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Title: Umbrellas and Their History
Author: Sangster, William, 1808-1888
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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UMBRELLAS AND THEIR HISTORY

By William Sangster


"Munimen ad imbres."



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTORY


CHAPTER II.

THE ANCIENT HISTORY OF THE UMBRELLA


CHAPTER III.

THE UMBRELLA IN ENGLAND


CHAPTER IV.

THE STORY OF THE PARACHUTE


CHAPTER V.

UMBRELLA STORIES


CHAPTER VI.

THE REGENERATION OF THE UMBRELLA



CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTORY.


Can it be possibly believed, by the present eminently practical
generation, that a busy people like the English, whose diversified
occupations so continually expose them to the chances and changes of
a proverbially fickle sky, had ever been ignorant of the blessings
bestowed on them by that dearest and truest friend in need and in
deed, the UMBRELLA? Can you, gentle reader, for instance, realise to
yourself the idea of a man not possessing such a convenience for
rainy weather?

Why so much unmerited ridicule should be poured upon the head (or
handle) of the devoted Umbrella, it is hard to say. What is there
comic in an Umbrella? Plain, useful, and unpretending, if any of
man's inventions ever deserved sincere regard, the Umbrella is, we
maintain, that invention. Only a few years back those who carried
Umbrellas were held to be legitimate butts. They were old fogies,
careful of their health, and so on; but now-a-days we are wiser.
Everybody has his Umbrella. It is both cheaper and better made than
of old; who, then, so poor he cannot afford one? To see a man going
out in the rain umbrella-less excites as much mirth as ever did the
sight of those who first--wiser than their generation--availed
themselves of this now universal shelter. Yet still a touch of the
amusing clings to the "Gamp," as it is sarcastically called. 'What
says Douglas Jerrold on the subject? "There are three things that no
man but a fool lends, or, having lent, is not in the most helpless
state of mental crassitude if he ever hopes to get back again. These
three things, my son, are--BOOKS, UMBRELLAS, and MONEY! I believe a
certain fiction of the law assumes a remedy to the borrower; but I
know of no case in which any man, being sufficiently dastard to
gibbet his reputation as plaintiff in such a suit, ever fairly
succeeded against the wholesome prejudices of society. Umbrellas may
be 'hedged about' by cobweb statutes; I will not swear it is not so;
there may exist laws that make such things property; but sure I am
that the hissing contempt, the loud-mouthed indignation of all
civilised society, 'would sibilate and roar at the bloodless poltroon
who should engage law on his side to obtain for him the restitution
of a--lent Umbrella!"

Strange to say, it is a fact, melancholy enough, but for all that
too true, that our forefathers, scarce seventy years agone, meekly
endured the pelting of the pitiless storm without that protection
vouchsafed to their descendants by a kind fate and talented
inventors. The fact is, the Umbrella forms one of the numerous
conveniences of life which seem indispensable to the present
generation, because just so long a time has passed since their
introduction, that the contrivances which, in some certain degree,
previously supplied their place, have passed into oblivion.

We feel the convenience we possess, without being always aware of
the gradations which intervened between it and the complete
inconvenience of being continually unsheltered from the rain, without
any kind friend from whom to seek the protection so ardently desired.

Fortunately a very simple process will enable the reader to realise
the fact in its full extent; he need only walk about in a pelting
shower for some hours without an Umbrella, or when the weight of a
cloak would be insupportable, and at the same time remember that
seventy years ago a luxury he can now purchase in almost every street,
was within the reach of but very few, while omnibuses and cabs were
unknown.

But, apart from considerations of comfort, we may safely claim very
much higher qualities as appertaining to the Umbrella. We may even
reckon it among the causes that have contributed to lengthen the
average of human life, and hold it a most effective agent in the
great increase which took place in the population of England between
the years 1750 and 1850 as compared with the previous century. The
Registrar-General, in his census-report, forgot to mention this fact,
but there appears to us not the slightest doubt that the introduction
of the Umbrella at the latter part of the former, and commencement of
the present century, must have greatly conduced to the improvement of
the public health, by preserving the bearer from the various and
numerous diseases superinduced by exposure to rain.

But perhaps we are a little harsh on our worthy ancestors; they may
have possessed some species of protection from the rain on which they
prided themselves as much as we do on our Umbrellas, and regarded the
new-fangled invention (as they no doubt termed it) as something
exceedingly absurd, coxcombical, and unnecessary; while we, who are
in possession of so many life-comforts of which those of the good old
times were supremely ignorant--among these we give the Umbrella
brevet rank--can afford to smile at such ebullitions as we have come
across in those books of the day we have consulted, and to which we
shall presently have an opportunity of referring.

We can happily estimate the value of such a friend as the Umbrella,
the silent companion of our walks abroad, a companion incomparably
superior to those slimy waterproof abominations so urgently
recommended to us, for, at the least, the Umbrella cannot be accused
of injuring, the health as _they_ have been, as it appears, with
very good reason. In fact, so long as the climate of England remains
as it is, so long will Umbrellas hold their ground in public esteem,
and we do not believe that the clerk of the weather will allow
himself to be bribed into any alteration, at least for trade
considerations.

Another remarkable proof of the utility of the Umbrella may be found
in the universality of its use. It has asserted its sway from Indus
to the Pole, and is to be met with in every possible variety, from
the Napoleon blue silk of the London exquisite, to the coarse red or
green cotton of the Turkish rayah. Throughout the Continent it forms
the peaceful armament of the peasant, and no more curious sight can
be imagined than the wide, uncovered market-place of some quaint old
German town during a heavy shower, when every industrial covers
himself or herself with the aegis of a portable tent, and a bright
array of brass ferrules and canopies of all conceivable hues which
cotton can be made to assume, without losing its one quality of "fast
colour," flash on the spectator's vision.

The advantages of the Umbrella being thus recognised, it must be
confessed that it has hitherto been treated in a most ungrateful and
step-motherly fashion. We fly to the Umbrella when the sky is
overcast--it affords us shelter in the hour of need--and the service
is forgotten as soon as the necessity is relieved. We make abominable
jokes upon the Umbrella; we borrow it without compunction from any
confiding friend, though with the full intention of never returning
it--in fact, it has often been a matter of surprise to us that any
one ever does buy an Umbrella, for where can the old Umbrellas go to?
Although that question has often been asked concerning the fate of
pins, the fact as regards the former, looking at their size, is more
curious--and yet, for all that, we treat it with shameful neglect, as
if ashamed of a crime we have committed and anxious to conceal the
evidences of our guilt.

Let us then strive to afford such reparation as in our power lies,
by giving a slight description of THE UMBRELLA AND ITS HISTORY,
making up for any deficiencies of our pen by the assistance of the
artist's pencil.



CHAPTER II.

THE ANCIENT HISTORY OF THE UMBRELLA.


The Umbrella is derived from a stately family, that of the Parasol,
the legitimate use of the Umbrella, though sufficiently obvious,
being almost ignored in those countries whence it derives its being,
since it was as a protection against the scorching heat of the sun
that it was first used. The Parasol, then, or Umbrella--since for all
practical purposes the two are really identical--dates from the
earliest ages, some commentators on the Bible fancying they can
discover it in places where a shade protecting from the sun is
mentioned. This is not unlikely, but it is certain that the Parasol
has been in use from a very early period.

Chinese history goes a very long way back, inasmuch as it places the
invention of these elegant machines many thousand years anterior to
the Mosaic date of the world's creation. Their antiquity among the
Hindoos is more satisfactorily proved by the following passage from
the dramatic poem of _S'akuntâla_, the date of which is supposed
to be the 6th century of the Christian era:--

("The cares of supporting the nation harass the sovereign, while he
is cheered with a view of the people's welfare, as a huge Umbrella,
of which a man bears the staff in his own hand, fatigues while it
shades him. The sovereign, like a branching tree, bears on his head
the scorching sunbeams, while the broad shade allays the fever of
those who seek shelter under him.")

The origin of the Parasol is wrapped in considerable obscurity. Some
profound investigators have supposed that large leaves tied to the
branching extremities of a bough suggested the first idea of the
invention. Others assert that the idea was probably derived from the
tent, which remains in form unaltered to the present day. Dr.
Morrison, _however_, tells us that the tradition existing in
China is, that the _San_, which signifies a shade for sun and
rain, originated in standards and banners waving in the air. As this
is a case in which we may quote the line--"Who shall decide when
doctors disagree?"--we may with safety assume that all are in the
right, and that the Parasol owed its origin to all or any of the
above-mentioned fortuitous circumstances.

In the Ninevite sculptures the Umbrella or Parasol appears
frequently. Layard gives a picture of a bas-relief representing a
king in his chariot, with an attendant holding an Umbrella over his
head. It has a curtain hanging down behind, but is otherwise exactly
like those in use at the present time, the stretchers and sliding
runner being plainly represented. To quote the words of that
indefatigable traveller:--

"The Umbrella or Parasol, the emblem of royalty so universally
accepted by eastern nations, was generally carried over the king in
time of peace, and sometimes even in time of war. In shape it
resembled, very closely, those in common use; but it is always open
in the sculptures. It was edged with tassels, and was usually
ornamented at the top by a flower or some other ornament. On the
later bas-reliefs, a long piece of embroidered linen or silk falling
from one side like a curtain, appears to screen the king completely
from the sun. The parasol was reserved exclusively for the monarch,
and is never represented as borne over any other person."

In Egypt again, the Parasol is found in various shapes. In some
instances it is depicted as a _flabellum_, a fan of palm-leaves
or coloured feathers fixed on a long handle, resembling those now
carried behind the Pope in processions. Sir Gardner Wilkinson, in his
work on Egypt, has, an engraving of an Ethiopian princess travelling
through Upper Egypt in a chariot; a kind of Umbrella fastened to a
stout pole rises in the centre, bearing a close affinity to what are
now termed chaise Umbrellas. To judge from Wilkinson's account, the
Umbrella was generally used throughout Egypt, partly as a mark of
distinction, but more on account of its useful than its ornamental
qualities.

