Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

most curious story of a gentlewoman of Antwerp who had her ruff poked by the devil on the 27th of May, 1582, "the sounde whereof," says he, "is blowne through all the world, and is yet fresh in every man's memory." It appears that this unfortunate lady, being invited to a wedding, could not, although she employed two celebrated laundresses, get her ruff plaited according to her taste, upon which, proceeds Stubbes,

"She fell to sweare and teare, to curse and ban, casting the ruffes under feete, and wishing that the devil might take her when shee did wear any neckerchers againe;" a wish which was speedily accomplished; for the devil, assuming the form of a beautiful young man, made his appearance under the character of a suitor, and enquiring the cause of her agitation, “tooke in bande the setting of her ruffes, which he performed to her great contentation and liking; insomuch, as she, looking herselfe in a glasse (as the devill bad her), became greatly inamoured with him. This done, the young man kissed her, in the doing whereof, he writhed her neck in 2 sunder, so she died miserably; her body being straight waies changed into blew and black colours, most ugglesome to beholde, and her face (which before was so amorous) became most deformed and fearfull to looke upon. This being knowne in the citie, great preparation was made for ber buriall, and a rich coffin was provided, and her fearfull body was laide therein, and covered verg sumptuously. Foure men immediately assayed to lift up the corpes, but could not move it; then sixe attempted the like, but could not once stirre it from the place where it stood. Whereat the standers-by marvelling, causing the coffin to be opened to see the cause thereof: where they found the body to be taken away, and a blacke catte, very leane and deformed, sitting in the coffin, setting of great ruffes, and frizling of haire, to the greate feare and woonder of all the beholders.TM*

The waist was beyond all proportion long, the bodice or stays terminating a the bottom in a point, and having in the fore part a pocket, for money, needlework, and billets, a fashion to which Proteus alludes in the Two Gentlemen of Verona, when he tells Valentine

"Thy letters

shall be deliver'd

Even in the milk-white bosom of thy love."

Gowns were made of the richest materials, with velvet capes embroidered with bugelles, and with the sleeves curiously cut; † the fashionable petticoat was the Scottish fardingale, made of cloth, taffety, satin, or silk, and of enormous bulk, so that when an Elizabethan lady was dressed in one of these, with the gown, as was usually the case, stuffed about the shoulders, and the ruffe in the first style of the day, her appearance was truly formidable. Over all was frequently thrown a kirtle, mantle, or surcoat, with or without a head, formed of silk or velvet, and richly bordered with lace.

Silk-stockings, which were first worn by the Queen in 1560, Mrs. Montagu, her silk-woman, having presented her with a pair of this material in that year, soon became almost universal among the ladies, and formed one of the most expensive articles of their dress.

Shoes with very high heels, in imitation of the Venetian chopine, a species of stilt sometimes better than a foot in height, was the prevalent mode, and carried. for the sake of increasing the stature, to a most ridiculous excess. It never reached, indeed, this enormous dimension in England, but seems, from a passage in Hamlet, to have been of such a definite size, as to admit of a reference to it as a mark of admeasurement, for the Prince remarks, "Your Ladyship is nearer lo heaven, than when I saw you last, by the altitude of a chopine.'

Fans, constructed of ostrich feathers, inserted into handles of gold, silver, or ivory, and wrought with great skill in various elegant forms, were so commonly worn that the author of "Quippes for upstart newfangled Gentlewemen," 1595, exclaims,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

But seeing they are still in hand,

In house, in field, in church, in street;
In summer, winter, water, land,

In colde, in heate, in drie, in weet;

I judge they are for wives such tooles
As bables are, in playes, for fooles."

Silver and ivory handles were usual among ladies of the middle class of society, but in the higher ranks they were frequently decorated with gems, and the Queen had several new-year's gifts of fans, the handles of which were studded with diamonds and other jewels. Shakspeare has many allusions to fans of feathers;* and even hints, in his Henry the Eighth, that the coxcombs of his day were not ashamed to adopt their use. Act. i. sc. 3.

Perfumed bracelets, necklaces, and gloves, were favourite articles. "Gloves as sweet as damask roses," form part of the stock of Autolycus, and Mopsa tells the Clown, that he promised her "a pair of sweet gloves." Act. iv. sc. 3. The Queen in this, as in most other luxuries of dress, set the fashion; for Howes informs us, that in the fifteenth year of her reign, Edward Vere, Earl of Oxford, presented her with a pair of perfumed gloves trimmed with four tufts of rose-coloured silk, in which she took such pleasure that she was always painted with those gloves on her hands, that their scent was so exquisite that it was ever after called the Earl of Oxford's perfume.

