Page images

established towards the latter end of the sixteenth century; for Gilbert Talbot, writing to his father, the Earl of Shrewsbury, on May the 15th, 1579, after informing His Lordship, that the matter af the Queen's marriage with Monsieur "is growne very colde," subjoins," and yet I know a man may take a thousande pounds, in this towne, to be bounde to pay doble so muche when Mons. cumethe into Inglande, and treble so muche when he marryethe the Q. Ma"., and if he nether doe the one nor the other, to gayne the thousande poundes cleare."

Duelling, at this period, from its frequency, had given rise to a complicated system of rules for its regulation, and to fixed schools for its practice and improvement. The "Noble Science of Defence," as it was called, included three degrees, a Master's, a Provost's, and a Scholar's, and for each of these a regular prize was played. In order, also, to obviate disputes, "four Ancient Masters of Defence" were constituted, who resided in the city of London," and to whom not only difficult points of honour were referred, but tribute was likewise paid by all inferior professors of the science.

Nor were books wanting to explain, and to adjust, the causes and the modes of quarrelling. Of these the two most celebrated were written by Saviolo and Caranza, authors who are repeatedly mentioned by Shakspeare, Jonson, and Fletcher. The absurd minuteness of Saviolo's treatise, entitled, "Of Honour and honourable Quarrels," 4to, 1595, has been ridiculed with exquisite humour in As You Like It, where Touchstone says

"O sir, we quarrel in print, by the book ;-we met, and found the quarrel was upon the seventh


Jaq. How did you find the quarrel on the seventh cause?

Touch. Upon a lie seven times removed;-as thus: I did dislike the cut of a certain courtier's beard; he sent me word, if I said his beard was not cut well, he was in the mind it was: This is called the Retort courteous. If I sent him word again, it was not well cut, he would send me word, he cut it to please himself: This is called the Quip modest. If again, it was not well cut, he disabled my judgment: This is call d the Reply churlish. If again, it was not well cut, he would answer, I spake not true: This is call'd the Reproof valiant. If again, it was not well cut, he would say, I lie: This is call'd the Countercheck quarrelsome: and so to the Lie circumstantial, and the Lie direct-All these you may avoid, but the lie direct; and you may avoid that too, with an If. I knew when seven justices could not take up a quarrel; but when the parties were met themselves, one of them thought but of an If, as, If you said so, then I said so; and they shook hands, and swore brothers. Your If is the only peace-maker; much virtue in If."-Act v. sc. 4.

Nor is this much exaggerated; for Saviolo has a chapter on the Diversity of Lies, and enumerates the "Lie certain," the "conditional Lie," the "Lie in general," the "Lie in particular," the "foolish Lie," and the "returning back of the Lie."

A taste for gossiping, as well amongst the male as female sex, was more than usually prevalent at this epoch. An anonymous writer of 1620, speaking of male gossips, describes their trifling and vexatiously intrusive manners, in a way which leads us to conclude, that the evil was severely felt, and of great magnitude :

"It is a wonder," says he, "to see what multitudes there be of all sorts that make this their only business, and in a manner spend their whole time in compliment; as if they were born to no other end, bred to no other purpose, had nothing else to do, than to be a kind of living walking ghosts, to haunt and persecute others with unnecessary observation.—

"If these giddy goers be forced to give a reason for their wheeling up and down the streets, their answer is, they know not else how to pass their time. And how tedious it is, for a man that accounts his hours, to be subject to these vacancies, and apply bimself to lose a day with such time-passers; who neither come for business, nor out of true friendship, but only to spend the day; as if one had nothing else to do, but to supply their idle time!-

"After they have asked you how you do, and told some old or fabulous news, laughed twice or thrice in your face, and censured those they know you love not (when, peradventure, the next place they go to, is to them-where they will be as courteous to you); spoke a few words of fashions and alterations ;-made legs and postures of the last editlon; with three or four diminutive oaths and protestations of their service and observance; they then retire."

The diminutive oaths, mentioned at the close of this quotation, were, unfortu

nately, considered as ornaments of conversation, and adopted by both sexes, in order to give spirit and vivacity to their language; a shocking practice, which seems to have been rendered fashionable by the very reprehensible habit of the Queen, whose oaths were neither diminutive nor rare; for it is said, that she never spared an oath in public speech or private conversation when she thought it added energy to either. After this example in the highest classes, we need not be surprised when Stubbes tells us, speaking of the great body of the people, that, "if they speake but three or four words, yet they must be interlaced with a bloudie

oath or two."

