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works of gauze and gossamer.
The Mrs. Potiphar's, but not without a sadness dowagers, ranged in solid phalanx, occu which can hardly be explained. They had pied all the chairs and sofas against the been boys once, all of them, fresh and wall, and fanned themselves until supper frank-hearted, and full of a noble ambition. time, looking at each other's diamonds, They had read and pondered the histories and criticizing the toilettes of the younger of great men ; how they resolved, and ladies, each narrowly watching her pecu struggled, and achieved. In the pure porliar Polly Jane, that she did not betray traiture of genius, they had loved and too much interest for any man who was honored noble women, and each young not of a certain fortune. It is the cold, heart was sworn to truth and the service vulgar truth, madam, nor are we in the of beauty. Those feelings were chivalric slightest degree exaggerating. Elderly and fair. Those boyish instincts clung to gentlemen, twisting single gloves in a very whatever was lovely, and rejected the wretched manner, came up and bowed to specious snare, however graceful and elethe dowagers, and smirked, and said it was gant. They sailed new knights upon that a pleasant party, and a handsome house, old and endless crusade against hypocrisy and then clutched their hands behind them, and the devil, and they were lost in the and walked miserably away, looking as luxury of Corinth, nor longer seek the affable as possible. And the dowagers difficult shores beyond. A present smile madle a little fun of the elderly gentlemen, was worth a future laurel. The ease of among themselves, as they walked away. the moment was worth immortal tran
Then came the younger non-dancing quillity: They renounced the stern wormen.-a class of the community who wear ship of the unknown God, and acknowblack cravats and waistcoats, and thrust ledged the deities of Athens. But the their thumbs and forefingers in their seal of their shame is their own smile at waistcoat pockets, and are called “talking their early dreams, and the high hopes of men.” Some of them are literary, and af their boyhood, their sneering infidelity fect the philosopher; have, perhaps, written of simplicity, their skepticism of motives a book or two, and are a small species of and of men. Youths, whose younger years lion to very young ladies. Some are of were fervid with the resolution to strike the blasé kind; men who affect the ex and win, to deserve, at least, a gentle retremest elegance, and are reputed “so meinbrance, if not a dazzling fame, are aristocratic," and who care for nothing in content to eat, and drink, and sleep well ; particular, but wish they had not been to go to the opera and all the balls; to be born gentlemen, in which case they might
“ gentlemanly," and "aristohave escaped ennui
. These gentlemen cratic," and " dangerous," and "elegant;"! stand with hat in hand, and coats and to cherish a luxurious and enervating introwsers most unexceptionable. They are dolence, and to “succeed,” upon the cheap the “so gentlemanly " persons, of whom reputation of having been "fast" in Paris. one hears a great deal, but which seems The end of such men is evident enough to mean nothing but cleanliness. Vivian from the beginning. They are snuffed Grey and Pelham are the models of their out by a “great match," and become an ambition, and they succeed in being Pen appendage to a rich woman; or they dennis, They enjoy the reputation of dwindle off into old roués, men of the being “very clever," and “very talented world in sad earnest, and not with elegant fellows," "smart chaps,” &c., but they re affectation, blasé; and as they began Arfrain from proving what is so generously thur Pendennises, so they end in the Maconceded. They are often men of a cer jor. But, believe it, that old fossil heart tain cultivation. They have travelled, is wrung sometimes by a mortal pang, as many of them,-spending a year or two it remembers those squandered opportuin Paris, and a month or two in the rest nities and that lost life. of Europe. Consequently they endure From these groups we passed into the society at home, with a smile, and a shrug, dancing-room. We have seen dancing in and a graceful superciliousness, which is other countries, and dressing. We have very engaging. They are perfectly at certainly never seen gentlemen dance so home, and they rather despise Young easily, gracefully and well as the AmeriAmerica, which, in the next room, is dili can. But the style of dancing, in its whirl, gently earning its invitation. They pre its rush, its fury, is only equalled by that fer to hover about the ladies who did not of the masked balls at the French opera, come out this season, but are a little used and the balls at the Salle Valentino, the to the world, with whom they are upon Jardin Mabille, the Chateau Rouge, most friendly terms, and who criticize and other favorite resorts of Parisian Gritogether very freely all the great events settes and Lorettes. We saw a few young in the great world of fashion.
