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Part II. Nathaniel Hawthorne

VI. Pomps And Vanities

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"And how did the gentlemen dress?" asked Charley.

"With full as much magnificence as the ladies," answered Grandfather. "For their holiday suits they had coats of figured velvet, crimson, green, blue, and all other gay colors, embroidered with gold or silver lace. Their waistcoats, which were five times as large as modern ones, were very splendid. Sometimes the whole waistcoat, which came down almost to the knees, was made of gold brocade."

"Why, the wearer must have shone like a golden image!" said Clara.

"And then," continued Grandfather, "they wore various sorts of periwigs, such as the tie, the Spencer, the brigadier, the major, the Albemarle, the Ramillies, the feather-top, and the full-bottom. Their three-cornered hats were laced with gold or silver. They had shining buckles at the knees of their small-clothes, and buckles likewise in their shoes. They wore swords with beautiful hilts, either of silver, or sometimes of polished steel, inlaid with gold."

"Oh, I should like to wear a sword!" cried Charley.

"And an embroidered crimson velvet coat," said Clara, laughing, "and a gold brocade waistcoat down to your knees."

"And knee-buckles and shoe-buckles," said Laurence, laughing also.

"And a periwig," added little Alice, soberly, not knowing what was the article of dress which she recommended to our friend Charley.

Grandfather smiled at the idea of Charley's sturdy little figure in such a grotesque caparison. He then went on with the history of the chair, and told the children that, in 1730, King George II. appointed Jonathan Belcher to be governor of Massachusetts in place of the deceased Governor Burner. Mr. Belcher was a native of the province, but had spent much of his life in Europe.

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The new governor found Grandfather's chair in the Province House. He was struck with its noble and stately aspect, but was of opinion that age and hard services had made it scarcely so fit for courtly company as when it stood in the Earl of Lincoln's hall. Wherefore, as Governor Belcher was fond of splendor, he employed a skilful artist to beautify the chair. This was done by polishing and varnishing it, and by gilding the carved work of the elbows, and likewise the oaken flowers of the back. The lion's head now shone like a veritable lump of gold. Finally Governor Belcher gave the chair a cushion of blue damask, with a rich golden fringe.

"Our good old chair being thus glorified," proceeded Grandfather, "it glittered with a great deal more splendor than it had exhibited just a century before, when the Lady Arbella brought it over from England. Most people mistook it for a chair of the latest London fashion. And this may serve for an example, that there is almost always an old and timeworn substance under all the glittering show of new invention."

"Grandfather, I cannot see any of the gilding," remarked Charley, who had been examining the chair very minutely.

"You will not wonder that it has been rubbed off," replied Grandfather, "when you hear all the adventures that have since befallen the chair. Gilded it was; and the handsomest room in the Province House was adorned by it."

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Grandfather's Chair
Nathaniel Hawthorne

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