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price was, at that time, 41. or 51. to teach them to starch, and 206*. to learn them to see the starch. This Mrs. Dinghen was the first that ever taught starching in England."
The Ruffs were adjusted by poking sticks of iron, steel, or silver, heated in the fire—(probably something answering to our Italian iron), and in May 1582 a lady of Antwerp, being invited to a wedding, could not, although she employed two celebrated laundresses, get her ruff plaited according to her taste, upon which "she fell to sweare and teare, to curse and ban, casting the ruffes under feete, and wishing that the devill might take her when shee did wear any neckerchers againe." This gentleman, whom it is said an invocation will always summon, now appeared in the likeness of a favoured suitor, and inquiring the cause of her agitation, he "took in hande the setting of her ruffes, which he performed to her great contentation and liking; insomuch, as she, looking herself in a glasse (as the devill bade her) became greatly enamoured with him. This done, the young man kissed her, in the doing whereof, he writhed her neck in sunder, so she died miserably."
But here comes the marvel: four men tried in vain to lift her "fearful body" when coffined for interment; six were equally unsuccessful; "whereat the standers-by marvelling, caused 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 great feare and woonder of all the beholders."
The large hoop farthingales were worn now, but they were said to be adopted by the ladies from a laudable spirit of emulation, a praiseworthy desire on their parts to be of equal standing with the "nobler sex," who now wore breeches, stuffed with rags or other materials to such an enormous size, that a bench of extraordinary dimension was placed round the parliament house, (of which the traces were visible at a very late period) solely for their accommodation.
Strutt quotes an instance of a man whom the judges accused of wearing breeches contrary to the law (for a law was made against them): he, for his excuse, drew out of his slops the contents ; at first a pair of sheets, two table-cloths, ten napkins, four shirts, a brush, a glass, and a comb; with nightcaps and other things of use, saying, "Your worship may understand, that because I have no safer a storehouse, these pockets do serve me for a room to lay up my goods in,—and, though it be a strait prison, yet it is big enough for them, for I have man things of value yet within it." His excuse was heartily laughed at and accepted.
This ridiculous fashion was for a short time disused, but revived again in 1614. The breeches were then chiefly stuffed with hair. Many satirical rhymes were written upon them; amongst others," A lamentable complaint of the poore Countrye Men agaynst great hose, for the loss of their cattelles tales." In which occur these:—
"What hurt, what damage doth ensue,
"But haire hath so possess'd, of late,
Henry VIII. had received a few pairs of silk stockings from Spain, but knitted silk ones were not known until the second year of Elizabeth, when her silk-woman, Mrs. Montague, presented to Her Majesty a pair of black knit silk stockings, for a new-year's gift, with which she was so much pleased that she desired to know if the donor could not help her to any more, to which Mrs. Montague answered, "I made them carefully on purpose for your Majestie; and seeing they please you so well, I will presently set more in hand." "Do so (said the Queen), for I like silk stockings so well, that I will not henceforth wear any more cloth hose." These shortly became common; though even over so simple an article as a stocking, Fashion asserted her supremacy, and at a subsequent period they were two yards wide at the top, and made fast to the " petticoat breeches," by means of strings through eyelet holes.
But Elizabeth's predilection for rich attire is well known, and if the costume of her day was fantastic, it was still magnificent. A suit trimmed with sables was considered the richest dress worn by men; and so expensive was this fur, that, it is said a thousand ducats were sometimes given for " a face of sables." It was towards the close of her reign that the celebrated Gabrielle d'Estrees wore on a festive occasion a dress of black satin, so ornamented with pearls and precious stones, that she could scarcely move under its weight. She had a handkerchief, for the embroidering of which she engaged to pay 1900 crowns. And such it was said was the influence of her example in Paris, that the ladies ornamented even their shoes with jewels.
Yet even this costly magnificence was afterwards surpassed by that of Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, with whom it was common, even at an ordinary dancing, to have his clothes trimmed with great diamond buttons, and to have diamond hatbands, cockades, and earrings, to be yoked with great and manifold ropes and knots of pearl; in short, to be manacled, fettered, and imprisoned in jewels: insomuch that at his going to Paris in 1625, he had twenty-seven suits of clothes made, the richest that embroidery, lace, silk, velvet, gold, and gems could contribute; one of which was a white uncut velvet set all over, both suit and cloak, with diamonds valued at fourscore thousand pounds, besides a great feather, stuck all over with diamonds, as were also his sword, girdle, hatband, and spurs.*
It would but weary our readers were we to dwell on the well-known peculiarities of the "Cavalier and Soundhead" days; and tell how the steeplecrowned hat was replaced at the Restoration by the plumed and jewelled velvet; the forlorn, smooth, methodistical pate, by the curled ringlets and flowing lovelock; the sober, sombre, "sad" coloured garment, with its starched folds, by the gay, varied, flowing drapery of all hues. Then, how the plume of feathers gave way to the simpler band and buckle, and the thick large curling wig and full ruffle, to the bagwig, the tie, and stock.
* Life of Raleigh, by Oldys.
The dashing cloak and slashed sleeves were succeeded by the coat of ample dimensions, and the waistcoat with interminable pockets resting on the knees; the "breeches" were in universal use, though they were not of the universal "black which Cowper immortalises; but " black breeches" and "powder" have had their reign, and are succeeded by the "inexpressible" costume of the present day. We will conclude a chapter, which we fear to have spun out tediously, by Lady Morgan's animated account of the introduction, in France, of that universally-coveted article of dress—a Cashmir shawl:—
"While partaking of a sumptuous collation (at Rouen), the conversation naturally turned on the splendid views which the windows commanded, and on the subjects connected with their existence. The flocks, which were grazing before us had furnished the beautiful shawls which hung on the backs of the chairs occupied by our fair companions, and which might compete with the turbans of the Grand Signor. It would be difficult now to persuade a Parisian petite maitresse that there was a time when French women of fashion could exist without a cashmir, or that such an indispensable article of the toilet and sultan was unknown even to the most elegant. 'The first cashemir that appeared in France,' said Madame D'Aubespine, (for an educated French woman has always something worth hearing to say on all subjects,) 'was sent over by