The same author is rather doubtful whether, in the picture given by
him of a military chief in his chariot, the frame which an attendant
holds up behind the rider is a shield or a screen, but the latter is
the more probable supposition, as it has all the appearance of an
Umbrella without the usual handle. In some paintings on a temple
wall, an Umbrella is held over the figure of a god carried in
procession, and altogether we may, perhaps, consider it decided,
beyond dispute, that the Umbrella in its modern shape was used in
Egypt. [Footnote: To silence captious critics, who may find fault with
the designs of our artist, we may once for all remark that an idealised
conception of the figures only is given. The style of the ancient
draughtsmen was by no means so perfect that we, who live in a more
civilised age, should be entirely fettered by their conceptions, and
the records of ancient life are not nearly full enough to justify any
one who may Assert that the pictures in our pages are not as accurate
as those in the British Museum. Anyhow, what they ought to have been,
rather than what the ancient were, our artist has striven to
delineate.]

In Persia the Parasol is repeatedly found in the carved work of
Persepolis, and Sir John Malcolm has an article on the subject in his
"History of Persia." In some sculptures--of a very Egyptian
character, by the way--the figure of a king appears attended by a
slave, who carries over his head an Umbrella, with stretchers and
runner complete. In other sculptures on the rock at Takht-i-Bostan,
supposed to be not less than twelve centuries old, a deer-hunt is
represented, at which a king looks on, seated on a horse, and having
an Umbrella borne over his head by an attendant.

This combination of business and comfort forcibly reminds us of a
certain wet day in Carlsruhe, where we witnessed from the window of
the Hôtel d'Angleterre a stout, martial-looking national guardsman
marching to the exercising-ground with an Umbrella over his head, and
a maid-servant diligently tramping through the mud behind him,
bearing his musket.

As in Assyria, so in most other Eastern countries, this use of the
Parasol carried with it a peculiar and honourable significance. The
tradition relating to its origin in China has been already alluded
to, and we can trace notices of its use a very long way back indeed.

According to Dr. Morrison, Umbrellas and Parasols are referred to in
books printed about A.D. 300, but their use has been traced still
further back than this. A very ancient book of Chinese ceremonies,
called "Tcheou-Li, or The Rites of Tcheou," directs that upon the
imperial cars the dais should be placed. "The figure of this dais
contained in the Chinese edition of Tcheou-Li, and the particular
description of it given in the explanatory commentary of Lin-hi-ye,
both identify it with an Umbrella. The latter describes the dais to
be composed of 28 arcs, which are equivalent to the whalebone ribs of
the modern instrument, and the staff supporting the covering to
consist of two parts, the upper being a rod 3/18ths of a Chinese foot
in circumference, and the lower a tube 6/10ths in circumference, into
which the upper half is capable of sliding."

In the second Tartar invasion of China the emperor's son was taken
prisoner by the Tartar chief, and made to carry his Umbrella when he
went out hunting.

Starting from the royal significance attached to the Umbrella, came
a feeling of veneration for it, very different from the contempt with
which we are now-a-days too apt to regard it. It was represented by
many ancient nations as shading their gods. In the Hindoo mythology
Vishnu is said to have paid a visit to the infernal regions with his
Umbrella over his head. One would think that in few places could an
Umbrella have been less appropriate, but doubtless Vishnu knew what
he was about, and had his own reasons for carrying his _Parapluie_
under his arm. Perhaps like Mrs. Gamp he could not be separated from
it. So much for the ancient history of our subject in the East. We may
now go on to countries about which we know a little more than of ancient
China and Assyria.

In Greece, as Becker tells us in his "Charicles," the Parasol was an
indispensable adjunct to a lady of fashion. It had also its religious
signification. In the Scirophoria, the feast of Athene Sciras, a
white Parasol was borne by the priestesses of the goddess from the
Acropolis to the Phalerus. In the feasts of Dionysius (in that at
Alea in Arcadia, where he was exposed under an Umbrella, and
elsewhere) the Umbrella was used, and in an old has-relief the same
god is represented as descending ad _inferos_ with a small
Umbrella in his hand, like Vishnu before mentioned.

There was also another festival in which they appeared, though
without any mystical signification. In the Panathenæa, the daughters
of the Metceci, or foreign residents, carried Parasols over the heads
of Athenian women as a mark of inferiority,

  "tas parthenons ton metoikon skiadaephorein en tais rompais
  aenankazon."
  --_OElian, V. H._, vi. 1.
[Footnote: "They compelled the maidens of the Metceci to act as
umbrella-bearers in the processions."]

Its use seems to have been confined to women. In Pausanias there is
a description of a tomb near Pharæ, a Greek city. On the tomb was the
figure of a woman--

  "themapaina de autae prosestaeke skiadeion pherousa."
--_Pausanias_, lib. vii., cap. 22, Section 6.
[Footnote: "And by her stood a female slave, bearing a parasol."]

Aristophanes seems to mention it among the common articles of female
use--

  "aemin men gar son eti kai nun  tantion, o kanon, oi kalathiokoi,
      to skiadeion."
--_Aristophanes, Thesmoph._, 821.
[Footnote: "For now our loom is safe, our weaving-beam, our baskets
and umbrella."]

It occurs frequently on vases, and is in shape like that now used.
It could be put up and down.

  "ta d' ota g'an son, nae AL', exepetannuto  osper skiadeion, kai
      palin xunaegeto."
--_Arist. Eq._, 1347.
[Footnote: "But your ears, by Jove, are stretched out like a
parasol, and now again shut up."]

Which the Scholiast explains, _ekteinetai de kai systelletai pros
ton katepeigonta kairon._ [Footnote: "Are opened and shut as need
requires."] For a man to carry one was considered a mark of
effeminacy, as appears from the following fragment of Anacreon:--

  "_skiadiskaen elephantinaen phorei gunaixin autos._"
  _Athenaeus_, lib. xii., cap. 46,  Section 534.
[Footnote: "He carries an ivory parasol, as women do."]

Plutarch makes Aristides speak of Xerxes as sitting under a canopy
or Umbrella looking at the sea-fight--

  "_kathaeenos hupd skiadi chrysae._"
  _Plut. Therm., c. 16_ (p. 120),
[Footnote: "Sitting under a golden canopy."]

and of Cleopatra in like manner--

  "_upo skiadi chrysopasto._"
  _Plut. Anton., c. 26_ (p. 927).
[Footnote: "Under a gold-wrought canopy."]

From Greece it is probable that the use of the Parasol passed to
Rome, where it seems to have been commonly used by women, while it
was the custom even for effeminate men to defend themselves from the
heat by means of the _Umbraculum_, formed of skin or leather,
and capable of being lowered at will. We find frequent reference to
the Umbrella in the Roman Classics, and it appears that it was, not
unlikely, a post of honour among maid-servants to bear it over their
mistresses. Allusions to it are tolerably frequent in the poets.
Virgil's "Munimen ad imbres" [Footnote: "A shelter for the shower."]
probably has nothing to do with Umbrellas, but more definite mention
of them is not wanting. Ovid speaks of Hercules carrying the Parasol
of Omphale:--

  "Aurea pellebant rapidos umbracula soles,
  Quæ tamen Herculeæ sustinuere manus."
--_Ov. Fast._, lib. ii., 1. 31 I.
[Footnote: "A golden umbrella warded off the keen sun, which even
the hands of Hercules have borne."]

Martial speaks of a servant carrying the Parasol:--

  "Umbellam lusca, Lygde feras Dominæ."
--_Mart._, lib. xi., ch. 73.
[Footnote: "Mayst thou, Lygde, be parasol-carrier for a publind
mistress."]

Juvenal mentions an Umbrella as a present:--

  "En cui tu viridem umbellam cui succina mittas"
--_Juv._, ix., 50.
[Footnote: "See to whom it is sent a green umbrella and amber
ornaments"]

Ovid advises a lover to make himself agreeable
by holding his mistress's Parasol:--

  "Ipse tene distenta suis umbracula virgis"
_Ov. Ars._ Am., ii., 209.
[Footnote: "Yourself hold up the umbrella spread out by its rods"]

This shows that the Umbrella was of much the same construction as
ours.

A very common use for it was in the theatre, whenever, from wind or
other cause, the _velarium_ or huge awning stretched over the
building (always open to the air) could not be put up:--

  "Accipe quæ nimios vincant umbracula soles,
   Sit licet, et ventus, te tua vela tegont."
--_Mart.,_ lib. xiv., Ep. 28.
[Footnote: "Take this, which may shield you from the sun's excessive
rays. So may your own sail shield you, even should the breeze blow."]

By _tua vela_ is to be understood "your own Umbrella." And
elsewhere the same writer gives the advice:--

  "Ingrediare viam coelo licet usque sereno
   Ad subitas nunquam scortea desit aquas."
--Man'., lib. xiv. Ep. 130.
[Footnote: "Though with a bright sky you begin your journey, let
this cloak ever be at hand in case of unexpected showers."]


It will be noticed from the above extracts that the Umbrella does
not appear to have been used among the Romans as a defence from rain;
and this is curious enough, for we know that the theatres were
protected by the _velarium_ or awning, which was drawn across
the arena whenever a sudden shower came on; strange that this
self-evident application of the Umbrella should not have occurred to a
nation generally so ingenious in the invention of every possible
luxury. Possibly the expense bestowed in the decoration of the
_umbraculum_ was a reason for its not being applied to what we
cannot but regard as its legitimate use.

