The Project Gutenberg eBook of Elizabethan England, by William Harrison
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Title: Elizabethan England
  From “A Description of England,” by William Harrison
Author: William Harrison
Editor: Lothrop Withington
Release Date: May 30, 2010 [eBook #32593]
[Most recently updated: December 28, 2021]
Language: English
Character set encoding: UTF-8
Produced by: Chris Curnow and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

The Camelot Series.

Edited by Ernest Rhys.









[Pg v]


 [Pg vi]
 [Pg vii]
 [Pg viii]



[Pg ix]


I am unwilling to send out this Harrison, the friend of some twenty years’ standing, without a few words of introduction to those readers who don’t know it. The book is full of interest, not only to every Shakspere student, but to every reader of English history, every man who has the least care for his forefathers’ lives. Though it does contain sheets of padding now and then, yet the writer’s racy phrases are continually turning up, and giving flavour to his descriptions, while he sets before us the very England of Shakspere’s day. From its Parliament and Universities, to its beggars and its rogues; from its castles to its huts, its horses to its hens; from how the state was managd, to how Mrs. Wm. Harrison (and no doubt Mrs. William Shakspere) brewd her beer; all is there. The book is a deliberately drawn picture of Elizabethan England; and nothing could have kept it from being often reprinted and a thousand times more widely known than it is, except the long and dull historical and topographical Book I.[2]The Description of Britaine—set before the interesting account in Books II. and III., of the England under Harrison’s eyes in 1577-87.

[Pg x]How Harrison came to write his book[3] was on this wise. Reginald Wolfe, the Printer to Queen Elizabeth, meant to publish “a universall Cosmographie of the whole world,[4] and therewith also certaine particular histories of every knowne nation.” For the Historical part of the work, he engagd Raphael Holinshed, among other men; and when the work was nearly done, Wolfe died, after twenty-five years’ labour at his scheme. Then the men who were to have borne the cost of printing the Universall Cosmographie were afraid to face the expense of the whole work, and resolvd to do only so much of it as related to England, Scotland, and Ireland.[5]

Holinshed having the History of these countries in hand, application was made to Harrison, who had long been compiling a Chronologie[6] of his own, to furnish the Descriptions of Britain and England. He was then[Pg xi] Household Chaplain to the well-known Sir William Brooke, Lord Cobham (so praisd by Francis Thynne[7]), and was staying in London, away from his rectory of Radwinter in Essex, and his Library there. He had also travelld little himself, only into Kent, to Oxford and Cambridge, etc., as he honestly tells Lord Cobham.

Still, mainly by the help of Leland—“and hitherto Leland, whose words I dare not alter”—as well as of “letters and pamphlets from sundrie places & shires of[Pg xii] England,” and “by conference with diuers folk,”[8] and “by mine owne reading,”[9] together with Master Sackford’s charts or Maps,”[10] Harrison—notwithstanding the failure of his correspondents[11] and the loss of part of his material—“scambled up,” what he depreciatingly calls “this foule frizeled Treatise of mine,” to “stand in lieu of a description of my Countrie.” But, he says, “howsoeuer it be done, & whatsoeuer I haue done, I haue had an especiall eye vnto the truth of things.” And this merit, I think every reader will allow Harrison. Though he swallowd too easily some of the stories told in old chronicles,[12] etc., though (in his 2nd ed. only) he put Chertsey above, instead of below, Staines, on the Thames,[13] etc., yet in all the interesting home-life part, he evidently gives both sides of the case, “speaks of it as it was; nothing extenuates, nor sets down aught in malice” (Oth., V. ii. 341). When he tells with pride, on the one hand, of the grand new buildings and[Pg xiii] the many chimnies put up in his day; on the other hand, he brings in the grumble:

“And yet see the change, for when our houses were builded of willow, then had we oken men; but now that our houses are come to be made of oke, our men are not onlie become willow, but a great manie, through Persian delicacie crept in among vs, altogither of straw, which is a sore alteration.

“Now haue we manie chimnies; and yet our tenderlings complaine of rheumes, catarhs, and poses. Then had we none but reredosses; and our heads did neuer ake. For as the smoke in those daies was supposed to be a sufficient hardning for the timber of the house, so it was reputed a far better medicine to keepe the goodman and his familie from the quacke or pose, wherewith, as then, verie few were oft acquainted.”[14]

—when he describes the beauty, virtue, learning, and housewifery, of Queen Elizabeth’s Maids of Honour, he yet acknowledges that as the men

“our common courtiers (for the most part) are the best lerned and indued with excellent gifts, so are manie of them the worst men, when they come abroad, that anie man shall either heare or read of.”


Even the Papist Monks,[15] whom—as a marrid Protestant parson and vicar—he hates, he praises for their buildings. And when he does abuse or chaff heartily any absurdity, like Englishmen’s dress,—“except it were a dog in a doublet, you shall not see anie so disguised as are my countrie men of England,”—we may be sure it was[Pg xiv] deservd; Shakspere does it too[16] (Merchant, I. ii. 80; Much Ado, III. ii. 36, etc.).

Harrison’s book will inform and amuse the reader.

Besides writing the Descriptions of Britaine and England for Holinshed’s Chronicle, William Harrison also translated for it, from Scotch into English, Archdeacon Bellenden’s version of Hector Boetius’s Latin Description of Scotland. This work took him only “three or foure daies” he says: “Indeed, the trauell taken heerein is not great, bicause I tie not my translation vnto his [Bellenden’s] letter.” Harrison dedicated this translation—the Description of Scotland—to the Maister Sackford, or Secford, whose “cards,” charts, or Maps, had been of such use to him in his account of the English rivers in his Description of Britaine.