These abominable expletives appear to have formed no small share of the language of compliment, a species of simulation which was carried to an extraordinary height in the days of our poet: thus Marston, describing the finished gallant, says,

[blocks in formation]

Decker, apostrophising the courtiers of his day, and playing upon a term of Guido's musical scale, exclaims, "You courtiers, that do nothing but sing the gamut A-Re of complimental courtesy ;" and Shakspeare, painting this

66 sweet, sweet poison for the age's tooth,

represents the Bastard in his King John, thus addressing a travelled fop:

[blocks in formation]

"What a deal of

synamon and ginger is sacrificed to dissimulation," observes Sir William Cornwallis in 1601. O, how blessed do I take mine eyes for presenting me with this sight! O Signior, the star that governs my life is contentment, give me leave to interre myself in your arms! Not so, sir, it is too unworthy an inclosure to contain such preciousness," &c. This, and a cup of drink, makes the time as fit for a departure as can be."‡

A peculiar species of compliment existed among the scientific and literary characters of our author's times, in permitting those who looked up to them with reverence and esteem, to address them by the endearing appellation of Father; adopting them, in fact, as their literary offspring, and designating them, in their works, by the title of sons. In conformity with this custom, Ben Jonson adopted not less than twelve or fourteen persons for his sons, among whom were, Cartright, Randolph, Brome, etc. ; and the practice continued to be observed until the end of the seventeenth century; for in 1676, Charles Cotton dedicated his Complete Angler to his "most worthy father and friend, Mr. Izaak Walton, the elder;" and says in the body of his work, "he gives me leave to call him Father, and I hope is not yet ashamed of his Adopted Son."

This complimental paternity Shakspeare has introduced in his Troilus and Cressida, where Ajax, addressing Nestor, says, "Shall I call you father?" to which the venerable Grecian replies, "Ay, my good son.'

[ocr errors]

To this sketch of manners, we shall add a brief account of some customs, which

Scourge of Villanie, 1599. book ii. sat. 7.

+ Gull's Horn-book, p. 15.

Essayes by Sir William Cornwallyes, Essay 28.


more peculiarly belong to the province of Police, commencing with the inaugural ceremonies attendant on the Lord Mayor's entrance on the duties of his office. The pageantry and magnificence which once accompanied this periodical assumption of power, may be estimated from the following description, taken from a manuscript written in 1575:

"The day of St. Simon and Jude he (the Mayor) entreth into his estate and offyce: and the next daie following he goeth by water to Westmynster, in most tryumphlyke manner. His barge beinge garnished with the armes of the citie: and nere the sayd barge goeth a shyppbote of the Queenes Matie, beinge trymed upp, and rigged lyke a shippe of warre, with dyvers peces of ordinance, standards, penons, and targetts of the proper armes of the sayd Mayor, the armes of the Citie, of his company; and of the maurchaunts adventurers, or of the staple, or of the company of the newe trades; next before hym goeth the barge of the lyvery of his owne company, decked with their owne proper armes, then the bachelers barge, and so all the companies in London, in order, every one havinge their owne proper barge garnished with the armes of their company. And so passinge alonge the Thamise, landeth at Westmynster, where he taketh his othe in Thexcheker, before the judge there (which is one of the chiefe judges of England), which done, he returneth by water as afforsayd, and landeth at Powles wharfe, where he and the rest of the Aldermen take their horses, and in great pompe passe through the greate streete of the citie, called Cheapside. And fyrste of all cometh ij great estandarts, one having the armes of the citie, and the other the armes of the Mayor's company: next them ij drommes and a flute, then an ensign of the citie, and then about Ixx or Ixxx poore men marchinge ij and two togeather in blewe gownes, with redd sleeves and capps, every one bearinge a pyke and a target, wheron is paynted the armes of all them that have byn Mayor of the same company that this newe mayor is of. Then ij banners, one of the kynges armes, the other of the Mayor's owne proper armes. Then a sett of hautboits playinge, and after them certayne wyfflers, in velvett cotes, and chaynes of golde, with white staves in their handes, then the pageant of tryumphe rychly decked, whereuppon by certayne fygures and wrytinges, some matter touchinge justice, and the office of a maiestrate is represented. Then xvj trumpeters, viij and viij in a company, havinge banners of the Mayor's company. Then certayne wyfllers in velvet cotes and chaynes, with white staves as aforesayde. Then the bachelers ij and two together, in longe gownen, with crymson hoodes on their shoulders of sattyn; which bachelers are chosen every yeare of the same company that the Mayor is of (but not of the lyvery), and serve as gentlemen on that and other festivall daies, to wayte on the Mayor, beinge in nomber accordinge to the quantetie of the company, sometimes sixty or one hundred. After them xij trompeters more, with banners of the Mayor's company, then the dromme and flute of the citie, and an ensigne of the Mayor's company, and after, the waytes of the citie in blewe gownes, redd sleeves and cappes, every one havinge his silver coller about his neck. of the liverey in their longe gownes, every one havinge his hood on his lefte shoulder, halfe black and halfe redd, the nomber of them is accordinge to the greatnes of the companye whereof they Then they are. After them followe Sheriffes officers, and then the Mayor's officers, with other officers of the citie, as the comon sargent, and the chamberlayne; next before the Mayor goeth the swordbearer, having on his headd the cappe of honor, and the sworde of the citie in his right hande, in a riche skabarde, sett with pearle, and on his left hand goeth the comon cryer of the citie, with his great mace on his shoulder, all gilt. lefte shoulder, a hood of black velvet, and a riche coller of gold of SS. about his necke, and with The Mayor hathe on a long gowne of skarlet, and on his him rydeth the olde Mayor also, in his skarlet gowne, hood of velvet, and a chayne of golde about his neck. Then all the Aldermen ij and ij together (amongst whom is the Recorder), all in skarlet gownes; and those that have byn Mayors, have chaynes of gold, the other have black velvett tippetts. The ij Shereffes come last of all, in their black skarlet gownes and chaynes of golde.

