Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

on such a matter) on this very question of seemly apparel. His answer showed that he fully realised the delicacy of the appeal. He noted, indeed, the “vain apparel as most commonly now is used among women," but the opening sentence of his reply indicates that he knew he was treading on delicate ground. “The answer to your scripture," he begins, “touching the apparel of women, commanded by the apostles St Paul and St Peter to be used of such as profess godliness, is very difficult and dangerous to appoint any certainty, lest in so doing we either restrain Christian liberty, or else loose the bridle too far to the foolish fantasy of facile flesh.” 34 Not only Knox, however, but even a worldly ecclesiastic like Bishop Leslie bewailed “the excess of clothing," as a pest "most contagious"; and the complaints of both have an interesting commentary in a sumptuary statute of the year 1581. In this statute it was ordained that no subject, “man or woman, being under the degrees of dukes, earls, lords of Parliament, knights or landed gentry—shall, after the first of May next, use or wear in their clothing or apparel or lining thereof, any cloth of 'gold or silver, velvet, satin, damask, taffeta, or any ornamental stripes (begareis), fringes, lace (pasmentis), embroidery of gold, silver or silk, nor yet any linen, cambric or woollen cloth, made and brought from any foreign

Make what deduction we please for the emphatic language of legislators, we must conclude from this enactment that the taste for

country." 35

a

sumptuous raiment was pretty general in Scotland, and that the means were not wanting to gratify it.

By the time of Mary the hard-and-fast regulations which prescribed the garb to be worn by each class were no longer very strictly regarded, yet convenience still made it desirable that a uniform, dress should be worn by certain classes of persons. Just as it was in the interests of the crafts that each should reside in a particular part of the town, so it was also in their own interest that their honest members should be distinguished by a special dress. Even the humblest town officials also had their own livery; the postman in Aberdeen was arrayed in blue, and bore the town arms on his left sleeve ; 36 and on state occasions the Edinburgh Guild servants appeared in black hose, black doublet, and black bonnets.37

When Bishop Leslie remarks that the dress worn by his countrymen did not greatly differ from the dress worn by the same classes in other countries, he adds that nevertheless each country had in this matter some peculiarities of its own.

In the case both of men and women in Scotland there were certainly some peculiarities in the adorning of their persons, which both attracted the attention of strangers and greatly exercised the native legislators. In town and country alike a blue bonnet and a plaid or cloak were the prevailing costume of the men, but it was a costume apparently

It was

considered too free and easy for any respectable burgess to wear in public.

out of jealousy for the repute of their good town, therefore, that the municipal authorities denounced the blue bonnets and plaids as unbecoming the dignity of a burgess. In Aberdeen the burgess who appeared in a bonnet was fined £5 and if he appeared in a plaid the penalty was

405.38

But it was an article of feminine attire that specially roused the wrath of the responsible authorities in the towns. It was the universal custom of women of all ranks to envelop their heads in plaids or cloaks, whenever and wherever they had occasion to appear in public. The custom was denounced with all that abundance of epithet for which the old Scots tongue is remarkable. In milder terms it was described as "an uncivil form of behaviour,” as an “offence to strangers and occasion to them to speak reproachfully of all women generally.” 39 The plaids were declaimed against from the pulpit and prohibited under penalties, but neither preacher nor magistrate could prevail on the wearers to discard the objectionable garment. Long after Mary's day plaids still continued to be worn by women of every rank, and legislature vainly iterated its pains and penalties. In the reign of Charles I., Lithgow, the far-travelled Scot, rebuked his perverse countrywomen in the following doggerel lines :

.

“And I could wish that Edinburgh would mend
This shameless custom which none can commend.
Should women walk like spirits, should women wear
Their winding-sheets alive, wrapt up I swear
From head to foot in plaids ? " 40

Besides lamenting the extravagance of the Scottish gentry in the matter of dress Bishop Leslie also bewails their new habits of luxurious living. The tables of gentlemen, he says, "are more delicate and delicious than grave men either use to approve or commend,” 41 and in this indictment, also, he is borne out by the legislation of the period. From an Act passed in 1552 against superfluous cheer" we might infer that the upper classes in Scotland were as addicted to sumptuous feasts as the Romans in the days of Juvenal. It was in full accordance with the economic theories of the period that the legislature sought to check such tastes by express enactment. The luxurious living of the rich, it was believed, meant starvation for the poor, and the overfed bishop or earl, moreover, was rendered unfit to discharge the duties of his station. On pain of proportionate fines, therefore, the Act restricted archbishops, bishops, and earls to eight dishes, priors and deans to six, barons and freeholders to four, and burghers and other men of substance, spiritual and temporal, to three the dishes in each case to contain but one kind of meat. It was specially on the occasion of marriages and baptisms that all classes vied with each other in loading their tables with such dainties as could be procured either at home or from over sea. Against this custom, also, what were deemed cogent economical reasons were urged: those who indulged in these foreign "drugs, confections, and spices” were often ill able to afford the cost, and, besides, the money

thus
spent

enriched other countries at the expense of home industries. In 1581, therefore, it was enacted that none but such as could spend 2000 marks a year should use such foreign dainties at their banquets, and that in the case of christenings no person whatever should be permitted to indulge in them.43

Apart from banquets, an English visitor has described the kind of fare that was consumed by the greater part of the people. Cabbage and colewort, pease and beans were the principal vegetables; salted mutton and geese the common meats. In the towns wheaten bread was to be had, but it was only the upper classes and the wealthier burgesses who could afford to buy it: the mass of the people had to be content with oatcakes. The same visitor thus describes a meal at which he was one of the guests. “Myself,” he says, “was at a

a knight's house who had many servants to attend him, that brought in his meat with their heads covered with blue caps, the table being more than half-furnished with great platters of porridge (pottage), each having a little piece of sodden meat. And when the table was served, the servants did sit down with us, but the upper mess

« AnteriorContinuar »