Page images
PDF
EPUB

may use powder in a becoming proportion, and dress the hair to the dimensions of the face.”

In those days he was a man of some consequence, this hair-dresser, and many an unfortunate martyr of fashion has been detained at home from important business, waiting in helpless déshabille for the arrival of his perruquier, unless his purse or condition rescued him from this thraldom by giving him a valet. Apropos of wigs, and digressing for a moment from the branch of our subject at which we have arrived, we must preserve the following anecdote:-In 1764 a temporary freak of fashion banished wigs from the heads of “ the quality," and the consequence was that the large body of wig-makers in London saw nothing but poverty staring them in the face, to avoid which they considered the legislature bound to pass an act immediately, rendering it penal for the gentry to wear their own hair. A petition praying for the immediate introduction of such a law was accordingly drawn up, and, after being numerously signed, was carried, on February 11, 1765, in solemn procession to St. James's to be presented to the king. This proceeding was productive of a laughable riot, for the mob, perceiving that many members of the procession wore no wigs themselves, seized them, and forcibly sheared them of their bair in the public street.

But to return to the ladies. A very prevalent practice among the sex in the last century was that of taking snuff, and we have been credibly informed that it was no unusual sight in a theatre for one-half of its female occupants to be tapping their snuff-boxes, previously to indulging in a pinch of their favourite dust between the scenes, while the other half were drawing out their paint-boxes and laying a fresh coating on their cheeks, when perspiration or any other cause had removed the rouge.

The reader who is conversant with the works of Hogarth (and where is the one who is not ?) cannot fail to have noticed the black patches which disfigure the faces of his female characters. Never, surely, was such a barbarous fashion as that of sticking upon the face of beauty an unsightly black patch of court-plaister! These “beauty spots," or “mouches," as they were called, it was sometimes the fashion to wear on the chin—at another, on the right-hand corner of the mouth-at a third time on the left cheek; the precise position either varying with the fancies of the period, or being meant to denote the politics of the wearers. A correspondent of the “Spectator," in satirising ladies' tastes in books, says he found in one of their bookcases “ Locke on the Human Understanding," with a paper of patches in it; and Goldsmith, in his “ Citizen of the World,” makes his Chinese philosopher note this folly in rather severe terms: “ They like to have the face of various colours, as among the Tartars of Coreki, frequently sticking on with spittle little black patches on every part of it, except on the top of the nose, which I have never seen with a patch. You'll have a better idea of their manner of placing these spots when I have finished a map of an English face, patched up to the fashion, which shall shortly be sent, to increase your curious collection of paintings, medals, and monsters.”

· But even this was more excusable than the odious practice of wearing masks.

The embellishments which nature received from paint were so considerable, that the “ Spectator" says of the ladies of 1709, “ There are some so exquisitely skilful in this way, that, give them but a tolerable pair of eyes to set up with, and they will make bosom, lips, cheeks, and eyebrows, by their own industry.”

A famous instrument of coquetry, with which all ladies were equipped, was the fan. Our invaluable authority, the “ Spectator,” found it necessary to attack the airs and antics which were displayed in the use of this seemingly insignificant toy. “ There is scarcely an emotion of the mind," he says, “which does not produce a suitable agitation of the fan, insomuch that, if I only see the fan of a disciplined lady, I know very well whether she laughs, frowns, or blushes.” He then humorously describes an academy for instruction in the use of the fan, and a facetious correspondent professes to have undertaken the duty of drilling the ladies, who thus go through their evolutions :-" The ladies who carry fans under me are drawn up twice a day in my great hall, where they are instructed in the use of their arms, and exercised by the following words of command: Handle your fans,' • Unfurl your fans,' • Discharge your fans,' "Ground your fans,' Recover your fans,' • Flutter your fans.” The opportunity which the grounding of the fans and recovering of the fans afforded for the display of a little gallantry on the part of the gentleman, and of coquetry on that of the lady, may be imagined, but of the fluttering of the fans he says: “ There is an infinite variety of motions to be made use of in the fiuttering of the fan—the angry futter, the modest flutter, the timorous flutter, the confused flutter, the merry fintter, and the amorous flutter.” Doubtless there was a great deal of truth in all this, but these were harmless follies, and the good-tempered “Spectator" laughed at them, till the very wielders of this formidable weapon themselves laughed with him ; for it was no unkindly laugh-the “ Spectator" could laugh, but he never sneered ; his was no growling philosophy, no spiteful satire. He was like a fond father chiding a favourite childthere was love and kindness pervading even his corrections. The man who could conceive the beautiful character painted under the name of Sir Roger de Coverley, could infuse no bitterness into his ridicule, no malignity into his satire.