men looking upon the dance very soberly, These elegant Pendennises we saw at and, upon inquiry, learned that they were
engaged to certain ladies of the corps-de saw, a frenzied festival of Rome in its ballet. Nor did we wonder that the spec decadence." tacle of a young woman whirling in a de There was a sober truth in this bittercolleté state, and in the embrace of a warm ness, and we turned away to escape the youth, around a heated room, induced a sombre thought of the moment. Addresslittle sobriety upon her lover's face, if not ing one of the panting Houris who stood & sadness in his heart. Amusement, re melting in a window, we spoke (and concreation, enjoyment! There are no more fess how absurdly) of the Düsseldorf beautiful things. But this proceeding Gallery. It was merely to avoid saying falls under another head. We watched how warm the room was, and how pleasthe various toilettes of these bounding ant the party was; facts upon which we belles. They were rich and tasteful. But had already sufficiently enlarged. “Yes, a man at our elbow, of experience and they are pretty pictures: but la! how shrewd observation, said, with a sneer, long it must have taken Mr. Düsseldorf for which we called him to account, “ Í to paint them all;" was the reply. observe that American ladies are so rich By the Farnesian Hercules ! no Roman in charms that they are not at all chary sylph in her city's decline would ever of them. It is certainly generous to us have called the sun-god, Mr. Apollo. miserable black coats. But, do you know, We hope that Houri melted entirely away it strikes me as a generosity of display in the window, but we certainly did not that must necessarily leave the donor stay to see. poorer in maidenly feeling.” We thought Passing out toward the supper-room ourselves cynical, but this was intolerable; we encountered two young men. “What, and in a very crisp manner we demanded Hal,” said one“ you at Mrs. Potiphar's ?" an apology.
It seems that Hal was a sprig of one “Why,” responded our friend with more of the old families.” “Well, Joe,” said of sadness than of satire in his tone, “why Hal, a little confused, “it is a little are you so exasperated ? Look at this strange. The fact is I didn't mean to be scene! Consider that this is, really, the here, but I concluded to compromise by life of these girls. This is what they coming, and not being introduced to the "come out' for. This is the end of their host.” Hal could come, eat Potiphar's ambition. They think of it, dream of it, supper, drink his wines, spoil his carpets, long for it.
Is it amusement? Yes, to a laugh at his fashionable struggles, and affew, possibly. But listen, and gather, if fect the puppyism of a foreign Lord, beyou can, from their remarks (when they cause he disgraced the name of a man make any) that they have any thought who had done some service somewhere, beyond this, and going to church very ri while Potiphar was only an honest man gidly on Sunday. The vigor of polking who made a fortune. and church-going are proportioned ; The supper-room was a pleasant place. the one so is the other. My young friend, The table was covered with a chaos of supI am no ascetic, and do not suppose a man per. Every thing sweet and rare, and hot is damned because he dances. But Life and cold, solid and liquid was there. It was is not a ball (more's the pity, truly, the very apotheosis of gilt gingerbread. for these butterflies), nor is its sole du There was a universal rush and struggle. ty and delight, dancing. When I con The charge of the guards at Waterloo was sider this spectacle, when I remember nothing to it. Jellies, custard, oysterwhat a noble and beautiful woman is, what soup, ice-cream, wine and water, gushed a manly man, --when I reel, dazzled by in profuse cascades over transparent prethis glare, drunken with these perfumes
, cipices of tulle, muslin, gauze, silk and confused by this alluring music, and re satin.
