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as homo vir; it is quite as true of the other moiety, the homo femina. If it be possible that a woman should ever be made frightful by any thing except age, then it is surely by dress; if a woman never does a foolish thing in any other way, yet at least she errs in her habiliments; if she be fickle at all, (and speak to the fact, ye disappointed bachelors and ye complaisant husbands!) in what is she more fickle than in dress? We might waste a life in finding a suitable simile for her volatility in this matter: rainbows with changing colours, water on a windy day, the wind itself in the month of March, the much - desiderated perpetual motion; all are feeble similes to describe a woman's fickleness in dress. Shall we liken it to her tongue's untiring play? or shall we not rather say that it is a psychological fact standing per se f the concomitant effect and consequence of her beauty? But, dear creatures! we are not going to quarrel with them for what gives us so much unconscious pleasure, (we do not mean milliners' bills, gentle reader;) we glory in living under a petticoat government, and in essentially petticoatiau times. All we shall do is to give a word of advice; and in trying on their caps for them, we will show them the rationale of their bows and their lace, if they will only have the patience to sit still for the experiment.
Before embarking on such an important project, allow us to say that we are not going to quiz old WhangFong for his pig-tail and peacock feathers, nor his Cannibalean majesty for his obstinate refusal to wear a decent pair of inexpressibles; it is a stiff subject to meddle with the dressing propensities of people that live "in many a place that's underneath the world." For all wo care, Abd el Kader and his Arabs may stifle themselves up in their greasy blankets swarming with ancestral vermin under a nearly tropical sun; and the good people of Igloolik may bedeck themselves with the spoils of fish, flesh, and fowl, to set the fashions of the Arctic circle. We are going to speak merely of our home acquaintances and our European friends; if these only would be reasonable in
their dress, what a new thing it would be in the world—quel progres! quel dvenement!
The fundamental rule of dress we take to be the following—utility in all cases, ornament when practicable. The first should ever precede, and serve as the basis to the second; and it is the inversion of their due positions that causes so many applications of the utile and the duke to end in sheer absurdity. The usefulness of any article or system of dress depends entirely upon climate, modified of course by the occupation or pursuits of the wearer; the beauty of it or the suitableness of the ornament to the character of the vestment. We defy all the editors of the Recueilsdes Modes, Petits Courriers des Dames, Belles Assemblies, &c., with even the poetlaureates of Moses and Son, Hyam and Co., with the whole host of Israelitish Schneiders, to find out a better aesthetic definition of the law of dress than this. Who would have the effrontery to maintain that an Englishman, the very type of the useful at Calcutta in his cotton jacket and nankeens, would in the same habiliments be a suitably dressed man at St Petersburg? and however much a well-set ring may ornament an aristocratic finger, (though aristocratic fingel's, like aristocratic hands, as Byron observes, need no ornament to tell their origin,) who but an Otaheitan would admire the application of them to the gouty toes of some " fine old English gentleman?" Usefulness first, then, and ornament afterwards; think first of what you actually want for your health or comfort; cut your coat upon that pattern, clap on your lace afterwards; but eurich it only to improve its appearance, not to interfere with, to conceal, or to alter its original destination.
To begin, however, methodically, let us take what are commonly understood by well-dressed English people of the present day, and let us criticise them from top to toe. And first, then, of a gentleman's head—le ckef, as the French call it—and the chapeau, its present gear. What a covering! what a termination to the capital of that pillar of the creation, Man! what an ungraceful, mis-shapen, useless, and uncomfortable appendage to tho scat of reason—the brain-box! Does it protect the head from either heat, cold, or wet? Does it set off any of natural beauty of the human craninm? Arc its lines in harmony with, or in becoming contrast to, the expressive features of the face? Is it comfortable, portable, durable, or cheap? What qualities, either of use or ornament, has it in its favour that it should be the crowning point of a well-dressed man's toilet? The hat is, beyond all doubt, one of the strangest vestimental anomalies of the nineteenth century.