Happily for us, William Harrison was not one of those dignified prigs who are afraid of writing about themselves in their books. He tells us that he was born in London[17]—“I will remember the fame of London my natiue citie.”[18][Pg xv] Also that he was first at St. Paul’s school, and then at “Westminster[19] school (in which I was sometime an vnprofitable Grammarian vnder the reuerend father, master Nowell, now deane of Paules).” And again of the Deans of the see of London (or St. Paul’s), “I will deliuer in like sort the names of the deanes, vntill I come to the time of mine old master now liuing in this present yeare 1586, who is none of the least ornaments[20] that haue beene[Pg xvi] in that seat.” He was at both universities.[21] When speaking of Cambridge and Oxford, he says—

“In all other things there is so great equalitie betweene these two vniuersities, as no man can imagin how to set downe any greater; so that they seeme to be the bodie of one well ordered common wealth, onlie diuided by distance of place, and not in freendlie consent and orders. In speaking therefore of the one, I can not but describe the other; and in commendation of the first, I can not but extoll the latter; and so much the rather, for that they are both so deere vnto me, as that I can not readilie tell vnto whether of them I owe the most good will. Would to God my knowledge were such, as that neither of them might haue cause to be ashamed of their pupill; or my power so great, that I might woorthilie requite them both for those manifold kindnesses that I haue receiued of them.”[22]


He must have graduated at Oxford first, for in 1569 he proceeded to the degree of Bachelor of Divinity at Cambridge under a grace[23] which calls him M.A. of Oxford of[Pg xvii] seven years’ standing.[25] He was before this, Household Chaplain to Sir Wm. Brooke, Lord Cobham, to whom he dedicated, as we have seen, his Description of England, and who gave him the Rectory of Radwinter in Essex,[26] to which he was inducted on February 16, 1558-9, and which he held till his death. On January 28, 1570-1, he became a pluralist,[27] and obtaind the vicarage of Wimbish in Essex,[28] but resignd it in 1581, his successor being appointed on the 16th of November in that year. Between 1559 and 1571 he must have marrid Marion Isebrande, “daughter to William Isebrande and Ann his wife, sometyme of Anderne, neere vnto Guisnes in Picardie, and whome” (he says in his Will, referring no doubt to the sometime suppos’d unlawfulness of priests’ marriages) “by the lawes of god I take and repute in all respectes for my true and[Pg xviii] lawfull wife.” By her he left issue,[29] one son Edmund, and two daughters,—one, Anne, unmarried, and another the wife of Robert Baker. He tells us how his wife and her maid brewd him 200 gallons of beer for 20s., as he was “scarse a good malster” himself, and a poor man on £40 a year (Goldsmith’s sum too). And no doubt his kindly “Eve will be Eve, tho’ Adam would saie naie,” tho’ said of widows, shewd that he understood the sex, was “to their faults a little blind, and to their virtues very kind”—or however the old saw runs. At Radwinter he must have workt away at his Chronologie, collected his Roman coins, got savage with the rascally Essex lawyers, attended to his garden:

[Pg xix]“For mine owne part, good reader, let me boast a little of my garden, which is but small, and the whole Area thereof little aboue 300 foot of ground, and yet, such hath beene my good lucke in purchase of the varietie of simples, that notwithstanding my small abilitie, there are verie neere three hundred[30] of one sort and other conteined therein, no one of them being common or vsuallie to bee had,”

kept his eyes open to everything going on round him, and lookt after his parishioners, when he wasn’t writing his Description of England in London, or visiting at Lord Cobham’s house in Kent.

On April 23, 1586, William Harrison was appointed Canon of Windsor, and was installd the day after. The Dean has kindly sent me the following extract from the Chapter Book, St. George’s Chapel, Windsor—

[Pg xx]

1586.Gulielmus Harrison 24to Aprilis, loco Ryley,
Theologiæ Baccalaureus. Obijt, et Sepultus est
Windsoriæ, et White Successit.—Rector fuit de

but says there is no grave-stone or other notice of where Harrison was buried.[32] (I can’t get a line from the now rector of Radwinter.)

For the following abstract of Harrison’s Will, I am indebted to Colonel Chester—

(81 Nevell.) “William Harrison, Clerk, parson of Radwinter and Prebendary of Windsor—dated at Radwinter 27 July 1591—to be buried at Radwinter or Windsor, as I may die at either place. My goods to be divided into 4 equal parts ‘of which one parte and an halfe shall remaine vnto Marion Harrison alias Marion Isebrande and the daughter of William Isebrande sometyme of Anderne, whome by the lawe of god, I take for my true and lawfull wife;’[33] another part and a half equally to my son Edmund and my daughter Anne—my son in law Robert Baker and his wife I remember not in this my will, as I have already given them their portion; to the quire in Windsor 40s.; to the poor of Radwinter 40s.; to the poor children of the hospital at London 20s.; to the poor of St. Thomas Apostle in London 20s.; to each child of my son Baker 10s.; to each child of my cousin Morecroft, Clerk 5s.—‘I make & ordayne[Pg xxi] the sayed Marion Isebrande alias Marion Harrison, daughter to William Isebrande and Ann his wife, sometyme of Anderne neere vnto Guisnes in Picardie, and whome by the lawes of god I take and repute in all respectes for my true and lawfull wife,’ and my son Edmund Harrison, my Executors.—Witnesses, Mr. Wm. Birde, Esq., Thos. Smith, yeoman; Lancelott Ellis, vicar of Wimbishe; & Thos. Hartlie the writer hereof.”


His Will was proved on November 22, 1593, by the said Edmund Harrison, son and executor named therein, the relict and executrix Marion, being dead. Letters of administration to the goods, etc., of Marion Harrison, late of New Windsor, in the county of Berks, were granted on December 12, 1593, to her son Edmund Harrison.

