Friday, 27 November 2009

Man putting on gloves

<br />Man putting on gloves
Man putting on gloves, c.1831.

Drawing by Eve’s Rib, after Achille Deveria.

Harold Martineau

Portrait painted in 1834.

Photomanipulation after Thomas Lawrence.

Duchesse d’Orléans

Philippa-Louise-Charlotte, Duchesse d’Orléans, 1842. The duchess wears the uniform of a lieutenant general, with her decorations, sword, and bicorne.

After Ingres.

Albert de Broglie

Painted in 1853. Albert de Broglie was a member of the aristocracy of the Second Empire.

After Ingres.

Lady Grantham

Theresa Robinson, the third Baroness Grantham and later Duchess de Grey, was twenty-five when this refined portrait was drawn in 1816.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Prince Michael Hendrik

Michael Hendrik of the Belgian royal family, in a magnificent pink dress.

Lord Henry Vincent

Portrait painted 1904.

Photomanipulation after John Singer Sargent.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The Good Househusband’s Guide

Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for her return. This is a way of letting her know that you have been thinking about her and are concerned about her needs. Most women are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially her favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when she arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. She has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

Be a little gay and a little more interesting for her. Her boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your wife arrives.

Gather up schoolbooks, toys, papers etc., and then run a dust cloth over the tables.

Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare a fire for her to unwind by. Your wife will feel she has reached a haven of rest and order and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for her comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and she would like to see them playing the part. Minimise all noise. At the time of her arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.

Be happy to see her.

Greet her with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please her.

Listen to her. You may have a dozen important things to tell her, but the moment of her arrival is not the time. Let her talk first — remember, her topics of conversation are more important than yours.

Make the evening hers. Never complain if she comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand her world of strain and pressure and her very real need to be at home and relax.

Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where your wife can renew herself in body and spirit.

Don’t greet her with complaints and problems.

Don’t complain if she’s late home for dinner or even if she stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what she might have gone through that day.

Make her comfortable. Have her lean back in a comfortable chair or have her lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for her.

Arrange her pillow and offer to take off her shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

Don’t ask her questions about her actions or question her judgment or integrity. Remember, she is the mistress of the house and as such will always exercise her will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question her.

A good husband always knows his place.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Men’s fashions, 1850s

Two gentlemen in evening wear. Fashion plate from Le Follet, from the 1850s.

Little Men, part 2

As Martin went rustling after, with his long skirts trailing, his earrings tinkling, his curls waving, and his heart beating, he felt as if his fun had really begun at last, for the mirror had plainly told him that he was ‘a little beauty’. His friends repeated the pleasing phrase enthusiastically, and for several minutes he stood, like a jackdaw in the fable, enjoying his borrowed plumes, while the rest chattered like a party of magpies.

“While I dress, do you drill him, Niles, in the management of his skirt and those French heels, or he will trip himself up. Take your silver butterfly, and catch up that long curl on the left side of his head, Clive, and don’t any of you disturb the charming work of my hands,” said Beau, as he hurried away, looking well pleased with his success.

“You don’t look a bit like yourself, but you are very nice. I’m nowhere beside you, for Beau has heaps of taste, and you’re quite French, I assure you. Let your flowers hang, don’t be so careful of them, and be sure you don’t trip,” returned Sammy, trying not to care that Martin was prettier than himself.

Keeping that warning carefully in mind, Martin got safely down stairs and sailed into the drawing rooms where the Moffats and a few early guests were assembled. He very soon discovered that there is a charm about fine clothes which attracts a certain class of people and secures their respect. Several young gents, who had taken no notice of him before, were very affectionate all of a sudden. Several young women, who had only stared at him at the other party, now not only stared, but asked to be introduced, and said all manner of foolish but agreeable things to him, and several old gentlemen, who sat on the sofas, and criticized the rest of the party, inquired who he was with an air of interest. He heard Mr. Moffat reply to one of them...

“Daisy March — mother a colonel in the army — one of our first families, but reverses of fortune, you know; intimate friends of the Laurences; sweet creature, I assure you; my Nettie is quite wild about him.”

