BEAUTY OF DEPORTMENT
It is essential that every lady should understand that most beautiful and well dressed woman will fail to be charming unless all her other attractions are set off with a graceful and fascinating deportment. A pretty face may well be seen everywhere, beautiful and gorgeous dresses are common enough, but how seldom to we meet with a really beautiful and enchanting demeanor! It was this charm of deportment which suggested to the French cardinal the expression of “the native paradise of angels.” The first thing to be said on the art of deportment is that what is becoming at one age would be most improper and ridiculous at another. For a young girl, for instance, to sit as grave and stiff as “her grandmother cut in alabaster” would be ridiculous enough, but not so much so, as for an old woman to assume the romping merriment of girlhood. She would deservedly draw only contempt and laughter upon herself.
Not only woman’s age must be consulted, but her manners ought to harmonize with her shape and size, and the whole contour of her style. A deportment which would become a short and thick set woman would never do for one of at all and slender figure, and with a long neck and contracted waist. The woman of larger proportions may safely affect the majestic gait and air; but how absurd it would be for a tall and slender figure stiffens her joints, throw back her head, and march off with a military air? The character of these light forms corresponds with their resemblances in the vegetable world. He poplar, the willow, and the graceful lily, bend their gentle heads at every passing breeze, and their flexible and tender arms toss in the wind with motions of grace and beauty. Such is the woman of delicate proportions. She must enter a room either with the buoyant step of a young nymph, if youth is a passport to sportiveness; or, if she is advanced nearer the meridian of life, she may glide in with the ease of manner which gives play to all the graceful motions of her undulating form. For her to crane up her neck would change its swan like bend into the craggy throat of an ostrich. All her movements should be of an easy and flexible character. Her mode of salutation should be rather a bow than a courtesy, and when she sits, she should model her attitude after the style of half-recumbent ease, rather than according to the rules of the boarding school governess, who marshal their pupils on their chairs like a file of drilled recruits. The unassuming, easy, graceful air belongs exclusively to the slender beauty, and the moderated majestic mein to greater embonpoint.
But the least affectation or exaggeration in either of these styles would only end in bring the woman into contempt. The only safety is for a lady to be governed by those infallible ideas of moderate taste and delicacy, in which the sweetest mien always makes a woman charming. Modesty is to woman what the mantle of green is to nature-its ornament and highest beauty. What a miracle- working charm there is in a blush-what softness and majesty in natural simplicity, without which pomp is contemptible, and elegance itself ungraceful.
There can be no doubt that the highest incitement to love is in modesty. So well do wise women of the world know this, that they take infinite pains to learn to wear the semblance of it, with the same tact, and with the same motive, that they array themselves in attractive apparel. They have taken lessons from Sir Joshua Reynolds, who says “men are like certain animals, who will feed only when there is little provender, and that got at with difficulty through the bars of a rack; but refuse to touch it when there is abundance before them.” It is certainly important that all women should understand this, and it is no more fair that they should practise upon it, since men always treat them with disingenuous untruthfulness in this matter. Men may amuse themselves with a noisy, loud-laughing, loquacious girl; it is quiet, subdued, modest, and seeming bashful deport which is the one that stands the fairest chance of carrying off their hearts.
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