William Harrison had opinions of his own about public and social matters in his day, and also had often racy ways of expressing those opinions. I’ll extract some. He calls Becket “the old cocke of Canturburie;” notes how the Conferences of clergy and laity stirrd the parsons “to applie their books ... which otherwise ... would giue themselues to hawking, hunting, tables, cards, dice, tipling at the alehouse, shooting of matches, and other like vanities;” he complains of the subsidies and taxes that the clergy are made to pay, “as if the church were now become the asse whereon euerie market man is to ride and cast his wallet;” also of “the couetousnesse of the patrones, of whom some doo bestow aduousons of benefices vpon their bakers, butlers, cookes, good archers, falconers, and horsekeepers,” while others “doo scrape the wool from our clokes;” he notes how Popish “images ... and monuments of idolatrie are remooued” from the churches, “onelie the stories in glasse windowes excepted,” which are let stay for a while, from the scarcity and cost of white glass; he’d like to get rid of Saints’ Days; he commends the decent apparel of the[Pg xxii] Protestant parsons, as contrasted with that of the Popish blind sir-Johns, who went “either in diuerse colors like plaiers, or in garments of light hew, as yellow, red,[34] greene, etc., with their shooes piked,[35] ... so that to meet a priest in those daies was to behold a peacocke that spreadeth his taile when he danseth before the henne;” and then he denounces the cheating at elections for College fellowships, scholarships.

Harrison also tells us that he had for a time the “collection” (of MSS., maps, etc.) of “William Read,[36] sometime fellow of Merteine college in Oxford, doctor of diuinitie, and the most profound astronomer that liued in his time.” He has a cut at the Popes’ nephews—“for nephues might say in those daies: Father, shall I call you vncle?”—says that[Pg xxiii] he knew one of the Norwich-diocese churches turnd “into a barne, whilest the people heare seruice further off vpon a greene: their bell also, when I heard a sermon there preached in the greene, hanged in an oke for want of a steeple. But now I vnderstand that the oke likewise is gone.” After saying what England in old time paid the Pope, he asks, “and therevpon tell me whether our Iland was one of the best paire of bellowes or not, that blue the fire in his kitchen, wherewith to make his pot seeth, beside all other commodities.”

In describing the Universities, Harrison dwells again on the packing and bribing practist at elections for fellowships and scholarships, and how “poore mens children are commonlie shut out by the rich,” whose sons “ruffle and roist it out, exceeding in apparell, and hanting riotous companie which draweth them from their bookes[37] vnto an other trade.” He also complains of the late-nam’d “idle fellowships” that are still a disgrace to our Universities, tho’ now their holders don’t work for “eighteene or peraduenture twenty yeeres,”

“For after this time, & 40 yeeres of age, the most part of students doo commonlie giue ouer their woonted diligence, & liue like drone bees on the fat of colleges, withholding better wits from the possession of their places, & yet dooing litle good in their own vocation & calling.”

[Pg xxiv]And he repeats, in milder words, Ascham’s[38] caution against sending young men to Italy, for “an Italianate Englishman is a devil incarnate,” as the Italians themselves said.[39] “And thus much at this time of our two vniuersities, in each of which I haue receiued such degree as they have vouchsafed, rather of their fauour than my desert, to yeeld and bestow vpon me.”

Of his chapter on “Degrees of the People of England” the most interesting parts to me are those on the evil of sending young Englishmen to Italy; the anticipation of the modern J. S. Mill & Coöperative doctrine of the evil of too many middlemen in trade (the argument will cover distributors as well as importers), and lawyers in business; the improvement in the condition of yeomen; the often complaind-of evil[40] of “our great swarmes of idle seruing men;” and our husbandmen and artificers never being better tradesmen, tho’ they sometimes scamp their work.

Harrison’s chapter “Of the Food and Diet of the English” is very interesting, with its accounts of the dinners of the nobility “whose cookes are, for the most part, musicall-headed Frenchmen and strangers,” and who eat[Pg xxv] “delicates wherein the sweette hand of the seafaring Portingale is not wanting.” Then it notices the rage for Venice glass among all classes—as Falstaff says, A.D. 1598, in 2 Hen. IV., II. i. 154, “Glasses, glasses, is the only drinking.” This is followd by capital accounts of the diet of the gentlemen and merchants, and the artificers; the bread[41] and drink of all classes; and how Mrs. Wm. Harrison brewd the family beer, “and hereof we make three hoggesheads of good beere, such (I meane) as is meet for poore men as I am, to liue withall, whose small maintenance (for what great thing is fortie pounds a yeare, Computatis computandis, able to performe?) may indure no deeper cut;” with touches like Theologicum being the best wine of old, because “the merchant would haue thought that his soule should have gone streightwaie to the diuell, if he should haue serued them [the monks] with other than the best;” and this kindly opinion of working-men, for which one can’t help liking the old parson[42]:—

“To conclude, both the artificer and the husbandman are sufficientlie liberall, & verie freendlie at their tables; and when they meet, they are so merie without malice, and plaine without inward Italian or French craft and subtiltie, that it[Pg xxvi] would doo a man good to be in companie among them.... This is moreouer to be added in these meetings, that if they happen to stumble vpon a peece of venison, and a cup of wine or verie strong beere or ale ... they thinke their cheere so great, and themselues to haue fared so well, as the lord Maior of London, with whome, when their bellies be full, they will not often sticke to make comparison, 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.”


Chapter VII.[43] is the amusing one on the “Apparell and Atire” of English folk already referrd to (p. xiii. above); and though it’s not so bitter as Stubbes’s or Crowley’s, yet it’s fun, with its “dog in a doublet,” and its beard bit, if a man “be wesell becked [beakt], then much heare left on the cheekes will make the owner looke big like a bowdled hen, and so grim as a goose, if Cornelis of Chelmeresford saie true.”

In the chapter on the Parliament the only personal bit is Harrison’s saying that he copies from Sir Thomas Smith,[44] “requiting him with the like borrowage as he hath vsed toward me in his discourse of the sundrie degrees of estates in the commonwealth of England.” But in the next chapter, “Of the Laws of England,” after a dull account of the Trial by Ordeal, etc., we get Harrison breaking out again against the Lawyers, their prosperity and rascality, and taking fees (as barristers often do still) and doing nothing for ’em, with a good bit about Welshmen’s love of law-suits.[Pg xxvii] We also find a pleasant notice of John Stow, the hard-working chronicler so shamefully neglected in his own age: “my freend Iohn Stow, whose studie is the onelie store house of antiquities in my time, and he worthie therefore to be had in reputation and honour.”