The farthingale of the seventeenth century was the parent of the “hoop" of the eighteenth, which distended the dress into most enormous proportions, commencing just below the hips. In 1709 it attracted the attention of that ever-vigilant sentinel of pure and unaffected taste, the “Spectator," whom a correspondent reports: “ The petticoats which began to heave and swell before you left us, are now blown up into a most enormous concave, and rise every day more and more.” And, to add to the bulk and inflation of the skirts, furbelows and flounces were introduced, giving to the dress an appearance of being “all in curl," and making the wearer look, according to Addison, like one of those animals which in the country we call a Friezland hen.” The hoop appears to have continued in favour, with but very little interruption, the greater part of the century, but, in 1766, 1770, and 1785, they were, according to the specimens of fashions collected by Malcolm, not in vogue. The “ Taste in High Life” of Hogarth, painted in 1742, in ridicule of the existing fashions, displays two figures, of which it is difficult to say which is the most hideous-the old lady, wearing a dress of stiff brocade, extending at the bottom so as to give her the form of a 5 squat pyramid, with a grotesque head at the top of it" (to quote the words of Mrs. Trussler), or the fashionable young lady, whose skirt is hooped up, and projects, like a solitary wing, from her side. DIARY OF A FIRST WINTER IN ROME-1854.

The trains, although far less objectionable, were scarcely more fortuDate than the hoops--they could not escape the satire of Goldsmith. In the “ Citizen of the World,” the quasi-travelling philosopher writes to his friend : “To-day the ladies are lifted on stilts, to-morrow they lower their heels and raise their heads; their clothes, at one time, are bloated out with whalebone_at present they have laid their hoops aside and become as thin as mermaids. All, all is in a state of continual fluctuation." * * * * “ What chiefly distinguishes the sex at present is the train. As the lady's quality, or fashion, was once determined here by the circumference of her hoop, both are now measured by the length of her tail. Women with moderate fortunes are contented with tails moderately long; but ladies of true taste and distinction set no bounds to their ambition in this particular.” Of its extravagance, he says : 6 A lady's train is not bought but at some expense, and after it has swept the public walks for a few evenings, is fit to be worn no longer.” And of its inconvenience, he declares “ backward she cannot go; forward she must move, but slowly; and if ever she attempts to turn round, it must be in a circle not smaller than that described by the wheeling crocodile.” He is assured that "some would have a tail though they wanted a petticoat ; and others, without any other pretensions, fancied they became ladies from the addition of three superfluous yards of ragged silk. To think,” he exclaims, “that all this confers importance and majesty! to think that a lady acquires additional respect from fifteen yards of trailing taffeta !”

But if little credit can be given to the ladies of the last century for the taste displayed in other portions of their dress, certainly their shoes were not calculated to redeem its character. High upon the instep, and somewhat of the shape of gentlemen's modern “ Albert slippers," and with tall, red, French heels, they assuredly were no adornment to the foot, which they only served to conceal, and, at the same time, gave to the wearer an unsteady and awkward gait. The ladies' boots of modern times are far less unsightly than were these shoes, which, from the height of the heel, tilted the foot forward upon the ball of the foot and toes, to an extent which must have almost been painful, and brought the heel nearly in a line with the rise of the instep. They must, without doubt, have added to the height of the figure, but by no means contributed to its elegance.

Comparing the fashions of the gentlemen with those of the ladies, we are compelled to give the preference to the former. If there were many superfluities, and even much foppishness, there was much that was graceful and gave a dignity to the appearance ; but the costume of the ladies was either conceived in such false taste, or carried to such ridiculous extremes, that the symmetry of the figure was lost, and every movement made to appear awkward, constrained, or painful.

