Page images

and which Ben Jonson has very humorously put into the mouth of Cob in Every Man in his Humour :


"By Gods me," says the water-bearer, "I marle what pleasure or felicity they have in taking this roguish tobacco! It's good for nothing but to choak a man, and fill him full of smoke and embers there were four died out of one house last week with taking of it, and two more the bell went for yesternight; one of them, they say, will ne'er scape it; he voided a bushel of soot yesterday, upward and downward. By the stocks, an' there were no wiser men than I, I'd have it present whipping, man or woman, that should but deal with a tobacco-pipe; why, it will stifle them all in the end, as many as use it; it's little better than ratsbane or rosaker." Act. iii. sc. 5.

It would appear that the prejudices against the use of this narcotic required much time for their extirpation; for Burton, who wrote about thirty years after its introduction, and at the very close of the Shakspearean era, seems as violent against the common use of tobacco as even James himself:

"A good vomit," says he, "I confesse, a vertuous herbe, if it be well qualified, opportunely taken, and medicinally used, but as it is commonly used by most men, which take it as Tinkers do ale, 'tis a plague, a mischiefe, a violent purger of goods, lands, health, hellish, devilish damn'd tobacco, the ruine and overthrow of body and soule."

Nothwithstanding this abuse, however, and the edicts of King James forbidding its consumption in all ale-houses, tobacco soon acquired such general favour, that Stowe tells us in his Annals, "it was commonly used by most men and many women;" and James, appealing to his subjects, exclaims,-"Now how you are by this custome disabled in your goods, let the gentry of this land beare witnesse, some of them bestowing three, some foure hundred pounds a yeere upon this precious stinke;" a sum so enormous, that we must conclude them to have been as determined smokers as the Buckinghamshire parson recorded by Lilly, who was so given over to tobacco and drink, that when he had no tobacco, he would cut the bell-ropes and smoke them!"

Snuff-taking was as much in fashion as smoking; and the following passage from Decker proves, that the gallants of his day were as extravagant and ridiculous in their use of it as our modern beaux, whether we regard the splendour of their boxes, or their affectation in applying the contents; it appears also to have been customary to take snuff immediately before dinner. "Before the meat come smoking to the board, our gallant must draw out his tobacco-box, 'and' the ladle for the cold snuff into the nostril,-all which artillery may be of gold or silver, if he can reach to the price of it ;-then let him shew his several tricks in taking it, as the whiff, the ring, etc. for these are complements that gain gentlemen no mean respect." "It is singular," remarks Dr. Nott, alluding to the general use of tobacco at this period, "when the introduction of this new indulgence had so engaged the pen of almost every contemporary playwright and pamphleteer, nay, even of royalty itself, that Shakspeare should have been totally silent upon it."

The residue of the Domestic Economy of this era may be included under the articles of servants and miscellaneous household arrangements.

In the days of Elizabeth servants were more numerous, and considered as a more essential mark of gentility, than at any subsequent period. "The English," observes Hentzner, "are lovers of shew, liking to be followed wherever they go by whole troops of servants, who wear their master's arms in silver, fastened to their left arms." They were, also, usually distinguished by blue coats; thus Grumio, enquiring for his master's servants, says,-"Call forth Nathaniel, Joseph, Nicholas, Philip, Walter, Sugarsop, and the rest; let their heads be sleekly combed, their blue coats brushed." We learn, however, from Fynes Moryson, that both silver badges and blue coats went out of fashion in the reign of James the First; "the servants of gentlemen," he informs us, were wont to weare + Gull's Horn-book, թ. 119. Travels, 8vo. p. 63.

Anatomic of Melancholy, p. 235.

Reprint of Decker's Gull's Horn-book, p. 17, note 15.


blew coates, with their master's badge of silver on the left sleeve, but now they most commonly weare clokes garded with lace, all the servants of one family wearing the same livery for colour and ornament."

The very strict regulations to which servants were subjected in the sixteenth century, and the admirable order perserved in the household of the upper classes at that time, will be illustrated in a very satisfactory and entertaining manner, by the "Orders for Household Servantes; first devised by John Haryngton, in the yeare 1566, and renewed by John Haryngton, Sonne of the saide John, in the yeare 1592; the saide John, the Sonne, being then High Shrieve of the County of Somerset."

