The portrait represents what might be styled a Dinka dandy, distinguished for unusually long hair.
By continual combing and stroking with hair-pins, the hair of the negro loses much of its close curliness. Such was the case here: the hair, six inches long, was trained up into points like tongues of flame, and these, standing stiffly up all round his head, gave the man a fiendish look, which was still further increased by its being dyed a foxy red.
This tint is the result of continual washing with cow-urine; a similar effect can be produced by the application for a fortnight of a mixture of dung and ashes.
The social position of the Niam-niam women differ materially from what is found amongst other negroes in Africa. The Bongo and Mittoo women are on the same familiar terms with the foreigner as the men, and the Monbuttoo ladies are as forward , inquisitive and prying as can be imagined; but the women of the Niam-niam treat every stranger with marked reserve. Whenever I met any women coming along a narrow pathway in the woods or on the steppe, I noticed that they always made a wide circuit to avoid me, and returned into the path further on; and many a time I saw them waiting at a distance with averted face until I had passed by.
This moral depravation, naturally, extended downward to the whole court. M. Brentano, who is one of the few French historians who venture to lay disrespectful hands on the grand Roi-soleil, says: "Charles VII was the original source of the crapulous debauchery of the last Valois; he traced the way for the crimes of Louis XIV, and the turpitudes of Louis XV." This, although the higher clergy of the reigns both of Charles and of Louis Quatorze did not fail in their duty, and did denounce openly from the pulpit the sins of these all-powerful monarchs.
The court of France was, at this period, the most depraved in morals, the grossest and most unpolished in manners, of any in Europe. The women of the bourgeoisie, envious of the great ladies, called them dames à gorge nue; and the latter retaliated by designating the women of the people as grisettes, because of their gray (grises) stockings,—a name retained almost down to the present day. In the sittings of the États Généraux, the President, Miron, complained bitterly of the excesses of the nobility, the contempt for justice, the open violences, the gambling, the extravagance, the constant duels, the "execrable oaths with which they thought it proper to ornament their usual discourse."
After an engraving of the period.
Femme-de-la-cour (Lady of the Court) and foundling