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And digested, I trust, for 'tis now nine and more,
So being relieved from that duty, I followed
Inclination, which led me, you see, to your door
And now will your ladyship so condescend
As just to inform me if you intend
Your beauty, and graces, and presence to lend,
(All which, when I own, I hope no one will borrow)
To the STUCKUP's, whose party, you know, is to-morrow ?"
The fair Flora looked up with a pitiful air,
And answered quite promptly, “Why Harry, mon cher,
I should like above all things to go with you there ;
But really and truly—I've nothing to wear.”
“Nothing to wear! go just as you are ;
Wear the dress you have on, and you'll be by far,
I engage, the most bright and particular star
On the Stuckup horizon”-I stopped, for her eye,
Notwithstanding this delicate onset of flattery,
Opened on me at once a most terrible battery
Of scorn and amazement. She made no reply, But gave a slight turn to the end of her nose
(That pure Grecian feature), as much as to say, “ How absurd that any sane man should suppose That a lady would go to a ball in the clothes,
No matter how fine, that she wears every day!"
So I ventured again—“Wear your crimson brocade," (Second turn up of nose)—“That's too dark by a shade." “ Your blue silk"_“That's too heavy;" "Your pink"_" That's too light." “ Wear tulle over satin"_"I can't endure white.”' “Your rose-colored, then, the best of the batch”“I haven't a thread of point lace to match.” “Your brown moire antique” _“Yes, and look like a Quaker;" “ The pearl-colored”—“I would, but that plaguey dress-maker Has had it a week”- “ Then that exquisite lilac, In which you would melt the heart of a Shylock." (Here the nose took again the same elevation) “I wouldn't wear that for the whole of creation."
“Why not? It's my fancy, there's nothing could strike it As more comme il faut —” “Yes, but dear me, that lean
Sophronia Stuckup has got one just like it,
And I won't appear dressed like a chit of sixteen.”
“ Then that splendid purple, that sweet Mazarine ;
That superb point d'aiguille, that imperial green,
That zephyr-like tarleton, that rich grenadine”.
66 Not one of all which is fit to be seen,”
Said the lady, becoming excited and flushed.
“ Then wear," I exclaimed, in a tone which quite crushed
Opposition, “ that gorgeous toilette which you sported
In Paris last spring, at the grand presentation,
When you quite turned the head of the head of the na:ion ;
And by all the grand court were so very much courted."
The end of the nose was portentously tipped up,
And both the bright eyes shot forth indignation,
As she burst upon me with the fierce exclamation,
“I have worn it three times at the least calculation,
And that and the most of my dresses are ripped up!"
Here I ripped out something, perhaps rather rash,
Quite innocent, though ; but, to use an expression More striking than classic, it "settled my hash,”
And proved very soon the last act of our session.
“Fiddlesticks, is it, Sir ? I wonder the ceiling
Doesn't fall down and crush you—oh, you men have no feeling,
You selfish, unnatural, illiberal creatures,
Who set yourselves up as patterns and preachers.
Your silly pretense—why, what a mere guess it is!
Pray, what do you know of a woman's necessities?
I have told you and shown you I've nothing to wear,
And it's perfectly plain you not only don't care,
But you do not believe me” (here the nose went still higher).
dared you would call me a liar.
Our engagement is ended, Sir—yes, on the spot ;
You're a brute, and a monster, and—I don't know what."
I mildly suggested the words-Hottentot,
Pickpocket, and cannibal, Tartar, and thief,
As gentle expletives which might give relief;
But this only proved as spark to the powder,
And the storm I had raised came faster and louder,
It blew and it rained, thundered, lightened, and hailed
Interjections, verbs, pronouns, till language quite failed
To express the abusive, and then its arrears
Were brought up all at once by a torrent of tears,
And my last faint, despairing attempt at an obs-
Ervation was lost in a tempest of sobs.
Well, I felt for the lady, and felt for my hat, too,
Improvised on the crown of the latter a tattoo,
In lieu of expressing the feelings which lay
Quite too deep for words, as Wordsworth would say;
Then, without going through the form of a bow,
* Found myself in the entry-I hardly knew how-
On door-step and sidewalk, past lamp-post and square,
At home and up stairs, in my own easy chair ;
Poked my feet into slippers, my fire into blaze,
And said to myself, as I lit my cigar,
Supposing a man had the wealth of the Czar
Of the Russias to boot, for the rest of his days,
On the whole, do you think he would have much to spare
If he married a woman with nothing to wear?