"Imprimis, That no servant bee absent from praier, at morning or evening without a lawfull excuse, to be alledged within one day after, upon payne to forfeit for every tyme 2d.— 2. Item, That none sweare any othe, uppon paine for every othe 1d,-3. Item, That no man leave any doore open, that he findeth shut, without there bee cause, upon payne for every time 1d.-4. Item, That none of the men be in bed, from our Lady-day to Michaelmas, after 6 of the clock in the morning; nor out of his bed after 10 of the clock at night; nor, from Michaelmas till our Lady-day, in bed after 7 in the morning; nor out after 9 at night, without reasonable cause, on paine of 2d.-5. Item, That no man's bed be unmade, nor fire or candle-box uncleane, after 8 of the clock in the morning, on paine of 1d.-6. Item, That no man make water within either of the courts, upon paine of, every time it shalbe proved, 1d.-7. Item, That no man teach any of the children any unhonest speeche, or baudie word, or othe, on paine of 4d.-8. Item, That no man waite at the table, without a trencher in his hand, except it be uppon some good cause, on paine of 1d.-9. Item, That no man appointed to waite at my table, be absent that meale, without reasonable cause, on paine of Id.— 10. <6 Item, If any man breake a glasse, hee shall answer the price thereof out of his wages; and, if it bee not known who breake it, the buttler shall pay for it, on paine of 12d.-11. Item, The table must bee covered halfe an hour before 11 at dinner, and 6 at supper, or before, on paine of 2d.-12. Item, That meate bee readie at 11, or before, at dinner; and 6, or before, at supper, on paine of 6d.-13. Item, That none be absent, without leave or good cause, the whole day, or any part of it, on paine of 4d.—14. Item, That no man strike his fellow, on paine of losse of service; nor revile or threaten, or provoke another to strike, on paine of 12d.-15. Item, That no man come to the kitchen without reasonable cause, on paine of 1d. and the cook likewyse to forfeit 1d.-16. Item, That none toy with the maids, on paine of 4d.-17. Item, That no man weare foule shirt on Sunday, nor broken hose or shooes, or doublett without buttons, on paine of 1d.—18. Item, That when any strainger goeth hence, the chamber be drest up againe within 4 hours after, on paine of 1d.-19. Item, That the hall bee made cleane every day, by eight in the winter, and seaven in the sommer, on paine of him that should do it to forfet 1d.-20. That the court-gate bee shutt each meale, and not opened during dinner and supper, without just cause, on paine the porter to forfet for every time 1d.— 21. Item, That all stayrs in the house, and other rooms that neede shall require, bee made cleane on Fryday after dinner, on paine of forfeyture of every on whome it shall belong unto, 3d. All which sommes shalbe duly paide each quarter-day out of their wages, and bestowed on the poore, or other godly use."

[ocr errors]

To the tribe of household servants, must be added, as a constant inmate in the houses of the great, during the life of Shakspeare, and, indeed, to the close of the reign of Charles I., that motley personage, the Domestic Fool, who was an essential part of the entertainment of the fire-side, not only in the palace and the castle, but in the tavern and the brothel.

The character of the "all-licens'd fool" has been copied from the life, with his usual naïveté and precision, and with an inexhaustible fund of wit, in many of the plays of our poet; yet, perhaps, we shall nowhere find a more condensed and faithful picture of the manners of this once indispensable source of domestic pleasantry, than what has been given us by Dr. Lodge :

"This fellow," says he, "in person is comely, in apparell courtly, but in behaviour a very ape, and no man; his studie is to coine bitter jeasts, or to shew antique motions, or to sing baudie sonnets and ballads: give him a little wine in his head, he is continually flearing and making of mouthes he laughs intemperately at every little occasion, and dances about the house, leaps over tables, out-skips mens heads, trips up his companion's heeles, burns sack with a candle, and

hath all the feats of a lord of misrule in the countrie: feed him in his humor, you shall have his heart, in meere kindnesse he will bug you in his armes, kisse you on the cheeke, and rapping out an horrible oth, crie God's soule Tum I love you, you know my poore heart, come to my chamber for a pipe of tobacco, there lives not a man in this world that I more honour. In these ceremonies you shall know his courting, and it is a speciall mark of him at the table, he sits and makes faces."

On the passages in this quotation distinguished by Italics, it will be necessary to offer a brief comment. From Shakspeare we learn that the apparel of the domestic fool was of two kinds; he had either a parti-coloured coat fastened round the body by a girdle, with close breeches, and hose on each leg of different colours, or he wore a long petticoat dyed with curious tints, and fringed with yellow. With both dresses was generally connected a hood, covering the whole head, falling over part of the breast and shoulders, and surmounted with asses ears, or a cockscomb. Bells and a bauble were the usual insignia of the character; the former either attached to the elbows, or the skirt of the coat, and the latter, consisting of a stick, decorated at one end with a carved fool's head, and having at the other an inflated bladder, an instrument either of sport or defence.

