Woman's Best Ornament from Godey's Lady's Book

Philadelphia, February 1850



LET me urge upon my female readers, especially those who are in youth, the importance of taking loftier and better views of life than those taught by the vain world. It is a sad thing to see so many of the young and fair, whose life is most a blank—I will not say a blot—whose keen susceptibilities, whose noble powers, whose deep affections, whose precious time is lavished only upon dress and gayety, and fashionable visiting; who wear the bright apparel of the butterfly, and are as light and graceful, and as useless too; whose conversation finds no higher or more improving subject than the idle gossip of the day, the last party, or the never-failing topic—dress; whose reading is the miserable trash which is inundating every community, and enervating and dissipating the minds of our youth; whose whole life seems to be an aimless, frivolous life; and who, as they flit by us on their airy wings, provoke the inquiry: "For what were these pretty creatures made?"—I pray you, take loftier views of life than these. While I would not draw yon from the rational pleasures of society, nor bring one gloomy cloud upon your youthful sky, I still would plead for some serious hours, some industrious moments; some time apportioned to the culture of the mind, the enriching of the memory with stores of useful knowledge. I would plead that the capacities and aspirations of the immortal part receive some ministration, and that the moral faculties be cultivated and stimulated, and the generous impulses of the soul be expanded in labors for the best good of those around you. Be assured there is no beauty like that of goodness—there is no power like that of virtue; personal beauty may attract the admiration of the passing hour, but it is the richer beauty of moral worth, the loveliness of the soul, that commands the deepest reverence, and secures the most enduring affection.

From http://www.history.rochester.edu/godeys/02-50.htm found while researching Victorian Memento Mori jewellery. Hope you enjoyed it.


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Comment by Rickson on August 27, 2010 at 8:01am
Haha, good thinking! It's a strange text. I really like the main message of 'thinking' as apposed to simple concerning yourself with being pretty. But the tone is pretty condescending. Something about it fascinates me, but I can't quite put my finger on it.
Comment by Brigitte Martin on August 26, 2010 at 1:59pm
I guess the good news is that I, not being young anymore, am apparently exempt from "taking loftier and better views of life than those taught by the vain world." That is a comforting thought indeed.

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