Clumsy boys tumbled against flect upon the enormous sums wasted in a costly dresses and smeared them with pompous profusion that delights no one, preserves, -when clean plates failed, the when I look around upon all this rampant contents of plates already used were quivulgarity in tinsel and Brussels lace, and etly “chucked" under the table-heelthink how fortunes go, how men struggle taps of champagne were poured into the and lose the bloom of their honesty, how oyster tureens or overflowed upon plates women hide in a smiling pretence, and eye to clear the glasses-wine of all kinds with caustic glances their neighbor's newer flowed in torrents, particularly down the house, diamonds, or porcelain, and ob throats of very young men, who evinced serve their daughters, such as these, - their manhood by becoming noisy, why, I tremble and tremble, and this troublesome and disgusting, and were fiscene to-night, every 'crack' ball this win nally either led, sick, into the hat room, ter will be, not the pleasant society of or carried out of the way, drunk. The men and women, but-even in this young supper over, the young people attended country-an orgie such as rotting Corinth by their matrons descended to the dan
cing-room for the “German." This is a and “gentlemanly" manner, that it is all dance commencing usually at midnight or very well to select flaws and present them a little after, and continuing indefinitely as specimens, and to learn from him, postoward day break. The young people sibly with indignant publicity, that the were attended by their matrons, who were present condition of parties is not what there to supervise the morals and man we have intimated. Or, in his quiet and ners of their charges. To secure the per pointed way, he may smile at our fiery formance of this duty, the young people assault upon edged flounces and nuga took good care to sit where the matrons pyramids, and the kingdom of Lilliput in could not see them, nor did they, by any general. chance, look toward the quarter in which Yet, after all, and despite the youths the matrons sat. In that quarter, through who are led out, and carried home, or who all the varying mazes of the prolonged stumble through the “German,” this is a dance, to two o'clock, to three, to four, sat sober matter. My friend told us we the bediamonded dowagers, the mothers, should see the “best society.” But he is the matrons,-against nature, against a prodigious wag. Who make this councommon sense. They babbled with each try? From whom is its character of unother, they drowsed, they dozed. Their paralleled enterprise, heroism, and success fans fell listless into their laps. In the derived ? Who have given it its place in adjoining room, out of the waking sight, the respect and the fear of the world ? even, of the then sleeping mammas, the Who, annually, recruit its energies, condaughters whirled in the close embrace firm its progress, and secure its triumph? of partners who had brought down bot Who are its characteristic children, the tles of champagne from the supper-room, pith, the sinew, the bone of its prosperity ? and put them by the side of their chairs Who found, and direct, and continue its for occasional refreshment during the manifold institutions of mercy and educadance. The dizzy hours staggered by tion? Who are, essentially, Americans ? " Azalia, you must come now," had been Indignant friend, these classes, whoever already said a dozen times, but only as they may be, are the “best society," beby the scribes. Finally it was declared cause they alone are the representatives of with authority. Azalia went, - Amelia its character and cultivation. They are Arabella. The rest followed. There was the “best society” of New-York, of Bosprolonged cloaking, and lingering fare ton, of Baltimore, of St. Louis, of New wells. A few papas were in the supper Orleans, whether they live upon six hunroom, sitting among the debris of game. dred or sixty thousand dollars a yearA few young non-dancing husbands sat whether they inhabit princely houses in beneath gas unnaturally bright, read fashionable streets (which they often do), ing whatever chance book was at hand, or not-whether their sons have graduand thinking of the young child at home ated at Celarius' and the Jardin Mabille, waiting for mamma who was dancing the or have never been out of their fathers'
German" below. A few exhausted ma shops-whether they have “air” and trons sat in the robing-room, tired, sad, "style," and are “so gentlemanly” and wishing Jane would come up; assailed at “So aristocratic” or not. Your shoeintervals by a vague suspicion that it was maker. your lawyer, your butcher, your not quite worth while ; wondering how it clergyman-if they are simple and steady, was they used to have such good times at and, whether rich or poor, are unseduced balls; yawning, and looking at their by the sirens of extravagance and ruinous watches; while the regular beat of the display, help make up the “best society." music below, with sardonic sadness, con For that mystic communion is not comtinued. At last Jane came up, had had posed of the rich, but of the worthy; and the most glorious time, and went down is“ best” by its virtues, and not by its with mamma to the carriage, and so drove vices. When Johnson, Burke, Goldhome. Even the last Jane went-the smith, Garrick, Reynolds, and their last noisy youth was expelled, and Mr. friends, met at supper in Goldsmith's and Mrs. Potiphar having duly performed rooms, where was the “best society" in their biennial social duty, dismissed the England ? When George the Fourth outmusic, ordered the servants to count the raged humanity and decency in his treatspoons, and an hour or two after daylight ment of Queen Caroline, who was the first went to bed. Enviable Mr. and Mrs. scoundrel in Europe ? Potiphar!