Since that night, taking pains that it should not be bruited
Abroad in society, I've instituted
A course of inquiry, extensive and thorough,
On this vital subject, and find, to my horror,
That the fair Flora's case is by no means surprising,
But that there exists the greatest distress
In our female community, solely arising
From this unsupplied destitution of dress, Whose unfortunate victims are filling the air With the pitiful wail of “ Nothing to wear.” Researches in some of the " Upper Ten” districts Reveal the most painful and startling statistics, Of which let me mention only a few : In one single house, on the Fifth Avenue, Three young ladies were found, all below twenty-two, Who have been three whole weeks without any thing new In the way of flounced silks, and thus left in the lurch Are unable to go to ball, concert, or church. In another large mansion near the same place Was found a deplorable, heart-rending case Of entire destitution of Brussels point lace. In a neighboring block there was found, in three calls, Total want, long continued, of camels'-hair shawls; And a suffering family, whose case exhibits The most pressing need of real ermine tippets; One deserving young lady almost unable To survive for the want of a new Russian sable ; Another confined to the house, when it's windier Than usual, because her shawl isn't India. Still another, whose tortures have been most terrific Ever since the sad loss of the steamer Pacific, In which were ingulfed, not friend or relation, (For whose fate she perhaps might have found consolation, Or borne it, at least, with serene resignation), But the choicest assortment of French sleeves and collars Ever sent out from Paris, worth thousands of dollars, And all as to style most recherché and rare, The want of which leaves her with nothing to wear, And renders her life so drear and dyspeptic That she's quite a recluse, and almost a skeptic, For she touchingly says that this sort of grief Can not find in Religion the slightest relief, And Philosophy has not a maxim to spare For the victims of such overwhelming despair. But the saddest by far of all these sad features Is the cruelty practiced upon the poor creatures By husbands and fathers, real Bluebeards and Timons, Who resist the most touching appeals made for diamonds By their wives and their daughters, and leave them for days Unsupplied with new jewelry, fans, or bouquets, Even laugh at their miseries whenever they have a chance, And deride their demands as useless extravagance ; One case of a bride was brought to my view, Too sad for belief, but, alas ! 'twas too true,
Whose husband refused, as savage as Charon,
To permit her to take more than ten trunks to Sharon.
The consequence was, that when she got there,
At the end of three weeks she had nothing to wear,
And when she proposed to finish the season
At Newport,, the monster refused out and out,
For his infamous conduct alleging no reason,
Except that the waters were good for his gout;
Such treatment as this was too shocking, of course,
And proceedings are now going on for divorce.
But why harrow the feelings by lifting the curtain
From these scenes of woe ? Enough, it is certain,
Has here been disclosed to stir up the pity
Of every benevolent heart in the city,
And spur up Humanity into a canter
To rush and relieve these sad cases instanter.
Won't somebody, moved by this touching description,
Come forward to-morrow and head a subscription ?
Won't some kind philanthropist, seeing that aid is
So needed at once by these indigent ladies,
Take charge of the matter? or won't PETER COOPER
The corner-stone lay of some splendid super-
Structure, like that which to-day links his name
In the Union unending of honor and fame;
And found a new charity just for the care
Of these unhappy women with nothing to wear,
Which, in view of the cash which would daily be claimed,
The Laying-out Hospital well might be named ?
Won't STEWART, or some of our dry-goods importers,
Take a contract for clothing our wives and our daughters?
Or, to furnish the cash to supply these distresses,
And life's pathway strew with shawls, collars, and dresses,
Ere the want of them makes it much rougher and thornier,
Won't some one discover a new California ?
Oh ladies, dear ladies, the next sunny day
Please trundle your hoops just out of Broadway,
From its whirl and its bustle, its fashion and pride,
And the temples of Trade which tower on each side,
To the alleys and lanes, where Misfortune and Guilt
Their children have gathered, their city have built ;
Where Hunger and Vice, like twin beasts of prey,
Have hunted their victims to gloom and despair ;
Raise the rich, dainty dress, and the fine broidered skiri,
Pick your delicate way through the dampness and dirt,
Grope through the dark dens, climb the rickety stair
To the garret, where wretches, the young and the old.
Half-starved and half-naked, lie crouched from the cold.
See those skeleton limbs, those frost-bitten feet,
All bleeding and bruised by the stones of the street;
Ilear the sharp cry of childhood, the deep groans that swell
From the poor dying creature who writhes on the floor, Hear the curses that sound like the echoes of Hell,
As you sicken and shudder and fly from the door ; Then home to your wardrobes, and say, if you dareSpoiled children of Fashion—you've nothing to wear!
And oh, if perchance there should be a sphere,
Where all is made right which so puzzles us here,
Where the glare, and the glitter, and tinsel of Time
Fade and die in the light of that region sublime,
Where the soul, disenchanted of flesh and .of sense,
Unscreened by its trappings, and shows, and pretense,
Must be clothed for the life and the service above,
With purity, truth, faith, meekness, and love;
Oh, daughters of Earth! foolish virgins, beware!
Lest in that upper realm you have nothing to wear!