To a painter Dieppe must be a source of great delight: the situation, the buildings, the people offer an endless variety; but nothing is more remarkable than the costume of the females of the middle and lower classes, most of whom wear high pyramidal caps, with long lappets entirely concealing their hair, red, blue, or black corsets, large wooden shoes, black stockings, and full scarlet petticoats of the coarsest woollen, pockets of some different die attached to the outside, and not uncommonly the appendage of a key or corkscrew: occasionally too the color of their costume is still farther diversified by a chequered handkerchief and white apron. The young are generally pretty; the old, tanned and ugly; and the transition from youth to age seems instantaneous: labor and poverty have destroyed every intermediate gradation; but, whether young or old, they have all the same good-humored look, and appear generally industrious, though almost incessantly talking. Even on Sundays or feast-days, bonnets are seldom to be seen, but round their necks are suspended large silver or gilt ornaments, usually crosses, while long gold ear-rings drop from either side of their head, and their shoes frequently glitter with paste buckles of an enormous size. Such is the present costume of the females at Dieppe, and throughout the whole Pays de Caux; and in this description, the lover of antiquarian research will easily trace a resemblance to the attire of the women of England, in the XVth and XVIth centuries. As to the cap, which the Cauchoise wears when she appears en grand costume, its very prototype is to be found in Strutt’s Ancient Dresses. Decorated with silver before, and with lace streaming behind, it towers on the head of the stiff-necked complacent wearer, whose locks appear beneath, arrayed with statuary precision. Nor is its antiquity solely confined to its form and fashion; for, descending from the great grandmother to the great grand-daughter, it remains as an heir-loom in the family from generation unto generation. In my former visit to Normandy, three years ago, we first saw this head-dress at the theatre at Rouen, and my companion was so struck with it that he made the sketch, of which I send you a copy. The costume of the females of somewhat higher rank is very becoming: they wear muslin caps, opening in front to shew their graceful ringlets, colored gowns, scarlet handkerchiefs, and black aprons.
[Illustration: Head-Dress of Women of the Pays de Caux]
But nothing connected with the costume or manners of the people at Dieppe is equally interesting as what refers to the inhabitants of the suburb called Pollet; and I will therefore conclude my letter, by extracting from the historian of the place his account of these men, which, though written many years ago, is true in the main even in our days, and it is to be hoped will, in its most important respects, continue so for a length of time to come. “Three-fourths