Neither have we any sympathy with the implication that the present is worse than the past in matters of dress. Compare the fashion plates of the seventeenth century with the fashion plates of the nineteenth, and you decide in favor of our day. The women of Isaiah’s time beat anything now. Do we have the kangaroo fashion Isaiah speaks of—the daughters who walked with “stretched forth necks?” Talk of hoops! Isaiah speaks of women with “round tires like the moon.” Do we have hot irons for curling our hair? Isaiah speaks of “wimples and crisping pins.” Do we sometimes wear glasses astride our nose, not because we are near-sighted, but for beautification? Isaiah speaks of the “glasses, and the earrings, and the nose jewels.” The dress of to-day is far more sensible than that of a hundred or a thousand years ago.
But the largest room in the world is room for improvement, and we would cheer on those who would attempt reformation either in male or female attire. Meanwhile, we rejoice that so many of the pearls, and emeralds, and amethysts, and diamonds of the world are coming in the possession of Christian women. Who knows but that the spirit of ancient consecration may some day come upon them, and it shall again be as it was in the time of Moses, that for the prosperity of the house of the Lord the women may bring their bracelets, and earrings, and tablets and jewels? The precious stones of earth will never have their proper place till they are set around the Pearl of Great Price.
We have recently seen many elaborate discussions as to whether plagiarism is virtuous or criminal—in other words, whether writers may steal. If a minister can find a sermon better than any one he can make, why not preach it? If an author can find a paragraph for his book better than any he can himself manufacture, why not appropriate it?
That sounds well. But why not go further and ask, if a woman find a set of furs better than she has in her wardrobe, why not take them? If a man find that his neighbor has a cow full Alderney, while he has in his own yard only a scrawny runt, why not drive home the Alderney? Theft is taking anything that does not belong to you, whether it be sheep, oxen, hats, coats or literary material.
Without attempting to point put the line that divides the lawful appropriation of another’s ideas from the appropriation of another’s phraseology, we have only to say that a literary man always knows when he is stealing. Whether found out or not, the process is belittling, and a man is through it blasted for this world and damaged for the next one. The ass in the fable wanted to die because he was beaten so much, but after death they changed his hide into a drum-head, and thus he was beaten more than ever. So the plagiarist is so vile a cheat that there is not much chance for him, living or dead. A minister who hopes to do good with each burglary will no more be a successful ambassador to men than a foreign minister despatched by our government to-day would succeed if he presented himself at the court of St. James with the credentials that he stole from the archives of those illustrious ex-ministers, James Buchanan or Benjamin Franklin.