Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

piece, and without seam, as our Saviour's coat

b was.

The fashions never changed, nor do they now, in any part of the East. And since clothes are made to cover the body, and men's bodies are alike in all ages, there is no occasion for the prodigious variety of dresses, and such frequent changes, as we are used to. It is reasonable to seek that which is most convenient, that the body may be sufficiently defended against the injuries of the weather, according to the climate and season, and be at perfect liberty in all its motions. There must be a proper respect paid to decency, age, sex, and profession. One may have an eye likewise to the handsomeness of clothes, provided, under that pretence, we do not wear uneasy ornaments, and are contented, as the antients were, with pleasing colours and natural drapery: but, when once we have found what is handsome and convenient, we ought by no means to change.

Nor are they the wisest people who invent new fashions: they are generally women and young people, with the assistance of mercers, milliners, and tailors, who have no other view but their own interest. Yet these trifles have very grievous consequences. The expense occasioned by superfluous ornaments, and the changing of fashions, is very hard upon most people of moderate circumstances, and is one reason that marrying is so difficult : it is a continual source of quarrels betwixt the old

b John xix. 23.

a

and young, and the reverence for antient times is much lessened by it. Young fantastical people, when they see their ancestors' pictures, in dresses which are only ridiculous because they are not used to them, can hardly believe they were persons

of good understanding, or their maxims fit to be followed. In a word, they that pretend to be so very nice and exact in their dress must spend a great deal of their time in it, and make it a study, of no use surely towards improving their minds, or rendering them capable of great undertakings.

As the antients did not change their fashions, the rich had always great quantities of clothes by them, and were not liable to the inconvenience of waiting for a new suit, or having it made up

in haste. Lucullus had five thousand cloaks in his wardrobe," which was a sort of military dress; by

Chlamydes Lucullus, ut aiunt,
Si posset centum scenæ præbero rogatus,
Qui possum tot. ait :

post paulò scribit, sibi millia quinque Esse domi Chlamydum.

Lucullas, as they say,
Once being asked to furnish for a play
A hundred martial vests, astonish'd cried,
Whence can so vast a number be supplied !

soon after writes them word, Five thousand vests were ready at a call.

Horat. Epist. lib. 1. Ep. vi. ver. 40–44. As this was a kind of military dress, it is probable that Lu. cullus had them principally for the purpose of clothing his soldiers. Lucullus commanded the Roman armies against Mithridates king of Pontus, and Tigranes king of Armenia; and

[ocr errors]

which we may judge of what he had besides. It was common to make presents of clothes; and then they always gave two suits, for change, that one might be worn whilst the other was washing, as we do with our sets of linen. The stuffs were generally made of wool. In Egypt and Syria they wore also fine linen, cotton, and byssus, which was finer than all the rest. This byssus, which the Scripture so often mentions, is a sort of silk, of a golden yellow, that grows upon great shellfish. As to our silk made from worms, it was unknown in the time of the Israelites; and the use of it did not become common on this side the Indies, till more than five hundred years after CHRIST. The beauty of their clothes consisted in the fineness and colour of the stuff. The most esteemed were the white and the purple, red or violet. And, it seems, white was the colour most in use among the Israelites, as well as the Greeks and Romans : since Solomon says, Let thy garments be always white, meaning clean. Nothing in reality can be plainer than to make use of wool or flax just as nature produces them, without dyeing. Young people of both sexes wore clothes variegated with

was

was honoured with a triumph A. U. C. 691. He is accused of being the first who introduced luxury among the Romans.

• Gesner. Hist. Anim. I. iv. de Pinna. The Byssus of the Greeks and Latins was the pa buts of the Hebrews; and formed out of the beard or tuft of the pinna longa, a large shell-fish of the muscle species, found on the coasts of the Mediterranean sea.

• Eccles. ix. 8.

divers colours. Such was Joseph's coat, which his brethren spoiled him of when they sold him:' and of the same sort were the gowns which kings' daughters wore in the time of David.

The ornaments of their habits were fringes, or borders of purple or embroidery, and clasps of gold or precious stones, where they were necessary. Greatness consisted in changing dress often, and wearing only such clothes as were thoroughly clean and whole. Besides, nobody will doubt that the Israelites went very plain in their dress, if we consider how remarkable the Greeks and Romans were for it, even in the time of their greatest luxury. We see it in the antient statues, Trajan's pillar, and other pieces of sculpture.

The garments commonly mentioned in Scripture are the tunic and mantle : and the Greek and Roman dress consisted of these two only. The tunic was made wide, to leave freedom of motion at work: they loosed it when they were unemployed; but in travelling or at work they tied it up with a girdle. Thence comes the phrase so frequent in Scripture, Arise, gird up thy loins, and do this. The Israelites were ordered to wear ribbons of blue on the borders of their garments, to make them continually mindful of the law of God.' They had the head covered with a sort of tiara, like that of the Persians and Chaldeans; for it was a sign of mourning to go bare-headed : and they wore their own hair, for to be shaved was another mark of affliction. As to the beard, it is very certain they wore it long, by the instance of the ambassadors that David sent to the king of the Ammonites, half of whose beards that ill-advised prince shaved off to affront them :* so that they were forced to stay some time at Jericho, to let their beards grow again, before they could appear in public. He also caused their clothes to be cut off in the middle, and in such a manner as shews they wore them very long.

' Gen. xxxvij. 32.

See Note on p. 56.

& 2 Sam. xiii. 18.

Numb. xv. 38.

They bathed frequently, as is still the custom in hot countries, and washed their feet still oftener ; because, wearing nothing but sandals, they could not walk without gathering much dust. Thence it comes the Scripture speaks so much of washing the feet at first coming into a house, at sitting down to victuals, and going to bed. Now because water dries the skin and hair, they anointed themselves, either with plain oil, or such as had aromatic spices infused in it, which was commonly called ointment. This custom still prevails in the East Indies.'

We see in several parts of the Scripture after what manner the women dressed and adorned themselves. God, reproaching Jerusalem with her

* 2 Sam. 2. 4.

To guard against the inconveniences of excessive evaporation by frequent bathing in these warm countries, the good sense of the people led them to anoint those parts of the body most ex. posed to the action of the air ; and thus not only excessive evaporation was prevented, but the exposed surface was rendered more capable of resisting the action of a scorching atmosphere.

« VorigeDoorgaan »