In fact, this question of the management of would-be familiar mothers is of vital importance to the dignity of your whole young ladyhood, and should have a large part of its treatment at home, where forward mothers are only too apt to presume upon accidental amiability. Guarding 5* yourselves vigorously against the vulgarizing entertainment of any old-fashioned idea of humdrum "duty," as the bores call it, let it be your business to watch jealously for the first approach to undue freedom on the part of the vain old ladies, and then give them immediately to understand that you are not children now, ma, if you please. This wholesome reminder, administered with a proper sweep of the skirts and pensive glance toward the nearest mirror, is one of the finest possible illustrations of firmness of character. Well-disciplined mothers will seldom venture to express unasked opinions regarding the colors and styles of dresses patronized by their daughters; but in cases where some momentary indulgence has deluded them into this greater liberty, there is nothing like a well-slammed door, or an immediate practice of the scales at the piano. Well-slammed doors and those eternal scales are the tremendous instruments of rebuke and torture with which your sex can at any time make life a burden to a whole flock of enemies.
In the subjection of your fathers to their proper condition of helpless neutrality and financial liberality, you must exercise more gradual measures; for a certain low kind of conceited importance clings to a man as long as he lives, and often incites him to desperate efforts for the enslavement of his natural owners - his children. It will be a great aid to your work of "reconstruction," if these necessary afflictions have the habit of smoking. You will then have a perfectly just excuse for seeing as little of them as possible, and gradually breaking their spirits and humbling them in their own estimations, by casually throwing out hints at the breakfast-table about being almost choked whenever you go near pa's room. Pa thus has impressed upon him a sense of his own degradation, and will feel himself but poorly compensating for the great trial he is to you, by abjectly and promptly responding to all demands upon his purse. He will also hand your fan and shawl to you after the ball, when some promising young man is to be emphatically recalled to a sense of his continued insignificance. In fact, a well-behaved father is useful in many ways, when trained with a firm hand, and the skill employed in teaching him his tricks is never wasted.
In regard to the piano which you all indubitably owe to society, young ladies, I would unhesitatingly counsel systematic violence in the whole Italian department, and a principled unconsciousness of the existence of any genteel compositions in English. That is to say, you should thus exhibit your piano in society; though at home it will be good policy to select some one national air as a means of embittering the souls of your parents against music forever, and thus ridding yourselves of those importunings for specimens of your skill with which only perfect strangers have any right to assail you. A really great effect can be achieved in company by miss-keying a little when you first take seat at the instrument, and then looking artlessly up at the most eligible set of whiskers present, as who should say: Oh dear! what a frightful creature I am! Promptly follow this by an impatient straightening-up, - an archly affectionate glance, as for playful help, toward some other young lady whom you have met that evening for the first time, - and an instant plunge of all your fingers into the most deafening of the notes; and you will make the eligible whiskers ruin himself with bouquets for you in less than a month.
Additionally to the piano, you also owe to society a strict abstinence from anything approximating to Nature; which, as all well-bred people know, is something vulgarly cheap and only patronized by the lower classes. You must select models for yourselves from those practitioners of the graces in your own sex whose fashionable campaigns have made them your superiors in art, and whom you will speedily know by the intense envy and hatred you will feel toward them from the first. The envy and hatred in question will not be what common people call by those names at all; they will really be the refined mental components of a high order of intellectual energy, developing in you a genius for imitation conserving the loftiest art.
To make perfect your Artificiality, however, - to make it irresistibly eloquent of womanhood's most exquisite sensibilities, - you must manage to subdue it here and there with little touches of girlish prettiness. Thus, when conversing in society, or even in the conservatory at home, with some eligible son of a rich Contractor, you can appear sweetly thoughtful and girlishly innocent by a judicious bit of by-play with your lace pocket-handkerchief. Supposing you to have prepared yourself beforehand with a handkerchief carelessly thrown over your shoulders, you talk yourself apparently into a gentle sort of dreamy abstraction; and then, with your eyes softly fixed on vacancy, though still talking, you unconsciously as it were carry one end of your handkerchief to the mouth with the forefinger of your right hand, and keep pushing it thus, inch by inch, through your lips as you stand, until the other end falls from your shoulders and the whole handkerchief drops to the floor. This rouses you from your pretty reverie with a start, and (if possible of production) a blush; you make a half-motion to pick it up; the eligible captive is too quick for you, however, and succeeds in lifting the prize just as the most enthralling of little slippers is darted out to save it. Don't you see the inimitable hit thus made ? Don't you see how natural it must be after that for the eligible son of a Contractor to insist upon keeping the handkerchief, and thus hopelessly commit himself ?