After the founding of Constantinople, the custom of great people
carrying an Umbrella seems to have arisen, but in Rome it appears
only to have been used as a luxury, never as a mark of distinction,
Pliny speaks of Umbrellas made of palm-leaves, but from other sources
we may gather that the Romans--at all events in the days of the
empire--lavished as much splendour on their Umbrella as on all the
articles of their dress. Ovid (as above quoted) speaks of an Umbrella
inwrought with gold, and Claudian in the same way has:--

  "Neu defensura calorem
   Aurea submoveant rapidos umbracula soles."
--_Claud._, lib. viii., De. iv. cons. Honorii, 1. 340.
[Footnote: "Nor to protect you from the heat, let the golden
umbrella ward off the keen sun's rays."]

From this we may conclude that the carrying an Umbrella was in some
sort a mark of effeminacy. In another place carrying the Umbrella is
alluded to as one of the duties of a slave:--

  "Jam non umbracula tollunt
   Virginibus," etc.
[Footnote: "_Now_ they do not carry girls' parasols."]

Gorius says that the Umbrella came to Rome from the Etruscans, and
certainly it appears not infrequently on Etruscan vases, as also on
later gems. One gem, figured by Pacudius, shows an Umbrella with a
bent handle, sloping backwards. Strabo describes a sort of screen or
Umbrella worn by Spanish women, but this is not like a modern
Umbrella.

Very many curious facts are connected with the use of the Umbrella
throughout the East, where it was nearly everywhere one of the
insignia of royalty, or at least of high rank.

M. de la Loubère, who was Envoy Extraordinary from the French King
to the King of Siam in 1687 and 1688, wrote an account entitled a
"New Historical Relation of the Kingdom of Siam," which was
translated in 1693 into English. According to his account the use of
the Umbrella was granted to some only of the subjects by the king. An
Umbrella with several circles, as if two or three umbrellas were
fastened on the same stick, was permitted to the king alone, the
nobles carried a single Umbrella with painted cloths hanging from it.
The Talapoins (who seem to have been a sort of Siamese monks) had
Umbrellas made of a palm-leaf cut and folded, so that the stem formed
a handle. The same writer describes the audience-chamber of the King
of Siam. In his quaint old French, he says:--"Pour tout meuble il n'y
a que trois para-sol, un devant la fenêtre, a neuf ronds, & deux à
sept ronds aux deux côtéz de la fenêtre. Le para-sol est en ce Pais-la,
ce que le Dais est en celui-ci."

Tavernier, in his "Voyage to the East," says that on each side of
the Mogul's throne were two Umbrellas, and also describes the hall of
the King of Ava as decorated with an Umbrella. The Mahratta princes,
who reigned at Poonah and Sattara, had the title of Ch'hatra-pati,
"Lord of the Umbrella." Ch'hatra or cháta has been suggested as the
derivation of _satrapaes_ (_exatrapaes_ in Theopompus), and
it seems a probable derivation enough. The cháta of the Indian and
Burmese princes is large and heavy, and requires a special attendant,
who has a regular position in the royal household. In Ava it seems to
have been part of the king's title, that he was "King of the white
elephant, and Lord of the twenty-four Umbrellas." Persons of rank in
the Mahratta court, who were not permitted the right of carrying an
Umbrella, used a screen, a flat vertical disc called AA'-ab-gir,
carried by an attendant. Even now the Umbrella has not lost its
emblematic meaning. In 1855 the King of Burmah directed a letter to
the Marquis of Dalhousie in which he styles himself "His great,
glorious, and most excellent Majesty, who reigns over the kingdoms of
Thunaparanta, Tampadipa, and all the great Umbrella-wearing chiefs of
the Eastern countries," &c.

Thus we see that the same signification which was attached to the
Umbrella by the ancient people of Nineveh, still remains connected
with it even in our own time.

In the Great Exhibition of 1851 was the splendid Umbrella belonging
to his Highness the Maharajah of Najpoor. The ribs and stretchers,
sixteen in number, divided the Umbrella into as many segments,
covered with silk, exquisitely embroidered with gold and silver
ornaments. The upper part of the design was complete in each
department, but at the lower, it was formed into a graceful running
border, to which a fringe was attached. The handle was hollow and
formed of thick silver plates.

In Bengal it appears that no distinction is attached to the
Umbrella, since the poorer classes there use a cháta or small
Umbrella, made of leaves of the _Licerata peltata_. These are of
conical form and have numerous ribs and stretchers. The higher class
in Assam use a similar Umbrella.

In China the use of the Umbrella does not appear to have been
confined, as in India and Persia, to royalty; but it was always, as
it is now, a mark of high rank, though not exclusively so. There
seems to have been no particular rule about it, but it carried with
it some peculiar distinction; for, on one occasion at least, we hear
of twenty-four Umbrellas being carried before the Emperor when he
went out hunting. Here it is, what it appears to be in no other
Eastern country, a defence against rain rather than sun, and while
the richer people do not go out much while it is wet, the poorer
classes wear a dress that protects them from the weather. In the
rainy season, for instance, a Chinese boatman wears a coat of straw,
and a hat of straw and bamboo. Such a dress, of course, renders an
Umbrella superfluous, and it matters little to the wearer how hard
the rain may pelt. Nevertheless great numbers of Umbrellas are
exported from China to India, the Indian Archipelago, and even South
America. In the 1851 Exhibition two only were shown. Of them the
report says, "They present nothing remarkable beyond the great number
of ribs, which amount to forty-two. The ribs are formed of wood; and
instead of being embraced by the fork of the stretcher, as in the
case of European Umbrellas, they have a groove cut out in the middle
of their lengths, into which the stretcher is secured by a stud of
wood. The head of each rib fits into a notch formed in the ring of
wood, which is fastened on to the top of the stick, there being a
separate, notch for each rib. The slide is of wood, and has forty-two
notches, namely, one for each stretcher, which like the ribs, is
formed of wood. The covering of the Umbrellas exhibited is of oiled
paper coarsely painted."

But the use of the Umbrella travelled westward, and with it the
custom of regarding it as a mark of dignity.

Amongst the Arabs the Umbrella was a mark of distinction. Niebuhr,
who travelled in Southern Arabia, describes a procession of the Iman
of Sanah. In it the Iman and each of the princes of his numerous
family, caused a _madalla,_ or large Umbrella, to be carried by
his side; and it is a privilege which, in this country, is
appropriated to princes of the blood, just as the Sultan of
Constantinople permits none but his vizier to have his caique, or
gondola, covered behind, to keep him from the heat of the sun. The
same writer goes on to say that many independent chiefs of Yemen
carried _madallas_ as a mark of their independence.

In Morocco, according to a passage quoted by a writer in the
_Penny Magazine_ from the Travels of Ali Bey, the emperor alone
and his family are allowed to use it. "The retinue of the Sultan was
composed of a troop of from fifteen to twenty men on horseback. About
a hundred steps behind them came the Sultan, who was mounted on a
mule with an officer bearing his Umbrella, who rode by his side also
on a mule. The Umbrella is a distinguishing sign of the sovereign of
Morocco. Nobody but himself, his sons, or his brothers dare to make
use of it." In Turkey the Umbrella is common. A vestige of the
reverence once attached to it remains in the custom of compelling
everybody who passes the palace where the Sultan is residing to lower
his Umbrella as a mark of respect. And--at all events some years
back, before the Crimean war had introduced so many Europeans to
Constantinople--any one neglecting to pay the required reverence,
stood in considerable danger of a lively reminder from the sentry on
duty.

Before concluding this chapter, it may not be out of place to make a
few remarks as to the origin of the word Umbrella, as we have done
regarding the thing itself. The English name is borrowed from the
Italian _Ombrella_. The Latin term _Umbella_ is applied by
botanists to those blossoms which are clustered at the extremities of
several spokes, radiating from the common stem like the metallic
props of the Umbrella. The name, as is seen, does not give the
slightest idea of the use of the article designated, as is often the
case with words we practical folk employ; and we might well take a
lesson from our cousins German or French, who have invented distinct
names for the weapon used to ward off the rays of the sun, and that
employed against rain, namely,--Regenschirm, _parapluie;_
Sonnenschirm, _parasol._ These are better than our names, even
though both the French words labour under the disadvantage of being
hybrids, half Greek and half Latin.

Such, then, is the ancient history of the Umbrella, as far as our
research has enabled us to trace it, and, indeed, we are now not a
little surprised at the result of those labours which have enabled us
to discover so much.



CHAPTER III.

THE UMBRELLA IN ENGLAND.


As a canopy of state, Umbrellas were generally used in the south of
Europe; they are found in the ceremonies of the Byzantine Church;
they were borne over the Host in procession, and formed part of the
Pontifical regalia.

A mediæval gem represents a bishop, attended by a cross-bearer, and
a servant who carries behind him an Umbrella.

In the Basilican churches of Rome is suspended a large Umbrella, and
the cardinal who took his title from the church has the privilege of
having an Umbrella carried over his head on solemn processions. It is
not, altogether impossible that the cardinal's hat may be derived
from this Umbrella. The origin of this custom of hanging an Umbrella
in the Basilican churches is plain enough. The judge sitting in the
basilica would have it as part of his insignia of office. On the
judgment hall being turned into a church, the Umbrella remained, and
in fact occupied the place of the canopy over thrones and the like in
our own country. Beatiano, an Italian herald, says that "a vermilion
Umbrella in a field argent symbolises dominion."

References crop up now and then throughout the middle age records,
to Umbrellas; but the extreme paucity of such allusions goes to show
that they were not in common use. In an old romance, "The Blonde of
Oxford," a jester makes fun of a nobleman for being out in the rain
without his cloak. "Were I a rich man," says he, "I would bear my
house about with me." By this very valiant joke he meant, as he
afterwards explained, that the nobleman should wear a cloak, not that
he ought not to forget his Umbrella So it is clear, we find, that our
forefathers depended on their cloaks, not on their Umbrellas, for
protection against storms.

