Much of America is currently sweltering in July heat, and there are few places with a richer claim to swelter than Williamsburg, VA. Despite my inclination to whimper and cling pitifully to the air conditioner, I'm still venturing out to gather fresh blog-material from Colonial Williamsburg.
At this time of year, I often think of the early 17th c. English settlers who landed in the northern colonies (aka the Pilgrims), and how they were much more fortunate than those struggling to make their way in hot, humid, swampy, fever-ridden Tidewater Virginia. By the middle of the 18th c., life in the capital city of Williamsburg had progressed to a pleasingly cultured existence, but the merciless summers continued to be a fierce enemy.
Yet 18th c. Englishmen wished to remain civilized Englishmen, even in a climate bearing no resemblance to London's. How to stay stylish without keeling over from heatstroke in the middle of Duke of Gloucester Street? This gentleman that I spotted today shows how it was done. While his clothes follow the latest fashionable cut, they're made not silk or wool, but linen, the coolest and lightest of fibers. His tailor has done away with heavy linings, and his coat is about as insubstantial as it can be. His stockings are white cotton thread. He's even traded in his usual black felt hat for a white one, a dashing fancy guaranteed to turn the ladies' heads.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.