture of the mind to that of the body. At the same time watch over the details of your household and look after your children. Those who would remain beautiful and beloved, must keep active in body, heart, and mind.
Lastly, remember that all the advice in this book is brought together in the hope of helping you to be happy; do not, therefore, despise any of it.
[-288-] The Art of Growing Old Gracefully.
The secret of vanquishing old age is not to be afraid of it,
nor to shrink from facing the advancing years.
It is, not to resort to absurd, stupid, and dangerous tricks, in the vain hope of retarding it.
It is, to give up a youthful attire, which only makes people look older when it does not suit them.
It is, to keep a kind heart for the young, to like them without being jealous of them.
It is, to retire from the struggle with dignity, not trying to rival your daughters.
It is, to surround oneself with true and gentle affection, which keep the heart green.
It is, to keep up our interest in the questions of the day; to take a delight in talking of great discoveries, of beautiful inventions; not to deny the progress of things, and not to try to make out that the old times were better than the new.
[-289-] It is, to give advice with gentleness, and not to imagine that years have taught you everything.
It is, to be good and beneficent, in heart and word and deed.
It is, to take more pains than ever with your person. If you neglect any of the little habits of neatness, decrepitude will come on all the faster; and an old person who is careless and untidy presents a far more repulsive appearance than a young one, though such negligence is to he reprehended at all ages.
Finally, it is to wear handsome dresses, rich but simple, without pretension, comfortable, but not necessarily without grace.
Be assured that under these circumstances men and women may overcome old age, and be a pleasure to look at and to be with to the last. If it cannot be said of them that they are young, still less will they be called old, for they are old in years only, and have none of the infirmities of age.
[-290-] Great Ladies of Society.
Do we not often hear So-and-so, the Princess Z-, the Duchess X- , Mrs.
A- , or Mrs. B-, spoken of as young, beautiful, and attractive
Suddenly you hear that they are fifty, sixty years old; but you happen to have seen them, and you cannot believe, any more than can their admirers, that they are as old as they are said to be.
These great ladies, whose whole delight and happiness is their success in society, have determined to keep young and beautiful, and they have succeeded up to a certain point. They manage to look at least fifteen years younger than they are.
Not for an instant have they neglected the care of their beauty, submitting to anything to keep off the approach of age, to preserve the least of their advantages intact, or to acquire those obtainable by care and effort.
[-291-] Step by step they have struggled bitterly, every time that sickness, sorrow, or fatigue have attacked their beauty.
Bowing their heads for one moment to the storm, they have raised them again: they have battled, because for them it was a question of life and death. It was, from a worldly point of view, "to be or not to be," and they have succeeded in triumphing over time and nature.
Without going so far as to make sacrifices which are not compatible with the life of a good wife and mother, will you not also do your best, with the allowable means which I have pointed out, to retard old age and ugliness? It will be easier for you than for them to do so. The healthy activity in which you spend your days is all in your favour, while fashionable women are continually obliged to repair the ravages caused by their lives of pleasure and excitement.
They have sought to satisfy their self-love and vanity; your object is to remain [-292-] the good fairy of the home, the delight of the eyes of him to whom you are entirely devoted.
The Secret of Looking Young.
"If you do not wish to grow old," said a charming old
lady to her husband, when she saw him looking gloomy, "if you wish to keep
always young, you must be amiable."
A darkened brow, a morose countenance, an unpleasant expression, what are these but a winter landscape?
A serene face, a sweet expression, a kind and gentle look: these are like a day in spring, and the smile on the lips is a ray of sunshine.
Discontented people, you may notice, always look ten years older than they are. The face gets wrinkled by frowning, pouting causes the mouth to protrude disagreeably, and they rapidly grow old and ugly.
Compare with them a woman with a cheerful face; all her features are in their [-293-] right place, her mouth curves delightfully, benevolence softens the expression of her eyes, and goodness beams from her smooth brow.
She is perhaps older than the ill-tempered woman whom you see beside her, but she will always look like her younger sister.
Grace of Movement.
Harmony must govern our movements if we wish to be graceful.
The stars in their courses are harmonious, but if they attempted to escape from the laws of attraction and gravitation, a terrible confusion would ensue in the universe. Discords, neither calculated nor resolved, destroy the harmony in music, and offend the ear. Examples might be employed indefinitely to show that harmony rules, or ought to rule, everything, from the procession of the stars to the movements of the smallest insect.
