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PHILIP STUBBES' ANATOMY OF ABUSES.
[1593. are as odious in his sight as "gaming-houses, the shambles of the devil." Nevertheless, he is an honest and trustworthy observer of manners, at a time when the moralist had a wide range for observation; when he looked upon a people rather than a class-the courtier and the citizen, the artisan and the peasant. The pursuits of all members of the social state had become blended in mutual wants and dependencies. Let us follow this quaint old writer in some of his delineations of the English of the latter part of the sixteenth century-" a strong kind of people, audacious, bold, puissant, and heroical, of great magnanimity, valiancy, and prowess;" but," notwithstanding that the Lord hath blessed that land with the knowledge of his truth above all other lands in the world, yet is there not a people more corrupt, wicked, or perverse, living upon the face of the earth."* Out of the manifest exaggerations of this declaimer we may collect many curious and unquestionable facts.
In the Epistle Dedicatory of his volumes, Stubbes says, "reformation of manners, and amendment of life, was never more needful; for was pride, the chiefest argument of this book, ever so ripe?" By "pride" we understand him to mean what is the accompaniment of every period of general prosperity-a love of luxury and of luxurious display, not confined to the superior classes, but spread by the force of the imitative principle very widely through many inferior degrees of station. "Do not," he says, "both men and women, for the most part, every one, in general, go attired in silks, velvets, damasks, satins, and what not, which are attire only for the nobility and gentry, and not for the others at any hand ? The sumptuary laws of Henry VIII. had ceased to be regarded. Those who were winning wealth by industry would no longer submit, if they ever did submit, to be told by statute what they were not to wear, according to a scale of income varying from 2001. a year to 5l.† They utterly despised the reason set forth for such arbitrary regulation-namely, to prevent "the subversion of good and politic order in knowledge and distinction of people, according to their estates, preeminences, dignities, and degrees." A statute of Philip and Mary was directed against the wearing of silk, except by certain privileged classes. The statesmen of Elizabeth meddled little with these matters, but we find in the statute-book three laws which were intended, as we suppose, for the encouragement of home manufactures. By a statute of 1562-3, a most singular device was adopted, for preventing persons, except those of inordinate wealth, indulging too largely in the extravagance of "foreign stuff or wares "for appareling or adorning the body. If such finery was sold to any person not possessing 3000l. a year in lands or fees, not being paid for in ready money, the seller was debarred of any legal remedy for the recovery of the debt.§ By a statute of 1566, velvet hats or caps were prohibited to all under the degree of a knight; and by that of 1571, every person, except ladies, lords, knights, and gentlemen having twenty marks by the year in land, was to wear upon his head, on Sundays and holidays, a home-made cap of wool, very decent and comely for all states and degrees. If Stubbes is to be relied upon, all states and degrees rejected the statutory notion of what was decent and comely. They wore hats "perking up like the spear or shaft of a
* Stubbes, p. 4. We quote from the rare reprint, edited by Mr. Turnbull. 24 Hen. VIII. c. 13.
§ 5 Eliz. c. 6.
|| 13 Eliz. c. 19.
PRIDE OF APPAREL.
