The Young Lady's Book: A Manual of Elegant Recreations,
Exercises, and Pursuits.
Boston: 1830. G365.Y68.Y(830)
This document contains text along with illustrations. Since each has been divided into separate categories on the advice literature page and too much memory will be needed for them all to be on the same page, there are links that bring up the site with the pictures.
P. 345 Before concluding my remarks, I feel in some measure bound to warn my readers against suffering themselves to fall into bad positions when writing; they are not merely ungraceful, but are calculated to produce a permanent contortion of the shape.
The injurious effect produced upon the figure by leaning in the manner indicated by fig. 12, must be evident to any one, who will compare the position of fig. 12 with that of fig. 14, or even fig. 13. Mr. Shaw, a gentleman who has written very learnedly upon this subject, recommends , in cases where the body has a decided inclination to the left when writing, to equalize the shoulders, by placing a book under the left elbow; and, if this should not be found sufficient, to balance a book on the head.
P.23-24 Mental improvement should always be made conducive to moral advancement: to render a young woman wise and good, to prepare her mind for the duties and trials of life, is the great purpose of education. Accomplishments, however desirable and attractive, must always be considered as secondary objects, when compared with those virtues which form the character and influence the power of woman in society. Home has justly been called "her empire:" and it is certain that to her it is a hallowed circle, in which she may diffuse the greatest earthly happiness, or inflict the most positive misery: it is never so narrow but from thence may stream many a benignant ray to illume a neighbour's dwelling, and it may be wide enough to give light to thousands. The virtues of a woman of rank and fortune, extend far beyond the mansion where she presides, or the cottage which she protects, by the example she offers, even in the most unostentatious manner and in the most trivial actions, to those around her and below her. Gently, imperceptibly, but most certainly, will she imbue with her own purity and beneficence the atmosphere in which she moves; softening the obdurate, correcting the depraved, and encouraging the timid. Those who are not placed by Providence in so brilliant a sphere, may, by their conduct, produce the same effects, in a more limited circle and in a less degree, but with equal hour and satisfaction to themselves.
P. 27 Fortitude, like Integrity, may be termed one of the severer virtues; but it is not the less necessary for the weaker sex, since with less physical strength, and fewer opportunities of improving it, either mentally or corporeally, woman is yet called upon to exert great powers of endurance, both actively and passively. The pains of sickness, the misfortunes of life, the inflitions of calumny, call upon her for patience under suffering; and firmness, resolution, and perseverance in conduct; without these qualities, a woman, however engaging or attractive as a companion, must be found deficient in all the nearer realationships of life, and incapable of fulfilling its more important duties, all of which, in her own person, or that of some near connexion, demand the assistance this virtue, in one of its many forms, can alone supply.
P. 28 Obedience,is so much demanded in the female character, that many persons have conceived it was the one virtue called for in woman, as it must be deemed by all t o be such in a child. If a man, as the guide and head of woman, were himself a perfect creature, this would, unquestionably, be true; but as a being, accountable to her Creator, and endowedby him wiht reason, - unqualified and implicit obedience to a creature like herself, liable to many errors, cannot, consistently, be required. It is, however, certain, that in whatever situation of life a woman is placed , from her cradle to her grave, a spirit of obedience and submission, pliability of temper, and humility of mind, are required from her; and the most highly-gifted cannot quit the path thus pointed out by habit, nature, and religion, without injury to her own character. Modesty, which may be termed the inherent virtue, and the native grace, of woman, - which she may be exhorted to retain, but will seldom be entreated to acquire, - renders obedience, in general, easy and habitual to her, especially at that period of life, when she is placed under paternal care, and "the yoke is easy, - the burden Light." There are, however, gay and buoyant spirits, haughty and self-willed minds, even among the softer sex, that are not otherwise ill-disposed, who feel obedience a difficult task, and are ready to question the wisdom, or analyse the rights, of "all in authority over them." To such I would urge this virtue as a religious duty, if they could not submit to it as "a reasonable service. I would beseech them, as females called to self-control and meekness, to obey, "for conscience' sake," in every case where conscience itsef did not utter the command, "hitherto shalt thou go but no further."
To see more pictures included in the dancing section, the separate page for exercise includes
the same text, but more pictures are included on the instructions of dancing
P. 397 In Fordyce's Sermons to Young Women, the author observes, that he must acknowledge he can see no reason for declamation against the moderate and discreet use of dancing. "I freely confess," he adds, "that I am one of those who can look on with a very sensible satisfaction, well pleased to see a company of young people, joyful with innocence, and happiy in each other. If an exercise so sociable and enlivening, were to occupy some part of that time which is lavishd on cards, would the youth of either sex be losers by it? I think not. It seeems to me, there can be no impropriety in it, any more that in modulating the voice into the most agreeable tones in singing; to which none, I think, will object. What is dancing, in the most rigid sense, but the harmony of motion rendered more palpable? Awkwardness, rusticity, ungraceful gestures, can never surely be meritorious."
