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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 vocation."
These knowledges, he then states, should consist in an intimacy with domestic physic, with cookery, with the distillation of waters, 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:
Have millons at Mihelmas, parsneps in lent:
From Aprill begin til saint Andrew be past:
so long with good huswives their dairies doe last.
But huswives, that learne not to make their owne cheese :
Where some of a kowe maketh yerely a pounde:
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:
For flax and for hemp, for to have of her owne:
Good husbandes abrode seketh al wel to have:
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 huswise herself was the carver and distributer of the meat and pottage. We find, likewise, and
English House-Wife, p 2, 3, 4.
Tusser, first edit. p. 14, 15.
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 gruteh,
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, etc. 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,
Whatever God sendeth, be merry withall.
No taunts before servants, for hindering of fame,
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,
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.
Mavor'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 1523, 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 waked 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 ye 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 ye 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 els 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 hay 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
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,* 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. † 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,
Garters of lystes, but now of silke,
Fring'd and ymbroidered petticoats
Supporters, posters, fardingales
That be she near so bombe-thin, yet
She crosse-like seems foure-squaire?
Some wives, grayheaded, shame not locks
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,
that the wives disceve their husbandes in, and in like maner how husbandes disceve their wives. But yf I should do so, I skuld 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 knighite of the tower. And thus I leave the wyves to use theyr occupations at theyr owne discression.” Fol. 45, 46, 47.
See Antiquarian Repertory, vol. i. p. 236; and Moryson's Itinerary, part iii. fol. 1617.
Now dwels ech drossell in her glas:
A tubb or paile of water cleere
Stood us in steede of glas.*
Luxury and extravagance soon spread beyond the female circle, and the Farmer Heir of forty pounds a year, is described by Hall, in 1598, as dissipating his pr perty on the follies and fopperies of the day.
"Vilius, the wealthy farmer, left his heire
Twice twenty sterling pounds to spend by yeare:—
And's treble rated at the subsidies;
One end a kennel keeps of thriftlesse hounds;
To coffer up, or stocke his wasting store?" +
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 starved tenement, such as I guesse
Stands straggling on the wastes of Holdernesse :
With crammed capons everie new-yeare's morne,
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 spirit.
"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
* Warner's Albion's England, book ix. chap. xlvii.
Hall's Satires, book v. satire 1.
Hall's Satires, book v. satire 4.