To these notices it may be added, that a small looking-glass pendent from the rdle, a pocket-handkerchief richly wrought with gold and silver, and a loveock hanging wantonly over the shoulder, were customarily exhibited by the fashionable female.

Burton, writing at the close of the Shakspearean era, has given us a brief but xact enumeration of the feminine allurements of his day; a passage which, whilst it adds a few new particulars, will furnish an excellent recapitulation of what has been already advanced.

"Why," exclaims he, "do they decorate themselves with artificial flowers, the various colours of herbs, needle works of exquisite skill, quaint devices, and perfume their persons, wear inestimable riches in precious stones, crown themselves with gold and silver, use coronets and tires of several fashions; deck themselves with pendants, bracelets, ear-rings, chains, girdles, rings, pins, spangles, embroideries, shadows, rebatoes, versicoler ribands? Why do they make such Korious shews with their scarfs, feathers, fans, masks, furs, laces, tiffanies, ruffs, falls, calls, affs, damasks, velvets, tinsels, cloth of gold, silver tissue? Such setting up with corks, straitenng with whale-bones; why, it is but as a day-net catcheth larks, to make young ones stoop unto them. And when they are disappointed, they dissolve into tears, which they wipe away like Sweat: weep with one eye, laugh with the other; or as children, weep and cry they can both gether and as much pity is to be taken of a woman weeping as of a goose going barefoot.”+ We have seen in the extract from Harrison, at the commencement of this chapter, that a great portion of it is employed in satirising the extravagance and Jolly of the male-dress of his times, and the adduction of further particulars will serve but to strengthen the propriety of his invective, and to prove, what will scarcely be credited, that, in the absurdity and frivolity of personal ornament, the men far surpassed the other sex.

Though there is reason to conclude that this taste for expensive and frivolous decoration, was originally derived from the reign of Elizabeth, yet was it even still more encouraged by James; for though he set no example of profusion of this kind in his own person, Sir Arthur Wheldon declaring that he was,

*For a correct representation of these fans, vide Baudry's edition of Shakspeare's Complete Works. vel ip 80.

[ocr errors]

Anatomie of Melancholy, folio, 8th edit. p. 293, 294, 307.-In Vaughan's "Golden Grove," also, the Erst edition of which appeared in 1600, may be found some curious notices on "superfluitie of apparell oth regard to both sexes; he tells us that the women in the early ages of the world imitated not herma phrodites, in wearing of men's doublets. They wore no chaines of gold, &c.-they went not clothed in velvet gownes, nor in chamlet peticotes. They smelt not unto pomander, civet, muske, and such lyke tromperies."

"in his apparrell so constant, as by his good will he would never change his cloathes till very ragges; his fashion never: insomuch, as one bringing to him a hat of a Spanish block, he cast it from him, swearing he neither loved them nor their fashions. Another time, bringing him roses on his shoes, asked, if they would make him a ruffe-footed-dove? one yard of sixpenny ribband served that turne." *

Yet was he passionately attached to dress in the persons of his courtiers; "He doth admire good fashion in cloaths;" says Lord Howard, writing to Sir John Harington in 1611; "I would wish you to be well trimmed; get a new jerkin well bordered, and not too short; the King saith, he liketh a flowing garment; be sure it be not all of one sort, but diversiy coloured, the collar falling somewhat down, and your ruff well stiffend and bushy. We have lately had many gallants who failed in their suits, for want of due observance of these matters. The King is nicely heedfull of such points, and dwelleth on good looks and bandsome accotrements. Eighteen servants were lately discharged, and many more will be discarded, who are not to his liking in these matters.-Robert Carr is now most likely to win the Prince's affection, and dothe it wonderously in a little time. The Prince leaneth on his arm, pinches his cheek, smoothes his ruffled garment, and, when he looketh at Carr, directeth discourse to divers others, This young man dothe much study all art and device; he hath changed his tailors and tiremen many times, and all to please the Prince, who laugheth at the long grown fashion of our young courtiers, and wisheth for change for every day."+

King James's love of finery seems to have been imbibed, not only by his courtiers, but by all his youthful subjects; for from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, nothing can exceed the fantastic attire by which the beau of this period was distinguished. His hair was worn long and flowing, "whose length," says Decker, "before the rigorous edge of any puritanical pair of scissors should shorten the breadth of a finger, let the three housewifely spinsters of destiny rather curtail the thread of thy life;-let it play openly with the lascivious wind, even on the top of your shoulders." His hat was made of silk, velvet, taffeta, or beaver, the last being the most expensive; the crown was high, and narrow toward the top, "like the speare or shaft of a steeple," observes Stubbes, "standing a quarter of a yard above their heads;" the edges, and sometimes the whole hat, were embroidered with gold and silver, to which a costly hat-band, sparkling with gems, and a lofty plume of feathers, were generally added. It appears, from a passage in the Taming of the Shrew, that to these high hats the name of copatain was given; for Vincentio, surprised at Tranio being dressed as a gentleman, exclaims, "O fine villain! A silken doublet! a velvet hose! a scarlet cloak ! and a copatain hat!" a word which Mr. Steevens considers as synonymous with a high copt hat. It was usual with gallants to wear gloves in their hats, as a memorial of their ladies, favour.