Of the Arms and Hands
Pp. 408-410 The proper carriage of the arms is certainly one of he greatest difficulties in dancing; it therefore demands the utmost attention on the part of the pupil. Of all the movements made in dancing, the opposition, or contrast, of the arms with the feet is the most natural to us: to this, however, but little attention is in general paid. If any person be observed, when in the act of walking, it will be found, that when the right foot is put forward, the left arm follows and vice versa : this is at once natural and graceful; and a similar rule should, in all cases be followed in dancing.
As much depends on placing the arms properly, and on moving them with grace, as in the execution of steps, - from dancing consists not in the motion of the feet alone, - it requires the appropriate accompaniment of the arms and body: without which, the art degenerates into a mere fantastic mode of stepping. The arms should be kept in an easy semi-oval position, so that the bend of the elbows be scacely perceptible; otherwise, the would present right angles which would so offend the eye, as to destroy all appearance of ease or elegance. Care must be taken, neither to raise the shoulders nor to spread the arms too far out. The proper situation of the arms, in dancing, is a little in front of the body: they should advance or recede in a natural series of oppositions to the direction of the feet in the execution of the various steps; their movements, in performing these contrasts, must not be sudden or exaggerated, but so easy as to be alost imperceptible. The dress should be held between the fore-finger and thumb of each hand: it is a matter of importance to overcome both tremor and rigidity of the fingers, which should be gracefully grouped, so that the palm be partially seen in front. In dancng Quadrelles, when the lady advances with her partner, and in all the figures where the hands join, the arms should be kept of such a moderate height as is consistent with grace (Fig. 1) It is also necessary that the arms should be properly supported, and not suffered to weigh or drag upon those of the persons with whom it may be proper to join hands in the course of the dance. To say nothing of the positive impropriety of falling into such an error, the mere act, during its continuation, is quite destructive to grace, which cannot exist where ease is not apparent.
Elegance, without affectation, may be shown in presenting the hand to a partner: rustic abruptness, and childish timidity, are equally to be avoided; a modest confidence is the golden mean to be observed in this, as in every other department of ball-room dancing. To grasp the hand of a person with whom it is necessary to join hands,- to detain it when it should be relinquished, - are faults which, we trust, our reader's good sense would prevent her from committing, even when dancing with one of her own sex; but even these offences, in the consideration of propriety and taste, are not more grave than that of display. However excellently a young lady may dance, and whatever powers of brilliant execution she may possess, she should never forget that she is in a ballroom, and not on a stage: studied attitude in presenting the hand (Fig. 2) is reprehensible, as being productive of too much effect, and as showing an inclination for display. Correct exectuion of the figure and steps, and unobtrusive grace of deportment, should be the zenith of a young lady's ambition; as Shakespeare finely expresses the perfection of dancing, she should move like a wave of the sea; it being, of course, understood, when the elements are in their most gentle motion. When the hand is not to be presented to another, the arm should depend from the shoulder in an easy oval shape, as previously directed.
Of The Feet, &c.
illustration P. 410
Pp. 410-411 The principal study, with regard to the feet, in dancing, consists in aquiring a power of turning them properly outward; in bending the instep, without effort, immediately the foot quits the ground; and in alternately practicing with each foot, so that both may attain an equal degree of execution; it being decidedly inelegant and awkward for one foot to be constantly active and correct in its movements, while the other remains comparatively unemployed.
To dance with the instep concave, instead of convex, and the toes turned upwards, instead ofthe contrary, is termed dancing flat-footed, and is ungraceful to the last degree. The toes should be well pointed downward, and the knees outward, to correspond with them; but it is impossible to produce an union of grace in these particulars, unless the action of the instep and the knee be supported and accompanied by that of the hip. In the ball-room, tall the steps should be performed in an easy graceful manner: no noise of stamping should, on any account be made; the steps should be performed with minute neatness, and in as small a compass as possible; the feet should never be violently tossed about, or lifted high from the ground: the young lady should rather seem to glide, with easy elegance, than to strive to astonish by agility: or, by violent action, make it appear, that, to her, dancing is a boisterous and difficult exercise. (Fig. 3, illustration of the waltz.) But while we thus caution our reader against adopting those styles, - one of which may be deemed operatic, and better adapted to a ballet than a Quadrille, and the other, rustic, and more applicable to the village-green than the ball-room, - it is necessary for us to warn her against falling into the opposite error of listlessness and inaccuracy; with these, elegance can never be obtained: the former makes her appear to be condscending to join in an amusement she despises, and the latter induces a supposition in the minds of those who may not be supposed to know aught to the contrary, that she is either unusually dull, or has never had an oppotunity of obtaining the benefit of instruction from a proper master.
Of the Bust
P.411 It has been very judiciously remarked, by a contemporary writer on this subject, that the pupils of a great artiste will display his merit in the graceful movement of the figure, as much as in the neat execution of the steps.
