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Title: Shakspeare and His Times [Vol. I. of II.] - Including the Biography of the Poet; criticisms on his - genius and writings; a new chronology of his plays; a - disquisition on the on the object of his sonnets; and a - history of - the manners, customs, and amusements, - superstitions, poetry, and elegant literature of his age
Author: Drake, Nathan
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Shakspeare and His Times [Vol. I. of II.] - Including the Biography of the Poet; criticisms on his - genius and writings; a new chronology of his plays; a - disquisition on the on the object of his sonnets; and a - history of - the manners, customs, and amusements, - superstitions, poetry, and elegant literature of his age" ***

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Transcriber's Notes: Words in italics in the original are surrounded
with _underscores_. Words in a Saxon font in the original are surrounded
with +plus+ signs. Words in blackletter in the original are surrounded
with =equal= signs. Characters superscripted in the original are
surrounded by {braces}. Ellipses match the original. In footnotes and
attributions, commas and periods seem to be used interchangeably. They
remain as printed. Variations in spelling, hyphenation, and accents
remain as in the original unless noted. A complete list of corrections
follows the text.

[Illustration: SHAKSPEARE.

Engraved by W. T. Fry after a Cast made by M{r}. George Bullock from the
Monumental Bust at Stratford-upon-Avon.]



                              HIS TIMES:

                      THE BIOGRAPHY OF THE POET;
                             A HISTORY OF

                         BY NATHAN DRAKE, M.D.

    Triumph my Britain! thou hast one to show,
    To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe.—
                 ————— Soul of the age,
    The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage,
    My Shakspeare, rise!                         BEN JONSON.

    The very age and body of the time, his form and pressure.

                           _IN TWO VOLUMES._

                                VOL. I.


                        Printed by A. Strahan,
                       Printers-Street, London.


Though two centuries have now elapsed, since the death of Shakspeare,
no attempt has hitherto been made to render him the medium for a
comprehensive and connected view of the Times in which he lived.

Yet, if any man be allowed to fill a station thus conspicuous
and important, Shakspeare has undoubtedly the best claim to the
distinction; not only from his pre-eminence as a dramatic poet, but
from the intimate relation which his works bear to the manners,
customs, superstitions, and amusements of his age.

Struck with the interest which a work of this kind, if properly
executed, might possess, the author was induced, several years ago, to
commence the undertaking, with the express intention of blending with
the detail of manners, &c. such a portion of criticism, biography, and
literary history, as should render the whole still more attractive and

In attempting this, it has been his aim to place Shakspeare in the
fore-ground of the picture, and to throw around him, in groups more or
less distinct and full, the various objects of his design; giving them
prominency and light, according to their greater or smaller connection
with the principal figure.

More especially has it been his wish, to infuse throughout the whole
plan, whether considered in respect to its entire scope, or to the
parts of which it is composed, that degree of unity and integrity, of
relative proportion and just bearing, without which neither harmony,
simplicity, nor effect, can be expected, or produced.

With a view, also, to distinctness and perspicuity of elucidation,
the whole has been distributed into three parts or pictures,
"SHAKSPEARE IN RETIREMENT;"—which, though inseparably united, as
forming but portions of the same story, and harmonized by the same
means, have yet, both in subject and execution, a peculiar character to

The _first_ represents our Poet in the days of his youth, on the
banks of his native Avon, in the midst of rural imagery, occupations,
and amusements; in the _second_, we behold him in the capital of his
country, in the centre of rivalry and competition, in the active
pursuit of reputation and glory; and in the _third_, we accompany the
venerated bard to the shades of retirement, to the bosom of domestic
peace, to the enjoyment of unsullied fame.

It has, therefore, been the business of the author, in accordancy
with his plan, to connect these delineations with their relative
accompaniments; to incorporate, for instance, with the first, what he
had to relate of the _country_, as it existed in the age of Shakspeare;
its manners, customs, and characters; its festivals, diversions, and
many of its superstitions; opening and closing the subject with the
biography of the poet, and binding the intermediate parts, not only
by a perpetual reference to his drama, but by their own constant and
direct tendency towards the developement of the one object in view.

With the _second_, which commences with Shakspeare's introduction to
the stage as an actor, is combined the poetic, dramatic, and general
literature of the times, together with an account of _metropolitan_
manners and diversions, and a full and continued criticism on the poems
and plays of our bard.

After a survey, therefore, of the Literary world, under the heads
of Bibliography, Philology, Criticism, History, Romantic, and
Miscellaneous Literature, follows a View of the Poetry of the same
period, succeeded by a critique on the juvenile productions of
Shakspeare, and including a biographical sketch of Lord Southampton,
and a new hypothesis on the origin and object of the Sonnets.

Of the immediately subsequent description of diversions, &c. the
Economy of the Stage forms a leading feature, as preparatory to a
History of Dramatic Poetry, previous to the year 1590; and this
is again introductory to a discussion concerning the Period when
Shakspeare commenced a writer for the theatre; to a new chronology
of his plays, and to a criticism on each drama; a department which
is interspersed with dissertations on the _fairy mythology_, the
_apparitions_, the _witchcraft_, and the _magic_ of Shakspeare;
portions of popular credulity which had been, in reference to this
distribution, omitted in detailing the superstitions of the country.

This second part is then terminated by a summary of Shakspeare's
dramatic character, by a brief view of dramatic poetry during his
connection with the stage, and by the biography of the poet to the
close of his residence in London.

The _third_ and last of these delineations is, unfortunately, but too
short, being altogether occupied with the few circumstances which
distinguish the last three years of the life of our bard, with a review
of his disposition and moral character, and with some notice of the
first tributes paid to his memory.

It will readily be admitted, that the materials for the greater part
of this arduous task are abundant; but it must also be granted, that
they are dispersed through a vast variety of distant and unconnected
departments of literature; and that to draw forth, arrange, and give a
luminous disposition to, these masses of scattered intelligence, is an
achievement of no slight magnitude, especially when it is considered,
that no step in the progress of such an undertaking can be made,
independent of a constant recurrence to authorities.

How far the author is qualified for the due execution of his design,
remains for the public to decide; but it may, without ostentation,
be told, that his leisure, for the last thirty years, has been, in a
great decree, devoted to a line of study immediately associated with
the subject; and that his attachment to old English literature has led
him to a familiarity with the only sources from which, on such a topic,
authentic illustration is to be derived.

He will likewise venture to observe, that, in the style of criticism
which he has pursued, it has been his object, an ambitious one it is
true, to unfold, in a manner more distinct than has hitherto been
effected, the peculiar character of the poet's drama; and, lastly, to
produce a work, which, while it may satisfy the poetical antiquary,
shall, from the variety, interest, and integrity of its component
parts, be equally gratifying to the general reader.

  _Hadleigh, Suffolk,
    April 7th, 1817._






  CHAP. I.

    Birth of Shakspeare — Account of his Family — Orthography
      of his Name.                                       _Page_ 1


    The House in which Shakspeare was born — Plague at Stratford,
      June 1564 — Shakspeare educated at the Free-school of
      Stratford — State of Education, and of Juvenile Literature
      in the Country at this period — Extent of Shakspeare's
      acquirements as a Scholar.                               21


    Shakspeare, after leaving School, follows his Father's Trade
      — Statement of Aubrey — Probably present in his Twelfth
      Year at Kenelworth, when Elizabeth visited the Earl of
      Leicester — Tradition of Aubrey concerning him — Whether
      there is reason to suppose that, after leaving his Father,
      he was placed in an Attorney's Office, who was likewise
      Seneschal or Steward of some Manor — Anecdotes of
      Shakspeare — Allusions in his Works to Barton, Wilnecotte,
      and Barston, Villages in Warwickshire — Earthquake in
      1580 alluded to — Whether, after leaving School, he
      acquired any Knowledge of the French and Italian
      languages.                                               34


    Shakspeare married to Anne Hathaway — Account of the Hathaways
      — Cottage at Shottery — Birth of his eldest Child,
      Susanna — Hamnet and Judith baptized — Anecdote of
      Shakspeare — Shakspeare apparently settled in the
      Country.                                                 59

  CHAP. V.

    A View of Country-Life during the Age of Shakspeare — Its
      _Manners and Customs_ — Rural Characters; the
      Country-Gentleman — the Country-Coxcomb — the
      Country-Clergyman — the Country-Schoolmaster — the Farmer
      or Yeoman, his Mode of Living — the Huswife, her Domestic
      Economy — the Farmer's Heir — the Poor Copyholder — the
      Downright Clown, or Plain Country-Boor.                  68


    A View of Country-Life during the Age of Shakspeare — _Manners
      and Customs continued_ — Rural Holidays and Festivals;
      New-Year's Day — Twelfth Day — Rock-Day — Plough-Monday
      — Shrove-tide — Easter-tide — Hock-tide — May-Day —
      Whitsuntide — Ales; Leet-ale — Lamb-ale — Bride-ale —
      Clerk-ale — Church-ale — Whitsun-ale — Sheep-shearing
      Feast — Candlemas-Day — Harvest-Home — Seed-cake Feast
      — Martinmas — Christmas.                              123


    A View of Country-Life during the Age of Shakspeare — _Manners
      and Customs_, continued — Wakes — Fairs — Weddings —
      Christenings — Burials.                                209


    View of Country-Life during the Age of Shakspeare, continued —
      _Diversions_ — The Itinerant Stage — Cotswold Games —
      Hawking — Hunting — Fowling — Fishing — Horse-racing —
      The Quintaine — The Wild-goose Chase — Hurling —
      Shovel-board — Juvenile Sports — Barley-breake —
      Parish-Top.                                             246


    View of Country-Life during the Age of Shakspeare, continued
      — An Account of some of its _Superstitions_; Winter-Night's
      Conversation — Peculiar Periods devoted to Superstition —
      St. Paul's Day — St. Swithen's Day — St. Mark's Day —
      Childermas — St. Valentine's Day — Midsummer-Eve —
      Michaelmas — All Hallow-Eve — St. Withold — Omens —
      Charms — Sympathies — Superstitious Cures — Miscellaneous
      Superstitions.                                          314

  CHAP. X.

    Biography of Shakspeare resumed — His Irregularities —
      Deer-stealing in Sir Thomas Lucy's Park — Account of the
      Lucy family — Daisy-hill, the Keeper's Lodge, where
      Shakspeare was confined, on the Charge of stealing Deer —
      Shakspeare's Revenge — Ballad on Lucy — Severe Prosecution
      by Sir Thomas — never forgotten by Shakspeare — this
      Cause, and probably also Debt, as his Father was now in
      reduced Circumstances, induced him to leave the Country for
      London about 1586 — Remarks on this Removal.           401



  CHAP. I.

    Shakspeare's Arrival in London about the Year 1586, when
      twenty-two Years of Age — Leaves his Family at Stratford,
      visiting them occasionally — His Introduction to the Stage
      — His Merits as an Actor.                              413


    Shakspeare commences a Writer of Poetry, probably about the
      year 1587, by the composition of his Venus and Adonis —
      Historical Outline of Polite Literature, during the Age of
      Shakspeare — General passion for Letters — Bibliography
      — Shakspeare's Attachment to Books — Philology —
      Criticism — Shakspeare's Progress in both — History,
      general, local, and personal, Shakspeare's Acquaintance with
      — Miscellaneous Literature.                            426


    View of Romantic Literature during the Age of Shakspeare —
      Shakspeare's Attachment to, and Use of, Romances, Tales,
      and Ballads.                                            518


    View of Miscellaneous Poetry during the same period.      594

[Illustration: _Five genuine Autographs of Shakspeare_

_N{o}. 1 is from Shakspeare's Mortgage 1612-13._

      _2 is from M{r}. Malone's plate II. N{o}. X._

      _3 is from the first brief of Shakspeare's Will._

      _4 is from the second brief of the Will._

      _5 is from the third brief of the Will._]






William Shakspeare, the object almost of our idolatry as a dramatic
poet, was born at Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire, on the 23d of
April, 1564, and he was baptized on the 26th of the same month.

Of his family, not much that is certain can be recorded; but it would
appear, from an instrument in the College of Heralds, confirming
the grant of a coat of arms to John Shakspeare in 1599, that his
great grandfather had been rewarded by Henry the Seventh, "for his
faithefull and approved service, with lands and tenements given to
him in those parts of Warwickshire, where," proceeds this document,
"they have continued by some descents in good reputation and credit."
Notwithstanding this assertion, however, no such grant, after a minute
examination, made by Mr. Malone in the chapel of the Rolls, has been
discovered; whence we have reason to infer, that the heralds have been
mistaken in their statement, and that the bounty of the monarch was
directed through a different channel. From the language, indeed, of two
rough draughts of a prior grant of arms to John Shakspeare in 1596,
it is probable that the service alluded to was of a military cast, for
it is there expressly said, that he was rewarded "for his faithful and
_valiant_ service," a term, perhaps, implying the heroism of our poet's
ancestor in the field of Bosworth.

That the property, thus bestowed upon the family of Shakspeare,
descended to John, the father of the poet, and contributed to his
influence and respectability, there is no reason to doubt. From the
register, indeed, and public writings relating to Stratford, Mr.
Rowe has justly inferred, that the Shakspeares were of good figure
and fashion there, and were considered as gentlemen. We may presume,
however, that the patrimony of Mr. John Shakspeare, the parent of our
great dramatist, was not very considerable, as he found the profits of
business necessary to his support. He was, in fact, a wool-stapler,
and, there is reason to suppose, in a large way; for he was early
chosen a member of the corporation of his town, a situation usually
connected with respectable circumstances, and soon after, he filled the
office of high bailiff or chief magistrate of that body. The record of
these promotions has been thus given from the books of the corporation.

"Jan. 10, in the 6th year of the reign of our sovereign lady Queen
Elizabeth, John Shakspeare passed his Chamberlain's accounts."

"At the Hall holden the eleventh day of September, in the eleventh year
of the reign of our sovereign lady Elizabeth, 1569, were present Mr.
John Shakspeare, High Bailiff."[2:A]

It was during the period of his filling this important office, that
he first obtained a grant of arms; and, in a note annexed to the
subsequent patent of 1596, now in the College of Arms[2:B], it is
stated that he was likewise a justice of the peace, and possessed of
lands and tenements to the amount of 500_l._ The final confirmation
of this grant took place in 1599, in which his shield and coat are
described to be, _In a field of gould upon a bend sable, a speare of
the first, the poynt upward, hedded argent_; and for his crest or
cognisance, _A falcon with his wyngs displayed, standing on a wrethe of
his coullers, supporting a speare armed hedded, or steeled sylver_.[3:A]

Mr. John Shakspeare married, though in what year is not accurately
known, the daughter and heir of Robert Arden, of Wellingcote, in the
county of Warwick, who is termed, in the Grant of Arms of 1596, "a
gentleman of worship." The Arden, or Ardern family, appears to have
been of considerable antiquity; for, in Fuller's Worthies, Rob. Arden
de Bromwich, ar. is among the names of the gentry of this county
returned by the commissioners in the twelfth year of King Henry the
Sixth, 1433; and in the eleventh and sixteenth years of Elizabeth, A.
D. 1562 and 1568, Sim. Ardern, ar. and Edw. Ardrn, ar. are enumerated,
by the same author, among the sheriffs of Warwickshire.[3:B] It is well
known that the woodland part of this county was formerly denominated
Ardern, though, for the sake of euphony, frequently softened towards
the close of the sixteenth century, into the smoother appellation of
Arden; hence it is not improbable, that the supposition of Mr. Jacob,
who reprinted, in 1770, the Tragedy of Arden of Feversham, a play
which was originally published in 1592, may be correct; namely that
Shakspeare, the poet, was _descended by the female line_ from the
unfortunate individual whose tragical death is the subject of this
drama; for though the name of this gentleman was originally Ardern, he
seems early to have experienced the fate of the county district, and to
have had his surname harmonized by a similar omission. In consequence
of this marriage, Mr. John Shakspeare and his posterity were allowed,
by the College of Heralds, to impale their arms with the ancient arms
of the Ardrns of Wellingcote.[3:C]

Of the issue of John Shakspeare by this connection, the accounts
are contradictory and perplexed; nor is it absolutely ascertained,
whether he had only one wife, or whether he might not have had two,
or even three. Mr. Rowe, whose narrative has been usually followed,
has given him _ten_ children, among whom he considers _William_ the
poet, as the _eldest_ son.[4:A] The Register, however, of the parish
of Stratford-upon-Avon, which commences in 1558, is incompatible with
this statement; for, we there find _eleven_ children ascribed to John
Shakspeare, _ten_ baptized, and _one_, the baptism of which had taken
place before the commencement of the Register, buried.[4:B] The dates
of these baptisms, and of two or three other events, recorded in
this Register, it will be necessary, for the sake of elucidation, to

    "_Jone_, daughter of John Shakspere, was baptized Sept. 15,

    "_Margaret_, daughter of John Shakspere, was buried April 30,

    "WILLIAM, son of John Shakspere, was baptized April 26, 1564.

    "_Gilbert_, son of John Shakspere, was baptized Oct. 3, 1566.

    "_Jone_[4:C], daughter of John Shakspere, was baptized April
    15, 1569.

    "_Anne_, daughter of Mr. John Shakspere, was baptized Sept. 28,

    "_Richard_, son of Mr. John Shakspere, was baptized March 11,

    "_Edmund_, son of Mr. John Shakspere, was baptized May 3, 1580.

    "_John Shakspere_ and Margery Roberts were married Nov. 25,

    "_Margery_, wife of John Shakspere, was buried Oct. 29, 1587.

    "_Ursula_, daughter of John Shakspere, was baptized March 11,

    "_Humphrey_, son of John Shakspere, was baptized May 24, 1590.

    "_Philip_, son of John Shakspere, was baptized Sept. 21, 1591.

    "Mr. _John Shakspere_ was buried Sept. 8, 1601.

    "_Mary Shakspere_, widow, was buried Sept. 9, 1608."

Now it is evident, that if the ten children which were baptized,
according to this Register, between the years 1558 and 1591, are to
be ascribed to the father of our poet, he must necessarily have had
_eleven_, in consequence of the record of the decease of his daughter
Margaret. He must also have had three wives, for we find his second
wife, Margery, died in 1587, and the death of a third, Mary, a widow,
is noticed in 1608.

It was suggested to Mr. Malone[5:A], that very probably, Mr. John
Shakspeare had a son born to him, as well as a daughter, before the
commencement of the Register, and that this his eldest son, was, as is
customary, named after his father, John; a supposition which, (as no
other child was baptized by the Christian name of the old gentleman,)
carries some credibility with it, and was subsequently acquiesced in by
Mr. Malone himself.

In this case, therefore, the marriage recorded in the Register, is that
of John Shakspeare the _younger_ with Margery Roberts, and the three
children born between 1588 and 1591, Ursula, Humphrey, and Philip, the
issue of this John, not by the first, but by a second marriage; for as
Margery Shakspeare died in 1587, and Ursula was baptized in 1588-9,
these children must have been by the Mary Shakspeare, whose death is
mentioned as occurring in 1608, and as she is there denominated a
_widow_; the younger John must consequently have died before that date.

The result of _this_ arrangement will be, that the father of our poet
had only _nine_ children, and that WILLIAM was not the eldest, but the
_second_ son.

On either plan, however, the account of Mr. Rowe is equally inaccurate;
and as the introduction of an elder son involves a variety of
suppositions, and at the same time nothing improbable is attached to
the consideration of this part of the Register in the light in which it
usually appears, that is, as allusive solely to the father, it will,
we think, be the better and the safer mode, to rely upon it, according
to its more direct and literal import. This determination will be
greatly strengthened by reflecting, that old Mr. Shakspeare was, on the
authority of the last instrument granting him a coat of arms, living
in 1599; that on the testimony of the Register, taken in the common
acceptation, he was not buried until September 1601; and that in no
part of the same document is the epithet _younger_ annexed to the name
of John Shakspeare, a mark of distinction which there is every reason
to suppose would have been introduced, had the father and a son of the
same Christian name been not only living at the same time in the same
town, but the latter likewise a parent.

That the circumstances of Mr. John Shakspeare were, at the period
of his marriage, and for several years afterwards, if not affluent,
yet easy and respectable, there is every reason to suppose, from
his having filled offices of the first trust and importance in his
native town; but, from the same authority which has induced us to draw
this inference, another of a very different kind, with regard to a
subsequent portion of his life, may with equal confidence be taken. In
the books of the corporation of Stratford it is stated, that—

"At the hall holden Nov. 19th, in the 21st year of the reign of our
sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth, it is ordained, that every Alderman
shall be taxed to pay weekly 4_d._, saving _John Shakspeare_ and Robert
Bruce, who shall not be taxed to pay any thing; and every burgess to
pay 2_d._" Again,

"At the hall holden on the 6th day of September, in the 28th year of
our sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth:

"At this hall William Smith and Richard Courte are chosen to be
Aldermen in the places of John Wheler and John Shakspeare, for that Mr.
Wheler doth desire to be put out of the company, and Mr. Shakspeare
doth not come to the halls, when they be warned, nor hath not done of
long time."[6:A]

The conclusion to be drawn from these memoranda must unavoidably be,
that, in 1579, ten years after he had served the office of High
Bailiff, his situation, in a pecuniary light, was so much reduced,
that, on this account, he was excused the weekly payment of 4_d._; and
that, in 1586, the same distress still subsisting, and perhaps in an
aggravated degree, he was, on the plea of non-attendance, dismissed the

The causes of this unhappy change in his circumstances cannot now,
with the exception of the burthen of a large and increasing family, be
ascertained; but it is probable, that to this period is to be referred,
if there be any truth in the tradition, the report of Aubrey, that
"William Shakspeare's father was a butcher." This anecdote, he affirms,
was received from the neighbours of the bard, and, on this account,
merits some consideration.[7:A]

We are indebted to Mr. Howe for the first intimation concerning the
trade of John Shakspeare; his declaration, derived also from tradition,
that he was a "considerable dealer in wool," appears confirmed by
subsequent research. From a window in a room of the premises which
originally formed part of the house at Stratford, in which Shakspeare
the poet was born, and a part of which premises has for many years been
occupied as a public-house, with the sign of the Swan and Maidenhead,
a pane of glass was taken, about five and forty years ago, by Mr.
Peyton, the then master of the adjoining Inn called The White Lion.
This pane, now in the possession of his son, is nearly six inches in
diameter, and perfect, and on it are painted the arms of the merchants
of the wool-staple—_Nebule on a chief gules, a lion passant or_. It
appears, from the style in which it is finished, to have been executed
about the time of Shakspeare, the father, and is undoubtedly a strong
corroborative proof of the authenticity of Mr. Rowe's relation.[7:B]

These traditionary anecdotes, though apparently contradictory, may
easily admit of reconcilement, if we consider, that between the
employment of a wool-dealer, and a butcher, there is no small affinity;
"few occupations," observes Mr. Malone, "can be named which are more
naturally connected with each other."[8:A] It is highly probable,
therefore, that during the period of John Shakspeare's distress, which
we know to have existed in 1579, when our poet was but fifteen years of
age, he might have had recourse to this more humble trade, as in many
circumstances connected with his customary business, and as a great
additional means of supporting a very numerous family.

That the necessity for this union, however, did not exist towards the
latter part of his life, there is much reason to imagine, both from the
increasing reputation and affluence of his son William, and from the
fact of his applying to the College of Heralds, in 1596 and 1599, for
a grant of arms; events, of which the first, considering the character
of the poet, must almost necessarily have led to, and the second
directly pre-supposes, the possession of comparative competence and

The only remaining circumstance which time has spared us, relative to
the personal conduct of John Shakspeare, is, that there appears some
foundation to believe that, a short time previous to his death, he
made a confession of his faith, or spiritual will; a document still
in existence, the discovery and history of which, together with the
declaration itself, will not improperly find a place at the close of
this commencing chapter of our work.

About the year 1770, a master-bricklayer, of the name of Mosely, being
employed by Mr. Thomas Hart, the fifth in descent, in a direct line,
from the poet's sister, Joan Hart, to new-tile the house in which he
then lived, and which is supposed to be that under whose roof the bard
was born, found hidden between the rafters and the tiling of the house,
a manuscript, consisting of six leaves, stitched together, in the
form of a small book. This manuscript Mosely, who bore the character
of an honest and industrious man, gave (without asking or receiving
any recompense) to Mr. Peyton, an alderman of Stratford; and this
gentleman very kindly sent it to Mr. Malone, through the medium of
the Rev. Mr. Davenport, vicar of Stratford. It had, however, previous
to this transmission, unfortunately been deprived of the first leaf,
a deficiency which was afterwards supplied by the discovery, that
Mosely, who had now been dead about two years, had copied a great
portion of it, and from his transcription the introductory parts were
supplied.[9:A] The daughter of Mosely and Mr. Hart, who were both
living in the year 1790, agreed in a perfect recollection of the
circumstances attending the discovery of this curious document, which
consists of the following fourteen articles.


"In the name of God, the Father, Sonne and Holy Ghost, the most holy
and blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, the holy host of archangels,
angels, patriarchs, prophets, evangelists, apostles, saints, martyrs,
and all the celestial court and company of heaven: I John Shakspear,
an unworthy member of the holy Catholic religion, being at this my
present writing in perfect health of body, and sound mind, memory,
and understanding, but calling to mind the uncertainty of life and
certainty of death, and that I may be possibly cut off in the blossome
of my sins, and called to render an account of all my transgressions
externally and internally, and that I may be unprepared for the
dreadful trial either by sacrament, pennance, fasting, or prayer, or
any other purgation whatever, do in the holy presence above specified,
of my own free and voluntary accord, make and ordaine this my last
spiritual will, testament, confession, protestation, and confession of
faith, hopinge hereby to receive pardon for all my sinnes and offences,
and thereby to be made partaker of life everlasting, through the only
merits of Jesus Christ my saviour and redeemer, who took upon himself
the likeness of man, suffered death, and was crucified upon the crosse,
for the redemption of sinners.


"_Item_, I John Shakspear doe by this present protest, acknowledge,
and confess, that in my past life I have been a most abominable and
grievous sinner, and therefore unworthy to be forgiven without a true
and sincere repentance for the same. But trusting in the manifold
mercies of my blessed Saviour and Redeemer, I am encouraged by relying
on his sacred word, to hope for salvation, and be made partaker of
his heavenly kingdom, as a member of the celestial company of angels,
saints, and martyrs, there to reside for ever and ever in the court of
my God.


"_Item_, I John Shakspear doe by this present protest and declare,
that as I am certain I must passe out of this transitory life into
another that will last to eternity, I do hereby most humbly implore
and intreat my good and guardian angell to instruct me in this my
solemn preparation, protestation, and confession of faith, at least
spiritually, in will adoring and most humbly beseeching my Saviour,
that he will be pleased to assist me in so dangerous a voyage, to
defend me from the snares and deceites of my infernal enemies, and to
conduct me to the secure haven of his eternal blisse.


"_Item_, I John Shakspear doe protest that I will also passe out of
this life, armed with the last sacrament of extreme unction: the which
if through any let or hindrance I should not then be able to have,
I doe now also for that time demand and crave the same; beseeching
his Divine Majesty that he will be pleased to anoynt my senses both
internall and externall with the sacred oyle of his infinite mercy,
and to pardon me all my sins committed by seeing, speaking, feeling,
smelling, hearing, touching, or by any other way whatsoever.


"_Item_, I John Shakspear doe by this present protest, that I will
never through any temptation whatsoever despaire of the divine
goodness, for the multitude and greatness of my sinnes; for which,
although I confesse that I have deserved hell, yet will I steadfastly
hope in God's infinite mercy, knowing that he hath heretofore pardoned
many as great sinners as myself, whereof I have good warrant sealed
with his sacred mouth, in holy writ, whereby he pronounceth that he is
not come to call the just, but sinners.


"_Item_, I John Shakspear do protest, that I do not know that I have
ever done any good worke meritorious of life everlasting: and if I have
done any, I do acknowledge that I have done it with a great deale of
negligence and imperfection; neither should I have been able to have
done the least without the assistance of his divine grace. Wherefore
let the devill remain confounded: for I doe in no wise presume to merit
heaven by such good workes alone, but through the merits and bloud of
my Lord and Saviour Jesus, shed upon the cross for me most miserable


"_Item_, I John Shakspear do protest by this present writing, that I
will patiently endure and suffer all kind of infirmity, sickness, yea,
and the paine of death itself: wherein if it should happen, which God
forbid, that through violence of paine and agony, or by subtilty of the
devill, I should fall into any impatience or temptation of blasphemy,
or murmuration against God, or the Catholic faith, or give any signe
of bad example, I do henceforth, and for that present, repent me, and
am most heartily sorry for the same: and I do renounce all the evill
whatsoever, which I might have then done or said; beseeching his divine
clemency that he will not forsake me in that grievous and paignefull


"_Item_, I John Shakspear, by virtue of this present testament, I do
pardon all the injuries and offences that any one hath ever done unto
me, either in my reputation, life, goods, or any other way whatsoever;
beseeching sweet Jesus to pardon them for the same; and I do desire
that they will doe the like by me whome I have offended or injured in
any sort howsoever.


"_Item_, I John Shakspear do here protest, that I do render infinite
thanks to his Divine Majesty for all the benefits that I have received,
as well secret as manifest, and in particular for the benefit of my
creation, redemption, sanctification, conservation, and vocation to the
holy knowledge of him and his true Catholic faith: but above all for
his so great expectation of me to pennance, when he might most justly
have taken me out of this life, when I least thought of it, yea, even
then, when I was plunged in the durty puddle of my sinnes. Blessed be
therefore and praised, for ever and ever, his infinite patience and


"_Item_, I John Shakspear do protest, that I am willing, yea, I do
infinitely desire and humbly crave, that of this my last will and
testament the glorious and ever Virgin Mary, mother of God, refuge and
advocate of sinners, (whom I honour specially above all saints,) may be
the chiefe executresse, togeather with these other saints, my patrons,
(Saint Winefride,) all whome I invoke and beseech to be present at the
hour of my death, that she and they comfort me with their desired
presence, and crave of sweet Jesus that he will receive my soul into


"_Item_, In virtue of this present writing, I John Shakspear do
likewise most willingly and with all humility constitute and ordaine my
good angell for defender and protector of my soul in the dreadfull day
of judgment, when the finall sentence of eternall life or death shall
be discussed and given: beseeching him that, as my soule was appointed
to his custody and protection when I lived, even so he will vouchsafe
to defend the same at that houre, and conduct it to eternall bliss.


"_Item_, I John Shakspear do in like manner pray and beseech all my
dear friends, parents, and kinsfolks, by the bowells of our Saviour
Jesus Christ, that since it is uncertain what lot will befall me, for
fear notwithstanding least by reason of my sinnes I be to pass and stay
a long while in purgatory, they will vouchsafe to assist and succour
me with their holy prayers and satisfactory workes, especially with
the holy sacrifice of the masse, as being the most effectual means to
deliver soules from their torments and paines; from the which, if I
shall by God's gracious goodnesse, and by their vertuous workes, be
delivered, I do promise that I will not be ungratefull unto them for so
great a benefitt.


"_Item_, I John Shakspear doe by this my last will and testament
bequeath my soul, as soon as it shall be delivered and loosened from
the prison of this my body, to be entombed in the sweet and amorous
coffin of the side of Jesus Christ; and that in this life-giving
sepulcher it may rest and live, perpetually enclosed in that eternall
habitation of repose, there to blesse for ever and ever that direful
iron of the launce, which, like a charge in a censore, formes so sweet
and pleasant a monument within the sacred breast of my Lord and Saviour.


"_Item_, Lastly I John Shakspear doe protest, that I will willingly
accept of death in what manner soever it may befall me, conforming my
will unto the will of God; accepting of the same in satisfaction for my
sinnes, and giving thanks unto his Divine Majesty for the life he hath
bestowed upon me. And if it please him to prolong or shorten the same,
blessed be he also a thousand thousand times; into whose most holy
hands I commend my soul and body, my life and death: and I beseech him
above all things, that he never permit any change to be made by me John
Shakspear of this my aforesaid will and testament. Amen.

"I John Shakspeare have made this present writing of protestation,
confession, and charter, in presence of the blessed Virgin Mary, my
angell guardian, and all the celestial court, as witnesses hereunto:
the which my meaning is, that it be of full value now presently and for
ever, with the force and vertue of testament, codicill, and donation in
course of death; confirming it anew, being in perfect health of soul
and body, and signed with mine own hand; carrying also the same about
me, and for the better declaration hereof, my will and intention is
that it be finally buried with me after my death.

    "Pater noster, Ave maria, Credo.

    "Jesu, son of David, have mercy on me.—Amen."[14:A]

If the intention of the testator, as expressed in the close of this
will, were carried into effect, then, of course, the manuscript which
Mosely found, must necessarily have been a copy of that which was
buried in the grave of John Shakspeare.

Mr. Malone, to whom, in his edition of Shakspeare, printed in 1790, we
are indebted for this singular paper, and for the history attached to
it, observes, that he is unable to ascertain, whether it was drawn up
by John Shakspeare the father, or by John his _supposed_ eldest son;
but he says, "I have taken some pains to ascertain the authenticity
of this manuscript, and, after a very careful inquiry, am perfectly
satisfied that it is genuine."[15:A] In the "Inquiry," however, which
he published in 1796, relative to the Ireland papers, he has given
us, though without assigning any reasons for his change of opinion,
a very different result: "In my conjecture," he remarks, "concerning
the writer of that paper, I certainly was mistaken; for I have since
obtained documents that clearly prove it could not have been the
composition of any one of our poet's family."[15:B]

In the "Apology" of Mr. George Chalmers "for the Believers in the
Shakspeare-Papers," which appeared in the year subsequent to Mr.
Malone's "Inquiry," a new light is thrown upon the origin of this
confession. "From the sentiment, and the language, this confession
appears to be," says this gentleman, "the effusion of a Roman Catholic
mind, and was probably drawn up by some Roman Catholic priest.[15:C]
If these premises be granted, it will follow, as a fair deduction,
that the family of Shakspeare were Roman Catholics; a circumstance
this, which is wholly consistent with what Mr. Malone is now studious
to inculcate, viz. "that this confession could not have been the
composition of any of our poet's family." The thoughts, the language,
the orthography, all demonstrate the truth of my conjecture, though Mr.
Malone did not perceive this truth, when he first published this paper
in 1790. But, it was the performance of a _clerke_, the undoubted work
of the family-priest. The conjecture, that Shakspeare's family were
Roman Catholics, is strengthened by the fact, that his father declined
to attend the corporation meetings, and was at last removed from the
corporate body."[16:A]

This conjecture of Mr. Chalmers appears to us in its leading points
very plausible; for that the father of our poet might be a Roman
Catholic is, if we consider the very unsettled state of his times with
regard to religion, not only a possible but a probable supposition: in
which case, it would undoubtedly have been the office of the spiritual
director of the family to have drawn up such a paper as that which
we have been perusing. It was the fashion also of the period, as Mr.
Chalmers has subsequently observed, to draw up confessions of religious
faith, a fashion honoured in the observance by the great names of
Lord Bacon, Lord Burghley, and Archbishop Parker[16:B]. That he
declined, however, attending the corporation-meetings of Stratford from
religious motives, and that his removal from that body was the result
of non-attendance from _such a cause_, cannot readily be admitted;
for we have clearly seen that his defection was owing to pecuniary
difficulties; nor is it, in the least degree, probable that, after
having honourably filled the highest offices in the corporation without
scruple, he should at length, and in a reign too popularly protestant,
incur expulsion from an avowed motive of this kind; especially as we
have reason to suppose, from the mode in which this profession was
concealed, that the tenets of the person whose faith it declares, were
cherished in secret.

From an accurate inspection of the hand-writing of this will, Mr.
Malone infers that it cannot be attributed to an earlier period than
the year 1600[16:C], whence it follows that, if dictated by, or drawn
up at the desire of, John Shakspeare, his death soon sealed the
confession of his faith; for, according to the register, he was buried
on September 8th, 1601.

Such are the very few circumstances which reiterated research has
hitherto gleaned relative to the father of our poet; circumstances
which, as being intimately connected with the history and character
of his son, have acquired an interest of no common nature. Scanty as
they must be pronounced, they lead to the conclusion that he was a
moral and industrious man; that when fortune favoured him, he was not
indolent, but performed the duties of a magistrate with respectability
and effect, and that in the hour of adversity he exerted every nerve to
support with decency a numerous family.

Before we close this chapter, it may be necessary to state, that the
very orthography of the name of Shakspeare has occasioned much dispute.
Of Shakspeare the father, no autograph exists; but the _poet_ has left
us several, and from these, and from the monumental inscriptions of
his family, must the question be decided; the latter, as being of the
least authority, we shall briefly mention, as exhibiting, in Dugdale,
three varieties,—_Shakespeare_; _Shakespere_, and _Shakspeare_. The
former present us with _five_ specimens which, singular as it may
appear, all vary, either in the mode of writing, or mode of spelling.
The first is annexed to a mortgage executed by the poet in 1613, and
appears thus, _W{m} Shakspe{a}_: the second is from a deed of bargain
and sale, relative to the same transaction, and of the same period, and
signed, _William Shaksper̄_: the third, fourth, and fifth are taken from
the _Will_ of Shakspeare executed in March 1616, consisting of three
_briefs_ or sheets, to each of which his name is subscribed. These
signatures, it is remarkable, differ considerably, especially in the
surnames; for in the first brief we find _William Shackspere_; in the
second, _Willm Shakspe re_, and in the third, _William Shakspeare_.
It has been supposed, however, that, according to the practice in
Shakspeare's time, the name in the first sheet was written by the
scrivener who drew the will.

In the year 1790, Mr. Malone, from an inspection of the mortgage,
pronounced the genuine orthography to be _Shakspeare_[17:A]; in 1796,
from consulting the deed of sale, he altered his opinion, and declared
that the poet's own mode of spelling his name was, beyond a possibility
of doubt, that of _Shakspere_, though for reasons which he should
assign in a subsequent publication, he should still continue to write
the name _Shakspeare_.[18:A]

To this decision, relative to the genuine orthography, Mr. Chalmers
cannot accede; and for this reason, that, "when the testator subscribed
his name, for the _last time_, he _plainly_ wrote Shakspe_a_re."[18:B]

It is obvious, therefore, that the controversy turns upon, whether
there be, or be not, an _a_ introduced in the second syllable of
the last signature of the poet. Mr. Malone, on the suggestion of an
anonymous correspondent, thinks that there is not, this gentleman
having clearly shown him, "that though there was a superfluous stroke
when the poet came to write the letter _r_ in his last signature,
probably from the tremor of his hand, there was no _a_ discoverable in
that syllable; and that this name, like both the other, was written

From the annexed plate of autographs, which is copied from Mr.
Chalmers's Apology, and presents us with very perfect fac-similes
of the signatures, it is at once evident, that the assertion of the
anonymous correspondent, that the last signature, "_like both the
other_, was written Shakspere," cannot be correct; for the surname in
the first brief is written Sha_c_kspere, and, in the second, Shakspe
re. Now the _hiatus_ in this second signature is unaccounted for in the
fac-simile given by Mr. Malone[18:D]; but in the plate of Mr. Chalmers
it is found to have been occasioned by the intrusion of the word _the_
of the _preceding line_, a circumstance which, very probably, might
prevent the introduction of the controverted letter. It is likewise,
we think, very evident that something more than _a superfluous stroke_
exists between the _e_ and _r_ of the last signature, and that the
variation is, indeed, too material to have originated from any
supposed tremor of the hand.

Upon the whole, it may, we imagine, be safely reposed on as a fact,
that Shakspeare was not uniform in the orthography of his own name;
that he sometimes spelt it _Shakspere_ and sometimes _Shakspeare_;
but that no other variation is extant which can claim a similar
authority.[19:A] It is, therefore, nearly a matter of indifference
which of _these two_ modes of spelling we adopt; yet, as his last
signature appears to have included the letter _a_, it may, for the sake
of consistency, be proper silently to acquiesce in its admission.


[2:A] Communicated to Mr. Malone by the Rev. Mr. Davenport, vicar of

[2:B] Vincent, vol. clvii. p. 24.

[3:A] See the instrument, at full length, Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p.
146, edit. of 1803.

[3:B] The History of the Worthies of England, part iii. fol. 131, 132.

[3:C] See Shakspeare's coat of arms, Reed's Shaksp. vol. i. p. 146.

[4:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 58, 59.

[4:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 133.

[4:C] "It was common in the age of Queen Elizabeth to give the same
Christian name to two children successively. This was undoubtedly
done in the present instance. The former Jone having probably died,
(though I can find no entry of her burial in the Register, nor indeed
of many of the other children of John Shakspeare) the name of Jone, a
very favourite one in those days, was transferred to another new-born
child."—Malone from Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 134.

[5:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 136.

[6:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 58.

[7:A] MS. Aubrey, Mus. Ashmol. Oxon. Lives, p. 1. fol. 78, a. (Inter
Cod. Dugdal.) Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 213.

[7:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 214. and Ireland's Picturesque
Views on the Upper or Warwickshire Avon, p. 190, 191. Since this
passage was written, however, the proof which it was supposed to
contain, has been completely annihilated. "If John Shakspeare's
occupation in life," observes Mr. Wheeler, "want confirmation, this
circumstance will unfortunately not answer such a purpose; for old
Thomas Hart constantly declared that his great uncle, Shakspeare Hart,
a glazier of this town, who had the new glazing of the chapel windows,
where it is known, from Dugdale, that such a shield existed, brought it
from thence, and introduced it into his own window."—Wheeler's Guide
to Stratford, pp. 13, 14.

[8:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 214.

[9:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 197, 198.

[14:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 199. et seq.

[15:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 197.

[15:B] Malone's Inquiry, p. 198, 199.

[15:C] As a specimen, let us take the beginning of this declaration
of faith, and see still stronger terms in the conclusion of this
protestation, _confession_, and charter.

[16:A] "The place too, the roof of the house where this confession was
found, proves, that it had been therein concealed, during times of
persecution, for the holy Catholick religion." Apology, p. 198, 199.

[16:B] Chalmers's Apology, p. 200.

[16:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 198.

[17:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 149.

[18:A] Malone's Inquiry, p. 120

[18:B] Chalmers's Apology, p. 235.

[18:C] Malone's Inquiry, p. 117, 118.

[18:D] Inquiry, Plate II. No. 12.

[19:A] A want of uniformity in the spelling of names, was a species of
negligence very common in the time of Shakspeare, and may be observed,
remarks Mr. Chalmers, "with regard to the principal poets of that age;
as we may see in _England's Parnassus_, a collection of poetry which
was published in 1600: thus,

  S_y_dney        S_i_dney.
  Spen_s_er       Spen_c_er.
  Jonson          Johnson         Jhonson.
  Dekker          Dekkar.
  Markeham        Markham.
  Sylv_i_ster     Sylv_e_ster     S_i_lvester.
  Sackwill        Sackuil.
  Fitz Geffrey    Fitzjeffry      Fitz Jeffr_a_y.
  France          Fraunce.
  Mid_l_eton      Mid_d_leton.
  G_u_ilpin       G_i_lpin.
  Achelly         Achely          Achilly            Achillye.
  Dra_y_ton       Dra_i_ton.
  Danie_l_        Daniel_l_.
  Dav_i_s         Davi_e_s.
  Marlo_w_        Marlo_we_.
  M_a_rston       M_u_rston.
  Fair_e_fax      Fa_ir_fax.
  K_i_d           K_y_d.

Yet, it is remarkable, that in this collection of diversities, our
dramatist's name is uniformly spelt Shakespeare: in whatever manner
this celebrated name may have been pronounced in Warwickshire, it
certainly was spoken in London, with the _e_ soft, thus, Shak_e_speare:
in the registers of the Stationers' Company, it is written,
Shakes_pere_, and Shakes_peare_." Chalmers's Supplemental Apology, p.
129, 130.

A curious proof of the uncertain orthography of the poet's surname
among his contemporaries and immediate successors, may be drawn from
a pamphlet, entitled, "The great Assizes holden in Parnassus by
Apollo and his Assessours: at which Sessions are arraigned, Mercurius
Britannicus, &c. &c. London: Printed by Richard Cotes for Edward
Husbands, and are to be sold at his shop in the Middle Temple. 1645.
qto. 25 leaves."

In this rare tract, among the list of the jurors is found the name
of our bard, written William _Shakespeere_; and in the body of the
poem, it is given _Shakespeare_, and _Shakespear_. _Vide_ British
Bibliographer, vol. i. p. 513.



The experience of the last half century has fully proved, that every
thing relative to the history of our immortal dramatist has been
received, and received justly too, by the public with an avidity
proportional to his increasing fame. What, if recorded of a less
celebrated character, might be deemed very uninteresting, immediately
acquires, when attached to the mighty name of Shakspeare, an importance
nearly unparalleled. No apology, therefore, can be necessary for the
introduction of any fact or circumstance, however minute, which is, in
the slightest degree, connected with his biography; tradition, indeed,
has been so sparing of her communications on this subject, that every
addition to her little store has been hitherto welcomed with the most
lively sensation of pleasure, nor will the attempt to collect and
embody these scattered fragments be unattended with its reward.

The birth-place of our poet, the spot where he drew the first breath of
life, where Fancy

    —— "fed the little prattler, and with songs
    Oft sooth'd his wond'ring ears,"

has been the object of laudable curiosity to thousands, and happily the
very roof that sheltered his infant innocence can still be pointed out.
It stands in Henley-street, and, though at present forming two separate
tenements, was originally but one house.[21:A] The premises are still
in possession of the Hart family, _now_ the _seventh_ descendants, in
a direct line, from Jone the sister of the poet. From the plate in
Reed's Shakspeare, which is a correct representation of the existing
state of this humble but interesting dwelling, it will appear, that
one portion of it is occupied by the Swan and Maidenhead public-house,
and the other by a butcher's shop, in which the son of old Mr. Thomas
Hart, mentioned in the last chapter, still carries on his father's
trade.[22:A] "The kitchen of this house," says Mr. Samuel Ireland, "has
an appearance sufficiently interesting, abstracted from its claim to
notice as relative to the Bard. It is a subject very similar to those
that so frequently employed the rare talents of Ostade, and therefore
cannot be deemed unworthy the pencil of an inferior artist. In the
corner of the chimney stood an old oak-chair, which had for a number
of years received nearly as many adorers as the celebrated shrine of
the Lady of Loretto. This relic was purchased, in July 1790, by the
Princess Czartoryska, who made a journey to this place, in order to
obtain intelligence relative to Shakspeare; and being told he had
often sat in this chair, she placed herself in it, and expressed an
ardent wish to become a purchaser; but being informed that it was not
to be sold at any price, she left a handsome gratuity to old Mrs. Hart,
and left the place with apparent regret. About four months after, the
anxiety of the Princess could no longer be withheld, and her secretary
was dispatched express, as the fit agent, to purchase this treasure at
any rate: the sum of twenty guineas was the price fixed on, and the
secretary and chair, with a proper certificate of its authenticity on
stamped paper, set off in a chaise for London."[23:A] The elder Mr.
Hart, who died about the year 1794, aged sixty-seven, informed Mr.
Samuel Ireland, that he well remembered, when a boy, having dressed
himself, with some of his playfellows, as Scaramouches (such was his
phrase), in the wearing-apparel of Shakspeare; an anecdote of which,
if we consider the lapse of time, it may be allowed us to doubt the
credibility, and to conclude that the recollection of Mr. Hart had
deceived him.

Little more than two months had passed over the head of the infant
Shakspeare, when he became exposed to danger of such an imminent kind,
that we have reason to rejoice he was not snatched from us even while
he lay in the cradle. He was born, as we have already recorded, on the
23d of April, 1564; and on the 30th of the June following, the plague
broke out at Stratford, the ravages of which dreadful disease were so
violent, that between this last date and the close of December, not
less than two hundred and thirty-eight persons perished; "of which
number," remarks Mr. Malone, "probably two hundred and sixteen died of
that malignant distemper; and one only of the whole number resided,
not in Stratford, but in the neighbouring town of Welcombe. From the
two hundred and thirty-seven inhabitants of Stratford, whose names
appear in the Register, twenty-one are to be subducted, who, it may
be presumed, would have died in six months, in the ordinary course of
nature; for in the five preceding years, reckoning, according to the
style of that time, from March 25. 1559, to March 25. 1564, two hundred
and twenty-one persons were buried at Stratford, of whom two hundred
and ten were townsmen: that is, of these latter, forty-two died each
year at an average. Supposing one in thirty-five to have died annually,
the total number of the inhabitants of Stratford at that period was one
thousand four hundred and seventy; and consequently the plague, in the
last six months of the year 1564, carried off more than a seventh part
of them. Fortunately for mankind it did not reach the house in which
the infant Shakspeare lay; for not one of that name appears in the dead
list. May we suppose, that, like Horace, he lay secure and fearless in
the midst of contagion and death, protected by the Muses, to whom his
future life was to be devoted, and covered over:—

        —————— "_sacrâ
    Lauroque, collataque myrto,
    Non sine Diis animosus infans_."[24:A]

It is now impossible to ascertain with any degree of certainty the mode
which was adopted in the education of this aspiring genius; all that
time has left us on the subject is, that he was sent, though but for
a short period, to the free-school of Stratford, a seminary founded in
the reign of Henry the Sixth, by the Rev. —— Jolepe, M. A., a native
of the town; and which, after sharing, at the general dissolution of
chantries, religious houses, &c. the usual fate, was restored and
patronised by Edward the Sixth, a short time previous to his death.
Here it was, that he acquired the _small Latin and less Greek_, which
Jonson has attributed to him, a mode of phraseology from which it must
be inferred, that he was at _least acquainted_ with _both_ languages;
and, perhaps, we may add, that he who has obtained some knowledge of
Greek, however slight, may, with little hesitation, be supposed to have
proceeded considerably beyond the limits of mere elementary instruction
in Latin.

At the period when Shakspeare was sent to school, the study of
the classical languages had made, since the era of the revival of
literature, a very rapid progress. Grammars and Dictionaries, by
various authors, had been published[25:A]; but the grammatical
institute then in general use, both in town and country, was the
Grammar of Henry the Eighth, which, by the order of Queen Elizabeth,
in her Injunctions of 1559, was admitted, to the exclusion of all
others: "Every schoolmaster," says the thirty-ninth Injunction,
"shall teach the grammar set forth by King Henrie the Eighth, of
noble memorie, and continued in the time of Edward the Sixth, and
_none other_;" and in the Booke of certain Cannons, 1571, it is again
directed, "that no other grammar shall be taught, but only that which
the Queen's Majestie hath commanded to be read in all schooles, through
the whole realm."

With the exception of Wolsey's _Rudimenta Grammatices_, printed in
1536, and taught in his school at Ipswich, and a similar work of
Collet's, established in his seminary in St. Paul's churchyard, this
was the grammar publicly and universally adopted, and without doubt the
instructor of Shakspeare in the language of Rome.

Another initiatory work, which we may almost confidently affirm him
to have studied under the tuition of the master of the free-school at
Stratford, was the production of one Ockland, and entitled ΕΙΡΗΝΑΡΧΙΑ,
_sive_ ELIZABETHA. The object of this book, which is written in Latin
verse, is to panegyrise the characters and government of Elizabeth and
her ministers, and it was, therefore, enjoined by authority to be read
as a classic in every grammar-school, and to be indelibly impressed
upon the memory of every young scholar in the kingdom; "a matchless
contrivance," remarks Bishop Hurd, "to imprint a sense of loyalty on
the minds of the people."[26:A]

To these school-books, to which, being introduced by compulsory edicts,
there is no doubt Shakspeare was indebted for some learning and much
loyalty, may be added, as another resource to which he was directed by
his master, the Dictionary of Syr Thomas Elliot, declaring Latin by
English, as greatly improved and enriched by Thomas Cooper in 1552.
This lexicon, the most copious and celebrated of its day, was received
into almost every school, and underwent numerous editions, namely,
in 1559, and in 1565, under the title of _Thesaurus Linguæ Romanæ et
Britannicæ_, and again in 1573, 1578, and 1584. Elizabeth not only
recommended the lexicon of Cooper, and professed the highest esteem
for him, in consequence of the great utility of his work toward the
promotion of classical literature, but she more substantially expressed
her opinion of his worth by promoting him to the deanery of Gloucester
in 1569, and to the bishoprics of Lincoln and Winchester in 1570 and
1584, at which latter see he died on the 29th of April, 1594.[27:A]

Thus far we may be allowed, on good grounds, to trace the very books
which were placed in the hands of Shakspeare, during his short
noviciate in classical learning; to proceed farther, would be to
indulge in mere conjecture, but we may add, and with every just reason
for the inference, that from these productions, and from the few
minor classics which he had time to study at this seminary, all that
the most precocious genius, at such a period of life, and under so
transient a direction of the mind to classic lore, could acquire, was

The universality of classical education about the era of 1575, when,
it is probable, Shakspeare had not long entered on the acquisitions
of the Latin elements, was such that no person of rank or property
could be deemed accomplished who had not been thoroughly imbued with
the learning and mythology of Greece and Rome. The knowledge which had
been previously confined to the clergy or professed scholars, became
now diffused among the nobility and gentry, and even influenced,
in a considerable degree, the minds and manners of the softer sex.
Elizabeth herself led the way in this career of erudition, and she was
soon followed by the ladies of her court, who were taught, as Warton
observes, not only to distil strong waters, but to construe Greek.[28:A]

The fashion of the court speedily became, to a certain extent, the
fashion of the country, and every individual possessed of a decent
competency, was solicitous that his children should acquire the
literature in vogue. Had the father of our poet continued in prosperous
circumstances, there is every reason to conclude that his son would
have had the opportunity of acquiring the customary erudition of
the times; but we have already seen, that in 1579 he was so reduced
in fortune, as to be excused a weekly payment of 4_d._, a state of
depression which had no doubt existed some time before it attracted the
notice of the corporation of Stratford.

One result therefore of these pecuniary difficulties was the removal of
young Shakspeare from the free-school, an event which has occasioned,
among his biographers and numerous commentators, much controversy and
conjecture as to the extent of his classical attainments.

From the short period which tradition allows us to suppose that our
poet continued under the instruction of a master, we have a right
to conclude that, notwithstanding his genius and industry, he must
necessarily have made a very superficial acquaintance with the learned
languages. That he was called home to assist his father, we are told
by Mr. Rowe; and consequently, as the family was numerous and under
the pressure of poverty, it is not likely that he found much time to
prosecute what he had commenced at school. The accounts, therefore,
which have descended to us, on the authority of Ben Jonson, Drayton,
Suckling, &c. that he had not much learning, that he depended almost
exclusively on his _native_ genius, (_that his Latin was small and his
Greek less_,) ought to have been, without scruple, admitted. Fuller,
who was a diligent and accurate enquirer, has given us in his Worthies,
printed in 1662, the most full and express opinion on the subject.
"He was an eminent instance," he remarks, "of the truth of that rule,
_Poeta non fit, sed nascitur_; one is not _made_ but _born_ a poet.
Indeed his learning was _very little_, so that as _Cornish diamonds_
are not polished by any lapidary, but are pointed and smoothed even as
they are taken out of the earth, so _nature_ itself was all the _art_
which was used upon him."[29:A]

Notwithstanding this uniform assertion of the contemporaries and
immediate successors of Shakspeare, relative to his very imperfect
knowledge of the languages of Greece and Rome, many of his modern
commentators have strenuously insisted upon his intimacy with both,
among whom may be enumerated, as the most zealous and decided on this
point, the names of Gildon, Sewell, Pope, Upton, Grey, and Whalley.
The dispute, however, has been nearly, if not altogether terminated,
by the _Essay_ of Dr. Farmer _on the Learning of Shakspeare_, who has,
by a mode of research equally ingenious and convincing, clearly proved
that all the passages which had been triumphantly brought forward as
instances of the classical literature of Shakspeare, were taken from
translations, or from original, and once popular, productions in his
native tongue. Yet the _conclusion_ drawn from this essay, so far as
it respects the portion of latinity which our poet had acquired and
preserved, as the result of his school-education, appears to us greatly
too restricted. "_He remembered_," says the Doctor, "_perhaps enough
of his school-boy learning to put the Hig, hag, hog, into the mouth
of Sir Hugh Evans_:" and might pick up in the writers of the time, or
the course of his conversation, a familiar phrase or two of French or
Italian: but his studies were most demonstratively confined to nature
and his own language.[30:A]

A very late writer, in combating this part of the _conclusion_ of Dr.
Farmer, has advanced an opinion in several respects so similar to our
own, that it will be necessary, in justice to him and previous to
any further expansion of the idea which we have embraced, to quote
his words. "Notwithstanding," says he, "Dr. Farmer's essay on the
deficiency of Shakspeare in learning, I must acknowledge myself to be
one who does not conceive that his proofs of that fact sufficiently
warrant his conclusions from them: 'that his _studies_ were
demonstrably confined to nature and his own language' is, as Dr. Farmer
concludes, true enough; but when it is added, 'that he only picked
up in conversation a familiar phrase or two of French, or remembered
enough of his school-boy's learning to put _hig, hag, hog_, in the
mouths of others:' he seems to me to go beyond any evidence produced
by him of so little knowledge of languages in Shakspeare. He proves
indeed sufficiently, that Shakspeare chiefly read English books, by his
copying sometimes minutely the very errors made in them, many of which
he might have corrected, if he had consulted the original Latin books
made use of by those writers: but this does not prove that he was not
able to read Latin well enough to examine those originals if he chose;
it only proves his indolence and indifference about accuracy in minute
articles of no importance to the chief object in view of supplying
himself with subjects for dramatic compositions. Do we not every day
meet with numberless instances of similar and much greater oversights
by persons well skilled in Greek as well as Latin, and professed
critics also of the writings and abilities of others? If Shakspeare
made an ignorant man pronounce the French word _bras_ like the English
_brass_, and evidently on purpose, as being a probable mistake by
such an unlearned speaker; has not one learned modern in writing
Latin made _Paginibus_ of _Paginis_, and another mentioned a person
as being born in the reign of Charles the First, and yet as dying in
1600, full twenty-five years before the accession of that king? Such
mistakes arise not from ignorance, but a heedless inattention, while
their thoughts are better occupied with more important subjects; as
those of Shakspeare were with forming his plots and his characters,
instead of examining critically a great Greek volume to see whether he
ought to write _on this side of Tiber or on that side of Tiber_; which
however very possibly he might not be able to read; but Latin was more
universally learnt in that age, and even by women, many of whom could
both write and speak it; therefore it is not likely that he should
be so very deficient in that language, as some would persuade us, by
evidence which does not amount to sufficient proofs of the fact. Nay,
even although he had a sufficiency of Latin to understand any Latin
book, if he chose to do it, yet how many in modern times, under the
same circumstances, are led by mere indolence to prefer translations of
them, in case they cannot read Latin with such perfect ease, as never
to be at a loss for the meaning of a word, so as to be forced to read
some sentences twice over before they can understand them rightly. That
Shakspeare was not an eminent Latin scholar may be very true, but that
he was so totally ignorant as to know nothing more than _hic, hæc,
hoc_, must have better proofs before I can be convinced."[31:A]

The truth seems to be, that Shakspeare, like most boys who have spent
but two or three years at a grammar-school, acquired just as much
Latin as would enable him, with the assistance of a lexicon, and no
little share of assiduity, to construe a minor classic; a degree of
acquisition which we every day see, unless forwarded by much leisure
and much private industry, immediately becomes stationary, and soon
retrograde. Our poet, when taken from the free-school of Stratford, had
not only to direct his attention to business, in order to assist in
warding off from his father's family the menacing approach of poverty;
but it is likewise probable that his leisure, as we shall notice more
at large in the next chapter, was engaged in other acquisitions; and
when at a subsequent period, and after he had become a married man,
his efforts were thrown into a channel perfectly congenial to his
taste and talents, still to procure subsistence for the day was the
immediate stimulus to exertion. Under these circumstances, and when we
likewise recollect that _popular_ favour and applause were essential
to his success, and that nearly to the last period of his life he was
a prolific caterer for the public in a species of poetry which called
for no recondite or learned resources, it is not probable, nay, it is,
indeed, scarcely possible, that he should have had time to cultivate
and increase his classical attainments, originally and necessarily
superficial. To translations, therefore, and to popular and legendary
lore, he was alike directed by policy, by inclination, and by want
of leisure; yet must we still agree, that, had a proficiency in the
learned languages been necessary to his career, the means resided
within himself, and that, on the basis merely of his school-education,
although limited as we have seen it, he might, had he early and
steadily directed his attention to the subject, have built the
reputation of a scholar.

That the powers, however, of his vast and capacious mind, especially
if we consider the shortness of his life, were not expended on such an
attempt, we have reason to rejoice; for though his attainments, as a
linguist, were truly trifling, yet his _knowledge_ was great, and his
_learning_, in the best sense of the term, that is, as distinct from
the mere acquisition of language, multifarious, and extensive beyond
that of most of his contemporaries.[32:A]

It is, therefore, to his _English_ studies that we must have recourse
for a due estimate of his reading and research; a subject which will be
treated of in a future portion of the work.


[21:A] It is with some apprehension of imposition that I quote the
following passage from Mr. Samuel Ireland's Picturesque Views on the
River Avon. This gentleman, the father of the youth who endeavoured
so grossly to deceive the public by the fabrication of a large mass
of MSS. which he attributed to Shakspeare, was undoubtedly, at the
time he wrote this book, the complete dupe of his son; and though,
as a man of veracity and integrity, to be depended upon with regard
to what originated from himself, it is possible, that the settlement
which he quotes may have been derived from the same ample store-house
of forgery which produced the folio volume of miscellaneous papers,
&c. This settlement, in the possession of Mr. Ireland, is brought
forward as a proof that the premises in Henley-street were certainly
in the occupation of John Shakspeare, the father of the poet; it is
dated August 14th, thirty-third of Elizabeth, 1591, and Mr. Ireland
professes to give the substance of it in the subsequent terms:—"'That
George Badger, senior, of Stratford upon Avon, conveys to John and
William Courte, yeomen, and their heirs, in trust, &c. a messuage or
tenement, with the appurtenances, in Stratford upon Avon, in a certain
streete called Henley-streete, between the house of Robert Johnson on
the one part, and the house of _John Shakspeare_ on the other; and also
two selions (_i. e._ ridges, or ground between furrows) of land lying
between the land of _Thomas Combe_, Gent. on the one hand, and Thomas
Reynolde, Gent. on the other.' It is regularly executed, and livery of
seisin on the 29th of the same month and year indorsed." _P._ 195, 196.

[22:A] "In a lower room of this public house," says Mr. Samuel Ireland,
"which is part of the premises wherein Shakspeare was born, is a
curious antient ornament over the chimney, relieved in plaister, which,
from the date, 1606, that was originally marked on it, was probably
put up at the time, and possibly by the poet himself: although a
rude attempt at historic representation, I have yet thought it worth
copying, as it has, I believe, passed unnoticed by the multitude of
visitors that have been on this spot, or at least has never been made
public: and to me it was enough that it held a conspicuous place in
the dwelling-house of one who is himself the ornament and pride of the
island he inhabited. In 1759, it was repaired and painted in a variety
of colours by the old Mr. Thomas Harte before-mentioned, who assured
me the motto then round it had been in the old black letter, and dated
1606. The motto runs thus:

    =Golith comes with sword and spear,
      And David with a sling:
    Although Golith rage and sweare,
      Down David doth him bring.="
                             Picturesque Views, p. 192, 193.

[23:A] Picturesque Views, p. 189, 190. It is probable that Mr. Ireland,
though, it appears, unconnected with the forgeries of his son, might,
during his tour, be too eager in crediting the tales which were
told him. One Jordan, a native of Alverton near Stratford, was for
many years the usual _cicerone_ to enquirers after Shakspeare, and
was esteemed not very accurate in weighing the authenticity of the
anecdotes which he related.

[24:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 84, 85.

[25:A] It is possible also that the following grammars and
dictionaries, independent of those mentioned in the text, may have
contributed to the school-education of Shakspeare:—

1. Certain brief Rules of the Regiment or Construction of the Eight
Partes of Speche, in English and Latin, 1537.

2. A short Introduction of Grammar, generallie to be used: compiled and
set forth, for the bringyng up of all those that intend to attaine the
knowledge of the Latin tongue, 1557.

3. The Scholemaster; or, Plaine and perfite Way of teaching Children to
understand, write, and speak, the Latin Tong. By Roger Ascham. 1571.

4. Abecedarium Anglico-Latinum, pro tyrunculis, Ricardo Huloeto
exscriptore, 1552.

5. The Short Dictionary, 1558.

6. A little Dictionary; compiled by J. Withals, 1559. Afterwards
reprinted in 1568, 1572, 1579, and 1599; and entitled, A Shorte
Dictionarie most profitable for young Beginners: and subsequently, A
Shorte Dictionarie in Lat. and English.

7. The brefe Dyxcyonary, 1562.

8. Huloets Dictionary; newlye corrected, amended, and enlarged, by John
Higgins, 1572.

9. Veron's Dictionary; Latin and English, 1575.

10. An Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionarie; containing foure sundrie
Tongues: namelie, English, Latine, Greeke, and Frenche. Newlie enriched
with varietie of wordes, phrases, proverbs, and divers lightsome
observations of grammar. By John Baret, 1580.

11. Rider's Dictionary, Latine, and English, 1589.

[26:A] Moral and Political Dialogues, vol. ii. p. 28. edit. 1788.

[27:A] That school-masters and lexicographers were not usually so well
rewarded, notwithstanding the high value placed on classical literature
at this period, may be drawn from the complaint of Ascham: "It is
pitie," says he, "that commonlie more care is had, yea, and that amonge
verie wise men, to find out rather a cunnynge man for their horse, than
a cunnynge man for their children. They say nay in worde, but they do
so in deede. For, to the one they will gladlie give a stipend of 200
crownes by yeare, and loth to offer to the other 200 shillings. God,
that sitteth in heaven, laugheth their choice to skorne, and rewardeth
their liberalitie as it should; for he suffereth them to have tame, and
well ordered horse, but wilde and unfortunate children; and therefore,
in the ende, they finde more pleasure in their horse than comforte in
their children."—Ascham's Works, Bennet's edition, p. 212.

[27:B] It is more than possible that the Eclogues of Mantuanus the
Carmelite may have been one of the school-books of Shakspeare. He is
familiarly quoted and praised in the following passage from Love's
Labour's Lost:—

"Hol. _Fauste, precor gelidâ quando pecus omne sub umbrâ Ruminat_,—and
so forth. Ah, good old Mantua! I may speak of thee as the traveller
doth of Venice:

    ——— _Vinegia, Vinegia,
    Chi non te rede, ci non te pregia._

Old Mantuan! old Mantuan! who understandeth thee not, loves thee not."
Act iv. sc. 2. And his Eclogues, be it remembered, were translated
and printed, together with the Latin on the opposite page, for the
use of schools, before the commencement of our author's education;
and from a passage quoted by Mr. Malone, from Nashe's _Apologie of
Pierce Penniless_, 1593, appear to have continued in use long after
its termination. "With the first and second leafe, he plaies very
prettilie, and, in ordinarie terms of extenuating, verdits Pierce
Pennilesse for a grammar-school wit; saies, his margine is as deeply
learned as, _Fauste, precor gelidâ_." Mantuanus was translated by
George Turberville in 1567, and reprinted in 1591.—_Vide_ Reed's
Shakspeare, vol. vii. p. 95.

[28:A] Warton's History of English Poetry, vol. iii. p. 491.

[29:A] Worthies, p. iii. p. 126.

[30:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 85.

[31:A] Censura Literaria, vol. ix. p. 285.

[32:A] "If it were asked from what sources," observes Mr. Capel Lofft,
"_Shakspeare_ drew these abundant streams of wisdom, carrying with
their current the fairest and most unfading flowers of poetry, I
should be tempted to say, he had what would be now considered a very
reasonable portion of Latin; he was not wholly ignorant of Greek;
he had a knowledge of the French, so as to read it with ease; and I
believe not less of the Italian. He was habitually conversant in the
chronicles of his country. He lived with wise and highly cultivated
men; with Jonson, Essex, and Southampton, in familiar friendship. He
had deeply imbibed the Scriptures. And his own most acute, profound,
active, and original genius (for there never was a truly great poet,
nor an aphoristic writer of excellence without these accompanying
qualities) must take the lead in the solution." Aphorisms from
Shakspeare: Introduction, pp. xii. and xiii.

Again, in speaking of his poems, he remarks—"Transcendent as his
original and singular genius was, I think it is not easy, with due
attention to _these_ poems, to doubt of his having acquired, when a
boy, no ordinary facility in the _classic_ language of Rome; though
his knowledge of it might be small, comparatively, to the knowledge
of that great and indefatigable scholar, Ben Jonson. And when Jonson
says he had 'less Greek,' had it been true that he had none, it would
have been as easy for the verse as for the sentiment to have said 'no
Greek.'"—Introduction, p. xxiv.



That Shakspeare, when taken from the free-school of Stratford, became
an assistant to his father in the wool-trade, has been the general
opinion of his biographers from the period of Mr. Rowe, who first
published the tradition in 1709, to the present day. The anecdote was
probably collected by Mr. Betterton the player, who visited Stratford
in order to procure intelligence relative to his favourite poet, and
from whom Mr. Rowe professes to have derived the greater part of
his information.[34:A] A few incidental circumstances tend also to
strengthen the account that both father and son were engaged in this
employment, and, for a time, together: in the first place, we may
mention the discovery already noticed of the arms of the merchants
of the wool-staple on a window of the house in which the poet was
born[34:B]; secondly, the almost certain conclusion that the poverty
of John Shakspeare, which we know to have been considerable in 1579,
would naturally incline him to require the assistance of his son, in
the only way in which, at that time, he could be serviceable to him;
and thirdly, we may adduce the following passages from the works of our
Dramatist, which seem to imply a more than theoretic intimacy with his
father's business. In the Winter's Tale, the Clown exclaims,

    "Let me see:—Every 'leven wether—tods; every tod
    yields—pound and odd shilling: fifteen hundred shorn,—What
    comes the wool to?"                   _Act IV. Scene 2._

Upon this passage Dr. Farmer remarks, "that to _tod_ is used as a
verb by dealers in wool; thus, they say, 'Twenty sheep ought to _tod_
fifty pounds of wool,' &c. The meaning, therefore, of the Clown's
words is, 'Every eleven wether _tods_; i. e. _will produce a tod_, or
twenty-eight pounds of wool; every _tod_ yields a pound and some odd
shillings; what then will the wool of fifteen hundred yield?'"

"The occupation of his father," subjoins Mr. Malone, "furnished our
poet with accurate knowledge on this subject; for two pounds and a half
of wool is, I am told, a very good produce from a sheep at the time of

"_Every 'leven wether—tods_," adds Mr. Ritson, "has been rightly
expounded to mean that the wool of _eleven sheep_ would weigh a _tod_,
or 28lb. Each fleece would, therefore, be 2lb. 8oz. 11½dr., and the
whole produce of _fifteen hundred shorn 136 tod_, 1 clove, 2lb. 6oz.
2dr. which _at pound and odd shilling per tod_, would yield 143_l._
3_s._ 0_d._ Our author was too familiar with the subject to be
suspected of inaccuracy.

"Indeed it appears from Stafford's _Breefe Conceipte of English
Pollicye_, 1581, p. 16, that the price of a tod of wool was at that
period _twenty_ or _two_ and _twenty shillings_: so that the medium
price was exactly '_pound and odd shilling_.'"[35:A]

In Hamlet, the prince justly observes,

    There's a divinity that _shapes our ends_,
    _Rough-hew_ them how we will.          _Act V. Scene 2._

Lines, of which the words in italics were considered by Dr. Farmer as
merely technical. "A woolman, butcher, and dealer in _skewers_," says
Mr. Stevens, "lately observed to him (Dr. F.), that his nephew, an idle
lad, could only _assist_ him in making them; '—he could _rough-hew_
them, but I was obliged to _shape their ends_.' To shape the ends of
_wool-skewers_, i. e. to _point_ them, requires a degree of skill;
any one can _rough-hew_ them. Whoever recollects the profession of
Shakspeare's father, will admit that his son might be no stranger to
such terms. I have frequently seen packages of wool pinned up with

We may, therefore, after duly considering all the evidence that can
now be obtained, pretty confidently acquiesce in the traditional
account that Shakspeare was, for a time, and that immediately on
his being taken from the free-school, the assistant of his father
in the wool-trade; but it will be necessary here to mention, that
Aubrey, on whose authority it has been related that John Shakspeare
was, at one period of his life, a butcher, adds, with regard to our
poet, that "when he was a boy, he exercised his father's trade;" and
that "when he killed a calfe, he would do it in a _high style_, and
make a speech."[36:B] That John Shakspeare, when under the pressure
of adversity, might combine the two employments, which are, in a
certain degree, connected with each other, we have already recorded as
probable; it is very possible, also, that the following similes may
have been suggested to the son, by what he had occasionally observed at

    And as the butcher takes away the calf,
    And binds the wretch, and beats it when it strays,
    Bearing it to the bloody slaughter-house;
    Even so, remorseless, have they borne him hence.
    And as the dam runs lowing up and down,
    Looking the way her harmless young one went,
    And can do nought but wail her darling's loss;
    Even so, &c. &c.  _Henry VI. Part II. Act III. Scene 1._

but that the father of our poet, the former bailiff of Stratford,
should employ his children, instead of servants, in the slaughter of
his cattle, is a position so revolting, so unnecessarily degrading
on the part of the father, and, at the same time, must have been so
discordant with the well-known humane and gentle cast of the poet's
disposition, that we cannot, for a moment, allow ourselves to conceive
that any credibility can be attached to such a report.

At what age he began to assist his father in the wool-trade, cannot now
be positively ascertained; but as he was early taken from school, for
this purpose, we shall probably not err far, if we suppose this change
to have taken place when he was _twelve_ years old; a computation which
includes a period of scholastic education sufficiently long to have
imbued him with just such a portion of classical lore, as an impartial
enquirer into his life and works would be willing to admit.

A short time previous to this, when our poet was in his twelfth
year, and in the summer of 1575, an event occurred which must have
made a great impression on his mind; the visit of Queen Elizabeth to
the magnificent Earl of Leicester, at Kenelworth Castle. That young
Shakspeare was a spectator of the festivities on this occasion, was
first suggested by Bishop Percy[37:A], who, in his Essay on the Origin
of the English Stage, speaking of the old Coventry play of Hock
Tuesday, which was performed before Her Majesty during her residence
at the castle, observes,—"Whatever this old play, or 'storial show,'
was at the time it was exhibited to Queen Elizabeth, it had probably
our young Shakspeare for a spectator, who was then in his twelfth year,
and doubtless attended with all the inhabitants of the surrounding
country at these 'Princely Pleasures of Kenelworth,'[37:B] _whence
Stratford is only a few miles distant_. And as the Queen was much
diverted with the Coventry play, 'whereat Her Majestie laught well,'
and rewarded the performers with two bucks, and five marks in money:
who, 'what rejoicing upon their ample reward, and what triumphing upon
the good acceptance, vaunted their play was never so dignified, nor
ever any players before so beatified:' but especially if our young
Bard afterwards gained admittance into the castle to see a play, which
the same evening, after supper, was there 'presented of a very good
theme, but so set forth by the actors' well-handling, that pleasure
and mirth made it seem very short,' though it lasted two good hours and
more, we may imagine what an impression was made on his infant mind.
Indeed the dramatic cast of many parts of that superb entertainment,
which continued nineteen days, and was the most splendid of the kind
ever attempted in this kingdom, must have had a very great effect on a
young imagination, whose dramatic powers were hereafter to astonish the

Of the gorgeous splendour, and elaborate pageantry which were displayed
during this princely fete at Kenelworth, some idea may be formed from
the following summary. The Earl met the Queen on Saturday the 9th of
July 1575, at Long Ichington, a town seven miles from Kenelworth, where
His Lordship had erected a tent, for the purpose of banqueting Her
Majesty, upon such a magnificent scale, "that justly for dignity," says
Laneham, "may be comparable with a beautiful palace; and for greatness
and quantity, with a proper town, or rather a citadel;" and to give
his readers an adequate conception of its vast magnitude, he adds that
"it had seven cart load of pins pertaining to it."[38:B] At the first
entrance of the Queen into His Lordship's castle a floating island was
discerned upon the pool, glittering with torches, on which sat the
Lady of the Lake, attended by two nymphs, who addressed Her Majesty in
verse, with an historical account of the antiquity and owners of the
castle; and the speech was closed with the sound of cornets, and other
instruments of loud music. Within the base-court was erected a stately
bridge, twenty feet wide, and seventy feet long, over which the Queen
was to pass; and on each side stood columns, with presents upon them
to Her Majesty from the gods. Silvanus offered a cage of wild-fowl,
and Pomona various sorts of fruits; Ceres gave corn, and Bacchus wine;
Neptune presented sea-fish; Mars the habiliments of war; and Phœbus all
kinds of musical instruments. During the rest of her stay, varieties of
sports and shows were daily exhibited. In the chase was a savage-man
clad in ivy accompanied by satyrs; there were bear-baitings and
fire-works, Italian tumblers, and a country brideale, running at the
Quintain, and Morrice-dancing. And, that no sort of diversion might be
omitted, hither came the Coventry-men and acted the old play already
mentioned, called Hock Tuesday, a kind of tilting match, representing,
in dumb show, the defeat of the Danes by the English, in the reign
of King Ethelred. There were besides on the pool, a Triton riding on
a Mermaid eighteen feet long, and Arion upon a Dolphin. To grace the
entertainment, the Queen here knighted Sir Thomas Cecil, eldest son
to the lord treasurer; Sir Henry Cobham, brother to the Lord Cobham;
Sir Francis Stanhope, and Sir Thomas Tresham. An estimate may be
formed of the expense from the quantity of ordinary beer, that was
drank upon this occasion, which amounted to three hundred and twenty

To the ardent and opening mind of our youthful Bard what exquisite
delight must this grand festival have imparted, the splendour of which,
as Bishop Hurd remarks, "claims a remembrance even in the annals of
our country."[39:B] A considerable portion of the very mythology which
he had just been studying at school, was here brought before his eyes,
of which the costume and language were under the direction of the
first poets of the age; and the dramatic cast of the whole pageantry,
whether classical or Gothic, was such, as probably to impress his
glowing imagination with that bias for theatrical amusements, which
afterwards proved the basis of his own glory, and of his country's
poetic fame.

Here, could he revisit the glimpses of the day, how justly might he
deplore, in his own inimitable language, the havoc of time, and the
mutability of human grandeur; of this princely castle, once the seat
of feudal hospitality, of revelry and song, and of which Laneham, in
his quaint style and orthography, has observed,—"Who that considerz
untoo the stately seat of _Kenelworth Castl_, the rare beauty of
bilding that His Honor hath avaunced; all of the hard quarry-stone:
every room so spacious, so well belighted, and so hy roofed within;
so seemly too sight by du proportion without; a day tyme, on every
side so glittering by glasse; a night, by continuall brightnesse of
candel, fyre, and torch-light, transparent thro the lyghtsome wyndow,
as it wear the _Egiptian Pharos_ relucent untoo all the _Alexandrian_
coast: or els (too talke merily with my mery freend) thus radiant, as
thoogh _Phœbus_ for hiz eaz woold rest him in the _Castl_, and not
every night so to travel doown untoo the _Antipodes_; heertoo so fully
furnisht of rich apparell and utensilez apted in all points to the
best;"[40:A] of this vast pile the very ruins are now so reduced, that
the grand gateway, and the banquetting hall, eighty-six feet in length,
and forty-five in width, are the only important remains.[40:B]

If Shakspeare were taken as early from school as we have supposed, and
his slender attainments in latinity strongly warrant the supposition,
it is more than probable, building on the traditional hint in Rowe, of
his aid being _wanted at home_[42:A], that he continued to assist his
father in the wool-trade for some years; that is, in all likelihood,
until his sixteenth or eighteenth year. Mr. Malone, however, not
adverting to this tradition, has, in a note to Rowe's Life, declared
his belief, "that, _on leaving school_, Shakspeare was placed in
the office of some country attorney, or the seneschal of some manor
court[43:A]:" a position which we think improbable only in _point
of time_; and, in justice to Mr. Malone, it must be added, that in
other places he has given a much wider latitude to the period of this

The circumstances on which this conjecture has been founded, are
these:—that, in the first place, throughout the dramas of Shakspeare,
there is interspersed such a vast variety of legal phrases and
allusions, expressed with such _technical_ accuracy, as to force upon
the mind a conviction, that the person who had used them must have been
intimately acquainted with the profession of the law; and, secondly,
that at the close of Aubrey's manuscript anecdotes of Shakspeare,
which are said to have been collected, at an early period, from the
information of the neighbours of the poet, it is positively asserted,
that our bard "understood Latin pretty well, for he had been in his
younger years a schoolmaster in the country."[43:B]

On the first of these data, it has been observed by Mr. Malone, in
his "Attempt to ascertain the Order in which the Plays of Shakspeare
were written," that the poet's "knowledge of legal terms is not merely
such as might be acquired by the casual observation of even his
all-comprehending mind; it has the appearance of _technical_ skill; and
he is so fond of displaying it on all occasions, that I suspect he was
early initiated in at least the forms of law, and was employed, _while
he yet remained at Stratford_, in the office of some country-attorney,
who was at the same time a petty conveyancer, and perhaps also the
seneschal of some manor-court."[43:C] In confirmation of this opinion,
various instances are given of his legal phraseology, which we have
copied in the note below[43:D]; and here we must remark that the
expression, _while he yet remained at Stratford_, leaves the period of
his first application to the law, from the time at which he left school
to the era of his visiting London, unfixed; a portion of time which we
may fairly estimate as including the lapse of _ten_ years.

With regard to the affirmation of Aubrey, that Shakspeare had been in
his younger years a schoolmaster in the country, the same ingenious
critic very justly remarks, that "many traditional anecdotes, though
not perfectly accurate, contain an adumbration of the truth;" and then
adds, "I am strongly inclined to think that the assertion contains,
though not the truth, yet something like it: I mean that Shakspeare
had been employed for some time in his younger years as a _teacher_
in the country; though Dr. Farmer has incontestably proved, that he
could not have been a teacher of _Latin_. I have already suggested my
opinion, that before his coming to London he had acquired some share
of legal knowledge in the office of a petty country-conveyancer,
or in that of the steward of some manorial court. _If he began to
apply to this study at the age of eighteen_, two years afterwards
he might have been sufficiently conversant with conveyances to have
_taught others_ the form of such legal assurances as are usually
prepared by country-attorneys; and perhaps spent two or three years
in this employment before he removed from Stratford to London. Some
uncertain rumour of this kind might have continued to the middle
of the last century, and by the time it reached Mr. Aubrey, our
poet's original occupation was changed from a scrivener to that of a

In this quotation it will be immediately perceived that the period of
our author's application to the study of the law, is now supposed to
have occurred _at the age of eighteen_, when he must have been long
removed from school, and that he is also conceived to have been a
_teacher_ of what he had acquired in the profession.

These conjectures of Mr. Malone, which, in their latter and modified
state, appear to me singularly happy, have met with a warm advocate in
Mr. Whiter: "The anecdotes," he remarks, "which have been delivered
down to us respecting our poet, appear to me neither improbable nor,
when duly examined, inconsistent with each other: even those which seem
least allied to probability, contain in my opinion the _adumbrata_,
if not _expressa signa veritatis_. Mr. Malone has admirably sifted
the accounts of _Aubrey_; and there is no truth, that is obtained by
a train of reasoning not reducible to demonstration, of which I am
more convinced than the conjecture of Mr. Malone, who supposes that
Shakspeare, before he quitted Stratford, was employed in such matters
of business as belonged to the office of a country-attorney, or the
steward of a manor-court. I have stated his conjecture in general
terms, that the _fact_, as it relates to our poet's _legal allusions_,
might be separated from any accidental circumstances of _historical
truth_. I am astonished, however, that Mr. Malone has confirmed his
conjecture by so few examples. I can supply him with a very large

Mr. Chalmers, however, refuses his aid in the structure of this
conjectural fabric, and asserts that Shakspeare might have derived
all his technical knowledge of the law from a very few books. "From
Totell's Presidents, 1572; from Pulton's Statutes, 1578; and from the
Lawier's Logike, 1588."[47:A]

That these books were read by Shakspeare, there can, we think, be
little doubt; but this concession by no means militates against the
idea of his having been employed for a short period in some profitable
branch of the law. After weighing all the evidence which can _now_
be adduced, either for or against the hypothesis, we shall probably
make the nearest approximation to the truth in concluding, that the
object of our research, having assisted his father for some years in
the wool-trade, for which express purpose he had been early taken
from school, might deem it necessary, on the prospect of approaching
marriage, to acquire some additional means of supporting a domestic
establishment, and, accordingly, annexed to his former occupation, or
superseded it, by a knowledge of an useful branch of the law, which,
by being taught to others, might prove to himself a source of revenue.
Thus combining the record of Rowe with the tradition of Aubrey, and
with the evidence derived from our author's own works, an inference has
been drawn which, though not amounting to certainty, approaches the
confine of it with no small pretensions.

Of the events and circumstances which must have occurred to Shakspeare
in the interval between his leaving the free-school of Stratford,
and his marriage, scarcely any thing has transpired; the following
anecdote, however, which is still preserved at Stratford and the
neighbouring village of Bidford, may be ascribed with greater
propriety to this than to any subsequent period of his life. We
shall give it in the words of the author of the "Picturesque Views
on the Avon," who professes to have received it on the spot, as one
of the traditional treasures of the place. Speaking of Bidford,
which is still equally notorious for the excellence of its ale, and
the thirsty clay of its inhabitants, he adds, "there were antiently
two societies of village-yeomanry in this place, who frequently met
under the appellation of Bidford Topers. It was a custom with these
heroes to challenge any of their neighbours, famed for the love of
good ale, to a drunken combat: among others the people of Stratford
were called out to a trial of strength, and in the number of their
champions, as the traditional story runs, our Shakspeare, who forswore
all thin potations, and addicted himself to ale as lustily as Falstaff
to his sack, is said to have entered the lists. In confirmation of
this tradition we find an epigram written by Sir Asten Cockayn, and
published in his poems in 1658, p. 124: it runs thus—


    _SHAKSPEARE_, your _Wincot_ ale hath much renown'd,
    That fox'd a beggar so (by chance was found
    Sleeping) that there needed not many a word
    To make him to believe he was a lord:
    But you affirm (and in it seems most eager)
    'Twill make a lord as drunk as any beggar.
    Bid _Norton_ brew such ale as Shakspeare fancies
    Did put Kit Sly into such lordly trances:
    And let us meet there (for a fit of gladness)
    And drink ourselves merry in sober sadness.

"When the Stratford lads went over to Bidford, they found the topers
were gone to Evesham fair; but were told, if they wished to try their
strength with the sippers, they were ready for the contest. This being
acceded to, our bard and his companions were staggered at the first
outset, when they thought it adviseable to sound a retreat, while the
means of retreat were practicable; and then had scarce marched half a
mile, before they were all forced to lay down more than their arms,
and encamp in a very disorderly and unmilitary form, under no better
covering than a large crab-tree; and there they rested till morning:

"This tree is yet standing by the side of the road. If, as it has
been observed by the late Mr. T. Warton, the meanest hovel to which
Shakspeare has an allusion interests curiosity, and acquires an
importance, surely the tree that has spread its shade over him, and
sheltered him from the dews of the night, has a claim to our attention.

"In the morning, when the company awakened our bard, the story says
they intreated him to return to Bidford, and renew the charge; but this
he declined, and looking round upon the adjoining villages, exclaimed,
'No! I have had enough; I have drank with

    Piping Pebworth, Dancing Marston,
    Haunted Hillbro', Hungry Grafton,
    Dudging Exhall, Papist Wicksford,
    Beggarly Broom, and Drunken Bidford.'

"Of the truth of this story I have very little doubt: it is certain
that the crab-tree is known all round the country by the name of
Shakspeare's crab; and that the villages to which the allusion is made,
all bear the epithets here given them: the people of Pebworth are still
famed for their skill on the pipe and tabor: Hillborough is now called
Haunted Hillborough; and Grafton is notorious for the poverty of its

To the immediate neighbourhood indeed of Stratford, and to the adjacent
country, with which, at this early period of his life, our poet seems
to have been familiarised by frequent excursions either of pleasure
or business, are to be found some allusions in his dramatic works. In
the _Taming of the Shrew_, Christopher Sly, being treated with great
ceremony and state, on waking in the bed-chamber of the nobleman,
exclaims—"What, would you make me mad? Am not I Christopher Sly,
old Sly's son of _Burton-Heath_; by birth a pedlar, by education a
card-maker, by transmutation a bear-herd, and now by present profession
a tinker? Ask Marian Hacket, the fat ale-wife of _Wincot_, if she know
me not: if she say I am not fourteen pence on the score for sheer ale,
score me up for the lyingest knave in Christendom. What, I am not

There are two villages in Warwickshire called _Burton Dorset_ and
_Burton Hastings_; but that which was the residence of old Sly, is, in
all probability, _Burton on the Heath_, on the south side of the Avon,
opposite to Bidford, and about eighteen miles from Stratford. The first
scene of the play is described as _Before an Alehouse on a Heath_, and
it is remarkable that on Burton-heath there still remains a tenement,
which was formerly a public-house, under the name of Woncott or
Onecott: yet there is much reason to conclude, from the mode in which
Wincot is spoken of, both in this place, and in the following passage,
that Burton-heath and Wincot were considerably distant: in the Second
Part of King Henry IV. Davy says to Justice Shallow, "I beseech you,
Sir, to countenance William Visor _of Wincot_ against Clemont Perkes of
the hill[50:C]," a phraseology which seems to imply, not an insulated
house, but a village, an inference which is strongly supported by
the fact that _near_ Stratford there is actually a village with the
closely resembling name of _Wilnecotte_, which, in the pronunciation
and orthography of the common people, would almost necessarily become
_Wincot_. It should likewise be mentioned that Mr. Warton is of opinion
that this is the place to which Shakspeare alludes, and he adds, "the
house kept by our genial hostess still remains, but is at present a

We are indebted also to the Second Part of King Henry IV. for another
local allusion of a similar kind: Silence, addressing Pistol, nicknames
him "goodman Puff of _Barson_[51:B]," a village which, under this
appellation, and that of _Barston_, is situated between Coventry
and Solyhall. It may indeed excite some surprise that we have not
more allusions of this nature to commemorate; that the scenery which
occurred to him early in life, and especially at this period, when
the imagery drawn from nature must have been impressed on his mind in
a manner peculiarly vivid and defined, when he was free from care,
unshackled by a family, and at liberty to roam where fancy led him, has
not been delineated in some portion of his works, with such accuracy as
immediately to designate its origin. For, if we consider the excursive
powers of his imagination, and the desultory and unsettled habits
which tradition has ascribed to him during his youthful residence at
Stratford, we may assert, without fear of contradiction, and as an
undoubted truth, that his rambles into the country, and for a poet's
purpose, were both frequent and extensive, and that not a stream, a
wood, or hamlet, within many miles of his native town, was unvisited by
him at various times and under various circumstances.

Yet, if we can seldom point out in his works any distinct reference to
the actual scenery of Stratford and its neighbourhood, we may observe,
that few of the remarkable events of his own time appear to have
escaped his notice; and among these may be found one which occurred at
this juvenile period of his life, and to which we have an allusion in
Romeo and Juliet; for though the personages of the drama exist and
act in a foreign clime, yet in this, and in many similar instances, he
hesitates not to describe the events of his native country as occurring
wherever he has chosen to lay the scene. Thus the nurse, describing to
Lady Capulet the age at which Juliet was weaned, says

    "'Tis since the _earthquake_ now eleven years,"—

a line, which, as Mr. Tyrwhitt and Mr. Malone have observed[52:A],
manifestly alludes to a phenomenon of this kind that had been felt
throughout England in the year 1580, and of which Holinshed, the
favourite historian of our bard, has given the following striking
account:—"On the sixt of April (1580), being Wednesdaie in Easter
weeke, about six of the clocke toward evening, a sudden earthquake
happening in London, and almost generallie throughout all England,
caused such an amazednesse among the people as was wonderfull for the
time, and caused them to make their earnest praiers to Almighty God!
The great clocke bell in the palace at Westminster strake of it selfe
against the hammer with the shaking of the earth, as diverse other
clocks and bels in the steeples of the cities of London and els-where
did the like. The gentlemen of the Temple being then at supper, ran
from the tables, and out of their hall with their knives in their
hands. The people assembled at the plaie-houses in the fields, as at
the Whoreater (the Theater I would saie) were so amazed, that doubting
the ruine of the galleries, they made hast to be gone. A péece of the
Temple church fell downe, some stones fell from Saint Paule's church
in London: and at Christ's church neere to Newgate-market, in the
sermon while, a stone fell from the top of the same church, which
stone killed out of hand one Thomas Greie an apprentice, and another
stone fell on his fellow-servant named Mabell Eueret, and so brused
hir that she lived but four daies after. Diverse other at that time in
that place were sore hurt, with running out of the church one over an
other for feare. The tops of diverse chimnies in the citie fell downe,
the houses were so shaken: a part of the castell at Bishops Stratford
in Essex fell downe. This earthquake indured in or about London not
passing one minute of an houre, and was no more felt. But afterward in
Kent, and on the sea coast it was felt three times; and at Sandwich at
six of the clocke the land not onelie quaked, but the sea also fomed,
so that the ships tottered. At Dover also the same houre was the like,
so that a péece of the cliffe fell into the sea, with also a péece of
the castell wall there: a piece of Saltwood castell in Kent fell downe:
and in the church of Hide the bels were heard to sound. A peece of
Sutton church in Kent fell downe, the earthquake being there not onlie
felt, but also heard. And in all these places and others in east Kent,
the same earthquake was felt three times to move, to wit, at six, at
nine, and at eleven of the clocke."[53:A] In this passage, to which we
shall again have occasion to revert, the violence and universality of
the event described, are such as would almost necessarily form an era
for reference in the poet's mind; and the date, indeed, of the _prima
stamina_ of the play in which the line above-mentioned is found, may be
nearly ascertained by this allusion.

If, as some of his commentators have supposed, Shakspeare possessed any
grammatical knowledge of the French and Italian languages, it is highly
probable that the acquisition must have been obtained in the interval
which took place between his quitting the grammar-school of Stratford
and his marriage, a period, if our arrangement be admitted, of about
six years; and consequently, any consideration of the subject will
almost necessarily claim a place at the close of this chapter.

That the dramas of our great poet exhibit numerous instances in which
both these languages are introduced, and especially the former,
of which we have an entire scene in Henry V., will not be denied
by any reader of his works; nor will any person, acquainted with
the literature of his times, venture to affirm, that he might not
have acquired by his own industry, and through the medium of the
introductory books then in circulation, a sufficient knowledge of
French and Italian for all the purposes which he had in view. We cannot
therefore agree with Dr. Farmer, when he asserts, that Shakspeare's
acquaintance with these languages consisted only of _a familiar phrase
or two_ picked up _in the writers of the time, or the course of his

The corrupted state of the French and Italian passages, as found in
the early editions of our poet's plays, can be no argument that he was
totally ignorant of these languages; as it would apply with nearly
equal force to prove that he was similarly situated with regard to
his vernacular tongue, which in almost every scene of these very
editions has undergone various and gross corruptions. Nor will greater
conviction result, when it is affirmed that this foreign phraseology
might be the interpolation of the players; for it remains to be
ascertained, that they possessed a larger portion of exotic literature
than Shakspeare himself.

The author of an essay on Shakspeare's learning in the _Censura
Literaria_, from which we have already quoted a passage in favour of
his having made some progress in latinity, is likewise of opinion that
his knowledge of the French was greater than Dr. Farmer is willing to

"I have been confirmed in this opinion," he observes, "by a casual
discovery of Shakspeare having imitated a whole French line and
description in a long French epic poem, written by Garnier, called the
_Henriade_, like Voltaire's, and on the same subject, first published
in 1594.

"In _As You Like It_, Shakspeare gives an affecting description of the
different manners of men in the different ages of life, which closes
with these lines:

    "What ends this strange eventful history
     Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
     Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing."

"Now—why have recourse for an insipid preposition to a language of
which he is said to have been totally ignorant? I always supposed
therefore that there must have been some peculiar circumstance well
known in those times, which must have induced him to give this motley
garb to his language:—but what that circumstance was I could not
discover until I accidentally in a foreign literary journal, met
with a review of a republication of that poem of Garnier at Paris,
in which were inserted, as a specimen of the poem, a description of
the appearance of the ghost of Admiral Coligny on the night after his
murder at the massacre of St. Bartholomew, and in the following lines:

    "_Sans pieds, sans mains, sans nez, sans oreilles, sans yeux,
     Meurtri de toutes parts; la barbe et les cheveux
     Poudreux, ensanglantez, chose presque incredible!
     Tant cette vision etoit triste et horrible!_"

"Here it immediately appeared to what author Shakspeare had gone for
the archetype of his own description of the last stage of old age,
which, by a parody on the above lines, he meant to represent like to
that mutilated ghost; and this seems to indicate that he had read that
poem in the original; for we even find the _meurtri de toutes parts_
imitated by _sans every thing_. A friend of mine formerly mentioned
this to Mr. Steevens, and he has briefly noticed this parody, if I
recollect rightly, in his joint edition along with Johnson[55:A], but
he did not copy the original lines of Garnier; nor so far as I know
any editor since; which however are too remarkable to be altogether
consigned to oblivion; and it is not very likely, that any Englishman
will ever read through that long dull poem; neither should I myself
have known of those lines, if they had not been quoted as a specimen.
Steevens's note is so very brief as to be quite obscure in regard to
what consequence he thought deducible from the imitation: he seems
to suggest as if there might have been some English translation of
the poem published, though now unknown; this is the constant refuge
for Shakspeare's knowledge of any thing written originally in another
language. But even if the fact were true, yet no translator would have
preserved the repetition of that word _sans_; for this he must have
gone to the French poem itself, therefore must at least have been
able to read that line in French, if not also the whole description
of the ghost; and if that, why not able also to read other French
books? It may indeed, be _supposed_, that some friend may have shown
him the above description, and explained to him the meaning of the
French lines, but this is only to make a second supposition in order to
support a former one made without sufficient foundation: we may just
as well make a single supposition at once, that he was himself able
to read and understand it, since he has evidently derived from it his
own description of the decrepitude of old age. Upon the whole, if his
copy of a single word from Holinshed, viz. 'on _this_ side Tiber,' is
a proof of his having read that historian, why also is not his copy of
the repetition of _sans_, and his parody of Coligny's ghost, an equally
good proof of his having read the poem of Garnier in the original
French language? To reason otherwise is to say, that when he gives us
bad French, this proves him not to understand it; and that when he
gives us good French, applied with propriety and even with ingenuity,
yet this again equally proves that he neither understood what he wrote,
nor was so much as able to read the French lines, which he has thus so
wittily imitated."[56:A]

Dr. Farmer has himself granted that Shakspeare _began_ to learn Latin:
why then not allow, from premises still more copious and convincing,
that he began likewise to learn French and Italian? That he wanted not
inclination for the attempt, the frequent use of these languages in his
works will sufficiently evince; that he had some leisure at the period
which we have appropriated to these acquisitions, namely, between the
years 1576 and 1582, few will be disposed to deny; and that he had
books which might enable him to make some progress in these studies,
the following list will ascertain:—

1. A Treatyse English and French right necessarye and profitable for
all young Children. 1560.

2. Principal Rules of the Italian Grammar, &c. Newly corrected and
imprinted by Wykes: 1560, reprinted 1567.

3. The Italian Grammar and Dictionary: By W. Thomas. 1561.

4. Lentulo's Italian Grammar, put into English: By Henry Grenthem. 1578.

5. Ploiche, Peter, Introduction to the French Tongue. 1578.

6. An Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionarie, containing foure sundrie
tongues: namelie, English, Latine, Greeke, and French: By I. Baret.

In short, with regard to the literature of Shakspeare, the nearest
approximation to the truth will be found to arise from taking a medium
course between the conclusions of Dr. Farmer, and of those who have
gone into a contrary extreme. That he had made some and that the
usual progress in the Latin language during the short period of his
school-education, it is, we think, in vain to deny; but that he ever
attained the power of reading a Roman classic with facility, cannot
with any probability be affirmed: it will be likewise, we are disposed
to believe, equally rational and correct, if we conclude, from the
evidence which his genius and his works afford, that his acquaintance
with the French and Italian languages was not merely confined to the
picking up _a familiar phrase or two_ from the conversation or writings
of others, but that he had actually commenced, and at an early period
too, the study of these languages, though, from his situation, and the
circumstances of his life, he had neither the means nor the opportunity
of cultivating them to any considerable extent.[58:A]


[34:A] "Mr. Betterton," observes Mr. Malone, "was born in 1635, and had
many opportunities of collecting information relative to Shakspeare,
but unfortunately the age in which he lived was not an age of
curiosity. Had either he or Dryden or Sir William d'Avenant taken the
trouble to visit our poet's youngest daughter, who lived till 1662, or
his grand-daughter, who did not die till 1670, many particulars might
have been preserved which are now irrecoverably lost. Shakspeare's
sister, Joan Hart, who was only five years younger than him, died
at Stratford in Nov. 1646, at the age of seventy-six; and from her
undoubtedly his two daughters, and his grand-daughter Lady Bernard, had
learned several circumstances of his early history antecedent to the
year 1600." Reed's Shakspeare, p. 119, 120.

[34:B] It has already been observed, in a note written some years after
the composition of the text, that this supposed corroboration is no
longer to be depended upon.

[35:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 322, 323.

[36:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 346, 347.

[36:B] Aubrey MS.—Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 213.

[37:A] Mr. Malone is also of opinion that Shakspeare was present at
this magnificent reception of Elizabeth. Vide "Inquiry," p. 150. note

[37:B] So denominated from a tract, written by _George Gascoigne_ Esq.,
entitled "The Princely Pleasures of Kenelworth Castle." It is inserted
in Nichols's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, vol. i.

[38:A] Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, vol. i. p. 143. 4th edition.

[38:B] Nichols's Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth,
vol. i. Laneham's Account of the Queen's Entertainment at Killingworth
Castle, 1575, p. 50. or 78. of the original pamphlet.

[39:A] Life of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, 1727. 8vo. p. 92.

[39:B] Hurd's Moral and Political Dialogues, vol. i. p. 148. Edit. of

[40:A] Laneham's Account, p. 65. of the Original.

[40:B] The following extract from Laneham's Letter, which immediately
follows the passage given in the text, and in which I have dropped the
author's singular orthography, will afford the reader a curious and
very entertaining description of the costly and magnificent gardens
of Kenelworth Castle, gardens in which it is probable the youthful
Shakpeare had more than once wandered with delight:—

"Unto this, His Honour's exquisite appointment of a beautiful garden,
an acre or more of quantity, that lieth on the north there: wherein
hard all along the castle-wall is reared a pleasant terrace of a ten
foot high, and a twelve broad: even under foot, and fresh of fine
grass; as is also the side thereof toward the garden, in which, by
sundry equal distances, with obelisks, spheres, and white bears, all of
stone, upon their curious bases, by goodly shew were set: to these two
fine arbours redolent by sweet trees and flowers, at each end one, the
garden plot under that, with fair allies green by grass, even voided
from the borders a both sides, and some (for change) with sand, not
light or too soft or soily by dust, but smooth and firm, pleasant to
walk on, as a sea-shore when the water is availd: then, much gracified
by due proportion of four even quarters: in the midst of each, upon a
base a two foot square, and high, seemly bordered of itself, a square
pilaster rising pyramidally of a fifteen foot high: simmetrically
pierced through from a foot beneath, until a two foot of the top:
whereupon for a capital, an orb of a ten inches thick: every of these
(with his base) from the ground to the top, of one whole piece; hewn
out of hard porphery, and with great art and heed (thinks me) thither
conveyed and there erected. Where, further also, by great cast and
cost, the sweetness of savour on all sides, made so repirant from the
redolent plants and fragrant herbs and flowers, in form, colour, and
quantity so deliriously variant; and fruit-trees bedecked with apples,
pears, and ripe cherries.

"And unto these, in the midst against the terrace, a square cage,
sumptuous and beautiful, joined hard to the north wall (that a that
side gards the garden as the garden the castle), of a rare form and
excellency, was raised: in height a twenty foot, thirty long, and a
fourteen broad. From the ground strong and close, reared breast high,
whereat a soil of a fair moulding was couched all about: from that
upward, four great windows a front, and two at each end, every one a
five foot wide, as many more even above them, divided on all parts by
a transome and architrave, so likewise ranging about the cage. Each
window arched in the top, and parted from other in even distance by
flat fair bolted columns, all in form and beauty like, that supported
a comely cornish couched all along upon the bole square; which with a
wire net, finely knit, of mashes six square, an inch wide (as it were
for a flat roof) and likewise the space of every window with great
cunning and comeliness, even and tight was all over-strained. Under the
cornish again, every part beautified with great diamonds, emeralds,
rubies, and sapphires; pointed, tabled, rok and round; garnished with
their gold, by skilful head and hand, and by toil and pencil so lively
expressed, as it mought be great marvel and pleasure to consider how
near excellency of art could approach unto perfection of nature.

"Holes were there also and caverns in orderly distance and fashion,
voided into the wall, as well for heat, for coolness, for roost a
nights and refuge in weather, as also for breeding when time is. More,
fair even and fresh holly-trees for pearching and proining, set within,
toward each end one.

"Hereto, their diversity of meats, their fine several vessels for their
water and sundry grains; and a man skilful and diligent to look to them
and tend them.

"But (shall I tell you) the silver sounded lute, without the sweet
touch of hand; the glorious golden cup, without the fresh fragrant
wine; or the rich ring with gem, without the fair featured finger;
is nothing indeed in his proper grace and use: even so His Honour
accounted of this mansion, till he had placed their tenants according.
Had it therefore replenished with lively birds, _English_, _French_,
_Spanish_, _Canarian_, and (I am deceived if I saw not some) _African_.
Whereby, whether it became more delightsome in change of tunes, and
harmony to the ear; or else in difference of colours, kinds, and
properties to the eye, I'll tell you if I can, when I have better
bethought me.

"In the centre (as it were) of this goodly garden, was there placed a
very fair fountain, cast into an eight-square, reared a four foot high;
from the midst whereof a column up set in shape of two Athlants joined
together a back half; the one looking east, tother west, with their
hands upholding a fair formed bowl of a three foot over; from whence
sundry fine pipes did lively distill continual streams into the receipt
of the fountain, maintained still two foot deep by the same fresh
falling water: wherein pleasantly playing to and fro, and round about,
carp, tench, bream, and for variety, perch, and eel, fish fair-liking
all, and large: In the top, the _ragged staff_; which with the bowl,
the pillar, and eight sides beneath, were all hewn out of rich and hard
white marble. A one side _Neptune_ with his tridental fuskin triumphing
in his throne, trailed into the deep by his marine horses. On another,
_Thetis_ in her chariot drawn by her dolphins. Then _Triton_ by his
fishes. Here _Proteus_ herding his sea-bulls. There _Doris_ and her
daughters solacing a sea and sands. The waves scourging with froth
and foam, intermingled in place, with whales, whirlpools, sturgeons,
tunnies, conchs, and wealks, all engraven by exquisite device and
skill, so as I may think this not much inferior unto _Phœbus_ gates,
which (Ovid says) and peradventure a pattern to this, that _Vulcan_
himself did cut: whereof such was the excellency of art, that the work
in value surmounted the stuff, and yet were the gates all of clean
massy silver.

"Here were things, ye see, mought inflame any mind to long after
looking: but whoso was found so hot in desire, with the wreast of a cok
was sure of a cooler: water spurting upward with such vehemency, as
they should by and by be moistened from top to toe; the he's to some
laughing, but the she's to more sport. This some time was occupied to
very good pastime.

"A garden then so appointed, as wherein aloft upon sweet shawdowed
walk of terrace, in heat of summer, to feel the pleasant whisking
wind above, or delectable coolness of the fountain spring beneath: to
taste of delicious strawberries, cherries and other fruits, even from
their stalks: to smell such fragrancy of sweet odours, breathing from
the plants, herbs, and flowers: to hear such natural melodious musick
and tunes of birds: to have in eye, for mirth, some time these under
springing streams; then, the woods, the waters (for both pool and
chase were hard at hand in sight,) the deer, the people (that out of
the east arbour in the base court also at hand in view,) the fruits
trees, the plants, the herbs, the flowers, the change in colours, the
birds flittering, the fountain streaming, the fish swimming, all in
such delectable variety, order, dignity; whereby, at one moment, in one
place, at hand, without travel, to have so full fruition of so many
God's blessings, by entire delight unto all senses (if all can take)
at once: for _etymon_ of the word worthy to be called _Paradise_: and
though not so goodly as _Paradise_ for want of the fair rivers, yet
better a great deal by the lack of so unhappy a tree." Pages 66-72.

[42:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 59.

[43:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 60. note 7.

[43:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 214.

[43:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 276.


