“For the Austin Girls”

April 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

The Blunderbuss salutes the lately concluded Women’s History Month in Austin with these timeless tips for “every female with true womanly feelings.” After all, to know where you are going, you’ve got to know where you’ve come from.

From the Weekly State Gazette, Austin, October 24, 1870:

For the Austin Girls.

The flood [of the Guadalupe and Colorado rivers – Editor] has passed away, and as there now seems to be “nothing stirring but stagnation” in our City of hills, so, dear girls, I will take advantage of the prevailing quiet, and impose upon you the ideas of one who will undoubtedly be styled “old fashioned.” Now, don’t hold up those dainty white hands, open wide those blue, black or grey eyes in great perturbation of spirit and exclaim with Dominie Sampson, “prodigious!” — adjectives being the only mode of expression whereby most young ladies give vent to their overcharged feelings.

All of us need a little medicine now and then. I grant the dose to be administered from the writer’s pen may not prove so grateful to my lady readers as would one of quinine from the immaculate hands of a young and handsome disciple of Esculapius [the Greek god of medicine and healing]. Oh! Yes, the latter dose would trickle gently over the palate like “the zephyrs of the sweet South o’er a bank of violets!”

I wish to warn you of the imminent danger into which you are imperceptibly gliding. Nothing more or less than the fashionable follies of the day. Ere you are aware of it you’ll be acting the French belle, which every female with true womanly feelings deprecates. Don’t be women sold to dress and frivolity – live for something higher and more ennobling than dancing, flirting, parading the streets, decked out in all the gaudy apparel of the peacock! Do not let it be said, that the blush of modesty, which tinted woman’s face when she first awoke in “Eden’s sunny land,” still lingers on the cheek of her daughters; then you can say with Shakespeare, “Nature’s own sweet and cunning hand hath laid it on,” not KATIE’S or SALLIE’S! Don’t engage in those bold coquetries, either in dress, conversation or manners, that are striking characteristics of the “girl of the period.”

Do not squander away the precious hours of youth or old age either – in the ball room, where you are thrown promiscuously with persons of all characters, some of whom you’d scorn to meet on a level in the drawing room or parlor. These fandangos are often kept up until fair Aurora creeps up upon you unawares, and blushes at the sight to see you whirling around in that detestable dance which you call the “round dance.” It is a marvel to one that such dances are practiced in a civilized and Christian community; again, late hours kept up so frequently, totally unfit you for those home duties, which every girl should be familiar with, and also carry into execution. Have you a mother! Then cherish her as you do your jewels and your “love of a bonnet,” not only cherish, but share with her the burdens and cares that naturally falls to a mother’s lot. Heed her counsels, and know that her warnings will always shield you from harm. I trust that no young lady, however elevated her position, will think that a knowledge of what pertains to the cooking of a dinner, can derogate from her dignity. The hand that can dash off a brilliant sonata should be equally proficient in preparing a ragout to tempt a father or mother’s appetite. Perhaps you may find it difficult to procure in Austin (no slur on the city) the necessary material to prepare one, if so, broil a nice beefsteak, or anything you can lay hands on, especially, before a certain delectable body returns, as it only devours chicken-pie, but everything else devourable!

Whenever I hear a young lady boast that she knows “nothing in the world about cooking,” I look at her with much the feeling expressed by the spirited Mrs. Squeers, “I pities your ignorance and dispises you.” Do not live as if you expect to be “fed on roses and rocked in the lillies of life,” for such sudden and entire reverses are not uncommon in the history of affluence.
Do not deal in slander by wholesale and retail, exclaiming, “what a shocking fright Miss ——-‘s head was” at the last party, etc. “O! wad some power the giftie gie us” never applies to you, does it! Another circus will be along very soon, and of course you’ll be there; it is a place so well calculated to elevate the mind, especially that of a young lady(?) Oh! No, she’ll see or hear nothing there to shock her maidenly modesty!

These suggestions are offered in a spirit of frankness and candor, and with no disposition to offend. A woman myself I desire to see my sex elevated and purified until it becomes in reality, what God intended it should be. Accept them, then in the spirit in which they are given.



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