temple; -or hats "flat and broad on the crown, like the battlements of a house;" or round crowns" with bands of every colour. They wore hats of silk, velvet, taffety, sarsenet, wool, and of "fine hair, which they call beaver, fetched from beyond the seas, from whence a great sort of other vanities do come besides." He was of no estimation among men who had not a velvet or taffety hat; "and so common a thing it is, that every serving-man, country-man, or other, even all indifferently, do wear of these hats." With these exceptional laws, which thus appear to have been wholly inoperative, Elizabeth and her Council left the regulation of apparel to a far higher law than any parliament could enact-to the tastes of the people and their ability to gratify them. The foreign fashions were copied, and the foreign silks and velvets imported, with no restraint that had the least effect. The queen herself carried her love of costly dress almost into a mania. It was the only expenditure in which she was profuse. In her youth, said bishop Aylmer, "her maidenly apparel, which she used in king Edward's time, made the noblemen's daughters and wives to be ashamed to be dressed and painted like peacocks." Sir John Harrington has a story of a bishop, which shows how the same Elizabeth thought of such adornments at a later period of her life. "On Sunday my lord of London preached to the queen's majesty, and seemed to touch on the vanity of decking the body too finely. Her majesty told the ladies that if the bishop held more discourse on such matters, she would fit him for heaven, but he should walk thither without a staff, and leave his mantle behind him ""* The ruff and the vardingale had then superseded all "maidenly apparel;" and we are now accustomed to think of Elizabeth and her ladies as they shone forth in the most gorgeous but least graceful of womanly attire. The liberty of the press, small as it was, must have been more relied upon than the liberty of the pulpit, when Philip Stubbes hurled his thunder against every article of dress with which we are familiar in the portraits of the magnificent queen. The wreaths of gold and jewels in the bolstered hair; the rings of precious stones in the pierced ears; the "great ruffs and neckerchers of holland, lawn, cambric, and such cloth, smeared and starched in the devil's 'liquor,' starch;" the gowns "of divers fashions, changing with the moon; "the fringed petticoats; the coloured kirtles-these vanities of the rich and great, had, according to this minute censor, descended to the very humble: "So far hath this canker of pride eaten into the body of the commonwealth, that every poor yeoman's daughter, and every husbandman's daughter, and every cottager's daughter, will not stick to flaunt it out in such gowns, petticoats, and kirtles, as these." Doubtless this description of the spread of luxury is greatly overdone; or we might receive it as a proof of the general diffusion of wealth. But when this godly satirist tells us of these cottagers' daughters," they are so impudent that, albeit their poor parents have but one cow, horse, or sheep, they will never let them rest till they be sold, to maintain them in their braveries,"we may be certain that he is speaking "in Ercles' vein." The holiday finery of the village maiden was limited to a ribbon and a coloured nether-stock. A "queen of curds and cream," transplanted to a town, might "spend the greatest part of the day in sitting at the door, to show her braveries,"
"Nuga Antique," vol. i. p. 170.
GLUTTONY AND DRUNKENNESS.
but on her native green she was as pure and simple as the rose in her bosom.
The pride of apparel, set forth by this anatomist of abuses, was scarcely more obtrusive in women than in men. All ranks, according to this authority, lavished their means upon the abominations of stately bands and
Costume.-Venetian, 1590 (Titian). Spanish, 1577 (Weigel). French, 1581 (Boissard.)
monstrous ruffs, upon embroidered shirts, upon slashed and laced doublets, upon French and Venetian hosen, upon knit nether-stocks (stockings), upon velvet cloaks. There never was a period in which the satirist did not affirm that the preceding generation was healthier and braver, and altogether nobler than that to which he had the misfortune to belong; and so our good old Puritan writes, "how strong men were in times past, how long they lived, and how healthful they were, before such niceness and vain pampering curiosity was invented, we may read, and many that live at this day can testify. But now, through our fond toys and nice inventions, we have brought ourselves into such pusillanimity and effeminacy of condition, as we may seem rather nice dames and wanton girls, than puissant agents or manly men, as our forefathers have been." * The year 1588 gave a practical answer to the charge of pusillanimity. The Saxon heart was as brave as ever, though it beat under an Italian doublet. Nevertheless, if there had not been some salt in society to preserve the body politic from the taint of selfishness, these and other excesses of pride might be received as symptoms of national decay. Gluttony and drunkenness are the vices of the rudest communities; but in the more general diffusion of wealth in the reign of Elizabeth, they assumed those forms of ostentatious display which are
DANCING CONSIDERED A VICE.
