The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0644  Thursday, 11 March 2004

From:           L. Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 11 Mar 2004 07:56:24 -0600
Subject:        Wars of the Roses

Some time ago, a waggish friend of mine visited the Birmingham [England]
Museum and Art Gallery and there saw the Pre-Raphaelite (?) Henry
Payne's "Choosing the Red and White Roses in the Temple Garden." I
cannot find a site to refer our readers to for a view of the painting,
but the description my friend gives here, originally on the back of a
postcard of the painting, should give some idea of the famous (?) work:

"This shows the famous beginning of the Wars of the Roses, also known as
the Haberdashers' War.  The Yorkists, on the left, insisted that only a
white rose could be worn, without vulgarity, with a big black hat.  Mr.
Warwick (the person in the hat like a bellows with ear-flaps) is
absolutely certain that his taste is correct in this. The issue is
clouded by the fact that the principal Yorkist, Mr. Plantagenet, is
wearing red. He is allowed to do this because his son is going to become
Richard III pretty soon and there's nothing to be done about it. The
Lancastrians, on the right, felt that all it takes is a little flair and
chutzpah to carry off the wearing of the red rose with a black hat,
however ragged the hat. Besides, the red is needed to offset the
cyanotic complexion to which rage and dismay have reduced the first
Lancastrian, the Somerset. His companion, Mr. Suffolk, has chosen red
because red roses have the nicer smell. The fellow seen through the gate
in the back is the Bishop of Ely, who preferred strawberries to roses,
anyway. Temple Garden at the present time does not look a bit like that,
though the clothes you see in it are similar enough."

L. Swilley

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