But the influence of this habit on beauty is far less to be deprecated than its effects upon health. That pulmonary disease, affections of the heart, and insanity, are in its train, and that it leads some of our fairest and dearest to Fashion’s shrine to die, is placed beyond a doubt by strong medical testimony.
Dr. Mussey, whose “Lectures on Intemperance” have so forcibly arrested the attention of the public, asserts that “greater numbers annually die among the female sex, in consequence of tight-lacing, than are destroyed among the other sex by the use of spirituous liquors in the same time.” Is it possible that thousands of our own sex, in our own native land, lay, with their own hand, the foundation of diseases that destroy life!—and are willing, for fashion’s sake, to commit suicide!
Dr. Todd, the late Principal of the Retreat for the Insane, in Connecticut, to whom science and philanthropy are indebted, adduces many instances of the fearful effects of obstructed circulation on the brain. Being requested by the instructress of a large female seminary to enforce on her pupils the evils of compression in dress, he said, with that eloquence of eye and soul, which none, who once felt their influence, can ever forget: “The whole course of your studies, my dear young ladies, conspires to impress you with reverence for antiquity. Especially do you turn to Greece for the purest models in the fine arts, and the loftiest precepts of philosophy. While sitting, as disciples, at the feet of her men of august minds, you may have sometimes doubted how to balance, or where to bestow your admiration. The acuteness of Aristotle—the purity of Plato—the calm, unrepented satisfaction of Socrates—the varied lore of Epicurus, and the lofty teachings of Zeno, have alternately attracted or absorbed your attention. Permit me to suppose, that the high-toned ethics of the Stoics, and their elevation of mind, which could teach its frail companion, the body, the proud lesson of insensibility to pain, have won your peculiar complaisance. Yet, while meting out to them the full measure of your applause, have you ever recollected that modern times—that your own country came in competition for a share of fame! Has it occurred to you that your own sex—even the most delicate and tender part of it—exceeded the ancient Stoics in the voluntary infliction of pain, and extinction of pity? Yes; some of the timid and beautiful members of this seminary may enter the lists with Zeno, Cleanthus, and Chrysippus, and cherish no slight hope of victory. I trust to prove to you that the ancient and sublime Stoics were very tyros in comparison with many a lady of our own times. In degree of suffering, extent of endurance, and in perfection of concealment, they must yield the palm. I do assure you, that, its most illustrious masters—fruitful as they were in tests to try the body—never invented, imagined, nor would have been able to sustain that torture of