Tristram Shandy

Full Text

Chapter 3.LXII.

Full Text Chapter 3.LXII.

Chapter 3.LXII.

After my father had debated the affair of the breeches with my mother,—he consulted Albertus Rubenius upon it; and Albertus Rubenius used my father ten times worse in the consultation (if possible) than even my father had used my mother: For as Rubenius had wrote a quarto express, De re Vestiaria Veterum,—it was Rubenius's business to have given my father some lights.—On the contrary, my father might as well have thought of extracting the seven cardinal virtues out of a long beard,—as of extracting a single word out of Rubenius upon the subject.

Upon every other article of ancient dress, Rubenius was very communicative to my father;—gave him a full satisfactory account of

The Toga, or loose gown.
The Chlamys.
The Ephod.
The Tunica, or Jacket.
The Synthesis.
The Paenula.
The Lacema, with its Cucullus.
The Paludamentum.
The Praetexta.
The Sagum, or soldier's jerkin.
The Trabea: of which, according to Suetonius, there was three kinds.—

—But what are all these to the breeches? said my father.

Rubenius threw him down upon the counter all kinds of shoes which had been in fashion with the Romans.—

There was,
The open shoe.
The close shoe.
The slip shoe.
The wooden shoe.
The soc.
The buskin.
And The military shoe with hobnails in it, which Juvenal takes notice of.

There were,
The clogs.
The pattins.
The pantoufles.
The brogues.
The sandals, with latchets to them.
There was,
The felt shoe.
The linen shoe.
The laced shoe.
The braided shoe.
The calceus incisus.
And The calceus rostratus.

Rubenius shewed my father how well they all fitted,—in what manner they laced on,—with what points, straps, thongs, latchets, ribbands, jaggs, and ends.—

—But I want to be informed about the breeches, said my father.

Albertus Rubenius informed my father that the Romans manufactured stuffs of various fabrics,—some plain,—some striped,—others diapered throughout the whole contexture of the wool, with silk and gold—That linen did not begin to be in common use till towards the declension of the empire, when the Egyptians coming to settle amongst them, brought it into vogue.

—That persons of quality and fortune distinguished themselves by the fineness and whiteness of their clothes; which colour (next to purple, which was appropriated to the great offices) they most affected, and wore on their birth-days and public rejoicings.—That it appeared from the best historians of those times, that they frequently sent their clothes to the fuller, to be clean'd and whitened:—but that the inferior people, to avoid that expence, generally wore brown clothes, and of a something coarser texture,—till towards the beginning of Augustus's reign, when the slave dressed like his master, and almost every distinction of habiliment was lost, but the Latus Clavus.

And what was the Latus Clavus? said my father.

Rubenius told him, that the point was still litigating amongst the learned:—That Egnatius, Sigonius, Bossius Ticinensis, Bayfius Budaeus, Salmasius, Lipsius, Lazius, Isaac Casaubon, and Joseph Scaliger, all differed from each other,—and he from them: That some took it to be the button,—some the coat itself,—others only the colour of it;—That the great Bayfuis in his Wardrobe of the Ancients, chap. 12—honestly said, he knew not what it was,—whether a tibula,—a stud,—a button,—a loop,—a buckle,—or clasps and keepers.—

—My father lost the horse, but not the saddle—They are hooks and eyes, said my father—and with hooks and eyes he ordered my breeches to be made.