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"A gentleman untriall a gentleman Ipocrafet a gentleman spirituall and temporall: there is also a gentleman spirituall and temporall.
"The divers maner 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 coatearmour, 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, 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.' The vices which are likewise enumerated as nine, are all modifications of cowardice, lechery, and drunkenness.
* 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:
"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 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 language. 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 91. 19s. 6d. ! 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 sale.
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
That the character of the gentleman was 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 St. Albans was still "behovefull to the accomplishment of the gentleman" of 1595.
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 comonlie either of bricke or hard stone, or both; their roomes large and comelie, and houses of office further distant from their lodgings.' 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 judgement can be done with more exactnesse :" + 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 than 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, 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
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. Haslewood.
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 diriding from whence hee proceeded. Japhet the youngest gentlemaulike 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, bee 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 shalt 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 shall 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 Abrahain, Moyses, Aaron and the Prophets, and also the king of the right line of Mary, of whom that only absolute eatleman 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.
Holinshed, vol. i. p. 316.
+ Ibid p. 315.
thereto costlie cupbords of plate, worth five or six hundred or a thousand pounds, to be deemed by estimation."
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." 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. We may add, in illustration of this system of architectural espionage, that Andrew Borde, when giving instructions for building a house in his Dictarie 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." S
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 litle 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 messes."
Perchance, are to this business purblind." **
Delkar, 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."++ 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
and Jonson, in his Cynthia's Revels, 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:
Beneath the salt, and there he sits the subject
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."
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." +
Games and diversions of various kinds, such as mumming, masking, dancing, etc. etc. 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, etc.; 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." i
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 casement. 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, parti• Massinger's Plays, apud Gifford, vol. iv. p. 7.
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.
Aubrey's MS. Malcolm, p. 221, 222
cularly 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 blindfolded, 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 bedchamber, in which was 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 Falstaff to dinner, issues the following orders: "Some pigeons, Davy; a couple of shortlegged hens; a joint of mutton; and any pretty little tiny kickshaws, tell William Cook."* 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