"In this order they passe alonge through the citie, to the Guyldhall, where they dyne that daie, to the number of 1000 persons, all at the charge of the Mayor and the ij shereffes. costeth 4007., whereof the Mayor payeth 2007., and eche of the Shereffes 1001. Immediately after dyner, they go to the churche of St. Paule, every one of the aforesaid poore men, bearrynge staffe This feast torches and targetts, whiche torches are lighted when it is late, before they come from evenynge prayer.

Had the police of the city been as strictly regulated, as were the ceremonies

A breffe description of the Royall Citie of London, capitall citie of this realme of England. (City arms.) Wrytten by me William Smythe citezen and baberdasher of London, 1575." MS. says Mr. Haslewood, “forms a quarto volume of moderate thickness, and was intended for publication.” -British Bibliographer, vol. i. p. 539–542, "This compilation,

attending the inauguration of its chief magistrate, the inhabitants of London, in Queen Elizabeth's days, would have had little cause of complaint, with regard to personal protection; but, though the Statutes of the Streets were numerous and rigid, and sometimes ridiculously minute, for No. 22 enacts, that "no man shall blowe any horne in the night, within this citie, or whistle after the houre of nyne of the clock in the night, under paine of imprisonment," yet they were so ill executed, that, even in the day-time, disturbances of the most atrocious kind were deemed matters of common occurrence. Thus Gilbert Talbot and his wife, writing to the Earl and Countess of Shrewsbury, consider the following acts of violence as trifling matters:

"On Thursday laste (Feb. 13th, 1587), as my Lorde Rytche was rydynge in the streates, there was one Wyndam that stode in a dore, and shotte a dagge at him, thynkynge to have slayne him; but Cod provyded so for my L. Rytche, that this Wyndam apoyntynge his servante y' mornynge to charge his dagge with 11 bulletts, the fellow, doubtinge he mente to doe sum myschefe wth it, charged it only wth powder and paper, and no bullett; and so this L's lyfe was thereby saved, for otherwyse he had beene slayne. Wyndam was presently taken by my L. Rytche's men, and, beynge broughte before the Counsell, confessed his intende, but the cause of his quarrell I knowe not; but he is comytted to the Towre. The same daye, also, as S John Conway was goynge in the streetes, Mr Lodovyke Grevell came sodenly uppon him, and stroke him on the hedd with a sworde, and but for one of St John Conway's men, who warded the blow, he had cutt of his legges; yet did be hurte him sumwhat on bothe his shynns: The Councell sente for Lodovyko Grevell, and have comytted him to the Marchallcye. I am forced to trouble yo Honors with theses tryflynge matters, for I know no greater."

