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At least in the property, and the best right
To appear as its escort by day and by night:
And it being the week of the STUCKUPS' grand ball-
Their cards had been out a fortnight or so,
And set all the Avenue on the tiptoe-
I consider'd it only my duty to call,
And see if Miss Flora intended to go.
I found her—as ladies are apt to be found,
When the time intervening between the first sound
Of the bell and the visitor's entry is shorter
Than usual—I found; I won't say, I caught her-
Intent on the pier-glass, undoubtedly meaning
To see if perhaps it didn't need cleaning.
She turned as I entered—“Why, Harry, you sinner,
I thought that you went to the Flashers' to dinner!”
“So I did," I replied, “but the dinner is swallowed,
And digested, I trust, for 'tis now nine and more ; So being relieved from that duty, I followed
Inclination, which led me, you see, to your door.
And now will your ladyship so condescend
As just to inform me if you intend
Your duty and grace, and presence to lend
(All which, when I own, I hope no one will borrow)
To the STUCKUPS', whose party, you know, is to-morrow ?”
The fair Flora look'd up with a pitiful air,
And answer'd quite promptly, “Why, Harry, mon cher,
I should like above all things to go with you there;
But really and truly—I've nothing to wear!”
Nothing to wear ! Go just as you are ;
Wear the dress you have on, and you'll be by far,
I engage, the most bright and particular star
On the Stuckup horizon.” I stopp'd, for her eye
Notwithstanding this delicate onset of flattery,
Open'd on me at once a most terrible battery
Of scorn and amazement. She made no reply,
But gave a slight turn to the end of her nose
(That pure Grecian feature), as much as to say, How absurd that any sane man should suppose
That a lady would go to a ball in the clothes,
No matter how fine, that she wears every day !” So I ventured again—“Wear your crimson brocade," (Second turn up of nose)—“That's too dark by a shade.” “ Your blue silk “That's too heavy ;” “Your pink”—“That's
too light." “Wear tulle over satin"_“I can't endure white." “Your rose-coloured, then, the best of the batch ”_ “I haven't a thread of point lace to match.” "Your brown moiré antique ”—“Yes, and look like a Quaker ;' “The pearl-coloured ”_“I would, but that plaguy dressmaker Has had it a week.” “ Then that exquisite lilac, In which you would melt the heart of a Shylock (Here the nose took again the same elevation)'I wouldn't wear that for the whole of creation.”
“Why not? It's my fancy, there's nothing could strike it As more comme il faut- “Yes, but, dear me, that lean
Sophronia Stuckup has got one just like it, And I won't appear dress'd like a chit of sixteen.” "Then that splendid purple, that sweet Mazarine; That superb point d'aiguille, that imperial green, That zephyr-like tarlatan, that rich grenadine” — “Not one of all which is fit to be seen," Said the lady, becoming excited and flush'd. “ Then wear,” I exclaimed, in a tone which quite crush'd Opposition, " that gorgeous toilette which you sported
“ In Paris last spring, at the grand presentation, When you quite turn'd the head of the head of the nation ;
And by all the grand court was so very much courted.”
The end of the nose was portentously tipped up
And both the bright eyes shot forth indignation,
As she burst upon me with the fierce exclamation,
“I have worn it three times at the least calculation,
And that and the most of my dresses are ripped up !”
Here I ripp'd out something, perhaps rather rash,
Quite innocent, though; but to use an expression More striking than classic, it "settled my hash,”
And proved very soon the last act of our session.
“Fiddlesticks, is it, sir? I wonder the ceiling
Doesn't fall down and crush you. Oh, you men have no
You selfish, unnatural, illiberal creatures !
Who set yourselves up as patterns and preachers.
Your silly pretence—why, what a mere guess it is !
Pray, what do you know of a woman's necessities?
I have told you and shown you I've nothing to wear,
And it's perfectly plain you not only don't care,
do not believe me” (here the nose went still higher).
“ I suppose, if you dared, you would call me a liar.
Our engagement is ended, sir-yes, on the spot;
You're a brute, and a monster, and—I don't know what.”
I mildly suggested the words—Hottentot,
Pickpocket and cannibal, Tartar and thief,
As gentle expletives which might give relief.