Careful research has enabled us to light on a solitary instance of
an ancient English Umbrella, for Wright, in his "Domestic Manners of
the English," gives a drawing from the Harleian MS., No. 603, which
represents an Anglo-Saxon gentleman walking out attended by his
servant, the servant carrying an Umbrella with a handle that slopes
backwards, so as to bring the Umbrella over the head of the person in
front. It probably, therefore, could not be shut up, but otherwise it
looks like an ordinary Umbrella, and the ribs are represented
distinctly.

Whether this earliest Jonas Hanway (the reputed first importer of
the Umbrella, of whom more hereafter) was peculiarly sybaritic in his
notions, or whether, like the mammoth of Siberia, he is the one
remaining instance of a former "umbrelliferous" race, must, at least
for the present, remain undecided. The general use of the Parasol in
France and England was adopted, probably from China, about the middle
of the seventeenth century. At that period, pictorial representations
of it are frequently found, some of which exhibit the peculiar broad
and deep canopy belonging to the large Parasol of the Chinese
Government officials, borne by native attendants.

John Evelyn, in his Diary for the 22nd June, 1664, mentions a
collection of rarities shown him by one Thompson, a Catholic priest,
sent by the Jesuits of Japan and China to France. Among the
curiosities were "fans like those our ladies use, but much larger,
and with long handles, strangely carved and filled with Chinese
characters," which is evidently a description of the Parasol.

In the title-page of Evelyn's "Kalendarium Hortense," also published
in the same year, we find a black page represented, bearing a closed
Umbrella or Sunshade. It is again evident that the Parasol was more
an article of curiosity than use at this period, from the fact that
it is mentioned as such in the catalogue of the "_Museum
Tradescantium_, or Collection of Rarities, preserved at South
Lambeth, by London, by John Tradescant."

In Coryat's "Crudities," a very rare and highly interesting work,
published in 1611, about a century and a half prior to the general
introduction of the Umbrella into England, we find the following
curious passage:--

After talking of fans he goes on to say, "And many of them doe carry
other fine things of a far greater price, that will cost at the least
a duckat, which they commonly call in the Italian tongue umbrellas,
that is, things which minister shadow veto them for shelter against
the scorching heate of the sunne. These are made of leather,
something answerable to the forme of a little cannopy, & hooped in
the inside with divers little wooden hoopes that extend the umbrella
in a pretty large cornpasse. They are used especially by horsemen,
who carry them in their hands when they ride, fastening the end of
the handle upon one of their thighs, and they impart so large a
shadow unto them, that it keepeth the heate of the sunne from the
upper parts of their bodies."

Reference to the same custom, of riders in Italy using umbrellas, is
made in Florio's "Worlde of Wordes" (1598), where we find "Ombrella,
a fan, a canopie, also a festoon or cloth of State for a prince, also
a kind of round fan or shadowing that they use to ride with in sommer
in Italy, a little shade."

In Cotgrave's "Dictionary of the French and English Tongues," the
French Ombrelle is translated, "An umbrello; a (fashion of) round and
broad fanne, wherewith the Indians (and from them our great ones)
preserve themselves from the heat of a scorching sunne; and hence any
little shadow, fanne, or thing, wherewith women hide their faces fro
the sunne."

In Fynes Moryson's "Itinerary" (1617) we find a similar allusion to
the habit of carrying Umbrellas in hot countries "to auoide the
beames of the sunne." Their employment, says the author, is
dangerous, "because they gather the heate into a pyramidall point,
and thence cast it down perpendicularly upon the head, except they
know how to carry them for auoyding that danger." This is certainly a
fact not generally known to those who use Parasols too recklessly.

"Poesis Rediviva," by John Collop, M.D. (1656), mentions Umbrellas.
Michael Drayton, writing about 1620, speaks of a pair of doves, which
are to watch over the person addressed in his verses:--

  "Of doves I have a dainty pair,
  Which, when you please to take the air,
  About your head shall gently hover,
  Your clear brow from the sun to cover;
  And with their nimble wings shall fan you,
  That neither cold nor heat shall tan you;
  And, like umbrellas, with their feathers
  Shall shield you in all sorts of weathers."

Beaumont and Fletcher have an allusion to the umbrella (1640);--

  "Now are you glad, now is your mind at ease,
  Now you have got a shadow, an umbrella,
  To keep the 'scorching world's opinion
  From your fair credit."
--_Rule a Wife and Have a Wife_, Act iii, sc. I.

Ben Jonson, too, once mentions it (date 1616), speaking of a mishap
which befel a lady at the Spanish Court:--

  "And there she lay, flat spread as an umbrella."
--_The Devil is an Ass_, Act iv., SC. I.

Of the fact that Umbrellas' were known and used in Italy long prior
to their introduction into France, we find a confirmation in old
Montaigne, who observes, _lib_. iii. _cap_. ix. :--"Les
Ombrelles, de quoy depuis les anciens Remains l'Italie se sert,
chargent plus le bras, qu'ils ne deschargent la teste."

Kersey's Dictionary (1708) describes an Umbrella as a "screen
commonly used by women to keep off rain."

The absence of almost all allusion to the Umbrella by the wits of
the seventeenth century, while the muff, fan, &c., receive so large a
share of attention, is a further proof that it was far from being
recognised as an article of convenient luxury at that day. The
clumsy shape, probably, prevented its being generally used. In one of
Dryden's plays we find the line:--

  "I can carry your umbrella and fan, your Ladyship."

Gay, addressing a gentleman, in his "Trivia, or the Art of Walking
the Streets of London" (1712), says:--

 "Be thou for every season justly dress'd,
  Nor brave the piercing frost with open breast:
  And when the bursting clouds a deluge pour.
  Let thy surtout defend the gaping shower."

And again:--

 "That garment best the winter's rage defends
  Whose shapeless form in ample plaits depends;
  By various names in various countries known,
  Yet held in all the true surtout alone.
  Be thine of kersey tine, though small the cost,
  Then brave, unwet, the rain, unchilled, the frost."

These passages lead us to the belief that the Umbrella was not used
by gentlemen for a long time after its merits had been recognised by
the fair sex.

The following lines from the same author have often been quoted:--

  "Good housewives all the winter's rage despise
  Defended by the riding-hood's disguise:
  Or underneath the umbrella's oily shed
  Safe through the wet on clinking pattens tread.
  Let Persian dames th' umbrellas rich display,
  To guard their beauties from the sunny ray,
  Or sweating slaves support the shady load,
  When Eastern monarchs show their state abroad,
  Britain in winter only knows its aid
  To guard from chilly showers the walking maid."
--_Trivia_, B. 1.


Dean Swift, also, in the _Tatler_, No. 228, in describing a
City shower, thus alludes to the common use of the Umbrella by
women:--

  "Now in contiguous drops the floods come down,
  Threatening with deluge the devoted town:
  To shops in crowds the draggled females fly,
  Pretend to cheapen goods, but nothing buy:
  The Templar spruce, while every spout's abroach,
  Stays till 'tis fair, yet seems to call a coach:
  The tucked-up sempstress walks with hasty strides,
  While streams run down her oiled umbrella's sides."

About this time the custom obtained of keeping an Umbrella in the
halls of great houses, to be used in passing from the door to the
carriage. At coffee-houses, too, the same was done.

That the use of the Umbrella was considered far too effeminate for
man, is seen from the following advertisement from the _Female
Tatler_ for December 12th, 1709:--"The young gentleman borrowing
the Umbrella belonging to Wills' Coffee-house, in Cornhill, of the
mistress, is hereby advertised, that to be dry from head to foot on
the like occasion, he shall be welcome to the maid's pattens."

Defoe's description of Robinson Crusoe's Umbrella is, of course,
familiar to all our readers. He makes his hero say that he had seen
Umbrellas used in Brazil, where they were found very useful in the
great heats that were there, and that he constructed his own
instrument in imitation of them, "I covered it with skins," he adds,
"the hair outwards, so that it cast off the rain like a pent-house,
and kept off the sun so effectually, that I could walk out in the
hottest of the weather with greater advantage than I could before in
the coolest." We may also add, that from this description the
original heavy Umbrellas obtained the name of "Robinson," which they
retained for many years, both here and in France.

In the "Memoir of Ambrose Barnes," published for the Surtees
Society, under date 1718, appears an entry, "Umbrella for the
Church's use, 25s." A similar entry is also found in the
churchwarden's accounts for the parochial chapelry of Burnley,
Surrey, for A.D. 1760, "Paid for Umbrella 2_l_. 10_s_.
6_d_." Both these Umbrellas were in all likelihood intended for
the use of clergymen at funerals in the churchyard, as was that
alluded to in Hone's _Year-Book_ (1826) which was kept for the
same purpose in a country church. This last had "an awning of green
oiled canvas, such as common Umbrellas were made of, forty years ago."

Bailey's _Encyclopædia_ (1736) has "Umbrello, a sort of wooden
frame, covered with cloth, put over a window to keep out the sun;
also a screen carried over the head to defend from sun or rain." Also
"Parasol, a little umbrella to keep off sun."

There is at Woburn Abbey a picture, painted about 1730, of the
Duchess of Bedford, with a black servant behind her, who holds an
Umbrella over her, and a sketch of the same period attached to a song
called "The Generous Repulse," shows a lady seated on a flowery bank
holding a Parasol with a long handle over her head, while she gently
checks the ardour of her swain, and consoles him by the following
touching strain:--

  "Thy vain pursuit, fond youth, give o'er,
   What more, alas! can Flavia do?
  Thy worth I own, thy fate deplore,
   All are not happy that are true."

       *       *       *       *       *

  "But if revenge can ease thy pain,
   I'll soothe the ills I cannot cure,
  Tell thee I drag a hopeless chain,
   And all that I inflict endure!"

Rather cold consolation, but an unexceptionable and moral sentiment.

The idea, therefore, that the Duchess of Rutland devised Parasols in
1826 for the first time is obviously incorrect, whatever her grace
may have done towards rendering them fashionable. Captain Cook, in
one of his voyages, saw some of the natives of the South Pacific
Islands, with Umbrellas made of palm-leaves.