[-294-] Some women have, in an extraordinary degree, the gift of unconscious harmony. I know some who choose their seats, their attitudes even, to suit their toilette, and they do so unconsciously. If they are dressed in a simple costume, they will lean against a piece of furniture severe in style, or will choose an oak chair which will be in perfect harmony with their appearance in their rather stiff tailor-made costume. They sit bolt upright in this chair which does not conduce to ease. If they are clothed in silk and lace, it is to the sofas covered with satin, to the plush ottomans, and the velvet easy-chairs that they will turn with a charming movement: careless indeed, but without awkwardness. Their bare shoulders will seem to caress the soft object against which they lean, and they will appear to sink into the deep cushions of their seat. They thus unconsciously make adorable tableaux-vivants and harmonious pictures.
It can never be the same with the stiff, [-295-] dry, angular woman who has not learned to be graceful, whose movements are sudden, abrupt, and full of awkwardness, because she does not know how to balance her body properly, which is the real secret of grace. Those who know how to walk and to hold themselves have this equilibrium. Nature may bestow this gift upon them; they have, at any rate, not lost it by bad habits, by not keeping a watch over themselves; or they have regained it by practice. This is the case with great actresses. Watch them moving on the stage: when their feet are in motion, the weight of the body is thrown upon the hips, and thus. keeps its proper balance. All their movements are good, because they understand the laws of harmony. When the actress bows, she bends her body and raises it again with one quiet and equable movement.
You will never see her arm stretched out straight, imitating the horizontal line in the first position. If the arm has to be stretched [-296-] out, it is only in the second stage of the gesture that it attains that position. It is raised first, and then extended. If it was at once stretched out, she would look like a wooden doll. I am now going to point out what is necessary in order to learn the science of grace, which is not an affectation, as might be feared, for it rests upon a principle of Nature.
How to Walk.
If you are in the habit of stooping when you walk, go about
with your hands behind your back when alone in your garden or your own house.
Children should be taught to hold their shoulders well back; and to do this,
they must be made to keep their elbows close to their bodies. They will then
walk naturally, with the head up and the chest thrown out. The back will be
straight and the shoulder-blades well in their places; the bust will be properly
curved, the entire weight of the body thrown [-297-] upon the hips, as it ought to be, to preserve its perfect
balance. You must be careful to place the ball of the foot first on the ground,
so as not to walk on your heels with the toes turned up-an ugly and vulgar
habit, which makes the whole appearance ungainly, and entails unnecessary
effort. Nature enables us to avoid this by providing us with an instep.
When we are going upstairs or climbing a hill, we often stoop and bend down our heads. But we should hold ourselves well up, for the sake of the lungs as well as of appearance.
Women who walk well by nature, or who have been taught to do so, like goddesses scarcely crush the flowers upon which they tread.
Grace of Form.
If you wish to remain slim, you must learn to hold yourself
well. If women were more careful about their carriage, they [-298-] would keep their waists small and be less corpulent than they
often are by the time they reach the age of thirty. The woman who holds herself
upright, and does not bury her chin in her dress, but keeps her shoulders back,
thus naturally curves out her chest, preserves the muscles firm and well
stretched, and the whole frame in good shape. In this manner is avoided that
dreaded thickening which robs the figure of all youthful elegance.
A well-balanced figure gives a queenly carriage and the movements of a nymph. Do not be afraid of looking too haughty. If your eyes are sweet and your smile pleasant, a slightly haughty air will not deprive you of sympathy from others, but rather the contrary.
I do not tell you to go so far as to hold up your head, to stiffen yourself, and spread your tail like a peacock; but to hold yourself up, as you are intended to do by Nature, whether you are sitting, standing, [-299-] or walking. You will thus avoid looking like a bundle, and preserve the proper structure of your figure.
When you have to stoop or to bend, you will accomplish this with much more grace and flexibility than a woman who has allowed her back to become round, and spoilt her whole figure by neglecting her carriage.
Nature always punishes us if we violate her laws. She requires the human race to hold upright the body she has given it; she wishes man to raise up his head. If you allow yourself to be drawn down to the earth, you will lose all beauty of form.
Advice to a Stout Woman.
A stout woman should not wear a tailor-made dress. It marks the outline too
decidedly, and throws every pound of flesh into relief.
She must deny herself bows and rosettes of ribbon at the waist, both back and front, as this adornment adds to its size. She [-300-] ought not to wear short sleeves, as the upper part of her arm is sure to be too fat. and to look hike a ham or a leg of mutton.
A ruffle round the throat will not suit her, nor a very high and tight collar. She ought to have her dress slightly open in a point in the front, or her collar a little turned back. A feather boa is the only one which will not shorten her neck too much.
