Let not the reader imagine by the paragraph on Saratoga trunks that my little wife had done what the Scripture assumes is the impossibility for womankind, and as a bride forgotten her attire.

Although possessing ideas of great moderation, she had not come to our mountain home without the appropriate armor of womanhood.

I interpreted the duties of a husband after the directions of Michelet, and was my wife's only maid, and in all humility performed for her the office of packing and unpacking her trunks, and handling all those strange and wonderful mysteries of the toilet, which seemed to my eyes penetrated with an ineffable enchantment.

I have been struck with dismay of late, in reading the treatises of some very clever female reformers concerning the dress of the diviner sex.

It is really in contemplation among them to reduce it to a level as ordinary and prosaic as it occupies among us men, heavy-footed sons of toil? Are sashes and bows, and neck ribbons and tiny slippers and gloves to give way to thick-soled boots and buckskin gauntlets and broadcloth coats? To me my wife's wardrobe was a daily poem, and from her use of it I derived the satisfaction of faculties which had lain dormant under my heavy black broadcloth, like the gauzy tissue under the black horn wings of a poor beetle. I never looked at the splendid pictures of Paul Veronese and Titian in the Venetian galleries, without murmuring at the severe edicts of modern life which sends every man forth on the tide of life, like a black gondola condemned to one unvarying color. Those gorgeous velvets in all the hues of the rainbow, those dainty laces and splendid gems, which once were allowed to us men, are all swept away, and for us there remains no poetry of dress. Our tailor turns us out a suit in which one is just like another with scarce an individual variation.

The wife, then, the part of one's self which marriage gives us, affords us a gratification of these suppressed faculties. She is our finer self; and in her we appreciate and enjoy what is denied to us. I freely admit the truth of what women-reformers tell us, that it is the admiration of us men that stimulates the love of dress in women. It is a fact—I confess it with tears in my eyes—but it is the truth, that we are blindly enchanted by that play of fancy and poetry in their externals, which is forever denied to us; and that we look with our indulgent eyes even on what the French statesman calls their "fureurs de toilette."

In fact, woman's finery never looks to another woman as it does to a man. It has to us a charm, a sacredness, that they cannot comprehend.

Under my wife's instruction I became an expert guardian of these filmy treasures of the wardrobe, and knew how to fold and unfold, and bring her everything in its place, as she daily performed for me the charming work of making up her toilet. To be sure, my slowness and clumsiness brought me many brisk little lectures, but my good will and docility were so great that my small sovereign declared herself on the whole satisfied with my progress. There was a vapory collection apparently made up of bits and ends of rainbows, flosses of clouds, spangles of stars, butterflies and humming bird's wings, which she turned and tossed over daily, with her dainty fingers, selecting a bit here and a morsel there, which went to her hair, or her neck, or her girdle, with a wonderful appropriateness, and in a manner to me wholly incomprehensible; only the result was a new picture every day. This little, artless tableau was expensive neither of time nor money, and the result was a great deal of very honest pleasure to us both. It was her pride to be praised and admired first by me, and then by my mother, and aunt, and uncle Jacob, who turned her round and admired her, as if she had been some rare tropical flower.

Now, do the very alarmingly rational women-reformers I speak of propose to forbid to women in the future all the use of clothes except that which is best adapted to purposes of work? Is the time at hand when the veil and orange flowers and satin slippers of the bride shall melt away into mist, and shall we behold at the altar the union of young parties, dressed alike in swallow-tailed coats and broadcloth pantaloons, with brass buttons?

If this picture seems absurd, then, it must be admitted that there is a reason in nature why the dress of woman should forever remain different from that of man, in the same manner that the hand of her Creator has shaped her delicate limbs and golden hair differently from the rugged organization of man. Woman was meant to be more than a worker; she was meant for the poet and artist of life; she was meant to be the charmer; and that is the reason, dear Miss Minerva, why to the end of time you cannot help it that women always will, and must, give more care and thought to dress than men.

To be sure, this runs into a thousand follies and extravagances; but in this as in everything else the remedy is not extirpation, but direction.