We have thus seen that the use both of the Umbrella and Parasol was
not unknown in England during the earlier half of the eighteenth
century. That it was not very common, is evident from the fact that
General (then Lieut.-Colonel) Wolfe, writing from Paris in 1752,
speaks of the people there using Umbrellas for the sun and rain, and
wonders that a similar practice does not obtain in England.

Just about the same time they do seem to have come into general use,
and that pretty rapidly, as people found their value, and got over
the shyness natural to a first introduction. Jonas Hanway, the
founder of the Magdalen Hospital, has the credit of being the first
man who had the courage to carry one habitually in London, since it
is recorded in the life of that venerable philanthropist, the friend
of chimney-sweeps and sworn foe to tea, that he was the first man who
ventured to dare public reproach and ridicule by carrying an
Umbrella. He probably felt the benefit of one during his travels in
Persia, where they were in constant use as a protection against the
sun, and it is also said that he was in ill health when he first made
use of it. It was more than likely, however, that Jonas Hanway's
neatness in dress and delicate complexion led him, on his return from
abroad, to appreciate a luxury hitherto only confined to the ladies.
Mr. Pugh, who wrote his life, gives the following description of his
personal appearance, which may be regarded as a gem in its way:--

"In his dress, as far as was consistent with his ideas of health and
ease, he accommodated himself to the prevailing fashion. As it was
frequently necessary for him to appear in polite circles on
unexpected occasions, he usually wore dress clothes with a large
French bag. His hat, ornamented with a gold button, was of a size and
fashion to be worn as well under the arm as on the head. When it
rained, a small _parapluie_ defended his face and wig."

As Hanway died in 1786, and he is said to have carried an Umbrella
for thirty years, the date of its first use by him may be set down at
about 1750. For some time Umbrellas were objects of derision,
especially from the hackney coachmen, who saw in their use an
invasion on the vested rights of the fraternity; just as hackney
coaches had once been looked upon by the watermen, who thought people
should travel by river, not by road. John Macdonald, perhaps the only
footman (always excepting the great Mr. James Yellowplush) who ever
wrote a memoir of himself, relates that in 1770, he used to be
greeted with the shout, "Frenchman, Frenchman! why don't you call a
coach?" whenever he went out with his "fine silk umbrella, newly
brought from Spain." Records of the Umbrella's first appearance in
other English works have also been preserved. In Glasgow (according to
the narrative in Cleland's "Statistical Account of Glasgow ") "the
late Mr. John Jamieson, surgeon, returning from Paris, brought an
Umbrella with him, which was the first seen in this city. The doctor,
who was a man of great humour, took pleasure in relating to me how he
was stared at with his Umbrella." In Edinburgh Dr. Spens is said to
have been the first to carry one. In Bristol a red Leghorn Umbrella
appeared about 1780, according to a writer in _Notes and
Queries_, and created there no small sensation. The trade between
Bristol and Leghorn may account for this. Some five-and-thirty years
ago it is said that an old lady was living in Taunton who recollected
when there were only two Umbrellas in the town, one of which belonged
to the clergyman. When he went to church, he used to hang the
Umbrella up in the porch, to the edification and delight of his
parishioners.

Horace Walpole tells how Dr. Shebbeare (who was prosecuted for
seditious writings in 1758) "stood in the pillory, having a footman
holding an umbrella to keep off the rain." For permitting this
indulgence to a malefactor, Beardman, the under-sheriff, was punished.

It is difficult to conceive how the Umbrella could come into general
use, owing to the state in which the streets of London were up to a
comparatively recent period. The same amusing author to whom we owe
the description of Jonas Hanway, gives the following account of them
at the time his work was published:--

"It is not easy to convey to a person who has not seen the streets
of London before they were uniformly paved, a tolerable idea of their
inconvenience and uncleanliness; the signs extending on both sides of
the way into the streets, at unequal distances from the houses, that
they might not intercept each other, greatly obstructed the view;
and, what is of more consequence in a crowded city, prevented the
free circulation of the air. The footpaths were universally
incommoded--even when they were so narrow as only to admit one person
passing at a time--by a row of posts set on edge next the carriage-way.
He whose urgent business would not permit of his keeping pace
with the gentleman of leisure before him, turned out between the two
posts before the door of some large house into the carriage-way. When
he perceived danger moving toward him, he wished to return within the
protection of the row of posts; but there was commonly a rail
continued from the top of one post to that of another, sometimes for
several houses together, in which case he was obliged to run back to
the first inlet, or climb over, or creep under the railing, in
attempting which, he might be fortunate if he escaped with no other
injury than what proceeded from dirt; if, intimidated by the danger
he escaped, he afterwards kept within the boundary of the posts and
railing, he was obliged to put aside the travellers before him, whose
haste was less urgent than his, and, these resisting, made his
journey truly a warfare.

"The French are reproached, even to a proverb, for the neglect of the
convenience of foot-passengers in their metropolis, by not providing
a separate path for them; but, great as is the exposure to dirt in Paris,
for want of a footpath, which their many _porte-cochères_
seem likely for ever to prevent, in the more important article of
danger, the City of London was, at this period, at least on a par.
How comfortless must be the sensations of an unfortunate female,
stopped in the street on a windy day under a large old sign loaded with
lead and iron in full swing over, her head? and perhaps a torrent of
rain and dirty water falling near from a projecting spout, ornamented
with the mouth and teeth of a dragon. These dangers and distresses
are now at an end; and we may think of them as a sailor does of a
storm, which has subsided, but the advantages derived from the
present uniformity and cleanliness can be known only in their
full extent by comparing them with the former inconveniences."

When to this description is added the fact that the hoop petticoat
and another article of dress monopolised the whalebone, it will be
seen how much had to be got over before an Umbrella could be carried
out by the citizens of London, as a walking-staff, with satisfactory
assurance of protection in case of a shower. The earliest English
Umbrellas, we must also remember, were made of oiled silk, very
clumsy and difficult to open when wet; the stick and furniture were
heavy and inconvenient, and the article very expensive.

At the end of the century allusions to the Umbrella are not
infrequent. Cowper, in his "Task" (1780), twice mentions it, but
seems to mean a Parasol:--

  "We bear our shades about us; self-deprived
  Of other screen, the thin umbrella spread,
  And range an Indian waste without a tree."
--B. i.

And again:--

  "Expect her soon, with footboy at her heels,
  No longer blushing for her awkward load,
  Her train and her umbrella all her care."
--B. iv,

The Rev. G. C. Renouard, writing in 1850 to Notes and Queries, says:--

"In the hall of my father's house, at Stamford, in Lincolnshire,
there was, when I was a child, the wreck of a large green silk
umbrella, apparently of Chinese manufacture, brought by my father
from Scotland, somewhere between 1770 and 1780, and, as I have often
heard, the first umbrella seen at Stamford. I well remember, also, an
amusing description given by the late Mr. Warry, so many years consul
at Smyrna, of the astonishment and envy of his mother's neighbours,
at Sawbridgeworth, in Hants, where his father had a country house,
when he ran home and came back with an umbrella, which he had just
brought from Leghorn, to shelter them from a pelting shower which
detained them in the church porch, after the service, on one summer
Sunday. From Mr. Warry's age at the time he mentioned this, and other
circumstances in his history, I conjecture that it occurred not later
than 1775 or 1776. As Sawbridgeworth is so near London, it is evident
that even then umbrellas were at that time almost unknown."

Since this date, however, the Umbrella has come into general use,
and in consequence numerous improvements have been effected in it.
The transition to the present portable form is due, partly to the
substitution of silk and gingham for the heavy and troublesome oiled
silk, which admitted of the ribs and frames being made much lighter,
and also to the many ingenious mechanical improvements in the
framework, chiefly by French and English manufacturers, many of which
were patented, and to which we purpose presently to allude.



CHAPTER IV.

THE STORY OF THE PARACHUTE.


In giving an account of the Umbrella, it would not be right to omit
mentioning another, and far from legitimate use in which it has been
employed by notoriety-hunting _artistes_--we allude to the
Parachute; and a short narration of its origin and progress may not
be uninteresting to our readers.

The Parachute commonly in use is nothing more or less than a huge
Umbrella, presenting a surface of sufficient dimension to experience
from the air a resistance equal to the weight of descent, in moving
through the fluid at a velocity not exceeding that of the shock which
a person can sustain without danger or injury. It is made of silk or
cotton. To the outer edge cords are fastened, of about the same
length as the diameter of the machine (24 to 28 feet). A centre cord
is attached to the apex and meets the cords from the margin, acting,
in fact, as the stick of the Umbrella. The machine is thus kept
expanded during descent. The car is fastened to the centre cord, and
the whole attached to the balloon in such a manner that it may be
readily and quickly detached, either by cutting a string, or pulling
a trigger. Consequently, in the East, where the Umbrella has been
from the earliest ages in familiar use, it appears to have been
occasionally employed by vaulters, to enable them to jump safely from
great heights. Father Loubère, in his curious account of Siam,
relates, that a person famous in that country for his dexterity, used
to divert the King and Court by the extraordinary leaps he took,
having two Umbrellas with long slender handles, fastened to his
girdle. In 1783 M. le Normand demonstrated the utility of the
Parachute; by lifting himself down from the windows of a high house
at Lyons. His idea was that it might be made a sort of fire-escape.

Blanchard was the first person who constructed a Parachute to act as
a safety-guard to the aeronaut in case of any accident. During an
excursion he made from Lille, in 1785, when he traversed, without
stopping, a distance of 300 miles, he let down a Parachute with a
basket fastened to it containing a dog. This he suffered to fall from
a great height, and it reached the ground in safety.

The first Parachute descent from a balloon, however, was made by
Jacques Garnerin, on the 22nd of October, 1797, in the Park of
Monceau. De la Lande, the celebrated astronomer, has furnished a
detailed and highly interesting account of this foolish experiment.

