Le Beau Monde, or Literary and Fashionable Magazine, 1806-1810

Volume 4, No. 27 For October, 1808

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Vol. 4, No. 27

This issue was damaged in the copy that I examined, so I have no information on the fashions for October. However, earlier in the issue there was a section entitled "Bon Ton Correspondance" and subtitled "Fashion and Affectation of Rank," which is on pages 180 to 186.

[from p. 180] Of all the predominant principles in human life, there is none more equalizing than fashion; yet unlike the spirit of equality in politics, it has nothing to do with levelling: that would tear every elevated character from his fancied greatness, whilst the less envious but more aspiring spirit of fashion merely prompts us to imitate or to supass the object of our admiration. There is no country perhaps (amongst those in which the different orders of soceity are preserved) where there is a more frequent amalgamation of various ranks then [sic] in England, yet amidst all this there is a constant endeavour on the part of a few to keep themselves from the profanum vulgus, by eccentricity of dress or manner, or by a studied and reserved deportment in the most bustling scenes of winter's gaiety, or summer's emigration. From this principle, are the dashing absurdities of costume, where a more than meretricious disregard of decency is desplayed, to shew that they dare do what they hope humbler souls will be afraid to imitate; and from the same principle it is that those who pssess palaces with every means of dignified retirement, or of rational hospitality, are yet content to forego their own domestic comforts and domestic importance in their paternal masion, for the sake of inhabiting a retired house, in some crowded fishing town, where city bells may peep at them through the railing and cry, oh, la! and where some hackney scibbler may notice them in diurnal bombast, as pedestrianizing on the lawn, or gracing the downs, a vehicular elegance.

[from page 182] ... Yet by these observations we wish not to curb the pursuits of real fashion, nor even cynically to blame its eccentricites, for even they give encouragement to the artist, and bread to the industrious poor; nay, they are often the handmaids of virtue, in being preservatives against vice; as such we will always hail them, and though we do no pretend to be the arbiters of fashion, will always endeavour to be its faithful recorders; it is not, in short, with fashion we would quarrel, but with the absurdity of imitative fashion, and affectation of rank.

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