Short basques will make her look ridiculously stout.
Wearing the hair low down will not be becoming to her. She ought to dress it high up on her head, without dragging it too tight; the front should not be plastered down. A certain carelessness in arranging her hair will be best for her, and she must not oil it too much.
Patterns with large flowers, and both large or small checks, must be avoided for her mantles and dresses. Stripes and plain materials, or small patterns in one colour, [-301-] are all that she can allow herself and she should wear dark shades.
Few jewels, no pearls round her throat, no earrings, and only as many rings as are indispensable.
Sleeves high on the shoulder and with tight cuffs must also be avoided, and she should not wear tight gloves.
Principles of Dressing.
The woman who pretends to be indifferent to her toilette is
wanting in good sense. There is no doubt that it is an important question for
us. The shape of one's garments, the colour and texture of the material of which
they are made, have an importance that it is absurd to deny.
A badly-dressed woman is only half a woman, if her being so comes from indifference. Madame de Maintenon alleged that good taste was an indication of good sense.
She, too, it was who condemned those women who trim up common materials and [-302-] bedizen themselves with hideous things. And how right she was! It is not by sticking on a ribbon here and a flower there that we can achieve elegance. Nothing spoils a toilette as much, or makes it look so ridiculous, as ornaments out of place. A dress of inexpensive material can look well if it is simple and unpretentious.
We should never follow the fashion of wearing harsh and stiff stuffs. In skirts they go into hard folds, and in bodices they are hurtful both to the skin and the complexion.
Woollen materials are only wearable when they are soft to the eye and to the touch. Stiff silks can never make pretty dresses. Coloured silks of moderate prices make charming costumes when they are well cut and tastefully made up; but a black silk must be of good quality, and therefore a good price. You cannot wear cheap black.
Handsome feathers are a great help to [-303-] good dressing, and last a long time. They are the best ornament for a bonnet. If you can only afford poor feathers, it is better to have none.
Stiff ribbons are very ugly trimming for a bonnet; it is worth while making a little sacrifice to obtain a soft and pretty one.
Never add ornaments to your dress that you cannot replace if by accident they are spoilt, as their absence would be too evident.
A velvet dress is very useful if you have two or three other dressy gowns; but if worn too much, it becomes crushed and ugly.
Mixed woollen and cotton stuffs are not pretty, and are worth nothing. A material all wool is more than twice as good as a common one.
Fair women are mistaken in wearing light blue, which gives a livid hue to some complexions. A rich blue, on the other hand, suits them very well. A dark blue velvet is perhaps what brings out their good [-304-] points best of all. Neutral tints are very unbecoming to them.
Brunettes with sallow complexions should avoid blue altogether. It will give them a greenish hue, or make them look tanned. Those who have a good colour may venture to wear it. Green is doubtful for them, unless the skin is very white; but it is extremely becoming to blondes, especially those with a pink colour.
Pale brunettes should affect those shades of red which heighten their beauty. Crimson may perhaps be admitted for fair women. Yellow is a splendid colour for a pale dark woman, especially by candle-light, as it is much less strong by night than by day: it harmonises with the olive colour of the skin, which it softens very much. The complexion takes from it a creamy tint, which blends wonderfully well with bright eyes and dark hair. People may say what they like, but yellow is very unbecoming to blondes.
[-305-] No one should wear a low dress who has not a good neck and arms. Sharp shoulder- blades and pointed elbows are not pleasant to look at, and are best covered. But what are you to do if you are going to a ball or to the opera? Your dress may be cut low, but veil your neck and shoulders cleverly with tulle or lace, and do as much for your arms.
Neither should a very fat woman wear a low dress.
As freshness is the great requisite in a toilette, do not wear your smart ones in bad weather. Do your shopping and business in a last year's dress and bonnet, and keep your best clothes for occasions on which correct and handsome dresses are necessary.
It is ridiculous to have too great a number of toilettes at once. We know how short a time a fashion lasts, and it is unpleasant, and almost ridiculous, to be out of the fashion.
A morning gown is a necessity. It [-306-] ought to be very neat and appropriate, whatever else it is. You must have an indoor dress for the afternoon, a simple toilette for walking, and a more dressy costume for ceremonious visits. This is the least any woman can do with. A clever woman of slender means will turn her old smart dresses into indoor ones. I need not make for rich women a list of dresses for church, dinner, the opera, evening parties, concerts, balls, etc., or of the accessories they should have.
