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Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 132.djvu/646

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DRESS IN FRANCE.

in 1730. Adversaries of what was termed Anglomania met the redingote with the habit à la frangaise, and, to show that they were no Puritans, they covered it with gold and silver lace. At this period the ladies dressed in imitation of stage shepherdesses, but, as a concession to nature, wore straw hats à la Bastienne (with broad brims). There were as many as forty-five varieties of wigs, and Dugue, the chief of the hairdressers, went his rounds in a carriage and pair. Legros published treatises upon his art, founded an academy of hairdressing, and exhibited upon the Cours la Reine and the Boulevards young women who had "lent their heads," as the saying was, for him to experiment upon. Powder was used in such quantities that the Parliament of Paris declared the practice of employing flour for its preparation to be one of the causes which brought about the scarcity of food, while patches and rouge were as fashionable as ever. From this epoch, too, dates the introduction of the umbrella, the original form of which was the Oriental parasol held by pages over the heads of the great ladies when they went out on foot. The parasol could not be closed, but in 1768 it was modified into its present form.

The first years of Louis XVI's reign witnessed a great change in the mode of dress, which became much more simple, that of men in particular. Ladies wore ears of corn in their hair as symbolic of the plenty which was about to prevail; but Queen Marie Antoinette was soon led away by her fondness for ornament, and it became the fashion to deck the hair with diamonds, emeralds, etc., and ostrich feathers a yard long. The circumference of the hoops increased to seventeen feet, and in one year as many as two hundred and fifty different kinds of trimming for dresses were invented. Husbands found it impossible to pay their wives' dressmaking bills, and Mme. de Campan, in her "Memoirs," speaks of "several disputes in families and painful scenes; everybody said that the queen would be the ruin of the French ladies." Men's dress was more staid, and they wore knee-breeches, long silk waistcoat, shoes with silver buckles, and cocked hat. This was the general mode of dress at the outbreak of the Revolution, and from what M. Chapus says of false hair, powder, and other artificial aids to beauty, it is clear that, in the toilet, as in most other things, there is nothing new under the sun.




The Comet of the Bayeux Tapestry. — There can now remain very little doubt that the grand comet which astonished Europe in the year of the Norman Conquest leading to a multitude of records in the annals of the time, and forming, with its astonished beholders, the subject of embroidery on the celebrated Bayeux tapestry, was the famous body which now bears universally the name of our countryman Halley. Allowing for the peculiar character of Chinese observations of comets, the account they have left us of its track amongst the stars from the beginning of April to the end of the first week in June, 1066, is well represented by elements not differing more from the actual elements of Halley's comet than accumulated effect of perturbation in eight centuries may well explain. If it is assumed that Halley's comet arrived at its least distance from the sun on March 18, its position when discovered by the Chinese in the morning sky on April 2, would be as they record in their sidereal division "Shih," two degrees south of the equator, and distant from the earth rather less than eight-tenths of the earth's mean distance from the sun. Between this date and June 8, or sixty-seven days after discovery, which is the duration of visibility assigned, the comet would make a grand sweep across the sky from the constellation Pegasus into Sextans between Leo and Hydra, or as the Chinese express it, "through fourteen sidereal divisions from Shih to Chang." The imposing aspect of the comet described in European chronicles and confirmed by the Chinese annals, wherein it is compared in brilliancy to Venus, and by exaggeration, no doubt, even to the moon, is fully explained by the circumstances under which Halley's comet must have been observed if in perihelion on March 18. When last seen in China it had receded to one and three-fourths times the earth's distance from the sun.