Again: inordinate fashion is incompatible with happiness. Those who depend for their comfort upon the admiration of others are subject to frequent disappointment. Somebody will criticise their appearance, or surpass them in brilliancy, or will receive more attention. Oh! the jealousy, and detraction, and heart-burnings of those who move in this bewildered maze!
The clock strikes one, and the company begins to disperse. The host has done everything to make all his guests happy; but now that they are on the street, hear their criticisms of everybody and everything. “Did you see her in such and such apparel?” “Wasn’t she a perfect fright!” “What a pity that such an one is so awkward and uncouth!” “Well, really,—I would rather never be spoken to than be seen with such a man as that!”
Poor butterflies! Bright wings do not always bring happiness. “She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” The revelations of high life that come to the challenge and the fight are only the occasional croppings out of disquietudes that are, underneath, like the stars of heaven for multitude, but like the demons of the pit for hate. The misery that to-night in the cellar cuddles up in the straw is not so utter as the princely disquietude which stalks through splendid drawing-rooms, brooding over the slights and offences of high life. The bitterness of trouble seems not so unfitting, when drunk out of a pewter mug, as when it pours from the chased lips of a golden chalice. In the sharp crack of the voluptuary’s pistol, putting an end to his earthly misery, I hear the confirmation that in a hollow, fastidious life there is no peace.
Again: Excessive devotion to fashion is productive of physical disease, mental imbecility, and spiritual withering.
Apparel insufficient to keep out the cold and the rain, or so fitted upon the person that the functions of life are restrained; late hours, filled with excitement and feasting; free draughts of wine, that make one not beastly intoxicated, but only fashionably drunk; and luxurious indolence—are the instruments by which this unreal life pushes its disciples into valetudinarianism and the grave. Along the walks of high life Death goes a mowing—and such harvests as are reaped! Materia medica has been exhausted to find curatives for these physiological devastations. Dropsies, cancers, consumptions, gout, and almost every infirmity in all the realm of pathology, have been the penalty paid. To counteract the damage, pharmacy has gone forth with medicament, panacea, elixir, embrocation, salve, and cataplasm.
To-night, with swollen feet, upon cushioned ottoman, and groaning with aches innumerable, is the votary of luxurious living, not half so happy as his groom or coal-heaver.
Fashion is the world’s undertaker, and drives thousands of hearses to Laurel Hill and Greenwood.