a Young Woman in School Uniform - Vinales - Cuba



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SIR,--The present tendency to luxury renders good discipline daily of mote and more importance, and youths are in the nature of things even more liable to injury from unbridled license than are girls. For them, therefore, even more than for their sisters, a period of discipline is extremely valuable; and in the course of discipline both direct punishment and a certain amount of general curbing and restraint are most desirable. In this connection the compulsory wearing of stays at once suggests itself as equally beneficial to either sex. Of course, by stays I do not mean the absurd flimsy things one only too often notices, but good, strongly-boned, stiff-busked, firm corsets, producing an elegant, long-waisted, tapering figure, and rendering impossible all Indulgence in unseemly careless lolling about. The corset is the very type of good discipline, and to be thoroughly well corsetted without reference to whether he will or no, is an excellent reminder to any lad, no matter how much impressed with his own importance, that he cannot have all his own way. The degree of tight­ness must vary, of course, in particular cases, hut as a general rule it may be considered that in a moderate time any pupil, whether youth or girl, may be required to lace to two-thirds of the natural waist measures. Strict uniformity of lacing should, however, be avoided; every pupil having a corset for ordinary wear, and one for best an inch tighter and extra stiff. At least two days in the week there should be some active exercise without the corset, as by this means the natural figure is preserved and the effect of the corset made much more beneficial both as regards discipline and as regard3 appearance. Of course, however, the details of when relaxation is to be allowed and when extra restraint is to be applied, must be left to the unquestioned discretion of the powers that be.

I can quite well fancy some horrible screaming by some of the sentimental amongst your readers at the idea of compulsory "tight-lacing"; but it is the necessary sacrifice of a certain degree of ease and comfort, which is its special merit so far as discipline is concerned, and for which it is deliberately chosen. In the same way use may be made of long kid gloves of delicate tints, which are required to be kept fresh and unsoiled; and so also with thin kid boots with very high heels tapering to an extremely small base. Both gloves and boots should, of course, be the very tightest fit. It is wonderful how neat the feet and hands can thus be made to appear, and I cannot blame a lady for smartening up her charges in this way, even it were only for her preference as a matter of dressiness to having thenl about her in freedom roughness, and all the glory of independent rudeness. Many Austrian ladies, indeed, do have pages of gentle birth, whom they take solely for the gratification of their own vanity in having such smart attendants, and with whom they are extremely strict; the pages being thus put out by their friends on purpose to have the benefit of the discipline; which, if the lady happens to be quick tempered, is at times very sharp indeed, as I have the best of reasons to recollect, having for two years been in attendance upon an extremely pretty girl of about three and twenty, a most capricious martinet.

As to the best persons to administer discipline I have not a moment's hesitation in giving my voice in favour of the fair sex. It is quite a different thing for a lad to cower under the bullying of some burly pedagogue, and for him to be sharply disciplined by one whose reliance is not upon physical strength, but upon the privilege of her sex. In the one case it is a mere keeping down by sheer might; in the other the pupil is learning to yield and bend his will not to power but to duty.

I know it is often said, as if it were something very wonderful Indeed, that a young lady set In authority over pupils of the opposite sex, perhaps only a few years her juniors, and knowing herself free from the possibility of retaliation, is apt to become tyranical. It is quite true, and the discipline is so much the better so far as the pupils are concerned, so they have no cause to complain. With regard to the lady, it should be remembered ~hat It IS one of the privileges of a pretty woman to be tyrannical: and I do not see why a pretty woman should not avail herself of her privileges just as well as anyone else.

From fifteen to sixteen and a half I was at a very strict discipline school. Thence I passed under the gentle dominion of the young lady I have already mentioned. I daresay if there had been anyone to tell me I was cruelly used I should have been thoroughly miserable, but as there was not I was perfectly happy, an.d not a little vain of the elegant appearance I made In the smart dresses I was required to wear. I do not pretend that I liked pain any

JUNE 8, 1889

better than other people, though I had extremely good opportunities of judging what a small hand can do, either in the way of administering ringing slaps upon one's cheeks,. or applying a riding whip in any available place, whether hands or feet, or arms or legs, and can pronounce silk tights to be a most inefficient protection against a jockey's whip handled by an angry woman. But the prettiness and piquant soupçonof vanity of my young patroness rendered it impossible to bear malice towards her even when most exacting. So I was perfectly happy, and I am perfectly certain that the sharp discipline I under­went did me an immense deal of good.

May I just say another word or two in answer to Borne questions that have appeared in your paper ?

First, as to the odious habit of biting the nails. This is most disgusting in either sex, and must be stopped however severe the means that have to be employed. I remember a young lady who, after numerous devices had been tried in vain, was at length cured by being made to wear gloves with needles sewn into the finger tips. To prevent her taking these off she had metal bracelets, which tightly clasped her wrists and fastened with springs that could only be undone with a key which was kept by her maid.

I have seen a similar device applied to the ankles of a young lady who insisted upon taking off in the house the very tight boots which her mother required her to wear.

The best cure for anyone who will unlace a corset is to take a little piece of strong, thin chain and fasten it just loosely round the corset waist with a little padlock. There is no discomfort, and the pupil, so long as he or she submits, need not even know the guard is on, so far as feeling it goes. But let the adventurous spirit cut the lace, and a very different tale is told. I have never known anyone repeat the experiment. I tried it once in early days, and found that quite enough. I cut the lace early in the after­noon, and I shall never forget the tender weal I wore for days after. for the key was not brought to my assistance until bedtime.

To cure a habit of stooping whilst sitting, there should be an extra stiff busk, a good deal curved in at the bottom, inserted after the corset is laced on. If the head is persistently stooped also, a woollen ball may be fastened under the chin, having a darning needle fixed in its centre. Before I was taken in hand I stooped and slouched in a way that made my step­mother almost ashamed to let me walk with her, and I can vouch for the method of cure I have described being most efficacious. - I am, Sir. your obedient servant. ADMIRER OF PRETTY FEET.

from Admirer of Pretty Feet.


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