“Dear me!” said the old gent, putting up his glass for another observation of Martin, who tried to look as if he had not heard and been rather shocked at Mr. Moffat’s fibs. The ‘queer feeling’ did not pass away, but he imagined himself acting the new part of fine gent and so got on pretty well, though the tight dress gave him a side-ache, the train kept getting under his feet, and he was in constant fear lest his earrings should fly off and get lost or broken. He was flirting his fan and laughing at the feeble jokes of a young lady who tried to be witty, when he suddenly stopped laughing and looked confused, for just opposite, he saw Laura. She was staring at him with undisguised surprise, and disapproval also, he thought, for though she bowed and smiled, yet something in her honest eyes made him blush and wish he had his old dress on. To complete his confusion, he saw Beau nudge Archie, and both glance from him to Laura, who, he was happy to see, looked unusually girlish and shy.

“Silly creatures, to put such thoughts into my head. I won’t care for it, or let it change me a bit,” thought Martin, and rustled across the room to shake hands with his friend.

“I’m glad you came, I was afraid you wouldn’t,” he said, with his most grown-up air.

“Joe wanted me to come, and tell him how you looked, so I did,” answered Laura, without turning her eyes upon him, though she half smiled at his maternal tone.

“What shall you tell him?” asked Martin, full of curiosity to know her opinion of him, yet feeling ill at ease with her for the first time.

“I shall say I didn’t know you, for you look so grown-up and unlike yourself, I’m quite afraid of you,” she said, fumbling at her glove button.

“How absurd of you! The boys dressed me up for fun, and I rather like it. Wouldn’t Joe stare if he saw me?” said Martin, bent on making her say whether she thought him improved or not.

“Yes, I think he would,” returned Laura gravely.

“Don’t you like me so?” asked Martin.

“No, I don’t,” was the blunt reply.

“Why not?” in an anxious tone.

She glanced at his frizzled head, bare shoulders, and fantastically trimmed dress with an expression that abashed him more than her answer, which had not a particle of her usual politeness in it.

“I don’t like fuss and feathers.”

That was altogether too much from a girl younger than himself, and Martin walked away, saying petulantly, “You are the rudest girl I ever saw.”

Feeling very much ruffled, he went and stood at a quiet window to cool his cheeks, for the tight dress gave him an uncomfortably brilliant color. As he stood there, Major Lincoln passed by, and a minute after he heard her saying to her mother...

“They are making a fool of that little boy. I wanted you to see him, but they have spoiled him entirely. He’s nothing but a doll tonight.”

“Oh, dear!” sighed Martin. “I wish I’d been sensible and worn my own things, then I should not have disgusted other people, or felt so uncomfortable and ashamed of myself.”

He leaned his forehead on the cool pane, and stood half hidden by the curtains, never minding that his favorite waltz had begun, till some one touched him, and turning, he saw Laura, looking penitent, as she said, with her very best bow and her hand out...

“Please forgive my rudeness, and come and dance with me.”

“I’m afraid it will be too disagreeable to you,” said Martin, trying to look offended and failing entirely.

“Not a bit of it, I’m dying to do it. Come, I’ll be good. I don’t like your gown, but I do think you are just splendid.” And she waved her hands, as if words failed to express her admiration.

Martin smiled and relented, and whispered as they stood waiting to catch the time, “Take care my skirt doesn’t trip you up. It's the plague of my life and I was a goose to wear it.”

“Pin it round your neck, and then it will be useful,” said Laura, looking down at the little blue boots, which she evidently approved of.

Away they went fleetly and gracefully, for having practiced at home, they were well matched, and the blithe young couple were a pleasant sight to see, as they twirled merrily round and round, feeling more friendly than ever after their small tiff.

“Laura, I want you to do me a favor, will you?” said Martin, as she stood fanning him when his breath gave out, which it did very soon though he would not own why.

“Won’t I!” said Laura, with alacrity.

“Please don’t tell them at home about my dress tonight. They won’t understand the joke, and it will worry Father.”

“Then why did you do it?” said Laura’s eyes, so plainly that Martin hastily added...

“I shall tell them myself all about it, and ‘fess’ to Father how silly I’ve been. But I’d rather do it myself. So you’ll not tell, will you?”