I shall restrict myself to saying that it is impossible to wear diamond earrings by day with a tailor-made dress, and that the details of each toilette should go well together, from the boots to the bonnet: for instance, a smart bonnet should not be worn with thick boots and a common dress; with a neat little costume, a simple and becoming little hat must be worn; with a velvet dress, a suitable bonnet, gloves, and mantle.
[-307-] DIVERS COUNSELS.
I CAN hardly expect my advice will be of sufficient weight
with all my readers to make them give up the deplorable and unbecoming mania for
painting themselves-a mama which lowers womanly dignity at a certain age, as
much as it compromises beauty in youth.
For those who will continue, in spite of my protestations, to make up their faces, I will at least explain how to put on rouge as it was done in the eighteenth century.
"It should be put on in straight lines under the eyes, for a layer of carmine heightens their brilliancy; three other layers lower down should be gently rounded off, and be placed exactly between the nose and ears, never reaching below the mouth.
This slight touch of rouge will not [-308-] altogether vulgarise the face, as so often happens when would-be improvements are foolishly overdone, and thus offend people of taste.
In the last century, when rouge was a necessity, and indicated a certain rank in women, the ladies of the Court made a serious study of how to put it on their faces in a refined manner.
These charming women would have been much prettier if they had kept their own delicate wild-rose colour. As to enamelling! I will only just mention it. An enamelled woman can neither smile nor cry, for fear of cracking the plaster with which her skin has been covered. Her head is like china, cold and expressionless, and her complexion by daylight is livid.
And if you ask me about whitening your skins, I would reply that to do this is even worse for them than rouging. In the name of good sense and good taste, let this be left out of your dressing-rooms [-309-] altogether, for to look like a clown ought not to be an object of ambition.
can give a description of some harmless dyes to those women who will not
reconcile themselves to wearing their own grey or white hair.
Very strong tea dyes light hair which is becoming grey a tolerably good light chestnut.
Chicory, in a brown and oily paste, is also a dye for light hair. It should be prepared in a strong decoction.
Iron nails steeped in tea for fifteen days wili make another dark dye.
The Romans used walnut-juice when silver threads began to appear. Persians dye theirs with henna, which they apply daily. The henna-leaves are powdered, and then formed into a sort of paste with water. This is rubbed on the hair, which is washed two hours later, by which time it has [-310-] become ruddy brown, the colour of old mahogany. If the operation is repeated the next day, and indigo is added to the henna, a superb black, like a raven's wing, will be the result.
But I must repeat that even these anodynes are injurious to the hair. They make it dry, stiff, and brittle.
The dyes of which the base is lead or silver are extremely dangerous. Not only do they bring on baldness (very common in our days, alas! with the fair sex), but they bring on mischief in brain and eyesight.
Is it possible that anyone, knowing the danger, will imperil not only their most precious ornament, but also their intelligence and the most precious of all their senses?
Turkish women have a dye which is less dangerous than ours. It is composed of the ashes of incense and mastic, blended together with a perfumed oil.
The Greeks use another process, which [-311-] I will mention, because I fear that I cannot bring all the world over to my opinion, and because it is less dangerous than those of our hairdressers.
Take of sulphate of iron 2½ drachms, and of gall-nut 1½ ounces. Boil the gall-nut in 10 ounces of water, strained through a cloth. Add to the water the sulphate of iron, and boil again till it is reduced two-thirds. Perfume it with a few drops of scent, and keep it in a well-corked bottle. Apply it with a camel's-hair brush, and repeat several times.
Modes of Softening and Strengthening the Skin.
All the vaunted cosmetics for polishing and strengthening the
skin will, believe me, be used in vain, and may even end by making it look
1eaden and flabby.
Bathing in cold water and friction are the only means that exist for making the flesh firm and the skin like marble. The [-312-] shock given to the blood by cold water produces a vitality which makes the flesh firm, and naturally benefits the skin also. Friction removes little roughnesses from the skin. The down which sometimes comes on the arms will quickly disappear under the vigorous rubbing of the flesh-brush, or will at least remain below the surface.
A rough and dry skin can be improved by being rubbed with olive-oil scented with thyme. A flabby skin will be better for rubbings with essence of pimpernel mixed with essence of rose.
Nursing and after Nursing.
Do not believe that your bosom will lose its beauty and its
form if you fulfil the sacred duties of a mother, and nourish the beloved child
whom you have borne.
While you are nursing, you must, for the child's sake as well as your own, keep to a healthy, generous, and well-chosen diet, and afterwards still continue the same [-313-] regimen for a certain time. With this care your bust will soon resume its proper shape and firmness. Nurse though you be, you may wear stays, but these should be special ones, suitable to your condition.
Do not, however, deny the fountain of life to the being to whom you owe it. And be assured that you will only keep younger and prettier for having submitted cheerfully to the law of Nature. If you hand over your maternal duties to a stranger, you will have to endure all sorts of evils and inconveniences, and you will only lose the beauty of your figure all the sooner.
[-314-] TOILET-WATERS, PERFUMES, POMADES.
I DO not recommend the use of toilet-waters, or vinegar, either for the face or hands; but they may be useful for other parts of the body, as they give a tone to the skin.
The following are four recipes for eau de Cologne to suit various tastes
(1) Alcohol at 30º ... ... 1¾ pints.
Essence of lemon .. ... 90 minims.
" of bergamot... ... 90 minims
" of cedrat .. ... 45 minims
" of lavender ... . . - 23 grains.
" of neroline .. ... 8 grains
" of roses .. ... 2 drops.
Shake the mixture well, strain it, and put it into bottles.
Essence of lemon ... 2½ drachms.
" of cedrat... 2½ drachms.
" of bergamot... 2½ drachms.
" of fine lavender ... 2½ drachms.
" of wallflower ... 2½ drachms.
" of rosemary ... 1 drachm.
" of thyme ... ½ drachm.
Rectified Alcohol ... 3½ pints
Mix the essences with the alcohol, and strain through paper.
Essence of cedrat ... 1½ drachms.
" of bergamot ... 1½ drachms.
" of neroline ... ... 15 minims.
" of lavender... ... 23 minims.
" of romarin .. ... 23 minims.
" of wallflower ... 1 drop.
" of China cinnamon.. 1 drop
Tincture of musk amber ... 20 minims.
" of benzoin... ... 1½ drachms.
Alcohol at 90º ... ... 1 quart.
Dissolve the essences thoroughly in the alcohol, and strain.
An exquisite recipe of the last century is
Essence of bergamot ... 2½ drachms.
" of orange ... 2½ drachms.
" of lemon ... 75 minims
" of cedrat ... 45 minims.
" of rosemary ... 15 minims.
Tincture of amber ... 75 minims
" of benzoin ... 75 minims
Alcohol at 90º ... 1¾ pints
The alcohol used should always be the best, and [-316-] straining is indispensable. Eau de Cologne improves much by keeping. The firm of Jean Marie Farina keep it in barrels of different size, made of cedar- wood. Cedar preserves the perfume, and does not communicate its own.
Lavender-water can also be made at home. To make it, use:-
Essential oil of lavender ... 1 ounce.
Musk ... ... ... 1 drop.
Spirit of wine .. . -. 1½ pints.
Put the three things into a quart bottle, and shake the mixture well for a long time. Leave it to settle for a few days, then shake it well again, and pour it into little bottles which must be hermetically sealed.
Refined essence of lavender 1 ounce.
Best brandy... ... ... 1¾ pints.
Mix a teaspoonful in a glass of water before using.
Use the same recipe for rosemary water, replacing the ounce of essential oil of lavender by 1 ounce of essential oil of rosemary.
As rosemary is mentioned, I must say something of the good qualities with which it is credited. It is asserted that the woman [-317-] who uses it constantly, both as perfume and toilet-water, keeps young for ever. I will not answer for the truth of this assertion. Rosemary certainly belongs to the family of labiates, which are considered to be tonics and stimulants.
The pink has antiseptic qualities, which make it very useful as a toilet requisite. With its flowers can thus be made an exquisite toilet-water having a delicious perfume:-
Petals of Pinks ... 8 ounces
Alcohol at 90º ... 1 pint
Infuse the petals in the alcohol for ten days, then strain through paper, and add 4 ounces of tincture of benzoin.
To make spirit of mint, take of:-
of mint (called English essence of mint) ... 2½ drachms.
Rectified Alcohol at 90º ... 3 ounces
8 or 10 drops mixed in a glass of water.
N.B.-Never use brandy made from corn nor methylated spirit.
Never buy your toilet-vinegar; make it yourself.
Acetic acid is sold under the name of vinegar, and is very hurtful to the skin, which it dries, corrodes, and wrinkles.
Eau de Cologne ... 3 ounces
Tincture of benzoin... 5 drachms.
Good plain Orleans vinegar ... 1¾ pints
Pour into a big bottle or jug the Eau de Cologne and the tincture, and then the vinegar. Leave it for fifteen days, shaking the bottle every morning. Then strain it through paper. (Proper strainers can be obtained at any chemist's).
Although these home-made vinegars are safer than the bought
ones, even they should be used with caution. A few drops in a good quantity of
water are enough to make it refreshing.
Beware of using white vinegar in any of your preparations.
[-319-] Here is a recipe for a medicated vinegar as a remedy for rashes and pimples:-
Eau de melisse ... 6½ drachms.
Spirit of mint ... 6 drachms.
" of sage... 6 drachms.
" of rosemary... 6 drachms.
" of lavender... 6 drachms.
" Orleans vinegar 3½ pints
Lavender vinegar is easy to make:-
Rose-water ... 6 drachms.
Spirits of lavender ... 1½ ounces
Orleans vinegar ... 2¼ ounces
Aromatic vinegar is very inexpensive if you gather the herbs for yourself:-
Dry wormwood tops ... 10
Rosemary... 10 drachms.
Sage... 10 drachms.
Mint... 10 drachms.
Garden rue ... 10 drachms.
Cinnamon peel ... 75 minims.
Cloves... 75 minims.
Pistachio nuts... 75 minims.
Infuse for a fortnight in half a quart of alcohol, then add two quarts of white-wine vinegar; strain through paper.
[-320-] When flowers are in season, you can prepare exquisite flower-vinegars, for
which the only expense is the vinegar:-
Good Orleans vinegar ... 1¾ pints
Provence roses ... 1½ ounces
Roses Cent Feuilles ...1½ ounces
Flowers of jasmine ... 5 drachms
" of meadow-sweet ... ¾ ounce
" of melilot ...¾ ounce
Leaves of lemon-scented verbena ... 5 drachms.
If, instead of fresh, dried flowers are used, a quart and a half of vinegar will be required. It is left to infuse for a month, and then strained.
Dried petals of red roses ... 3 ounces
Orleans vinegar ... 1¾ pints
Eight days of infusion will be sufficient; but the
large-necked bottle into which the petals and the vinegar have been poured, must
be well shaken, and the leaves well squeezed when the vinegar is poured off.
Leave it to stand for about a couple of days, then strain.
All flower-vinegars can be made with 3 ounces of dried petals or flower-tops and [-321-] 1 quart of vinegar. Mignonette is the sweetest of them all.
To make virgin milk take
Powdered benzoin ... 1½ ounces
Alcohol at 90º ... ¾ pint
Good Orleans vinegar...¾ pint
Put all into a bottle, and shake every morning. After fifteen days' mixing, strain through paper.
N.B.-it is necessary to blend the powdered benzoin with a small quantity of the alcohol and vinegar mixed, so as to make a light-coloured liquid, then add the remainder, stirring all the time, and pour into a bottle.
Perfumes: Their Antiquity.
Perfumes were held in high esteem among the ancients. In
Egypt they were used even to excess; scents, more or less sweet, impregnated the
persons and clothes, [-322-] the tombs and houses of the people of that country; and at
festivals the gutters ran with perfumed waters.
Did not the Shulamite plunge her fingers into the precious myrrh before hurrying to meet her spouse? The entire Bible is fragrant with nard and dittony; and the whole of the East has preserved this love of perfumes.
The Greeks had a scent for each part of the body: marjoram for the hair, apple for the hand, serpolet for the throat and knees, etc.; an infusion of vine-leaves was also highly esteemed by them.
This mixture of odours could not have been very pleasant. The ancients found out the use of the vaporiser before we did. The gilded youth of Athens used to let loose, above the festive board, doves which had been bathed in different scents, and which, hovering, aloft, rained from their wings delicious perfumes over the guests.
At Rome the slaves filled their mouths [-323-] with sweet-smelling waters, and blew them in showers over the hair of their mistresses.
The Romans, especially the ladies, carried the habit of scenting themselves and of living in the midst of strong perfumes so far that Plautus exclaimed:
"By Pollux! the only woman who smells sweet is certainly the one who is not scented at all!"
Amber and verbena were favourite perfumes at the end of the Middle Ages. In the thirteenth century women hung up with their dresses certain kinds of apples, which impregnated the presses with a very delicate odour.
The favourites of Henri III. adored neroline and frangipani. La belle Gabrielle, who reproached the Bearnese for their liking for leeks, loved iris-root and orange-flower. Anne of Austria had her cosmetics scented with vanilla, and the Pompadour was perfumed with rose and jasmine.
[-324-] The Choice or Perfumes.
