« ZurückWeiter »
valent among the young nobility and gentry of England.
"In the reign of Elizabeth, also, we find an order of the lord mayor and common council, regulating the dress of apprentices, and directing that they shall not presume to wear any apparel than that received from their masters. It was enacted, that 'apprentices shall wear no hat, but a woollen cap: they shall not wear ruffles, cuffs, loose collars, nor any thing more than a ruff at the collar, and that not more than a yard and a half long. They must wear no doublets but what are made of canvass, fustian, sackcloth, English leather, or woollen, without any gold, silver, or silk trimmings. They must wear hose of cloth and kersey; but of no other colour than white, blue, or russet. Their breeches must be of the same materials as their doublets, and neither stitched, laced, nor bordered. Their upper coat must be of cloth or leather, without stitching, pinking, edging, or silk trimming. They shall wear no other surtout than a cloth gown or cloak, lined or faced with cotton, cloth, or baize, with a plain, round, fixed collar. No pumps, shoes, or slippers, to be allowed them, but of English leather, without being pinked, edged, or stitched. No girdles or garters to be worn, but what are made of crewel, woollen, thread, or leather. They must wear neither sword nor dagger; but a knife only. All jewels, rings, gold, silver, or silk, are forbidden in any part of their dress. Neither shall they frequent any dancing, fencing, or musical schools, under severe penalties; one of which was, to be publicly whipped at the hall of their company.'"
"During the reign of Henry the Eighth, luxury seems to have increased rapidly," remarked Mrs. Spencer. "The furniture of the houses, the style of living, and even gardening, appear alike to have undergone a progressive improvement."
"Yes," answered Mr. Wilmot: "we find that, about this time, the walls of the houses were either hung with tapestry, arras work, or painted cloths, on which were represented birds, beasts, herbs, &c. Wainscotting with oak, or wood imported from the east, began now to be generally used, and rendered the rooms much more comfortable than formerly. Stoves were not much used, though they began to appear in the houses of the nobility and the wealthy citizens.
"But expensive furniture was most prevalent. 'Not only,' says Holinshed, 'is it not rare to see abundance of arras, rich hangings of tapestry, silver vessels, and such other plate as would furnish several cupboards, to the sum oftentimes of a thousand or two thousand pounds at the least; but the rest of the house was proportionably furnished. In the abodes of knights, gentlemen, merchants, and some other wealthy citizens, it is not unusual to behold a great profusion of tapestry, Turkish work, pewter, brass, fine linen, and costly cupboards of plate, worth five or six hundred or a thousand pounds.' But the tide of luxury invaded even the lower orders. 'The inferior artificers, and main farmers, who, by virtue of their old, not of their new leases, (says the chronicler,) learned to garnish also their cupboards with plate, their joined beds with tapestry and silk hangings, and their tables with carpets and fine linen. There are old men yet dwelling in the village where I remain,' says Holinshed, 'which have noted three things to be marvellously altered in England, within their sound remembrance; and other three things too, too much increased. One is the multitude of chimneys lately erected: whereas, in their young days, there were not above two or three, if so many, in most uplandish towns of the realms, (the religious houses, and manor places of their lords always excepted, and, peradventure, some great personages,) but each one made his fire against a rereclosse in the hall, where he dined and dressed his meat. The second, is the great (although not general) amendment of lodging; for, said they, our fathers, yea, and we also ourselves, have lain full oft on straw pallets, or rough mats, covered only with a sheet or coverlets, made of dagswain* or hop-harlots-}-; and a good round log under their heads, instead of a bolster and pillow. If our forefathers had, within seven years after their marriage, purchased a mattress or flock-bed, and added thereto a sack of chaff to rest his head upon, he considered himself to be as well lodged as the lord of the town, who, probably, himself, seldom lay on a bed of down, or whole feathers; so contented were they with simple fare. Indeed, even now]:, in some parts of Bedfordshire, and elsewhere farther in the south, the same plans are pretty much pursued. Pillows were only for an indulgence to the sick. As for servants, if they had any sheet above them, it was well; for rarely had they any thing under their bodies, to protect them from the pricking straws, which often found their way through the canvass of the pallet. The third thing they speak of, is the exchange of vessels; as pewter for treen* platters, and silver or tin spoons, for wooden ones; for so common were all sorts of treen ware in old times, that a person could hardly find four pieces of pewter, including the saltcellar, in a good farmer's house; and yet, in spite of this frugality, they were scarcely able to live, and pay their rents, without selling a cow, or a horse, or more, although they paid but four pounds, at the uttermost, by the year.1
"It is impossible not to smile at Holinshed's enumeration of the evils attendant upon the introduction of chimneys. Colds, catarrhs, &c. are included; whilst he gravely assures us, that whilst they had only reredosses, their heads were free from pain. Smoke being considered not only a sufficient hardener of the timber in the house, but the best medicine to keep the good man and his family from the quack, or catarrhs, which were then but little known.''
Mrs. Spencer smilingly remarked, that she supposed our forefathers would willingly have acquiesced in the observation, that, "Where ignorance is bliss, "tis folly to be wise." "But," she added, "I believe they took their meals at
* Wooden and earthen dishes.