    "'——— For what in me was _purchased_,
      Falls upon thee in a much fairer sort.'
                                        _K. Hen. IV. P. II._

"_Purchase_ is here used in its strict legal sense, in
contradistinction to an acquisition by _descent_.

    'Unless the devil have him in _fee-simple, with fine and recovery_.'
                                   _Merry Wives of Windsor._

    'He is 'rested _on the case_.'       _Comedy of Errors._

    '——— with _bills_ on their necks, Be it known unto all men by
    these presents,' &c.                   _As you like it._

    '——— who writes himself armigero, in any _bill, warrant,
    quittance, or obligation_.'    _Merry Wives of Windsor._

    'Go with me to a notary, seal me there
     Your _single bond_.'              _Merchant of Venice._

    'Say, for non-payment that the debt should double.'
                                         _Venus and Adonis._

"On a conditional bond's becoming forfeited for non-payment of money
borrowed, the whole penalty, which is usually the double of the
principal sum lent by the obligee, was formerly recoverable at law. To
this our poet here alludes.

    'But the defendant doth that plea deny;
     To 'cide his title, is impanell'd
     A quest of thoughts.'                      _Sonnet 46._

"In _Much Ado about Nothing_, Dogberry charges the watch to keep their
_fellow's counsel and their own_. This Shakspeare transferred from the
oath of a grand juryman.

    'And let my officers of such a nature
     Make an _extent_ upon his house and lands.'
                                           _As you like it._

    'He was taken _with the manner_.'
                                     _Love's Labour's lost._

    '_Enfeof'd_ himself to popularity.'
                                         _K. Hen. IV. P. I._

    'He will seal the fee-simple of his salvation, and cut the
    entail from all remainders, and a perpetual succession for it
    perpetually.'               _All's Well that ends Well._

    'Why, let her _accept before excepted_.'
                                            _Twelfth Night._

    '——— which is four terms or two actions;—and he shall laugh
    without _intervallums_.'            _K. Hen. IV. P. II._

    '——— keeps leets and _law-days_.'    _K. Richard II._

    '_Pray in aid_ for kindness.'   _Anthony and Cleopatra._

"No writer but one who had been conversant with the technical language
of leases and other conveyances, would have used _determination_ as
synonymous to _end_. Shakspeare frequently uses the word in that
sense. See vol. xii. (Reed's Shakspeare,) p. 202. n. 2.; vol. xiii. p.
127. n. 4.; and (Mr. Malone's edit.) vol. x. p. 202. n. 8. 'From and
after the _determination_ of such a term,' is the regular language of

    'Humbly complaining to Your Highness.'
                                           _K. Richard III._

'Humbly complaining to Your Lordship, your orator,' &c. are the first
words of every bill in chancery.

    'A kiss in fee farm! In witness whereof these parties
    interchangeably have set their hands and seals.'
                                     _Troilus and Cressida._

    'Art thou a _feodary_ for this act?'        _Cymbeline._

"See the note on that passage, vol. xviii. p. 507, 508. n. 3. Reed's

    'Are those _precepts_ served?' says Shallow to Davy, in _K.
    Henry IV._

"_Precept_ in this sense is a word only known in the office of a
justice of peace.

    'Tell me what state, what dignity, what honour,
     Can'st thou _demise_ to any child of mine?'
                                           _K. Richard III._

'——— hath _demised_, granted, and to farm let,' is the constant
language of leases. What _poet_ but Shakspeare has used the word
_demised_ in this sense?

"Perhaps it may be said, that our author in the same manner may be
proved to have been equally conversant with the terms of divinity or
physic. Whenever as large a number of instances of his ecclesiastical
or medicinal knowledge shall be produced, what has now been stated will
certainly not be entitled to any weight." Malone, Reed's Shakspeare,
vol. ii. p. 276. n. 9.

[46:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 222, 223.

[46:B] Whiter's Specimen of a Commentary, p. 95. note. As
Mr. Whiter has not chosen to append these additional examples, I have
thought it would be satisfactory to give the few which more immediately
occur to my memory.

    "Immediately provided in that case."
                                  _Midsummer Night's Dream._

    "Royally attornied."                    _Winter's Tale._

    "That doth _utter_ all men's ware-a."
                                            _Winter's Tale._

    "Thy title is _affeer'd_." (This is a law-term for confirmed.)

    "Keep leets, and law-days, and in sessions sit."

    "Why should calamity be full of words?
     Windy _attorneys_ to their _client_ woes."
                                              _Richard III._

    "But when the heart's _attorney_ once is mute,
     The _client_ breaks, as desperate in his suit."
                                         _Venus and Adonis._

    "So now I have confessed that he is thine,
     And I myself am _mortgaged to thy Will_."
                                               _Sonnet 134._

    "He learn'd but, _surety-like_, to write for me,
     _Under that bond that him as fast doth bind_.
     The _statute_ of thy beauty, &c."
                                               _Sonnet 134._

[47:A] Chalmers's Apology, p. 554. The "Lawiers Logike" was written by
Abraham Fraunce.

[50:A] Ireland's Picturesque Views, p. 229-233.

[50:B] Act i. sc. 2.

[50:C] Act v. sc. 1.

[51:A] Mr. Edwards and Mr. Steevens have conjectured that _Barton_
and _Woodmancot_, vulgarly pronounced _Woncot_, in Gloucestershire,
might be the places meant by Shakspeare; and Mr. Tollet remarks, that
_Woncot_, may be put for _Wolphmancote_, vulgarly _Ovencote_, in
Warwickshire. Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 30., and vol. xii. p.

[51:B] Act v. sc. 3.

[52:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xx. p. 38. n. 2.

[53:A] Holinshed's Chronicles, vol. iv. p. 126. edit. of 1808.

[54:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 85. Mr. Capel Lofft's opinion
of the Italian literature of Shakspeare is somewhat more extended
than my own. "My impression," says he, "is, that Shakspeare was not
unacquainted with the most popular authors in _Italian prose_: and that
his ear had listened to the enchanting tones of _Petrarca_ and some
others of their great poets." Preface to his Laura, p. cxcii.

[55:A] This notice does not appear in the Variorum edition of 1803.

[56:A] Censura Literaria, vol. ix. p. 287. et seq.

[57:A] Vide Chalmers's Apology, p. 549. and Bibliotheca Reediana, p. 9.

[58:A] Since these observations were written, a work has fallen into my
hands under the title of "A Tour in Quest of Genealogy, through several
parts of Wales, Somersetshire, and Wiltshire, in a Series of Letters
to a Friend in Dublin; interspersed with a description of Stourhead
and Stonehenge; together with various Anecdotes and curious Fragments
from a Manuscript Collection ascribed to Shakespeare. By a Barrister."
London, 1811.

These manuscripts ascribed to Shakspeare, which, from the language and
sentiment of almost every line, are manifestly a mere fiction, are
said to have been purchased at an auction at Carmarthen, consisting of
verses and letters that passed between Shakspeare and his mistress Anne
Hatheway, together with letters to and from him and others, a journal
of Shakspeare, an account of many of his plays, memoirs of his life by
himself, &c. I have mentioned the publication in this place, as it is
worthy of remark, that the fabricator of these MSS., whoever he is,
appears to have entertained an idea similar to my own, with regard
to the period when our poet attempted the acquisition of the modern
languages; for of the supposed memoirs said to be written by Shakspeare
himself, the following, among others, is given as a specimen:—

"Having an ernest desier to lerne forraine tonges, it was mie good happ
to have in mie fathere's howse an Italian, one Girolama Albergi, tho
he went bye the name of Francesco Manzini, a dier of woole; but he was
not what he wished to passe for; he had the breedinge of a gentilman,
and was a righte sounde scholer. It was he taught me the littel
Italian I know, and rubbed up my Latten; we redd Bandello's Novells
together, from the which I gatherid some delliceous flowres to stick
in mie dramattick poseys. He was nevew to Battisto Tibaldi, who made
a translacion of the Greek poete, Homar, into Italian; he showed me a
coppy of it given him by hys kinsman, Ercole Tibaldi." P. 202.

I must do the author of this literary forgery, however, the justice to
say, that in taste and genius he is immeasurably beyond his youthful
predecessor, and that some of the verses ascribed to _Anna_ Hatheway,
as he terms her, possess no inconsiderable beauties. It is most
extraordinary, however, that any individual should venture to bring
forward the following lines, which are exquisitely modern in their
structure, as the production of a cottage girl of the sixteenth century.


    SWEETE swanne of Avon, thou whoose art
    Can mould at will the human hart,
    Can drawe from all who reade or heare,
    The unresisted smile and teare:

    By thee a vyllege maiden found,
    No care had I for measured sounde;
    To dresse the fleese that Willie wrought
    Was all I knewe, was all I sought.

    At thie softe lure too quicke I flewe,
    Enamored of thie songe I grew;
    The distaffe soone was layd aside,
    And all mie woork thie straynes supply'd.

    Thou gavest at first th' inchanting quill,
    And everie kiss convay'd thie skill;
    Unfelt, ye maides, ye cannot tell
    The wondrous force of suche a spell.

    Nor marvell if thie breath transfuse
    A charme repleate with everie muse;
    They cluster rounde thie lippes, and thyne
    Distill theire sweetes improv'd on myne.
                                              ANNA HATHEWAY.



Shakspeare married and became the father of a family at a very early
period; at a period, indeed, when most young men, even in his own
days, had only completed their school-education. He had probably been
attached also to the object of his affections, who resided very near to
him, for a year or two previous to the nuptial connection, which took
place in 1582; and Mr. Malone is inclined to believe that the ceremony
was performed either at Hampton-Lacy, or at Billesley, in the August of
that year[59:A], when consequently the poet had not attained the age of
eighteen and a half!

The maiden name of the lady who had induced her lover to enter thus
early on the world, with little more than his passion to console,
and his genius to support them, was _Anne Hathaway_, the daughter
of Richard Hathaway, a substantial yeoman, residing at Shottery, a
village about a mile distant from Stratford. It appears also from the
tomb-stone of his mistress[60:A] in the church of Stratford, that she
must have been born in 1556, and was therefore eight years older than

Of the family of the Hathaways little now, except the record of a
few deaths and baptisms, can be ascertained with precision: in the
register-books of the parish of Stratford, the following entry, in all
probability, refers to the father of the poet's wife:—

"Johanna, daughter of _Richard Hathaway_, otherwise Gardiner, of
Shottery, was baptized May 9, 1566."[60:B]

As the register does not commence before 1558, the baptism of _Anne_
could not of course be included; but it appears that the family of
this Richard was pretty numerous, for Thomas his son was baptized
at Stratford, April 12. 1569; John, another son, Feb. 3. 1574; and
William, another son, Nov. 30. 1578.[60:C] Thomas died at Stratford in
1654-5, at the advanced age of eighty-five.[60:D] That the Hathaways
have continued resident at Shottery and the neighbourhood, down to the
present age, will be evident from the note below, which records their
deaths to the year 1785, as inscribed on the floor, in the nave and
aisle of Stratford church.[60:E]

The cottage at Shottery, in which Anne and her parents dwelt, is said
to be yet standing, and is still pointed out to strangers as a subject
of curiosity. It is now impossible to substantiate the truth of the
tradition; but Mr. Ireland, who has given a sketch of this cottage in
his Picturesque Views on the Avon, observes, "it is still occupied
by the descendants of her family, who are poor and numerous. To this
same humble cottage I was referred when pursuing the same inquiry, by
the late Mr. Harte, of Stratford, before-mentioned. He told me there
was an old oak chair, that had always in his remembrance been called
Shakspeare's courting chair, with a purse that had been likewise his,
and handed down from him to his grand-daughter Lady Bernard, and from
her through the Hathaway family to those of the present day. From the
best information I was able to collect at the time, I was induced to
consider this account as authentic, and from a wish to obtain the
smallest trifle appertaining to our Shakspeare, I became a purchaser of
these relics. Of the chair I have here given a sketch: it is of a date
sufficiently ancient to justify the credibility of its history; and
as to farther proof, it must rest on the traditional opinion and the
character of this poor family. The purse is about four inches square,
and is curiously wrought with small black and white bugles and beads;
the tassels are of the same materials. The bed and other furniture
in the room where the chair stood, have the appearance of so high
antiquity, as to leave no doubt but that they might all have been the
furniture of this house long before the time of Shakspeare.

"The proprietor of this furniture, an old woman upwards of seventy, had
slept in the bed from her childhood, and was always told it had been
there since the house was built. Her absolute refusal to part with this
bed at any price was one of the circumstances which led to a persuasion
that I had not listened with too easy credulity to the tale she told
me respecting the articles I had purchased. By the same person I was
informed, that at the time of the Jubilee, the late George Garrick
obtained from her a small inkstand, and a pair of fringed gloves, said
to have been worn by Shakspeare."[61:A]

Of the personal charms of the poet's mistress nothing has been
transmitted to us by which we can form the smallest estimate, nor can
we positively ascertain whether convenience, or the attraction of a
beautiful form, was the chief promoter of this early connection. Mr.
Rowe merely observes, that, "in order to settle in the world after a
family-manner, he thought fit to marry while he was yet very[62:A]
young;" language which seems to imply that _prudence_ was the prime
motive with the youthful bard. Theobald proceeds still further, and
declares "it is _probable_, a view of _interest_ might partly sway his
conduct in this point: for he married the daughter of a _substantial_
yeoman in his neighbourhood, _and she had the start of him in age no
less than eight years_."[62:B] Capell, on the contrary, thinks that
the marriage was contracted against the wishes of his father, whose
displeasure was the consequence of their union.[62:C]

A moment's consideration of the character of Shakspeare will induce
us to conclude that _interest_ could not be his _leading_ object in
forming the matrimonial tie. In no stage of his subsequent life does a
motive of this kind appear strongly to have influenced him; and it is
well known, from facts which we shall have occasion shortly to record,
that his juvenility at Stratford was marked, rather by carelessness
and dissipation, than by the cool calculations of pecuniary wisdom.
In short, to adopt, with slight variation, a line of his own, we may
confidently assert that at this period,

    "Love and Liberty crept in the mind and marrow of his youth."
                                          _Timon of Athens._

Neither can we agree with Mr. Capell in supposing that the father of
our bard was averse to the connection; a supposition which he has built
on the idea of old Mr. Shakspeare being "a man of no little substance,"
and that by this marriage of his son he was disappointed in a design
which he had formed of sending him to an [62:D]University! Now it
has been proved that John Shakspeare was, at this period, if not in
distressed yet in embarrassed circumstances, and that neither the
school-education of his son, nor his subsequent employment at home,
could be such as was calculated in any degree to prepare him for an
academical life.

We conclude, therefore, and certainly, with every probability on our
side, that the young poet's attachment to Anne Hathaway was, not only
perfectly disinterested, but had met likewise with the approbation of
his parents. This will appear with more verisimilitude if we consider,
in the first place, that though his bride were eight years older than
himself, still she could be but in her twenty-sixth year, an age
compatible with youth, and with the most alluring beauty; secondly, it
does not appear that the finances of young Shakspeare were in the least
improved by the connection; and thirdly, we know that he remained some
years at Stratford after his marriage, which it is not likely that he
would have done, had he been at variance with his father.

It is to be regretted, and it is indeed somewhat extraordinary, that
not a fragment of the bard's poetry, addressed to his Warwickshire
beauty, has been rescued from oblivion; for that the muse of Shakspeare
did not lie dormant on an occasion so propitious to her inspiration
we must believe, both from the costume of the times, and from his own
amatory disposition. He has himself told us that

    "Never durst poet touch a pen to write,
     Until his ink were temper'd with love's sighs."—
                      _Love's Labour's Lost_, act iv. sc. 3.

and we have seen that an opportunity for qualification was very early
placed within his power. That he availed himself of it, there can be no
doubt; and had his effusions, on this occasion, descended to posterity,
we should, in all probability, have been made acquainted with several
interesting particulars relative to his early life and character, and
to the person and disposition of his mistress.[63:A]

Our ignorance on this subject, however, would have been compensated,
had any authentic documents been preserved relative to his
establishment at Stratford, in consequence of his marriage; but of his
domestic arrangements, of his business or professional employment, no
information, or tradition to be depended upon, has reached us. We can
only infer, from the evidence produced in the preceding chapter, and
from the necessity, which must now have occurred, of providing for a
family-establishment, that if, as we have reason to conclude, he had
entered on the exercise of a branch of the manorial law, previous to
his marriage, and with a view towards that event, he would, of course,
be compelled, from prudential motives, to continue that occupation,
after he had become a householder, and most probably to combine with it
the business of a woolstapler, either on his own separate interest, or
in concert with his father.

If any further incitement were wanting to his industry, it was soon
imparted; for, to the claims upon him as a husband, were added, during
the following year, those which attach to the name of a parent; his
eldest child, Susanna, being born in May 1583, and baptized on the 26th
of the same month. Thus, scarcely had our poet completed his nineteenth
year, when the most serious duties of life were imperiously forced
upon his attention, under circumstances perhaps of narrow fortune not
altogether calculated to render their performance easy and pleasant;
a situation which, on a superficial view, would not appear adapted to
afford that leisure, that free and unincumbered state of intellect,
so necessary to mental exertion; but with Shakspeare the pressure of
these and of pecuniary difficulties served only to awaken that energy
and elasticity of mind, which, ultimately directing his talents into
their proper channel, called forth the brightest and most successful
emanations of a genius nearly universal.

The family of the youthful bard gathered round him with rapidity; for,
in 1584-5, it was increased by the birth of twins, a son and daughter,
named Hamnet and Judith, who were baptized on February the 2d, of the
same year.

The boy was christened by the name of Hamnet in compliment to his
god-father Mr. Hamnet Sadler, and the girl was called Judith, from a
similar deference to his wife, Mrs. Judith Sadler, who acted as her
sponsor. Mr. Hamnet or Hamlet Sadler, for they were considered as
synonymous names, and therefore used indiscriminately[65:A], appears
to have been some relation of the Shakspeare family; he is one of
the witnesses to Shakspeare's will, and is remembered in it in the
following manner:—"_Item_, I give and bequeath to Hamlet Sadler
twenty-six shillings eight-pence, to buy him a ring." Mr. Sadler died
at Stratford in October 1624, and is supposed to have been born about
the year 1550. His wife was buried there March 23. 1613-14, and Mr.
Malone conjectures that our poet was probably god-father to their son
_William_, who was baptized at Stratford, February 5. 1597-8.[65:B] In
the Stratford Register are to be found entries of the baptism of six of
Mr. Sadler's children, four sons and two daughters, William being the
last but one.

An anecdote of Shakspeare, unappropriated to any particular period of
his life, and which may with as much, if not more, probability, be
ascribed to this stage of his biography, as to any subsequent era, has
been preserved as a tradition at Stratford. A drunken blacksmith, with
a carbuncled face, reeling up to Shakspeare, as he was leaning over a
mercer's door, exclaimed, with much vociferation,

    "Now, Mr. SHAKSPEARE, tell me, if you can,
     The difference between a youth and a young man:"

a question which immediately drew from our poet the following reply:

    "Thou son of fire, with _thy face like a maple_,
     The same difference as between a scalded and a coddled apple."

A part of the wit of this anecdote, which, says Mr. Malone, "was
related near fifty years ago to a gentleman at Stratford, by a
person then above eighty years of age, whose father might have been
contemporary with Shakspeare," turns upon the comparison between the
blacksmith's face and a species of maple, the bark of which, according
to Evelyn, is uncommonly rough, and the grain undulated and crisped
into a variety of curls.

It would appear, indeed, from a book published in 1611, under the
title of _Tarleton's Jeasts_, that this fancied resemblance was a
frequent source of sarcastic wit; for it is there recorded of this once
celebrated comedian, that, "as he was performing some part 'at the Bull
in Bishopsgate-street, where the Queen's players oftentimes played,'
while he was 'kneeling down to aske his father's blessing,' a fellow
in the gallery threw an apple at him, which hit him on the cheek.
He immediately took up the apple, and, advancing to the audience,
addressed them in these lines:

    'Gentlemen, this fellow, with _his face of mapple_,
     Instead of a pippin hath throwne me an apple;
     But as for an apple he hath cast a crab,
     So instead of an honest woman God hath sent him a drab.'

'The people,' says the relator, 'laughed heartily; for the fellow had a
quean to his wife.'"[66:A]

Shakspeare was now, to all appearance, settled in the country; he
was carrying on his own and his father's business; he was married
and had a family around him; a situation in which the comforts of
domestic privacy might be predicted within his reach, but which augured
little of that splendid destiny, that universal fame and unparalleled
celebrity, which awaited his future career.

In adherence, therefore, to the plan, which we have announced, of
connecting the circumstances of the times with our author's life,
we have chosen this period of it, as admirably adapted for the
introduction of a survey of country life and manners, its customs,
diversions and superstitions, as they existed in the age of Shakspeare.
These, therefore, will be the subject of the immediately following
chapters, in which it shall be our particular aim, among the numerous
authorities to which we shall be obliged to have recourse, to draw
from the poet himself those passages which throw light upon the topics
as they rise to view; an arrangement which, when it shall have been
carried, in all its various branches, through the work, will clearly
show, that from Shakspeare, more than from any other poet, is to be
collected the history of the times in which he lived, so far as that
history relates to popular usage and amusement.


[59:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 139. note 4.

[60:A] "Heere Lyeth Interrid The Bodye of Anne, Wife of Mr. William
Shakespeare, Who Depted. This Life The 6th Day of Avgvst, 1623, Being
of The Age of 67 Yeares."—Wheler's Stratford, p. 76.

[60:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 133.

[60:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 134. Note by Malone.

[60:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 128.

[60:E] "Richard Hathaway, of Shottery, died 15th April, 1692. Robert
Hathaway died 4th March, 1728, aged 64. Edmund Hathaway died 14th
June, 1729, aged 57. Jane his wife died 12th Dec. 1729, aged 64. John
Hathaway died 11th Oct. 1731, aged 39. Abigail, wife of John Hathaway,
jun. of Luddington, died 5th of May, 1735, aged 29. Mary her daughter
died 13th July, 1735, aged 10 weeks. Robert Hathaway, son of Robert
and Sarah Hathaway, died the 1st of March, 1723, aged 21. Ursula, wife
of John Hathaway, died the 23d of Janry. 1731, aged 50. John Hathaway,
sen. died the 5th of Sept. 1753, aged 73. John Hathaway, of Haddington,
died the 23d of June, 1775, aged 67. S. H. 1756. S. H. 1785."—Wheler's
History and Antiquities of Stratford-upon-Avon, p. 55.

[61:A] Ireland's Views, p. 206-209.

[62:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 60.

[62:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 193.

[62:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 355. note 1.

[62:D] Ibid.

[63:A] Building on the high credibility of Shakspeare having employed
his poetical talents, at this period, on the subject nearest to his
heart, two ingenious gentlemen have been so obliging as not only to
furnish him with words on this occasion, but to offer these to the
world as the genuine product of his genius. It is scarcely necessary to
add, that I allude to the Shakspeare Papers of young Ireland; and to a
Tour in Quest of Genealogy, by a Barrister.

[65:A] Thus in the will of Shakspeare we read, "I give and bequeath to
_Hamlet_ Sadler;" when at the close, Mr. Sadler as a witness writes
his Christian name _Hamnet_. See Malone's note on this subject, Reed's
Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 135.

[65:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 158, note 1.

[66:A] Malone's Historical Account of the English Stage, Reed's
Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 140. note 4.



It may be necessary, in the commencement of this chapter, to remark,
that rural life, in the strict acceptation of the term, will be at
present the exclusive object of attention; a survey of the manners and
customs of the metropolis, and of the superior orders of society, being
deferred to a subsequent portion of the work.

No higher character will, therefore, be introduced in this sketch
than the _country squire_, constituting according to Harrison, who
wrote about the year 1580, one of the second order of gentlemen; for
these, he remarks, "be divided into two sorts, as the baronie or
estate of lords (which conteineth barons and all above that degree),
and also those that be no lords, as knights, esquires, and simple
gentlemen."[68:A] He has also furnished us, in another place, with a
more precise definition of the character under consideration. "Esquire
(which we call commonlie squire) is a French word, and so much in
Latine as Scutiger vel Armiger, and such are all those which beare
armes, or armoires, testimonies of their race from whence they be
descended. They were at the first costerels or bearers of the armes of
barons, or knights, and thereby being instructed in martiall knowledge,
had that name for a dignitie given to distinguish them from common
souldiers called Gregarii Milities when they were together in the

It is curious to mark the minute distinctions of gentlemen as detailed
at this period, in the various books of _Armorie_ or _Heraldrie_. The
science, indeed, was cultivated, in the days of Shakspeare, with an
enthusiasm which has never since been equalled, and the treatises on
the subject were consequently multitudinous.

    "—— If no gentleman, why then no arms,"[69:A]

exclaims our poet; the aspirants, therefore, to this distinction
were numerous, and in the _Gentleman's Academie_; or, _The Booke of
St. Albans_, published by Gervase Markham in 1595, which he says in
the dedication was _then_ absolutely "necessarie and behovefull to
the accomplishment of the gentlemen of this flourishing ile—in the
heroicall and excellent study of Armory," we find "nine sortes" and
"foure maner" of gentlemen expressly distinguished.

    "Of nine sortes of gentlemen:

"First, there is a gentleman of ancestry and blood.

"A gentleman of blood.

"A gentleman of coat-armour, and those are three, one of the kings
badge, another of lordship, and the third of killing a pagan.

"A gentleman untriall: a gentleman Ipocrafet: a gentleman spirituall
and temporall: there is also a gentleman spirituall and temporall.—

    "The divers manner of gentlemen:

"There are foure maner of gentlemen, to wit, one of auncestrie, which
must needes bee of blood, and three of coate-armour, and not of blood:
as one a gentleman of coate-armour of the kings badge, which is of
armes given him by an herauld: another is, to whome the king giveth a
lordeshippe, to a yeoman by his letters pattents, and to his heires for
ever, whereby hee may beare the coate-armour of the same lordeshippe:
the thirde is, if a yeoman kill a gentleman, Pagan or Sarazen, whereby
he may of right weare his coate-armour: and some holde opinion, that
if one Christian doe kill an other, and if it be lawfull battell, they
may weare each others coate-armour, yet it is not so good as where the
Christian killes the Pagan."

We have also the virtues and vices proper or contrary to the character
of the gentleman, the former of which are divided into five amorous and
four sovereign: "the five amorous are these,—lordly of countenance,
sweet in speech, wise in answere, perfitte in government and cherefull
to faithfulnes: the foure soveraigne are these fewe,—oathes are no
swearing, patient in affliction, knowledge of his owne birth, and to
feare to offend his soveraigne."[70:A] The vices which are likewise
enumerated as _nine_, are all modifications of cowardice, lechery, and

That the character of the gentleman was still estimated, in the
reign of Elizabeth, according to this definition of the Prioress of
Sopewell, we have consequently the authority of Markham to assert, who
tells us, that the study of his modernised edition of the Booke of St.
Albans was still "behovefull to the accomplishment of the gentleman" of

The mansion-houses of the country-gentlemen were, in the days of
Shakspeare, rapidly improving both in their external appearance, and
in their interior comforts. During the reign of Henry the Eighth, and
even of Mary, they were, if we except their size, little better than
cottages, being thatched buildings, covered on the outside with the
coarsest clay, and lighted only by lattices; when Harrison wrote,
in the age of Elizabeth, though the greater number of manor-houses
still remained framed of timber, yet he observes, "such as be latelie
builded, are cōmonlie either of bricke or hard stone, or both; their
roomes large and comelie, and houses of office further distant
from their lodgings."[72:A] The old timber mansions, too, were now
covered with the finest plaster, which, says the historian, "beside
the delectable whitenesse of the stuffe itselfe, is laied on so
even and smoothlie, as nothing in my judgment can be done with more
exactnesse[73:A]:" and at the same time, the windows, interior
decorations, and furniture were becoming greatly more useful and
elegant. "Of old time our countrie houses," continues Harrison,
"instead of glasse did use much lattise, and that made either of
wicker or fine rifts of oke in chekerwise. I read also that some
of the better sort, in and before the time of the Saxons, did make
panels of horne insteed of glasse, and fix them in woodden calmes.
But as horne in windows is now quite laid downe in everie place, so
our lattises are also growne into lesse use, because glasse is come
to be so plentifull, and within a verie little so good cheape if not
better then the other.—The wals of our houses on the inner sides in
like sort be either hanged with tapisterie, arras worke, or painted
cloths, wherein either diverse histories, or hearbes, beasts, knots,
and such like are stained, or else they are seeled with oke of our
owne, or wainescot brought hither out of the east countries, whereby
the roomes are not a little commanded, made warme, and much more close
than otherwise they would be. As for stooves we have not hitherto used
them greatlie, yet doo they now begin to be made in diverse houses
of the gentrie.—Likewise in the houses of knights, gentlemen, &c.
it is not geson to behold generallie their great provision of Turkie
worke, pewter, brasse, fine linen, and thereto costlie cupbords of
plate, worth five or six hundred or a thousand pounds, to be deemed by

The house of every country-gentleman of property included a neat chapel
and a spacious hall; and where the estate and establishment were
considerable, the mansion was divided into two parts or sides, one for
the state or banqueting-rooms, and the other for the household; but
in general, the latter, except in baronial residences, was the only
part to be met with, and when complete had the addition of parlours;
thus Bacon, in his Essay on Building, describing the houshold side of
a mansion, says, "I wish it divided at the first into a hall, and a
chappell, with a partition betweene; both of good state and bignesse:
and those not to goe all the length, but to have, at the further end,
a winter, and a summer parler, both faire: and under these roomes a
faire and large cellar, sunke under ground: and likewise, some privie
kitchins, with butteries and pantries, and the like."[74:A] It was the
custom also to have windows opening from the parlours and passages
into the chapel, hall, and kitchen, with the view of overlooking or
controlling what might be going on; a trait of vigilant caution,
which may still be discovered in some of our ancient colleges and
manor-houses, and to which Shakspeare alludes in King Henry the Eighth,
where he describes His Majesty and Butts the physician entering at a
window above, which overlooks the council-chamber.[74:B] We may add,
in illustration of this system of architectural espionage, that Andrew
Borde, when giving instructions for building a house in his _Dietarie
of Health_, directs "many of the chambers to have a view into the
chapel:" and that Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, in a letter, dated
1573, says, "if it please Her Majestie, she may come in through my
gallerie, and see the disposition of the hall in dynner-time, at _a
window opening thereunto_."[74:C]

The hall of the country-squire was the usual scene of eating and
hospitality, at the upper end of which was placed the orsille or high
table, a little elevated above the floor, and here the master of the
mansion presided, with an authority, if not a state, which almost
equalled that of the potent baron. The table was divided into upper and
lower messes, by a huge saltcellar, and the rank and consequence of the
visitors were marked by the situation of their seats above, and below,
the saltcellar; a custom which not only distinguished the relative
dignity of the guests, but extended likewise to the nature of the
provision, the wine frequently circulating only above the saltcellar,
and the dishes below it, being of a coarser kind than those near the
head of the table. So prevalent was this uncourteous distinction, that
Shakspeare, in his Winter's Tale, written about the year 1604, or
1610, designates the inferior orders of society by the term "_lower

        ————————— "Lower messes,
    Perchance, are to this business purblind."[75:A]

Dekkar, likewise, in his play called _The Honest Whore_, 1604, mentions
in strong terms the degradation of sitting beneath the salt: "Plague
him, set him beneath the salt; and let him not touch a bit, till every
one has had his full cut."[75:B] Hall too, in the sixth satire of his
second book, published in 1597, when depicting the humiliated state of
the squire's chaplain, says, that he must not

    "ever presume to sit _above the salt_:"

and Jonson, in his Cynthia's Revells, speaking of a coxcomb, says,
"his fashion is, not to take knowledge of him that is beneath him in
clothes. He never drinkes _below the salt_." See act i. sc. 2.

This invidious regulation appears to have extended far into the
seventeenth century; for Massinger in his _City Madam_, acted in 1632,
thus notices it:

        ——————— "My proud lady
    Admits him to her table, marry, ever
    _Beneath the salt_, and there he sits the subject
    Of her contempt and scorn:"[75:C]

and Cartright still later:

         ——— "Where you are best esteem'd,
    You only pass under the favourable name
    Of humble cousins that sit _beneath the salt_."
                                           _Love's Convert._

The luxury of eating and of good cooking were well understood in the
days of Elizabeth, and the table of the country-squire frequently
groaned beneath the burden of its dishes; at Christmas and at
Easter especially, the hall became the scene of great festivity; "in
gentlemen's houses, at Christmas," says Aubrey, "the first dish that
was brought to table was a boar's head, with a lemon in his mouth. At
Queen's Coll. Oxon. they still retain this custom, the bearer of it
bringing it into the hall, singing to an old tune an old Latin rhyme,
_Apri caput defero, &c._ The first dish that was brought up to table
on Easter-day was a red-herring riding away on horseback; _i. e._ a
herring ordered by the cook something after the likeness of a man on
horseback, set in a corn sallad. The custom of eating a gammon of bacon
at Easter (which is still kept up in many parts of England) was founded
on this, _viz._ to shew their abhorrence of Judaism at that solemn
commemoration of our Lord's resurrection."[76:A]

Games and diversions of various kinds, such as mumming, masqueing,
dancing, loaf-stealing, &c. &c. were allowed in the hall on these days;
and the servants, or heralds, wore the coats of arms of their masters,
and cried '_Largesse_' thrice. The hall was usually hung round with
the insignia of the squire's amusements, such as hunting, shooting,
fishing, &c.; but in case he were a justice of the peace, it assumed
a more terrific aspect. "The halls of the justice of peace," observes
honest Aubrey, "were dreadful to behold. The skreen was garnished with
corslets and helmets, gaping with open mouths, with coats of mail,
launces, pikes, halberts, brown bills, bucklers."[76:B]

The following admirable description of an old English hall, which still
remains as it existed in the days of Elizabeth, is taken from the notes
to Mr. Scott's recent poem of Rokeby, and was communicated to the bard
by a friend; the story which it introduces, I have also added, as it
likewise occurred in the same reign, and affords a curious though not
a pleasing trait of the manners of the times; as, while it gives a
dreadful instance of ferocity, it shows with what ease justice, even in
the case of the most enormous crimes, might be set aside.

Littlecote-House stands in a low and lonely situation. On three sides
it is surrounded by a park that spreads over the adjoining hill; on
the fourth, by meadows which are watered by the river Kennet. Close on
one side of the house is a thick grove of lofty trees, along the verge
of which runs one of the principal avenues to it through the park. It
is an irregular building of great antiquity, and was probably erected
about the time of the termination of feudal warfare, when defence came
no longer to be an object in a country-mansion. Many circumstances in
the interior of the house, however, seem appropriate to feudal times.
The hall is very spacious, floored with stones, and lighted by large
transom windows, that are clothed with casements. Its walls are hung
with old military accoutrements, that have long been left a prey to
rust. At one end of the hall is a range of coats of mail and helmets,
and there is on every side abundance of old-fashioned pistols and guns,
many of them with matchlocks. Immediately below the cornice hangs a
row of leathern jerkins, made in the form of a shirt, supposed to
have been worn as armour by the vassals. A large oak-table, reaching
nearly from one end of the room to the other, might have feasted the
whole neighbourhood, and an appendage to one end of it made it answer
at other times for the old game of shuffle-board. The rest of the
furniture is in a suitable style, particularly an arm-chair of cumbrous
workmanship, constructed of wood, curiously turned, with a high back
and triangular seat, said to have been used by Judge Popham in the
reign of Elizabeth. The entrance into the hall is at one end by a low
door, communicating with a passage that leads from the outer door,
in the front of the house, to a quadrangle within; at the other it
opens upon a gloomy staircase, by which you ascend to the first floor,
and, passing the doors of some bed-chambers, enter a narrow gallery,
which extends along the back front of the house from one end to the
other of it, and looks upon an old garden. This gallery is hung with
portraits, chiefly in the Spanish dresses of the sixteenth century. In
one of the bed-chambers, which you pass in going towards the gallery,
is a bedstead with blue furniture, which time has now made dingy and
threadbare, and in the bottom of one of the bed-curtains you are shewn
a place where a small piece has been cut out and sown in again; a
circumstance which serves to identify the scene of the following story:

"It was a dark rainy night in the month of November, that an old
midwife sate musing by her cottage fire-side, when on a sudden she
was startled by a loud knocking at the door. On opening it she found
a horseman, who told her that her assistance was required immediately
by a person of rank, and that she should be handsomely rewarded, but
that there were reasons for keeping the affair a strict secret, and,
therefore, she must submit to be blind-folded, and to be conducted in
that condition to the bed-chamber of the lady. After proceeding in
silence for many miles through rough and dirty lanes, they stopped, and
the midwife was led into a house, which, from the length of her walk
through the apartment, as well as the sounds about her, she discovered
to be the seat of wealth and power. When the bandage was removed from
her eyes, she found herself in a bed-chamber, in which were the lady
on whose account she had been sent for, and a man of a haughty and
ferocious aspect. The lady was delivered of a fine boy. Immediately the
man commanded the midwife to give him the child, and, catching it from
her, he hurried across the room, and threw it on the back of the fire,
that was blazing in the chimney. The child, however, was strong, and by
its struggles rolled itself off upon the hearth, when the ruffian again
seized it with fury, and, in spite of the intercession of the midwife,
and the more piteous entreaties of the mother, thrust it under the
grate, and raking the live coals upon it, soon put an end to its life.
The midwife, after spending some time in affording all the relief in
her power to the wretched mother, was told that she must be gone. Her
former conductor appeared, who again bound her eyes, and conveyed her
behind him to her own home; he then paid her handsomely, and departed.
The midwife was strongly agitated by the horrors of the preceding
night; and she immediately made a deposition of the fact before a
magistrate. Two circumstances afforded hopes of detecting the house
in which the crime had been committed; one was, that the midwife, as
she sate by the bed-side, had, with a view to discover the place, cut
out a piece of the bed-curtain, and sown it in again; the other was,
that as she had descended the staircase, she had counted the steps.
Some suspicions fell upon one Darrell, at that time the proprietor of
Littlecote-House and the domain around it. The house was examined, and
identified by the midwife, and Darrell was tried at Salisbury for the
murder. By corrupting his judge, he escaped the sentence of the law;
but broke his neck by a fall from his horse in hunting, in a few months
after. The place where this happened is still known by the name of
Darrell's Hill: a spot to be dreaded by the peasant whom the shades of
evening have overtaken on his way.

"Littlecote-House is two miles from Hungerford, in Berkshire, through
which the Bath road passes. The fact occurred in the reign of
Elizabeth. All the important circumstances I have given exactly as they
are told in the country." Rokeby, 4to. edit. notes, p. 102-106.

The usual fare of country-gentlemen, relates Harrison, was "foure,
five, or six dishes, when they have but _small resort_;" and
accordingly, we find that Justice Shallow, when he invites Falstaffe
to dinner, issues the following orders: "Some pigeons, Davy; a
couple of short-legged hens; a joint of mutton; and any pretty
little tiny kickshaws, tell William Cook."[79:A] But on feast-days,
and particularly on the festivals above-mentioned, the profusion
and cost of the table were astonishing. Harrison observes that the
country-gentlemen and merchants contemned butchers meat on such
occasions, and vied with the nobility in the production of rare and
delicate viands, of which he gives a long list[79:B]; and Massinger

    "Men may talk of _country-christmasses_—
     Their thirty-pound butter'd eggs, their pies of carps tongues,
     Their pheasants drench'd with ambergris, the carcases
     Of three fat wethers bruised for gravy, to
     Make sauce for a single peacock; yet their feasts
     Were fasts, compared with the city's."[80:A]

It was the custom in the houses of the country-gentlemen to retire
after dinner, which generally took place about eleven in the morning,
to the garden-bower or an arbour in the orchard, in order to partake
of the banquet or dessert; thus Shallow, addressing Falstaffe after
dinner, exclaims, "Nay, you shall see mine orchard: where, in an
_arbour_, we will eat a last year's pippin of my own graffing, with a
dish of carraways, and so forth."[80:B] From the banquet it was usual
to retire to evening prayer, and thence to supper, between five and
six o'clock; for in Shakspeare's time, there were seldom more than two
meals, dinner and supper; "heretofore," remarks Harrison, "there hath
beene much more time spent in eating and drinking than commonlie is in
these daies, for whereas of old we had breakfasts in the forenoone,
beverages, or nuntions after dinner, and thereto reare suppers
generallie when it was time to go to rest. Now these od repasts,
thanked be God, are verie well left, and ech one in manner (except
here and there some yoong hungrie stomach that cannot fast till dinner
time) contenteth himselfe with dinner and supper onelie. The nobilitie,
_gentlemen_, and merchantmen, especiallie at great meetings, doo sit
commonlie till two or three of the clocke at afternoone, so that with
manie is an hard matter to rise from the table to go to evening praier,
and returne from thence to come time enough to supper."[81:A]

The supper which, on days of festivity, was often protracted to a
late hour, and often too as substantial as the dinner, was succeeded,
especially at Christmas, by gambols of various sorts, and sometimes
the squire and his family would mingle in the amusements, or retiring
to the tapestried parlour, would leave the hall to the more boisterous
mirth of their household; then would the BLIND HARPER, who sold his
_FIT of mirth for a groat_, be introduced, either to provoke the
dance, or to rouse their wonder by his minstrelsy; his "matter being
for the most part stories of old time, as the tale of Sir Topas, the
reportes of Bevis of Southampton, Guy of Warwicke, Adam Bell, and
Clymme of the Clough, and such other old romances or historical rimes,
made purposely for recreation of the common people at Christmasse
dinners and brideales."[81:B] Nor was the evening passed by the parlour
fire-side dissimilar in its pleasures; the harp of history or romance
was frequently made vocal by one of the party. "We ourselves," says
Puttenham, who wrote in 1589, "have written for pleasure a little brief
romance, or historical ditty, in the English tong of the Isle of Great
Britaine, in short and long meetres, and by breaches or divisions, to
be more commodiously sung to the harpe in places of assembly, where the
company shal be desirous to heare of old adventures, and valiaunces
of noble knights in times past, as are those of King Authur and his
Knights of the Round Table, Sir Bevys of Southampton, Guy of Warwicke,
and others like."[81:C]

The _posset_ at bed-time, closed the joyous day, a custom to which
Shakspeare has occasionally alluded; thus Lady Macbeth says of the
"surfeited grooms," "I have drugg'd their possets[82:A];" Mrs. Quickly
tells Rugby, "Go; and we'll have a posset for't soon at night, in
faith, at the latter end of a sea-coal fire[82:B];" and Page, cheering
Falstaffe, exclaims, "Thou shall eat a posset to-night at my[82:C]
house." Thomas Heywood also, a contemporary of Shakspeare, has
particularly noticed this refection as occurring just before bed-time:
"Thou shall be welcome to beef and bacon, and perhaps a bag-pudding;
and my daughter Nell shall pop a _posset_ upon thee when thou goest to

In short, hospitality, a love of festivity, and an ardent attachment
to the sports of the field, were prominent traits in the character
of the country-gentleman in Shakspeare's days. The floor of his hall
was commonly occupied by his greyhounds, and on his hand was usually
to be found his favorite hawk. His conversation was very generally on
the subject of his diversions; for as Master Stephen says, "Why you
know, an'a man have not skill in the hawking and hunting languages
now-a-dayes, I'll not give a rush for him. They are more studied than
the _Greeke_, or the _Latine_."[82:E] Classical acquirements were,
nevertheless, becoming daily more fashionable and familiar with the
character which we are describing; but still an intimacy with heraldry,
romance, and the chroniclers, constituted the chief literary wealth of
the country-gentleman. In his dress he was plain, though occasionally
costly; yet Harrison complains in 1580, that the gaudy trappings of the
French were creeping even into the rural and mercantile world: "Neither
was it merrier," says he, "with England, than when an Englishman was
knowne abroad by his owne cloth, and contented himselfe at home with
his fine carsie hosen, and a meane slop: his coat, gowne, and cloak of
browne, blue, or puke, with some pretie furniture of velvet or furre,
and a doublet of sad tawnie, or blacke velvet, or other comelie silke,
without such cuts and gawrish colours as are worne in these daies,
and never brought in but by the consent of the French, who thinke
themselves the gaiest men, when they have most diversities of jagges
and change of colours about them."[83:A]

Of the female part of the family of the country-gentleman, we must
be indulged in giving one description from Drayton, which not only
particularizes the employments and dress of the younger part of the
sex, but is written with the most exquisite simplicity and beauty; he
is delineating the well-educated daughter of a country-knight:

    "He had, as antique stories tell,
     A daughter cleaped Dawsabel,
       A maiden fair and free:
     And for she was her father's heir,
     Full well she was ycond the leir
       Of mickle courtesy.

     The silk well couth she twist and twine,
     And make the fine march-pine,
       And with the needle work:
     And she couth help the priest to say
     His mattins on a holy day,
       And sing a psalm in kirk.

     She wore a frock of frolic green,
     Might well become a maiden queen,
       Which seemly was to see;
     A hood to that so neat and fine,
     In colour like the columbine,
       Ywrought full featously.

     Her features all as fresh above,
     As is the grass that grows by Dove,
       And lythe as lass of Kent.
     Her skin as soft as Lemster wool,
     As white as snow on Peakish Hull,
       Or swan that swims in Trent.

     This maiden in a moon betime,
     Went forth when May was in the prime,
       To get sweet setywall,
     The honey-suckle, the harlock,
     The lily, and the lady-smock,
       To deck her summer-hall."[84:A]

Some heightening to the picture of the country-gentleman which we have
just given, may be drawn from the character of the upstart squire or
country-knight, as it has been pourtrayed by Bishop Earle, towards the
commencement of the seventeenth century; for the absurd imitation of
the one is but an overcharged or caricature exhibition of the costume
of the other. The upstart country-gentleman, remarks the Bishop, "is
a holiday clown, and differs only in the stuff of his clothes, not
the stuff of himself, for he bare the kings sword before he had arms
to wield it; yet being once laid o'er the shoulder with a knighthood,
he finds the herald his friend. His father was a man of good stock,
though but a tanner or usurer; he purchased the land, and his son the
title. He has doffed off the name of a country-fellow, but the look
not so easy, and his face still bears a relish of churne-milk. He is
guarded with more gold lace than all the gentlemen of the country, yet
his body makes his clothes still out of fashion. His house-keeping is
seen much in the distinct families of dogs, and serving-men attendant
on their kennels, and the deepness of their throats is the depth of
his discourse. A hawk he esteems the true burden of nobility, and is
exceeding ambitious to seem delighted in the sport, and have his fist
gloved with his [84:B]jesses. A justice of peace he is to domineer
in his parish, and do his neighbour wrong with more right. He will
be drunk with his hunters for company, and stain his gentility with
droppings of ale. He is fearful of being sheriff of the shire by
instinct, and dreads the assize-week as much as the prisoner. In sum,
he's but a clod of his own earth, or his land is the dunghill and he
the cock that crows over it: and commonly his race is quickly run, and
his children's children, though they scape hanging, return to the place
from whence they came."[85:A]

Notwithstanding the hospitality which generally prevailed among the
country-gentlemen towards the close of the sixteenth century, the
injurious custom of deserting their hereditary halls for the luxury
and dissipation of the metropolis, began to appear; and, accordingly,
Bishop Hall has described in a most finished and picturesque manner the
deserted mansion of his days;

    "Beat the broad gates, a goodly hollow sound
     With double echoes doth againe rebound;
     But not a dog doth bark to welcome thee,
     Nor churlish porter canst thou chafing see:
     All dumb and silent, like the dead of night,
     Or dwelling of some sleepy Sybarite!
     The marble pavement hid with desert weed,
     With house-leek, thistle, dock, and hemlock-seed.—
     Look to the towered chimnies, which should be
     The wind-pipes of good hospitalitie:——
     Lo, there th'unthankful swallow takes her rest,
     And fills the tunnel with her circled nest."[85:B]

That it was no very uncommon thing for country-gentlemen to spend
their Christmas in London at this period, is evident from a letter
preserved by Mr. Lodge, in his Illustrations of British History;
it is written by William Fleetwood, afterwards Queen's Serjeant,
to the Earl of Derby; is dated New Yere's Daye, 1589, and contains
the following passage:—"The gentlemen of Norff. and Suffolk were
commanded to dep{r}te from London before Xtemmas, and to repaire
to their countries, and there to kepe hospitalitie amongest their
neighbours.[86:A]" The fashion, however, of annually visiting
the capital did not become general, nor did the character of the
country-squire, such as it was in the days of Shakspeare, alter
materially during the following century.[86:B]

The _country-clergyman_, the next character we shall attempt to
notice, was distinguished, in the time of Shakspeare, by the
appellation of _Sir_: a title which the poet has uniformly bestowed
on the inferior orders of this profession, as _Sir_ Hugh in the Merry
Wives of Windsor, _Sir_ Topas in the Twelfth Night, _Sir_ Oliver in As
You like It, and _Sir_ Nathaniel in Love's Labour's lost. This custom,
which was not entirely discontinued until the close of the reign of
Charles II., owes its origin to the language of our universities, which
confers the designation of _Dominus_ on those who have taken their
first degree or bachelor of arts, and not, as has been supposed, to
any claim which the clergy had upon the order of knighthood. The word
_Dominus_ was naturally translated _Sir_; and as almost every clergyman
had taken his first degree, it became customary to apply the term to
the lower class of the hierarchy. "_Sir_ seems to have been a title,"
remarks Dr. Percy, "formerly appropriated to such of the inferior
clergy as were only _readers_ of the service, and not admitted to be
preachers, and therefore were held in the lowest estimation, as appears
from a remarkable passage in Machell's MS. _Collections for the History
of Westmoreland and Cumberland_, in six volumes, folio, preserved in
the Dean and Chapter's library at Carlisle. The Rev. Thomas Machell,
author of the Collections, lived temp. Car. II. Speaking of the little
chapel of Martindale in the mountains of Westmoreland and Cumberland,
the writer says, 'There is little remarkable in or about it, but a
neat chapel yard, which, by the peculiar care of the old reader, _Sir
Richard_[89:A], is kept clean, and as neat as a bowling-green.'

"Within the limits of myne own memory all _readers_ in chapels were
called _Sirs_[89:B], and of old have been writ so; whence, I suppose,
such of the laity as received the noble order of knighthood being
called _Sirs_ too, for distinction sake had _Knight_ writ after them;
which had been superfluous, if the title _Sir_ had been peculiar to

Shakspeare has himself indeed sufficiently marked the distinction
between priesthood and knighthood, when he makes Viola say, "I am one
that had rather go with _Sir Priest_ than _Sir Knight_."[90:B]

Were we to estimate the diameter of the country-clergy, during the age
of Elizabeth, from the sketches which Shakspeare has given us of them,
I am afraid we should be induced to appreciate their utility and moral
virtue on too low a scale. It will be a fairer plan to exhibit the
picture from the delineation of one of their own order, a competent
judge, and who was likewise a contemporary. "The apparell of our
clergiemen," records Harrison, "is comlie, and, in truth, more decent
than ever it was in the popish church: before the universities bound
their graduats unto a stable attire, afterward usurped also even by
the blind Sir Johns. For if you peruse well my chronolojie, you shall
find, that they went either in diverse colors, like plaiers, or in
garments of light hew, as yellow, red, greene, &c.: with their shoes
piked, their haire crisped, their girdles armed with silver; their
shoes, spurres, bridles, &c. buckled with like metall: their apparell
(for the most part) of silke, and richlie furred; their cappes laced
and butned with gold: so that to meet a priest in those daies, was to
behold a peacocke that spreadeth his taile when he danseth before the
henne: which now (I saie) is well reformed. Touching hospitalitie,
there was never any greater used in England, sith by reason that
marriage is permitted to him that will choose that kind of life, their
meat and drinke is more orderly and frugallie dressed; their furniture
of houshold more convenient, and better looked unto; and the poore
oftener fed generallie than heretofore they have beene." Then, alluding
to those who reproach the country-clergy for not being so prodigal of
good cheer as in former days, he adds, "To such as doo consider of the
curtailing of their livings, or excessive prices wherevnto things are
growen, and how their course is limited by law, and estate looked into
on every side, the cause of their so dooing is well inough perceived.
This also offendeth manie, that they should after their deaths leave
their substances to their wives and children: whereas they consider
not, that in old time such as had no lemans nor bastards (verie few
were there God wot of this sort) did leave their goods and possessions
to their brethren and kinsfolk, whereby (as I can shew by good record)
manie houses of gentilitie have growen and beene erected. If in anie
age some one of them did found a college, almes-house, or schoole,
if you looke unto these our times, you shall see no fewer deeds of
charitie doone, nor better grounded upon the right stub of pietie
than before. If you saie that their wives be fond, after the decease
of their husbands, and bestow themselves not so advisedlie as their
calling requireth, which God knoweth these curious surveiors make
small accompt of in truth, further than thereby to gather matter of
reprehension: I beseech you then to look into all states of the laitie,
and tell me whether some duchesses, countesses, barons, or knights'
wives, doo not fullie so often offend in the like as they: for Eve will
be Eve, though Adam would saie naie. Not a few also find fault with
our thread-bare gowns, as if not our patrons but our wives were causes
of our wo: but if it were knowne to all, that I know to have beene
performed of late in Essex, where a minister taking a benefice (of
lesse than twentie pounds in the Quéen's bookes so farre as I remember)
was inforced to paie to his patrone, twentie quarters of otes, ten
quarters of wheat, and sixtéene yéerlie of barleie, which he called
hawkes-meat; and another left the like in farme to his patrone forten
pounds by the yéere, which is well worth fortie at the least, the cause
of our thread-bare gowns would easilie appeere, for such patrones doo
scrape the wooll from our clokes."[91:A]

This delineation is, upon the whole, a favourable one; but the
author in the very next page admits that the country-clergy
had notwithstanding fallen into "general contempt" and "small
consideration;" that the cause of this was not merely owing to the
poverty of the ministry, but was for the most part attributable either
to the iniquity of the patron or the immorality of the priest, will
but too clearly appear from the relation of Harrison himself, and from
other contemporary evidence. The historian declares that it was the
custom of some patrons to "bestow advowsons of benefices upon their
bakers, butlers, cookes, good archers, falconers, and horsekéepers,
insted of other recompence for their long and faithfull service[92:A];"
and the following letter from the Talbot papers presents us with a
frightful view of the manners of the country-clergy at the commencement
of the reign of James I.

    "Ad. Slack to the Lady Bowes.

    "Right wor{ll}.

    "I understand that one Raphe Cleaton ys curate of the chappell
    at Buxton; his wages are, out of his neighbour's benevolence,
    about v{li} yearely: S{r} Charles Cavendishe had the tythes
    there this last yeare, ether of his owne right or my Lords, as
    th' inhabitants saye. The minister aforenamed differeth litle
    from those of the worste sorte, and hath dipt his finger both
    in manslaughter and p'jurie, &c. The placinge or displacing
    of the curate there resteth in Mr. Walker, commissarie of
    Bakewell, of which churche Buxton is a chappell of ease.

    "I humbly thanke yo{r} Wor{pp} for yo{re} l{re} to the justices
    at the cessions; for S{r} Peter Fretchvell, togither w{th} Mr.
    Bainbrigg, were verie earnest against the badd vicar of Hope;
    and lykewyse S{r} Jermane Poole, and all the benche, savinge
    Justice Bentley, who use some vaine —— on his behalfe, and
    affirmed that my La. Bowes had been disprooved before My Lord
    of Shrowesburie in reports touching the vicar of Hope; but
    such answere was made therto as his mouthe was stopped: yet
    the latter daie, when all the justic's but himselffe and one
    other were rysen, he wold have had the said vicar lycensed to
    sell ale in his vicaredge, althoe the whole benche had comanded
    the contrarye; whereof S{r} Jermane Poole being adv'tised,
    retyrned to the benche (contradicting his speeche) whoe, w{th}
    Mr. Bainbrigge, made their warrant to bringe before them, him,
    or anie other person that shall, for him, or in his vicaridge,
    brue, or sell ale, &c. He ys not to bee punished by the
    Justices for the multytude of his women, untyll the basterds
    whereof he is the reputed father bee brought in. I am the more
    boulde to wryte so longe of this sorrie matter, in respect you
    maye take so much better knowledge of S{r} Jo. Bentley, and his
    p'tialytie in so vile a cause; and esteeme and judge of him
    accordinge to y{r} wisdome and good discretion. Thus, humbly
    cravinge p'don, I com̄itt y{r} good Wors. to the everlasting
    Lorde, who ever keepe you. This 12th of Octob. 1609.

    "Yo{r} La' humble poore tenant, at comandm{t}.

                                                "AD. SLACK.[93:A]

    "To the right wor{ll} my good Ladie, the
      La. Bowes of Walton, geive theise."

That men who could thus debase themselves should be held in little
esteem, and their services ill requited, cannot excite our wonder; and
we consequently read without surprise, that in the days of Elizabeth,
the minstrel and the cook were often better paid than the priest;—thus
on the books of the Stationers' Company for the year 1560, may be found
the following entry:

                                _s._  _d._
  "Item, payd to the preacher    vi    2
   Item, payd to the minstrell  xij    0
   Item, payd to the coke        xv    0"[93:B]

Let us not conclude, however, that the age of Shakspeare was without
instances of a far different kind, and that religion and virtue were
altogether excluded from what ought to have been their most favoured
abode; it will be sufficient to mention the name of _Bernard Gilpin_,
the most exemplary of parish-priests, whose humility, benevolence,
and exalted piety were never exceeded, and whose ministerial labours
were such as to form a noble contrast to the shameful neglect of the
pastoral care which existed around him. Indeed we are inclined to
infer, notwithstanding the numerous individual instances of profligacy
and dissipation which may be brought forward, that the country clergy
then, as now, if considered in the aggregate, possessed more real
virtue and utility than any other equally numerous body of men; but
that aberrations from the stricter decency of their order were, as is
still very properly the case in the present day, marked with avidity,
and censured with abhorrence. To the younger clergy in the country,
also, was frequently committed the task of education, a labour of
unspeakable importance, but in the period of which we are writing,
attended too often with the most undeserved contumely and contempt.
In the Scholemaster of Ascham may be found the most bitter complaints
of the barbarous and disgraceful treatment of the able instructor of
youth; and the following sketches of the clerical tutor from Peacham
and Hall, will still further heighten and authenticate the picture.
The former of these writers observes, "Such is the most base and
ridiculous parsimony of many of our Gentlemen, (if I may so terme
them) that if they can procure some poore Batchelor of Art from the
Universitie to teach their children to say grace, and serve the cure of
an impropriation, who wanting meanes and friends, will be content upon
the promise of ten pounds a yeere at his first comming, to be pleased
with five; the rest to be set off in hope of the next advouson, (which
perhaps was sold before the young man was borne): Or if it chance to
fall in his time, his lady or master tels him; 'Indeed Sir we are
beholden unto you for your paines, such a living is lately falne, but I
had before made a promise of it to my butler or bailiffe, for his true
and extraordinary service.'

"Is it not commonly seene, that the most Gentlemen will give better
wages, and deale more bountifully with a fellow who can but a dogge,
or reclaime a hawke, than upon an honest, learned, and well qualified
man to bring up their children? It may be, hence it is, that dogges
are able to make syllogismes in the fields, when their young masters
can conclude nothing at home, if occasion of argument or discourse be
offered at the table."[95:A]

The domestic chaplain of Bishop Hall is touched with a glowing pencil,
and while it faithfully exhibits the servile and depressed state of the
poor tutor, is, at the same time, wrought up with much point and humour.

    "A gentle squire would gladly entertaine
     Into his house some trencher-chapelaine;
     Some willing man, that might instruct his sons.
     And that would stand to good conditions.
     First, that he lie upon the truckle-bed,
     While his young maister lieth o'er his head:
     Second, that he do, upon no default,
     Never presume to sit above the salt:
     Third, that he never change his trencher twise;
     Fourth, that he use all common courtesies;
     Sit bare at meales, and one half rise and wait:
     Last, that he never his young maister beat;
     But he must aske his mother to define
     How manie jerks she would his breech should line.
     All these observ'd, he could contented be,
     To give five markes, and winter liverie."[95:B]

From the description of the character of the country clerical tutor, it
is an easy transition to that of the _rural pedagogue or schoolmaster_,
a personage of not less consequence in the days of Elizabeth, than in
the present period. He frequently combined, indeed, in the sixteenth
century, the reputation of a conjuror with that of a schoolmaster,
and accordingly in the _Comedy of Errors_, _Pinch_, in the dramatis
personæ, is described as "a schoolmaster, and a conjuror," and the
following not very amiable portrait of his person is given towards the
conclusion of the play:—

    "They brought one Pinch; a hungry lean-faced villain,
     A meer anatomy, a mountebank,
     A thread-bare juggler, and a fortune-teller;
     A needy, hollow-eye'd, sharp-looking wretch,
     A living dead man: this pernicious slave,
     Forsooth, took him on as conjuror."[96:A]

Ben Jonson also alludes to this union of occupations when he says,
"I would have ne'er a cunning _schoolemaster_ in England, I mean a
Cunningman as a schoolemaster; that is, a Conjurour."[96:B]

A less formidable figure of a schoolmaster has been given us by
Shakspeare, under the character of Holofernes, in _Love's Labour's
Lost_, where he has drawn a full-length caricature of the too frequent
pedantry of this profession. Yet Holofernes, though he speak _a
leash of languages at once_, is not deficient either in ability or
discrimination; he ridicules with much good sense and humour the
literary fops of his day, the "rackers of orthography;" and his
conversation is described by his friend, Sir Nathaniel, the Curate,
as possessing all the requisites to perfection. "Sir: your reasons at
dinner have been sharp and sententious; pleasant without scurrility,
witty without affection, audacious without impudency, learned without
opinion, and strange without heresy."[96:C] "It is very difficult,"
remarks Dr. Johnson, "to add any thing to this character of the
schoolmaster's table-talk, and perhaps all the precepts of Castiglione
will scarcely be found to comprehend a rule for conversation so justly
delineated, so widely dilated, and so nicely limited."[96:D]

The country-schoolmasters in the reigns of Elizabeth and James, were,
however, if we trust to the accounts of Ascham and Peacham, in general
many degrees below the pedagogue of Shakspeare in ability; tyranny and
ignorance appear to have been their chief characteristics; to such an
extent, indeed, were they deficient in point of necessary knowledge,
that Peacham, speaking of bad masters, declares, "it is a generall
plague and complaint of the whole land; for, for one discreet and able
teacher, you shall finde twenty ignorant and carelesse; who (among so
many fertile and delicate wits as _England_ affordeth) whereas they
make one scholler, they marre ten."[97:A]

Ascham had endeavoured, by every argument and mode of persuasion in
his power, to check the severe and indiscriminate discipline which
prevailed among the teachers in his time; it would seem in vain; for
Peacham, about the year 1620, found it necessary to recommend lenity
in equally strenuous terms, and has given a minute and we have no
doubt a faithful picture of the various cruelties to which scholars
were then subjected; a summary of the result of this conduct may be
drawn, indeed, from his own words, where he says, "Masters for the
most part so behave themselves, that their very name is hatefull to
the scholler, who trembleth at their comming in, rejoyceth at their
absence, and looketh his master (returned) in the the face, as his
deadly enemy."[97:B]

To the charges of undue severity and defective literature, we must
add, I am afraid, the infinitely more weighty accusation of frequent
immorality and buffoonery. Ludovicus Vives, who wrote just before
the age of Shakspeare, asserts, that "some schoolmasters taught
Ovid's books of love to their scholars, and some made expositions,
and expounded the vices[97:C];" and Peacham, at the close of the era
we are considering, censures in the strongest terms their too common
levity and misconduct: "the diseases whereunto some of them are very
subject, are _humour_ and _folly_ (that I may say nothing of the grosse
ignorance and insufficiency of many) whereby they become ridiculous and
contemptible both in the schoole and abroad. Hence it comes to passe,
that in many places, especially in Italy, of all professions that of
_pedanteria_ is held in basest repute: the schoole-master almost in
every comedy being brought upon the stage, to paralell the _Zani_
or _Pantaloun_. He made us good sport in that excellent comedy of
_Pedantius_, acted in our Trinity Colledge in _Cambridge_, and if I be
not deceived, in _Priscianus Vapulans_, and many of our English plays.

"I knew one, who in winter would ordinarily in a cold morning, whip his
boyes over for no other purpose than to get himselfe a heat: another
beat them for swearing, and all the while he sweares himself with
horrible oathes, he would forgive any fault saving that.

"I had I remember myselfe (neere _S. Albanes_ in _Hertfordshire_, where
I was borne) a master, who by no entreaty would teach any scholler he
had, farther than his father had learned before him; as, if he had
onely learned but to reade English, the sonne, though he went with
him seven yeeres, should goe no further: his reason was, they would
then proove saucy rogues, and controule their fathers; yet these are
they that oftentimes have our hopefull gentry under their charge and
tuition, to bring them in science and civility."[98:A]

We must, I apprehend, from these representations, be induced to
conclude, that ignorance, despotism, and self-sufficiency were leading
features in the composition of the country-schoolmaster, during this
period of our annals; it would not be just, however, to infer from
these premises that the larger schools were equally unfortunate in
their conductors; on the contrary, most of the public seminaries of
the capital, and many in the large provincial towns, were under the
regulation of masters highly respectable for their erudition, men,
indeed, to whom neither Erasmus nor Joseph Scaliger would have refused
the title of ripe and good scholars.

We shall now pass forward, in the series of our rural characters, to
the delineation of one of great importance in a national point of view,
that of the substantial Farmer or Yeoman, of whom Harrison has left
us the following interesting definition:—"This sort of people have
a certaine preheminence, and more estimation than labourers and the
common sort of artificers, and these commonlie live wealthilie, kéepe
good houses, and travell to get riches. They are also for the most part
farmers to gentlemen, or at the leastwise artificers, and with grazing,
frequenting of markets, and kéeping of servants (not idle servants, as
the gentlemen doo, but such as get both their owne and part of their
masters living) do come to great welth, in somuch that manie of them
are able and doo buie the lands of unthriftie gentlemen, and often
setting their sonnes to the schooles, to the universities, and to the
Ins of the court; or otherwise leaving them sufficient lands whereupon
they may live without labour, doo make them by those meanes to become
gentlemen: these were they that in times past made all France afraid.
And albeit they be not called master, as gentlemen are, or sir as to
knights apperteineth, but onelie John and Thomas, &c.: yet have they
beene found to have doone verie good service: and the kings of England
in foughten battels, were woont to remaine among them (who were their
footmen) as the French kings did amongst their horssemen: the prince
thereby shewing where his chiefe strength did consist."[99:A]

After this description of the rank which the farmer held in society,
we shall proceed to state the mode in which he commonly lived in the
age of Elizabeth; and in doing this we have chosen, as usual, to adopt
at considerable length the language of our old writers; a practice to
which we shall in future adhere, while detailing the manners, customs,
&c. of our ancestors, a practice which has indeed peculiar advantages;
for the authenticity of the source is at once apparent, the diction
possesses a peculiar charm from its antique cast, and the expression
has a raciness and force of colouring, which owes its origin to actual
inspection, and which, consequently, it is in vain to expect, on such
subjects, from modern composition.

The houses or cottages of the farmer were built, in places abounding
in wood, in a very strong and substantial manner, with not more than
four, six, or nine inches between stud and stud; but in the open and
champaine country, they were compelled to use more flimsy materials,
with here and there a girding to which they fastened their splints, and
then covered the whole with thick clay to keep out the wind. "Certes
this rude kind of building," says Harrison, "made the Spaniards in
quéene Maries daies to wonder, but chéeflie when they saw what large
diet was used in manie of these so homelie cottages, in so much that
one of no small reputation amongst them said after this manner: 'These
English (quoth he) have their houses made of sticks and durt, but
they fare commonlie so well as the king.' Whereby it appeareth that
he liked better of our good fare in such coarse cabins, than of their
owne thin diet in their prince-like habitations and palaces."[100:A]
The cottages of the peasantry usually consisted of but two rooms on
the ground-floor, the outer for the servants, the inner for the master
and his family, and they were thatched with straw or sedge; while the
dwelling of the substantial farmer was distributed into several rooms
above and beneath, was coated with white lime or cement, and was very
neatly roofed with reed; hence Tusser, speaking of the farm-house,
gives the following directions for repairing and preserving its thatch
in the month of May:

    "Where houses be reeded (as houses have need)
     Now pare of the mosse, and go beat in the reed:
     The juster ye drive it, the smoother and plaine,
     More handsome ye make it, to shut off the raine."[100:B]

A few years before the era of which we are treating, the venerable
Hugh Latimer, describing in one of his impressive sermons the economy
of a farmer in his time, tells us that his father, who was a yeoman,
had no land of his own, but only "a farm of three or four pounds by
the year at the utmost; and hereupon he tilled so much as kept half a
dozen men. He had a walk for an hundred sheep; and my mother milked
thirty kine. He kept his son at school till he went to the university,
and maintained him there; he married his daughters with five pounds or
twenty nobles a piece; he kept hospitality with his neighbours, and
some alms he gave to the poor; and all this he did out of the said

Land let, at this period, it should be remembered, at about a shilling
per acre; but in the reign of Elizabeth its value rapidly increased,
together with a proportional augmentation of the comfort of the farmer,
who even began to exhibit the elegancies and luxuries of life. Of the
change which took place in rural economy towards the close of the
sixteenth century, the following faithful and interesting picture has
been drawn by the pencil of Harrison, who, noticing the additional
splendour of gentlemen's houses, remarks,—"In times past the costlie
furniture staied _there_, whereas now it is descended yet lower, even
unto manie farmers, who by vertue of their old and not of their new
leases, have for the most part learned also to garnish their cupbords
with plate, their ioined beds with tapistrie and silke hangings, and
their tables with carpets and fine naperie, whereby the wealth of our
countrie (God be praised therefore, and give us grace to imploie it
well) dooth infinitlie appeare. Neither doo I speake this in reproch
of anie man, God is my judge, but to shew that I do rejoise rather, to
see how God hath blessed us with his good gifts; and whilest I behold
how that in a time wherein all things are growen to most excessive
prices, and what commoditie so ever is to be had, is daily plucked from
the commonaltie by such as looke in to everie trade, we doo yet find
the means to obtein and atchive such furniture as here to fore hath
beene unpossible. There are old men yet dwelling in the village where
I remaine, which have noted three things to be marvellouslie altered in
England within their sound remembrance; and other three things too too
much encreased. _One_ is, the multitude of chimnies latelie erected,
wheras in their yoong daies there were not above two or three, if so
manie in most uplandish townes of the realme, (the religious houses,
and manor places of their lords alwaies excepted, and peradventure some
great personages) but ech one made his fire against a rere dosse in the
hall, where he dined and dressed his meat.

"The _second_ is the great (although not generall) amendment of
lodging, for (said they) our fathers (yea and wee ourselves also)
have lien full oft upon straw pallets, on rough mats covered onlie
with a shéet, under coverlets made of dagswain or hop harlots (I use
their owne termes) and a good round log under their heads instead of
a bolster or pillow. If it were so that our fathers or the good man
of the house, had within seven yeares after his mariage purchased
a matteres or flockebed, and thereto a sacke of chaffe to rest his
head upon, he thought himselfe to be as well lodged as the lord of
the towne, that peradventure laie seldome in a bed of downe or whole
fethers; so well were they contented, and with such base kind of
furniture: which also is not verie much amended as yet in some parts
of Bedfordshire, and elsewhere further off from our southerne parts.
Pillowes (said they) were thought méet onelie for women in child
bed. As for servants, if they had anie shéet above them it was well,
for seldome had they anie under their bodies, to kéepe them from the
pricking straws that ran oft through the canvas of the pallet, and
rased their hardened hides.

"The _third_ thing they tell of, is the exchange of vessell, as of
treene platters into pewter, and wodden spoones into silver or tin. For
so common was all sorts of tréene stuff in old time, that a man should
hardlie find four péeces of pewter (of which one was peradventure a
salt) in a good farmer's house, and yet for all this frugalitie (if it
may so be justly called) they were scarce able to live and paie their
rents at their daies without selling of a cow, or an horsse, or more,
although they paid but foure pounds at the uttermost by the yeare. Such
also was their povertie, that if some one od farmer or husbandman had
béene at the alehouse, a thing greatlie used in those daies, amongst
six or seven of his neighbours, and there in a braverie to shew what
store he had, did cast downe his purse, and therein a noble or six
shillings in silver unto them (for few such men then cared for gold
because it was not so readie paiment, and they were oft inforced to
give a penie for the exchange of an angell) it was verie likelie that
all the rest could not laie downe so much against it: whereas in my
time, although peradventure foure poundes of old rent be improved to
fortie, fiftie, or an hundred pounds, yet will the farmer as another
palme or date trée thinke his gaines verie small toward the end of
his terme, if he have not six or seven yeares rent lieing by him,
therewith to purchase a new lease, beside a faire garnish of pewter on
his cupbord, with so much in od vessell going about the house, thrée
or foure feather beds, so manie coverlids and carpets of tapistrie, a
silver salt, a bowle for wine (if not an whole neast) and a dozzen of
spoones to furnish up the sute."[103:A]

To this curious delineation of the furniture and household
accommodation of the farmer, it will be necessary, in order to complete
the sketch, to add a few things relative to his diet and hospitality.
Contrary to what has taken place in modern times, the hours for meals
were later with the artificer and the husbandman than with the higher
order of society; the farmer and his servants usually sitting down to
dinner at one o'clock, and to supper at seven, while the nobleman and
gentleman took the first at eleven in the morning, and the second at
five in the afternoon.

It would appear that, from the cottage to the palace, good eating was
as much cultivated in the days of Elizabeth as it has been in any
subsequent period; and the rites of hospitality, more especially in the
country, were observed with a frequency and cordiality which a further
progress in civilisation has rather tended to check, than to increase.

Of the larder of the cotter and the shepherd, and of the hospitality
of the former, a pretty accurate idea may be acquired from the simple
yet beautiful strains of an old pastoral bard of Elizabeth's days, who,
describing a nobleman fatigued by the chase, the heat of the weather,
and long fasting, adds that he—

    "Did house him in a peakish graunge,
       Within a forrest great:

     Wheare, knowne, and welcom'd, as the place
       And persons might afforde,
     Browne bread, whig, bacon, curds, and milke,
       Were set him on the borde:

     A cushion made of lists, a stoole
       Half backed with a houpe,
     Were brought him, and he sitteth down
       Besides a sorry coupe.

     The poor old couple wish't their bread
       Were wheat, their whig were perry,
     Their bacon beefe, their milke and curds
       Weare creame, to make him mery."[104:A]

The picture of the shepherd youth is so exquisitely drawn that, though
only a portion of it is illustrative of our subject, we cannot avoid
giving so much of the text as will render the figure complete.

    "Sweet growte, or whig, his bottle had
       As much as it might hold:

     A sheeve of bread as browne as nut,
       And cheese as white as snowe,
     And wildings, or the season's fruite,
       He did in scrip bestow:

     And whil'st his py-bald curre did sleepe,
       And sheep-hooke lay him by,
     On hollow quilles of oten strawe
       He piped melody:—

     — — — — — — — With the sun
       He doth his flocke unfold,
     And all the day on hill or plaine
       He merrie chat can hold:

     And with the sun doth folde againe;
       Then jogging home betime,
     _He turnes a crab_, or tunes a round,
       Or sings some merrie ryme:

     _Nor lackes he gleeful tales to tell,
       Whil'st round the bole doth trot_;
     And sitteth singing care away,
       Till he to bed hath got.

     Theare sleeps he soundly all the night,
       Forgetting morrow cares,
     Nor feares he blasting of his corne
       Nor uttering of his wares,

     Or stormes by seas, or stirres on land,
       Or cracke of credite lost,
     Not spending franklier than his flocke
       Shall still defray the cost.

     Wel wot I, sooth they say that say:
       More quiet nightes and daies
     The shepheard sleepes and wakes than he
       Whose cattel he doth graize."[105:A]

The lines in Italics allude to the favourite beverage of the peasantry,
and the mode in which they recreated themselves over the spicy bowl.
To _turne a crab_ is to roast a wilding or wild apple in the fire for
the purpose of being thrown hissing hot into a bowl of nut-brown ale,
into which had been previously put a toast with some spice and sugar.
To this delicious compound Shakspeare has frequently referred; thus in
_Love's Labour's Lost_ one of his designations of winter is,

    "When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl:"[105:B]

and Puck, describing his own wanton tricks in _Midsummer Night's
Dream_, says—

    "And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl,
     In very likeness of a roasted crab,
     And when she drinks, against her lips I bob."[106:A]

The very expression to _turn a crab_ will be found in the following
passages from two old plays, in the first of which the good man says he

    "Sit down in _his_ chaire by _his_ wife faire Alison,
     And _turne a crabbe_ in the fire;"[106:B]

and in the second, Christmas is personified

    —— "sitting in a corner _turning crabs_,
    Or coughing o'er a warmed pot of ale."[106:C]

Nor can we omit, in closing this series of quotations, the following
stanza of a fine old song in the curious comedy of _Gammer Gurton's
Needle_, first printed in 1575:

    "I love no rost, but a nut brown toste,
       and _a crab layde in the fyre_;
     A lytle bread shall do me stead,
       much bread I not desyre.

     No froste nor snow, no winde, I trow,
       can hurte me if I wolde,
     I am so wrapt, and throwly lapt
       of joly good ale, and olde.

     Back and syde go bare, go bare,
       booth foote and hande go colde;
     But belly, God sende thee good ale ynoughe,
       whether it be newe or olde."[106:D]

To tell gleeful tales, "whilst round the bole doth trot," was an
amusement much more common among our ancestors, during the age of
Elizabeth, and the subsequent century, than it has been in any later
period. The _Winter's Tale_ of Shakspeare owes its title to this
custom, of which an example is placed before us in the first scene of
the second act.

      _Her._             Come Sir—
      —— Pray you, sit by us,
    And tell 's a _tale_.

      _Mam._ Merry, or sad, shal't be?

      _Her._ As merry as you will.[107:A]

And Burton, the first edition of whose Anatomy of Melancholy was
published in 1617, enumerates, among the ordinary recreations of
Winter, "merry tales of errant knights, queens, lovers, lords, ladies,
giants, dwarfs, thieves, cheaters, witches, fayries, goblins, friars,
&c.—which some delight to hear, some to tell; all are well pleased
with;" and he remarks shortly afterwards, "when three or four good
companions meet, they tell old stories by the fire-side, or in the sun,
as old folks usually do, remembering afresh and with pleasure antient
matters, and such like accidents, which happened in their younger
years."[107:B] Milton also, in his _L'Allegro_, first printed in 1645,
gives a conspicuous station

    —— "to the spicy nut-brown ale,
      With stories told of many a feat:"

and adds,

    "Thus done the tales, to bed they creep,
     By whispering winds soon lull'd to sleep."[107:C]

The farmer's daily diet may be drawn with sufficient accuracy from
the curious old Georgic of Tusser, a poem which, more than any other
that we possess, throws light upon the agricultural manners and customs
of the age. In Lent, says this entertaining bard, the farmer must in
the first place consume his red herring, and afterwards his salt fish,
which should be kept in store, indeed, and considered as good even when
Lent is past, and with these leeks and peas should be procured for
pottage, with the view of saving milk, oatmeal, and bread: at Easter
veale and bacon are to be the chief articles; at Martilmas salted beef,
"when country folk do dainties lack:" at Midsummer, when mackrel are
out of season, grasse (that is sallads, &c.) fresh beef and pease: at
Michaelmas fresh herring and fatted [108:A]crones: at All Saints pork
and souse, sprats and spurlings: at Christmas he enjoins the farmer
to "plaie and make good cheere," and he concludes by advising him, as
was the custom in Elizabeth's time, to observe Fridays, Saturdays, and
Wednesdays as fish-days; to "keep embrings well and fasting dayes,"
and of fish and fruit be scarce, to supply their want with butter and
cheese.[108:B] To these recommendations he adds, in another place, that

    "Good ploughmen look weekly of custom and right,
     For rostmeat on sundaies, and thursday at night:"

and he subsequently gives directions for writing what he terms
"husbandlie posies," that is, economical proverbs in rhyme, to be hung
up in the Hall, the parlour, the Ghest's chamber, and the good man's
own bed chamber.[108:C]

If the farmer have a visitor, our worthy bard is not illiberal in
his allowance, but advises him to place three dishes on his table at
dinner, well dressed, which, says he, will be sufficient to pleese
your friend, and will _become_ your Hall.[109:A]

On days of feasting and rejoicing, however, it appears to have been
a common custom for the guests to bring their victuals with them,
forming as it were a pic-nic meal; thus, Harrison, describing the
occasional mirth and hospitality of the farmer, says,—"In feasting
the husbandmen doo exceed after their maner: especiallie at bridales,
purifications of women, and such od meetings, where it is incredible
to tell what meat is consumed and spent, ech one bringing such a dish,
or so manie with him as his wife and he doo consult upon, but alwaies
with this consideration, that the léefer fréend shall have the better
provision. This also is commonlie séene at these bankets, that the good
man of the house is not charged with any thing saving bread, drink,
sauce, houseroome, and fire. (He then gives us the following naïve
and pleasing picture of their festivity and content.) The husbandmen
are sufficientlie liberall, and verie fréendlie at their tables, and
when they méet, they are so merie without malice, and plaine without
inward Italian or French craft and subtiltie, that it would doo a
man good to be in companie among them. Herein only are the inferiour
sort somewhat to be blamed, that being thus assembled, their talke is
now and then such as savoureth of scurrilitie and ribaldrie, a thing
naturallie incident to carters and clowns, who thinke themselves not to
be merie and welcome, if their foolish veines in this behalfe be never
so little restreined. This is moreover to be added in these meetings,
that if they happen to stumble upon a péece of venison, and a cup of
wine or verie strong beere or ale (which latter they commonlie provide
against their appointed daies) they thinke their chéere so great, and
themselves to have fared so well, as the lord Maior of London, with
whome when their bellies be full they will not often sticke to make
comparison, (saying, _I have dined so well as my lord maior_) because
that of a subject there is no publike officer of anie citie in Europe,
that may compare in port and countenance with him during the time of
his office."[109:B]

The dress of the farmer during the middle of the sixteenth century
was plain and durable; consisting, for common purposes, of coarse gray
cloth or fustian, in the form of trunk-hose, frock, or doublet.

To this account of the farmer's mode of living, it will be proper to
add a brief description of his coadjutor in domestic economy, the
English housewife, a personage of no small importance; for, as honest
Tusser has justly observed,

    "House keping and husbandry, if it be good,
     must love one another, as cousinnes in blood.
     The wife to, must husband as well as the man,
     or farewel thy husbandry, doe what thou can."[110:A]

Of the qualifications necessary to constitute this useful character,
Gervase Markham has given us a very curious detail, in his work
entitled "The English Housewife;" which, though not published until the
close of the Shakspearian era, appears, from the dedication to Frances,
Countess Dowager of Exeter, to have been written long anterior to its
transmission to the press; for it is there said, "That much of it was
a manuscript which many years ago belonged to an honourable Countess,
one of the greatest glories of our[110:B] kingdom." It is a delineation
which, as supposed of easy practical application, does honour to the
sex and to the age. After expatiating on the necessity of a religious
example to her household, on the part of the good housewife, he thus

"Next unto her sanctity and holiness of life, it is meet that our
_English_ Housewife be a woman of great modesty and temperance, as
well inwardly as outwardly; inwardly, as in her behaviour and carriage
towards her husband, wherein she shall shun all violence of rage,
passion and humour, coveting less to direct than to be directed,
appearing ever unto him pleasant, amiable and delightful; and, tho'
occasion of mishaps, or the mis-government of his will may induce her
to contrary thoughts, yet vertuously to suppress them, and with a
mild sufferance rather to call him home from his error, than with the
strength of anger to abate the least spark of his evil, calling into
her mind, that evil and uncomely language is deformed, though uttered
even to servants; but most monstrous and ugly, when it appears before
the presence of a husband: outwardly, as in her apparel, and dyet, both
which she shall proportion according to the competency of her husband's
estate and calling, making her circle rather strait than large: for it
is a rule, if we extend to the uttermost, we take away increase; if we
go a hairs bredth beyond, we enter into consumption: but if we preserve
any part, we build strong forts against the adversaries of fortune,
provided that such preservation be honest and conscionable: for as
lavish prodigality is brutish, so miserable covetousness is hellish.
Let therefore the Housewife's garments be comely and strong, made as
well to preserve the health, as to adorn the person, altogether without
toyish garnishes, or the gloss of light colours, and as far from the
vanity of new and fantastick fashions, as near to the comely imitation
of modest matrons. Let her dyet be wholesome and cleanly, prepared at
due hours, and cook'd with care and diligence, let it be rather to
satisfie nature, than her affections, and _apter_ to kill _hunger_ than
revive _new_ appetites; let it proceed _more_ from the provision of
her own yard, than the furniture of the markets; and let it be rather
esteemed for the familiar acquaintance she hath without it, than for
the strangeness and rarity it bringeth from other countries.

"To conclude, _our English_ Housewife must be of chast thoughts,
stout courage, patient, untired, watchful, diligent, witty, pleasant,
constant in friendship, full of good neighbour-hood, wise in discourse,
but not frequent therein, sharp and quick of speech, but not bitter
or talkative, secret in her affairs, comfortable in her counsels, and
generally skilful in the worthy knowledges which do belong to her

These knowledges, he then states, should consist in an intimacy with
domestic physic, with cookery, with the distillation of waters,
with the making and preserving of wines, with the making and dying
of cloth, with the conduct of dairies, and with malting, brewing,
and baking; for all which he gives very ample directions. Markham,
indeed, seems to have taken the greater part of this picture from his
predecessor Tusser, in whose poems on husbandry may be found, among
many others, the following excellent precepts for the conduct of the
good house-wife:—

    "In Marche and in Aprill from morning to night:
     in sowing and setting good huswives delight.
     To have in their garden or some other plot:
     to trim up their house and to furnish their pot.

     Have millons at Mihelmas, parsneps in lent:
     in June, buttred beanes, saveth fish to be spent.
     With those and good pottage inough having than:
     thou winnest the heart of thy laboring man.

     From Aprill begin til saint Andrew be past:
     so long with good huswives their dairies doe last.
     Good milche bease and pasture, good husbandes provide:
     good huswives know best all the rest how to guide.

     But huswives, that learne not to make their owne cheese:
     with trusting of others, have thes for their feese.
     Their milke slapt in corners their creame al to sost:
     their milk pannes so flotte, that their cheeses be lost.

     Where some of a kowe maketh yerely a pounde:
     these huswives crye creake for their voice will not sounde.
     The servauntes suspecting their dame, lye in waighte:
     with one thing or other they trudge away straight.

     Then neighbour (for god's sake) if any such be:
     if you know a good servant, waine her to me.
     Such maister, suche man, and such mistres such mayde:
     such husbandes and huswives, suche houses araide.

     For flax and for hemp, for to have of her owne:
     the wife must in May take good hede it be sowne.
     And trimme it and kepe it to serve at a nede:
     the femble to spin and the karle for her fede.

     Good husbandes abrode seketh al wel to have:
     good huswives at home seketh al wel to save.
     Thus having and saving in place where they meete:
     make profit with pleasure suche couples to greete.[113:A]"

But it is in "The points of _Huswifry_ united to the comfort of
_Husbandry_," of the good old poet, that we recognise the most perfect
picture of the domestic economy of agricultural life in the days of
Elizabeth. This material addition to the husbandry of our author
appeared in 1570, and embraces a complete view of the province of the
_Huswife_, with all her daily labours and duties, which are divided
into—1st, _Morning Works_; 2dly, _Breakfast Doings_; 3dly, _Dinner
Matters_; 4thly, _Afternoon Works_; 5thly, _Evening Works_; 6thly,
_Supper-Matters_; and 7thly, _After-Supper Matters_.

From the details of this arrangement we learn, that the servants in
summer rose at four, and in winter at five o'clock; that in the latter
season they were called to breakfast on the appearance of the day-star,
and that the huswife herself was the carver and distributer of the
meat and pottage. We find, likewise, and it is the only objectionable
article in the admonitions of the poet, that he recommends his dame
not to scold, but to thrash heartily her maids when refractory; and he
adds a circumstance rather extraordinary, but at the same time strongly
recommendatory of the effects of music, that

    "Such servants are oftenest painfull and good,
     That sing in their labour, as birds in the wood."

Dinner, he enjoins, should be taken at noon; should be quickly
dispatched; and should exhibit plenty, but no dainties.

The bare table, he observes, will do as well, as if covered with a
cloth, which is liable to be cut; and that wooden and pewter dishes and
tin vessels for liquor are the best, as most secure; and then, with his
accustomed piety, he advises the regular use of grace—

    "At dinner, at supper, at morning, at night,
     Give thanks unto God."

As soon as dinner is over, the servants are again set to work, and he
very humanely adds,

    "To servant in seikness, see nothing ye grutch,
     A thing of a trifle shall comfort him much."

Many precepts, strictly economical, then follow, in which the huswife
is directed to save her parings, drippings, and skimmings for the sake
of her poultry, and for "medicine for cattle, for cart, and for shoe;"
to employ the afternoon, like a good sempstress, in making and mending;
to keep her maids cleanly in their persons, to call them quarterly to
account, to mark and number accurately her linen, to save her feathers,
to use little spice, and to make her own candle.

The business of the evening commences with preparations for supper,
as soon as the hens go to roost; the hogs are then to be served, the
cows milked, and as night comes on, the servants return, but none
empty-handed, some bringing in wood, some logs, &c. The cattle, both
without and within doors, are next to be attended to, all clothes
brought into the house, and no door left unbolted, and the duties of
the evening close with this injunction:

    "Thou woman, whom pity becometh the best,
     Grant all that hath laboured time to take rest."

Supper now is spread, and the scene opens with an excellent persuasive
to cheerfulness and hospitality:

    "Provide for thy husband, to make him good cheer,
     Make merry together, while time ye be here.
     A-bed and at board, howsoever befall,
     Whatever God sendeth, be merry withall.
     No taunts before servants, for hindering of fame,
     No jarring too loud, for avoiding of shame."

The servants are then ordered to be courteous, and attentive to each
other, especially at their meals, and directions are given for the next
morning's work.

The last section, entitled "After-supper matters," is introduced and
terminated in a very moral and impressive manner. The first couplet
tells us to

    "Remember those children, whose parents be poor,
     Which hunger, yet dare not to crave at thy door;"

the bandog is then ordered to have the bones and the scraps; the
huswife looks carefully to the fire, the candle, and the keys; the
whole family retire to rest, at nine in winter, and at ten in summer,
and the farmer's day closes with four lines which ought to be written
in letters of gold, and which, if duly observed, would ensure a great
portion of the happiness obtainable by man:

    "Be lowly, not sullen, if aught go amiss,
     What wresting may lose thee, that win with a kiss.
     Both bear and forbear, now and then as ye may,
     Then wench, God a mercy! thy husband will say."[115:A]

Frugality and domestic economy were not, however, the constant
attributes of the farmer's wife in the age of which we are treating;
the luxury of dress, both in England and Scotland, had already
corrupted the simplicity of country-habits. Stephen Perlet, who
visited Scotland in 1553, and Fines Moryson, who made a similar tour
in 1598[118:A], agree in describing the dress of the common people
of both countries as nearly if not altogether the same; the picture,
therefore, which Dunbar has given us of the dress of a rich farmer's
wife, in Scotland, during the middle of the sixteenth century, will
apply, with little fear of exaggeration, to the still wealthier dames
of England. He has drawn her in a robe of fine scarlet with a white
hood; a gay purse and gingling keys pendant at her side from a silken
belt of silver tissue; on each finger she wore two rings, and round her
waste was bound a sash of grass-green silk, richly embroidered with
silver.[118:B] To this rural extravagancy in dress, Warner will bear an
equal testimony; for, describing two old gossips cowering over their
cottage-fire, and chatting how the world was changed in their time,

    "When we were maids (quoth one of them)
     Was no such new found pride:
     Then wore they shooes of ease, now of
       An inch-broad, corked hye:
     Black karsie stockings, worsted now,
       Yea silke of youthful'st dye:

     Garters of lystes, but now of silke,
       Some edged deep with gold:
     With costlier toyes, for courser turns,
       Than us'd, perhaps of old.

     Fring'd and ymbroidered petticoats
       Now begge. But heard you nam'd,
     Till now of late, busks, perrewigs,
       Maskes, plumes of feathers fram'd,

     Supporters, posters, fardingales
       Above the loynes to waire,
     That be she near so bombe-thin, yet
       She crosse-like seems foure-squaire?

     Some wives, grayheaded, shame not locks
       Of youthfull borrowed haire:
     Some, tyring arte, attyer their heads
       With only tresses bare:

     Some, (grosser pride than which, think I,
       No passed age might shame)
     By arte, abusing nature, heads
       Of antick't hayre doe frame.

     Once starching lack't the tearme, because
       Was lacking once the toy,
     And lack't we all these toyes and tearmes,
       It were no griefe but joy.—

     Now dwels ech drossell in her glas:
       When I was yong, I wot,
     On holly-dayes (for sildome els
       Such ydell times we got)
     A tubb or paile of water cleere
       Stood us in steede of glas."[119:A]

Luxury and extravagance soon spread beyond the female circle, and the
_Farmer's Heir_ of forty pounds a year, is described by Hall, in 1598,
as dissipating his property on the follies and fopperies of the day.

    "Vilius, the wealthy farmer, left his heire
     Twice twenty sterling pounds to spend by yeare:—
     But whiles ten pound goes to his wife's new gowne,
     Nor little lesse can serve to suit his owne;
     Whiles one piece pays her idle waiting-man,
     Or buys an hoode, or silver-handled fanne,
     Or hires a Friezeland trotter, halfe yard deepe,
     To drag his tumbrell through the staring Cheape;
     Or whiles he rideth with two liveries,
     And's treble rated at the subsidies;
     One end a kennel keeps of thriftlesse hounds;
     What think ye rests of all my younker's pounds
     To diet him, or deal out at his doore,
     To coffer up, or stocke his wasting store?"[119:B]

In contrast to this character, who keeps a pack of hounds, and sports
a couple of liveries, it will be interesting to bring forward the
picture of the _poor copyholder_, as drawn by the same masterly pencil;
the description of the wretched hovel is given in all the strength of
minute reality, and the avidity of the avaricious landlord is wrought
up with several strokes of humour.

    "Of one bay's breadth, God wot, a silly cote,
     Whose thatched spars are furr'd with sluttish soote
     A whole inch thick, shining like black-moor's brows,
     Through smoke that downe the headlesse barrel blows.
     At his bed's feete feeden his stalled teame,
     His swine beneath, his pullen o'er the beame.
     A starved tenement, such as I guesse
     Stands straggling on the wastes of Holdernesse:
     Or such as shivers on a Peake hill side, &c.—
     Yet must he haunt his greedy landlord's hall
     With often presents at each festivall:
     With crammed capons everie new-yeare's morne,
     Or with greene cheese when his sheepe are shorne:
     Or many maunds-full of his mellow fruite,
     To make some way to win his weighty suite.—
     The smiling landlord shews a sunshine face,
     Feigning that he will grant him further grace;
     And leers like Esop's foxe upon the crane,
     Whose neck he craves for his chirurgian."[120:A]

We shall close these characters, illustrative of rural manners, as they
existed in the reigns of Elizabeth and James 1st, with a delineation
of the _plain Country Fellow or down right Clown_, from the accurate
pen of Bishop Earle, who has touched this homely subject with singular
point and spirits.

"A _plain country fellow_ is one that manures his ground well, but
lets himself lye fallow and untilled. He has reason enough to do his
business, and not enough to be idle or melancholy. He seems to have
the punishment of _Nebuchadnezzar_, for his conversation is among
beasts, and his tallons none of the shortest, only he eats not grass,
because he loves not sallets. His hand guides the plough, and the
plough his thoughts, and his ditch and land-mark is the very mound of
his meditations. He expostulates with his oxen very understandingly,
and speaks gee, and ree, better than English. His mind is not much
distracted with objects, but if a good fat cow come in his way, he
stands dumb and astonished, and though his haste be never so great,
will fix here half an hour's contemplation. His habitation is some poor
thatched roof, distinguished from his barn by the loop-holes that let
out smoak, which the rain had long since washed through, but for the
double ceiling of bacon on the inside, which has hung there from his
grandsire's time, and is yet to make rashers for posterity. His dinner
is his other work, for he sweats at it as much as at his labour; he
is a terrible fastner on a piece of beef, and you may hope to stave
the guard off sooner. His religion is a part of his copy-hold, which
he takes from his land-lord, and refers it wholly to his discretion:
yet if he give him leave he is a good Christian to his power, (that
is,) comes to church in his best cloaths, and sits there with his
neighbours, where he is capable only of two prayers, for rain, and
fair weather. He apprehends God's blessings only in a good year, or a
fat pasture, and never praises him but on _good ground_. Sunday, he
esteems a day to make merry in, and thinks a bag-pipe as essential to
it as evening prayer, where he walks very solemnly after service with
his hands coupled behind him, and censures the dancing of his parish.
His compliment with his neighbour is a good thump on the back, and his
salutation commonly some blunt curse. He thinks nothing to be vices,
but pride and ill husbandry, from which he will gravely dissuade the
youth, and has some thrifty hob-nail proverbs to clout his discourse.
He is a niggard all the week, except only market-day, where, if his
corn sell well, he thinks he may be drunk with a good conscience. He
is sensible of no calamity but the burning a stack of corn or the
overflowing of a meadow, and thinks Noah's flood the greatest plague
that ever was, not because it drowned the world, but spoiled the
grass. For death he is never troubled, and if he get in but his harvest
before, let it come when it will, he cares not."[122:A]

The _nine_ characters which have now passed in brief review before us,
namely, the _Rural Squire_; the _Rural Coxcomb_; the _Rural Clergyman_;
the _Rural Pedagogue_; the _Farmer_ or _substantial Yeoman_; the
_Farmer's Wife_; the _Farmer's Heir_; the _Poor Copyholder_, and the
mere _Ploughman_ or _Country Boor_, will, to a certain extent, point
out the personal manners, condition, and mode of living of those
who inhabited the country, during the period in which Shakspeare
flourished. They have been given from the experience, and, generally,
in the very words of contemporary writers, and may, therefore, be
considered as faithful portraits. To complete the picture, a further
elucidation of the customs of the country, as drawn from its principal
occurrences and events, will be the subject of the ensuing chapter, in
which the references to the works of our immortal bard will be more
frequent than could take place while collecting mere out-line draughts
of rural character.


[68:A] Holinshed's Chronicles, edit. of 1807, in six vols. 4to. vol. i.
p. 276.

[68:B] Holinshed, vol. i. p. 273.

[69:A] Taming of the Shrew, act ii. sc. 1.

[70:A] Of the very rare tract from which these extracts are taken, the
following is the entire title-page:—"The Gentleman's Academie; or,
the Booke of St. Albans: containing three most exact and excellent
Bookes: the first of Hawking, the second of all the proper Termes of
Hunting, and the last of Armorie: all compiled by Juliana Barnes, in
the Yere from the Incarnation of Christ 1486. And now reduced into a
better method, by G. M. London. Printed for Humphrey Lownes, and are to
be sold at his shop in Paules Church-yard, 1595." This curious edition
of the _Booke of St. Albans_, accommodated to the days of Shakspeare,
contains 95 leaves 4to. and I shall add the interesting dedication:

                     "To the Gentlemen of England:
                        and all good fellowship
                            of Huntsmen and

"Gentlemen, this booke, intreting of Hawking, Hunting, and Armorie;
the originall copie of the which was doone at St. Albans, about what
time the excellent arte of printing was first brought out of Germany,
and practised here in England: which booke, because of the antiquitie
of the same, and the things therein contained, being so necessarie and
behovefull to the accomplishment of the gentlemen of this flourishing
ile, and others which take delight in either of these noble sports, or
in that heroicall and excellent study of Armory, I have revived and
brought again to light the same which was almost altogether forgotten,
and either few or none of the perfect copies thereof remaining, except
in their hands, who wel knowing the excellency of the worke, and the
rarenesse of the booke, smothered the same from the world, thereby to
inrich themselves in private with the knowledge of these delights.
Therfore I humbly crave pardon of the precise and judicial reader,
if sometimes I use the words of the ancient authour, in such plaine
and homely English, as that time affoorded, not being so regardful,
nor tying myself so strictly to deliver any thing in the proper and
peculiar wordes and termes of arte, which for the love I beare to
antiquitie, and to the honest simplicitie of those former times, I
observe as wel beseeming the subject, and no whit disgracefull to the
worke, our tong being not of such puritie then, as at this day the
poets of our age have raised it to: of whom, and in whose behalf I wil
say thus much, that our nation may only thinke herself beholding for
the glory and exact compendiousnes of our longuage. Thus submitting our
academy to your kind censures and friendly acceptance of the same, and
requesting you to reade with indifferency, and correct with judgement;
I commit you to God.

                                                           G. M."

From this dedication we learn that the original edition of the Booke
of St. Albans was as scarce towards the close of the sixteenth century
as at the present day; that "few or none of the perfect copies" were
to be obtained; for that those were in the hands of _Bibliomaniacs_
who (like too many now existing) "smother'd them from the world." We
have, therefore, every reason to conclude, from "the rarenesse (and
consequent value) of the booke" of 1486, that the copy of Juliana's
work in the library of Shakspeare, was the edition by Markham of
1595. I shall just add, that the copy now before me, was purchased at
the Roxburgh sale, for 9_l._ 19_s._ 6_d._! It is, notwithstanding,
probable, from the _peculiarities_ attending Markham's re-impression,
that this sum, great as it may appear, will be exceeded at some future

The attachment of _Gervase Markham_ to the subjects which employed
the pen of his favourite Prioress, is very happily introduced by Mr.
Dibdin, while alluding to the similar propensities of the _modern
Markham_, Mr. Haslewood. "Up starts FLORIZEL, and blows his
bugle, at the annunciation of any work, new or old, upon the
diversions of _Hawking_, _Hunting_, or _Fishing_! Carry him through
CAMILLO'S cabinet of Dutch pictures, and you will see how
instinctively, as it were, his eyes are fixed upon a sporting piece by
Wouvermans. The hooded hawk, in his estimation, hath more charms than
Guido's Madonna:—how he envies every rider upon his white horse!—how
he burns to bestride the foremost steed, and to mingle in the fair
throng, who turn their blue eyes to the scarcely bluer expanse of
heaven! Here he recognises _Gervase Markham_, spurring his courser; and
there he fancies himself lifting _Dame Juliana_ from her horse! Happy
deception! dear fiction! says Florizel—while he throws his eyes in an
opposite direction, and views every printed book upon the subject, from
_Barnes_ to _Thornton_." Bibliomania, p. 729, 730.

The following very amusing description of "the difference twixt
Churles and Gentlemen," will prove an adequate specimen of Markham's
edition, will be appropriate to the subject in the text, and may be
compared with the accurate reprint of the edition of W. De Worde by Mr.

"There was never gentleman, nor churle ordained, but hee had father and
mother: Adam and Eve had neither father nor mother, and therefore in
the sonnes of Adam and Eve, first issued out both gentleman and churle.
By the sonnes of Adam and Eve, to wit, Seth, Abell, and Caine, was the
royall blood divided from the rude and barbarous, a brother to murder
his brother contrary to the law, what could be more ungentlemanly or
vile? in that, therefore, became Caine and al his ofspring churles,
both by the curse of God, and his owne father. Seth was made a
gentleman through his father and mother's blessing, from whose loynes
issued Noah, a gentleman by kind and linage. Noah had three sonnes
truely begotten, two by the mother, named Cham and Sem, and the third
by the father called Japhet, even in these three, after the world's
inundation, was both gentlenes and vilenes discerned, in Cham was
grose barbarisme founde towardes his owne father in discovering his
privities, and deriding from whence hee proceeded. Japhet the yongest
gentlemanlike reproved his brother, which was to him reputed a vertue,
where Cham for his abortive vilenes became a churle both through the
curse of God and his father Noah. When Noah awoke, hee said to Cham his
sonne knowest not thou how it is become of Caine the sonne of Adam, and
of his churlelike blood, that for them all the worlde is drowned save
eight persons, and wilt thou nowe begin barbarisme againe, whereby the
world in after ages shall be brought to consummation? well upon thee it
shall bee and so I pray the Great one it maye fall out, for to thee I
give my curse, and withall the north part of the world, to draw thine
habitation unto, for there shall it be where sorrow, care, colde, and
as a mischievous and unrespected churle thou shall live, which part
of the earth shall be termed Europe, which is the country of churles.
Japhet come hither my sonne, on thee will I raine my blessing, deare
insteede of Seth: Adams sonne, I make thee a gentleman, and thy renowne
shall stretch through the west part of the world, and to the end of
the Occident, where wealth and grace shall flourish, there shall be
thine habitation, and thy dominion shall bee called Asia, which is the
cuntrie of gentlemen. And Sem my sonne, I make thee a gentleman also,
to multiply the blood of Abell slaine so undeservedlie, to thee I give
the orient, that part of the world which shal be called Africa, which
is the country of temperateres: and thus divided Noah the world and
his blessings. From the of-spring of gentlemanly Japhet came Abraham,
Moyses, Aaron and the Prophets, and also the king of the right line of
Mary, of whom that only absolute gentleman Jesus was borne, perfite God
and perfite man, according to his manhood king of the lande of Juda and
the Jewes, and gentleman by his mother Mary princesse of coat armor."
Fol. 44.

[72:A] Holinshed, vol. i. p. 316.

[73:A] Holinshed, vol. i. p. 315.

[73:B] Holinshed, vol. i. p. 315. 317.

[74:A] Bacon's Essayes or Counsels, 4to. edit., 1632, p. 260.

[74:B] Act v. sc. 2.

[74:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xv. p. 184. note 5. by Steevens.

[75:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 236.

[75:B] Ancient British Drama, vol. i. p. 531.

[75:C] Massinger's Plays, _apud_ Gifford, vol. iv. p. 7.

[76:A] From a MS. of Aubrey's in the Ashmole Museum, as quoted by Mr.
Malcolm in his Anecdotes of the Manners and Customs of London, part i.
p. 220. 4to.

[76:B] Aubrey's MS. Malcolm, p. 221, 222.

[79:A] Henry IV. part ii. act v. sc. 1.

[79:B] Holinshed, vol. i. p. 281. The particulars of the diet of our
ancestors in the age of Shakspeare will be given in a subsequent part
of the work.

[80:A] City Madam, act ii. sc. 1.

Gervase Markham in his English House-Wife, the first edition of which
was published not long after Shakspeare's death, after mentioning in
his second chapter, which treats of cookery, the manner of "ordering
great feasts," closes his observations under this head, with directions
for "a more humble feast, or an ordinary proportion which any good man
may keep in his family, for the entertainment of his true and worthy
friend;" this _humble feast_ or _ordinary proportion_, he proceeds
to say, should consist for the first course of "sixteen full dishes,
that is, dishes of meat that are of substance, and not empty, or for
shew—as thus, for example; first, a shield of brawn with mustard;
secondly, a boyl'd capon; thirdly, a boyl'd piece of beef; fourthly, a
chine of beef rosted; fifthly, a neat's tongue rosted; sixthly, a pig
rosted; seventhly, chewets bak'd; eighthly, a goose rosted; ninthly,
a swan rosted; tenthly, a turkey rosted; the eleventh, a haunch of
venison rosted; the twelfth, a pasty of venison; the thirteenth, a
kid with a pudding in the belly; the fourteenth, an olive-pye; the
fifteenth, a couple of capons; the sixteenth, a custard or dowsets. Now
to these full dishes may be added sallets, fricases, quelque choses,
and devised paste, as many dishes more which make the full service no
less than two and thirty dishes, which is as much as can conveniently
stand on one table, and in one mess; and after this manner you may
proportion both your second and third course, holding fulness on one
half of the dishes, and shew in the other, which will be both frugal in
the spendor, contentment to the guest, and much pleasure and delight to
the beholders." P. 100, 101. ninth edition of 1683, small 4to.

[80:B] Henry IV. part ii. act v. sc. 3.

[81:A] Holinshed, vol. i. p. 287.

[81:B] Puttenham's Art of English Poesie, p. 69, reprint of 1811.

[81:C] Ibid. p. 33.

[82:A] Macbeth, act ii. sc. 2.

[82:B] Merry Wives of Windsor, act i. sc. 4.

[82:C] Merry Wives of Windsor, act v. sc. 5.

[82:D] Heywood's Edward II. p. 1.

[82:E] Jonson's Every Man in his Humour, act i. sc. 1. Acted in the
year 1598.

[83:A] Holinshed, vol. i. p. 290.

[84:A] Chalmers' Poets, vol. iv. p. 435, 436. Drayton, Fourth Eclogue.

[84:B] "A term in hawking, signifying the short straps of leather which
are fastened to the hawk's legs, by which he is held on the fist, or
joined to the leash." Bliss.