The chapter “Of Prouision made for the Poore,” notes the weekly collection made in every parish for the deserving poor, and gives Harrison’s opinion on the Malthusians of his day:—

“Some also doo grudge at the great increase of people in these daies, thinking a necessarie brood of cattell farre better than a superfluous augmentation of mankind. But I can liken such men best of all vnto the pope and the diuell, who practise the hinderance of the furniture of the number of the elect to their vttermost, to the end the authoritie of the one upon earth, the deferring of the locking vp of the other in euerlasting chaines, and the great gaines of the first, may continue and indure the longer. But if it should come to passe that any forren inuasion should be made, which the Lord God forbid for his mercies sake!—then should these men find that a wall of men is farre better than stackes of corne and bags of monie, and complaine of the want when it is too late to seeke remedie.”


The sham beggars, he says, “are all theeues and caterpillers in the commonwealth, and by the word of God not permitted to eat.” Then he makes extracts from Harman about the rogues, among whom, by statute, are “plaiers and minstrels,” Shakspere and his fellows, etc.

In the chapter on the “Punishments appointed for Malefactors,” our author notes that “our condemned persons doo go ... cheerfullie to their deths, for our nation is free, stout, hautie, prodigall of life and bloud;” that the punishment for “robbing by the high waie” (like Sir John Falstaff’s), “cutting of purses,” “stealing of deere by[Pg xxviii] night” (like Shakspere’s, if he ever stole deer from Sir Thomas Lucy, who had no park in his time), was death; and that the punishment for adultery and fornication was not sharp enough:—

“As in theft therfore, so in adulterie and whoredome, I would wish the parties trespassant, to be made bond or slaues vnto those that receiued the iniurie, to sell and giue where they listed, or to be condemned to the gallies: for that punishment would proue more bitter to them than halfe an houres hanging, or than standing in a sheet, though the weather be neuer so called.”


He also complains of the robberies by unthrift young gentlemen, and “seruing-men whose wages cannot suffice so much as to find them breeches;” and that selfish men, and even constables, in the country, won’t leave their work to follow up thieves and take them to prison:[45] this “I haue knowne by mine owne experience.”

The chapter, “Of the manner of Building and Furniture of our Houses,” is perhaps the best, and the best-known, in the book. It describes how English houses were built, and notes these new things, 1. that rich men were beginning to use stoves for sweating baths; while, 2. all men were using glass for windows; 3. that timber-houses were giving way to brick and stone; and that though our workmen were excellent, their demands for high wages often causd strangers to be employd in building; 4. the increast richness of furniture, not only in rich men’s houses, but in those of “the inferiour artificers and manie farmers,” who “now garnish their cupbords with plate, their ioined beds with tapistrie and silke hangings, and their tables[Pg xxix] with carpets & fine naperie, whereby the wealth of our countrie ... dooth infinitelie appear;”

[5.] “the multitude of chimnies latelie erected;” [6.] “the great (although not generall) amendment of lodging, for (said they) our fathers (yea, and we our selues also) haue lien full oft vpon straw pallets, on rough mats couered onelie with a sheet, vnder couerlets made of dagswain or hopharlots (I vse their owne termes), and a good round log vnder their heads in steed of a bolster or pillow.... Pillowes (said they) were thought meet onelie for women in childbed. As for seruants, if they had anie sheet aboue them, it was well, for seldome had they anie vnder their bodies, to keepe them from the pricking straws that ran oft through the canuas of the pallet, and rased their hardened hides.”... [7.] “The exchange of vessell, as of treene[46] platters into pewter, and woodden spoones into siluer or tin. For so common were all sorts of treene stuffe in old time, that a man should hardlie find four peeces of pewter (of which one was peraduenture a salt) in a good farmers house, and yet for all this frugalitie (if it may so be iustly called) they were scarse able to liue 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 vttermost by the yeare.”

The farmer was very poor too; and yet now, though his £4 rent is raised to £40, he can not only buy plate, and featherbeds, etc., but can purchase a renewal of his lease, 6 years before the expiration of the old one; and the paying the money “shall neuer trouble him more than the haire of his beard, when the barber hath washed and shaued it from his chin.” Against these signs of prosperity, these fat kine, are 3, nay 4, lean kine, which eat up their plump brethren,

“three things ... are growen to be verie grieuous vnto them, to wit, the inhansing of rents, latelie mentioned; the dailie[Pg xxx] oppression of copiholders, whose lords seeke to bring their poore tenants almost into plaine seruitude and miserie, dailie deuising new meanes, and seeking vp all the old, how to cut them shorter and shorter, doubling, trebling, and now & then seuen times increasing their fines; driuing them also for euerie trifle to loose and forfeit their tenures (by whome the greatest part of the realme dooth stand and is mainteined), to the end they may fleece them yet more, which is a lamentable hering. The third thing they talke of is vsurie, a trade brought in by the Jewes, now perfectlie practised almost by euerie christain, and so commonlie, that he is accompted but for a foole that dooth lend his monie for nothing.”

Interest has run up to 12 per cent.; wherefore, “helpe I praie thee in lawfull maner to hang vp such as take Centum pro cento, for they are no better worthie as I doo iudge in conscience.” The 4th grievance is that Gentlemen (!) have actually “themselves become grasiers, butchers, tanners, sheepmasters, woodmen, and denique quod non!”

The chapter, “Of Cities and Townes in England,” is dull, but has a short account of the antiquities found in old Verulam, and Harrison’s visit there in the summer of 1586 or 1585; and his groan over the decay of houses, their destruction by greedy land-owners, and the hard fare of poor men. He evidently would have put a limit to the land that one man might hold. In “Of Castles and Holds,” he wants the East coast fortified (p. 265), notes the frequency of old camps “in the plaine fields of England,” and says:—

“I need not to make anie long discourse of castles, sith it is not the nature of a good Englishman to regard to be caged vp as in a coope, and hedged in with stone wals, but rather to meet with his enimie in the plaine field at handstrokes, where he may trauaise his ground, choose his plot, and vse the[Pg xxxi] benefit of sunne shine, wind and weather, to his best aduantage & commoditie.”


