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For the dress of our ancient British ancestors of the time of Cymbeline or Cunobelin we have no pictorial authority, and the notices of ancient British costume which we find scattered amongst the classical historians are exceedingly scanty and indefinite. That the chiefs and the superior classes amongst them, however, were clothed completely and with barbaric splendour, there exists at present little doubt; and the naked savages with painted skins whose imaginary effigies adorned the ‘Pictorial Histories of our childhood, are now considered to convey a better idea of the more remote and barbarous tribes of the Mawatæ than of the inhabitants of Cantium or Kent, (" the most civilized of all the Britons" as early as the time of Cæsar,) and even to represent those only when, in accordance with a Celtic custom, they had thrown off their garments of skin or dyed cloths to rush upon an invading enemy.
That all the Britons stained themselves with woad, which gave a blueish cast to the skin anii made them look dreadful in battle, is distinctly stated by Cæsar: but he also assures us expressly that the inhabitants of the southern coasts differed but little in their manners from the Gauls, an assertion which is confirmed by the testimony of Strabo, Tacitus, and Pomponius Mela, the laiter of whom says “the Britons fought armed after the Gaulish manner."
The following description therefore of the Gauls by Diodorus Siculus becomes an authority for the arms and dress of the Britons, particularly as in many parts it corresponds with such evidence as exists in other cotemporaneous writers respecting the dress of the Britons themselves.
“ The Gauls wear bracelets about their wrists and arms, and massy chains of pure and beaten gold about their necks, and weighty rings upou their fingers, * and corslets of gold upon their breasts.t For stature they are tall, of a pale complexion, and red-haired, not only naturally, but they endeavour all they can to make it redder by art. They often wash their hair in a water boiled with liine, and turn it backwards from the forehead to the crown of the head, and thence to their very necks, that their faces may be fully seen....... Some of them shave their beards, others let them grow a little. Persons of quality shave their chins close, but their mous. taches they let fall so low that they even cover their mouths.S ... Their garments are very strange, for they wear party-coloured tunics (flowered with various colours in divisions) and hose which they call Bracæ.| They likewise wear chequered sagas (cloaks). Those they wear in winter are thick, those in summer more slender. Upon their heads they wear helmets of brass with large appendages made for ostentation's sake to be admired by the beholders. . . . . They havo trumpets after the barbarian manner, which in sounding make a horrid noise..... For swords they use a broad weapon called Spatha, which they hang across their right thigh by iron or brazen chains. Some gird themselves with belts of gold or silver.”
Friaulish Captive wearing the Torque ;
. Pliny says the Britors and Gauls wore a ring on the middle finger.
Martial has a line * Like the old brachæ of a needy Briton."-Epig. ix. 21. They appear on the legs of the Gauiish figures in many Roman sculptures to have been a sort of loose pantaloon, terminating at the ankle, where they were met by a high shoe or brogue. There can be little doubt that the Highland truis is a modification of this ancient trouser, if not the identical weed itself.
In elucidation of the particular expression made use of by Diodorus in describing the variegated tissues of the Gauls, and which has been translated “flowered with various colours in divisions," we have the account of Pliny, who, after telling us that both the Gauls and Britons excelled in the art of making and dyeing cloth, and enumerating several herbs used for dyeing purple, scarlet, and other colours, says that they spun their fine wool, so dyed, into yarn, which was woven chequerpise so as to forin small squares, some of one colour and some of another. Sometimes it was woven in stripes instead of chrquers; and we cannot hesitate in believing that the tartan of the Highlanders (to this day called "the garb of old Gaul ") and the checked petticoats and aprons of the modern Welsh peasantry are the lineal descendants of this ancient and picturesque manufacture. With respect to their ornaments of gold, we may add, in addition to the classical authorities, the testimony of the Welsh bards. In the Welsh Triads, Cadwaladyr, son of Cadwallon ab Cadwan, the last wbo bore the title of King of Britain, is styled one of the three princes who wore the golden bends, being emblems of supreme authority, and which, according to Turner, were worn round the Deck, arms, and knees.
of the golden neck-chains, or torques (torch or dorch in Welsl), there are several existing specimens. One has been found of silver, and several of brass. The bronze sword and small battleaxe, or celt, as it is called, of the ancient Britons, are to be found in many collections; and at
Goodrich Court are two very large round bronze shields of the earlier period, and an oblong one of the Roman British era. There is a smaller round shield also in the British Museum.
· The Druids were divided into three classes. The sacerdotal order trore white, the bards blue, and the third order, the Ovates or Obydds, who professed letters, medicine, and astronomy, wore gioen.
Dion Cassius describes the dress of a British queen in the person of the famous Bonduca or Boadicea. He tells us that she wore a torque of gold, a tunic of several colours all in folds, and over it a robe of coarse stuff. Her light bair fell down her shoulders far below the waist...
The costume and arms of the Romans will be noticed at considerable length in the Parts appropriated to the Tragedies of Coriolanus and Julius Cæsar.
" The people of Britain," says Strabo, “are generally ignorant of the art of cultivating gardens." By “the garden behind Cymbeline's palace" we should perhaps, therefore, in the spirit of minute antiquarianism, understand "a grove." But it is by no means clear that the Romans had not introduced their arts to an extent that might have made Cymbeline's palace bear some of the characteristics of a Roman villa. A highy.civilized people very quickly impart the external forms of their civilization to those whom they have colonised. We do not therefore object, even in a prosaic view of the matter, that the garden, as our artist has represented it, has more of ornament than belongs to the Druidical grove. The houses of the inhabitants in general might retain in a great degree their primitive rudeness. When Julius Cæsar invaded Britain, the people of the southern coasts had already learned to build houses a little more substantial and convenient than those of the inland inhabitants. “The country,” he remarks, “abounds in houses, which very much resemble those of Gaul." Now those of Gaul are thus described by Strabo :"Tiey build their houses of wood, in the form of a circle, with lofty tapering roofs." -Lib. v. The foundations of some of the most substautial of these circular houses were of stone, of which there are still some remains in Cornwall, Anglesey, and other places. Strabo says, “ The forests of the Britons are their cities ; for, when they have enclosed a very large circuit with felled trees, they build within it houses for themselves and hovels for their cattle." -Libiv. But Cymbeline was one of the post wealthy and powerful of the ancient British kings. His capital was Camulodunum, supposed to be Maldon or Colchester. It was the first Roman colony in this island, and a place of great magnificence. We have not therefore to assume that ornament would be misplaced in it. Though the walls of Imogen's chamber, still subjecting the poetical to the exact, might by some be considered al proper to be of rude stone or wood, it may very fairly be supposed that it was decorated with the rich bangings and the other tasteful appendages described by Iachimo*-the presents of the Roman emperors, with whoin Cymbeline and his ancestors had been in amity, or procured from the Greek and Phænician merchants, who were constantly in commercial intercourse with Britain. (See, for fuller information on this subject, 'The Costume of the Original Inhabitants of the British Isles," by S. R. Meyrick, LL.D., and Chas. Hamilton Smith, Esq.; fol. Lond. 1821.) But, after all, a plav such as Cymbeline, is not to be viewed through the medium only of the literal and the probable. In its poetical aspect it essentially disregards the few facts respecting the condition of the Britons delivered down by the classic historians. Shakspere in this followed the practice of every writer of the romantic school. The costume (including scenery) had better want conformity with Strabo, than be out of barmony with Shakspere.
The andirons " and "chimney piece" belong to the age of Elizabeth. But Shakspere, when he commits what * call anachronisms, uses what is familiar to render intelligible what would otherwise be cbscure and remote.