“I give you my word I won’t, only what shall I say when they ask me?”

“Just say I looked pretty well and was having a good time.”

“I’ll say the first with all my heart, but how about the other? You don’t look as if you were having a good time. Are you?” And Laura looked at him with an expression which made him answer in a whisper...

“No, not just now. Don’t think I’m horrid. I only wanted a little fun, but this sort doesn’t pay, I find, and I’m getting tired of it.”

“Here comes Nettie Moffat. What does she want?” said Laura, knitting her black brows as if she did not regard her young host in the light of a pleasant addition to the party.

“She put her name down for three dances, and I suppose she’s coming for them. What a bore!” said Martin, assuming a languid air which amused Laura immensely.

She did not speak to him again till suppertime, when she saw him drinking champagne with Nettie and her friend Fisher, who were behaving ‘like a pair of fools’, as Laura said to herself, for she felt a sisterly sort of right to watch over the Marches and fight their battles whenever a defender was needed.

“You’ll have a splitting headache tomorrow, if you drink much of that. I wouldn’t, Martin, your Father doesn’t like it, you know,” she whispered, leaning over his chair, as Nettie turned to refill his glass and Fisher stooped to pick up his fan.

“I’m not Martin tonight, I’m ‘a doll’ who does all sorts of crazy things. Tomorrow I shall put away my ‘fuss and feathers’ and be desperately good again,” he answered with an affected little laugh.

“Wish tomorrow was here, then,” muttered Laura, walking off, ill-pleased at the change she saw in him.

Martin danced and flirted, chattered and giggled, as the other boys did. After supper he undertook the German, and blundered through it, nearly upsetting his partner with his long skirt, and romping in a way that scandalized Laura, who looked on and meditated a lecture. But she got no chance to deliver it, for Martin kept away from her till she came to say good night.

“Remember!” he said, trying to smile, for the splitting headache had already begun.

“Silence a la mort,” replied Laura, with a melodramatic flourish, as she went away.

This little bit of byplay excited Archie’s curiosity, but Martin was too tired for gossip and went to bed, feeling as if he had been to a masquerade and hadn’t enjoyed herself as much as he expected. He was sick all the next day, and on Saturday went home, quite used up with his fortnight’s fun and feeling that he had ‘sat in the lap of luxury’ long enough.

“It does seem pleasant to be quiet, and not have company manners on all the time. Home is a nice place, though it isn’t splendid,” said Martin, looking about him with a restful expression, as he sat with his Father and Joe on the Sunday evening.

“I’m glad to hear you say so, dear, for I was afraid home would seem dull and poor to you after your fine quarters,” replied his Father, who had given him many anxious looks that day. For fatherly eyes are quick to see any change in children’s faces.

Martin had told his adventures gaily and said over and over what a charming time he had had, but something still seemed to weigh upon his spirits, and when the younger boys were gone to bed, he sat thoughtfully staring at the fire, saying little and looking worried. As the clock struck nine and Joe proposed bed, Martin suddenly left his chair and, taking Bertie’s stool, leaned his elbows on his Father’s knee, saying bravely...

“Papee, I want to ‘fess’.”

“I thought so. What is it, dear?”

“Shall I go away?” asked Joe discreetly.

“Of course not. Don’t I always tell you everything? I was ashamed to speak of it before the younger children, but I want you to know all the dreadful things I did at the Moffats’.”

“We are prepared,” said Mr. March, smiling but looking a little anxious.

“I told you they dressed me up, but I didn’t tell you that they powdered and squeezed and frizzled, and made me look like a fashion-plate. Laura thought I wasn’t proper. I know she did, though she didn’t say so, and one woman called me ‘a doll’. I knew it was silly, but they flattered me and said I was a beauty, and quantities of nonsense, so I let them make a fool of me.”

“Is that all?” asked Joe, as Mr. March looked silently at the downcast face of his pretty son, and could not find it in his heart to blame his little follies.

“No, I drank champagne and romped and tried to flirt, and was altogether abominable,” said Martin self-reproachfully.

“There is something more, I think.” And Mr. March smoothed the soft cheek, which suddenly grew rosy as Martin answered slowly...