The history of the hat is this :—The simplest covering for a man's head after his own unshorn locks—(do not remind us of the matted and living locks of the Indians or Hottentots)— must have been something like the Greek sknll-cap. This we hold to have been the root, or nucleus, of the hat; and yet even this cap-had a fault in point of utility, for it failed to shadow the eyes: and on the earliest Greek monuments we fmd a cap with a wide brim appended, or a flattish straw-hat following close upon the Phrygian bonnet. A. light flattish hat has its recommendation in a warm country, but it will not do for the winds and storms of a northern clime; and hence all the old Gauls, the northern nations, the Tartars, and the peasants of Europe, for many a long century wore a modified cap—sometimes swelling out into ornamental proportions, at others shrinking into the primitive simplicity of the Phrygian or Greek cap. Shall we confess it, fastidious reader ?—we strongly suspect the cap worn by that idle fellow Paris, when he so impndently ogled the goddesses on Mount Ida, to have been very similar to the good old bonnet de niot of our grandfathers—(shall we whisper it, of ourselves?) Yes, that little cocked-up corner at the top looks like a bndding tassel; he never had such bad taste as to tie it with a riband round his brows; and we do not read in Ilomer that Helen, though a capital workwoman, ever gave him one; but we are inclined to believe that the old punty-dunty, pndding-bag-shaped cap which is still worn by the French peasantry in their field occupations, and is still patronized by a large portion of Queen Victoria's loving subjects, is
of the highest antiquity, and based, we have no doubt, on utility. Wo must be candid enough to say, that i we give up the argument as to the intrinsic beauty of this species of cap —truly we think it the very type of all that is slovenly; but for use, there is not a more comfortable, portable, pliable, buyable, and washable a commodity, than your—nightcap are wo to say? no—than your bonnet Grec.
Hats, properly so called, whether of cloth or for, were evidently the invention of some out-of-door people; but then they were not the brimless pyramidal canisters of the present fashion,' but were either caps with dependent brims, or else broad and flexible Spanish sombreros. The very idea of a hat is that of ntility—something to keep off the sun and the rain—any thing will do for warmth that will aid the hair in keeping in the natural caloric of a man's head; and hence we much doubt whether the Irish, that hot-headed nation, ever wore hats in early times. From the want of shade being early felt by civilized nations, more than shelter from rain, and from hat-shapes being found on early southern monuments, we are inclined to think that the hat was more extensively worn in Southern than in Northern Europe; more, as it is, in Southern England than in Northern Scotland. Hence, although we find many iron sknll-caps, like hats, used by the military in the fifteenth century; and although we find traces of hats even in the plebeian costumes of the middle ages—yet we look upon the Spanish and Italian hat of the sixteenth century, as the more immediate origin of its degenerate successor, the actual chapeau. We need not trace the variations of its form through the seventeenth century, from the high-crowned things of Heury III. of France, and James I. of England, to the graceful beavers of Louis XIII., Philip III., and Charles I. of England; the change was all in favour of the beaver; and certainly the hat reached its culminating point of excellence during the reign of our martyr king. Who has stndied the splendid portraits of Vandyke, or the heads of Rubens, and has not perceived the uncommon grace given to them by the well-proportioned and not exec*
sive hat? Who does not remember the fine portrait of Rubens himself, with his black Spanish hat turned up in front, the very perfection of that Style of head-dress? Put a modern hat by the side of this hat of Rubens, and say which bears off the palm; there can hardly be two opinions upon the subject. The great change of this hat took place, as is well known, in Louis XIV.'s court, where first of all feathers were laid all round upon the flat of the brim, and next the brim was edged with lace, and pinched or cocked up, for greater use in military service. It might have been useful for a military man, especially one who had to handle a bayoneted musket; but it was a fatal invasion of the principle of beauty to adopt a permanent cock. There is no doubt that the flat cocked hat, the small three-cornered pinched hat of the days of Louis XIV. and Louis XV., gave much smartness to the soldier, and much neatness to the civilian; the change, too, corresponded with other alterations of dress, from the loose and flowing, to the tight and succinct principle; but picturesque effect was entirely lost; all the sentimentality, all the romance of the hat, evaporated in the formal cock. Rut this small flat hat of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, was perfection and beauty itself, compared with the outrageous and elevated cocked hat which came into fashion sometime before 1750, and which is the immediate prototype of the present military cocked hat. Here the principle of utility was entirely abandoned; it was sacrificed to the display of an unnatural brim. The hat was no longer formed ly the pinching up of a circular brim of moderate dimensions; but three enormous flaps were made to rear their unwieldy height in the air, and were strengthened, stiffened, and supported, against the envious winds, to the torment of the wearer, and to the disfigurement of his person. All through the first half of tho tasteless reign of good old George III., did this horrible covering disguise the bean's head; and the effect of it may still be jndged of by his grandehildren, when they contemplate, not without awe, the rubicund figure of some metropoUtan
church-beadle with his large-caped coat, silver-headed cane, and monstrous three-cornered hat. Our modern great ladies, strange to say, seem to have an especial affection for this hat, since they take particular care to have a couple of footmen behind their carriage glorying in this capital atrocity, while on the coachbox they encourage the older form of the flat cocked hat of Louis XV.
