Appearances Are Deceitful
There are a great many good jokes told of the false notions formed as to
the character and standing of persons, as judged by their dress and
other outward signs. It is asserted, that a fine coat and silvery tone
of voice, are no evidence of the gentleman, and few people of the
present day will have the hardihood to assert that a blunt address, or
shabby coat, are infallible recommendations for putting, however honest,
r worthy, a man in a prominent attitude before the world, or the
community he moves in. Some men of wealth, for the sake of variety,
sometimes assume an eccentric or coarseness of costume, that answers all
very well, as long as they keep where they are known; but to find out
the levelling principles of utter nothingness among your fellow mortals,
only assume a shabby apparel and stroll out among strangers, and you'll
be essentially knocked by the force of these facts. However, in this
or almost any other Christian community, there is little, if any excuse,
for a man, woman, or child going about or being "shabby." Let your
garments, however coarse, be made clean and whole, and keep them so; if
you have but one shirt and that minus sleeves and body, have the
fragments washed, and make not your face and hands a stranger to the
refreshing and purifying effects of water.
General Pinckney was one of the old school gentlemen of South Carolina.
A man he was of the most punctilious precision in manners and customs,
in courtesy, and cleanliness of dress and person; a man of brilliant
talents, and, in every sense of the word, "a perfect gentleman!" Mr.
Pinckney was one of the members of the first Congress, and during his
sojourn in Philadelphia, boarded with an old lady by the name of Hall, I
think--Mrs. Hall, a staid, prim and precise dame of the old regime.
Mistress Hall was a widow; she kept but few boarders in her fine old
mansion, on Chestnut street, and her few boarders were mostly members of
Congress, or belonged to the Continental army. Never, since the days of
that remarkable lady we read of in the books, who made her servant take
her chair out of doors, and air it, if any body by chance sat down on
it, and who was known to empty her tea-kettle, because somebody crossed
the hearth during the operation of boiling water for tea,--exceeded
Mistress Hall in domestic prudery and etiquette; hence it may be well
imagined that "shabby people" and the "small fry" generally, found
little or no favor in the eyes of the Quaker landlady of "ye olden
General Pinckney having served out his term or resigned his place, it
was filled by another noted individual of Charleston, General Lowndes,
one of the most courteous and talented men of his day, but the
slovenliest and most shockingly ill-accoutred man on record. But for the
care and watchfulness of one of the most superb women in existence at
the time--Mrs. Lowndes,--the General would probably have frequently
appeared in public, with his coat inside out, and his shirt over all!
General Lowndes, in starting for Philadelphia, was recommended by his
friend Pinckney, to put up at Mistress Hall's; General P. giving General
Lowndes a letter of introduction to that lady. Travelling was a slow and
tedious, as well as fatiguing and dirty operation, at that day, so that
after a journey from Charleston to Philadelphia, even a man with some
pretensions to dress and respectable contour, would be apt to look a
little "mussy;" but for the poor General's part, he looked hard enough,
in all conscience, and had he known the effect such an appearance was
likely to produce upon Mistress Hall, he would not have had the
temerity of invading her premises. But the General's views were far
above "buttons," leather, and prunella. Such a thing as paying
deferential courtesies to a man's garments, was something not dreamed of
in his philosophy.
"Mrs. Hall's, I believe?" said the General, to a servant answering the
ponderous, lion-headed knocker.
"Yes, sah," responded the sable waiter. "Walk dis way, sah, into de
The General stalked in, leisurely; around the fire-place were seated a
dozen of the boarders, the aforesaid "big bugs" of the olden time. Not
one moved to offer the stranger a seat by the fire, although his warm
Southern blood was pretty well congealed by the frosty air of the
evening. The General pulled off his gloves, laid down his great heavy
and dusty valice, and quietly took a remote seat to await the presence
of the landlady. She came, lofty and imposing; coming into the parlor,
with her astute cap upon her majestic head, her gold spectacles upon her
nose, as stately as a stage queen!
"Good evening," said the gallant General, rising and making a very
polite bow. "Mrs. Hall, I presume?"
"Yes, sir," she responded, stiffly, and eyeing Lowndes with considerable
diffidence. "Any business with me, sir?"
"Yes, madam," responded the General, "I--a--purpose remaining in the
city some time, and--a--I shall be pleased to put up with you."
"That's impossible, sir," was the ready and decisive reply. "My house is
full; I cannot accommodate you."
"Well, really, that will be a disappointment, indeed," said the
General, "for I'm quite a stranger in the city, and may find it
difficult to procure permanent lodgings."
"I presume not, sir," said she; "there are taverns enough, where
strangers are entertained."
The gentlemen around the fire, never offered to tender the stranger any
information upon the subject, but several eyed him very hard, and
doubtless felt pleased to see the discomfitted and ill-accoutred
traveller seize his baggage, adjust his dusty coat, and start out, which
he was evidently very loth to do.
Just as Lowndes had reached the parlor door, it occurred to him that
Pinckney had recommended him to "put up" at the widow's, and also had
given him a letter of introduction to Mrs. Hall. This reminiscence
caused the General to retrace his steps back into the parlor, where,
placing his portmanteau on the table, he applied the key and opened it,
and began fumbling around for his letters, to the no small wonder of the
landlady and her respectable boarders.
"I have here, I believe, madam, a letter for you," blandly said the
General, still overhauling his baggage.
"A letter for me, sir?" responded the lady.
"Yes, madam, from an old friend of yours, who recommended me to stop
with you. Ah, here it is, from your friend General Pinckney, of South
"General Pinckney!" echoed the landlady, all the gentlemen present
cocking their eyes and ears! The widow tore open the letter, while
Lowndes calmly fastened up his portmanteau, and all of a sudden, quite
an incarnation spread its roseate hues over her still elegant features.
Lowndes seized his baggage, and, with a "good evening, madam, good
evening, gentlemen," was about to leave the institution, when the lady
arrested him with:
"Stop, if you please, sir; this is General Lowndes, I believe?"
"General Lowndes, madam, at your service," said he, with a dignified
According to all accounts, just then, there was a very sudden rising
about the fire-place, and a twinkling of chairs, as if they had all just
been struck with the idea that there was a stranger about!
"Keep your seats, gentlemen," said the General; "I don't wish to disturb
any of you, as I'm about to leave."
"General Lowndes," said the widow, "any friend of Mr. Pinckney is
welcome to my house. Though we are full, I can make room for you,
The General stopped, and the widow and he became first-rate friends,
when they became better acquainted.