Garnerin resided in London during the short peace of 1802, and made
two ascents with his balloon, in the second of which he let himself
fall, at an amazing height, with a Parachute of 23 feet diameter. He
started from an enclosure near North Audley Street, and descended
after having been seven or eight minutes in the air. After cutting
himself away, he floated over Marylebone and Somers Town, and fell in
a field near St. Pancras Old Church. The oscillation was so great,
that he was thrown out of the Parachute, and narrowly escaped death.
He seemed a good deal frightened, and said that the peril was too
great for endurance. One of the stays of the machine having given
way, his danger was increased. The next person who tried this
dangerous experiment was his niece, Eliza Garnerin, who descended
several times in safety. Her Parachute had a large orifice in the
top, in order to check the oscillation, and this appears to have been
tolerably successful.

The next experimentalist was a person of the name of Cocking, who
ended his days in a manner unworthy his talents, through a series of
lamentable mistakes. His Parachute was constructed on the opposite
principle, of a wedge-like form, and was intended to cleave through
the air, instead of offering a resistance to it. It has not yet been
proved that the principle was wrong, but the defect lay in the
weakness of the materials employed in the formation of the Parachute.

On the 29th July, 1837, Mr. Cocking ascended in his new Parachute,
attached to the Great Nassau Balloon. Mr. Cocking liberated himself
from the balloon, the Parachute collapsed and fell, at a frightful
rate, into a field near Lea, where poor Cocking was found with an
awful wound on his right temple. He never spoke, but died almost
immediately afterwards. It is much to be regretted that the descent
was ever allowed to take place. The aeronauts themselves were for
some time in a state of imminent peril. Immediately the Parachute was
cut away, the balloon ascended with frightful velocity, owing to the
ascending power it necessarily gained by being freed from a weight of
nearly 500 pounds; and had it not been that its occupants applied
their mouths to the air-bags previously provided, they must have been
suffocated by the escaping gas. When the re-action took place, the
balloon had lost its buoyancy, and fell, rather than descended, to
the ground.

Mr. Hampton was the next person who attempted the experiment, and
made three descents in a Parachute in succession without injury.
Undeterred by the awful fate of his predecessor, this gentleman
determined on making a Parachute descent which should prove the
correctness of the theory, and the Montpellier Gardens at Cheltenham
were selected as the scene of the exploit. Owing to the censure which
was attached to the proprietors of the Vauxhall Gardens, for
permitting docking's ascent, the owners of the Gardens at Cheltenham
would not suffer the experiment to be made, and Mr. Hampton was
obliged to have recourse to stratagem. As he was permitted to display
his Parachute in the manner he intended to use it, the idea suddenly
flashed across his mind that, he could carry out his long-nursed
wishes. He suddenly cut the rope which kept him down, and went off,
to the astonishment of the spectators: the last cheering sound that
reached him being--"He will be killed to a dead certainty!"

After attaining an altitude of nearly two miles, Mr. Hampton
proceeded to cut the rope that held him attached to the balloon. He
paused for a second or two, as he remembered that it would soon be
life or death with him, but at length drew his knife across the rope.
The first feelings he experienced were both unpleasant and alarming;
his eyes and the top of his head appeared to be forced upwards, but
this passed off in a few seconds, and his feelings subsequently
became pleasant, rather than disagreeable.

So steady and slow was the descent that the Parachute appeared to be
stationary. Mr. Hampton remembered that a bag of ballast was fastened
beneath the car, he stooped over and upset the sand, he also noted by
his watch the time he occupied in descending. The earth seemed coming
up to him rapidly; the Parachute indicated its approach to _terra,
firma_ by a slight oscillation, and he presently struck the ground
in the centre of a field, where he was first welcomed by a sheep,
which stared at this visitor from the clouds in utter amazement. Mr.
Hampton repeated the experiment twice in London, though on both
occasions with considerable danger to himself, the first time falling
on a tree in Kensington Gardens, the second on a house, which threw
him out of the basket.

After this experiment there was a lull in the Parachute folly until
some twenty years ago, when Madame Poitevin startled the Metropolis
from its propriety by her perilous escapes both in life and limb.
Although considerable ingenuity was displayed in the plan of
expanding the Parachute by the sudden discharge of gas from the
balloon; still the very fact of a woman being exposed to such danger
by her husband, will, we trust, hereafter prevent Englishmen from
countenancing such an exhibition by their presence.



CHAPTER V.

UMBRELLA STORIES.


Who could for a moment suppose that so important an article as the
Umbrella would be without its lighter as well as its more serious
history? Umbrellas are still, we regret to say, regarded rather in a
comic than a serious light; so, if any of the following anecdotes
seem to treat of Umbrellas in too mocking or frivolous a vein, it is
the fault of the bad taste of the British public, not ours, who have
merely compiled. However, we may commence with a very neat little
French riddle.

"Quel est l'objet que l'on recherche le plus quand on s'en dégoûte?"

A mysterious inquiry, and all sorts of horrible but needful
abominations occur to the mind in answer. But the answer is not so
bad after all. Change the spelling without altering the
pronunciation, and you get _quand on sent des gouties,_ and, lo!
you have it at once--le Parapluie--the faithful friend whose presence
we most desire when we wish least for the necessity of it; the burden
of our fine days, the shelter of our wet ones.

Or again, would you like a verse or two on the same subject?

  "Pour étrenne, on veut à l'envie
  Du frais et du neuf et du beau,
  Je dis que c'est un parapluie,
  Que l'on doit donner en _cas d'eau._"

The author of these two _jeux de mots_ unhappily we do not
know, or we would thank him for them. The English poet of the
Umbrella has yet to be born.

The next story relates to the early history of the Umbrella in
Scotland, and may probably be referred to the time when good Dr.
Jamieson was walking about Glasgow with his new-fangled sheltering
apparatus, which he had brought with him on his return from Paris. As
it was the first ever seen in that city, it attracted universal
attention, and a vast amount of impudence from the "horrid boys." The
following anecdote, then, which we borrow from a Scotch paper, most
probably refers to the same period, or thereabouts :--

"When Umbrellas were first marched into Blairgowrie, they were
sported only by the minister and the laird, and were looked upon by
the common class of people as a perfect phenomenon. One day Daniel M--
went to Colonel McPherson, at Blairgowrie House; when about to
return, a shower came on, and the colonel politely offered him the
loan of an Umbrella, which he gladly accepted, and Daniel, with his
head two or three inches higher than usual, marched off. Not long
after he had left, however, the colonel again saw Daniel posting
towards him with all possible haste, still o'ertopped by his cotton
canopy (silk Umbrellas were out of the question in those days), which
he held out, saluting him with--' Hae, hae, Kornil, this'll never do!
there's nae a door in all my house that'll tak it in; my very
barn-door winna' tak it in.'"

In the veracious "History of Sandford and Merton," if our memory
serves us aright, there is an instance quoted of remarkable presence
of mind relating to an Umbrella and its owner. The members of a
comfortable pic-nic party were cosily assembled in some part of
India, when an unbidden and most unwelcome guest made his appearance,
in the shape of a huge Bengal tiger. Most persons would, naturally,
have sought safety in flight, and not stayed to hob-and-nob with this
denizen of the jungle; not so, however, thought a lady of the party,
who, inspired by her innate courage, or the fear of losing her dinner
--perhaps by both combined seized her Umbrella, and opened it suddenly
in the face of the tiger as he stood wistfully gazing upon brown
curry and foaming Allsop. The astonished brute turned tail and fled,
and the lady saved her dinner. Not many years ago the Umbrella was
employed in an equally curious manner, though not so successfully as
in the former instance. In the campaign of 1793, General
Bournonville, who was sent with four commissioners by the National
Convention to the camp of the Prince of Saxe-Coburg, was detained as
a prisoner with his companions, and confined in the fortress of
Olmütz. In this situation he made a desperate attempt to regain his
liberty. Having procured an Umbrella, he leaped with it from a window
forty feet above the ground, but being a very heavy man, it did not
prove sufficient to let him down in safety. He struck against an
opposite wall, fell into a ditch and broke his leg, and, worse than
all, was carried back to his prison.

One of the most remarkable instances on record, in which the
Umbrella was the agency of a man's life being saved, occurred,
according to his own statement, to our old friend Colonel Longbow. Of
course our kind readers know him as well as we do, for not to do so
"would be to argue yourselves unknown." At any Continental watering
place, Longbow, or one of his family--for it is a large one--can be
met with. He is, indeed, a wonderful man--on intimate terms with all
the crowned heads of Europe, and proves his intimacy by always
speaking of them by their Christian names.

He is at once the "guide, philosopher, and friend" of every stranger
who happens to form his acquaintance--a very easy task, be it
remarked--and, though so great a man, is not above dining at your
expense, and charming you by the terms of easy familiarity with which
he imbibes your champagne or your porter, for all is alike to him, so
long as he has not to pay for it: he can take any given quantity.

Well, the other day we happened to meet the Colonel, and he speedily
contrived to discover that we were on the point of going to dine, and
so invited him to share our humble meal, as a graceful way of making
a virtue of necessity, for had we not done so, he would have had no
hesitation in inviting himself. During dinner, conversation, of
course, turned upon one all-engrossing subject, the war, and the
Colonel proceeded to give us his experiences of former wars,
including his adventures in the Crimea, and the miraculous escape he
owed to an Umbrella.

It appeared that he had gone out with his friend, Lord Levant, on a
yachting excursion in the Mediterranean, and they eventually found
their way into the Black Sea. Stress of weather compelled them to put
into the little port of Yalta, on the north coast, where they went on
shore. The Colonel, on the Lucretian principle of "Suave mari magno,"
&c., proceeded the next morning to the verge of the precipice to
observe the magnificent prospect of a sea running mountains high. As
it was raining at the time, he put up a huge gingham Umbrella he
happened to find in the hotel. Suddenly, however, a furious blast of
wind drove across the cliff, and lifted the Colonel bodily in the
air. Away he flew far out to sea, the Umbrella acting as a Parachute
to let him fall easy.

