**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

Growing Old Ungracefully
by [?]

There comes, we are told, a crucial moment, “a tide” in all lives, that taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. An assertion, by the bye, which is open to doubt. What does come to every one is an hour fraught with warning, which, if unheeded, leads on to folly. This fateful date coincides for most of us with the discovery that we are turning gray, or that the “crow’s feet” or our temples are becoming visible realities. The unpleasant question then presents itself: Are we to slip meekly into middle age, or are arms be taken up against our insidious enemy, and the rest of life become a losing battle, fought inch by inch?

In other days it was the men who struggled the hardest against their fate. Up to this century, the male had always been the ornamental member of a family. Cæsar, we read, coveted a laurel crown principally because it would help to conceal his baldness. The wigs of the Grand Monarque are historical. It is characteristic of the time that the latter’s attempts at rejuvenation should have been taken as a matter of course, while a few years later poor Madame de Pompadour’s artifices to retain her fleeting youth were laughed at and decried.

To-day the situation is reversed. The battle, given up by the men-who now accept their fate with equanimity-is being waged by their better halves with a vigor heretofore unknown. So general has this mania become that if asked what one weakness was most characteristic of modern women, what peculiarity marked them as different from their sisters in other centuries, I should unhesitatingly answer, “The desire to look younger than their years.”

That people should long to be handsomer or taller or better proportioned than a cruel Providence has made them, is natural enough; but that so much time and trouble should be spent simply in trying to look “young,” does seem unreasonable, especially when it is evident to everybody that such efforts must, in the nature of things, be failures. The men or women who do not look their age are rare. In each generation there are exceptions, people who, from one cause or another-generally an excellent constitution-succeed in producing the illusion of youth for a few years after youth itself has flown.

A curious fatality that has the air of a nemesis pursues those who succeed in giving this false appearance. When pointing them out to strangers, their admirers (in order to make the contrast more effective) add a decade or so to the real age. Only last month I was sitting at dinner opposite a famous French beauty, who at fifty succeeds in looking barely thirty. During the meal both my neighbors directed attention to her appearance, and in each case said: “Isn’t she a wonder! You know she’s over sixty!” So all that poor lady gained by looking youthful was ten years added to her age!

The desire to remain attractive as long as possible is not only a reasonable but a commendable ambition. Unfortunately the stupid means most of our matrons adopt to accomplish this end produce exactly the opposite result.

One sign of deficient taste in our day is this failure to perceive that every age has a charm of its own which can be enhanced by appropriate surroundings, but is lost when placed in an incongruous setting. It saddens a lover of the beautiful to see matrons going so far astray in their desire to please as to pose for young women when they no longer can look the part.

Holmes, in My Maiden Aunt, asks plaintively:-

Why will she train that wintry curl in such a springlike way?

That this folly is in the air to-day, few will dispute. It seems to be perpetrated unconsciously by the greater number, with no particular object in view, simply because other people do it. An unanswerable argument when used by one of the fair sex!