[85:A] Earle's Microcosmography; or a Piece of the World discovered, in
Essays and Characters. Edition of 1811, by Philip Bliss.

[85:B] Hall's Satires, book v. sat. 2. printed in 1598.

[86:A] Lodge's Illustrations of British History, Biography, and
Manners, in the Reigns of Henry VIII., Edward VI., Mary, Elizabeth, and
James I., vol. ii. p. 383.

That this evil kept gradually increasing during the reign of James
I., may be proved from the testimony of Peacham and Brathwait; the
former, in his _Compleat Gentleman_, observes,—"Much doe I detest
that effeminacy of the most, that burne out day and night in their
beds, and by the fire side; in trifles, gaming, or courting their
yellow mistresses all the winter in a city; appearing but as cuckoes
in the spring, one time in the yeare to the countrey and their
tenants, leaving the care of keeping good houses at Christmas, to
the honest yeomen of the countrey;" (p. 214.) and the latter, in his
_English Gentleman_, addressing the rural fashionables of his day,
exclaims,—"Let your countrey (I say) enjoy you, who bred you, shewing
there your hospitality, where God hath placed you, and with sufficient
meanes blessed you. I doe not approve of these, who fly from their
countrey, as if they were ashamed of her, or had committed something
unworthy of her. How blame-worthy then are these _Court-comets_,
whose onely delight is to admire themselves? These, no sooner have
their bed-rid _fathers_ betaken themselves to their last home, and
removed from their crazie couch, but they are ready to sell a mannor
for a coach. They will not take it as their fathers tooke it: their
countrey houses must bee barred up, lest the poore passenger should
expect what is impossible to finde, releefe to his want, or a supply
to his necessity. No, the cage is opened, and all the birds are fled,
not one crum of comfort remaining to succour a distressed poore one.
Hospitality, which was once a _relique_ of _gentry_, and a knowne
_cognizance_ to all ancient houses, hath lost her title, meerely
through discontinuance: and _great houses_, which were at first founded
to releeve the poore, and such needfull passengers as travelled by
them, are now of no use but onely as _waymarkes_ to direct them. But
whither are these _Great ones_ gone? To the _Court_; there to spend in
boundlesse and immoderate riot, what their provident ancestors had so
long preserved, and at whose doores so many needy soules have beene
comfortably releeved." Second edition, 1633. p. 332.

In the margin of the page from which this extract is taken, occurs the
following note:—"This is excellently seconded by a Princely pen, in
a pithy poem directed to all persons to ranke or quality to leave the
Court, and returne into their owne countrey."

[86:B] In confirmation of this remark, I shall beg leave to give,
for the entertainment of my readers, the two following sketches of
country-squires, as they existed towards the middle of the seventeenth,
and commencement of the eighteenth century. "Mr. Hastings," relates
Gilpin from Hutchin's History of Dorsetshire, "was low of stature, but
strong and active, of a ruddy complexion with flaxen hair. His cloaths
were always of green cloth, his house was of the old fashion; in the
midst of a large park, well stocked with deer, rabbits, and fish-ponds.
He had a long narrow bowling green in it; and used to play with round
sand bowls. Here too he had a banquetting room built, like a stand, in
a large tree. He kept all sorts of hounds, that ran buck, fox, hare,
otter, and badger: and had hawks of all kinds, both long and short
winged. His great hall was commonly strewed with marrow bones; and full
of hawk-perches, hounds, spaniels, and terriers. The upper end of it
was hung with fox-skins, of this and the last year's killing. Here and
there a pole-cat was intermixed; and hunter's poles in great abundance.
The parlour was a large room, compleatly furnished in the same style.
On a broad hearth, paved with brick, lay some of the choicest terriers,
hounds and spaniels. One or two of the great chairs had litters of cats
in them, which were not to be disturbed. Of these, three or four always
attended him at dinner, and a little white wand lay by his trencher, to
defend it, if they were too troublesome. In the windows which were very
large, lay his arrows, cross-bows, and other accoutrements. The corners
of the room were filled with his best hunting and hawking poles. His
oyster table stood at the lower end of the room, which was in constant
use twice a day, all the year round; for he never failed to eat oysters
both at dinner and supper; with which the neighbouring town of Pool
supplied him. At the upper end of the room stood a small table with a
double desk; one side of which held a CHURCH BIBLE; the other the BOOK
OF MARTYRS. On different tables in the room lay hawk's-hoods, bells,
old hats, with their crowns thrust in, full of pheasant eggs; tables,
dice, cards, and store of tobacco pipes. At one end of this room was a
door, which opened into a closet, where stood bottles of strong beer
and wine; which never came out but in single glasses, which was the
rule of the house; for he never exceeded himself nor permitted others
to exceed. Answering to this closet, was a door into an old chapel;
which had been long disused for devotion; but in the pulpit, as the
safest place, was always to be found a cold chine of beef, a venison
pasty, a gammon of bacon, or a great apple-pye, with thick crust well
baked. His table cost him not much, though it was good to eat at. His
sports supplied all, but beef and mutton; except on Fridays, when he
had the best of fish. He never wanted a London pudding; and he always
sang it in with "_My part lies therein-a_." He drank a glass or two of
wine at meals; put syrup of gilly-flowers into his sack; and had always
a tun glass of small beer standing by him, which he often stirred about
with rosemary. He lived to be an hundred; and never lost his eye sight,
nor used spectacles. He got on horseback without help; and rode to
the death of the stag, till he was past four score." Gilpin's Forest
Scenery; vol. ii. p. 23. 26.

Mr. Dibdin, in the second edition of his Bibliomania, the most pleasing
and interesting book which Bibliography has ever produced, has quoted
the above passage, and thus alludes, in his text, to the character
which it describes:—"But what shall we say to Lord Shaftesbury's
eccentric neighbour, HENRY HASTINGS? who, in spite of his hawks,
hounds, kittens, and oysters, could not forbear to indulge his
book-propensities, though in a moderate degree! Let us fancy we see
him, in his eightieth year, just alighted from the toils of the chase,
and listening, after dinner, with his 'single glass' of ale by his
side, to some old woman with 'spectacle on nose,' who reads to him a
choice passage out of John Fox's _Book of Martyrs_! A rare old boy was
this Hastings." Bibliomania, p. 379.

Mr. Grose, the antiquary, has given us, in his sketches of some
worn-out characters of the last age, a most amusing portrait of the
country squire of Queen Anne's days: "I mean," says he, "the little
independant gentleman of three hundred pounds per annum, who commonly
appeared in a plain drab or plush coat, large silver buttons, a
jockey cap, and rarely without boots. His travels never exceeded the
distance of the county town, and that only at assize and session time,
or to attend an election. Once a week he commonly dined at the next
market town, with the attornies and justices. This man went to church
regularly, read the Weekly Journal, settled the parochial disputes
between the parish officers at the vestry, and afterwards adjourned to
the neighbouring ale-house, where he usually got drunk for the good of
his country. He never played at cards but at Christmas, when a family
pack was produced from the mantle-piece. He was commonly followed by
a couple of grey-hounds and a pointer, and announced his arrival at a
neighbours house by smacking his whip, or giving the view-halloo. His
drink was generally ale, except on Christmas, the fifth of November, or
some other gala days, when he would make a bowl of strong brandy punch
garnished with a toast and nutmeg. A journey to London was, by one of
these men, reckoned as great an undertaking, as is at present a voyage
to the East Indies, and undertaken with scarce less precaution and

"The mansion of one of these 'Squires was of plaister striped with
timber, not unaptly called callimanco work, or of red brick, large
casemented bow windows, a porch with seats in it, and over it a study;
the eaves of the house well inhabited by swallows, and the court set
round with holly-hocks. Near the gate a horse-block for the conveniency
of mounting.

"The hall was furnished with flitches of bacon, and the mantle-piece
with guns and fishing rods of different dimensions, accompanied by the
broad sword, partizan, and dagger, borne by his ancestor in the civil
wars. The vacant spaces were occupied by stag's horns. Against the
wall was posted King Charles's Golden Rules, Vincent Wing's Almanack,
and a portrait of the Duke of Marlborough; in his window lay Baker's
Chronicle, Fox's Book of Martyrs, Glanvil on Apparitions, Quincey's
Dispensatory, the Complete Justice, and a Book of Farriery.

"In the corner, by the fire side, stood a large wooden two-armed chair
with a cushion; and within the chimney corner were a couple of seats.
Here, at Christmas, he entertained his tenants assembled round a
glowing fire made of the roots of trees, and other great logs, and told
and heard the traditionary tales of the village respecting ghosts and
witches, till fear made them afraid to move. In the mean time the jorum
of ale was in continual circulation.

"The best parlour, which was never opened but on particular occasions,
was furnished with Turk-worked chain, and hung round with portraits
of his ancestors; the men in the character of shepherds, with their
crooks, dressed in full suits and huge full-bottomed perukes: others in
complete armour or buff coats, playing on the base viol or lute. The
females likewise as shepherdesses, with the lamb and crook, all habited
in high heads and flowing robes.

    "Alas! these men and these houses are no more!"
                   _Grose's Olio_, 2nd edit. 1796. p. 41-44.

[89:A] Richard Berket Reader, æt. 74. MS. note.

[89:B] In the margin is a MS. note seemingly in the hand-writing of
Bishop Nicholson, who gave these volumes to the library:

"Since I can remember there was not a reader in any chapel but was
called _Sir_."

[90:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 8. note.

[90:B] Twelfth Night, act iii. sc. 4.

[91:A] Holinshed, vol. i. p. 233, 234.

[92:A] Holinshed, vol. i. p. 231.

[93:A] Lodge's Illustrations, vol. iii. p. 391.

[93:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xx. p. 221. note 7.

[95:A] The Compleat Gentleman. Fashioning him absolut, in the most
necessary and commendable Qualities concerning Minde or Body that may
be required in a Noble Gentleman. By Henry Peacham Master of Arts:
Sometime of Trinitie Colledge in Cambridge.

This book, which is written in an easy and elegant style, was
published in 1622, and has been several times reprinted; it is a work
of considerable interest and amusement, and throws much light on the
education and literature of its times.

[95:B] Hall's Satires, Book ii. sat. 6.

[96:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xx. p. 451.

[96:B] The Staple of Newes, the third Intermeane after the third act.

[96:C] Act v. sc. 1.

[96:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vii. p. 132. note 7.

[97:A] Compleat Gentleman, p. 22. edit. of 1634.

[97:B] Ibid. p. 25.

[97:C] Instruction of a Christian Woman, 4to. edit. of 1557.

[98:A] Compleat Gentleman, p. 26, 27.

[99:A] Holinshed, vol. i. p. 275.

[100:A] Holinshed, vol. i. p. 315.

[100:B] Three editions of Tusser's Poem on Husbandry are now before
me; the first printed in 1557, entitled _A Hundreth good Pointes of
Husbandrie_; the 4to. edition of 1586, termed _Five Hundred Pointes
of Good Husbandrie_; and _Tusser Redivivus_, by Daniel Hilman, first
published in 1710, and again in 1744; the quatrain just quoted is from
the copy of 1744, p. 56.

[101:A] Gilpin's Life of Latimer, p. 2.

[103:A] Holinshed, vol. i. p. 317, 318.

[104:A] Warner's Albion's England, chap. 42. Chalmers's English Poets,
vol. iv. p. 602.

[105:A] Warner in Chalmers's Poets, vol. iv. p. 552, 553.

[105:B] Act v. sc. 2. Song at the conclusion.

[106:A] Act ii. sc. 1.

[106:B] Damon and Pithias, 1582.

[106:C] Summer's Last Will and Testament, by Nash, 1600.

[106:D] Introductory Song to the second acte. Vide Ancient British
Drama, vol. i.

[107:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 255.

[107:B] Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, p. 172, 173., eighth edition of

[107:C] Milton's Poems by Warton, second edition, p. 56. 61.

[108:A] Crones are ewes whose teeth are so worn down, that they can no
longer live in their sheep-walk; but will sometimes, if put into good
pasture, thrive exceedingly.

[108:B] Tusser, 4to. edit. 1586., chap. 12. fol. 25, 26.

[108:C] Tusser, 4to. edit. 1586., fol. 138. 144, 145.

[109:A] Tusser, 4to. of 1586. fol. 133.

[109:B] Holinshed, vol. i. p. 282.

[110:A] Tusser, first edit. of 1557. title-page.

[110:B] The English House-Wife, containing the inward and outward
vertues which ought to be in a Compleat Woman. Ninth edition, 1683.

[111:A] English House-Wife, p. 2, 3, 4.

[113:A] Tusser, first edit. p. 14, 15.

[115:A] Mayor's Tusser, p. 247. ad p. 270.

Even this, and every other description of the duties of the Huswife,
may be traced to "The Book of Husbandry," written by Sir Anthony
Fitzherbert, of Norbury, in Derbyshire.

This gentleman, who was a Judge of the Common Pleas, in the reign of
Henry the Eighth, is justly entitled to the appellation of "the father
of English Husbandry." His work, the first edition of which was printed
by Richard Pynson, in 1528, 4to., underwent not less than eleven
editions during the sixteenth century, and soon excited among his
countrymen a most beneficial spirit of emulation. Notwithstanding these
numerous impressions, there are probably not ten complete copies left
in the kingdom.

One of these is, however, now before me included in a thick duodecimo,
of which the _first article_ is "Xenophon's treatise of householde,"
black letter, title wanting; the colophon, "Imprinted At London in
fletestrete in the house of Thomas Berthelet. Cum privilegio ad
imprimendum solum." No date. The _second article_ is "The booke of
Husbandrye verye profitable and necessary for all maner of persons,
newlye corrected and amended by the auctor fitzherbard, with dyvers
addicions put thereunto. Anno do. 1555," black letter. Colophon,
"Imprinted at London in Flete strete at the signe of the Sunne over
agaynst the Conduit by John Weylande." Sixty-one leaves, exclusive of
the table. The _third article_ is entitled "Surveyinge," An. 1546.
Colophon, "Londini in ædibus Thome Berthelet typis impress. Cum
privilegio ad imprimendum solum." Contains sixty leaves, black letter.

From "The booke of husbandrye," I shall extract the detail of huswifely
duties, as a specimen of the work, and as a proof of the assertion at
the commencement of this note.

"What workes a wyfe shoulde doe in generall.

"First in the mornyng when thou art wakēd and purpose to rise, lift
up thy hand, and blis the and make a signe of the holy crosse. In
nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti. Amen. In the name of the
father y{e} sonne, and the holy gost. And if thou saye a Paternoster,
an Ave and a Crede, and remembre thy maker thou shalte spede much the
better, and when thou art up and readye, then firste swepe thy house;
dresse up the dysshe bord, and set al thynges in good order within
thy house, milke y{e} kie, socle thy calves, sile by thy milke,
take up thy children, and aray them, and provide for thy husbande's
breakefaste, diner, souper, and for thy children and servauntes, and
take thy parte wyth them. And to ordeyne corne and malt to the myll,
to bake and brue withal when nede is. And mete it to the myl and fro
the myl, and se that thou have thy mesure agayne besides the tole or
elles the mylner dealeth not truly wyth the, or els thy corne is not
drye as it should be, thou must make butter and chese when thou may,
serve thy swine both mornynge and eveninge, and give thy polen meate
in the mornynge, and when tyme of yeare cometh thou must take hede
how thy henne, duckes and geese do ley, and to gather up their egges
and when they waxe broudy to set them there as no beastes, swyne, nor
other vermyne hurt them, and thou must know that al hole foted foule
wil syt a moneth and all cloven foted foule wyll syt but three wekes
except a peyhen and suche other great foules as craynes, bustardes,
and suche other. And when they have brought forth theyr birdes to se
that they be well kepte from the gleyd, crowes fully martes and other
vermyn, and in the begynyng of March, or a lytle before is time for
a wife to make her garden and to get as manye good sedes and herbes
as she can, and specyally such as be good for the pot and for to eate
and as ofte as nede shall require it must be weded, for els the wede
wyll over grow the herbes, and also in Marche is time to sowe flaxe
and hempe for I have heard olde huswyves say, that better is Marche
hurdes than Apryll flaxe, the reason appereth, but howe it shoulde bee
sowen, weded, pulled, repealed, watred, washen, dried, beten, braked,
tawed, hecheled, spon, wounden, wrapped and oven, it nedeth not for me
to shewe, for they be wyse ynough, and thereof may they make shetes,
bordclothes, towels, shertes, smockes, and suche other necessaryes, and
therefore lette thy dystaffe be alwaye redy for a pastyme, that thou
be not ydell. And undoubted a woman can not get her livinge honestly
with spinning on the dystaffe, but it stoppeth a gap and must nedes be
had. The bolles of flaxe when they be rypled of, must be rediled from
the wedes and made dry with the sunne to get out the sedes. Now be it
one maner of linsede called loken sede wyll not open by the sunne, and
therefore when they be drye they must be sore brusen and broken the
wyves know how, and then wynowed and kept dry til peretime cum againe.
Thy femell hempe must be pulled fro the chucle hempe for this beareth
no sede and thou must doe by it as thou didest by the flaxe. The chucle
hempe doth beare sede, and thou must be ware that birdes eate it not as
it groweth, the hempe thereof is not so good as the femel hempe, but
yet it wil do good service. It may fortune sometime that thou shalte
have so many thinges to do that thou shalte not wel know where is best
to begyn. Then take hede which thing should be the greatest losse if it
were not done and in what space it woulde be done, and then thinke what
is the greatest los and ther begin. But I put case that, that thing
that is of the greatest losse wyll be longe in doing, that thou might
do thre or iiij other thinges in the meane whyle then loke wel if all
these thinges were set togyther whiche of them were greatest losse, and
yf these thynges be of greater losse, and may be al done in as shorte
space as the other, then do thy many thinges fyrst. It is convenient
for a husbande to have shepe of his owne for many causes, and then may
his wife have part of the wooll to make her husbande and her selfe sum
clothes. And at the least waye she may have the lockes of the shepe
therwith to make clothes or blankets, and coverlets, or both. And if
she have no wol of her owne she maye take woll to spynne of cloth
makers, and by that meanes she may have a convenient living, and many
tymes to do other workes. It is a wives occupacion to winow al maner of
cornes, to make malte wash and wring, to make hey, to shere corne, and
in time of nede to helpe her husbande to fyll the mucke wayne or donge
carte, dryve the plough, to lode hey corne and such other. Also to go
or ride to the market to sell butter, chese, mylke, egges, chekens,
kapons, hennes, pygges, gees, and al maner of corne. And also to bye al
maner of necessary thinges belonging to a houshold, and to make a true
rekening and accompt to her husband what she hath receyved and what
she hathe payed. And yf the husband go to the market to bye or sell as
they ofte do, he then to shew his wife in lyke maner. For if one of
them should use to disceive the other, he disceyveth himselfe, and he
is not lyke to thryve, and therfore they must be true ether to other.
I could peraventure shew the husbande of divers pointes that the wives
disceve their husbandes in, and in like maner how husbandes deceve
their wives. But yf I should do so, I shuld shew mo subtil pointes of
disceite then other of them knew of before. And therfore me semeth best
to holde my peace, leste I shuld do as the knight of the tower did the
which had many faire doghters, and of fatherlie love that he oughte to
them he made a boke unto a good intent that they mighte eschewe and
flee from vices and folowe vertues in the which boke he sheweth that
yf they were woed, moved, or styrred by any man after such a maner as
is there shewed that they shuld withstande it, in the which booke he
shewed so manye wayes how a man shuld attaine to his purpose to bryng a
woman to vice, the which waies were so naturall and the wayes to come
to theyr purpose was so subtylly contrived and craftely shewed that
hard it wolde be for any woman to resist or deny their desyre. And by
the sayd boke hath made both the man and the woman to know mo vyces
subtylty and crafte then ever they shoulde have knowen if the boke had
not bene made, the which boke he named him selfe the knighte of the
tower. And thus I leave the wyves to use theyr occupations at theyr
owne discression." Fol. 45, 46, 47.

[118:A] See Antiquarian Repertory, vol. i. p. 236; and Moryson's
Itinerary, part iii. fol. 1617.

[118:B] The Freirs of Berwick; Pinkerton's Ancient Scotish Poems, 12mo.
2 vols. 1786. v. 2. p. 70.

[119:A] Warner's Albion's England, book ix. chap. xlvii.

[119:B] Hall's Satires, book v. satire 4.

[120:A] Hall's Satires, book v. satire 4.

[122:A] Earle's Microcosmography, p. 64. et seq. edit. of 1811, by
Philip Bliss.



The record of rural festivity and amusement, must, as far as it is
unaccompanied by any detail of riot or intemperance, be a subject of
pleasing contemplation to every good and cheerful mind. Labour, the
destined portion of by far the greater part of human beings, requires
frequent intervals of relaxation; and the encouragement of innocent
diversion at stated periods, may be considered, therefore, both in a
moral and political point of view, as essentially useful. The sports
and amusements of our ancestors on their holydays and festivals, while
they had little tendency to promote either luxury or dissipation,
contributed very powerfully to preserve some of the best and most
striking features of our national manners and character, and were
frequently mingled with that cheerful piety which forms the most
heart-felt species of devotion, where religion, mixing with the social
rite, offers up the homage of a happy and contented heart.

It may be necessary here to mention, that in enumerating the various
ceremonial and feast days of rural life, we have purposely omitted
those which are _peculiarly_ occupied by _superstitious_ observances,
as they will with more propriety be included under a subsequent
chapter, appropriated to the consideration of popular superstitions.

The ushering in of the New Year, or _New Years tide_, with rejoicings,
presents, and good wishes, was a custom observed, during the sixteenth
century, with great regularity and parade, and was as cordially
celebrated in the court of the prince as in the cottage of the peasant.

To end the old year _merrily_ and begin the new one _well_, and in
_friendship_ with their neighbours, were the objects which the common
people had in view in the celebration of this tide or festival.
New-Years Eve, therefore, was spent in festivity and frolic by the
men; and the young women of the village carried about, from door to
door, a bowl of spiced ale, which they offered to the inhabitants of
every house where they stopped, singing at the same time some rude
congratulatory verses, and expecting some small present in return. This
practice, however, which originated in pure kindness and benevolence,
soon degenerated into a mere pecuniary traffic, for Selden, in his
Table Talk, thus alludes to the subject, while drawing the following
curious comparison: "The pope in sending relicks to princes, does as
_wenches_ do by their _wassails_ at _New Years Tide_.—They _present
you_ with a _cup_, and you must _drink_ of a slabby stuff; but the
meaning is, you must _give_ them _money_ ten times more than it is

It was customary also, on this eve, for the young men and women to
exchange their clothes, which was termed _Mumming_ or _Disguising_;
and when thus dressed in each other's garments, they would go from one
neighbour's cottage to another, singing, dancing, and partaking of
their good cheer; a species of masquerading which, as may be imagined,
was often productive of the most licentious freedoms.

On the succeeding morning, the first of the New Year, presents, called
new-year's gifts, were given and received, with the mutual expression
of good wishes, and particularly that of a _happy New Year_. The
compliment was sometimes paid at each other's doors in the form of a
song; but more generally, especially in the north of England and in
Scotland, the house was entered very early in the morning, by some
young men and maidens selected for the purpose, who presented the
spiced bowl, and hailed you with the gratulations of the season.

The custom of interchanging gifts on this day, though now nearly
obsolete, was, in the days of Shakspeare, observed most scrupulously;
and not merely in the country, but, as hath been just before hinted,
even in the palace of the monarch. In fact the wardrobe and jewelry of
Elizabeth appear to have been supported principally by these annual

As a brief summary of these presents, though given not in the country,
but at court, will yet, as including almost every rank in life, from
the peer to the dustman, place in a strong light the prevalence of this
custom, and point out of what these gifts usually consisted in a town,
and therefore, by inference, of what they must have included in the
country, its introduction will not, we should hope, be considered as
altogether digressive from the nature of our subject.

To Mr. Nichols, who, in his work entitled "Queen Elizabeth's
Progresses," has printed, from the original rolls in vellum, some very
copious lists of New Year's gifts annually presented to this popular
monarch, are we indebted for the following curious enumeration.

"From all these rolls," says he, "and more of them perhaps are still
existing, it appears that the greatest part, if not all the peers
and peeresses of the realm, all the bishops, the chief officers of
state, and several of the Queen's houshold servants, even down to her
apothecaries, master cook, serjeant of the pastry, &c. gave New Year's
gifts to Her Majesty; consisting, in general, either of a sum of money,
or jewels, trinkets, wearing apparel, &c. The largest sum given by any
of the temporal lords was 20_l._; but the Archbishop of Canterbury
gave 40_l._, the Archbishop of York 30_l._, and the other spiritual
lords 20_l._ and 10_l._; many of the temporal lords and great officers,
and most of the peeresses, gave rich gowns, petticoats, smocks,
kirtles, silk stockings, cypres garters, sweet-bags, doblets, mantles,
some embroidered with pearles, garnets, &c. looking-glasses, fans,
bracelets, caskets studded with precious stones, jewels ornamented with
sparks of diamonds in various devices, and other costly trinkets. Sir
Gilbert Dethick, Garter King of Arms, gave a book of the states in King
William the Conqueror's time, and a book of the arms of the noblemen
in Henry the Fifth's time; Absolon, the master of the Savoy, a Bible
covered with cloth of gold, garnished with silver, and gilt, and two
plates with the royal arms; _Petruchio Ubaldino_, a book covered with
vellum of Italian; Lambarde, the antiquary, his Pandecta of all the
Rolls, &c. in the Tower of London. The Queen's physician presented her
with a box of foreign sweetmeats; another physician with two pots, one
of green ginger, the other of orange flowers; two other physicians
gave each a pot of green ginger, and a pot of the rinds of lemons; her
apothecaries a box of lozenges, a box of ginger candy, a box of grene
ginger, a box of orange candit, a pot of conserves, a pot of wardyns
condite, a box of wood with prunolyn, and two boxes of _manus Christi_;
Mrs. Blanch a Parry, a little box of gold to put in cumphetts, and
a little spoon of gold; Mrs. Morgan a box of cherryes, and one of
aberycocks; her master cook a fayre marchepayne; her serjeant of the
pastry a fayre pie of quinces oringed; a box of peaches of Jenneway
(Genoa); a great pie of quynses and wardyns guilte; _Putrino_, an
Italian, presented her with two pictures; _Innocent Corry_ with a
box of lutestrings; _Ambrose Lupo_ with another box of lutestrings,
and a glass of sweet water; _Petro Lupo_, _Josepho Lupo_, and _Cæsar
Caliardo_, each with a pair of sweet gloves; a cutler with a meat knyfe
with a fan haft of bone, _a conceit in it_; _Jaromy_ with twenty-four
drinking-glasses; _Jeromy Bassano_ two drinking-glasses; Smyth,
_dustman_, two boltes of cambrick."[126:A]

The Queen, though she made returns in plate and other articles, took
sufficient care that the balance should be in her own favour; hence,
as the custom was found to be lucrative, and had indeed been practised
with success by her predecessors on the throne, it was encouraged
and rendered fashionable to an extent hitherto unprecedented in this
kingdom. In the country, however, with the exception of the extensive
households of the nobility, this interchange was conducted on the pure
basis of reciprocal kindness and good will, and without any view of
securing patronage or support; it was, indeed, frequently the channel
through which charity delighted to exert her holy influence, and though
originating in the heathen world, became sanctified by the Christian

To the rejoicings on New Year's tide succeeded, after a short interval,
the observance of the TWELFTH DAY, so called from its being the twelfth
after the Nativity of our Saviour, and the day on which the _Eastern
Magi_, guided by the star, arrived at Bethlehem to worship the infant

This festive day, the most celebrated of the twelve for the peculiar
conviviality of its rites, has been observed in this kingdom ever since
the reign of Alfred, in whose days, says Collier, "a Law was made with
relation to Holidays, by virtue of which the _twelve_ days _after_ the
Nativity of our Saviour were made Festivals."[127:A]

In consequence of an idea, which seems generally to have prevailed,
that the _Eastern Magi_ were kings, this day has been frequently termed
the _Feast of the Three Kings_; and many of the rites with which it
is attended, are founded on this conception; for it was customary to
elect, from the company assembled on this occasion, a king or queen,
who was usually elevated to this rank by the fortuitous division of a
cake containing a bean or piece of coin, and he or she to whom this
symbol of distinction fell, in dividing the cake, was immediately
chosen king or queen, and then forming their ministers and court from
the company around, maintained their state and character until midnight.

The _Twelfth Cake_ was almost always accompanied by the _Wassail Bowl_,
a composition of spiced wine or ale, or mead, or metheglin, into which
was thrown roasted apples, sugar, &c. The term _Wassail_, which in
our elder poets is connected with much interesting imagery, and many
curious rites, appears to have been first used in this island during
the well-known interview between Vortigern and Rowena. Geoffrey of
Monmouth relates, on the authority of Walter Calenius, that this lady,
the daughter of Hengist, knelt down, on the approach of the king, and
presenting him with a cup of wine, exclaimed "Lord king _wæs heil_,"
that is, literally "Health be to you." Vortigern being ignorant of
the Saxon language, was informed by an interpreter, that the purport
of these words was to wish him health, and that he should reply by
the expression _drinc-heil_, or "Drink the health;" accordingly, on
his so doing, Rowena drank, and the king receiving the cup from her
hand, kissed and pledged her.[128:A] Since this period, observes the
historian, the custom has prevailed in Britain of using these words
whilst drinking; the person who drank to another saying _was-heil_, and
he who received the cup answering _drinc-heil_.

It soon afterwards became a custom in villages, on Christmas-Eve, New
Year's Eve, and Twelfth Night, for itinerant minstrels to carry to
the houses of the gentry, and others, where they were generally very
hospitably received, a bowl of spiced wine, which being presented with
the Saxon words just mentioned, was therefore called a _Wassail-bowl_.
A bowl or cup of this description was likewise to be found in almost
every nobleman's and gentleman's house, (and frequently of massy
silver,) until the middle of the seventeenth century, and which was
in perpetual requisition during the revels of Christmas. In "_The
Antiquarian Repertory_, vol. i. p. 217," relates Mr. Douce, "there is
an account, accompanied with an engraving, of an oaken chimney-piece
in a very old house at Berlen, near Snodland in Kent, on which is
carved a wassel-bowl resting on the branches of an apple-tree,
alluding, probably, to part of the materials of which the liquor was
composed. On one side is the word =wassheil=, and on the other
=drincheile=."[129:A] "This is certainly," he adds, "a very
great curiosity of its kind, and at least as old as the fourteenth
century. Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, in his will gave to Sir John
Briddlewood a silver cup called _wassail_: and it appears that John
Duke of Bedford, the regent, by his first will bequeathed to John
Barton, his maitre d'hotel, a silver cup and cover, on which was
inscribed WASHAYL."[129:B]

In consequence of the _Wassail-bowl_ being peculiar to scenes of
revelry and festivity, the term _wassail_ in time became synonymous
with feasting and carousing, and has been used, therefore, by many of
our poets either to imply drinking and merriment, or the place where
such joviality was expected to occur. Thus Shakspeare makes Hamlet say
of the king "draining his draughts of Rhenish down," that he

    "Keeps _wassel_:"[129:C]

and in Macbeth, the heroine of that play declares that she will
convince the two chamberlains of Duncan

    "With wine and _wassel_."[129:D]

In Anthony and Cleopatra also, Cæsar, advising Anthony to live more
temperately, tells him to leave his

    "Lascivious _wassals_."[129:E]

And lastly, in Love's Labour's Lost, Biron, describing the character
of Boyet, says,

    "He is wit's pedler: and retails his wares
     At wakes, and _wassels_, meetings, markets, fairs."[130:A]

Ben Jonson has given us two curious personifications of the Wassal; the
first in his Forest, No. 3. whilst giving an account of a rural feast
in the hall of Sir Robert Wroth; he says,

    "The rout of rural folk come thronging in,
       Their rudenesse then is thought no sin—
     The jolly _Wassal_ walks the often round,
       And in their cups their cares are drown'd:"[130:B]

and the second in "Christmas, His Masque, as it was presented at Court
1616," where _Wassall_, as one of the ten children of Christmas, is
represented in the following quaint manner. _Like a neat Sempster, and
Songster; her Page bearing a browne bowle, drest with Ribbands, and
Rosemarie before her._[130:C]

Fletcher, in his Faithful Shepherdess, has given a striking description
of the festivity attendant on the Wassal bowl:

    ——— "The woods, or some near town
    That is a neighbour to the bordering down,
    Hath drawn them thither, 'bout some lusty sport,
    Or spiced _Wassel-Boul_, to which resort
    All the young men and maids of many a cote,
    Whilst the trim minstrell strikes his merry note."[130:D]

The persons thus accompanying the Wassal bowl, especially those who
danced and played, were called _Wassailers_, an appellation which it
was afterwards customary to bestow on all who indulged, at any season,
in intemperate mirth. Hence Milton introduces his Lady in Comus making
use of the term in the following beautiful passage:

    ——————— "Methought it was the sound
    Of riot and ill-manag'd merriment,
    Such as the jocund flute, or gamesome pipe
    Stirs up among the loose unletter'd hinds,
    When for their teeming flocks, and granges full,
    In wanton dance, they praise the bounteous Pan,
    And thank the gods amiss. I should be loath
    To meet the rudeness, and swill'd insolence,
    Of such late _wassailers_."[131:A]

During the reigns of Elizabeth and James I. the celebration of
Twelfth Night was, equally with Christmas-Day, a festival through
the land, and was observed with great ostentation and ceremony in
both the Universities, at Court, at the Temple, and at Lincoln's
and Gray's-Inn. Many of the Masques of Ben Jonson were written for
the amusement of the royal family on this night, and Dugdale in his
_Origines Juridicales_, has given us a long and particular account of
the revelry at the Temple on each of the twelve days of Christmas,
in the year 1562. It appears from this document that the hospitable
rites of St. Stephen's Day, St. John's Day, and Twelfth Day, were
ordered to be exactly alike, and as many of them are, in their
nature, perfectly rural, and were, there is every reason to suppose,
observed, to a certain extent, in the halls of the country-gentry and
substantial yeomanry, a short record here, of those that fall under
this description, cannot be deemed inapposite.

The breakfast on Twelfth Day is directed to be of brawn, mustard, and
malmsey; the dinner of two courses, to be served in the hall, and after
the first course "cometh in the Master of the Game, apparalled in green
velvet: and the Ranger of the Forest also, in a green suit of satten;
bearing in his hand a green bow and divers arrows, with either of them
a hunting horn about their necks: blowing together three blasts of
venery, they pace round about the fire three times. Then the Master
of the Game maketh three curtesies," kneels down, and petitions to be
admitted into the service of the Lord of the Feast.

"This ceremony performed, a huntsman cometh into the hall, with a fox
and a purse-net; with a cat, both bound at the end of a staff; and with
them nine or ten couple of hounds, with the blowing of hunting-horns.
And the fox and cat are by the hounds set upon, and killed beneath the
fire. This sport finished, the Marshal (an officer so called, who, with
many others under different appellations, were created for the purpose
of conducting the revels) placeth them in their several appointed

After the second course, the "antientest of the Masters of the Revels
singeth a song, with the assistance of others there present;" and after
some repose and revels, supper, consisting of two courses, is then
served in the hall, and, being ended, "the Marshall presenteth himself
with drums afore him, mounted upon a scaffold, born by four men; and
goeth three times round about the harthe, crying out, aloud, 'A Lord, a
Lord,' &c., then he descendeth, and goeth to dance."

"This done, the Lord of Misrule (an officer whose functions will be
afterwards noticed) addresseth himself to the Banquet; which ended
with some minstralsye, mirth and dancing, every man departeth to

Herrick, who was the contemporary of Shakspeare for the first
twenty-five years of his life, that is, from the year 1591 to 1616, has
given us the following curious and pleasing account of the ceremonies
of Twelfth Night, as we may suppose them to have been observed in
almost every private family:



        Now, now the mirth comes
        With the cake full of plums,
    Where Beane's the king of the sport here;
        Beside, we must know,
        The Pea also
    Must revell, as Queene, in the court here.

        Begin then to chuse,
        This night as ye use,
    Who shall for the present delight here,
        Be a King by the lot,
        And who shall not
    Be Twelfe-day Queene for the night here.

        Which knowne, let us make
        Joy-sops with the cake;
    And let not a man then be seen here,
        Who unurg'd will not drinke
        To the base from the brink
    A health to the King and the Queene here.

        Next crowne the bowle full
        With gentle lambs-wooll;
    Adde sugar, nutmeg and ginger,
        With store of ale too;
        And thus ye must doe
    To make the _wassaile_ a swinger.

        Give then to the King
        And Queene wassailing;
    And though with ale ye be whet here;
        Yet part ye from hence,
        As free from offence,
    As when ye innocent met here."
                        _Herrick's Hesperides_, p. 376, 377.

The _Twelfth Day_ was the usual termination of the festivities of
Christmas with the higher ranks; but with the vulgar they were
frequently prolonged until Candlemas, to which period it was thought a
point of much importance to retain a portion of their Christmas cheer.

It should not be forgotten here, that Shakspeare has given the
appellation of _Twelfth Night_ to one of his best and most finished
plays. No reason for this choice is discoverable in the drama itself,
and from its adjunctive title of _What You Will_, it is probable, that
the name was meant to be no otherwise appropriate than as designating
an evening on which dramatic mirth and recreation were, by custom,
peculiarly expected and always acceptable.[134:A]

It appears from a passage from Warner's Albion's England, that between
Twelfth Day and Plough-Monday, a period was customarily fixed upon
for the celebration of games in honour of the Distaff, and which was
termed ROCK-DAY.[135:A] The notice in question is to be found in the
lamentations of the Northerne-man over the decline of festivity, where
he exclaims,

    "_Rock_, and plow-mondaies, _gams_ sal gang,
       With saint-feasts and kirk sights."[135:B]

That this festival was observed not only during the immediate days of
Warner and Shakspeare, but for some time afterwards, we learn from
a little poem by Robert Herrick, which was probably written between
the years 1630 and 1640. Herrick was born in 1591, and published his
collection of poems, entitled Hesperides, in 1648. He gives us in his
title the additional information that _Rock_, or _Saint Distaff's
Day_, was the morrow after Twelfth Day; and he advises that it should
terminate the sports of Christmas.


    Partly worke and partly play
    Ye must on S. _Distaff's day_:
    From the plough soone free your teame;
    Then come home and fother them.
    If the Maides a spinning goe,
    Burne the flax, and fire the tow:
    Scorch their plackets, but beware
    That ye singe no maiden-haire.
    Bring in pailes of water then,
    Let the Maides bewash the men.
    Give S. _Distaffe_ all the right,
    Then bid Christmas sport _good night_.
    And next morrow, every one
    To his owne vocation."[136:A]

The first Monday after Twelfth Day used to be celebrated by the
ploughmen as a Holiday, being the season at which the labours
of the plough commenced, and hence the day has been denominated
PLOUGH-MONDAY. Tusser, in his poem on husbandry, after observing that
the "old guise must be kept," recommends the ploughmen on this day to
the hospitality of the good huswife:

    "Good huswives, whom God hath enriched ynough,
       forget not the feasts, that belong to the plough:
     The meaning is only to joy and be glad,
       for comfort with labour, is fit to be had."

He then adds,

    "Plough-Munday, next after that Twelftide is past,
       bids out with the plough, the worst husband is last:
     If plowman get hatchet, or whip to the skreene,
       maids loveth their cocke, if no water be seene."

These lines allude to a custom prevalent in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, and which Mr. Hilman, in a note on the passage,
has thus explained: "After Christmas, (which formerly, during the
twelve days, was a time of very little work,) every gentleman
feasted the farmers, and every farmer their servants and task-men.
_Plough-monday_ puts them in mind of their business. In the morning the
men and maid-servants strive who shall shew their diligence in rising
earliest; if the ploughman can get his whip, his plough-staff, hatchet,
or any thing that he wants in the field, by the fire-side, before the
maid hath got her kettle on, then the maid loseth her _Shrovetide_
cock, and it wholly belongs to the men. Thus did our forefathers
strive to allure youth to their duty, and provided them innocent mirth,
as well as labour. On this _Plough-Monday_ they have a good supper
and some strong drink, that they might not go immediately out of one
extreme into another."[137:A]

In the northern and north-western parts of England, the entire day was
usually consumed in parading the streets, and the night was devoted
to festivity. The ploughmen, apparently habited only in their shirts,
but in fact with flannel jackets underneath, to keep out the cold, and
these shirts decorated with rose-knots of various coloured riband, went
about collecting what they called "_plough-money_ for drink." They were
accompanied by a plough, which they dragged along, and by music, and
not unfrequently two of the party were dressed to personate an _old
woman_, whom they called _Bessy_, and a _Fool_, the latter of these
characters being covered with skins, with a hairy cap on his head, and
the tail of some animal pendent from his back. On one of these antics
was devolved the office of collecting money from the spectators by
rattling a box, into which their contributions were dropped, while the
rest of the ploughmen were engaged in performing a _sword-dance_, a
piece of pageantry derived from our northern ancestors, and of which
Olaus Magnus has left us an accurate description in his history of the
Gothic nations.[137:B] It consisted, for the most part, in forming
various figures with the swords, sheathed and unsheathed, commencing
in slow time, and terminating in very rapid movements, which required
great agility and address to be conducted with safety and effect.[137:C]

It was the opinion of Dr. Johnson that Shakspeare alluded to the
_sword-dance_, where, in _Anthony and Cleopatra_, he makes his hero
observe of Augustus, that

    ——————— "He, at Philippi, kept
    His sword even like a dancer."[138:A]

But Mr. Malone has remarked, with more probability, that the allusion
is to the English custom of dancing with a sword _worn by the side_; in
confirmation of which idea, he quotes a passage from _All's Well That
Ends Well_, where Bertram, lamenting that he is kept from the wars,

    "I shall stay here the forehorse to a smock,
     Creaking my shoes on the plain masonry,
     Till honour be bought up, and no _sword worn_.
     But one to _dance_ with."[138:B]

It has been observed in a preceding page, that, among the common
people, the festivities of Christmas were frequently protracted to
CANDLEMAS-DAY. This was done under the idea of doing honour to the
Virgin Mary, whose _purification_ is commemorated by the church at this
period. It was generally, remarks Bourne, "a day of festivity, and more
than ordinary observation among women, and is therefore called the
_Wives Feast-Day_."[138:C] The term _Candlemas_, however, seems to have
arisen from a custom among the Roman Catholics, of consecrating tapers
on this day, and bearing them about lighted in procession, to which
they were enjoined by an edict of Pope Sergius, A. D. 684; but on what
foundation is not accurately ascertained. At the Reformation, among the
rites and ceremonies which were ordered to be retained in a convocation
of Henry VIII., this is one, and expressedly because it was considered
as symbolical of the spiritual illumination of the Gospel.[138:D]

From Candlemas to Hallowmas, the tapers which had been lighted all
the winter in Cathedral and Conventual Churches ceased to be used; and
so prevalent, indeed, was the relinquishment of candles on this day in
domestic life, that it has laid the foundation of one of the proverbs
in the collection of Mr. Ray:

    On _Candlemas-day_ throw _Candle_ and _Candlestick_ away.

On this day likewise the Christmas greens were removed from churches
and private houses. Herrick, who may be considered as the contemporary
of Shakspeare, being five-and-twenty at the period of the poet's death,
has given us a pleasing description of this observance; he abounds,
indeed, in the history of local rites, and, though surviving beyond
the middle of the seventeenth century, paints with great accuracy
the manners and superstitions of the Shakspearean era. He has paid
particular attention to the festival that we are describing, and
enumerates the various greens and flowers appropriated to different
seasons in a little poem entitled


    DOWN with the Rosemary and Bayes,
      Down with the Misleto;
    Instead of Holly, now up-raise
      The greener Box (for show).

    The Holly hitherto did sway;
      Let Box now domineere;
    Untill the dancing Easter-day,
      On Easter's Eve appeare.

    Then youthfull Box which now hath grace,
      Your houses to renew;
    Grown old, surrender must his place,
      Unto the crisped Yew.

    When Yew is out, then Birch comes in,
      And many Flowers beside;
    Both of a fresh and fragrant kinne,
      To honour Whitsontide.

    Green Bushes then, and sweetest Bents,
      With cooler Oken boughs;
    Come in for comely ornaments,
      To re-adorn the house."[140:A]

The usage which we have alluded to, of preserving the Christmas cheer
and hospitality to Candlemas, is immediately afterwards recorded and
connected with a singular superstition, in the following poems under
the titles of


    KINDLE the Christmas Brand, and then
      Till sunne-set, let it burne;
    Which quencht, then lay it up agen,
      Till Christmas next returne.

    Part must be kept wherewith to teend[140:B]
      The Christmas Log next yeare;
    And where 'tis safely kept, the fiend
      Can do no mischiefe there.——

           *       *       *       *       *

    End now the white-loafe, and the pye,
    And let all sports with Christmas dye."[140:C]

To the exorcising power of the Christmas Brand is added, in the
subsequent effusion, a most alarming denunciation against those who
heedlessly leave in the Hall on Candlemas Eve, any the smallest portion
of the Christmas greens.


    DOWN with the Rosemary, and so
    Down with the Baies, and Misletoe:
    Down with the Holly, Ivie, all
    Wherewith ye drest the Christmas Hall:
    That so the superstitious find
    No one least Branch there left behind:
    For look, how many leaves there be,
    Neglected there, maids, trust to me,
    So many _goblins_ you shall see."[141:A]

The next important period of feasting in the country occurred at
SHROVE-TIDE, which among the Roman Catholics was the time appointed
for _shriving_ or _confession of sins_, and was also observed as
a _carnival_ before the commencement of Lent. The former of these
ceremonies was dispensed with at the Reformation; but the rites
attending the latter were for a long time supported with a rival
spirit of hilarity. The Monday and Tuesday succeeding _Shrove_ Sunday,
called _Collop Monday_ and _Pancake Tuesday_, were peculiarly devoted
to _Shrovetide Amusement_; the first having been, in papal times, the
period at which they took leave of flesh, or slices of meat, termed
_collops_ in the north, which had been preserved through the winter by
salting and drying, and the second was a relic of the feast preceding
Lent; eggs and collops therefore on the Monday, and pancakes, as a
delicacy, on the Tuesday, were duly if not religiously served up.

Tusser, in his very curious and entertaining poem on agriculture, thus
notices some of the old observances at _Shrovetide_:—

    "At Shroftide to shroving, go thresh the fat hen,
       If blindfold can kill her, then give it thy men:
     Maids, fritters and pancakes, ynow see ye make,
       Let slut have one pancake, for company sake."

For an explanation of the obsolete custom of "threshing the fat hen,"
we are indebted to Mr. Hilman. "The hen," says he, "is hung at a
fellow's back, who has also some horse-bells about him; the rest of
the fellows are blinded, and have boughs in their hands, with which
they chase this fellow and his hen about some large court or small
enclosure. The fellow with his hen and bells shifting as well as he
can, they follow the sound, and sometimes hit him and his hen; at other
times, if he can get behind one of them, they thresh one another well
favour'dly; but the jest is, the maids are to blind the fellows, which
they do with their aprons, and the cunning baggages will endear their
sweet-hearts with a peeping hole, whilst the others look out as sharp
to hinder it. After this the hen is boil'd with bacon, and store of
pancakes and fritters are made. She that is noted for lying in bed
long, or any other miscarriage, hath the first pancake presented to
her, which most commonly falls to the dogs share at last, for no one
will own it their due." Mr. Hilman concludes his comment on the text
with a singular remark; "the loss of the above laudable custom, is one
of the benefits we have got by smoaking tobacco."[142:A]

Shakspeare has twice noticed this season of feasting and amusement;
first, in _All's Well That Ends Well_, where he makes the Clown tell
the Countess (among a string of other similes), that his answer is "as
fit as a pancake for Shrove-tuesday[143:A];" and in the _Second Part
of King Henry IV._ he has introduced _Silence_ singing the following

    "Be merry, be merry, my wife's as all;[143:B]
     For women are shrews, both short and tall:
     'Tis merry in hall, when beards wag all,
       And welcome merry _shrove-tide_.
     Be merry, be merry, &c."

The third line of this song appears to have been proverbial, and of
considerable antiquity; for Adam Davie, who flourished about 1312, has
the same imagery with the same rhyme, in his _Life of Alexander_:

    "Merry swithe it is in halle,
     When the _berdes waveth alle_."[143:C]

And the subsequent passage, quoted by Mr. Reed from a writer
contemporary with Shakspeare, proves, that it was a common burden or
under song in the halls of our gentry at that period:—"which done,
grace said, and the table taken up, the plate presently conveyed into
the pantrie, the hall summons this consort of companions (upon payne
to dyne with Duke Humphfrie, or to kisse the hare's foot,) to appear
at the first call: where a song is to be sung, the under song or
holding whereof is, _It is merrie in haul where beards wag all._" The
Serving-man's Comfort, 1598, sign. C.[144:A]

The evening of _Shrove-Tuesday_ was usually appropriated, as well
in the country as in town, to the exhibition of dramatic pieces.
Not only at Court, where Jonson was occasionally employed to write
Masques on this night[144:B], but at both the Universities, in the
provincial schools, and in the halls of the gentry and nobility, were
these the amusements of _Shrovetide_, during the days of Elizabeth
and James. Warton, speaking of these ephemeral plays, adds, in a
note, "I have seen an anonymous comedy, APOLLO SHROVING, composed
by the Master of Hadleigh-school, in Suffolk[144:C], and acted by
his scholars, on Shrove-tuesday, Feb. 7, 1626, printed 1627. 8vo.
published, as it seems, by E. W. _Shrove-tuesday_, as the day
immediately preceding Lent, was always a day of extraordinary sport
and feasting."—"Some of these festivities," he proceeds to say, "still
remain in our universities. In the PERCY HOUSHOLD-BOOK, 1512, it
appears, that the clergy and officers of Lord Percy's chapel performed
a play _before his lordship upon Shrowftewesday at night_." Pag.

The cruel custom of _Cock-throwing_, which, until lately, was a
diversion peculiar to this day, seems to have originated from the
barbarous, yet less savage, amusement of _Cock-fighting_. "Every yeare
on _Shrove-Tuesday_," says Fitzstephen, who wrote in the reign of Henry
II., "the schoole-boyes doe bring cockes of the game to their master,
and all the forenoone they delight themselves in Cock-fighting."[145:A]
At what period this degenerated into Cock-throwing cannot now be
ascertained; Chaucer seems to allude to it in his _Nonnes Priests'
Tale_, where the Cock revenges himself on the Priest's son, because he

        —————— "gave hym a knocke
    Upon his legges, when he was yonge and nice;"

and that it was common in the sixteenth century, we have the testimony
of Sir Thomas More, who, describing the state of childhood, speaks of
his skill in casting a cok-stele, that is, a stick or cudgel to throw
at a cock.[145:B]

The first effective blow directed against this infamous sport, was
given by the moral pencil of Hogarth, who in one of his prints called
_The Four Stages of Cruelty_, has represented, among other puerile
diversions, a groupe of boys _throwing at a Cock_, and, as Trusler
remarks, "beating the harmless feathered animal to jelly."[145:C] The
benevolent satire of this great artist gradually produced the necessary
reform, and for some time past, the magistrates have so generally
interdicted the practice, that the pastime may happily be considered as

EASTER-TIDE, or the week succeeding Easter-Sunday, afforded another
opportunity for rejoicing, and was formerly a season of great
festivity. Not only, as bound by every tie of gratitude to do, did man
rejoice on this occasion, but it was the belief of the vulgar that
the sun himself partook of the exhilaration, and regularly danced on
Easter-Day. To see this glorious spectacle, therefore, it was customary
for the common people to rise before the sun on Easter-morning, and
though, as we may conclude, they were constantly disappointed, yet
might the habit occasionally lead to serious thought and useful
contemplation; metaphorically considered, indeed, the idea may be
termed both just and beautiful, "for as the earth and her valleys
standing thick with corn, are said _to laugh and sing_; so, on account
of the Resurrection, the heavens and the sun may be said to dance for
joy; or, as the Psalmist words it, the _heavens may rejoice and the
earth may be glad_."[146:A]

The great amusement of the Easter-holidays consisted in playing at
hand-ball, a game at which, say the ritualists Belithus and Durandus,
bishops and archbishops used, upon the continent at this period, to
recreate themselves with their inferior clergy[147:A]; nor was it
uncommon for corporate bodies on this occasion in England to amuse
themselves in a similar way with their burgesses and young people;
antiently this was the custom, says Mr. Brand, at Newcastle, at the
feasts of Easter and Whitsuntide, when the mayor, aldermen, and
sheriff, accompanied by great numbers of the burgesses, used to go
yearly at these seasons to the Forth, or little mall of the town, with
the mace, sword, and cap of maintenance carried before them, and not
only countenance, but frequently join in the diversions of hand-ball,
dancing, &c.[147:B]

The constant prize at hand-ball, during Easter, was a _tansy-cake_,
supposed to be allusive to the _bitter herbs_ used by the Jews on
this festival. Selden, the contemporary of Shakspeare, speaking of
our chief holidays, remarks, that "our Meats and Sports have much of
them relation to Church-Works. The coffin of our _Christmas Pies_, in
shape long, is in imitation of the Cratch[147:C]: our chusing Kings and
Queens on Twelfth Night, hath reference to the three kings. So likewise
our eating of fritters, _whipping_ of tops, _roasting_ of herrings,
Jack of Lents, &c. they are all in imitation of Church-Works, emblems
of martyrdom. Our _Tansies at Easter_ have reference to the _bitter
Herbs_; though at the same time 'twas always the fashion for a man
to have a _Gammon of Bacon_, to shew himself to be no _Jew_."[147:D]
Fuller has noticed this Easter game under his Cheshire, where,
explaining the origin of the proverb "When the daughter is stolen shut
Pepper Gate," he says, "The mayor of the city had his daughter, as she
was _playing at ball_ with other maidens in Pepper-street, stolen away
by a young man through the same gate, whereupon he caused it to be shut

Another custom which prevailed in this country, during the sixteenth
century, at Easter, and is still kept up in some parts of the north,
was that of presenting children with _eggs stained with various colours
in boiling_, termed _Paste_ or more properly _Pasche Eggs_, which the
young people considered in the light of _fairings_. This observance
appears to have arisen from a superstition, prevalent among the Roman
Catholics, that eggs were an emblem of the resurrection, and, indeed,
in the Ritual of Pope Paul the Fifth, which was composed for the use of
England, Ireland, and Scotland, there is a prayer for the consecration
of eggs, in which the faithful servants of the Lord are directed to eat
this his creature of eggs _on account of the resurrection_. On this
custom Mr. Brand has well observed, that "the antient Egyptians, if the
resurrection of the body had been a tenet of their faith, would perhaps
have thought an _Egg_ no improper hieroglyphical representation of
it. The exclusion of a living creature by incubation, after the vital
principle has lain a long while dormant or extinct, is a process so
truly marvellous, that if it could be disbelieved, would be thought by
some a thing as incredible, as that the Author of _Life_ should be able
to re-animate the _dead_."[148:B] So prevalent indeed was this custom
of _egg-giving_ at Easter, that it forms the basis of an old English
proverb, which, in the collection of Mr. Ray, runs thus:

    "I'll warrant you for an _egg_ at _Easter_."[148:C]

A popular holiday, called HOKE-DAY, or HOCK-DAY, which used to be
celebrated with much festivity in Shakspeare's native county, was
usually observed on the Tuesday following the second Sunday after
Easter-day. Its origin is doubtful, some antiquaries supposing it was
commemorative of the massacre of the Danes in the reign of Ethelred
the Unready, which took place on the 13th of November 1002; and others
that it was meant to perpetuate the deliverance of the English from
the tyrannical government of the Danes, by the death of Hardicanute
on Tuesday the 8th of June 1041. At Coventry in Warwickshire,
however, it was celebrated in memory of the former event, though the
commemoration was held on a day wide apart from that on which the
catastrophe occurred, a circumstance which originated in an ordinance
of Ethelred himself, who transferred the sports of this day to the
Monday and Tuesday in the third week after Easter. John Rouse, or Ross,
the Warwickshire historian, says, that this day was distinguished by
various sports, in which the people, divided into parties, used to draw
each other by ropes[149:A]; a species of diversion of which Spelman has
given us a more intelligible account by telling us that it "consisted
in the men and women binding each other, and especially the women the
men," and that the day, in consequence of this pastime, was called

The term _hock_, by which this day is designated, is thus accounted
for by Henry of Huntingdon. "The secret letters of Ethelred, directed
to all parts of his kingdom from this city (Winchester), ordered
that all the Danes indiscriminately should be put to death; and this
was executed, as we learn from the chronicle of Wallingford, with
circumstances of the greatest cruelty, even upon women and children,
in many parts: but in other places, it seems that the English, instead
of killing their guests, satisfied themselves with what was called
_hock-shining_, or _houghing_ them, by cutting their ham-strings, so
as to render them incapable of serving in war. Hence the sports which
were afterwards instituted in our city, and from thence propagated
throughout the whole kingdom, obtained the name of _Hocktide

It appears from the following passage in Laneham's Account of Queen
Elizabeth's Entertainment at Kenelworth Castle, A. D. 1575, that the
citizens of Coventry had lately been compelled to give up their annual
amusements on _Hock Tuesday_, and took the opportunity of the queen's
visit to the Earl of Leicester to petition her for a renewal of the
same. "Hereto followed," says Laneham, "as good a sport (methought),
presented in an historical cue, by certain good-hearted men of
_Coventry_, my Lord's neighbours there; who understanding among them
the thing that could not be hidden from any, how careful and studious
his Honour was that by all pleasant recreations her Highness might best
find herself welcome, and be made gladsome and merry (the groundwork
indeed and foundation of his Lordship's mirth and gladness of us all),
made petition that they mought renew now their old storial shew: Of
argument how the _Danes_, whylome here in a troublous season were for
quietness borne withal and suffered in peace; that anon, by outrage and
importable insolency, abusing both _Ethelred_ the _King_, then, and
all Estates every where beside; at the grievous complaint and counsel
of _Huna_ the _King_'s chieftain in wars on a _Saint Brice_'s night,
A. D. 1012 (as the book says, that falleth yearly on the thirteenth of
November) were all dispatched, and the realm rid. And for because the
matter mentioneth how valiantly our _English_ women for love of their
country behaved themselves, expressed in actions and rymes after their
manner, they thought it mought move some mirth to her Majesty the
rather. The thing, said they, is grounded on story, and for pastime
wont to be played in our city yearly; without ill example of manners,
papistry, or any superstition; and else did so occupy the heads of a
number, that likely enough would have had worse meditations; had an
ancient beginning and a long continuance; till now of late laid down,
they knew no cause why, unless it were by the zeal of certain their
preachers, men very commendable for their behaviour and learning,
and sweet in their sermons, but somewhat too sour in preaching away
their pastime: Wished therefore, that as they should continue their
good doctrine in pulpit, so, for matters of policy and governance of
the city, they would permit them to the _Mayor_ and _Magistrates_;
and said, by my faith, _Master Martyn, they would make their humble
petition unto her Highness, that they might have their Plays up

As it is subsequently stated that their play was very graciously
received by the queen, who commanded it to be represented again on the
following Tuesday, and gave the performers two bucks, and five marks
in money, we must suppose, that their petition was not rejected, and
that they were allowed to renew yearly at Coventry, their favourite
diversions on _Hock-Tuesday_. The observance of this day, indeed,
was still partially retained in the time of Spelman, who died A. D.
1641[151:B], and even Plott, who lived until 1696, mentions it then as
not totally discontinued; but the eighteenth century, we believe, never
witnessed its celebration.

We have now reached that period of the year which was formerly
dedicated to one of the most splendid and pleasing of our festal rites.
The observance of MAY-DAY was a custom which, until the close of the
reign of James the First, alike attracted the attention of the royal
and the noble, as of the vulgar class. Henry the Eighth, Elizabeth,
and James, patronized and partook of its ceremonies; and, during this
extended era, there was scarcely a village in the kingdom but what had
a _May-pole_, with its appropriate games and dances.

The origin of these festivities has been attributed to three different
sources, _Classic_, _Celtic_, and _Gothic_. The first appears to us
to establish the best claim to the parentage of our May-day rites,
as a relique of the _Roman Floralia_, which were celebrated on the
last four days of April, and on the first of May, in honour of the
goddess Flora, and were accompanied with dancing, music, the wearing of
garlands, strewing of flowers, &c. The _Beltein_, or rural sacrifice
of the Highlanders on this day, as described by Mr. Pennant and Dr.
Jamieson[152:A], seems to have arisen from a different motive, and
to have been instituted for the purpose of propitiating the various
noxious animals which might injure or destroy their flocks and herds.
The Gothic anniversary on May-day makes a nearer approach to the
general purpose of the _Floralia_, and was intended as a thanksgiving
to the sun, if not for the return of flowers, fruit, and grain, yet for
the introduction of a better season for fishing and hunting.[152:B]

The modes of conducting the ceremonies and rejoicings on _May-day_, may
be best drawn from the writers of the Elizabethan period, in which this
festival appears to have maintained a very high degree of celebrity,
though not accompanied with that splendour of exhibition which took
place at an earlier period in the reign of Henry the Eighth. It may be
traced, indeed, from the era of Chaucer, who, in the conclusion of his
_Court of Love_, has described the _Feast of May_, when

    "—— Forth goth all the court both most and lest,
     To fetch the floures fresh, and braunch and blome—
     And namely hauthorn brought both page and grome
     And than rejoysen in their great delite:
     Eke ech at other throw the floures bright,
     The primerose, the violete, and the gold,
     With fresh garlants party blew and white."[153:A]

And, it should be observed, that this, the simplest mode of celebrating
May-day, was as much in vogue, in the days of Shakspeare, as the
more complex one, accompanied by the morris-dance, and the games
of Robin Hood. The following descriptions, by Bourne and Borlase,
manifestly allude to the costume of this age, and to the simpler mode
of commemorating the 1st of May: "On the _Calends_, or the 1st day of
May," says the former, "commonly called _May-day_, the juvenile part
of both sexes were wont to rise a little after midnight, and walk to
some neighbouring wood, accompany'd with music, and the blowing of
horns, where they break down branches from the trees, and adorn them
with _nosegays_ and _crowns of flowers_. When this is done, they return
with their booty homewards, about the rising of the sun, and make their
doors and windows to triumph in the flowery spoil. The after part of
the day, is chiefly spent in dancing round a tall poll, which is called
a _May Poll_; which being placed in a convenient part of the village,
stands there, as it were consecrated to the _Goddess of Flowers_,
without the least violence offered it, in the whole circle of the
year."[153:B] "An antient custom," says the latter, "still retained by
the Cornish, is that of decking their doors and porches on the first of
May with green sycamore and hawthorn boughs, and of planting trees, or
rather stumps of trees, before their houses: and on May-eve, they from
towns make excursions into the country, and having cut down a tall elm,
brought it into town, fitted a straight and taper pole to the end of
it, and painted the same, erect it in the most public places, and on
holidays and festivals adorn it with flower garlands, or insigns and

Now both these passages are little more than a less extended account
of what Philip Stubbes was a witness of, and described, in the year
1595, in his puritanical work, entitled _The Anatomie of Abuses_.
"Against Maie-day," relates this vehement declaimer, "every parish,
towne, or village, assemble themselves, both men, women, and children;
and either all together, or dividing themselves into companies, they
goe some to the woods and groves, some to the hills and mountaines,
some to one place, some to another, where they spend all the night in
pleasant pastimes, and in the morning they return bringing with them,
birche boughes and branches of trees to deck their assemblies withal.
But their chiefest jewel they bring from thence is the maie-pole,
which they bring home with great veneration, as thus—they have
twentie or fortie yoake of oxen, every oxe having a sweete nosegaie of
flowers tied to the tip of his hornes, and these oxen drawe home the
maie-poale, their stinking idol rather, which they covered all over
with flowers and hearbes, bound round with strings from the top to the
bottome, and sometimes it was painted with variable colours, having
two or three hundred men, women, and children following it with great
devotion. And thus equipp'd it was reared with handkerchiefes and
flagges streaming on the top, they strawe the ground round about it,
they bind green boughs about it, they set up summer halles, bowers, and
arbours, hard by it, and then fall they to banquetting and feasting,
to leaping and dauncing about it, as the heathen people did at the
dedication of their idolls.—I have heard it crediblie reported," he
sarcastically adds, "by men of great gravity, credite, and reputation,
that of fourtie, three score, or an hundred maides going to the wood,
there have scarcely the third part of them returned home againe as they

Browne also has given a similar description of the May-day rites in
his Britannia's Pastorals:—

    "As I have seene the Lady of the May
     Set in an arbour —— —— ——
     Built by the May-pole, where the jocund swaines
     Dance with the maidens to the bagpipe's straines,
     When envious night commands them to be gone,
     Call for the merry yongsters one by one,
     And for their well performance some disposes,
     To this a garland interwove with roses;
     To that a carved hooke, or well-wrought scrip,
     Gracing another with her cherry lip:
     To one her garter, to another then
     A handkerchiefe cast o're and o're agen;
     And none returneth empty, that hath spent
     His paynes to fill their rurall merriment."[155:A]

The custom of rising early on a May-morning to enjoy the season, and
honour the day, is thus noticed by Stow:—"In the month of May," he
says, "namely, on May-day in the morning, every man, except impediment,
would walke into the sweete meddowes and green woods, there to
rejoice their spirits, with the beauty and savour of sweet flowers,
and with the harmony of birds, praysing God in their kind[155:B];"
and Shakspeare has repeated references to the same observance; in
_Midsummer-Night's Dream_, Lysander tells Hermia,

    —— "I did meet thee once with Helena,
    _To do observance to a morn of May_;"[155:C]

and again, in the same play, Theseus says,—

    "No doubt they rose up early, _to observe
     The rite of May_."[156:A]

So generally prevalent was this habit of early rising on May-day, that
Shakspeare makes one of his inferior characters in _King Henry the
Eighth_ exclaim,—

    "Pray, sir, be patient; _'tis as much impossible_
     (Unless we sweep them from the door with cannons)
     _To scatter them, as 'tis to make them sleep
     On May-day morning; which will never be_."[156:B]

Herrick, the minute describer of the customs and superstitions of his
times, which were those of Shakspeare, and the _immediately_ succeeding
period, has a poem called _Corinna's Going A Maying_, which includes
most of the circumstances hitherto mentioned; he thus addresses his

     "Get up —— and see
      The dew bespangling herbe and tree:
    Each flower has wept, and bow'd toward the east,
    Above an houre since;—it is sin,
      Nay profanation to keep in;
    When as a thousand virgins on this day,
    Spring sooner than the lark, to fetch in May!
      Come, my Corinna, come; and comming marke
      How each field turns a street, each street a parke
        Made green, and trimm'd with trees; see how
        Devotion gives each house a bough,
        Or branch: each porch, each doore, ere this,
        An arke, a tabernacle is
      Made up of white-thorn neatly enterwove.—

    There's not a budding boy, or girle, this day
    But is got up, and gone to bring in May:
      A deale of youth, ere this, is come
      Back, and with white-thorn laden home.
      Some have dispatcht their cakes and creame,
      Before that we have left to dreame:
    And some have wept, and woo'd, and plighted troth,
    And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth:
      Many a green gown has been given;
      Many a kisse, both odde and even:
      Many a glance too has been sent
      From out the eye, Love's firmament:
    Many a jest told of the keyes betraying
    This night, and locks pickt, yet w'are not a Maying!"[157:A]

With this, the simplest mode of celebrating the rites of May-day,
was frequently united, in the days of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, a
groupe of _Morris Dancers_, consisting of several characters, which
were often varied both in number, appellation, and dress. The _Morris
Dance_ appears to have been introduced into this kingdom about the
reign of Edward the Fourth, and is, without doubt, derived from the
_Morisco_, a dance peculiar to the _Moors_, and generally termed the
_Spanish Morisco_, from its notoriety in Spain, during the dynasty of
that people in the peninsula. The _Morris Dance_ in this country, when
performed on a May-day, and not connected with the Games of Robin Hood,
usually consisted of the Lady of the May, the Fool, or domestic buffoon
of the 15th and 16th centuries, a Piper, and two, four, or more, Morris
Dancers. The dress of these last personages, who designated the
amusement, was of a very peculiar kind; they had their faces blackened
to resemble the native Moors, and "in the reign of Henry the Eighth,"
says Mr. Douce, "they were dressed in gilt leather and silver paper,
and sometimes in coats of white spangled fustian. They had purses at
their girdles, and garters to which bells were attached[158:A];" but
according to Stubbes, who wrote in 1595, the costume had been altered,
for he tells us that they were clothed in "greene, yellow, or some
other light wanton collour. And as though that were not gawdy ynough,"
he continues, "they bedeeke themselves with scarffes, ribbons, and
laces hanged all over with golde ringes, precious stones, and other
jewels: this done, they tie about either legge twentie or fourtie
belles, with rich handkerchiefe in their handes, and sometimes laide a
crosse over their shoulders and neckes borrowed for the most part of
their pretie _Mopsies_ and loving _Bessies_ for bussing them in the
darke."[158:B] Feathers, too, were usually worn in their hats, and they
had occasionally bells fixed on their arms or wrists, as well as on
their legs. That these jingling ornaments were characteristic of, and
derived from, the genuine _Moorish Dance_, appears from a plate copied
by Mr. Douce from the habits of various nations, published by Hans
Weigel at Nuremberg, in 1577, and which represents the figure of an
African lady of the kingdom of Fez in the act of dancing, with bells at
her feet.[158:C]

It was the business of these motley figures to dance round the
May-pole, which was painted of various colours; thus in Mr. Tollett's
painted glass window, at Betley in Staffordshire, which represents an
English May-game and morris-dance, the May-pole is stained yellow and
black, in spiral lines[158:D]; and Shakspeare, in allusion to this
custom, makes Hermia tell Helena, whilst ridiculing the tallness of her
form, that she is a "painted May-pole[158:E];" so Stubbes, likewise,
in a passage previously quoted, says, that the Maie-pole was "painted
with variable colours."

That the _morris-dance_ was an almost constant attendant on the May-day
festivities, may be drawn from our usual authority, the works of
Shakspeare; for, in _All's Well That Ends Well_, the Clown affirms,
that his answer will serve all questions

    "As fit as a morris for May-day."[159:A]

But, about the commencement of the sixteenth century, or somewhat
sooner, probably towards the middle of the fifteenth century, a very
material addition was made to the celebration of the rites of May-day,
by the introduction of the characters of Robin Hood and some of his
associates. This was done with a view towards the encouragement of
archery, and the custom was continued even beyond the close of the
reign of James I. It is true, that the May-games in their rudest form,
the mere dance of lads and lasses round a May-pole, or the simple
morris with the Lady of the May, were occasionally seen during the
days of Elizabeth; but the general exhibition was the more complicated
ceremony which we are about to describe.

The personages who now became the chief performers in the
_morris-dance_, were four of the most popular outlaws of Sherwood
forest; that Robin Hood, of whom Drayton says,—

    "In this our spacious isle, I think there is not one,
     But he hath heard some talk of him and little John;—
     Of Tuck the merry friar, which many a sermon made
     In praise of Robin Hood, his outlaws and their trade;—
     "Of Robin's" mistress dear, his loved Marian,
     —— —— —— which wheresoe'er she came,
     Was sovereign of the woods, chief lady of the game:
     Her clothes tuck'd to the knee, and dainty braided hair,
     With bow and quiver arm'd;"[159:B]

characters which Warner, the contemporary of Drayton and Shakspeare,
has exclusively recorded as celebrating the rites of May; for,
speaking of the periods of some of our festivals, and remarking that
"ere penticost begun our May," he adds,

    "Tho' (_then_) Robin Hood, liell John, frier Tucke,
       And Marian, deftly play,
     And lord and ladie gang till kirke
       With lads and lasses gay:

     Fra masse and een sang sa gud cheere
       And glee on ery greene."[160:A]

These four characters, therefore, _Robin Hood_, _Little John_, _Friar
Tuck_, and _Maid Marian_, although no constituent parts of the original
English morris, became at length so blended with it, especially on the
festival of May-day, that until the practice of archery was nearly laid
aside, they continued to be the most essential part of the pageantry.

In consequence of this arrangement, "the old _Robin Hood_ of England,"
as Shakspeare calls him[160:B], was created the King or Lord of
the May, and sometimes carried in his hand, during the May-game, a
painted standard.[160:C] It was no uncommon circumstance, likewise,
for metrical interludes, of a comic species, and founded on the
achievements of this outlaw, to be performed after the morris, on
the May-pole green. In Garrick's Collection of Old Plays, occurs
one, entitled "A mery Geste of Robyn Hoode, and of hys Lyfe, wyth
a newe Playe _for to be played in Maye-Games_, very pleasaunte and
full of pastyme;" it is printed at London, in the black letter, for
William Copland, and has figures in the title page of Robin Hood and
Lytel John.[160:D] Shakspeare appears to allude to these interludes
when he represents Fabian, in the _Twelfth Night_, exclaiming on the
approach of Sir Andrew Ague-Cheek with his challenge, "More matter for

Upon this introduction of Robin Hood and his companions into the
celebration of May-day, his paramour _Maid Marian_, assumed the office
of the former Queen of May. This far-famed lady has, according to Mr.
Ritson, no part in the original and more authentic history of Robin
Hood; but seems to have been first brought forward when the story of
this hero became dramatised, which was at a very early period in this
country; and Mr. Douce is of opinion that the name, which is a stranger
to English history, has been taken from "a pretty French pastoral drama
of the eleventh or twelfth century, entitled _Le jeu du berger et de la
bergere_, in which the principal characters are _Robin_ and _Marian_,
a shepherd and shepherdess."[161:A] This appears the more probable, as
the piece was not only very popular in France, but performed at the
season when the May-games took place in England.

_Maid Marian_, in the days of Shakspeare, was usually represented by a
delicate, smooth-faced youth, who was dressed in all the fashionable
finery of the times; and this assumption of the female garb gave, not
without some reason, great offence to the puritanical dissenters, one
of whom, exclaiming against the amusements of May-day, notices this,
amongst some other abuses, in the following very curious passage:—"The
abuses which are committed in your May-games are infinite. The first
whereof is this, that you doe use to attyre in woman's apparrell whom
you doe most commonly call _may-marrions_, whereby you infringe that
straight commandment whiche is given in Deut. xxii. 5., that men must
not put on women's apparrell for feare of enormities. Nay I myself
have seene in a may game a troupe, the greater part whereof hath been
men, and yet have they been attyred so like into women, that their
faces being hidde (as they were indeede) a man coulde not discerne them
from women. The second abuse, which of all other is the greatest, is
this, that it hath been toulde that your morice dauncers have dannced
naked in nettes: what greater enticement unto naughtiness could have
been devised? The third abuse is, that you (because you will loose no
tyme) doe use commonly to runne into woodes in the night time, amongst
maidens, to fet bowes, in so muche as I have hearde of tenne maidens
which went to fet May, and nine of them came home with childe."[162:A]

That, in consequence of this custom, effeminate and coxcomical men were
sarcastically compared to _Maid Marian_, appears from a passage in a
pamphlet by Barnaby Rich, who, satirising the male attire, as worn by
the fops of the reigns of Elizabeth and James I., cries out,—"From
whence commeth this wearing, and this embroidering of long locks, this
curiosity that is used amongst men, in frizeling and curling of their
haire, this gentlewoman-like starcht bands, so be-edged and be-laced,
_fitter for Maid Marian in a Moris dance_, than for him that hath
either that spirit or courage that shold be in a gentleman."[162:B]

It will not seem surprising that the converse of this was occasionally
applicable to the female sex; and that those women who adopted
masculine airs and habits should be branded with a similarity to the
clown who, though personating the lady of the May, never failed,
however nice or affected he might be, to disclose by the boldness
and awkwardness of his gesture and manner, both his rank and sex.
Thus Falstaff is represented as telling the hostess, when he means to
upbraid her for her masculine appearance and conduct, that "for _woman
hood_ Maid Marian may be the Deputy's wife of the ward to thee."[162:C]
A fancy coronet of gilt metal, or interwoven with flowers, and a
watchet coloured tunic, a kirtle or petticoat of green, as the livery
of Robin Hood, were customary articles of decoration in the dress of
the May-Queen.

_Friar Tuck_, the next of the four characters which we have mentioned
as introduced into the May-games, was the chaplain of Robin Hood, and
is noticed by Shakspeare, who makes one of the outlaws, in the _Two
Gentlemen of Verona_, swear

    "By the bare scalp of _Robin Hood's fat friar_."[163:A]

He is represented in the engraving of Mr. Tollet's window as a
Franciscan friar in the full clerical tonsure; for, as Mr. T. observes
in giving an account of his window, "when the parish priests were
inhibited by the diocesan to assist in the May games, the Franciscans
might give attendance, as being exempted from episcopal jurisdiction;"
he adds that "most of Shakspeare's friars are Franciscans," and that
in Sir David Dalrymple's extracts from the book of the _Universal
Kirk_, in the year 1576, he is styled "chaplain to Robin Huid, king of

The last of this groupe was the boon companion of Robin, the "_brave
Little John_," as he is termed in one of the ballads on this popular
outlaw, and who "is first mentioned," remarks Mr. Douce, "together
with Robin Hood, by Fordun the Scotish historian, who wrote in the
fourteenth century, and who speaks of the celebration of the story of
these persons in the _theatrical performances_ of his time, and of the
minstrel's songs relating to them, which he says the common people
preferred to all _other romances_."[163:C]

With these _four_ personages therefore, who were deemed so inseparable,
that a character in Peele's Edward I. says, "We will live and die
together, like _Robin Hood_, _Little John_, _Friar Tucke_, and _Maide
Marian_[163:D]," the performers in the simple English Morris, the
_fool_, _Tom the Piper_, and the _Morris Dancers_, peculiarly so called
from their dress and function, were, for a time, generally connected.
Tom the Piper is thus mentioned by Drayton:

    "Myself above Tom Piper to advance,
     Which so bestirs him in the Morrice-dance
         For penny wage."[164:A]

And Shakspeare, alluding to the violent gesticulations and music of the
Morris dancers says, speaking of Cade the rebel,

    ——————— "I have seen him
    Caper upright like a _wild morisco_,
    Shaking the bloody darts, as he his bells."[164:B]

The music accompanying the _Morris_ and the _May-games_, was either the
simple pipe, or the pipe and tabor, or the bag-pipe. In the following
passage from a curious controversial pamphlet, published towards the
close of the sixteenth century, the morris and the pipe and tabor
are thus noticed: "If Menippus, or the man in the moone, be so quick
sighted, that he beholds these bitter sweete jests, these railing
outcries; this shouting at prelates to cast them downe, and heaving
at Martin to hang him up for Martilmas biefe; what would he imagine
otherwise, then as that stranger, which seeing a Quintessence (beside
the _foole_ and the _Maid Marian_) of all the picked youth, strained
out of an whole Endship, footing the _morris about a may pole_, and
he, not hearing the crie of the hounds, for the barking of dogs, (that
is to say) the minstrelsie for the fidling, the tune for the sound,
nor the _pipe for the noise of the tabor_, bluntly demanded if they
were not all beside themselves, that they so lip'd and skip'd whithout
an occasion."[164:C] To this quotation Mr. Haslewood has annexed the
subsequent ludicrous story from a tract entitled, _Hay any worke
for Cooper_. It is a striking proof of the singular attraction and
popularity of the May-games at this period:—"There is a neighbour of
ours, an honest priest, who was sometimes (simple as he now stands) a
vice in a play, for want of a better; his name is Gliberie of Hawstead
in Essex, hee goes much to the pulpit. On a time, I thinke it was the
last _May_, he went up with a full resolution to doe his businesse
with great commendations. But, see the fortune of it. A boy in the
church, hearing either the _summer lord with his May-game, or Robin
Hood with his morice daunce_, going by the church, out goes the boye.
Good Glibery, though he were in the pulpit, yet had a mind to his old
companions abroad, (a company of merry grigs you must thinke them to
be, as merry as a vice on a stage), seeing the boy going out, finished
his matter presently with John of London's amen, saying, ha ye faith,
boy! are they there? Then ha with thee, and so came downe and among
them he goes."[165:A]

That the music of the _bag-pipe_ was highly esteemed in the days of
Shakspeare, and even preferred to the tabor and pipe, we have a strong
instance in his _Winter's Tale_, where a servant enters announcing
Autolicus in the following terms: "If you did but hear the pedlar at
the door, you would never dance again after a tabor and pipe; no,
_the bag-pipe could not move you_[165:B];" and that especially in the
country, it was a frequent accompaniment to the morris bells, the
numerous collections of _madrigals_, published in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, afford many proofs. Thus, from a collection
printed in 1600:

    "Harke, harke, I heare the dancing
     And a nimble morris prancing;
     _The bagpipe and the morris bells_,
     That they are not farre hence us tells;
     Come let us all goe thither,
     And dance like friends together:"[165:C]

and from another, allusive to the May-games, edited by Thomas Morley:

      "Now is the month of Maying,
       When merry lads are playing;      Fa la la,
       Each with his bonny lasse,
       Upon the greeny grasse.           Fa la la.

       The spring clad all in gladness,
       Doth laugh at winter's sadnesse;
       And to the _bagpipe's_ sound,
       The nimphs tread out their ground.

           *       *       *       *       *

    About the May-pole new with glee and merriment,
        While as the _bagpipe_ tooted it,
        Thirsis and Cloe fine together footed it;      Fa la la."[166:A]

The Morris and the May-game of Robin Hood attained their most perfect
form when united with the _Hobby-Horse_ and the _Dragon_. Of these
the former was the resemblance of the head and tail of a horse,
manufactured in pasteboard, and attached to a person whose business it
was, whilst he seemed to ride gracefully on its back, to imitate the
prancings and curvettings of that noble animal, whose supposed feet
were concealed by a foot-cloth reaching to the ground; and the latter,
constructed of the same materials, was made to hiss and vibrate his
wings, and was frequently attacked by the man on the hobby-horse, who
then personated the character of St. George.[166:B]

In the reigns therefore of Elizabeth and James I. these eight
masqueraders, consisting of _Robin Hood_, _Maid Marian_, _Friar Tuck_,
_Little John_, the _Fool_, _Tom the Piper_, the _Hobby-Horse_, and
the _Dragon_, with from two to ten _morris-dancers_, or, in lieu of
them, the same number of _Robin Hood's men_, in coats, hoods, and hose
of green, with a painted _pole_ in the centre, represented the most
complete establishment of the May-game.[167:A]

All these characters may be traced, indeed, so far back as the middle
of the fifteenth century; and, accordingly, Mr. Strutt, in his
interesting romance, entitled "Queen-hoo Hall," has introduced a very
pleasing and accurate description of the May-games and Morris of Robin
Hood, which, as written in a lively and dramatic style, and not in the
least differing from what they continued to be in the youthful days of
Shakspeare, and before they were broken in upon by the fanaticism of
the puritans, we shall copy in this place for the entertainment of our

"In the front of the pavilion, a large square was staked out, and
fenced with ropes, to prevent the crowd from pressing upon the
performers, and interrupting the diversion; there were also two bars at
the bottom of the inclosure, through which the actors might pass and
repass, as occasion required.

"Six young men first entered the square, clothed in jerkins of leather,
with axes upon their shoulders like woodmen, and their heads bound with
large garlands of ivy-leaves intertwined with sprigs of hawthorn. Then

"Six young maidens of the village, dressed in blue kirtles, with
garlands of primroses on their heads, leading a fine sleek cow,
decorated with ribbons of various colours, interspersed with flowers;
and the horns of the animal were tipped with gold. These were succeeded

"Six foresters, equipped in green tunics, with hoods and hosen of the
same colour; each of them carried a bugle-horn attached to a baldrick
of silk, which he sounded as he passed the barrier. After them came

"Peter Lanaret, the baron's chief falconer, who personified _Robin
Hood_; he was attired in a bright grass-green tunic, fringed with gold;
his hood and his hosen were parti-coloured, blue and white; he had a
large garland of rose-buds on his head, a bow bent in his hand, a sheaf
of arrows at his girdle, and a bugle-horn depending from a baldrick of
light blue tarantine, embroidered with silver; he had also a sword and
a dagger, the hilts of both being richly embossed with gold.

"Fabian a page, as _Little John_, walked at his right hand; and Cecil
Cellerman the butler, as Will Stukely, at his left. These, with ten
others of the jolly outlaw's attendants who followed, were habited
in green garments, bearing their bows bent in their hands, and their
arrows in their girdles. Then came

"Two maidens, in orange-coloured kirtles with white[168:A] courtpies;
strewing flowers; followed immediately by

"The _maid Marian_, elegantly habited in a watchet-coloured[168:B]
tunic reaching to the ground; over which she wore a white linen[168:C]
rochet with loose sleeves, fringed with silver, and very neatly
plaited; her girdle was of silver baudekin[168:D], fastened with a
double bow on the left side; her long flaxen hair was divided into many
ringlets, and flowed upon her shoulders; the top part of her head was
covered with a net-work cawl of gold, upon which was placed a garland
of silver, ornamented with blue violets. She was supported by

"Two bride-maidens, in sky-coloured rochets girt with crimsom girdles,
wearing garlands upon their heads of blue and white violets. After
them, came

"Four other females in green courtpies, and garlands of violets and
cowslips: Then

"Sampson the smith, as _Friar Tuck_, carrying a huge quarter-staff
on his shoulder; and Morris the mole-taker, who represented Much the
miller's son, having a long pole with an inflated bladder attached to
one end[169:A]: And after them

"The _May-pole_, drawn by eight fine oxen, decorated with scarfs,
ribbons, and flowers of divers colours; and the tips of their horns
were embellished with gold. The rear was closed by

    "The _Hobby-horse_ and the _Dragon_.

"When the May-pole was drawn into the square, the foresters
sounded their horns, and the populace expressed their pleasure by
shouting incessantly untill it reached the place assigned for its
elevation:—and during the time the ground was preparing for its
reception, the barriers of the bottom of the inclosure were opened for
the villagers to approach, and adorn it with ribbons, garlands, and
flowers, as their inclination prompted them.

"The pole being sufficiently onerated with finery, the square was
cleared from such as had no part to perform in the pageant; and then
it was elevated amidst the reiterated acclamations of the spectators.
The woodmen and the milk-maidens danced around it according to the
rustic fashion; the measure was played by Peretto Cheveritte, the
baron's chief minstrel, on the bagpipes accompanied with the pipe
and labour, performed by one of his associates. When the dance was
finished, Gregory the jester, who undertook to play the hobby-horse,
came forward with his appropriate equipment, and, frisking up and down
the square without restriction, imitated the galloping, curvetting,
ambling, trotting, and other paces of a horse, to the infinite
satisfaction of the lower classes of the [170:A]spectators. He was
followed by Peter Parker, the baron's ranger, who personated a dragon,
hissing, yelling, and shaking his wings with wonderful ingenuity; and
to complete the mirth, Morris, in the character of Much, having small
bells attached to his knees and elbows, capered here and there between
the two monsters in the form of a dance; and as often as he came near
to the sides of the inclosure, he cast slily a handful of meal into the
faces of the gaping rustics, or rapped them about their heads with the
bladder tied at the end of his [170:B]pole. In the mean time, Sampson,
representing Friar Tuck, walked with much gravity around the square,
and occasionally let fall his heavy staff upon the toes of such of the
crowd as he thought were approaching more forward than they ought to
do; and if the sufferers cried out from the sense of pain, he addressed
them in a solemn tone of voice, advising them to count their beads,
say a paternoster or two, and to beware of purgatory. These vagaries
were highly palatable to the populace, who announced their delight
by repeated plaudits and loud bursts of laughter; for this reason
they were continued for a considerable length of time: but Gregory,
beginning at last to faulter in his paces, ordered the dragon to fall
back: the well-nurtured beast, being out of breath, readily obeyed, and
their two companions followed their example; which concluded this part
of the pastime.

"Then the archers set up a target at the lower part of the Green,
and made trial of their skill in a regular succession. Robin Hood
and Will Stukely excelled their comrades: and both of them lodged an
arrow in the centre circle of gold, so near to each other that the
difference could not readily be decided, which occasioned them to shoot
again; when Robin struck the gold a second time, and Stukely's arrow
was affixed upon the edge of it. Robin was therefore adjudged the
conqueror; and the prize of honour, a garland of laurel embellished
with variegated ribbons, was put upon his head; and to Stukely was
given a garland of ivy, because he was the second best performer in
that contest.

"The pageant was finished with the archery; and the procession began
to move away, to make room for the villagers, who afterwards assembled
in the square, and amused themselves by dancing round the May-pole in
promiscuous companies, according to the ancient custom."[171:A]

In consequence of the opposition, however, of the puritans, during
the close of Elizabeth's reign, who considered the rights of May-day
as relics of paganism, much havoc was made among the Dramatis Personæ
of this festivity. Sometimes instead of Robin and Marian, only a Lord
or Lady of the day was adopted; frequently the friar was not suffered
to appear, and still more frequently was the hobby-horse interdicted.
This zealous interference of the sectarists was ridiculed by the poets
of the day, and among the rest by Shakspeare, who quotes a line from
a satirical ballad on this subject, and represents Hamlet as terming
it an epitaph; "Else shall he suffer not thinking on," says he, "with
the hobby-horse; whose epitaph is, _For, O, for, O, the hobby horse
is forgot_."[171:B] He has the same allusion in Love's Labour's
Lost[171:C]; and Ben Jonson has still more explicitly noticed the
neglect into which this character in the May-games had fallen in his

    "But see, the Hobby-horse is forgot.
     Foole, it must be your lot,
     To supply his want with faces,
     And some other Buffon graces;"[172:A]

and again, still more pointedly,—

    "_Clo._ They should be Morris dancers by their gingle, but they
    have no napkins.

    _Coc._ No, nor a hobby-horse.

    _Clo._ Oh, he's _often forgotten_, that's no rule; but there is
    no maid Marian nor Friar amongst them, which is the surer mark.

    _Coc._ Nor a Foole that I see."[172:B]

In Beaumont and Fletcher's Tragi-comedy called _Women Pleased_, the
aversion of the puritans to this festive beast is strikingly depicted;
where the person who was destined to perform the hobby-horse, being
converted by his wife, exclaims vehemently against the task imposed
upon him.


    I do defie thee and thy foot-cloth too,
    And tell thee to thy face, this prophane riding
    I feel it in my conscience, and I dare speak it,
    This unedified ambling hath brought a scourge upon us.—


    Will you dance no more, neighbour?


    Surely no,
    Carry the beast to his crib: I have renounc'd him
    And all his works.


    _Shall the Hobby-horse be forgot then?
    The hopeful Hobby-horse, shall he lye founder'd?_


    I cry out on't,
    'Twas the forerunning sin brought in those tilt-staves,
    They brandish 'gainst the church, the Devil calls _May

From one of these puritans, named Stephen Gosson, we learn, likewise,
that Morrice-dancers and Hobby-horses had been introduced even upon the
stage during the early part of the reign of Elizabeth; for this writer,
in a tract published about 1579, and entitled _Plays Confuted_, says,
that "the Devil beeside the beautie of the houses, and the stages,
sendeth in gearish apparell, maskes, ranting, tumbling, dauncing of
gigges, galiardes, _morisces_, _hobbi-horses_, &c."[173:B] By the
continued railings and invectives, however, of these fanatics, the
May-games were, at length, so broken in upon, that had it not been
for the _Book of Sports, or lawful Recreations upon Sunday after
Evening-prayers, and upon Holy-days_, issued by King James in 1618,
they would have been totally extinct. This curious volume permitted
May-games, Morris-dances, Whitsun-ales, the setting up of May-poles,
&c.[173:C]; and had it not allowed church-ales, and dancing on the
Sabbath, would have been unexceptionable in its tendency; for as honest
Burton observes, in allusion to this very _Declaration_ of King James,
"_Dancing_, _Singing_, _Masking_, _Mumming_, _Stage-playes_, howsoever
they be heavily censured by some severe _Catoes_, yet if _opportunely_
and _soberly used_, may justly be approved. _Melius est fodere, quam
saltare_, saith _Augustin_: but what is that if they delight in it?
_Nemo saltat sobrius._ But in what kind of dance? I know these sports
have many oppugners, whole volumes writ against them; when as all they
say (if duly considered) is but _ignoratio Elenchi_; and some again,
because they are now cold and wayward, past themselves, cavil at all
such youthful sports in others, as he did in the Comedy; they think
them, _illico nasci senes_, &c. Some out of preposterous zeal object
many times trivial arguments, and because of some abuse, will quite
take away the good use, as if they should forbid wine, because it makes
men drunk; but in my judgment they are too stern: there _is a time for
all things, a time to mourn, a time to dance_. Eccles. 3. 4. _a time
to embrace, a time not to embrace_, (ver. 5.) _and nothing better than
that a man should rejoice in his own works_, ver. 22. For my part, I
will subscribe to the _King's Declaration_, and was ever of that mind,
those _May-games_, _Wakes_, and _Whitsun-ales_, &c. if they be not at
_unseasonable_ hours, may justly be permitted. Let them freely feast,
sing and dance, have their _poppet-playes_, _hobby-horses_, _tabers_,
_crouds_, _bag-pipes_, &c., play at _ball_, and _barley-brakes_,
and what sports and recreations they like best."[174:A] All these
festivities, however, on _May-day_, were again set aside, by still
greater enthusiasts, during the period of the Commonwealth, and were
once more revived at the Restoration; at present, few vestiges remain
either of those ancient rites, or of those attendant on other popular
periodical festivals.[174:B]

Several of the amusements, and some of the characters attendant on
the celebration of May-day, were again introduced at WHITSUNTIDE,
especially the morris-dance, which was as customary on this period of
festivity as on the one immediately preceding it. Thus Shakspeare, in
King Henry V., makes the Dauphin say, alluding to the youthful follies
of the English monarch,

    ————— "Let us do it with no show of fear;
    No, with no more, than if we heard that England
    Were busied with a _Whitsun Morris-dance_."[175:A]

The rural sports and feasting at Whitsuntide were usually designated
by the term _Whitsun-ales_; _ale_ being in the time of Shakspeare, and
for a century or two, indeed, before him, synonymous with _festival_
or _merry-making_. Chaucer and the author of Pierce Plowman use the
word repeatedly in this sense, and the following passages from our
great poet, from Jonson, and from Ascham, prove that it was familiar,
in their time, in the sense of simple carousing, church-feasting, and
Whitsuntide recreation. Launcelot, in the _Two Gentlemen of Verona_,
exclaims to Speed, "Thou hast not so much charity in thee, as to go to
the _ale_ with a Christian[175:B];" and Ascham, speaking of the conduct
of husbandmen, in his Toxophilus, observes that those which have their
dinner and drink in the field, "have fatter barnes in the harvest, than
they which will either sleape at noonetyme of the day, or els _make
merye with theyr neighbours at the ale_."[175:C] In the chorus to the
first act of _Pericles_, it is recorded of an old song, that

    "It hath been sung at festivals,
     On ember-eves, and _holy-ales_."[176:A]

And Jonson says,

    —— "All the neighbourhood, from old records
    Of antique proverbs drawn from _Whitson lords_,
    And their authorities at wakes and _ales_,
    With country precedents, and old wives tales,
    We bring you now."[176:B]

It will be necessary, in this place, therefore, to notice briefly, as
being periods of festivity, the various _Ales_ which were observed
by our ancestors in the sixteenth century. They may be enumerated
under the heads of _Leet-ale_, _Lamb-ale_, _Bride-ale_, _Clerk-ale_,
_Church-ale_ and _Whitsun-ale_. We shall confine our attention at
present, however, principally to the two latter; for of the Lamb-ale
and Bride-ale, an occasion will occur to speak more at large in a
subsequent part of this chapter, and a very few words will suffice with
regard to the Leet-ale and the Clerk-ale; the former being merely the
dinner provided for the jury and customary tenants at the court-leet
of a manor, or _View of frank pledge_, formerly held once or twice a
year, before the steward of the leet[176:C]; to this court Shakspeare
alludes, in his _Taming of the Shrew_, where the servant tells Sly,
that in his dream he would "rail upon the hostess of the house," and
threaten to

    —— —— "present her at the leet:"[176:D]

and the latter, which usually took place at Easter, is thus mentioned
by Aubrey in his manuscript History of Wiltshire. "In the Easter
holidays was the _Clarkes-Ale_, for his private benefit and the solace
of the neighbourhood."[176:E]

The _Church-ale_ was a festival instituted sometimes in honour of
the church-saint, but more frequently for the purpose of contributing
towards the repair or decoration of the church. On this occasion it was
the business of the churchwardens to brew a considerable quantity of
strong ale, which was sold to the populace in the church-yard, and to
the better sort in the church itself, a practice which, independent of
the profit arising from the sale of the liquor, led to great pecuniary
advantages; for the rich thought it a meritorious duty, beside paying
for their ale, to offer largely to the holy fund. It was no uncommon
thing indeed to have four, six, or eight of these _ales_ yearly, and
sometimes one or more parishes _agreed_ to hold annually a _certain
number_ of these meetings, and to contribute individually a _certain
sum_. Of this a very curious proof may be drawn from the following
stipulation, preserved in Dodsworth's Manuscripts in the Bodleian
Library:—"The parishioners of Elveston and Okebrook, in Derbyshire,
agree jointly, to brew four _Ales_, and every _Ale_ of one quarter
of malt, betwixt this (the time of contract) and the feast of saint
John Baptist next coming. And that every inhabitant of the said town
of Okebrook shall be at the several _Ales_. And every husband and his
wife shall pay two pence, and every cottager one penny, and all the
inhabitants of Elveston shall have and receive all the profits and
advantages coming of the said _Ales_, to the use and behoof of the
said church of Elveston. And the inhabitants of Elveston shall brew
_eight Ales_ betwixt this and the feast of saint John Baptist, at the
which _Ales_ the inhabitants of Okebrook shall come and pay as before
rehersed. And if he be away at one _Ale_, to pay at the toder Ale for
both, &c."[177:A]

The date of this document is anterior to the Reformation, but that
_church-ales_ were equally popular and frequent in the days of
Shakspeare will be evident from the subsequent passages in Carew and
Philip Stubbes. The historian of Cornwall, whose work was first printed
in 1602, says that "for the church-ale, two young men of the parish are
yerely chosen by their last foregoers, to be wardens; who, dividing
the task, make collection among the parishioners, of what soever
provision it pleaseth them voluntarily to bestow. This they imploy in
brewing, baking, and other acates, against Whitsontide; upon which
holy-dayes the neighbours meet at the church-house, and there merily
feede on their owne victuals, contributing some petty portion to the
stock; which, by many smalls, groweth to a meetley greatness: for there
is entertayned a kinde of emulation betweene these wardens, who by his
graciousness in gathering, and good husbandry in expending, can best
advance the churches profit. Besides, the neighbour parishes at those
times lovingly visit one another, and this way frankely spend their
money together. The afternoones are consumed in such exercises as olde
and yong folke (having leysure) doe accustomably weare out the time
withall."[178:A] Stubbes in his violent philippic declares that, "in
certaine townes, where drunken Bacchus bears swaie against Christmas
and Easter, Whitsunday, or some other time, the churchwardens, for so
they call them, of every parish, with the consent of the whole parish,
provide half a score or twentie quarters of mault, whereof some they
buy of the church stocke, and some is given to them of the parishioners
themselves, every one conferring somewhat, according to his ability;
which mault being made into very strong ale, or beer, is set to sale,
either in the church or in some other place assigned to that purpose.
Then, when this nippitatum, this huffe-cappe, as they call it, this
nectar of life, is set abroach, well is he that can get the soonest to
it, and spends the most at it, for he is counted the godliest man of
all the rest, and most in God's favour, because it is spent upon his
church forsooth."[178:B]

There is but too much reason to suppose that the satire of this bitter
writer was not, in this instance, ill directed, and that meetings
of this description, though avowedly for the express benefit of the
church, were often productive of licentiousness, and consequently
highly injurious both to morals and religion. A few lines from Ben
Jonson will probably place this beyond doubt. In his Masque of Queens,
performed at Whitehall, 1609, he represents one of his witches as

    "I had a dagger: what did I with that?
     Kill'd an infant, to have his fat:
     A Piper it got, at a _Church-ale_."[179:A]

Returning to the consideration of the _Whitsuntide_ amusements, it may
be observed, that not only was the morris a constituent part in their
celebration, but that the Maid Marian of the May-games was frequently
introduced: thus Shirley represents one of his characters exclaiming
against rural diversions in the following manner:

    ——— "Observe with what solemnity
    They keep their wakes, and throw for pewter candlestickes,
    How they become the morris, with whose bells
    They ring all into _Whitson ales_, and sweate
    Through twentie scarffes and napkins, till the Hobby-horse
    Tire, and the _maide Marrian_ dissolv'd to a gelly,
    Be kept for spoone meate."[179:B]

The festivities, indeed, on this occasion, as at those on May-day,
were often regulated by a Lord and Lady of the _Whitsun-ales_.[179:C]
Very frequently, however, there was elected only a Lord of Misrule,
and as the church or holy ales were not unfrequently combined with
the merriments of this season, the church-yard, especially on the
sabbath-day, was too generally the scene of rejoicing. The severity of
Stubbes, when censuring this profanation of consecrated ground, will
scarcely be deemed too keen: "First," says he, "all the wilde heads
of the parish, flocking together, chuse them a graund captaine (of
mischiefe) whom they inrolle with the title of _my Lord of misrule_,
and him they crowne with great solemnitie, and adopt for their king.
This king annoynted, chooseth foorth twentie, fourtie, threescore, or a
hundred lustie guttes like to himselfe to wait upon his lordly majesty,
and to guarde his noble person.—(Here he describes the dress of the
morris dancers, as quoted in a former page, and proceeds as follows.)
Thus all things set in order, then have they their hobby-horses, their
dragons and other antiques, together with their baudie pipers, and
thundering drummers, to strike up the _Devils Daunce_ withall: then
martch this heathen company towards the church and church-yarde, their
pypers pypyng, their drummers thundering, their stumpes dauncing, their
belles jyngling, their handkercheefes fluttering about their heads like
madde men, their hobbie horses, and other monsters skirmishing amongst
the throng: and in this sorte they goe to the church like Devils
incarnate, with such a confused noise, that no man can heare his owne
voyce. Then the foolish people they looke, they stare, they laugh, they
fleere, and mount upon formes and pewes, to see these goodly pageants
solemnized in this sort. Then after this about the church they goe
againe and againe, and so foorth into the church yard, where they have
commonly their summer haules, their bowers, arbours, and banqetting
houses set up, wherein they feast, banquet, and daunce all that day,
and (peradventure) all that night too. And thus these terrestrial
furies spend the Sabboth day. Another sort of fantastical fooles bring
to these helhoundes (the Lord of misrule and his complices) some bread,
some good ale, some new cheese, some old cheese, some custardes, some
cracknels, some cakes, some flaunes, some tartes, some creame, some
meat, some one thing, some another; but if they knewe that as often as
they bringe anye to the maintenance of these execrable pastimes, they
offer sacrifice to the Devill and Sathanas, they would repente and with
drawe their handes, which God graunt they may."[180:A]

Dramatic exhibitions, called _Whitsun plays_, were common, at this
season, both in town and country, and in the latter they were chiefly
of a pastoral character. Shakspeare has an allusion to them in his
_Winter's Tale_, where Perdita, addressing Florizel, says,

    ——————— "Come, take your flowers:
    Methinks, I play as I have seen them do
    in _Whitsun' pastorals_."[181:A]

Soon after Whitsuntide began the season of sheep-shearing, which was
generally terminated about midsummer, and either at its commencement or
close, was distinguished by the LAMB-ALE or SHEEP-SHEARING FEAST.
At Kidlington in Oxfordshire, it seems to have been _ushered in_ by
ceremonies of a peculiar kind, for, according to Blount, "the Monday
after the Whitsun week, a fat lamb was provided, and the maidens of
the town, having their thumbs tied behind them, were permitted to run
after it, and she who with her mouth took hold of the lamb was declared
the Lady of the Lamb, which, being killed and cleaned, but with the
skin hanging upon it, was carried on a long pole before the lady and
her companions to the green, attended with music, and a morisco dance
of men, and another of women. The rest of the day was spent in mirth
and merry glee. Next day the lamb, partly baked, partly boiled, and
partly roasted, was served up for the lady's feast, where she sat,
majestically at the upper end of the table, and her companions with
her, the music playing during the repast, which, being finished, the
solemnity ended."[181:B]

The most usual mode, however, of celebrating this important period was
by a dinner, music, with songs, and the election of a Shepherd King, an
office always conferred upon the individual whose flock had produced
the earliest lamb. The dinner is thus enjoined by the rustic muse of

    "Wife make us a dinner, spare flesh neither corne,
       Make wafers and cakes, for our sheepe must be shorne,
     At sheep-shearing, neighbours none other things crave,
       But good cheare and welcome, like neighbours to have."[182:A]

But it is from Drayton that we derive the most minute account of the
festival; who in the fourteenth song of his Poly-Olbion, and still more
at large in his ninth Eclogue, has given a most pleasing picture of
this rural holy-day:—

    "When the new-wash'd flock from the river's side,
     Coming as white as January's snow,
     The ram with nosegays bears his horns in pride,
     And no less brave the bell-wether doth go.

     After their fair flocks in a lusty rout,
     Come the gay swains with bag-pipes strongly blown,
     And busied, though this solemn sport about,
     Yet had each one an eye unto his own.

     And by the ancient statutes of the field,
     He that his flocks the earliest lamb should bring,
     (As it fell out then, Rowland's charge to yield)
     Always for that year was the shepherd's king.

     And soon preparing for the shepherd's board,
     Upon a green that curiously was squar'd,
     With country cates being plentifully stor'd:
     And 'gainst their coming handsomely prepar'd.

     New whig, with water from the clearest stream,
     Green plumbs, and wildings, cherries chief of feast,
     Fresh cheese, and dowsets, curds, and clouted cream,
     Spic'd syllibubs, and cyder of the best:

     And to the same down solemnly they sit,
     In the fresh shadow of their summer bowers,
     With sundry sweets them every way to fit,
     The neighb'ring vale despoiled of her flowers.—

     When now, at last, as lik'd the shepherd's king,
     (At whose command they all obedient were)
     Was pointed, who the roundelay should sing,
     And who again the under-song should bear."[183:A]

Shakspeare also, in his _Winter's Tale_, has presented us not only with
a list of the good things necessary for a sheep-shearing feast, but he
describes likewise the attentions which were due, on this occasion,
from the hostess, or Shepherd's Queen.

"Let me see," says the Clown, "what I am to buy for our sheep-shearing
feast? _Three pound of sugar; five pound of currants; rice_——What
will this sister of mine do with rice? But my father hath made
her mistress of the feast, and _she lays it on_. She hath made
me four-and-twenty nosegays for the shearers: three-man song-men
all[183:B], and very good ones; but they are most of them means[183:C]
and bases: but one Puritan amongst them, and he sings psalms to
horn-pipes. I must have _saffron_, to colour the _warden pies_;
mace,—dates,—none; that's out of my note: _nutmegs, seven_; _a race,
or two, of ginger_: but that I may beg;—_four pound of prunes, and as
many of raisins o' the sun_."[183:D]

The culinary articles in this detail are somewhat more expensive than
those enumerated by Drayton; and Mr. Steevens, in a note on this
passage of the Winter's Tale, observes that "the expence attending
these festivities, appears to have afforded matter of complaint. Thus,
in _Questions of profitable and pleasant Concernings_, &c. 1594: 'If it
be a _sheep-shearing feast_, maister Baily can entertaine you with his
bill of reckonings to his maister of three sheapheard's wages, spent on
_fresh cates_, besides _spices_ and _saffron pottage_."[183:E]

The shepherd's reproof to his adopted daughter, Perdita, as Polixenes

    ——— "the prettiest low-born lass, that ever
    Ran on the green-sward,"

implies indirectly the duties which were expected by the peasants,
on this day, from their rural queen, and which seems to have been
sufficiently numerous and laborious:—

    "Fye, daughter, when my old wife liv'd, upon
     This day, she was both pantler, butler, cook;
     Both dame and servant: welcom'd all; serv'd all:
     Would sing her song, and dance her turn: now here,
     At upper end o'the table, now, ithe middle;
     On his shoulder, and his: her face o'fire
     With labour; and the thing, she took to quench it,
     She would to each one sip: You are retir'd,
     As if you were a feasted one, and not
     The hostess of the meeting: Pray you, bid
     These unknown friends to us welcome: for it is
     A way to make us better friends, more known.
     Come, quench your blushes; and present yourself
     That which you are, mistress o'the feast: Come on,
     And bid us welcome to your _sheep-shearing_,
     As your good flock shall prosper."[184:A]

It should be remarked that one material part of this welcome appears,
from the context, to have consisted in the distribution of various
flowers, suited to the ages of the respective visitors, a ceremony
which was, probably, customary at this season of rejoicing.

