As a general rule, however, both the domestic life and ideas of this time were crude and coarse, as we can gather from such literature as Wycherley's plays, for example, which fully represented the fashionable ideas of their time. It was an age of bestiality rather than of vice; - as the latter term appears to convey some idea of a perverted refinement which was almost entirely absent in the later Stuart years. That the plays of Wycherley, - which, with their unparalleled licentiousness, would not be tolerated, even in an expurgated form, on the English stage of the present clay, - reflected the spirit of the time, is shown by the applause with which they were received. Garrick, in the next century, attempted to Bowdlerise "The Country Wife," under the title of " The County Girl," and, although assisted by the acting of the famous Mrs. Jordan, failed in the endeavour to render a late Stuart play clean enough even for the not over-nice eighteenth century. Voltaire was equally unsuccessful with " The Plain Dealer," which he attempted to purify in " La Prude." Apart from the rank indecency of the dialogue, the ideas expressed are indescribably coarse. That Wycherley mirrored the aristocratic ideas of his age when he counselled the marrying of a widow, or peer's daughter, who must be young and handsome, and, above all, rich, and the spending of her fortune on loose women (the Court of Charles II abounded with such) and other debauchery, is unquestionable. That domestic refinement, in an age which had brought 11. - 21 241 vice to this bestial level, must have been rare, if not almost unknown, can be imagined. It must not be supposed that the actual furniture which was made was crude. We have seen that this is far from being the fact. Rich carving or inlay was general, and gorgeous covering fabrics by no means unusual, but floors strewn with rushes, and littered with the debris of meals thrown to the dogs of the household, rarely changed, and generally in a filthy state, were also not exceptional, even in the rooms which contained this ornate furniture of this late Stuart period.
Fig. 344. Beech Chair, Gilt. - (One of a pair.) - 4 ft. 6 ins. floor to top of back. - 1 ft. 6 ins. width across front of seat. - C. 1695-1700. - Capt. N. R. Colville, M.C.
In place of the earlier caning, backs of chairs began to be greatly elaborated in the early years of William III. Fig. 330, another example from Bond's Hospital, has the rich French type of pierced and carved back, in conjunction with the Flemish curved legs and cross-stretcher. Another departure at this date, which may be noted here, is that this stretcher is no longer tenoned into the front legs but into the side rails. This is an early example of a fashion which subsequently became very general. Fig. 331 has the ornate back and baluster-turned front legs curiously reeded on the lower member. In proportion and the style of carving of the back there is a strong suggestion of Italian influence in this chair. Fig. 332, is one of a pair in the chancel of Biddenden Church in Kent, of graceful form and fine detail, unusually well preserved. The stretcher is here tenoned into the front legs, but placed higher up than is usually the case, two squares being left by the turner for this purpose. The development of this feature is shown in Fig. 334, a characteristic tall-back chair of Portuguese type (especially in the bulb-pattern of the turning) now in the Worcester Museum in Massachusetts. This chair had originally been lacquered a bright red, and it has recently been restored to as nearly its original state as possible. The suggestion of Gothic tracery at the top of the back (which can be seen through the caning) is exceedingly interesting and almost unique in a chair of this period. The scrolled foot is in the Spanish manner already described.
This Portuguese bulb-turning develops in various ways, and finally culminates in the inverted cup, which is such a typical Orange detail. In the fine chair, Fig. 333, this cup-turning is already suggested, but the cup is gadroon-carved, whereas, at a late stage, this member is seldom decorated in any way. In this chair, which is directly inspired from French sources, especially in its elaborate back and cresting, the carved stretcher is set back from the front face of the legs, and fixed between the side rails in the same manner as in Fig. 330.
Fig. 346. Walnut Stool. - The octagonal-section form of the Orange "cup-turned " leg, combined with the Braganza foot. - C. 1695. - Messrs. Gregory and Co.
The further development of this Portuguese bulb-turning can be traced in the next four illustrations, which bridge the years from 1685 to 1695. Fig. 335 has the bulb with a central bead, whereas in Fig. 336 it caps a tapered shaft. The front stretcher here is also set back between the cross rails. Fig. 337 has the bulb carved in a representation of a pomegranate both on the legs and the feet. The back cresting and the stretcher, - which correspond, - show the development from the earlier form of 1685-9. A curious detail here is the corner blocks to the seat-framing, evidently inserted for greater strength, into which the framing rails are tenoned.
Fig. 338 has still the late Stuart tall and narrow back, with a central pierced and carved splat, flanked by two moulded laths. The seat has been made for upholstery, with a carved " apron-piece " under the front rail. The front legs have the cup-turning, which, with the "bun " feet and the flat stretchering, place this chair some years later than the last of the Stuarts.