Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/89

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71
MARIA J. McINTOSH.

and Paris, only that she might assure herself that her house possessed all which was considered essential to a genteel establishment in the first, and that her toilette was the most recherché that could be obtained in the last. She laughs at the very idea of wearing anything made in America, and is exceedingly merry over the portraitures of Yankee character and Yankee life occasionally to be met in the pages of foreign tourists, or to be seen personated in foreign theatres. She complains much of the promiscuous character of American society, dances in no set but her own, and, in order to secure her exclusiveness from contact with the common herd, moves about from one point of fashionable life to another, attended by the same satellites, to whom she is the great centre of attraction. Her manners, like her dresses, are imported from Paris. She talks and laughs very loudly at all public places, lectures, concerts, and the like; and has sometimes, even in the house of God, expressed audibly her assent with or dissent from the preacher, that she may prove herself entirely free from that shockingly American mauvaise honte, which she supposes to be all that keeps other women silent. Any gentleman desiring admission to her circle must produce authentic credentials that he has been abroad, must wear his mustaches after the latest Parisian cut, must interlard his bad English with worse French, and must be familiar with the names and histories of the latest ballet-dancers and opera-singers who have created a fever of excitement abroad. To foreigners she is particularly gracious, and nothing throws her into such a fervour of activity as the arrival in the country of an English Lord, a German Baron, or a French or Italian Count. To draw such a character within her circle she thinks no effort too great, no sacrifice of feeling too humiliating.

It may be objected that all our descriptions of the fashionable woman as she is, relates to externals; that of the essential character, the inner life, we have, in truth, said nothing. But what can we do? So far as we have yet been able to discover, this class is destitute of any inner life. Those who compose it live for the world and in the world. Home is with them only the place in which they receive visits. We acknowledge that few in our country