The west shore. (Portland, Or.) 1875-1891, October 01, 1875, Image 1

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    ' VOL. 1 No. 3.
(SIMOL.K conns,' i ok.
ICISM. . ;
She was a witty as well as a pretty dar
ling who one day to try cousin Tom's cu
riously critical remark to her, "How ab
surd it is to see girls always kissing each
other when they meet: you never see us
fellows do sol" with quiet tone and sweetly
roguish look retorted, "No, Tom, you don't;
but, you see, cousin, we have nobody else
so good to kiss, and you men can do a good
W lij (if -1
deal better than to kiss each other." That
was one of the comparatively few instances
in which the fair sex had, as we say, their
say. And, though beaten at the encounter
of wit, Tom was delighted that she said it.
It gave him a delicious idea, which he in
stantly embraced. To be sure, in social
intercourse the ladies hare a goodly share
of talk and conversation to themselves;
but in a public way, or in the ways which
reach the public, and influence it to a great
degree, the men have largely the advantage.
And it is not for us to say they do not use
it often ungallantly if not ungenerously
and meanly, sometimes wickedly, occasion
ally disgracefully, in rare instances merci
lessly and barbarously. Yet it is but the old
fable of the Sculptor and the Lion presented
in a new dress. He w ho has the present
ation of his own case, the telling of his own
story, the opportunity of self-glorification,
rarely omits to make the most of it. And,
as to the criticisms by men on Ladies'
Fashions, do they not engage in them be
cause they have nothing better at hand ? '
Pick up any paper you will, reader, fair
or unfair you or the paper, we mean, for
it matters not which, and ten to one that
in it you will find either a moralizing hom
ily, grave and severe; or a round measure
of censure, caustic and dogmatic; or a
stroke ot wit, brilliant and savage; or a
thread of humor, amusing though with acrid
flavor; or something vapid, verbose and
trashy, but with manifest disposition to be
offensive if not indecent; and all to one
common object aims and thrust: "The
Latest Fashion of the Ladies!" It is not a
new subject for male scribblers, by any
means; it is not a new thing for the men
of the period to indulge in, to discuss, crit
icise, ridicule, condemn, or on which to
blunt the keen edge of their freshly sharp
ened wit or exhaust the fountain of their
spoiling humor. Eve, alone, so far as his
tory reveals, was about the only one of the
sex who could pass uncriticized as to her
mode, and it might not be so erroneous a
guess as some would think to conjecture
that when she first appeared with the fig
leal, Adam botei, if he did not in language
utter, the suggestive criticism that that first
ntwjashion could have been in some meas
ure either dispensed with or improved.
But we do not propose to go to Biblical
history or narrative for data for the subject
before us. It is a worldly
subject at best, with far. too
much of the old Adam lin
gering about its skirts. Rather
to that history which, to dis
tinguish it from Divine, we
term Profane, or in old my
thologic ramblings, will we
turn for examples to serve as
illustration. But search and
turn and grope where we will,
whersoever we come across
an instance in which we get
trace of a particularly attract
ive or inflaming adoption of
attire by a fair one, to heighten
or reveal or to more ravish
ingly conceal her charms, al
most invariably we find that
while the impulse to appear
in it might have been her
own, the incentive to it really came from
the male side perhaps from the identical
gallant who in the next breath, through
jealouy or other cause, argued against, or
ridiculed, or satirized, or denounced it.
Let the satirists and wits and moralists of
this day reflect upon the fashion which no
less a law-giver than Lycurgus imposed
upon the maidens ot Sparta to say noth
ing of his Woodhullian theories as to mar
riage and paternity and they will find, on
comparing therewith anything on the sub
ject of ladies dress which ever fell from the
lips of Brigham Young, that the counsels
or rules of the Mormon Prophet are mod
els of chaste propriety and rigid morals.
Aspasia, we may be sure, studied more in
her dress to please great Pericles than to
satisfy herself, and it is not improbable that
the artful and enchanting Thais had with
the most exquisite skill in the
enrobing of her lovely person
"dressed to kill," as we may
well say, on that evil day when
she prevailed upon her impe
rial lover to let her apply the
torch to the royal palace at
Persepolis. It may be, too,
that her moving motive to
the wicked act was a fit of
envy at having seen or heard
that one of the royal ladies of
the Persian Court had been
seen by Alexander in a dress
more ravishing than any in
which she herself had ap
peared. But whatever the
cause, it is not too much to
say thnrhad she not thought
that magnificent attire most
invitingly fashioned was abso
lutely essential as one of the
chief arts by which to main
tain her influence with the sensual con
queror of the world, the voluptuous Gre
cian would never have given half the at
tention to her toilet and wardrobe.
To come down to later ages, to more
modern times, let us instance the renowned
perhaps the most fantastical and extrava
gant dresser of her sex the world ever saw,
as she left about three thousand dresses of
great cost if not in every instance of great
elegance after her when she died. Her
famous dress of silk, wrought all over with
eyes and ears curiously interspersed to
suggest to all who beheld her royal person
that she saw and heard everything was
her favorite, and so was Essex when she
had it made. It is not unlikely, therefore,
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Virgin Queen, proud "Old Bess," who was
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that it was as much to please that fated fa
vorite as to gratify her own vanity lliat she
ordered the remarkable pattern. And it
requires no detailed proof here to convince
the intelligent reader that the famous Czar
ina Catliarine hartly encased her magnifi
cent limbs in the extraordinary manner
which her best biographers describe so cir
cumstantially chiefly with the view to dis
play to her favorite the matchless symmetry
of her form and enable him to gaze on it
more covetously after he had looked at the
similarly apparalled figures of the beauties
of her Imperial Court. But who the court
ier, where the censor, that would in those
days, in either England or Russia, have
dared to criticise, or to do aught else than
praise or observe silence, in regard to the
modes or styles in which these royal and
imperial ladies encased their precious per
sons ? When the penalty of sharp wit or
raillery or ridicule, or condemnation of a
ladies dress, is likely to be the dungeon or
the knout, or the loss of royal favor at the
very mildest, one is apt to reserve his best
or at least his honest convictions or thoughts
within the safe haven of his own breast.
Men have in despotic governments lost
their ears or nose or tongue for olfences
more likely to be pardoned than that of
questioning either the good taste or the
modesty, not to say the decency, of a Queen's
or Empress' "latest agony," in the line of
dress or millinery. .
To convince us, ncvcrthchcless, that,
when the fear of punishment was no longer
before their eyes, and only the judgment oi
that queer ruminating animal commonly
known as " the Public " was all they had to
dread or encounter, the disposition and pur
pose was strong and demonstrative in writ
ers and others, wits and witlings, and the
entire breed of quid-nuncs and small tattle
mongers of the town, to make of the fash
ions of the ladies a subject of comment and
Criticism, ridiculous or otherwise, we have