DR. DORAN'S HA.BITS AND MEN. * EY " habits " Dr. Doran
does not mean that persistence in conduct or behaviour which at last becomes a " second nature," and establishes customs or manners ; but those " habits " which originated with the Fall, and have ever since continued the yam& of mankind. Clothes, and the men who wore or made them, are the subject of the Doctor; the "more worthy" gender of the ungallant grammarians, including the better half of creation. He runs over the history of dress from the earliest records on the monuments of Egypt, down to the last great luminary of the last generation, Beau Brummell, with a slight allusion to the bean we have lately lost, Count D'Orsay,—just merely to intimate that the author has reached ground where the tread must be tender, and to point the moral of excess in habits.
"His career only furnished a further proof that the profession of a bean' is not a paying one. He was great in a Fieldingian sense, and according to the poet's maxim which says Base is the slave that pays.' Mere generosity does not make a gentleman ; and even generosity that is oblivious of justice is of no value. There was really nothing to admire in him. A recent 'friend and acquaintance,' indeed, has been so hard put to it to find out a virtue in D'Orsay, that he has fixed upon his neglect of paying his creditors as one ; and the 'friend' thinks that it was sufficient honour for tradesmen to have him for their debtor!"
Between these wide extremes—the Jews as pictorially dressed at Beni Hassan, and as actually victimized by modern beaux—the author expatiates on striking dresses and striking dressers ; illustrating the mass from history and the individual by biography. Dress, however, is construed widely. It not only embraces gloves, hats, and buttons, but beards, and incidentally sundry accessories necessary to "the glass of fashion." In spite of his depth of research and amplitude of exposition, Dr. Doran does not quite reach the fundamentals of his subject We have no investigation into the laws of habits, no attempt to fix the philosophy of dress. "Whets piece of work is man ! . . . . the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals !" Yet it is held proper to disguise this paragon. In dress the principle of " tights" is considered a false principle. We are referred for beauty to the flowing blanket of the ancients or the ample trousers of the Turk ; yet such is the inconsistency of "judgment by perception," that we ridicule the nether garment of the Dutchman. Why is this ? Is it associa
• Habits and Men, with Remnants of Record touching the Makers of both. By Dr. Doran. Author of" Table Traits," Ste. &c. Published by Bentley.
tion of ideas ? Does a latent moral sense overcome "the beauty of the world" ? Do "pants" and a tailless jacket suggest the notion of stinginess ? or worse than stinginess, want of money ? or lower still, want of credit with a tailor ? while in flowing robes and capacious nethers we have the idea of ample means ? Or does the principle that to imitate is not to copy servilely, lurk under what the present generation cannot remember, the uniform of the London Light Horse Volunteers? Why do judges pronounce our modern habits to surpass those of all other times and peoples in ugliness ? Is it our impossible attempt to combine opposites that causes our failure ; to have garments neither tight nor loose, with a tail behind which, whether " swallow " or spread, unconsciously suggests to the mind the idea of the parent monkey to which Monboddo traced us. These are matters, Doctor, that require settlement and are worthy of thy skill. We can wait patiently for a second edition of Habits and Men, which probably will not be long in coming. Meanwhile, we can be entertained with the wide and curious reading, the well-selected facts and illustrations touching dress, the anecdotes of the wearers, and the notices or biographies of the leaders of ton, in which we are happy to say old England is preeminent. Beau Fielding, Beau Nash, Bean Brrunmell, rise to the mind, as heroes of the beau monde who reached excellence in habits by a liberal expenditure of their own time and other people's money. Neither should the tailors whom Dr. Doran commemorates be overlooked in the list of national worthies,—Hawkwood the heroic tailor, Admiral Hobson the naval tailor, Stow and Speed the antiquarian tailors, Pepys the official tailor, Ryan the theatrical tailor, Paul Whitehead the poet tailor ; and surely as well as " Mems. of Merchant Tailors," there was a regiment of tailors Elliott's Light Horse, who could beat the enemy, but were not permitted to reform their own habits.