    "_Perdita._ Give me those flowers there, Dorcas.—Reverend sirs,
    For you there's rosemary, and rue; these keep
    Seeming, and savour, all the winter long:
    Grace, and remembrance, be to you both,
    And welcome to our shearing!———
    ——————————— Here's flowers for you;
    Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram;
    The marigold, that goes to bed with the sun,
    And with him rises weeping; these are flowers
    Of middle summer, and, I think, they are given
    To men of middle age: You are very welcome.—
    ———— ———— ——— Now, my fairest friend,
    I would, I had some flowers of the spring, that might
    Become your time of day; and yours, and yours;
    That wear upon your virgin branches yet
    Your maidenheads growing:—O, these I lack,
    To make you garlands of."[185:A]

A custom somewhat allied to this, that of scattering flowers on the
streams at _shearing time_, has been long observed in the south-west
of England, and is thus alluded to as an ancient rite by Dyer, in his
beautifully descriptive poem entitled _The Fleece_:

    ——— "With light fantastic toe, the nymphs
    Thither assembled, thither ev'ry swain;
    And o'er the dimpled stream a thousand flowers,
    Pale lilies, roses, violets and pinks,
    Mixt with the greens of burnet, mint and thyme,
    And trefoil, sprinkled with their sportive arms.
    Such custom holds along the irriguous vales,
    From Wreakin's brow to rocky Dolvoryn,
    Sabrina's early haunt."[185:B]

That one of the principal seasons of rejoicing should take place on
securely collecting the fruits of the field, it is natural to expect;
and accordingly, in almost every country, a HARVEST-HOME, or Feast, has
been observed on this occasion.

Much of the festivity and jocular freedom however, which subsisted
formerly at this period, has been worn away by the increasing
refinements and distinctions of society. In the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, and, indeed, during a part of the eighteenth,
the Harvest, or _Mell_, Supper, as it was sometimes called, from the
French word _Mesler_, to mingle or mix together, was a scene not
only remarkable for merriment and hospitality, but for a temporary
suspension of all inequality between master and man. The whole family
sate down at the same table, and conversed, danced, and sang together
during the entire night without difference or distinction of any kind;
and, in many places indeed, this freedom of manner subsisted during the
whole period of getting in the Harvest. Thus Tusser, recommending the
social equality of the Harvest-tide, exclaims,

    "In harvest time, harvest folke, _servants and al_,
       should make _altogither_, good cheere in the hal:
     And fil out the blacke bol, of bleith to their song,
       and let them be merrie, _al harvest time long_."[186:A]

Of this ancient convivial licence, a modern rural poet has drawn a most
pleasing picture, lamenting, at the same time, that the Harvest-Feast
of the present day is but the phantom of what it was:—

        "The aspect only with the substance gone.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Behold the sound oak table's massy frame
    Bestride the kitchen floor! the careful dame
    And gen'rous host invite their friends around,
    _While all that clear'd the crop, or till'd the ground,
    Are guests by right of custom:——
    Here once a year Distinction low'rs its crest,
    The master, servant, and the merry guest,
    Are equal all_; and round the happy ring
    The reaper's eyes exulting glances fling,
    And, warm'd with gratitude, he quits his place,
    With sun-burnt hands and ale-enliven'd face,
    Refills the jug his honour'd host to tend,
    To serve at once the master and the friend;
    Proud thus to meet his smiles, to share his tale,
    His nuts, his conversation, and his ale.
      _Such were the days,——of days long past I sing._"[186:B]

It will be necessary to enter a little more minutely into the rites
and ceremonies which accompanied this annual feast in the days of
Shakspeare, and fortunately we can appeal to a few curious documents
on which dependence can be placed. Hentzner, a learned German who
travelled through Germany, England, France, and Italy, towards the
close of the sixteenth century, and whose Itinerary, as far as it
relates to this country, has been translated by the late Lord Orford,
says, "as we were returning to our inn (from Windsor), we happened
to meet some country people _celebrating their harvest-home_; their
last load of corn they crown with flowers, having besides an image
richly dressed, by which, perhaps, they would signify Ceres; this they
keep moving about, while men and women, men and maid servants, riding
through the streets in the cart, shout as loud as they can till they
arrive at the barn."[187:A] Dr. Moresin also, another foreigner, who
published, in the reign of James I., an elaborate work on the "Origin
and Increase of Depravity in Religion," relates that he saw "in England
the country people bringing home, in a cart from the harvest field,
a figure made of corn, round which men and women were promiscuously
singing, preceded by a piper and a drum."[187:B]

To this custom of accompanying home the last waggon-load of corn, at
the close of harvest, with music, Shakspeare is supposed to allude in
the _Merchant of Venice_, where Lorenzo tells the musicians to pierce
his mistress' ear with sweetest touches,

    "And draw her home with musick."[187:C]

It was usual also, not only to feast the men and women, but to reward
likewise the boys and girls who were in any degree instrumental in
getting in the harvest; accordingly Tusser humanely observes,

    "Once ended thy harvest, let none be begilde,
       please such as did please thee, man, woman and _child_:
     Thus doing, with alwaie such helpe as they can,
       thou winnest the praise, of the labouring man;"[188:A]

an injunction which Mr. Hilman has further explained by subjoining to
this stanza the following remark:—"Every one," says he, "that did
any thing towards the Inning, must now have some reward, as ribbons,
laces, rows of pins to boys and girls, if never so small, for their
encouragement, and to be sure plumb-pudding."

The most minute account, however, which we can now any where meet
with, of the ceremonies and rejoicings at Harvest-Home, as they
existed during the prior part of the seventeenth century, and which
we may justly consider as not deviating from those that accompanied
the same festival in the reign of Elizabeth, is to be found among the
poems of Robert Herrick, and will be valued, not exclusively for its
striking illustration of the subject, but for its merit, likewise, as a
descriptive piece.


    COME, Sons of Summer, by whose toile
    We are the Lords of wine and oile:
    By whose tough labours, and rough hands,
    We rip up first, then reap our lands.
    Crown'd with the eares of corne, now come,
    And, to the pipe, sing Harvest-home.
    Come forth, my Lord, and see the cart
    Drest up with all the country art.
    See, here a _Maukin_, there a sheet,
    As spotlesse pure, as it is sweet:
    The horses, mares, and frisking fillies,
    Clad, all, in linnen, white as lillies.
    The Harvest swaines, and wenches bound
    For joy, to see the _Hock-cart_ crown'd.
    About the cart, heare, how the rout
    Of rurall younglings raise the shout;
    Pressing before, some coming after,
    These with a shout, and these with laughter.
    Some blesse the cart; some kisse the sheaves;
    Some prank them up with oaken leaves:
    Some crosse the fill-horse; some with great
    Devotion, stroak the home-borne wheat:
    While other rusticks, lesse attent
    To prayers, then to merryment,
    Run after with their breeches rent.
    Well, on, brave boyes, to your Lord's hearth,
    Glitt'ring with fire; where, for your mirth,
    Ye shall see first the large and cheefe
    Foundation of your feast, fat beefe:
    With upper stories, mutton, veale
    And bacon, which makes full the meale;
    With sev'ral dishes standing by,
    As here a custard, there a pie,
    And here all tempting frumentie.
    And for to make the merry cheere,
    If smirking wine be wanting here,
    There's that, which drowns all care, stout beere;
    Which freely drink to your Lord's health,
    Then to the plough, the commonwealth;
    Next to your flailes, your fanes, your fats;
    Then to the maids with wheaten hats;
    To the rough sickle, and crookt sythe,
    Drink frollick boyes, till all be blythe.
    Feed, and grow fat; and as ye eat,
    Be mindfull, that the lab'ring neat,
    As you, may have their fill of meat.
    And know, besides, ye must revoke
    The patient oxe unto the yoke,
    And all goe back unto the plough
    And harrow, though they're hang'd up now.
    And, you must know, your Lord's word true,
    Feed him ye must, whose food fils you.
    And that this pleasure is like raine,
    Not sent ye for to drowne your paine,
    But for to make it spring againe."[189:A]

We must not forget that, during the reign of Elizabeth, another
_feast-day_ fell to the lot of the husbandman, at the close of
wheat-sowing, in October. This was termed, from one of the chief
articles provided for the table, THE SEED-CAKE, and is no where
recorded so distinctly as by the agricultural muse of Tusser:—

    "Wife sometime this week, if the weather hold cleer,
       an end of wheat-sowing, we make for this yeere:
     Remember thou therefore, though I do it not,
       the _seed-cake_, the _pastries_, and _furmenty pot_."[190:A]

Proceeding with the year, and postponing the consideration of All
Hallowmas to the chapter on superstitions, we reach the eleventh
of November, or the festival of St. Martin, usually called
MARTINMAS, or MARTLEMAS, a day formerly devoted to feasting and
conviviality, and on which a stock of salted provisions was laid in
for the winter. This custom of killing cattle, swine, &c. and _curing_
them against the approaching season, was, during the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, common every where, though _now_ only partially
observed in a few country-villages; for smoke-dryed meat in those days
was more generally relished than at present. We find Tusser, therefore,
as might be expected, recommending this savoury diet; in one place
saying to his farmer,—

    "For Easter, at _Martilmas_, hang up a beefe—
     With that and the like, yer grasse beef come in,
     thy folke shall look cheerely, when others look thin;"[190:B]

and again,—

    "_Martilmas_ beefe doth bear good tacke,
     When countrey folke do dainties lacke;"[190:C]

so, likewise, in _The Pinner of Wakefield_, printed in 1559,

    "A piece of beef hung up since _Martlemas_."

Moresin tells us, in the reign of James I., that there were
great rejoicings and feasting on this day throughout Europe, an
assertion which is verified by the ancient Calendar of the church
of Rome, where under the eleventh of November occur the following
observations:—"Martinalia, Geniale Festum. Vina delibantur et
defecantur. Vinalia veterum festum huc translatum. Bacchus in Martini
figura.—The Martinalia, a genial feast. Wines are tasted of and
drawn from the lees. The Vinalia, a feast of the Antients, removed to
this day. Bacchus in the figure of Martin."[191:A] J. Boëmus Aubanus
likewise informs us, as Mr. Brand remarks, "that in Franconia, there
was a great deal of eating and drinking at this season; no one was so
poor or niggardly that on the _Feast of St. Martin_ had not his dish of
the _entrails_ either of _oxen_, _swine_, or _calves_. They drank, too,
he says, very liberally of _wine_ on the occasion."[191:B]

In this country, merriment and good cheer were equally conspicuous on
St. Martin's feast; the young danced and sang, and the old regaled
themselves by the fire-side. A modern poet, who has beautifully copied
the antique, under the somewhat stale pretence of discovering an
ancient manuscript, presents us with a specimen of his manufacture
of considerable merit, under the title of _Martilmasse Daye_; this,
as being referred to the age of Elizabeth, and recording, with due
attention to historical costume, the mirth and revelry which used
formerly to distinguish this period, may be admitted here as a species
of traditional evidence of no exceptionable kind. The poem, which is
supposed to have been found at Norwich, at an ancient Hostelrie, whilst
under repair, consists of six stanzas, two of which, however, though
possessing poetical and descriptive point, we have omitted, as not
referable to any peculiar observance of the day:—

    "It is the day of Martilmasse,
     Cuppes of ale should freelie passe;
     What though Wynter has begunne
     To push downe the summer sunne,
     To our fire we can betake
     And enjoie the cracklinge brake,
     Never heedinge winter's face
     On the day of Martilmasse.—

     Some do the citie now frequent,
     Where costlie shews and merriment
     Do weare the vaporish ev'ninge out
     With interlude and revellinge rout;
     Such as did pleasure Englandes Queene,
     When here her royal Grace was seene,[192:A]
     Yet will they not this day let passe,
     The merrie day of Martilmasse.

     Nel hath left her wool at home,
     The Flanderkin hath stayed his loom,[192:B]
     No beame doth swinge nor wheel go round
     Upon Gurguntums walled ground;[192:C]
     Where now no anchorite doth dwell
     To rise and pray at Lenard's bell:
     Martyn hath kicked at Balaam's ass,
     So merrie be old Martilmasse.

     When the dailie sportes be done,
     Round the market crosse they runne,
     Prentis laddes, and gallant blades,
     Dancinge with their gamesome maids,
     Till the beadel, stoute and sowre,
     Shakes his bell, and calls the houre;
     Then farewell ladde and farewell lasse,
     To' th' merry night of Martilmasse."[193:A]

Shakspeare has an allusion to this formerly convivial day in the
_Second Part of King Henry IV._, where Poins, asking Bardolph after
Falstaff, says: "How doth the _martlemas_, your master?" an epithet
by which, as Johnson observes, he means the latter spring, or the old
fellow with juvenile passions.[193:B]

We have now to record the closing and certainly the greatest festival
of the year, the celebration of CHRISTMAS, a period which our ancestors
were accustomed to devote to hospitality on a very large scale, to the
indulgence indeed of hilarity and good cheer for, at least, twelve
days, and sometimes, especially among the lower ranks, for six weeks.

Christmas was always ushered in by the due observance of its _Eve_,
first in a religious and then in a festive point of view. "Our
forefathers," remarks Bourne, "when the common devotions of the _Eve_
were over, and night was come on, were wont to light up _candles_ of
an uncommon size, which were called _Christmas-candles_, and to lay
a _log_ of wood upon the fire, which they termed a _Yule-clog_, or
Christmas-block. These were to illuminate the house, and turn the
night into day; which custom, in some measure, is still kept up in the
northern parts."[194:A]

This mode of rejoicing, at the winter solstice, appears to have
originated with the Danes and Pagan Saxons, and was intended to be
emblematical of the return of the sun, and its increasing light and
heat; _gehol_ or _Geol_, Angl. Sax. _Jel_, _Jul_, _Huil_, or _Yule_,
Dan. Sax. Swed., implying the idea of _revolution_ or of _wheel_,
and not only designating, among these northern nations, the month
of December, called _Jul_-Month, but the great feast also of this
period.[194:B] On the introduction of Christianity, the illuminations
of the _Eve of Yule_ were continued as representative of the _true
light_ which was then ushered into the world, in the person of our
Saviour, the _Day spring from on High_.

The ceremonies and festivities which were observed on Christmas-Eve
during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and which in some
parts of the north have been partially continued, until within
these last thirty years, consisted in bringing into the house, with
much parade and with vocal and instrumental harmony, the _Yule_ or
_Christmas-block_, a massy piece of fire-wood, frequently the enormous
root of a tree, and which was usually supplied by the carpenter
attached to the family. This being placed in the centre of the
great hall, each of the family, in turn, sate down upon it, sung a
_Yule-Song_, and drank to a _merry Christmas_ and a _happy new year_.
It was then placed on the large open hearth in the hall chimney, and,
being lighted with the last year's brand, carefully preserved for this
express purpose, the music again struck up, when the addition of fuel
already inflamed, expedited the process, and occasioned a brilliant
conflagration. The family and their friends were then feasted with
_Yule-Dough_ or _Yule-cakes_, on which were impressed the figure of the
child Jesus; and with bowls of _frumenty_, made from wheat cakes or
creed wheat, boiled in milk, with sugar, nutmeg, &c. To these succeeded
tankards of spiced ale, while preparations were usually going on among
the domestics for the hospitalities of the succeeding day.

In the curious collection of Herrick is preserved a poem descriptive
of some of these observances, and which was probably written for the
express purpose of being sung during the kindling of the Yule-clog.

     "COME, bring with a noise,
      My merrie, merrie boyes,
    The Christmas Log to the firing;
      While my good Dame, she
      Bids ye all be free,
    And drink to your hearts desiring.

      With the last yeere's brand
      Light the new block, and
    For good success in his spending,
      On your psalteries play,
      That sweet luck may
    Come while the Log is a teending.[195:A]

      Drink now the strong beere,
      Cut the white loafe here,[195:B]
    The while the meat is a shredding
      For the rare mince-pie,
      And the plums stand by
    To fill the paste that's a kneading."[195:C]

It was customary on this _eve_, likewise, to decorate the windows
of every house, from the nobleman's seat to the cottage, with bay,
laurel, ivy, and holly leaves, which were continued during the whole
of the Christmas-holidays, and frequently until Candlemas. Stowe, in
his Survey of London, particularly mentions this observance:—"Against
the feast of _Christmas_," says he, "every man's house, as also their
parish churches, were decked with holm, ivie, bayes, and whatsoever the
season of the yeere aforded to be greene: The conduits and standards
in the streetes were likewise garnished. Amongst the which, I read,
that in the yeere 1444, by tempest of thunder and lightning, on the
first of February at night, Paul's steeple was fired, but with great
labour quenched, and toward the morning of Candlemas day, at the Leaden
Hall in Cornhill, a standard of tree, beeing set up in the midst of
the pavement fast in the ground, nayled full of holme and ivy, for
disport of Christmas to the people; was torne up, and cast downe by the
_malignant spirit_ (as was thought) and the stones of the pavement all
about were cast in the streetes, and into divers houses, so that the
people were sore agast at the great tempests."[196:A]

This custom, which still prevails in many parts of the kingdom,
especially in our parish-churches, is probably founded on a very
natural idea, that whatever is green, at this bleak season of the year,
may be considered as emblematic of joy and victory, more particularly
the laurel, which had been adopted by the Greeks and Romans, for this
express purpose. That this was the opinion of our ancestors, and that
they believed the _malignant spirit_ was envious of, and interested in
destroying these symbols of their triumph, appears from the passage
just quoted from Stowe.

It has been, indeed, conjectured, that this mode of ornamenting
churches and houses is either allusive to numerous figurative
expressions in the prophetic Scriptures typical of Christ, as the
_Branch of Righteousness_, or that it was commemorative of the style
in which the first Christian churches in this country were built, the
materials for the erection of which being usually _wrythen wands or
boughs_[196:B]; it may have, however, an origin still more remote,
and fancy may trace the misletoe, which is frequently used on these
occasions, to the times of the ancient Druids, an hypothesis which
acquires some probability from a passage in Dr. Chandler's Travels in
Greece, where he informs us, "It is related where Druidism prevailed,
the _houses_ were _decked_ with _evergreens_ in _December_, that the
Sylvan spirits might repair to them, and remain unnipped with frost
and cold winds, until a milder season had renewed the foliage of their
darling abodes."[197:A]

The morning of the Nativity was ushered in with the chaunting of
_Christmas Carols_, or _Pious Chansons_. _The Christmas Carol_ was
either _scriptural_ or _convivial_, the first being sung morning and
evening, until the twelfth day, and the second during the period of
feasting or carousing.

"As soon as the morning of the Nativity appears," says Bourne, "it is
customary among the common people to sing a _Christmas Carol_, which
is a song upon the birth of our Saviour, and generally sung from the
Nativity to the Twelfth-day; this custom," he adds, "seems to be an
imitation of the _Gloria in Excelsis_, or _Glory be to God on High_,
&c. which was sung by the angels, as they hovered o'er the fields of
Bethlehem on the morning of the Nativity; for even that song, as the
learned Bishop Taylor observes, was a Christmas Carol. _As soon_, says
he, _as these blessed Choristers had sung their Xmas Carol, and taught
the Church a hymn, to put into her offices for ever, on the anniversary
of this festivity; the angels_," &c.[197:B] We can well remember that,
during the early period of our life, which was spent in the north of
England, it was in general use for the young people to sing a _carol_
early on the morning of this great festival, and the burthen of which

    "All the angels in heaven do sing
     On a Chrismas day in the morning;"

customs such as this, laudable in themselves and highly impressive on
the youthful mind, are, we are sorry to say, nearly, if not totally,
disappearing from the present generation.

To the carols, hymns, or pious chansons, which were sung about the
streets at night, during Christmas-tide, Shakspeare has two allusions;
one in _Hamlet_, where the Prince quotes two lines from a popular
ballad entitled "_The Songe of Jepthah's Daughter_," and adds, "The
first row of the pious chanson will show you more[198:A];" and the
other in the _Midsummer-Night's Dream_, where Titania remarks that

    "No night is now with _hymn_ or _carol_ blest."[198:B]

Upon the first of these passages Mr. Steevens has observed that the
"_pious chansons_ were a kind of _Christmas carols_, containing some
scriptural history thrown into loose rhymes, and sung about the streets
by the common people;" and upon the second, that "_hymns_ and _carols_,
in the time of Shakspeare, during the season of Christmas, were sung
every night about the streets, as a pretext for collecting money from
house to house."

Carols of this kind, indeed, were, during the sixteenth century, sung
at Christmas, through every town and village in the kingdom; and
Tusser, in his _Five Hundred Pointes of Good Husbandrie_, introduces
one for this season, which he orders to be sung to the tune of _King

The chief object of the common people in chaunting these _nightly_
carols, from house to house, was to obtain money or _Christmas-Boxes_,
a term derived from the usage of the Romish priests, who ordered masses
at this time to be made to the Saints, in order to atone for the
excesses of the people, during the festival of the Nativity, and as
these masses were always purchased of the priest, the poor were allowed
to gather money in this way with the view of liberating themselves
from the consequence of the debaucheries of which they were enabled to
partake, through the hospitality of the rich.

The _convivial_ or _jolie carols_ were those which were sung either
by the company, or by itinerant minstrels, during the revelry that
daily took place, in the houses of the wealthy, from Christmas-Eve
to Twelfth Day. They were also frequently called _Wassel Songs_, and
may be traced back to the Anglo-Norman period. Mr. Douce, in his very
interesting "Illustrations of Shakspeare and of Ancient Manners," has
given us a Christmas-carol of the thirteenth or fourteenth century
written in the Norman language, and which may be regarded, says he,
"as the most ancient drinking song, composed in England, that is
extant. This singular curiosity," he adds, "has been written on a
spare leaf in the middle of a valuable miscellaneous manuscript of the
fourteenth century, preserved in the British Museum, Bibl. Regal. 16,
E. 8."[199:A] To the original he has annexed a translation, admirable
for its fidelity and harmony, and we are tempted to insert three
stanzas as illustrative of manners and diet which still continued
fashionable in the days of Shakspeare. We shall prefix the first stanza
of the original, as a specimen of the language, with the observation,
that from the word _Noel_, which occurs in it, Blount has derived the
term _Ule_ or _Yule_; the French _Nouël_ or Christmas, he observes,
the Normans corrupted to _Nuel_, and from _Nuel_ we had _Nule_, or

    "Seignors ore entendez a nus,
     De loinz sumes renuz a wous,
         Pur quere NOEL;
     Car lem nus dit que en cest hostel
     Soleit tenir sa feste anuel
         A hi cest jur."

       "Lordings, from a distant home,
        To seek old CHRISTMAS we are come,
            Who loves our minstrelsy:
        And here, unless report mis-say,
        The grey-beard dwells; and on this day
        Keeps yearly wassel, ever gay,
            With festive mirth and glee.

        Lordings list, for we tell you true;
        CHRISTMAS loves the jolly crew
            That cloudy care defy:
        His liberal board is deftly spread
        With manchet loaves and wastel-bread;
        His guests with fish and flesh are fed,
            Nor lack the stately pye.

        Lordings, it is our hosts' command,
        And Christmas joins him hand in hand,
            To drain the brimming bowl:
        And I'll be foremost to obey:
        Then pledge me sirs, and drink away,
        For CHRISTMAS revels here to day
            And sways without controul.
    Now _Wassel_ to you all! and merry may ye be!
    But foul that wight befall, who _Drinks_ not _Health_ to me!"[200:A]

_Manchet loaves_, _wastel-bread_, and the _stately pye_, that is,
a _peacock_ or _pheasant_ pye, were still common in the days of
Shakspeare. During the prevalence of chivalry, it was usual for the
knights to take their vows of enterprise, at a solemn feast, on the
presentation to each knight, in turn, of a roasted peacock in a golden
dish. For this was afterwards substituted, though only in a culinary
light, and as the most magnificent dish which could be brought to
table, a peacock in a pie, preserving as much as possible the form of
the bird, with the head elevated above the crust, the beak richly gilt,
and the beautiful tail spread out to its full extent. In allusion to
these superb dishes a ludicrous oath was prevalent in Shakspeare's
time, which he has, with much propriety, put into the mouth of Justice
Shallow, who, soliciting the stay of the fat knight, exclaims,

    "By _cock and pye_, sir, you shall not away to night."[201:A]

The use of the peacock, however, as one of the articles of a second
course, continued to the close of the seventeenth century; for Gervase
Markham, in the ninth edition of his _English House-Wife_, London 1683,
enumerating the articles and ordering of a _great feast_, mentions
this, among other birds, now seldom seen as objects of cookery; "then
in the second course she shall first preferr the lesser wild-fowl, as
&c. then the lesser land-fowl as &c. &c. then the great wild-fowl, as
_bittern_, _hearn_, _shoveler_, _crane_, bustard, and such like. Then
the greater land-fowl, as PEACOCKS, phesant, _puets_, _gulls_,

Numerous collections of _Carols_, or _festal chansons_, to be sung
at the various feasts and ceremonies of the Christmas-holidays, were
published during the sixteenth century. One of the earliest of these
was printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1521, and entitled _Christmasse
carolles_. It contains, among many very curious specimens of this
species of popular poetry, one, which not only contributed to the
hilarity of our ancestors in the reigns of Henry, Elizabeth, and James,
but is still in use, though with many alterations, in Queen's College,
Oxford; it is designated as _a Carol bryngyng in the bores head_, which
was the first dish served up at the baron's high table in the great
hall on Christmas-day, and was usually accompanied by a procession,
with the sound of trumpets and other instruments.

       "_Caput Apri defero,
        Reddens laudes Domino._
    The bores head in hande bringe I,
    With garlandes gay and rosemary.
    I pray you all synge merily,
        _Qui estis in convivio_.

    The bores head, I understande,
    Is the chefe servyce in this lande:
    Loke wherever it be fande
        _Servite cum cantico_.

    Be gladde lordes, both more and lasse,
    For this hath ordayned our stewarde
    To chere you all this christmasse,
    The bores head with mustarde."[202:A]

For the hospitality, indeed, the merriment and good cheer, which
prevailed during the season of Christmas, this country was peculiarly
distinguished in the sixteenth century. Setting aside the splendid
manner in which this festival was kept at court, and in the capital, we
may appeal to the country, in confirmation of the assertion; the hall
of the nobleman and country-gentleman, and even the humbler mansions
of the yeoman and husbandman, vied with the city in the exhibition
of plenty, revelry, and sport. Of the mode in which the farmer and
his servants enjoyed themselves, on this occasion, a good idea may
be formed from the poem of Tusser, the first edition of which thus
admonishes the housewife:—

    "Get ivye and hull, woman deck up thyne house:
     and take this same brawne, for to seeth and to souse.
     Provide us good chere, for thou know'st the old guise:
     olde customes, that good be, let no man despise.

     At Christmas be mery, and thanke god of all
     and feast thy pore neighbours, the great with the small."[202:B]

And in subsequent impressions, the articles of the _Christmas
husbandlie fare_ are more particularly enumerated; for instance, good
drinke, a blazing fire in the hall, brawne, pudding and souse, and
mustard _with all_, beef, mutton, and pork, shred or minced pies _of
the best_, pig, veal, goose, capon, and turkey, cheese, apples, and
nuts, with _jolie carols_; a pretty ample provision for the rites of
hospitality, and a powerful security against the inclemencies of the

The Hall of the baron, knight, or squire, was the seat of the same
festivities, the same gambols, wassailing, mummery, and mirth, which
usually took place in the palaces and mansions of the metropolis, and
of these Jonson has given us a very curious epitome in his _Masque of
Christmas_, where he has personified the season and its attributes in
the following manner:

"_Enter CHRISTMAS with two or three of the Guard._

    "He is attir'd in round hose, long stockings, a close
    doublet, a high crownd hat with a broach, a long thin beard,
    a truncheon, little ruffes, white shoes, his scarffes, and
    garters tyed crosse, and his drum beaten before him.—

"The names of his CHILDREN, with their attyres.

    "_Mis-rule._ In a velvet cap with a sprig, a short cloake,
    great yellow ruffe like a reveller, his torch-bearer bearing a
    rope, a cheese and a basket.

    "_Caroll._ A long tawny coat, with a red cap, and a flute at
    his girdle, his torch-bearer carrying a song booke open.

    "_Minc'd Pie._ Like a fine cooke's wife, drest neat; her man
    carrying a pie, dish, and spoones.

    "_Gamboll._ Like a tumbler, with a hoope and bells; his
    torch-bearer arm'd with a cole-staffe, and a blinding cloth.

    "_Post And Paire._ With a paire-royall of aces in his hat;
    his garment all done over with payres, and purrs; his squier
    carrying a box, cards and counters.

    "_New-Yeares-Gift._ In a blew coat, serving-man like, with
    an orange, and a sprig of rosemarie guilt on his head, his
    hat full of broaches, with a coller of gingerbread, his
    torch-bearer carrying a march-paine, with a bottle of wine on
    either arme.

    "_Mumming._ In a masquing pied suite, with a visor, his
    torch-bearer carrying the boxe, and ringing it.

    "_Wassall._ Like a neat sempster, and songster; her page
    bearing a browne bowle, drest with ribbands, and rosemarie
    before her.

    "_Offering._ In a short gowne, with a porter's staffe in his
    hand; a wyth borne before him, and a bason by his torch-bearer.

    "_Babie-Coche._ Drest like a boy, in a fine long coat, biggin,
    bib, muckender, and a little dagger; his usher bearing a great
    cake with a beane, and a pease."[203:A]

Of these personified attributes we have already noticed, at
some length, the most material, such as _Misrule_, _Caroll_,
_New-Year's-Gift_ and _Wassall_; to the account, however, which has
been given of the Summer Lord of Misrule, from Stubbes's Anatomie of
Abuses, it will be here necessary to add, that the sway of this mock
prince, both in town and country, was still more absolute during the
Christmas-holidays; "what time," says Holinshed, "of old ordinarie
course there is alwaies one appointed to make sport in the court,
called commonlie Lord of Misrule: whose office is not unknowne to
such as have beene brought up in noblemen's houses, and among great
house-keepers, which use liberal feasting in that season."[204:A]
Stowe, likewise, has recorded, in his Survey, the universal domination
of this holiday monarch. "In the feast of Christmas," he remarks,
"there was in the king's house, wheresoever he was lodged, a _Lord of
Misrule_, or _Master of merry desports_, and the like had yee in the
house of every nobleman of honour, or good worship, were he spirituall
or temporall. Amongst the which, the Maior of London, and either of the
Sheriffes had their severall Lords of Misrule, ever contending without
quarrell or offence, who should make the rarest pastimes to delight
the beholders. These Lords beginning their rule on Alhallow Eve,
continued the same til the morrow after the feast of the Purification,
commonly called Candlemas-day: In all which space, there were fine and
subtill disguisings, maskes and mummeries, with playing at cardes for
counters, nayles and points _in every house_, more for pastime than for

In short, the directions which are to be found for a grand Christmas
in the capital, were copied with equal splendour and profusion in the
houses of the opulent gentlemen in the country, who made it a point to
be even lavish at this season of the year. We may, therefore, consider
the following description as applying accurately to the Christmas
hospitality of the Baron's hall.

"On Christmas-day, service in the church ended, the gentlemen presently
repair into the hall to breakfast, with brawn, mustard, and malmsey.

"At dinner the butler, appointed for the Christmas, is to see the
tables covered and furnished: and the ordinary butlers of the house
are decently to set bread, napkins, and trenchers, in good form, at
every table; with spoones and knives. At the first course is served in
a fair and large bore's head, upon a silver platter, with minstralsye.

"Two 'servants' are to attend at supper, and to bear two fair torches
of wax, next before the musicians and trumpeters, and stand above the
fire with the music, till the first course be served in through the
hall. Which performed, they, with the musick, are to return into the
buttery. The like course is to be observed in all things, during the
time of Christmas.

"At night, before supper, are revels and dancing, and so also after
supper, during the twelve daies of Christmas. The Master of the Revels
is, after dinner and supper, to sing a caroll, or song; and command
other gentlemen then there present to sing with him and the company;
and so it is very decently performed."[205:A]

Beside the revelry and dancing here mentioned, we may add, that it was
customary, at this season, after the Christmas sports and games had
been indulged in, until the performers were weary, to gather round the
ruddy fire, and tell tales of legendary lore, or popular superstition.
Herrick, recording the diversions of this period, mentions one of them
as consisting of "winter's tales about the hearth[205:B];" and Grose,
speaking of the source whence he had derived many of the superstitions
narrated in the concluding section of his "Provincial Glossary," says,
that he gives them, as they had, from age to age, been "related to a
closing circle of attentive hearers, assembled in a winter's evening,
round the capacious chimney of an old hall or manor-house;" and he
adds, that tales of this description formed, among our ancestors, "a
principal part of rural conversation, in all large assemblies, _and
particularly those in Christmas holidays, during the burning of the

Of the conviviality which universally reigned during these holidays,
a good estimate may be taken by a few lines from the author of
Hesperides, who, addressing a friend at Christmas-tide, makes the
following request:

      ———— "When your faces shine
    With bucksome meat and cap'ring wine,
    Remember us in cups full crown'd,—
    Untill the fired chesnuts leape
    For joy, to see the fruits ye reape
    From the plumpe challice, and the cup,
    That tempts till it be tossed up:—
    —— —— —— —— carouse
    Till Liber Pater[206:A] twirles the house
    About your eares;——
    "Then" to the bagpipe all addresse,
    Till sleep takes place of wearinesse:
    And thus throughout, with Christmas playes,
    Frolick the full twelve holy-dayes."[206:B]

We shall close this detail of the ceremonies and festivities of
Christmas with a passage from the descriptive muse of Mr. Walter
Scott, in which he has collected, with his usual accuracy, and with
his almost unequalled power of costume-painting, nearly all the
striking circumstances which distinguished the celebration of this high
festival, from an early period, to the close of the sixteenth century.
They form a picture which must delight, both from the nature of its
subject, and from the truth and mellowness of its colouring.

      —— "Well our Christian sires of old
    Loved when the year its course had rolled,
    And brought blithe Christmas back again,
    With all his hospitable train.
    Domestic and religious rite
    Gave honour to the holy night:
    On Christmas eve the bells were rung;—
    The damsel donned her kirtle sheen;
    The hall was dressed with holly green;
    Forth to the wood did merry-men go,
    To gather in the misletoe.
    Then opened wide the baron's hall
    To vassal, tenant, serf and all;
    Power laid his rod of rule aside,
    And Ceremony doffed his pride.
    The heir with roses in his shoes,
    That night might village partner chuse;
    The lord, underogating, share
    The vulgar game of "post and pair."
    All hailed, with uncontrolled delight,
    And general voice, the happy night,
    That to the cottage, as the crown,
    Brought tidings of salvation down.
      The fire with well dried logs supplied,
    Went roaring up the chimney wide;
    The huge hall-table's oaken face,
    Scrubbed till it shone, the day to grace,
    Bore then upon its massive board
    No mark to part the squire and lord.
    Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
    By old blue-coated serving-man;
    Then the grim boar's-head frowned on high,
    Crested with bays and rosemary.
    Well can the green-garbed ranger tell,
    How, when, and where, the monster fell;
    What dogs before his death he tore,
    And all the baiting of the boar.
    The wassol round, in good brown bowls,
    Garnished with ribbons, blithely trowls.
    There the huge sirloin recked: hard by
    Plumb-porridge stood, and Christmas pye;
    Nor failed old Scotland to produce,
    At such high tide, her savoury goose.
    Then came the merry masquers in,
    And carols roared with blithesome din;
    If unmelodious was the song,
    It was a hearty note, and strong.
    Who lists may in their mumming see
    Traces of ancient mystery;
    White shirts supplied the masquerade,
    And smutted cheeks the visors made;
    But, O! what masquers, richly dight,
    Can boast of bosoms half so light!
    England was merry England, when
    Old Christmas brought his sports again.
    'Twas Christmas broached the mightiest ale;
    'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
    A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
    The poor man's heart through half the year."[208:A]


[124:A] Selden, under the article Pope. The _Table Talk_, though not
printed until A. D. 1689, is a work illustrative of the era under our

[126:A] Nichols's Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth,
vol. i. preface, p. 25-28.

[127:A] Collier's Ecclesiastical History, vol. i. p. 163.

[128:A] Galfred. Monumeth. l. 3. c. 1. _Robert_ of _Gloucester_ gives
us a similar account of the origin of this ceremony, and makes the
same observation as to its general prevalency. The rude lines of the
ancient poet have been thus beautifully paraphrased in the Antiquarian

    'Health, my Lord King,' the sweet Rowena said—
    'Health,' cried the Chieftain to the Saxon maid;
    Then gaily rose, and, 'mid the concourse wide,
    Kiss'd her hale lips, and plac'd her by his side.
    At the soft scene such gentle thoughts abound,
    That healths and kisses 'mongst the guests went round:
    From this the social custom took its rise,
    We still retain, and still must keep the prize.

[129:A] "The ingenious remarker on this representation observes, that
it is the figure of the old Wassel-Bowl, so much the delight of our
hardy ancestors, who on the vigil of the New-Year never failed to
assemble round the glowing hearth, with their chearful neighbours,
and then in the spicy Wassel-Bowl (which testified the goodness of
their hearts) drowned every former animosity, an example worthy modern
imitation. _Wassel_ was the word, _Wassel_ every guest returned as he
took the circling goblet from his friend, whilst song and civil mirth
brought in the infant year." Brand's Observations, by Ellis, vol. i. p.

[129:B] Douce's Illustrations of Shakspeare and of Ancient Manners,
vol. ii. p. 209, 210.

[129:C] Act i. sc. 4. Reed's edit. vol. xviii. p. 64.

[129:D] Act i. sc. 7. Reed, vol. x. p. 88.

[129:E] Act i. sc. 4. Reed, vol. xvii. p. 49.

[130:A] Act v. sc. 2. Reed, vol. vii. p. 165.

[130:B] Epigrammes i. booke folio 1640, p. 50.

[130:C] Jonson's Works, fol. vol. ii. 1640.

[130:D] Act v. sc. 1.

[131:A] Warton's Milton, 2d edit. p. 160. The _Peg Tankard_, a species
of Wassail-Bowl introduced by the Saxons, was still in use in the days
of Shakspeare. I am in possession of one, which was given to a member
of my family about one hundred and fifty years ago; it is of chased
silver, containing nearly two quarts, and is divided by four pegs.

This form of the _wassail_ or _wish-health bowl_ was introduced
by _Dunstan_, with the view of checking the intemperance of his
countrymen, which for a time it effected; but subsequently the remedy
was converted into an additional stimulus to excess; "for, refining
upon Dunstan's plan, each was obliged to drink precisely to a pin,
whether he could sustain a quantity of liquor equal to others or not:
and to that end it became a rule, that whether they exceeded, or fell
short of the prescribed bumper, they were alike compelled to drink
_again_, until they reached the next mark. In the year 1102, the
_priests_, who had not been backward in joining and encouraging these
drunken assemblies, were ordered to avoid such abominations, and wholly
to _discontinue_ the practice of "DRINKING TO PEGS." Some of these PEG
or PIN CUPS, or _Bowls_, and PIN or PEG TANKARDS, are yet to be found
in the cabinets of antiquaries; and we are to trace from their use
some common terms yet current among us. When a person is much elated,
we say he is "IN A MERRY PIN," which no doubt originally meant, he had
reached that _mark_ which had deprived him of his usual sedateness
and sobriety: we talk of taking a man "A PEG LOWER," when we imply we
shall check him in any forwardness; a saying which originated from a
regulation that deprived all those of their turn of drinking, _or of
their Peg_, who had become troublesome in their liquor: from the like
rule of society came also the expression of "HE IS A PEG TOO LOW,"
_i. e._ has been restrained too far, when we say that a person is not in
equal spirits with his company; while we also remark of an individual,
that he is getting on "PEG BY PEG," or, in other words, he is taking
greater freedoms than he ought to do, which formerly meant, he was
either drinking out of his turn, or, contrary to express regulation,
did not confine himself to his proper portion, or _peg_, but drank
into the _next_, thereby taking a double quantity." Brady's Clavis
Calendaria, vol. ii. p. 322, 323. 1st edit.

[133:A] Nichols's Progresses of Elizabeth, vol. i. Entertainments at
the Temple, &c. p. 22. 24.

[134:A] The only rite that still lingers among us on the Twelfth
Day, is the election of a King and Queen, a ceremony which is now
usually performed by drawing tickets, and of which Mr. Brand, in his
commentary on Bourne's Antiquities of the Common People, has extracted
the subsequent detail from the Universal Magazine of 1774:—"I went to
a Friend's house in the country to partake of some of those innocent
pleasures that constitute a merry Christmas; I did not return till I
had been present at _drawing King and Queen_, and _eaten_ a _Slice_ of
the _Twelfth Cake_, made by the fair hands of my good friend's Consort.
After Tea Yesterday, a _noble Cake_ was produced, and two _Bowls_,
containing the _fortunate chances_ for the different sexes. Our Host
_filled up_ the _tickets_; the whole company, except the _King_ and
_Queen_, were to be _Ministers of State_, _Maids of Honour_, or _Ladies
of the Bed-chamber_.

"Our kind _Host_ and _Hostess_, whether by _design_, or _accident_
became _King_ and _Queen_. According to _Twelfth-Day Law_, each _party_
is to _support_ their _character_ till Mid-night. After supper one
called for a _Kings Speech_, &c." Observations on Popular Antiquities,
edit. of 1810, p. 228.

[135:A] Dr. Johnson's definition of the word _Rock_ in the sense of the
text, is as follows:

"(_rock_, Danish; _rocca_, Italian; _rucca_, Spanish; _spinrock_,
Dutch) A distaff held in the hand, from which the wool was spun by
twirling a ball below." I shall add one of his illustrations:

    "A learned and a manly soul
     I purpos'd her; that should with even powers,
     The _rock_, the spindle, and the sheers, controul
     Of destiny, and spin her own free hours.
                                              _Ben Jonson._"

[135:B] Chalmers's Poets, vol. iv. p. 564. Albion's England, chap. 24.

[136:A] Hesperides, p. 374.

[137:A] Tusser Redivivus, p. 79, 80.

[137:B] Olai Magni Gent. Septent. Breviar. p. 341.

[137:C] See Brand on Bourne's Antiquitates Vulgares, p. 194; and
Strutt's Sports and Pastimes of the People of England, p. 307. edit.
of 1810. Of this curious exhibition on _Plough-Monday_, I have often,
during my boyhood, at York, been a delighted spectator, and, as far as
I can now recollect, the above description appears to be an accurate
detail of what took place.

[138:A] Act iii. sc. 9. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xvii. p. 171.

[138:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xvii. p. 172.

[138:C] Bourne's Antiquities apud Brand, p. 244.

[138:D] Fuller's Church History, p. 222.

[140:A] Hesperides, p. 337.

[140:B] _Teend_, to kindle.

[140:C] Hesperides, p. 337, 338.

[141:A] Hesperides, p. 361. Dramatic amusements were frequent on
this day, as well in the halls of the nobility in the country, as at
court. With regard to their exhibition in the latter, many documents
exist; for instance, in a chronological series of Queen Elizabeth's
payments for plays acted before her (from the Council Registers) is the
following entry:

"18th March, 1573-4. To Richard Mouncaster, (Mulcaster, the
Grammarian,) for two plays presented before her on Candlemas-day and
Shrove-tuesday last, 20 marks."[141:B]

[141:B] Gentleman's Magazine, vide life of Richard Mulcaster, May,
June, and July, 1800.

[142:A] Hilman's Tusser, p. 80. Mr. Hilman seems to have had as great
an aversion to tobacco as King James; for, in another part of his
notes, he observes, that "_Suffolk_ and _Essex_ were the counties
wherein our author was a farmer, and no where are better dairies for
butter, and neater housewives than there, _if too many of them at
present do not smoke tobacco_." p. 19.

[143:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. viii. p. 272, 273. Act ii. sc.
2. Warner has also noticed this culinary article as appropriated
to Shrove-Tuesday in his Albion's England, chapter xxiv., where,
enumerating the feasts and holidays of his time, he says, they had

    "At fasts-eve pan-puffes."—
                        _Chalmers's Poets_, vol. iv. p. 564.

_Shrove_ or _Pancake Tuesday_, is still called, in the North,
_Fastens_, or _Fasterns E'en_, as preceding _Ash-Wednesday_, the first
day of Lent; and the turning of these cakes in the pan is yet observed
as a feat of dexterity and skill.

Of the _pancake-bell_ which used to be rung on Shrove-Tuesday,
Taylor, the Water Poet, has given us the following most singular
account:—"Shrove-Tuesday, at whose entrance in the morning all the
whole kingdom is unquiet, but by that time the clocke strikes eleven,
which (by the help of a knavish sexton) is commonly before nine, then
there is a bell rung, cal'd pancake-bell, the sound whereof makes
thousands of people distracted, and forgetful either of manners or
humanitie." See his Works, folio, 1630. p. 115.

[143:B] —_my wife's as all_;] _i. e._ as all women are. Farmer.

[143:C] Warton's History of English Poetry, vol. i. p. 225. note (p).

[144:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 235.

[144:B] See his Masque on the Shrove-tuesday at night 1608, and
Chloridia, a Masque, at Shrove-tide, 1630.

[144:C] The author of _Apollo Shroving_ was _William Hawkins_,
who likewise published "Corolla varia contexta per Guil. Haukinum
scholarcham Hadleianum in agro Suffolcienci. Cantabr. ap. Tho. Buck."
12mo. 1634.

It may be observed, that _Shrove-Tuesday_ was considered by the
_apprentices_ as their peculiar _holiday_, and it appears that in
the days of Shakspeare, they claimed a right of punishing, at this
season, women of ill-fame. To these customs Dekker and Sir Thomas
Overbury allude, when the former says: "They presently (like Prentises
upon Shrove-Tuesday) take the lawe into their owne handes and do what
they list." Seven Deadly Sinnes of London, 4to. p. 35. 1606. And when
the latter, in his Characters, speaking of a bawd, remarks: "Nothing
daunts her so much as the approach of Shrove-Tuesday;" and describing a
"roaring boy," adds, "he is a supervisor of brothels, and in them is a
more unlawful reformer of vice than prentices on Shrove-Tuesday."

[144:D] History of English Poetry, vol. ii. p. 387.

[145:A] Stow's Survey of London, edit. of 1618, p. 142.

[145:B] Vide Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, p. 250.

[145:C] Vide Hogarth Moralized, p. 134.

[145:D] "In some places," says Mr. Strutt, "it was a common practice
to put the cock into an earthern vessel made for the purpose, and to
place him in such a position that his head and tail might be exposed to
view; the vessel, with the bird in it, was then suspended across the
street, about twelve or fourteen feet from the ground, to be thrown
at by such as chose to make trial of their skill; two-pence was paid
for four throws, and he who broke the pot, and delivered the cock from
his confinement, had him for a reward. At North-Walsham, in Norfolk,
about forty years ago, some wags put an owl into one of these vessels;
and having procured the head and tail of a dead cock, they placed them
in the same position as if they had appertained to a living one; the
deception was successful; and at last, a labouring man belonging to the
town, after several fruitless attempts, broke the pot, but missed his
prize; for the owl being set at liberty, instantly flew away, to his
great astonishment, and left him nothing more than the head and tail
of the dead bird, with the potsherds, for his money and his trouble;
this ridiculous adventure exposed him to the continual laughter of the
town's people, and obliged him to quit the place, to which I am told he
returned no more." Sports and Pastimes, p. 251.

"For many years," observes Mr. Brady, "our public diaries, and monthly
publications, took infinite pains to impress upon the minds of the
populace a just abhorrence of such barbarities (cock-fighting and
cock-throwing); and, by way of strengthening their arguments, they
failed not to detail in the most pathetic terms the following fact,
which for the interest it contains is here transcribed, from the
Obituary of the Gentleman's Magazine for April, 1789. 'Died, April 4th,
at Tottenham, JOHN ARDESOIF, esquire, a young man of large fortune,
and in the splendour of his horses and carriages, rivalled by few
country-gentlemen. His table was that of hospitality, where it may be
said he sacrificed too much to conviviality. _Mr. Ardesoif_ was very
fond of cock-fighting, and had a favourite cock upon which he had won
many profitable matches. The last bet he laid upon this cock he lost,
which so enraged him, that he had the bird tied to a spit, and roasted
alive before a large fire. The screams of the miserable animal were so
affecting, that some gentlemen who were present attempted to interfere,
which so enraged _Mr. Ardesoif_, that he seized a poker, and with the
most furious vehemence declared, that he would kill the first man who
interfered: but in the midst of his passionate asseverations, _he fell
down dead upon the spot_.' Clavis Calendaria, 1st edit. vol. i. p. 200,

[146:A] Bourne's Antiquities apud Brand, p. 268.

[147:A] Bourne's Antiquities apud Brand, p. 277. "Why they should play
at _Hand Ball_ at this time," observes Mr. Bourne, "rather than any
other game, I have not been able to find out, but I suppose it will
readily be granted, that this custom of so playing, was the original of
our present recreations and diversions on Easter Holy Days," p. 277.

[147:B] Brand on Bourne, p. 280. note. The _morris dance_, of which
such frequent mention is made in our old poets, was frequently
performed at Easter; but, as we shall have occasion to notice this
amusement, at some length, under the article "May-Day," we shall here
barely notice that Warner has recorded it as an Easter diversion in the
following line:

    "At _Paske begun_ our _morrise_: and ere Penticost our May."
                             _Albion's England_, Chap. xxiv.

[147:C] _Rack_ or _Manger_.

[147:D] Selden's Table-Talk, art. Christmas.

[148:A] Fuller's Worthies, p. 188.

[148:B] Bourne apud Brand, p. 316.

[148:C] The following whimsical custom, relates Mr. Brand, "is still
retained at the city of Durham on these holidays. On one day the men
take off the women's shoes, which are only to be redeem'd by a present;
on another day the women take off the men's in like manner." Bourne
apud Brand, p. 282.

Stow also records, that in the week before Easter there were "great
shewes made, for the fetching in of a twisted tree, or With, as they
tearmed it, out of the Woods into the King's house, and the like into
every man's house of Honor or Worship," p. 150.; but whether this was
general throughout the kingdom, is not mentioned.

[149:A] Vide Ross, as published by Hearne, p. 105.

[149:B] Spelman's Glossary, under the title Hock-day.

[151:A] Nichols's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, vol. i. Laneham's
Letter, p. 32-34.

[151:B] That Hock-tide was _generally_ observed in the days of
Shakspeare, is evident from the following passage in Withers's "Abuses
Stript and Whipt." 8vo. London. 1618.

    "Who think (forsooth) because that once a yeare
     They can affoord the poore some slender cheere,
     Observe their country feasts, or common doles,
     And entertaine their Christmass Wassaile Boles,
     Or els because that, _for the Churche's good,
     They in defence of HOCKTIDE custome stood_:
     A Whitsun-ale, or some such goodly motion,
     The better to procure young men's devotion:
     What will they do, I say, that think to please
     Their mighty God with such fond things as these?
     Sure, very ill."                                P. 232.

[152:A] Vide Pennant's Scotland, p. 91.; and Jamieson's Etymological
Dictionary of the Scottish Language.

[152:B] Olaus Magnus de Gentibus Septentrionalibus, lib. xv. c. 8.

[153:A] Chalmers's English Poets, vol. i. p. 378.

[153:B] Bourne's Antiquitates Vulgares apud Brand, p. 283.

[154:A] Vide Borlase's Natural History of Cornwall, &c.

[154:B] Stubbes's Anatomie of Abuses, p. 109. edit. 1595, 4to.

[155:A] Book ii. Song 4. Chalmers's Poets, vol. vi. p. 296.—It was no
uncommon thing also for the milk-maids to join the procession to the
May-pole on this day, leading a cow decorated with ribands of various
colours, intermingled with knots of flowers, and wreathes of oaken
leaves, and with the horns of the animal gilt.

[155:B] Stow's Survey of London, p. 150. 1618.

[155:C] Act i. sc. 1. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 327.

[156:A] Act iv. sc. 1. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 452, 453.—"The
_rite_ of this month," observes Mr. Steevens, "was once so universally
observed, that even authors thought their works would obtain a more
favourable reception, if published on _May-day_. The following is a
title-page to a metrical performance by a once celebrated poet, Thomas

    'Come bring in _Maye_ with me,
       My _Maye_ is fresh and greene;
     A subjectes harte, an humble mind,
       To serve a mayden Queene.

'A discourse of rebellion, drawne forth for to warne the wanton wittes
how to kepe their heads on their shoulders.

'Imprinted at London, in Flete-streat by William Griffith, Anno Domini
1570. The _first_ of _Maye_.'"

[156:B] Act v. sc. 3. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xi. p. 201.

[157:A] Herrick's Hesperides, p. 74, 75.

[158:A] Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 473.

[158:B] Anatomie of Abuses, p. 107.

[158:C] Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 474.

[158:D] Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xi. p. 440.

[158:E] Midsummer-Night's Dream, act iii. sc. 2. Reed's Shakspeare,
vol. iv. p. 427.

[159:A] Act ii. sc. 2. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. viii. p. 278.

[159:B] Drayton's Poly-Olbion, Song 26. Chalmers's Poets, vol. iv. p.
373, 374.

[160:A] Warner's Albion's England, chapter 21. Chalmers's Poets, vol.
iv. p. 564.

[160:B] As You Like It, act i. sc. 1. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. viii. p.

[160:C] Lysons's Environs of London, vol. i. p. 227.

[160:D] Beloe's Anecdotes of Literature and scarce Books, vol. i. p.

[160:E] Act iii. sc. 4. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 364.

[161:A] Douce's Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 451.

[162:A] Fetherston's Dialogue agaynst light, lewde, and lascivious
dancing, 1582, 12mo. sign. D. 7. apud Douce.

[162:B] The honestie of this age, 1615, 4to. p. 35.

[162:C] First part of King Henry IV. act iii. sc. 3. Reed's Shakspeare,
vol. xi. p. 362.

[163:A] Act iv. sc. 1. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 266.

[163:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xi. p. 438.

[163:C] Douce's Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 450. Fordun's
Scotichronicon, 1759, folio, tom. ii. p. 104. "In this time," says
Stow, that is, about the year 1190, in the reign of Richard I. "were
many robbers, and outlawes, among the which Robin Hood and Little John,
renowned theeves, continued in woods, despoyling and robbing the goods
of the rich." Annals, p. 159.

[163:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 267. note by Malone.

[164:A] Eclogue iii. Chalmers's Poets, vol. iv. p. 433.

[164:B] Second Part of King Henry the Sixth, act iii. sc. 1. Reed's
Shakspeare, vol. xiii. p. 276.

[164:C] Plaine Percevall the peace-maker of England, &c. &c. Vide
Censura Literaria, vol. ix. p. 250.

[165:A] Censura Literaria, vol. ix. p. 251.

[165:B] Act iv. sc. 3. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 345.

[165:C] Canto Madrigals, of 5 and 6 parts, apt for the viols and
voices. Made and newly published by Thomas Weelkes of the Coledge at
Winchester, Organist. At London printed by Thomas Este, the assigne of
Thomas Morley. 1600. 4to.

[166:A] Censura Literaria, vol. ix. p. 34.

[166:B] It is probable indeed from the subsequent Madrigal, that the
Hobby-horse was frequently attached to, and provided for, by the town
or village.

    "Our country swains, in the morris daunce,
       Thus woo'd and win their brides;
     _Will, for our towne, the hobby horse
       A pleasure frolike rides_."[166:C]

[166:C] Vide Cantus primo. Madrigals to 3, 4, 5, and 6 voyces. Made and
newly published by Thomas Weelkes at London, printed by Thomas Este,
1597, 4to. Censura Literaria, vol. ix. p. 9-10.

[167:A] "The English were famed," observes Dr. Grey, "for these and
such like diversions; and even the old, as well as young persons,
formerly followed them: a remarkable instance of which is given by Sir
William Temple, (Miscellanea, Part 3. Essay of Health and Long Life,)
who makes mention of a Morrice Dance in Herefordshire, from a noble
person, who told him he had a pamphlet in his library written by a very
ingenious gentleman of that county, which gave an account how, in such
a year of King James's reign, there went about the country a sett of
Morrice Dancers, composed of _ten_ men, who danced a Maid Marian, and
a taber and pipe: and how these ten, one with another, made up twelve
hundred years. 'Tis not so much, says he, that so many in one county
should live to that age, as that they should be in vigour and humour to
travel and dance." Grey's Notes on Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 382.

[168:A] _Courtpie_, in women's dress, a short vest. Strutt.

[168:B] _Watchet-coloured_, pale blue. Strutt.

[168:C] _Rochet_, a lawn garment resembling a surplice gathered at the
wrists. Strutt.

[168:D] _Baudekin_, a cloth of gold tissue, with figures in silk, for
female dress. Strutt.

[169:A] The mole-taker, in this place, personates the character of the
_fool_ or domestic buffoon.

[170:A] The management of the hobby-horse appears to have been the
most difficult part of the May-day festivities, and from the following
passage in an old play, to have required some preparatory discipline.
A character personating this piece of pageantry, and angry with the
mayor of the town as being his rival, calls out, "Let the mayor play
the hobby-horse among his brethren, an he will, I hope our towne-lads
cannot want a hobby-horse. Have I practic'd my reines, my careeres, my
pranckers, my ambles, my false trotts, my smooth ambles and Canterbury
paces, and shall master mayor put me besides the hobby-horse? Have I
borrowed the fore horse bells, his plumes and braveries, nay had his
mane new shorne and frizl'd, and shall the mayor put me besides the
hobby-horse?" The Vow breaker, by Sampson.

[170:B] The morris-dance in this description of the May-game seems to
have been performed chiefly by the fool, with the occasional assistance
of the hobby-horse, which was always decorated with bells, and the

[171:A] Strutt's Queenhoo-Hall, a romance, vol. i. p. 13. et seq.

[171:B] Act iii. sc. 2. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 198.

[171:C] Act iii. sc. 1. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vii. p. 53, 54.

[172:A] Entertainment of the Queen and Prince at Althorpe. 1603. fol.
edit. vol. i. p. 99.

[172:B] The Metamorphosed Gipsies, fol. edit. vol. 2. p. 65.—This folio
edition of Jonson's works, in two volumes, dated 1640, is not regularly
paged to the close of each volume; for instance, in vol. i. the Dramas
terminate at p. 668, and then the Epigrammes, Forest, Masques, &c.
commence with p. 1.

[173:A] Act iv. sc. 1.—Jonson in his _Bartholmew Fayre_, acted in the
year 1614, has a character of this kind, a Baker, who has undergone a
similar conversion, and is thus introduced:—

    "_Win. W._ What call you the Reverend _Elder_, you told me of?
    your Banbury-man.

    _Joh._ _Rabbi Busy_, Sir, he is more than an _Elder_, he is a
    _Prophet_, Sir.

    _Quar._ O, I know him! a Baker, is he not?

    _Joh._ Hee was a Baker, Sir, but hee do's dreame now, and see
    visions, he has given over his Trade.

    _Quar._ I remember that too: out of a scruple hee tooke, that
    (in spic'd conscience) those Cakes hee made, were serv'd to
    _Bridales_, _May poles_, _Morrisses_, and such prophane feasts
    and meetings; his Christen-name is _Zeale-of-the-land_ Busye."
         Jonson's Works, fol. edit. vol. ii. p. vi. act i. sc. 3.

[173:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 198, note, Steevens.

[173:C] Wilson, censuring these indulgences, places the era of the
publication of the Book of Sports under 1617, and says of it, that
"some of the Bishops, pretending _Recreations_, and _liberty_ to
servants and the common people (of which they carved to themselves too
much already) procured the King to put out a Book to permit dancing
about _May-poles_, _Church-ales_, and such debauched exercises upon
the Sabbath-Day after Evening-Prayer (being a specious way to make the
King, and them, acceptable to the _Rout_): which Book came out with
a command, injoyning all Ministers to read it to their parishioners,
and to approve of it; and those that did not, were brought into the
high _Commission_, imprisoned and suspended." The History of Great
Britain, being the Life and Reign of King James the First, relating to
what passed from his first access to the Crown, till his death. Folio,
London 1653. p. 105.

[174:A] Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, 8th edit. fol. p. 174.

[174:B] "The last May-pole in London was taken down in 1717, and
conveyed to Wanstead in Essex, where it was fixed in the Park for
the support of an immensely large telescope. Its original height was
upwards of one hundred feet above the surface of the ground, and its
station on the East side of Somerset-House, where the new church now
stands.—POPE thus perpetuates its remembrance:

    Amidst the area wide they took their stand,
    Where the tall May-pole once o'erlook'd the Strand."
                          Clavis Calendaria, vol. i. p. 318.

[175:A] Act ii. sc. 4. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 354.

[175:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 231. act ii. sc. 6.

[175:C] Ascham's Works apud Bennet, p. 62, 63.

[176:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. p. 155.

[176:B] Jonson's Works, fol. edit.

[176:C] "A leet," observes Bullokar, in his _English Expositor_, 1616,
"is a court, or law-day, holden commonly every half year."

[176:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 33. act i. sc. 2.

[176:E] Warton's History of English Poetry, vol. iii. p. 129, note.

[177:A] MSS. Bibl. Bod., vol. cxlviii. fol. 97.

[178:A] Carew's Survey of Cornwall, edit. of 1769. p. 68.

[178:B] Anatomie of Abuses, A. D. 1595.

[179:A] Jonson's Works, fol. edit. vol. i. p. 166.

[179:B] The Lady of Pleasure, act i.

[179:C] The former of which is thus noticed by Sir Philip Sidney:—

      "Strephon, with leavy twigs of laurell tree,
    A garlant made on temples for to weare,
      _For he then chosen was the dignitie
    Of village Lord that Whitsuntide to beare_."
                        The Countesse of Pembroke's Arcadie,
                            7th edit. fol. 1629. p. 84.

[180:A] Anatomie of Abuses, 1595. p. 107.

[181:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 341. Act iv. sc. 3.—Whitsun
playes or mysteries, which at first were exclusively drawn from the
sacred page, may be traced to the fourteenth century; those which
were performed at Chester have been attributed to Ranulph Higden, the
chronicler, who died 1363.

[181:B] Blount's Ancient Tenures, p. 49, and Strutt's Sports and
Pastimes, p. 316.

[182:A] Tusser apud Hilton, p. 80.

[183:A] Chalmers's Poets, vol. iv. p. 443.

[183:B] Singers of catches in three parts.

[183:C] By _means_ are meant tenors.

[183:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 323, 324. Act iv. sc. 2.

[183:E] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 323. note 5.

[184:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 334. Act iv. sc. 3.—I believe
the custom of choosing a king and queen at the sheep-shearing feast,
is still continued in several of our counties; that it was commonly
observed, at least, in the time of Thomson, is evident from the
following lines, taken from his description of this festival:—

    "One, chief, in gracious dignity enthron'd,
     Shines o'er the rest, the _Pas'tral Queen_, and rays
     Her smiles, sweet-beaming on her _Shepherd King_."

[185:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 334, 335. 337, 338. 340.

[185:B] Dyer's Fleece, book i. _sub finem_.

[186:A] Tusser Redivivus, p. 104. In the first edition of Tusser, 1557,
this stanza is as follows:—

    "Then welcome thy harvest folke, serveauntes and all:
     with mirth and good chere, let them furnish the hall.
     The harvest lorde nightly, must give thee a song:
     fill him then the blacke boll, or els he hath wrong."
                      Reprint by Sir Egerton Brydges, p. 19.

[186:B] Bloomfield's Farmer's Boy, Summer, l. 299.

[187:A] Paul Hentzner's Travels in England, during the reign of Queen
Elizabeth, translated by Horace, late Earl of Orford. Edit. of 1797. p.

[187:B] "Anglos vidi spiceam ferre domum in Rheda Imaginem circum
cantantibus promiscuê viris et fœminis, præcedente tibicine aut
tympano." Deprav. Rel. Orig. in verbo _Vacina_.

[187:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vii. p. 376. Act v. sc. 1.

[188:A] Tusser Redivivus, p. 104.

[188:B] _Hock-cart_,—by this word is meant the _high_ or
_rejoicing-cart_, and was applied to the last load of corn, as
typical of the close of harvest. Thus _Hock-tide_ is derived from the
Saxon _Hoah_-+tid+, or high tide, and is expressive of the height of

[189:A] Hesperides, p. 113-115.

[190:A] Tusser Redivivus, p. 81.

[190:B] Ibid. p. 147.

[190:C] Ibid. p. 77.

[191:A] Brand on Bourne's Antiquities, p. 392. note edit. 1810.

[191:B] Ibid. p. 393, 394.

[192:A] The magnificent reception of Queen Elizabeth at Norwich in
1578, has been recorded with great minuteness, in two tracts, by
Bernard Goldingham and Thomas Churchyard the poet, which are reprinted
in Mr. Nichols's Progresses; these accounts are likewise incorporated
by Abraham Fleming as a supplement to Holinshed, and will be found
in the last edition of this chronicler, in vol. iv. p. 375. The pomp
and pageantry which were exhibited during this regal visit were
equally gorgeous, quaint, and operose; "order was taken there," says
Churchyard, "that every day, for sixe dayes together, a shew of some
strange device should be seene; and the maior and aldermen appointed
among themselves and their breethren, that no person reteyning to
the Queene, shoulde be unfeasted, or unbidden to dinner and supper,
during the space of those sixe dayes: which order was well and wisely
observed, and gained their citie more fame and credite, than they wot
of: for that courtesie of theirs shall remayne in perpetuall memorie,
whiles the walles of their citie standeth."—Nichols's Progresses of Q.
Elizabeth, vol. ii. p. 56.

[192:B] The wise policy of Elizabeth in establishing the Flemings in
this country gave birth to our vast superiority in the woollen trade;
and the first pageant which met the eyes of Elizabeth on her entrance
into Norwich was the _artizan-strangers_ pageant, illustrative of the
whole process of the manufactory, "a shewe which pleased her Majestie
so greatly, as she particularly viewed the knitting and spinning of
the children, perused the loombes, and noted the several workes and
commodities which were made by these meanes."—Nichols's Progresses,
vol. ii. p. 13.

[192:C] Gerguntum, a fabulous kind of Briton, who is supposed to have
built Norwich Castle; in the procession which went out of Norwich
to meet the Queen, on the 16th of August, 1578, was "one whiche
represented King GURGUNT, some tyme king of Englande, whiche buylded
the castle of Norwich, called Blanch Flowre, and layde the foundation
of the citie. He was mounted uppon a brave courser, and was thus
furnished: his body armed, his bases of greene and white silke; on his
head a black velvet hat, with a plume of white feathers. There attended
upon him three henchmen in white and greene: one of them did beare his
helmet, the seconde his tergat, the thirde his staffe."—Nichols's
Progresses, vol. ii. p. 5, 6.

[193:A] The Cabinet, vol. ii. p. 75, 76.

[193:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 66.

[194:A] Bourne's Antiquities, p. 172.

[194:B] A great display of literature on the etymon of the word _Yule_
will be found in the _Allegories Orientales_ of M. Count de Gebelin,
Paris, 1773.

[195:A] _Teending_, a word derived from the Saxon, means _kindling_.

[195:B] _White-loafe_, sometimes called at this period _wastel-bread_
or cake, from the French _wastiaux_, pastry; implied white bread well
or twice baked, and was considered as a delicacy.

[195:C] Hesperides, p. 309, 310.

[196:A] Stowe's Survey of London, 4to. edit., 1618, p. 149, 150.

[196:B] Vide Gentleman's Magazine for 1765.

[197:A] Brand on Bourne's Antiquities, p. 193.

[197:B] Ibid. p. 200, 201.

[198:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 143. Act ii. sc. 2.

[198:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 361. Act ii. sc. 2.

[198:C] Chap. xxx. fol. 57. edit. 1586.

[199:A] Douce's Illustrations, vol. ii. p. 214.

[199:B] Vide Blount's Ancient Tenures of Land, and Jocular Customs of
some Manors. Beckwith's edit. 8vo. 1784.

[200:A] Douce's Illustrations, vol. ii. p. 215-217. 219.

[201:A] Act v. sc. 1. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 213.

[201:B] English House-Wife, p. 99. The pies which he recommends
immediately subsequent to this enumeration are somewhat curious, and
rather of a more substantial nature than those of modern days; for
instance, _red-deer pye_, _gammon of bacon pye_, _wild-bore pye_, and

[202:A] Vide Warton's History of English Poetry, vol. iii. p. 143.

[202:B] A hundreth good poyntes of husbandry, 1557. p. 10.

[203:A] Christmas, His Masque; as it was presented at Court 1616.
Jonson's Works, folio edit. 1640. vol. ii.

[204:A] Holinshed's Chronicles, vol. iii. p. 1032. edit. 1808.

[204:B] Stowe's Survey of London, p. 149. edit. 1618.

[205:A] Nichols's Progresses and Processions of Queen Elizabeth, vol.
i. p. 20, 21. Anno 1562.

[205:B] Hesperides, p. 145.

[205:C] Provincial Glossary, Preface, p. 8. 8vo. 1787.

[206:A] _Liber Pater_, Bacchus.

[206:B] Hesperides, p. 146. The following passages place in a strong
and interesting point of view, the hospitality of our ancestors during
this season of the year, and will add not a little to the impression
derived from the text.

"Heretofore, noblemen and gentlemen of fair estates had their heralds
who wore their coate of armes at Christmas, and at other solemne times,
and cryed largesse thrice. They lived in the country like petty kings.
They always eat in Gothic Halls where the Mummings and Loaf-stealing,
and other Christmas sports, were performed. The hearth was commonly
in the middle; whence the saying, _round about our coal-fire_."
Antiquarian Repertory, No. xxvi. from the MS. Collections of Aubrey,
dated 1678.

"An English Gentleman at the opening of the great day, _i. e._ on
Christmas Day in the morning, had all his tenants and neighbours
entered his Hall by day-break. The strong beer was broached, and the
black jacks went plentifully about with toast, sugar, nutmegg, and
good Cheshire cheese. The Hackin, (the great sausage) must be boiled
by day-break, or else two young men must take the maiden (_i. e._ the
cook,) by the arms and run her round the market place till she is
ashamed of her laziness.

"In Christmass Holidays, the tables were all spread from the first to
the last; the sirloins of beef, the minced pies, the plumb-porridge,
the capons, turkeys, geese, and plumb-puddings, were all brought upon
the board: every one eat heartily, and was welcome, which gave rise to
the proverb, 'Merry in the hall when beards wag all.'" From a Tract
entitled "Round about our Coal-Fire, or Christmas Entertainments;" of
which the first edition was published, I believe, about the close of
the seventeenth century.

"Our ancestors considered Christmas in the double light of a holy
commemoration and a cheerful festival; and accordingly distinguished it
by devotion, by vacation from business, by merriment and hospitality.
They seemed eagerly bent to make themselves and every body about them
happy.—The great hall resounded with the tumultuous joys of servants
and tenants, and the gambols they played served as amusement to the
lord of the mansion and his family, who, by encouraging every art
conducive to mirth and entertainment, endeavoured to soften the rigour
of the season, and mitigate the influence of winter."—_The World_, No.

[208:A] Scott's Marmion. Introduction to Canto Sixth. 8vo. edit. p.

"At present, Christmas meetings," remarks Mr. Brady, "are chiefly
confined to family parties, happy, it must be confessed, though less
jovial in their nature; perhaps, too, less beneficial to society,
because they can be enjoyed on other days not, as originally was the
case, set apart for more general conviviality and sociability; not such
as our old ballads proclaim, and history confirms, in which the most
frigid tempers gave way to relaxation, and all in eager joy were ready
to exclaim, in honour of the festivity,—

    "For, since such delights are thine,
     CHRISTMAS, with thy bands I join."
                       _Clavis Calendaria_, vol. ii. p. 319.



Having described, in as brief a manner as was consistent with the
nature of our work, the various circumstances accompanying the
celebration of the most remarkable holidays and festivals, in
the country, during the age of Shakspeare, from whose inimitable
compositions we have drawn many pertinent illustrations on nearly
all the subjects as they passed before us; we shall proceed, in the
present chapter, to notice those remaining topics which are calculated
to complete, on the scale adopted, a tolerably correct view of rural
manners and customs, as they existed in the latter half of the
sixteenth, and prior portion of the seventeenth, century.

A natural transition will carry us, from the description of the rural
festival, to the gaieties of the WAKE or FAIR. Of these terms, indeed,
the former originally implied the vigil which preceded the festival in
honour of the Saint to whom the parish-church was dedicated; for "on
the Eve of this day," remarks Mr. Borlase, in his Cornwall, "prayers
were said, and hymns were sung all night in the church; and from
these watchings the festivals were stiled _Wakes_; which name still
continues in many parts of England, though the vigils have been long
abolished."[209:A] The religious institution, however, of the _Wake_,
whether held on the vigil or Saint's day, was soon forgotten; mirth
and feasting early became the chief objects of this meeting[209:B],
and it, at length, degenerated into something approaching towards a
secular Fair. These Wakes or Fairs, which were rendered more popular in
proportion as they deviated from their devotional origin, were, until
the reign of Henry the Sixth, always held on a Sunday and its eve, a
custom that continued to be partially observed as late as the middle of
the seventeenth century; hence ale-houses, and places of public resort,
in the immediate neighbourhood of church-yards, the former scene of
Wakes, were still common at the close of Shakspeare's life; thus Sir
Thomas Overbury, describing a Sexton, in his _Characters_, published
in 1616, says: "At every church-style commonly there's an ale-house;
where let him (the Sexton) bee found never so idle-pated, hee is still
a grave drunkard."

The increasing licentiousness and conviviality, however, which attended
these church-yard assemblies, frequented as they were by pedlars and
hawkers of every description, finally occasioned their suppression
in all places, at least, where much traffic was expected. In their
room regular Fairs were established, to which in central or peculiar
stations, the resort, at fixed periods, was immense.

Yet the _Wake_, the meeting for mere festivity and frolic, still
continued in every village and small town, and though not preceded by
any vigil in the church, was popularly termed the _Wake-Day_. Tusser,
in his catalogue of the "Old Guise," has not forgotten this season of
merriment; on the contrary, he seems to welcome its return with much

    "Fil oven ful of flawnes, Ginnie passe not for sleepe,
       to morrow thy father his wake-daie wil keepe:
     Then every wanton may danse at hir wil,
       both Tomkin and Tomlin, and Jankin with Gil."[210:A]

Mr. Hilman, in his edition of Tusser, has made the following
observations on this passage.—"Waking in the church," says he, "was
left off because of some abuses, and we see here it was converted to
wakeing at the oven. The other continued down to our author's days, and
in a great many places continues still to be observed with all sorts
of rural merriments; such as dancing, wrestling, cudgel-playing, &c."
Bourne observes, that the feasting and sporting, on this occasion,
usually lasted for two or three days[211:A]; and Bishop Hall gives
an impressive idea of the revelry and glee which distinguished these
rural assemblages, when he exclaims, "What should I speak of our _merry
Wakes_, and May games—in all which put together, you may well say,
no Greek can be _merrier_ than they."[211:B] Indeed from one end of
the kingdom to the other, from north to south, it would appear, that,
among the country-villages, during the reigns of Elizabeth and her two
immediate successors, Wakes formed one of the principal amusements
of the peasantry, and were anticipated with much eagerness and
expectation. In confirmation of this we need only remark that Drayton,
speaking of Lancashire, declares, that

    —— "every village smokes at _wakes_ with lusty cheer;"[211:C]

and that Herrick, in Devonshire, has written a very curious little
poem, entitled _The Wake_, which, as strikingly descriptive of the
various business of this festivity, claims here an introduction:—

    "Come Anthea, let us two
     Go to feast, as others do.
     Tarts and custards, creams and cakes,
     Are the junketts still at _Wakes_:
     Unto which the tribes resort,
     Where the businesse is the sport:
     Morris-dancers thou shalt see,
     Marian too in pagentrie:
     And a Mimick to devise
     Many grinning properties.
     Players there will be, and those
     Base in action as in clothes:
     Yet with strutting they will please
     The incurious villages.
     Neer the dying of the day,
     There will be a cudgell-play,
     Where a coxcomb will be broke,
     Ere a good _word_ can be spoke:
     But the anger ends all here,
     Drencht in ale, or drown'd in beere.
     Happy Rusticks, best content
     With the cheapest merriment:
     And possesse no other feare,
     Than to want the _Wake_ next yeare."[212:A]

Of the pedlars or hawkers who, in general, formed a constituent part of
these _village-wakes_ an accurate idea may be drawn from the character
of the pedlar Autolycus, in the _Winter's Tale_ of Shakspeare, who is
delineated with the poet's customary strength of pencil, rich humour,
and fidelity to nature. The wares in which he dealt are curiously
enumerated in the following passages:—

    "_Serv._ He hath songs, for men, or women, of all sizes; no
    milliner can so fit his customers with gloves[212:B]: he has
    the prettiest love-songs for maids; he hath ribands of all
    the colours i' the rainbow; points more than all the lawyers
    in Bohemia can learnedly handle, though they come to him
    by the gross; inkles, caddisses[212:C], cambricks, lawns:
    why, he sings them over, as they were gods or goddesses: you
    would think, a smock were a she-angel; he so chants to the
    sleeve-hand, and the work about the square on't."[212:D]

    "_Enter Autolycus, singing._

    "Lawn, as white as driven snow;
     Cyprus, black as e'er was crow;
     Gloves as sweet as damask roses;
     Masks for faces, and for noses;
     Bugle bracelet, necklace-amber,
     Perfume for a lady's chamber:
     Golden quoifs, and stomachers,
     For my lads to give their dears;
     Pins and poking-sticks of steel,
     What maids lack from head to heel:
     Come, buy of me, come; come buy, come buy;
     Buy, lads, or else your lasses cry;
     Come buy, &c."[213:A]

At the close of the feast Autolycus is represented as re-entering,
and declaring "Ha, ha! what a fool honesty is! and trust, his sworn
brother, a very simple gentleman! I have sold all my trumpery; not
a counterfeit stone, not a riband, glass, pomander[213:B], brooch,
table-book, ballad, knife, tape, glove, shoe-tye, bracelet, horn-ring,
to keep my pack from fasting: they throng who should buy first; as
if my trinkets had been hallowed, and brought a benediction to the

In the North, the Village-Wake is still kept up, under the title of
_The Hopping_, a word derived from the Anglo-Saxon, and thus applied,
because dancing was the favourite amusement of these meetings. The
reign of Elizabeth, indeed, was marked by a peculiar propensity to
this exercise, and neither wake nor feast could be properly celebrated
without the country lads and lasses footing it on the green or yard, or
in bad weather, in the Manor-hall.

In an old play, entitled "A Woman Killed With Kindness," the production
of Thomas Heywood, and acted in 1604, is to be found a very humorous
description of one of these _Hoppings_, and particularly curious, as it
enumerates the names of the dances then in vogue among these rustic
performers. The poet, after remarking that now

    ————————— "the mad lads
    And country lasses, every mother's child,
    With nosegays and bride laces in their hats,
    Dance all their country measures, rounds and jigs,"

thus introduces his couples:

    "_Jenkin._ Come, Nick, take you Joan Miniver to trace withal;
    Jack Slime, traverse you with Sisly Milk-pail; I will take Jane
    Trubkin, and Roger Brickbat shall have Isabel Motley; and now
    strike up; we'll have a crash here in the yard.—

    _Jack Slime._ Foot it quickly; if the music overcome not my
    melancholy, I shall quarrel; and if they do not suddenly strike
    up, I shall presently strike them down.

    _Jen._ No quarrelling, for God's sake: truly, if you do, I
    shall set a knave between ye.

    _Jack Slime._ I come to dance, not to quarrel; come, what shall
    it be? Rogero?

    _Jen._ Rogero! no; we will dance 'The Beginning of the World.'

    _Sisly._ I love no dance so well, as 'John, come kiss me now.'

    _Nicholas._ I have ere now deserved a cushion; call for the

    _R. Brick._ For my part, I like nothing so well as 'Tom Tyler.'

    _Jen._ No; we'll have 'The hunting of the Fox.'

    _Jack Slime._ 'The Hay! the Hay!' there's nothing like 'The

    _Nich._ I have said, do say, and will say again.

    _Jen._ Every man agree to have it as Nick says.

    _All._ Content.

    _Nich._ It hath been, it now is, and it shall be.

    _Sisly._ What? Mr. Nicholas? What?

    _Nich._ 'Put on your smock a Monday.'

    _Jen._ So, the dance will come cleanly off: come, for God's
    sake, agree of something; if you like not that, put it to the
    musicians; or let me speak for all, and we'll have 'Sellenger's

    _All._ That, that, that!

    _Nich._ No, I am resolved, thus it shall be. First take hands,
    then take ye to your heels.

    _Jen._ Why, would you have us run away?

    _Nich._ No; but I would have you shake your heels. Music,
    strike up.
                                       _They dance._"[214:A]

The _Fair_ or greater wake was usually held, as hath been observed, in
a central situation, and its period and duration were, as at present,
proclaimed by law. It was a scene of extensive business as well as
of pleasure; for before provincial cities had attained either wealth
or consequence, all communication between them was difficult, and
neither the necessaries nor the elegances of life could be procured
but at stated times, and at fixed depôts. It was usual, therefore, to
go fifty or a hundred miles to one of these fairs, in order both to
purchase goods and accommodations for the ensuing year, and to dispose
of the superfluous products of art or cultivation. In the reign of
Henry VI. the monks of the priories of Maxtoke in Warwickshire, and
of Bicester in Oxfordshire, laid in their annual stores of common
necessaries at Sturbridge Fair in Cambridgeshire, at least one hundred
miles distant, and notwithstanding the two cities of Oxford and
Coventry were in their immediate neighbourhood.[215:A] In the reign of
Henry VIII., it appears, from the Household-Book of Henry Percy, fifth
Earl of Northumberland, that His Lordship's family were supplied with
necessaries for the whole year from fairs. "He that stands charged
with my Lordes House for the houll Yeir, if he maye possible, shall
be at all Faires, where the greice Emptions shall be boughte for the
House for the houll Yeir, as Wine, Wax, Beiffes, Muttons, Wheite and
Malt[215:B];" and, in the reign of Elizabeth, Tusser recommends to his
farmer the same plan, both for purchase and sale:

    "At Bartilmewtide, or at Sturbridge faire,
       buie that as is needful, thy house to repaire:
     Then sel to thy profit, both butter and cheese,
       who buieth it sooner, the more he shall leese."[215:C]

That this custom prevailed until the commencement of the eighteenth
century, and to nearly the same extent, is evident from a note on the
just quoted lines of Tusser by Mr. Hilman. "Sturbridge Fair," says
he, "stocks the country (namely, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex,) with
clothes, and all other houshold necessaries; and they (the farmers)
again, sell their butter and cheese, and whatever else remains on their
hands; nay, there the shopkeepers supply themselves with divers sorts
of commodities."

In the third year, indeed, of James I., Sturbridge Fair began to
acquire such celebrity, that hackney coaches attended it from London;
and it subsequently became so extensive that for several years not less
than sixty coaches have been known to ply at this fair, then esteemed
the largest in England.

Sturbridge Fair is still annually proclaimed, but now in such a state
of decline, that its extinction, at least in a commercial light, cannot
be far distant.

To these brief notices of wakes and fairs, it may be necessary to
subjoin a slight detail of the state of _Country-Inns_ and Ale-houses
during the age of Shakspeare.

To "take mine ease in mine inn" is a proverbial phrase, which the
poet has placed in the mouth of Falstaff[216:A], and which implies a
degree of comfort which has always been the peculiar attribute of an
English house of public entertainment. That it was not less felt and
enjoyed in Shakspeare's time than in our own, is very apparent from the
accounts which have been left us by Harrison and Fynes Moryson; the
former writing towards the close of the sixteenth, and the latter at
the commencement of the seventeenth century. These descriptions, which
are curiously faithful and highly interesting, paint the provincial
hostelries of England as in a most flourishing state, and, according
to Harrison, indeed, greatly superior to those which existed in the

"Those townes," says the historian, "that we call thorowfaires, have
great and sumptuous innes builded in them, for the receiving of such
travellers and strangers as passe to and fro. The manner of harbouring
wherein, is not like to that of some other countries, in which the
host or goodman of the house dooth chalenge a lordlie authoritie over
his ghests, but clean otherwise, sith every man may use his inne as
his owne house in England, and have for his monie how great or little
varietie of vittels, and what other service himselfe shall thinke
expedient to call for. Our innes are also verie well furnished with
naperie, bedding, and tapisserie, especiallie with naperie: for beside
the linnen used at the tables, which is commonlie washed dailie, is
such and so much as belongeth unto the estate and calling of the ghest.
Ech commer is sure to lie in cleane sheets, wherein no man hath béene
lodged since they came from the landresse, or out of the water wherein
they were last washed. If the traveller have an horsse, his bed dooth
cost him nothing, but if he go on foote he is sure to paie a penie for
the same: but whether he be horsseman or footman if his chamber be once
appointed he may carie the kaie with him, as of his owne house so long
as he lodgeth there. It he loose oughts whilest he abideth in the inne,
the host is bound by a generall custome to restore the damage, so that
there is no greater securitie anie where for travellers than in the
gretest ins of England." He then, after enumerating the depredations
to which travellers are subject on the road, completes the picture by
the following additional touches. "In all innes we have plentie of ale,
biere, and sundrie kinds of wine, and such is the capacitie of some of
them, that they are able to lodge two hundred or three hundred persons,
and their horsses at ease, and thereto with a verie short warning make
such provision for their diet, as to him that is unacquainted withall
may seeme to be incredible. And it is a world to see how ech owner of
them contendeth with other for goodnesse of interteinment of their
ghests, as about finesse and change of linnen, furniture of bedding,
beautie of rooms, service at the table, costlinesse of plate, strength
of drinke, varietie of wines, or well using of horsses. Finallie
there is not so much omitted among them as the gorgeousnes of their
verie signes at their doores, wherein some doo consume thirtie or
fortie pounds, a meere vanitie in mine opinion, but so vaine will they
needs be, and that not onelie to give some outward token of the inne
keeper's welth, but also to procure good ghests to the frequenting of
their houses, in hope there to be well used."[218:A]

"As soone as a passenger comes to an inne," remarks Moryson, "the
servants run to him, and one takes his horse and walkes him till he be
cold, then rubs him down, and gives him meat. Another servant gives
the passenger his private chamber, and kindles his fire; the third
pulls off his bootes and makes them cleane; then the host or hostess
visits him; and if he will eate with the hoste, or at a common table
with others, his meale will cost him sixpence, or in some places but
four-pence; but if he will eate in his chamber he commands what meate
he will according to his appetite; yea the kitchin is open to him to
order the meate to be dressed as he likes beste. After having eaten
what he pleases, he may, with credit, set by a part for the next day's
breakfast. His bill will then be written for him, and, should he object
to any charge, the host is ready to alter it."[218:B]

Taverns and ale-houses were frequently distinguished in Shakspeare's
time by a _bush or tuft of ivy_ at their doors; a custom which more
particularly prevailed in Warwickshire, and is still practised,
remarks Mr. Ritson, in this county "at statute-hirings, wakes, &c.
by people who sell ale at no other time."[218:C] The poet alludes
to this observance in his Epilogue to _As You Like It_:—"If it be
true," he says, "that _Good wine needs no bush_, 'tis true, that
a good play needs no epilogue: _Yet to good wine they do use good
bushes_."[218:D] Several old plays mention the same custom, and Bishop
Earle, in his _Microcosmography_, tells us that "A Tavern is a degree,
or (if you will) a pair of stairs above an ale-house, where men are
drunk with more credit and apology. If the vintner's rose be at door,
it is a sign sufficient, but the absence of this is supplied by the

That houses of this description, the whole furniture of which,
according to Earle, consisted but of a stool, a table, and a [219:A]pot
de chambre, were as numerous two hundred years ago as at present, and
the scene of the same disgusting and intemperate orgies, is but too
apparent from the invective of Robert Burton:—"See the mischief," he
exclaims; "many men knowing that merry company is the only medicine
against melancholy, will therefore neglect their business, and in
another extream, spend all their dayes among good fellows, in a Tavern
or an Ale-house, and know not otherwise how to bestow their time but
in drinking; malt-worms, men fishes, or water-snakes, _Qui bibunt
solum ranarum more, nihil comedentes_, like so many frogs in a puddle.
'Tis their sole exercise to eat, and drink; to sacrifice to _Volupia_,
_Rumina_, _Edulica_, _Potina_, _Mellona_, is all their religion. They
wish for _Philoxenus'_ neck, _Jupiter's trinoctium_, and that the sun
would stand still as in _Joshua's_ time, to satisfie their lust, that
they might _dies noctesque pergræcari et bibere_. Flourishing wits,
and men of good parts, good fashion, and good worth, basely prostitute
themselves to every rogues company, to take tobacco and drink, to roar
and sing scurrile songs in base places.

    "_Invenies aliquem cum percussore jacentem,
     Permistum nautis, aut furibus, aut fugitivis._"

"What _Thomas Erastus_ objects to _Paracelsus_, that he would lye
drinking all day long with carr-men and tapsters in a Brothel-house, is
too frequent amongst us, with men of better note: like _Timocreon_ of
_Rhodes_, _multa bibens, et multa vorans_, &c. They drown their wits
and seeth their brains in ale."[219:B]

Few ceremonies are better calculated to throw light on the manners and
customs of a country, than those attendant on WEDDINGS and BURIALS,
and with these, as they occurred in _rural life_, during the reigns of
Elizabeth and James, we shall close this chapter.

The style of courtship which prevailed in Shakspeare's time, may be
drawn, with considerable accuracy, from the numerous love-dialogues
interspersed throughout his plays. From these specimens not much
disparity, either in language or manner, appears to have existed
between the addresses of the courtier and the country-gentleman; the
female character was indeed, at this period, greatly less important
than at present; the blandishments of gallantry, and the elegancies of
compliment were little known, and consequently the expression of the
tender passion admitted of neither much variety nor much polish. The
amatory dialogues of Hamlet, Hotspur, and Henry the Fifth, are not more
refined than those which occur between Master Fenton and Anne Page,
in the _Merry Wives of Windsor_; between Lorenzo and Jessica in the
_Merchant of Venice_, and between Orlando and Rosalind, in _As You Like
It_. These last, which may be considered as instances taken from the
middle class of life, together with a few drawn from the lower rank
of rural manners, such as the courtship of Touchstone and Audrey, and
of Silvius and Phœbe, in _As You Like It_, will sufficiently apply
to the illustration of our present subject; but it must be remarked
that, in point of fancy, sentiment, and simplicity, the most pleasing
love-scenes in Shakspeare are those that take place between Romeo and
Juliet, and between Florizel and Perdita; the latter especially present
a most lovely and engaging picture, on the female side, of pastoral
naïveté and sweetness; and will, in part, serve to show, how far, in
the opinion of Shakspeare, refinement was, at that time, compatible, as
a just representation of nature, with cottage-life.

_Betrothing_ or _plighting of troth_, as an _affiance_ or _promise of
future marriage_, was still, there is reason to suppose, often observed
in Shakspeare's time, especially in the country, and as a _private_
rite. The interchange of rings was the ceremony used on this occasion,
to which the poet refers in his _Two Gentlemen of Verona_:

    "_Julia._ Keep this remembrance for thy Julia's sake.
                                          (_Giving a ring._)

     _Pro._ Why then we'll make exchange; here take you this.

     _Jul._ And seal the bargain with a holy kiss."[220:A]

The _public_ celebration of this contract, or what was termed
_espousals_[221:A], was formerly in this country, as well as upon the
continent, a constant preliminary to marriage. It usually took place in
the church, and though nearly, if not altogether, disused, towards the
close of the fifteenth century, is minutely described by Shakspeare in
his _Twelfth Night_. Olivia, addressing Sebastian, says,—

    "Now go with me, and with this holy man,
     Into the chantry by: there _before him_
     And underneath that _consecrated roof
     Plight me the full assurance of your faith_;
     That my most jealous and too doubtful soul
     May live at peace. He shall conceal it
     Whiles you are willing it shall come to note;
     What time we will our _celebration_ keep
     According to my birth."[221:B]

A description of what passed at this ceremony of espousals or
betrothing, is given by the priest himself in the first scene of the
subsequent act, who calls it

    "A contract of eternal bond of love
     Confirm'd by _mutual joinder of your hands_,
     Attested by the _holy close of lips_,
     Strengthened by _interchangement of your rings_;
     And all the ceremony of this compact
     Seal'd in my function, by _my testimony_."[221:C]

These four observances, therefore; 1st, _the joining of hands_; 2dly,
the _mutually given kiss_; 3dly, the _interchangement of rings_; and
4thly, the _testimony of witnesses_: appear to have been essential
parts of the public ceremony of betrothing or espousals, which usually
preceded the marriage rite by the term of forty days. The oath indeed,
administered on this occasion, was to the following effect:—"You swear
by God and his holy saints herein and by all the saints of Paradise,
that you will take this woman whose name is N. to wife within forty
days, if holy church will permit." The priest then joining their
hands, said—"And thus you affiance yourselves;" to which the parties
answered,—"Yes, sir."[222:A] So frequently has Shakspeare referred to
this custom of troth-plighting, that, either privately or publickly,
we must conclude it to have been of common usage in his days: thus, in
_Measure for Measure_, Mariana says to Angelo,

    "This is the _hand_, which with a _vow'd contract_,
     Was fast belock'd in thine:"[222:B]

and then addressing the duke, she exclaims,

    "As there is sense in truth, and truth in virtue,
     I am _affianc'd_ this man's wife."[222:C]

So in _King John_, King Philip, and the Arch-duke of Austria,
encouraging the connection of the Dauphin and Blanch:

    "_K. Phil._ It likes us well;—Young princes, _close your hands_.

     _Aust._ And your _lips_ too; for, I am well assur'd,
             That I did so, when I was first _assur'd_."[222:D]

One immoral consequence arising from this custom of public betrothing
was, that the parties, depending upon the priest as a witness,
frequently cohabited as man and wife. It would appear, indeed, from a
passage in Shakspeare, that the ceremony of troth-plight, at least
among the lower orders, was considered as a sufficient warrant for
intercourse of this kind; for he makes the jealous Leontes, in his
_Winter's Tale_, exclaim,

    "My wife's a hobby horse; deserves a name
     As rank as any flax-wench, that _puts to
     Before her troth-plight_."[223:A]

We must not forget, however, to remark, while on the subject of
betrothing, that a singular proof of delicacy and attention to the fair
sex, on this occasion, during the sixteenth century, has been quoted by
Mr. Strutt, from a manuscript in the Harleian library, and which runs
thus: "By the civil law, whatever is given _ex sponsalitia largitate,
betwixt them that are promised in marriage_, hath a condition, for the
most part silent, that it may be had again if marriage ensue not; but
if the man should have had a kiss for his money, he should lose one
half of what he gave. Yet with the woman it is otherwise; for kissing
or not kissing, whatever she gave, she may have it again."[223:B]

Concerning the customs attendant on the celebration of the _marriage
rite_, among the middle and inferior ranks, in the country, during
the period which we are endeavouring to illustrate, much information,
of the description we want, may be found in Shakspeare and his

The procession accompanying a rural bride, of some consequence, or of
the middle rank, to church, has been thus given us:—"The bride being
attired in a gown of sheep's russet, and a kirtle of fine worsted, her
hair attired with a 'billement of gold, and her hair as yellow as gold
hanging down behind her, which was curiously combed and plaited, she
was led to church between two sweet boys, with bride laces and rosemary
tied about their silken sleeves. There was a fair bride-cup of silver,
gilt, carried before her, wherein was a goodly branch of rosemary,
gilded very fair, hung about with silken ribbands of all colours.
Musicians came next, then a groupe of maidens, some bearing great
bride-cakes, others garlands of wheat finely gilded; and thus they
passed on to the church."[224:A]

Rosemary being supposed to strengthen the memory, was considered as an
emblem of fidelity, and, at this period, was almost as constantly used
at weddings as at funerals: "There's rosemary," says Ophelia, "that's
for remembrance."[224:B] Many passages, illustrative of this usage at
weddings, might be taken from our old plays, during the reign of James
I., but two or three will suffice.

    —— "will I be _wed_ this morning,
    Thou shalt not be there, nor once be graced with
    A piece of _rosemary_."[224:C]

    "Were the _rosemary_ branches dipp'd, and all
     The hippocras and cakes eat and drunk off;
     Were these two arms encompass'd with the hands
     Of bachelors to lead me to the church."[224:D]

    "_Phis._ Your master is to be married to-day?

     _Trim._ Else all this _rosemary_ is lost."[224:E]

Of the peculiarities attending the marriage-ceremony within the
church, a pretty good idea may be formed from the ludicrous wedding
of Catharine and Petruchio in the _Taming of the Shrew_. It appears
from this description, that it was usual to drink wine at the altar
immediately after the service was closed, a custom which was followed
by the Bridegroom's saluting the bride.

    "He calls for wine:—A health, quoth he; as if
     He had been aboard, carousing to his mates
     After a storm:—Quaff'd off the muscadel,
     And threw the sops all in the sexton's face;—
     This done, he took the bride about the neck;
     And kiss'd her lips with such a clamorous smack,
     That, at the parting, all the church did echo."[225:A]

In the account of the procession just quoted, we find that a bride-cup
was carried before the bride; out of this all the persons present,
together with the new-married couple, were expected to drink in the
church. This custom was prevalent, in Shakspeare's time, among every
description of people, from the regal head to the thorough-paced
rustic; accordingly we are informed, on the testimony of an assisting
witness, that the same ceremony took place at the marriage of the
Elector Palatine to King James's daughter, on the 14th day of February,
1612-13: there was "in conclusion," he relates, "a joy pronounced by
the king and queen, and seconded with congratulation of the lords there
present, which crowned with draughts of _Ippocras_ out of a _great
golden bowle_, as an health to the prosperity of the marriage, (began
by the prince Palatine and answered by the princess.) After which were
served up by six or seven barons so many bowles filled with wafers, so
much of that work was consummate."[225:B]

This _bride-cup_ or _bowl_ was, therefore, frequently termed the
_knitting_ or _contracting cup_: thus in Ben Jonson's _Magnetick
Lady_, _Compass_ says to _Practise_, after enquiring for a licence,

    ———————— "Mind
    The Parson's pint t'engage him—
    A _knitting-cup_ there must be;"[226:A]

and Middleton, in one of his Comedies, gives us the following line:—

    "Even when my lip touch'd the _contracting cup_."[226:B]

The salutation of the Bride at the altar was a very ancient custom, and
is referred to by several of the contemporaries of Shakspeare; Marston,
for instance, represents one of his female characters saying,

    "The _kisse thou gav'st me in the church_, here take."[226:C]

It was still customary at this period, to bless the bridal bed at
night, in order to dissipate the supposed illusions of the Devil; a
superstitious rite of which Mr. Douce has favoured us with the form,
taken from the Manual for the use of Salisbury in the 13th[226:D]
century. It is noticed by Chaucer also in his _Marchantes Tale_, and is
mentioned as one of the marriage-ceremonies in the "Articles ordained
by King Henry VII. for the regulation of his Household."[226:E]
Shakspeare alludes to this ridiculous fashion in the person of Oberon,
who tells his fairies,

    "To the best _bride-bed_ will we,
     Which by us shall blessed be."[226:F]

To this brief description of marriage-ceremonies, it will be necessary
to subjoin some account of those which accompanied the _mere rustic_
wedding, or _Bride-ale_; and fortunately we have a most curious
picture of the kind preserved by Laneham, in his _Letter on the Queens
Entertainment at Kenelworth Castle_, in 1575, one part of which was the
representation of a _country Bride-ale_ set in order in the Tylt-yard,
and exhibited in the great court of the castle. This grotesque piece
of pageantry, a faithful draught of rural costume, as it then existed,
must have afforded Her Majesty no small degree of amusement.

"Thus were they marshalled. First, all the lustie lads and bold
bachelors of the parish, suitably every wight with his blue buckram
bridelace upon a branch of green broom (cause rosemary is scant there)
tied on his left arm (for a that side lies the heart), and his alder
poll for a spear in his right hand, in martial order ranged on afore,
two and two in a rank: Some with a hat, some in a cap, some a coat,
some a jerkin, some for lightness in his doublet and his hose, clean
trust with a point afore: Some boots and no spurs, he spurs and no
boots, and he neither one nor t'other: One a saddle, another a pail
or a pannel fastened with a cord, for girts wear geazon: And these
to the number of a sixteen wight riding men and well beseem: But the
bridegroom foremost, in his father's tawny worsted jacket (for his
friends were fain that he should be a bridegroom before the _Queen_), a
fair straw hat with a capital crown, steeple-wise on his head: a pair
of harvest gloves on his hands, as a sign of good husbandry: A pen and
inkhorn at his back; for he would be known to be bookish: lame of a
leg, that in his youth was broken at foot-ball: Well beloved yet of his
mother, that lent him a new mufflar for a napkin that was tied to his
girdle for losing. It was no small sport to mark this minion in his
full appointment, that through good schoolation became as formal in his
action, as had he been a bridegroom indeed; with this special grace by
the way, that ever as he would have framed him the better countenance,
with the worse face he looked.

"Well, Sir, after these horsemen, a lively morrice-dance, according
to the ancient manner; six dancers, maid-marian, and the fool. Then
three pretty puzels, (maids or damsels from _pucelle_) as bright as
a breast of bacon, of a thirty year old a piece, that carried three
special spice-cakes of a bushel of wheat (they had it by measure out of
my _Lords_ backhouse), before the bride: Cicely with set countinance,
and lips so demurely simpering, as it had been a mare cropping of a
thistle. After these, a lovely lubber woorts[228:A], freckle-faced,
red-headed, clean trussed in his doublet and his hose taken up now
indeed by commission, for that he was so loth to come forward, for
reverence belike of his new cut canvass doublet; and would by his
good will have been but a gazer, but found to be a meet actor for
his office: That was to bear the bride-cup, formed of a sweet sucket
barrel, a faire-turned foot set to it, all seemly besilvered and
parcel gilt, adorned with a beautiful branch of broom, gayly begilded
for rosemary; from which, two broad bride laces of red and yellow
buckeram begilded, and gallantly streaming by such wind as there was,
for he carried it aloft: This gentle cup-bearer, yet had his freckled
physiognomy somewhat unhappily infested as he went, by the busy flies,
that flocked about the bride-cup for the sweetness of the sucket that
it savoured on; but he, like a tall fellow, withstood their malice
stoutly (see what manhood may do), beat them away, killed them by
scores, stood to his charge, and marched on in good order.

"Then followed the worshipful bride, led (after the country manner)
between two ancient parishioners, honest townsmen. But a stale
stallion, and a well spred, (hot as the weather was) God wot, and ill
smelling was she; a thirty-five year old, of colour brown-bay not very
beautiful indeed, but ugly, foul ill favoured; yet marvellous vain of
the office, because she heard say she should dance before the _Queen_,
in which feat she thought she would foot it as finely as the best:
Well, after this bride, came there by two and two, a dozen damsels for
bride-maids; that for favor, attyre, for fashion and cleanliness, were
as meet for such a bride as a treen ladle for a porridge-pot; more (but
for fear of carrying all clean) had been appointed, but these few were

From a passage in Ben Jonson's _Tale of a Tub_, we learn that the dress
of the downright rustic, on his wedding day, was as follows:

    "He had on a lether doublet, with long points,
     And a paire of pin'd-up breech's, like pudding bags:
     With yellow stockings, and his hat turn'd up
     With a silver claspe, on his leere side."[229:B]

Of the ceremonies attendant on _Christenings_, it will be necessary to
mention two that prevailed at this period, and which have since fallen
into disuse. Shakspeare, who generally transfers the customs of his own
times to those periods of which he is treating, represents Henry VIII.
saying to Cranmer, whom he had appointed Godfather to Elizabeth,

    "Come, come, my lord, you'd spare your _spoons_;"[230:A]

and again in the dialogue between the porter and his man:

    "_Port._ On my Christian conscience, this one christening will
    beget a thousand; here will be father, godfather, and all

    "_Man._ The _spoons_ will be the bigger, sir."[230:B]

In the days of Elizabeth and her predecessor, Mary, it was usual
for the sponsors at christenings to present the child with silver
spoons gilt, on the handles of which were engraved the figures of the
apostles, whence they were commonly called _apostle-spoons_: thus
Ben Jonson in _Bartholomew Fair_; "and all this for the hope of two
_apostle-spoons_, to suffer."[230:C] The opulent frequently gave a
complete set of spoons, namely, the twelve apostles; those less rich,
selected the four evangelists, and the poorer class were content to
offer a single spoon, or, at most, two, on which were carved their
favourite saint or saints.

Among the higher ranks, in the reign of Henry VIII. the practice at
christenings was to give _cups_ or bowls of gold or silver. Accordingly
Holinshed, describing the christening of Elizabeth, relates that "the
archbishop of Canturburie gave to the princesse a standing cup of gold:
the dutches of Norfolke gave to her a standing cup of gold, fretted
with pearle: the marchionesse of Dorset gave three gilt bolles, pounced
with a cover: and the marchionesse of Excester gave three standing
bolles graven, all gilt with a cover."[230:D]

In the Harleian MS. Vol. 6395, occurs a scarce pamphlet, entitled
_Merry Passages and Jeasts_, from which Dr. Birch transcribed the
following curious anecdote, as illustrative both of the custom of
offering spoons, and of the intimacy which subsisted between Shakspeare
and Jonson. "Shakspeare," says the author of this collection, who names
_Donne_ as his authority for the story, "was godfather to one of Ben
Jonson's children, and after the christening, being in deepe study,
Jonson came to cheer him up, and ask'd him why he was so melancholy: No
'faith Ben, says he, not I; but I have been considering a great while
what should be the fittest gift for me to bestow upon my godchild,
and I have resolved at last. I pr'ythee what? says he.—I'faith, Ben,
I'll give him a douzen good _latten_ (Latin) _spoons_, and thou shalt
translate them."[231:A] It was not until the close of the seventeenth
century, that this practice of spoon-giving at christenings ceased as a
general custom.

Another baptismal ceremony, now laid aside, was the use of the
chrisome, or white cloth, which was put on the child after the
performance of the sacred rite. To this usage Dame Quickly alludes
in describing the death of Falstaff, though, in accordance with her
character, she corrupts the term: "'A made a finer end, and went away,
an it had been any _christom_ child."[231:B]

Previous to the Reformation, oil was used, as well as water, in
baptism, or rather a kind of mixture of oil and balsam, which in the
Greek was called Χρισμα; hence the white cloth worn on this occasion,
as an emblem of purity, was denominated the _chrismale_ or
_chrism-cloth_. During the era of using this holy unction, with which
the priest made the sign of the cross, on the breast, shoulders, and
head of the child, the _chrismale_ was worn only for seven days, as
symbolical, it is said, of the seven ages of life; but after the
Reformation, the oil being omitted, it was kept on the child until the
purification of the mother, when, after the ceremony of churching, it
was returned to the minister, by whom it had been originally supplied.
If the child died during the month of wearing the chrisome-cloth, it
was buried in it, and children thus situated were called in the bills
of mortality _chrisoms_. This practice, which was common in the days
of Shakspeare, continued in use for nearly a century afterwards; for
Blount in his _Glossography_, 1678, explains the word _chrisoms_ as
meaning such children as die within the month of birth, because during
that time they use to wear the chrisom-cloth.[232:A]

We shall now proceed to consider some of the peculiarities accompanying
the _Funeral Rites_ of this period; and, in the first place, we shall
notice the _passing-bell_. This was rung at an early era of the church,
to solicit the prayers of all good christians for the welfare of the
soul _passing_ into another world: thus Durandus, who wrote towards the
close of the twelfth century, says: "Verum _aliquo moriente_, campanæ
debent pulsari, _ut populus hoc audiens, oret pro illo_:" "when any one
is _dying_, the bells must be tolled, _that the people may put up their
prayers for him_."[232:B] This custom of ringing a bell for a soul just
departing, which is _now_ relinquished, the bell only tolling after
death, we have reason to believe was still observed in Shakspeare's
time; for he makes Northumberland in _King Henry IV._ remark on the
"bringer of unwelcome news," that

    ——————————— "his tongue
    Sounds ever after as a sullen bell,
    Remember'd knolling a _departing_ friend."[232:C]

Another benefit formerly supposed to be derived from the sounding of
the passing-bell, and which, from the scene of Cardinal Beaufort's
death, was probably a part of Shakspeare's creed, consisted in the
discomfiture of the evil spirits, who were supposed to surround the bed
of the dying person; and who, terrified by the tolling of the holy
bell, were compelled to keep aloof; accordingly Durandus mentions it
as one of the effects of bell-ringing, _ut dæmones timentes[233:A]
fugiant_; and in the Golden Legende, printed by Wynkyn de Worde 1498,
it is observed that "the evill spirytes that ben in the regyon of the
ayre, doubte moche when they here the bells rongen: and this is the
cause why the belles ben rongen—to the ende that the feindes and
wycked spirytes shold be abashed and flee."[233:B]

That these opinions, indeed, relative to the _passing-bell_, continued
to prevail, as things of general belief, during the greater part of
the seventeenth century, is evident from the works of the pious Bishop
Taylor, in which are to be found several forms of prayer for the
souls of the _departing_, to be offered up _during the tolling of the
passing-bell_. In these the violence of Hell is deprecated, and it is
petitioned, that the spirits of darkness may be driven far from the
couch of the dying sinner.[233:C]

So common, indeed, was this practice, that almost every individual had
an exclamation or form of prayer ready to be recited on hearing the
passing-bell, whence the following proverbial rhyme:

    "When the Bell begins to toll
     Cry, _Lord have mercy on the soul_."