“Yes. It’s very silly, but I want to tell it, because I hate to have people say and think such things about us and Laura.”

Then he told the various bits of gossip he had heard at the Moffats’, and as he spoke, Joe saw his Father fold his lips tightly, as if ill pleased that such ideas should be put into Martin’s innocent mind.

“Well, if that isn’t the greatest rubbish I ever heard,” cried Joe indignantly. “Why didn’t you pop out and tell them so on the spot?”

“I couldn’t, it was so embarrassing for me. I couldn’t help hearing at first, and then I was so angry and ashamed, I didn’t remember that I ought to go away.”

“Just wait till I see Archie Moffat, and I’ll show you how to settle such ridiculous stuff. The idea of having ‘plans’ and being kind to Laura because she’s rich and may marry us by-and-by! Won’t she shout when I tell her what those silly things say about us poor children?” And Joe laughed, as if on second thoughts the thing struck him as a good joke.

“If you tell Laura, I’ll never forgive you! He mustn’t, must he, Father?” said Martin, looking distressed.

“No, never repeat that foolish gossip, and forget it as soon as you can,” said Mr. March gravely. “I was very unwise to let you go among people of whom I know so little, kind, I dare say, but worldly, ill-bred, and full of these vulgar ideas about young people. I am more sorry than I can express for the mischief this visit may have done you, Martin.”

“Don’t be sorry, I won’t let it hurt me. I’ll forget all the bad and remember only the good, for I did enjoy a great deal, and thank you very much for letting me go. I’ll not be sentimental or dissatisfied, Father. I know I’m a silly little boy, and I’ll stay with you till I’m fit to take care of myself. But it is nice to be praised and admired, and I can’t help saying I like it,” said Martin, looking half ashamed of the confession.

“That is perfectly natural, and quite harmless, if the liking does not become a passion and lead one to do foolish or unboyish things. Learn to know and value the praise which is worth having, and to excite the admiration of excellent people by being modest as well as pretty, Martin.”

Martin sat thinking a moment, while Joe stood with his hands behind him, looking both interested and a little perplexed, for it was a new thing to see Martin blushing and talking about admiration, lovers, and things of that sort. And Joe felt as if during that fortnight his brother had grown up amazingly, and was drifting away from him into a world where he could not follow.

“Father, do you have ‘plans’, as Mr. Moffat said?” asked Martin bashfully.

“Yes, my dear, I have a great many, all fathers do, but mine differ somewhat from Mr. Moffat’s, I suspect. I will tell you some of them, for the time has come when a word may set this romantic little head and heart of yours right, on a very serious subject. You are young, Martin, but not too young to understand me, and fathers’ lips are the fittest to speak of such things to boys like you. Joe, your turn will come in time, perhaps, so listen to my ‘plans’ and help me carry them out, if they are good.”

Joe went and sat on one arm of the chair, looking as if he thought they were about to join in some very solemn affair. Holding a hand of each, and watching the two young faces wistfully, Mr. March said, in his serious yet cheery way...

“I want my sons to be beautiful, accomplished, and good. To be admired, loved, and respected. To have a happy youth, to be well and wisely married, and to lead useful, pleasant lives, with as little care and sorrow to try them as Goddess sees fit to send. To be loved and chosen by a good woman is the best and sweetest thing which can happen to a man, and I sincerely hope my boys may know this beautiful experience. It is natural to think of it, Martin, right to hope and wait for it, and wise to prepare for it, so that when the happy time comes, you may feel ready for the duties and worthy of the joy. My dear boys, I am ambitious for you, but not to have you make a dash in the world, marry rich women merely because they are rich, or have splendid houses, which are not homes because love is wanting. Money is a needful and precious thing, and when well used, a noble thing, but I never want you to think it is the first or only prize to strive for. I’d rather see you poor women’s husbands, if you were happy, beloved, contented, than kings on thrones, without self-respect and peace.”

“Poor boys don’t stand any chance, Beau says, unless they put themselves forward,” sighed Martin.

“Then we’ll be old bachelors,” said Joe stoutly.

