Fainting as fine art (1889)


Categories: 1880s, Health & medicine
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Fainting as a fine art

“How does a woman faint?” asked a lawyer after adjournment of court yesterday. “We had a young woman on the stand who declared she had seen a hundred women faint, and that they all fainted with outstretched arms. Now, how does a woman faint? I declare I don’t know. I have seen the interesting phenomenon a few times, but the trouble is there’s so much excitement that a man forgets to take observations.

Fainting as fine art“I think it would be an interesting question for the court to sift to the bottom. We would probably be deluged with contradictory testimony. In the first place, does a woman faint with outstretched arms? Are outstretched arms a sure sign of a faint? I believe it must depend a great deal upon what she faints for. Why does a woman faint, and what does she do when she faints?

“On the stage we have seen, for instance, Cecilia faint with Modus, but as I have seen it represented she held his hands tight in hers and then on his shoulders and then half way around his neck. I have seen the Mountain Maid faint. She begins deliberately to say ‘I am fainting,’ then she repeats, ‘I must faint,’ and finally declares she ‘will just be real down sick if she doesn’t faint.’ Are these true reflections of feminine fainting off the stage?

“I am afraid the resources of testimony will be exhausted before giving us any rules for a genuine faint. There is such an infinite variety of phases that codification of laws of fainting is impossible. I confess I don’t know when a faint is a natural phenomenon and when it is a fine art.”


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