Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

gentlewemen than men; all which delicacyes maketh our men cleane effeminate and without strength.”*

It soon became the fashion to wear these rapiers of such an enormous length, that government was obliged to interfere, and a sumptuary law was passed to limit these weapons to three feet, which was published by proclamation, together with one for the curtailment of ruffs. “ He,” says Stowe, “ was held the greatest gallant, that had the deepest ruffe and longest rapier : the offence to the eye of the one, and the hurt unto the life of the subject that came by the other, caused her Majesty to make proclamation against them both, and to place selected grave citizens at every gate to cut the ruffes, and breake the rapiers' points of all passengers that exceeded a yeard in length of their rapiers.”+ This regulation occasioned a whimsical circumstance, related by Lord Talbot, in a letter to the Earl of Shrewsbury, dated June 23d, 1580: — " The French Imbasidore, Mounswer Mouiser, (Malvoisier) ridinge to take the ayer, in his returne cam thowrowe Smithfild; and ther, at the bars, was steayed by thos offisers that sitteth to cut sourds, by reason his raper was longer than the statute : He was in a great feaurie, and dreawe his raper ; in the meane season my Lord Henry Seamore cam, and so steayed the matt': Hir Matie is greatlie ofended wth the ofisers, in that they wanted jugement.” I

This account of the male fashionable dress, during the days of Shakspeare, has sufficiently borne out the assertion which we made at its commencement,—that in extravagance and frivolity it surpassed the caprice and expenditure of the other sex ; a charge which is repeated by Burton at the close of this era ; for, exclaiming against the luxury of fine clothes, he remarks, “ women are bad, and men

So ridiculous we are in our attires, and for cost so excessive, that as Hierom said of old,—’tis an ordinary thing to put a thousand oaks, and an hundred oxen into a suit of apparel, to wear a whole mannor on his back. What with shoo-ties, hangers, points, caps and feathers, scarfs, bands, cuffs, &c., in a short space their whole patrimonies are consumed. Heliogabalus is taxed by Lampridius, and admired in his age for wearing jewels in his shoos, a

worse.

* Douce's Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 315.
+ Stowe's Annals, p. 869.
I Lodge's Illustrations of British History, vol. ii. p. 228.

, common thing in our times, not for Emperors and Princes, but almost for serving-men and taylors: all the flowres, stars, constellations, gold and pretious stones do condescend to set out their

shoos." *

The dress of the citizen, indeed, was, if less elegant, equally showy, and sometimes fully as expensive as that of the man of fashion. The medium habit may, with great probability, be considered as sketched in the following humorous tale, derived from a popular pamphlet printed in 1609:

6 A citizen, for recreation-sake,

To see the country would a journey take
Some dozen mile, or very little more;
Taking his leave with friends two months before,
With drinking healths, and shaking by the hand,
As he had travail'd to some new-found-land.
Well : taking horse with very much ado,
London he leaveth for a day or two:
And as he rideth, meets upon the way
Such as (what haste soever) bid men stay.
“ Sirrah! (says one) stand, and your purse deliver,
I am a taker, thou must be a giver."
Unto a wood hard by they hale him in,
And rifle him unto his

very

skin,
“ Maisters, (quoth he) pray heare me ere you go :
For
you
have rob’d more now than

you

do know. My horse, in troth, I borrow'd of my brother ; The bridle and the saddle, of another:

9

[ocr errors]

The jerkin and the bases be a taylor's:
The scarfe, I do assure you, is a saylour's :

The falling band is likewise none of mine,
Nor cuffes ; as true as this good light doth shine.

j

* Anatomy of Melancholy, 8th edit. folio. p. 295.

[ocr errors]

The sattin-doublet and rays'd velvet hose
Are our church-wardens — all the parish knows.
The boots are John the grocer's, at the Swan:
The spurrs were lent me by a serving-man.
One of my rings, 'that with the great red stone)
In sooth I borrow'd of my gossip Jone:
Her husband knows not of it. Gentlemen!
Thus stands my case :

I pray shew favour then.”
“ Why, (quoth the theeves) thou need'st not greatly care,
Since in thy loss so many beare a share.
The world goes hard : many good fellowes lacke :
Looke not, at this time, for a penny backe.
Go, tell, at London, thou didst meete with foure
That, rifling thee, have rob'd at least a score."*

a

Under the next section of this chapter, including the Modes of Living, it is our intention to give a short detail of the household furniture, eating, drinking, and domestic economy of our town-ancestors, during the close of the sixteenth, and beginning of the seventeenth century.

