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PECULIAR CUSTOMS OF THE QUAKERS.
CHAP. I. SECT. I.
Dress-Quakers distinguished by their dress from others -great extravagance in dress in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries-this extravagance had reached the clergy-but religious individuals kept to their antient dresses-the dress which the men of this description wore in those days-dress of the women of this description also-George Fox and the Quakers springing out of these, carried their plain habits with them into their new society.
HAVE now explained, in a very ample manner, the moral education and discipline of the Quakers. I shall proceed to the explanation of such customs, as seem peculiar to them as a society of christians,
The dress of the Quakers is the first custom of this nature, that I purpose to notice. They stand distinguished be means of it from all other religious bodies
The men wear neither lace, frills, ruffles, swords, nor any of the ornaments used by the fashionable world. The women wear neither lace, flounces, lappets, rings, bracelets,'necklaces, ear-rings, nor any thing belonging to this class. Both sexes are also particular in the choice of the colour of their clothes. All gay colours such as red, blue, green, and yellow, are exploded. Dressing in this manner, a Quaker is known by his apparel through the whole kingdom. This is not the case with any other individuals of the island, except the clergy; and these, in consequence of the Black garments worn by persons on account of the death of their relations, are not always distinguished from others.
I know of no custom among the Quakers, which has more excited the curiosity of the world, than this of their dress, and none, in which they have been more mistaken in their conjectures concerning it.
(i) In the early times of the English History, dress had been frequently restricted by the government.Persons of a certain rank and fortune were permitted to wear only cloathing of a certain kind. But these restrictions and distinctions were gradually broken down, and people, as they were able and willing, launched out into unlimited extravagance in their
(2) See Strut's Antiquities.
The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and down from thence to the time when the Quakers first appeared, were periods, particularly noticed for prodigality in the use of apparel, there was nothing too expensive or too preposterous to be worn. Our an
cestors also, to use an ancient quotation, ver constant to one colour or fashion two months to an end." We can have no idea by the present generation, of the folly in such respects, of these early ages. But these follies were not confined to the laiety. Af fectation of parade, and gaudy cloathing, were admitted among many of the clergy, who incurred the severest invectives of the poets on that account. The ploughman, in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, is full upon this point. He gives us the following description of a Priest
"That hye on horse wylleth to ride,
To this he adds, that many of them had more than one or two mitres, embellished with pearls, like the
head of a queen, and a staff of gold set with jewels, as heavy as lead. He then speaks of their appearing out of doors with broad bucklers and long swords, or with baldries about their necks, instead of stoles, to which their basellards were attached.
"Bucklers brode and sweardes longe,
He then accuses them with wearing gay gowns of scarlet and green colours, ornamented with cut-work, and for the long pykes upon their shoes.
But so late as the year 1652 we have the following anecdote of the whimsical dress of a clergyJohn Owen, Dean of Christ church, and ViceChancellor of Oxford, is represented as wearing a lawn-band, as having his hair powdered and his hat curiously cocked. He is described also as wearing Spanish leather-boots with lawn-tops, and snake-bone band-strings with large tassels, and a large set of ribbands pointed at his knees with points or tags at the end. And much about the same time, when Charles the second was at Newmarket, Nathaniel Vincent, doctor of divinity, fellow of Clare-hall, and chaplain in ordinary to his majesty, preached before him. But the king was so displeased with the foppery of this preacher's dress, that he commanded the