|From Diane's Antique Book Collection|
NOTE: This blog article is Emily Thornwell's words, including punctuation, grammar, and spelling as the author wrote in her book in 1884.
PART I - THE LADY’S GUIDE TO GENTILITY: Gentility and refinement of manners in all the relations of home and society.
Agreeableness and Beauty of Person: The true foundation of female loveliness.
Beauty must be natural.- In order to have its full effect, beauty must be natural, and connected with perfect health. A fair skin and rosy cheek are calculated to excite admiration; but if it be discovered that they are entirely produced by paint, that admiration becomes disgust; or if owing to disease, it is changed to pity.
Necessity of careful attention to the person.- The grand preservatives of beauty are the means which impart health to the body. The reasons are, that the skin is everywhere, except on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, pierced by innumerable little holes, which are the mouths of a set of curious little organs, which pour out upon its surface an unctuous or oily fluid, which lubricates it, and renders it soft and shining. Without frequent application of soap and water to every part of the skin, it cannot be kept clean.
Change of linen, etc.- By changing the linen often, much of the impurities which accumulate on the skin may be rubbed off, but enough will be left to clog its pores, and debilitate its minute vessels. Now what must we think of those genteel people who never use the bath, or only once or twice a year wash themselves all over, though they change their linen daily? Why, that, in plain English, they are nothing more or less than very filthy gentry; and you will find, if your olfactories are at all sensitive, whenever you happen to be near them, and their perspiration is a little excited by exercise, that they have a something about them which lavender water and bergamot do not entirely conceal. And what is this something? Why, it is simply the odor, occasioned by the fluids which are naturally poured out upon the surface having become rancid, as has just been explained. In some persons, owing to some peculiarity in their constitution, this odor is far more noticeable than in others, but it is discoverable in a greater or less degree in all, when they are heated by exercise, who do not use frequent ablutions.
Care of the feet.- There are many individuals whose feet have a very offensive odor in warm weather. In all these cases, the feet perspire excessively, and consequently become tender, and have a parboiled appearance whenever a good deal of exercise is taken. This peculiarly unpleasant and troublesome complaint may always be removed by a persevering use of the following means: wash the feet regularly every morning in water, at the temperature of the weather in summer, and in that which has stood in a warm room during the winter. A little soap should be used. In very hot weather they should be washed both morning and evening, and the stockings should be changed twice a week in winter, and three times in summer. There will be no more danger of taking cold after the practice is once well commenced, than from washing the face and hands. Woollen stockings should never be used in warm weather. By these means the offensive smell is entirely removed, and the feet are hardened, so that they will not suffer from heat and exercise.
Thornwell, Emily, THE LADY’S GUIDE TO COMPLETE ETIQUETTE, New York, Belford, Clarke & Company, 1884