Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/44

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for war and liable to become burdens on the community, were put to death. Gold and silver were excluded, and the coinage was of iron. As far as possible the whole nation was fed alike. That the system was effectual in accomplishing the object that Lycurgus had in view, is probably true. It succeeded just as persecution succeeds when it is thorough and implacable. A half-hearted system of persecution not only fails in its object, but invariably advances the cause against which it is directed. If, for instance, we could kill all those who oppose us in our efforts to make matters accord with our own way of thinking, we should undoubtedly be triumphantly successful; but if we only killed a few of them, it would not be long before the number of the remainder would be so augmented that they would kill us.

Nowhere has the inefficacy of sumptuary laws been more thoroughly demonstrated than in Rome. There the dress, the food, the furniture of the houses, were attempted to be regulated by law after law, which were either openly or secretly disobeyed, and which eventually disappeared from the statute-books. The cost of entertainments was limited; the number of guests a person might have at his house was restricted. No woman was allowed to have more than half an ounce of gold, or to wear a dress of more than one color, or to ride in a carriage. In France, during the Celtic period, a law was passed that women should drink water only. In 1188 or thereabout no person was allowed to wear garments of vair, gray, zibeline, or scarlet color. No laced or slashed garments were allowed, and no one could have more than two courses at meals. In 1328 scarlet was only permitted to be worn by princes, knights, and women of high rank. The use of silver plate was prohibited except to certain high dignitaries; and women were frequently sent to prison in forties, fifties, and sixties at a time for wearing clothes above their rank. Even as late as the seventeenth century gold, as an ornament on carriages, buildings, and gloves, was prohibited.

In England, during the reign of Edward IV, cloth of gold or silk of a purple color was prohibited to all but members of the royal family. Lords were allowed to wear velvet, knights satin, and esquires and gentlemen camelet. None but noblemen were allowed to wear woolen clothes made out of England, or fur of sables, and no laborer, servant, or artificer might wear any cloth which cost more than two shillings a yard. In the year 1336 an act of Parliament was passed which I quote in full, as showing to what extremes law can go in the way of interfering with the interior life of the citizens:

"Whereas heretofore, through the excessive and over-many sorts of costly meats which the people of this Realm have used more than elsewhere, many mischiefs have happened to the