“Right, Joe. Better be happy old bachelors than unhappy husbands, or unboyish boys, running about to find wives,” said Mr. March decidedly. “Don’t be troubled, Martin, poverty seldom daunts a sincere lover. Some of the best and most honored men I know were poor boys, but so love-worthy that they were not allowed to be old bachelors. Leave these things to time. Make this home happy, so that you may be fit for homes of your own, if they are offered you, and contented here if they are not. One thing remember, my boys. Father is always ready to be your confidant, Mother to be your friend, and both of us hope and trust that our sons, whether married or single, will be the pride and comfort of our lives.”

“We will, Papee, we will!” cried both, with all their hearts, as he bade them good night.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Little Men

Extract from the classic novel Little Men by Lewis Marr Alcott, in two parts.

Martin goes to Vanity Fair

“I do think it was the most fortunate thing in the world that those children should have the measles just now,” said Martin, one April day, as he stood packing the ‘go abroady’ trunk in his room, surrounded by his brothers.

“And so nice of Archie Moffat not to forget his promise. A whole fortnight of fun will be regularly splendid,” replied Joe, looking like a windmill as he folded skirts with his long arms.

“And such lovely weather, I’m so glad of that,” added Bertie, tidily sorting neck and hair ribbons in his best box, lent for the great occasion.

“I wish I was going to have a fine time and wear all these nice things,” said Andy with his mouth full of pins, as he artistically replenished his brother’s cushion.

“I wish you were all going, but as you can’t, I shall keep my adventures to tell you when I come back. I’m sure it’s the least I can do when you have been so kind, lending me things and helping me get ready,” said Martin, glancing round the room at the very simple outfit, which seemed nearly perfect in their eyes.

“What did Father give you out of the treasure box?” asked Andy, who had not been present at the opening of a certain cedar chest in which Mr. March kept a few relics of past splendor, as gifts for his boys when the proper time came.

“A pair of silk stockings, that pretty carved fan, and a lovely blue sash. I wanted the violet silk, but there isn’t time to make it over, so I must be contented with my old tarlatan.”

“It will look nice over my new muslin skirt, and the sash will set it off beautifully. I wish I hadn’t smashed my coral bracelet, for you might have had it,” said Joe, who loved to give and lend, but whose possessions were usually too dilapidated to be of much use.

“There is a lovely old-fashioned pearl set in the treasure chest, but Father said real flowers were the prettiest ornament for a young boy, and Laura promised to send me all I want,” replied Martin. “Now, let me see, there’s my new gray walking suit, just curl up the feather in my hat, Bertie, then my poplin for Sunday and the small party, it looks heavy for spring, doesn’t it? The violet silk would be so nice. Oh, dear!”

“Never mind, you’ve got the tarlatan for the big party, and you always look like an angel in white,” said Andy, brooding over the little store of finery in which his soul delighted.

“It isn’t low-necked, and it doesn’t sweep enough, but it will have to do. My blue housedress looks so well, turned and freshly trimmed, that I feel as if I’d got a new one. My silk sacque isn’t a bit the fashion, and my bonnet doesn’t look like Sammy’s. I didn’t like to say anything, but I was sadly disappointed in my umbrella. I told Father black with a white handle, but he forgot and bought a green one with a yellowish handle. It’s strong and neat, so I ought not to complain, but I know I shall feel ashamed of it beside Archie’s silk one with a gold top,” sighed Martin, surveying the little umbrella with great disfavor.

“Change it,” advised Joe.

“I won’t be so silly, or hurt Papee’s feelings, when he took so much pains to get my things. It’s a nonsensical notion of mine, and I’m not going to give up to it. My silk stockings and two pairs of new gloves are my comfort. You are a dear to lend me yours, Joe. I feel so rich and sort of elegant, with two new pairs, and the old ones cleaned up for common.” And Martin took a refreshing peep at his glove box.

“Archie Moffat has blue and pink bows on his nightcaps. Would you put some on mine?” he asked, as Bertie brought up a pile of snowy muslins, fresh from Harold’s hands.

“No, I wouldn't, for the smart caps won’t match the plain gowns without any trimming on them. Poor folks shouldn’t rig,” said Joe decidedly.