Homer sometimes nods, and the sun has spots ; how then can Dr. Doran be faultless ? At times more especially at the opening, his pen runs away with him ; he Wishes to substitute writing for matter : but this may be mere preluding to get his hand in. Akin to the defect of overwriting is rather a tendency to overdoing. There are slips too in his chronology, and we suspect he might be puzzled to produce authorities for some of his facts. His " good stories" are obnoxious to a similar remark ; but who cares for the authenticity of a joke ? Like an old deed, it proves itself. Here is a passage from stage-dresses, where the author is his own authority.
"Our provincial theatres exhibit some strange anomalies with regard to costume, and there the sons and daughters of today have middle-aged sires wearing the costume of the time of George I. But the most singular anomaly in dress ever encountered by my experience was at a small theatre in Ireland, not very far from Sligo. The entertainment consisted of Venice Preserved, and the balcony scene from _Romeo and Juliet. The Venetian ladies and gentlemen were attired in every possible variety of costume; yet not one of them wore a dress that could have been distinguished at any period as being once worn by any people civilized or savage. Jaffier and Pierre, however, presented the greatest singularity, for they were not only indescribably decked, but they had but one pair of buskin boots between them ; and accordingly, when it was necessary for both to be in presence of the audience, each stood at the side-scene with a single leg protruded into
sight and duly .booted. •
"Another coincidence struck me in the Irish theatre. The performances were announced as for the benefit of a certain actor and his creditors. I should have set this down to Irish humour, had I not remembered having read that Spiller, in 1719, had made the same announcement at Lincoln's Inn Fields."
It is usually said that John Kemble was the first who attended to accuracy of stage costume, or at least who dispensed with " Cato's wig, flower'd gown, and laoker'd chair." If Dr. Doran "has writ his annals true," Kemble only reduced the reform to system ; it had been introduced before upon occasion.
"Paul Whitehead, the tailor-poet, used to say that the taste of the nation depended upon Garrick. Davy's own taste was very questionable in some respects, for he played Macbeth in the then costume of a general officer, with scarlet coat, gold lace, and a tail-wig. All the other actors were attired in similar dresses; and if Malcolm, on seeing Bosse at a distance, exclaimed, My countryman !' he was quite right to exclaim, on seeing an English recruiting-sergeant advance, and yet I know him not!' But Bosse might have said as much of Malcolm. It was Macklin who first put Macbeth and all the characters into national costume, when he played the chief character himself in 1773; and all the thanks he got for it was in the remark that he looked like a drunken Scotch piper,—which he did. But Macbeth in kilts is nearly as great an anomaly as when he is in the uniform of a brigadiergeneral ; and even Mr. Charles Kean, though he exhibited the Thane shortpetticoated, seemed glad to get into long clothes and propriety as soon as the Thane had grown into a king. " Macklin was a comedian rather than a tragedian ; and it is singular that it is to another comic actor 're owe the correct dressing of Othello. It was in the latter character that Foote made his first appearance in London, at the Haymarket, in 1744. He was announced as a gentleman' whose Othello will be new dressed, after the manner of his country.'" A bit of genealogy, perhaps as true as most heraldic stories.
"One of the greatest of the North Sea chieftains derived his name from his dress and Ragner Lodbroch means Ralph Leatherbreeches. The Lethbridges Of Somersetshire are said to be descendants from this worthy. They might go further in search of an ancestor and fare worse. Lodbroch delighted in blood and plunder ; wine he drank by the quart ; wealth he acquired by right of might ' ; he believed in little, and feared even less. A family anxious to assert its nobility could hardly do better than hold fast by such a hero. Many a genealogical tree springs from a less illustrious root.
A story of a mode invented by the Merry Monarch, and beaten out of fashion by le Grand Monarque. "Charles II. of England was the inventor of the vest dress.' It consisted of a long cassock which fitted close to the body, of black cloth, 'pinked' with white silk under it, and a coat over all ; the legs were ruffled with black riband, like a pigeon's leg ; and the white silk piercing the black made the wearers look, as Charles himself confessed, very much like magpies. But all the world put it on, because it had been fashioned by a monarch ; and gay men thought it exquisite, and grave men pronounced it 'comely and manly.' Charles.declio-ed he would never alter it; while his courtiers gave him gold by way of wagers that he would not persist in his resolution.' Louis XIV. showed his contempt for the new mode and the maker of it by ordering all his footmen to be put into vests. This caused great indignation in England ; but it had a marked effect in another way, for Charles and our aristocracy, not caring to look like French footmen, soon abandoned the new costume."