PELHAM, V4, BY LYTTON ***
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Cum pulchris tunicis sumet nova consilia et spes. --Horace.
And look always that they be shape, What garment that thou shalt make Of him that can best do With all that pertaineth thereto. --Romaunt of the Rose
How well I can remember the feelings with which I entered London, and took possession of the apartments prepared for me at Mivart's. A year had made a vast alteration in my mind; I had ceased to regard pleasure for its own sake, I rather coveted its enjoyments, as the great sources of worldly distinction. I was not the less a coxcomb than heretofore, nor the less a voluptuary, nor the less choice in my perfumes, nor the less fastidious in my horses and my dress; but I viewed these matters in a light wholly different from that in which I had hitherto regarded them. Beneath all the carelessness of my exterior, my mind was close, keen, and inquiring; and under the affectations of foppery, and the levity of a manner almost unique, for the effeminacy of its tone, I veiled an ambition the most extensive in its object, and a resolution the most daring in the accomplishment of its means.
I was still lounging over my breakfast, on the second morning of my arrival, when Mr. N--, the tailor, was announced.
"Good morning, Mr. Pelham; happy to see you returned. Do I disturb you too early? shall I wait on you again?"
"No, Mr. N--, I am ready to receive you; you may renew my measure."
"We are a very good figure, Mr. Pelham; very good figure," replied the Schneider, surveying me from head to foot, while he was preparing his measure; "we want a little assistance though; we must be padded well here; we must have our chest thrown out, and have an additional inch across the shoulders; we must live for effect in this world, Mr. Pelham; a leetle tighter round the waist, eh?"
"Mr. N--," said I, "you will take, first, my exact measure, and, secondly, my exact instructions. Have you done the first?"
"We are done now, Mr. Pelham," replied my man-maker, in a slow, solemn tone.
"You will have the goodness then to put no stuffing of any description in my coat; you will not pinch me an iota tighter across the waist than is natural to that part of my body, and you will please, in your infinite mercy, to leave me as much after the fashion in which God made me, as you possibly can."
"But, Sir, we must be padded; we are much too thin; all the gentlemen in the Life Guards are padded, Sir."
"Mr. N--," answered I, "you will please to speak of us, with a separate, and not a collective pronoun; and you will let me for once have my clothes such as a gentleman, who, I beg of you to understand, is not a Life Guardsman, can wear without being mistaken for a Guy Fawkes on a fifth of November."
Mr. N--looked very discomfited: "We shall not be liked, Sir, when we are made--we sha'n't, I assure you. I will call on Saturday at 11 o'clock. Good morning, Mr. Pelham; we shall never be done justice to, if we do not live for effect; good morning, Mr. Pelham."
Scarcely had Mr. N--retired, before Mr.--, his rival, appeared. The silence and austerity of this importation from Austria, were very refreshing after the orations of Mr. N--.
"Two frock-coats, Mr.--," said I, "one of them brown, velvet collar same colour; the other, dark grey, no stuffing, and finished by Wednesday. Good morning, Mr.--."
"Monsieur B--, un autre tailleur," said Bedos, opening the door after Mr. S.'s departure.
"Admit him," said I. "Now for the most difficult article of dress--the waistcoat."
And here, as I am weary of tailors, let me reflect a little upon that divine art of which they are the professors. Alas, for the instability of all human sciences! A few short months ago, in the first edition of this memorable Work, I laid down rules for costume, the value of which, Fashion begins already to destroy. The thoughts which I shall now embody, shall be out of the reach of that great innovator, and applicable not to one age, but to all. To the sagacious reader, who has already discovered what portions of this work are writ in irony--what in earnest--I fearlessly commit these maxims; beseeching him to believe, with Sterne, that "every thing is big with jest, and has wit in it, and instruction too, if we can but find it out!"
1. Do not require your dress so much to fit, as to adorn you. Nature is not to be copied, but to be exalted by art. Apelles blamed Protogenes for being too natural.