Certainly my pretty wife's pretty toilets had a success in our limited circle, which might possibly have been denied in fashionable society at Saratoga and Newport. She was beauty, color, and life to our little world, and followed by almost adoring eyes wherever she went. It was as real an accession of light and joy to the simple ways of our household to have her there, as a choice picture, or a marvelous strain of music. My wife had to perfection the truly artistic gift of dress. Had she lived in Robinson Crusoe's island with no one to look at her but the paroquets and the monkeys, and with no mirror but a pool of water, she would have made a careful toilet every day, from the mere love of beauty; and it was delightful to see how a fresh, young, charming woman, by this faculty of adornment, seemed to make the whole of the sober, old house like a picture or a poem.

"She is like the blossom on a cactus," said my Uncle Jacob. "We have come to our flower, in her; we have it in us; we all like it, but she brings it out; she is our blossom."

In fact, it was charming to see the delight of the two sober, elderly matrons, my mother and my aunt, in turning over and surveying the pretty things of her toilet. My mother, with all her delicate tastes and love of fineness and exquisiteness, had lived in these respects the self-denied life of a poor country minister, who never has but one "best pocket handkerchief," and whom one pair of gloves must last through a year. It was a fresh little scene of delight to see the two way-worn matrons in the calm, silvery twilight of their old age, sitting like a pair of amicable doves on the trunks in our room, while my wife displayed to them all her little store of fineries, and all three chatted them over with as whole-hearted a zeal as if finery were one of the final ends in creation.

Every morning it was a part of the family breakfast to admire some new device of berries or blossoms adapted to her toilet. Now, it was knots of blue violets, and now clusters of apple blossoms, that seemed to adapt themselves to the purpose, as if they had been made for it. In the same manner she went about the house filling all possible flower vases with quaint and original combinations of leaves and blossoms till the house bloomed like a garland.

Then there were days when I have the vision of my wife in calico dress and crisp white apron, taking lessons in ornamental housewifery of my mother and aunt in the great, clean kitchen. There the three proceeded with all care and solemnity to perform the incantations out of which arose strange savory compounds of cakes and confections, whose recipes were family heir-looms. Out of great platters of egg-whites, whipped into foamy masses, these mystical dainties arose, as of old rose Venus from the foam of the sea.

I observe that the elderly priestesses in the temple of domestic experience, have a peculiar pride and pleasure in the young neophyte that seeks admission to these Eleusinian mysteries.

Eva began to wear an air of precocious matronly gravity, as she held long discourses with my mother and aunt on all the high mysteries of household ways, following them even to the deepest recesses of the house where they displayed to her their hidden treasures of fine linen and napery, and drew forth gifts wherewith to enrich our future home.

In the olden times the family linen of a bride was of her own spinning and that of her mother and kinswomen; so that every thread in it had a sacredness of family life and association. One can fancy dreams of peace could come in a bed, every thread of whose linen has been spun by loving and sainted hands. So, the gift to my wife from my mother was some of this priceless old linen, every piece of which had its story. These towels were spun by a beloved aunt Avis, whose life was a charming story of faith and patience; and those sheets and pillow-cases were the work of my mother's mother; they had been through the history of a family life, and came to us fragrant with rosemary and legend. We touched them with reverence, as the relics of ascended saints.

Then there were the family receipt books, which had a quaint poetry of their own. I must confess, in the face of the modern excellent printed manuals of cookery and housekeeping, a tenderness for these old-fashioned receipt books of our mothers and grandmothers, yellow with age, where in their own handwriting are the records of their attainments and discoveries in the art of making life healthful and charming. There was a loving carefulness about these receipts—an evident breathing of human experience and family life—they were entwined with so many associations of the tastes and habits of individual members of the family, that the reading of my mother's receipt-book seemed to bring back all the old pictures of home-life; and this precious manual she gave to Eva, who forthwith resolved to set up one of her own on the model of it.

In short, by the time our honeymoon had passed, Eva regarded herself as a passed mistress in the grand free-masonry of home life, and assumed toward me those grave little airs of instruction blent with gracious condescension for male inferiority which obtain among good wives. She began to be my little mother no less than wife.

My mother and aunt were confident of her success and abilities as queen in her new dominions. It was evident that though a city girl and a child of wealth and fashion, she had what Yankee matrons are pleased to denominate "faculty," which is, being interpreted, a genius for home life, and she was only impatient now to return to her realm and set up her kingdom.

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