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Fourteen years have elapsed since the first edition of this book was printed; from that time to the present I have seen and noted much that has enabled me to make it still more useful as a book of reference. Fifty-six new engravings have been added, many of much curiosity (such as those on pp. Ill, 205, and 214), and which are not to be found in any other work on Costume. To the literary portion of the historic part of the book I have added much; and nearly doubled the Glossary, which I have also endeavoured to make, by means of crossreferences, a sort of index to the whole.
The favour with which the book has been received demanded thus much at my hands. To me it has been a labour of love.
A knowledge of costume is in some degree inseparable from a right knowledge of history. We can scarcely read its events without in some measure picturing "in the mind's eye" the appearance of the actors; while correct information on this point has become an acknowledged essential to the historical painter. The reign of imaginary costume has reached its close. A conviction of the necessity and value of " truth " in this particular has been the slow growth of the last half-century. A deaf ear was long turned to the urgency of critical antiquaries by whom it had been studied. Assertions were constantly made of the impossibility of accomplishing their desires, and twice the necessary amount of trouble was taken in inventing a heterogeneous costume that would have been required to procure accuracy.
The great principle that all historic painting should be truthful in costume, and could be made so, I hope to have proved by the aid of the many woodeuts scattered through the volume. They are unpretending as works of art, and are to be looked on merely as facts; such they undoubtedly are, and they have been got together with no small care and research, and from very varied sources. Ancient delineations and ancient authorities have f or? jolely confided in. By referring to any portion of the ei ire, series, the reader may see how thoroughly distinctive the dress of each period is, and how great the difference made by fifty years in every age of England's growth. As no historian could venture to give wrong dates designedly, so no painter should falsify history by delineating the characters on his canvas in habits not known until many years after their death, or holding implements that were not at the time invented. Whatever talent may be displayed in the drawing, grouping, and colouring of such pictures, they are but" painted lies;" and cannot be excused any more than the history that falsifies facts and dates would be, although clothed in all the flowers of rhetoric. False costume is now an unnecessary obtrusion, and not worth an excuse. Modern continental painters, and some few English ones, have treated the most awkward costume, when necessary to be used, with picturesque effect; and it has added a truthfulness to their delineations, a charm and a value not to be obtained by any other means.
The general arrangement of this volume may be here explained. Each period is treated distinctly from that which precedes or follows it, and the history of the costume of each period commences with that worn by royalty and nobility; then the dresses of the middle classes are considered, and the commonalty in the last place. The civil costume being thus disposed of, that worn by the clergy is next described; and each section closed by a disquisition on the armour and arms of the military classes. Where it has not been practicable to go into minutiae, a reference to the proper name of any article in the Glossary will generally furnish the reader with what he requires, as many of the articles there incorporated are in fact illustrated historical essays on various minor articles of costume. My primary design has been to act as a guide rather than a lecturer,—to show where sufficient knowledge may be obtained, rather than to seek to communic. •>*; This, it is hoped, has been done, and in as clear a fc -m 'as possible; a condensation of style and matter has been principally attempted, and the illustrations selected as carefully as possible, with a view to the proper delineation of the peculiarities of each period.