The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

Montaigne 1.43

The linking of sumptuary laws and fear of change, and the need for those in power, for those with influence, to teach ‘people’ how best to live.

And albeit most men were apparreled alike, yet were there other sufficient apparant distinctions of mens qualities. How soone doe plaine chamoy-jerkins and greasie canvase doublets creepe into fashion and credit amongst our souldiers if they lie in the field? And the garishnesse, neatnesse, and riches of silken garments grow in contempt and scorne? Let Kings first begin to leave these superfluous expenses. We shall all follow, and within a moneth, without edicts, ordinances, proclamations, and acts of Parliament, it will be observed as a law. The statutes should speake contrarie, as thus: That no man or woman, of what qualitie soever, shall, upon paine of great forfeitures, weare any manner of silke, of scarlet, or any goldsmiths worke, except only Enterlude-players, Harlots, and Curtizans (trans. Florio).

This might work – assuming people do not decide they would rather be ‘enterlude-players’ or, as Trechmann translates it – ‘mountebanks’.


(last revised: 29 January 2023)

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