“I wonder if I shall ever be happy enough to have real lace on my clothes and bows on my caps?” said Martin impatiently.

“You said the other day that you’d be perfectly happy if you could only go to Archie Moffat’s,” observed Bertie in his quiet way.

“So I did! Well, I am happy, and I won’t fret, but it does seem as if the more one gets the more one wants, doesn’t it? There now, the trays are ready, and everything in but my ball dress, which I shall leave for Father to pack,” said Martin, cheering up, as he glanced from the half-filled trunk to the many times pressed and mended white tarlatan, which he called his ‘ball dress’ with an important air.

The next day was fine, and Martin departed in style for a fortnight of novelty and pleasure. Mr. March had consented to the visit rather reluctantly, fearing that he would come back more discontented than he went. But he begged so hard, and Sammy had promised to take good care of him, and a little pleasure seemed so delightful after a winter of irksome work that the father yielded, and the son went to take his first taste of fashionable life.

The Moffats were very fashionable, and simple Martin was rather daunted, at first, by the splendor of the house and the elegance of its occupants. But they were kindly people, in spite of the frivolous life they led, and soon put their guest at his ease. Perhaps Martin felt, without understanding why, that they were not particularly cultivated or intelligent people, and that all their gilding could not quite conceal the ordinary material of which they were made. It certainly was agreeable to fare sumptuously, drive in a fine carriage, wear his best frock every day, and do nothing but enjoy himself. It suited him exactly, and soon he began to imitate the manners and conversation of those about him, to put on little airs and graces, use French phrases, crimp his hair, take in his dresses, and talk about the fashions as well as he could. The more he saw of Archie Moffat’s pretty things, the more he envied him and sighed to be rich. Home now looked bare and dismal as he thought of it, work grew harder than ever, and he felt that he was a very destitute and much-injured boy, in spite of the new gloves and silk stockings.

He had not much time for repining, however, for the three young boys were busily employed in ‘having a good time’. They shopped, walked, rode, and called all day, went to theaters and operas or frolicked at home in the evening, for Archie had many friends and knew how to entertain them. His older brothers were very fine young gents, and one was engaged, which was extremely interesting and romantic, Martin thought. Mrs. Moffat was a fat, jolly old lady, who knew his mother, and Mr. Moffat, a fat, jolly old gent, who took as great a fancy to Martin as his son had done. Everyone petted him, and ‘Daisy’, as they called him, was in a fair way to have his head turned.

When the evening for the small party came, he found that the poplin wouldn’t do at all, for the other boys were putting on thin dresses and making themselves very fine indeed. So out came the tarlatan, looking older, limper, and shabbier than ever beside Sammy’s crisp new one. Martin saw the boys glance at it and then at one another, and his cheeks began to burn, for with all his gentleness he was very proud. No one said a word about it, but Sammy offered to dress his hair, and Archie to tie his sash, and Beau, the engaged brother, praised his white arms. But in their kindness Martin saw only pity for his poverty, and his heart felt very heavy as he stood by himself, while the others laughed, chattered, and flew about like gauzy butterflies. The hard, bitter feeling was getting pretty bad, when the page brought in a box of flowers. Before he could speak, Archie had the cover off, and all were exclaiming at the lovely roses, heath, and fern within.

“It’s for Beau, of course, Georgia always sends him some, but these are altogether ravishing,” cried Archie, with a great sniff.

“They are for Master March,” the woman said. “And here’s a note,” put in the page, holding it to Martin.

“What fun! Who are they from? Didn’t know you had a lover,” cried the boys, fluttering about Martin in a high state of curiosity and surprise.

“The note is from Father, and the flowers from Laura,” said Martin simply, yet much gratified that she had not forgotten him.

“Oh, indeed!” said Archie with a funny look, as Martin slipped the note into his pocket as a sort of talisman against envy, vanity, and false pride, for the few loving words had done him good, and the flowers cheered him up by their beauty.