Now to most men this would only have been a choice of evils, a
progress from Scylla to Charybdis: not so to our Colonel. On coming
up to the surface after his first dip, he found that swimming would
not save him; so he quietly emptied out the water contained in the
Umbrella, seated himself upon it, and sailed triumphantly into the
harbour, like Arion on his dolphin.

Our face, on hearing this anecdote, must have betrayed the
scepticism we felt, for the Colonel proceeded to a corner of the
room, and produced the identical Umbrella. Of course, such a proof
was irresistible, and we were compelled to do penance for our
unbelief by lending the gallant Colonel a sovereign, for "the Bank
was closed." We thought the anecdote cheap at the price.

There is a story told of one of our City bankers, that he owed an
excellent wife to the interposition of an Umbrella. It appears that
on returning home one day in a heavy shower of rain, he found a young
lady standing in his doorway. Politeness induced him to invite her to
take shelter under his roof, and eventually to offer her the loan of
an Umbrella. Of course, the gallant banker called for it the next
day, and the acquaintance thus accidentally made, soon ripened into
mutual affection. This species of Umbrella courtship has been
immortalised in more than one song, none of which, however, are quite
worth quoting.

A worthy little Frenchman of our acquaintance was ordered by his
medical man to take a course of shower-baths. Such things being
unknown to him in his fatherland, he of course found the first essay
remarkably unpleasant, but with native ingenuity he soon discovered a
remedy. On our asking him how he liked the hydropathic system, he
replied, "Oh, mais c'est charmant, mon ami; I always take my
parapluie wid me into de bath."

Douglas Jerrold, in his well-known "Punch's Letters to his Son,"
gives an anecdote of which we can only say, si non _è vero, è ben
trovato_. It at all events illustrates the frightful morality that
exists with regard to borrowing Umbrellas.

"Hopkins once lent Simpson, his next-door neighbour, an Umbrella. You
will judge of the intellect of Hopkins, not so much from the act of
lending an Umbrella, but from his insane endeavour to get it back again.

"It poured in torrents, Hopkins had an urgent call. Hopkins knocked
at Simpson's door. 'I want my Umbrella.' Now Simpson had also a call
in a directly opposite way to Hopkins; and with the borrowed Umbrella
in his hand, was advancing to the threshold. 'I tell you,' roared
Hopkins, 'I want my Umbrella.' 'Can't have it,' said Simpson. 'Why, I
want to go to the East-end; it rains in torrents; what'--screamed
Hopkins--'what am I to do for an Umbrella?'

"'Do!' answered Simpson, darting from the door, 'do as I did--BORROW
ONE.'"

The Umbrella has been most successfully introduced on the stage.
What, for instance, would Paul Pry have been without that valuable
implement for which to inquire with his stereotyped "Hope I don't
intrude?" Or his French successor, the nobleman in "The Grand
Duchess," who inquires, in plaintive accents, for "Le parapluie de ma
mere," just after Schneider has been declaiming about her father's
sabre? Merely to bring a big Umbrella on the stage is an acknowledged
way of raising a laugh. Mrs. Gamp again, with her receptacle for
unconsidered trifles, cannot be realised apart from her Umbrella. And
then, those hired waiters who come into our houses with an Umbrella
of graceful proportions, and emerge towards the small hours with a
most plethoric parapluie, which looks as if it had been regaling on
the good things as well as its master! It used to appear to us a
comical sight, years back, in the old city of Paris, to see the
National Guard going to exercise with a musket in one hand and an
Umbrella in the other, and we dare say it was a very sensible plan
after all, and might have been imitated with success before
Sebastopol. A stout steel Umbrella would offer no contemptible
shelter to a rifleman. This circumstance, too, may throw a light on a
hitherto obscure passage in "Macbeth," where Birnam Wood moves to
Dunsinane--for it is just possible that the soldiers cut down the
branches to serve them as a protection from the rain. We throw out
this as a hint to any enterprising manager.

In Germany, on the other hand, a soldier is--or used to be--strictly
forbidden from carrying an open Umbrella, unless he is accompanied by
a civilian or a lady. A worthy corporal, on one occasion, was sent to
fetch an Umbrella his Major's lady had left at a friend's house, and
at the same time took her lapdog for an airing. On the road home a
violent shower came on, and, to avoid committing a breach of the
regulations, under his arm he tucked the dog, which was contained,
according to his ideas, in both the above categories, put up the
Umbrella, and marched very comfortably to barracks.

With one more characteristic anecdote we will close our budget. One
evening, while Rowland Hill was preaching, a shower came on, and his
chapel was speedily filled with devotees. With that peculiar
sarcastic intonation which none could assume so successfully as
himself, he quietly remarked, "My brethren, I have often heard that
religion can be made a _cloak_, but this is the first occasion
on which I ever knew it could be converted into an _Umbrella_."



CHAPTER VI.

THE REGENERATION OF THE UMBRELLA.


Our task is now nearly completed: we have described the history of
the Parasol, and its near relation the Umbrella, as far as our space
permits us to treat of this interesting subject.

All that remains for us to do is to give an account of the principal
improvements effected in the Umbrella during later years.

It is certain that France was some way ahead of us with regard to
the use of Umbrellas, for they were comparatively common there before
they were at all known _l'autre côté 'de la Manche_. This was
but natural, considering that they were, as we have seen, used in
Italy, and consequently the folk of southern France would not be
likely to be far behind their neighbours in availing themselves of
the protection from the sun, whether or no they had sufficient genius
to shelter themselves from the rain by the aid of an Umbrella.

In France Parasols and Umbrellas used to be amongst the articles
made by the corporate body of Boursiers. M. Natalis Rondot quotes
from the _Journal du Citoyen_, of 1754, the price of Parasols.
It ranged from 7s. 3_d_. to 17s. 6_d_., according to the
construction, and to whether they were made to fold up or not. In
Diderot and D'Alembert's Encyclopédic, is figured an Umbrella, which
is described as follows, in the excellent introduction to the
"Abridgements of Specifications relating to Umbrellas," lately
published by the Commissioners of Patents:--

"The ribs bear about the same proportion (as in modern umbrellas) as
regards length, to the stick, but the stretchers are much shorter,
being less than a quarter of the length of the ribs. They are double,
each rib having a pair joined, one on each side of the rib, at the
same point. The ribs are joined at the top by being strung on a ring,
as in old English umbrellas, but the runner is made of precisely
similar construction to the modern runner, and seems almost identical
with that described in Caney's Specification (patent No. 5761, A.D.
1829). Ribs and sticks are jointed, the latter in two places. There
is no catch to hold the umbrella closed, but this upper catch is the
ordinary bent wire one. The upper joint of the stick is made with a
screw, the lower of a hinge with a slide, as in a modern parasol. The
slide has a catch, resembling the ordinary runner catch. At the top
is a ring for carrying or suspending the umbrella."

Such was the old French Umbrella, and that used in England was of
much the same sort. The old French folding Parasol is thus described
in the "Report of the Jurors for the Exhibition of 1851:"--

"The folding parasol was constructed with jointed ribs so as to fold
back, and was likewise self-opening. The rod was a metallic tube, and
contained a spiral spring which acted upon and pressed upwards an
inner rod. To this inner rod were jointed the stretchers, which in
this construction were placed above the ribs instead of below, as in
the ordinary form, beside which they were much shorter, so as to
admit of their being concealed by the covering. By the elasticity of
the spiral spring contained in the hollow stem, the inner rod was
pressed outwards and lifted the stretchers, and by their means raised
the ribs also, so that in its ordinary or natural state the umbrella
was always open, and would continue so unless constrained to remain
closed by a catch. On releasing the catch it consequently sprang
open. In order that it might be easily closed, four cords were
attached to four of the ribs and passed to the handle; and a loop
embracing these cords passed down by the side of the handle, and
enabled the possessor to close his umbrella without difficulty. From
the authority already quoted, we learn that whalebone was employed
for the ribs, and that their number varied with their length; for
example, when 24 inches long the number employed was 8; when 25
inches, 9; and when 26, 28 and 30 inches, 10 were used. Calico was
employed to cover umbrellas, and silk to cover parasols. The use of
parasols was common in Lyons at that period (1786); they were carried
by men as well as women; they were rose-coloured, white, and of
other colours, and were so light as to be carried without
inconvenience."

The "Encyclopedic Méthodique" gives some interesting particulars as
to the manufacture of Parasols and Umbrellas at the end of the
eighteenth century. From it, it appears that the ribs were
occasionally made of metal. "On étend cette couverture portative par
le moyen de quelques brins de baleine, ou de fils de cuivre ou de fer
qui la soutiennent." This is interesting, as showing that metal ribs
are not a very modern invention.

The following statement of the comparative weights and sizes of
Umbrellas was prepared by M. Farge for the French Exposition of
1849:--

  Umbrellas     Length of ribs.      Weight,
    of               inches.         Lb.  oz.

   1645               31 1/2          3    8 1/2
   1740               29              1   13
   1780               28 3/4          1    8 1/2
   1840               27 1/2          0   13 1/4
   1849               27              0    8 3/4


From 1808 to 1848, eighty patents were taken out in France for
inventions, three of importation, and forty-one for improvements in
Umbrellas.

