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The History Of Gloves
by [?]

The present learned and curious dissertation is compiled from the papers of an ingenious antiquary, from the “Present State of the Republic of Letters,” vol. x. p. 289.[1]

The antiquity of this part of dress will form our first inquiry; and we shall then show its various uses in the several ages of the world.

It has been imagined that gloves are noticed in the 108th Psalm, where the royal prophet declares, he will cast his shoe over Edom; and still farther back, supposing them to be used in the times of the Judges, Ruth iv. 7, where the custom is noticed of a man taking off his shoe and giving it to his neighbour, as a pledge for redeeming or exchanging anything. The word in these two texts, usually translated shoe by the Chaldee paraphrast, in the latter is rendered glove. Casaubon is of opinion that gloves were worn by the Chaldeans, from the word here mentioned being explained in the Talmud Lexicon, the clothing of the hand.

Xenophon gives a clear and distinct account of gloves. Speaking of the manners of the Persians, as a proof of their effeminacy, he observes, that, not satisfied with covering their head and their feet, they also guarded their hands against the cold with thick gloves. Homer, describing Laertes at work in his garden, represents him with gloves on his hands, to secure them from the thorns. Varro, an ancient writer, is an evidence in favour of their antiquity among the Romans. In lib. ii. cap. 55, De Re Rustica, he says, that olives gathered by the naked hand are preferable to those gathered with gloves. Athenaeus speaks of a celebrated glutton who always came to table with gloves on his hands, that he might be able to handle and eat the meat while hot, and devour more than the rest of the company.

These authorities show that the ancients were not strangers to the use of gloves, though their use was not common. In a hot climate to wear gloves implies a considerable degree of effeminacy. We can more clearly trace the early use of gloves in northern than in southern nations. When the ancient severity of manners declined, the use of gloves prevailed among the Romans; but not without some opposition from the philosophers. Musonius, a philosopher, who lived at the close of the first century of Christianity, among other invectives against the corruption of the age, says, It is shameful that persons in perfect health should clothe their hands and feet with soft and hairy coverings. Their convenience, however, soon made the use general. Pliny the younger informs us, in his account of his uncle’s journey to Vesuvius, that his secretary sat by him ready to write down whatever occurred remarkable; and that he had gloves on his hands, that the coldness of the weather might not impede his business.

In the beginning of the ninth century, the use of gloves was become so universal, that even the church thought a regulation in that part of dress necessary. In the reign of Louis le Debonair, the council of Aix ordered that the monks should only wear gloves made of sheep-skin.

That time has made alterations in the form of this, as in all other apparel, appears from the old pictures and monuments.

Gloves, beside their original design for a covering of the hand, have been employed on several great and solemn occasions; as in the ceremony of investitures, in bestowing lands, or in conferring dignities. Giving possession by the delivery of a glove, prevailed in several parts of Christendom in later ages. In the year 1002, the bishops of Paderborn and Moncerco were put into possession of their sees by receiving a glove. It was thought so essential a part of the episcopal habit, that some abbots in France presuming to wear gloves, the council of Poitiers interposed in the affair, and forbad them the use, on the same principle as the ring and sandals; these being peculiar to bishops, who frequently wore them richly adorned with jewels.