In that part of the first volume which is appropriated to the Modes of Living in the Country, we have seen Holinshed alluding to the increasing luxury of his age in furniture, the convenience, richness, and magnificence of which, as displayed in the upper and middle classes of society in the metropolis, we shall now endeavour briefly to illustrate.

That the palaces of Elizabeth were decorated with all the splendour that tapestry, embroidery, and cloths of gold and silver, and services of plate could effect, we have numberless proofs; but that they united with these the still higher luxuries of comfort and accommodation, too often wanting amid the most gorgeous scenes, we have the testimony of Sir John Harrington, who, in his “ Treatise on Playe,” circa 1597, thus describes the conveniences which the Queen

“. Doctor Merrie-man: or Nothing but Mirth. Written by S. R. At London, printed for John Deane, and are to be sold at his Shoppe at Temple Barre, under the Gate.” 1609. 4to. pp. 24.–Vide Restituta, vol. iii. p. 442. Samuel Rowland is supposed to be the author of this lively satire.

[ocr errors]

had provided for her courtiers :--" It is a great honor of the Queen's court, that no princes servants fare so well and so orderly: to be short, the stately pallaces, goodly and many chambers, fayr gallerys, large gardens, sweet walkes, that princes with magnificent cost do make, (the xxth parte of which they use not themselves) all shew that they desire, the ease, content and pleasure of theyr followers, as well as themselves. Which matter, though it be more proper to another discourse, yet I colde not but towch it in this, agaynst theyr error rather than awsterytie, that say play becomes not the presence, and that it would not as well become the state of the chamber to have easye quilted and lyned forms and stools for the lords and ladyes to sit on, as great plank forms that two yeomen can scant remove out of their places, and waynscot stooles so hard, that since great breeches were layd asyde, men can skant indewr to sitt on.

Hentzner, in his Travels, gives a still further display of the costly costume of the Queen's apartments. At Windsor Castle he tells us that Her Majesty had “ two bathing-rooms cieled and wainscoted with glass ;” and at Hampton Court he adds, “ her closet in the chapel was most splendid, quite transparent, having its window. of chrystal. We were led into two chambers, called the presence, or chambers of audience, which shone with tapestry of gold and silver, and silk of different colours. Here is besides a small chapel richly hung with tapestry, where the Queen performs her devotions. In her bed-chamber the bed was covered with very costly cover lids of silk :- in one chamber were several excessively rich tapestries, which are hung up when the queen gives audience to foreign ambassadors ; there were numbers of chusions ornamented with gold and silver ; many counterpanes and coverlids of beds lined with ermine: in short, all the walls of the palace shine with gold and silver. Here is besides a certain cabinet called Paradise, where besides that every thing glitters so with silver, gold, and jewels, as to dazzle ones

Nugæ Antiquæ, vol. i. pp. 201, 202.

eyes, there is a musical instrument made all of glass, except the

[ocr errors]

strings." *

The emulation of the nobility left them little behind their Queen in ornamental profusion of this kind; and the picture which Shakspeare has drawn of Imogen's chamber in Cymbeline, may be quoted as an apposite instance, for he ever imparts the costume of his native island to that of

every

other country:

[ocr errors]

66 Her bed-chamber was hanged

With tapestry of silk and silver; the story
Proud Cleopatra, when she met her Roman -

A piece of work
So bravely done, so rich, that it did strive
In workmanship, and value.

The chimney-piece,
Chaste Dian bathing.

The roof o' the chamber
With golden cherubins is fretted: Her andirons
(I had forgot them) were two winking Cupids
Of silver, each on one foot standing." +

To this sketch'we can add a few features from a little work entitled

a “ The Mirrour of Madnes," anno 1576, where the house of the opulent man is thus described :—“ My chaumbers, parloures, and other such romes, hanged wyth clothe of tyssue, arrace, and golde ; my cupbordes heades set oute and adorned after the richest, costlieste, and most gloryous maner, wyth one cuppe cocke height upon an other, beside the greate basen and ewer both of silver and golde ; filled at convenient tymes with sweete and pleasaunt waters, wherewith my delicate hands may be washed, my heade recreated, and my nose refreshed, &c.”

When Lævinius Lemnius, a celebrated physician and divine of Zealand, visited London, during the reign of Elizabeth, he was delighted with the houses and furniture of the middle classes :--" The

66

[blocks in formation]
« ForrigeFortsæt »