not improved. The biographer of Victor Hugo gives us the picture of one Gilé, a Parisian dandy of that period, whose coat of olive brown was cut in the shape of a fish's tail, and dotted all over with metal buttons even to the shoulders. Young men who went to moderate lengths in fashion were content to wear the waists of their coats in the middle of their backs, but the waist of this Gild intruded on the nape of his neck. His hat was stuck on the right side of his head, bringing into prominent notice on the left a thick tuft of hair frizzed out with curling irons. His trousers were ornamented with stripes which looked like bars of gold lace; they were pinched in at the knees and wide at the bottom, giving his feet the appearance of elephant's hoofs. Our own costume had been strange enough, in all conscience; but when Napoleon's continental system had been broken up after Leipzig, and a free market had been once more opened out between this Country and foreign nations, fashions more strange and eccentric, if possible, found their way into England. Thackeray, when writing his "Vanity Fair," the scenes of which are laid prior and subsequent to the battle of Waterloo, was fain to confess that he had intended to depict his characters in their proper costumes; "but when he remembered the appearance of people in those days, he had not the heart to disfigure his heroes and heroines by costumes so hideous," and thenceforth he habited these men and women of 1815 in the costume of the men and women of 1848. George Cruikshank's "Monstrosities" are familiar to all acquainted with his works; and his brother Robert and his contemporaries were equally fond of ridiculing the preposterous fashions of their time. We find in the year 1818 a pictorial satire by Robert, which shows us a pair of Dandies at Tea, habited in the short-waisted, long-tailed coats, tight breeches, terrific stocks, shirt collars, and top boots of the period. "My dear fellow, Mr. Sim," one of them, asks, "is your tea agreeable?" to which the other answers, "Charming, my dear Lollena; where do you buy it?" They are seated in an attic, which, like that of the cobbler, serves "for parlour and bedroom and all," and the washing of the tenant hangs suspended on a line above the heads of the interesting pair. We find another the same year,
Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/158
This page has been validated.