Of the beard and its numerous forms, we have already seen a curious detail by Harrison, to which we may subjoin, that it was customary to dye it of various colours, and to mould it into various forms, according to the profession, age, of fancy of the wearer. Red was one of the most fashionable tints; § a beard of "formal cut" distinguished the justice ** and the judge; a rough bushy beard marked the clown, and a spade-beard, or a stiletto, or dagger-shaped beard, graced the soldier." It is observable," remarks Mr. Malone, "that our author's patron, Henry Earl of Southampton, who spent much of his time in camps, is drawn with the latter of these beards; and his unfortunate friend, Lord Essex, is constantly represented with the former."

Of the effeminate fashions of this age, perhaps the most effeminate was the custom of wearing jewels and roses in the ears, or about the neck, and of cherish

The Court and Character of King James. Written and taken by Sir A. W. being an eye and car witnesse. 12mo. 1650 p. 180, 181.

Nuge Antiquæ, vol. i. p. 391, 392.

Decker's Gull's Hornbook, reprint of 1812, p. 83, 87.

Bottom, in Nidsummer Night's Dream, mentions also a straw-coloured, a orange-away, a purpie-ugrain, and a perfect yellow, beard, act i. sc. 2.

See Jaques's description of the Seven Ages in As You Like It, act ii. sc. 7.

ing a long lock of hair under the left ear, called a love-lock. The first and least offensive of these decorations, the use of jewels and rings in the ear, was general through the upper and middle ranks, nor was it very uncommon to see gems worn appended to a riband round the neck. Roses were almost always an appendage of the love-lock, but these were, for the most part, formed of riband, yet we are told by Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, "that it was once the fashion to stick real flowers in the ear." The love-lock, with its termination in a silken rose, had become so notorious, that Prynne at length wrote an express treatise against it, which he entitled, "The Unloveliness of Love-locks, and long womanish Hair," 1628. *

The ruff never reached the extravagant dimensions of that in the other sex, yet it gradually acquired such magnitude as to offend the eye of Elizabeth, who, in one of her sumptuary laws, ordered it, when reaching beyond "a nayle of a yeard in depth," to be clipped. †

The doublet and hose, to the eighth year of Elizabeth's reign, had been of an enormous size, especially the breeches, which being puckered, stuffed, bolstered and distended with wool and hair, attained a magnitude so preposterous, that, as Strutt relates on the authority of a MS. in the Harleian collection, "there actually was a scaffold erected round the inside of the parliament-house for the accommoadation of such members as wore those huge breeches; and that the said scaffold was taken down when, in the eighth of Elizabeth, those absurdities went out of fashion."

The doublet was then greatly reduced in size, yet so hard-quilted, that Stubbes says, the wearer could not bow himself to the ground, so stiff and sturdy it stood -alout him. It was made of cloth, silk, or satin, fitting the body like a waistcoat, surmounted by a large cape, and accompanied either with long close sleeves, or with very wide ones, called Danish sleeves. The breeches, hose, or gallygaskins, now shrunk in their bulk, were either made close to the form, or rendered moderately round by stuffing; the former, which ended far above the knee, were often made of crimson satin, cut and embroidered, and the latter had frequently a most indelicate appendage, to which our poet has too often indulged the license of allusion. A cloak surmounting the whole, of the richest materials, and generally embroidered with gold or silver, was worn buttoned over the shoulder. Fox-skins, lamb-skins, and sables were in use as facings, but the latter were restricted to the nobility, none under the rank of an earl being allowed to wear sables, which were so expensive, that an old writer of 1577, speaking of the luxury of the times, says, that a thousand ducats were sometimes given for a face of sables;" consequently, as Mr. Malone has remarked, "a suit trimmed with sables was, in Shakspeare's time, the richest dress worn by men in England."

