The accomplishments of life are in nowise productive of effeminacy or enervation. Good manners and a respect for the tastes of others is indispensable. The Good Book speaks favorably of those who are a “peculiar” people; but that does not sanction the behavior of queer people. There is no excuse, under any circumstances, for not being and acting the lady or gentleman. Rudeness is sin. We have no words too ardent to express our admiration for the refinements of society. There is no law, moral or divine, to forbid elegance of demeanor, ornaments of gold or gems for the person, artistic display in the dwelling, gracefulness of gait and bearing, polite salutation, or honest compliments; and he who is shocked or offended by these had better, like the old Scythians, wear tiger-skins, and take one wild leap back into midnight barbarism.
As Christianity advances there will be better apparel, higher styles of architecture, more exquisite adornments, sweeter music, grander pictures, more correct behavior, and more thorough ladies and gentlemen.
But there is another story to be told. Excessive fashion is to be charged with many of the worst evils of society, and its path has often been strewn with the bodies of the slain.
It has often set up a false standard by which people are to be judged. Our common sense, as well as all the divine intimations on the subject, teach us that people ought to be esteemed according to their individual and moral attainments. The man who has the most nobility of soul should be first, and he who has the least of such qualities should stand last. No crest, or shield, or escutcheon, can indicate one’s moral peerage. Titles of duke, lord, esquire, earl, viscount, or patrician, ought not to raise one into the first rank. Some of the meanest men I have ever known had at the end of their name D.D., LL.D., and F.R.S. Truth, honor, charity, heroism, self-sacrifice, should win highest favor; but inordinate fashion says—“Count not a woman’s virtues; count her rings;” “Look not at the contour of the head, but see the way she combs her hair;” “Ask not what noble deeds have been accomplished by that man’s hand; but is it white and soft?” Ask not what good sense was in her conversation, but “in what was she dressed.” Ask not whether there was hospitality and cheerfulness in the house, but “in what style do they live.”
As a consequence, some of the most ignorant and vicious men are at the top, and some of the most virtuous and intelligent at the bottom. During the late war we suddenly saw men hurled up into the highest social positions. Had they suddenly reformed from evil habits? or graduated in a science? or achieved some good work for society? No! They simply had obtained a government contract!
This accounts for the utter chagrin which men feel at the treatment they receive when they lose their property. Hold up your head amid financial disaster, like a Christian! Fifty thousand subtracted from a good man leaves how much? Honor; Truth; Faith in God; Triumphant Hope; and a kingdom of ineffable glory, over which he is to reign forever and ever.