Bitter jests, provided they were so dressed up, or so connected with adjunctive circumstances, as to raise a laugh, were at all times allowed; but it was moreover expected, that their keenness or bitterness should be also allayed by a due degree of obliquity in the method of attack, by a careless, and, apparently, undesigning manner of delivery, and by a playful and frolic demeanour. For these purposes, fragments of sonnets and ballads were usually chosen by the fool, as a safe medium through which the necessary degree of concealment might be given, and the edge of his sarcasm duly abated; a practice of which Shakspeare has afforded us many instances, and especially in his Fool in King Lear, whose scraps of old songs fully exemplify the aim and scope of this favourite of our ancestors. +

A few household arrangements, in addition to those developed in Sir John Harrington's orders, shall terminate this branch of our subject.

We have seen, when treating of the domestic economy of the country squire, that it was usual to take their banquet or dessert in an arbour of the garden or orchard; and in town, the nobility and gentry immediately after dinner and supper adjourned to another room, for the purpose of enjoying their wine and fruit; this practice is alluded to by Shakspeare, in Romeo and Juliet; and Beaufort, in the Unnatural Combat" of Massinger, says :


"We'll dine in the great room, but let the music
And banquet be prepared here;"

a custom which it is astonishing the delicacy and refinement of modern manners have not generally adopted.

As our ancestors, during the greater part of the period we are considering, possessed not the conveniency of eating with forks, and were, therefore, compelled to make use of their fingers, it became an essential point of good manners, to wash the hands immediately before dinner and supper, as well as afterwards thus Petruchio, on the entrance of his servants with supper, says, addresssing his wife,

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

In the fifteenth item of Harrington's Orders, we find that no man was allowed to come to the kitchen without reasonable cause, an injunction which may appear extraordinary; but, in those days, it was customary, in order to prevent the cook being disturbed in his important duties, to keep the rest of the men aloof, and, when dinner was ready, he summoned them to carry it on the table, by knocking * Wit's Miserie and the World's Madnesse, 4to. 1599.

We must here observe, that the Baron of Brandwardine's Fool, in Waverley, is an admirable copy of the character, as drawn by Shakspeare; and, as the work seems a faithful picture of existing manners in 1745, is a striking proof of the retention of this curious personage, until a recent period.

loudly on the dresser with his knife: thus in Massinger's Beaufort's steward says,

"Unnatural Combat,"

"When the dresser, the cook's drum, thunders, Come on,
The service will be lost else;"

a practice which gave rise to the phraseology, "he knocks to the dresser," as synonymous with the annunciation that "dinner is ready."


It was usual, also, especially where the domestic fool was retained, to keep an ape or a monkey, as a companion for him, and he is frequently represented with this animal on his shoulders. Monkeys, likewise, appear to have been an indispensable part of a lady's establishment, and, accordingly, Ben Jonson, in his "Cynthia's Revels," represent one of his characters as asserting, "the gentleman (I'll undertake with him) is a man of fair living, and able to maintain a lady in her two caroches a day, besides pages, monkeys, parachitoes, with such attendants as she shall think meet for her turn." - Act iv. sc. 2.

Beside monkeys and parachitoes, this quotation also proves, that caroches, a species of coach, were common in 1600, when Jonson's play was first acted. The coach and caroch, vehicles differing probably rather in size than form, are thus distinguished by Greene, who in his "Tu Quoque," 1641, speaks of

"the keeping of a coach

For country, and caroch for London; "

and, indeed, in 1595, they seem to have been equally general, for the author of Quippes for upstart newfangled Gentlewemen," says:


"Our wantons now in coaches dash

From house to house, from street to street.”*

The era of their introduction into this country has been recorded by Taylor, the water-poet.

"In the year 1564," he remarks, "one William Boonen, a Dutchman, brought first the use of coaches hither, and the said Boonen was Queene Elizabeth's coachman; for indeede a coach was a strange monster in those days, and the sight of it put both horse and man into amazement : some said it was a great crab-shell brought out of China, and some imagined it to be one of the Pagan Temples, in which the Cannibals adored the divell: but at last those doubts were cleared, and coach-making became a substantial trade." +

So substantial, indeed, had this trade become in 1601, that on the 7th of November of the same year, an act was introduced into the House of Lords, to restrain the excessive and superfluous use of coaches within this realm; it was rejected, however, on the second reading, and the trade of coach-making went on progressively increasing.

