H. D. (Henry Duff) Traill.

Social England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) online

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garments, but are very incon-
stant and desirous of novelties,
chan<nn<r their costumes everv


(AahiiioltUH Mufcinn, Oiford.)


year, both men and women. When they go abroad riding or
travelling, they don their best clothes, contrary to the practice
of other nations. Their garments are usually coloured, and of
a light stuff, and they have not many of them, as they have
in the Low Countries, since they change so easily : nor so much
furniture or unnecessary house ornaments." The author of
the " Anatomic of Abuses," however, complains that coffers

1 Stubbes, p. HI

- T Decker. Seven Deadly Sinnes" (1GU6). Arber, p. 37. 3 Rye, p. 71.



crack and presses burst with excess of change of apparel.
According to him the love of dress affected not merely the
upper but all classes of society. " Pride in apparel has poisoned
no country so much as Ailgna " (Anglia) ; indeed, he Avas pre-
pared to allow noble folk to \vear sumptuous apparel, and
directed his crusade against the inferior sort.

The rigid sumptuary laws of the Tudors took no effect, sumptuary

, Laws

" Every merchant's Avife and mean gentleAVoman Avore her
French hood, every cottager's daughter her taffeta hat,'' " Far-
fetched and dear-bought is good for ladies," and it Avas in
vain, that the Government sought to OA'ercome this law of
feminine nature. Ascham in " The Schoolmaster " complains
in someAvhat mysterious language of certain "disorders," "of
outrage in apparel, in huge hose, in monstrous hats, in garish
colours, Avhich are Avinked at and borne Avirhin the court."
By laAV all citizens' AviA'es Avere constrained to Avear Avhite knit
caps of Avoollen yarn, unless their husbands Avere " of good
value in the Queen's book," or could prove themselves gentle-
men by descent. 1 Elizabeth re-enacted seA r eral of the sumptuary
laws of Henry VIII. by a proclamation of 1565. None but the
nobility might Avear Avoollen goods made out of the realm.
Only those Avith a net income of OA T er 200 a year might Avear
veh'et or embroidery, or pricking Avith gold, silver, or silk"
on their own apparel, or the apparel of their horses or mules.
None but those Avorth over 100 a year might Avear satin,
damask, silk, camlet, or taffeta. No hosier (tailor) might
make upper-stocks or breeches Avhich measured more than a
yard and a half " in compass round about," Avhich measure is
proved sufficient for persons of the highest stature, Avherefore
persons of a meaner stature should understand that they are
intended to use a less measure. Three linings must suffice
for the breeches of all persons under the state of baron-
Licences might exempt persons from these rules, but fines
punished those Avho infringed them Avithout licence. 2 In
spite of the rule against Avearing velvet, a foreigner noted - in
1592 that the Avoman Avho had not a piece of dry bread at
home Avore velvet in the streets : 3 but perhaps hers Avas a
cast-oft' garment. Stubbes tells hoAV proud men were of their

1 Stow's " Annales," ed. Howes, p. 1,039, col. i. (1C.31).

2 Strype's "Annals," I., ii.. p. 537 scq. 3 Rye,

3 Rye, p. 8.

of the



eliaritv in giving away an old ragged coat, doublet, or pair
of hosen.

In accept ing the descriptions which satirists give of Eliza-
bethan dress, it must not be forgotten that it is the tendency
of every age to ridicule its own dress. The portraits of
Elizabethan courtiers and court-ladies afford, however, ample
evidence of the ugliness and artificiality of the prevailing
fashions. There were many country gentlefolk and sedate


(TurJjerviUe, "Art of Faulconric,'' 1575.)

statesmen and lawyers who did not follow the fashion, and their
funeral monuments show them in a quiet and dignified dress.
It does not appear that the dress of the poor had under-
gone airy important change. The poor man's breeches and
stockings had not yet become distinct garments Appren-
tices wore blue gowns to the calves of the legs: only persons
over threescore years might wear them longer "Breeches
and stockings were of white broadcloth viz. round slops, and
their stockings sewed up close thereunto as if they were al).
but one piece." '

1 Stow's "Annales." p. 1040. col. i.




The medieval military exercises were becoming a thing of s P rts -
the past. Masques and interludes supplied the spectacular
effect ; and football (played with great violence), tennis, wrest-
ling, fencing, and games on horseback such as tilting at the
ring took their place as exercises. Hunting with hounds and
hawking were as popular with the aristocracy as ever, and,
for shooting, the gun was beginning to oust the bow. The


(Tiirbcrville, " A'oWe Art of Venerie," 1570.)