Feeling almost happy again, he laid by a few ferns and roses for himself, and quickly made up the rest in dainty bouquets for the breast, hair, or skirts of his friends, offering them so prettily that Clive, the elder brother, told him he was ‘the sweetest little thing he ever saw’, and they looked quite charmed with his small attention. Somehow the kind act finished his despondency, and when all the rest went to show themselves to Mr. Moffat, he saw a happy, bright-eyed face in the mirror, as he laid his ferns against his rippling hair and fastened the roses in the dress that didn’t strike him as so very shabby now.

He enjoyed himself very much that evening, for he danced to his heart’s content. Everyone was very kind, and he had three compliments. Archie made him sing, and some one said he had a remarkably fine voice. Major Lincoln asked who ‘the fresh little boy with the beautiful eyes’ was, and Mrs. Moffat insisted on dancing with him because he ‘didn’t dawdle, but had some spring in him’, as she gracefully expressed it. So altogether he had a very nice time, till he overheard a bit of conversation, which disturbed him extremely. He was sitting just inside the conservatory, waiting for his partner to bring him an ice, when he heard a voice ask on the other side of the flowery wall...

"How old is he?”

“Sixteen or seventeen, I should say,” replied another voice.

“It would be a grand thing for one of those boys, wouldn’t it? Sammy says they are very intimate now, and the old woman quite dotes on them.”

“Mr. M. has made his plans, I dare say, and will play his cards well, early as it is. The boy evidently doesn’t think of it yet,” said Mr. Moffat.

“He told that fib about his papa, as if he did know, and colored up when the flowers came quite prettily. Poor thing! He’d be so nice if he was only got up in style. Do you think he’d be offended if we offered to lend him a dress for Thursday?” asked another voice.

“He’s proud, but I don’t believe he’d mind, for that dowdy tarlatan is all he has got. He may tear it tonight, and that will be a good excuse for offering a decent one.”

Here Martin’s partner appeared, to find him looking much flushed and rather agitated. He was proud, and his pride was useful just then, for it helped him hide his mortification, anger, and disgust at what he had just heard. For, innocent and unsuspicious as he was, he could not help understanding the gossip of his friends. He tried to forget it, but could not, and kept repeating to himself, “Mr. M. has made his plans,” “that fib about his papa,” and “dowdy tarlatan,” till he was ready to cry and rush home to tell his troubles and ask for advice. As that was impossible, he did his best to seem gay, and being rather excited, he succeeded so well that no one dreamed what an effort he was making. He was very glad when it was all over and he was quiet in his bed, where he could think and wonder and fume till his head ached and his hot cheeks were cooled by a few natural tears. Those foolish, yet well meant words, had opened a new world to Martin, and much disturbed the peace of the old one in which till now he had lived as happily as a child. His innocent friendship with Laura was spoiled by the silly speeches he had overheard. His faith in his Father was a little shaken by the worldly plans attributed to him by Mr. Moffat, who judged others by himself, and the sensible resolution to be contented with the simple wardrobe which suited a poor woman’s son was weakened by the unnecessary pity of boys who thought a shabby dress one of the greatest calamities under heaven.

Poor Martin had a restless night, and got up heavy-eyed, unhappy, half resentful toward his friends, and half ashamed of himself for not speaking out frankly and setting everything right. Everybody dawdled that morning, and it was noon before the boys found energy enough even to take up their worsted work. Something in the manner of his friends struck Martin at once. They treated him with more respect, he thought, took quite a tender interest in what he said, and looked at him with eyes that plainly betrayed curiosity. All this surprised and flattered him, though he did not understand it till Master Beau looked up from his writing, and said, with a sentimental air...

“Daisy, dear, I’ve sent an invitation to your friend, Miss Laura, for Thursday. We should like to know her, and it’s only a proper compliment to you.”

Martin colored, but a mischievous fancy to tease the boys made him reply demurely, “You are very kind, but I’m afraid she won’t come.”

“Why not, dear?” asked Master Beau.

“She’s too old.”

“My child, what do you mean? What is her age, I beg to know!” cried Master Clive.

“Nearly seventy, I believe,” answered Martin, counting stitches to hide the merriment in his eyes.

“You sly creature! Of course we meant the young woman,” exclaimed Master Beau, laughing.

“There isn’t any, Laura is only a little girl.” And Martin laughed also at the queer look which the brothers exchanged as he thus described his supposed lover.