Pause yet a moment, indignant friend. We are now prepared for the great Whose habits and principles would ruin moral indignation of the friend who saw this country as rapidly as it has been us eating our dinde aux truffes in that made ? Who are enamored of a puerile remarkable supper room.
We are wait imitation of foreign splendors ? Who ing to hear him say in the most moderate strenuously endeavor to graft the ques
tionable points of Parisian society upon or Landseer, or Delaroche, -Mrs. Norton, our own? Who pass a few years in Eu the Misses Berry, Madame Recamiér, rope and return sceptical of republicanism and all the brilliant women and famous and human improvement, longing and foreigners. But why should we desert sighing for more sharply emphasized so the pleasant pages of those men, and the cial distinctions ? Who squander with recorded gossip of those women, to be profuse recklesness the hard-earned for squeezed flat against a wall, while young tunes of their sires ? Who diligently de Doughface pours oyster-gravy down our vote their time to nothing, foolishly and shirt-front, and Caroline Pettitoes wonwrongly supposing that a young English ders at “ Mr. Düsseldorf's” industry ? nobleman has nothing to do? Who, in If intelligent people decline to go, you fine, evince by their collective conduct, justly remark, it is their own fault. Yes, that they regard their Americanism as a but if they stay away it is very certainly misfortune, and are so the most deadly their great gain. The elderly people are enemies of their country? None but what always neglected with us, and nothing our wag facetiously termed “the best so surprises intelligent strangers more, than ciety."
the tyrannical supremacy of Young AmeIf the reader doubts, let him consider rica. But we are not surprised at this its practical results in any great emporium neglect. How can we be if we have our of “best society.” Marriage is there re eyes open ? When Caroline Pettitoes regarded as a luxury, too expensive for any treats from the floor to the sofa, and but the sons of rich men, or fortunate instead of a “polker” figures at parties young men. We once heard an eminent as a matron, do you suppose that “ tough divine assert, and only half in sport, that old Joes” like ourselves, are going to dethe rate of living was advancing so incre sert the young Caroline upon the floor, for dibly, that weddings in his experience Madame Pettitoes upon the sofa ? If the were perceptibly diminishing. The rea pretty young Caroline with youth, health, sons might have been many and various. freshness, a fine, budding form, and But we all acknowledged the fact. On wreathed in a semi-transparent haze of the other hand, and about the same time, flounced and flowered gauze, is so vapid a lovely damsel (ah! Clorinda !) whose that we prefer to accost her with our father was not wealthy, who had no pro eyes alone, and not with our tongues, is spective means of support, who could do the same Caroline married into a Madame nothing but polka to perfection, who lite Pettitoes, and fanning herself upon a sofa, rally knew almost nothing, and who con -no longer particularly fresh, nor young, stantly shocked every fairly intelligent nor pretty, and no longer budding but very person by the glaring ignorance betrayed fully blown,-- likely to be fascinating in by her remarks, informed a friend at one of conversation? We cannot wonder that the Saratoga balls, whither he had made the whole connection of Pettitoes, when haste to meet "the best society," that advanced to the matron state, is entirely there were “not more than three good neglected. Proper homage to age we can matches in society !” La Dame aux Ca all pay at home, to our parents and grandmélias, Marie Duplessis, was, to our parents. Proper respect for some persons fancy, a much more feminine, and admira is best preserved by avoiding their neighble, and moral, and human person, than borhood. the adored Clorinda. And yet what she And what, think you, is the influence said was the legitimate result of the state of this extravagant expense and senseless of our fashionable society. It worships show upon these same young men and wealth, and the pomp which wealth can women ? We can easily discover. It saps purchase, more than virtue, genius or their noble ambition, assails their health, beanty. We may be told that it has lowers their estimate of men and their always been so in every country, and that reverence for women, cherishes an eager the tine society of all lands is as profuse and aimless rivalry, weakens true feeling, and flashy as our own. We deny it, wipes away the bloom of true modesty, flatly. Neither English, nor French, nor and induces an ennui, a satiety, and a kind Italian, nor German society, is so un of dilettante misanthropy, which is only speakably barren as that which is techni the more monstrous because it is undoubtcally called “ society" here. In London, edly real. You shall hear young men of and Paris, and Vienna, and Rome, all the intelligence and cultivation, to whom the really eminent men and women help make unprecedented circumstances of this counup the mass of society. A party is not a try offer opportunities of a great and bemere ball, but it is a congress of the wit, neficent career, complaining that they beauty, and fame of the capital. It is were born within this blighted circle-reworth while to dress, if you shall meet gretting that they were not bakers and Macaulay, or Hallam, or Guizot, or Thiers, tallow-chandlers, and under no obligation
to keep up appearances—deliberately sur Court of Louis XIV., and the “merrie
where in New-York can the stranger prothing of it.”
