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The Trousseau! That word has ensnared more persons to extravagance and ostentation than it is, I fancy, possible to conceive. Formerly, ladies, in a private, sober, discreet way, when all was quite settled, set about collecting for themselves a respectable, serviceable wardrobe-dozens of body linen, and all the useful articles were first thought of. The things were given out to be made under a promise of secrecy; in the country a mystery was always made on such points. The rich had their dresses from London; those of humbler fortunes, merely one or two, by way of a pattern. But now! the affair of a trousseau is like the opening of Parliament. “Who is to have her trousseau ?” is the first question asked on hearing of a young lady's engagement, if she be at all in the higher ranks. The notion of publicity tends, of course, to display, rather than to utility. An enormous expense is often incurred. How many articles are ordered which are of little service afterwards! How the seductive tongues of those ministers of evil, the dress-makers, betray to ruin! Upon how foolish, and even dangerous, a principle the trousseau is formed ! I say dangerous ; for it is dangerous to suggest to a young person notions of luxury and sources of extravagance just as she is entering upon new duties, and engaging in new responsibilities. It is dangerous to inculcate ostentation at that very period of existence when the mind ought to be chastened and elevated. It is dangerous to nourish selfishness, just at that epoch when that quality is most particularly inconvenient, and when all that is selfish in a woman's nature ought, assuredly, to be crushed, if it cannot be eradicated.
In conclaves of dress-makers and ladies' maids, many of the hours which succeed the realization of an engagement are passed. Then, if there are to be settlements, there is another snare to the young heart. The notion of a separate interest, of getting all she can, is necessarily suggested, although, by a generous mind, it must be repelled. Between the demands of the wardrobe, the consultations of friends, and, perhaps, the necessity of somewhat advising upon the furnishing of a house, or the choice of servants and equipages, the period of the engagement hurriedly passes away.
And it is, indeed, a most important period, for other and holier ends than a bustling participation in such occupations as I have mentioned. For, during the calm and security of a settled engagement, time might be allowed to each party to acquire an intimate knowledge of those peculiarities of temper or disposition which, more or less, belong to all; much evil, in after life, might be avoided by a correct appreciation of the disposition of either party; an influence might be acquired over the opinions and habits of each other which would tend to promote future peace. That influence, that yielding and forbearance, which are so important
in married life, ought to commence before marriage. And, yet, how dire is the contrast! How the hurry of the few agitating months, previous to marriage, throws into the shade all serious considerations ! How little time have the young to commune with their own hearts, or to form those solemn resolutions which alone can bring down a blessing on their union! In the higher classes how few enter into that state with a real knowledge of each other! Hurried from one pleasure to another, even until the tie is formed, they are taught, by the practice of society, to feel that happiness needs not, necessarily, be a plant of domestic growth. They dee but dimly into the hearts which are to respond to theirs. Dress, frivolity, and vanity, make up the sum of the present. On the brink of fate, the most sacred duties of life are sacrificed to the least important of its considerations. “I wish I had time to think !” said a young and affianced lady to me, “I want to prepare myself on many points for my future duties ; but dress, ornaments, carriages, are the only topics on which I have heard a syllable spoken for the last six weeks."
I saw one of these fair young victims to folly on the eve of her marriage with a nobleman, of whose tem. per, character, and notions, she knew just as much as any acquaintance could do, but no more. Indifference, if not aversion, was painted on her beautiful countenance. She had been hurried, by thoughtless and worldly parents, into a union with one whom she knew not. A few short years in the career of fashion,
and of a celebrity but little to be envied, and she became an outcast, a warning, and a shame to the character of Englishwomen!
But there are many minor cases, less revolting than this, which call imperatively upon society to alter its arrangements in regard to the solemn contract of marriage, and to urge upon the young, the duties of reflection and of preparation.
The first consideration which should be ever present to the mind of one whose course in life is henceforth to be changed, is, how she can best understand the duties which are to smooth and regulate her path. For, without a due comprehension of these, her ways will be wandering, and her progress uncertain. She must endeavour to learn, from her own observation, the nature of those qualities which best insure mutual respect and happiness. She must con over the lessons which present the elements of matrimonial felicity.
In the very rudiments of the science, it too often happens that her education has been defective. In the habit of self-control, in the needful forbearance and gentleness, she is often wholly deficient. In the first principles of action she has imbibed erroneous notions.
DEATH OF VIRGINIA.
STRAIGHTWAY Virginius led the maid a little space
aside, To where the reeking shambles stood, piled up with
horn and hide, Close to yon low dark archway, where, in a crimson
flood, Leaps down to the great sewer the gurgling stream of
blood. Hard by, a filesher on a block had laid his whittle
down: Virginius caught the whittle up, and hidit in his
gown. And then his eyes grew very dim, and his throat began
to swell, And in a hoarse, changed voice he spake, “Farewell,
sweet child ! Farewell! Oh how I loved my darling! Though stern I some
times be, To thee, thou know'st I was not so. Who could be so
to thee? And how my darling loved me! How glad she was
to hear My footstep on the threshold when I came back last