Yet a sufficient number of watchmen, constables, and justices of the peace was not wanting. Of these, the first were armed with halberds, which, in Shakspeare's time, were called bills, and they usually carried a lanthorn in one hand, and sometimes a bell in the other, resting the halberd on the shoulder.† Notwithstanding these official characters, however, the peace of the city was frequently more effectually preserved by the interference of the apprentices, than by that of the appointed guardians of public order; for it appears, from Shakspeare's dramas, that the cry of Clubs! was a signal for the apprentices to arm themselves with these weapons, and quell the disturbance. Thus in King Henry the Eighth (act v. sc. 3), the Porter's man says:-"I hit that woman who cried out, clubs! when I might see from far some forty truncheoneers draw to her succour, which were the hope of the Strand;" and in Henry the Sixth, Part the First, even the Mayor of London is represented, on occasion of a quarrel between the partizans of the Duke of Gloucester and the Cardinal of Winchester, as threatening to call in similar assistance :

"I'll call for clubs, if you will not away."-Act i. sc. 3.

We cannot wonder that the inferior officers of the Police should be slack in the performance of their duty, when we recollect, that the Justices of the Peace, in these days, especially those resident in the metropolis, were so open to bribery, that many of them obtained the appellation of Basket Justices; nor did a member of the House of Commons hesitate, during the reign of Elizabeth, to describe a justice of the peace as "an animal who for half a dozen of chickens would readily dispense with a dozen penal laws."‡

Many customs of a miscellaneous nature might with ease be extracted from the dramas of our poet; but to give them any relative bearing or concatenation would be nearly impossible, and a totally insulated detail of minute circumstances would prove tedious to the most persevering reader. Enough, we trust, has been collected to throw no feeble light on the general manners and modes of living, of


Lodge Illustrations, vol. ii. p. 206.

The costume of the Watchman is thus represented in the title-page to Decker's "O per se O," &c. 4to. 1612. D'Ewes's Journals of Parliament, in Queen Elizabeth's Reign, p. 661, 664.

the period under consideration, especially if it be recollected that the full picture is to be formed from a combination of this with the similar chapter, in a former part of the work, on the costume of rural life.


On the Diversions of the Metropolis, and the Court-The Stage; its Usages and Economy.

Or the diversions of the metropolis and court, some were peculiar, and some were shared in common with the country. "The country hath his recreations," observes Burton, "the city his several Gymnicks and exercises, feasts and merry meetings."-"What so pleasant as to see some Pageant or sight go by, as at Coronations, Weddings, and such like solemnities, to see an Embassadour or a Prince met, received, entertained, with Maskes, Shews, Fireworks, etc,:* and an old dramatic poet, of 1590, gives us a still more copious list of town amusements:


Let nothing that's magnifical,

Or that may tend to London's graceful state,
Be unperform'd, as showes and solemne feastes,
Watches in armour, triumphes cresset, lights,
Bonefires, belles, and peales of ordinaunce
And pleasure. See that plaies be published,
Mai-games and maskes, with mirth and minstrelsie,

Pageants and school-feastes, beares and puppet-plaies.†

"Every palace," continues Burton, "every city almost, hath his peculiar walks, cloysters, terraces, groves, theatres, pageants, games, and several recreations;" and we purpose, in this chapter, giving some account of the leading articles thus enumerated, but more particularly of the stage, as being peculiarly connected with the design and texture of our work.

As the principal object, therefore, of the present discussion will be the amusements usually appropriated to the capital; those which it has in common with the country shall be first enumerated, though in a more superficial way.

Of these, card-playing seems to have been as universal in the days of Elizabeth, as in modern times, and carried on, too, with the same ruinous consequences to property and morals; for though Stowe tells us, when commemorating the customs of London, that "from All-Hallows eve to the day following Candlemasday, there was, among other sports, playing at cards for counters, nails, and points, in every house, more for pastime than for gain," yet we learn from contemporary satirists, from Gosson, Stubbes, and Northbrooke, that all ranks, and especially the upper classes, were incurably addicted to gaming in the pursuit of this amusement, which they considered equally as seductive and pernicious as dice.

The games at cards peculiar to this period, and now obsolete, are, 1. Primero, supposed to be the most ancient game of cards in England. It was very fashionable in the age of Shakspeare, who represents Henry the Eighth playing "at primero with the duke of Suffolk;" (Act. v. sc. 1.) and Falstaff exclaiming in

Anatomie of Melancholy, fol. 8th edit. p. 171, col. i.

"The Pleasant and Stately Morall of the Three Lordes and Three Ladies of London," &c. London, 1590. Vide Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, Introduct., p. xxviii.; and Beloe's Anecdotes of Literature, vol.i. p. 350, 351. Anatomic of Melancholy, p. 172. col. i.

[ocr errors]

"Schoole of Abuse," "Anatomie of Abuses," and "Treatise againt Diceing, Card-playing" &c.

« PreviousContinue »