“Heaven Rests On Those Two Heaving Hills Of Snow” – The Victorian Bosom

I’ve started this thing on my author Facebook page of doing tiny excerpts from old books (I’ll create a summary of them for this blog when I’ve created enough.) After all, I need to do something with all the digital books I’ve collected over the years. I wanted to excerpt this beauty advice from The Arts of Beauty; Or, Secrets of A Lady’s Toilet. With Hints to Gentlemen on the Art of Fascinating, by Madame Lola Montez, Countess of Landsfeld, published in 1858. However, I found it was too long for a Facebook post, yet too much fun to abridge, so I’m placing it here. Enjoy!

A Beautiful Bosom

I AM aware that this is a subject which must be handled with great delicacy; but my book would be incomplete without some notice of this “greatest claim of lovely woman.” And, besides, it is undoubtedly true, that a proper discussion of this subject will seem peculiar only to the most vulgar minded of both sexes. If it be true, as the old poet sung, that

“Heaven rests on those two heaving hills of snow,”

why should not a woman be suitably instructed in the right management of such extraordinary charms?

The first thing to be impressed upon the mind of a lady is, that very low-necked dresses are in exceeding bad taste, and are quite sure to leave upon the mind of a gentleman an equivocal idea, to say the least. A word to the wise on this subject is sufficient. If a young lady has no father, or brother, or husband to direct her taste in this matter, she will do well to sit down and commit the above statement to memory. It is a charm which a woman, who understands herself, will leave not to the public eye of man, but to his imagination. She knows that modesty is the divine spell that binds the heart of man to her forever. But my observation has taught me that few women are well informed as to the physical management of this part of their bodies. The bosom, which nature has formed with exquisite symmetry in itself, and admirable adaptation to the parts of the figure to which it is united, is often transformed into a shape, and transplanted to a place, which deprive it of its original beauty and harmony with the rest of the person.

Vittorio Matteo Corcos 

This deforming metamorphosis is effected by means of stiff stays, or corsets, which force the part out of its natural position, and destroy the natural tension and firmness in which so much of its beauty consists. A young lady should be instructed that she is not to allow even her own hand to press it too roughly. But, above all things, to avoid, especially when young, the constant pressure of such hard substances as whalebone and steel; for, besides the destruction to beauty, they are liable to produce all the terrible consequences of abscesses and cancers. Even the padding which ladies use to give a full appearance, where there is a deficient bosom, is sure, in a little time, to entirely destroy all the natural beauty of the parts. As soon as it becomes apparent that the bosom lacks the rounded fullness due to the rest of her form, instead of trying to repair the deficiency with artificial padding, it should be clothed as loosely as possible, so as to avoid the least artificial pressure. Not only its growth is stopped, but its complexion is spoiled by these tricks. Let the growth of this beautiful part be left as unconfined as the young cedar, or as the lily of the field. And for that reason the bodice should be flexible to the motion of the body and the undulations of the shape. The artificial india-rubber bosoms are not only ridiculous contrivances, but they are absolutely ruinous to the beauty of the part.

John White Alexander

The following preparation, very softly rubbed upon the bosom for five or ten minutes, two or three times a day has been used with success to promote its growth.

Tincture of myrrh … 1/2 oz.
Pimpernel water … 4 oz.
Elder-flower water … 4 oz.
Musk … 1 gr.
Rectified spirits of wine … 6 oz.

I have known ladies to take a preparation of iodyne internally to remedy a too large development of the bosom. But this must be a dangerous experiment for the general health. The following external application has been recommended for this purpose.

Strong essence of mint … 1 oz.
Iodine of zinc … 2 gr.
Aromatic vinegar … 2 gr.
Essence of cedrat … 10 drops.

If, from sickness, or any other cause, the bosom has lost its beauty by becoming soft, the following wash, applied as gently as possible morning and night, will have a most beneficial effect.

Alum water  … ½ oz.
Strong camomile water … 1 oz.
White brandy … 2 oz.

If the whole body is not afflicted with a general decay and flabbiness, the use of this wash for a month or two will be quite sure to produce the happiest effects.

James Tissot 

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