Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Accomplished Young Lady

Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Morning Dress 1813
Loretta reports:

I thought it would be interesting to compare William Hazlitt’s remarks about ladies' accomplishments with the exchange in Pride and Prejudice dealing with the topic.

The elegant manners of people of fashion have been objected to us to show the frivolity of external accomplishments, and the facility with which they are acquired. As to the last point we demur. There is no class of people who lead so laborious a life, or who take more pains to cultivate their minds as well as persons, than people of fashion. A young lady of quality, who has to devote so many hours a day to music, so many to dancing, so many to drawing, so many to French, Italian, &c. certainly does not pass her time in idleness; and these accomplishments are afterwards called into action by every kind of external or mental stimulus, by the excitements of pleasure, vanity, and interest. A Ministerial or Opposition Lord goes through more drudgery than half a dozen literary hacks; nor does a reviewer by profession read half the same number of productions as a modern fine lady is obliged to labour through.
—William Hazlitt, The Round Table Vol 1, 1817

Morning Dress, Ackermann’s Repository August 1813, courtesy Philadelphia Art Museum via Internet Archive. Text clippings from Pride and Prejudice online at Google Books.

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Reina M. Williams said...

I wonder if this was a conversation in Regency England like our American discussions about what women should be doing these days (the idea of a "Superwoman" who should be able to "do it all").

LorettaChase said...

I wonder if it was a regular topic of discussion. Finding it in two places about the same time period makes me suspect there's more to be found.

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