But this only proved as spark to the powder,
And the storm I had raised came faster and louder ;
It blew and it rain'd, thunder'd, lighten'd, and hail'd
Interjections, verbs, pronouns, till language quite fail'd
To express the abusive; and then its arrears
Were brought up all at once by a torrent of tears;
And my last faint, despairing attempt at an obs-
Ervation was lost in a tempest of sobs.
Well, I felt for the lady, and felt for my hat, too,
Improvised on the crown of the latter a tattoo,
In lieu of expressing the feelings which lay
Quite too deep for words, as Wordsworth would say.
Then, without going through the form of a bow,
Found myself in the entry-I hardly knew how-
On door-step and side walk, past lamp-post and square,
At home and upstairs, in my own easy chair ;
Poked my feet into slippers, my fire into blaze,
And said to myself, as I lit my cigar,
Supposing a man had the wealth of the Czar
Of the Russias to boot, for the rest of his days,
On the whole, do you think he would have much to spare,
If he married a woman with nothing to wear?
Since that night, taking pains that it should not be bruited
Abroad in society, I've instituted
A course of enquiry, extensive and thorough,
On this vital subject; and find to my horror,
That the fair Flora's case is by no means surprising,
But that there exists the greatest distress
In our female community, solely arising
From this unsupplied destitution of dress, Whose unfortunate victims are filling the air With the pitiful wail of “Nothing to wear." Researches in some of the “Upper Ten” districts Reveal the most painful and startling statistics, Of which let me mention only a few : In one single house, on the Fifth Avenue, Three young ladies were found, all below twenty-two, Who have been three whole weeks without anything new In the way of flounced silks, and thus left in the lurch, Are unable to go to ball, concert, or church. In another large mansion near the same place, Was found a deplorable, heart-rending case Of entire destitution of Brussels point lace. In a neighbouring block there was found, in three calls, Total want, long-continued, of camels'-hair shawls ; And a suffering family, whose case exhibits The most pressing need of real ermine tippets ; One deserving young lady almost unable To survive for the want of a new Russian sable; Another confined to the house, when it's windier Than usual, because her shawl isn't India. Still another, whose tortures have been most terrific Ever since the sad loss of the steamer PACIFIC; In which were engulfed, not friend or relation (For whose fate she perhaps might have found consolation, Or borne it, at least, with serene resignation), But the choicest assortment of French sleeves and collars Ever sent out from Paris, worth thousands of dollars ; And all, as to style, most recherché and rare, Thę want of which leaves her with nothing to wear,
And renders her life so drear and dyspeptic,
That she's quite a recluse, and almost a sceptic;
For she touchingly says that this sort of grief
Cannot find in Religion the slightest relief,
And Philosophy has not a maxim to spare
For the victims of such overwhelming despair.
But the saddest by far of all these sad features
Is the cruelty practised upon the poor creatures
By husbands and fathers, real Bluebeards and Timons,
Who resist the most touching appeals made for diamonds
By their wives and their daughters, and leave them for days
Unsupplied with new jewelry, fans, or bouquets;
Even laugh at their miseries whenever they have a chance,
And deride their demands as useless extravagance.
One case of a bride was brought to my view,
Too sad for belief, but, alas ! 'twas too true,
Whose husband refused, as savage as Charon,
To permit her to take more than ten trunks to Sharon.
The consequence was, that when she got there,
At the end of three weeks she had nothing to wear;
And when she proposed to finish the season
At Newport, the monster refused out and out,
For his infamous conduct alleging no reason,
Except that the waters were good for his gout.
Such treatment as this was too shocking, of course,
And proceedings are now going on for divorce.
But why harrow the feelings by lifting the curtain
From these scenes of woe! Enough, it is certain,
Has here been disclosed to stir up the pity
Of every benevolent heart in the city,
And spur up humanity into a canter
To rush and relieve these sad cases instanter.
Won't somebody, moved by this touching description,
Come forward to-morrow and head a subscription ?
Won't some kind philanthropist, seeing that aid is
So needed at once by these indigent ladies,
Take charge of the matter? or won't PETER COOPER
The corner-stone lay of some splendid super-