Queen hunted every other day as late as 1600, when she was
sixty-seven; and it is noted that in 1591 she shot three or
four deer with the crossbow.

The secretary of a German prince who visited England Hunting,
thus describes his sport : " The huntsmen who had been ordered
for the occasion, and who live in splendid separate lodges in
these parks, made some capital sport for his Highness. In
the first enclosure his Highness shot off the leg of a fallow-

nil'; A'/-;ir ORDER.


deer, and the dogs soon after caught the animal. In the second,
they chased a stag for a long time backwards and forwards
with particularly good hounds, over an extensive and delight-
ful plain ; at length his Highness shot him in front with an
English cross-bow, and this deer the dogs finally worried and
caught. In the third, the greyhounds chased a deer, but
much too soon : for they caught it directly, even before it
could get out into the open plain" On another occasion a
bloodhound was used " to single out the deev from several
hundred others, and pursued it, till at last the wounded deer
was found on one side of the brook, and the dog quite ex-
hausted, on the other, huntsmen took it and the hound was
feasted with its blood : '
Bun and All classes thronired to the great bear-rings in Southwark.

Bear . .

Baiting. where bulls and bears were baited. The chief was ' Paris
Garden," a piece of land which once belonged to a certain
Robert of Paris ; and thither the Queen went in her royal
barge in 1599. On ordinary occasions, a place could be had
for a halfpenny , 2 and on Sundays the ring was thronged
with an excited crowd crying : " To head, to head ! " some in
satin doublet and velvet hose venturing down among the
bears and dogs, till they Avere "all with spittle from above
bespread." 3 In the opinion of Puritans, Sabbath bear-
baitings had but one defence they drew all the devils to
one place. 4 In order to gratify the German prince above
mentioned, and at his desire, " two bears and a bull were
baited ; at such times you can perceive the breed and mettle
of the dogs: for although they receive serious injuries from
the bears, are caught by the horns of the bulls and tossed
in the air, so as frequently to fall down again upon the horns,
they do not give in, but fasten on to the bull so firmly that
one is obliged to pull them back by their tails and force open
their jaws. Four dogs at once were set on the bull : they,
however, could not gain any advantage over him." According
to another account (1575), " it Avas a sport very pleasant of
these beasts, to see the bear with his pink eyes leering after
his enemy's approach, the nimbleness and Avait of the dog to
take his advantage, and the force and experience of the bear

1 Rye. p. 17. - Crowley, " Select Works." p. 17. 3 Sir John Davies' ' Epi-
grams '' (Grosart, ii. 41). 4 A tract of 160(5, cited in Funnvall's Stubbes, p. 79*.




again to avoid the assaults ; if he were bitten in one place,
how he would pinch in another to get free; that if he were
taken once, then what shift with biting, with clawing, with
roaring, tossing and tumbling, he would work to wind himself
from them, and when he was loose, to shake his ears twice
or thrice with the blood and the slaver about his ' riznamy '
was a matter of goodly relief." 1
The Puritan Stubbes speaks
feelingly of the sufferings of
the bear; but a careful bear-
ward was no doubt anxious
to preserve his charge from
serious mauling. For many
years the bears Harry Huncks
and Sackerson were the chief
attraction at London baitings,
and their names were known
throughout the land

Besides such exercises as
hurling, wrestling, football, and
quoits, the country people had
many amusements in the form
of dancing, mumming, and
pantomimic shows, generally
enjoyed at annual festivals ;
and these were very numerous. 2
New Year's Day, Twelfth Day,
and the day after (called Rock
or Distaff Day), Plough Mon-
day, and Candlemas wound
up the Christmas season : and
a pause ensued till Shrovetide,
when Collop Monday and
Shrove Tuesday were celebrated with games, plays, cockfights. Festivals,
and feasts Easter Sunday's hilarity began at sunrise, and was
celebrated with morris-dancing and ball-games. Hock Day, the
Tuesday after the second Sunday after Easter ; May Day, when
the Maypole, that "Stynking Ydol" of the Puritans, was brought

1 Rye. p 215.

- Drake. " Shakespeare and his Times/' Part I., vi., vii.. viii.. ix.


(On a tvindow at Betley Halt. Stafs.)

538 /'///: NEW <>i; i >!:!;.


IK une, drawn by twenty or forty yoke of oxen, garlanded with
flowers on their horns, was set up and danced round; AYhit-
snntide, when the Lords of Misrule, " the wild-heads of the
parish," decked with scarves and ribbons, with their legs gar-
tered with bells, riding hobby-horses and dragons, came dancing
right into the churches, piping and playing, so that the
congregation mounted on the pews to see them: 1 all these
things helped to make the people gay. Then followed the
sheep-shearing feast or " lamb-ale " ; harvest-homes ; Seed-
cake Day, at the close of wheat-sowing in October; Martinmas,
when the stock of salted provisions was laid in for winter ;
and Christmas closed the year. Besides these occasions for
feastings and merry-making, there were the church-ales, for
which the churchwardens provided malt and brewed ale to
be sold in the church for the benefit of the church. Each
village had its own wake-day -the vigil of its patron-saint
when young and old ran gadding for a night to the woods,
groves, and hills, spending the whole night in pleasant pastimes :
and, besides these, christenings, betrothals, weddings, and
funerals were made occasions for much feasting. At ordinary
times, too, there was the tavern to fall back upon, and in ale-
houses was much rhyming and singing by itinerant musicians
who were licensed . Stubbes would fain ask whether it was
Christ, the Arch- Justice of the Peace, who had licensed their
horrid songs.

Food and The nobility, gentry, and students dined at eleven before
Feeding. noon ^ an( j supped between five and six. The merchants
dined at twelve and supped at six Husbandmen dined at
noon and supped at seven or eight. To take two meals
only was the rule ; none but the young, the sick, and very
early risers were thought to need odd repasts. Idle Londoners
helped out the day by a half-pint of wine before dinner and
a posset before bed. " Breakfasts in the forenoon, beverages or
nimcheons after dinner, and thereto rear suppers generally
when it was time to go to rest;' were things of the past. All
classes found it a hard matter to rise from table, and : 'larg<-
tabling and belly cheer " were considered by foreigners pre-
vailing English characteristics: in an Englishman's opinion 2
this was true only of the Scotch. It was, however, generally

1 Stubbes. p. 147. - Harrison, ii.. 142.



admitted that tho English were not only great eaters of meat,
but also very fond of sweet things. It was noted that the
Queen's teeth were black, " a defect the English seem subject
to from their great use of sugar." Courtly housewives found
a way out of the annual difficulty of the New Year's gift
to the Queen by sending her comfits and confections of
their own making. The cooks of the nobility were for the
most part " musical-headed Frenchmen and strangers," and
the " sweet hand ol the seafaring Poitmgale " was considered the
cleverest at confectionery. 1 The merchants of Corinth are
said to have wondered what the English did with the quantity


(By permission of the Library Committee to the Corporation of the ('it it of /.< 'itilon.)

of currants they imported, and supposed that they were
used for dyeing or for feeding hogs. 2 It was customary to
eat soft saffron cakes with raisins in them to give an excellent
relish to the beer. Raisins and currants, sugar and spices
underwent great fluctuations of price with variations in the
trade restrictions. In 1587 sugar sold at 2s. 6d. a pound
which had just before been 4d. a pound. In 1598 a writer
on the " gentlemanly profession of serving-men " complains
that " there is not anything that belongs to housekeeping
but it is a triple charge over [what] it was " ; his father
or grandfather bought an ox for twenty shillings, a sheep
for three shillings, a goose for sixpence, and a pig for two-

Wine was no longer made in England, and the wines Drink,
used were French, German, and Spanish. The home-brewed

1 Harrison, ii.. 145. " Rye. p. 190.



beer was very pale in colour, but even his Highness the Duke
of "\Vurtembcrg found it delicious, and relished it exceedingly.
The Elizabethan country parson, Harrison, a man of " small
maintenance (for what great thing is forty pounds a year,
coinpv.tdtis computandis, 1 able to perform?"), brewed annu-
ally three hogsheads of good beer ( 'such, I mean, as is meet
for poor men as I am to live withal ).

In drinking or eating, a foreigner writes that the English
"will say to you above a hundred times, 'drind iou,' which
is, 'I drink to you,' and you should answer them in their
language, ' ii>l<(!</i<n<,' which means 'I pledge you' 2 ; and
surfeiting and drunkenness were, in the opinion of most,
strangers, vices of the English race. Harrison, however, notes
a great improvement in his days, and speaks of the 'great
silence that is used at the tables of the honourable and wiser
sort generally over all the realm," likewise " of the moderate
eating and drinking that is daily seen"; indeed, so much
care was taken to avoid the temptation to drink that "salted
meats are not any whit esteemed." It was still usual to taste
everything on the table, but " menus " were beginning to be
written for the tables of the gentry. Foreigners noted then,
as now, that it was not an English custom to press guests
to eat.

' In number of dishes and changes of moat the nobility
of England do most exceed." " No day passes but they have
not only beef, mutton, veal, lamb, kid, pork, coney, capon, pig,
or so many of them as the season yields, but also fish in
variety, venison, wild-fowl, and sweets."

The Though this sounds excessive, it should be remembered

Table. t | iat t ] lorc werc but two meals in the day, and that in the
halls of the nobility it was still usual for the chief servants
of the household to dine with the family and guests. The
upper table having been served, the food was sent down
to the serving-inen and waiters, who fed thereon " with
convenient moderation, their revert'on also being bestowed
upon the poor, which lie ready at their gates in great
numbers to receive the same." Gentlemen and merchants
contented themselves with four, five, or six dishes, or if there
were no guests, with three at most. At merchants' boards,

i [f.r. counting all necessary outg-oing.s.] -Rye. I'.ll.




Harrison notes, cold meat is often seen, but at their great
feasts butcher's meat was quite despised, and the poulterer's
more delicate meats preferred. " In such eases also jellies of
all colours, mixed with a variety in the representation of sundry
flowers, herbs, trees," "marchpanes, wrought with no small
curiosity," and all kinds of sweets generally bore the sway.

People of the middle class, such as the Harrisons, accounted
all the varieties of brawn
and sowse " a great piece
of service at the table"
for the winter months.
Brawn being somewhat


hard of digestion, a
draught of malmsey,
muscadel, or hot Spanish
wine was usually taken
after it "if it could con-
veniently be had." At
all seasons of the year
it was possible to get
iish, which was much
used by the common
people. Its consumption
was fostered by legisla-
tion. Fowls, pigeons,
and all kinds of game
were cheap and easily
obtained. " The artificer
or husbandman makes
greatest account of such
meat as they may
soonest come by and
have it quickliest ready." White meats, milk, butter, and
cheese, which were wont to be accounted one of the chief
stays throughout the island, are now, Harrison says, "reputed
as food appertinent only to the inferior sort,"

The very poor, if they had an acre of ground wherein to
set cabbages, parsnips, radishes, carrots, melons, pumpkins,
lived on such-like stuff as their principal food. Bread was
less easily come by, and many substitutes, such as beans, peas,

(AJtmolmii Museum. Oxford.)




oats, and even acorns, were used by the poorest. At feasts,
when " husbandmen do exceed after their manner, especially
at bridals, purification of women, and such odd meetings,"
" it is incredible to tell what meat is consumed." On such
occasions it was the custom for each guest to contribute one
or more dishes. The artificers and husbandmen, Harrison's
"fourth and last sort," are, he says, liberal and friendly at
their tables, and when they meet are so merry without
malice, and plain without inward Italian or French craft

and Fur



(From a fliotogfaph lij the. 7,Vr. II" M"itn, )

and subtlety, that it would do a man good to be in company
among them.

The old men of country villages loved to discourse on
the great, although not general, amendment of lodging which
had taken place in their lifetime, and on the change which
the introduction of chimneys in all the better houses had
brought about. In their eyes both subjects were matter for
melancholy lament. To their thinking, charity died when
chimneys were built, for the poor had never fared so well
as in the old smoky halls. When houses were willow,
Englishmen were oaken ; now houses were oaken, and the



YE.N'KTIAX GLASS. (Guildhall llttstum.)


Englishmen of straw. In every age men believe that their
new comforts are signs of the nation's approaching decay,

and every age is con-
vinced that it suffers
more from physical
delicacy than the age
which preceded. The
Elizabethans had
further to lament that
their windows were
made of glass, and
not of open lattice-
work ; that many
floors had carpets
which lately had
rushes ; that timber
houses were giving way to houses of brick and stone, smoothly
plastered inside; and that even inferior artificers and many
farmers possessed comfortable beds, hung with tapestry, and
used pillows (once thought meet only for women in childbed)
instead of a log of wood, or at best a sack of chaff. In
every merchant's hall stood " easy quilted and lined forms
and stools " ; and
Sir John Harring-
ton, writing about
1596, says that, as
this is so, it is ab-
surd that the stools
in the Queen's
should be so hard
that " since great
breeches were [for
a while] laid aside,
men can scant
endure to sit on "
them. 1

Owing to the great plenty of silver after the Spanish
conquests in Peru and Mexico, comparatively poor men

1 "Xugae Antiquae,'' i.. 202.

