Obrazy na stronie

4. The Beau.

The town was full of young men who had nothing to occupy them but brawls, drinking bouts, card-playing, and fine dress, and of these no small proportion spent all their serious attention on dress. The fashionable fop or beau enveloped his head in a well-powdered wig, which needed constant attention, and his neck and wrists in lace ruffles. His coat he threw open to display his costly shirt. He encased his legs in tight-fitting knickerbockers, and his feet in high-heeled shoes with silver buckles. For the street he added to this costume a cocked hat, a diamond-hilted sword, a cane, which hung by a loop from his coat, and not infrequently, if the weather were cold, a muff.

5. The Woman of Fashion.

The woman of fashion was a spirited coquette. "There is scarce any emotion in the mind," says one of the writers in the Spectator, "which does not produce a suitable agitation in the fan; in so much, that, if I only see the fan of a disciplined lady, I know very well whether she laughs, frowns, or blushes. I have seen a fan so very angry, that it would have been dangerous for the absent lover who provoked it to have come within the wind of it; and at other times so very languishing that I have been glad for the lady's sake the lover was at a sufficient distance from it." Her coquetry, however, though it charmed the men of her own circle, would be altogether too pretentious to please taste today. She was an affected creature. On pleasant days she would throw a scarlet cloak over her shoul

ders, and with her lap-dog or her monkey under her arm, mince down the street to see the fashions. She had just given up her towering head-dress; 1 her petticoats, says the Spectator, "were blown into an enormous concave, and her feet were propped up on high-heeled shoes. One device she had for giving dignity to her appearance; she powdered her hair and face, and set off her complexion by little pieces of black silk or velvet, called "patches." Skilful hands made these devices charming, but the hands of the ordinary woman scattered the powder clumsily and multiplied the patches till they became absurd. On depressing days, the great lady stayed at home and nursed her one cherished ailment, for every fashionable women chose to consider herself subject to the blues, or, as she called them, the "vapors." On these occasions she was moody, irritable, and when crossed, might, if she were only fashionable enough, become hysterical.

6. A Fashionable Library.

Sir Roger de Coverley's acquaintance among the ladies was largely confined to

1 Within my own memory I have known it rise and fall above thirty degrees. About ten years ago, it shot up to a very great height, insomuch that the female part of our species were much taller than the men. At present

the whole sex is in a manner dwarfed and shrunk into a race of beauties that seems almost another species. I remember several ladies, who were once very near seven foot high, that at present want some inches of five; how they came to be thus curtailed I cannot learn.-The Spectator, June 22, 1711.

those who aspired to learning. It is worth one's while to go over in detail the library which one of these ladies1 is described as having. Her shelves contained four French romances, Cassandra, Cleopatra, Astræa. and Clelia. These stories strung out anywhere from three to ten volumes in length, and were full of sentimental shepherds, romantic knights, flowery meads and purling streams. In Sir Philip Sydney's Arcadia, first published by his sister, the Countess of Pembroke, she had another story of the same general sort, though it was far more genuine in feeling. Among those volumes of hers which no lady's library must be without were the famous Elzevir editions of Latin, French, and German classics, Dryden's Juvenal, Ogilby's Virgil, which, though a wretched translation, was beautifully illustrated, and Baker's Chronicle, a popular jumble of the old English histories and a favorite volume of the lady's friend, Sir Roger. Her religious books had all at one time or another been in the fashion. There was Dick Steele's Christian Hero; the author was too gallant not to be popular; there was Sherlock on Death; he was Dean of the great London Cathedral, St. Paul's; there was Sacheverell's speech; he was the idol of all the ladies of the Tory party. Ever since he had undergone trial for making scurrilous attacks on the Whigs, these ladies had chosen to consider him a martyr. Sir William Temple, whose works were on her shelves, was a polished but conventional essayist; Locke and Newton were profound and abstruse writ1 Leonora. See pages 73-78 in this volume.

ers on scientific and philosophic topics far above her capacity; and the Ladies' Calling was a sort of sequel to the Whole Duty of Man, a treatise in morals which had run through many editions. Side by side with these pious volumes stood "Handsome Fielding's" trial for bigamy, Thomas D'Urfey's gross and dissolute songs and plays, and the New Atalantis, a collection of coarse and malicious scandals.1

7. A Fashion

It was no uncommon thing in the early able Garden. part of the eighteenth century for a painted coquette or a roguish old beau to profess a love for Nature and simple out-door life. No sooner, however, did they establish a country seat out of London than they began to make it as artificial as themselves. They laid out the paths in geometrical figures; they dug out artificial grottoes, and lined them with shells and bits of looking-glass that should glitter under the rays of artificial light; they even pruned the trees into cones, pyramids, globes, or fantastic shapes of men and animals.

8. Fashionable Amusements. The Theatre.

Dancing was the only active exercise in which the woman of fashion ever thought of indulging. She went through the mysteries of the masked ball, the complicated steps of the minuet or the country-dance (or, as we should say, square dance), bet with men at the gaming-table, saw Powell, practically the inventor of Punch and Judy,

1 As the author dared not speak of the victims of her slander by their real names, she used feigned ones. To enjoy the full thought of the book, therefore, Leonora got a key.


exhibit his puppet-show in Covent Garden, or visited the opera, which was just then doubly popular because of its novelty in London and its pretentious stage-settings. The theatre, however, was still the place where the stranger would turn for the fashionable display of the city. Here, at six o'clock, the world gathered to see and to be seen, to hear and to be heard. The upper gallery held the noisy artizans, mechanics, body-servants and apprentices of the town. “It is observed," says the Spectator, in one of its satires, "there has been a certain person in the upper gallery of the play-house, who, when he is pleased with anything that is acted upon the stage, expresses his approbation by a loud knock upon the benches or the wainscot, which may be heard over the whole theatre. This person is commonly known by the name of the 'trunk maker in the upper gallery.' Whether it be that the blow he gives on these occasions resembles that which is often heard in the shops of such artizans, or that he was supposed to have been a real trunk-maker who, after the finishing of his day's work, used to unbend his mind at these public diversions with his hammer in his hand, I cannot certainly tell. There are some I know who have been foolish enough to imagine it is a spirit which haunts the upper gallery and from time to time makes these strange noises; and the rather because he is observed to be louder than ordinary every time the ghost of Hamlet appears. Others have

1 For satire on opera and puppet-show, see the Spectator, Nos. 5, 13, 14, 18, 22, 29, and 31.

« PoprzedniaDalej »