cure a dinner, at once so neat and eleAre these the processes by which a gant, and economical, as at scores of Cafés noble race is made and perpetuated ? At in Paris. The fever of display has conMrs. Potiphar's we heard several Pen sumed comfort. A gondola plated with dennises longing for a similar luxury, gold was no easier than a black wooden one. and announcing their firm purpose, never We could well spare a little gilt upon the to have wives nor houses, until they could walls, for more cleanliness upon the public have them as splendid as jewelled Mrs. table; nor is it worth while to cover the Potiphar, and her palace, thirty feet front. walls with mirrors to reflect a want of Where were their heads, and their hearts, comfort. One prefers a wooden bench to and their arms? How looks this craven a greasy velvet cushion, and a sanded despondency, before the stern virtues of floor to a soiled and threadbare carpet. the ages we call dark? When a man is An insipid uniformity is the Procustes-bed, so voluntarily imbecile as to regret he is upon which “ society” is stretched. Every not rich, if that is what he wants, before new house is the counterpart of every he has struck a blow for wealth ; or so other, with the exception of more gilt, if dastardly as to renounce the prospect of the owner can afford it. The interior love, because, sitting sighing, in velvet arrangement, instead of being characterdressing-gown and slippers, he does not istic, instead of revealing something of the see his way clear to ten thousand a year; tastes and feelings of the owner, is rigorwhen young women coiffed à merveille, ously conformed to every other interior. of unexceptionable "style," who, with or The same hollow and tame complaisance without a prospective penny, secretly look rules in the intercourse of society. W down upon honest women who struggle dares say precisely what he thinks for a livelihood, like noble and Christian upon a great topic? What youth venbeings, and, as such, are rewarded ; in tures to say sharp things, of slavery, for whose society a man must forget that he instance, at a polite dinner-table? What has ever read, thought, or felt; who girl dares wear curls, when Martelle predestroy in the mind, the fair ideal of scribes puffs or bandeaux ? What speciwoman, which the genius of art and men of Young America dares have his poetry, and love, their inspirer, has crea trowsers loose or wear straps to them ?
then it seems to us, it is high time We want individuality, heroism, and if nethat the subject should be regarded not cessary, an uncompromising persistence as a matter of breaking butterflies upon in difference. the wheel, but as a sad and sober question, This is the present state of parties. in whose solution, all fathers and mothers, They are wildly extravagant, full of sense and the state itself, are interested. When less display; they are avoided by the keen observers, and men of the world, pleasant and intelligent, and swarm with from Europe, are amazed and appalled at reckless regiinents of " Brown's men.” the giddy whirl and frenzied rush of our The ends of the earth contribute their society-a society singular in history, choicest products to the supper, and there for the exaggerated prominence it assigns is every thing that wealth can purchase, to wealth, irrespective of the talents that and all the spacious splendor that thirty amassed it, they and their possessor be feet front can afford. They are hot, and ing usually hustled out of sight-is it not crowded, and glaring. There is a little quite time to ponder a little upon the weak scandal, venomous, not witty, and a