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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
* Douce's Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 315.
, 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
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
do know. My horse, in troth, I borrow'd of my brother ; The bridle and the saddle, of another:
The jerkin and the bases be a taylor's:
The falling band is likewise none of mine,
* Anatomy of Melancholy, 8th edit. folio. p. 295.
The sattin-doublet and rays'd velvet hose
I pray shew favour then.”
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.
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
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
66 Her bed-chamber was hanged
With tapestry of silk and silver; the story
A piece of work
The roof o' the chamber
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