Found - a scrapbook of press-cuttings mostly from the Irish newspaper the Cork Gazette. This cutting dates from about 1789. They are mostly taken up with oddities, strange wagers (can a walking man cover 20 miles faster than a walking horse?*) horrible executions, feats, obituaries, a letter from Dean Swift, marriages of royals etc., This piece about current extreme fashions is an example of the slightly sensational journalism of the time...
This most whimsical of all human inventions has undergone, within these few years the most unaccountable changes imaginable, nor is she yet at rest but, with Protean wantonness, every day affirms the new form, leaving a gaping world in pursuit of her. One no sooner catches her, than she escapes, then presents herself under a different form, still more seducing and irresistible than the former.
One time she lets her head grow to the length of a cows tail, then cocks it - it sometimes flows loosely, and others nicely plaited and made into tresses - she soon prides in frizzing, and after that falls down by the ears, hanging like a pound of candles - her present frolic is a crop, which for aught we know be soon metamorphosed into a shorn head.
This Dame puts her hat into a thousand forms – round, square, cocked by three, pinched before, touched up behind, bound with lace slouched, with knots and riband.
Her neck is sometimes surrounded with stocks, muslin rolls, hair- stuffing, and latterly, she seems to be partial to steel and hempen collars.
Coats and waistcoats undergo a variety of changes – long, short, tight, loose – of every form and figure, just as the maggot bites - the present is such as gives room to think that a coat may be easily left off – becoming now a Toga pencils.**
The small-clothes grow up and down, according to times and circumstances – supported one time by a gallows, then by calves, made often of elastic stuff, and not seldom, of stuff that has no elasticity at all!
As to boots, shoes, and buckles, they are as inconstant as the minds of those who wear them, ever assuming new forms, and appearing with marks of the most unsettled state that the fashioners are pleased to approve of.
Such are the operations of fashion, all equally pleasing in their turn, and encouraged by the most wise, as well as by the most foolish, of mankind.
How Fashion sways with the Ladies, will be considered at another time.
* The man lost, the horse passed him after 13 miles(2 and a half hours) and the man gave up. The four year old horse ambled on finishing in 3 hours and 41 minutes.)
** A hanging gown.