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The Book or ('OSTI'VE ; or, Annals of Fashion. From the Earliest Period
to the Present Time. By A Lady Of Rask. Large 8vo. Colburn,
The idea of a book of costume, carried out with care, and filled with genuine representations of the dresses of all nations, forms a part of the personal history of every people. In the present instance we have Before us a very handsome volume, beautifully printed, and illustrated very satisfactorily, as far as the subjects described extend. But this book is not the production of an antiquary, who, to perseverance of research, joins the desire to illustrate one portion of the characteristics of nations. It professes to be the production of a Lady of Rank, a profession too much and directly applied to the attraction of the butterflies of fashion, to impress ihe reader with the sterling merit of the undertaking; We cannot get ourselves to credit this authorship; the classical authorities come up too appropriately for quotation at a call so obliquitous, and though history is marvellously complaisant, poetry highly gallant and obedient, and the style as masculine as any ladyofrank can desire, we imagine the author. to place the saddle upon the right horse, to be a diligent compiler of other works besides the present.
The idea of the present work then is excellent, but the author has endeavoured io do too much within the limited space of a volume. As a mere elementary treatise it may be useful enough, but as furnishing what it pretends to do---a description of the costume of every country-it falls far short of its end. It is a neat and well-complexioned work to lay upon it drawing-room table ; but it is not a work of reference for the library. We do not desire to discommend it, save for its sickly zlicctations about authorship, and the air it endeavours to put on, awkwardly enough, of a gentuel, or as the cant word is, a * fashionable" recommendation, under the idea, perhaps, that the vulgar part of thie aristocracy may be thus attracted to its contents. The writer has been at considerable trouble to make a book which will suit a certain class of readers, who do not go deeply into things, and who will find some entertainment in loosely contrasting the attire of one country with another. To the artist it can furnish nothing new. In fact, works of the present class must take their station among the luxuries of the wealthy, or may be placed in the hands of the young, to impart to them the vague outline that superior treatises on the subject must fill up.
The examples given, and very neatly engraved, are too few in number to do more than this. We are of those who would rather see a perfect work of the kind sent into the world at once, or one as perfect as time and research can make it. But the tendency of the time is otherwise, and the communication of some knowledge is praiseworthy; so we must even accept such things as they come to our hands.
SAMPSON HOOKS, AND HIS MAN JOE LING.
BY WILLIAM HOWITT,
As I have said, before my day all the old race of the village and neighbourhood—all those who made the staple talk of the older people-old Squire Fletcher, old Kester Colclough, Bill Newton, Jack Shelton, and the rest had passed away, and we saw the last of all the tribe, once the sun of mirth to the whole circle, like many another sun of the same kind, burnt out and laid, after having been long sorely torn and gnawed by Melancholy, as if she owed him a grudge for having chased her for so many years from so many hearts, the wasted victim of this Melancholy in his narrow house. Sampson Hooks, and his man Joe Ling, were now figuring on the scene in a very different fashion. But before we proceed to paint them more at large we must pause a moment to sketch some traits of a mighty revolution in this country, of which thousands and tens of thousands are now daily feeling the effect, and of which thousands have no adequate conception, and few or none of those who have, have yet adequately described.
It is a fact that, within the last two hundred years, acre of land in this country, except the large entailed estates of the aristocracy, have quite changed hands. There is quite a different race and class of men now living on all the small possessions of land, or on what has been formed out of those small possessions ; but the greatest and most rapid and striking alterations of this kind have taken place within the last fifty years. The French
X0. XXI.-VOL. IV.
Revolution, in fact, introduced an English Revolution, which, if it did not shed so much blood on the British soil, it thoroughly altered the title and holding of property, and pressed the blood as perfectly out of thousands of oppressed hearts.