All cocked hats, be it observed, are glorious rain-traps; the only improvement they are capable of is one not yet patented, namely, the' appending of neat flexible spouts, say of Macintosh cloth, from each corner, so as to convey the water in pleasant meanderings over the back and coattails. In dry weather these spouts might be tied up, and would form graceful curves either before, behind, or on one side of the cocked flaps, while in a shower they would add dignity to utility, as they hung all adown the back of the wearer. One kind of utility, however, the old cocked hat certainly had; it served in some degree, maugrc the looping up of the brim, to shelter the face from the sun; not indeed when worn full front, as it was in Dr Johnson's time, and as we remember the household-troops used to wear it—but when, by a daring innovation of revolutionary times, it came to be turned round on its human pivot, and lay gently athwart the line of vision. Thus it is that our generals wear it in this nineteenth century; thus it was that the Great Duke got all through Spain with it; though Napoleon, who greatly reduced its dimensions, always kept to the orthodox full-front; and in all positions, except the latter, it certainly does shade some portion of the face from the sun. But while, for example, the projection of one peak shades the nose, the ears and cheeks are left to fish for themselves; or else, if the hat wheels round again to the front, the ears come under its benignant shade, but the tip of the proboscis suffers awfully. The corked hat has always been a two-horned dilemna ever since tho third peak moved up in the world from its original position of horizontal equality, and aspired to be a near neighbour of the cockade or towering plume.
It was that wicked revolution of France, or rather that dissolute time preceding it, which produced the most mischief in the hat line. Look at any of the pictures of that day—look at the portraits of the Conventionalists — look at the old prints of country gentlemen hunting or riding races at Newmarket—remember the Sir Joshuas in many a noble gallery; and yon will not fail to remark that the choice spirits of the day, the go-ahead lads of that time, had let down the flaps of their cocked hats into slouching, and we must say, most slovenly circular brims. There was a sort of free-and-easy look affected in that day about the head, totally at enmity with the prim rigidity of the cocked beaver; yon might have taken off your chapeau rontf, as it then came to be called, and you might have sat on it —it would have been never the worse; but not so with its stiff old father—no liberties were to be taken with him ; once sit upon him, and yon wonld have crushed him for ever. This very difference of hats marked a difference of politics—at least in France. There the old chapenn a trois comes was the badge of the aristocracy : the ehapeau rand and the bonntt rourje were sworn brothers in the cause of democracy. The times were getting unhinged ; all fashions were relaxing; so were public moraLs; so were private morals; so were men's hats: hats and heads seemed to have a sympathy, and to have gone wrong together.
And what has been the history of the hat since that day ?—the civilian's hat we mean. Who remembers the overlapping crowns which came into fashion soon after the great peace, at a time when Frenchmen wore their brims extravagantly pinched up at the sides, and deeply pulled down fore and aft? Sometimes the hat rose up in pyramidal majesty; sometimes it was shut in like a telescope wanting to be pulled out. And then every kind of fancy man had a fancy hat: there was the Neck-or-nothing hat, the Bang-up, the Corinthian, the Jerry, and the Logic; or else distinguished leaders of ton lent their names to it, and we had the Petershams, the Barringtons, &c. Through every degree of absurdity has the
clmpeau rond passed, until it seems to have settled down into that quiescent state of mediocrity which marks the decline of empires and of hats. The brim is no longer only half an inch broad as it was once, nor four inches broad as we also remember it: it seems to vary between the limits of one inch and two—a breadth just snfficient to let the line of shade, when the head is erect, come upon the eyelids, and just sufficient to clear the ears. But if the head be moved ever so little, or if the rain come down ever so slantingly, the services of the hat are at an end: it is well enough to intercept any thing coming down perpendicularly, but "slantendicularly," as friend Slick says—no. Its present height is just enough to prevent your wearing it in a carriage, and such, too, as to give a moderate wind a good purchase upon it: the substance is such that the least exposure to wet ruins it, whether of beaver or silk; a moderate blow will crack or break its form; and for the first week, if you have any thing like a sensitive head, or any bosses of unknown qualities protrnding from your craninm, you are doomed to incessant headachs from hat-pinchings. It has no properties of usefulness to recommend it, and none of ornament, saving this—if it can be called such— the being an invaluable appendage for a little man to make himself appear tall. What a wide interval from the simplicity of its Phrygian original!