In the _Vittoria Corombona_ of Webster, this custom is alluded to in a
manner singularly wild and striking. Cornelia says:

    "_Cor._ I'll give you a saying which my grand-mother
            Was wont, when she _heard the bell_, to sing o'er unto her

     _Ham._ Do an you will, do.

     _Cor._ Call for the robin-red-breast, and the wren,
            Since o'er shady groves they hover,
            And with leaves and flowers do cover
            The friendless bodies of unburied men.
            Call unto his funeral dole
            The ant, the field-mouse, and the mole,
            To raise him hillocks that shall keep him warm,
            And (when gay tombs are robb'd) sustain no harm,
            But keep the wolf far thence: that's foe to men,
            For with his nails he'll dig them up again."
                   _Ancient British Drama_, vol. iii. p. 41.

Even so late as the commencement of the eighteenth century, it appears
that this custom of praying during the passing-bell still lingered in
some parts of the country; for Mr. Bourne, the first edition of whose
book was published in 1725, after vindicating the practice, adds,—"I
know several religious families in this place (Newcastle), and I hope
it is so in other places too, who always observe it, whenever the
melancholy season offers; and therefore it will at least sometimes
happen, when we put up our prayers constantly at the tolling of the
bell, that we shall pray for a soul departing. And though it be
granted, that it will oftener happen otherwise, as the regular custom
is so little followed; yet that can be no harmful praying for the

Immediately after death a ceremony commenced, the most offensive
part of which has not been laid aside for more than half a century.
This was called the _Licke_ or _Lake-wake_, a term derived from the
Anglo-Saxon _Lic_ a corpse, and _Wæcce_ a _wake_ or _watching_. It
originally consisted of a meeting of the friends and relations of the
deceased, for the purpose of watching by the body from the moment
it ceased to breathe, to its exportation to the grave; a duty which
was at first performed with solemnity and piety, accompanied by the
singing of psalms and the recitation of the virtues of the dead. It
speedily, however, degenerated into a scene of levity, of feasting, and
intoxication; to such a degree, indeed, that it was thought necessary
at a provincial synod held in London during the reign of Edward III. to
issue a canon for the restriction of the watchers to the near relations
and most intimate friends of the deceased, and only to such of these
as offered to repeat a fixed number of psalms for the benefit of his
soul.[235:A] To this regulation little attention, we apprehend, was
paid; for the Lake-wake appears to have been observed as a meeting of
revelry during the whole of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries;
and Mr. Bourne, so late as the year 1725, declares, that it was _then_
"a scene of sport and drinking and lewdness."[235:B]

In Scotland during the period of which we are treating, and even down
to the rebellion of 1745, the Lake-wake was observed with still greater
form and effect than in England, though not often with a better moral
result. Mr. Pennant describing it, when speaking of the Highland
customs, under the mistaken etymology of _Late_-wake, says, that the
evening after the death of any person, the relations or friends of
the deceased met at the house, attended by a bag-pipe or fiddle; the
nearest of kin, be it wife, son, or daughter, opened a melancholy ball,
dancing and _greeting_, i. e. crying violently at the same time; and
this continued till day-light, but with such gambols and frolics among
the younger part of the company, that the loss which occasioned them
was often more than supplied by the consequences of that night.[235:C]
Mrs. Grant, however, in her lately published work on the Superstitions
of the Highlanders, has given us a more favourable account of this
ancient custom, which she has connected with a wild traditionary tale
of much moral interest.

A peasant of Glen Banchar, a dreary and secluded recess in the central
Highlands, "was fortunate in all respects but one. He had three very
fine children, who all, in succession, died after having been weaned,
though, before, they gave every promise of health and firmness. Both
parents were much afflicted; but the father's grief was clamorous and
unmanly. They resolved that the next should be suckled for two years,
hoping, by this, to avoid the repetition of such a misfortune. They did
so; and the child, by living longer, only took a firmer hold of their
affections, and furnished more materials for sorrowful recollection. At
the close of the second year, he followed his brothers; and there were
no bounds to the affliction of the parents.

"There are, however, in the economy of Highland life, certain duties
and courtesies which are indispensable; and for the omission of which
nothing can apologise. One of those is, to call in all their friends,
and feast them at the time of the greatest family distress. The
death of the child happened late in spring, when sheep were abroad
in the more inhabited _straths_; but, from the blasts in that high
and stormy region, were still confined to the cot. In a dismal snowy
evening, the man, unable to stifle his anguish, went out, lamenting
aloud, for a lamb to treat his friends with at the _Late-wake_. At
the door of the cot, however, he found a stranger standing before the
entrance. He was astonished, in such a night, to meet a person so far
from any frequented place. The stranger was plainly attired; but had
a countenance expressive of singular mildness and benevolence, and,
addressing him in a sweet, impressive voice, asked him what he did
there amidst the tempest. He was filled with awe, which he could not
account for, and said, that he came for a lamb. 'What kind of lamb do
you mean to take?' said the stranger. 'The very best I can find,' he
replied, 'as it is to entertain my friends; and I hope you will share
of it.'—'Do your sheep make any resistance when you take away the
lamb, or any disturbance afterwards?'—'Never,' was the answer. 'How
differently am I treated!' said the traveller. 'When I come to visit
my sheepfold, I take, as I am well entitled to do, the best lamb to
myself; and my ears are filled with the clamour of discontent by these
ungrateful sheep, whom I have fed, watched, and protected.'

"He looked up in amaze; but the vision was fled. He went however for
the lamb, and brought it home with alacrity. He did more: It was the
custom of these times—a custom, indeed, which was not extinct till
after 1745—for people to dance at _Late-wakes_. It was a mournful kind
of movement, but still it was dancing. The nearest relation of the
deceased often began the ceremony weeping; but did, however, begin it,
to give the example of fortitude and resignation. This man, on other
occasions, had been quite unequal to the performance of this duty; but
at this time he, immediately on coming in, ordered music to begin,
and danced the solitary measure appropriate to such occasions. The
reader must have very little sagacity or knowledge of the purport and
consequences of visions, who requires to be told, that many sons were
born, lived, and prospered afterwards in this reformed family."[237:A]

Some vestiges of the _Lake-wake_ still remain at this day in remote
parts of the north of England, especially at the period of _laying
out_, or _streeking_ the corpse, as it is termed; and here it may be
remarked, that in the time of Shakspeare, the practice of _winding the
corse_, or putting on the _winding-sheet_, was a ceremony of a very
impressive kind, and accompanied by the solemn melody of dirges. Some
lines strikingly illustrative of this pious duty, are to be found in
the _White Devil; or Vittoria Corombona_ of Webster, published in 1612.
Francisco, Duke of Florence, tells Flaminio,

    "I found them _winding_ of Marcello's corse;
     And there is such a solemn melody,
     'Tween doleful songs, tears, and sad elegies;
     Such as old grandames, watching by the dead,
     Were wont to outwear the nights with; that, believe me,
     I had no eyes to guide me forth the room,
     They were so o'ercharged with water.——

     _Cornelia, the Moor, and three other ladies, discovered WINDING
     Marcello's corse. A SONG._

     _Cor._ This rosemary is wither'd, pray get fresh;
     I would have these herbs grow up in his grave,
     When I am dead and rotten. Reach the bays,
     I'll tie a garland here about his head:
     'Twill keep my boy from lightning. This _sheet_
     I have kept this twenty years, and every day
     Hallow'd it with my prayers; I did not think
     He should have worn it."[237:B]

Another exquisite passage of this fine old poet alludes to the same
practice—a villain of ducal rank, expiring from the effect of poison,

    "O thou soft natural death! that art joint-twin
     To sweetest slumber!—no rough-bearded comet
     Stares on thy mild departure; the dull owl
     Beats not against thy casement; the hoarse wolf
     Scents not thy carion. _Pity winds thy corse_,
     Whilst horror waits on princes."[238:A]

After the funeral was over, it was customary, among all ranks, to
give a cold, and sometimes a very ostentatious, entertainment to the
mourners. To this usage Shakspeare refers, in the character of Hamlet:

    "Thrift, thrift, Horatio! the _funeral bak'd meats_
     Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables,"

a passage which Mr. Collins has illustrated by the following quotation
from a contemporary writer: "His corpes was with funerall pompe
conveyed to the church, and there sollemnly enterred, nothing omitted
which necessitie or custom could claime; a sermon, a _banquet_, and
like observations."[238:B]

The funeral feast is not yet extinct; it may occasionally be met
with in places remote from the metropolis, and more particularly in
the northern counties among some of the wealthy yeomanry. Mr. Douce
considers the practice as "certainly borrowed from the _cœna feralis_
of the Romans," and adds, "in the North this feast is called an _arval_
or _arvil supper_; and the loaves that are sometimes distributed among
the poor, _arval-bread_. Not many years since one of these arvals was
celebrated in a village in Yorkshire at a public-house, the sign of
which was the family arms of a nobleman whose motto is VIRTUS POST
FUNERA VIVIT. The undertaker, who, though a clerk, was no scholar,
requested a gentleman present to explain to him the meaning of these
Latin words, which he readily and facetiously did in the following
manner; _Virtus_, a parish clerk, _vivit_, lives well, _post funera_,
at an _arval_. The latter word is apparently derived from some lost
Teutonic term that indicated a funeral pile on which the body was
burned in times of Paganism."[239:A]

A few observations must still be added on the pleasing, though now
nearly obsolete, practice of carrying ever-greens and garlands at
funerals, and of decorating the grave with flowers. There is something
so strikingly emblematic, so delightfully soothing in these old
rites, that though the prototype be probably heathen, their disuse
is to be regretted. "The carrying of ivy, or laurel, or rosemary, or
some of those ever-greens," says Bourne, "is an emblem of the soul's
immortality. It is as much as to say, that though the body be dead, yet
the soul is ever-green and always in life: it is not like the body, and
those other greens which die and revive again at their proper seasons,
no autumn nor winter can make a change in it, but it is unalterably the
same, perpetually in life, and never dying.

"The Romans, and other heathens upon this occasion, made use of
cypress, which being once cut, will never flourish nor grow any more,
as an emblem of their dying for ever, and being no more in life.
But instead of that, the antient Christians used the things before
mentioned; they laid them under the corps in the grave, to signify,
that they who die in Christ, do not cease to live. For though, as to
the body they die to the world, yet as to their souls, they live to God.

"And as the carrying of these ever-greens is an emblem of the soul's
immortality, so it is also of the resurrection of the body: for as
these herbs are not entirely plucked up, but only cut down, and will,
at the returning season, revive and spring up again; so the body, like
them, is but cut down for a while, and will rise and shoot up again at
the resurrection."[239:B]

The _bay_ and _rosemary_ were the plants usually chosen, the former
as being said to revive from the root, when apparently dead, and the
latter from its supposed virtue in strengthening the memory:

    "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance."[240:A]

Shakspeare has frequently noticed these ever-greens, garlands, and
flowers, as forming a part of the tributary rites of the departed, as
elegant memorials of the dead: at the funeral of Juliet he adopts the

    "Dry up your tears, and stick your rosemary
     On this fair corse, and as the custom is,
     In all her best array bear her to church."[240:B]

_Garlands_ of flowers were formerly either hung up in country-churches,
as a mark of honour and esteem, over the seats of those who had died
virgins, or were remarkable for chastity and fidelity, or were placed
in the form of crowns on the coffins of the deceased, and buried with
them, for the same purpose. Of these crowns and garlands, which were in
frequent use until the commencement of the last century, a very curious
account has been given by a writer in the Gentleman's Magazine.

"In this nation (as well as others)," he observes, "by the abundant
zeal of our ancestors, virginity was held in great estimation; insomuch
that those which died in that state were rewarded, at their deaths,
with a garland or crown on their heads, denoting their triumphant
victory over the lusts of the flesh. Nay, this honour was extended even
to a widow that had enjoyed but one husband (saith Weever in his Fun.
Mon. p. 12.) And, in the year 1733, the present clerk of the parish
church of Bromley in Kent, by his digging a grave in that church-yard,
close to the east end of the chancel wall, dug up one of these crowns,
or garlands, which is most artificially wrought in fillagree work with
gold and silver wire, in resemblance of myrtle (with which plant the
funebrial garlands of the ancients were composed) whose leaves are
fastened to hoops of large wire of iron, now something corroded with
rust, but both the gold and silver remains to this time very little
different from its original splendor. It was also lined with cloth of
silver, a piece of which, together with part of this curious garland, I
keep as a choice relic of antiquity.

"Besides these crowns, the ancients had also their depository garlands,
the use of which were continued even till of late years, (and
perhaps are still retained in many parts of this nation, for my own
knowledge of these matters extends not above twenty or thirty miles
round London,) which garlands at the funerals of the deceased, were
carried solemnly before the corpse by two maids, and afterward hung
up in some conspicuous place within the church, in memorial of the
departed person, and were (at least all that I have seen) made after
the following manner, viz. the lower rim or circlet, was a broad hoop
of wood, whereunto was fixed, at the sides thereof, part of two other
hoops crossing each other at the top, at right angles, which formed the
upper part, being about one third longer than the width; these hoops
were wholly covered with artificial flowers of paper, dyed horn, or
silk, and more or less beauteous, according to the skill and ingenuity
of the performer. In the vacancy of the inside, from the top, hung
white paper, cut in form of gloves, whereon was wrote the deceased's
name, age, &c. together with long slips of various coloured paper, or
ribbons. These were many times intermixed with gilded or painted empty
shells of blown eggs, as farther ornaments; or, it may be, as emblems
of the bubbles or bitterness of this life; whilst other garlands had
only a solitary hour-glass hanging therein, as a more significant
symbol of mortality.

"About forty years ago, these garlands grew much out of repute, and
were thought, by many, as very unbecoming decorations for so sacred a
place as the church; and at the reparation, or new beautifying several
churches, where I have been concerned, I was obliged, by order of
the minister and churchwardens, to take the garlands down, and the
inhabitants were strictly forbidden to hang up any more for the future.
Yet, notwithstanding, several people, unwilling to forsake their
ancient and delightful custom, continued still the making of them, and
they were carried at the funerals, as before, to the grave, and put
therein, upon the coffin, over the face of the dead; this I have seen
done in many places." Bromley in Kent. _Gentleman's Magazine for June

Shakspeare has alluded to these maiden rites in _Hamlet_, where the
priest, at the interment of Ophelia, says,

    —— "Here she is allow'd her virgin _crants_,
    Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home
    Of bell and burial."[242:A]

The term _crants_, observes Johnson, on the authority of a
correspondent, is the German word for _garlands_, and was probably
retained by us from the Saxons.[242:B]

The _strewments_ mentioned in this passage refer to a pleasing custom,
which is still, we believe, preserved in Wales, of scattering flowers
over the graves of the deceased.[242:C] It is manifestly copied from
the funeral rites of the Greeks and Romans, and was early introduced
into the Christian church; for St. Jerom, in an epistle to his friend
Pammachius on the death of his wife, remarks, "whilst other husbands
strawed violets and roses, and lilies, and purple flowers, upon the
graves of their wives, and comforted themselves with such like offices,
Pammachius bedewed her ashes and venerable bones with the balsam of
alms[242:D];" and Mr. Strutt, in his _Manners and Customs of England_,
tells us, "that of old it was usual to adorn the graves of the deceased
with roses and other flowers (but more especially those of lovers,
round whose tombs they have often planted rose trees): Some traces," he
observes, "of this ancient custom are yet remaining in the church-yard
of Oakley, in Surry, which is full of rose trees planted round the

Many of the dramas of our immortal bard bear testimony to his
partiality for this elegantly affectionate tribute; a practice which
there is reason to suppose was in the country at least not uncommon in
his days: thus Capulet, in _Romeo and Juliet_, observes,

    "Our bridal flowers serve for a buried corse;"[243:B]

and the Queen in _Hamlet_ is represented as performing the ceremony at
the grave of Ophelia:

    "_Queen._ Sweets to the sweet: Farewell!
                                     (_Scattering Flowers._)
     I hop'd, thou should'st have been my Hamlet's wife;
     I thought, thy bride-bed to have deck'd, sweet maid,
     And not have _strew'd thy grave_."[243:C]

It was considered, likewise, as a duty incumbent on the survivors,
annually to plant shrubs and flowers upon, and to tend and keep neat,
the turf which covered the remains of their beloved friends; in
accordance with this usage, Mariana is drawn in _Pericles_ decorating
the tomb of her nurse:

    ————— "I will rob Tellus of her weed,
    To strew thy green with flowers: the yellows, blues,
    The purple violets, and marigolds,
    Shall, as a chaplet, hang upon thy grave,
    While summer days do last;"[243:D]

and Arviragus, in _Cymbeline_, pathetically exclaims,

    —————— "With fairest flowers,
    Whilst summer lasts, and I live here, Fidele,
    I'll sweeten thy sad grave: Thou shall not lack
    The flower, that's like thy face, pale primrose; nor
    The azur'd hare-bell, like thy veins; no, nor
    The leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander,
    Out-sweeten'd not thy breath."[244:A]

The only relic which yet exists in this country of a custom so
interesting, is to be found in the practice of protecting the hallowed
mound by twigs of osier, an attention to the mansions of the dead,
which is still observable in most of the country-church-yards in the
south of England.

We have thus advanced in pursuit of our object, namely, _A Survey of
Country Life during the Age of Shakspeare_, as far as a sketch of
its manners and customs, resulting from a brief description of rural
characters, holidays, and festivals, wakes, fairs, weddings, and
burials, will carry us; and we shall now proceed with the picture, by
adding some account of those diversions of our ancestors which could
not with propriety find a place under any of the topics that have been
hitherto noticed; endeavouring in our progress to render the great
dramatic bard the chief illustrator of his own times.


[209:A] Brand on Bourne's Antiquities, p. 333.

[209:B] Mr. Strutt, in a quotation from an old MS. legend of St. John
the Baptist, preserved in Dugdale's Warwickshire, tells us,—"In
the beginning of holi churche, it was so that the pepul cam to the
chirche with candellys brinnyng, and wold _wake_ and comme with Light
toward the chirche in their devocions, and after they fell to lecherie
and songs, daunces, harping, piping, and also to glotony and sinne,
&c."—Sports and Pastimes, p. 322.

"It appears," says Mr. Brand, "that in antient times the parishioners
brought _rushes_ at the Feast of Dedication, wherewith to strew the
Church, and from that circumstance the Festivity itself has obtained
the name of _Rush-bearing_, which occurs for a Country-Wake in a
Glossary to the Lancashire dialect."—Brand ap. Ellis, vol. i. p. 436.

[210:A] Hilman's Tusser, p. 81.

[211:A] Bourne's Antiquit. Vulg. p. 330.

[211:B] Triumph of Pleasure, p. 23.

[211:C] Chalmers's Poets, vol. iv. p. 378. Poly-Olbion, Song xxvii.

[212:A] Hesperides, p. 300, 301.

[212:B] In Shakspeare's time the business of the milliner was
transacted by men.

[212:C] _Caddisses_,—a kind of narrow worsted galloon.

[212:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 345. 347, 348.

[213:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 349.

[213:B] _Pomander_,—a little ball of perfumes worn either in the
pocket or about the neck.

[213:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 375, 376.

[214:A] Ancient British Drama, vol. ii. p. 435, 436. The third edition
of _A Woman Killed With Kindness_, was printed in 4to. 1617.

[215:A] Warton's History of English Poetry, vol. i. p. 279. note.

[215:B] Establishment and Expences of the Houshold of Henry Percy, the
fifth Earl of Northumberland, A. D. 1512. p. 407.

[215:C] Hilman's Tusser, p. 110.

[216:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xi. p. 358.

[218:A] Holinshed's Chronicles, vol. i. p. 414, 415. Edit. of 1807.

[218:B] Moryson's Itinerary, part iii. p. 151. folio. London, 1617.

[218:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. viii. p. 189. note.

[218:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. viii. p. 189, 190.

[218:E] Bliss's edition, 1811. p. 37, 38.

[219:A] Earle's Microcosmography, p. 38.

[219:B] Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, 8th edit. p. 191.

[220:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 213. Act ii. sc. 2.

[221:A] "Vincent de Beauvais, a writer of the 13th century, in his
_Speculum historiale_, lib. ix. c. 70., has defined _espousals to
be a contract of future marriage_, made either by a simple promise,
by earnest or security given, by a ring, or by an oath." Douce's
Illustrations, vol. i. p. 109.

[221:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 395. Act iv. sc. 3.

[221:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 403. Act v. sc. 1.

[222:A] Douce's Illustrations, vol. i. p. 113.

[222:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vi. p. 395.

[222:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vi. p. 396.

[222:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. x. p. 405. Here _assur'd_ is taken
in the sense of _affianced_ or _contracted_. If necessary, many more
instances of betrothing, and troth-plighting, might be brought forward
from our author's dramas.

[223:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 240.

[223:B] Strutt's Manners and Customs, vol. iii. p. 155.

[224:A] History of Jack of Newbury, 4to. chap. ii.

[224:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 291.

[224:C] Ram Alley, or Merry Tricks, by Barry, 1611. Vide Ancient
British Drama, vol. ii.

[224:D] Beaumont and Fletcher's Scornful Lady, 1616.

[224:E] A Faire Quarrel, by Middleton and Rowley, 1617. Besides
rosemary, flowers of various kinds were frequently strewn before the
bride as she passed to church; a custom alluded to in a well-known line
of Shakspeare,

    "Our _Bridal Flowers_ serve for a buried corse:"

and more explicitly depicted in the following passage from one of his

    "_Adriana._ Come straw apace, Lord shall I never live
                To walke to Church on flowers? O 'tis fine,
                To see a Bride trip it to Church so lightly,
                As if her new Choppines would scorne to bruise
                A silly flower!"
                         Barry's Ram Alley, or Merry Tricks,
                              act v. sc. 1. 4to. 1611.

[225:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 114, 115, 116. Act iii. sc. 2.

[225:B] Finet's Philoxenis, 1656, p. 11. quoted by Mr. Reed in his
Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 115. note.

[226:A] Folio edit. p. 44. Act iv. sc. 2.

[226:B] _No Wit, no Help like a Womans_, 8vo. 1657. Middleton was
contemporary with Shakspeare, and commenced a dramatic writer in 1602.

[226:C] _Insatiate Countess_, 4to. 1603.

[226:D] Douce's Illustrations, vol. i. p. 199.

[226:E] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 459. note, by Steevens.

[226:F] _Midsummer-Night's Dream_, act v. sc. 2. Vide Reed's
Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 459.

[228:A] _Woorts_; of this word I know not the precise meaning; but
suppose it is meant to imply _plodded_ or _stumbled on_.

[229:A] Nichols's Queen Elizabeth's Progresses, vol. i.—Laneham's
Letter, p. 18, 19, 20.

[229:B] Jonson's Works, fol. edit. of 1640, vol. ii. A Tale of a Tub,
p. 72.—Much of the spirit and costume of the _rural wedding_ of the
sixteenth century continued to survive until within these eighty years.
"I have received," says Mr. Brand, who wrote in 1776, "from those who
have been present at them, the following account of the customs used at
_vulgar Northern Weddings_, about _half a century ago_:—

"The young women in the neighbourhood, with bride-favours (knots of
ribbands) at their breasts, and nosegays in their hands, attended the
Bride on her wedding-day in the morning.—_Fore-Riders_ announced
with shouts the arrival of the Bridegroom; after a kind of breakfast,
at which the _bride-cakes_ were set on and the _barrels broached_,
they walked out towards the church.—The Bride was led by _two young
men_; the Bridegroom by _two young women_: Pipers preceded them, while
the crowd tossed up their hats, shouted and clapped their hands. An
indecent custom prevailed after the ceremony, and that too before the
altar:—Young men strove who could first _unloose_, or rather pluck off
the Bride's garters: Ribbands supplied their place on this occasion;
whosoever was so fortunate as to tear them thus off from her leggs,
bore them about the church in triumph.

"It is still usual for the young men present to _salute_ the _Bride_
immediately after the performing of the marriage service.

"Four, with their horses, were waiting without; they _saluted_ the
Bride at the church gate, and immediately mounting, contended who
should first carry home the good news, and WIN what they call the
KAIL;" i. e. _a smoking prize of spice-broth_, which stood ready
prepared to reward the victor in this singular kind of race.

"Dinner succeeded; to that dancing and supper; after which a _posset_
was made, of which the Bride and Bridegroom were always to taste
first.—The men departed the room till the Bride was undressed by her
_maids_, and put to bed; the Bridegroom in his turn was undressed
by his men, and the ceremony concluded with the well-known rite of
_throwing the stocking_."—Bourne's Antiquitates Vulg. apud Brand, p.
371, 372, 373. edit. 1810.

[230:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xv. p. 197.

[230:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xv. p. 203.

[230:C] Ben Jonson's Works, fol. edit. 1640. vol. ii. p. 6.

[230:D] Holinshed's Chronicles, vol. iii. p. 787. edit. 1808.

[231:A] Capell's Notes and Various Readings on Shakspeare, vol. i.; and
Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xv. p. 198.—L'Estrange, a nephew to Sir Roger
L'Estrange, appears to have been the compiler of these anecdotes. Of
the truth of the story, however, as far as it relates to Shakspeare and
Jonson, there is reason to entertain much doubt.

[231:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 343. Act ii. sc. 3.

[232:A] Vide Douce's Illustrations, vol. i. p. 488.; and Reed's
Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 345.

[232:B] Vide Rationale Divinorum Officiorum: the first edition was
printed in 1459.

[232:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 16.

[233:A] Durandi Rational. lib. i. c. 4.

[233:B] For an account of three editions of De Worde's Golden Legende,
see Dibdin's Typographical Antiquit. vol. ii. p. 73.

[233:C] These forms of prayer are transcribed by Bourne in his
Antiquitates Vulgares.—Vide Brand's edit. p. 10. Bishop Taylor died in

[234:A] Bourne apud Brand, p. 9.

[235:A] Collier's Ecclesiastical History, vol. i. p. 546.

[235:B] Antiquitates Vulgares apud Brand, p. 23.

[235:C] Tour in Scotland.

[237:A] Essays on the Superstitions of the Highlanders of Scotland,
vol. i. p. 184-188.

[237:B] Ancient British Drama, vol. iii. p. 40.

[238:A] Ancient British Drama, vol. iii. p. 36.

[238:B] The Tragique Historie of the Faire Valeria of London, 1598.
Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 43. note.

[239:A] Douce's Illustrations, vol. ii. p. 202, 203.

[239:B] Bourne's Antiquitates Vulg. p. 33, 34.

[240:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 294.

[240:B] Ibid. vol. xx. p. 217, 218.

[242:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 335, 336.

[242:B] Ibid. p. 336. note.

[242:C] See Pratt's Gleanings in Wales, and Mason's Elegy in a
Church-yard in Wales.

[242:D] Bourne's Antiq. apud Brand, p. 45.

[243:A] Anglo Saxon Æra, vol. i. p. 69.

[243:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xx. p. 219.

[243:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 337.

[243:D] Ibid. vol. xxi. p. 297, 298.

[244:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 576.—In Mr. Malkin's
notes on Mason's Elegy, we have the following elegant and pleasing
description of this pathetic custom, as it still exists in Wales:—"It
is a very antient and general practice in Glamorgan," he remarks, "to
plant flowers on the graves; so that many Church-yards have something
like the splendour of a rich and various parterre. Besides this it is
usual to strew the graves with flowers and ever-greens, within the
Church as well as out of it, thrice at least every year, on the same
principle of delicate respect as the stones are whitened.

"No flowers or ever-greens are permitted to be planted on graves but
such as are sweet-scented: the pink and polyanthus, sweet williams,
gilliflowers, and carnations, mignionette, thyme, hyssop, camomile,
rosemary, make up the pious decoration of this consecrated garden.——

"The white rose is always planted on a virgin's tomb. The red rose is
appropriated to the grave of any person distinguished for goodness, and
especially benevolence of character.

"In the Easter week most generally the graves are newly dressed, and
manured with fresh earth, when such flowers or ever-greens as may be
wanted or wished for are planted. In the Whitsuntide Holidays, or
rather the preceding week, the graves are again looked after, weeded,
and other wise dressed, or, if necessary, planted again.—This work the
nearest relations of the deceased always do with their own hands, and
never by servants or hired persons.—

"When a young couple are to be married, their ways to the Church are
strewed with sweet-scented flowers and ever-greens. When a young
unmarried person dies, his or her ways to the grave are also strewed
with sweet flowers and ever-greens; and on such occasions it is the
usual phrase, that those persons are going to their nuptial beds, not
to their graves.—None ever molest the flowers that grow on graves;
for it is deemed a kind of sacrilege to do so. A relation or friend
will occasionally take a pink, if it can be spared, or a sprig of
thyme, from the grave of a beloved or respected person, to wear it in
remembrance; but they never take much, lest they should deface the
growth on the grave.—

"These elegant and highly pathetic customs of South Wales make the
best impression on the mind. What can be more affecting than to see
all the youth of both sexes in a village, and in every village through
which the corpse passes, dressed in their best apparel, and strewing
with sweet-scented flowers the ways along which one of their beloved
neighbours goes to his or her marriage-bed."

             Malkin's Scenery, Antiquities, and Biography of
                     South Wales, 4to. 1804. p. 606.



The attempt to describe all the numerous rural diversions which were
prevalent during the age of Shakspeare, would be, in the highest
degree, superfluous; for the greatest part of them, it is evident,
must remain, with such slight or gradual modification as to require
but little notice. It will be, therefore, our endeavour, in the
course of this chapter, after giving a catalogue of the principal
country-diversions of the era in question, to dwell only upon those
which are now either entirely obsolete, or which have subsequently
undergone such alterations as to render their former state an object of
novelty and curiosity.

This catalogue may be taken, with tolerable accuracy, from Randal Holme
of Chester, and from Robert Burton; the former enumerating the games
and diversions of the sixteenth century, and the latter those of the
prior part of the seventeenth. If to these, we add the notices to be
drawn from Shakspeare, the sketch will, there is reason to suppose,
prove sufficiently extensive.

In the list of Randal Holme will be found the names of some juvenile
sports, which are now perhaps no longer explicable; this poetical
antiquary, however, shall speak for himself.

    "—— They dare challenge for to throw the sledge;
     To jumpe or lepe over ditch or hedge;
     To wrastle, play at stool-balle, or to runne;
     To pitch the barre or to shote offe the gunne;
     To play at loggets, nineholes, or ten pinnes;
     To trye it out at fote balle by the shinnes;
     At ticke tacke, seize noddy, maw, or ruffe;
     Hot-cockles, leape froggè, or blindman's buffe;
     To drinke the halfer pottes, or deale att the whole canne;
     To playe at chesse, or pue, and inke-horènne;
     To daunce the morris, playe at barley breake;
     At alle exploytes a man can thynke or speake;
     Att shove-grote, 'venter poynte, att crosse and pyle;
     Att "Beshrewe him that's last att any style;"
     Att lepynge over a Christmàs bon fyer,
     Or att the "drawynge dame owte o' the myre;"
     At "Shoote cock, Gregory," stoole-ball, and what not:
     Pickè-poynt, top, and scourge to make him hot."[247:A]

Burton, after mentioning _Hawking_, _Hunting_, _Fowling_, and
_Fishing_, says, "many other sports and recreations there be, much in
use, as _ringing_, _holding_, _shooting_, (with the bow,) _keelpins_,
_tronks_, _coits_, _pitching bars_, _hurling_, _wrestling_, _leaping_,
_running_, _fencing_, _mustring_, _swimming_, _wasters_, _foiles_,
_foot-ball_, _balown_, _quintan_, &c., and many such which are the
common recreations of the Country folks."[247:B] He subsequently adds
_bull_ and _bear baiting_ as common to both countrymen and[247:C]
citizens, and then subjoins to the list of rural amusements, _dancing_,
_singing_, _masking_, _mumming_, and _stage-players_.[247:D] For
the ordinary recreations of _Winter_ as well in _the country_ as in
town, he recommends "_cards_, _tables_ and _dice_, _shovelboord_,
_chess-play_, the _philosopher's game_, _small trunks_, _shuttle-cock_,
_balliards_, _musick_, _masks_, _singing_, _dancing_, _ule games_,
_frolicks_, _jests_, _riddles_, _catches_, _purposes_, _questions and
commands_, and _merry tales_."[247:E]

From this statement it will immediately appear, that many of the rural
diversions of this period are those likewise of the present day, and
that no large portion of the catalogue can with propriety call for a
more extended notice.

At the head of those which demand some brief elucidation, we shall
place the _Itinerant Stage_, a _country_ amusement, however, which,
in the days of Elizabeth, was fast degenerating into contempt. The
performance of secular plays by strolling companies of minstrels, had
been much encouraged for two or three centuries, not only by the
vulgar, but by the nobility, into whose castles and halls they were
gladly admitted, and handsomely rewarded. At the commencement of the
sixteenth century, the custom was still common, and Mr. Steevens, as a
proof of it, has furnished us with the following entry from the fifth
Earl of Northumberland's Household Book, which was begun in the year

"Rewards to Players.

"Item, to be payd to the said Richard Gowge and Thomas Percy for
rewards to players for playes playd in Chrystinmas by _stranegers_ in
my house after xxd. every play by estimacion somme xxxiijs. iiijd.
Which ys appoynted to be paid to the said Richard Gowge and Thomas
Percy at the said Christynmas in full contentacion of the said reward
ys xxxiijs. iiijd."[248:A]

That these itinerants were still occasionally admitted into the
country-mansions of the great, during the reign of Elizabeth, we have
satisfactory evidence; but it may be sufficient here to remark, that
Elizabeth herself was entertained with an historical play at Kenelworth
Castle, by performers who came for that purpose from Coventry; and that
Shakspeare has favoured us with another instance, by the introduction
of the following scene in his _Taming of the Shrew_, supposed to have
been written in 1594:—

    "_Lord._ Sirrah, go see what trumpet 'tis that sounds:—
                                             Exit _Servant_.
    Belike, some noble gentleman; that means,
    Travelling some journey, to repose him here.—
                                       Re-enter a _Servant_.
    How now? who is it?

      _Serv._           An it please your honour,
    Players that offer service to your lordship.

      _Lord._ Bid them come near:—

    Enter Players.

                                    Now, fellows, you are welcome.

      _1 Play._ We thank your honour.

      _Lord._ Do you intend to stay with me to night?

      _2 Play._ So please your lordship to accept our duty.

      _Lord._ With all my heart.—
    Go, sirrah, take them to the buttery,
    And give them friendly welcome every one:
    Let them want nothing that my house affords."[249:A]

From this passage it may be deduced, that the _itinerant_ players of
this period were held in no higher estimation than menial servants;
an inference which is corroborated by referring to the anonymous play
of _A Taming of a Shrew_, written about 1590, where the entry of the
players is thus marked, "Enter two of the plaiers, _with packs at
their backs_." The abject condition of these _strollers_, Mr. Pope has
attributed, perhaps too hastily, to the stationary performers of this
reign; "the _top_ of the profession," he observes, "were then mere
players, not gentlemen of the stage; they were led into the _buttery_
by the steward, not placed at the lord's table, or the lady's[249:B]
toilette;" a passage on which Mr. Malone has remarked, that Pope "seems
not to have observed, that the players here introduced are _strollers_;
and there is no reason to suppose that our author, Heminge, Burbage,
Condell, &c. who were licensed by King James, were treated in this

On the other hand Mr. Steevens supports the opinion of Pope by
asserting, that "at the period when this comedy (_Taming of a Shrew_)
was written, and for many years after, the profession of a player was
scarcely allowed to be reputable. The imagined dignity," he continues,
"of those who did not belong to itinerant companies, is, therefore,
unworthy consideration. I can as easily believe that the blundering
editors of the first folio were suffered to lean their hands on Queen
Elizabeth's chair of state, as that they were admitted to the table of
the Earl of Leicester, or the toilette of Lady Hunsden. Like Stephen,
in _Every Man in his Humour_, the greatest indulgence our histrionic
leaders could have expected, would have been a trencher and a napkin in
the _buttery_."[250:A]

The inference, however, which Mr. Malone has drawn, appears to have
the authority of Shakspeare himself; for when Hamlet is informed of
the arrival of the players, he exclaims, "How chances it, they travel;
their _residence_, both in _reputation_ and profit, was _better both
ways_[250:B];" a question, the drift of which even Mr. Steevens
explains in the following words. "How chances it they travel?—i. e.
_How happens it that they are become strollers?_—Their residence,
both in reputation and profit, was better both ways—i. e. _To have
remained in a settled theatre was the more honourable as well as the
more lucrative situation_."[250:C] We have every reason, therefore, to
suppose, that the difference between the _stroller_ and the _licensed_
performer was in Shakspeare's time considerable; and that the latter,
although not the companion of lords and countesses, was held in a very
respectable light, if his personal conduct were good, and became the
occasional associate of the first literary characters of the age; while
the former was frequently degraded beneath the rank of a servant, and,
in the statute, indeed, 39 Eliz. ch. 4. he is classed with rogues,
vagabonds, and sturdy beggars.

This depreciation of the character of the _itinerant player_, towards
the close of Elizabeth's reign, soon narrowed his field of action;
the opulent became unwilling to admit into their houses persons thus
legally branded; and the _stroller_ was reduced to the necessity of
exhibiting his talents at wakes and fairs, on temporary scaffolds and
barrel heads; "if he pen for thee once," says Ben Jonson, addressing a
strolling player, "thou shalt not need to travell, with thy pumps full
of gravell, any more, after a _blinde jade and a hamper_, and _stalk
upon boards and barrel-heads_ to an old crackt trumpet."[250:D]

Many country-towns, indeed, at this period, were privileged to hold
fairs by exhibiting a certain number of stage-plays at their annual
fairs. Of these, Manningtree in Essex was one of the most celebrated;
Heywood mentions it as notorious for yearly plays at its fair[251:A];
and that its festivity on these occasions was equally known, is evident
from Shakspeare's comparison of Falstaff to a "roasted Manningtree ox
with a pudding in his belly."[251:B] The histrionic fame of Manningtree
Mr. Malone proves by two quotations from Nashe and Decker; the former
exclaiming in a poem, called _The choosing of Valentines_,

    ——— "Or see a play of strange moralitie,
    Shewen by bachelrie of _Manning-tree_,
    Whereto the countrie franklins flock-meale swarme;"

and the latter observing, in a tract entitled _Seven deadly Sinnes of
London_, 1607, that "Cruelty has got another part to play; it is acted
like the old _morals_ at _Manningtree_."[251:C]

This custom of stage-playing at annual fairs continued to support a few
itinerant _companies_; but in general, after the halls of the nobility
and gentry were shut against them[251:D], they divided into small
parties of three or four, and at length became mere jugglers, jesters,
and _puppet-show_ exhibitors. This last-mentioned amusement, indeed,
and its professors, seem to have been known, in this country, under
the name of _motions_, and _motion-men_, as early as the commencement
of the sixteenth century[252:A]; and the term, indeed, continued to
be thus applied in the time of Jonson, who repeatedly uses it, in his
_Bartholomew Fair_.[252:B] The degradation of the STROLLING companies,
by the statutes of Elizabeth and James, rendered the exhibition of
automaton figures, at this period, common throughout the kingdom. They
are alluded to by Shakspeare under the appellation of _drolleries_;
thus in the _Tempest_, Alonzo, alarmed at the _strange shapes bringing
in the banquet_, exclaims

    "Give us kind keepers, heavens! What were these?"

a question to which Sebastian replies,

    "_A LIVING drollery_,"[252:C]

meaning by this epithet to distinguish them from the wooden puppets,
the performers in the shows called _drolleries_.

A very popular annual diversion was celebrated, during the age of
Shakspeare, and for more than twenty-five years after, on the _Cotswold
Hills_ in Gloucestershire. It has been said that the rural games which
constituted this anniversary, were _founded_ by one Robert Dover on the
accession of James I.;[252:D] but it appears to be ascertained that
Dover was only the _reviver_, with additional splendour, of sports
which had been yearly exhibited, at an early period, on the same spot,
and perhaps only discontinued for a short time before their revival
in 1603. "We may learn from Rudder's History of Glocestershire," says
Mr. Chalmers, "that, in more early times, there was at Cottswold a
customary meeting, every year, at Whitsontide, called an _ale_, or
_Whitson-ale_, which was attended by all the lads, and the lasses, of
the _villegery_, who, annually, chose a Lord and Lady of the _Yule_,
who were the authorized rulers of the _rustic revellers_. There is
in the Church of Cirencester, says Rudder, an ancient monument, in
_basso relievo_, that evinces the antiquity of those games, which
were known to Shakspeare, before the accession of King James. They
were known, also, to Drayton early in that reign: for upon the map
of Glocestershire, which precedes the _fourteenth song_, there is a
representation of a _Whitsun-ale_, with a _may pole_, which last is
inscribed '_Heigh for Cotswold_.'

    "Ascending, next, faire Cotswold's plaines,
     She _revels_ with the _Shepherd's_ swaines."[253:A]

Mr. Strutt also is of opinion that the Cotswold games had a much higher
origin than the time of Dover, and observes that they are evidently
alluded to in the following lines by John Heywood the epigrammatist:

    "He fometh like a bore, the beaste should seeme bolde,
     For he is as fierce as a _lyon of Cotswold_."[253:B]

In confirmation of these statements it may be added, that Mr. Steevens
and Mr. Chalmers have remarked, that in Randolph's poems, 1638, is to
be found "An eclogue on the noble assemblies _revived_ on Cotswold
hills by Mr. Robert Dover;" and in D'Avenant's poems published the same
year, a copy of verses "In celebration of the yearely _preserver_ of
the games at Cotswold."[253:C]

The _Reviver_ of these far-famed games was an enterprising attorney, a
native of Barton on the Heath in Warwickshire, and consequently a near
neighbour to Shakspeare's country-residence. He obtained permission
from King James to be the director of these annual sports, which he
superintended in person for forty years. They were resorted to by
prodigious multitudes of people, and by all the nobility and gentry
for sixty miles round, until "the rascally rebellion," to adopt the
phraseology of Anthony Wood, "was begun by the Presbyterians, which
gave a stop to their proceedings, and spoiled all that was generous and
ingenious elsewhere."[254:A]

They consisted originally, and previous to the direction of
Dover, merely of athletic exercises, such as wrestling, leaping,
cudgel-playing, sword and buckler fighting, pitching the bar, throwing
the sledge, tossing the pike, &c. &c. To these Dover added _coursing_
for the gentlemen and _dancing_ for the ladies; a temporary castle
of boards being erected for the accommodation of the fair sex, and a
silver collar adjudged as a prize for the fleetest greyhound.

To these two eras of the Cotswold Games Shakspeare alludes in the
second part of _King Henry IV._, and in the _Merry Wives of Windsor_.
Justice Shallow refers to the original state of this diversion, when in
the first of these dramas he enumerates among the _swinge-bucklers_,
"Will Squeele, a _Cotsole_ man[254:B];" and to Dover's improvement of
them, when, in the second, he represents Slender asking Page, "How
does your _fallow greyhound_, Sir? I heard say, he was out-run on

Dover, tradition says, was highly delighted with the superintendance of
these Games, and assumed, during his direction of them, a great deal
of state and consequence. "_Captain_ Dover," relates Granger, a title
which courtesy had probably bestowed on this public-spirited attorney,
"had not only the permission of James I. to celebrate the Cotswold
Games, but appeared in the very cloaths which that monarch had formerly
worn[254:D], and with much more dignity in his air and aspect."[254:E]

In 1636, there was published at London a small quarto, entitled,
"_Annalia Dubrensia, upon the yearly Celebration of Mr. Robert Dover's
Olympic Games, upon Cotswold Hills_," a book consisting entirely of
recommendatory verses, written by Jonson, Drayton, Randolph, and many
others, and with a print prefixed of Dover on horseback.

It is probable that, at this period, and for many subsequent years,
there were several places in the kingdom which had Games somewhat
similar to those of Cotswold, though not quite so celebrated; for Heath
says, that a carnival of this kind was kept every year, about the
middle of July, upon Halgaver-moor, near Bodwin in Cornwall; "resorted
to by thousands of people. The sports and pastimes here held were so
well liked," he relates, "by Charles the Second, when he touched here
in his way to Sicily, that he became a brother of the jovial society.
The custom," he adds, "of keeping this Carnival is said to be as old as
the Saxons."[255:A]

Of the four great rural diversions, _Hawking_, _Hunting_, _Fowling_ and
_Fishing_, the first will require the greatest share of our attention,
as it is now nearly, if not altogether extinct, and was, during the
reigns of Elizabeth and James, the most prevalent and fashionable of
all amusements.

To the very commencement, indeed, of the seventeenth century, we may
point, as to the zenith of its popularity and reputation; for although
it had been introduced into this country as early as the middle of the
eighth century[255:B], it was, until the commencement of the sixteenth,
nearly, if not entirely, confined to the highest rank of society.
During the reigns of Elizabeth and James, however, it descended from
the nobility to the gentry and wealthy yeomanry, and no man could then
have the smallest pretension to the character of a gentleman who kept
not a cast of hawks. Of this a ludicrous instance is given us by Ben
Jonson, in his _Every Man in his Humour_:

    "_Master Stephen._ How does my coussin Edward, uncle?

    _Knowell._ O, well cousse, goe in and see: I doubt he be scarce
    stirring yet.

    _Steph._ Uncle, afore I goe in, can you tell me, an' he have
    ere a booke of the sciences of hawking, and hunting? I would
    faine borrow it.

    _Know._ Why, I hope you will not a hawking now, will you?

    _Steph._ No, cousse; but I'll practise against next yere uncle.
    I have bought me a hawke, and a hood, and bells, and all; I
    lacke nothing but a booke to keepe it by.

    _Know._ O, most ridiculous.

    _Steph._ Nay, looke you now, you are angrie, uncle: why
    you know, an' a man have not skill in the hawking, and
    hunting-languages now-a-days, I'll not give a rush for him.
    They are more studied than the Greeke, or the Latine. He is for
    no gallant's company without 'hem.—A fine jest ifaith! Slid a
    gentleman mun show himselfe like a gentleman!"[256:A]

That the character of Master Stephen is not, in this respect,
overcharged, but represents faithfully the fashionable folly of the
age, is evident from many contemporary writers, and especially from
that sensible old author Richard Brathwait, who, speaking of dogs and
hawks, says, "they are to be used only as pleasures and recreations, of
which to speake sparingly were much better, than onely to discourse of
them, _as if our whole reading were in them_. Neither doe I speake this
without just cause; for I have noted this fault in many of our younger
brood of _Gentry_, who either for want of education in learning, or
their owne neglect of learning, have no sooner attained to the strength
of making their fist a pearch for a _hawke_, but by _the helpe of some
bookes of faulconry_, whereby they are instructed in the words of art,
they will run division upon discourse of this pleasure: whereas, if
at any time they be interrupted by occasion of some other conference,
these _High-flyers_ are presently to bee _mewed_ up, for they are taken
from their element."[256:B]

Many of the best books on the Art of Falconry were written, indeed,
as might be expected, during this universal rage for the amusement,
and the _hawking coxcombs_ of the day, adopting their language on all
occasions, became necessarily obtrusive and pedantic in a disgusting
degree. Of these manuals the most popular were written by George
Turberville, Gervase Markham, and Edmund Best.[257:A]

But the most detrimental consequence arising from the universality of
this elegant diversion, was the immense expense that attended it, and
which frequently involved those who were not opulent in utter ruin: a
result not to be wondered at, when we find, that at the commencement of
the seventeenth century, a goss-hawk and a tassel-hawk were not to be
purchased for less than a hundred marks; and that in the reign of James
I., Sir Thomas Monson gave one thousand pounds for a cast of hawks.
Brathwait, in his usual strain of propriety, advises those who are not
possessed of _good estates_, to give up all idea of this diversion, and
exposes its indiscriminate pursuit in the following pleasant manner:—

"This pleasure," observes he, "as it is a princely delight, so it
moveth many to be so dearely enamoured of it, as they will undergoe
any charge, rather than forgoe it: which makes mee recall to mind a
merry tale which I have read, to this effect. Divers men having entered
into discourse, touching the superfluous care (I will not say folly)
of such as kept _dogs_ and _hawkes_ for _hawking_; one _Paulus_ a
_Florentine_ stood up and spake: Not without cause (quoth hee) did
that foole of _Millan_ laugh at these; and being entreated to tell the
tale, hee thus proceeded; upon a time (quoth he) there was a citizen
of _Millan_, a physitian for such as were distracted or lunaticke; who
tooke upon him within a certaine time to cure such as were brought
unto him. And hee cured them after this sort: Hee had a plat of ground
neere his house, and in it a pit of corrupt and stinking water, wherein
he bound naked such as were mad to a stake, some of them knee-deepe,
others to the groin, and some others deeper according to the degree of
their madnesse, where hee so long pined them with water and hunger,
till they seemed sound. Now amongst others, there was one brought, whom
he had put thigh-deepe in water; who after fifteene dayes began to
recover, beseeching the physitian that hee might be taken out of the
water. The physitian taking compassion of him, tooke him out, but with
this condition, that he should not goe out of the roome. Having obeyed
him certaine dayes, he gave him liberty to walke up and downe the
house, but not to passe the out-gate; while the rest of his companions,
which were many, remaining in the water, diligently observed their
physitian's command. Now it chanced, as on a time he stood at the gate,
(for out hee durst not goe, for feare he should returne to the pit)
he beckoned to a yong _gentleman_ to come unto him, who had a _hawke_
and two spaniels, being moved with the novelty thereof; for to his
remembrance before hee fell mad, he had never seene the like. The yong
_gentleman_ being come unto him; Sir, (quoth he) I pray you hear mee a
word or two, and answer mee at your pleasure: What is this you ride on
(quoth he) and how do you imploy him? This is a horse (replied he) and
I keepe him for _hawking_. But what call you that, you carry on your
fist, and how do you use it? This is a _hawke_ (said he) and I use to
flie with it at pluver and partridge. But what (quoth he) are these
which follow you, what doe they, or wherein doe they profit you? These
are dogges (said he) and necessary for _hawking_, to finde and retrieve
my game. And what were these birds worth, for which you provide so
many things, if you should reckon all you take for a whole yeere? Who
answering, hee knew not well, but they were worth a very little, not
above sixe crownes. The man replied; what then may be the charge you
are at with your horse, dogges and hawke? Some fiftie crowns, said
he. Whereat, as one wondering at the folly of the yong _gentleman_:
Away, away Sir, I pray you quickly, and fly hence before our physitian
returne home: for if he finde you here, as one that is maddest man
alive, he will throw you into his pit, there to be cured with others,
that have lost their wits; and more than all others, for he will set
you chin-deepe in the water. Inferring hence, that the use or exercise
of _hawking_, is the greatest folly, unlesse sometimes used by such as
are of good estate, and for recreation sake.

"Neither is this pleasure or recreation herein taxed, but the excessive
and immoderate expence which many are at in maintaining this pleasure.
Who as they should be wary in the expence of their _coine_, so much
more circumspect in their expence of _time_. So as in a word, I could
wish yong _gentlemen_ never to bee so taken with this pleasure, as
to lay aside the dispatch of more serious occasions, for a flight of
feathers in the ayre."[259:A]

The same prudent advice occurs in an author who wrote immediately
subsequent to Brathwait, and who, though a lover of the diversion,
stigmatises the folly of its general adoption. "As for hawking," says
he; "I commend it in some, condemne it in others; in men of qualitie
whose estates will well support it, I commend it as a generous and
noble qualitie; but in men of meane ranke and religious men[259:B], I
condemne it with Blesensis, as an idle and foolish vanitie: for I have
ever thought it a kinde of madnesse for such men, to bestow ten pounds
in feathers, which at one blast might be blowne away, and to buy a
momentary monethly pleasure with the labours and expence of a whole

It is to be regretted, however, that the use of the gun has superseded,
among the opulent, the pursuit of this far more elegant and picturesque
recreation. As intimately connected, for many centuries, with the
romantic manners and costume of our ancient nobility and gentry, it
now possesses peculiar charms for the poet and the antiquary, and we
look back upon the detail of this pastime, and all its magnificent
establishments, with a portion of that interest which time has
conferred upon the splendid pageantries of chivalry. Of the estimation
in which it was held, and of the pleasure which it produced, in
Shakspeare's time, there are not wanting numerous proofs: he has
himself frequently alluded to it, and the poets Turberville, Gascoign,
and Sydney, have delighted to expatiate on its praises, and to adopt
its technical phraseology. But the most interesting eulogia, the most
striking pictures of this diversion, appear to us to be derived from a
few strokes in Brathwait, Nash, and Massinger; writers who, publishing
shortly after Shakspeare's death, and describing the amusement of their
youthful days, of course delineate the features as they existed in
Shakspeare's age, with as much, if not greater accuracy than the still
earlier contemporaries of the bard.

"Hawking," remarks Brathwait, "is a pleasure for high and mounting
spirits: such as will not stoope to inferiour lures, having their
mindes so farre above, as they scorne to partake with them. It is rare
to consider, how a wilde _bird_ should bee so brought to hand, and so
well managed as to make us such pleasure in the ayre: but most of all
to forgoe her native liberty and feeding, and returne to her former
servitude and diet. But in this, as in the rest, we are taught to
admire the great goodnesse and bounty of God, who hath not only given
us the birds of the aire, with their flesh to feede us, with their
voice to cheere us, but with their flight to delight us."[260:B]

"I have in my youthfull dayes," relates Nash, "beene as glad as ever
I was to come from Schoole, to see a little martin in the dead time of
the yeare, when the winter had put on her whitest coat, and the frosts
had sealed up the brookes and rivers, to make her way through the midst
of a multitude of fowle-mouth'd ravenous crows and kites, which pursued
her with more hydeous cryes and clamours, than did Coll the dog, and
Malkin the maide, the Fox in the Apologue.

    "When the geese for feare flew over the trees,
     And out of their hives came the swarme of bees:"
                        _Chaucer in his Nunes Priests Tale._

and maugre all their oppositions pulled down her prey, bigger than
herselfe, being mounted aloft, steeple-high downe to the ground. And
to heare an accipitrary relate againe, how he went forth in a cleere,
calme, and sun-shine evening, about an houre before the sunne did
usually maske himselfe, unto the river, where finding of a mallard, he
whistled off his faulcon, and how shee flew from him as if shee would
never have turned head againe, yet presently upon a shoote came in,
how then by degrees, by little and little, by flying about and about,
she mounted so high, untill shee had lessened herselfe to the view of
the beholder, to the shape of a pigeon or partridge, and had made the
height of the moone the place of her flight, how presently upon the
landing of the fowle, shee came downe like a stone and enewed it, and
suddenly got up againe, and suddenly upon a second landing came downe
againe, and missing of it, in the downe come recovered it, beyond
expectation, to the admiration of the beholder, at a long; and to heare
him tell a third time, how he went forth early in a winter's morning,
to the woody fields and pastures to fly the cocke, where having by the
little white feather in his tayle discovered him in a brake, he cast of
a tasel gentle, and how he never ceased in his circular motion, untill
he had recovered his place, how suddenly upon the flushing of the cocke
he came downe, and missing of it in the downcome, what working there
was on both sides, how the cocke mounted, as if he would have pierced
the skies; how the hawke flew a contrary way, untill he had made the
winde his friend, how then by degrees he got up, yet never offered to
come in, untill he had got the advantage of the higher ground, how then
he made in, what speed the cocke made to save himselfe, and what hasty
pursuit the hawke made, and how after two long miles flight killed it,
yet in killing of it killed himselfe. These discourses I love to heare,
and can well be content to be an eye-witnesse of the sport, when my
occasions will permit."[262:A]

To this lively and minute detail, which brings the scene immediately
before our eyes, we must be allowed to add the poetical picture of
Massinger, which, as Mr. Gifford has justly observed, "is from the hand
of a great master."

    ————————— "In the afternoon,
    For we will have variety of delights,
    We'll to the field again, no game shall rise
    But we'll be ready for't——
    ————————— for the pye or jay, a sparrow hawk
    Flies from the fist; the crow so near pursued,
    Shall be compell'd to seek protection under
    Our horses bellies; a hearn put from her siege,
    And a pistol shot off in her breech, shall mount
    So high, that, to your view, she'll seem to soar
    Above the middle region of the air:
    A cast of haggard falcons, by me mann'd,
    Eying the prey at first, appear as if
    They did turn tail; but with their labouring wings
    Getting above her, with a thought their pinions
    Clearing the purer element, make in,
    And by turns bind with her[262:B]; the frighted fowl,
    Lying at her defence upon her back,
    With her dreadful beak, awhile defers her death,
    But by degrees forced down, we part the fray,
    And feast upon her.——
    ————————— Then, for an evening flight,
    A tiercel gentle, which I call, my masters,
    As he were sent a messenger to the moon,
    In such a place flies, as he seems to say,
    See me, or see me not! the partridge sprung,
    He makes his stoop; but wanting breath, is forced
    To cancelier[263:A]; then, with such speed as if
    He carried lightning in his wings, he strikes
    The trembling bird, who even in death appears
    Proud to be made his quarry."[263:B]

After these praises and general description of hawking, it will be
proper to mention the various kinds of hawks used for this diversion,
the different modes of exercising it, and a few of the most interesting
particulars relative to the training of the birds.

It will be found, on consulting the _Treatise on Hawking_, by Dame
Juliana Barnes, printed by Winkin De Worde in 1496, the _Gentleman's
Academie_, by Markham, 1595, and the _Jewel for Gentrie_, published in
1614, that during this space of time, the species of hawks employed,
and the several ranks of society to which they were appropriated, had
scarcely, if at all varied. The following catalogue is, therefore,
taken from the ancient Treatyse:

    "An eagle, a bawter (a vulture), a melown; these belong unto an
     A Gerfalcon: a Tercell of a Gerfalcon are due to a King.
     There is a Falcon gentle, and a Tercel gentle; and these be for a
     There is a Falcon of the rock; and that is for a Duke.
     There is a Falcon peregrine; and that is for an earl.
     Also there is a Bastard; and that hawk is for a baron.
     There is a Sacre and a Sacret; and these ben for a knight.
     There is a Lanare and a Lanrell; and these belong to a squire.
     There is a Merlyon; and that hawk is for a lady.
     There is an Hoby; and that hawk is for a young man.
       And these _ben_ hawks of the _tour_ and ben both _illuryd_ to be
           called and reclaimed.
             And yet there ben more kinds of hawks.
     There is a Goshawk; and that hawk is for a yeoman.
     There is a Tercel; and that is for a poor man.
     There is a Sparehawk; she is an hawk for a priest.
     There is a Muskyte; and he is for an holy-water clerk."[264:A]

To this list the _Jewel for Gentre_ adds

    A Kesterel, for a knave or servant.

Many of these birds were held in such high estimation by our crowned
heads and nobility, that several severe edicts were issued for
the preservation of their eggs. These were mitigated in the reign
of Elizabeth; but still if any person was convicted of taking or
destroying the eggs of the falcon, gos-hawk or laner, he was liable to
suffer imprisonment for three months, and was obliged to find security
for his good behaviour for seven years, or remain confined until he did.

Hawking was divided into two branches, land and water hawking, and
the latter was usually considered as producing the most sport. The
diversion of hawking was pursued either on horseback or on foot: on
the former in the fields and open country; on the latter, in woods,
coverts, and on the banks of rivers. When on foot, the sportsman
had the assistance of a stout pole, for the purpose of leaping over
ditches, rivulets, &c.; a circumstance which we learn from the
chronicle of Hall, where the historian tells us that Henry the Eighth,
pursuing his hawk on foot, in attempting to leap over a ditch of
muddy water with his pole, it broke, and precipitated the monarch
head-foremost into the mud, where, had it not been for the timely
assistance of one of his footmen, named John Moody, he would soon have
been suffocated; "and so," concludes the venerable chronicler, "God of
hys goodnesse preserved him."[264:B]

The game pursued in hawking included a vast variety of birds, many
of which, once fashionable articles of the table, have now ceased to
be objects of the culinary art. Of those which are now obsolete among
epicures may be enumerated, herons, bitterns, swans, cranes, curlews,
sheldrakes, cootes, peacocks; of those still in use, teel, mallard,
geese, ducks, pheasants, quails, partridges, plovers, doves, turtles,
snipes, woodcocks, rooks, larks, starlings, and sparrows.

Hawking, notwithstanding the occasional fatigue and hazard which it
produced, was a favourite diversion among the ladies, who in the
pursuit of it, according to a writer of the seventeenth century, did
not hesitate to assume the male attire and posture. "The [265:A]Bury
ladies," observes he, "that used _hawking_ and hunting, were once in a
great vaine of wearing breeches."[265:B] The same author has preserved
a hawking anecdote of some humour, and which occurred, likewise, at
the same place: "Sir Thomas Jermin," he relates, "going out with
his servants, and brooke hawkes one evening, at Bury, they were no
sooner abroad, but fowle were found, and he called out to one of his
falconers, Off with your jerkin; the fellow being into the wind did
not heare him; at which he stormed, and still cried out, Off with your
jerkin, you knave, off with your jerkin; now it fell out that there
was, at that instant, a plaine townsman of Bury, in a freeze jerkin,
stood betwixt him and his falconer, who seeing Sir Thomas in such a
rage, and thinking he had spoken to him, unbuttoned himself amaine,
threw off his jerkin, and besought his worshippe not to be offended,
for he would off with his doublet too, to give him content."[265:C]

That the _training_ of hawks was a work of labour, difficulty, and
skill, and that the person upon whom the task devolved, was highly
prized, and supported at a great expense, may be readily imagined. The
_Falconer_ was, indeed, an officer of high importance in the household
of the opulent, and his whole time was absorbed in the duties of his
station. That these were various and incessant may be deduced from the
following curious character of a _falconer_, drawn by a satirist of

"A falkoner is the egge of a tame pullett, hatcht up among hawkes
and spaniels. Hee hath in his minority conversed with kestrils and
yong hobbies: but growing up he begins to handle the lure, and look a
fawlcon in the face. All his learning makes him but a new linguist;
for to have studied and practised the termes of Hawke's Dictionary,
is enough to excuse his wit, manners, and humanity. He hath too
many trades to thrive; and yet if hee had fewer, hee would thrive
lesse. Hee need not be envied therefore, for a monopolie, though he
be barber-surgeon, physitian, and apothecary, before he commences
_hawk-leech_; for though he exercise all these, and the art of
bow-strings together, his patients be compelled to pay him no further,
then they be able. Hawkes be his object, that is, his knowledge,
admiration, labour, and all; they be indeed his idoll, or mistresse, be
they male or female: to them he consecrates his amorous ditties, which
be no sooner framed then hallowed; nor should he doubt to overcome the
fairest, seeing he reclaimes such haggards, and courts every one with
a peculiar dialect. That he is truly affected to his sweetheart in her
fether-bed, appeares by the sequele, himselfe being sensible of the
same misery, for they be both mewed up together: but he still chuses
the worst pennance, by chusing rather an ale-house, or a cellar, for
his moulting place than the hawke's mew."[266:B]

The training of Hawks consisted principally in the _manning_, _luring_,
_flying_, and _hooding_ them. Of these, the first and second imply
a perfect familiarity with the man, and a perfect obedience to his
voice and commands, especially that of returning to the fist at the
appointed signal.[267:A] The _flying_ includes the appropriation of
peculiar hawks to peculiar game; thus the _Faulcon gentle_, which,
according to Gervase Markham, is the principal of hawks, and adapted
either for the field or river, will fly at the partridge or the
mallard; the _Gerfaulcon_ will fly at the heron; the _Saker_ at the
crane or bittern; the _Lanner_ at the partridge, pheasant, or chooffe;
the _Barbary Faulcon_ at the partridge only; the _Merlin_ and the
_Hobby_ at the lark, or any small bird; the _Goshawk_ or _Tercel_ at
the partridge, pheasant, or hare; the _Sparrow-hawk_ at the partridge
or blackbird, and the _Musket_ at the bush only.[267:B]

The _hooding_ of hawks, as it embraces many technical terms, which
have been adopted by our poets, and among the rest, by Shakspeare,
will require a more extended explanation, and this we shall give
in the words of Mr. Strutt. "When the hawk," he observes, "was not
flying at her game, she was usually hood-winked, with a cap or hood
provided for that purpose, and fitted to her head; and this hood was
worn abroad, as well as at home. All hawks taken upon '_the fist_,'
the term used for carrying them upon the hand, had straps of leather
called _jesses_[267:C], put about their legs; the jesses were made
sufficiently long, for the knots to appear between the middle and the
little fingers of the hand that held them, so that the _lunes_, or
small thongs of leather, might be fastened to them with two _tyrrits_,
or rings; and the lunes were loosely wound round the little finger;
lastly, their legs were adorned with _bells_, fastened with rings of
leather, each leg having one; and the leathers, to which the bells were
attached, were denominated _bewits_; and to the bewits was added the
_creance_, or long thread, by which the bird in tutoring, was drawn
back, after she had been permitted to fly; and this was called the
_reclaiming_ of the hawk. The bewits, we are informed, were useful
to keep the hawks from _winding when she bated_, that is, when she
fluttered her wings to fly after her game. Respecting the bells,
it is particularly recommended that they should not be too heavy,
to impede the flight of the bird; and that they should be of equal
weight, sonorous, shrill, and musical; not both of one sound, but the
one a semitone below the other[268:A]; they ought not to be broken,
especially in the sounding part, because, in that case, the sound
emitted would be dull and unpleasing. There is, says the Book of St.
Alban's, great choice of sparrow-hawk bells, and they are cheap enough;
but for gos-hawk bells, those made at Milan are called the best;
and, indeed, they are excellent; for they are commonly sounded with
[268:B]silver, and charged for accordingly."[268:C]

Thomas Heywood, in his play, entitled _A Woman killed with Kindness_,
and acted before 1604, has a passage on falconry, four lines of which
have been quoted by Mr. Strutt, as allusive to the toning of the Milan
bells; but as the whole is highly descriptive of the diversion, and
is of no great length, we shall venture to transcribe it, with the
exception of a few lines, entire:

      "_Sir Charles._ So; well cast off; aloft, aloft; well flown.
    O, now she takes her at the _sowse_, and strikes her down
    To th' earth, like a swift thunder clap.—
    Now she hath seized the fowl, and 'gins to plume her,
    _Rebeck_ her not; rather stand still and _check_ her.
    So: seize her _gets_, her _jesses_, and her _bells_;

      _Sir Francis._ My hawk kill'd too!

      _Sir Charles._ Aye, but 'twas at the _querre_,
    Not at the _mount_, like mine.

      _Sir Fran._ Judgment, my masters.

      _Cranwell._ Your's miss'd her at the _ferre_.[269:A]

      _Wendoll._ Aye, but our Merlin first had _plumed_ the fowl,
    And twice _renew'd_ her from the river too;
    Her bells, Sir Francis, had not both one weight,
    Nor was one semi-tune above the other:
    Methinks these Milain bells do sound too full,
    And spoil the mounting of your hawk.—

      _Sir Fran._ —— Mine likewise seized a fowl
    Within her talons; and you saw her paws
    Full of the feathers: both her petty _singles_,
    And her _long singles_ griped her more than other;
    The _terrials_ of her legs were stained with blood:
    Not of the fowl only, she did discomfit
    Some of her feathers; but she brake away."[270:A]

To hawking and the language of falconry, Shakspeare, as we have
previously observed, has frequently had recourse, and he has selected
the terms with his wonted propriety and effect; of this five or six
instances will be adequate proof. Othello, in allusion to Desdemona,

    ————— "If I do prove her _haggard_,
    Though that _jesses_ were my dear heart-strings,
    I'd _whistle her off_, and _let her down the wind_,
    To prey at fortune."[270:B]

A _haggard_ is a species of hawk wild and difficult to be reclaimed,
and which, if not well trained, flies indiscriminately at every bird;
a fault to which Shakspeare again refers in his _Twelfth Night_, where
Viola tells the Clown that

    "He must observe their mood on whom he jests—
     And, like the _haggard_, check at every feather
     That comes before his eye."[270:C]

The phrase to _whistle off_ will be best explained by a simile in
Burton, which opens his chapter on Air. "As a long-winged hawk when he
is first _whistled off the fist_, mounts aloft, and for his pleasure
fetcheth many a circuit in the air, still soaring higher and higher,
till he be come to his full pitch, and in the end when the game is
sprung, comes down amain, and _stoops_ upon a sudden."[270:D] To _let a
hawk down the wind_, was to dismiss it as worthless.

Petruchio, soliloquising on the means which he had adopted, in order to
tame his termagant bride, says emphatically,

    "My falcon now is sharp, and passing empty;
     And, till she stoop, she must not be full-gorged,
     For then she never looks upon her lure.
     Another way I have to man my haggard,
     To make her come, and know her keeper's call,
     That is,—to watch her, as we watch these kites,
     That _bate_, and beat, and will not be obedient."[271:A]

To _bate_ in this passage means to _flutter_ or _beat the wings_, as
striving to fly away, and is metaphorically used in the following
address of Juliet to the night:

    ———————— "Come, civil night,——
    Hood my unmann'd blood _bating_ in my cheeks,
    With thy black mantle."[271:B]

The same tragedy furnishes us with another obligation to falconry,
where the love-sick maiden recalls Romeo in these terms:

    "Hist! Romeo, hist!——O, for a falconer's voice
     To lure this tassel-gentle back again."[271:C]

Falstaff's page in the _Merry Wives of Windsor_ is appositely compared
to the _eyas-musket_, an unfledged hawk of the smallest species:

    "_Mrs. Ford._ How now, my _eyas-musket_? What news with you?"[271:D]

_Eyas-musket_, remarks Mr. Steevens, is the same as _infant
Lilliputian_, and he subjoins an illustrative passage from Spenser:

    ———— "youthful gay,
    Like _eyas-hawke_, up mounts into the skies,
    His _newly budded_ pinions to essay."[271:E]

If the commencement of the seventeenth century, saw _Hawking_ the
most splendid and prevalent amusement of the nobility and gentry, the
close had to witness its decline and abolition; it gave way to a more
sure and expeditious, though, perhaps, less interesting mode of killing
game, and the adoption of the gun had, before the year 1700, almost
entirely banished the art of the Falconer.

The costume of the next great amusement of the country, that of
HUNTING, differs at present in few essential points from what it was
in the sixteenth century. The chief variations may be included in the
disuse of killing game in inclosures, and in the adoption of more
speed, and less fatigue and stratagem in the open chace; or in other
words, it is the strength and speed of the fleet blood-horse, and not
of the athletic and active huntsman, or old steady-paced hunter, that
now decide the sport. "In the modern chace," observes Mr Haslewood,
"the lithsomness of youth is no longer excited to pursue the animals.
Attendant footmen are discontinued and forgotten; while the active
and eager rustic with a hunting pole, wont to be foremost, has long
forsaken the field, nor is there a trace of the character known, except
in a country of deep clay, as parts of Sussex. Few years will pass
ere the old steady paced English hunter and the gabbling beagle will
be equally obsolete. All the sport now consists of speed. A hare is
hurried to death by dwarf fox-hounds, and a leash murdered in a shorter
period than a single one could generally struggle for existence.
The hunter boasts a cross of blood, or, in plainer phrase, a racer,
sufficiently professed to render a country sweepstakes doubtful. This
variation is by no means an improvement, and can only advantage the
plethoric citizen, who seeks to combat the somnolency arising from
civic festivals by a short and sudden excess of exercise."[272:A]

The mode of hunting, indeed, in the reigns of Elizabeth and James,
still continued an emblem of, and a fit preparation for, the fatigues
of war; nor was it unusual to consider the toils of the chace as
initiatory to those of the camp. "The old Lord Gray, our English
Achilles," says Peacham, "when hee was Deputie of Ireland, to inure
his sonnes for the warre, would usually in the depth of winter, in
frost, snow, raine, and what weather so ever fell, cause them at
midnight to be raised out of their beds, and carried abroad on hunting
till the next morning; then perhaps come wet and cold home, having
for a breakefast, a browne loafe and a mouldie cheese, or (which is
ten times worse) a dish of Irish butter[273:A];" and Dekkar, in his
praise of hunting, remarks, that "it is a very true picture of warre,
nay, it is a warre in itselfe, for engines are brought into the field,
stratagems are contrived, ambushes are laide, onsets are given, alarams
strucke up, brave encounters are made, fierce assailings are resisted
by strength, by courage, or by policie: the enemie is pursued, and
the pursuers never give over till they have him in execution, then
is a retreate sounded, then are spoiles divided, then come they home
wearied, but yet crowned with honour and victorie. And as in battailes,
there bee several manners of fight; so in the pastime of hunting, there
are several degrees of game. Some hunt the lyon, &c.—others pursue the
long-lived hart, the couragious stag, or the nimble footed deere; these
are the noblest hunters, and they exercise the noblest game: these by
following the chace, get strength of bodie, a free, and undisquieted
minde, magnanimitie of spirit, alacritie of heart, and unwearisomnesse
to breake through the hardest labours: their pleasures are not
insatiable, but are contented to be kept within limits, for these hunt
within parkes inclosed, or within bounded forests. The hunting of the
hare teaches feare to be bold, and puts simplicitie to her shifts, that
she growes cunning and provident; &c."[273:B]

Hunting in inclosures, that is, in parks, chases, and forests, where
the game was inclosed with a fence-work of netting stretched on posts
driven into the ground, appears to have been the custom of this
country from the time of Edward the Second to the middle of the
seventeenth century. The manuscript treatise of William Twici, grand
huntsman to Edward the Second, entitled _Le Art De Venerie, le quel
maistre Guillame Twici venour le roy d'Angleterre fist en son temps per
aprandre Autres_[274:A]; the nearly contemporary manuscript translation
of John Gyfford, with the title of _A book of Venerie, dialogue[274:B]
wise_; the tract called _The Maistre of the Game_[274:C], in manuscript
also, and written by the chief huntsman of Henry the Fourth, for the
instruction of his son, afterwards Henry the Fifth; the _Book of St.
Albans_, the first _printed_ treatise on the subject, and written by
the sister of Lord Berners, when prioress at the nunnery of Sopewell,
about 1481; the tract on the _Noble Art of Venerie_, annexed to
Turberville on Falconrie 1575, and supposed to have been written by
George Gascoigne, and the re-impression of the same in 1611, all
describe the ceremonies and preparations necessary for the pursuit
of this, now obsolete, mode of hunting, which, from its luxury and
effeminacy, forms a perfect contrast to the manly fatigues of the
_open_ chace.

This style of hunting, indeed, exhibited great splendour and pomp,
and was certainly a very imposing spectacle; but the slaughter must
have been easy and great, and the sport therefore proportionally less
interesting. When the king, the great barons, or dignified clergy,
selected this mode of the diversion, in which either bows or greyhounds
were used, the masters of the game and the park-keepers prepared all
things essential for the purpose; and, if it were a royal hunt, the
sheriff of the county furnished stabling for the king's horses, and
carts for the dead game. A number of temporary buildings, covered with
green boughs, to shade the company from the heat of the sun or bad
weather, were erected by the foresters in a proper situation, and on
the morning of the day chosen for the sport, the master of the game and
his officers saw the greyhounds duly placed, and a person appointed to
announce, by the different intonations of his horn the species of game
turned out, so that the company might be prepared for its reception
when it broke cover.

The enclosure being guarded by officers or retainers, placed at equal
distances, to prevent the multitude prematurely rousing the game, the
grand huntsman, as soon as the king, nobility, or gentry had taken
their respective stations, sounded three long mootes or blasts with
the horn, as a signal for the uncoupling of the hart-hounds, when the
game, driven by the manœuvres of the huntsman, passed the lodges where
the company were waiting, and were either shot from their bows,
or individuals, starting from the groupe, pursued the deer with

We find, from the poems of Gascoigne and Turberville, as they appear in
their Book of Hunting of 1575, that every accommodation which beautiful
scenery and epicurean fare could produce, was thought essential to this
branch of the sport. Turberville, describing the scene chosen for the
company to take their stations, says—

     "The place should first be pight, on pleasant gladsome greene,
    Yet under shade of stately trees, where little sunne is seene:
      And neare some fountaine spring, whose chrystall running streames
    May helpe to coole the parching heate, ycaught by Phœbus beames.
      The place appoynted thus, it neyther shall be clad
    With arras nor with tapystry, such paltrie were too bad:
      Ne yet those hote perfumes, whereof proude courtes do smell,
    May once presume in such a place, or paradise to dwell.
      Away with fayned fresh, as broken boughes or leaves,
    Away, away, with forced flowers, ygathered from their greaves:
      This place must of itselfe, afforde such sweet delight,
    And eke such shewe, as better may content the greedie sight;
      Where sundry sortes of hewes, which growe upon the ground,
    May seeme, indeede, such tapystry, as we by arte, have found.
      Where fresh and fragrant flowers, may skorne the courtier's cost,
    Which daubes himselfe with syvet, muske, and many an ointment lost,
      Where sweetest singing byrdes, may make such melodye,
    As Pan, nor yet Apollo's arte, can sounde such harmonye.
      Where breath of westerne windes, may calmely yeld content,
    Where casements neede not opened be, where air is never pent.
      Where shade may serve for shryne, and yet the sunne at hande,
    Where beautie need not quake for colde, ne yet with sunne be tande.
      In fine and to conclude, where pleasure dwels at large,
    Which princes seeke in pallaces, with payne and costly charge.
      Then such a place once founde, the _Butler_ first appeares,—
      Then comes the captaine _Cooke_"—

These gentlemen of the household, it seems, came well provided; the
farmer, with wines and ales "in bottles and in barrels," and the latter
with _colde loynes of veale_, _colde capon_, _beefe and goose_, _pigeon
pyes_, _mutton colde_, _neates tongs poudred well_, _gambones of the
hogge_, _saulsages_ and _savery knackes_.[276:A]

Of the stag-chace in the _open_ country, and of the ceremonies and
costume attending it, at the castellated mansions of the Baron and
opulent Squire, during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a
tolerably accurate idea may be formed from the following statement,
drawn up from the ancient writers on the subject, and from the works of
the ingenious antiquary Strutt.

The inhabitants of the castle, and the hunters, were usually awakened
very early in the morning by the lively sounding of the bugles,
after which it was not unusual for two or more minstrels to sing
an appropriate roundelay, beneath the windows of the master of the
mansion, accompanied by the deep and mellow chorus of the attending
rangers and falconers. Shakspeare alludes to a song of this kind in his
_Romeo and Juliet_[276:B], which has been preserved entire by Thomas
Ravenscroft[276:C], and commences thus:—

    "The hunt is up, the hunt is up,
     Sing merrily wee, the hunt is up;
     The birds they sing,
     The deere they fling;
                          Hey nony nony-no; &c."

The Yeoman Keepers, with their attendants, called Ragged Robins, to
the number of ten or twelve, next made their appearance, leading the
slow-hounds or brachets, by which the deer were roused. These men were
usually dressed in Kendal green, with bugles and short hangers by their
sides, and quarter-staffs in their hands, and were followed by the
foresters with a number of greyhounds led in leashes for the purpose of
plucking down the game.

This assemblage in the Court of the castle was soon augmented by a
number of _Retainers_, or Yeomen who received a small annual pension
for attendance on these occasions; they wore a livery, with the
cognisance of the house to which they belonged, borne, as a badge of
adherence, on their arms, and each man had a buckler on his shoulder,
and a burnished broad sword hanging from his belt. Shortly afterwards
appeared the pages and squires in hunting garbs on horse-back and on
foot, and armed with spears and long and cross bows; and lastly the
Baron, his friends, and the ladies.

The company thus completed, were conducted by the huntsmen to a
thicket, in which, they knew, by previous observation, that a stag
had been harboured all night. Into this cover the keeper entered,
leading his ban-dog (a blood-hound tied in a leam or band), and as
soon as the stag abandoned it, the greyhounds were slipped upon him;
these, however, after running two or three miles, he usually threw
out, by again entering cover, when the slow-hounds and prickers
were sent in, to drive him from his strength. The poor animal now
traverses the country for several miles, and after using every effort
and manœuvre in vain, exhausted and breathless, his mouth embossed
with foam, and the tears dropping from his eyes, he turns in despair
upon his pursuers, and in this situation the boldest hunter of the
train generally rides in, and, at some risque, dispatches him with a
short hunting-sword. The _treble-mort_ is then sounded, accompanied by
the shouts of the men and the yelping of the dogs, and the huntsman
ceremoniously presents his knife to the master of the chase, in order
that he may take, as it is termed, the _say_ of the deer.[278:A]

The danger which the ancient hunter incurred, on dealing the death
stroke to the stag when he turned to bay, is strikingly exemplified by
an incident in the life of Wilson the historian, during the time he
formed a part of the household of the Earl of Essex, in the reign of

"Sir Peter Lee, of Lime, in Cheshire, invited my lord one summer, to
hunt the stagg. And having a great stagg in chace, and many gentlemen
in the pursuit, the stagg took soyle. And divers, whereof I was one,
alighted, and stood with swords drawne, to have a cut at him, at his
coming out of the water. The staggs there, being wonderfully fierce and
dangerous, made us youths more eager to be at him. But he escaped us
all. And it was my misfortune to be hindered of my coming nere him, the
way being sliperie, by a fall; which gave occasion to some, who did not
know mee, to speak as if I had falne for feare. Which being told me, I
left the stagg, and followed the gentleman who first spake it. But I
found him of that cold temper, that it seems his words made an escape
from him; as by his denial and repentance it appeared. But this made
mee more violent in pursuit of the stagg, to recover my reputation.
And I happened to be the only horseman in, when the dogs sett him up
at bay; and approaching nere him on horsebacke, hee broke through
the dogs, and run at mee, and tore my horse's side with his hornes,
close by my thigh. Then I quitted my horse, and grew more cunning
(for the dogs had sette him up againe), stealing behind him with my
sword, and cut his hamstrings; and then got upon his back, and cut his

A still more difficult and gallant feat, however, of this kind,
was performed by John Selwyn, the under-keeper of Queen Elizabeth,
who, one day, animated by the presence of his royal mistress, at a
chase, in her park of Oatlands, pursued the stag with such activity,
that, overtaking it, he sprung from his horse on the animal; when,
after most skilfully maintaining his seat for some time, he drew his
hunting-sword, and, just as he reached the green, plunged it in the
throat of the stag, which immediately dropped down dead at the feet of
Elizabeth; an achievement which is sculptured on his monument in Walton
church, Surrey, where he is represented in the very act of killing the
infuriated beast.[280:B]

The taking the _say_ of, and the _breaking_ up, the deer, were formerly
attended with many ceremonies and superstitions.[280:C] "Touching the
death of a deare, or other wylde beast," says a writer of the sixteenth
century, "yee knowe your selves what ceremonies they use about the
same. Every poore man may cut out an oxe, or a sheepe, whereas such
venison may not be dismembered but of a gentylman; who bareheadded, and
set on knees, with a knife prepared properly to that use, (for every
kynde of knife is not allowable) also with certain jestures, cuttes
a sunder certaine partes of the wild beast, in a certain order very
circumstantly. Which holy misterie, having seen the lyke yet more than
a hundred tymes before. Then (sir) whose happe it bee to eate parte
of the fleshe, marye hee thinkes verily to bee made thereby halfe a

After the process of dismemberment, and the selection of choice pieces,
the forester, the keeper, and the hounds had their allotted share, and
superstition granted even a portion to the ominous raven. "There is a
little gristle," relates Turberville, "which is upon the spoone of the
brisket, which we call the raven's bone; and I have seen in some places
a raven so wont and accustomed to it, that she would never fail to
croak and cry for it all the time you were in breaking up of the deer,
and would not depart till she had it."

Of this superstitious observance Jonson has given us a pleasing sketch,
in the most poetical of his works, the Sad Shepherd:—

      "_Marian._ —————— He that undoes him,
    Doth cleave the brisket bone upon the spoon,
    Of which a little gristle grows——you call it—

      _Robin Hood._ The raven's bone.

      _Marian._ —————— Now o'er head sat a raven
    On a sere bough, a grown, great bird and hoarse,
    Who, all the time the deer was breaking up,
    So croaked and cried for it, as all the huntsmen,
    Especially old Scathlocke, thought it ominous!"[281:B]

In an age, when to hawke and to hunt formed the _Gentleman's
Academy_[281:C], the _Falconer_ and the _Huntsman_ were most important
characters; of the former we have already given an outline from
contemporary authority, and of the latter the following extract
delineates a very curious picture, in which the manners, the dress, and
the accoutrements are marked with singular strength and raciness of

"A huntsman is the lieutenant of dogs, and foe to harvest: he is
frolick in a faire morning fit for his pleasure; and alike rejoyceth
with the Virginians, to see the rising sun: he doth worship it as
they, but worships his game more than they; and is in some things
almost as barbarous. A sluggard he contemnes, and thinks the resting
time might be shortened; which makes him rise with day, observe the
same pace, and prove full as happy, if the day be happy. The names
of foxe, hare, and bucke, be all attracting sillables; sufficient
to furnish fifteene meales with long discourse in the adventures of
each. Foxe, drawes in his exploits done against cubbes, bitch-foxes,
otters and badgers: hare, brings out his encounters, platformes,
engines, fortifications, and night worke done against leveret, cony,
wilde-cat, rabbet, weasell, and pole-cat: then bucke, the captaine of
all, provokes him (not without strong passion) to remember hart, hind,
stagge, doe, pricket, fawne, and fallow deere. He uses a dogged forme
of governement, which might bee (without shame) kept in humanity; and
yet he is unwilling to be governed with the same reason: either by
being satisfied with pleasure, or content with ill fortune. Hee hath
the discipline to marshall dogs, and sutably; when a wise herald would
rather mervaile, how he could distinguish their coates, birth, and
gentry. Hee carries about him in his mouth the very soule of Ovid's
bodies, metamorphosed into trees, rockes and waters; for, when he
pleases, they shall eccho and distinctly answere; and when he pleases,
be extremely silent. There is little danger in him towards the common
wealth; for his worst intelligence comes from shepherds or woodmen;
and that onely threatens the destruction of hares; a well knowne dry
meate. The spring and he are still at variance; in mockage therefore,
and revenge together of that season, _he weares her livery_ in winter.
Little consultations please him best; but the best directions he doth
love and follow, they are his dogs. If hee cannot prevaile therefore,
his lucke must be blamed, for he takes a speedy course. He cannot
be less than a conquerour from the beginning, though he wants the
booty; for he pursues the flight. His manhood is _a crooked sword
with a sawbacke_; but the badge of his generous valour is a home to
give notice. Battery and blowing up, he loves not; to undermine is
his stratageme. His physick teaches him not to drinke sweating; in
amends whereof, he liquors himselfe to a heate, upon coole bloud, if
he delights (at least) to emulate his dog in a hot nose. If a kennel
of hounds passant take away his attention and company from church; do
not blame his devotion; for in them consists the nature of it, and his
knowledge. His frailties are, that he is apt to mistake any dog worth
the stealing, and never take notice of the collar. He dreames of a hare
sitting, a foxe earthed, or the bucke couchant: and if his fancy would
be moderate, his actions might be full of pleasure."[283:A]

Making a natural transition from the huntsman to his hounds, we have
to remark, that one great object, at this period, in the construction
of the kennel, was the modulation and harmony of the vocal powers of
the dog. This was carried to a nicety and perfection little practised
in the present day. Gervase Markham seems to write _con amore_ on
this subject, and has penned directions which partake both of the
picturesque, and of the melody on which he is descanting: thus,
speaking of the production of _loudness of cry_, he says, "if you would
have your kennel for loudness of mouth, you shall not then choose the
hollow deep mouth, but the loud clanging mouth, which spendeth freely
and sharply, and as it were redoubleth in utterance: and if you mix
with them the mouth that roreth, and the mouth that whineth, the cry
will be both the louder and the smarter;—and the more equally you
compound these mouths, haveing as many rorers as spenders, and as many
whiners, as of either of the other, the louder and pleasanter your cry
will be, _especially, if it be in sounding tall woods, or under the
echo of rocks_;" and treating of the _composition_ of notes in the
kennel, he adds, "you shall as nigh as you can, sort their mouths into
three equal parts of musick, that is to say base, counter-tenor and
mean; the base are those mouths which are most deep and solemn, and
are spent out plain and freely, without redoubling: the counter-tenor
are those which are most loud and ringing, whose sharp sounds pass so
swift, that they seem to dole and make division; and the mean are
those which are soft sweet mouths, that though plain, and a little
hollow, yet are spent smooth and freely; yet so distinctly, that a man
may count the notes as they open. Of these three sorts of mouths, if
your kennel be (as near as you can) equally compounded, you shall find
it most perfect and delectable: for though they have not the thunder
and loudness of the great dogs, which may be compared to the high
wind-instruments, yet they will have the tunable sweetness of the best
compounded consorts; and sure a man may find as much art and delight in
a lute as in an organ."[284:A]

Shakspeare, who frequently avails himself of the language, imagery, and
circumstances attendant on this diversion, has particularly noticed,
in a passage of much animation and beauty, the care taken to arrange
the notes of the kennel, and the pleasure derivable from the varied
intonations of the hounds. Theseus addressing Hippolyta, exclaims—

    "My love shall hear the musick of my hounds.—
     Uncouple in the western valley; go:—
     Despatch, I say, and find the forester.—
     We will, fair queen, up to the mountain's top,
     And mark the musical confusion
     Of hounds and echo in conjunction.

       _Hip._ —————— Never did I hear
     Such gallant chiding; for, besides the groves,
     The skies, the fountains, every region near
     Seem'd all one mutual cry: I never heard
     So musical a discord, such sweet thunder.

       _The._ My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind,
     So flew'd[284:B], so sanded[284:C]; and their heads are hung
     With ears that sweep away the morning dew;
     Crook-knee'd, and dew-lap'd like Thessalian bulls;
     Slow in pursuit, but _match'd in mouth like bells,
     Each under each_. A cry more tuneable
     Was never holla'd to, nor cheer'd with horn."[284:D]

It appears from a scene in _Timon of Athens_, and from a passage in
Laneham's Account of the Queen's Entertainment at Killingworth Castle,
1575, that it was a common thing, at this period, to hunt after dinner,
or in the evening. Timon, having been employed, during the morning, in
hunting, says to Alcibiades—

    "So soon as dinner's done, we'll forth again;"[285:A]

and Elizabeth, twice, during her residence with the Earl of Leicester,
is described as pursuing this exercise in the cool of the evening.
Honest Laneham's narrative of one of these royal chases will amuse the

"Munday waz hot, and thearfore her Highness kept in till a five a
clok in the eevening: what time it pleazz'd her to ride foorth into
the chace too hunt the Hart of fors; which foound anon, and after
sore chased, and chafed by the hot pursuit of the hooundes, waz
fain of fine fors at last to take soil. Thear to beholl'd the swift
fleeting of the deer afore, with the stately cariage of hiz head in
his swimmyng, spred (for the quantitee) lyke the sail of a ship; the
hoounds harroing after, az had they bin a number of skiphs too the
spoyle of a karvell; the ton no lesse eager in purchaz of his pray,
than waz the other earnest in savegard of hiz life; so az the earning
of the hoounds in continuauns of their crie, the swiftness of the
deer, the running of footmen, the galloping of horsez, the blasting
of hornz, the halloing and hewing of the huntsmen, with the excellent
echoz between whilez from the woods and waters in valliez resounding;
moved pastime delectabl in so hy a degree, az, for ony parson to take
pleazure by moost sensez at onez, in mine opinion, thear can be none
ony wey comparable to this; and special in this place, that of nature
iz foormed so feet for the purpoze; in feith, _Master Martin_, if ye
coold with a wish, I woold ye had bin at it: Wel, the hart waz kild, a
goodly deer."[285:B]

So partial was Her Majesty to this diversion that even in her
seventy-seventh year she still pursued it with avidity; for Rowland
Whyte, one of her courtiers, writing to Sir Robert Sidney on September
12th, 1600, says, "Her majesty is well and excellently disposed to
hunting, for every second day she is on horseback, and continues the
sport long;" and when not disposed to incur the fatigue of joining in
the chase, she was recreated with a sight of the pastime; thus at the
seat of Lord Montecute, in 1591, she saw, after dinner, from a turret,
"sixteen bucks all having fayre lawe, pulled downe with greyhounds in a
laund or lawn."[286:A]

Nor was James the First less passionately addicted to the sport; his
journey from Scotland to England, on his accession to the throne of the
latter kingdom, was frequently protracted by his inability to resist
the temptation of joining in the chase; on his road to Withrington, the
seat of Sir Robert Cary, after a hard ride of thirty-seven miles in
less than four hours, "and by the way for a note," says a contemporary
writer, "the miles according to the northern phrase, are a wey bit
longer, then they be here in the south,—His Majesty having a little
while reposed himselfe after his great journey, found new occasion
to travell further: for, as he was delighting himselfe with the
pleasure of the parke, hee suddenly beheld a number of deere neare the
place: the game being so faire before him hee could not forbeare, but
_according to his wonted manner_, forth he went and slew two of them;"
again, "After his Majesties short repast to Werslop his Majestie rides
forward, but by the way in the parke he was somewhat stayed; for there
appeared a number of huntes-men all in greene; the chiefe of which with
a woodman's speech did welcome him, offering his Majestie to shew him
some game, which he gladly condiscended to see; and with a traine set
he hunted a good space, very much delighted."[286:B] This diversion
from his direct route is repeatedly noticed by the same author, and
proves the strong attachment of the monarch to this amusement, which
he preferred to either hawking or shooting; he divided his time, says
Wellwood, "betwixt his standish, his bottle, and his hunting; the last
had his fair weather, the two former his dull and cloudy[287:A];" an
assertion which with regard to hunting is corroborated by Wilson,
who, recording his visit to his native dominions in 1617, informs us,
that on his return he exhibited the same keen relish for the sport
which he had shown in 1603: "The King, in his return from Scotland,"
he remarks, "made his Progress through the hunting-countries, (his
hounds and hunters meeting him,) _Sherwood-Forest_, _Need-wood_, and
all the _parks_ and _forests_ in his way, were ransacked for his
_recreation_; and every _night_ begat a new _day_ of _delight_."[287:B]
In short, James was so engrossed by his passion for hunting, that he
neglected the most important business to indulge it; and even affected
the garb of a hunter when he ought to have been in that of a king.
Osborne calls him a _Sylvan Prince_, and adds, "I shall leave him
dressed to posterity in the colours I saw him in the next Progress
after his Inauguration, which was as _green_ as the grass he trod on,
with a _feather_ in his _cap_, and a _horn_ instead of a sword by his

To these brief notices of hawking and hunting, it may be necessary
to add a very few remarks on the kindred amusements of _fowling_ and
_fishing_, as far as they deviate, either in manner or estimation,
from the practice or opinions of the present day. In the pursuit of
_fowling_, indeed, there is little or no discrepancy between the two
periods, if we make an exception for two instances; and these now
obsolete modes of exercising the art, were termed _horse-stalking_ and
_bird-batting_. The former consisted originally of a horse trained for
the purpose, and so mantled over with trappings as to hide the fowler
completely from the game; a contrivance much improved upon for facility
of usage by substituting a stuffed canvas figure, painted to resemble
a horse grazing; this was so light that the sportsman might move it
easily with one hand, and behind it he could securely take his aim;
to this curious species of deception Shakspeare alludes in _As You
Like It_, where the Duke, speaking of Touchstone, says, "He uses his
folly like a _stalking-horse_, and under the presentation of that, he
shoots his wit[288:A];" and again, in _Much Ado about Nothing_, Claudio
exclaims, "Stalk on, stalk on; the fowl sits."[288:B] It appears from
Drayton, that the fowler shot from _underneath_ his horse, where he
was concealed by the mantle-cloth depending to the ground: thus in the

    "One _underneath_ his _horse_ to get a shoot doth _stalk_;"[288:C]

and in the _Muses' Elysium_—

    "Then _underneath_ my horse, I _stalk_ my game to strike."[288:D]

Sometimes, instead of a stuffed canvas figure, the form of a horse
painted on a cloth was carried before the sportsman: "Methinks," says a
writer of this period quoted by Mr. Reed, "I behold the cunning fowler,
such as I have knowne in the fenne countries and els-where, that doe
shoot at woodcockes, snipes, and wilde fowle, by sneaking behind a
_painted cloth_ which they carry before them, having _pictured in it
the shape of a horse_; which while the silly fowle gazeth on, it is
knockt down with hale shot, and so put in the fowler's budget."[288:E]

We have reason to suppose that Henry the Eighth often amused himself
in this manner; for in the inventories of his wardrobes, preserved in
the Harleian MS., are to be found frequent allowances of materials
for making "stalking coats, and stalking hose for the use of his

Of the peculiar mode of netting called _bird-batting_, the following
account has been given by a once popular authority on these
subjects:—"This sport we call in England most commonly bird-batting,
and some call it low-belling; and the use of it is to go with a great
light of cressets, or rags of linen dipped in tallow, which will make
a good light; and you must have a pan or plate made like a lanthorn,
to carry your light in, which must have a great socket to hold the
light, and carry it before you, on your breast, with a bell in your
other hand, and of a great bigness, made in the manner of a cow-bell,
but still larger; and you must ring it always after one order. If you
carry the bell, you must have two companions with nets, one on each
side of you; and what with the bell, and what with the light, the birds
will be so amazed, that when you come near them, they will turn up
their white bellies: your companions shall then lay their nets quietly
upon them, and take them. But you must continue to ring the bell; for,
if the sound shall cease, the other birds, if there be any more near
at hand, will rise up and fly away."[289:B] This method was used to
ensnare wood-cocks, partridges, larks, &c. and it is probable that to a
stratagem of this kind Shakspeare may allude, when he paints Buckingham

    "The net has fall'n upon me; I shall perish
     Under device and practice."[289:C]

FISHING, as an _art_, has deviated little, in this country, from the
state to which it had attained three centuries ago; but it is a subject
of interest and amusement, to mark the enthusiasm with which, during
the period that we are considering, and anteriorly, this delightful
recreation has been discussed, and the minutiæ to which its literary
patrons have descended.

Of books written on the _Art of Angling_ previous to, and during the
age of Shakspeare, five, independent of subsequent editions, may be
enumerated; and from three of these, the most curious of their kind, we
shall quote a few passages indicative of the warm attachment alluded
to in the preceding paragraph. The earliest printed production on this
subject is _The Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle_, included, for the
first time, in, what may be termed, the second edition of the _Book of
St. Albans_, namely, _The Treatyses perteynynge to Hawkynge, Huntynge
and Fisshynge with an angle_, printed at Westminster, by Wynkyn De
Worde, 1496. This little tract, which has been attributed, though
perhaps not[290:A] correctly, to Dame Juliana Berners, commences with
giving a decided preference to fishing when compared with hunting,
hawking, and fowling, in the course of which the author observes, that
the Angler, if his sport should fail him, "atte the leest, hath his
holsom walke, and mery at his ease, a swete ayre of the swete savoure
of the meede floures, that makyth him hungry; he hereth the melodyous
armony of fowles; he seeth the yonge swannes, heerons, duckes, cotes,
and many other fowles, wyth theyr brodes; wyche me semyth better than
alle the noyse of houndys, the blastes of hornys, and the scrye of
fowlis, that hunters, fawkeners, and foulers can make. And if the
Angler take fysshe; surely, thenne, is there noo man merier than he is
in his spryte[290:B];" and the book concludes in a singularly pleasing
strain of piety and simplicity. "Ye shall not use this forsayd crafty
dysporte," says this lover of fishing, "for no covetysenes, to the
encreasynge and sparynge of your money oonly; but pryncypally for your
solace, and to cause the helthe of your body, and specyally of your
soule: for whanne ye purpoos to goo on your dysportes in fysshynge,
ye woll not desyre gretly many persons wyth you, whyche myghte lette
you of your game. And thenne ye may serve God, devoutly, in sayenge
affectuously youre custumable prayer; and, thus doynge, ye shall
eschewe and voyde many vices."

Of this impression of the _Book of St. Albans_ by De Worde, numerous
editions were published during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,
and frequently with new titles, as the "Gentleman's Academie" 1595;
the "Jewell for Gentrie" 1614, and the "Gentleman's Recreation" 1674.
Two small tracts, however, on angling, possessing some originality,
were published by Leonard Mascall, and John Taverner, the former in
1590, and the latter in[291:A]1600; but the most important work on
the subject, after the _Treatyse on Fysshynge_, is a poem written by
one John Dennys, or Davors, with the following title: _The Secrets
of Angling; teaching the choicest Tooles, Baytes, and Seasons for
the taking of any Fish, in Pond or River: practised and familiarly
opened in three Bookes_. By J. D. Esquire. 8vo. Lond. 1613. This is a
production of considerable poetic merit, as will be evident from the
author's eulogium on his art: after reprobating the pastimes of gaming,
wantonness, and drinking, he exclaims—

    "O let me rather on the pleasant brinke
     Of Tyne and Trent possesse some dwelling place,
     Where I may see my quill and corke downe sinke
     With eager bite of Barbell, Bleike, or Dace:
     And on the world and his Creatour thinke,
     While they proud Thais painted sheet embrace,
       And with the fume of strong tobacco's smoke,
       All quaffing round are ready for to choke.

     Let them that list these pastimes then pursue,
     And on their pleasing fancies feed their fill;
     So I the fields and meadows green may view,
     And by the rivers fresh may walke at will,
     Among the dazies and the violets blew:
     Red hyacinth, and yellow daffodill,
       Purple narcissus like the morning rayes,
       Pale ganderglas, and azor culverkayes.

     I count it better pleasure to behold
     The goodly compasse of the lofty skie,
     And in the midst thereof like burning gold,
     The flaming chariot of the world's great eye;
     The watry clouds that in the ayre uprold,
     With sundry kinds of painted colours flie;
       And faire Aurora lifting up her head,
       All blushing rise from old Tithonus bed.

     The hils and mountains raised from the plains,
     The plains extended levell with the ground,
     The ground divided into sundry vains,
     The vains enclos'd with running rivers round,
     The rivers making way through nature's chains,
     With headlong course into the sea profound:
       The surging sea beneath the vallies low,
       The vallies sweet, and lakes that lovely flow.

     The lofty woods, the forests wide and long
     Adorn'd with leaves and branches fresh and green,
     In whose cool brows the birds with chanting song
     Do welcome with their quire the Summer's Queen,
     The meadows fair where Flora's guifts among,
     Are intermixt the verdant grasse between,
       The silver skaled fish that softly swim
       Within the brooks and crystall watry brim.

     All these and many more of his creation,
     That made the heavens, the Angler oft doth see,
     And takes therein no little delectation
     To thinke how strange and wonderfull they bee,
     Framing thereof an inward contemplation,
     To set his thoughts on other fancies free:
       And whiles he looks on these with joyfull eye,
       His minde is wrapt above the starry skie."[293:A]

The poet has entered so minutely into his task, as to give directions
for the colour of the angler's cloaths, which he wishes should be
russet or gray[293:B]; and he opens his third book with a descriptive
catalogue of the moral virtues and qualities of mind necessary to
a lover of the pastime; these, he informs us, are twelve, namely,
_faith_, _hope_, _charity_, _patience_, _humility_, _courage_,
_liberality_, _knowledge_, _placability_, _piety_, _temperance_,
and _memory_; an enumeration sufficiently extensive, it might be
supposed, to damp the enthusiasm of the most eager disciple; yet has
Gervase Markham, notwithstanding, wonderfully augmented the list.
This indefatigable author, in an early edition of his _Countrey
Contentments_[293:C], converted the poetry of Davors into prose, with
the following title: "The whole Art of Angling; as it was written in a
small Treatise in Rime, and now for the better understanding of the
Reader put into prose, and _adorned_ and _inlarged_." The additions
are numerous and entertaining, a specimen of which, under the marginal
notation of _Angler's vertues_, will convey a distinct and curious idea
of the estimation in which this art was held in the reign of James the
First, and of the moral and mental qualifications deemed essential, at
this period, towards its successful attainment.

"Now for the inward qualities of mind, albeit some writers reduce them
to _twelve_ heads, which, indeed, whosoever enjoyeth, cannot chuse but
be very compleat in much perfection, yet I must draw them into many
other branches. The first and most especial whereof is, that a skilful
Angler ought to be a general scholler, and seen in all the liberal
sciences, as a grammarian, to know how either to write or discourse
of his art in true and fitting terms, either without affectation
or rudeness. He should have sweetness of speech, to persuade and
intice others to delight in an exercise so much laudable. He should
have strength of arguments to defend and maintain his profession,
against envy or slander. He should have knowledge in the sun, moon,
and stars, that by their aspects he may guess the seasonableness or
unseasonableness of the weather, the breeding of storms, and from
what coasts the winds are ever delivered. He should be a good knower
of countries, and well used to highwayes, that by taking the readiest
paths to every lake, brook, or river, his journies may be more certain,
and less wearisome. He should have knowledge in proportions of all
sorts, whether circular, square, or diametrical, that when he shall
be questioned of his diurnal progresses, he may give a geographical
description of the angles and channels of rivers, how they fall from
their heads, and what compasses they fetch in their several windings.
He must also have the perfect art of numbring, that in the sounding of
lakes or rivers, he may know how many foot or inches each severally
containeth; and by adding, substracting, or multiplying the same,
he may yield the reason of every river's swift or slow current. He
should not be unskilful in musick, that whensoever either melancholy,
heaviness of his thoughts, or the perturbations of his own fancies,
stirreth up sadness in him, he may remove the same with some godly hymn
or anthem, of which _David_ gives him ample examples.

"He must be of a well settled and constant belief, to enjoy the benefit
of his expectation; for then to despair, it were better never to be put
in practice: and he must ever think where the waters are pleasant, and
any thing likely, that there the Creator of all good things hath stored
up much of plenty, and though your satisfaction be not as ready as your
wishes, yet you must hope still, that with perseverance you shall reap
the fulness of your harvest with contentment: Then he must be full of
love both to his pleasure and to his neighbour: to his pleasure, which
otherwise will be irksome and tedious, and to his neighbour, that he
neither give offence in any particular, nor be guilty of any general
destruction: then he must be exceeding patient, and neither vex nor
excruciate himself with losses or mischances, as in losing the prey
when it is almost in the hand, or by breaking his tools by ignorance
or negligence, but with pleased sufferance amend errors, and think
mischances instructions to better carefulness.

"He must then be full of humble thoughts, not disdaining when occasion
commands to kneel, lye down, or wet his feet or fingers, as oft as
there is any advantage given thereby, unto the gaining the end of his
labour. Then must he be strong and valiant, neither to be amazed with
storms, nor affrighted with thunder, but hold them according to their
natural causes, and the pleasure of the highest: neither must he,
like the fox which preyeth upon lambs, employ all his labour against
the smaller frey; but like the lyon that seizeth elephants, think the
greatest fish which swimmeth, a reward little enough for the pains
which he endureth. Then must he be liberal, and not working only for
his own belly, as if it could never be satisfied; but he must with
much cheerfulness bestow the fruits of his skill amongst his honest
neighbours, who being partners of his gain, will doubly renown his
triumph, and that is ever a pleasing reward to vertue.

"Then must he be prudent, that apprehending the reasons why the fish
will not bite, and all other casual impediments which hinder his sport,
and knowing the remedies for the same, he may direct his labours to be
without troublesomeness.

"Then he must have a moderate contention of the mind to be satisfied
with indifferent things, and not out of any avaritious greediness think
every thing too little, be it never so abundant.

"Then must he be of a thankful nature, praising the author of all
goodness, and shewing a large gratefulness for the least satisfaction.