VKXETIAX GLASS. (Guildhall Museum.)

permission of the Library Committee to the Corporation of Hie
City of London.)

544 THE NE}\' UKT)Eli.

[1558 1584

could afford to garnish their cupboards with plate, and the
poorest now used spoons and platters of pewter instead of
wood. " The gentility, as loathing the metals, silver and
gold, because of the plenty, chose generally the Venice
glasses," and even poor people could afford an inferior home-
made glass, made of fern and burned stone. " Glasses, glasses-
is the only drinking."

The English taste for rich hangings of tapestry was a&
strong as ever. All gentlemen's houses had either wainscot
or " painted cloths wherein either divers histories, or herbs,
beasts, knots, and such -like are stained." At Hampton
( 'ourt the tapestries were of pure gold and tine silk, " so
exceedingly beautiful and royally ornamented that it would
hardly be possible to find more magnificent things of tlir
kind in any other place. ' In the Queen's state-room the
tapestries were garnished Avith gold, pearls, and precious
stones, and the royal throne was studded with very large
diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and the like. 1 All this display
was rendered comparatively easy by the influx of gold and
precious stones from America,

Sudden wealth had come to a whole country, and the
country was tempted, like a merchant not born to riches, to
use the whole in outward show. The dearth of certain modern
necessities of life becomes the more glaring. Good soap was
an almost impossible luxury, and clothes had to be washed
with cow-dung, hemlock, nettles, and refuse soap, than which,
in Harrison's opinion, "there is none more unkindly savour."
Again, at table no forks were used ; they were first introduced,
to the great " sparing of napkins," at the beginning of the
next century.

Roads Even Elizabethans felt that the state of the roads was a

Travel disgrace to their country. All long journeys were performed
on horseback : no kind of light carriage existed. Royal
personages possessed lumbering gilt coaches, but towards the
end of the reign coaches were beginning to be used by the
wealthy in the London streets. The Queen performed most
of her journeys on horseback, and men and women grew
habituated to continuous riding. Princes who started on
journeys in coaches got stuck last in the boggy roads, but

1 Rye, p. 18.








(<!ervase Mmklidni, " Neic Quintal
and Gulden ")

some preferred this to remaining long in saddles, which the
heavily built found exceedingly hard. 1 luggage was carried
in two-wheeled waggons drawn by six strong horses, and for
a progress the Queen used as many as six hundred such carts.

In the neighbourhood of London
highwaymen were specially to be
feared on Gad's and Shooter's Hill.
The inns (p. 183) were praised by
most travellers, though it was always
needful to sleep with a sword at
hand. The purse, we are told, should
be laid by the pillow with the garters,
so that it may not be forgotten.

In a manual of so-called English
conversation, published in 1589, 1 we
meet with this dialogue : The tra-
veller is to address Jane, the chamber-
maid, thus: "My shee frinde, is my bed made? is it good? 1 '
" Yea sir : it is a good federbed ; the scheetes be very cleane."
Traveller: "Pull off my hosen and warnie my bed ; drawe the
c-urtines, and pmthen with a pin. My shee frinde, kisse me
once and I shall sleape the better.
I thanke you, fayre mayden/'

A Dutch traveller, in 1560,
writes thus of the English :
" The neat cleanliness, the ex-
quisite fineness, the pleasant and
delightful furniture in every point
for household, wonderfully rejoiced
me ; their chambers and parlours
strawed over with sweet herbs
refreshed me, their nosegays finely
intermingled with sundry sorts
of fragrant flowers in their bed-
chambers and privy rooms with
comfortable smell cheered me up "
Parlours were trimmed with green boughs, fresh herbs, or vine
leaves in summer, with evergreens and box in winter. 2

The garden hitherto had been little used except for

1 Rye, p. 34. - Ibid., p. SO.


(Gervase M<nl,-liit>ii, "New Orchard and

SCOTLAND, 1561-1603. 547

medieval herbs and a few vegetables (p. 488). The Harrisons Gardens,
had in their garden of 300 square feet 300 kinds of simples,
but flowers of a more ornamental character now began to
be sought. In summer, gentlewomen " will carry in their

Online LibraryH. D. (Henry Duff) TraillSocial England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) → online text (page 46 of 68)