The stockings, or hose as they were called in common with the breeches, consisted either of woven silk, or were cut out by the taylor from silk, velvet, damask, or other precious stuff. They were gartered, externally, and below the knee, with materials of such expensive quality, that Howes tells us, in his Continuation of Stowe's Chronicle, men of mean rank weare garters and shoe-roses of more than five pounds price." Decker advises his gallant to" strive to fashion his legs. to his silk stockings, and his proud gate to his broad garters," which being so

66

Frequent references to these fashions may be found in our author. Jonson and Fletcher also abound with them; and see that curious exposition of fashionable follies, Decker's Gull's Hornbook, Reprint, p. 86, 137, &c.

† Vide Stowe's Annals, p. 869.-The divisions, or pieces of the brim of the collar or ruffe, were, accordng to Cotgrave's Dictionary, 1611, termed piccadillies. And the author of London and its Environs described, tells us, that in Piccadilly" there were formerly no houses, and only one shop for Spanish riffs, which was called the Piccadilly or ruff shop." Vide vol. v.

: Strutt's Customs, vol. iii. p. 85-The next age saw this absurd mode of dress revived: and Bulmer, 15 his Pedigree of the English Gallant, relates, that, when the law was in force against the use of bags for stuffing breeches, a man was brought before a court of justice, charged with wearing the prohibited article, upon which, in order to refute the accusation, he produced from within a pair of sheets, two table cloths, ten napkins, four shirts, a brush, a glass, a comb, night-caps, &c." p. 548.

conspicuous a part of the dress, were either manufactured of gold and silver, or were made of satin and velvet with a deep gold fringe. The common people were content with worsted galloon, or what were called caddis-garters. The gaudiness of attire, indeed, with regard to these articles of clothing, appears to have been carried to a most ridiculous excess; red silk-stockings, parti-coloured garters, and cross garterings, so as to represent the varied colours of the Scotc plaid, were frequently exhibited.

Nor were the shoes and boots of this period less extravagantly ostentations. Corked shoes, or pantofles, are described by Stubbes as bearing up their wearers two inches or more from the ground, as being of various colours, and razed, carved. cut, and stitched. They were not unfrequently fabricated of velvet, embroidered with the precious metals, and when fastened with strings, these were covered with enormous roses of riband, curiously ornamented and of great value. Thus Hamlet speaks of "Provencial roses on my razed shoes;" and it is remarkable, that, as in the present age, both shoes and slippers were worne shaped after the right and left foot. Shakspeare describes his smith

Standing on slippers, which his nimble haste
Had falsely thrust upon contrary feet:

and Scott, in his "Discoverie of Witchcraft," observes, that he who receiveth a mischance," will consider, whether he put not on his shirt wrong side outwards, or his left shoe on his right foot."

The boots were, if possible, still more eccentric and costly than the shoes, resembling, in some degree, though on a larger scale, the theatric buskin of the modern stage. They were usually manufactured of russet cloth or leather, hanging loose and ruffled about the leg, with immense tops turned down and fringed, and the heel decorated with gold or silver spurs. Decker speaks of “a gilt spur and a ruffled boot ;" and in another place adds,-"let it be thy prudence to have the tops of them wide as the mouth of a wallet, and those with fringed boothose over them to hang down to thy ancles." Yet even this extravagance did not content those who aspired to the highest rank of fashion; for Doctor Nott, the editor of Decker's Horn-book, in a note on the last passage which we have quoted, informs us, on the authority of Stubbes's Anatomie of Abuses, that these boots were often "made of cloth fine enough for any hand, or ruff; and so large, that the quantity used would nearly make a shirt: they were embroidered in gold ard silver; having on them the figures of birds, animals, and antiques in various coloured silks: the needle-work alone of them would cost from four to ten pounds". Shakspeare alludes to the large boots with ruffles, or loose tops, which were fre quently called lugged boots, in All's Well That Ends Well, act iii. sc.2; and we find, from the same authority, that boots closely fitting the leg were sometimes worn; for Falstaff, in Henry the Fourth, Part II, accounting for the Prince's attachment to Poins, mentions, among his other qualifications, that he "wears his boot very smooth, like unto the sign of the leg." Act ii sc. 4.

Nor was the interior clothing of the beau less sumptuous and expensive than his exterior apparel; his shirts, relates that minute observer, Stubbes, were made of "cambricke, Hollande, lawne, or els of the finest cloth that may be got." And were so wrought with "needle-work of silke, and so curiously stitched with other knackes beside, that their price would sometimes amount to ten pounds.” No gentleman was considered as dressed without his dagger and rapier; the former, richly gilt and ornamented, was worn at the back: thus Capulet, Romeo and Juliet, exclaims,

"This dagger hath mista’en.—for, lo! his house

Is empty on the back of Montague

And is mis-sheathed in my daughter's bosom : "

and an old play, of the date of 1750, expressly tells us,

Act v. sc. 3.

[ocr errors]
« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »