Social New York under the Georges, 1714-1776: Houses, Streets, and Country Homes, with Chapters on Fashions, Furniture, China, Plate, and Manners

By Esther Singleton | Go to book overview

V
FASHION AND LUXURY

MANNERS and customs in the polite society in New York followed closely those of London. All the fads and changing fancies of English fashionable life were faithfully reproduced here. These were imported with other up-to-date luxuries. The New Yorker could always become acquainted with the folly or affectation that was the latest London thing in manners because of the constant stream of British officers who passed through this port. Moreover, many sons of merchants were sent to Europe to complete their education and see the world.

As wealth and luxury increased, the number of natives who travelled abroad for business or pleasure multiplied. The consequent alteration in their manners and morals was commented on in print. In 1754, a subscriber asked an editor to print Gay's fable, The Monkey Who Had Seen the World, together with the subscriber's "observations on the bad improvement of travelling on some of our New York Gentlemen." He was very severe on the latter. "At all places they boast of their acquirements," said he, "which are so mean that no traveller should speak of them but with the greatest indifference, nay, contempt." Thence he went on to say:

"Condumanus, who has not long since visited London, confined all his speculations there to Haddock's Bagnio, Vaux-

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