The same cumbrousness of dress which seems to have been considered ornamental to adults, was thought necessary in the case of infants. There was a belief among grandams and nurses, that infants' bones and joints required extraordinary external support, and consequently ample provisions were made to prevent sprains and dislocations, by the babylimbs being put in a sort of framework, composed of whalebone, wool,

and strings. The chin had a pillow for its support, which went by the name of a chin stays ;” and from this bandage a strap was passed down to the breast, and was called “a gop,” serving to preserve the head from an undue inclination backwards. Then each sleeve was fastened tightly down to the side, lest the arms should be diverted from their due position; and the gristle of the legs was left to harden into bones and muscles, within a strong casing. Around the head was affixed a small "pad," resembling a bolster, stuffed with some soft and elastic substance, which was to answer the same purpose as the “ fender” of a steam-vessel, or “ buffer” of a railway carriage, and preserve it from apprehended bruises, contusions, and lacerations, from a collision with the floor or corners of the tables ; and when the day of unbinding, unstrapping, and uncasing the infant did arrive, it was quite a domestic festival.

One would naturally have thought, that people who took such pains to preserve the infant figure from distortion, would have taken a pride in displaying the figure in its compactness and integrity when matured, instead of disguising it in forms and shapes unnatural and ungraceful.

TO JUSTINUS KERNER,

WITH A PAINTED WREATH OF BAY-LEAVES.

By CAPTAIN MEDWIN.

Thou glory of the Swabian land!

In tribute to thy lays,
Disdain not, that my mimic hand

Has wreathed for thee these bays.
I plucked a branch from off a bough,

Amid thy trellised bowers ;
And think no bay has borne till now

Such clustering golden flowers.
Oh! may it held in honour be!

And bring in after times,
Like our own Shakspeare's mulberry-tree,

The pilgrims of all climes.
Stand, in its beauty, as it stood

The marvel of the scene;
To prove* “ the memory of the good

And great is ever green.”

[ocr errors][merged small]

BY FLORENTIA. Baths of Titus at the Colosseum, at San Martino di Monti, and at the Sette

Sale---Cardinal Antonelli. CLOSE by the Colosseum are the Baths of Titus, on the side of a yineyard-covered hill. On driving up they present very much the appearance of a gigantic rabbit-warren, enclosed by brickwork, burrowing into the hill-side in oblong holes, shaped something like the vomitoria in the Colosseum. I was astonished at the contrast they presented to the grand awful-looking masses of the Baths of Caracalla, like the ruin of some medieval castle, fabulous in extent, with turrets, walls, and bastions cresting the sky. The glories of the Baths of Titus are, on the contrary, deep buried underground, and one must descend down and down deep stairs, and through long subterranean passages, before their wonders are revealed. Here, where the light of the bright sun never falls, and day and night are alike gloomy and mysterious in the damp, cold atmosphere of the tombs, halls of interminable extent, opening into long suites of chambers, corridors, and temples, penetrate the earth in a perfect state of outward preservation. The imposing grandeur of this underground palace cannot be described ; it impresses the mind with solemn funereal thoughts and speculations on other centuries and nations when the world was as unlike that place we inhabit, as would the moon appear to us were we transported there.

These ruins have, so to say, a triple antiquity, being supposed first to have formed part of the villa of Mæcenas, then to have been appropriated to the golden house of Nero, whose memory was so execrated, that his burnished palace, of surpassing size and magnificence, was degraded by being made the foundation of the Baths erected by Titus, and its chambers filled up the more securely to consolidate the superstructure, which can alone account for the firm and compact manner those portions still unexcavated are completely packed with stone and rụbbish, although the roofs and walls are still entire. Standing in the central hall, the long vista opening on either hand is a sight not to be forgotten. It wants but the garden and the trees bearing the bright many-coloured fruit to carry one away to Aladdin and the Arabian Nights. On one side were the rooms intended for winter use; then looking full on the sun, which has never penetrated here for so many centuries, the other façade for summer habitation faced a garden, now buried deep down in the soil, and only to be surmised from the situation of a great hall, with an arched opening, in whose centre still remain the ruins of a fountain, where the water welled up from that enormous marble basin, the wonder and glory of the great cupola-ed hall in the Vatican. Along the margin where it stood still appear stone troughs for enclosing earth, where flowers—their blossoms reflected in the water-gave the finishing touch to what must have been a scene of more than Epicurean luxury.

It is a great blessing to visit places such as these, deeply solemn and suggestive-sacred in the history of the world by the association of names and events, round whose very crimes time has cast a sort of halo

« EelmineJätka »