Scents may be used in moderation from the point of view of
hygiene, on account of their stimulating and refreshing properties, but both
health and good taste forbid their being over-done. They are not without effect
upon the constitution and good-looks, especially, it is said, those made from
lavender, lemon, roses, violets, and benzoin.
They are also supposed to have a certain effect upon the mind. Musk produces sensitiveness; geranium tenderness; benzoin dreaminess; dark-blue violets predispose to piety; white ones facilitate digestion. It is also asserted that a woman who likes the smell of lemon-scented verbena ought to cultivate the fine arts; for by this choice of perfume she reveals her artistic nature.
Without being over-scented, which is a mistake, it is well to perfume your linen and all your garments with a light and delicate [-325-] odour-of one kind only-from head to foot. This enhances your attractions.
I repeat that every woman should reject a mixture of scents. She should choose a perfume, and keep to it. All her belongings, her books, her note-paper, her boudoir, the cushions of her carriage (in the eighteenth century they used to be stuffed with sweet-scented herbs, called "herbes de Montpellier"), her clothes, the smallest things she uses, should give out the same sweet fragrance.
It remains to choose that scent. A great lady wrote: "Satan smells of sulphur, and I smell of orris-root." She could not have chosen a more exquisite odour. Some people, in love with the last century, choose peau d'Espagne.
I consider it a mistake to look upon Russia leather as a scent.
Some women are satisfied with the aroma that their rose-wood wardrobes communicate to their clothes.
[-326-] Others only use the scent of the fresh flowers and herbs that are in season. They begin with violets, roses, mignonette, etc., with which they fill in turn their drawers, their pockets (when the dresses are put away), muslin sachets, etc. etc. The perfume communicated by these fresh flowers and herbs, which fade and die where they are placed, would no doubt be very fugitive, but is extremely pleasant. The same people prepare flowers of melilot, meadowsweet, and aspernla, dried in the shade, for winter use, and simply fill muslin bags with them, and place them about among their things. When they pass you by, they remind you of meadows full of flowers.
Our ancestors preferred pot-pourri among scents. They filled their sachets with it, so we give recipes for those who like it
(1) Rose leaves dried, or
Powdered orris-root ... 1,500 parts
Powdered bergamot peel ... 250 parts
Cloves and cinnamon ... 150 parts
[-327-] Orange flowers and clusters of dried acacia flowers .. 250 parts.
Powdered starch ... ... 1,500 parts
(2) Powdered orris-root ... 500 parts
Lavender ... 50 parts
Benzoin... 25 parts
Sandal citrine... 25 parts
Orange peel...25 parts
Tonquin beans...10 parts
Cloves ...10 parts
Cinnamon ...10 parts
Mix very carefully. The powders need not be very fine, and if they are not to be bought, it is easy enough to pound them for oneself.
Florence orris-root powdered ... 750 parts
Rosewood ...165 parts
Calamus ...250 parts
Sandal citrine ...125 parts
Benzoin... ... 155 parts
Cloves ... 15 parts
Cinnamon ... 31 parts
Modern perfumery, aided by chemistry, has invented delightful perfumes, among which it is easy to make a good choice. A refined woman will always reject odours which are too strong or too penetrating. Hers will [-328-] be sweet, light, and delicate, and will please without being overpowering.
Sachets are very easily prepared. You have simply to
sprinkle, more or less abundantly, square pieces of cotton-wool with the perfumed powder you like best. These squares are sewn up in muslin, which is trimmed
with lace. Another way is to put the powder into little bags of cambric or thin
silk, and to prettily tie them up with ribbons to match.
Sachets for gloves, laces, handkerchiefs, and stockings are as easily made. They have only to be larger, and trimmed as prettily as possible. These large squares of wadded silk are simply doubled, and fastened with ribbons.
Many refined women have their drawers and the shelves of their wardrobes lined with a thin satin quilt, of a delicate colour, wadded with scented cotton-wool, held in [-329-] with rosettes of ribbon, forming in reality a very large sachet.
All their odds and ends of different materials, and their linen, lie thus upon beds of perfumed satin. Laces, handkerchiefs, and gloves are enclosed in delicately- scented sachets. Bonnet-boxes are impregnated with sweet fragrance; dresses, costumes, skirts, and mantles are hung up in wardrobes and cupboards among bags which give out a delicious odour. Everywhere the one favourite scent is introduced: in the hems of dresses, in the folds of sleeves, at the collars, and in the stays. The woman is entirely enveloped in it.
