The Dressing of the Hair, Moustachios and Beard (9)Previous page
The legend runs:
"The taste at present all .may see,
But none can tell what is to be.
Who knows, when fashion's whims are spread,
But each may wear this kitchen head?
The noddle that so vastly swells,
May wear a fool's cap hung with bells."
High plumes of feathers re-appeared in 1796. Gillray produced a caricature of a fashionable belle journeying to the Assembly Rooms at Bath in a sedan chair. The top of the conveyance is opened to accommodate the lady's head-dress, a monstrous feather projecting yards above the sedan — a parasol is fastened to a long pole strapped on the back of the hindermost portion and protecting the top.
During the feather period, a favourite idea was to represent attacks by ostriches, peacocks, and other interested birds. This occurs in a number of prints of the period. The print by John Collet, 1779, of " The Feathered Fair is a Fright; or, Restore the Borrowed Plumes," represents two girls attacked by ostriches:
"Two lassies who would like their mistresses shine,
On their heads clap'd some feathers to make them look fine;
When two ostriches suddenly came within sight,
And put the poor girls in a terrible fright.
"But how the Birds got to England's no matter,
Tho' they certainly made a most terrible clatter;
Fanny screamed as she ran, and scampering Polly,
With her Fan fought the birds in defence of her folly."
If the reader be curious in regard to the modus operandi of these astonishing creations, he (or more probably it will be she) is referred to "Plocacosmos; or, The Whole Art of Hairdressing," by James Stewart, 1782, wherein the mysteries of the art are set forthwith great minuteness and elaboration, far too long to be explained here. The directions for the lady's "nightcap " may, however, be given:
"All that is required at night is to take the cap or toke off, as any other ornament, and as you put them on, you can easily know how to take them off: with regard to the hair, nothing need be touched but the curls; you may take the pins out of them, and, with a little soft pomatum in your hands, stroke the hairs that may have started; do them with nice long rollers, wind them up to the roots, and turn the end of each roller firmly in to keep them tight, remembering at the same time the hair should never be combed at night, having always so bad an effect as to give a violent headache next day.
After the curls are rolled up, touch them with your pomatumy hands, and stroke the hair behind; after that take a very large net fillet, which must be big enough to cover the head and hair, and put it on, and drawing the strings to a proper tightness behind, till it closes all round the face and neck like a purse, bring the strings round the front and back again to the neck, where they must be tied; this, with the finest lawn handkerchief, is night covering sufficient for the head."
"Heads" usually lasted a matter of three weeks, when — 'twould be dangerous, madam, to delay longer the opening of your head. We bet a glimpse of the possible state of a lady's head at the expiration of that time from the many recipes and advertisements for the destruction of insects in the magazines of the period, which reminds us of Julian, who likened his beard to a "forest grown populous with troublesome little animals."
"Still to be neat, still to be drest,
As you were going to a feast;
Still to be powdered, still perfumed:
Lady, it is to be presumed,
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