In the next chapter he describes the Queen’s palaces, but prefers the Henry VIII. buildings to the Elizabethan:

“Certes masonrie did neuer better flourish in England than in his time. And albeit that in these daies there be manie goodlie houses erected in the sundrie quarters of this Iland; yet they are rather curious to the eie, like paper worke,[47] than substantiall for continuance: whereas such as he did set vp, excell in both, and therefore may iustlie be preferred farre aboue all the rest.”


He then gives an interesting account of the virtues of the Queen’s Maids of Honour, the vices of the Courtiers; the studies of the young Ladies, and the medical powers of the old; all of them being able to cook admirably, and the Carte or Bill of Fare of the dinner having been just introduced. Lastly he notes the admirable order and absence of ill-doing in the Queen’s court. Her “Progresses” he approv’d of.

He treats “Of Armour and Munition;” but, says Harrison, “what hath the longe blacke gowne to doo with glistering armour?” Still, he echoes the universal lament of Ascham, the Statutes, etc., etc., over the decay of Long-Bow shooting in England:—

“Certes the Frenchmen and Rutters deriding our new archerie in respect of their corslets, will not let in open skirmish, if anie leisure serue, to turne vp their tailes and crie: ‘Shoote English,’ and all bicause our strong shooting is decaied and laid in bed. But if some of our Englishmen now liued that serued king Edward the third in his warres with France, the breech of such a varlet should haue beene[Pg xxxii] nailed to his bum with one arrow, and an other fethered in his bowels, before he should haue turned about to see who shot the first.”


He then says that all the young fellows above eighteen or twenty wear a dagger; noblemen wear swords or rapiers too, while “desperate cutters” carry two daggers or two rapiers, “wherewith in euerie dronken fraie they are knowen to work much mischief.” And as trampers carry long staves, the honest traveller is obliged to carry pistols, “to ride with a case of dags at his saddlebow, or with some pretie short snapper,” while parsons have only a dagger or hanger, if they carry anything at all. The tapsters and ostlers at inns are in league with the highway robbers,[48] who rob chiefly at Christmas time, to get money to spend at dice and cards, till they “be trussed vp in a Tiburne tippet.”

Passing over the chapter on the “Navy,” Queen Elizabeth’s delight in it, and the fast sailing of our ships, we come on a characteristic and interesting chapter “Of Faires and Markets.” This subject is within Harrison’s home-life, as a buyer; and it’s on the buyer’s side, which includes the poor man’s, that he argues. Magistrates don’t see the proclamation price and goodness of bread kept to; bodgers are allowd to buy up corn and raise the price of it; to carry it home unsold, or to a distant market, if they want more money than the buyer likes to give; nay, they’ve leave to export it for the benefit of enemies and Papists abroad, so as to make more profit. Again, pestiferous purveyors buy up eggs, chickens, bacon, etc.;[Pg xxxiii] buttermen travel about and buy up butter at farmers’ houses, and have raisd its price from 18d. to 40d. a gallon. These things are ill for the buyer and the poor man, and should not be allowd:—

“I wish that God would once open their eies that deale thus, to see their owne errours: for as yet some of them little care how manie poore men suffer extremitie, so that they may fill their purses, and carie awaie the gaine.”


Good doctrine, no doubt; but “nous avons changé tout cela.” However in one thing the modern Political Economist can agree with Harrison:—

“I gather that the maintenance of a superfluous number of dealers in most trades, tillage alwaies excepted, is one of the greatest causes why the prices of things become excessiue.”


There’s a comical bit about the names for ale, “huffecap, mad dog, angels’ food,” etc., and the way

“our maltbugs lug at this liquor, euen as pigs should lie in a row, lugging at their dames teats, till they lie still againe, and be not able to wag ... and ... hale at hufcap, till they be red as cockes, & litle wiser than their combs.”


In his chapter “Of Parks and Warrens,” Harrison tells us how coney warrens have increast, from the value of the creatures’ black skins and the quick sale for young rabbits in London; and what a shocking thing it is that one Lady has sold her husband’s venison to the Cooks, and another Lady has ridden to market to see her butter sold! it’s as bad as an Earl feeling his own oxen to see whether they’re ready for the butcher! He then gives us a refreshing bit of his mind on owners of parks who enclose commons:

“And yet some owners, still desirous to inlarge those grounds, as either for the breed and feeding of cattell, doo not[Pg xxxiv] let dailie to take in more, not sparing the verie commons whervpon manie towneships now and then doo liue, affirming that we haue alreadie too great store of people in England; and that youth by marrieng too soone doo nothing profit the countrie, but fill it full of beggars, to the hurt and vtter vndooing (they saie) of the common wealth.

“Certes, if it be not one curse of the Lord, to haue our countrie conuerted in such sort, from the furniture of mankind, into the walks and shrowds of wild beasts, I know not what is anie. How manie families also these great and small games (for so most keepers call them) haue eaten vp, and are likelie hereafter to deuoure, some men may coniecture, but manie more lament, sith there is no hope of restraint to be looked for in this behalfe, because the corruption is so generall.”


The chapter “Of Gardens and Orchards” is interesting, not only as containing the bit quoted above on Harrison’s own garden, but for its note of how vegetables, roots, and salad herbs, that had gone out of use since Henry IV.’s time, had in Henry VIII.’s and Elizabeth’s days come into daily consumption, so that men even eat dangerous fruits like mushrooms. Also, hops and madder were grown again, and rare medicinable herbs. Gardens were beautified, plants imported; orchards supplied with apricot, almond, peach, fig, and cornel trees; nay, capers, oranges, lemons, and wild olives. Grafting was practist with great skill and success; even dishwater was utilis’d for plants. And as to roses, there was one in Antwerp in 1585 that had 180 leaves on one button or flower, and Harrison could have had a slip of it for £10 (£60 now?) if he hadn’t thought it “but a tickle hazard.”

