Manners And Customs.
burned brightly on the iron hearth, for the night was chilly and the autumnal equinox was then threatening which broke so violently five days thereafter as to compel a suspension of hostilities in the pitched battle which Washington tendered to Gen. Howe near Goshen meeting-house. Perhaps that night in Ridley, in the firelight, the whole plan of the proposed but interrupted battle was digested and arranged in the mind of the commander-in-chief, whose mental balance no disaster could disturb.
Less than seventy years ago the usual cooking utensils in a well-regulated kitchen consisted of a large iron stewing pot, a tea-kettle, Dutch oven, a frying-pan, skillet, a gridiron, and earthen dishes for baking bread and pies, while on the window-sill or on the floor was the mark which told by the sunlight the hour of noon.
The usual dress of the Swedish people on the Delaware in early days was strongly but rudely fashioned of skins of animals, and their heads were covered with caps of the same material, the hair clinging to the hide. Their shoes, very similar in form to the Indian moccasins, were made from the skins of animals slain in the chase. The women were all compelled to employ the same material in making their jackets and petticoats, and the beds were covered with deer-, wolf-, and bear-skins. Many of the heads of families had the apparel they had worn at home in Europe safely packed away, which, on occasions of public festivals, were ceremoniously brought forth and donned by the owner, to the admiration of the young folks born in the colony.
The dress of the great body of the people previous to the Revolution, - those, I mean, who had their daily labor to do, - was very simple, many of the descendants of the first settlers clinging tenaciously to the buckskin of the early days of the province, out of which material their breeches and jackets were made. In 1725, from the letter written from Chester township, by Robert Park to Mary Valentine, already mentioned, we find the writer stating that "In Summer they wear nothing but a skirt and linnen drawers. Trowses, which are breeches and stockings, all in one made of Linnen; the are fine Cool wear in Summer." Underclothing as we now require was at that time seldom worn. Oznaburg, a cheap, heavy shirting, made of hemp-tow, was the material of which boys' shirts, and often those worn by men, were made, and a coarse tow-cloth was used for trousers. Shoes, which were seldom worn in summer-time, were generally, in the country, made of neat leather, fastened by large brass buckles on each instep, unless that was more costly than the wearer could afford, when shoe-strings answered instead. The men and boys from the rural districts were easily recognized on the streets in Philadelphia, because, in winter and on unusual occasions, they wore leather breeches and apron. Almost all mechanics before the Revolution - carpenters, masons, coopers, painters, and similar tradesmen - wore, when at work, great leather aprons, which covered the most of their breast and reached down below their knees, such as blacksmiths now use at the forge, and their ordinary apparel was yellow buckskin breeches, check shirts, and red flannel jackets. All of them wore real beaver hats, an article that then formed a part of their freedom outfit. Hired women dressed in linsey-woolsey or worsted petticoats, and wore coarse leather shoes, of which they were particularly careful. It is often related of those "good old days," when people deemed it a mark of effeminacy to ride to church, that it was not uncommon to see both men and women trudging along the highway barefooted, their shoes and stockings in their hands, and when they came near to their place of destination they would seat themselves by the road, put on their shoes and stockings, and adjust their apparel into proper trim to enter the church, meeting, or dwelling-house.
As previously stated, about the middle of the last century wealth began to manifest itself among the inhabitants of the cities, towns, and in the country immediately under the influence of the centres of trade. The education of the people, of course, largely reflected the aristocratic tone of the mother-country, hence special privileges and offices of honor and profit came to be monopolized by a few families, who soon learned to regard themselves as better than the general public. This class dressed in a style which peculiarly marked them as of the higher order of society. Wigs, which were in use in Penn's time, continued to be worn until the disaster at Braddock's field, when the British and colonial officers, in fleeing from that fatal place, cast aside in their flight their wigs as incumbrances, and afterwards appearing in public with their natural hair, the fashion soon changed to the queue. In the days of big wigs it was no infrequent incident at the dinner-table for the large buttons on the sleeve of the servant's livery to catch in the mass of horsehair, leaving the bare pate of the guest exposed, while the wig dangled from the servant's arm. The dress of gentlemen at that period was of varied colors. It was no uncommon sight to see a scion of the aristocratic families attend in a black velvet coat, green waistcoat embroidered with silver figures, yellow velvet breeches fastened at the knee with diamond buckles, and the legs incased in blue stockings. The calf-skin shoes were clasped with large silver buckles, studded with imitation or, in some cases, real diamonds. Fine lace neckerchief and wristbands, with a cocked hat, completed the costume, saving when a dress sword hung at the left side, the scabbard protruding between the stiffened skirts of the coat. After and during the Revolution white coats, embroidered with gold, were fashionable, but the prevailing color among all classes was indigo blue, and, as the dyer's art was indifferently understood, it is said that in a hasty shower the color would often wash out or be transferred to the skin of