Great attention, however, is paid to costume; and more individuality of character has been preserved than could have been expected, considering the rude style of the workmanship. The Saxons are represented with long mustachios: the Normans have their upper lip shaven, and retain little more hair upon their heads than a single lock in front.—Historians relate how the English spies reported the invading army to be wholly composed of ecclesiastics; and this tapestry affords a graphical illustration of the chroniclers’ text. Not the least remarkable feature of the tapestry, in point of costume, lies in the armor, which, in some instances, is formed of interlaced rings; in others, of square compartments; and in others, of lozenges. Those who contend for the antiquity of Duke William’s equestrian statue at Caen, may find a confirmation of their opinions in the shape of the saddles assigned to the figures of the Bayeux tapestry; and equally so in their cloaks, and their pendant braided tresses.
The tapestry is coiled round a cylinder, which is turned by a winch and wheel; and it is rolled and unrolled with so little attention, that if it continues under such management as the present, it will be wholly ruined in the course of half a century. It is injured at the beginning: towards the end it becomes very ragged, and several of the figures have completely disappeared. The worsted is unravelling too in many of the intermediate portions. As yet, however, it is still in good preservation, considering its great age, though, as I have just observed, it will not long continue so. The bishop and chapter have lately applied to government, requesting that the tapestry may be restored to the church. I hope their application will be successful.
* * * * *