The chapter “Of Woods and Marshes” is interesting, from Harrison’s laments in it over the destruction of English woods, which he saw yearly disappearing around[Pg xxxv] him,[49] one man, as he says, having turnd sixty woods into one pair of breeches.[50] And then, mov’d by the thought of what will become of England without its oaks, the unselfish old parson utters the four dearest wishes of his heart:—

“I would wish that I might liue no longer than to see foure things in this land reformed, that is: (1) the want of discipline[Pg xxxvi] in the church: (2) the couetous dealing of most of our merchants in the preferment of the commodities of other countries, and hinderance of their owne: (3) the holding of faires and markets vpon the sundaie to be abolished, and referred to the wednesdaies: (4) and that euerie man, in whatsoeuer part of the champaine soile enioieth fortie acres of land and vpwards, after that rate, either by free deed, copie hold, or fee farme, might plant one acre of wood, or sowe the same with oke mast, hasell, beech, and sufficient prouision be made that it may be cherished and kept. But I feare me that I should then liue too long, and so long, that I should either be wearie of the world, or the world of me; and yet they are not such things but they may easilie be brought to passe.”


This same chapter contains the capital bit about the oaken men and willow houses and their smoke-dried inhabiters, quoted above; and a strong protest against rascally tanners and wood-fellers who, for private gain, evade the laws; also some good advice about draining.

In his chapter on “Baths and Hot Wells,” Harrison says that he’s tasted the water of King’s Newnham well, near Coventry, and that it had “a tast much like to allume liquor, and yet nothing vnplesant nor vnsauorie in the drinking.” From his description of Bath it is clear that he had been there, unless he quotes an eye-witness’s words as his own. His chapter, “Of Antiquities found,” tells us of his own collection of Roman coins which he intended to get engrav’d in his Chronologie, though, he says, the cost of engraving,

“as it hath doone hitherto, so the charges to be emploied vpon these brasen or copper images will hereafter put by the impression of that treatise: whereby it maie come to passe, that long trauell shall soone proue to be spent in vaine, and much cost come to verie small successe.”

 [Pg xxxvii]

His words seem to imply that he’d visited Colchester (as no doubt he had) and York, in his search for coins. His account “Of the Coines of England,” Chapter XXV., ends his Book II., the first of his Description of England.

This section[51] is longer than I meant it to be; and it doesn’t bring out the religious side of Harrison’s character. But I hope it leaves the reader with a kindly impression of the straightforward racy Radwinter parson and Windsor canon. A business-like, God-fearing, truth-seeking, learned, kind-hearted, and humorous fellow, he seems to me; a good gardener, an antiquarian and numismatist, a true lover of his country, a hater of shams, lazy lubbers, and evil-doers; a man that one likes to shake hands with, across the rift of 200 years that separates us.


3 St. George’s Square, Primrose Hill,
London, N.W., 13th July, 1876.


[Pg xxxviii]


[Pg xxxix]


“How easy dost thou take all England up:
From forth this morsel of dead royalty——”

No book is more quoted and less read than Holinshed’s Chronicles. Since the original editions of 1577 and 1587 (the latter an expansion of the former), the work has been but once republished. Early in this century a syndicate of the great London booksellers issued an expensive reprint, far more inaccessible to the general reader than are the folios of the time of Elizabeth. Even morsels of the work have never been attempted until the issue by the “New Shakspere Society,” a dozen years ago, of Dr. Furnivall’s careful condensed edition of Harrison’s introduction to Holinshed. Now Harrison is the genius of the whole performance. Holinshed is a hodge-podge of many men’s endeavours. Remarkable as may be the portions contributed by other men, that of Harrison can be said to be unique. William Harrison is the only man who has ever given a detailed description of England and the English. He had the assistance doubtless of many special informants, directly and indirectly, some of which assistance overloads his ancient utterances with superfluous matter. His own views however are a running rill of delight. When it was only an amputation of interjected details, my task was easy; and Dr. Furnivall (to whom is due all credit of initiative in the publication of the work, and who has[Pg xl] kindly accorded valuable suggestions during the rather anxious and difficult process) had already cut off the greater portion of dead issue and dead tissue. The work of disjointing and then rejointing Harrison’s own discourse is not so agreeable. Even Harrison’s interlarding of his own book-learning in his own inimitable fashion is a rare frolic for the mirthful mind. Badly as I may have finally wriggled through the task, seamy as may be the patchwork, the solace remains that no scrap of Harrison’s text lacks its own individual interest. Not without reason may an extract from Holinshed be entitled a

“Morsel of dead royalty.”

Holinshed is one of the monarchs and monuments of literature. It filled the channels of thought, and moulded the character of history. Harrison’s contribution to Holinshed is not only the most important but the most perfect portion of the work, and it evidently derives its perfect character from being a labour of love, and not written to order. John Harrison the printer doubtless got his country relative the parson to help out the heavy enterprise which tasked such an alliance of master-printers even to partially perfect. Not that William Harrison was a countryman by birth. He was a Cockney of the Cockneys, born right beneath Bow Bells themselves; but when you come to gather the threads of his connections, you seem indeed to

“Take all England up,”