The body should never be suffered to sink into idle attitudes; as rounding the back forcing the shoulders up to the ears, projecting the back part of the waist, or stooping forward: such careless habits, if long permitted, eventually produce local deformities. Affectation of primness is as much to be avoided as indolence: the admirable union of ease and grace, which constitutes elegance of deportment, can never be obtained by those who indulge in either of these faults. The body should always be kept in an easy and unaffected erect position, except in the execution of certain steps which require the bust to be thrown a little forward: but, even in these case, care must be taken that the body do not lose its perfect balance. The chest should be advanced, the waist retiring, and the shoulders depressed: by these means, the bust will be naturally and elegantly developed; and the shoulders, by being brought to range evenly with the back, appear of their proper breadth, and form a graceful contrast to the waist.
Of The Head
Pp. 411-412 The head should be kept centrally betweeen the shoulders by the erectness of the neck: the face may, of course, be occasionally turned to the right or left, not merely for convenience, or to avoid an appearance of constraint, but because the oppposition which may be produced by a judicious change of the direction in which countenance is turned, to the posture of the body or limbs, materially enhances the grace of the whole figure. The turn of the head should be so managed as to perfect the real and apparent balance of the figure. If the greatest weight be thrown on one side, the head may, generally speaking, be very advantageously turned, in a trifling degree, in an opposite direction. The reader may convince hersef of the benefit to be derived by a gracful inclination of the countenance, so as to produce an easy opposition, alternately to each side, or keeping it in the same direction, and practising, in turns, with each foot. The head should be thrown consideraby backward and the forehead brought to project in a slight degree, by drawing the chin towards the neck. The countenance during a dance, should be illumined by a smile: it is perfectly absurd for a young lady to exhibit a melancholy aspect amid the gaieties of a ballroom, and painful to see her assume an aspect of care, when going through a Quadrille; as it induces the spectators to imagine, that the performance of the steps or figure, so entirely engross her faculties, that she is incapable of partaking in the pleasures of the dance.
To see pictures of women enjoying the sport of archery during the mid-nineteenth century, here is the
archery page from the exercise section which includes the same text.
P. 421 Ladies usually shoot at a distance of about fifty yards: two targets are placed opposite each other, and the archers shoot back to the one they came from, to which they again return when their arrows are expended; and so on, shooting from one to the other in rotation; so that, not merely the arm, but the whole frame, enjoys the benefit of salutary exercise in the open air, while the mind is interested, and the spirits elevated by the sport. The attitude of an accomplished female archer, - of one who has studied and practised the art in a porper manner (for archery is not be acquired without a little application,) - at the moment of bending the bow, is particularly graceful; all the actions and positions tend at once to produce a proper degree of strenth in the limbs, and to impart a general elegance to the deportment. For these and other reasons that might be adduced in its favour, as a healthful and agreeable pastime, Shooting at the Target is equalled by few, and scarcely excelled by any recreation in which propriety permits young ladies to indulge.
Riding: The Seat and Balance
To see pictures of
correct riding posture for women, here is the Riding page that includes
P. 432 The body, says Adams, in his valuable Treatise o Horsemanship, must always be in a situation, as well to preserve the balance, as to maintain the seat (see fig. 5). One of the most common errors comitted by ladies on horseback, who have not been properly taught to ride, is hanging by the near crutch, so that instead of being gracefully seated in the centre of the saddle, with the head in its proper situation, and the shoulders even, (Fig. 6,a) the body is inclined to the left, the head is brought to the right by an inelegant bend of the neck in that direction, the right shoulder is elevated, and the left depressed (Fig. 6,b) To correct or avoid these and similar faults, is improtant. All the rider's movements should harmonize with the paces of the animal; her position should be at once easy to herself and to her horse, and alike calculated to ensurre her own safety and give her a perfect command over him. If she sit in careless, ungraceful manner, the action of her horse will be the reverse of elegant. A lady seldom appears to greater advantage thatn when mounted on a fine horse, if her deportment be graceful, and her positions correspond with this paces and attitudes; but the reverse is the case, if, instead of acting with, and influencing the movemets of the horse, she appear to be tossed to and fro, and stop with, and not after the animal. From this harmony of motion results ease, elegance, and the most brilliant effect. the lady should sit in such a position, that the weight of her body may rest on the centre of the saddle; one shoulder should not be advanced more than the other; neither must she bear any weight on the stirrup, nor hang by the pommel over the near side; she ought not to suffer herself to incline forward, but partially backward. If she bend forward, her shoulders will, most likely, be rounded, and her weight thrown too much upon the horse's shoulders; in addition to these disadvantages, the position will give her an air of timid gaucherie. Leaning a little backward, on the contrary, tends to bring the shoulders in, keeps the weight in its proper bearing, and produces an appearance of comely confidence.
Return to Advice Literature