"Then must he be of a perfect memory, quick and prompt to call into
his mind all the needfull things which are any way in this exercise to
be imployed, lest by omission or by forgetfulness of any, he frustrate
his hopes, and make his labour effectless. Lastly, he must be of a
strong constitution of body, able to endure much fasting, and not of
a gnawing stomach, observing hours, in which if it be unsatisfied, it
troubleth both the mind and body, and loseth that delight which maketh
the pastime only pleasing."[296:A]

It is impossible to read this elaborate catalogue of qualifications
without a smile; for who would suppose that _grammar_, _rhetoric_ and
_logic_, _astronomy_, _geography_, _arithmetic_ and _music_, were
necessary to form an angler: yet we must allow, indeed, even in the
present times, that _hope_, _patience_, and _contentment_ are still
articles of indispensable use to him who would catch fish; for though,
as Shakspeare justly observes,

    "The _pleasant'st angling_ is to see the fish
     Cut with her golden oars the silver stream,
     _And greedily devour the treacherous bait_,"[296:B]

yet are we so frequently disappointed of this latter spectacle, that
the art may be truly considered as a school for the temper, and as
meriting the rational encomium of Sir Henry Wotton, a dear lover of
the angle in the days of Shakspeare, and who has declared that, after
tedious study, angling was "a rest to his mind, a cheerer of his
spirits, a diverter of sadness[297:A], a calmer of unquiet thoughts, a
moderator of passions, a procurer of contentedness;" and "that it begat
habits of peace and patience in those that professed and practised it."
"Indeed, my friend," adds the amiable Walton, "you will find angling to
be like the virtue of humility; which has a calmness of spirit, and a
world of other blessings, attending upon it."[297:B]

A rural diversion of a kind very opposite to that of angling, namely,
HORSE-RACING, may be considered, during the reigns of Elizabeth and
James, if we compare it with the state to which the rage for gambling
has since carried it, as still in its infancy. It was classed, indeed,
with hawking and hunting, as a liberal pastime, and almost generally
pursued for the mere purposes of exercise or pleasure; hence the
moral satirists of the age, the Puritans of the sixteenth century,
have recommended it as a substitute for cards and dice. That it was,
however, even at this period, occasionally practised in the spirit of
the modern turf, will be evident from the authority of Shakspeare, who

      ——————— "I have heard of _riding wagers_,
    Where horses have been nimbler than the sands
    That run i'the clock's behalf;"[297:C]

and Burton, who wrote at the close of the Shakspearean era, mentions
the ruinous consequences of this innovation: "Horse-races," he
observes, "are desports of great men, and good in themselves, though
many gentlemen by such means gallop quite out of their fortunes."[298:A]

To encourage, however, a spirit of emulation, prizes were established
for the swiftest horses, and these were usually either silver bells or
silver cups; from the prevalence of the former, the common term for
horse-races in the time of James I. was _bell-courses_, an amusement
which became very frequent in the reign of this prince, and, though the
value of the prize did not amount to more than eight or ten pounds, and
the riders were for the most part the owners of the horses, attracted a
numerous concourse of spectators.

The estimation in which the breed of _race-horses_ was held, even in
the age of Elizabeth, may be drawn from a passage in one of the satires
of Bishop Hall, first published in 1597:—

    ————————— "Dost thou prize
    Thy brute beasts worth by their dam's qualities?
    Say'st thou this colt shall prove a swift pac'd steed,
    Onely because a Jennet did him breed?
    Or say'st thou this same horse shall win the prize,
    Because his dam was swiftest Trunchifice
    Or Runceval his syre; himself a galloway?
    While like a tireling jade, he lags half way."[298:B]

While on this subject, we may remark, that the _Art of Riding_ was,
during the era we are contemplating, carried to a state of great

    "To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus,
     And witch the world with noble horsemanship,"[298:C]

was the pursuit of every eager and aspiring spirit, and various
treatises were written to facilitate the attainment of an
accomplishment at once so useful and so fashionable. Among these, the
pieces of Gervase Markham may be deemed the best; indeed, his earliest
work on the subject, which is dated 1593, claims to be the first ever
written in this country on the art of training _Running-horses_[299:A];
and is supposed also to be the first production of Markham: it went
through many impressions under various titles, and from one of these
termed _Cavelarice_, printed in 1607, I shall select a minutely curious
picture of the "horseman's apparel."

"First, when you begin to learne to ride, you must come to the stable,
in such decent and fit apparel, as is meet for such an exercise, that
is to say, a hat which must sit close and firme upon your heade, with
an indifferent narrow verge or brim, so that in the saults or bounds
of the horse, it may neither through widenesse or unweldinesse fall
from your head, nor with the bredth of the brim fall into your eies,
and impeach your sight, both which are verie grosse errors: About
your neck you shall weare a falling band, and no ruffe, whose depth
or thicknesse, may, either with the winde, or motions of your horse,
ruffell about your face; or, according to the fashion of the Spaniards,
daunce hobby-horse-like about your shoulders, which though in them is
taken for a grace, yet in true judgment it is found an errour. Your
doublet shal be made close and hansome to your bodie, large wasted,
so that you may ever be sure to ride with your points trussed (for to
ride otherwise is most vilde) and in all parts so easye, that it may
not take from you the use of anie part of your bodie. About your waste
you must have ever your girdle and thereon a smal dagger or punniard,
which must be so fast in the sheath that no motion of the horse may
cast it forth, and yet so readie, that upon any occasion you may draw
it. Your hose would be large, rounde, and full, so that they may fill
your saddle, which should it otherwise be emptie and your bodie looke
like a small substance in a great compasse, it were wondrous uncomely.
Your bootes must be cleane, blacke, long, and close to your legge,
comming almost up to your middle thigh, so that they may lie as a
defence betwixt your knee and the tree of your saddle. Your boote-hose
must come some two inches higher then your bootes, being hansomely
tied up with pointes. Your spurres must be strong and flat inward,
bending with a compasse under your ancle: the neck of your spurre must
be long and straight, and rowels thereof longe and sharp, the prickes
thereof not standing thicke together, nor being above five in number.
Upon your handes you must weare a hansome paire of gloves, and in your
right hande you must have a long rodde finely rush-growne, so that the
small ende thereof be hardly so great as a round packe-threed, insomuch
that when you move or shake it, the noyse thereof may be lowde and

Having thus noticed the _great rural_ diversions of this period, as
far as they deviate from modern practice, the remainder of the chapter
will be occupied by such minor amusements of the country as may now
justly be considered obsolete; for it must be recollected, that to
enumerate only what is _peculiar_ to the era under consideration, forms
the object of our research. It should, likewise, here be added, that
those amusements which are _equally common_ to both country and town,
will find their place under the latter head, such as cards, dice, the
practice of archery, baiting, &c. &c.

Among the amusements generally prevalent in the country, Burton has
included the _Quintaine_. This was originally a mere martial sport;
and, as Vegetius informs us, familiar to the Romans, from an individual
of which nation, named _Quintus_, it is supposed to have derived its
etymology. During the early feudal ages of modern Europe it continued
to support its military character, was practised by the higher orders
of society, and preceded, and probably gave origin to, tilting, justs,
and tournaments. These, however, as more elegant and splendid in their
costume, gradually superseded it during the prevalence of chivalry;
it then became an exercise for the middle ranks, for burgesses and
citizens, and at length towards the close of the sixteenth century,
degenerated into a mere rustic sport.

It would appear, from comparing Stowe with Shakspeare, that about the
year 1600, the Quintain was made use of under two forms; the most
simple consisting of a post fixed perpendicularly in the ground, on the
top of which was a cross-bar turning upon a pivot or spindle, with a
broad board nailed at one end and a bag of sand suspended at the other;
at the board they ran on horseback with spears or staves, and "hee,"
says Stowe, "that hit not the broad end of the quinten was of all men
laughed to scorne; and hee that hit it full, if he rid not the faster,
had a sound blow in his necke with a bagge full of sand hanged on the
other end."[301:A] A more costly and elaborate machine, resembling the
human form, is alluded to by Shakspeare in _As You Like It_, where
Orlando says,

        ——————— "My better parts
    Are all thrown down; and _that which here stands up,
    Is but a quintain_, a mere lifeless block."[301:B]

In Italy, Germany, and Flanders, a quintain, carved in wood in
imitation of the human form, was, during the sixteenth century, in
common use.[301:C] The figure very generally represented a Saracen,
armed with a shield in one hand, and a sword in the other, and, being
placed on a pivot, the skill of those who attacked it, depended on
shivering the lance to pieces between the eyes of the figure; for if
the weapon deviated to the right or left, and especially if it struck
the shield, the quintain turned round with such velocity as to give
the horseman a violent blow on the back with his sword, a circumstance
which covered the performer with ridicule, and excited the mirth of
the spectators. That such a machine, termed the _shield quintain_, was
used in Ireland during the reign of Richard the Second, we have the
authority of Froissart; it is therefore highly probable, that this
species of the diversion was as common in England, and still lingered
here in the reign of Elizabeth; and that to a quintain of this kind,
representing an armed man, and erected for the purpose of a _military_
exercise, Shakspeare alludes in the passage just quoted.

It must, however, be allowed, that at the commencement of the
seventeenth century, and for several years anterior, the quintain had
almost universally become the plaything of the peasantry, and was
seldom met with but at rural weddings, wakes, or fairs; or under any
other form than that which Stowe has described. No greater proof of
this can be given than the fact, that when Elizabeth was entertained
at Kenelworth Castle, in 1575, with an exact representation of a
_Country Bridale_, a quintain of this construction formed a part of
it. "Marvellous," says Laneham, "were the martial acts that were done
there that day; the bride-groom for pre-eminence had the first course
at the Quintaine, brake his spear treshardiment; but his mare in his
manage did a little so titubate, that much ado had his manhood to sit
in his saddle, and to scape the foil of a fall: With the help of his
hand, yet he recovered himself, and lost not his stirrups (for he had
none to his saddle); had no hurt as it hapt, but only that his girth
burst, and lost his pen and inkhorn that he was ready to weep for; but
his handkerchief, as good hap was, found he safe at his girdle; that
cheered him somewhat, and had good regard it should not be filed. For
though heat and coolness upon sundry occasions made him sometime to
sweat, and sometime rheumatic; yet durst he be bolder to blow his nose
and wipe his face with the flappet of his father's jacket, than with
his mother's muffler: 'tis a goodly matter, when youth is mannerly
brought up, in fatherly love and motherly awe.

"Now, Sir, after the bride-groom had made his course, ran the rest of
the band a while, in some order; but soon after, tag and rag, cut and
long tail; where the specialty of the sport was to see how some for his
slackness had a good bob with the bag; and some for his haste to topple
down right, and come tumbling to the post: Some striving so much at the
first setting out, that it seemed a question between the man and the
beast, whether the course should be made a horseback or a foot: and put
forth with the spurs, then would run his race by us among the thickest
of the throng, that down came they together hand over head: Another,
while he directed his course to the quintain, his jument would carry
him to a mare among the people; so his horse as amorous as himself
adventurous: An other, too, run and miss the quintain with his staff,
and hit the board with his head!

"Many such gay games were there among these riders: who by and by
after, upon a greater courage, left their quintaining, and ran one
at another. There to see the stern countenances, the grim looks, the
couragious attempts, the desperate adventures, the dangerous courses,
the fierce encounters, whereby the buff at the man, and the counterbuff
at the horse, that both sometime came toppling to the ground. By my
troth, _Master Martin_, 'twas a lively pastime; I believe it would have
moved some man to a right merry mood, though it had been told him his
wife lay a dying."[303:A]

This passage presents us with a lively picture of what the _rural
quintain_ was in the days of Elizabeth, an exercise which continued
to amuse our rustic forefathers for more than a century after the
princely festival of Kenelworth. Minshieu, who published his Dictionary
in 1617, the year subsequent to Shakspeare's death, informs us that
"A _quintaine_ or quintelle," was "a game in request at marriages,
when Jac and Tom, Dic, Hob and Will, strive for the gay garland."
Randolph in 1642, alluding in one of his poems to the diversions of the
Spaniards, says

    "Foot-ball with us may be with them balloone;
     As they at _tilts_, so we at _quintaine_ runne;
     And those old pastimes relish best with me,
     That have least art, and most simplicitie;"

Plott in his History of Oxfordshire, first printed in 1677, mentions
the Quintain as the common bridal diversion of the peasantry at
Deddington in that county; "it is now," he remarks, "only in request
at marriages, and set up in the way for young men to ride at as they
carry home the bride, he that breaks the board being counted the best
man[304:A];" and in a satire published about the year 1690, under the
title of _The Essex Champion; or the famous History of Sir Billy of
Billerecay, and his Squire Ricardo_, intended as a ridicule, after the
manner of Cervantes, on the romances then in circulation, the hero,
Sir Billy, is represented as running at a quintain, such as Stowe has
drawn in his Survey, but with the most unfortunate issue, for "taking
his launce in his hand, he rid with all his might at the Quinten, and
hitting the board a full blow, brought the sand-bag about with such
force, as made him measure his length on the ground."[304:B]

Most of the numerous athletic diversions of the country remaining what
they were two centuries ago, cannot, in accordance with our plan,
require any comment or detail; two, however, now, we believe, entirely
obsolete, and which serve to mark the manners of the age, it will be
necessary to introduce. Mercutio, in a contest of pleasantry and banter
with Romeo, exclaims, "Nay, if thy wits run the _wild-goose chace_, I
have done."[304:C]

This barbarous species of horse-race, which has been named from its
resemblance to the flight of _wild-geese_, was a common diversion
among the country-gentlemen of this period; Burton, indeed, calls it
one of "the disports of great men[305:A];" a confession which does no
honour to the age, for this elegant amusement consisted in two horses
starting together, and he who proved the hindmost rider was obliged to
follow the foremost over whatever ground he chose to carry him, that
horse which could distance the other winning the race.

Another sport still more extraordinary and rude, and much in vogue
in the south-western counties, was, one of the numerous games with
the ball, and termed HURLING. Of this there were two kinds, _hurling
to the Goales_ and _hurling to the Country_, and both have been
described with great accuracy by Carew, in his Survey of Cornwall.
The first is little more than a species of hand-ball, but the second,
when represented as the amusement of _gentlemen_, furnishes a curious
picture of the civilisation of the times.

"In _hurling to the country_," says Carew, "two or three, or more
parishes agree to hurl against two or three other parishes. The matches
are usually made by _gentlemen_, and their goales are either those
gentlemen's houses, or some towns or villages three or four miles
asunder, of which either side maketh choice after the nearnesse of
their dwellings; when they meet, there is neyther comparing of numbers
nor matching of men, but a silver ball is cast up, and that company
which can catch and carry it by force or slight to the place assigned,
gaineth the ball and the victory.—Such as see where the ball is played
give notice, crying 'ware east,' 'ware west,' as the same is carried.
The hurlers take their next way over hilles, dales, hedges, ditches;
yea, and thorow bushes, briars, mires, plashes, and rivers whatsoever,
so _as you shall sometimes see twenty or thirty lie tugging together in
the water scrambling and scratching for the ball_."[305:B]

The _domestic_, amusements in the country being nearly, if not
altogether, the same with those which prevailed in the city, we shall,
with one exception, refer the consideration of them to another part
of this work. The pastime for which this distinction is claimed, was
known by the name of SHOVEL-BOARD, or _Shuffle-board_, and was so
universally prevalent throughout the kingdom, during the era of which
we are treating, that there could scarcely be found a nobleman's or
gentleman's house in the country in which this piece of furniture
was not a conspicuous object. The great hall was the place usually
assigned for its station, though in some places, as, for instance, at
Ludlow Castle, a room was appropriated to this purpose, called _The
Shovell-Board Room_.[306:A]

The table necessary for this game, now superseded by the use of
Billiards, was frequently upon a very large and expensive scale. "It
is remarkable," observes Dr. Plott, "that in the hall at Chartley the
shuffle-board table, though ten yards one foot and an inch long, is
made up of about two hundred and sixty pieces, which are generally
about eighteen inches long, some few only excepted, that are scarce
a foot; which, being laid on longer boards for support underneath,
are so accurately joined and glewed together, that no shuffle-board
whatever is freer from rubbs or casting.—There is a joynt also in the
shuffle-board at Madeley Manor exquisitely well done."[306:B]

The mode of playing at Shovel-board is thus described by Mr.
Strutt:—"At one end of the shovel-board there is a line drawn across,
parallel with the edge, and about three or four inches from it; at
four feet distance from this line another is made, over which it is
necessary for the weight to pass when it is thrown by the player,
otherwise the go is not reckoned. The players stand at the end of the
table, opposite to the two marks above mentioned, each of them having
four flat weights of metal, which they shove from them, one at a time,
alternately: and the judgment of the play is, to give sufficient
impetus to the weight to carry it beyond the mark nearest to the edge
of the board, which requires great nicety, for if it be too strongly
impelled, so as to fall from the table, and there is nothing to prevent
it, into a trough placed underneath for its reception, the throw is
not counted; if it hangs over the edge, without falling, three are
reckoned towards the player's game; if it lie between the line and the
edge, without hanging over, it tells for two; if on the line, and not
up to it, but over the first line, it counts for one. The game, when
two play, is generally eleven; but the number is extended when four, or
more, are jointly concerned."[307:A]

It appears from a passage in the _Merry Wives of Windsor_, that, in
Shakspeare's time, the broad shillings of Edward VI. were made use
of at shovel-board instead of the more modern weights. Falstaff is
enquiring of Pistol if he picked master Slender's purse, a query
to which Slender thus replies: "Ay, by these gloves, did he, (or I
would I might never come in mine own great chamber again else,) of
seven groats in mill-sixpences, and two _Edward shovel-boards_, that
cost me two shillings and two pence a-piece of Yead Miller, by these
gloves."[307:B] "That Slender means the broad shilling of one of our
kings," remarks Mr. Malone, "appears from comparing these words with
the corresponding passage in the old quarto: 'Ay by this handkerchief
did he;—two faire shovel-board _shillings_, besides seven groats in

Mr. Douce is of opinion that the game of shovel-board is not much older
than the reign of Edward VI., and that it is only a variation, on a
larger scale, of what was term'd SHOVE-GROAT, a game invented in the
reign of Henry VIII., and described in the statutes, of his 33d year,
as a _new_ game.[307:D] Shove-groat was also played, as the name
implies, with the coin of the age, namely silver groats, then as large
as our modern shillings, and to this pastime and to the instrument used
in performing it, Shakspeare likewise, and Jonson, allude; the first
in the _Second Part of King Henry IV._, where Falstaff, threatening
Pistol, exclaims, "Quoit him down, Bardolph, like _a Shove-groat
shilling_:"[308:A] the second in _Every Man in his Humour_, where
Knowell, speaking of Brain-worm, says that he has "translated begging
out of the old hackney pace, to a fine easy amble, and made it run
as smooth off the tongue as a _shove-groat shilling_."[308:B] That
the game of _Shovel-board_ is subsequent, in point of time, to the
diversion of _Shove-groat_, is probable from the circumstance noticed
by Mr. Douce, that no coin termed _shovel-groat_ is any where to be
found, and consequently the era of the broad shilling may be deemed
that also of shovel-board. Mr. Strutt supposes the modern game of
_Justice Jervis_ to resemble, in all essential points, the ancient

Between the _juvenile_ sports which were common in the reigns of
Elizabeth and James, and those of the present day, little variation or
discrepancy, worth noticing, can be perceived; they were, under slight
occasional alterations of form and name, equally numerous, trifling, or
mischievous, and Shakspeare has now and then referred to them, for the
purposes of illustration or similitude; he has, in this manner, alluded
to the well-known games of _leap-frog_[308:D]; _handy-dandy_[308:E];
_wildmare_, or _balancing_[308:F]; _flap-dragons_[308:G]; _loggats_,
or _kittle-pins_[308:H]; _country-base_, or _prisoner's bars_[308:I];
_fast and loose_[308:J]; _nine men's morris_, or _five-penny
morris_[308:K]; _cat in a bottle_[308:L]; _figure of eight_[308:M],
&c. &c.; games which, together with those derived from balls, marbles,
hoops, &c. require no description, and which, deviating little in their
progress from age to age, can throw no material light on the costume of
early life. Very few diversions, indeed, peculiar to our youthful days
have become totally obsolete; among these, however, may be mentioned
one, which, from the obscurity resting on it, its peculiarity, and
former popularity, is entitled to some distinction. We allude to the
diversion of BARLEY-BREAKE, of the mode of playing which, Mr. Strutt
confesses himself ignorant, and merely quotes the following lines from
Sidney, as given by Johnson in his Dictionary:

    "By neighbours prais'd, she went abroad thereby,
     At _barley-brake_ her sweet swift feet to try."[309:A]

Barley-breake was, however, among young people, one of the most
popular amusements of the reigns of Elizabeth and James the First, and
continued so until the austere zeal of the Puritans occasioned its
suppression: thus Thomas Randall, in "An Eclogue" on the diversions of
Cotswold Hills, complains that

    "Some melancholy swaines, about have gone,
     To teach all zeale, their owne complection—
     These teach that dauncing is a Jezabell,
     And _Barley-breake_, the ready way to hell."[309:B]

Before this puritanical revolution took place, _barley-breake_ was
a common theme with the amatory bards of the day, and allusions to
it were frequent in their songs, madrigals, and ballets. With one of
these, written about 1600, we shall present the reader, as a pleasing
specimen of the light poetry of the age:—

    "Now is the month of maying,
     When merry lads are playing;
     Each with his bonny lasse,
     Upon the greeny grasse.

     The spring clad all in gladnesse
     Doth laugh at winter's sadnesse;
     And to the bagpipe's sound,
     The nymphs tread out their ground.

     Fye then, why sit wee musing,
     Youth's sweet delight refusing;
     Say daintie Nimphs and speake,
     Shall wee play _barly-breake_."[310:A]

There were two modes of playing at barley-breake, and of these one
was rather more complex than the other. Mr. Gifford, in a note on the
_Virgin-Martyr_ of Massinger, where this game, in its more elaborate
form, is referred to, remarks, that "with respect to the amusement of
barley-break, allusions to it occur repeatedly in our old writers;
and their commentators have piled one parallel passage upon another,
without advancing a single step towards explaining what this celebrated
pastime really was. It was played by six people (three of each sex),
who were coupled by lot. A piece of ground was then chosen, and divided
into three compartments, of which the middle one was called hell. It
was the object of the couple condemned to this division, to catch the
others, who advanced from the two extremities; in which case a change
of situation took place, and hell was filled by the couple who were
excluded by pre-occupation, from the other places. In this "catching,"
however, there was some difficulty, as, by the regulations of the game,
the middle couple were not to separate before they had succeeded,
while the others might break hands whenever they found themselves hard
pressed. When all had been taken in turn, the last couple was said _to
be in hell_, and the game ended."[310:B]

That this description, explanatory of the passage in Massinger,

    "He is at _barley-break_, and the last couple
     Are now in hell,"

is accurate and full, will derive corroboration from a scarce pamphlet
entitled "Barley-breake, or a Warning for Wantons," published in 1607,
and which contains a curious representation of this amusement.

    ——— "On a time the lads and lasses came,
    Entreating Elpin that she[311:A] might goe play;
    He said she should (Euphema was her name)
    And then denyes: yet needs she must away.

    To Barley-breake they roundly then 'gan fall,
    Raimon, Euphema had unto his mate;
    For by a lot he won her from them all;
    Wherefore young Streton doth his fortune hate.

    But yet ere long he ran and caught her out,
    And on the back a gentle fall he gave her;
    It is a fault which jealous eyes spie out,
    A maide to kisse before her jealous father.

    Old Elpin smiles, but yet he frets within,
    Euphema saith, she was unjustly cast.
    She strives, he holds, his hand goes out and in:
    She cries, away! and yet she holds him fast.

    Till sentence given by an other maid,
    That she was caught according to the law;
    The voice whereof this civill quarrell staid,
    And to his mate each lusty lad 'gan draw.

    Euphema now with Streton is in hell,
    (For so the middle roome is alwaies cald)
    He would for ever, if he might, there dwell;
    He holds it blisse with her to be inthrald.

    The other run, and in their running change;
    Streton 'gan catch, and then let goe his hold;
    Euphema like a doe, doth swiftly range,
    Yet taketh none, although full well she could,

    And winkes on Streton, he on her 'gan smile,
    And fame would whisper something in her eare;
    She knew his mind, and bid him use a wile,
    As she ran by him, so that none did heare."[311:B]

The simpler mode of conducting this pastime, as it was practised in
Scotland, has been detailed by Dr. Jamieson, who tells us, that it was
"a game generally played by young people in a corn-yard. One stack is
fixed on as the _dule_, or goal; and one person is appointed to catch
the rest of the company, who run out from the dule. He does not leave
it till they are all out of his sight. Then he sets off to catch them.
Any one who is taken cannot run out again with his former associates,
being accounted a prisoner; but is obliged to assist his captor in
pursuing the rest. When all are taken, the game is finished; and he who
was first taken is bound to act as catcher in the next game."[312:A]
It is evident, from our old poetry, that this style of playing at
barley-breake was also common in England, and especially among the
lower orders in the country.

It may be proper to add, at the close of this chapter, that a species
of public diversion was, during the Elizabethan period, supported by
each parish, for the purpose of innocently employing the peasantry upon
a failure of work from weather or other causes. To this singular though
laudable custom Shakspeare alludes in the _Twelfth Night_, where Sir
Toby says, "He's a coward, and a coystril, that will not drink to my
niece, 'till his brains turn o' the toe like a [312:B]_parish-top_."
"This," says Mr. Steevens, "is one of the customs now laid aside;" and
he adds, in explanation, that "a large top was kept in every village,
to be whipped in frosty weather, that the peasants might be kept
warm by exercise, and out of mischief, while they could not work;" a
diversion to which Fletcher likewise refers in his _Night-Walker_, and
which has given rise to the proverbial expression of _sleeping like a

From this rapid sketch of the diversions of the country, as they
existed in Shakspeare's time, it will be immediately perceived that
not many have become obsolete, and of those which have undergone some
change, the variations have not been such as materially to obscure
their origin or previous constitution. The object of this chapter
being, therefore, only to mark what was peculiar in rural pastime to
the age under consideration, and not to notice what had suffered little
or no modification, its articles, especially if we consider the nature
of the immediately preceding section, (and that nearly all amusements
common to both town and country were referred to a future part,) could
not be either very numerous, or require any very extended elucidation.

What might be necessary in the minute and isolated task of the
commentator, would be tedious and superfluous in a design which
professes, while it gives a distinct and broad outline of the
complexion of the times, to preserve among its parts an unrelaxed
attention to unity and compression.


[247:A] MS. Harl. Libr., No. 2057, apud Strutt's Customs, &c.

[247:B] Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, 8th edit. fol. 1676. p. 169,

[247:C] Ibid. p. 172.

[247:D] Ibid. p. 174.

[247:E] Ibid. p. 172.

[248:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 22. note 6.

[249:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 21, 22. 25, 26.

[249:B] Pope's Preface to his edition of Shakspeare, vide Reed's
Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 183.

[249:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 25, note 3.

[250:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 26, note.

[250:B] Ibid. vol. xviii. p. 130, 131.

[250:C] Ibid. vol. xviii. p. 131. note 7.

[250:D] Poetaster, 1601, vide Ben Jonson's Works, fol. edit. of 1640,
vol. i. p. 267.

[251:A] Apology for Actors, 1612.

[251:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xi. p. 307.

[251:C] Vide Malone's note in Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xi. p. 307.

[251:D] By the statute of the 39 Eliz. any baron of the realm might
license a company of players; but by the statute of first James I. "it
is declared and enacted, that from thenceforth no authority given,
or to be given or made, by any baron of this realm, or any other
honourable personage of greater degree, unto any interlude players,
minstrels, jugglers, bearward, or any other idle person or persons
whatsoever, using any unlawful games or plays, to play or act, should
be available to free or discharge the said persons, or any of them,
from the pains and punishments of rogues, of vagabonds, and sturdy
beggars, in the said statutes (those of Eliz.) mentioned."

[252:A] A character in _Gammar Gurtons Needle_, says Mr. Strutt,
a comedy supposed to have been written A. D. 1517, declares he
will go "and travel with young Goose, the _motion-man_, for a
puppet-player."[252:E] This reference, however, is inaccurate, for
after a diligent perusal of the comedy in question, no such passage is
to be found.

[252:B] Ben Jonson's Works, fol. edit. 1640, vol. ii. p. 77. act v. sc.

[252:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 112.

[252:D] Vide Malone on the Chronological Order of Shakspeare's Plays.
Reed's Shakspeare, vol. 2. p. 304.

[252:E] Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, p. 150, note b.

[253:A] Chalmers's Supplemental Apology, p. 323, note _s_.

[253:B] Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, p. 20.

[253:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 304, and Chalmers's Apology, p.
324, note.

[254:A] Athenæ Oxon. vol. ii. p. 812.

[254:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 124.

[254:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 16.

[254:D] They were given him by Endymion Porter, the King's servant.

[254:E] Biographical History of England, vol. ii. p. 399, 8vo. edit. of

[255:A] Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, p. 20, and Heath's Description of
Cornwall, 1750.

[255:B] "About the year 750, Winifrid, or Boniface, a native of
England, and archbishop of Mons, acquaints Ethelbald, a king of
Kent, that he has sent him, one hawk, two falcons and two shields.
And Hedilbert, a king of the Mercians, requests the same archbishop
Winifrid to send him two falcons which have been trained to kill
cranes. See Epistol. Winifrid. (Bonifac.) Mogunt. 1605. 1629. And in
Bibl. Patr. tom. vi., and tom. xiii. p. 70."—Warton's Hist. of English
Poetry, vol. ii. p. 221.

[256:A] Jonson's Works, fol. vol. i. p. 6. act i. sc. 1.

[256:B] Brathwait's English Gentleman, 2d edit. 1633. p. 220.

[257:A] "The Booke of Faulconrie, or Hawking, for the onely delight
and pleasure of all Noblemen and Gentlemen: collected out of the best
aucthors, as wel Italians as Frenchmen, and some English practises
withall concernyng Faulconrie, the contentes whereof are to be seene
in the next page folowyng. By Geo. Turbervile, Gentleman. Nocet empta
dolore voluptas. Imprinted at London for Chr. Barker, at the signe of
the Grashoper in Paules Church-yarde, 1575." To this was added, the
"Noble Arte of Venerie or Hunting;" and a re-impression of both, "newly
revived, corrected, and augmented with many additions proper to these
present times," was published by Thomas Purfoot, in 1611.

Gervase Markham published in 1595 the edition of Dame Julyana Barne's
Treatise on Hawking and Hunting, which we have formerly noticed, and
which was first printed by Caxton, and afterwards by Winkin De Worde;
and in 1615, the first edition of his _Country Contentments_, which
contains a treatise on Hawking; a work so popular, that it reached
thirteen or fourteen editions.

Edmund Best, who trained and sold hawks, printed a treatise on Hawks
and Hawking in 1619.

[259:A] Brathwait's English Gentleman, 2d edit. 1633. p. 201-203.

[259:B] Henry Peacham, who remarks of Hawking, that it is a recreation
"very commendable and befitting a Noble or Gentleman to exercise,"
adds, that "by the Canon Law, Hawking was forbidden unto Clergie." The
Compleat Gentleman, 2d. edit. p. 212, 213.

[260:A] Vide Quaternio, or a Fourefold Way to a Happie Life, set forth
in a Dialogue betweene a Countryman and a Citizen, a Divine and a
Lawyer. Per Tho. Nash, Philopolitean, 1633.

[260:B] English Gentleman, p. 200.

[262:A] Quaternio, 1633. It is, perhaps, scarcely necessary to add,
that the writer of this work must not be confounded with Thos. Nash the
author of _Pierce Penniless_, who died before 1606.

[262:B] To _bind with_ is to _tire_ or _seize_.—Gentleman's Recreation.

[263:A] _To cancelier._ "Canceller is when a high-flown hawk in her
stooping, turneth two or three times upon the wing, to recover herself
before she seizeth her prey."—Gentleman's Recreation.

[263:B] Gifford's Massinger, vol. iv. p. 136, 137.—The _Guardian_,
from which this passage is taken, was licensed in October 1633.

[264:A] Dibdin's Typographical Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 57, 58.

[264:B] Hall's Life of Henry VIII. sub an. xvj.

[265:A] Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk.

[265:B] Anonymous MS., entitled "Merry Passages and Jeasts." Bibl.
Harl. 6395. Art. cccliv.

[265:C] Merry Passages and Jeasts, art. ccxxiii.

[266:A] The Falconer was sometimes denominated the _Ostringer_ or
Sperviter: "they be called Ostringers," says Markham, "which are the
keepers of Goshawkes or Tercelles, and those which keepe Sparrow-hawkes
or Muskets are called _Sperviters_, and those which keepe any other
kinde of hawke being long-winged are termed _Falconers_." Gentleman's
Academie or Booke of S. Alban's, fol. 8.

[266:B] Satyrical Essayes, Characters, &c., by John Stephens, 1615,
16mo. 1st edit.

[267:A] "All hawks," says Markham, "generally are _manned_ after one
manner, that is to say, by watching and keeping them from sleep, by
a continuall carrying them upon your fist, and by a most familiar
stroaking and playing with them, with the wing of a dead fowl, or such
like, and by often gazing and looking them in the face, with a loving
and gentle countenance, and so making them acquainted with the man.

"After your hawks are manned, you shall bring them to the _Lure_[267:D]
by easie degrees, as first, making them jump unto the fist, after fall
upon the lure, then come to the voice, and lastly, to know the voice
and lure so perfectly, that either upon the sound of the one, sight of
the other, she will presently come in, and be most obedient; which may
easily be performed, by giving her reward when she doth your pleasure,
and making her fast when she disobeyeth: short wing'd hawks shall be
called to the fist only, and not to the lure; neither shall you use
unto them the loudnesse and variety of voice, which you do to the long
winged hawks, but only bring them to the fist by chiriping your lips
together, or else by the whistle." Countrey Contentments, 11th edit. p.

[267:B] Country Contentments, p. 29.

[267:C] Though it sometimes appears that the jesses were made of silk.

[267:D] An object stuffed like that kind of bird which the hawk was
designed to pursue. The use of the _lure_ was to tempt him back after
he had flown.—Steevens.

[268:A] "These observations are taken from 'The Boke of Saint Albans;'
a subsequent edition says, 'at least a note under.'"[268:D]

[268:B] "I am told, that silver being mixed with the metal,
when the bells are cast, adds much to the sweetness of the sound; and
hence probably the allusion of Shakspeare, when he says,

    'How silver sweet sound lovers tongues by night.'"

[268:C] Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, p. 28.

[268:D] This subsequent edition, to which Mr. Strutt alludes, is
probably that by Gervase Markham, who tells us under the head of
"Hawkes belles:" "The bells which your hawke shal weare, looke in any
wise that they be not too heavy, whereby they overloade hir, neither
that one be heavier than an other, but both of like weight: looke also,
that they be well sounding and shrill, yet not both of one sound, _but
one at least a note under the other_." He adds "of spar-hawkes belles
there is choice enough, and the charge little, by reason that the store
thereof is great. But for goshawks sometimes belles of Millaine were
supposed to bee the best, and undoubtedly they be excellent, for that
they are sounded with silver, and the price of them is thereafter, but
there be _now_," he observes, "used belles out of the lowe Countries
which are approoved to be _passing good_, for they are principally
_sorted_, they are well sounded, and sweet of ringing, with a pleasant
shrilnesse, and excellently well lasting." Gentleman's Academie, fol.

[269:A] These technical terms may admit of some explanation, from the
following passage in Markham's edition of the Booke of St. Alban's,
1595, where speaking of the fowl being found in a river or pit, he
adds, "if shee (the hawk) nyme or take the further side of the river
or pit from you, then she slaieth the foule at _fere juttie_: but if
she kill it on that side that you are on yourselfe; as many times
it chanceth, then you shall say shee killed the foule at the _jutty
ferry_: if your hawke nime the foule aloft, you shal say she tooke it
_at the mount_. If you see store of mallards separate from the river
and feeding in the fielde, if your hawke flee covertly under hedges,
or close by the ground, by which means she nymeth one of them before
they can rise, you shall say, that foule was killed _at the querre_."
Gentleman's Academie, fol. 12.

[270:A] Ancient British Drama, vol. ii. p. 436.

[270:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xix. p. 387. Act iii. sc. 3.

[270:C] Ibid., vol. v. p. 339. Act iii. sc. 1.

[270:D] Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, fol. 8th edit. p. 152.

[271:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 135. Act iv. sc. 1.

[271:B] Ibid. vol. xx. p. 147. Act iii. sc. 2.

[271:C] Ibid. p. 93. Act ii. sc. 2.

[271:D] Ibid. vol. v. p. 126. Act iii. sc. 3.

[271:E] Fairy Queen, book i. cant. 11. stan. 34. "Eyes, or nias," says
Mr. Douce, "is a term borrowed from the French _niais_, which means
any young bird in the nest, _avis in nido_. It is the first of five
several names by which a falcon is called during its first year."
Illustrations, vol. i. p. 74.

[272:A] Censura Literaria, vol. x. p. 231.

[273:A] Complete Gentleman, 2nd edit., p. 212, 213.

[273:B] Dekkar's Villanies discovered by lanthorne and candle-light,
&c. 1616.

[274:A] Vide Warton's Hist. of English Poetry, vol. ii. p. 221. note.

[274:B] MS. Cotton Library, Vespasianus, B. 12.

[274:C] MS. Digb. 182. Bibl. Bodl. Warton, vol. ii. p. 221. note m.

[275:A] The substance of this account is taken from _The Maistre of the
Game_, written for the use of Prince Henry.

[276:A] Vide Censura Literaria, vol. x. p. 237, 238.

[276:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xx. p. 173. Act iii. sc. 5.

[276:C] In a work entitled "A Briefe Discourse of the true (but
neglected) use of Charact'ring the degrees by their perfection,
imperfection, and diminution, in measurable musicke, against the
common practice and custome of these times. Examples whereof are
exprest in the harmony of 4 voyces, concerning the pleasure of 5 usuall
Recreations. 1. Hunting. 2. Hawking. 3. Dauncing. 4. Drinking. 5.
Enamouring. By Thomas Ravenscroft, Bachelar of Musicke. London, printed
by Edw. Allde for Tho. Adams, 1614. Cum privilegio Regali, 4to."

Puttenham refers to one Gray as the author of this ballad, who was
in good estimation, he says, with King Henry, "and afterwards with
the Duke of Sommerset Protectour, for making certaine merry ballades,
whereof one chiefly was, _The hunte it_ (is) _up_, the hunte is up." P.

Ritson refers to another ballad, as the prototype of Shakspeare's line,
which, he says, is very old, and commences thus:—

    "The hunt is up, the hunt is up,
     And now it is almost day;
     And he that's a bed with another man's wife,
     It's time to get him away."
       Remarks critical and illustrative, &c., 1783, p. 183.

[278:A] Of the language formerly used by the huntsman to his dogs, a
very curious description is given by Markham, in his modernised edition
of the Booke of St. Albans, 1595.

"When the Huntsman," says he, "commeth to the kennell in the morning
to couple up his hounds, and shall _jubet_ once or twice to awake the
dogs: opening the kennell doore, the Huntsman useth some gentle rating,
lest in their hasty comming forth they should hurt one another: to
which the Frenchman useth this worde, _Arere, Arere_, and we, _sost,
ho ho ho ho_, once or twice redoubling the same, coupling them as they
come out of the kennell. And being come into the field, and having
uncoupled, the Frenchman useth, _hors de couple avant avant_, onse or
twise with _soho_ three times together: wee use to _jubet_ once or
twice to the dogges, crying, _a traile a traile, there dogges there_,
and the rather to make the dogs in trailing to hold close together
striking uppon some Brake crie _soho_. And if the hounds have had rest,
and being over lustie, doe beginne to fling away, the Frenchmen use to
crie, _swef ames swef_, redoubling the same, with _Arere ames ho_: nowe
we to the same purpose use to say, _sost ho, heere againe ho_, doubling
the same, sometimes calling them backe againe with _jubet_ or hallow:
poynting with your hunting staffe upon the ground, saying _soho_.

"And if some one of the hounds light upon a pure scent, so that by the
manner of his eager spending you perceive it is very good, yet shall
the same hounds crying, _there, now there_: and to put the rest of the
crie in to him, you shall crie, _ho avant avant, list a Talbot, list
list there_. To which the French man useth, _Oyes a Talbot le vailant
oyes oyes, trove le coward_, in the same manner with little difference.
And if you find by your hounds where a Hare hath beene at relefe, if
it be in the time of greene corne, and if your hounds spend uppon
the troile merily, and make a goodly crie, then shall the Huntsman
blow three motes with his horne, which hee may sundry times use with
discretion, when he seeth the houndes have made away: A double, and
make on towards the seate; now if it be within some field or pasture
where the Hare hath beene at relefe, let the Huntsman cast a ring with
his houndes to finde where she hath gone out, which if the houndes
light uppon, he shall crie, _There boyes there, that tat tat, hoe
hicke, hicke, hicke avant, list to him list_, and if they chance by
their brain sicknesse to overshoote it, he shall call to his hounds,
_ho againe ho_, doubling the same twice. And if undertaking it againe,
and making it good, hee shall cheare his hounds: _there, to him there,
thats he, that tat tat_, blowing a mote. And note, that this word
_soho_ is generally used at the view of any beast of Chase or Venerie:
but indeede the word is properly _saho_, and not _soho_, but for the
better pronuntiation and fulnes of the same we say _soho_ not _saho_.
Now the hounds running in full chase, the Frenchman useth to say, _ho
ho_, or _swef alieu douce alieu_, and wee imitating them say, _There
boies, there avant there, to him there_, which termes are in deede
derived from their language."—Gentleman's Academie, fol. 32, 33. These
appear to be the terms in use at the close of the sixteenth century;
for he afterwards mentions that the "olde and antient Huntsmen had
divers termes" which were not in his time "very needefull."

[280:A] Peck's Desiderata Curiosa, vol. ii. p. 164.

[280:B] Antiquarian Repertory, vol. i. p. 27.

[280:C] To take the _assay_ or _say_, was to draw the knife along
the belly of the deer, in order to ascertain how fat he was, and the
operation was begun at the brisket.

[281:A] Chaloner's Prayze of Follie, 1577. The whole process of
"undoing the Hart," may be seen in Markham's "Gentlemans Academie,"
fol. 35.

[281:B] Jonson apud Whalley, act i. sc. 6.

[281:C] Alluding to the Book of St. Albans, republished, under this
title, in 1595, by Gervase Markham.

[283:A] Satyrical Essayes, &c. by John Stephens, 1615.

[284:A] Countrey Contentments, 1615.—11th edit. 1683, p. 7-9.

[284:B] _Flews_, the large chaps of a hound.

[284:C] _Sanded_, that is, of a sandy colour, the true denotement of a

[284:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 449-452, Midsummer-Night's
Dream, act iv. sc. 1.

[285:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xix. p. 60. Act ii. sc. 2.

[285:B] Nichols's Progresses of Elizabeth, vol. i. Laneham's Letter, p.
12, original edition, p. 17, 18.

[286:A] Nichols's Progresses, vol. ii.

[286:B] "The true narration of the Entertainment of his Royall
Majestie, from the time of his departure from Edenbrough, till his
receiving at London; with all or the most special occurrences. Together
with the names of those gentlemen whom his Majestie honoured with
Knighthood." At London printed by Thomas Creede, for Thomas Millington,
1603. 4to.

[287:A] Memoirs, p. 35.

[287:B] Wilson's History of Great Britain, p. 106. fol. London, 1653.

[287:C] Osborn's Works, 8vo. ninth edit. 1689, p. 444.

[288:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. viii. p. 183. Act v. sc. 4.

[288:B] Ibid. vol. vi. p. 68.

[288:C] Chalmers's English Poets, vol. iv. p. 368. Poly-Olbion, song

[288:D] Chalmers's English Poets, vol. iv. p. 458. Nymphal vi.

[288:E] New Shreds of the Old Snare, by John Gee, 4to. p. 23. Vide
Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vi. p. 68. note 9.

[289:A] Harleian MS. 2281.

[289:B] Jewel for Gentrie, Lond. 1614.

[289:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xv. p. 24. Henry VIII. act i. sc. 1.

[290:A] Mr. Haslewood, after much research, attributes to the pen of
this ingenious lady only the following portions of De Worde's edit. of

  1. A small portion of the treatise on Hawking.
  2. The treatise upon Hunting.
  3. A short list of the beasts of chace.
  4. And another short one of beasts and fowls.

The public are much indebted to this elegant antiquary for an admirable
fac-simile reprint of De Worde's rare and interesting volume.

[290:B] Burton has introduced, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, though
without acknowledgment, the very words of this quotation.—Vide p. 169.
8th edit.

[291:A] The titles of these works are—"A Booke of Fishing with Hooke
and Line, and of all other Instruments thereunto belonginge, made by
L. M. 4to. Lond. 1590:" the 4th edit. of Mascall's Book, was reprinted
in 1606—"Certain Experiments concerning Fish and Fruit, practised
by John Taverner, Gentleman, and by him published for the benefit of
others." 4to. London (printed for Wm. Ponsonby) 1600.—It would appear,
from a note in Walton's Complete Angler, that there was an impression
of Taverner's book of the same date with a different title, namely,
"Approved experiments touching Fish and Fruit, to be regarded by the
lovers of Angling."—Vide Bagster's edit. 1808. Life of Walton, p. 14.

A third was designated "The Pleasures of Princes, or Good Men's
Recreations: containing a Discourse of the general Art of Fishing
with the Angle, or otherwise: and of all the hidden Secrets belonging
thereunto. 4to. Lond. 1614."

[293:A] This beautiful encomium has been quoted in Walton's Complete
Angler, with many alterations, and some of them much for the worse; for
instance, the very opening of the quotation is thus given:—

    "Let me live harmlessly; and near the brink
       Of Trent or Avon _have_ a dwelling-place—

and the conclusion of the fourth stanza:—

    "The raging sea, beneath the vallies low,
     Where lakes, and rills, and rivulets _do_ flow."
                                     Bagster's edit. p. 123.

[293:B] Gervase Markham, in his _Art of Angling_, not only recommends
the same colours, but adds a caution which marks the rural dress of the
day: "Let your apparel," says he, "be close to your body, without any
_new fashioned flashes, or hanging sleeves, waving loose, like sails
about you_." P. 59.

[293:C] The first edition of the Countrey Contentments, 1615, does
not possess the _Art of Angling_; it probably appeared in the second,
a year or two after; for the work was so popular that it rapidly ran
through several impressions: the fifth is dated 1633.

[296:A] Countrey Contentments, 11th edit. p. 59-62.

[296:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vi. p. 78. Much Ado about Nothing, act
iii. sc 1.

[297:A] To this effect, likewise, Col. Venables gives a decided
testimony; for in the preface to his "Experienc'd Angler," first
published in 1662, he declares, "if example (which is the best proof)
may sway any thing, I know no sort of men less subject to melancholy
than anglers, many have cast off other recreations and embraced it,
but I never knew any angler wholly cast off (though occasions might
interrupt) their affections to their beloved recreation;" and he adds,
"if this art may prove a noble brave rest to my mind, 'tis all the
satisfaction I covet."

[297:B] Walton's Complete Angler apud Bagster, p. 122.—"Let me take
this opportunity," says Mr. Bowles, "of recommending the amiable and
venerable Isaac Walton's Complete Angler; a work the most singular
of its kind, breathing the very spirit of contentment, of quiet, and
unaffected philanthropy, and interspersed with some beautiful relics of
poetry, old songs, and ballads." Bowles's Pope, vol. i. p. 135.

[297:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 512. Cymbeline, act iii. sc.

[298:A] Anatomy of Melancholy, p. 170. part ii. sat. 2. Mem. iv.

[298:B] Chalmers's English Poets, vol. v. p. 275. book iv. satire 3.

[298:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xi. p. 381. Henry IV. part i. act iv.
sc. 1.

[299:A] The title is as follows: "A Discource of Horsemanshippe:
wherein the breeding and ryding of Horses for service, in a breefe
manner is more methodically sette downe then hath been heretofore, &c.
Also the manner to chuse, trayne, ryde and dyet, both Hunting-horses
and _Running-horses_: with all the secretes thereto belonging
discovered. _An arte never hearetofore written by any author._
Bramo assai, poco spero, nulla chiegio." At London. Printed by John
Charlewood for Richard Smith, 1593, 4to. Dedicated "To the Right
Worshipfull, and his singular good father, Ma. Rob. Markham, of Cotham,
in the County of Nottingham, Esq. by Jervis Markham. Licensed 29
January, 1592-3." Vide Herbert, v. 2. 1102.

[300:A] Cavelarice, or the arte and knowledge belonging to the
Horse-ryder, 1607. Book ii. chap. 24.

[301:A] Survey of London, 4to. 1618, p. 145.

[301:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. viii. p. 29.

[301:C] Vide Pluvinel sur l'exercise de monter a cheval, part iii. p.
177. et Traite des Tournois, Joustes, &c. par Claude Fran. Menestrier,
p. 264.

[303:A] Nichols's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, vol. i. and of
Laneham's Letter, p. 30-32.

[304:A] Natural Hist. of Oxfordshire, p. 200.

[304:B] Censura Literaria, vol. viii. p. 233, 234.

[304:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xx. p. 111. Act ii. sc. 4.

[305:A] Anatomy of Melancholy, 8th edit. p. 170.

[305:B] Carew's Survey of Cornwall, 1602, book i. p. 74.

[306:A] Vide Todd's Milton, 2d. edit. vol. vi. p. 192.

[306:B] Natural History of Staffordshire, p. 383.

[307:A] Sports and Pastimes, p. 264.

[307:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 22.

[307:C] Ibid. vol. v. p. 23. note 2.

[307:D] Douce's Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 454, 455.

[308:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 96.

[308:B] Whalley's Works of Ben Jonson, vol. i.

[308:C] Vide Sports and Pastimes, p. 267. edit. of 1810.

[308:D] Henry V., act v. sc. 2.

[308:E] Lear, act iv. sc. 6.

[308:F] Second Part of Henry IV., act ii. sc. 4.

[308:G] Love's Labour Lost, act v. sc. 1. and Second Part of Henry IV.,
act ii. sc. 4.

[308:H] Hamlet, act v. sc. 1.

[308:I] Cymbeline, act v. sc, 3.

[308:J] Anthony and Cleopatra, act iv. sc. 10.

[308:K] Midsummer-Night's Dream, act ii. sc. 2.

[308:L] Much Ado about Nothing, act i. sc. 1.

[308:M] Midsummer-Night's Dream, act ii. sc. 2.

[309:A] Sports and Pastimes, p. 338.

[309:B] Annalia Dubrensia, 1636, c. iii.

[310:A] Cantus of Thomas Morley, the first booke of ballets to five

[310:B] Massinger's Works, by Gifford, vol. i. p. 104.

[311:A] His daughter.

[311:B] "Barley-breake, or a Warning for Wantons. Written by W. N.,
Gent. Printed at London by Simon Stafford, dwelling in the Cloth-fayre,
neere the Red Lyon, 1607. 4to. 16 leaves." Vide British Bibliographer,
vol. i. p. 65.—This poem has been attributed, notwithstanding the
initials, to Nicholas Breton.

[312:A] Jamieson's Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language,

[312:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 248.



The popular creed, during the age of Shakspeare, was perhaps more
extended and systematised than in any preceding or subsequent period
of our history. For this effect we are indebted, in a great measure,
to the credulity and superstition of James the First, the publication
of whose Demonology rendered a profession in the belief of sorcery and
witchcraft a matter of fashion and even of interest; for a ready way to
the favour of this monarch was an implicit assumption of his opinions,
theological and metaphysical, as well as political.

It must not be inferred, however, that at the commencement of the
seventeenth century, the human mind was unwilling or unprepared
to shake off the load which had oppressed it for ages. Among the
enlightened classes of society, now rapidly extending throughout the
kingdom, the reception of these doctrines was rather the effect of
court example than of settled conviction; but as the vernacular bards,
and especially the dramatic, who ever hold unbounded influence over the
multitude, thought proper, and certainly, in a poetical light, with
great effect, to adopt the dogmata and machinery of James, the reign of
superstition was, for a time, not only upheld, but extended among the
inferior orders of the people.

"Every goblin of ignorance," observes Warton, speaking of this period,
"did not vanish at the first glimmerings of the morning of science.
Reason suffered a few demons still to linger, which she chose to
retain in her service under the guidance of poetry. Men believed, or
were willing to believe, that spirits were yet hovering around, who
brought with them _airs from heaven, or blasts from hell_, that the
ghost was duely released from his prison of torment at the sound of
the curfew, and that fairies imprinted mysterious circles on the turf
by moon-light. Much of this credulity was even consecrated by the name
of science and profound speculation. Prospero had not yet _broken and
buried his staff_, nor _drowned his book deeper than did ever plummet
sound_. It was now that the alchymist, and the judicial astrologer,
conducted his occult operations by the potent intercourse of some
preternatural being, who came obsequious to his call, and was bound to
accomplish his severest services, under certain conditions, and for a
limited duration of time. It was actually one of the pretended feats
of these fantastic philosophers, to evoke the queen of the Fairies in
the solitude of a gloomy grove, who, preceded by a sudden rustling of
the leaves, appeared in robes of transcendent lustre. The Shakspeare of
a more instructed and polished age would not have given us a magician
darkening the sun at noon, the sabbath of the witches, and the cauldron
of incantation."[315:A]

The history of the popular mythology, therefore, of this era, at a
time when it was cherished by the throne, and adopted, in its fullest
extent, by the greatest poetical genius which ever existed, must
necessarily occupy a large share of our attention. So extensive,
indeed, is the subject, and so full of interest and curiosity, that to
exhaust it in this division of the work, would be to encroach upon that
symmetry of plan, that relative proportion which we wish to preserve.
The four great subjects, therefore, of _Fairies_, _Witchcraft_,
_Magic_, and _Apparitions_, will be deferred to the Second Part, and
annexed as Dissertations to our remarks on the _Midsummer-Night's
Dream_, _Macbeth_, the _Tempest_, and _Hamlet_.

As a consequent of this decision, the present chapter, after noticing,
in a _general_ way, the various credulities of the country, will dwell,
at some length, on those periods of the year which have been peculiarly
devoted to superstitious rites and observances, and include the residue
of the subject under the heads of _omens_, _charms_, _sympathies_,
_cures_, and _miscellaneous superstitions_.

It is from the _Winter-Night's Conversation_ of the lower orders of the
people that we may derive, in any age, the most authentic catalogue of
its superstitions. This fearful pleasure of children and uneducated
persons, and the eager curiosity which attends it, have been faithfully
painted by Shakspeare:—

      "_Hermione._         Pray you sit by us,
    And tell's a tale.

      _Mamillius._     Merry, or sad, shall't be?

      _Her._ As merry as you will.

      _Mam._                       A sad tale's best for winter:
    I have one of sprites and goblins.

      _Her._                           Let's have that, sir.
    Come on, sit down:—Come on, and do your best
    To fright me with your sprites: you're powerful at it.

      _Mam._ There was a man,——

      _Her._                      Nay, come, sit down; then on.

      _Mam._ Dwelt by a church-yard;—I will tell it softly;
    Yon crickets shall not hear it.

      _Her._                Come on then,
    And give't in mine ear."[316:A]

For the particulars forming the subject-matter of these tales, and
for their effect on the hearers, we must have recourse to writers
contemporary with the bard, whose object it was to censure or detail
these legendary wonders. Thus Lavaterus, who wrote a book _De
Spectris_, in 1570, which was translated into English in 1572, remarks
that "if when men sit at the table, mention be made of spirits and
elves, many times wemen and children are so afrayde that they dare
scarce go out of dores alone, least they should meete wyth some evyl
thing: and if they chaunce to heare any kinde of noise, by and by they
thinke there are some spirits behynde them:" and again in a subsequent
page, "simple foolish men—imagine that there be certayne elves or
fairies of the earth, and tell many straunge and marvellous tales of
them, which they have heard of their grandmothers and mothers, howe
they have appeared unto those of the house, have done service, have
rocked the cradell, and (which is a signe of good luck) do continually
tary in the house."[317:A] He has the good sense, however, to reprobate
the then general custom, a practice which has more or less prevailed
even to our own times, of frightening children by stories and assumed
appearances of this kind. "It is a common custome," he observes, "in
many places, that at a certaine of time the yeare, one with a nette
or visarde on his face maketh Children afrayde, to the ende that ever
after they should laboure and be obediente to their Parentes: afterward
they tel them that those which they saw, were Bugs, Witches, and
Hagges, which thing they verily believe, and are commonly miserablie
afrayde. How be it, it is not expedient so to terrifie Children. For
sometimes through great feare they fall into dangerous diseases, and
in the nyght crye out, when they are fast asleep. Salomon teacheth us
to chasten children with the rod, and so to make them stand in awe: he
doth not say, we must beare them in hande they shall be devoured of
Bugges, Hags of the night, and such lyke monsters."[317:B] But it is to
Reginald Scot that we are indebted for the most curious and extensive
enumeration of these fables which haunted our progenitors from the
cradle to the grave. "In our childhood," says he, "our mother's maids
have so terrified us with an _ouglie divell_ having hornes on his head,
fier in his mouth, and a taile in his breech, eies like a bason, fanges
like a dog, clawes like a beare, a skin like a Niger, and a voice
roaring like a lion, whereby we start and are afraid when we heare one
crie Bough: and they have so fraid us with _bull-beggers_, _spirits_,
_witches_, _urchens_, _elves_, _hags_, _fairies_, _satyrs_, _pans_,
_faunes_, _syrens_, _kit with the can'sticke_, _tritons_, _centaurs_,
_dwarfes_, _giants_, _imps_, _calcars_, _conjurors_, _nymphes_,
_changlings_, _Incubus_, _Robin good-fellowe_, the _spoorne_, the
_mare_, the _man in the oke_, the _hell-waine,_ the _fierdrake_, the
_puckle Tom thombe_, _hob gobblin_, _Tom tumbler_, _boneless_, and such
other bugs, that we are afraid of our own shadowes: in so much as some
never feare the divell, but in a darke night; and then a polled sheepe
is a perillous beast, and manie times is taken for our father's soule,
speciallie in a churchyard, where a right hardie man heretofore scant
durst passe by night, but his haire would stand upright."[318:A]

That this mode of passing away the time, "the long solitary winter
nights," was as much in vogue in 1617 as in 1570 and 1580, is apparent
from Burton, who reckons among the _ordinary recreations_ of _winter_,
tales of _giants_, _dwarfs_, _witches_, _fayries_, _goblins_, and

The predilection which existed, during this period of our annals
for the marvellous, the terrible, and romantic, especially among
the peasantry, has been noticed by several of our best writers.
Addison, in reference to the genius of Shakspeare for the wild and
wonderful in poetry, remarks, that "our forefathers loved to astonish
themselves with the apprehensions of witchcraft, prodigies, charms,
and inchantments. There was not a village in England that had not a
ghost in it; the churchyards were all haunted; every large common had
a circle of fairies belonging to it; and there was scarce a shepherd
to be met with who had not seen a spirit[318:C];" and Mr. Grose, after
enumerating several popular superstitions, extends the subject in a
very entertaining manner. "In former times," says he, "these notions
were so prevalent, that it was deemed little less than atheism to doubt
them; and in many instances the terrors caused by them embittered the
lives of a great number of persons of all ages; by degrees almost
shutting them out of their own houses, and deterring them from going
from one village to another after sun-set. The room in which the head
of a family had died, was for a long time untenanted; particularly if
they died without a will, or were supposed to have entertained any
particular religious opinions. But if any disconsolate old maiden,
or love-crossed bachelor, happened to dispatch themselves in their
garters, the room where the deed was perpetrated was rendered for ever
after uninhabitable, and not unfrequently was nailed up. If a drunken
farmer, returning from market, fell from Old Dobbin and broke his
neck,—or a carter, under the same predicament, tumbled from his cart
or waggon, and was killed by it,—that spot was ever after haunted and
impassable: in short, there was scarcely a bye-lane or cross-way but
had its ghost, who appeared in the shape of a headless cow or horse; or
clothed all in white, glared with its saucer eyes over a gate or stile.
Ghosts of superior rank, when they appeared abroad, rode in coaches
drawn by six headless horses, and driven by a headless coachman and
postilions. Almost every ancient manor-house was haunted by some one
at least of its former masters or mistresses, where, besides divers
other noises, that of telling money was distinctly heard: and as for
the churchyards, the number of ghosts that walked there, according to
the village computation, almost equalled the living parishioners: to
pass them at night, was an achievement not to be attempted by any one
in the parish, the sextons excepted; who perhaps being particularly
privileged, to make use of the common expression, never saw any thing
worse than themselves."[319:A]

Of these superstitions, as forming the subject of _a country
conversation in a winter's evening_, a very interesting detail has been
given by Mr. Bourne; the picture was drawn about a hundred years ago;
but, though even then partially applicable, may be considered as a
faithful general representation of the two preceding centuries.

"Nothing is commoner in _Country Places_," says this historian of
credulity, "than for a whole family in a _Winter's Evening_, to sit
round the fire, and tell stories of _apparitions_ and _ghosts_. Some of
them have seen spirits in the shapes of cows, and dogs and horses; and
some have seen even the devil himself, with a cloven foot.

"Another part of this conversation generally turns upon _Fairies_.
These, they tell you, have frequently been heard and seen; nay that
there are some still living who were stolen away by them, and confined
seven years. According to the description they give of them, who
pretend to have seen them, they are in the shape of men, exceeding
little: They are always clad in green, and frequent the woods and
fields; when they make cakes (which is a work they have been often
heard at) they are very noisy; and when they have done, they are full
of mirth and pastime. But generally they dance in Moon-light when
mortals are asleep, and not capable of seeing them, as may be observed
on the following morn; their dancing places being very distinguishable.
For as they dance hand in hand, and so make a _circle_ in their dance,
so next day there will be seen _rings_ and _circles_ on the grass.

"Another tradition they hold, and which is often talked of, is, that
there are particular places allotted to spirits to walk in. Thence it
was that formerly, such frequent reports were abroad of this and that
particular place being haunted by a spirit, and that the common people
say now and then, such a place is dangerous to be passed through at
night, because a spirit walks there. Nay, they'll further tell you,
that some spirits have lamented the hardness of their condition, in
being obliged to walk in cold and uncomfortable places, and have
therefore desired the person who was so hardy as to speak to them, to
gift them with a warmer walk, by some well grown _hedge_, or in some
_shady vale_, where they might be shelter'd from the rain and wind.

"The last topick of this conversation I shall take notice of, shall be
the tales of _haunted_ houses. And indeed it is not to be wondered at,
that this is never omitted. For formerly almost every place had a house
of this kind. If a house was seated on some melancholy place, or built
in some old romantic manner; or if any particular accident had happened
in it, such as murder, sudden death, or the like, to be sure that house
had a mark set on it, and was afterwards esteemed the habitation of a
ghost. In talking upon this point, they generally show the occasion of
the house's being _haunted_, the merry pranks of the spirit, and how it
was laid. Stories of this kind are infinite, and there are few villages
which have not either had such an house in it, or near it."[321:A]

The quotations which we have now given from writers contemporary with,
and subsequent to, Shakspeare, will point out, in a _general_ way, the
prevalent superstitions of the _country_ at this period, and the topics
which were usually discussed round the fire-side of the cottage or
manorial hall, when the blast blew keen on a December's night, and the
faggot's blaze was seen, by fits, illumining the rafter'd roof.

The progress of science, of literature, and rational theology, has,
in a very great degree, dissipated these illusions; but there still
lingers, in hamlets remote from general intercourse, a somewhat similar
spirit of credulity, where the legend of unearthly agency is yet
listened to with eager curiosity and fond belief. These vestiges of
superstitions which were once universally prevalent, have been seized
upon with avidity by many modern poets, and form some of the most
striking passages in their works. More particularly the ghostly and
traditionary lore of the cotter's winter-night, has been a favourite
subject with them. Thus Thomson tells us, that

    ————— "the village rouzes up the fire,
    While well attested, and as well believed,
    Heard solemn, goes the goblin-story round;
    Till superstitious horror creeps o'er all:"[321:B]

and Akenside, still more poetically, that

    —————————— "by night
    The village-matron round the blazing hearth
    Suspends the infant-audience with her tales,
    Breathing astonishment! of witching rhymes,
    And evil spirits; of the death-bed call
    Of him who robb'd the widow, and devour'd
    The orphan's portion; of unquiet souls
    Risen from the grave to ease the heavy guilt
    Of deeds in life conceal'd; of shapes that walk
    At dead of night, and clank their chains, and wave
    The torch of hell around the murderer's bed.
    At every solemn pause the crowd recoil,
    Gazing each other speechless, and congeal'd
    With shivering sighs: till eager for th' event,
    Around the beldame all erect they hang,
    Each trembling heart with grateful terrors quell'd."[322:A]

The lamented Kirke White has also happily introduced a similar picture;
having described the day-revels of a Whitsuntide wake, he adds,

    ——————————— "then at eve
    Commence the harmless rites and auguries;
    And many a tale of ancient days goes round.
    They tell of wizard seer, whose potent spells
    Could hold in dreadful thrall the labouring moon,
    Or draw the fix'd stars from their eminence,
    And still the midnight tempest.—Then anon,
    Tell of uncharnel'd spectres, seen to glide
    Along the lone wood's unfrequented path,
    Startling the nighted traveller; while the sound
    Of undistinguished murmurs, heard to come
    From the dark centre of the deep'ning glen,
    Struck on his frozen ear:"[322:B]

and lastly Mr. Scott, in his highly interesting poem entitled Rokeby,
speaking of the tales of superstition, adds,

    "When Christmas logs blaze high and wide,
     Such wonders speed the festal tide,
     While Curiosity and Fear,
     Pleasure and pain, sit crouching near,
     Till childhood's cheek no longer glows,
     And village-maidens lose the rose.
     The thrilling interest rises higher,
     The circle closes nigh and nigher,
     And shuddering glance is cast behind,
     As louder moans the wintery wind."
                                           Cant. ii. st. 10.

After this brief outline of the common superstitions of the country, as
they existed in the days of Shakspeare, and as they still linger among
us, we shall proceed, in conformity with our plan, to notice those
Days which have been peculiarly devoted to superstitious rites and

In entering upon this subject, however, it will be necessary to remark,
that as several of these days are still kept by the vulgar in the
same manner, and with the same spirit of credulity which subsisted
in the reign of Elizabeth, it would be superfluous to enter at large
into a detail of their ceremonies, and that to mark the coincidence
of usage, occurring at these periods, will be nearly all that can be
deemed requisite. Thus on _St. Paul's Day_, on _Candlemas Day_, and
on _St. Swithin's Day_, the prognosticators of weather still find as
much employment, and as much credit as ever.[323:A] _St. Mark's Day_
is still beheld with dread, as fixing the destinies of life and death,
and _Childermas_ still keeps in countenance the doctrine of lucky and
unlucky days.

A similarity nearly equal may be observed with regard to the rites
of lovers on ST. VALENTINE'S DAY. The tradition, that birds choosing
their mates on this day, occasioned the custom of drawing valentines,
has been the opinion of our poets from Chaucer to the present hour.
Shakspeare alludes to it in the following passage:

    "Good-morrow friends. Saint Valentine is past;
     _Begin these wood-birds but to couple now_?"[324:A]

The ceremony of this day, however, has been attributed to various
sources beside the rural tradition just mentioned. The legend itself
of St. Valentine, a presbyter of the church, who was beheaded under
the Emperor Claudius, we are assured by Mr. Brand, contains nothing
which could give rise to the custom; but it has been supposed by some
to have originated from an observance peculiar to carnival time, which
occurred about this very period. It was usual, on this occasion, for
vast numbers of knights to visit the different courts of Europe, where
they entertained the ladies with pageantry and tournaments. Each lady,
at these magnificent feasts, selected a knight, who engaged to serve
her for a whole year, and to perform whatever she chose to command. One
of the never-failing consequences of this engagement, was an injunction
to employ his muse in the celebration of his mistress.

Menage, in his Etymological Dictionary, has accounted for the term
_Valentine_, by stating that Madame Royale, daughter of Henry the
Fourth of France, having built a palace near Turin, which, in honour
of the Saint, then in high esteem, she called _the Valentine_, at the
first entertainment which she gave in it, was pleased to order that the
ladies should receive their lovers _for the year_ by lots, reserving to
herself the privilege of being independent of chance, and of _choosing_
her own partner. At the various balls which this gallant princess
gave, during the year, it was directed that each lady should receive
a nosegay from her lover, and that, at every tournament, the knight's
trappings for his horse should be furnished by his allotted mistress,
with this proviso, that the prize obtained should be hers. This custom,
says Menage, occasioned the parties to be called _Valentines_.

Mr. Brand, in his observations on Bourne's Antiquities, thinks, that
the usages of this day are the remains of an antient superstition in
the Church of Rome, of choosing _patrons_ for the year ensuing, at
this season; "and that, because ghosts were thought to walk on the
night of this day, or about this time[325:A];" but Mr. Douce, with
more probability, considers them as a relic of paganism. "It was the
practice in ancient Rome," he observes, "during a great part of the
month of February, to celebrate the _Lupercalia_, which were feasts in
honour of Pan and Juno, whence the latter deity was named _februata_,
_februalis_, and _februlla_. On this occasion, amidst a variety of
ceremonies, the names of young women were put into a box, from which
they were drawn by the men as chance directed. The pastors of the early
Christian church, who by every possible means endeavoured to eradicate
the vestiges of Pagan superstitions, and chiefly by some commutation
of their forms, substituted, in the present instance, the names of
particular saints instead of those of the women: and as the festival
of the _Lupercalia_ had commenced about the middle of February, they
appear to have chosen Saint Valentine's day for celebrating the new
feast, because it occurred nearly at the same time. This is, in part,
the opinion of a learned and rational compiler of the lives of the
saints, the Reverend Alban Butler. It should seem, however, that it
was utterly impossible to extirpate altogether any ceremony to which
the common people had been much accustomed; a fact which it were easy
to prove in tracing the origin of various other popular superstitions:
and accordingly the outline of the ancient ceremonies was preserved,
but modified by some adaptation to the Christian system. It is
reasonable to suppose that the above practice of choosing mates would
gradually become reciprocal in the sexes; and that all persons so
chosen would be called _Valentines_, from the day on which the ceremony
took place."[326:A]

The modes of ascertaining the _Valentine_ for the ensuing year, were
nearly the same in Shakspeare's age as at the present period; they
consisted either in drawing lots on Valentine-eve, or in considering
the first person whom you met early on the following morning, as the
destined object. In the former case the names of a certain number
of one sex, were, by an equal number of the other, put into a vase;
and then every one drew a name; which for the time was termed their
_Valentine_, and was considered as predictive of their future fortune
in the nuptial state; in the second there was usually some little
contrivance adopted, in order that the favoured object, when such
existed, might be the first seen. To this custom Shakspeare refers,
when he represents Ophelia, in her distraction, singing,

    "Good morrow, 'tis Saint Valentine's day,
       All in the morning betime,
     And I a maid at your window,
       To be your Valentine."[326:B]

The practice of addressing verses, and sending presents, to the person
chosen, has been continued from the days of James I., in which the
gifts of Valentines have been noticed by Moresin[327:A], to modern
times; and we may add a trait, not now observed, perhaps, on the
authority of an old English ballad, in which the lasses are directed to
pray _cross-legged_ to Saint _Valentine_, for good luck.[327:B]

It was a usage of the sixteenth century, in its object laudable
and useful, for the inhabitants of towns and villages, during the
summer-season, to meet after sunset, in the streets, and for the
wealthier sort to recreate themselves and their poorer friends with
banquets and bonefires. Of this custom Stowe has left us a pleasing
account:—"In the moneths of June, and July," he relates, "on the
Vigiles of festivall dayes, and on the same festivall dayes in the
evenings, after the sun-setting, there were usually made bonefires
in the streets, every man bestowing wood or labour towards them. The
wealthier sort also before their dores, neere to the said bonefires,
would set out tables on the vigiles, furnished with sweet bread,
and good drink, and on the festivall dayes with meates and drinks
plentifully, whereunto they would invite their neighbours and
passengers also to sit, and be merry with them in great familiarity,
praysing God for his benefits bestowed on them. These were called
bonefires, as well of amity amongst neighbours, that beeing before at
controversie, were there by the labour of others reconciled, and made
of bitter enemies, loving friends; as also for the virtue that a great
fire hath, to purge the infection of the ayre."[328:A] These rites
were, however, more particularly practised on MIDSUMMER-EVE, the Vigil
of Saint John the Baptist, a period of the year to which our ancestors
paid singular attention, and combined with it several superstitious
observances. "On the Vigill of Saint John Baptist," continues Stowe,
"every man's dore beeing shadowed with greene Birch, long Fennell,
Saint John's Wort, Orpin, white Lillies, and such like, garnished upon
with Garlands of beautifull flowers, had also Lamps of glasse, with
Oyle burning in them all the night, some hung out branches of yron
curiously wrought, containing hundreds of Lamps lighted at once, which
made a goodly shew."[328:B]

Of some of the superstitions connected with this Eve, Barnabe Googe
has left us an account in his translation of Neogeorgius, which was
published, and dedicated to Queen Elizabeth, in 1570:—

    "Then doth the joyfull feast of John the Baptist take his turne,
     When bonfires great, with lofty flame, in every towne doe burne,
     And young men round about with maydes doe daunce in every street,
     With garlands wrought of mother-wort, or else of vervaine sweet,
     And many other flowers faire, with violets in their hands;
     Where as they all doe fondly thinke that whosoever stands,
     And thorow the flowers behold the flame, his eyes shall feele no
     When thus till night they daunced have, they throgh the fire amaine
     With striving mindes doe run, and all their herbs they cast
     And then, with words devout and prayers, they solemnly begin,
     Desiring God that all their illes may there confounded be;
     Whereby they thinke, through all that yeare, from agues to be

This _Midsummer-Eve Fire_ and the rites attending it, appear to be
reliques of pagan worship, for Gebelin in his _Allegories Orientales_
observes, that at the moment of the Summer Solstice the ancients, from
the most remote antiquity, were accustomed to light fires, in honour of
the New Year, which they believed to have originally commenced in fire.
These fires or Feux de joie were accompanied with vows and sacrifices
for plenty and prosperity, and with dances and leaping over the
flames, "each on his departure snatching a firebrand of greater or less
magnitude, whilst the rest was scattered to the wind, in order that it
might disperse every evil as it dispersed the ashes."[329:A]

Many other superstitions, however, than those mentioned by Googe,
were practised on this mysterious eve. To one of the most important
Shakspeare alludes in the _First Part of King Henry the Fourth_,
where Gadshill says of himself and company, "We have the receipt of
_fern-seed_, we walk _invisible_."[329:B] Jonson and Fletcher have also
ascribed the same wonderful property to this plant, the first in his
_New Inn_.

    —————— "I had
    No medicine, Sir, to go invisible,
    No _fern-seed_ in my pocket;"[329:C]

the second in the _Fair Maid of the Inn_,—

    ————— "had you Gyges' ring,
    Or the _herb_ that gives invisibility?"[329:D]

It was the belief of our credulous ancestors, that the _fern-seed_
became visible only on St. John's Eve, and at the precise moment of
the birth of the Saint; that it was under the peculiar protection of
the Queen of Faery, and that on this awful night, the most tremendous
conflicts took place, for its possession, between sorcerers and
spirits; for

    "The wond'rous one-night seeding ferne,"

as Browne calls it[330:A], was conceived not only to confer
_invisibility at pleasure_, on those who succeeded in procuring it, but
it was also esteemed of sovereign potency in the fabrication of charms
and incantations. Those, therefore, who were addicted to the arts
of magic, and possessed sufficient courage for the enterprise, were
believed to watch in solitude during this solemn period, in order that
they might seize the seed on the instant of its appearance.

The achievement, however, was accompanied with great danger; for if the
adventurer were not protected by spells of mighty power, he was exposed
to the assaults of demons and spirits, who envied him the possession
of the plant, and who generally took care that he should lose either
his life or his labour in the attempt. "A person who went to gather it,
reported that the spirits whisked by his ears, and sometimes struck his
hat, and other parts of his body; and at length, when he thought he had
got a good quantity of it, and secured it in papers and a box, when he
came home, he found both empty."[330:B]

Another superstition, of a nature highly impressive and terrible,
consists in the idea that any person fasting on _Midsummer-Eve_, and
sitting in the church-porch, will at midnight see the spirits of those
who are to die in the parish during that year, approach and knock at
the church door, precisely in the order of time in which they are
doomed to depart. It is related, by the author of _Pandemonium_, that
one of the company of watchers, on this night, having fallen into a
profound sleep, his ghost or spirit, whilst he lay in this state, was
seen by the rest of his companions, knocking at the church-door.[330:C]

Of these wild traditions of the "olden time" Collins has made a most
striking use in his Ode to Fear:—

    "Ne'er be I found, by thee o'eraw'd,
     In that thrice-hallow'd eve, abroad,
     When ghosts, as cottage-maids believe,
     Their pebbled beds permitted leave;
     And goblins haunt, from fire, or fen,
     Or mine, or flood, the walks of men!"

The observance of _Midsummer-Eve_ by rejoicings, spells, and charms,
has continued until within these fifty years, especially in Cornwall,
in the North of England, and in Scotland. Bourne, in 1725, tells us,
that "on the Eve of St. John Baptist, commonly called _Midsummer-Eve_,
it is usual in the most of country places, and also here and there in
towns and cities, for both old and young to meet together, and be merry
over a large fire, which is made in the open street. Over this they
frequently leap and play at various games, such as running, wrestling,
dancing, &c. But this is generally the exercise of the younger sort;
for the old ones, for the most part, sit by as spectators, and
enjoy themselves and their bottle. And thus they spend their time
till mid-night, and sometimes till cock-crow[331:A];" and Borlase,
in his History of Cornwall, about thirty years later, states, that
"the Cornish make bonefires in every village on the Eve of St. John
Baptist's and St. Peter's Days."[331:B]

It was a common superstition in the days of Shakspeare, and for two
centuries preceding him, that the future husband or wife might be
discovered on this Eve or on St. Agnes' night, by due fasting and by
certain ceremonies; thus, if a maiden, fasting on _Midsummer-Eve_, laid
a clean cloth at midnight, with bread, cheese, and ale, and sate down,
with the street door open, the person whom she is fated to marry will
enter the room, fill the glass, drink to her, bow and retire.[332:A]
A similar effect, as to the visionary appearance of the destined
bridegroom, was supposed to follow the sowing of hempseed on this
night, either in the field or church-yard. Mr. Strutt, depicting the
manners of the fifteenth century, has given this latter superstition,
from the mouth of an imaginary witch, in the following rhymes:—

    "Around the church see that you go,
       With kirtle white and girdle blue,
     At midnight thrice, and hempseed sow;
       Calling upon your lover true,
                 Thus shalt thou say;
       These seeds I sow: swift let them grow,
     Till he, who must my husband be,
       Shall follow me and mow:"[332:B]

a charm which appears to have been in vogue even in the time of Gay,
who, in his Shepherd's Week, makes Hobnelia say,—

    "At _eve_ last _midsummer_ no sleep I sought,
     But to the field a bag of hempseed brought;
     I scatter'd round the seed on every side,
     And three times in a trembling accent cried,
     "This hempseed with my virgin hand I sow,
     Who shall my true-love be, the crop shall mow."
     I straight look'd back, and if my eyes speak truth,
     With his keen scythe behind me came the youth."
                                         The Spell, line 27.

Another mode, which prevailed in the 16th and 17th centuries, of
procuring similar information on this festival, through the medium of
dreams, consisted in digging for what was called the plantain coal;
the search was to commence exactly at noon, and the material, when
found, to be placed on the pillow at night. Of a wild-goose expedition
of this kind Aubrey reports himself to have been a spectator. "The last
summer," says he, "on the day of St. John Baptist, 1694, I accidentally
was walking in the pasture behind Montague-house: it was twelve
o'clock. I saw there about two or three and twenty young women, most
of them well habited, on their knees, very busy, as if they had been
weeding. I could not presently learn what the matter was; at last, a
young man told me that they were looking for a coal under the root of
a plantain, to put under their heads that night, and they should dream
who would be their husbands: it was to be found that day and hour."
He adds, "the women have several magical secrets handed down to them
by tradition for this purpose, as, on St. Agnes' night, 21st January,
take a row of pins, and pull out every one one after another, saying a
paternoster, or 'our father,' sticking a pin in your sleeve, and you
will dream of him or her you shall marry[333:A];" spells to which Ben
Jonson alludes, when he says,—

    ——— "On sweet St. Agnes' night
    Please you with the promis'd sight;
    Some of husbands, some of lovers,
    Which an empty dream discovers."[333:B]

That it was the custom, in Elizabeth's and James's days, to tell tales
or perform plays and masques on Christmas-Eve, on Twelfth Night, and
on _Midsummer-Eve_, may be drawn from the dramas of Shakspeare, and
the masques of Jonson. The _Midsummer-Night's Dream_ of the former,
appears to have been so called, because its exhibition was to take
place on that night, for the _time of action_ of the piece itself, is
the vigil of May-Day, as is that of the _Winter's Tale_ the period of
sheep-shearing. It is probable also, as Mr. Steevens has observed, that
Shakspeare might have been influenced in his choice of the fanciful
machinery of this play, by the recollection of the proverb attached to
the season, and which he has himself introduced in the _Twelfth-Night_,
where Olivia remarks of Malvolio's apparent distraction, that it "is
a very _Midsummer madness_[334:A];" an adage founded on the common
opinion, that the brain, being heated by the intensity of the sun's
rays, was more susceptible of those flights of imagination which border
on insanity, than at any other period of the year.

The next season distinguished by any very remarkable tincture of the
popular creed, is Michaelmas, or the Feast of ST. MICHAEL AND ALL
ANGELS. When ever this day comes, says Bourne, "it brings into the
minds of the people, that old opinion of _Tutelar Angels_, that every
man has his _Guardian Angel_; that is one particular angel who attends
him from his coming in, till his going out of life, who guides him
through the troubles of the world, and strives as much as he can, to
bring him to heaven."[334:B]

That the doctrine of the ministry of angels, and their occasional
interference with the affairs of man, is an _old opinion_, cannot
be denied. It pervades the whole of the Old and New Testaments, and
appears to have been an article of the patriarchal creed; for from the
Book of Job, perhaps the oldest which exists, may be drawn not only
the doctrine of the ministration of angels, but that of their division
into certain distinct orders, such as angels, intercessors, destroyers,
&c.[334:C] With this general information we ought to have been content:
but superstition has been busy in promulgating hierarchies, the
offspring of its own heated imagination; in minutely ascertaining the
numbers and offices of angels in heaven and on earth; and in naming
and appropriating certain of them as the guardians and protectors of
kingdoms, cities, families, and individuals. The mythologies of Persia,
Arabia, and Greece, abound with these arbitrary arrangements; Hesiod
declares that the angels appointed to watch over the earth, amount
exactly to thirty-thousand[335:A]; and Plato divides the world of
spirits good and bad into nine classes, in which he has been followed
by some of the philosophising Christians. The angelic hierarchy of
Dionysius, however, is the one usually adopted; he professes to
interfere only with good spirits, and divides his angels, perhaps in
imitation of Plato, into nine orders; the first he terms _seraphim_,
the second _cherubim_, the third _thrones_, the fourth _dominations_,
the fifth _virtues_, the sixth _powers_, the seventh _principalities_,
the eighth _archangels_, and the ninth _angels_.[335:B] Not content
with this he goes still farther, and has assigned to every country, and
almost to every person of eminence, a peculiar angel, thus to Adam he
gives _Razael_; to Abraham, _Zakiel_; to Isaiah, _Raphael_; to Jacob,
_Peliel_; to Moses, _Metraton_, &c., speaking, as Calvin observes, not
as if by report, but as though he had slipped down from heaven, and
told of the things which he had seen there.[335:C]

Of this systematic hierarchy the greater portion formed, during the age
of Shakspeare, and for nearly a century afterwards, an important part
of the popular creed, as may be ascertained from an inspection of Scot
on Witchcraft in 1584, Heywood's _Hierarchie of the Blessed Angells,
their Names, Orders, and Offices_, in 1635, and from Burton's Anatomie
of Melancholy, which, though first published in 1617, continued to
re-appear in frequent editions until the close of the seventeenth

The doctrine of _Guardian Angels_, as appropriated to individuals,
more especially appears to have been entertained by Shakspeare and
his contemporaries; an idea pleasing to the human mind, though,
in the opinion of the most acute theologians, not warranted by
Scripture; where only the general ministry of angels is recorded; and,
accordingly, the collect of the day, in our admirable Liturgy, merely
refers to, and prays for, such general interference in our behalf.

The assignment of a good angel, or of a good and bad angel to every
individual, as soon as created, is supported by the English Lavaterus
in 1572, and recorded as the general object of belief, by the rational
Scot, in his interesting discourse on spirits.

"Saint Herome in his Commentaries," says Lavaterus, "and other fathers
do conclude, that God doth assigne unto every soule assoone as he
createth him his peculiar Angell, which taketh care of him. But whether
that every one of the elect have hys proper angell, or many angells
be appoynted unto him, it is not expresly sette foorth, yet this is
most sure and certayne, that God hath given his angells in charge to
have regard and care over us. Daniel witnesseth in his tenth chapter,
that angells have also charge of kingdomes, by whom God keepeth and
protecteth them, and hindreth the wicked counsels of the devill. It
may be proved by many places of the Scripture, that all Christian men
have not only one angell, but also many, whome God imployeth to their
service. In the 34 psalm it is sayde, the angell of the Lorde pitcheth
his tentes rounde about them whiche feare the Lorde, and helpeth them:
which ought not to be doubted but that it is also at this daye, albeit
we see them not. We reade that they appearing in sundrye shapes, have
admonished menne, have comforted them, defended them, delivered them
from daunger, and also punished the wicked. Touching this matter, there
are plentiful examples, whiche are not needefull to be repeated in
this place. Somtimes they have eyther appeared in sleep, or in manner
of visions, and sometimes they have perfourmed their office, by some
internall operations: as when a man's mynde foresheweth him, that a
thing shall so happen, and after it happeneth so in deede, which thyng
I suppose is doone by God, through the minesterie of angells. Angells
for the most part take upon them the shapes of men, wherein they

"Monsieur Bodin, M. Mal. and manie other papists," observes Scot, who
gives us his opinion on the nature of angels, "gather upon the seventh
of Daniel, that there are just ten millians of angels in heaven. Manie
saie that angels are not by nature, but by office. Finallie, it were
infinite to shew the absurd and curious collections hereabout. I for
my part thinke with Calvine, that angels are creatures of God; though
Moses spake nothing of their creation, who onelie applied himselfe to
the capacitie of the common people, reciting nothing but things seene.
And I saie further with him, that they are heavenlie spirits, whose
ministration and service God useth: and in that respect are called
angels. I saie yet againe with him, that it is verie certaine, that
they have no shape at all; for they are spirits, who never have anie:
and finallie, I saie with him, that the Scriptures, for the capacitie
of our wit, dooth not in vaine paint out angels unto us with wings;
bicause we should conceive, that they are readie swiftlie to succour
us. And certeinlie all the sounder divines doo conceive and give out,
that both the names and also the number of angels are set downe in
the Scripture by the Holie-ghost, in termes to make us understand the
greatnesse and the manner of their messages; which (I saie) are either
expounded by the number of angels, or signified by their names.

"Furthermore, the schoole doctors affirme, that foure of the superior
orders of angels never take anie forme or shape of bodies, neither are
sent of anie arrand at anie time. As for archangels, they are sent
onlie about great and secret matters; and angels are common hacknies
about everie trifle; and that these can take what shape or bodie they
list: marie they never take the forme of women or children. Item, they
saie that angels take most terrible shapes: for _Gabriel_ appeared to
_Marie_, when he saluted hir, _facie rutilante, veste coruscante,
ingressu mirabili, aspectu terribili_, &c.: that is, with a bright
countenance, shining attire, wonderfull gesture, and a dredfull visage,
&c. _It hath beene long, and continueth yet a constant opinion, not
onlie among the papists; but among others also, that everie man hath
assigned him, at the time of his nativitie, a good angell and a
bad._ For the which there is no reason in nature, nor authoritie in
Scripture. For not one angell, but all the angels are said to rejoise
more of one convert, than of ninetie and nine just. Neither did one
onlie angel conveie Lazarus into Abraham's bosome. And therefore I
conclude with Calvine, that he which referreth to one angel, the care
that God hath to everie one of us, dooth himselfe great wrong."[338:A]

That Shakspeare embraced the doctrine common in his age, which assigns
to every individual, at his birth, a good and bad angel, an idea highly
poetical in itself, and therefore acceptable to a fervid imagination,
is evident from the following remarkable passages:

    "There is a good angel about him—but the devil out-bids him

    "You follow the young prince up and down like his ill angel."[338:C]

    "Thy daemon, that's thy spirit which keeps thee, is
     Noble, courageous, high, unmatchable,
     Where Cæsar's is not; but near him, thy angel
     Becomes a Fear, as being o'erpowered——
       ———————— I say again, thy spirit
     Is all afraid to govern thee near him;
     But, he away, 'tis noble;"[338:D]

and in Macbeth the same imagery is repeated—

    —————— "near him,
    My genius is rebuk'd; as, it is said,
    Mark Antony's was by Cæsar's."[338:E]

These lines from _Antony and Cleopatra_ and _Macbeth_, which are
founded on a passage in North's Plutarch, where the soothsayer says to
Antony, "thy Demon, (that is to say, the good angell and spirit that
keepeth thee) is affraied of his," sufficiently prove that the Roman
Catholic doctrine of a good and evil angel is _immediately_ drawn from
the belief of Pagan antiquity in the agency of good and evil genii, a
dogma to which we know their greatest philosophers were addicted, as is
apparent from the Demon of Socrates.

Of the general, and as it may be termed, the patriarchal, doctrine of
the ministry of angels, no poet has made so admirable an use as Milton,
who tells us, in his Paradise Lost, that

    "Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
     Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep,
     All these, with ceaseless praise, his works behold,
     Both day and night. How often, from the steep
     Of echoing hill or thicket, have we heard
     Celestial voices, through the midnight air,
     Sole or responsive to each other's note,
     Singing their great Creator! oft, in bands,
     While they keep watch; or, nightly walking round,
     With heavenly touch of instrumental sounds,
     In full harmonic number join'd; their songs
     Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to heaven."[339:A]

We must be permitted to observe, in this place, that Dr. Horsley
has, with great propriety, drawn a marked distinction between
the full-formed hierarchy of fanciful theologians, and the
Scripture-account of angelic agency; while he reprobates the one, he
supports the other; "those," says he, "who broached this doctrine (of
an hierarchy of angels governing this world) could tell us exactly
how many orders there are, and how many angels in each order; that
the different orders have their different departments in government
assigned to them; some, constantly attending in the presence of
God, form his cabinet council; others are his provincial governors;
every kingdom in the world having its appointed guardian angel, to
whose management it is intrusted: others again are supposed to have
the charge and custody of individuals. This system is, in truth,
nothing better than Pagan polytheism." He then subsequently and most
judiciously gives us the following summary of Biblical information on
the subject: "that the holy angels," he remarks, "are often employed
by God in his government of this sublunary world, is indeed clearly to
be proved by holy writ: that they have powers over the matter of the
universe analogous to the powers over it which men possess, greater
in extent, but still limited, is a thing which might reasonably be
supposed, if it were not declared: but it seems to be confirmed by many
passages of holy writ, from which it seems also evident that they are
occasionally, for certain specific purposes, commissioned to exercise
those powers to a prescribed extent. That the evil angels possessed,
before the fall, the like powers, which they are still occasionally
permitted to exercise for the punishment of wicked nations, seems
also evident. That they have a power over the human sensory (which is
part of the material universe), which they are occasionally permitted
to exercise, by means of which they may inflict diseases, suggest
evil thoughts, and be the instruments of temptations, must also be

We shall conclude these observations on St. Michael's Day by adding,
that in both the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, it was the custom
of landlords to invite their tenants on this day, and to dine them in
their great halls on _Geese_; birds which were then only kept by the
gentry, and therefore esteemed a great delicacy. We must consequently
set aside the tradition which attributes the introduction of this bird
on the festival of St. Michael to Queen Elizabeth; the tale avers,
that, being on her road to Tilbury Fort, she dined on Michaelmas Day
1588, at Sir Neville Umfreville's seat, near that place, and that
the knight, recollecting her partiality for high-seasoned food, had
taken care to procure for her a savoury goose, after eating heartily
of which she called for a _half-pint bumper of Burgundy_, and had
scarcely drank it off to the destruction of the _Spanish Armada_, when
she received the news of that joyful event; delighted with the speedy
accomplishment of her toast, she is said to have annually commemorated
this day with a goose, and that, of course, the example was followed
by the Court and through the kingdom at large. The custom, however,
must be referred to a preceding age, in which it will be found that the
nobility and gentry had usually this delicious bird at their tables,
both on St. Michael's and St. Martin's Day.[341:A]

We now approach another remarkably superstitious period of the year,
the observance of which took place on the 31st of October, being the
_Vigil of All Saints' Day_, and has been therefore commonly termed
ALL HALLOW EVE. In the North of England, and in Scotland, this was
formerly a night of rejoicing and of the most mysterious rites and
ceremonies. As beyond the Tweed the harvest was seldom completely
got in before the close of October, _Halloween_ became a kind of
Harvest-home-feast; thus, Mr. Shaw informs us, in his History of the
Province of Moray, that "a solemnity was kept, on the Eve of the first
of November, as a thanksgiving for the safe Ingathering of the produce
of the fields. This I am told, but have not seen it, is observed in
Buchan, and other countries, by having _Hallow-Eve Fires_ kindled on
some rising ground."[341:B] In England Hallow-eve has been generally
called _Nut-crack Night_, from one of the numerous spells usually
had recourse to at this season; and in Shakspeare it is alluded to
under the customary appellation of _Hallowmas_, where Speed tells
Valentine in the _Two Gentlemen of Verona_, that he knows him to be
in love, because he has learnt "to speak puling, like a beggar at
Hallowmas[341:C];" a simile which refers to a relique of the Roman
Catholic Festival of _All Souls Day_ on the 2d of November, when
prayers were offered up for the repose of the souls of the departed;
it being the custom, in Shakspeare's time, and is still, we believe,
observed in some parts of the North, for the poor on _All-Saints-Day_
to go _a souling_, as they term it, and in a plaintive or _puling_
voice to petition for _soul-cakes_. "In various parts of England,"
remarks Brady, "the remembrance of monastic customs is still preserved
by giving oaten cakes to the poor neighbours, conformably to what
was once the general usage, particularly in Lancashire, Yorkshire,
Herefordshire, &c. when, by way of expressing gratitude, the receivers
of this liberality offered the following homely benediction:

    "God have your _saul_,
     Bones and all;"

bearing more the appearance, in these enlightened days, of rustic
scoff, than of thankfulness."[342:A]

What has rendered All-Hallow-Eve, however, a period of mysterious
dread, is the tradition, that on this night the host of evil spirits,
witches, wizards, &c. are executing their baneful errands, and that the
fairy court holds a grand annual procession, during which, those who
have been carried off by the fairies may be recovered, provided the
attempt be made within a year and a day from the abstraction of the
person stolen. That this achievement, which was attended with great
peril, could only be performed on Hallow-Eve, and that this night was
esteemed the anniversary of the elfin tribe, may be established on the
evidence of our northern poets. Montgomery, in his _Flyting against
Polwart_, published about 1584, thus mentions the procession:

    "In the hinder end of harvest, on All-hallow een,
       When our _gude neighbours_ dois ride, if I read right,
     Some buckled on a bunewand, and some on a been,
       Ay trottand in troups from the twilight;
     Some saidled a she-ape, all grathed into green,
       Some hobland on a hemp stalk, hovard to the hight,
     The king of Pharie and his court, with the elf queen,
       With many elfish incubus was ridand that night;"[343:A]

and in the ballad called _Young Tamlane_, whose antiquity is
ascertained from being noticed in the _Complaynt of Scotland_, the
chief incident of the story is the recovery of Tamlane from the power
of the fairies on this holy eve:—

    "This night is Hallowe'en, Janet;
       The morn is Hallowday;
     And, gin ye dare your true love win,
       Ye have nae time to stay.

     The night it is good Hallowein,
       When fairy folk will ride;
     And they, that wad their true love win,
       At Miles Cross they maun bide."[343:B]

It is still recorded by tradition, relates Mr. Scott, that "the wife of
a farmer in Lothian having been carried off by the fairies, she, during
the year of probation, repeatedly appeared on Sunday, in the midst of
her children, combing their hair. On one of these occasions she was
accosted by her husband; when she related to him the unfortunate event
which had separated them, instructed him by what means he might win
her, and exhorted him to exert all his courage, since her temporal and
eternal happiness depended on the success of his attempt. The farmer,
who ardently loved his wife, set out on Hallowe'en, and, in the midst
of a plot of furze, waited impatiently for the procession of the
fairies. At the ringing of the fairy bridles, and the wild unearthly
sound which accompanied the cavalcade, his heart failed him, and he
suffered the ghostly train to pass by without interruption. When the
last had rode past, the whole troop vanished, with loud shouts of
laughter and exultation; among which he plainly discovered the voice
of his wife, lamenting that he had lost her for ever."[344:A]

Numerous have been the ceremonies, spells, and charms, which formerly
distinguished All-Hallow-Eve. In England, except in a few remote
places in the North, they have ceased to be observed for the last
half century; but in the West of Scotland they are still retained
with a kind of religious veneration, as is sufficiently proved by
the inimitable poem of Burns, entitled _Halloween_, which, in a vein
of exquisite poetry and genuine humour, minutely details the various
superstitions, which have been practised on this night from time
immemorial. Of these, as including all which prevailed in England, and
which were, in a great degree, common to both countries, in the time of
Shakspeare, we shall give a few sketches, nearly in the words of Burns,
as annexed in the notes to his poem, merely observing that one of the
spells, that of sowing hemp-seed, is omitted, as having been already
described among the rites of Midsummer-Eve.

The _first_ ceremony of Hallow-Eve consisted in the lads and lasses
pulling each a _stock_, or plant of kail. They were to go out, hand
in hand, with eyes shut, and to pull the first they met with. Its
being big or little, straight or crooked, was prophetic of the size
and shape of the grand object of all their spells—the husband or
wife. If any _yird_, or earth, stuck to the root, that was considered
as the _tocher_, or fortune; and the taste of the _custoc_, that is,
the heart of the stem, was deemed indicative of the natural temper
and disposition. Lastly, the stems, or, to give them their ordinary
appellation, the runts, were placed somewhere above the head of the
door; and the Christian names of the people whom chance brought into
the house, were, according to the priority of placing the _runts_, the
names in question.

In the _second_, the lasses were to go to the barn-yard, and pull each,
at three several times, a stalk of oats. If the third stalk wanted the
_top-pickle_, that is, the grain at the top of the stalk, the party in
question would come to the marriage-bed any thing but a maid.

The _third_ depended on the burning of nuts, and was a favourite
charm both in England and Scotland. A lad and lass were named to each
particular nut, as they laid them in the fire, and accordingly as they
burnt quietly together, or started from beside each other, the course
and issue of the courtship were to be determined.

In the _fourth_, success could only be obtained by strictly adhering
to the following directions. Steal out, all alone, to the _kiln_, and,
darkling, throw into the _pot_, a clue of blue yarn; wind it in a new
clue off the old one: and, towards the latter end, something will hold
the thread; demand, who holds it? and an answer will be returned from
the kiln-pot, by naming the christian and sirname of your future spouse.

To perform the _fifth_, you were to take a candle, and go alone to a
looking-glass; you were then to eat an apple before it, combing your
hair all the time; when the face of your conjugal companion, _to be_,
will be seen in the glass, as if peeping over your shoulder.

The _sixth_ was likewise a solitary charm, in which it was necessary
to go _alone_ and _unperceived_ to the _barn_, and open both doors,
taking them off the hinges, if possible, least the _being_, about to
appear, should shut the doors, and do you some mischief. Then you
were to take the machine used in winnowing the corn, and go through
all the attitudes of letting down the grain against the wind; and on
the third repetition of this ceremony, an apparition would be seen
passing through the barn, in at the windy door, and out at the other,
having both the figure of your future companion for life, and also the
appearance or retinue, marking the employment or station in life.

To secure an effective result from the _seventh_, you were ordered to
take an opportunity of going, unnoticed, to a _Bear-stack_, and fathom
it three times round; when during the last fathom of the last time, you
would be sure to catch in your arms the appearance of your destined

In order to carry the _eighth_ into execution, one or more were
injoined to seek a south running spring or rivulet, where "three lairds
lands meet," and to dip into it the left shirt-sleeve. You were then
to go to bed in sight of a fire, and to hang the wet sleeve before it
to dry; it was necessary, however, to lie awake, when at midnight, an
apparition, having the exact figure of the future husband or wife,
would come, and turn the sleeve, as if to dry the other side of

For the due performance of the _ninth_, you were directed to take three
dishes; to put clean water in one, foul water in another, and to leave
the third empty: you were then to blindfold a person, and lead him to
the hearth where the dishes were ranged, ordering him to dip the left
hand; when, if this happened to be in the clean water, it was a sign
that the future conjugal mate would come to the bar of matrimony a
maid; if in the foul, a widow; if in the empty dish, it foretold, with
equal certainty, no marriage at all. This ceremony was to be repeated
three times, and every time the arrangement of the dishes was to be

Such are the various superstitions which were formerly observed at
peculiar periods of the year, and which still maintain a certain
portion of credit among the peasantry of Scotland and the North of
England. To the catalogue of Saints thus loaded with the rites of
popular credulity, may be added one whose celebrity seems to be
entirely founded on the casual notice of Shakspeare. In his Tragedy
of _King Lear_, Edgar introduces _St. Withold_ as an opponent, and
a protector against the assaults, of that formidable Incubus, the

    "Saint Withold footed thrice the wold;
     He met the Night-mare, and her nine-fold;
               Bid her alight,
               And her troth plight,
     And, aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!"[347:B]

Warburton informs us, that this agency of the Saint is taken from a
story of him in his legend, and that he was thence invoked as the
patron saint against the distemper, called the night-mare; but Mr.
Tyrwhitt declares, that he could not find this adventure in the
common legends of St. Vitalis, whom he supposes to be synonymous with
St. Withold. It is probable that Shakspeare took the hint, for the
ascription of this achievement to Withold, from Scot's Discoverie
of Witchcraft, where a similar power is attributed to St. George.
That writer, after mentioning that there are magical cures for the
night-mare, gives the following as an example:—

    "St. George, S. George, our ladies knight,
     He walkt by daie, so did he by night:
     Untill such time as he hir found,
     He hir beat and he hir bound.
     Untill hir troth she to him plight,
     She would not come to hir (him) that night:"[348:A]

a form which is quoted nearly verbatim, and professedly as a
night-spell, in the _Monsieur Thomas_ of Fletcher.[348:B] It should be
observed, that the influence over _incubi_ ascribed by our poet to St.
Withold, has been subsequently given to other Calendarian saints, and
especially to that dreaded personage St. Swithin, who is indebted to
Mr. Colman, in his alteration of _Lear_, for the transference of this
singular power.

The mass of popular credulity, indeed, is so enormous, that, limited,
as we are in this chapter, to the consideration of only a portion of
the subject, it is still difficult, from the number and variety of the
materials, to present a sketch which shall be sufficiently distinct
and perspicuous. It is highly interesting, however, to observe to what
striking poetical purposes Shakspeare has converted these imbecillities
of mind, these workings of fear and ignorance; how by his management
almost every article which he has selected from the mass of vulgar
delusion, assumes a capability of impressing the strongest and most
cultivated mind with grateful terror or sublime emotion. No branch,
for instance, of the popular creed has been more extended, or more
burdened with folly, than the belief in OMENS, and yet what noble
imagery has not the poet drawn forth from this accumulation of
fear-struck fancy and childish apprehension.

With the view of placing the detail of this vast groupe in a clearer
light, it will be necessary to ascertain, what were the principal
_omens_ most accredited in the days of Shakspeare, and after giving a
catalogue of those most worthy of notice, to exhibit a few pictures
by the poet as founded on some of the most remarkable articles in the
enumeration, and afterwards to fill up the outline with additional
circumstances from other resources.

How prone the subjects of Elizabeth were to pry into futurity,
through the medium of _omens_, _auguries_, and _prognostications_,
may be learnt from the following passage in Scot, taken from his
chapter on the "common peoples fond and superstitious collections
and observations." "Amongst us," says he, "there be manie wemen and
effeminat men (manie papists alwaies, as by their superstition may
appeere) that make great divinations upon the shedding of salt,
wine, &c. and for the observation of daies, and houres use as great
witchcraft as in anie thing. For if one chance to take a fall from a
horse, either in a slipperie or stumbling waie, he will note the daie
and houre, and count that time unlucky for a journie. Otherwise, he
that receiveth a mischance, wil consider whether he met not a cat, or a
hare, when he went first out of his doores in the morning; or stumbled
not at the threshold at his going out; or put not on his shirt the
wrong side outwards; or his left shoo on his right foote.

"Many will go to bed againe, if the neeze before their shooes be on
their feet; some will hold fast their left thombe in their right hand
when they hickot; or else will hold their chinne with their right hand
whiles a gospell is soong. It is thought verie ill lucke of some, that
a child, or anie other living creature, should passe betweene two
friends as they walke together; for they say it portendeth a division
of freendship.—The like follie is to be imputed unto them, that
observe (as true or probable) old verses, wherein can be no reasonable
cause of such effects: which are brought to passe onlie by God's power,
and at his pleasure. Of this sort be these that follow:

    "Remember on S. Vincent's daie,
     If that the sunne his beames displaie.—

     If Paule th' apostles daie be cleare,
     It dooth foreshew a luckie yeare.—

     If Maries purifieng daie,
     Be cleare and bright with sunnie raie,
     Then frost and cold shall be much more,
     After the feast than was before, &c."[350:A]

In the almanacks of Elizabeth's and James's reigns, it was customary,
not only to mark the days supposed to have an influence over the
weather, but to distinguish, likewise, those considered as lucky
or unlucky for making bargains, or transacting business on; and,
accordingly, Webster represents a character in one of his plays

    "By the almanack, I think
     To choose good days and shun the critical;"[351:A]

and Shakspeare, referring to the same custom and the same doctrine,
makes Constance in _King John_ exclaim,—

    "What hath this day deserv'd? What hath it done;
     That it in golden letters should be set,
     Among the high tides, in the kalendar?
     Nay rather —————————————
       —— if it must stand still, let wives with child
     Pray, that their burdens may not fall this day,
     Lest that their hopes prodigiously be cross'd:
     But (except) on this day, let seamen fear no wreck;
     No bargains break, that are not this day made:
     This day, all things begun come to an ill end;
     Yea, faith itself to hollow falsehood change!"[351:B]

But of omens predictive of good and bad fortune, or of the common
events in life, the catalogue may be said to have no termination, and
we must refer the reader, for this degrading display of human weakness
and folly, to the Vulgar Errors of Browne, and to the Commentaries of
Brand on Bourne's Antiquities, confining the subject to that class
of the ominous which has been deemed portentive of the great, the
dreadful, and the strange, and which, being surrounded by a certain
degree of dignity and awe, is consequently best adapted to the genius
of poetry.

That danger, death, or preternatural occurrences should be preceded
by warnings or intimations, would appear comformable to the idea of a
superintending providence, and therefore faith in such omens has been
indulged in, by almost every nation, especially in the infancy of its
civilisation. The most usual monitions of this kind are, _Lamentings
heard in the air_; _shakings and tremblings of the earth_; _sudden
gloom at noon-day_; _the appearance of meteors_; _the shooting of
stars_; _eclipses of the sun and moon_; _the moon of a bloody hue_;
_the shrieking of owls_; _the croaking of ravens_; _the shrilling
of crickets_; _the night-howling of dogs_; _the clicking of the
death-watch_; _the chattering of pies_; _the wild neighing of horses,
their running wild and eating each other_; _the cries of fairies_; _the
gibbering of ghosts_; _the withering of bay-trees_; _showers of blood_;
_blood dropping thrice from the nose_; _horrid dreams_; _demoniacal
voices_; _ghastly apparitions_; _winding sheets_; _corpse-candles_;
_night-fires_, and _strange and fearful noises_. Of the greater part of
this tremendous list Shakspeare has availed himself; introducing them
as the precursors of murder, sudden death, disasters, and superhuman
events. Thus, previous to the assassination of Julius Cæsar, he tells
us, that—

    "In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
     A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
     The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead
     Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets—
     —Stars with trains of fire and dews of blood 'appear'd,'
     Disasters in the sun; and the moist star,
     Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands,
     Was sick almost to dooms-day with eclipse:"[352:A]

and again, as predictive of the same event, he adds, in another place—

      —————— "There is one within,
    Besides the things that we have heard and seen,
    Recounts most horrid sights seen by the watch.
    A lioness hath whelped in the streets;
    And graves have yawn'd and yielded up their dead:
    Fierce fiery warriors fight upon the clouds,
    In ranks, and squadrons, and right form of war,
    Which drizzled blood upon the capitol:
    The noise of battle hurtled in the air,
    Horses do neigh, and dying men did groan;
    And ghosts did shriek and squeal about the streets."[352:B]

The circumstances which are related as preceding and accompanying the
murder of Duncan are, perhaps, still more awful and impressive. "The
night," says Lennox,

    —————— "has been unruly: where we lay,
    Our chimneys were blown down: and, as they say,
    Lamentings heard i' the air; strange screams of death;
    And prophecying, with accents terrible,
    Of dire combustion, and confus'd events,
    New hatch'd to the woeful time. The obscure bird
    Clamour'd the livelong night: some say, the earth
    Was feverous, and did shake.

      _Macb._                    'Twas a rough night."

      "_Old M._ Threescore and ten I can remember well:
    Within the volume of which time, I have seen
    Hours dreadful, and things strange; but this sore night
    Hath trifled former knowings.