“About your age,” Niles said.

“Nearer my brother Joe’s; I am seventeen in August,” returned Martin, tossing his head.

“It’s very nice of her to send you flowers, isn’t it?” said Archie, looking wise about nothing.

“Yes, she often does, to all of us, for their house is full, and we are so fond of them. My Father and old Mrs. Laura are friends, you know, so it is quite natural that we children should play together,” and Martin hoped they would say no more.

“It’s evident Daisy isn’t out yet,” said Master Clive to Beau with a nod.

“Quite a pastoral state of innocence all round,” returned Master Beau with a shrug.

“I’m going out to get some little matters for my boys. Can I do anything for you, young gents?” asked Mr. Moffat, lumbering in like an elephant in silk and lace.

“No, thank you, sir,” replied Sammy. “I’ve got my new pink silk for Thursday and don’t want a thing.”

“Nor I...” began Martin, but stopped because it occurred to him that he did want several things and could not have them.

“What shall you wear?” asked Sammy.

“My old white one again, if I can mend it fit to be seen, it got sadly torn last night,” said Martin, trying to speak quite easily, but feeling very uncomfortable.

“Why don’t you send home for another?” said Sammy, who was not an observing young gent.

“I haven’t got any other.” It cost Martin an effort to say that, but Sammy did not see it and exclaimed in amiable surprise, “Only that? How funny...” He did not finish his speech, for Beau shook his head at him and broke in, saying kindly...

“Not at all. Where is the use of having a lot of dresses when he isn’t out yet? There’s no need of sending home, Daisy, even if you had a dozen, for I’ve got a sweet blue silk laid away, which I’ve outgrown, and you shall wear it to please me, won’t you, dear?”

“You are very kind, but I don’t mind my old dress if you don’t, it does well enough for a little lad like me,” said Martin.

“Now do let me please myself by dressing you up in style. I admire to do it, and you’d be a regular little beauty with a touch here and there. I shan’t let anyone see you till you are done, and then we’ll burst upon them like Cinders and his godfather going to the ball,” said Beau in his persuasive tone.

Martin couldn’t refuse the offer so kindly made, for a desire to see if he would be ‘a little beauty’ after touching up caused him to accept and forget all his former uncomfortable feelings toward the Moffats.

On the Thursday evening, Beau shut himself up with his page, and between them they turned Martin into a fine gentleman. They crimped and curled his hair, they polished his neck and arms with some fragrant powder, touched his lips with coralline salve to make them redder, and Horatio would have added ‘a soupcon of rouge’, if Martin had not rebelled. They laced him into a sky-blue dress, which was so tight he could hardly breathe and so low in the neck that modest Martin blushed at himself in the mirror. A set of silver filagree was added, bracelets, necklace, brooch, and even earrings, for Horatio tied them on with a bit of pink silk which did not show. A cluster of tea-rose buds at the bosom, and a ruche, reconciled Martin to the display of his pretty, white shoulders, and a pair of high-heeled silk boots satisfied the last wish of his heart. A lace handkerchief, a plumy fan, and a bouquet in a shoulder holder finished him off, and Master Beau surveyed him with the satisfaction of a little boy with a newly dressed doll.

“Monsieur is charmant, tres joli, is he not?” cried Horatio, clasping his hands in an affected rapture.

“Come and show yourself,” said Master Beau, leading the way to the room where the others were waiting.

Men’s fashions, 1830s

What men were wearing in the late 1830s. From the Petit Courrier des Hommes, a gentlemen’s magazine of the mid-century.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Joanna Sargeant

Joanna Sargeant, 1890s. Sargeant was a rising artist, portrayed here looking dapper in evening wear.

After Giovanni Boldini.

Mr Hugh Hammersley

Mr Hugh Hammersley, 1899.

After John Singer Sargent.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Mr Henry White

Mr Henry White, 1883. Husband of Amelia White, the American ambassador.

After John Singer Sargent.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Josephine Chamberlain

Josephine Chamberlain, c.1896. Chamberlain was a radical liberal politician and a successful businesswoman. After John Singer Sargent.