When she died, in 1899, even her burial place was kept secret. In a wild and lonely corner of Pere Lachaise a plain slab of granite on a neglected grave is all that shows where this lovely and wonderful woman lies in death. Much of the detail of her political life will never be known, for at her death all papers were seized.
If there be any definition of beauty it is contained in one word - harmony, and therefore a little thought shows the supreme aid colour can lend to beauty.
The course of civilisation has robbed man of this aid to the accentuation - or modification when necessary - of his personality, but it is safe to say nothing will ever rob woman of it, because she is by disposition better able to understand the use of colour in the world, and better able to read its inner as well as outward meaning. The modern woman can often give you the ethical meaning of colour should it slip your memory; she knows how by colour one may express moods and passions; the same message music tells. But she is mistaken if she supposes these ideas and feelings to be new, for human nature has used colour in this way since the dim day on which it learnt that it was itself an expression of some hidden force, and it began to seek power - that is, ways of emphasising one's personality so that it should impress and influence others. But to-day men have eliminated all consideration of colour out of their business transactions, and rely upon their reasoning powers; though States robe their kings in purple and women commence any important business in the varied business of their lives by asking themselves: "What shall I wear?"
A little while ago a famous actress tried to gain a further point in her art by wearing differently coloured dresses to express mood and temperament. I believe she called them "impressionist dresses." At any rate, they were meant to be stories without words, stories telling of the temperament of the character wearing them. But this idea failed, because, though the dresses of all sorts of subtle nuances spoke to this actress, highly educated in her own art, in a language she found eloquent and expressive, they conveyed none of the shades of meaning to the audience. She had forgotten that the language of colour is built upon association. This means a great deal. In the first place, it means that the distinctive characteristics which colours have now have been given to them some time in the past. They are more or less arbitrary. We have learnt, for instance, that Nature paints her virile children red. "It is by means of red she arrays the plumage of most of the birds of India, especially in the breeding season. At that time there are few birds to whom she does not give that shade of colour."
This has caused us to use red in an aggressive way, to express force, power, and also a physical strength and beauty which subdues or fills the place of spiritual strength. Thus the wicked adventuress in a melodrama clothes herself in scarlet whilst she is triumphing over the hapless heroine clothed in innocent white, spiritual pale blue, or the negative black, indicating her need (of love or money or both), and her need of colour in life. So far the most uneducated of audiences realises the meaning of colour, and only in this simple way can beauty use colour to appeal to the imagination. The ordinary woman does this almost instinctively. She would not, for instance, clothe herself in black and yellow, the colours of the tiger and of hot passions, if she wanted to give the impression of softness and gentleness. Dove-grey, blue-grey, pearly whites, soft, full browns, would be her choice in such a case.
But after this she adapts colours, and all subtle shades of colours, merely as ornament. If she is wise, she chooses to wear only those which harmonise with her own colouring; when she is indiscreet, she chooses the colour for its own sake.
To make practical use of colour as an aid to beauty one must therefore study and classify beauty according to its colouring. For this purpose we first classify hair-colouring into (I) black, (2) brown, (3) red, (4) blonde, and (5) ash-coloured.
With these colourings of hair there is generally a corresponding colouring of complexion, so that the brunette has a dark skin and the blonde white and pink flesh tints. The red-haired woman has the same brilliant pigments in the cells of the cuticle as in her hair, and her complexion is generally dazzling. Finally comes the ash-coloured type of woman, and she may be surprised to find herself classed as a type of beauty. Why she fails to be beautiful is because she has not studied the harmony of colours and dressed accordingly.
It has been discovered that the primary colours shade off into their complementary colours, so that red gives a halo, so to speak, of green, blue suggests orange, and violet is pleasing to the eye when yellow is near. This law can be reversed harmoniously. We see now why it is that yellows and reds look well on the distinctive type brunette - they make contrast to her colouring and seemingly intensify it. Raven-black hair looks more brilliantly black when a scarlet ribbon runs through it. Put amber-coloured satin next this beauty's skin, and a dazzling effect is produced, because by a bold challenge the colouring of the complexion is intensified. To be continued.