      _Rosse._                    Ah, good father,
    Thou see'st the heavens, as troubled with man's act,
    Threaten his bloody stage: by the clock, 'tis day,
    And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp:
    Is it night's predominance, or the day's shame,
    That darkness does the face of earth intomb,
    When living light should kiss it?

      _Old M._                        'Tis unnatural,
    Even like the deed that's done. On Tuesday last,
    A falcon, tow'ring in her pride of place,
    Was by a mousing owl hawk'd at, and kill'd.

      _Rosse._ And Duncan's horses, (a thing most strange and certain,)
    Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race,
    Turn'd wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out,
    Contending 'gainst obedience, as they would make
    War with mankind.

      _Old M._        'Tis said, they eat each other.

      _Posse._ Thy did so; to the amazement of mine eyes,
    That look'd upon't."[353:A]

In the play of _King Richard II._ also, the poet has with great taste
and skill selected the following prodigies, as forerunners of the death
or fall of kings:—

    "'Tis thought, the king is dead; we will not stay.
     The bay-trees in our country are all wither'd,
     And meteors fright the fixed stars of heaven;
     The pale-fac'd moon looks bloody on the earth,
     And lean-look'd prophets whisper fearful change;
     Rich men look sad, and ruffians dance and leap,—
     The one, in fear to lose what they enjoy,
     The other, to enjoy by rage and war:
     These signs forerun the death or fall of kings."[354:A]

Omens of the same portentous kind are said to have attended the births
of Owen Glendower and Richard III., and Shakspeare has accordingly
availed himself of the tradition in a manner equally poetical and
striking; the former says of himself,—

      ———————— "At my nativity,
    The front of heaven was full of fiery shapes,
    Of burning cressets; and, at my birth,
    The frame and huge foundation of the earth
    Shak'd like a coward:——
    The goats ran from the mountains, and the herds
    Were strangely clamorous to the frighted fields:"[354:B]

and Henry VI., in his interview with Richard in the Tower, reproaching
the tyrant for his cruelties, tells him, as indicative of his future
deeds, that

    "The owl shriek'd at thy birth, an evil sign;
     The night-crow cried, aboding luckless time;
     Dogs howl'd, and hideous tempests shook down trees;
     The raven rook'd her on the chimney's top,
     And chattering pies in dismal discords sung."[354:C]

_Dreams_, considered as prognostics of good or evil, are frequently
introduced by Shakspeare.

    "My dreams will sure prove ominous to day,"

exclaims Andromache[355:A]; while Romeo declares,

    "My dreams presage some joyful news at hand."[355:B]

But it is chiefly as precursors of misfortune that the poet has availed
himself of their supposed influence as omens of future fate. There are
few passages in his dramas more terrific than the dreams of Richard the
Third and Clarence; the latter, especially, is replete with the most
fearful imagery, and makes the blood run chill with horror.

_Dæmoniacal voices and shrieks, or monitory intimations and
appearances_ from the tutelary genius of a family, were likewise
imagined to precede the deaths of important individuals; a superstition
to which Shakspeare alludes in the following lines from his _Troilus
and Cressida_:

      "_Troil._ Hark! you are call'd: Some say, the Genius so
    Cries, _Come!_ to him that instantly must die."[355:C]

This superstition was formerly very prevalent in England, and still
prevails in several districts of Ireland, and in the more remote
parts of the Highlands of Scotland. Howell tells us, that he saw
at a lapidary's in 1632, a monumental stone, prepared for four
persons of the name of Oxenham, before the death of each of whom,
the inscription stated a white bird to have appeared and fluttered
around the bed, while the patient was in the last agony[355:D]; and
Glanville, remarks Mr. Scott, mentions one family, the members of
which received this solemn sign by music, the sound of which floated
from the family-residence, and seemed to die in a neighbouring[355:E]
wood. It is related, that several of the great Highland families are
accustomed to receive intimations of approaching fate by domestic
spirits or tutelary genii, who sometimes assume the form of a bird or
of a bloody spectre of a tall woman dressed in white, shrieking wildly
round the house. Thus, observes Mr. Pennant, the family of Rothmurcas
had the _Bodach-an-dun_, or the Ghost of the Hill; the Kinchardines,
the _Spectre of the Bloody Hand_; Gartinley house was haunted by
_Bodach-Gartin_; and Tullock Gorms by _Maug-Moulach_, or _the Girl
with the Hairy Left Hand_. In certain places, he says, the death of
the people is supposed to be foretold by the cries of _Benshi_, or the
_Fairy's Wife_, uttered along the very path where the _funeral_ is to
pass; and it has been added by others, that when the Benshi becomes
visible, she appears in the shape of an old woman, with a blue mantle
and streaming hair.

Of this omen, and of another of a similar kind, Mr. Scott has made
his usual poetical use in the _Lady of the Lake_, where he relates of
Brian, the lone Seer of the Desert, that

    "Late had he heard in prophet's dream,
     The fatal Ben-Shie's boding scream,
     Sounds, too, had come in midnight blast,
     Of charging steeds, careering fast
     Along Benharrow's shingly side,
     Where mortal horseman ne'er might ride."

This last passage, he informs us, "is still believed to announce death
to the ancient Highland family of M'Lean of Lochbuy. The spirit of an
ancestor slain in battle, is heard to gallop along a stony bank, and
then to ride thrice around the family-residence, ringing his fairy
bridle, and thus intimating the approaching calamity."[356:A]

That the apparition of the Benshie, and the whole train of spectral
and dæmoniacal warnings, were in full force in Ireland, during
the seventeenth century, we have numerous proofs; the former was
commonly called the _Shrieking Woman_, and of the latter a most
remarkable instance is given by Mr. Scott, from the MS. Memoirs of
the accomplished Lady Fanshaw. "Her husband, Sir Richard, and she,
chanced, during their abode in Ireland, to visit a friend, the head of
a sept, who resided in his ancient baronial castle, surrounded with
a moat. At midnight, she was awakened by a ghastly and supernatural
scream, and looking out of bed, beheld, by the moon-light, a female
face and part of the form, hovering at the window. The distance from
the ground, as well as the circumstance of the moat, excluded the
possibility that what she beheld was of this world. The face was that
of a young and rather handsome woman, but pale, and the hair, which was
reddish, loose and dishevelled. The dress, which Lady Fanshaw's terror
did not prevent her remarking accurately, was that of the ancient
Irish. This apparition continued to exhibit itself for some time,
and then vanished with two shrieks similar to that which had first
excited Lady Fanshaw's attention. In the morning, with infinite terror,
she communicated to her host what she had witnessed, and found him
prepared not only to credit, but to account for the apparition. 'A near
relation of my family,' said he, 'expired last night in this castle.
We disguised our certain expectation of the event from you, lest it
should throw a cloud over the cheerful reception which was your due.
Now, before such an event happens in this family and castle, the female
spectre whom you have seen always is visible. She is believed to be the
spirit of a woman of inferior rank, whom one of my ancestors degraded
himself by marrying, and whom afterwards, to expiate the dishonour done
to his family, he caused to be drowned in the castle moat.'"[357:A]

Another set of omens predictive of disaster, supernatural agency, and
death, was drawn from the appearances of lights, tapers, and fires.
When a flame was seen by night resting on the tops of soldiers' lances,
or playing and leaping by fits among the masts and sails of a ship, it
was deemed the presage of misfortune; of defeat in battle in the one
instance, and of destruction by tempest in the other. As the forerunner
of a storm, Shakspeare has introduced it in his _Tempest_, where Ariel

      —————— "Sometimes I'd divide
    And burn in many places; on the top-mast,
    The yards and bowsprit, would I flame distinctly,
    Then meet and join."[358:A]

It was also conceived, that the presence of unearthly beings, ghosts,
spirits, and demons, was instantly announced by an alteration in
the tint of the lights which happened to be burning; a very popular
notion, which the poet adopts in his _Richard the Third_, the tyrant
exclaiming, as he awakens,

    "_The lights burn blue_—it is now dead midnight;
    Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.——
    Methought, the souls of all that I had murder'd,
    Came to my tent."[358:B]

But, the chief superstition annexed to this branch of omens,
was founded on the idea, that lights and fires, commonly called
_corpse-candles_ and _tomb-fires_, preceded deaths and funerals; an
article of belief which was equally prevalent among the Celtic and
Teutonic nations; and was cherished therefore with the same credulity
in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, as in Scandinavia, Germany, and
England. In this island, during the sixteenth century, it was generally
credited by the common people, that when a person was about to die, a
pale flame would frequently appear at the window of the room in which
he was laid, and, after pausing there for a moment, would glide towards
the church-yard, minutely tracing the path where the future funeral was
to pass, and glowing brightly, for a time, on the spot where the body
was to be interred. Sometimes, however, instead of lights, a procession
was seen by the dim light of the moon: "there have bin seene some in
the night," says the English Lavaterus, "when the moone shin'd, going
solemnlie with the corps, according to the custome of the people, or
standing before the dores, as if some bodie were to be caried to the
church to burying."[359:A] In Northumberland the fancied appearance of
the corpse-light was termed seeing the _Waff_ (the blast or spirit) of
the person whose death was to take place.

In Wales this superstition was formerly so general, especially in
the counties of Cardigan, Caermarthen, and Pembroke, that scarcely
any individual was supposed to die without the previous signal of
a corpse-candle. Mr. Davis, a Welshman, in a letter to Mr. Baxter,
observes, that "they are called candles, from their resemblance, not of
the body of the candle, but the fire; because that fire doth as much
resemble material candle-lights, as eggs do eggs: saving that in their
journey, these candles are sometimes visible, and sometimes disappear;
especially if any one comes near to them, or in the way to meet them.
On these occasions they vanish, but presently appear again behind the
observer, and hold on their course. If a little candle is seen, of a
pale or bluish colour, then follows the corpse, either of an abortive,
or some infant; if a large one, then the corpse of some one come to
age. If there be seen two, three, or more, of different sizes,—some
big, some small,—then shall so many corpses pass together, and of such
ages or degrees. If two candles come from different places, and be seen
to meet, the corpses will do the same; and if any of these candles be
seen to turn aside, through some bye-path leading to the church, the
following corpse will be found to take exactly the same way."[359:B]

Among the Highlanders of Scotland, likewise, the same species of omen
was so implicitly credited, that it has continued in force even to the
present day. Of this Mrs. Grant has given us, in one of her ingenious
essays, a most remarkable instance, and on the authority, too, of a
very pious and sensible clergyman, who was accustomed, she says, "to go
forth and meditate at even; and this solitary walk he always directed
to his churchyard, which was situated in a shaded spot, on the banks of
a river. There, in a dusky October evening, he took his wonted path,
and lingered, leaning on the churchyard-wall, till it became twilight,
when he saw two small lights rise from a spot within, where there was
no stone, nor memorial of any kind. He observed the course these lights
took, and saw them cross the river, and stop at an opposite hamlet.
Presently they returned, accompanied by a larger light, which moved on
between them, till they arrived at the place from which the first two
set out, when all the three seemed to sink into the earth together.

"The good man went into the churchyard, and threw a few stones on
the spot where the lights disappeared. Next morning he walked out
early, called for the sexton, and shewed him the place, asking if he
remembered who was buried there. The man said, that many years ago, he
remembered burying in that spot, two young children, belonging to a
blacksmith on the opposite side of the river, who was now a very old
man. The pastor returned, and was scarce sat down to breakfast, when a
message came to hurry him to come over to pray with the smith, who had
been suddenly taken ill, and who died next day."[360:A]

_Fiery and meteorous exhalations_, shooting through the lower regions
of the air, and sinking into the ground, were also deemed predictive
of death. The individual was pointed out by these fires either falling
on his lands or garden, or by gleaming with a lurid light over the
family burying-place. Appearances of this kind were called _tomb-fires_
by the Scandinavians, and _tan-we_ by the Welsh, who believed that no
freeholder died without a meteor having been seen to sparkle and vanish
on his estate. In fact, as Shakspeare has expressed it, there could

    "No natural exhalations in the sky:"

but were considered as

    ———————— "prodigies, and signs,
    Abortives, presages, and tongues of heaven."[361:A]

The idea that _sudden and fearful noises_ are frequently heard before
death takes place, and are indications of such an event, was very
common at the period of which we are writing, both on the continent and
in this country. "It happeneth many times," says the English Lavaterus,
"that when men lye sicke of some deadly disease, there is something
heard going in the chamber, like as the sicke men were wonte, when they
were in good health: yea and the sicke parties themselves, do many
times heare the same, and by and by gesse what wil come to passe. And
divers times it commeth to passe, that when some of our acquaintaunce
or friends lye a dying, albeit they are many miles off, yet there are
some great stirrings or noises heard. Sometimes we think that the house
will fall on our heads, or that some massie and waightie thing falleth
downe throughout all the house, rendring and making a disordered noise:
and shortlie within few monthes after, we understande that those things
happened, the very same houre that our friends departed in. There be
some men of whose stocke none doth dye, but that they observe and marke
some signes and tokens going before: as that they heare the dores and
windowes open and shut, that some thing runneth up the staires, or
walketh up and downe the house, or doth some one or other such like

"There was a certain parishe priest, a very honest and godly man, whom
I knewe well, who in the plague time, could tell before hand, when any
of his parishe should dye. For in the night time he heard a noise over
his bed, like as if one had throwne downe a sacke full of corne from
his shoulders: which when he heard he would say: Nowe an other biddeth
me farewell. After it was day, he used to inquire who died that night,
or who was taken with the plague, to the end he might comfort and
strengthen them, according to the duty of a good pastour.

"In Abbeys, the Monks, servaunts or any other falling sicke, many have
heard in the night, preparation of chests for them, in such sorte as
the coffin makers did afterwards prepare in deede.

"In some country villages, when one is at death's dore, many times
there are some heard in the evening, or in the night, digging a grave
in the Churcheyarde, and the same the next day is so found digged, as
these men did heare before."[362:A]

The next class of superstitions which we shall notice in this chapter,
is that depending on CHARMS and SPELLS, a fertile source of knavery and
credulity, and which has been chiefly exercised, in our poet's time
and since, by old women. Of this occupation, and its attendant folly
and imposition, the bard has given us a sketch, in his _Merry Wives
of Windsor_, in the person of the _Old Woman of Brentford_, who is
declared by _Ford_ to be "a witch, a quean, an old cozening quean!—We
are simple men; we do not know what's brought to pass under the
profession of _fortune-telling_. She works by _charms_, by _spells_, by
the figure, and such daubery as this is; beyond our element: we know

That women of this description, or as Scot has delineated them, in one
instance, indeed, deviating from the _portly_ form of Shakspeare's
cunning Dame, "_leane_, hollow-eied, old, beetle browed women[362:C],"
were, as dealers in charms, spells and amulets, a very numerous
tribe, in the days of Elizabeth and James, we have every reason to
believe, from contemporary evidence; but it appears that the trade of
_fortune-telling_ was then, as now, chiefly exercised by the wandering
horde of _gipsies_, to whose name and characteristic knavery, our great
poet alludes, in _Antony and Cleopatra_, where the Roman complains that

    "Like a right _gipsy_, hath, _at fast and loose_,
     Beguil'd him to the very heart of loss."[362:D]

Of this wily people, of the juggle referred to in these lines, and
of their profession of fortune-telling, Scot thus speaks in his
thirteenth book:—"The AEGYPTIANS juggling witchcraft or sortilegie
standeth much in _fast or loose_, whereof though I have written
somewhat generallie already (p. 197), yet having such opportunitie I
will here shew some of their particular feats; not treating of their
common tricks which is so tedious, nor of their _fortune-telling_ which
is so impious; and yet both of them meere cousenages."[363:A] He then
describes two games of _fast and loose_; one with a handkerchief, and
the other with whip cords and beads; but as these much resemble the
modern trick of _pricking at the belt or girdle_, explained by Sir J.
Hawkins, in a note on the passage just quoted from our poet, it will
not be necessary to notice them further in this place.

To _palmistry_, indeed, or the _art of Divination by the lines of the
hand_, Shakspeare has allotted a great part of the second scene, in the
first act, of _Antony and Cleopatra_, no doubt induced to this by the
topographical situation of the opening characters, the play commencing
at Alexandria in Egypt.

He has also occasionally adverted in other dramas to the multitude
of _charms_, _spells_, and _periapts_ which were in use in his time;
and he makes La Pucelle, in accordance with the necromantic powers
attributed to her, solemnly invoke their assistance—

    "Now help, ye charming spells, and periapts;"[363:B]

but as, to adopt the expression of Scot, he who "should go about to
recite all charmes, would take an infinite worke in hand[363:C],"
we shall confine ourselves to an enumeration, from this scarce and
curious writer, of the evils and the powers, against, and for,
which, these charms, were sought; and shall then add a few specimens
of their nature, force, and composition. It appears that they were
eagerly enquired after in the first place against burning, drowning,
pestilence, sword, and famine, against thieves, spirits, witches,
and diseases, and of the last class, especially against the venom of
serpents, scorpions and other reptiles, the epilepsy, the king's evil,
and the bite of a mad dog; and in the second, to enable the wearer to
release a woman in travail, to conjure a thorn out of any member, or a
bone out of the throat, to open all locks and doors, to know what is
said and done behind our backs, to endure the severest tortures without
shrinking, &c. &c.

One of the most efficacious of these charms, was a periapt or tablet,
called an _Agnus Dei_. This, which was ordered to be constantly worn
round the neck, consisted of a little cake, having the impression of
a lamb carrying a flag on one side, and Christ's head on the other;
and in the centre a concavity sufficiently large to contain the first
chapter of St. John's Gospel, written on fine paper, in a very small
character. It was a spell potent to protect the wearer against thunder
and lightning, fire and water, sin, pestilence, and the perils of

A charm against shot, or a waistcoat of proof, was thus to be
obtained:—"On Christmas daie at night, a thread must be sponne of
flax, by a little virgine girle, in the name of the divell: and it
must be by hir woven, and also wrought with the needle. In the brest
or forepart thereof must be made with needle worke two heads; on the
head at the right side must be a hat, and a long beard; the left
head must have on a crowne, and it must be so horrible, that it maie
resemble Belzebub, and on each side of the wastcote must be made a

That some of these spells, however, were not carried into execution
with quite so much ease, as the two we have just transcribed, will be
evident from the directions annexed to the following, entitled a _charm
for one possessed_: "The possessed bodie must go upon his or hir knees
to the church, how farre soever it be off from their lodging; and so
must creepe without going out of the waie, being the common high waie,
in that sort, how fowle and durtie soever the same be; or whatsoever
lie in the waie, not shunning anie thing whatsoever, untill he come to
the church, where he must heare masse devoutlie, and then followeth

It appears, notwithstanding, that, even among the old women of
the sixteenth century, there could be found some who, while they
profited by, could, at the same time, despise, the credulity of their
neighbours. "An old woman," says Scot, "that healed all diseases of
cattell (for the which she never tooke any reward but a penie and a
loafe) being seriouslie examined by what words she brought these things
to passe, confessed that after she had touched the sicke creature, she
alwaies departed immediatlie; saieng:

    "My loafe in my lap,
       my penie in my pursse;
     Thou art never the better,
       and I am never the wursse."[365:B]

The same author, after relating the terrible curse or charm of St.
Adelbert against thieves, facetiously adds,—"But I will answer this
cruell cursse with another cursse farre more mild and civill, performed
by as honest a man (I dare saie) as he that made the other.—

"So it was, that a certeine sir JOHN, with some of his companie, once
went abroad a jetting, and in a moone light evening robbed a millers
weire, and stole all his éeles. The poore miller made his mone to sir
John himselfe, who willed him to be quiet; for he would so cursse
the theefe, and all his confederates, with bell, booke and candell,
that they should have small joy of their fish. And therefore the
next sundaie, sir John got him to the pulpit, with his surplisse on
his backe, and his stole about his necke, and pronounced these words
following in the audience of the people.

    All you that have stolne the miller's eeles,
      _Laudate Dominum de cœlis_,
    And all they that have consented thereto,
      _Benedicamus Domino_.

So (saith he) there is sauce for your éeles my maisters."[366:A]

A third portion of the popular creed may be considered as including the
various kinds of superstitious CURES, PREVENTATIVES, and SYMPATHIES;
a species of credulity which has suffered little diminution even in
the present day; for, though the materials selected for the purpose
be different, the folly and the fraud are the same. Instead of animal
magnetism and metallic tractors, the public faith, in the days of
Shakspeare, rested, with implicit confidence, on the virtues supposed
to be inherent in bones, precious stones, sympathetic signs, powders,
&c.; and the poet, accordingly, has occasionally introduced imagery
founded on these imaginary qualities. Thus, in the _Merchant of
Venice_, the high value which Shylock places on his _turquoise_ ring,
was derived from this source, the turquoise or Turkey-stone, being
considered as inestimable for its properties of indicating the health
of the wearer by the increase or decrease of its colour, and for its
protective power in shielding him from enmity and peril. That this
was the cause of Shylock's deep regret for the loss of his ring, will
appear probable from the more direct intimations of his contemporaries,
Jonson and Drayton; the former, in his Sejanus, remarking of two
parasites, that they would,

    "—— true, as turkoise in the dear lord's ring,
     Look well or ill with him."[366:B]

and the latter declaring, that

    "The turkesse,——who haps to wear,
       Is often kept from peril."[366:C]

A more distinct allusion to the sanative virtue of precious stones, is
to be found in the celebrated simile in _As You Like It_:

    "Sweet are the uses of adversity;
     Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
     Wears yet a precious jewel in his head."[367:A]

This stone or jewel was supposed to secure the possessor from the
effects of poison, and to be, likewise, a sovereign remedy for the

These important effects are ascribed to it by numerous writers
of Shakspeare's time,—by Gesner[367:B]; by Batman[367:C]; by
Maplett[367:D]; by Fenton[367:E]; by Lupton[367:F]; by Topsell,
and, subsequently, by Fuller.[367:G] It even formed, very early
indeed, a part of medical treatment; for Lloyd, in his _Treasure of
helth_, recommends its exhibition for the stone, and orders it, after
having been _stampt_, to be "geven to the pacyent to drinke in warme

To the _Bezoar_ stone also was attributed great potency in expelling
the plague and other pestilential diseases; and Gesner has given it
an origin even more marvellous than the cures for which it has been
celebrated; "when the hart is sick," says he, "and hath eaten many
serpents for his recoverie, he is brought unto so great a heate, that
he hasteth to the water, and there covereth his body unto the very
eares and eyes, at which time distilleth many teares from which the
(Bezoar) stone is gendered."[367:I]

The _Belemnites_ or hag-stones, perforated flints hung up at the bed's
head, to prevent the night-mare, or in stables to secure the horses
from being hag-ridden, and their manes elf-knotted, were, at this
period, in common use. To one of the superstitious evils against which
it was held as a protective, Shakspeare alludes, in his _Romeo and
Juliet_, where Mercutio exclaims—

      ———— "This is that very Mab
    _That plats the manes of horses in the night_."[368:A]

"It was believed," remarks Mr. Douce, commenting on this passage, "that
certain malignant spirits whose delight was to wander in groves and
pleasant places, assumed occasionally the likenesses of women clothed
in white; that in this character they sometimes haunted stables in the
night-time, carrying in their hands tapers of wax, which they dropped
on the horses' manes, thereby plaiting them in inextricable knots, to
the great annoyance of the poor animals and vexation of their masters.
These hags are mentioned in the works of William of Auvergne, bishop
of Paris in the thirteenth century. There is a very uncommon old print
by Hans Burgmair relating to this subject. A witch enters the stable
with a lighted torch; and, previously to the operation of entangling
the horse's mane, practises her enchantments on the groom, who is lying
asleep on his back, and apparently influenced by the night-mare."[368:B]

The most copious account of the preservative and curative virtues
which credulity has ascribed to precious stones, is to be drawn from
the pages of Reginald Scot, who appears faithfully and minutely to
have recorded the superstitions of his day. "An Agat (they saie) hath
vertue against the biting of scorpions or serpents. It is written (but
I will not stand to it) that it maketh a man eloquent, and procureth
the favour of princes; yea, that the fume thereof dooth turn awaie
tempests. Alectorius is a stone about the bignesse of a beane, as
cleere as the christall, taken out of a cocks bellie which hath been
gelt or made a capon foure yeares. If it be held in ones mouth, it
assuageth thirst, it maketh the husband to love the wife, and the
bearer invincible:——Chelidonius is a stone taken out of a swallowe,
which cureth melancholie: howbeit, some authors saie, it is the hearbe
whereby the swallowes recover the sight of their yoong, even if
their eies be picked out with an instrument. Geranites is taken out
of a crane, and Draconites out of a dragon. But it is to be noted,
that such stones must be taken out of the bellies of the serpents,
beasts, or birds, (wherein they are) whiles they live: otherwise, they
vanish awaie with the life, and so they reteine the vertues of those
starres under which they are. Amethysus maketh a droonken man sober,
and refresheth the wit. The corall preserveth such as beare it from
fascination or bewitching, and in this respect they are hanged about
children's necks. But from whence that superstition is derived, and who
invented the lie, I knowe not: but I see how redie the people are to
give credit thereunto, by the multitude of coralls that waie emploied.
Heliotropius stancheth bloud, driveth awaie poisons, preserveth health:
yea, and some write that it provoketh raine, and darkeneth the sunne,
suffering not him that beareth it to be abused. Hyacinthus dooth all
that the other dooth, and also preserveth from lightening. Dinothera
hanged about the necke, collar, or yoke of any creature, tameth it
presentlie. A Topase healeth the lunatike person of his passion of
lunacie. Aitites, if it be shaken, soundeth as if there were a little
stone in the bellie thereof: it is good for the falling sicknesse, and
to prevent untimelie birth. Chalcedonius maketh the bearer luckie in
lawe, quickeneth the power of the bodie, and is of force also against
the illusions of the divell, and phantasticall cogitations arising of
melancholie. Corneolus mitigateth the heate of the mind, and qualifieth
malice, it stancheth bloudie fluxes. Iris helpeth a woman to speedie
deliverance, and maketh rainebowes to appeere. A Saphire preserveth
the members, and maketh them livelie, and helpeth agues and gowts, and
suffereth not the bearer to be afraid: it hath vertue against venome,
and staieth bleeding at the nose, being often put thereto. A Smarag is
good for the eiesight, and maketh one rich and eloquent. Mephis (as
Aaron and Hermes report out of Albertus Magnus) being broken into
powder, and droonke with water, maketh insensibilitie of torture.
Heereby you may understand, that as God hath bestowed upon these
stones, and such other like bodies, most excellent and woonderfull
vertues: so according to the abundance of humane superstitions and
follies; manie ascribe unto them either more virtues, or others than
they have."[370:A]

This passage has been closely imitated by Drayton, in the ninth Nymphal
of his Muse's Elysium[370:B]; he has made, however, some additions to
the catalogue, one of which we have already noticed, and another will
be shortly quoted.

Virtues of a kind equally miraculous were attributed to bones and
horns; thus Scot tells us, that a bone taken out of a carp's head
staunches blood; that the bone in a hare's foot mitigates the cramp,
and that the unicorn's horn is inestimable[370:C]; and were we to
enumerate the wonders performed by herbs, we might fill a volume. Many
of them, indeed, were considered of such potency as to render the
persons who rightly used them, either invisible or invulnerable, and,
therefore, to those who were engaged to fight a legal duel, an oath was
administered, purporting "that they had ne charme, ne herbe of vertue"
about them.

Several diseases were held to be incurable, by ordinary means; such as
wens, warts, the king's evil, agues, rickets, and ruptures; and the
remedies which were adopted present a most deplorable instance of human
folly. Tumours were to be dispelled by stroking them nine times with a
dead man's hand, and the evil by the royal touch, a miraculous power
supposed to have been first exercised by Edward the Confessor, and to
have been since hereditary in the royal line, at least to the period of
the decease of Queen Anne. Of the discharge of this important function
by the Confessor, and of its regal descent, our poet has left us a
pretty accurate description:—

      "_Malcolm._ ——— Comes the king forth, I pray you?

      _Doctor._ Ay, Sir: there are a crew of wretched souls,
    That stay his cure: their malady convinces
    The great assay of art; but, at his touch,
    Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand,
    They presently amend.

      _Macduff._ What's the disease he means?

      _Mal._                 'Tis call'd the evil:
    A most miraculous work in this good king;
    Which often, since my here-remain in England,
    I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven,
    Himself best knows; but strangely-visited people,
    All swoln and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
    The mere despair of surgery, he cures;
    Hanging a golden stamp[371:A] about their necks,
    Put on with holy prayers: and 'tis spoken,
    To the succeeding royalty he leaves
    The healing benediction."[371:B]

That Shakspeare had frequently witnessed Queen Elizabeth's exercise
of this extraordinary gift, is very probable; for it appears from
Laneham, that even on her visits to her nobility, she was in the habit
of exerting this sanative power. In his _Account of the Entertainment
at Kenelworth Castle_, he records "by her highness accustomed mercy and
charitee, nyne cured of the peynful and dangerous diseaz called the
King's Evil, for that kings and queens of this realm without oother
medsin (than by touching and prayer) only doo it."[371:C]

Most of the superstitious cures for warts and agues remain as articles
of popular credulity; but the mode of removing ruptures and the
rickets which prevailed at this period, and for some centuries before,
is now nearly, if not altogether extinct. A young tree was split
longitudinally, and the diseased child, being stripped naked, was
passed, with the head foremost, thrice through the fissure. The wounded
tree was then drawn together with a cord so as to unite it perfectly,
and as the tree healed, the child was to acquire health and strength.
The same result followed if the child crept through a stone perforated
by some operation of Nature; of stones of this kind there are some
instances in Cornwall, and Mr. Borlase tells us, in his History of that
County, that there was one of this description in the parish of Marden,
which had a perforation through it fourteen inches in diameter, and was
celebrated for its cures on those who ventured, under these complaints,
to travel through its healing aperture.

The doctrine of _sympathetic_ indications and cures was very prevalent
during the era of Elizabeth and James, and is repeatedly insisted upon
by the writers of that age. One of the most generally credited of
these was, that a murdered body bled upon the touch or approach of the
murderer; an idea which has not only been adopted by our elder bards as
poetically striking, but has been adduced, as a truth, by some of our
very grave writers in prose. Among the Dramatists it will be sufficient
to produce Shakspeare, who represents the corpse of Henry the Sixth as
bleeding on the approach of the Tyrant Richard:—

    "O, gentlemen, see, see! dead Henry's wounds
     Open their congeal'd mouths, and bleed afresh!
     Blush, blush, thou lump of foul deformity;
     For 'tis thy presence that exhales this blood
     From cold and empty veins, where no blood dwells;
     Thy deed, inhuman and unnatural,
     Provokes this deluge most unnatural:"[372:A]

and Drayton seems to have been a firm believer in the same
preternatural effect; for he informs us in his forty sixth _Idea_, that,

    "In making trial of a murther wrought,
     If the vile actors of the heinous deed,
     Near the dead body happily be brought,
     Oft't hath been prov'd the breathless corps will bleed."[373:A]

Of the prose authorities, besides Lupton, and Sir Kenelm Digby
mentioned in the notes of the Variorum Edition of our author,
Lavaterus, Reginald Scot, and King James may be quoted, as reposing
an implicit faith in the miracle. The _first_ of these writers tells
us, in his English dress, of 1572, that "some men beeing slayne by
theeves, when the theeves come to the dead body, by and by there
gusheth out freshe blood, or else there is declaration by other tokens,
that the theefe is there present;" and he then adds, "touching these
and other such marvellous things there might be many histories and
testimonies alleaged. But whosoever readeth this booke, may call
to their remembraunce, that they have scene these and suche like
things themselves, or that they have heard them of their freends
and acquaintaunce and of such as deserve sufficient credit."[373:B]
The _second_, in 1584, justifying what he terms common experience,
says, "I have heard by credible report, and I have read many grave
authors constantlie affirme, that the wound of a man murthered
reneweth bleeding; at the presence of a deere freend, or of a mortall
enimie[373:C];" and the third, in 1603, asserts, that "in a secret
murther, if the dead carkasse bee at any time thereafter handled by
the murtherer, it will gush out of bloud, as if the bloud were crying
to the heaven for revenge of the murtherer, God having appointed that
secret supernaturall signe, for triall of that secret unnaturall

The influence of sympathy or _affection_ as it was termed, at the
period of which we are writing, over the passions and feelings of the
human mind, is curiously, though correctly exemplified by the poet, in
the character of Shylock, who tells the Duke—

    "Some men there are, love not a gaping pig;
     Some, that are mad, if they behold a cat;
     And others, when the bag-pipe sings i' the nose,
     Cannot contain their urine; for _affection_,
     Mistress of passion, sways it to the mood
     Of what it likes and loaths."[374:A]

Another sympathy mentioned by Shakspeare, but of a nature wholly
superstitious, relates to the Mandrake, a vegetable, the root of which
was supposed to be endued with animal life, and to shriek so horribly
when drawn out of the ground, as to occasion madness, and even death,
in those who made the attempt:—

      —————— "What with loathsome smells,
    And shrieks like mandrakes torn out of the earth,
    That living mortals, hearing them, run mad;
    O! if I wake, shall I not be distraught?"[374:B]

exclaims Juliet; and Suffolk, in King Henry the Sixth, declares that
every joint of his body should curse and ban his enemies,

    "Would curses kill, as doth the mandrake's groan."[374:C]

To avoid these dreadful effects, it was the custom of those who
collected this root, to compel some animal to be the instrument of
extraction, and consequently the object of punishment. "They doe
affyrme," says Bulleine, "that this herbe (the Mandragora) commeth of
the seede of some convicted dead men: and also without the death of
some lyvinge thinge it cannot be drawnen out of the earth to man's use.
Therefore they did tye some dogge or other lyving beast unto the roote
thereof wyth a corde, and digged the earth in compasse round about, and
in the meane tyme stopp'd their own eares for feare of the terrible
shriek and cry of this Mandrack. In whych cry it doth not only dye
itselfe, but the feare thereof kylleth the dogge or beast which pulleth
it out of the earth."[374:D]

One of the most fantastic sympathies which yet lingers in the
popular creed, is founded on the idea that when a person is seized
with a sudden shivering, some one is walking over his future grave.
"Probably," remarks Mr. Grose, "all persons are not subject to this
sensation; otherwise the inhabitants of those parishes, whose burial
grounds lie in the common foot-path, would live in one continual fit of

Of all the modes of sympathetic credulity, however, none was more
prevalent in the reign of James the First, than that which pretended
to the cure of wounds and diseases; no stronger proof, indeed, can be
given of the credulity of that age, than that Bacon was a believer
in the sympathetic cure of warts[375:B], and, with James and his
court, in the efficacy of Sir Kenelm Digby's sympathetic powder. To
this far-famed medicine, the secret of which King James obtained from
Sir Kenelm, it is said, by the Knight himself, in his Discourse on
Sympathy, that Mr. James Howel, the well-known author of the Letters,
was indebted for a cure, when his hand was severely wounded in
endeavouring to part two of his friends engaged in a duel. The King,
out of regard to Howel, sent him his own surgeon; but a gangrene being
apprehended, from the violence of the inflammation, the sufferer was
induced to apply to Sir Kenelm, of whose mode of treatment he had heard
the most wonderful accounts.

"I asked him," relates Digby, "for any thing that had the blood upon
it; so he presently sent for his garter, wherewith his hand was first
bound; and as I called for a bason of water, as if I would wash my
hands, I took a handfull of powder of vitriol, which I had in my study,
and presently dissolved it. As soon as the bloody garter was brought
me, I put it within the bason, observing in the interim, what Mr. Howel
did, who stood talking with a gentleman in a corner of my chamber,
not regarding at all what I was doing; but he started suddenly as if
he had found some strange alteration in himself. I asked him what he
ailed? 'I know not what ailes me; but I finde that I feel no more pain.
Methinks that a pleasing kinde of freshnesse, as it were a wet cold
napkin, did spread over my hand, which hath taken away the inflammation
that tormented me before.' I reply'd, 'Since then that you feel already
so good effect of my medicament, I advise you to cast away all your
playsters; only keep the wound clean, and in a moderate temper betwixt
heat and cold.' This was presently reported to the Duke of Buckingham,
and a little after to the king, who were both very curious to know the
circumstance of the businesse, which was, that after dinner I took the
garter out of the water, and put it to dry before a great fire. It was
scarce dry, but Mr. Howel's servant came running that his master felt
as much burning as ever he had done, if not more: for the heat was such
as if his hand were twixt coles of fire. I answered, although that had
happened at present, yet he should find ease in a short time; for I
knew the reason of this new accident, and would provide accordingly;
for his master should be free from that inflammation, it may be before
he could possibly return to him: but in case he found no ease, I wished
him to come presently back again; if not, he might forbear coming.
Thereupon he went; and at the instant I did put again the garter into
the water, thereupon he found his master without any pain at all. To
be brief, there was no sense of pain afterward; but within five or six
dayes the wounds were cicatrized, and entirely healed."[376:A]

To this marvellous cure, which may in truth be attributed to the
dismission of the plasters, we may add that a similar sanative and
sympathetic power was conceived to subsist between the wounds and the
instrument which inflicted them. Thus anointing the weapon with a
salve, or stroking it in a peculiar manner, had an immediate effect
on the wounded person. "They can remedie," says Scot, "anie stranger,
and him that is absent, with that _verie sword_ wherewith they are
wounded. Yea, and that which is beyond all admiration, if they stroke
the sworde upwards with their fingers, the partie shall feele no paine:
whereas if they drawe their finger downewards thereupon, the partie
wounded shall feele intollerable paine."[377:A]

Independent of the superstitions which we have thus classed under
distinct heads, there remain several to be noticed, not clearly
referrible to any part of the above arrangement; but which cannot with
propriety be omitted. These may, therefore, be collected under the term
MISCELLANEOUS, which will be found to include many curious particulars,
in no slight degree illustrative of the subject under consideration.

In the _Tempest_, towards the close of the fourth act, the poet
represents Prospero and Ariel setting on spirits, in the shape of
hounds, to hunt Stephano and Trinculo, while, at the same time, a noise
of hunters is heard.[377:B] This species of diabolical or spectral
chase was a popular article of belief, and is mentioned or alluded to
in many of the numerous books which were written, during this period,
on devils and spectres. Lavaterus, treating of the various modes in
which spirits act, says, "heereunto belongeth those things which are
reported touching the _chasing or hunting of Divels_, and also of the
daunces of dead men, which are of sundrie sortes. I have heard of
some which have avouched, that they have seene them[377:C];" and in a
translation from the French of Peter de Loier's _Treatise of Spectres_,
published in 1605, a chase of this kind is mentioned under the
appellation of _Arthur's Chace_, "which many," observes this writer,
"believe to be in France, and think that it is a kennel of black dogs,
followed by unknown huntsmen, with an exceeding great sound of horns,
as if it was a very hunting of some wild beast."[377:D]

Of a chase of this supernatural description, Boccacio, in the
fourteenth century, made an admirable use in his terrific tale of
Theodore and Honoria; a narrative which has received new charms and
additional horrors from the masterly imitation of Dryden; and in our
own days the same impressive superstition has been productive of a like
effect in the spirited ballad of Burger.

The hell-hounds of Shakspeare appear to be sufficiently formidable;
for, not merely commissioned to hunt their victims, they are ordered,
likewise, as goblins, to

    ———————— "grind their joints
    With dry convulsions; shorten up their sinews
    With aged cramps; and more pinch-spotted make them,
    Than pard, or cat o'mountain.
                    Hark, (_exclaims Ariel_) they roar.

      _Prospero._ Let them be hunted soundly."[378:A]

The punishments which our poet has assigned to sinners in the infernal
regions, are most probably founded on the fictions of the monks, who,
not content with the infliction of mere fire as a source of torment,
condemn the damned to suffer the alternations of heat and cold; to
experience the cravings of extreme hunger and thirst, and to be driven
by whirlwinds through the immensity of space. In correspondence with
these legendary horrors, are the descriptions attributed to Claudio in
_Measure for Measure_, and to the Ghost in _Hamlet_:—

      "_Claudio._ Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
    To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot:
    This sensible warm motion to become
    A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
    To _bathe in fiery floods_, or to reside,
    _In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice_;
    To be _imprison'd in the viewless winds,
    And blown with restless violence round about
    The pendent world_; or to be worse than worst
    Of those, that lawless and uncertain thoughts
    Imagine howling!—'tis too horrible!"[379:A]

      ————— "I am thy father's spirit;
    Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night;
    And, for the day, _confined to fast in fires_,
    Till the foul crimes, done in my days of nature,
    Are burnt and purg'd away."[379:B]

Imagery somewhat similar to this may be found in the vulgar Latin
version of Job xxiv. 19.[379:C], and in the Inferno and Purgatorio of
Dante[379:D]; but Shakspeare had sufficient authorities in his own
language. An old homily, quoted by Dr. Farmer, speaking of the pains
of hell, says "the fyrste is fyre that ever brenneth, and never gyveth
lighte; the seconde is passying cold, that yf a greate hylle of fyre
were cast therein, it shold torne to yce[379:E];" and Chaucer, in his
_Assemblie of Foules_, describing the situation of souls in hell,
declares that

      —— "breakers of the lawe, sothe to saine,
    And lickerous folke, after that they been dede
    _Shall whirle about the world_, alway in paine
    Till many a world be passed."[379:F]

The same doctrine is taught in that once popular and curious old work
_The Shepherd's Calendar_, which so frequently issued from the presses
of Wynkyn De Worde, Pynson, and Julian Notary. Among the torments of
the damned, the first enumerated

      ——— "is fire so hote to rekenne
    That no manere of thynge may slekenne,
    The secunde is colde as seith some
    That no hete of fire may over come;"

and Lazarus, describing the punishment of the ENVIOUS, says,—"I have
seen in hell a flood frozen as ice, wherein the _envious_ men and women
were plunged unto the navel; and then suddenly came over them a right
cold and a great wind, that grieved and pained them right sore, and
when they would evite and eschew the wonderful blasts of the wind,
they plunged into water with great shouts and cries, lamentable to
hear[380:A];" and again in the eighteenth chapter of the same work, it
is related, as the reward of them that keep the ten commandments of the
Devil, that

      —— "a _great froste_ in a water rounes
    And after a _bytter wynde_ comes
    Whiche gothe through the soules with yre."

In the _Songes and Sonnets_, also, by Lord Surrey, and others, which
were first published in 1557, the pains of hell are depicted as
partaking of the like vicissitude:—

    "The soules that lacked grace
     Which lye in bitter paine,
     Are not in suche a place,
     As foolish folke do faine;

     Tormented all with _fyre_,
     And boyle in leade againe—

     Then cast in _frozen pites_,
     To _freze_ there certein howres."[380:B]

Hunger and thirst, as forming part of the sufferings of the damned,
are alluded to by Chaucer in his Parson's Tale[381:A], and by Nash in
one of his numerous pamphlets: "Whether," says he, speaking of hell,
"it be a place of horror, stench, and darkness, where men see _meat,
but can get none, and are ever thirsty_."[381:B]

Heywood in his _Hierarchie of Angels_[381:C], and Milton in his
_Paradise Lost_, have adopted Claudio's description of the infernal
abode with regard to the interchange of heat and cold; the picture
which the latter has drawn completely fills up the outline of

    "Beyond —— a frozen continent
    Lies dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms
    Of whirlwind and dire hail——
    Thither by harpy-footed furies hal'd,
    At certain revolutions, all the damn'd
    Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change
    Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce,
    From beds of raging fire, to starve in ice
    Their soft ethereal warmth, and there to pine
    Immovable, infix'd, and frozen round,
    Periods of time, thence hurried back to fire."[381:D]

The Platonic doctrine or superstition relative to the harmony of the
spheres, and of the human soul, was a favourite embellishment, both
in prose and poetry, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Spenser, Shakspeare, Hooker, Milton, have all adopted it as a mode of
illustration, and it forms, in the works of our great Dramatist, one of
his most splendid and beautiful passages:

    "How sweet the moon-light sleeps upon this bank!
     Here will we sit, and let the sounds of musick
     Creep in our ears; soft stillness, and the night,
     Become the touches of sweet harmony.
     Sit, Jessica: Look, how the floor of heaven
     Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold;
     _There's not the smallest orb, which thou behold'st,
     But in his motion like an angel sings,
     Still quiring to the young-ey'd cherubins:
     Such harmony is in immortal souls;
     But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay
     Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it_."[382:A]

The opinion of Plato, as expressed in the tenth book of his
_Republic_[382:B] and in his _Timæus_, represents the music of the
spheres as so rapid, sweet, and variously inflected, as to exceed all
power in the human ear to measure its proportions, and consequently
it is not to be heard of man, while resident in this fleshly mould.
The same species of harmony is averred by Hooker[382:C] and Shakspeare
to reside in the human soul; but, says the latter, "whilst this muddy
vesture of decay doth grossly close this musick in, we cannot hear
it:" that is, whilst the soul is immured in the body, it is neither
conscious of its own harmony, nor of that existing in the spheres; but
no sooner shall it be freed from this incumbrance, and become a _pure
spirit_, than it shall be sensible both to its _own concord of sweet
sounds_, and to that _diapason_ or concentus which is addressed by the
nine muses or syrens to the Supreme Being,

    "That undisturbed song of _pure concent_,
     Aye sung before the sapphire-colour'd throne,
     To _Him_ that sits thereon."[382:D]

Of the various superstitions relative to the _Moon_, which prevailed in
the days of Shakspeare, a few are still retained. The most common is
that founded on the idea of a human creature being imprisoned in this
beautiful planet. The culprit was generally supposed to be the sinner
recorded in Numbers, chap. xv. v. 32., who was found gathering sticks
upon the sabbath day; a crime to which Chaucer has added the iniquity
of theft; for he describes this singular inhabitant as

    "Bearing a bush of thornes on his backe,
     Which for his _theft_ might clime no ner the heven."[383:A]

The Italians, however, appropriate this luminary for the residence of
Cain, and one of their early poets even speaks of the planet under the
term of _Caino e le spine_.[383:B] Shakspeare, with his usual attention
to propriety of character, attributes a belief in this superstition to
the monster Caliban:

      "_Calib._ Hast thou not dropped from heaven?

      _Steph._ Out o'the moon, I do assure thee: I was the man in the
          moon, when time was.

      _Cal._ I have seen thee in her, and I do adore thee;
    My mistress shewed me thee, thy dog and bush."[383:C]

The influence of the moon over diseases bodily and intellectual; its
virtue in all magical rites; its appearances as predictive of evil
and good, and its power over the weather and over many of the minor
concerns of life, such as the gathering of herbs, the killing of
animals for the table, &c. &c. were much more firmly and universally
accredited in the sixteenth century than at present; although we must
admit, that traces of all these credulities may still be found; and
that in medical science, the doctrine of lunar influence still, and to
a certain extent, perhaps with probability, exists.

Shakspeare addresses the moon as the "sovereign mistress of true
melancholy[383:D];" tells us, that when "she comes more near to the
earth than she was wont," she "makes men mad[383:E];" and that, when
she is "pale in her anger—rheumatic diseases do abound."[384:A] He
tells us, also, through the medium of Hecate, that

    "Upon the corner of the moon
     There hangs a vaporous drop profound"

of power to compel the obedience of infernal spirits[384:B]; and that
its eclipses[384:C], its sanguine colour[384:D], and its apparent
multiplication[384:E], are certain prognostics of disaster.

To kill hogs, to collect herbs, and to sow seed, when the moon was
increasing, was deemed a most essential observance; the bacon was
better, the plants more effective, and the crops more abundant in
consequence of this attention. Implicit confidence was also placed
in the new moon as a prognosticator of the weather, according to its
position, or the curvature of its horns; and it was hailed by blessings
and supplications; the women especially, both in England and Scotland,
were accustomed to curtesy to the new moon, and on the first night of
its appearance the unmarried part of the sex would frequently, sitting
astride on a gate or stile, invoke its influence in the following
curious terms:—

    "All hail to the Moon, all hail to thee,
     I prithee good Moon declare to me,
     This night who my husband shall be."

The credulity of the country was particularly directed at this period,
including the close of the sixteenth century, and the beginning of the
seventeenth century, towards the numerous relations of the existence
of MONSTERS of various kinds; and Shakspeare, who more than any other
poet, availed himself of the superstitious follies of his time, hath
repeatedly both introduced, and satirized, these objects, as articles
of, and exciters of the popular belief. His Caliban, a monster of his
own creation, and, poetically considered, one of the most striking
products of his imagination, will be noticed at length in another
place, and we shall here confine ourselves to his description of the
monsters which, as objects of historical record, had lately become the
theme of credulous wonder, and general speculation.

Othello, in his speech before the senators, familiarly alludes to

    —— "the Cannibals that each other eat,
    The _Anthropophagi, and men whose heads
    Do grow beneath their shoulders_:"[385:A]

and Gonzaga, in the _Tempest_, exclaims:

    "Who would believe that there were mountaineers,
     _Dewlapp'd like bulls, whose throats had hanging at them
     Wallets of flesh_? or that there were such _men,
     Whose heads stood in their breasts_."[385:B]

These monsters, and many others, which had been described in the
editions of Maundeville's Travels, published by Wynkyn De Worde
and Pynson in 1499-1503, &c. were revived, with fresh claims to
belief, by the voyagers and natural historians of the poet's age.
In 1581, Professor Batman printed his "Doome, warning all men to
the judgemente," in which not only the _Anthropophagi, who eat
man's flesh_, are mentioned, but various other races, such as the
_Œthiopes_ with four eyes, the _Hippopodes_, with their nether parts
like horses, the _Arimaspi_ with one eye in the forehead, &c. &c., and
to these he adds "men called _Monopoli_, who _have no head, but a face
in their breaste_."[385:C] In 1596 these marvels were corroborated by
Sir Walter Ralegh's _Discoverie of Guiana_[385:D], an empire, which, he
affirms, was productive of a similar generation; and Hackluyt, in 1598,
tells us that, "on that branch which is called Caora, are a nation of
a people _whose heades appeare not above their shoulders_: they are
reported to have their eyes in their shoulders, and their mouthes in
the middle of their breasts."

With the mere English scholar, classical authority was given to these
tales by Philemon Holland's Translation of Pliny's Natural History in
1601, where are the following descriptions both of the _Anthropophagi_
and of the men _whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders_:—"The
Anthropophagi or eaters of man's flesh whom we have placed about the
North pole, tenne daies journey by land above the river Borysthenes,
use to drinke out of the sculs of men's heads, and to weare the
scalpes, haire and all, in steed of mandellions or stomachers before
their breasts."[386:A] "The Blemmyi, by report, have no heads, but
mouth and eies both in their breast[386:B];" and again, "beyond these
westward, some there bee without heads standing upon their neckes, who
carrie eies in their shoulders."[386:C]

It is, also, very probable that the attention of Shakspeare was
still further drawn to these headless monsters by the labours of the
engraver; for in Este's edition of Maundeville's Travels, an attempt
is made to delineate one of these deformities, who is represented with
the eyes, nose, and mouth situated on the breast and stomach; and in a
translation of Ralegh's Guiana into Latin, by Hulse, in 1599, a similar
plate is given.[386:D]

That our author viewed this partiality in the public mind for wonders
and strange spectacles, with a smile of contempt, and was willing to
seize an opportunity for ridiculing the mania, appears evident from a
passage in his _Tempest_, where Trinculo, discovering Caliban extended
on the ground, supposes him to be a species of fish, and observes,
"Were I in England now (as once I was) and had but this _fish_
painted, not a holiday fool there but would give a piece of silver:
there would this monster make a man; any strange beast there makes a
man: when they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will
lay out ten to see a dead Indian."[387:A]

_Wild Indians_, _curious fishes_, and _crocodiles_, seem to have been
singularly numerous in London at this epoch, having been brought
thither by several of our enterprising navigators; and by those who
crowded from every part of the country to view them, many superstitious
marvels were connected with their natural history. Of _three_ or
_four savages_ which Frobisher took in his first voyage, one, we are
told, "for very choler and disdain bit his tong in twaine within
his mouth: notwithstanding he died not thereof, but lived untill he
came in Englande, and then he died of colde, which he had taken at
sea[387:B];" the survivors, there is every reason to suppose, were
exhibited; for in the year 1577, there was entered on the books of the
Stationers' Company, "A description of the portrayture and shape of
those strange kinde of people which the worthie Mr. Martin Fourbosier
brought into England in Ao 1576[387:C];" and Mr. Chalmers relates,
that "Lord Southampton, and Sir Francis Gorges, engaging in voyages of
discovery, sent out, in 1611, two vessels under the command of Harlie,
and Nicolas, who sailed along the New England coast, where they were
sometimes well, and often ill, received, by the natives; and returned
to England, in the same year, with _five savages_, on board. In 1614,
Captain Smith carried out to New England one of those savages, named
_Tantum_; Captains Harlie and Hopson transported, in the same year, two
others of those savages, called _Epenow_, and _Manawet_; one of those
savages adventured to the European continent; and the _fifth Indian_,
of whom no account is given, we may easily suppose died in London, and
was exhibited for a show."[387:D]

We learn from a publication of Churchyard's in 1578, that Frobisher's
crew found a "_straunge fish_ dead, that had been caste from the
sea on the shore, who had a boane in his head like an Unicorne,
which they brought awaye, and presented to our Prince, when thei
came home[388:A];" and from the Stationers' Books, that, in 1604, an
account was printed "of a monstrous _fish_, that appeared in the form
of a woman from her waist upward, seene in the sea."[388:B] That the
credulity of the public in Elizabeth's days was remarkably great in
swallowing the most marvellous details in natural history, is proved
by a curious scene in the "City Match" of Jasper Mayne, which, though
first acted in 1639, refers to the age of Elizabeth, as to a period
fertile in these wondrous exhibitions. A set of knaves are described
as _hanging out the picture of a strange fish_, which they affirm is
the _fifth_ they have shown; and the following dialogue takes place
relative to the inscription on the place which included the monster:—

      "_Holland._ Pray, can you read that? Sir, I warrant
    That tells where it was caught, and what fish 'tis.

      _Plotwell._ _Within this place is to be seen,
    A wonderous fish. God save——the Queen._

      _Hol._ Amen! She is my customer, and I
    Have sold her bone-lace often.

      _Bright._ Why the Queen? 'Tis writ the King.

      _Plot._ That was to make the rhime.

      _Bright._ 'Slid, thou did'st read it as twere some picture of
    An _Elizabeth-fish_."[388:C]

A boy is then introduced, who sings a song upon the fish, commencing
with these lines:

    "We show no monstrous _crocodile_,
     Nor any prodigy of Nile;"[389:A]

which again alludes to the monster-loving propensities of good Queen
Bess's subjects; for Batman in his work upon Bartholome, published in
1582, says,—"Of late years there hath been brought into England, the
cases or skinnes of such _crocodiles_, to be seene, and much money
given for the sight thereof; the policy of strangers," he adds, in
the spirit of Shakspeare, "laugh at our folly, either that we are too
wealthy, or else that we know not how to bestow our money[389:B];" and
Bullokar, in his _English Expositor_ of 1616, confirms the charge by
telling us, that a dead _crocodile_, "but in perfect forme," and nine
feet long, had lately been exhibited in London, a fact to which he
annexes the following tradition:—"It is written," he remarks, "that
he will weep over a man's head when he hath devoured the body, and
then he will eat up the head too. Wherefore—crocodiles tears signifie
such tears as are fained, and spent only with intent to deceive or doe
harme."[389:C] Of this superstition Shakspeare has made a poetical use
in two of his dramas: Margaret in _Henry VI._ Part 2. complains that
Gloucester beguiles the king,

    —————— "as the mournful crocodile
    With sorrow snares relenting passengers:"[389:D]

and Othello, execrating the supposed duplicity of Desdemona, exclaims,

    "If that the earth could teem with woman's tears,
     Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile."[389:E]

Many superstitions relative to the DYING, existed at this time, among
all ranks of people, and a few of these have been preserved by our
poet. One of the most general was built on the belief, that Satan, or
some of his infernal host, watched the death-bed of every individual,
and, if impenitence or irreligion appeared, immediately took possession
of the soul. The death-scene of Cardinal Beaufort is an admirable
exemplification of this appalling idea; Henry is appealing to the
Almighty in behalf of the agonised sinner, and utters the following
pious petition:—

    "O thou eternal Mover of the heavens,
     Look with a gentle eye upon this wretch!
     O, beat away the busy meddling fiend
     That lays strong siege unto this wretch's soul,
     And from his bosom purge this black despair!"[390:A]

The powerful delineation of this scene from the pencil of Sir Joshua
Reynolds, in which the "meddling fiend" is personified in all his
terrors, must be considered in strict accordance with the credulity of
the age; for "in an ancient manuscript book of devotions," relates Mr.
Douce, "written in the reign of Henry VI., there is a prayer addressed
to Saint George, with the following very singular passage: 'Judge
for me whan the moste hedyous and damnable dragons of helle shall be
redy to take my poore soule and engloute it in to theyr infernall
belyes'[390:B];" and the books on demonology and spirits, written in
the reigns of Elizabeth and James, clearly prove that this relic of
popish superstition was still a portion of the popular creed.

Another singular conception was, that it was necessary in the agonies
of death, to

    "Pluck—men's pillows from below their heads,"[390:C]

in order that they might die the easier; a practice founded on the
ridiculous supposition that, if pigeons' feathers formed a part of the
materials of the pillow, it was impossible the sufferer should expire
but in great misery, and that he would probably continue to struggle
for a prodigious length of time in exquisite torture.

It was common at this period, and the practice, indeed, continued
until the middle of the last century, to consider WELLS and FOUNTAINS
as peculiarly sacred and holy, and to visit them as a species of
pilgrimage, or for the healing virtues which superstition had fondly
attributed to them. Many of these wells, which had been much frequented
in London, during the days of Fitzstephen, were closed, or neglected,
when Stowe wrote[391:A]; but in the _country_ the habit of resorting
to such springs, and for purposes similar to those which existed in
papal times, was generally preserved. Bourne, who published in 1725,
speaks in language peculiarly descriptive of this superstitious regard
for wells and fountains, not only as it was observed in ancient times,
but at the period in which he lived. "In the dark ages of popery,"
he says, "it was a custom, if any _well_ had an awful situation, and
was seated in some lonely melancholy vale; if its water was clear and
limpid, and beautifully margin'd with the tender grass; or if it was
look'd upon, as having a medicinal quality; to gift it to some _Saint_,
and honour it with his name. Hence it is that we have at this day wells
and fountains called, some _St. John's, St. Mary Magdalen's, St. Mary's
Well, &c._

"To these kind of wells, the common people are accustomed to go, on a
summer's evening, to refresh themselves with a walk after the toil of
the day, to drink the water of the fountain, and enjoy the pleasing
prospect of shade and stream.

"Now this custom (though, _at this time of day_, very commendable, and
harmless, and innocent) seems to be the remains of that superstitious
practice of the Papists, of paying adoration to wells and fountains;
for they imagined there was some holiness and sanctity in them, and so
worshipped them."[392:A]

It was in the north especially, where Mr. Bourne resided, that wells
of this description were most frequently to be found, possessing the
advantages of a romantic situation, and preserved with care through
the influence of the traditionary legends of the neighbouring village;
for these retreats were supposed to be the haunts of fairies and good
spirits who were accustomed to meet

    —————— "in dale, forest, or mead,
    By paved fountain, or by rushy brook."[392:B]

At these wells offerings were frequently made, either owing to the
conceived sanctity of the place, or from gratitude for imagined
benefit received through the waters of the spring; and as those who
had recourse to these fountains were usually of the lower class,
small pieces of money were given, or even _rags_ suspended on the
trees or bushes which overhung the stream; whence these fountains
in many places obtained the name of _Rag-wells_. One thus termed is
mentioned, by Mr. Brand, as still exhibiting these tributary shreds at
the village of Benton near Newcastle; Mr. Pennant records two at Spey
and Drachaldy in Scotland; and Mr. Shaw tells us, that in the province
of Moray _pilgrimages to wells_ are not yet obsolete.[393:A] In many
places in the North, indeed, there are wells still remaining which were
manifestly intended for the refreshment of the way-worn traveller, and
are yet held in veneration. We have seen some of these with ladles of
brass affixed to the stone-work by a chain, a convenience probably as
ancient as the Anglo-Saxon era.

Several traditions of a peculiarly superstitious hue, have been
cherished in this country with regard to the _bird-tribe_, and most of
them have been introduced by our great poet as accessory either to the
terrible, or the pathetic. The ominous croaking of the raven and the
crow have been already mentioned, and we shall therefore, under the
present head, merely advert to a few additional notices relative to the
_owl_ and the _ruddock_, the former the supposed herald of horror and
disaster, the latter the romantic minister of charity and pity.

To the fearful bodings of the clamorous owl, which we have already
introduced when treating of omens, may now be added a superstition
which formerly rendered this unlucky bird the peculiar dread of mothers
and nurses. It was firmly believed, that the screech-owl was in the
habit of destroying infants by sucking out their blood and breath as
they laid in the cradle. "Lamiæ," observes Lavaterus, "are things that
make children afrayde. Lamiæ are also called _Striges_. _Striges_ (as
they saye) are unluckie-birds, whiche sucke out the blood of infants
lying in their cradles. And hereof some men will have witches take
their name, who also are called [393:B]_Volaticæ_." This credulity
relative to the Strix or screech-owl may be traced to Ovid[394:A], and
is alluded to by Shakspeare in the following lines:—

    "We talk of goblins, _owls_, and elvish sprites;
     If we obey them not, this will ensue,
     They'll _suck out breath_, and pinch us black and blue."[394:B]

Another strange legend in the history of the owl is put into the mouth
of the hapless Ophelia:—

    "Well, God 'ield you! They say the owl was a baker's daughter;"[394:C]

a metamorphosis of which Mr. Douce has given us the origin; he tells
us that it is yet a common story among the vulgar in Gloucestershire,
and is thus related:—"Our Saviour went into a baker's shop where they
were baking, and asked for some bread to eat. The mistress of the shop
immediately put a piece of dough into the oven to bake for him; but
was reprimanded by her daughter, who insisting that the piece of dough
was too large, reduced it to a very small size. The dough, however,
immediately afterwards began to swell, and presently became of a
most enormous size. Whereupon the baker's daughter cried out 'Heugh,
heugh, heugh,' which owl-like noise, probably induced our Saviour for
her wickedness to transform her into that bird." He adds that this
story was often related to children, in order to deter them from such
illiberal behaviour to poor people.[394:D]

The partiality shown to the _ruddock_ or _red-breast_ seems to have
been founded on the popular ballad of _The Children in the Wood_, and
the play of _Cymbeline_. The charitable office, however, which these
productions have ascribed to _Robin_, has an earlier origin than their
date; for in Thomas Johnson's _Cornucopia_, 4to. 1596, it is related
that "the robin redbrest if he find a man or woman dead, will cover all
his face with mosse, and some thinke that if the body should remaine
unburied that he would cover the whole body also."[395:A] It is highly
probable that this anecdote might give birth to the burial of the
babes, whom no one heeded,

    "Till _Robin-red-breast_ painfully
       Did _cover them with leaves_;"

for, according to Dr. Percy[395:B], this pathetic narrative was built
upon a play published by Rob. Yarrington in 1601. It is likewise
possible that the same passage occasioned the beautiful lines in the
play of _Cymbeline_, performed about 1606, where Arviragus, mourning
over Imogen, exclaims—

    —————— "With fairest flowers,
    Whilst summer lasts, and I live here, Fidele,
    I'll sweeten thy sad grave: Thou shalt not lack
    The flower, that's like thy face, pale primrose; nor
    The azur'd hare-bell, like thy veins; no, nor
    The leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander,
    Out-sweeten'd not thy breath: the _ruddock_ would,
    With charitable bill—bring thee _all this_;
    Yea, and furr'd _moss_ besides, when flowers are none,
    To winter-ground thy corse."[395:C]

These interesting pictures of the red-breast would alone be sufficient
to create an affectionate feeling for him; the attachment however has
been ever since kept alive by delineations of a similar kind. In our
author's time Drayton, Webster, and Dekker, have all alluded to this
pleasing tradition: the first in his _Owl_ 1604—

    "Cov'ring with moss the deads unclosed eye,
     The little _red-breast_ teacheth charitie;"[395:D]

the second in his Tragedy, called _The White Devil, or Vittoria
Corombona_, 1612—

    "Call for the _robin red-breast_ and the wren,
     Since o'er shady groves they hover,
     And with leaves and flowers do cover
     The friendless bodies of unburied men;"[396:A]

and the third in one of his pamphlets printed in 1616—"They that
cheere up a prisoner but with their sight, are _Robin red-breasts_ that
bring strawes in their bils to cover a dead man in extremitie."[396:B]

Some wonderful properties relative to an imaginary gem, called a
_carbuncle_, formed likewise a part of the popular creed. It was
supposed to be the most transparent of all the precious stones, and
to possess a native intrinsic lustre so powerful as to illuminate the
atmosphere to a considerable distance around it. It was, therefore,
very appositely adopted by the writers of romance, as an ornament
and source of light for their subterranean palaces, and almost all
our elder poets have gifted it with a similar brilliancy; thus
Chaucer, in his _Romaunt of the Rose_[396:C]; Gower, in his _Confessio
Amantis_[396:D]; Lydgate, in his _Description of King Priam's
Palace_[396:E]; and Stephen Hawes, in his _Pastime of Pleasure_[396:F],
have all celebrated it as a kind of second sun, and the most valuable
of earthly products. Chaucer, more particularly, mentions it as so
clear and bright,—

    "That al so sone as it was night,
     Men mightin sene to go for nede
     A mile, or two in length and brede,
     Such light ysprange out of that stone."

That this fiction was credited in the days of Elizabeth and James, may
be conceded, not only from the familiar allusions of the poets, but
from the philosophic writers on the superstitions of the age. To the
_unborrowed_ light of the carbuncle, Shakspeare has referred in _King
Henry the Eighth_, where the Princess Elizabeth is prophetically termed,

    —————— "a gem
    To lighten all this isle;"[397:A]

and in Titus Andronicus, (if that play can be deemed his,) upon the
discovery of Bassianus slaughtered in a pit;

    "_Martius._ Upon his bloody finger he doth wear
                A precious ring, that lightens all the hole,
                ——like a taper in some monument;"[397:B]

He also mentions this "rich jewel" by way of comparison in
Coriolanus[397:C]; appropriates it as an ornament to the wheels of
Phœbus's chariot in Cymbeline[397:D]; and in the Player's speech in
Hamlet, the eyes of Pyrrhus are said to be "like carbuncles."[397:E]

Drayton describes this fabled stone with nearly as much precision as
Chaucer; he calls it

    "——— that admired, mighty stone,
    The _carbuncle_ that's named;
    Which from it such a flaming light
    And radiancy ejecteth,
    That in the very darkest night
    The eye to it directeth."[397:F]

A modern poet, remarkable for his powers of imagination, has
beautifully, and very happily availed himself of these marvellous
attributes, in describing the magnificent palace of Shedad, a passage
which we shall transcribe, as it leads to an illustrative extract from
a writer of Shakspeare's age:

          "Here self-suspended hangs in air,
    As its pure substance loathed material touch,
              The living carbuncle;
              Sun of the lofty dome,
    Darkness has no dominion o'er its beams;
    Intense it glows, an ever-flowing tide
    Of glory, like the day-flood in its source."

"I have no where seen," says Mr. Southey in a note on these lines, "so
circumstantial an account of its (the carbuncle's) wonderful properties
as in a passage of Thuanus, quoted by Stephanius in his notes to

"Whilst the King was at Bologna, a stone, wonderful in its species and
nature, was brought to him from the East Indies, by a man unknown, who
appeared by his manners to be a Barbarian. It sparkled as though all
burning, with an incredible splendour; flashing radiance, and shooting
on every side its beams, it filled the surrounding air to a great
distance with a light scarcely by any eyes endurable. In this also
it was wonderful, that being most impatient of the earth, if it was
confined, it would force its way, and immediately fly aloft; neither
could it be contained by any art of man in a narrow place, but appeared
only to love those of ample extent. It was of the utmost purity,
stained by no soil nor spot. Certain shape it had none, for its figure
was inconstant, and momentarily changing, and though at a distance it
was beautiful to the eye, it would not suffer itself to be handled
with impunity, but hurt those who obstinately struggled with it, as
many persons before many spectators experienced. If by chance any part
of it was broken off, for it was not very hard, it became nothing

An account equally minute, and in terms nearly similar, occurs in
Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584, and both were probably taken
from the same source, the writings of Fernel or Fernelius. This
physician died in 1558; and his description, as copied by Scot,
contributed, no doubt, to prolong the public credulity in this kingdom;
though the English philosopher attempts to explain the phenomenon by
supposing that actual flame was concentrated and burning in the centre
of the gem.

"Johannes Fernelius writeth of a strange stone latelie brought out
of India, which hath in it such a marvellous brightnes, puritie and
shining, that therewith the aire round about is so lightned and
cleared, that one may see to read thereby in the darknes of night. It
will not be conteined in a close roome, but requireth an open and free
place. It would not willingly rest or staie here belowe on the earth,
but alwaies laboureth to ascend up into the aire. If one presse it
downe with his hand, it resisteth, and striveth verie sharplie. It is
beautifull to behold, without either spot or blemish, and yet verie
unpleasant to taste or feele. If any part thereof be taken awaie, it
is never a whit diminished, the forme thereof being inconstant, and at
everie moment mutable."[399:A]

The carbuncle was believed to be an animal substance generated in
the body of a serpent, to possess a sexual distinction, the males
having a star-formed burning nucleus, while the females dispersed
their brilliancy on all sides in a formless blaze; and, like other
transparent gems, to have the power of expelling evil spirits.

While on the subject of superstitious notions relative to luminous
bodies, we may remark, that in the age of Shakspeare, the wandering
lights, termed _Will-o-wisp_ and _Jack-o-Lantern_, were supposed by the
common people to be occasioned by demons and malignant fairies, with
the view of leading the benighted traveller to his destruction. "Many
tymes," says Lavaterus, "candles and small fiers appeare in the night,
and seeme to run up and downe;—those fiers some time seeme to come
togither, and by and by to be severed and run abroade, and at the last
to vanish clean away. Somtime these fiers go alone in the night season,
and put such as see them, as they travel by night, in great fear. But
these things, and many suche lyke, have their natural causes: _and
yet I will not denye, but that many tymes Dyvels delude men in this

Stephano, in the _Tempest_, attributes this phenomenon to the agency
of a mischievous fairy: "Monster, your fairy, which, you say, is a
harmless fairy, has done little better than _played the Jack with

Various causes have been assigned for the appearance of the _ignis
fatuus_; modern chemistry asserts it to be occasioned by hydrogen gas,
evolving from decaying vegetables, and the decomposition of pyritic
coal; and when seen hovering on the surface of burial grounds, to
originate from the same gas in a higher state of volatility, through
the agency of phosphoric impregnation.

The _partial_ view which we have now taken of the superstitions of
the country, as they existed in the age of Shakspeare, will, in part,
demonstrate how great was the credulity subsisting at this period; how
well calculated were many of these popular delusions for the purposes
of the dramatic writer, and how copiously and skilfully have these been
moulded and employed by the great poet of our stage. A considerable
portion also of the manners, customs, and diversions of the country,
which had been necessarily omitted in the preceding chapters, will be
found included in this sketch of a part of the popular creed, and will
contribute to heighten the effect of a picture, which can only receive
its completion through the mutual aid of various subsequent departments
of the present work.


[315:A] Warton's History of English Poetry, vol. iii. p. 496.

[316:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 255, 256. Winter's Tale, act ii.
sc. 1.

[317:A] "Of Ghostes and spirites walking by nyght, and of strange
noyses, crackes, and sundry forewarnynges, whiche commonly happen
before the death of menne, great slaughters, and alterations of
kyngdomes. One Booke, Written by Lewes Lavaterus of Tigurine. And
translated into Englyshe by R. H." Printed at London by Henry
Benneyman, for Richard Watkyns, 1572. Vide p. 14. and 49.

[317:B] Lavaterus, p. 21.

[318:A] Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1580, p. 152, 153.

[318:B] Vide Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, p. 172.

[318:C] Spectator, No. 419., vol. vi. p. 118. of Sharpe's edition. See
also Nos. 12. 110. and 117.

[319:A] Grose's Provincial Glossary, p. 242, 243.

[321:A] Bourne's Antiquities of the Common People apud Brand, p. 113,
118, 119, 120, 122, 123.

[321:B] Seasons, Winter, line 617.

[322:A] Pleasures of Imagination, book i.

[322:B] The Remains of Henry Kirke White, vol. i. p. 311.

[323:A] Gay, in his Trivia, notices, at some length, the prognostications
attendant on these days, and which equally apply to ancient and to
modern times:—

    "All superstition from thy breast repel;
     Let cred'lous boys and prattling nurses tell
     How if the _Festival of Paul_ be _clear_,
     _Plenty_ from lib'ral horn shall strow the _year_:
     When the dark skies dissolve in _snow_ and _rain_,
     The lab'ring _kind_ shall _yoke_ the _steer_ in _vain_;
     But if the threat'ning _winds_ in tempest roar,
     Then _war_ shall bathe her wasteful sword in gore.
     How if, on _Swithen_'s feast the welkin lours,
     And ev'ry penthouse streams with hasty show'rs,
     _Twice twenty days_ shall clouds their fleeces drain,
     And wash the pavements with _incessant rain_:
     Let no such vulgar tales debase thy mind,
     Nor _Paul_, nor _Swithin_, rule the _clouds_ and _wind_."

[324:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 453. Midsummer-Night's Dream,
act iv. sc. 1. Buchanan also beautifully records the same traditionary

    "Festa Valentino rediit lux——
     Quisque sibi sociam jam legit ales avem.
     Inde sibi dominam per sortes quærere in annum
     Mansit ab antiquis mos repetitus avis;
     Quisque legit dominam, quam casto observet amore,
     Quam nitidis sertis obsequioque colat:
     Mittere cui possit blandi munuscula Veris."

[325:A] Bourne's Antiquities apud Brand, p. 253.

[326:A] Douce's Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 252, 253.

[326:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 281. Mr. Gay has more
distinctly recorded this ceremony in the following lines:—

    "Last Valentine, the day when birds of kind
     Their paramours with mutual chirpings find;
     I early rose, just at the break of day,
     Before the sun had chas'd the stars away;
     Afield I went, amid the morning dew,
     To milk my kine (for so should housewives do),
     _Thee First_ I spied, and _the first swain we see_
     In spite of fortune _shall our true Love be_."

[327:A] "Et vere ad Valentini festum à viris habent fœminæ; munera, et
alio temporis viris dantur." Moresini Deprav. Relig. 160.

[327:B] Douce's Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 258.—"I have
found unquestionable authority," remarks Mr. Brand, "to evince that the
custom of chusing Valentines was a sport practised in the houses of the
gentry in England as early as the year 1476." Brand apud Ellis, vol. i.
p. 48.

The authority alluded to by Mr. Brand, is a letter, in Fenn's Paston
Letters, vol. ii. p. 211., dated February 1476.

[328:A] Survey of London, 1618, p. 159.

[328:B] Ibid.

[328:C] Vide Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, p. 317.

[329:A] "L'origine de ce feu que tant de nations conservent encore, et
qui se perd dans l'antiquité, est très simple. C'etoit un feu de joie
allumé au moment où l'année commençoit; car la première de toutes les
Annes, la plus ancienne donc on ait quelque connoissance, s'ouvroit au
mois de Juin.—

"Ces feux-de-joie étoient accompagnés en même tems de Vœux et de
sacrifices pour la prospérité de peuples et des biens de la terre: on
dansoit aussi autour de ce feu; car ya-t-il quelque fête sans danse? et
les plus agiles santoient par dessus. En se retirant, chacun empartoit
un tison plus ou moins grand, et le reste étoit jetté au vent, afin
qu'il emportât tout malheur comme il emportoit ces cendres." Hist.
d'Hercule, p. 203.

[329:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xi. p. 249. act ii. sc. 3.

[329:C] Jonson's Works, act i. sc. 6.

[329:D] Beaumont and Fletcher's Works apud Colman.

[330:A] Chalmers's English Poets, vol. vi. p. 281. Britannia's
Pastorals, book ii. song 2.

[330:B] Grose's Provincial Glossary, p. 299.

[330:C] Ibid. p. 285.

[331:A] Bourne's Antiquities, p. 301.

[331:B] Stowe also mentions, that bonefires and rejoicings were
observed on the Eve of St. Peter and Paul the Apostles; he gives
likewise a curious account of the _Marching Watches_ which had been
regularly kept on Midsummer-Eve, time out of mind, by the citizens of
London and other large towns; but these had ceased before the age of
Shakspeare, the last having been appointed by Sir John Gresham, in
1548, though an attempt was made to procure their revival, by John
Montgomery in 1585, who published a book on the subject, dedicated to
Sir Thos. Pullison, then Lord Mayor; this offer however did not succeed.

[332:A] Grose's Provincial Glossary, p. 285.

[332:B] Queenhoo-Hall, vol. i. p. 136.

[333:A] Aubrey's Miscellanies, p. 103.

[333:B] Jonson's Works, fol. edit. vol. i.

[334:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 359. act iii. sc. 4.

[334:B] Bourne's Antiquities, p. 320, 321.

[334:C] Vide Job, chap. xxxiii. v. 22, 23.

[335:A] Opera et Dies, vol. i. 246.

[335:B] Dionys. in Cælest. Hierarch. cap. ix. x.

[335:C] Calv. Lib. Instit. I. c. xiv. It is worthy of remark, that
Reginald Scot, from whose _Discoverie of Witchcraft_, p. 500., this
account of the hierarchy of Dionysius is taken, has brought forward
a passage from his kinsman Edward Deering, which broaches the same
doctrine as that held by Bishop Horsley in the last sermon which
he ever wrote. "If you read Deering," says Scot, "upon the first
chapter to the Hebrues, you shall see this matter (the angelic theory
of Dionysius) notablie handled; where he saith, _that whensoever
archangell is mentioned in the Scriptures it signifieth our saviour
Christ, and no creature_." p. 501.—Now in the sermon alluded to by
Horsley, the text of which is Dan. iv. 17., he affirms, that the term
"Michael," or "Michael the Archangel," wherever it occurs, is nothing
more than a name for our Saviour. Vide Sermons, vol. ii. p. 376.

[337:A] Of Ghostes and Spirites walking by nyght; p. 160, 161.

[338:A] Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 505, 506.

[338:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 109. Henry IV. Part ii. act ii.
sc. 4.

[338:C] Ibid. vol. xii. p. 36. Henry IV. Part ii. act i. sc. 2.

[338:D] Ibid. vol. xvii. p. 94, 95. Antony and Cleopatra, act ii. sc. 3.

[338:E] Ibid. vol. x. p. 149.

[339:A] Book iv. line 677.

[340:A] Sermons, vol. ii. p. 412. 415, 416.

[341:A] Vide Brady's Clavis Calendaria, vol. ii. p. 180.

[341:B] Brand's Appendix to Bourne's Antiquities, p. 382.

[341:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 205. act ii. sc. 1.

[342:A] Clavis Calendaria, vol. ii. p. 229.

[343:A] Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, vol. ii. p. 221.

[343:B] Ibid. vol. ii. p. 238.

[344:A] Scott's Minstrelsy, vol. ii. p. 221, 222.

[346:A] The powers of description which Burns has evinced in one of the
stanzas, while relating the effects of this spell, are truly great:—

    "A wanton widow Leezie was
       As canty as a kittlen;
     But och! that night, among the shaws,
       She got a fearfu' settlin!
     She thro' the whins, an' by the cairn,
       An' owre the hill gaed scrievin,
     Where three lairds lands met at a burn,
       To dip her left sark-sleeve in,
                                Was bent that night.

     _Whyles owre a linn the burnie plays
       As thro' the glen it wimpl't;
     Whyles round a rocky scar it strays;
       Whyles in a wiel it dimpl't;
     Whyles glitter'd to the nightly rays,
       Wi' bickering, dancing dazzle;
     Whyles cookit underneath the braes,
       Below the spreading hazle,
                                Unseen that night._

     Among the brachens, on the brae,
       Between her an' the moon,
     The deil, or else an outler quey,
       Gat up an' gae a croon:
     Poor Leezie's heart maist lap the hool;
       Near lav'rock-height she jumpit,
     But mist a fit, an' in the pool,
       Out-owre the lugs she plumpit,
                                Wi' a plunge that night."

[347:A] Burns's Works, Currie's edit. vol. iii. p. 126. et seq.

[347:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xvii. p. 472-474.

[348:A] Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 87.

[348:B] See Beaumont and Fletcher apud Colman.

It would appear from the passage just quoted from Shakspeare, that he
considered St. Withold as commanding this _female_ incubus to alight
from those _she_ was riding and tormenting; but Fuseli and Darwin, in
their delineations, appear to have mounted a _male_ fiend, or incubus,
on _her_ back, who descending from his steed, sate on the breasts of
those whom _he_ had selected for his victims. The personifications
of the painter and the modern poet are forcibly drawn and highly

    "So on his NIGHTMARE through the evening fog
     Flits the squab Fiend o'er fen, and lake, and bog;
     Seeks some love-wilder'd Maid with sleep oppress'd,
     Alights, and grinning sits upon her breast.
     —— Such as of late amid the murky sky
     Was mark'd by FUSELI'S poetic eye;
     Whose daring tints, with SHAKSPEARE'S happiest grace,
     Gave to the airy phantom form and place—
     Back o'er her pillow sinks her blushing head,
     Her snow-white limbs hang helpless from the bed;
     While with quick sighs, and suffocative breath,
     Her interrupted heart-pulse swims in death.
     —— Then shrieks of captur'd towns, and widow's tears,
     Pale lovers stretch'd upon their blood-stain'd biers,
     The headlong precipice that thwarts her flight,
     The trackless desert, the cold starless night,
     And stern-eye'd Murderer with his knife behind,
     In dread succession agonize her mind.
     O'er her fair limbs convulsive tremors fleet,
     Start in her hands, and struggle in her feet;
     In vain to scream with quivering lips she tries,
     And strains in palsy'd lids her tremulous eyes:
     In vain she _wills_ to run, fly, swim, walk, creep;
     The WILL presides not in the bower of SLEEP.
     —— On her fair bosom sits the Demon-Ape
     Erect, and balances his bloated shape;
     Rolls in their marble orbs his Gorgon-eyes,
     And drinks with leathern ears her tender cries."
                      Botanic Garden, 4to. edit. p. 101-103.

[350:A] Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 203-205.

[351:A] The Dutchesse of Malfy, act iii. sc. 3. Vide Ancient British
Drama, vol. iii. p. 526.

[351:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. x. p. 418, 419.

[352:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 16. Hamlet, act i. sc. 1.

[352:B] Ibid. vol. xvi. p. 315. Julius Cæsar, act ii. sc. 2.

[353:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. x. p. 127. Macbeth, act ii. sc. 3.

[354:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xi. p. 82, 83. Act ii. sc. 4.

[354:B] Ibid. vol. xi. p. 317. First Part of King Henry IV. act iii.
sc. 1.

[354:C] Ibid. vol. xiv. p. 202, 203. Third Part of King Henry VI. act
v. sc. 6.

[355:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xv. p. 448. Troilus and Cressida, act
v. sc. 3.

[355:B] Ibid. vol. xx. p. 225. Act v. sc. 1.

[355:C] Ibid. vol. xv. p. 395. Act iv. sc. 4.

[355:D] Familiar Letters, edit. 1726. p. 247.

[355:E] Lady of the Lake, p. 348.

[356:A] Lady of the Lake, p. 106. 347.

[357:A] Lady of the Lake, p. 348.

[358:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 28. Act i. sc. 2.

[358:B] Ibid. vol. xiv. p. 506. Act v. sc. 3.

[359:A] Of Ghostes and Spirites, 1572. p. 79.

[359:B] Vide Grose's Provincial Glossary, article Popular
Superstitions, p. 282, 283.

[360:A] Grant's Essays on the Superstitions of the Highlanders of
Scotland, vol. i. p. 259-261.

[361:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. x. p. 459.

[362:A] Of Ghostes and Spirites, p. 77-79.

[362:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 169. Act iv. sc. 2.

[362:C] Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 279.

[362:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xvii. p. 230. Act iv. sc. 10.

[363:A] Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 336.

[363:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xiii. p. 152. First Part of King Henry
VI. act v. sc. 3.

[363:C] Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 279.

[364:A] Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 230. 270.

[364:B] Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 231.

[365:A] Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 247.

[365:B] Ibid. p. 245.

[366:A] Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 265, 266.

[366:B] See Whalley's Works of Ben Jonson.

[366:C] Chalmers's Poets, vol. iv. p. 465.

[367:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. viii. p. 41. Act ii. sc. 1.

[367:B] De Quadrup. Ovip., p. 65.

[367:C] Batman uppon Bartholome his booke De proprietatibus rerum,
1582, fol. article Botrax.

[367:D] A Green Forest, or a Natural History, 1567.

[367:E] Secrete Wonders of Nature, 4to. 1569.

[367:F] First Book of Notable Things, 4to.

[367:G] Topsell's History of Serpents, 1608. fol., p. 188. and Fuller's
Church History, p. 151.

[367:H] Printed by Copland, but without date, 12mo.

[367:I] Quoted by Batman on Bartholome, L. xviii. c. 30.

[368:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xx. p. 59. Act i. sc. 4.

[368:B] Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 180, 181.

[370:A] Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 293-295.

[370:B] Chalmers's English Poets, vol. iv. p. 465.

[370:C] Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 305.

[371:A] This _golden stamp_ was the coin called an angel, from the
figure which it bore, and was worth ten shillings.

[371:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. x. p. 242, 243. Macbeth, act iv. sc. 3.

[371:C] Nichols's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, vol. i.: and Scot,
speaking of the pretensions of the French monarchs to cure the evil,
observes of Elizabeth's practice, that "if the French king use it no
woorsse than our Princesse doth, God will not be offended thereat: for
hir majestie onelie useth godlie and divine praier, with some almes,
and referreth the cure to God and to the physician," p. 304., a report
which reflects great credit on her majesty's judgment and good sense.

[372:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xiv. p. 285. Richard the Third, act i.
sc. 2.

[373:A] Chalmers's English Poets, vol. iv. p. 405.

[373:B] Of Ghostes and Spirites walking by nyght, p. 80.

[373:C] Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 303.

[373:D] The Workes of the Most High and Mighty Prince James, fol. edit.
1616. p. 136. The Dæmonologie was first printed at Edinburgh in 1597,
and next in London, 1603, 4to.

[374:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vii. p. 344. Merchant of Venice, act
iv. sc. 1.

[374:B] Ibid. vol. xx. p. 208. Romeo and Juliet, act iv. sc. 3.

[374:C] Ibid. vol. xiii. p. 297. Act iii. sc. 2.

[374:D] Bulwarke of Defence against Sickness, fol. 1579, p. 41.

[375:A] Grose's Provincial Glossary, p. 291.

[375:B] Vide Bacon's Natural History, Century x. No. 997, 998.

[376:A] Digby's Discourse upon the Sympathetic Powder, p. 6.

[377:A] Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 280.

[377:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 146.

[377:C] Of Ghostes and Spirites walking by nyght, p. 96.

[377:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 146. note 3.

[378:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 147.

[379:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vi. p. 303-305.

[379:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 78.

[379:C] "Ad nimium calorem transeat ab aquis nivium." In the paraphrase
on Genesis, by Cedmon the Saxon poet, the same imagery may be found.

Of this venerable poet and monk, who flourished in the seventh century,
Mr. Turner has given us a very interesting account, together with a
version of some parts of his paraphrase. One of these is a picture of
the infernal regions, in which he says,—

    "There comes at last
     the eastern wind,
     the _cold frost_
     mingling with the fires."
                         Hist. of the Anglo-Saxons, 2d edit.
                         4to. 1807, vol. ii. p. 309. et seq.

[379:D] Infer. c. iii. 86. Purgat. c. iii. 31.

[379:E] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vi. p. 305, note 9.

[379:F] Chalmers's English Poets, vol. i. p. 330.

[380:A] Dibdin's Typographical Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 534. 598.

[380:B] Chalmers's English Poets, vol. ii. p. 424.

[381:A] Chalmers's English Poets, vol. i. p. 149.—"The mesere of helle
shalbe in defaute of mete and drink. For God sayth thus by Moyses: They
shal be wasted with honger, &c."

[381:B] Pierce Penniless, his Supplication to the Devil, 1595.

[381:C] Folio, 1635. p. 345.

[381:D] Paradise Lost, book ii. l. 587, et seq.

[382:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vii. p. 374.

[382:B] Εκ πασῶν δε, &c. De Republ. lib. x. p. 520, Lugd. 1590. Vide
Todd's Milton, vol. vii. p. 53.

[382:C] "Such, notwithstanding, is the force there of (musical
harmony), and so pleasing effects it hath in that very part of man
which is most divine, that some have been thereby induced to think,
that the soul itself by nature is or hath in it harmony."—Fifth Book
of Ecclesiastical Polity, published singly in 1597.

[382:D] Todd's Milton, vol. vii. p. 53.

[383:A] Chalmers's English Poets, vol. i. p. 296. col. 1.

[383:B] Dante's Inferno, cant. xx.

[383:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 89, 90.

[383:D] Ibid. vol. xvii. p. 222. Antony and Cleopatra, act iv. sc. 9.

[383:E] Ibid. vol. xix. p. 409. Othello, act v. sc. 2.

[384:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 361. Midsummer-Night's Dream,
act ii. sc. 2.

[384:B] Ibid. vol. x. p. 194. Macbeth, act iii. sc. 5.

[384:C] Ibid. vol. xvii. p. 195. 342. Lear, act i. sc. 2.; vol. xix. p.
499. Othello, act v. sc. 2.

[384:D] Ibid. vol. xi. p. 83. Richard the Second, act ii. sc. 4.

[384:E] Ibid. vol. x. p. 480. K. John, act iv. sc. 2.

[385:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xix. p. 271.

[385:B] Ibid. vol. iv. p. 114.

[385:C] Doome, p. 389.

[385:D] The Discoverie of the Large, Rich, and Beautiful Empire of
Guiana, with a relation of the Great and Golden Citie of Manoa, which
the Spaniards call El Dorado. Performed in 1595, by Sir W. Ralegh.
Imprinted at London by Rob. Robinson, 1596.

[386:A] The Historie of the World. Commonly called, The Natural
Historie of C. Plinius Secundus. Translated into English by Philemon
Holland, Doctor in Physicke. London, printed by Adam Islip. 1601. vol.
i. p. 154. book vii. chap. 2.

[386:B] Holland's Pliny, vol. i. p. 96. book v. chap. 8.

[386:C] Ibid. p. 156.

[386:D] The title of this work is, _Brevis et admiranda Descriptio
Regni Gvianæ, auri abundantissimi, in America_. It is accompanied by a
map, engraved by _Hondius_, on which are drawn men hunting, with their
heads beneath their shoulders.

[387:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 83. Act i. sc. 2.

[387:B] Frobisher's _First Voyage for the Discoverie of Cataya_. 4to.

[387:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 83, note 9.

[387:D] Chalmers's Apology, p. 586.

[388:A] Prayse and Reporte of Maister Martyne Forboisher's Voyage to
Meta Incognita, &c. bl. l. 12mo. 1578. Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv.
p. 83. note 7.

[388:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 83. note 7.—The existence of
_mermaids_ has, within these few years, been asserted by numerous
testimonies; some of which are so clear, minute, and respectable,
as to stagger the most sceptical. It is not only possible, but from
the evidence alluded to it appears indeed somewhat probable, that a
creature partially resembling the human form exists in the ocean, and
occasionally, though rarely, approaches so near the shore as to become
an object of wonder and superstitious horror. The sea round the Isle
of Man was formerly reputed to abound in these monsters, which were
conceived to be of two kinds, the one malignant, the other benevolent
and kind.

[388:C] Ancient British Drama, vol. ii. p. 377, 378.

[389:A] Ancient British Drama, vol. ii. p. 379.

[389:B] Batman upon Bartholome, p. 359.

[389:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xix. p. 449. note 5.

[389:D] Ibid. vol. xiii. p. 268. Act iii. sc. 1.

[389:E] Ibid. vol. xix. p. 449.

[390:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xiii. p. 306. Act iii. sc. 3.

[390:B] Douce's Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 20.

[390:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xix. p. 135. Timon of Athens, act iv.
sc. 3.

[391:A] Stowe's Survey of London, p. 18. edit. of 1618.

[392:A] Bourne's Antiquities apud Brand, p. 90.

[392:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 356.—A fountain of this
hallowed and mysterious nature, has been described by Mr. Southey in
language most graphically and beautifully descriptive:—

    "There is a fountain in the forest call'd
     The fountain of the Fairies; when a child,
     With most delightful wonder I have heard
     Tales of the Elfin tribe that on its banks
     Hold midnight revelry. An ancient oak,
     The goodliest of the forest, grows beside,
     Alone it stands, upon a green grass plat,
     By the woods bounded like some little isle.
     It ever hath been deem'd their favourite tree,
     They love to lie and rock upon its leaves,
     And bask them in the moon-shine. Many a time
     Hath the woodman shown his boy where the dark round
     On the green-sward beneath its boughs, bewrays
     Their nightly dance, and bade him spare the tree.
     Fancy had cast a spell upon the place
     And made it holy; and the villagers
     Would say that never evil thing approached
     Unpunished there. The strange and fearful pleasure
     That fill'd me by that solitary spring,
     Ceas'd not in riper years; and now it woke
     Deeper delight, and more mysterious awe."
                          Joan of Arc, vol. i. b. i. p. 126.

[393:A] Bourne's Antiquities apud Brand, p. 94, 95.

[393:B] Of Ghostes and Spirites walking by nyght, p. 6.

[394:A] Fast. lib. vi.

[394:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xx. p. 383, 384. Comedy of Errors, act
ii. sc. 2.

[394:C] Hamlet, act 4. sc. 5.

[394:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 280. note 3.

[395:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 577. note 5.

[395:B] Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, vol. iii. p. 171. 4to. edit.

[395:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 576.

[395:D] Chalmers's English Poets, vol. iv. p. 408.

[396:A] Ancient British Drama, vol. iii. p. 41.

[396:B] Villanies discovered by lanthorn and candle light, chap.
xv.—For some modern tributes to the supposed charity of this domestic
little bird, I refer my readers to the first volume of Literary Hours,
3d. edit. p. 65. et seq.

[396:C] Chalmers's English Poets, vol. i. p. 179.

[396:D] Ibid. vol. ii. p. 177.

[396:E] Description of King Priam's Palace, lib. ii.

[396:F] Vide Warton's Hist. of English Poetry, vol. ii. p. 229.

[397:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xv. p. 84. Act ii. sc. 3.

[397:B] Ibid. vol. xxi. p. 56.

[397:C] Ibid. vol. xvi. p. 39. Act i. sc. 4.

[397:D] Ibid. vol. xviii. p. 632. Act v. sc. 5.

[397:E] Ibid. vol. xviii. p. 151. Act ii. sc. 2.

[397:F] Chalmers's English Poets, vol. iv. p. 465.

[398:A] Thalaba the Destroyer, vol. i. p. 39-41. edit. 1801.

[399:A] Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 306.

[400:A] Of Ghostes and Spirites walking by nyght, p. 51.

[400:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 142, 143. Act iv. sc. 1.



After the slight sketch of rural life which we have just given; of its
manners, customs, diversions, and superstitions, as they existed during
the latter part of the sixteenth century, we shall now proceed with the
biographical narrative of our author, resuming it from the close of the
fourth chapter.

To regulate the workings of an ardent imagination, and to control the
effervescence of the passions in early life, experience has uniformly
taught us to consider as a task of great difficulty; and seldom,
indeed, capable of being achieved without the advice and direction of
those, who, under the guidance of similar admonition, have successfully
borne up against the numerous temptations to which human frailty is
subjected. That Shakspeare possessed powers of fancy greatly beyond
the common lot of humanity, and that with these is almost constantly
connected a correspondent fervency of temperament and passion, will not
probably be denied; and if it be recollected that the poet became the
arbitrator of his own conduct at the early age of eighteen, not much
wonder will be excited, although he was a married man, and a father, if
we have to record some juvenile irregularities. Tradition affirms, and
the report has been repeated by Mr. Rowe, that he had the misfortune,
shortly after his settlement in Stratford, to form an intimacy with
some young men of thoughtless and dissipated character, who, among
other illegalities, had been in the habit of deer-stealing, and by
whom, more than once, he was induced, under the idea of a frolic, to
join in their reprehensible practice.

The scene of depredation when Shakspeare and his companions were
detected, was Fulbroke Park, at that time belonging to Sir Thomas
Lucy, Knight. This gentleman, who has obtained celebrity principally,
if not solely, as the prosecutor of Shakspeare, was descended from a
family, whose pedigree has been deduced, by Dugdale, from the reign of
Richard the First; the name of Lucy, however, was not assumed by his
ancestors until the thirty-fourth of Henry the Third. Sir Thomas, in
the first year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, built a noble mansion
at Charlcott, near Stratford, but on the opposite side of the Avon;
this edifice, which still exists, is constructed of brick with stone
coins, and though somewhat modernized, still preserves, as a whole, its
ancient Gothic character, especially the grand front, which exhibits
pretty accurately its pristine state. Fuller has recorded Sir Thomas as
sheriff for the county of Warwickshire in the tenth year of Elizabeth,
and informs us, that his armorial bearings were Gul. Crusulee Or, 3
Picks (or Lucies) Hauriant Ar.[402:A]

That the rich woods, sequestered lawns, and romantic recesses of
Fulbroke Park, would very frequently attract the footsteps of our
youthful bard, independent of any lure which the capture of its game
might afford, we may justly surmise; and still more confidently may
we affirm, that his meditations or diversions in this forest laid the
foundation of a part of the beautiful scenery which occurs in _As You
Like It_. The woodland pictures in this delightful play are faithful
transcripts of what he had felt and seen in those secluded haunts,
particularly the description of the wounded deer, the pathos and
accuracy of which are no doubt referrible to the actual contemplation
of such an incident, in the shades of Fulbroke; they strikingly prove,
indeed, that the habits of the chase, though fostered in the morn of
youth, had not, even in respect to the objects of their sport, in
the smallest degree impaired the native tenderness and humanity of
the poet. The expressions of pity, in fact, for the sufferings of a
persecuted animal were never uttered in words more impressive than what
the ensuing dialogue exhibits:

      "_Duke._ Come, shall we go and kill us venison?
    And yet it irks me, the poor dappled fools,—
    Being native burghers of this desert city,—
    Should, in their own confines, with forked head
    Have their round haunches gor'd.

      _Lord._            Indeed, my lord,
    The melancholy Jaques grieves at that;
    And, in that kind, swears you do more usurp
    Than doth your brother that hath banish'd you.
    To-day, my lord of Amiens, and myself,
    Did steal behind him, as he lay along
    Under an oak, whose antique root peeps out
    Upon the brook that brawls along this wood:
    To the which place a poor sequester'd stag,
    That from the hunter's aim had ta'en a hurt,
    Did come to languish; and, indeed, my lord,
    The wretched animal heav'd forth such groans,
    That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat
    Almost to bursting; and the big round tears
    Cours'd one another down his innocent nose
    In piteous chase: and thus the hairy fool,
    Much marked of the melancholy Jaques,
    Stood on the extremest verge of the swift brook,
    Augmenting it with tears."[403:A]

The detection of Shakspeare in his adventurous amusement, was followed,
it is said, by confinement for a short time in the keeper's lodge,
until the charge had been substantiated against him. A farm-house in
the park, situated on a spot called Daisy Hill, is still pointed out as
the very building which sheltered the delinquent on this unfortunate

That Sir Thomas had reason to complain of this violation of his
property, and was warranted in taking proper steps to prevent its
recurrence, who will deny? and yet it appears from tradition, that
a reprimand and public exposure of his conduct constituted all the
punishment that was at _first_ inflicted on the offender. Here the
matter would have rested, had not the irritable feelings of our young
bard, inflamed by the disgrace which he had suffered, induced him to
attempt a retaliation on the magistrate. He had recourse to his talents
for satire, and the ballad which he produced for this purpose was
probably his earliest effort as a writer.

Of this pasquinade, which the poet took care should be affixed to
Sir Thomas's park-gates, and extensively circulated through his
neighbourhood, three stanzas have been brought forward as genuine
fragments. The preservation of the whole would certainly have been
a most entertaining curiosity; but even the authenticity of what is
said to have been preserved, becomes a subject of interest, when we
recollect, that the fate and fortunes of our author hinged upon the
consequences of this juvenile production.

The first of these fragments, which is the opening stanza, rests upon
testimony of considerable weight and respectability; upon the authority
of a Mr. Thomas Jones, who was born about 1613 and resided at Tarbick,
a village in Worcestershire, eighteen miles from Stratford, where
he died, aged upwards of ninety, in 1703. He is considered by Mr.
Malone, as the grandson of a Mr. Thomas Jones, who dwelt in Stratford
during the period that Shakspeare was an inhabitant of it, and who had
four sons between the years 1581 and 1590, one of whom, settling at
Tarbick, became the father of the preserver of the fragment.[404:A]
This venerable old man could remember having heard from several very
aged people at Stratford the whole history of the poet's transgression,
and could repeat the first stanza of the ballad which he had written
in ridicule of Sir Thomas. A friend of his to whom he was one day
repeating this stanza, which was the whole that he could recollect,
had the precaution to take a copy of it from his recitation, and
the grandson of the person thus favoured, a Mr. Wilkes, presented a
transcript of it to Mr. Oldys and Mr. Capell. Among the collections
for a _Life of Shakspeare_ left by the former of these gentlemen, this
stanza was found, "faithfully transcribed," says its possessor, "from
the copy which his (Mr. Jones's) relation very courteously communicated
to me[405:A];" and of Mr. Oldys's veracity it is important to add, that
Mr. Steevens considered it as unimpeachable, remarking, at the same
time, that "it is not very probable that a ballad should be forged,
from which an undiscovered wag could derive no triumph over antiquarian
credulity."[405:B] It must be confessed that neither the wit nor the
poetry of these lines, which we are about to communicate, deserve much
praise, and that the greater part of the point, if it can be termed
such, depends upon provincial pronunciation; for in a note on the copy
which Mr. Capell possessed, it is said, that "the people of those
parts pronounce _lowsie_ like Lucy[405:C]:" but let us listen to the
commencement of this once important libel:—

    "A parliamente member, a justice of peace,
     At home a poor scare-crowe, at London an asse,
     If lowsie is Lucy, as some volke miscalle it,
     Then Lucy is lowsie whatever befall it:
         He thinks himself greate,
         Yet an asse in his state
     We allowe by his ears but with asses to mate.
     If Lucy is lowsie, as some volke miscalle it,
     Sing lowsie Lucy, whatever befall it."

Upon the next fragment of this composition, including two stanzas,
an equal degree of confidence cannot be reposed; for it occurs in a
manuscript _History of the Stage_, written between the years 1727
and 1730, in which many falsehoods have been detected; but still the
internal evidence is such as to render its genuineness far from
improbable. The narrative of its acquisition informs us, that "the
learned Mr. Joshua Barnes, late Greek Professor of the University of
Cambridge, baiting about forty years ago at an inn in Stratford, and
hearing an old woman singing part of the above said song, such was his
respect for Mr. Shakspeare's genius, that he gave her a new gown for
the two following stanzas in it; and could she have said it all, he
would (as he often said in company, when any discourse has casually
arose about him) have given her ten guineas:

    "Sir Thomas was too covetous
       To covet so much _deer_,
     When horns enough upon his head,
       Most plainly did appear.

     Had not his Worship one _deer_ left?
       What then? He had a wife
     Took pains enough to find him horns
       Should last him during life."[406:A]

The quibble upon the word _deer_ in these lines strongly tends to
authenticate them as a genuine production of our bard; for he has
in more places than one of his dramas amused himself with a similar
jingle: thus in the _First Part of Henry the Sixth_, allowing this play
to have issued from his pen, Talbot, encouraging his forces, exclaims

    "Sell every man his life as _dear_ as mine,
     And they shall find _dear deer_ of us my friends;"[406:B]

and again in the _First Part of King Henry the Fourth_, the Prince,
lamenting over Falstaff, says

    "Death hath not struck so fat a _deer_ to-day,
     Though many _dearer_, in this bloody fray."[406:C]

Mr. Whiter, who first applied these corroborating passages to the
subject before us, adds, "With respect to the verses in question, I
cannot but observe that, however suspicious their external evidence
may appear, they contain within themselves some very striking features
of authenticity; and may, I think, be readily conceived to have
proceeded from the pen of our young Bard, before he was removed from
the little circle of his native place, when his powers, unformed and
unpractised, were roused only by resentment to a Country Justice, and
destined merely to delight the rustic companions of his deer-stealing
adventure.—As an additional evidence to the quibble on the word
_deer_, which appears to be intended in these verses, we may observe
that there is no topic, to which our author so delights to allude, as
the Horns of the Cuckold.—Let me be permitted to remark in general,
that the anecdotes, which have been delivered down to us respecting
our poet, appear to me neither improbable, nor, when duly examined,
inconsistent with each other: even those, which seem least allied to
probability, contain in my opinion the _adumbrata_, if not _expressa
signa veritatis_."[407:A]

Whatever might be the merits of this ballad as a poetical composition,
its effect as a satire was severely felt; nor can we greatly blame the
conduct of Sir Thomas Lucy, if we consider, on the one hand, the lenity
which was at first shown to the young offender, and, on the other, the
publicity which was industriously given to this provoking libel; for
it is recorded by Mr. Jones of Tarbick, that it was the placarding
of this piece of sarcasm "which exasperated the knight to apply to a
lawyer at Warwick to proceed against[407:B] him." More magnanimity, it
must be confessed, would have been displayed by altogether neglecting
this splenetic retaliation; but still the provocation was sufficiently
bitter to excite the resentment of a man who might not be entitled
to the appellations so liberally bestowed on Sir Thomas by one of
the poet's commentators of "vain, weak, and vindictive[407:C]." The
protection of property and character, provided the means resorted to
for security be proportioned to the offence, can neither be deemed
foolish nor oppressive, and that the bounds of moderation were exceeded
in this instance, we have no sufficient grounds for asserting. Of
the character of the magistrate nothing certain has transpired; but
if we may be allowed to form an opinion of his temper and abilities,
from the only trait which can be considered as indicatory, we must
pronounce them to have been neither despicable nor unamiable. In the
church at Charlcott there are still remaining several monuments of the
Lucy family, among which is one to the memory of Sir Thomas and his
lady; the effigies of the knight affords a very pleasing idea of his
countenance, but is unaccompanied by date or inscription; over his
wife, however, who reposes by his side, at the age of sixty-three, is a
very striking encomium _written by himself_, the conclusion of which is
attested in the following emphatic terms; after much apparently sincere
eulogy, he adds, that she was, "when all is spoken that can be said, a
woman so furnished and garnished with vertue as not to be bettered, and
hardly to be equalled by any. As she lived most vertuously, so she dyed
most godly. _Set down by him_ that best did know what hath been written
to be true. THOMAS LUCY."

This may very justly be considered, we think, as a proof, not only
of the conjugal happiness of our knight, but of his possession of
an intellect far from contemptible; yet is it very possible that
resentment, even in a mind of still superior order, should for a time
excite undue warmth and animosity, especially under the lash of satire;
and we are the more willing to believe this to have been the case in
the present instance, both from the known benevolence of the poet's
character, and from the pertinacity with which he continued to remember
the injury; for it is generally agreed that the opening scene of the
_Merry Wives of Windsor_ is intended to ridicule Sir Thomas, under the
character of Justice Shallow. Now the representation of this comedy
in its new-modelled and enlarged state, certainly did not take place
until after the accession of King James, and as the prosecutor of our
bard died on the 18th of August, 1600, it is not probable that the
resentment of the poet would have survived the death of Sir Thomas,
had not the severity of the magistrate been originally pushed too far.

This dialogue also between Shallow, Slender, and Sir Hugh Evans, serves
strongly to confirm the authenticity of the commencing stanza of the
ballad; for the Welsh parson plays upon the word _luce_ in the same
manner as that fragment has done upon the sir-name _Lucy_. Justice
Shallow, it should likewise be remembered, is complaining of Falstaff
for beating his men, _killing his deer_, and breaking open his lodge,
and he threatens that "if he were twenty Sir John Falstaffs, he shall
not abuse Robert Shallow, esquire," to which Slender adds,—"In the
county of Gloster, justice of peace, and _coram_.

    "_Shal._ Ay, cousin Slender, and _Cust-alorum_.

    _Slen._ Ay, and _ratolorum_ too, and a gentleman born, master
    parson; who writes himself _armigero_; in any bill, warrant,
    quittance, or obligation, _armigero_.

    _Shal._ Ay, that we do; and have done any time these three
    hundred years.

    _Slen._ All his successors, gone before him, have done't; and
    all his ancestors, that come after him, may: they may give the
    dozen white luces in their coat.

    _Shal._ It is an old coat.