jumping at once to the heart of Westmoreland fells, and traversing every shire in England and Wales for his cousinry. It was a stirring age, and great human upheavals made sudden shiftings and scatterings of kindred. It was this very factor which made such works as Holinshed[Pg xli] possible. The complete Holinshed was issued one year before the Armada year, two years before Shakspere’s first play was printed. Harrison was old enough to have stood on Tower Hill and seen with infant eyes the author of Utopia (the “most perfect of Englishmen,” as Harrison himself allows) lay down his life for truth. Harrison’s own life just spans that stormy period which settled the destiny of the English race, and left the race the masters of the earth. The part played in this mighty struggle by the printer boys of Aldersgate is something beyond all exaggeration. They made and unmade men and measures, and uprooted empires as well as recorded their histories. Above all else, these printers kept their own secrets; for life and death were in every utterance. They furnished of their own ranks the pioneers of daring brain and varied knowledge who led the English race far to east and far to west. We can well imagine that these Aldersgate printers took delight in clubbing together to produce such a work as Holinshed, giving the story of the England they loved so well. Holinshed was eminently a printer’s book, produced out of the fulness of their hearts. Harrison himself belonged to a family of printers. Yet it is a remarkable fact that this present volume is the first attempt ever made to use any portion of Holinshed as a popular text-book, and to bring its text into familiar relations with modern eyes as regards orthography and typography. As to the diction, it would be impertinence to modify the work of such masters of our mother-tongue as William Harrison. The writers of his day make rules for us, not we for them. Their English is the only English which future ages will know, and their successors will be measured by their standard. In compiling this work, the end sought by me has been as much variety and as much Elizabethan[Pg xlii] England as possible, throwing aside matter however instructive which was not especially allied to the days of Elizabeth, making of most of Harrison’s second, some of his third, and a bit of his first book one concise story. Harrison’s Description of England is in three books, the second and third of which were reprinted by Dr. Furnivall, along with extracts from the first. An account of these books and their relation to Holinshed will be found in the Doctor’s “Forewords.” Using Dr. Furnivall’s text, his excellent and generally exhaustive notes have been inserted. As for my own follies, sprinkled here and there, they are as occasional relief for frivolous readers from the classical height of Harrison and the scholarly depth of the Doctor. There was no particular sacrilege in rearranging Harrison’s fragments in a new and compact fashion; for he varied his two editions in evident indifference. It has had to be cut to measure, and the difficulty has been to make a new garment out of odd cuttings. Suffice to say, well or ill jointed, the story here told plucks the heart out of the mystery of the cradle of the English race at the exact period of Shakspere’s youthful manhood. But this story no more than Shakspere’s own work is the exclusive property of the residents of one particular spot. England is not merely a matter of political arrangement. Race after race have swept over the island home and left lasting impression upon the soil. England is not a matter of bounds and barriers; it is a human fabric like Rome and Greece, living in distant climes, an inheritance of all who speak the English tongue and inherit the boundless treasures of English thought, far surpassing the known accomplishment of any other people. By far the greater portion of these treasures of the mind were worked out in the England of Harrison. It was the outcome of a young giant’s strength. The full realisation[Pg xliii] of the earth’s existence, the full grasp of man’s true relation to the footstool beneath him, produced this startling activity of mind, and this sudden leap to perfection. Such another epoch will never occur until we poor crawling mites on this rolling ball discover the socket it rolls in and once again feel ourselves masters of all knowledge and devoid of all doubts.

L. W.


[Pg xliv]


[Pg xlv]


To the Right Honourable, and his singular good Lord and Master, Sir William Brooke, Knight, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and Baron of Cobham, all increase of the fear and knowledge of God, firm obedience towards his Prince, infallible love to the commonwealth, and commendable renown here in this world, and in the world to come life everlasting.

Having had just occasion, Right Honourable, to remain in London during the time of Trinity term last passed, and being earnestly required of divers my friends to set down some brief discourse of parcel of those things which I had observed in the reading of such manifold antiquities as I had perused towards the furniture of a Chronology[52] which I have yet in hand; I was at the first very loth to yield to their desires: first, for that I thought myself unable for want of skill and judgment so suddenly and with so hasty speed to take such a charge upon me; secondly, because the dealing therein might prove an hindrance and impeachment unto mine own Treatise; and, finally, for that I had given over all earnest study of histories, as judging the time spent about the same to be an hindrance unto my more necessary dealings in that vocation and function whereunto I am called in the ministry. But, when they[Pg xlvi] were so importunate with me that no reasonable excuse could serve to put by this travel, I condescended at the length unto their irksome suit, promising that I would spend such void time, as I had to spare, whilest I should be enforced to tarry in the city, upon some thing or other that should satisfy their request and stand in lieu of a description of my Country. For their parts also, they assured me of such helps as they could purchase: and thus with hope of good, although no gay success, I went in hand withal, then almost as one leaning altogether unto memory, since my books and I were parted by forty miles in sunder. In this order also I spent a part of Michaelmas and Hilary terms insuing, being enforced thereto, I say, by other businesses which compelled me to keep in the city, and absent myself from my charge, though in the mean season I had some repair unto my poor library, but not so great as the dignity of the matter required, and yet far greater than the Printer’s haste would suffer. One help, and none of the smallest that I obtained herein, was by such commentaries as Leland had some time collected of the state of Britain, books utterly mangled, defaced with wet and weather, and finally imperfect through want of sundry volumes; secondly, I gat some knowledge of things by letters and pamphlets, from sundry places and shires of England, but so discordant now and then amongst themselves, especially in the names and courses of rivers and situation of towns, that I had oft greater trouble to reconcile them one with another than orderly to pen the whole discourse of such points as they contained; the third aid did grow by conference with divers, either at the table or secretly alone, wherein I marked in what things the talkers did agree, and wherein they impugned each other, choosing in the end the former, and rejecting the latter,[Pg xlvii] as one desirous to set forth the truth absolutely, or such things indeed as were most likely to be true. The last comfort arose by mine own reading of such writers as have heretofore made mention of the condition of our country, in speaking whereof, if I should make account of the success and extraordinary coming by sundry treatises not supposed to be extant, I should but seem to pronounce more than may well be said with modesty, and say further of myself than this treatise can bear witness of. Howbeit, I refer not this success wholly unto my purpose about this Description, but rather give notice thereof to come to pass in the penning of my Chronology, whose crumbs as it were fell out very well in the framing of this pamphlet. In the process therefore of this book, if your Honour regard the substance of that which is here declared, I must needs confess that it is none of mine own; but, if your Lordship have consideration of the barbarous composition shewed herein, that I may boldly claim and challenge for mine own, since there is no man of any so slender skill that will defraud me of that reproach which is due unto me for the mere negligence, disorder, and evil disposition of matter comprehended in the same. Certes I protest before God and your Honour that I never made any choice of style, or words, neither regarded to handle this treatise in such precise order and method as many other would have done, thinking it sufficient, truly and plainly to set forth such things as I minded to intreat of, rather than with vain affectation of eloquence to paint out a rotten sepulchre, a thing neither commendable in a writer nor profitable to the reader. How other affairs troubled me in the writing hereof, many know, and peradventure the slackness shewed herein can better testify; but, howsoever it be done, and whatsoever I[Pg xlviii] have done, I have had an especial eye unto the truth of things, and, for the rest, I hope that this foul frizzled treatise of mine will prove a spur to others better learned, more skilful in chorography, and of greater judgment in choice of matter to handle the selfsame argument. As for faults escaped herein, as there are divers I must needs confess both in the penning and printing, so I have to crave pardon of your Honour and of all the learned readers. For such was my shortness of time allowed in the writing, and so great the speed made in printing, that I could seldom with any deliberation peruse, or almost with any judgment deliberate exactly upon, such notes as were to be inserted. Sometimes indeed their leisure gave me liberty, but that I applied in following my vocation; many times their expedition abridged my perusal; and by this latter it came to pass that most of this book was no sooner penned than printed, neither well conveyed, before it came to writing. But it is now too late to excuse the manner of doing.[53] It is possible also that your Honour will mislike hereof for that I have not by mine own travel and eyesight viewed such things as I do here intreat of. Indeed I must needs confess that until now of late, except it were from the parish where I dwell unto your Honour in Kent, or out of London where I was born unto Oxford and Cambridge where I have been brought up, I never travelled forty miles forthright and at one journey in all my life; nevertheless in my report of these things I use their authorities who either have performed in their persons or left in writing upon sufficient ground (as I said before) whatsoever is wanting in mine. It may be in like sort that your Honour will take offence at my rash and retchless[Pg xlix] behaviour used in the composition of this volume, and much more than that, being scrambled up after this manner, I dare presume to make tender of the protection thereof unto your Lordship’s hands. But, when I consider the singular affection that your Honour doth bear to those that in anywise will travel to set forth such profitable things as lie hidden of their country without regard of fine and eloquent handling, and thereunto do weigh on my own behalf my bounden duty and grateful mind to such a one as hath so many and sundry ways benefited me that otherwise can make no recompense, I cannot but cut off all such occasion of doubt, and thereupon exhibit it, such as it is, and so penned as it is, unto your Lordship’s tuition, unto whom if it may seem in any wise acceptable I have my whole desire. And as I am the first that (notwithstanding the great repugnance to be seen among our writers) hath taken upon him so particularly to describe this Isle of Britain, so I hope the learned and godly will bear withal, and reform with charity where I do tread amiss. As for the curious, and such as can rather evil-favouredly espy than skilfully correct an error, and sooner carp at another man’s doings than publish anything of their own (keeping themselves close with an obscure admiration of learning and knowledge among the common sort), I force not what they say hereof; for, whether it do please or displease them, all is one to me, since I refer my whole travel in the gratification of your Honour, and such as are of experience to consider of my travel and the large scope of things purposed in this treatise, of whom my service in this behalf may be taken in good part: that I will repute for my full recompense and large guerdon of my labours. The Almighty God preserve your Lordship in continual health, wealth, and prosperity, with[Pg l] my good Lady your wife, your Honour’s children (whom God hath indued with a singular towardness unto all virtue and learning) and the rest of your reformed family, unto whom I wish farder increase of his holy spirit, understanding of his word, augmentation of honour, and continuance of zeal to follow his commandments.