That possession of small portions of land by the people, which now so strikingly distinguishes the people of the Continent from those of England—which makes, indeed, property so different a thing tliere and here—would seem at one time to have been almost as general here as anywhere. If we still go into really old-fashioned districts into those which the modern changes have not yet reached, where there are no manufacturers—into the obscure and totally agricultural nooks—we see evidences of a most ancient order of things. The cottages, the farm-houses, the very halls are old ; the trees are old ; the hedges are oll; everything is old. There is nothing that indicates change or progress. There is nothing, even in furniture, that may not have been there at least five hundred years ; there is much that induces you to believe that eight hundred years ago it existed. In common labourers' cottages, before the late rage for okl English furniture, which led the London brokers to scour the whole cmpire, penetrate into cvery nook, and bring up all the old cabinets, hall tables, old carved chairs, carved presses and wardrobes, and retail them for five hundred per cent., besides importing great quantities of similar articles from Ilolland, Belgium, and Germany, I have myself seen old heavy ample armchairs, with pointed backs, in which one might imagine an Alfred or an Edward the Confessor sitting, with the date in great letters on their backs, of 1300 or 1400. There are plenty of houses so ancient, that in the roofs and woodwork the ends of the great wooden pegs with which their framing is pinned together are not cut off. But without how old is everything! The trees are dead at top and hollow at heart ; there are ancient elms and oaks standing, whose shadow is said to have covered their acre of ground, but which have now neither head nor heart; huge hollow shells, so capacious, that whole troops of children play in them, and call them their churches ; and whole flocks of sheep or herds of cattle seek shelter from the summer sun in them. These old villages, too, are lost, as it were, in a wilderness of ancient orchards, where the trees produce apples and pears totally unlike any now grown in modern plantings. The villages are surrounded by a maze of little crofts, whose hedges have evidently never been set out in any general inclosure, for they do not run in regular squares and
straight lines, but form all imaginable figures, and with the true line of beauty go waving and sweeping about in all directions. They are manifestly the effect of gradual and fitful inclosure from the forest in far-off times, many of them long before the Conquest, when this dense thicket and that group of trees were run up to and included as part of the fencing. These old hedges have often a monstrous width, occupying nearly as much in their aggregate amount as the aggregate amount of the inclosed land itself. They are often complete wildernesses of stony mounds, bushes, and rank vegetation. The hawthorns of which they are composed are no longer bushes, but old and wide-spreading trees, with great gaps and spaces often between them, having ceased to be actual fences between the old pastures, and become only most picturesque shades for the cattle. În the old crofts still flourish the native daffodils, and the snow-white and pink primroses, now extirpated by the gathering for gardens everywhere else.
Such, there is no doubt, were our villages generally all over the country formerly, and for at least a thousand years. The whole country seemed to lie in a long and sunny dream. So little did population seem to increase, that rarely a house was built. The army and the distant towns took up the small surplus of people that there was. So little did land seem wanted that the forests and wastes lay from age to age unchanged. Every man had his little plot, or could inclose it for a small annual acknowledgment, and the rural race lived on with little exertion and no care.
The first shock to this state of things was the Reformation. The breaking up of the monasteries at once turned a vast amount of monks and nuns on the country, nearly destitute of means of existence; and a still vaster amount of poor people, who had to be supported on the third of the church revenues, given expressly for the poor. These, suddenly deprived of all other resources, were converted into a monstrous mass of beggars and thieves, that overrun, from the days of Henry VIII. to those of Elizabeth, the whole land, and bade defiance to constables, stocks, and gallows. Never were there such swarms of misery and vice and terror known in England, even in the fiercest heat of the civil wars. Henry himself hanged, of these wretches, his thousands annually without at all sensibly diminishing the misery or the terror. This
, however, was only the pressure on one side of the case : that on the other was as great. The people, greedy courtiers, gamblers, com. missioners, and speculators, who got hold, by a variety of means,
but seldom by any honest ones, of the church and abbey lands, rose, or wished to rise, into the ranks of the aristocracy. They would have their halls, their parks, their chases ; their children would no longer follow trades ; they, too, must be provided with land ; and hence came the growing jealousy of all encroachments by the poor on waste lands---nay, the violent disposition to encroach, on one plea or another, on the small proprietor. Then, in fact, began those scenes so well described by Goldsmith in his “ Deserted Village.” Every one of these nori homines would have an establislıment like the ancient aristocracy.
“ The man of wealth and pride
Indignant spurns the cottage from the green.” But when we had discovered and civilised new countries, so far from giving relief in this respect, the grievance was rapidly augmented. Those who emigrated were chiefly those who had no land here ; those who stayed were those who had it and wanted
With colonisation and improvement, manufactures increased, and this gave additional population and higher value to land. The story of Auburn was acted over and over, more frequently, every succeeding generation. But after the French Revolution broke out, and the flames of war spread all over Europe, then how did this system progress at home! Every inch of land became a lump of gold. Forests and wastes were inclosed, but went only to the rich. The selfish absurdity by which the rich managed to claim every inch of waste land, on the plea that it was held by feudal tenure from the days of the Conqueror, and therefore belonged to the lord of the manor, came richly into play : as if by their pieces of parchment these men could justly hold in fee all England : as if they had not by ages of neglect and non-occupation forfeited every pretended title that they once might have had to wastes that never had been delved or ploughed since the days of Adam. But this was recognised by the rich as law for the rich; and “unto him that had was given, and from him that had not was taken away even that which he had,”-the custom of turning his cow and his geese upon the waste.