Tag Archives: fashion

William Kenrick, “The Beau and Butterfly. A Fable”

[WILLIAM KENRICK]

The BEAU and BUTTERFLY. A FABLE.”

 When summer deckt each sylvan scene,
And sunshine smil’d along the green,
When groves allur’d with noon tide shade,
And purling brooks refesh’d the glade;
An empty form of empty show,                                                  5
A flutt’ring insect, call’d a beau,
In gaudy colours rich and gay,
A mere papilio of the day,
Was seen around the fields to rove,
And haunt by turns, the stream and grove:                            10
A silver zone entwin’d his head,
His belly shone with lively red,
His wings were green, but studded o’er
With gold embroider’d spots before.
Around him various insects came,                                           15
Of diff’rent colour, diff’rent name;
And ting’d with ev’ry gorgeous die,
Among the rest a butterfly;
His wings are spread with wanton pride,
And beauty fades from all beside.                                            20
The beau beholds with envious eyes,
The living radiance as it flies,
“And shall, said he, this worthless thing,
That lives but on a summer’s wing,
This flying worm more gaudy shine?                                        25
And wear a dress more gay than mine?
Is this wise nature’s equal care
To deck a butterfly so fair?
While man her worthiest, greatest part,
Must wear the homely rags of art!”                                          30
Thus reason’d he, as reason beaux,
The subject of their logick cloaths,
And thus the butterfly reply’d,
With deeper tints by anger dy’d,
“Vain, trifling mortal! could’st thou boast,                               35
To prize what nature prizes most
On man bestow’d, thou would’st not see
With envy ought she gives to me.
This painted vestment, all my store,
She gives, and I can claim no more—                                       40
But man, for greater ends design’d,
Shou’d boast the beauties of the mind.
More bright than gold thy wisdom shine,
And virtue’s sacred charms be thine.
To rule the world by reason taught,                                          45
On dress disdain to waste a thought,
For he whom folly bends so low,
Ambitious to be thought a beau,
Is studious only to be gay,
In toilet-arts consumes the day;                                                50
And the long trifling labours o’er,
Takes wing, and bids the world adore,
Looks down with scorn on rival flies,
Himself less splendid and less wise,
With scorn, his scorn return’d again                                         55
Proud insect! impotently vain!
The fool, who thus by self is priz’d,
By others justly is despis’d;”
She said, and flutter’d round on high,
Nor staid to hear the beau’s reply.                                           60

NOTES:

1 sylvan “One who (or something that) inhabits a wood or forest; a being of the woods” (OED).

6 beau “A man who gives particular, or excessive, attention to dress, mein, and social etiquette; an exquisite, a fop, a dandy” (OED).

8 papilio “A butterfly or large moth” (OED).

50 toilet-arts Historical usage of the word toilet, meaning “the action or process of washing, dressing, or arranging the hair” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 18 (May 1748), p. 231.

Edited by Sierra Moreno

Anonymous, “On seeing Saphira in a Riding Habit”

ANONYMOUS

 On seeing SAPHIRA in a Riding Habit

 WHEN Sapphira, in her sex’s garb we see,
The queen of beauty then she seems to be:
Now, fair Adonis, in this male disguise,
Or Cupid, killing with his mother’s eyes:
No stile of empire’s chang’d by this remove,                                                       5
Who seem’d the goddess, seems the god of love.

NOTES:

Title Riding Habit “A garment or outfit worn for horse riding; (in later use) a riding dress worn by women or girls, consisting of a long skirt and tight-fitting, double-breasted jacket” (OED).

3 Adonis In classical myth, a beautiful youth loved by both Aphrodite and Persephone. In extended usage, an Adonis is an extremely handsome young man (OCD).

4 Cupid, killing with his mothers eyes In classical mythology, the god of love and desire. He is often portrayed as the son of Venus, the goddess of love.

5 stile Variant spelling of the word “style.”

Source: The Gentlemans Magazine, vol. 36 (February 1766), p. 89.

Edited by Sierra Moreno

Mary Masters, “On seeing a Lady…”

 

MARY MASTERS

“On seeing a Lady with a new fashion’d Riding-Dress, and a Hat cock’d up”

The Round-ear’d Cap (once worn with decent Pride)
And Velvet Bonnet both are thrown aside;
The Beaver, now, cock’d up with bolder Air,
And manly Habit, please the fickle Fair.
Yet, for Excuse, it justly may be said,                              5
A Scheme with deepest Policy is laid:
Since, among Men, there is a stupid Race,
Who slight the Graces of the Female Face:
Since Fops so long have self-enamour’d been,
And view the Mirror with a raptur’d Mien;                    10
They hope in this Disguise each Beau to charm,
And win th’ Apostates with a mimick Form.
With happy Art so justly they improve,
Sure all must now the Manlike Beauties love.


NOTES:

Title Riding-Dress, and a Hat cock’d up The female riding habit dates from the 1660s, and was usually comprised of a jacket and waistcoat in imitation of men’s fashion at the time, with a similar cravat worn at the neck, a periwig and cocked hat on the head, and full skirts and petticoats. Criticism of this androgynous female fashion came from influential literary men like Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, John Gay, Samuel Richardson, and Horace Walpole through the first half of the century, and popular periodicals like the London Journal and the Gentleman’s Magazine inveighed against the practice in the 1730s.

1 Round-ear’d cap Headwear for women, made of linen or cotton, that curved around the head to cover the ears and edged with lace or ruffles; fashionable in the early decades of the eighteenth century.

3 Beaver…cock’d up A hat made of felted beaver fur, with the brim folded up; probably a reference to the popular tri-corner style hat.

9 Fops A derogatory term for a vain, dandyish man.

11 Beau A handsome, fashionable young man; here a synonym for “fop.”

12 Apostates Those who have abandoned their religious faith, political allegiances, or principles in general.

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1733), pp. 157-8.

Edited by Bill Christmas