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Wigs and Pigs
selves before him in the invisible clothing worn by the goddesses, one of whom received the prize, of which, maybe, she was proud in after-life! He died with at least seventy unopened letters from women of every rank lying at the foot of his bed, they having arrived after he was too ill to read them.
The Macaronis held sway until 1775; by that date they had cut their waistcoats so short as to reach only to the waist, had made their coats short in front and given them tails at the back something like the present dress clothes. Blue was a favourite colour for coats, but in the evening some delicate shade in velvet was used, often with a white waistcoat made of silver tissue. The buttons were costly and fanciful. In winter the men carried muffs hung round their necks with ribbon, and with a bunch of ribbons to ornament it in the centre. As an old ballad
For I ride in a chair with my hands in a muff,
And have bought a silk coat and embroider'd the cuff;
With the rise of the absurd Macaroni head-dress we find the women becoming even more extravagant, until in 1783 a wig two or three feet high was once more the fashion. Fairholt, one of our authorities upon dress, gives it as a fact, confided to him by a lady who had seen it worn, that her mother had on one occasion a sow and pigs in the curls of her hair. They were made of blown glass, of which many other strange things were fashioned for the adornment of the head-dress. A caricature of the period shows a lady's head laid out as a cinder ground, a group of cinder sifters on the top, a dust cart winding its way up one side of the chignon, and a sow and piglets rootling among the curls.
Then gradually things changed; less and less tow was used; the wig became smaller and smaller, flattened at the top, bushy at the neck with a little tail; and it remained for the French Revolution to give a definite form to the change in dress.
Charles James Fox, the Macaroni, placed his mark on the new fashion. Republican in politics, he became republican in dress, threw aside his laces and velvets, his silk stockings and muff, his dapper cane, and his large wig. He set the fashion of negligence. Buff and blue were the colours which the Whigs assumed when they sat in Parliament, much to the annoyance of the King, as they were the American colours; and we are told that Fox generally wore in the House of Commons a blue frock coat, and a buff waistcoat, "neither of which seemed to be new, and sometimes they appeared threadbare." He and his friends are accused of having thrown a discredit upon dress which spread through the Clubs and into private assemblies. But it was during the era of "Jacobinism and Equality," in 1793 and 1794, that what were regarded as "the elegancies" of dress received their death blow, to be revived a few years later by George Bryan Brummell. Wigs disappeared, giving place to the natural hair curled, and then to the crop; powder had gone, the cocked hat was no more made, buckles gave place to shoe strings, ruffles no longer fell over the hands, and pantaloons encased the legs.
Of Fox, the much-loved, various anecdotes are told, especially to show that he shared in a most extravagant degree the Beaux' failing, the love of play. He was brought up to play: when only fifteen his father, Lord Holland, gave him sums of money definitely for that purpose. He was gay, eager, warm-hearted, and unselfish; he "loved all the poets," and could read four languages
The King of Gamblers
besides his own; he was a follower of all outdoor sports, and, as has been said, was at one time "an outrageous fop." He was ruined at hazard, being sometimes reduced to borrowing a guinea of a waiter in order to pay a debt, and had many dealings with the Jews. In the heroic epistle to Sir William Chambers we find :
Hark where the voice of battle sounds from far,
The Jews prevail, and thundering from the stocks,
At the birth of his elder brother's son the Jews refused him any more credit, and Fox remarked: "My brother Ste's son is a second Messiah, born for the destruction of the Jews." His father once paid his debts to the extent of £140,000; on another occasion he won £70,000 at hazard and lost it all at Newmarket, with £30,000 in addition. A friend, passing his house in St. James's Street, saw a cart loaded with furniture move away from his door, and going in found Fox in an empty room reading Herodotus. On expressing his surprise at this philosophic calm, Fox asked good-humouredly: "Well, what else is there to do?"
Another friend was once drinking tea with Mrs. Fox in South Street, when the door opened and Charles James came skipping into the room in high spirits. Cutting capers he cried enthusiastically :-" Great run! great run! vingt-et-un; lucky dog; to-morrow morning pay the Jews; pay them all." Alas! it was Friday, and he could not pay the Jews on Saturday, so the money went back to the club that night.
Fox had always a ready tongue. On one occasion, when creditors became importunate, he told them that he would discharge his debts as soon as possible.