You can perceive her presence before you see her. You know by the fragrance of her note-paper whom the letter is from before you recognise the handwriting. If she lends you a book, its perfume is a standing reproach to you, if you have not returned it.
[-330-] Cold Cream.
Oil of sweet almonds ... ... 1½ ounces.
White wax ... ... ... 2½ drachms.
Spermaceti ... ... .. 2½ drachms.
Mix these ingredients quite smoothly. Then add
Rose water ... 5 drachms.
Tincture of benzoin ... 75 minims.
Tincture of amber ... 30 minims.
I ought to say the wax and spermaceti should be melted, to mix with the oil.
Cut up into little pieces a pound of peeled cucumber, with the seeds taken out. Add as much of the flesh of melon, prepared in the same manner, and a pound of clarified lard and half a pint of milk. Let it simmer in a bain-marie for ten hours, without allowing it to boil. Squeeze it through a sieve with a cloth over it, leaving it to drip through and to congeal. Then wash the cream several times till the water [-331-] runs clear. Wring it well in a cloth, and keep it in little pots. Here is another recipe:-
Axunge... 1 part
Cucumber juice... 3 parts
Mix well 1 part of cucumber juice with the whole of the axunge, which should be softened first. When you have beaten them well together for two hours, let it stand till the next day. Then let the liquid run out, and put another part of the cucumber juice into the ointment. Repeat as before. Do the same a third time, to use up what is left of the juice. Melt the ointment for five or six hours over a gentle fire, to let all the water evaporate. It must be often stirred to obtain this result. To make it light and smooth, the oinbient is again beaten up, and then poured into pots.
We have already said that glycerine does not suit every skin.
You can soon [-332-] find out whether it suits yours or not; if it makes it red,
do not use it.
Even if it does agree with you, it should not be used by itself. Having the property of absorbing water, it uses up the moisture which the skin requires; it is for this reason that the latter, especially with some people, gets red and irritable when they use glycerine.
Glycerine should therefore be diluted, and even more than diluted, with eau de Cologne equal parts of glycerine, soft water, and eau de Cologne should be used..
If the face must be occasionally soaped, you should at least
be careful to wash it afterwards two or three times with clear tepid water, and
only use very pure white soap. Soaps are often scented in order to conceal the
smell left in them from being badly made; and the colours with which they are
tinted, especially green and pink, are very injurious to complexion and health.
[-333-] Do not forget that soap has a tendency to dry the skin and to stop up the pores. If it were possible to make our own soap, it would probably be much less hurtful. It is at least easy to improve it. Cut up a pound of white soap, and put it in an earthenware pot, add a little water, and place it before the fire. When the soap begins to soften, mix it with oatmeal into a thick paste. Melt it again, put it into shapes, and before it is quite cold make it into squares and balls.
In this manner all little ends of soap can be utilised, which would otherwise be wasted; they can at all events be used in the kitchen. Dissolve half a cupful of bits of soap in a cupful of water, and proceed as above.
The moulds should be greased before the soap is poured into them.
The powder you buy is oftentimes hurtful to the skin. If we
could make it for [-334-] ourselves, not only would it be harmless, but very useful in
those instances when, as I have already mentioned, it is necessary to use it.
It is quite easy to make, in the following manner:-
Take a new earthenware pot and fill it with six quarts of water and 2½ lbs. of rice; leave the rice to soak for twenty-four hours, and then pour the water off. Put the same quantity of water over the rice for three days running. After the three immersions, each lasting twenty-four hours, drain the rice over a new hair-sieve kept for the purpose. Expose it to the air in a safe place, on a clean white cloth. As soon as it is dry, pound it quite fine with a pestle in a very clean marble mortar with a cover. Then strain it through a fine white cloth placed carefully over the pot which is to hold it, and which ought to be provided with a tight-fitting cover. This powder is better without perfume.
[-335-] If you run short of home-made powder, you can replace it safely by oatmeal-flour, of which you must take very little at a time on your puff.
If you buy your rice-powder, be careful not to choose it perfumed with orris-root, should your skin be inclined to be irritable.
You should never leave your puffs lying about; they should be kept in separate clean china boxes.
How to Perfume Soaps.
The soaps for which we have given recipes may be perfumed
with good scents.
When the preparation is taken off the fire, pour in the scent, stirring it well before putting it into the moulds.
A soap scented with raspberry juice is perfectly delicious. For jasmine-scented soap, melt at the same time as the soap some ointment perfumed with this delightful flower. Essence of rose is very good to use in the same way.
[nb. grey numbers in brackets indicate page number, (ie. where new page begins), ed.]