The extravagancy of domestic economy, with regard to these machines, and the servants who were deemed necessary, as their accompaniment, is strikingly depicted in the following extract from a letter written shortly after their marriage, by Lady Compton, to her husband, William Lord Compton, a few years subsequent to the death of Shakspeare. After several items equally moderate with those we are going to transcribe, she thus proceeds:

"Alsoe, I will have 6 or 8 gentlemen; and I will have my twoe coaches, one lyned with velvett to myselfe, wth 4 very fayre houses, and a coache for my woemen, lyned wth sweete cloth, one laced with gold, the other with scarlett, and laced with watched lace and silver, wth 4 good horses. Alsoe, I will have twoe coachmen, one for my owne coache, the other for my woemen. Alsoe, att any tyme when I travayle, I will be allowed not only carroches, and spare horses for me and my woemen, but I will have such carryadgs, as sha! be fittinge for all orderly; not pestringe my things with my woemens, nor theirs wth either chambermayds, or theirs wth wase maids. Alsoe, for

Restituta, vol. iii. թ.


The Works of Taylor, 1630. p. 240.

laundresses, when I travayle I will have them sent away before with the carryadgs to see all safe, and the chambermayds I will have goe before wth the groomes, that a chamber may be ready, sweete and cleane. Alsoe, for that yt is indecent to croud upp myself with my gentl. usher in my coache, I will have him to have a convenyent horse to attend me either in citty or country. And I must have 2 footemen. And my desire is, that you defray all the chardges for me.

Of the Manners and Customs of this period, the next branch of our present enquiry, we shall open a short review, by sketching the prominent features of Elizabeth's personal character, which must, necessarily, have had great influence, not only on her courtiers, but on society at large. As a monarch, she was, with few exceptions, truly worthy of admiration; but, as a woman, she often exhibits such a series of weakness and frailties, as must excite astonishment, as well from the force of contrast, as from their own turpitude and folly.

The most valuable and praiseworthy part of her private character, her literary accomplishments, her love of learning, and her encouragement of letters, together with the influence which they exerted over the minds of her subjects, have been considered, at some length, in this work, Part II. chap. 2, and to the favourable side of the picture, we must here add, that she was equally eminent for some acquirements more peculiarly feminine. Among these, her skill in needle-work has been more than once particularly celebrated, her excellence in which stimulated the ladies of her reign to more than ordinary exertion in this useful department. "The various kinds of needle-work practised by our indefatigable grandmothers," observes Mr. Douce, "if enumerated, would astonish even the most industrious of our modern ladies," and he adds, that "many curious books of patterns for lace and all sorts of needle-work were formerly published.” †

But this rare example, in a monarch, of industry and economy, and the still more important acquisitions of literature and science, were overwhelmed by a host of foibles, among which, none were more remarkable than her extreme vanity and coquetry, and at a period too, when she had reason to expect, from her infirmities, and the common law of nature, that death was not far distant. To be thought beautiful, young, and agile, and an object of amorous affection, to the last moment of her existence, seems to have been her chief ambition as a woman; nor could any language on these topics, when addressed to her, be too complimentary, amatory, or glowing. When sixty years of age, Raleigh thus speaks of her, in a letter intended for her perusal:"I that was wont to see her riding like Alexander, hunting like Diana, walking like Venus, the gentle wind blowing her fair hair about her pure cheeks, like a nymph, sometimes sitting in the shade, like a goddess, sometimes singing like an angel, sometimes playing like Orpheus; behold the sorrow of this world! once amiss hath bereaved me of all;" and when sixty-eight, Lord Mountjoy, Lord Deputy of Ireland, thus addresses her:"When I have done all that I can, the uttermost effects of my labours doe appeare so little to my own zeale to doe more, that I am often ashamed to present them unto your faire and royall eyes. I beseeche your Majestie to thinke, that in a matter of so great importance, my affection will not suffer me to commit so grosse a fault against your service, as to doe any thing, for the which I am not able to give you a very good account, the which, above all things, I desire to do at your owne royall feete, and that your service here, may give me leave to fill my eyes with their onely deere and desired object."S It was at the same advanced period

[ocr errors]

Vide Gifford's Massinger, vol. iv. pp. 43, 44, note ex Autog. in Bibl. Harl.

Illustrations, vol. i. p. 94.—Mr. Douce gives the title-pages of several publications of this kind, in 1588, 1591, 1598, and 1599; and, lastly, describes one called "The needles excellency," illustrated with copper-plates, and adds,-" prefixed to the patterns are sundry poems in commendation of the needle, and describing the characters of ladies who have been eminent for their skill in needle-work, among which are Queen Elizabeth and the Countess of Pembroke. These poems were composed by John Taylor, the water poet. It appears that the work (in 1640) had gone through twelve impressions, and yet a copy is now scarcely to be met with. This may be accounted for by supposing that such books were generally cut to pieces, and used by women to work upon or transfer to their samplers.-It appears to have been originally published in the reign of James the First." P. 96.

Chalmers's Apology, p. 45, from Murden, p. 657. § Moryson's Itinerary, p, 233.

« PreviousContinue »