Do not think I mean to imply the belles and beaux of which I am about to speak were forty years old, but they had their butterfly existence in the year 1840. Some, no doubt, fluttered around before, and a few after that date, but they all were of that era of simple life that, alas! is of the distant past - a host, as Auctioneer Beard used to say when parading his goods, "too multitudinous to particularize." In the first place, the costumes, as well as the customs of society, were so different from those of the present day that they marshal before my mind's eye almost like a fancy dress parade.
Miss Ellen Johnson, who became later the wife of William B. Walker (of the firm of Woodlief & Walker), and her sister, Malvina, wife of our celebrated Dr. Warren Stone, wore the most beautiful curls - wore them long after that style ceased to be haut ton. I have some "Moniteurs des Dames" of that early date that afford insight into costumes then worn. The long pointed waist, chuck full of real, hard, stiff whalebones (all the whalebones must have been used up then; nobody can find one now), corset also whaleboned to the limit, laced at the back and with literally a board up the front, at least three inches wide - a real board, apple tree wood preferred, hard and stiff and unyielding. Ladies so girded up walked and stood and sat, too, like drum majors; no round, stooping shoulders; one just had to stand straight, with an apple tree board as a constant reminder. I used even to hear that in cases where the poise had a tendency to lapse it was not unusual for the victim to wear the corset night and day.