In England, after their first introduction, the manufacture of
Umbrellas increased rapidly. The first patent is dated 1780, and was
taken up by Mark Bull for "A machine for supporting an Umbrella,
which may be fixt to any saddle or wheel'd carriage, being far more
compleat than any hitherto invented." The invention is described in
the following words :--

"There is a ball and socket of steel or iron, or any other metal or
composition. The ball moves in any direction, and is fixed by one,
two, three, or more points, which are forced against it either by a
screw or spring, The ball is made with small cavities to receive the
points which press against it. In order to secure it the more
effectually in the ball, there is a hole which receives the one end
of the staff of the umbrella, which is secured in it either by a
spring or screw, or a sliding or a spring bolt. The umbrella may be
taken away from the staff; and either put under the seat of the
saddle, or fix'd before the rider. The staff may be made whole or in
two pieces, the one to slide within the other, in order to raise or
lower the umbrella, and be fix'd either by a spring or screw. They
are fix'd in the head of the saddle and cover'd by a top, without
making the saddle appear in the least different to what they are now
made."

The next is of the date of 1786, and was taken out by John Beale for
"An umbrella with joints, flat springs, and stops, worm springs and
bolts, slip bolts, screws, slip rivet, and cross stop and square
slips, and the manner in which the same are performed is particularly
described in the several plans, figures, or drawings annexed." The
drawings referred to are not easily intelligible, from the briefness
of the explanation attached, but show an Umbrella with a jointed
handle, opening by a spring.

In the next year (1787) we find an advertisement put out by Thomas
Folgham, of Cheapside, stating that he has "a great assortment of his
much-approved pocket and portable umbrellas, which for lightness,
elegance, and strength, far exceed anything of the kind ever imported
or manufactured in this kingdom. All kinds of common umbrellas
prepared in a particular way, that will never stick together."

A description of the Umbrellas which, in all probability, Mr. Thomas
Folgham made, we extract from the source mentioned above.

"The early Umbrellas were made of oiled silk, or glazed cotton
cloth, and were very cumbrous and inconvenient. To judge from a
picture of Hanway, and from the other old pictures mentioned above,
they were small, with a very long handle. They were not used for
walking, and consequently instead of the ferrule had a ring at the
top, by which they were hung up. The stretchers were of cane, and the
ribs of cane or whalebone. Instead of the present top-notch and
runner, both ribs and stretchers were simply strung on a ring of
wire, and the inequality of the friction and the weakness of such an
arrangement cause the Umbrella to be always getting out of order. The
ribs and stretchers were jointed together very roughly, by a pin
passing through the rib, on which the forked end of the stretcher
hinged. The first improvement in this respect was by Caney (patent
No. 5761, A.D. 1829), who invented a top-notch and runner in which
each rib or stretcher has a separate hinge. The top-notch was made of
a notched wheel or disc, into each slot of which an axis fixed on the
top of the stretchers worked. The runner was made on a similar
principle. At the point of the rib where the stretcher joined it,
Caney fixed a middle bit, consisting of a small fork, in which the
end of the stretcher was hinged. This construction was much stronger,
and the forked ends of the stretchers were thus prevented from
wearing out the cover, as before. With modifications, more or less
important, this construction is the same as that now in general use."

The principal object of all those who have devoted their attention
to the task has been to reduce the weight of the Umbrella without, at
the same time, diminishing its strength. In its primitive form the
ribs were formed of whalebone, which possessed very grave
inconveniences; in the first place, it was cumbersome to a degree,
lost its elasticity after any continuous exposure to rain, and if
dried without very great care, was extremely liable to crack. In the
next place, the price was very high, and, consequently, the masses
remained unrepresented in the Umbrella market. The most important
improvement dates from the introduction of steel instead of
whalebone, which took place about thirty years ago, for although a
few Umbrellas were occasionally made and used of this material prior
to that time, it had not come into general use. Amongst other
improvements have been the following:--

The tips are now made in one piece with the rib, instead of being
made of bone, japanned metal or other material, and then fastened on.
The long six-inch runners have given way to the short one two inches
long, and the ferrules are also much shorter than formerly. To keep
the Umbrella closed the old-fashioned plan was a ring fastened by a
string. A tape and cotton superseded this, and in its turn gave way
to the elastic now in use. Sliding caps to fit over the ends of the
ribs and hold the Umbrella closed, have been invented, but until
quite recently do not seem to have come much into use.

Simple as the construction of an Umbrella may appear, there have
been altogether upwards of three hundred patents taken out for
various improvements in their manufacture, in addition to numerous
alterations which have been registered according to the Act, Vic. 6
& 7, Cap. 65. With very few exceptions the inventors have not been
repaid the cost of their patents. This has arisen, partly from the
delicacy of their mechanical construction, unfitted for the rough
usage to which Umbrellas are exposed; but chiefly in consequence of
the increased cost of manufacture not being compensated by the
improvements effected.

The introduction of steel vice whalebone, was opposed by the trade
and the public in general, like many other great improvements; and it
required several years in order to convince purchasers that steel
would not only last much longer than whalebone, but would not be so
liable to break, provided it was properly made and tempered. The
misfortune was that, at the outset, a great number of inferior
articles were introduced, and consequently the public naturally lost
confidence, and it demanded great exertions on the part of the more
respectable members of the trade, ere the merits of the new invention
were recognised. At present, it is generally allowed that a good
steel-rib Umbrella can be as easily procured as a carefully tempered
razor or sword.

A Swiss watch-spring maker, named Sanguinede, had discovered a
secret of tempering steel which gave it great strength, and he had
made some, very light umbrellas, but they were immensely dear. On his
death the secret died with him, and Mr. Fox set to work to discover a
method which should combine strength and lightness.

Mr. Fox's Paragon frame, simple in its construction, half the weight
of whalebone, but equally strong, is admitted to be the greatest
improvement yet introduced in the manufacture of an Umbrella. The
ribs are made in the form of a trough with flat sides, by which shape
the greatest amount of strength is obtained. The same principle, as
is well known, has been successfully applied in the construction of
the Great Tubular Bridge over the Menai Straits, from which Mr. Fox
took the idea.

The weight of the Umbrella having been thus reduced, the next
question was, whether some amendment could not be made in the
covering material. For a long time, Umbrellas were only covered with
two materials--silk and cotton, and the want of some substance, which
would resist the greater friction and consequent wear than an
Umbrella invariably undergoes, formed a subject of anxious attention
to the writer of this little book. Several materials were tried
without success, until a fabric called Alpaca, made of the wool of
the Chilian and Peruvian sheep, presented itself, and for this a
patent was immediately taken out. Of its merits it becomes us not to
speak, but we may be permitted to quote the following remarks from
the Grand Jury Report of the Great Exhibition of 1851:--

"SANGSTER, WILLIAM AND JOHN. Prize Medal for Silk Parasols and
Umbrellas of excellent quality, 'and for their application of Alpaca
cloth to the coverings of Parasols and Umbrellas."

To the above flattering testimonial the following remarks were
appended:--

"Alpaca cloth is made of undyed wool of the Peruvian and Chili
sheep, and it is therefore is not liable to fade, nor is it acted
upon by salt water; hence Alpaca Parasols and Umbrellas are much used
at watering-places.

"The demand for the Paragon Umbrella is so great, that the patentee
is able to supply them at a price not much exceeding the ordinary
sorts. The frames are guaranteed for two years, but in consequence of
the superior quality of the article, the number found to require
repair is much less than the average of other kinds. In the course of
the two years succeeding their introduction, upwards of 50,000
Paragon Umbrellas mere sold.

"Nor was the progress of the Alpaca Umbrella less cheering. Though
the material is in some respects inferior to silk, it has been found
to wear so much longer, and to cost so much less, that its use is now
becoming general among that numerous class with whom economy and an
Umbrella are equally indispensable. The sale of Alpaca Umbrellas, in
the year 1854, amounted to upwards of 45,000."

Since this time W. & J. S. have sold, under their patent, Umbrellas
to the number of nearly four millions.

These facts we will leave to our readers to draw their own inference
from; but the very kind reception which the Alpaca Umbrellas have
hitherto received, justifies us in asserting, that no material has
yet been brought forward which has so thoroughly fulfilled the
required conditions. The weight of the Umbrella has also been
diminished, and, last not least, the price has decreased in a
corresponding ratio. This latter fact is of the very greatest
importance, when we remember the immense quantity of Parasols and
Umbrellas manufactured during the year in London, and estimated at
the enormous value of 500,000 Pounds. In addition, a very great
number are made in Manchester and Birmingham.

To those who wish to keep their Umbrellas safe and sound, we may
commend the following extract from Cassell's _Household Guide_:--

"Umbrellas are articles which generally suffer more from careless
treatment than from legitimate wear and tear; an Umbrella, when
properly treated, will last twice as long as one that is not so used.
When wet, an Umbrella should neither be distended to dry, which will
strain the ribs and covering, and prevent its ever afterwards folding
up neatly, nor at once rolled and tied up, which would tend to rust
the frame and rot the textile fabric; neither should it, if of silk,
be carelessly thrust into an Umbrella-stand, nor allowed to rest
against a wall, which would probably discolour, and certainly crease
the silk injuriously. It should be shut, but not tied up, and hung
from the handle, with the point downwards, till it is nearly, but not
quite dry. It should then be neatly and carefully rolled up and tied.
In walking with an Umbrella, the hands should be confined to the
handle, and not allowed to grasp the silk; otherwise that portion
which is held will become greased and discoloured, and the material
will be frayed out round the tips, which are points where there is
always much stress, and where if will always have a tendency to give
way. When not in use, the Umbrella should be protected from dust and
injury of any kind by its silk or oilcloth case. When dirty, alpaca
umbrellas are best cleaned with a clothes-brush; but brushing is
useless for those of silk. Ordinary dirt may be removed from a silk
umbrella by means of a clean sponge and cold water, or if the soil
should be so tenacious that this will not remove it, a piece of linen
rag, dipped in spirits of wine or unsweetened gin, will generally
effect the desired end."

Having thus given our readers all the information on the subject in
our power; even down to the last quoted paragraph, which may teach
them how to preserve their Umbrellas, we may wish them a hearty
farewell, hoping they may--long live to use these promoters of
comfort and of health, and that they may always be as well shielded
by fate from the metaphorical tempests of life, as they are from its
physical storms by a good modern Umbrella.


FINIS





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