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On Dress
by [?]

I do not know who was the originator of the remark, but it has often been said, and is generally admitted, that women do not dress to please the men, but to outdo one another.

I think just the same might be said of men in their turn. It is after all this spirit of competition which helps to make the world go round. It is innate in man, and woman too, to always try to outrun each other.

With clothes it is undoubtedly the case. The ancient Briton must have vied with his neighbor in different designs with the woad plant. An unusual curve, an uncommon pattern, caused, I daresay, as much excitement then as the fashions of our own day.

I often wonder how they will manage some points in the histories for the coming generation. In most of these books you see illustrations and descriptions of the dress of the period, the costume of the reign. How, oh historians! can you show forth those of Victorian times? Fifty years have passed already! There were four seasons in each of those fifty years! Two hundred illustrations must be shown in order to give a correct idea of the dress of the time! Perhaps it might be more satisfactory to devote a volume exclusively to the subject.

If only we did not run on so quickly! We seem to get faster every year. In a very little time, what we wear one day will be quite out of date the next! When we arrive at this climax, there will be a sudden convulsion of nature, I should think, and we shall return once more to the more simple garb of the aborigines. What an amount of trouble it would save us! No worrying because the dressmaker has not sent our gowns home in time! No sending them back to be altered! No dressmaker’s or tailor’s bills; or at the least, very small ones; for “woad” could not ruin us very much.

So on the whole it would be well perhaps if this revolution did occur. Some such convulsion as geologists declare has already frequently befallen our earth; and, as they prophesy, is shortly coming again.

I do not like talking to these scientific men. They make you feel so infinitesimally small. They go back such a long, long way. They make out that from the Creation (which by the way they do not admit, only considering it another great change in the world springing from natural causes), from the Creation until now, is the space of a moment on the great clock of time, is a mere “parenthesis in eternity.”

It is not nice to feel such a nonentity. What are our lives, our little lives in comparison? We, who each consider ourselves the one person upon the earth, the hero or heroine in the great drama: all the rest mere by-characters. We do not care to be considered of such little consequence; only puppets appearing on the stage for one moment and taken off the next. We are like the clergyman in the small island off the North of Scotland, who prayed for the inhabitants “of Great Cumbray and Little Cumbray and the neighboring islands of Great Britain and Ireland!” On our small piece of land, we yet consider ourselves the centre of the universe.

It is to be hoped if this revolution occurs, after all, that the climate will change likewise. We should require something more besides blue paint in most of our English winters!

Perhaps we take too much thought for what we shall put on. They say that nothing but the prevailing and forthcoming fashions fill the feminine mind. It is true sometimes, I daresay, and yet I always agree with our immortal bard in thinking that “Self-love is not so vile a thing as self-neglect.”

It is decidedly better to think too much than too little. It is a duty to your country and your nation to look your best, no matter who is likely to see you.