    _Evans._ The dozen white _louses_ do become an old coat well;
    it agrees well, passant: it is a familiar beast to man, and

    _Shal._ The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old

    _Slen._ I may quarter, coz?

    _Shal._ You may, by marrying.

    _Evans._ It is marring, indeed, if he quarter it.

    _Shal._ Not a whit.

    _Evans._ Yes, py'r-lady; if he has a quarter of your coat,
    there is but three skirts for yourself, in my simple
    conjectures; but this all one: if Sir John Falstaff have
    committed disparagements unto you, I am of the church, and
    will be glad to do my benevolence, to make atonements and
    compromises between you.

    _Shal._ The Council shall hear it; it is a riot."[409:A]

Though the portrait thus given of Sir Thomas Lucy (in the person of
Shallow) represent him as _weak_ and _vain_, yet we must recollect that
it is still drawn in the spirit of retaliation and satire, and was most
undoubtedly meant for a caricature.

It appears then more than probable, indeed from the testimony of Mr.
Jones it appears to be the fact, that the prosecution, which, there is
little doubt, had been threatened on the detection of the trespass, was
only carried into execution in consequence of the _poetical_ assault on
the part of our author, who, possibly, thought nothing serious could
occur from such a mode of revenge.

The circumstances, therefore, of the prosecution being threatened in
the first instance, and taking place in the second, might occasion the
report which Mr. Rowe has inserted in his Life of Shakspeare, where,
speaking of the ballad as his first essay in poetry, he adds, "it is
said to have been so very bitter, that it _redoubled_ the prosecution
against him to that degree, that he was obliged to leave his business
and family in Warwickshire, for some time, and shelter himself in

That Shakspeare left Stratford for London, about the year 1586 or 1587,
and that the prosecution commenced by Sir Thomas Lucy contributed to
this change of situation, are events which we may with safety admit;
but that the libel was the _sole_ cause of the removal appears not very
probable; and we are inclined to believe with Mr. Chalmers, that debt
added wings to his flight. "While other boys," remarks this ingenious
controversialist, "are only snivelling at school, and thinking nothing
of life, Shakspeare entered the world, with little but his love to
make him happy, and little but his genius to prevent the intrusion of
misery. An increasing family, and pressing wants, obliged him to look
beyond the limits of Stratford, for subsistence, and for fame. He felt,
doubtless, emotions of genius, and he saw, certainly, persons, who had
not better pretensions, than his own, rising to eminence in a higher
scene. By these motives was he probably induced to remove to London, in
the period, between the years 1585, and 1588; chased from his home, by
the terriers of the law, for debt, rather than for deer-stealing, or
for libelling."[410:B]

The probability of this having been the case, will be much heightened,
when we recollect, that between the years 1579 and 1586 the father
of Shakspeare had fallen into distressed circumstances; that during
the first of these periods, he had been excused paying a weekly
contribution of 4_d._, and that during the latter he was under the
necessity of resigning his office as alderman, not being able to defray
the expense of attendance at the common halls; facts, which while they
ascertain his impoverished state, at the same time prove his utter
inability to assist his son, now burdened with a family, and anxiously
looking round for the means of its support.

For the adoption of the year 1586 or 1587, as the era of our author's
emigration to town, several powerful, and almost convincing, arguments
may be given, and these it will be necessary here to state.

It is well ascertained that Shakspeare married in the year 1582, and
Mr. Rowe has affirmed that "in this kind of settlement he continued
_for some time_, till an extravagance (the deer-stealing frolic) that
he was guilty of, forced him both out of his country, and that way of
living which he had taken up."[411:A] Now that this _settlement for
some time_ was the period which elapsed between the years 1582 and
1586, will almost certainly appear, when we recollect the domestic
events which occurred during its progress; that, according to
tradition, he had embraced his father's business, on entering into
the marriage-state; and that the family of the poet in short was
increased in this interval, by the birth of three children, baptized
at Stratford; Susanna, May 26th, 1583, and Hamnet and Judith, Feb. 2d,

That the removal was not likely to have taken place later than 1587,
will be generally admitted, when we advert to the commencement of his
literary labours. The issue of research has rendered it highly probable
that our bard was a corrector and improver of old plays for the stage
in 1589; it has discovered from evidence amounting almost to certainty,
that he was a writer for the theatre on a plan of greater originality
in 1591, and that, even so early as 1592, he was noticed as a dramatic
poet of some celebrity. Now, if we compare these facts, which will be
noticed more fully hereafter, with the poet's own assertion, that the
_Venus and Adonis_ was "_the first heir of his invention_[412:A]," it
will go far to prove, that this poem, which is not a short one, and
is elaborated with great care, must have been composed between his
departure from Stratford, and his commencement as a writer for the
stage, (that is between the years 1586 and 1589;) for while there is
no ground to surmise that it was written on the banks of the Avon,
there is sufficient evidence to assert that it was finished, though not
published before he was known to fame.

It is impossible to contemplate the flight of Shakspeare from
his family and native town, without pausing to reflect upon the
consequences which followed that event; consequences most singularly
propitious, not only to the intellectual character of his country in
particular, but to the excitation and progress of genius throughout the
world. Had not poverty and prosecution united in driving Shakspeare
from his humble occupation in Warwickshire, how many matchless lessons
of wisdom and morality, how many unparalleled displays of wit and
imagination, of pathos and sublimity, had been buried in oblivion;
pictures of emotion, of character, of passion, more profound than mere
philosophy had ever conceived, more impressive than poetry had ever
yet embodied; strains which shall now sound through distant posterity
with increasing energy and interest, and which shall powerfully and
beneficially continue to influence and to mould both national and
individual feeling.


[402:A] Fuller's Worthies, part iii. p. 132. The Luce or Pike is very
abundant in this part of the Avon, and there may still be seen in the
kitchen of Charlecot-house, the representation of a pike, weighing
forty pounds, a native of this stream, and caught in the year 1640.

[403:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. viii. p. 42, 43. Act ii. sc. 1.

[403:B] Ireland's Views on the Avon, p. 154.

[404:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 128. note 1.

[405:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 62. note.

[405:B] Ibid. p. 62.

[405:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 63.

[406:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 63.

[406:B] Ibid. vol. xiii. p. 127. Act iv. sc. 2.

[406:C] Ibid. vol. xi. p. 426. Act v. sc. 4.

[407:A] Whiter's Specimen of a Commentary on Shakspeare, p. 94, 95.

[407:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 62.

[407:C] Ibid.

[409:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 7. et seq.

[410:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 63.

[410:B] Chalmers's Apology, p. 47, 48.

[411:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 61.

[412:A] Vide Dedication of the Poem to the Earl of Southampton.





No era in the annals of Literary History ever perhaps occurred
of greater importance, than that which witnessed the entrance of
Shakspeare into the metropolis of his native country; a position
which will readily be granted, if we consider the total revolution
which this event produced in the Literature of the Stage, and the
vast influence which, through the medium of the most popular branch
of our poetry, it has subsequently exerted on the minds, manners,
and taste of our countrymen. Friendless, persecuted, poor, about the
early age of twenty-two, was the greatest poet which the world has
ever seen, compelled to desert his home, his wife, his children, to
seek employment from the hands of strangers. Rich, however, in talent,
beyond all the sons of men, blessed with a cheerful disposition, an
active mind, and a heart conscious of integrity, soon did the clouds
which overspread his youth break away, and unveil a character which has
ever since been the delight, the pride, the boast of England.

We have assigned some strong reasons, at the close of the last chapter,
for placing the epoch of Shakspeare's arrival in London, about 1586 or
1587; and we shall now bring forward some presumptive proofs that he
not only left his wife and family at Stratford on his first visit to
the capital, but that his native town continued to be their settled
residence during his life.

Mr. Rowe has affirmed upon a tradition which we have no claim to
dispute, that he "was obliged to _leave_ his _family_ for some
time;" a fact in the highest degree probable from the causes which
led to his removal; for it is not to be supposed, situated as he
then was, that he would be willing to render his wife and children
the companions and partakers of the disasters and disappointments
which it was probable he had to encounter. Tradition further says,
as preserved in the manuscripts of Aubrey, that "he was wont to go
to his native country once a yeare[414:A];" and Mr. Oldys, in his
collections for a life of our author, repeats this report with an
additional circumstance, remarking, "if tradition may be trusted,
Shakspeare often baited at the Crown Inn or Tavern in Oxford, in his
journey to and from London."[414:B] It is true that these traditions,
if insulated from other circumstances, might merely prove that he
visited the place of his birth annually, without necessarily inferring
that his family was also resident there; but if we consult the
parish-register of Stratford, their testimony will indeed be strong,
and powerfully confirm the deduction; for it appears on that record
that, merely including his children, there is a succession of baptisms,
marriages, and deaths in his family at Stratford, from the year 1583
to 1616.[414:C] This evidence, so satisfactory in itself, will be
strengthened when we recollect that the poet in his mortgage, dated
the 10th of March, 1612-13, is described as William Shakspeare of
_Stratford-upon-Avon_, gentleman; and that by his contemporaries he
was frequently stiled the _Sweet Swan of Avon_, designations which,
when combined with the testimony already adduced, must be considered as
implying the family-residence of the poet.[415:A]

It was this concatenation of circumstances which induced Mr. Chalmers,
than whom a more indefatigable enquirer with regard to our author has
not existed, to conclude that Shakspeare had no "fixed residence in
the metropolis," nor "ever considered London, as his home[415:B];" but
had "resolved that his wife and family should remain through life"
at Stratford, "though he himself made frequent excursions to London,
the scene of his profit, and the theatre of his fame[415:C];" adding,
in a note, that the evidence from the parish-register of Stratford
had compelled even _scepticism_ to admit his position to be _very

While discussing this subject in his first Apology, he has introduced
a novel and most curious fact, for the purpose of guarding the
reader against an apparently opposing, but too hasty inference. "If
documents," he observes, "be produced to prove, that _one_ Shakspeare,
a player, resided in St. Saviour's parish, Southwark, at the end of the
sixteenth, or the beginning of the seventeenth, century, this evidence
will not be conclusive proof of the settled residence of Shakspeare:
For, it is a fact, as new, as it is curious, that his brother Edmond,
who was baptized on the 3d of May, 1580, became a _player_ at _the
Globe_; lived in St. Saviour's; and was buried in _the church_ of
that parish: the entry in the register being without a blur; '1607
December 31, (was buried) _Edmond Shakespeare_, a _player_, in the
church;' there can be no dispute about the date, or the name, or the
_profession_. It is remarkable, that the parish-clerk, who scarcely
ever mentions any other distinction of the deceased, than a _man_, or a
_woman_, should, by I know not what inspiration, have recorded Edmond
Shakespeare, as a _player_. There were, consequently, two Shakspeares
on the stage, during the same period; as there were two Burbadges, who
were also brothers, and who acted on the same theatre."[416:A]

Upon the whole, we may with considerable confidence and safety
conclude, that the _family-residence_ of Shakspeare was _always_ at
Stratford; that he himself originally went _alone_ to London, and
that he spent the greater part of every year there _alone_, annually,
however, and probably for some months, returning to the bosom of his
family, and that this alternation continued until he finally left the

Having disposed of this question, another, even still more doubtful,
immediately follows, with regard to the employment and mode of life
which the poet was compelled to adopt on reaching the metropolis. Mr.
Rowe, recording the consequences of the prosecution in Warwickshire,
observes,—"It is at _this time_, and upon _this accident_, that he
is said to have made his _first acquaintance in the play-house_. He
was received into the company then in being, at first in a _very mean

From this passage we may in the first place infer, that Shakspeare
_immediately_ on his arrival in town, applied to the theatre for
support; an expedient to which there is reason to suppose he was
induced, by a previous connection or acquaintance with one or more of
the performers. It appears, indeed, from the researches of Mr. Malone,
that the probability of his being known, even while at Stratford,
to Heminge, Burbadge, and Thomas Greene, all of them celebrated
comedians of their day, is very considerable. "I suspect," remarks
this acute commentator, "that both he (namely, John Heminge,) and
Burbadge were Shakspeare's countrymen, and that Heminge was born at
Shottery, a village in Warwickshire, at a very small distance from
Stratford-upon-Avon; where Shakspeare found his wife. I find two
families of this name settled in that town early in the reign of Queen
Elizabeth. Elizabeth, the daughter of _John Heming_ of Shottery, was
baptized at Stratford-upon-Avon, March 12. 1567. This John might have
been the father of the actor, though I have found no entry relative
to his baptism: for he was probably born before the year 1558, when
the Register commenced. In the village of Shottery also lived _Richard
Hemyng_, who had a son christened by the name of John, March 7. 1570.
Of the Burbadge family the only notice I have found, is, an entry in
the Register of the parish of Stratford, October 12. 1565, on which
day Philip Green was married in that town to Ursula _Burbadge_, who
might have been sister to James Burbadge, the father of the actor,
whose marriage I suppose to have taken place about that time. If this
conjecture be well founded, our poet, we see, had an easy introduction
to the theatre."[417:A]

The same remark which concludes this paragraph is repeated by the
commentator when speaking of _Thomas Greene_, whom he terms, a
_celebrated comedian_, the _townsman_ of Shakspeare, and perhaps
his _relation_.[417:B] The celebrity of Greene as an actor is fully
ascertained by an address to the reader, prefixed by Thomas Heywood
to his edition of John Cook's _Greens Tu Quoque; or, The City
Gallant_; "as for Maister Greene," says Heywood, "all that I will
speak of him (and that without flattery) is this (if I were worthy
to censure) there was not an actor of his nature, in his time, of
better ability in performance of what he undertook, more applauded
by the audience, of greater grace at the court, or of more general
love in the city[418:A];" but the townsmanship and affinity rest only
on the inference to be drawn from an entry in the parish-register of
Stratford, and from some lines quoted by Chetwood from the comedy of
the _Two Maids of Moreclack_, which represent Greene speaking in the
character of a clown, and declaring

    "I pratled poesie in my nurse's arms,
     And, born, where late our swan of Avon sung,
     In Avon's streams we both of us have lav'd,
     And both came out together."[418:B]

As these lines are not, however, in the play from which they are
pretended to have been taken; as they appear to be a parody on a
passage in Milton's Lycidas, and as Chetwood has been detected in
falsifying and forging many of his dates, little credit can be attached
to their evidence, and we must solely depend upon the import of the
register, which records that _Thomas Greene, ALIAS SHAKSPERE, was
buried there, March 6th, 1589_.[418:C] If this Thomas were the father
of the actor, and the probability of this being the case cannot be
denied, and may even have led to the attempted imposition of Chetwood,
the affinity, as well as the townsmanship, will be established.[418:D]

It seems, therefore, neither rash nor inconsequent to believe,
in failure of more direct evidence, that the channel through
which Shakspeare, immediately on his arrival in town, procured an
introduction to the stage, was first opened by his relationship to
Greene, who possessing, as we have seen, great merit and influence
as an actor, could easily insure him a connection at the theatre,
and would naturally recommend him to his countryman Heminge, who was
then about thirty years of age, and had already acquired considerable
reputation as a performer.[418:E]

Mr. Rowe's _second_ assertion that he was received into the company,
then in being, at first in a _very mean rank_, has given rise to some
reports relative to the nature of his early employment at the theatre,
which are equally inconsistent and degrading. It has been related
that his first office was that of _Call-boy_, or attendant on the
prompter, and that his business was to give notice to the performers
when their different entries on the stage were required.[419:A]
Another tradition, which places him in a still meaner occupation,
is said to have been transmitted through the medium of Sir William
Davenant to Mr. Betterton, who communicated it to Mr. Rowe, and this
gentleman to Mr. Pope, by whom, according to Dr. Johnson, it was
related in the following terms:—"In the time of Elizabeth, coaches
being yet uncommon, and hired coaches not at all in use, those who
were too proud, too tender, or too idle to walk, went on horseback
to any distant business or diversion. Many came on horseback to the
play, and when Shakspeare fled to London from the terror of a criminal
prosecution, his first expedient was to wait at the door of the
play-house, and hold the horses of those that had no servants, that
they might be ready again after the performance. In this office he
became so conspicuous for his care and readiness, that in a short time
every man as he alighted called for Will. Shakspeare, and scarcely any
other waiter was trusted with a horse while Will. Shakspeare could be
had. This was the first dawn of better fortune. Shakspeare, finding
more horses put into his hand than he could hold, hired boys to wait
under his inspection, who, when Will. Shakspeare was summoned, were
immediately to present themselves, _I am Shakspeare's boy, Sir_. In
time, Shakspeare found higher employment: but as long as the practice
of riding to the playhouse continued, the waiters that held the horses
retained the appellation of _Shakspeare's boys_."[419:B]

Of this curious anecdote it should not be forgotten, that it made
its _first_ appearance in Cibber's Lives of the Poets[419:C]; and
that if it were known to Mr. Rowe, it is evident he thought it so
little entitled to credit that he chose not to risque its insertion
in his life of the poet. In short, if we reflect for a moment that
Shakspeare, though he fled from Stratford to avoid the severity of a
prosecution, could not be destitute either of money or friends, as the
necessity for that flight was occasioned by an imprudent ebullition
of wit, and not by any serious delinquency; that the father of his
wife was a yeoman both of respectability and property; that his own
parent, though impoverished, was still in business; and that he had, in
all likelihood, a ready admission to the stage through the influence
of persons of leading weight in its concerns; we cannot, without
doing the utmost violence to probability, conceive that, under these
circumstances, and in the twenty-third year of his age, he would submit
to the degrading employment of either a _horse-holder_ at the door of a
theatre, or of a _call-boy_ within its walls.

Setting aside, therefore, these idle tales, we may reasonably conclude
that by the phrase _a very mean rank_, Mr. Rowe meant to imply, that
his first engagement as an _actor_ was in the performance of characters
of the lowest class. That his fellow-comedians were ushered into the
dramatic world in a similar way, and rose to higher occupancy by
gradation, the history of the stage will sufficiently prove: Richard
Burbadge, for instance, who began his career nearly at the same time
with our author, and who subsequently became the greatest tragedian
of his age, had, in the year 1589, appeared in no character more
important than that of _a Messenger_.[420:A] If this were the case with
a performer of such acknowledged merit, we may readily acquiesce in the
supposition that the parts first given to Shakspeare were equally as
insignificant; and as readily allow that an actor thus circumstanced
might very properly be said to have been admitted into the company _at
first in a very mean rank_.

As Shakspeare's _immediate_ employment, therefore, on his arrival in
town, appears to have been that of an _actor_, it cannot be deemed
irrelevant if we should here enquire into his merits and success in
this department.

Two traditions, of a contradictory complexion, have reached us relative
to Shakspeare's powers as an actor; one on the authority of Mr. Aubrey,
and the other on that of Mr. Rowe. In the manuscript papers of the
first of these gentlemen, we are told that our author, "being inclined
naturally to poetry and acting, came to London,—and was an actor at
one of the play-houses, and _did act exceedingly well_[421:A];" but, in
the life of the poet by the second, it is added, after mentioning his
admission to the theatre in an inferior rank, that "his admirable wit,
and the natural turn of it to the stage, soon distinguished him, _if
not as an extraordinary actor_, yet as an excellent writer. His name is
printed, as the custom was in those times, amongst those of the other
players, before some old plays, but without any particular account of
what sort of parts he used to play; and though I have enquired, I could
never meet with any further account of him this way, than _that the top
of his performance was the Ghost in his own Hamlet_."[421:B]

Of descriptions thus opposed, a preference only can be given as founded
on other evidence; and it happens that subsequent enquiry has enabled
us to consider Mr. Aubrey's account as approximating nearest to the

Contemporary authority, it is evident, would decide the question, and
happily the researches of Mr. Malone have furnished us with a testimony
of this kind. In the year 1592, Henry Chettle, a dramatic writer,
published a posthumous work of Robert Greene's, under the title of
"Greene's Groatsworth of Wit, bought with a Million of Repentance,"
in which the author speaks harshly of Marlowe, and still more so of
Shakspeare, who was then rising into fame. Both these poets were
justly offended, and Chettle, who was of course implicated in their
displeasure, printed, in the December of the same year, a pamphlet,
entitled _Kind Harts Dreame_, to which is prefixed an address _to
the Gentlemen Readers_, apologizing, in the following terms, for the
offence which he had given:

"About three months since died M. Robert Greene, leaving many papers
in sundry booksellers' hands, among others his _Groatsworth of Wit_,
in which a letter written to divers play-makers is offensively by
one or two of them taken; and because on the dead they cannot be
re-avenged, they wilfully forge in their conceites a living author: and
after tossing it to and fro, no remedy but it must light on me. How I
have, all the time of my conversing in printing, hindered the bitter
inveighing against schollers, it hath been very well known; and how in
that I dealt, I can sufficiently prove. With _neither_ of them that
take offence was I acquainted, and with one of them ('Marlowe') I care
not if I never be. The other ('Shakspeare'), whom at that time I did
not so much spare, as since I wish I had, for that as I have moderated
the hate of living writers, and might have used my own discretion,
(especially in such a case, the author being dead,) that I did not,
I am as sorry as if the original fault had been my fault; because
_myselfe have seene his demeanour no less civil than he EXCELLENT IN
THE QUALITIE HE PROFESSES. Besides, divers of worship have reported his
uprightness of dealing, which argues his honestie, and his facetious
grace in writing, that approves his art._ For the first, whose learning
I reverence, and at the perusing of Greene's booke, strooke out what
then in conscience I thought he in some displeasure writ; or had it
been true, yet to publish it was intollerable; him I would wish to use
me no worse than I deserve."[422:A]

This curious passage clearly evinces that our author was deemed
EXCELLENT as an actor, (for the phrase _the qualitie he professes_
peculiarly denoted at that time the profession of a player,) in the
year 1592, only five or six years, at most, after he had entered on
the stage; and consequently that the information which Aubrey had
received was correct, while that obtained by Rowe must be considered as

So well instructed, indeed, was Shakspeare in the duties and qualities
of an _actor_, that it appears from Downes' book, entitled _Roscius
Anglicanus_, that he undertook to teach and perfect John Lowin in the
character of King Henry the Eighth, and Joseph Taylor in that of Hamlet.

Of his competency for this task, several parts of his dramatic works
might be brought forward as sufficient proof. Independent of his
celebrated instructions to the player in Hamlet, which would alone
ascertain his intimate knowledge of the histrionic art, his conception
of the powers necessary to form the accomplished tragedian, may be
drawn from part of a dialogue which occurs between _Richard the Third_
and _Buckingham_:—

      "_Glo._ Come, cousin, _can'st thou quake and change thy colour?
    Murther thy breath in middle of a word?
    And then again begin, and stop again,
    As if thou wert distraught, and mad with terror?_

      _Buck._ Tut, I can counterfeit the _deep tragedian_;
    Speak, and look big, and _pry on every side,
    Tremble and start at wagging of a straw,
    Intending deep suspicion: ghastly looks
    Are at my service, like enforced smiles_."[423:A]

It would be highly interesting to be able to point out what were the
characters which Shakspeare performed, either in his own plays, or
in those of other writers; but the information which we have on this
subject is, unfortunately, very scanty. Mr. Rowe has mentioned, as the
sole result of his enquiries, that the _Ghost_ in _Hamlet_ was his
_chef d'oeuvre_. That this part, however, in the opinion of the poet,
required some skill and management in the execution, is evident from
the expressions attributed to Hamlet, who exclaims, on the appearance
of the Royal spectre, during the interview between himself and his

    —————— "Look you how pale he glares!
    His form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones,
    Would make them capable. Do not _look upon me_,
    Lest with _this piteous action_, you convert
    My stern effects;"[424:A]

a description, which, there is reason to suppose, the author would
not have ventured to introduce, unless he had been conscious of the
possession of powers capable of doing justice to his own delineation.

Another tradition, preserved by Mr. Oldys, and communicated to him,
as Mr. Malone thinks[424:B], by Mr. Thomas Jones of Tarbick, in
Worcestershire, whom we have formerly mentioned, imports, as corrected
by the commentator just mentioned, that a _relation_ of the poet's,
then in advanced age, but who in his youth had been in the habit of
visiting London for the purpose of seeing him act in some of his own
plays, told Mr. Jones[424:C], that he had a faint recollection "of
having once seen him act a part in one of his own comedies, wherein
being to personate a decrepit old man, he wore a long beard, and
appeared so weak and drooping and unable to walk, that he was forced
to be supported and carried by another person to a table, at which he
was seated among some company, who were eating, and one of them sung
a song."[424:D] That this part was the character of _Adam_, in _As
You Like It_, there can be no doubt, and if we add, that, from the
arrangement of the names of the actors and of the persons of the drama,
prefixed to Ben Jonson's play of _Every Man in his Humour_, first acted
in 1598, there is reason to imagine that he performed the part of Old
Knowell in that comedy, we may be warranted probably in drawing the
conclusion, that the representation of aged characters was peculiarly
his forte.

It appears also, from the first four lines of a small poem, written
by John Davies, about the year 1611, and inscribed, _To our English
Terence, Mr. William Shakespeare_, that our bard had been accustomed to
perform _kingly parts_;

    "Some say, good Will, which I in sport do sing,
       Hadst thou not play'd some _kingly parts_ in sport,
     Thou hadst been a companion for a king,
       And been a king among the meaner sort;"[425:A]

a passage which leads us to infer, that several of the regal characters
in his own plays, perhaps the parts of King Henry the Eighth, King
Henry the Sixth, and King Henry the Fourth, may have been appropriated
to him, as adapted to the general estimate of his powers in acting.

From the notices thus collected, it will be perceived, that Shakspeare
attempted not the performance of characters of the first rank; but
that in the representation of those of a second-rate order, to which
he modestly confined his exertions, he was deemed _excellent_. We
have just grounds also for concluding that of the _theory_ of acting
in its very highest departments, he was a complete master; and though
not competent to carry his own precepts into perfect execution, he
was a consummate judge of the attainments and deficiencies of his
fellow-comedians, and was accordingly employed to instruct them in his
own conception of the parts which they were destined to perform.

It may be considered, indeed, as a most fortunate circumstance for the
lovers of dramatic poetry, that our author, in point of execution,
did not attain to the loftiest summit of his profession. He would, in
that case, it is very probable, have either sate down content with the
high reputation accruing to him from this source, or would have found
little time for the labours of composition, and consequently we should
have been in a great degree, if not altogether, deprived of what now
constitute the noblest efforts of human genius.


[414:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 214.

[414:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 124.—Antony Wood, it appears,
was the original author of this anecdote, for he tells us in his
Athenæ, that John Davenant, who kept the Crown, was "an admirer and
lover of plays and play-makers, especially Shakspeare, _who frequented
his house in his journies between Warwickshire and London_." Ath. Oxon.
vol. ii. p. 292.

[414:C] The Register informs us,—

1st. That his daughter Susanna was baptized there on the 26th May 1583.

2d. That Hamnet and Judith, his twin-son and daughter, were baptized
there the 2d of February 1584.

3d. That his son Hamnet was buried there, on the 11th of August 1596.

4th. That his daughter Susanna was there married to John Hall, on the
5th of June 1607.

5th. That his daughter Judith was there married to Thomas Queeny, on
the 10th of February 1615/16.—Vide Chalmers's Apology, p. 247.

[415:A] Ben Jonson, in his Poem to the Memory of Shakspeare, calls him
"Sweet Swan of Avon;" and Joseph Taylor, who represented the part of
Hamlet in 1596, in the Dedication which he and his fellow-players wrote
for Beaumont and Fletcher's Works, in 1647, speaks of "the flowing
compositions of the then expired _sweet swan of Avon_, Shakspeare."

[415:B] Chalmers's Apology, p. 247.

[415:C] Chalmers's Supplemental Apology, p. 227.

[415:D] Ibid. p. 227. note _d_.

[416:A] Chalmers's Apology, p. 423. note _a_.

[416:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 63.

[417:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 233.

[417:B] Ibid. vol. ii. p. 230.

[418:A] Ancient British Drama, vol. ii. p. 539.

[418:B] British Theatre, p. 9.

[418:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 230. note 1.

[418:D] Vide Malone's Inquiry, p. 94.

[418:E] Mr. Chalmers, speaking of Heminges, says—"There is reason to
believe, that he was, originally, a _Warwickshire lad_; a shire, which
has produced so many players and poets; the Burbadges; the Shakspeares;
the Greens; and the Harts." Apology, p. 435, 436.

[419:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 63. note 2.

[419:B] Ibid. p. 120.

[419:C] Lives of the Poets, vol. i. p. 130.

[420:A] Chalmers's Supplemental Apology, p. 158. note _n_.

[421:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 213.

[421:B] Ibid. vol. i. p. 64.

[422:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 237, 238.

[423:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xiv. p. 403, 404. Act iii. sc. 5.

[424:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 249, 250. Act iii. sc. 4.

[424:B] Ibid. vol. i. p. 128. note 1.

[424:C] "Mr. Jones's informer," observes Mr. Malone, "might have been
Mr. Richard Quincy, who lived in London, and died at Stratford in 1656,
at the age of 69; or Mr. Thomas Quincy, our poet's son-in-law, who
lived, I believe, till 1663, and was twenty-seven years old when his
father-in-law died; or some one of the family of Hathaway. Mr. Thomas
Hathaway, I believe Shakspeare's brother-in-law, died at Stratford in
1654-5, at the age of 85."—Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 128. note 1.

[424:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 129, 130.

[425:A] The Scourge of Folly, by John Davies of Hereford, no date.



As the first object of Shakspeare must necessarily have been, from the
confined nature of his circumstances, to procure employment, it is
highly reasonable to conclude that he at first contented himself with
the diligent discharge of those duties which fell to his share as an
actor of inferior rank. That these, however, were calculated to absorb,
for any length of time, a mind so active, ample, and creative, cannot
for a moment be credited; and, indeed, we are warranted, by every fair
inference, to assert, that, no sooner did he consider his situation at
the theatre of Blackfriars as tolerably secured, than he immediately
directed his powers to the cultivation of his favourite art—that of

Of his inclination to this elegant branch of literature, we have
an early proof, in the mode of retaliation which he adopted, in
consequence of his prosecution by Sir Thomas Lucy; and that the Venus
and Adonis, "the first heir of his invention," as he terms it, was
commenced, not long subsequent to this period, and shortly after his
arrival in town, a little enquiry will induce us to consider as an
almost established fact.

It has, indeed, been surmised, by a very intelligent critic, that
this poem may have been written while its author "felt the powerful
incentive of love," and consequently "before he had sallied from
Stratford;" "certainly," he adds, "before he was known to [426:A]fame."
The first suggestion we may dismiss as a _mere_ supposition; the second
must be acknowledged as founded on truth.

All the commentators agree in fixing on the year 1591, as the
LATEST period for our author's commencement as a _dramatic poet_: for
this obvious reason, that both Greene and Chettle have mentioned him as
a writer of plays in 1592, and in such a manner, likewise, as proves
that he was _even then_ possessed of some degree of _notoriety_, the
latter mentioning his "_facetious grace in writing_," and the former,
after calling him, "_an upstart crow beautified with our feathers_,"
and parodying a line from the Third Part of King Henry VI., concludes
by telling us, that he "_is in his own conceit the only SHAKE-SCENE
in the country_;" circumstances which have naturally induced the most
sagacious critics on our bard to infer, that, thus early to have
excited so much envy as this railing accusation evinces, he must
without doubt have been a corrector and improver of plays anterior to
1590, and very probably in 1589.

Now, though the first edition of the Venus and Adonis was not
_published_ until 1593, yet the author's positive declaration, that it
was "_the first heir of his invention_," necessarily implies that its
_composition_ had taken place prior to any poetical attempts for the
stage; and as we have seen, that his arrival in town could not have
occurred before 1586; that he was then immediately employed as an actor
in a very inferior rank; and that his earliest efforts as a dramatic
poet may be attributed to the year 1589 or 1590, it will follow, as a
legitimate deduction, if we allow the space of a twelvemonth for his
settlement at the theatre, that the composition of this poem, "the
first heir of his invention," must be given to the interval elapsing
between the years 1587 and 1590, a period not too extended, the nature
of his other engagements being considered, for the completion of a poem
very nearly amounting to twelve hundred lines.

Having thus conducted Shakspeare to his entrance on the career of
authorship and fame, it will now be necessary, in conformity with our
plan, to take a general and cursory survey of LITERATURE, as it
existed in the reigns of Elizabeth and James. The remainder of this
chapter will therefore be devoted to a broad outline on this subject,
reserving, however, the topics of Romance and Miscellaneous Poetry,
for distinct and immediately subsequent consideration, as these will
form an apposite prelude to an estimate of the patronage which our
author enjoyed, to a critique on his poems, and to critical notices
of contemporary _miscellaneous_ poets, enquiries which, while they
embrace, in one view, the merits of Shakspeare as a _miscellaneous_
poet, are, at the same time, in their preliminary and collateral
branches, in some degree preparatory to his introduction as a
_dramatic_ writer; preparatory also to a sketch of the manners,
customs, and diversions of the metropolis, during his age, and to a
discussion of his transcendent powers as the bard of fancy and of

The literary period of which we are proceeding to give a slight
sketch, may be justly considered as the most splendid in our annals;
for in what equal portion of our history can we bring forward three
such mighty names as _Spenser_, _Bacon_, and _Shakspeare_, each, in
their respective departments, remaining without a rival. As the field,
however, is so ample that even to do justice to an outline will require
much attention to arrangement, it will be necessary to distribute
what we have to offer, in this stage of our work, under the heads of
_Bibliography_, _Philology_, _Criticism_, _History_, General, Local,
and Personal, and _Miscellaneous Literature_; premising that as we
confine ourselves, in the strictest sense, to _elegant_ literature,
or what has been termed the _Belles Lettres_, science, theology, and
politics, will, of course, be excluded.

Literature, which had for some centuries been confined to ecclesiastics
and scholars by profession, was, at the commencement of Elizabeth's
reign, thrown open to the higher classes of general society. The
example was given by the Queen herself; and the nobility, the superior
orders of the gentry, and even their wives and daughters, became
enthusiasts in the cause of letters. The novelty which attended these
studies, the eager desire to possess what had been so long studiously
and jealously concealed, and the curiosity to explore and rifle the
treasures of the Greek and Roman world, which mystery and imagination
had swelled into the marvellous, contributed to excite an absolute
passion for study, and for books. The court, the ducal castle, and
the baronial hall, were suddenly converted into academies, and could
boast of splendid libraries, as well as of splendid tapestries. In the
first of these, according to Ascham, might be seen the Queen reading
"more _Greeke_ every day, than some prebendarie of this church doth
read _Latin_ in a whole week[429:A]," and while she was translating
Isocrates or Seneca, it may be easily conceived that her maids of
honour found it convenient to praise and to adopt the disposition of
her time. In the second, observes Warton, the daughter of a duchess was
taught not only to distil strong waters, but to construe Greek[429:B];
and in the third, every young lady who aspired to be fashionable was
compelled, in imitation of the greater world, to exhibit similar marks
of erudition.

If such were the studious manners of the ladies, it will readily be
credited, that an equal, if not a greater attachment to literature
existed in the other sex; in short, an intimacy with Greek, Latin,
and Italian, was deemed essential to the character of the nobleman
and the courtier; and learning was thus rendered a passport to
promotion and rank. That this is not an exaggerated statement, but
founded on contemporary authority, will be evident from a passage
in Harrison's Description of England, where, after delineating the
court, he adds,—"This further is not to be omitted, to the singular
commendation of both sorts and sexes of our courtiers here in England,
that there are verie few of them, which have not the use and skill
of sundrie speaches, beside an excellent veine of writing before
time not regarded.—Trulie it is a rare thing with us now, to heare
of a courtier which hath but his owne language. And to saie how many
gentlewomen and ladies there are, that beside sound knowledge of the
Greeke and Latine toongs, are thereto no lesse skilfull in the Spanish,
Italian, and French, or in some one of them, it resteth not in me:
sith I am persuaded, that as the noblemen and gentlemen do surmount
in this behalfe, so these come verie little or nothing at all behind
them for their parts, which industrie God continue, and accomplish
that which otherwise is wanting!" Again, a few lines below, he remarks
of the ladies of the court, that some of them employ themselves "in
continuall reading either of the holie scriptures, or histories of our
owne or forren nations about us, and diverse in writing volumes of
their owne, or translating of other mens into our English and Latine
toongs[430:A];" employments which now appear to us very extraordinary
as the daily occupations of a court, but were, then, the natural result
of that ardent love of letters, which had somewhat suddenly been
diffused through the higher classes.

Were we, however, to conclude, that the same erudite taste pervaded the
bulk of the people, or even the middle orders of society, we should
be grossly mistaken. Literature, though cultivated with enthusiasm in
the metropolis, was confined even there to persons of high rank, or to
those who were subservient to their education and amusement. In the
country, to read and write were still esteemed rare accomplishments,
and among the rural gentry of not the first degree, little difference,
in point of literary information, was perceptible between the master
and his menial attendant. Of this several of the plays of Shakspeare
and Jonson will afford evidence, especially the comedies of the _Merry
Wives of Windsor_, and _Every Man in his Humour_, to which a striking
proof may be added from Burton, who wrote just at the close of the
Shaksperian [430:B]period; and, in treating of study, as a cause of
melancholy, says, "I may not deny, but that we have a sprinkling of
our Gentry, here, and there one, excellently well learned;—but they
are but few in respect of the multitude, the major part (and some
again excepted, that are indifferent) are wholly bent for Hawks and
Hounds, and carried away many times with intemperate lust, gaming, and
drinking. If they read a book at any time, 'tis an English Chronicle,
Sir Huon of Bordeaux, Amadis de Gaul, &c. a play-book, or some pamphlet
of News, and that at such seasons only, when they cannot stir abroad,
to drive away time, their sole discourse is dogs, hawks, horses, and
what News? If some one have been a traveller in Italy, or as far as the
Emperour's Court, wintered in Orleance, and can court his mistris in
broken French, wear his clothes neatly in the newest fashion, sing some
choice out-landish tunes, discourse of lords, ladies, towns, palaces,
and cities, he is compleat and to be admired: otherwise he and they
are much at one; _no difference betwixt the master and the man_, but
worshipful titles: wink and choose betwixt him that sits down (clothes
excepted) and him that holds the trencher behind him."[431:A]

It is to the court, therefore, and its attendants, to the nobility,
higher gentry, and their preceptors, that we are to look for that
ardent love of books and learning which so remarkably distinguished
the reigns of Elizabeth and James, and which was destined, in another
century, to descend into, and illuminate the larger masses of our
population. Nothing, indeed, can more forcibly paint Elizabeth's
passion for books and learning, than a passage in Harrison's unadorned
but faithful description of her court:—"Finallie," says that
interesting pourtrayer of ancient manners, "to avoid idlenesse, and
prevent sundrie transgressions, otherwise likelie to be committed and
doone, such order is taken, that everie office hath either a bible, or
the booke of the acts and monuments of the church of England, or both,
beside some histories and chronicles lieing therein, for the exercise
of such as come into the same: _whereby the stranger that entereth into
the court of England upon the sudden, shall rather imagine himselfe to
come into some publike schoole of the universities, where manie give
eare to one that readeth, than into a princes palace, if you conferre
the same with those of other nations_. Would to God all honorable
personages would take example of hir graces godlie dealing in this
behalfe, and shew their conformitie unto these hir so good beginnings!
which if they would, then should manie grievous offenses (wherewith
God is highlie displeased) be cut off and restrained, which now doo
reigne exceedinglie, in most noble and gentlemen's houses, whereof
they see no paterne within hir graces gates."[432:A] Well might Mr.
Dibdin apostrophize this learned Queen in the following picturesque
and characteristic terms:—"All hail to the sovereign, who, bred up
in severe habits of reading and meditation, loved books and scholars
to the very bottom of her heart! I consider ELIZABETH as a royal
bibliomaniac of transcendant fame!—I see her, in imagination, wearing
her favorite little _Volume of Prayers_[432:B], the composition of
Queen Catharine Parr, and Lady Tirwit, 'bound in solid gold, and
hanging by a gold chain at her side,' at her morning and evening
devotions—afterwards, as she became firmly seated upon her throne,
taking an interest in the embellishments of the _Prayer Book_[432:C],
which goes under her own name; and then indulging her strong
bibliomaniacal appetites in fostering the institution for the erecting
of _a Library, and an Academy for the study of Antiquities and

The example of Elizabeth, whose taste for books had been fostered
under the tuition of Ascham, was speedily followed by some of the first
characters in the kingdom; but by none with more ardent zeal then by
Archbishop Parker, who was such an indefatigable admirer and collector
of curious and precious books, and of every thing that appertained
to them, that, according to Strype, he kept constantly in his house
"drawers of pictures, wood-cutters, painters, limners, writers, and
book-binders,—one of these was _Lylye_, an excellent writer, that
could counterfeit any antique writing. Him the archbishop customarily
used to make old books compleat."[433:A] No expense, in short, was
spared, by this amiable and accomplished divine, in procuring the most
rare and valuable articles; his library was daily increased through
the medium of numerous agents, whom he employed, both at home and
abroad, and among these was Batman the author of the _Doome_ and the
commentator _uppon Bartholome_, who, we are told, purchased for him not
less than 6700 books "in the space of no more than four years."[433:B]

To Parker succeeded the still more celebrated names of _Sir Robert
Cotton_ and _Sir Thomas Bodley_, men to whom the nation is indebted
for two of the most extensive and valuable of its public libraries.
The enthusiasm which animated these illustrious characters in their
bibliographical researches is almost incredible, and what gives an
imperishable interest to their biography is, that their morals were as
pure as their literary zeal was glowing.

Sir Thomas Bodley was singularly fortunate in the selection of _Dr.
Thomas James_ for the keeper of his library, whom Camden terms _vir
eruditus, et vere_ φιλόβιβλος[433:C], and of whom Fuller says, that
"on serious consideration one will conclude the Library made for _him_,
and _him_ for it, like _tallies_ they so fitted one another. Some men
live like mothes in libraries, not being better for the books, but the
books the worse for them, which they only soile with their fingers. Not
so Dr. James, who made use of books for his own and the publique good.
He knew the age of a manuscript, by looking upon the face thereof, and
by the form of the character could conclude the time wherein it was

Among the lovers and collectors of curious books, during the reign of
Elizabeth, may be mentioned Dr. JOHN DEE, notorious for his magical and
astrological lore, and who, according to his own account, possessed a
library of "four thousand volumes, printed and unprinted, bound and
unbound, valued at 2000_l._," beside numerous boxes and cases of very
rare evidences Irish and Welsh[434:B]; and _Captain Cox of Coventry_,
whose boudoir of romances and ballads we shall have occasion to notice,
at some length, in the succeeding chapter.

It is remarkable that the two sovereigns included in the era of
Shakspeare, should have felt an equally unbounded inclination to study
and to books. So attached was James to bibliothecal delights, that
when he visited the Bodleian Library in 1605, he is said by Burton
to have exclaimed on his departure, "_if it were so that I must be a
prisoner, if I might have my wish, I would desire to have no other
prison than this library, and to be chained together with so many
good authors_."[434:C] Burton himself was one of the most inveterate
bibliomaniacs of his day; Hearne tells us that he was a collector of
"ancient popular little pieces," which, together with a multitude of
books of the best kind, he gave to the Bodleian Library.[434:D] In the
preface to his curious folio, he speaks of his eyes aking with reading,
and his fingers with turning the leaves[434:E]; and in the body of
his work, under the article of study, he expatiates, in the highest
strain of enthusiasm, on the luxury of possessing numerous books: "we
have thousands of authors of all sorts," he observes; "many great
libraries full well furnished, like so many dishes of meat, served out
for several palates: and he is a very block that is affected with
none of them.—I could even live and dye with—and take more delight,
true content of mind in them, than thou hast in all thy wealth and
sport, how rich soever thou art.——Nicholas Gerbelius, that good old
man, was so much ravished with a few Greek authors restored to light,
with hope and desire of enjoying the rest, that he exclaims forthwith,
Arabibus atque Indis omnibus erimus ditiores, We shall be richer than
all the Arabick or Indian Princes; of such esteem they were with him,
in comparable worth and value."—He then adopts the emphatic language
of _Heinsius_: "_I no sooner come into the Library, but I bolt the door
to me, excluding lust, ambition, avarice, and all such vices, whose
nurse is idleness, their mother Ignorance, and Melancholy herself,
and in the very lap of eternity, amongst so many divine souls, I take
my seat, with so lofty a spirit and sweet content, that I pity all
our great ones, and rich men that know not this happiness._ I am not
ignorant in the mean time," he adds, "notwithstanding this which I have
said, how barbarously and basely for the most part our _ruder Gentry_
esteem of libraries and books, how they neglect and contemn so great a
treasure, so inestimable a benefit.—For my part I pity these men,—how
much, on the other side, are all we bound that are scholars, to those
munificent _Ptolomies_, bountiful _Mæcenates_, heroical patrons, divine
spirits,—_qui nobis hæc otia fecerunt, Namque erit ille mihi semper
Deus_—that have provided for us so many well furnished libraries
as well in our publick Academies in most cities, as in our private
Colledges? How shall I remember _Sir Thomas Bodley_, amongst the
rest, _Otho Nicholson_, and the right reverend _John Williams_ Lord
Bishop of _Lincolne_, (with many other pious acts) who besides that
at _St. John's_ College in _Cambridge_, that in _Westminster_, is now
likewise in _Fieri_ with a Library at _Lincolne_ (a noble president
for all corporate towns and cities to imitate) _O quam te memorem (vir
illustrissime) quibus elogiis?_"[435:A]

The passion for letters and for books, which was thus diffused among
the higher classes, necessarily occasioned much attention to be paid
to the preservation and decoration of libraries, the volumes of which,
however, were not arranged on the shelves in the manner that we are now
accustomed to see them. The _leaves_, and not the back, were placed
in front, in order to exhibit the _silk strings_ or _golden clasps_
which united the sides of the cover. Thus Bishop Earl, describing the
character of a young gentleman of the University, says,—"His study
has commonly handsome shelves, his books neat silk strings, _which he
shews to his father's man, and is loth to unty or take down for fear of

To the most costly of these embellishments, the _golden clasps_,
Shakspeare has referred, both in a metaphorical and literal sense.
In the _Twelfth Night_ the Duke, addressing the supposed Cesario,

    ————————— "I have _unclasp'd_
    To thee the _book_ even of my secret soul;"[436:B]

and in _Romeo and Juliet_, Lady Capulet observes,

    "That book in many's eyes doth share the glory,
     That in _gold clasps_ locks in the golden story."[436:C]

It appears, indeed, that the art of ornamenting the exterior of books
was carried, at this period, to a lavish extent, jewels, as well as
gold, being employed to enhance their splendour. Let us listen to the
directions of the judicious Peacham, on this head, a contemporary
authority, who has thought it not unnecessary to subjoin the best mode
of keeping books, and the best scite for a library. "Have a care," says
he, "of keeping your bookes handsome, and well bound, not casting away
over much in their gilding or stringing for ostentation sake, like the
prayer-bookes of girles and gallants, which are carried to Church but
for their out-sides. Yet for your owne use spare them not for noting
or interlining (if they be printed) for it is not likely you meane to
be a gainer by them, when you have done with them: neither suffer them
through negligence to mold and be moath-eaten, or want their strings or
covers.—Suffer them not to lye neglected, who must make you regarded;
and goe in torn coates, who must apparell your mind with the ornaments
of knowledge, above the roabes and riches of the most magnificent

"To avoyde the inconvenience of moathes and moldinesse, let your study
be placed, and your windowes open if it may be, towards the East,
for where it looketh South or West, the aire being ever subject to
moisture, moathes are bred and darkishnesse encreased, whereby your
maps and pictures will quickly become pale, loosing their life and
colours, or rotting upon their cloath, or paper, decay past all helpe
and recovery."[437:A]

The interior, also, as well as the exterior, of books, had acquired a
high degree of richness and finishing during the era of which we are
treating. The black-letter, Roman, and Italic, types were, in general,
clear, sharp, and strong, and though the splendid art of illumination
had ceased to be practised, in the sixteenth century, in consequence
of the establishment of printing, the loss was compensated for, by
more correct ornamental capital initials, cut with great taste and
spirit on wood and copper, and by engraved _borders_ and _title-pages_.
Portraits were also frequently introduced in the initials, especially
by the celebrated printers Jugge, and Day, the latter of whom,
patronised by Archbishop Parker, became in his turn the patron of Fox
the martyrologist, in the first edition of whose book, 1563, and in
Day's edition of Dee's _General and Rare Memorials pertayning to the
perfecte Arte of Navigation_, folio, 1577, may be found an admirable
specimen of this style of decoration, the capital initial C including
a portrait of Elizabeth sitting in state, and attended by three of her
ministers.[437:B] A similar mode of costly ornamenture issued from the
presses of Grafton, Whitchurch, Bill, and Barker, and perhaps in no
period of _our_ annals has this species of decorative typography been
carried to a higher state of perfection. Some very grotesque ornaments,
it is true, and some degree of affectation were occasionally exhibited
in title-pages, and to one of the latter class, very common in this
age, Shakspeare alludes in the _Second Part of King Henry IV._, where
Northumberland, describing the approach of a messenger, says,

    —— "This man's brow, like to a title-leaf,
    Foretells the nature of a tragick volume;"[438:A]

imagery drawn from the custom of printing elegiac poems with the
title-page, and every intermediate leaf, entirely black; but, upon the
whole, valuable books, and especially the Bible, had more splendid and
minutely ornamental finishing bestowed upon their pages, than has since
occurred, in this country, until towards the close of the eighteenth

It had been fortunate, if _accuracy_ in typography had kept pace with
the taste for decoration; but this, with few exceptions, may be said
never to have been the case, and about the termination of Elizabeth's
reign, the era of total incorrectness, as Mr. Steevens remarks,
commenced, when "works of all kinds appeared with the disadvantage
of more than their natural and inherent imperfections[438:B];" an
assertion sufficiently borne out by the state in which the dramatic
poetry of this period was published. It may be added that the
Black-letter continued to be the prevailing type during the days of
Elizabeth, but seems to have nearly deserted the English press before
the demise of her successor.

Of what extent was the Library of Shakspeare, and of what its chief
treasures consisted, can now only be the subject of conjecture. That
he was a lover and collector of books more particularly within the
pale of his own language, and in the range of elegant literature, is
sufficiently evidenced by his own works. A _Bibliotheca Shakspeariana_
may, in fact, be drawn, from the industry of his commentators, who
have sought for, and quoted, almost every book to which he has been
directly or remotely indebted. The disquisitions indeed into which
we are about to enter will pretty accurately point out the species
of books which principally ornamented his shelves, and may preclude
any other remark here, than that the chief wealth of his collection
consisted of Historic, Romantic, and Poetic Literature, in all their
various branches.

_Philological_ or grammatical literature, as applied to the English
language, appears to have made little progress until after the middle
of the sixteenth century. We are told by Roger Ascham in 1544, the
period of the publication of his Toxophilus, that "as for the Latine or
Greeke tongue, everye thinge is so excellentlye done in them, that none
can do better; in the _Englishe_ tongue, contrary, everye thinge in a
maner so meanlye both for the matter and handelinge, that no man can
do worse. For therein the least learned, for the most part, have bene
alwayes most readye to write."[439:A] The Toxophilus of this useful
and engaging writer, was written in his native tongue, with the view
of presenting the public with a specimen of a purer and more correct
_English_ style than that to which they had hitherto been accustomed;
and with the hope of calling the attention of the learned, from the
exclusive study of the Greek and Latin, to the cultivation of their
vernacular language. The result which he contemplated was attained,
and, from the period of this publication, the shackles of Latinity were
broken, and composition in _English_ prose became an object of eager
and successful attention.

Previous to the exertions of Ascham, very few writers can be mentioned
as affording any model for English style. If we except the Translation
of Froissart by Bourchier, Lord Berners, in 1523, and the History
of Richard III. by Sir Thomas More, certainly compositions of great
merit, we shall find it difficult to produce an author of much value
for his vernacular prose. On the contrary, very soon after the
appearance of the Toxophilus, we find harmony and beauty in English
style emphatically praised and enjoined. Thus, in _THE ARTE OF
RHETORIKE for the use of all suche as are studious of Eloquence, sette
forthe in Englishe by THOMAS WILSON_, 1553, we are informed that
many now aspired to write English elegantly. "When we have learned,"
remarks this critic, "usuall and accustomable wordes to set forthe
our meanynge, we ought to joyne them together in apte order, that the
eare maie delite in hearynge the harmonie. I knowe some Englishemen,
that in this poinct have suche a gift in the Englishe as fewe in Latin
have the like; and therefore delite the Wise and Learned so muche
with their pleasaunte composition, that many rejoyce when thei maie
heare suche, and thinke muche learnyng is gotte when thei maie talke
with them."[440:A] The _Treatise_ of Wilson powerfully assisted the
cause which Ascham had been advocating; it displays much sagacity
and good sense, and greatly contributed to clear the language from
the affectation consequent on the introduction of foreign words and
idiom. The licentiousness, in this respect, was carried, indeed,
at this time, to such a height, that those who affected more than
ordinary refinement, either in conversation or writing, so Italianated
or Latinized their English, as to be scarcely intelligible to the
common people. Wilson severely satirizes this absurd practice. "Some,"
says he, "seke so farre for outlandishe Englishe, that they forget
altogether their mother's language. And I dare sweare this, if some of
their mothers were alive, thei were not able to tel what thei saie: and
yet these fine Englishe clerkes wil saie thei speake in their mother
tongue, if a man should charge them for counterfeityng the kinges
Englishe.—He that cometh lately out of Fraunce, will talke Frenche
Englishe, and never blushe at the matter. Another choppes in with
Englishe Italianated, and applieth the Italian phraise to our Englishe
speakyng.—The unlearned or folishe phantasticall, that smelles but
of learnyng (suche fellowes as have seene learned men in their daies)
will so Latine their tongues, that the simple cannot but wonder at
their talke, and thinke surely thei speake by some revelacion. I know
them, that thinke Rhetorike to stande wholie upon darke wordes; and he
that can catche an ynkehorne terme by the taile, hym thei compt to be
a fine Englishman and a good rhetorician." He then adds a specimen of
this style from a letter "devised by a Lincolneshire man for a voide
benefice," addressed to the Lord Chancellor:—"Ponderyng, expendyng,
and revolutyng with myself, your ingent affabilitie, and ingenious
capacitie, for mundane affaires, I cannot but celebrate and extoll
your magnificall dexteritie above all other. For how could you have
adapted suche illustrate prerogative, and dominiall superioritie, if
the fecunditie of your ingenie had not been so fertile and wonderfull
pregnaunt, &c."[441:A] That the same species of pedantry continued
to prevail in 1589, we have the testimony of Puttenham, who, in his
chapter _Of Language_, observes that "we finde in our English writers
many wordes and speaches amendable, and ye shall see in some many
_inkhorne_ termes so ill affected brought in by men of learning as
preachers and schoole-masters: and many straunge termes of other
languages by Secretaries and Marchaunts and travailours, and many darke
wordes and not usual nor well sounding, though they be dayly spok in

Before Puttenham, however, had published, another and a still more
dangerous mode of corruption had infected English composition. In
1581, John Lilly, a dramatic poet, published a Romance in two parts,
of which the first is entitled, _Euphues_, The Anatomy of Wit, and
the second, _Euphues and his England_. This production is a tissue
of antithesis and alliteration, and therefore justly entitled to the
appellation of _affected_; but we cannot with Berkenhout consider
it as a most _contemptible piece of nonsense_.[441:C] The moral is
uniformly good; the vices and follies of the day are attacked with
much force and keenness; there is in it much display of the manners
of the times, and though, as a composition, it is very meretricious,
and sometimes absurd in point of ornament, yet the construction of
its sentences is frequently turned with peculiar neatness and spirit,
though with much monotony of cadence. William Webbe, no mean judge,
speaking of those who had attained a good grace and sweet vein in
eloquence, adds,—"among whom I think there is none that will gainsay
but Master John Lilly hath deserved most high commendations, as he who
hath stepped one step farther therein than any since he first began the
witty discourse of his EUPHUES, whose works surely in respect of his
singular eloquence and brave composition of apt words and sentences,
let the learned examine, and make a tryal thereof through all parts
of rhetoric in fit phrases, in pithy sentences, in gallant tropes, in
flowing speech, in plain sense; and surely in my judgment I think he
will yield him that verdict, which Quintilian giveth of both the best
orators, Demosthenes and Tully; that from the one nothing may be taken
away, and to the other nothing may be added[442:A];" an encomium that
was repeated by Nash[442:B], Lodge[442:C], and Meres[442:D], but which
should be contrasted with the sounder opinion of Drayton, who, in his
Epistle of Poets and Poesy, mentioning the noble Sidney,

    "That heroe for numbers and for prose,"

observes that he

    ——— "thoroughly pac'd our language as to show
    The plenteous English hand in hand might go
    With Greek and Latin, and did first reduce
    Our tongue from _Lilly_'s writing then in use;
    Talking of stones, stars, plants, of fishes, flies,
    Playing with words, and idle similies,
    As th' English apes, and very zanies be
    Of every thing, that they do hear and see,
    So imitating his ridiculous tricks,
    They speak and write, all like mere lunatics."[443:A]

Yet the most correct description of the merits and defects of this
once celebrated author has been given by Oldys, in his Librarian, who
remarks that "Lilly was a man of great reading, good memory, ready
faculty of application, and uncommon eloquence; but he ran into a vast
excess of allusion; in sentence and conformity of style he seldom
speaks directly to the purpose, but is continually carried away by
one odd allusion or simile or other (out of natural history, that
is yet fabulous and not true in nature), and that still overborne
by more, thick upon the back of one another; and through an eternal
affectation of sententiousness keeps to such a formal measure of his
periods as soon grows tiresome; and so, by confining himself to shape
his sense so frequently into one artificial cadence, however ingenious
or harmonious, abridges that variety which the style should be admired

So greatly was the style of _Euphues_ admired in the court of
Elizabeth, and, indeed, throughout the kingdom, that it became a
proof of refined manners to adopt its phraseology. Edward Blount, who
republished six of Lilly's plays, in 1632, under the title of _Sixe
Court Comedies_, declares that "Our nation are in his debt for a new
English which hee taught them. _Euphues_ and his _England_," he adds,
"began first that language. All our ladies were then his scollers; and
that beautie in court who could not parley Euphuesme, was as little
regarded as shee which now there speakes not French;" a representation
certainly not exaggerated; for Ben Jonson, describing, a fashionable
lady, makes her address her gallant in the following terms:—"O
master Brisk, (as it is in _Euphues_) _hard is the choice when one is
compell'd, either by silence to die with grief, or by speaking, to live
with shame_:" upon which Mr. Whalley observes, that the court ladies in
Elizabeth's time had all the phrases of _Euphues by heart_.[443:C]

Scarcely had corruption from this source ceased to violate the purity
and propriety of our language, when the fashion of interlarding
composition with a perpetual series of Latin quotations commenced; a
custom which continued until the close of the reign of James, and gave
to the style of this period a complexion the most heterogeneous and
absurd, being, in fact, composed of two languages, half Latin and half
English. Of this barbarous and pedantic habit, the works of Bishop
Andrews afford the most flagrant instance; an example which, we have
reason to regret, was followed too closely by Robert Burton, who, when
he trusts to his native tongue, has written in a style at once simple
and impressive.

These affectations, arising from the use of _inkhorn terms_, of
_antithesis_, _alliteration_, arbitrary orthography, and the _perpetual
intermixture of Latin phraseology_, have been deservedly and powerfully
ridiculed by Sir Philip Sidney and Shakspeare; by the former under the
character of _Rombus_, a village schoolmaster, in a masque presented
to Her Majesty in Wansted Garden, and by the latter in the person of
HOLOFERNES in _Love's Labour's Lost_. The satire of Sir Philip is
supported with humour; Her Majesty is supposed to have parted, by her
presence, a violent contest between two shepherds for the affection
of the Lady of the May, on which event _Rombus_ comes forward with a
learned oration.

"Now the thunder-thumping _Jove_ transfused his dotes into your
excellent formositie, which have with your resplendent beames thus
segregated the enmity of these rurall animals; I am _Potentissima
Domina_, a Schoole-master, that is to say, a Pedagogue, one not a
little versed in the disciplinating of the juvenall frie, wherin (to my
laud I say it) I use such geometrical proportions, as neither wanted
mansuetude nor correction, for so it is described.

    "_Parcare subjectos, et debellire superbos._"

"Yet hath not the pulchritude of my vertues protected me from the
contaminating hands of these Plebeians; for coming _solummodo_, to have
parted their sanguinolent fray, they yeelded me no more reverence,
than if I had been some _Pecorius Asinus_. I, even I, that am, who am
I? _Dixi verbus sapiento satum est._ But what said that Troian _Æneas_,
when he sojourned in the surging sulkes of the sandiferous seas, _Hæc
olim memonasse juvebit_. Well, well, _ad propositos revertebo_, the
puritie of the verity is that a certaine _Pulchra puella profecto_,
elected and constituted by the integrated determination of all this
topographicall region as the soveraigne Ladie of this Dame Maies month,
hath beene _quodammodo_ hunted, as you would say, pursued by two, a
brace, a couple, a cast of young men, to whom the crafty coward _Cupid_
had _inquam_ delivered his dire-dolorous dart;" here the May-Lady
interfering calls him a tedious fool, and dismisses him; upon which in
anger he exclaims,—

"_O Tempori, O Moribus!_ in profession a childe, in dignitie a woman,
in yeares a Ladie, in _cæteris_ a maide, should thus turpifie the
reputation of my doctrine, with the superscription of a foole, _O
Tempori, O Moribus!_"[445:A]

The Schoolmaster of Shakspeare appears, from the researches of
Warburton and Dr. Farmer, to have been intended as a satire upon John
Florio, whose _First Fruits_, or Dialogues in Italian and English, were
published in 1578, his _Second_ in 1591, and his "_Worlde of Wordes_"
in 1598. He was ludicrously pedantic, dogmatic, and assuming, and gave
the first affront to the dramatic poets of his day, by affirming that
"the plaies that they plaie in England, are neither _right comedies_,
nor _right tragedies_; but representations of _histories_ without
any decorum."[445:B] The character of _Holofernes_, however, while
it caricatures the peculiar folly and ostentation of Florio, holds
up to ridicule, at the same time, the general pedantry and literary
affectations of the age; and amongst these very particularly the absurd
innovations which Lilly had introduced. Sir Nathaniel, praising the
specimen of alliteration which Holofernes exhibits in his "extemporal
epitaph," calls it "a rare talent;" upon which the schoolmaster
comments on the compliment in a manner which pretty accurately
describes the fantastic genius of the author of Euphues:—"This is a
gift that I have, simple, simple; _a foolish extravagant spirit, full
of forms, figures, shapes, objects, ideas, apprehensions, motions,
revolutions_: these are begot in the ventricle of memory, nourished in
the womb of _pia mater_; and deliver'd upon the mellowing of occasion;"
and subsequently in a strain of good sense not very common from the
mouth of this imperious pedant, he still more definitely points out
the foppery of Lilly both in style and pronunciation,—"He is too
picked," he remarks, "too spruce, too affected, too odd, as it were,
too peregrinate, as I may call it.—He draweth out the thread of his
verbosity finer than the staple of his argument. I abhor such fanatical
phantasms, such insociable and point devise companions; such rackers
of orthography, as to speak, dout, fine, when he should say, doubt;
det, when he should pronounce, debt; d, e, b, t; not d, e, t: he
clepeth a calf, cauf; half, hauf; neighbour, _vocatur_ nebour; neigh,
abbreviated, ne: This is abhominable, (which he would call abominable,)
it insinuateth me of insanie; _Ne intelligis domine?_ to make frantick,

Yet, notwithstanding these various attempts, all tending to corrupt the
purity of our language, and originating from the pedantic taste of the
age, and from a love of novelty and over-refinement, English style more
rapidly improved during the reigns of Elizabeth and James, than has
been the case in any previous, or subsequent period of our annals. To
establish this assertion, we have only to appeal to the great writers
of this era, and among these, it will be sufficient to mention the
names of _Ralegh_, _Hooker_, _Bacon_ and _Daniel_, masters of a style,
at once vigorous, perspicuous, and often richly modulated. If to this
brief catalogue, though adequate to our purpose, we add the prose of
_Ascham_, _Sidney_, _Southwell_, _Knolles_, _Hakewell_, and _Peacham_,
still omitting many authors of much merit, it may justly be affirmed,
that no specimens of excellence in dignified and serious composition
could be wanting as exemplars. That the good sense of the age was aware
of the value of these writers, in point of style, though surrounded
by innovations supported by rank and fashion, may be concluded from
the admonitions of Peacham, who in his chapter "Of stile, in speaking
and writing," not only describes the style which ought to be adopted,
but enumerates the authors who have afforded the best examples of
it for the student. "Let your style," he admirably observes, "bee
furnished with solid matter, and compact of the best, choice, and most
familiar words; taking heed of speaking, or writing such words, as men
shall rather admire than understand.—Flowing at one and the selfe
same height, neither taken in and knit up too short, that, like rich
hangings of Arras or Tapistry, thereby lose their grace and beautie,
as Themistocles was wont to say: nor suffered to spread so farre, like
soft Musicke in an open field, whose delicious sweetnesse vanisheth,
and is lost in the ayre.

"To helpe yourselfe herein, make choice of those authors in prose, who
speake the best and purest English. I would commend unto you (though
from more antiquity) the Life of _Richard_ the third, written by _Sir
Thomas Moore_; the _Arcadia_ of the noble _Sir Philip Sidney_, whom Du
Bartas makes one of the foure columnes of our language; the _Essayes_,
and other peeces of the excellent master of eloquence, my Lord of _S.
Albanes_, who possesseth not onely eloquence, but all good learning,
as hereditary both by father and mother. You have then _M. Hooker_,
his _Policy_: _Henry_ the fourth, well written by _S. John Heyward_;
that first part of our English Kings, by _M. Samuel Daniel_. There are
many others I know, but these will tast you best, as proceeding from no
vulgar judgment."[447:A]

With regard to the state of colloquial language during this epoch, it
may safely be asserted, that a reference to the works of Shakspeare
will best acquaint us with the "diction of common life," with the tone
of conversation which prevailed both in the higher and lower ranks
of society; for the dialogue of his most perfect comedies is, by many
degrees, more easy, lively, and perspicuous, than that of any other
contemporary dramatic writer.

It is by no means, however, our wish to infer, from what has been
said in praise of the prose writers of this period, that they are to
be considered as perfect models in the nineteenth century; on the
contrary, it must be confessed, that the best of them exhibit abundant
proofs of quaintness and prolixity, of verbal pedantry and inverted
phraseology; and though the language, through their influence, made
unparalleled strides, and fully unfolded its copiousness, energy, and
strength, it remained greatly deficient in correctness and polish, in
selection of words, and harmony of arrangement.[448:A]

These defects, especially the two latter, are to be attributed, in
a great measure, to philological studies being almost exclusively
confined to the learned languages, a subject of complaint with a few
individuals, who lamented the neglect which this classical enthusiasm
entailed on their native tongue. Thus Arthur Golding, in some verses
prefixed to Baret's Alviarie, after observing that

    ———————— "all good inditers find
    Our Inglishe tung driven almost out of kind,
        Dismembred, hacked, maymed, rent and torne,
        Defaced, patched, mard, and made a skorne,"

adds with great truth and good sense,

    "No doubt but men should shortly find there is
     As perfect order, as firm certeintie,
     As grounded rules to trie out things amisse,
     As much sweete grace, as great varietie
     Of wordes and phrazes, as good quantitie
         For verse or proze in Inglish every waie,
         As any comen language hath this daie.

     _And were wée given as well to like our owne,
     And for to clense it from the noisome wéede
     Of affectation which hath overgrowne
     Ungraciously the good and native séede,
     As for to borrowe where wée have no néede:
         It would pricke néere the learned tungs in strength,
         Perchance, and match mée some of them at length._"[449:A]

The ardour for classical acquisition was, at this time, indeed, so
prevalent among the learned and the great, that the mythology as well
as the diction of the ancients became fashionable. The amusements,
and even the furniture of the opulent, their shows, and masques, the
hangings and the tapestries of their houses, and their very cookery,
assumed an erudite, and what would now be termed, a pedantic cast.
"Every thing," says Warton, speaking of this era, "was tinctured
with ancient history and mythology.—When the Queen paraded through
a country town, almost every pageant was a pantheon. When she paid
a visit at the house of any of her nobility, at entering the hall
she was saluted by the Penates, and conducted to her privy-chamber
by Mercury. Even the pastry-cooks were expert mythologists. At
dinner, select transformations of Ovid's metamorphoses were exhibited
in confectionary: and the splendid iceing of an immense historic
plumb-cake, was embossed with a delicious basso-relievo of the
destruction of Troy. In the afternoon, when she condescended to walk
in the garden, the lake was covered with Tritons and Nereids: the
pages of the family were converted into Wood-nymphs, who peeped from
every bower: and the footmen gamboled over the lawns in the figure of

In the course of a few years the same taste descended to the inferior
orders of society, owing to the numerous versions which rapidly
appeared of the best writers of Greece and Rome. The rich catalogue of
translations to which Shakspeare had access, may be estimated from the
very accurate list which is inserted in the Variorum editions of the
poet, and before the death of James the First, not a single classic, we
believe, of any value, remained unfamiliarized to the English reader.

The height which classical learning had attained about the year 1570,
may be estimated from the testimony of Ascham, a most consummate judge,
who, quoting Cicero's assertion with regard to Britain, that "there is
not one scruple of silver in that whole isle; or any one that knoweth
either learnyng or letter[450:A]," thus apostrophizes the Roman Orator:

"But now, master _Cicero_, blessed be God, and his sonne Jesus Christ,
whom you never knew, except it were as it pleased him to lighten
you by some shadow; as covertlie in one place ye confesse, saying,
_Veritatis tantum umbram consectamur_[450:B], as your master Plato did
before you: blessed be God, I say, that sixten hundred yeare after you
were dead and gone, it may trewly be sayd, that for silver, there is
more comlie plate in one citie of _Englande_, than is in four of the
proudest cities in all _Italie_, and take _Rome_ for one of them: and
for learning, beside the knowledge of all learned tonges and liberal
sciences, even your owne bookes, Cicero, be as well read, and your
excellent eloquence is as well liked and loved, and as trewly folowed
in _Englande_ at this day, as it is now, or ever was since your own
tyme, in any place of Italie, either at Arpinum, where you was borne,
or els at Rome, where you was brought up. And a little to brag with
you, Cicero, where you yourselfe, by your leave, halted in some point
of learning in your own tongue, many in Englande at this day go
streight up, both in trewe skill, and right doing therein."[450:C]

Nor can this progress in the learned languages be considered as
surprising, when we recollect the vast encouragement given to these
studies, not only by the nobility but by the Queen herself; who was,
in fact, a most laborious and erudite author, who wrote a Commentary on
Plato, translated from the Greek two of the Orations of Isocrates, a
play of Euripides, the Hiero of Xenophon, and Plutarch de Curiositate;
from the Latin, Sallust de Bello Jugurthino, Horace de Arte Poetica,
Boethius de Consolatione Philosophiæ, a long chorus from the Hercules
Œtæus of Seneca, one of Cicero's epistles, and another of Seneca's;
who wrote many Latin letters, many English original works, both in
prose and poetry, and who spoke five languages with facility.[451:A]
The British Solomon, it is well known, was equally zealous and
industrious in the cause of learning, and both not only patronized
individuals, but founded and endowed public seminaries; Elizabeth was
the founder of Westminster-School, and of Jesus-College, Oxford, and
to James the University of Edinburgh owes its existence. This laudable
spirit was not confined to regal munificence; in 1584, Emanuel-College,
Cambridge, rose on the site of the Dominican convent of Black Friars,
through the exertions of Sir Walter Mildmay; and in 1594, Sidney-Sussex
College, in the same University, sprung from the patronage of the
Dowager of Thomas Radcliffe, Earl of Sussex.

Of the _modern_ languages cultivated at this period, the _Italian_ took
the lead, and became so fashionable at the court of Elizabeth, and
among all who had pretensions to refinement, that it almost rivalled
the _classical mania_ of the day. The Queen spoke it with great purity,
and among those who professed to teach it, Florio, whom we have
formerly mentioned as the object of Shakspeare's satire, was the most
eminent. He was pensioned by Lord Southampton, and on the accession of
James, was appointed reader of the Italian language to Queen Anne, with
a stipend of 100_l._ a-year.[451:B] So popular were the writers of this
fascinating country, that the English language was absolutely inundated
with versions of the Italian poets and novellists, a consequence of
which Roger Ascham bitterly complains; for, lamenting the diffusion of
Italian licentiousness, he exclaims,—"These be the inchantmentes of
Circe, brought out of _Italie_, to marre men's maners in _Englande_;
much by example of ill life, but more by precepts of fond books, of
late translated out of _Italian_ into _Englishe_ sold in every shop
in London:—there be moe of these ungratious bookes set out in printe
within these few monethes, than have been sene in _Englande_ many score
yeares before.—Then they have in more reverence the triumphes of
_Petrarche_, than the Genesis of _Moses_; they make more account of a
tale in _Boccace_, than a storie of the Bible."[452:A]

It must be allowed, we think, that the censure of Ascham partakes too
much of puritanic sourness; for these "ungratious bookes" we find to
have been the great classics of Italy, Petrarca, Boccacio, &c. writers
who, though occasionally romantic in their incidents, and gross in
their imagery, yet presented many just views of life and manners,
and many rich examples of harmonious style and fervid imagination.
They contributed also very powerfully by the variety and fertility of
their fictions, to stimulate the poets of our country, and especially
the dramatic, who have been indebted to this source more than to any
other for the ground-work of their plots. It is, indeed, sufficiently
honourable to Italian literature, that we shall find our unrivalled
Shakspeare occasionally indebted to it for the hints which awakened his

We are not to conclude, however, that the labours of our translators
were confined to the poetry and romance of Italy, and that its moral,
historical, and didactic compositions were utterly neglected. This was
so far from being the case, that most of the esteemed productions in
these departments were as speedily naturalized as those of the lighter
class; and among them we may mention two works which must have had no
inconsiderable influence in polishing and refining the manners of our
countrymen. In 1576, Robert Peterson, of Lincolne's-Inn, translated
the _Galateo_ of John de la Casa, a system of politeness to which
Chesterfield has been much indebted[453:A]; and in 1588, Thomas Hobby
published a version of the _Cortigiano_ of Baldassar Castiglione, a
work in equal estimation as a manuel of elegance, and termed by the
Italians "the Golden Book."[453:B]

The philological attainments of this age, with respect to Greek, Latin,
and English, will be placed in a still more compendiously clear light,
by a mere enumeration of those who greatly excelled in rendering
their acquisition more systematic and correct. Both Greek and English
literature were early indebted to the labours of Sir _Thomas Smith_,
who was appointed public lecturer at Cambridge on the first of these
languages, the study of which he much facilitated by a new method of
accentuation and pronunciation; publishing at the same time an improved
system of orthography for his native tongue. These useful works were
printed together in 4to. in 1568, under the titles of _De recta et
emendata linguæ Græcæ pronunciatione_, and _De recta et emendata linguæ
Anglicæ scriptione_.

Another equally eminent Grecian philologer appeared at the same
time, in the person of Sir _Henry Savile_, who was Greek preceptor
to Elizabeth, warden of Merton-College, and provost of Eton. He was
editor of the works of Chrysostom, with notes, in 8 vols. folio, 1613,
the most elaborate Greek production which had hitherto issued from
an English press: of Xenophon's Cyropædia, and of the _Steliteutici_
of Nazianzen. He translated also into English, as early as 1581, the
first four books of the History of Tacitus, and his Life of Agricola,
accompanied by very valuable annotations, which were afterwards
published in a Latin version, by Gruter, at Amsterdam.

To his able assistant, also, in editing the works of Chrysostom, the
_Rev. John Boys_, much gratitude is due for his enthusiasm in the
cause of Grecian lore. So attached was he to this study, that during
his fellowship of St. John's College, Cambridge, he voluntarily gave a
Greek lecture every morning in his own room at four o'clock; and, what
affords a still more striking picture of the learned enthusiasm of the
times, it is recorded that this very early prelection was regularly
attended by nearly all the fellows of his college!

Latin Literature appears to have been cultivated with greater purity
and success in the prior than in the latter portion of Elizabeth's
reign. It is scarcely necessary to mention the great names of _George
Buchanan_ and _Walter Haddon_, who divided the attention of the
classical world, and drew from Elizabeth the following terse expression
on their comparative merits:—_Buchananum omnibus antepono; Haddonum
nemini postpono._[454:A]

Nor can we fail to recollect the truly admirable production of
_Ascham_, the "Schole Master; or plaine and perfite Way of teaching
Children, to understand, write, and speake, the _Latin_ Tonge:" than
which a more interesting and judicious treatise has not appeared upon
the subject in any language.

Among the most eminent Latin philologers who witnessed the close of the
sixteenth century, may be mentioned the name of _Edward Grant_, Master
of Westminster-School, who was celebrated for his Latin poetry, and
who published, in 1577, _Oratio de vita et obitu Rogeri Aschami, ac
dictionis elegantia, cum adhortatione ad adolescentulos_. He died in

With Grant should be classed the master of the free-school of Taunton
in Somersetshire, _John Bond_, who subsequently practised as a
physician, and died in 1612. He published, in 1606, some valuable
commentaries, in the Latin language, on the poems of Horace, and, in
1614, on the Six Satires of Persius.

Roman literature, however, in this country was under yet higher
obligations to _John Rider_, than to either of the preceding
philologers; this learned prelate being the compiler of the first
dictionary in our language, in which the English is placed before the
Latin. It is entitled _A Dictionary Engl. and Latin, and Latin and
English_. Oxon. 1589. 4to. Rider was promoted to the See of Killaloe in
1612, and died in 1632.

In our observations on the state of the _English_ language we have
noticed the labours of _Ascham_ and _Wilson_ as pre-eminently conducive
to its improvement; the first of these writers having published two
excellent models for English composition, and the second having
presented us with a valuable treatise on rhetoric. To these should
be added the efforts of _Richard Mulcaster_, first master of the
Merchant-Taylors School, who, in 1581, published his "Positions,
wherein those primitive circumstances be examined which are necessarie
for the training up of Children, either for skill in theire Booke or
Health in their Bodie;" a work which was followed, in the subsequent
year, by "The first Part of the _Elementarie_, which entreateth chefely
of the right Writing of the English Tung."

The _Positions_ and the _Elementarie_ of Mulcaster, though inferior in
literary merit to the Scholemaster of Ascham, contributed materially to
the progress of English philology, as they contain many valuable and
acute observations on our language.

It appears, from the assertion of _William Bullokar_, an able
co-operator in the work of education, that he was the author of
the _first_ English Grammar. In 1586 he printed his "Bref grammar
for English," which is likewise entitled in fol. 1. "W. Bullokar's
abbreviation of his Grammar for English extracted out of his Grammar at
larg for the spedi parcing of English spech, and the eazier coming to
the knowledge of grammar for other langages;" and Warton adds, in his
account of Bullokar's writings, that among Tanner's books was found "a
copy of his _bref grammar_ above mentioned, interpolated and corrected
with the author's own hand, as it appears, for a new impression. In
one of these manuscript insertions, he calls this, 'the first grammar
for Englishe that ever waz, except my _grammar at large_.'"[456:A]

It is not exactly ascertained in what year the Grammar of _Ben Jonson_
was written, as it did not appear until after his death; but it may be
safely affirmed that to this production of the once celebrated rival
and contemporary of Shakspeare, the English language has been more
indebted than to the labours certainly of any previous, and we may
almost add, of any subsequent, grammarian, Lowth's and Murray's even
not excepted.

The next branch of our present subject embraces the department of
CRITICISM, which was cultivated in this period to a great extent, and
we are sorry to add not seldom with uncommon bitterness and malignity.
Numerous are the writers who complain of the very severe and sarcastic
tone in which the critics of the age indulged; but one instance or
two will be sufficient to prove both the frequency and asperity of
the art. Robert Armin, in his Address _Ad Lectorem hic et ubique_,
prefixed to _The Italian Taylor and his Boy_, says, speaking of his
pen, "I wander with it now in a strange time of taxation, wherein every
pen and inck-horne Boy will throw up his cap at the hornes of the
Moone in censure, although his wit hang there, not returning unlesse
monthly in the wane: such is our ticklish age, and the itching braine
of abon̄dance[456:B];" and in the _Troia Britannica_ of Thomas Heywood,
the author, saluting his various readers under the titles of the
Courteous, the Criticke, and the Scornefull, tells the latter, "I am
not so unexperienced in the envy of this Age, but that I knowe I shall
encounter most sharpe, and severe Censurers, such as continually carpe
at other mens labours, and superficially perusing them, with a kind of
negligence and skorne, quote them by the way, Thus: This is an error,
that was too much streacht, this too slightly neglected, heere many
things might have been added, there it might have been better followed:
this superfluous, that ridiculous. These indeed knowing no other
meanes to have themselves opinioned in the ranke of understanders, but
by calumniating other mens industries."[457:A]

If such proved the strain of general, we need not be surprised if
controversial, criticism assumed a still more tremendous aspect.
Between the Puritans, in the reign of Elizabeth, who carried on their
warfare under the fictitious appellative of _Martin Mar-prelate_, and
the members of the episcopal church, a torrent of libels broke forth,
which inundated the country with a deluge of distorted ridicule and
rancorous abuse. Nor were the quarrels of literary men conducted with
less ferocity, though perhaps with more wit. The republic of letters
was, indeed, infested for near twenty years, from the year 1580 to
1600, with a set of Town-wits, who, void of all moral principle or
decent restraint, employed their pens in lashing to death, with
indiscriminate rage, the objects of their envy or their spleen. Of
this description were those noted characters, Christopher Marlow,
Robert Greene, Thomas Decker, and Thomas Nash; men possessed of
genius, learning, and unquestioned ability, as poets, satirists, and
critics; but excessively debauched in their manners, intemperate in
their passions, and heedless of what they inflicted. The treatment
which Gabriel Harvey, the bosom-friend of Spenser and Sidney, received
from the scurrilous criticism of Greene and Nash, was, though not
altogether unprovoked, beyond all measure gross, cruel, and vindictive.
The literature and the moral character of Harvey were highly
respectable; but he was vain, credulous, affected, and pedantic; he
published a collection of panegyrics on himself; he turned astrologer
and almanack-maker, he was perfectly _Italianated_ in his dress and
manner, in his style he was pompously elaborate, and he boasted himself
the inventor and introducer of English Hexameters.[458:A] These
foibles, together with the obscurity of his parentage, his father
being a rope-maker at Saffron-Walden, in Essex, a circumstance of
which he had the folly to be ashamed, furnished to his adversaries
an inexhaustible fund of ridicule and wit; and had these legitimate
ingredients been unmingled with personal invective and brutal sarcasm,
Gabriel, who was no mean railer himself, had not been sinned against;
but the malignity of Greene and Nash was unbounded; and Harvey, who
was morbidly irritable and bled at every pore, catching a portion of
their spirit, the controversy became so outrageously virulent, that the
prelates of Canterbury and London, Whitgift and Bancroft, interfering,
issued an order, "that all Nashe's books and Dr. Harveys bookes be
taken wheresoever they may be found, and that none of the said bookes
be ever printed hereafter;" an injunction which has rendered most of
the pamphlets on this literary quarrel extremely scarce, particularly
Harvey's "Four Letters And Certaine Sonnets. Especially touching Robert
Greene and other Poets by him abused. Imprinted by John Wolfe 1592;"
a very curious work, which we shall have occasion to quote hereafter;
and Nash's "Have with you to Saffron-Walden, or Gabriel Harvey's hunt
is up," 1596, which includes a humorous but unmerciful representation
of Gabriel's life and character, the bitter satirist exulting in the
idea that he had brought on his adversary, by the poignancy of his
invectives, the effects of premature old age. "I have brought him
low," he exclaims, "and shrewly broken him; look on his head, and you
shall find a gray haire for everie line I have writ against him; and
you shall have all his beard white too by the time he hath read over
this booke."[459:A]

How great a nuisance this bevy of lampooning critics was considered,
and to what a height their shameless effrontery was carried, may be
learnt from a passage in a pamphlet by Dr. Lodge, a contemporary
physician of great learning and good sense, who, though he terms
Nash, and perhaps very justly, "the true English Aretine," has drawn
a picture which applies to him as accurately as to any individual of
the class; "a fellow," to adopt the words of an old play with respect
to this very man, "that carried the deadly stocke in his pen, whose
muze was armed with a jag tooth, and his pen possest with Hercules
furyes."[459:B] "You shall know him" (the envious critic), says Lodge,
"by this; he is a foule lubber, his tongue tipt with lying, his heart
steeled against charity; he walks, for the most part, in black, under
colour of gravity, and _looks as pale as y{e} wizard of the ghost
which cried so miserably at y{e} theater, like an oister wife, Hamlet
revenge_: he is full of infamy and slander, insomuch as if he ease not
his stomach in detracting somewhat or some man before noontide, he fals
into a fever that holds him while supper time; he is alwaies devising
of epigrams or scoffes and grumbles, necromances continually, although
nothing crosse him, he never laughs but at other men's harms, briefly
in being a tyrant over men's fames; he is a very Titius (as Virgil
saith) to his owne thoughtes.

    "Titiique vultus inter
     Qui semper lacerat comestque mentem.

"The mischiefe is, that by grave demeanour and newes bearing, he
hath got some credite with the greater sort, and manie fowles there
bee, that because he can pen prettilee, hold it gospell whatever he
writes or speakes, his custome is to preferre a foole to credite,
to despight a wise man, and no poet lives by him that hath not a
flout of him. Let him spie a man of wit in a taverne, he is a hare
brained quareller. Let a scholler write, Tush (saith he) I like not
these common fellowes; let him write well, he hath stolen it out of
some note booke; let him translate, tut it is not of his owne; let
him be named for preferment, he is insufficient because poore; no
man shall rise in his world, except to feed his envy; no man can
continue in his friendship who hateth all men." He then adds the
following judicious advice, predicting what would be the consequence of
neglecting to pursue it:—"Divine wits for many things as sufficient
as all antiquity (I speake it not on slight surmise, but considerate
judgment) to you belongs the death that doth nourish this poison; to
you the paine that endure the reproofe. LILLY, the famous for facility
in discourse; SPENCER, best read in ancient poetry; DANIEL, choice
in word and invention; DRAITON, diligent and formall; TH. NASH, true
English Aretine. All you unnamed professors, or friends of poetry (but
by me inwardly honoured) knit your industries in private to unite your
fames in publicke; let the strong stay up the weake, and the weake
march under conduct of the strong; and all so imbattle yourselfes, that
hate of vertue may not imbase you. But if besotted with foolish vain
glory, emulation and contempt, you fall to neglect one another, _Quod
Deus omen avertat_, doubtless it will be as infamous a thing shortly to
present any book whatsoever learned to any Mæcenas in England, as it is
to be headsman in any free city in Germanie."[460:A]

Turning, however, from this abuse of critical and satiric talent, let
us direct our attention exclusively to those productions of the art
which are distinguished as well by moderation and urbanity, as by
learning and acumen.

It is worthy of remark that in _English_ literature, during this
era, nearly all the professed critical treatises, if we except those
of Wilson and Ascham, were employed on the subject of poetry. We
shall confine ourselves, therefore, to a chronological enumeration,
accompanied by a few observations, of these interesting pieces. The
first, in the order of time, is a production of _George Gascoigne_ the
poet, and was published at the close of the second edition of "The
Posies of George Gascoigne Esquire, Corrected, perfected, and augmented
by the Authour, 1575. _Tam Marti, quam Mercurio._ Imprinted at London
by H. Bynneman for Richard Smith." It is entitled, "Certayne notes of
Instruction concerning the making of verse or ryme in English, written
at the request of Master Edovardo Donati;" and was again printed in
"The whole workes of George Gascoign Esquyre: newlye compyled into one
volume," small 4to. b. l. 1587. This little tract is more didactic than
critical; but contains several judicious directions, and some sensible

Ten years after, appeared a treatise on "Scottis Poesie," from the
pen of King James the First, when only eighteen years of age. This
learned monarch commenced his career of authorship with "The Essayes
of a Premise, in the Divine art of Poesie. Imprinted at Edinburgh,
by Thomas Vautroullier, 1585, 4to. Cum privilegio Regali." The fifth
article in this miscellany includes the criticism in question, under
the title of "Ane schort Treatise, containing some reulis and cautelis
to be observit and eschewit in Scottis poesie." This is a production
highly curious, as well for its manner as matter; for, not content with
mere precept, the royal critic has given us copious specimens of the
several kinds of verse then in use. The eighth chapter of this short
treatise is devoted to this purpose, detailing rules and examples, 1st,
For _lang histories_. 2dly, For _heroic acts_. 3dly, For _heich and
grave subjects_. 4thly, For _tragic matters_. 5thly, For _flyting or
invectives_. 6thly, For _Sonnet verse_. 7thly, For _Matters of love_;
and 8thly, For _Tenfoot verse_.

Under the fifth head is given as an _exemplar_ of the _Rouncefalles_,
or _Tumbling_ verse, the lines formerly quoted from the _Flyting_
of _Montgomery_ as illustrative of a superstition peculiar to
Allhallow-Eve; and under the seventh, on "love materis," is introduced
as an example of "cuttit and broken verse, quhairof new formes are
daylie inventit according to the Poetis pleasour," the following
stanza, which has been rendered familiar to an English ear by the
genius of Burns:—

    "Quha wald have tyrde to heir that tone,
     Quhilk birds corroborat ay abone,
       Through schouting of the larkis!
     They sprang sa heich into the skyes,
     Quhill Cupide walknis with the cryis
       Of Nature's chapell clerkis.
     Then leaving all the heavins above,
         He lichted on the card;
       Lo! how that lytill god of love
         Before me then appeard.
             So mylde-like
             And child-like,
         With bow thre quarters skant,
             So moilie
             And coylie
         He lukit lyke a Sant."

It is observable that James, in assigning his "twa caussis" for
composing this work, tells us that "albeit _sindrie hes written of it_
(poesie) _in English_, quhilk is lykest to our language, zit we differ
from thame in sindrie reulis of poesie, as ze will find be experience;"
but who these _sundry writers_ were, has not, with the exception of
Gascoigne's "Notes of Instruction," been hitherto discovered.[462:A]

It is barely possible that the royal critic may have included in his
"sindrie," the next work which we have to record on the subject, the
production of our immortal Spenser, and entitled "The English Poet," a
work which we lament should have been suffered to perish in manuscript.
Its existence was first intimated to the public in 1579, by E. K., in
his argument to the tenth Aeglogue of the _Shepheard's Calender_, with
a promise, which unfortunately proved faithless, of committing it to
the press. Poetry, observes this commentator, is "no art, but a divine
gift and heavenly instinct not to be gotten by labour and learning, but
adorned with both; and poured into the witte by a certaine Enthusiasmos
and celestial inspiration, as the Author hereof elsewhere at large
discourseth in his booke called _The English Poet_, which booke being
lately come to my handes, I minde also by God's grace, upon further
advisement, to publish."[463:A] That the taste and erudition of Spenser
had rendered this critical essay highly interesting, there is every
reason to conclude, and though the only positive testimony to its
composition rests on the single authority which we have quoted, it is
extremely probable, from the manner in which its acquisition by the
commentator is mentioned, that the MS. had circulated, and continued to
circulate, among the friends and admirers of the poet, for some years.

Scarcely had the British Solomon published his juvenile criticisms,
when a kindred work issued from the London press, under the title of
"A Discourse of English Poetrie, together with the Author's Judgment
touching the reformation of our English verse. By William Webbe,
Graduate. Imprinted at London by John Charlewood. 4to, 1586." Black

The chief purport of this pamphlet, now so rare that only three copies
are known to exist[463:B], is to propose, what the author terms, a
"perfect platform, or prosodia of versifying, in imitation of the
Greeks and Latins," a scheme which, though supported by Sidney, Dyer,
Spenser, and Harvey, happily miscarried. "The hexameter verse," says
Nash, with great good sense, in his controversy with Harvey, "I graunt
to be a gentleman of an auncient house, (so is many an English
beggar,) yet this clyme of ours hee cannot thrive in; our speech is too
craggy for him to set his plough in; hee goes twitching and hopping
in our language, like a man running upon quagmires, up the hill in
one syllable and downe the dale in another, retaining no part of that
stately smooth gate which he vaunts himself with amongst the Greeks and

Webbe's "Discourse," however, is valuable on account of the characters
which he has drawn of the English poets, from Chaucer to his own time.
He notices, also, "Gaskoynes Instructions for versifying;" and, after
declaring the Shepherd's Calender inferior neither to Theocritus nor
Virgil, he expresses an ardent wish that the other works of Spenser
might get abroad, and especially his "English Poet, which his friend
E. K. did once promise to publish." The tract concludes with the
author's assertion, that his "onely ende" in compiling it was "not as
an exquisite censure concerning the matter," but "that it might be
an occasion to have the same thoroughly, and with greater discretion
taken in hande, and laboured by some other of greater abilitie, of whom
I know there be manie among the famous poets in London, who both for
learning and leysure may handle the argument far more pythelie."[464:B]

In 1588, _Abraham Fraunce_, another encourager and writer of English
Hexameter and Pentameter verses, published in octavo, a critical
treatise, a mixture of prose and verse, under the quaint title of
"The Arcadian Rhetoricke, or the Precepts of Rhetoricke made plain by
example, Greeke, Latyne, Englishe, Italyan, and Spanishe." This rare
volume is in the library of Mr. Malone, and is valuable, observes
Warton, for its English examples.[464:C]

In the same year which produced Fraunce's work, appeared the
_Touch-Stone of Wittes_, written by _Edward Hake_, and printed at
London by Edmund Botifaunt. This little tract is employed in sketching
the features of the chief poets of the day; but differs not materially
from _Webbe's Discourse of English Poetrie_, from which, indeed, it
is principally compiled. Hake describes himself (in another of his
productions called "_A Touchstone_ for this time present,") as an
"attorney of the Common Pleas;" mentions his having been educated under
John Hopkins, whom he terms a learned and exquisite teacher, and when
criticising the _Mirrour of Magistrates_ in his _Touchstone of Wittes_,
speaks of its augmentor, John Higgins, as his particular friend.[465:A]

But by far the most valuable work which was published in the province
of criticism, during the life-time of Shakspeare, was written by
_George Puttenham_, and entitled "The Arte of English Poesie, Contrived
into three Bookes: The first of Poets and Poesie, the second of
Proportion, the third of Ornament. At London Printed by Richard Field,
dwelling in the black-Friers neere Ludgate. 1589."

This book, which seems to have been composed considerably anterior to
its publication, was printed anonymously, and has been ascribed to
Spenser and Sidney.[465:B] Bolton, whose _Hypocritica_ was written
in the reign of James I., though not printed until 1722, mentions
Puttenham, however, as the reputed author; and a reference to Bolton's
manuscript, preserved in the archives at Oxford, enabled Anthony Wood
to announce this fact to the public. "There is," says he, "a book in
being called _The Art of English Poesie_, not written by Sydney, as
some have thought, but rather by one _Puttenham_, sometime a Gentleman
Pensioner to Qu. Elizab."[465:C]

An elegant reprint of this old critic has been lately (1811) edited by
Mr. Haslewood, in which, with indefatigable industry and research, he
has collected all that could throw light on the personal and literary
history of his author. His opinion of the critical acumen of Puttenham,
though favourable, is not too highly coloured. "Puttenham," he remarks,
"was a candid but sententious critic. What his observations want in
argument, is made up for by the soundness of his judgment; and his
conclusions, notwithstanding their brevity, are just and pertinent. He
did not hastily scan his author, to indulge in an untimely sneer, and
his opinions were adopted by contemporary writers, and have not been
dissented from by the moderns."[466:A]

Of the same tenour are the sentiments of Mr. Gilchrist, who opens
his analysis of the _Arte of English Poesie_, with asserting that it
"is on many accounts one of the most curious and entertaining, and,
intrinsically, one of the most valuable books of the age of Elizabeth;"
infinitely superior, he adds, as an elementary treatise on the arts,
to the volumes of Wilson and Webbe, "as being formed on a more
comprehensive scale, and illustrated by examples; while the copious
intermixture of contemporary anecdote, tradition, manners, opinions,
and the numerous specimens of coeval poetry, no where else preserved,
contribute to form a volume of infinite amusement, curiosity, and

To various parts of this interesting treatise, we shall have occasion
frequently to refer, when discussing the subjects of miscellaneous
poetry and metropolitan manners. It is indeed a store-house of poetical

The next work which, in the order of publication, falls under our
notice, is SIR JOHN HARRINGTON'S _Apologie of Poetry_, prefixed in 1591
to his Version of the Orlando Furioso of Ariosto. It is a production
of some merit, displaying both judgment and ingenuity; but is most
remarkable for the earliest notice of Puttenham's Arte of Poesie,
and for affording a striking proof of the obscurity in which that
critic had enveloped himself with regard to its parentage; for though
two years had elapsed since its publication, it appears that neither
the Queen, her courtiers, nor the literary world, had the slightest
idea of its origin, and Sir John speaks of the author under the
appellation of "_Ignoto_." "Neither," says he, "do I suppose it to be
greatly behoovefull for this purpose, to trouble you with the curious
definitions of a poet and poesie, and with the subtill distinctions of
their sundrie kinds; nor to dispute how high and supernatural the name
of a Maker is, so christened in English by that _unknowne Godfather_,
that this last yeare save one, viz. 1589, set forth a booke called
the Art of English Poetrie: and least of all do I purpose to bestow
any long time to argue, whether Plato, Zenophon, and Erasmus, writing
fictions and dialogues in prose, may justly be called poets, or whether
Lucan writing a story in verse be an historiographer, or whether
Master Faire translating Virgil, Master Golding translating Ovid's
Metamorphosis, and my selfe in this worke that you see, be any more
than versifiers, as the same _Ignoto_ termeth all translators."[467:A]

Poetry, soon after the birth of this Apology, had to boast of a
champion of still greater prowess, in the person of SIR PHILIP
SIDNEY, whose _Defence of Poesie_ was first made public in 1595.
It had, however, been previously circulated in manuscript for some
years; thus Sir John Harrington refers to it in his Apology 1591,
and there is reason to believe, that it was written so early as 1581
or 1582. This delightful piece of criticism exhibits the taste and
erudition of Sir Philip in a striking light; the style is remarkable
for amenity and simplicity; the laws of the Drama and Epopœa are laid
down with singular judgment and precision, and the cause of poetry
is strenuously and successfully supported against the calumny and
abuse of the puritanical scowlers, one of whom had the effrontery to
dedicate to him his collection of scurrility, in the very title-page
of which he classes poets with pipers and jesters, and terms them the
"caterpillars of the commonwealth."[468:A]

A very ingenious "_Comparative Discourse of our English Poets, with
the Greeke, Latine, and Italian Poets_," was published by FRANCIS
MERES, in 1598, under the title of _Palladis Tamia, Wit's
Treasury_.[468:B] Meres is certainly much indebted to the thirty-first
chapter of the first book of Puttenham's Arte of English Poesie; but
he has considerably extended the catalogue of poets, and it should be
added, that his comparisons are drawn with no small portion of skill
and felicity, and that his criticisms are, for the most part, just and
tersely expressed.

Another attempt was made, at the beginning of the seventeenth century,
to introduce the Roman measures into English verse, in a duodecimo
entitled, "Observations in the Art of English Poesie, by THOMAS
CAMPION, wherein it is demonstratively proved, and by example
confirmed, that the English toong will receive eight severall kinds of
numbers, proper to itselfe, which are all in this book set forth, and
were never before this time by any man attempted." London; printed by
Richard Field, for Andrew Wise. 1602.

The object of this tract, which is dedicated to Lord Buckhurst, whom
he terms, "the noblest judge of poesie," was not only to recommend the
adoption of classical metres, but to abolish, if possible, the use
of rhime. "For this end," says he in his preface, "have I studyed to
induce a true forme of versefying into our language, for the vulgar
and unartificial custome of riming hath, I know, detered many excellent
wits from the exercise of English Poesy."

In consequence of this determination, he has enforced his
"Observations" by examples on the classic model, without rhime; and
among them, at p. 12. is a specimen of what he calls _Lincentiate
Iambicks_, which is, in fact, our present blank verse.

This systematic attack upon rhime speedily called forth a consummate
master of the art in its defence; for in 1603 appeared, "A Defence of
Ryme, against a pamphlet intituled, Observations in the Art of Poesie,
wherein is demonstratively proved that ryme is the fittest harmonie of
wordes that comports with our language." By Samuel Daniel.

It need scarcely be said that the elegant and correct poet has obtained
a complete victory over his opponent, whom he censures, not so much for
attempting the introduction of new measures, as for his abuse of rhime;
he might have shown his skill, he justly and eloquently observes,
"without doing wrong to the honour of the dead, wrong to the fame of
the living, and wrong to England, in seeking to lay reproach upon her
native ornaments, and to turn the fair stream and full course of her
accents, into the shallow current of a loose uncertainty, clean out of
the way of her known delight.—Therefore here stand I forth," he adds
in a subsequent paragraph, "only to make good the place we have thus
taken up, and to defend the sacred monuments erected therein, which
contain the honour of the dead, the fame of the living, the glory of
peace, and the best power of our speech, and wherein so many honourable
spirits have sacrificed to memory their dearest passions, showing by
what divine influence they have been moved, and under what stars they

Great modesty and good sense distinguish this pamphlet, in which the
author candidly allows that rhime has been sometimes too lavishly
used and where blank verse might have been substituted with better
effect, and he concludes his "Defence" with some excellent remarks on
affectation in the choice and collocation of words, a vice from which
he was more free than any of his contemporaries, simplicity and purity,
in fact, being the leading features of his style.

The last critic of the era to which we are limited, is EDWARD BOLTON,
whose "_Hypercritica_; Or a Rule of Judgment for writing or reading
our Historys," a small collection of tracts or essays, "occasioned,"
says Warton, "by a passage in Sir Henry Seville's Epistle prefixed to
his edition of our old Latin historians, 1596,"[470:A] was supposed by
Wood, in a note on the MS. preserved in the Ashmolean Museum, to have
been written about 1610. But that this date is too early is evident
from the work itself; for in the fourth essay, which is entitled "Prime
Gardens for gathering English: according to the true gage or standard
of the tongue about fifteen or sixteen years ago," King James's poetry
is spoken of in the following manner:—"I dare not presume to speak of
his Majesty's exercises in this heroick kind, because I see them all
left out in that which Montague lord bishop of Winchester hath given us
of his royal writings."[470:B] Now Bishop Montague's edition of James's
Works was not published until 1616.

The principal writers in prose and poetry, anterior to 1600, are
noticed in this fourth division of the _Hypercritica_, and the judgment
passed upon them is, in general, correct and satisfactory, and does
credit to the "sensible old English critic," as Warton emphatically
terms him.[470:C]

It is remarkable that the _Hypercritica_ should have been suffered to
continue in its manuscript state until 1722, at which period it was
printed by Anthony Hall at the end of Trivet's "Annalium Continuatio."
Oxford, 8vo.

Bolton, whom Ritson calls "a profound scholar and eminent
critic[470:D]," was certainly a man of considerable learning, and
occupied no small space in the public eye as an historian, philologer,
and antiquary.

To this enumeration it may be necessary to add some notice of that
industrious race of critics, termed _Commentators_; a species which,
for the last half century, has been employed as laboriously on old
English, as formerly were the German Literati on ancient classical,
literature. Of this mode of illustration, which has lately thrown so
much light on the manners and learning of our poet's age, two early and
very ingenious specimens may be mentioned under the reign of Elizabeth
and James. The first is the Commentary of E. K. on the Shepheards
Calender of Spenser, in 1579; and the second, the learned Notes of
Selden on the first eighteen Songs of the Polyolbion of Drayton,
1612; both productions of great merit, but especially the last, which
exhibits a large portion of acumen and research, united to an equal
share of discrimination and judgment.

Such are the chief critics on English literature who flourished during
the life-time of Shakspeare. That some of them contributed very
materially towards the improvement of polite literature, and especially
of poetry, by stimulating the genius and guiding the taste of their
contemporaries, must be readily granted, and more particularly may
these benefits be attributed to the labours of _Webbe_, _Puttenham_,
_Sidney_, and _Meres_. How far the manuscripts of _Spenser_ and
_Bolton_, at the commencement and termination of our critical era,
assisted to enlighten the public mind, cannot now be ascertained; but
as the circulation of works in this state is generally very confined,
we cannot suppose, even admitting the industry and admiration of their
favoured readers to have been strongly excited, that their effect could
have been either widely or permanently felt.

It would be a subject of still greater curiosity, could we determine,
with any approach towards precision, in what degree Shakspeare was
indebted, for his progress in English literature, to the authors whom
we have just enumerated, under the kindred branches of _philology_ and

Of his assiduity as a reader of English books, whether original or
translated, his works afford the most positive and abundant proofs;
and that he was peculiarly attentive to the philology of his native
language is to be learnt from the same source. We have already
noticed his satirical allusion to Florio and Lilly in the character
of Holofernes, and a similar stroke on the innovating pedantry of
the times, will be found in his _Much Ado about Nothing_, which was
probably directed against another equally bold attempt to alter the
whole system of orthography. The experiment was made by Bullokar, of
whose Brief Grammar a slight mention has been given, in a book entitled
an _Amendment of Orthographie_ for _English Speech_, 1580; in which
the author proposes not only an entire change in the established mode
of spelling, but a total revolution also in the practice of printing.
To level a sarcasm at the head of this daring innovator may have been
the aim of the poet, where he represents Benedict complaining of
Claudio, that "_he was wont to speak plain, and to the purpose, like an
honest man, and a soldier; and now he is turned ORTHOGRAPHER; his words
are a very fantastical banquet, just so many strange dishes_."[472:A]

In a former part of this work we have mentioned some of the books to
which our great poet must have had recourse in the progress even of
his limited education in the country; and on his settlement in London,
we cannot, with any probability, conceive, that a mind so active,
comprehensive, and acute, would sit down content with its juvenile
acquisitions, and hesitate to inspect those treatises on philology and
criticism which had acquired the popular approbation, and were adapted
to the years of manhood. Not only, indeed, did he peruse with avidity
the _Arte of Rhetoricke_ of Wilson, and the _Scolemaster_ of Ascham,
but we are convinced, from a thorough study of his writings, that so
extensive was his range of reading, that not a translation from the
_Greek_, the _Latin_, the _Italian_, _Spanish_, or _French_ appeared,
but what was soon afterwards to be found in the hands of Shakspeare.
His dramas, in fact, even without the aid of his indefatigable
commentators, assure us, in almost every page, that, if not erudite
from the possession of many languages, he was truly and substantially
learned in every other sense; in the vast accumulation of materials
drawn through the medium of translation, from the most distant and
varied sources.

That he had not only read, but availed himself professionally of
Wilson's Rhetoric, will be evident, we think, from a passage quoted
by Mr. Chalmers, from this critic, in support of a similar opinion.
Wilson has mentioned Timon of Athens in such a manner as _might_ lead
Shakspeare to select this misanthrope for dramatic exhibition; but the
very character and language of _Dogberry_ seem to be anticipated in
the following sketch:—"Another good fellow of the countrey, being an
officer and mayor of a toune, and desirous to speak like a fine learned
man, having just occasion to rebuke a runnegate fellowe, said after
this wise, in a greate heate:—Thou _yngraine_ and _vacation_ knave,
if I take thee any more within the _circumcision_ of my _dampnation_;
I will so _corrupt_ thee, that all other _vacation_ knaves shall take
_ilsample_ by thee."[473:A]

We cannot, however, coalesce with Mr. Chalmers, in considering the
character of Holofernes as founded on the Scholemaster of Ascham, and
that in drawing the colloquial excellence ascribed to the pedagogue
by Sir Nathaniel, the poet had in his _minds-eye_ the conversation at
Lord Burleigh's table, so strikingly recorded by Ascham in his preface.
We have not the smallest doubt but that our author had read, and with
much pleasure and profit, the invaluable treatise of that accomplished
scholar; but the general folly and pedantry of Holofernes are such,
notwithstanding the eulogium of his clerical companion, as to preclude
all idea that the character could have been sketched from such a
model;—it is, in fact, a broad caricature of some well known pedant
of the day, and we must agree with the commentators in fixing upon
_Florio_ as the most probable prototype.

It will readily be granted, that, if Shakspeare were the assiduous
reader which we have supposed him to be, and no judge, indeed, of his
works can doubt it, he must have perused with peculiar interest the
critical treatises on poets and poetry which were published during
his march to fame. It will be considered, therefore, scarcely as
an assumption to conclude, that the works of _Webbe_, _Puttenham_,
_Sidney_, and _Meres_ were familiar to his mind; and though he must
have written with too much haste, and with too much attention to
the gratifications of the _million_, to carry their precepts, and
especially the strictures of Sidney, into perfect execution, yet it is
very reasonable to conceive that even his early works may have been
rendered less imperfect by the per