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out, as our young ladies do, in cold and wet weather, with thin-soled prunella, or kid shoes, would seem to them very vulgar; as betraying a want of suitableness, only to be accounted for by supposing the individual to be unable to provide herself with better.
If there are principles of true taste involved in the mysteries of a lady's toilet, is not the study of them worthy of a refined and intellectual being; and would not her time and thoughts be better spent, in conforming her style of dress to them, than in eagerly following every change of the mode, dictated by the love of novelty, apart from real beauty ?
I do not mean, b;' this, to recommend singularity of dress, and a wide departure from the prevailing mode : far from it; singularity is to be avoided; and she is best dressed whose costume presents an agreeable whole, without any thing that can be remarked. Dr. Johnson once praised a lady's appearance, by saying, she was so perfectly well-dressed, he could not recollect any thing she had on.
I would have young people of cultivated minds, look at every thing with an eye of taste, and, judging of the merits of a certain form of garment, apart from the charm of fashion, so modify their compliance with the reigning mode, as not to sacrifice to it their sense of beauty. Mere fashion should never be allowed to triumph over common sense, or good taste, but be kept in check by both.
In this country, where there are no dashing duchesses and elegant countesses to lead the ton, any lady of sense and taste may set a pretty fashion, and thus do her friends and neighbours an acceptable service.
A pure taste in dress may be gratified at a small expense; for it does not depend on the costliness of the materials employed, but on the just proportions observed in the forms, and an harmonious arrangement of colours.
Dr. Spurzheim observed, that the American ladies were deficient in the organ of colour, and said, that, on landing in New York, he was shocked to see ladies wearing indiscriminately all the colours of the rainbow, without regard to their complexions, or the season of the year, and often with pink, blue, and yellow on at the same time.
In nothing is the taste of Parisian dames more conspicu-ous, than in the skilful selection of colours; and, when a taste for the fine arts is more diffused in this country, we shall not see our belles with pink ribands on their bonnets, and blue shawls on their shoulders, while their hands display
yellow gloves and green bags. Nor shall we witness sallow complexions contrasted with sky-blue, nor flushed cheeks surrounded by the hues of the rose, nor pale ones made to appear more colourless by green linings. All these things will, in time, be better understood, when the cultivated and refined portion of society shall have learned to regard dress less as a matter to be taken on trust from foreign dealers in finery, than as an individual accomplishment, and to consider, that their appearance in the world depends more on their own good taste, than the length of their fathers' purses.
In searching for the origin of things, says a learned writer,
quite indisputably, it must be confessed, — we can begin no higher than the creation of the world, and the formation of man; and if we seek truth, it is nowhere to be met with in such obvious characters, as in the illustrious records of the Hebrews. The Bible, then, that book of all books, brings us acquainted with a nation which, in the earliest ages, surpassed all others in illumination ; and with regard to the proficiency of its people in the mechanic and useful arts, we have but to combine the descriptions of the ark of the covenant, and of Solomon's Temple, with the early mention of graven and molten images, coins, signets, and brands for the purpose of marking, — to be convinced that the arts of carving, engraving, die-sinking, casting in metal; and even a species of printing, were coeval with, and some of them perhaps antecedent to, the art of writing.
If these circumstances, (of which the truth of sacred writ warrants our undoubted belief,) be, as we think they are, of a nature to induce our credit of all that is said relative to the knowledge and practice of printing by the Chinese, in the tenth century, we cannot, we confess, see with what justice the merit of invention is ascribed to Europeans in the fifteenth. That the knowledge of any art peculiar to so singular a people as the Chinese, should long be restricted to themselves, is a matter of no wonder whatever; and though we join in the surprise expressed by more than one ingenious writer, that after the introduction of wood-engraving from Asia, in the thirteenth century, the nations of Europe should, for so many ages, walk upon the borders of two important inventions, typography and chalcography, without discovering either, — the fact, in our opinion, goes far to prove that the first idea of printing, in Europe, had its origin from the Chinese.
The importance of the event naturally caused an eagerness for notoriety; and the simultaneous attempts, in various cities, to prosecute or improve the original invention, produced a controversy which shortly justified the remark, that the origin of printing, — an art which gives light to most others, - is, itself, involved in darkness. Such, indeed, is the fact, if our researches be limited to European history; but, leaning to the opinions of those who give a very remote date and an eastern origin to the invention, we think it enough to honour the names of the persons who, in our hemisphere, first engaged in or promoted its revival ; — appropriating to their proper niche in the temple of Fame, the inventors of detached types, Faust, Guttemburg, and Shæffer, of Mentz, — Caxton, as the introducer, and Copland, Day, Grafton, and others, as the improvers of the art, in Britain.
So early as 1462, three years after the invention of separate metal types, Faust, the German artist, had carried the process to such perfection, as to be able to take with him, to Paris, an impression of the Bible. But such was the ignorance of the times, that on vending the copies of his book, he was imprisoned, on suspicion of dealing with familiar spirits; the French having no conception how so many books could be made to agree so unerringly in every letter and point. Nor did Faust obtain his liberty, till he had disclosed the whole secret of his art.
About eight years subsequently, viz. 1470, printing was introduced into England, and practised at Westminster; and, in a few years, presses were established at Oxford, Cambridge, and other towns. Hitherto, the proficients in the art had proceeded no farther than the Gothic alphabet; as it most resembled the manuscripts of those times; but in 1474, soon after its introduction into Rome and Italy, the Italians produced the Roman, and, in 1476, the Greek type; while two Rabbi, in the duchy of Milan, first introduced, in 1489, the printed Hebrew character.
Such is the outline of the history of printing, for fifty years after its revival in Europe; in which time so rapid was its
diffusion, and so great its improvement, that the sixteenth century may be said to have commenced under auspices eminently glorious. — Knowledge and learning, which had hitherto been confined to a few, now opened their benign stores, and dispersed them liberally abroad. Now departed the gloom of ignorance, to give place to the dawn of intellectual day.
By this happy invention, - without which other discoveries would be of very circumscribed utility, - past ages are made to live again; every character which adorned them is revived, at will; the various regions of the globe are made to pass before us in review, pouring upon our minds all the wisdom of intellect, the discoveries of philosophy, the experience of time. Great, however, as those benefits are, we shall estimate but imperfectly the blessings derived from the press, unless we extend our view beyond the sphere of merely human science, and contemplate it in its most important and benign aspect, as the great and rapid disseminator of that Sacred Truth, with which all men are yet to become illuminated.
Is this thy prison-house, thy grave, then, Love? And dothi Death cancel the great bond, that holds Commingling spirits ? Are thoughts, that know no bounds, But, self-inspired, rise upward, searching out The Eternal Mind, — the Father of all thought, — Are they become mere tenants of a tomb? — Dwellers in darkness, who the illuminate realms Of uncreated light have visited, and lived ? — Lived in the dreadful splendour of that throne, Which One, with gentle hand, the veil of flesh Lifting, that hung 'twixt man and it, revealed In glory? — throne, before which, even now, Our souls, moved by prophetic power, bow down, Rejoicing, yet at their own natures awed ? Souls, that Thee know by a mysterious sense, – Thou awful, unseen Presence, — are they quenched ? Or burn they on, hid from our mortal eyes
By that bright day which ends not; as the sun
To live in it, and, when that dies, go out,
Oh! listen, man !