Having, therefore, criticized our present head-gear, and condemned our hats, without pulling them to pieces, let us enquire what a proper covering for the head should be: first of all in point of usefulness, and next in point of comely appearance. But let no man vainly imagine that wo expect to suit the fancies of all the creatures privileged to wear hats, or even to cover their heads; we do not pretend to invent, or decide upon, any one given type or form of headdress. So many are the wants of a man in covering his head, so widely differing from each other are the exigencies of different people, that uniformity in hats is to be given up as a bad job: to attempt it would foil the strength of a Heroules: the utmost wo can hope to effect is to lay down certain limits for the valuations of this apex of human pride.
For us, then, who live in a climate rainy, windy, hot, and cold, all within any twenty-four hours of the year, just as the case may be, it is plain that we want for general use something that will be proof against the atmospherical accidents that may befall any man who goes abroad to take the air. And here let it be observed, that in reasoning about hats, all thoughts about that effeminate invention, the umbrella, are to be laid aside. This utensil is truly a disgrace to the manhood of the times; and its existence, by allowing people to dispense with warm cloaks and other anti-rain appliances, has caused more disease, in letting them catch cold, than any thing else we know of. Our stalwart ancestors did admirably well without umbrellas; they wore good cloaks or coats, and broad beavers to keep the rain out of their necks, faring not a jot the worse for it. Umbrellas are only fit for menmilliners, Cockney travellers, and women. The nature of a hat, we flatter ourselves, is something independent of cotton and whalebone; and instead of the umbrella claiming precedence over the hat, the hat, we take it, should be above the umbrella. An Englishman's hat, then, should bo something that will keep the rain off his face and neck when the weather is bad, and shield his eyes from the glare of the sun on the few days when sunlight is oppressive—and these two requirements settle at once, on all principles of common sense, that a man, if he has only one kind of covering for the head, should have a hat with a broad brim. This is the very foundation of the definition of an useful hat, providing that a hat is really to be the thing worn for protecting a man's upper story. Usefulness will also decide against height in the crown. Cui bono this same high crown of ours, that looks more like a watering-pot deprived of its spout and handle than a reasonable article of human apparel? Down with the crowns, say we! If you will wear a hat, down with your crown. You may put down your half-sovereign or sovereign, or whatever you please,
for your new hat first of all, but down with your crown too. Here, gentle reader, you will exclaim against our taste, and will protest that we would sacrifice every thing to that horrid utilitarian principle, which opposes all ideas of beauty and poetry. We are free to confess that, in our opinion, there is not much poetry to be made about such a subject—unless some obsolete verses, "All round my hat," may be alleged to the contrary; but as for the beauty of the head-piece, we protest that we admit its existence, and think that it should be consulted by whomsoever would pay proper attention to his own outward appearance. The merely useful may possibly make the shape approximate to that of a Quaker's or a jarvey's, but the beautiful has to elevate and modify it into the mystical proportions fit for a man of taste. One other quality, however, which is intimately connected with the useful, has to be noticed. The substance should not be hard and unyielding. Witness, ye reminiscences —ye painful images of bygone headachs, even yet flitting through our brain like Titanic thunderbolts!—accursed be the memory of that fellow Tightfit in Old Bond Street, who used to screw his hats on our craninm when we were young, and ere London had awakened us! As you value your comfort, dear reader, never purchase a hard hat. A hard heart may be borne with, but a hard hat—never! And last of all, a hat should be light—yes, the lighter the better—light as a gossamer web, though 'tis a simile that will not bear stretching. You may have the misfortune to be a heavyheaded man, but do not add to it that of being heavy-hatted. Avoid the extremity of suffering; and observe the climax of ill from which we would shield your head—a narrow-brimmed, hard, heavy, high-crowned hat—
"roie y«j /3foro/f (Af/tOTM n^&T tx. tjut xXKOr."
The covering of the head, then, must have its usefulness made ornamental, if not beautiful; and the duo ornamentation of it will depend principally upon its form, but also upon its colour and material. Now, form is the principal thing; every one that