amongst the worst evils of social refinement. The puritan writers were not alone in their remonstrances against the luxuries of the table which marked the latter years of the sixteenth century. Stubbes compares the variety of meats and sauces, the sweet condiments, the delicate confections of his time, with the past days, when "one dish or two of good wholesome meat was thought sufficient for a man of great worship to dine withal." Thomas Nash, whom the Puritans counted amongst the wicked, enlarges on the same theme: "We must have our tables furnished like poulterers' stalls, or as though we were to victual Noah's ark again. What a coil have we, this course and that course, removing this dish higher, setting another lower, and taking away the third. A general might in less space remove his camp, than they stand disposing of their gluttony." * Excessive drinking, a vice which reached its climax in the degraded court of James I., was not wholly of native growth. The same writer says, "From gluttony in meats let me descend to superfluity in drink,—a sin that, ever since we have mixed ourselves with the Low Countries, is counted honourable; but before we knew their lingering wars was held in the highest degree of hatred that might be." Stubbes says, "every country, city, town, village, and other places, hath abundance of ale-houses, taverns, and inns, which are so fraught with maltworms, night and day, that you would wonder
to see them." There were punishments for low debauchery, such as the drunkard's cloak. Against this growing sin, which was creeping up from the peasant and the mechanic to the yeoman and the courtier, the preachers lifted up their voices in the pulpit, and not always in vain. Robert Greene, the unhappy dramatist, who died in the midst of his excesses, tells how he was stopped in his early career of riot by hearing a good man preach of future rewards and punishments; but that he could not stand up against the ridicule of his companions, who called him Puritan and Precisian, and so went again to his drinking-booth, his dice, and his bear-baiting. But we may be sure that these earnest preachers in some degree injured the good effect of their religious exhortations against real vices, by denouncing those harmless recreations which to the greater number supplied the place of grosser excitements. In resisting "the beginnings of evil" too much zeal may be as fatal as too much laxity. The court of Elizabeth, in which
"My grave Lord-Keeper led the brawls,"
The Drunkard's Cloak.
was a dancing court. The queen danced when she was a girl, as her sister Mary also danced. In 1589, at her palace of Richmond, her "ordinary exercise" was "six or seven galliards in a morning, besides music and singing."‡ In 1600, when she was feeble, and asked for a staff when wearied, she could still delight, at the house of sir Robert Sydney, to look upon the pleasures of the * "Pierce Pennilesse," edited by J. P. Collier, from the original of 1592, p. 47. + Ibid. p. 52.
Lodge, vol. ii. p. 411.
MUSIC HELD TO BE CORRUPTING.
young, "and smiled at the ladies, who in their dances often came up to the step on which the seat was fixed to make their obeisance, and so fell back into their order again."* The Puritans denounced all dancing in mixed companies of the sexes. The dancing-schools, which then abounded, were, they said, for teaching "the noble science of heathen devilry." They held that men by themselves and women by themselves" might dance without sin, "to recreate the mind oppressed with some great toil and labour." The people, high and low, did not choose to accept this limitation of their favourite amusement; and so upon the rushes of the torch-lighted hall, having before them the noble example of sir Christopher Hatton,† the courtiers danced their grave measures and corantoes, to the airs of queen Elizabeth's
Remains of Stoke Manor-House, the seat of Sir Christopher Hatton.
"Virginal Book ;" and the peasant youths and maidens, on the village green, saw the sun go down, as they tripped "the comely country-round." Puritanism thought it right to make war upon every such amusement, crying out, "Give over your occupations, you pipers, you fidlers, you minstrels, and you musicians, you drummers, you tabretters, and you fluters, and all other of that wicked brood." They held that "sweet music at the first delighteth the ears, but afterward corrupteth and depraveth the mind." In this, and in many other battles which they fought, they warred against nature, and were beaten. Music was the especial Art of the Elizabethan days. In every household there was the love of music, and in many families it was cultivated as an essential part of education. The plain tune of the church did not unfit the people for the madrigals of the fire-side-exquisite compositions, which tell us how much of the highest enjoyments of a refined taste belonged to an age which we are too apt to consider very inferior to our own in the amenities of life.
* "Nuga Antiquæ," vol. i. p. 315. + See Gray's "Long Story." Stubbes, p. 204.