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may call in another aid no less certain. If Mensuration fails, we have the
of Arithmetic; and the merit of a person of the Haut Ton
may be adjusted, like a Parliamentary question, by numbers. Let the House be counted, and compared with its rival, and the Majority will always determine what
be left doubtful when estimated according to cubic calculation.
“ Should any thing still be wanting to adjust points of rivalship — should the dimensions of Mrs. A. and Mrs. B. be the same to an inch and should numbers be nearly equal, the quantity of inconvenience crowded together may
be taken into the account; and this, I humbly propose, might be ascertained with great correctness by having a Thermometer in the room - the degree of Fashion to be consequently determined by that of heat. No Lady could have
any pretensions to even City gentility who did not raise her guests above temperate; and in the present inclement season summer heat would be no bad proof of ton, and would certainly prove that all the world was there!'
“ Thus it is, Sir, that in matters of Fashion, as well as Politicks, we are getting into a mechanical train; that all our virtues, accom
plishments, and whatever are the subjects of admiration are neither more nor less than the dimensions of our houses, and that, in some cases the hammer of the Carpenter precedes that of the Auctioneer.
“ I am, Sir, yours,
« OLIVER OLD-STILE."
THE PROJECTOR. N° 66.
“ If Beauty fail,
January 1807. many short notes and epistles which I have the honour to receive from my correspondents, a very considerable proportion consists of hints which I am expected to improve and expand, concerning articles of Dress. I observe too, that by far the greater part of this class of correspondents choose to treat only of the female dress, by which I have been enabled, perhaps with tolerable certainty, to guess at the sex of the writers. By a few, I am very sharply rebuked for almost totally neglecting this department of periodical lucubration, while others are friendly enough to hope that I may retrieve my character by a complete treatise, or series of papers on the subject.
Without divulging what my original intentions might be on this important affair, I must say,
that since my correspondence respecting Dress began to increase, I was willing to try how far my correspondents would
of themselves, and whether it was likely that their letters, when they amounted to a heap, might not furnish me with a complete series of argu
con, from which a body of laws might be extracted applicable to every variety of fashion. But I have waited to no purpose; for my correspondents, having little concert among themselves, are accustomed to send me the same hints, and the same advices, over and over again, from all which I can only learn that some things want reformation, and that nobody knows how to set about it.
I will allow that if I am to be guided by precedent only, no apology can be sufficient
for the apparent neglect with which I have treated the important subject of Dress. Which of my predecessors would have reached his sixty-sixth paper without having endeavoured to shorten a train, to improve a trimming, to curl a ringlet, or to twist a sleeve ? But it is this excess of precedents which has frightened me from the undertaking. Where so much has been said, what remains for me? Where no article has escaped without an ample discussion, I had no encouragement to hope for novelty; and no reason to expect that my readers would be pleased with repetitions. And, as this subject has employed the pens
of my predecessors for nearly a century, I certainly did think that in so long a time some points might have been settled, and some questions of propriety for ever set at rest. But in this I have been disappointed, and dress seems to be one of those concerns which derive no benefit from experience.
Perhaps, however, my predecessors may have been to blame, in not entering so deeply into this subject as it deserves, and in confining themselves to the muffs, hoops, ribbons, or caps of their own times, without considering their relation to the cause of all dress, and of all viarieties of dress. They look upon
paper, to enter
only in its connexion with the body; whereas it is well known that the connexion is much more intimate with the mind. The body is a mere passive agent appointed to exhibit the symptoms and signals of what is passing within. I am not surprized, therefore, that men should have failed in reforming matters of this kind, who have viewed dress with the eyes of a milliner rather than of a philosopher, and have shown that they are better qualified to trim a gown, than to mend the wearer. I do not profess, in this
upon the subject at full length. It would require, perhaps, the labour of a whole life to reduce it to a system, with the comfortable conclusion that much of that labour might be thrown away. I shall only, therefore, in compliance
. with the wishes of my correspondents, throw out a few hints in my desultory way,
which may be hereafter improved by those who have time and leisure.
Every science must be studied by recurring to certain first principles, or general and acknowledged truths, from which we may proceed to particular and practical applications, It is, therefore, with some satisfaction, that I lately perceived an inclination to trace backward what may be termed the first prin