Friday, August 03, 2012

John Owen - Beau Brummel Puritan?

Arguing that before we can recognise the Puritans we must wipe off from their faces some of the mud that has been thrown at them, Reeves* says:

For one thing, they did not even look like what we think of as the stereotypical Puritan.  We imagine that, amidst all the gaudy puffed sleeves and bodices of the Elizabethan period, and the jolly ruffs and doublets of the laughing Cavaliers, the Puritans just wore black - and scowled.  That is how their portraits show them, for that was their Sunday best (and sitting for portraits was a formal thing).  But on other days they might wear all the colours of the rainbow.  John Owen, probably the greatest Puritan theologian, would walk through Oxford 'hair powdered, cambric band with large costly band strings, velvet jacket, breeches set round at knees with ribbons pointed, and Spanish leather boots with cambric tops.'


Contrary to popular impression, the Puritan was no ascetic.  If he continually warned against the vanity of the creatures as misused by fallen man, he never praised hair shirts or dry crusts.  he liked good food, good drink and homely comforts; and while he laughed at mosquitoes, he found it a real hardship to drink water when the beer ran out.

* Mike Reeves, The Unquenchable Flame, page 145-6

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