Your Lordship’s humble servant
and household chaplain,
W. H.



[Pg 1]





[1577, Book III., Chapter 4; 1587, Book II., Chapter 5.]

We, in England, divide our people commonly into four sorts, as gentlemen, citizens or burgesses, yeomen, and artificers or labourers. Of gentlemen the first and chief (next the king) be the prince, dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts, and barons; and these are called gentlemen of the greater sort, or (as our common usage of speech is) lords and noblemen: and next unto them be knights, esquires, and, last of all, they that are simply called gentlemen. So that in effect our gentlemen are divided into their conditions, whereof in this chapter I will make particular rehearsal.

The title of prince doth peculiarly belong with us to the king’s eldest son, who is called Prince of Wales, and is the heir-apparent to the crown; as in France the king’s eldest son hath the title of Dauphin, and is named peculiarly Monsieur. So that the prince is so termed of the Latin word Princeps, since he is (as I may call him) the chief or principal next the king. The king’s younger sons be but gentlemen[Pg 2] by birth (till they have received creation or donation from their father of higher estate, as to be either viscounts, earls, or dukes) and called after their names, as Lord Henry, or Lord Edward, with the addition of the word Grace, properly assigned to the king and prince, and now also by custom conveyed to dukes, archbishops, and (as some say) to marquesses and their wives.[55]

Unto this place I also refer our bishops, who are accounted honourable, called lords, and hold the same room in the Parliament house with the barons, albeit for honour sake the right hand of the prince is given unto them, and whose countenances in time past were much more glorious than at this present it is, because those lusty prelates sought after earthly estimation and authority with far more diligence than after the lost sheep of Christ, of which they had small regard, as men being otherwise occupied and void of leisure to attend upon the same. Howbeit in these days their estate remaineth no less reverend than before, and the more virtuous they are that be of this calling the better are they esteemed with high and low. They retain also the ancient name (“lord”) still, although it be not a little impugned by such as love either to hear of change of all things or can abide no superiors. For notwithstanding it be true that in respect of function the office of the eldership[56] is equally distributed between the bishop and the minister, yet for civil government’s sake the first have more authority given unto them by kings and princes, to the end that the rest may thereby be with more ease retained within a limited compass of uniformity than otherwise they would be if each one were suffered to walk in his own course. This also is more to be marvelled at, that very many call for an alteration of their estate, crying to have the word “lord” abolished, their civil authority taken from them, and the present condition of the church in other things reformed; whereas, to say truly, few of them do agree upon form of discipline and government of the[Pg 3] church succeedent, wherein they resemble the Capuans (of whom Livy doth speak) in the slaughter of their senate. Neither is it possible to frame a whole monarchy after the pattern of one town or city, or to stir up such an exquisite face of the church as we imagine or desire, sith our corruption is such that it will never yield to so great perfection; for that which is not able to be performed in a private house will be much less be brought to pass in a commonwealth and kingdom, before such a prince be found as Xenophon describeth, or such an orator as Tully hath devised.[57]

Dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts, and barons either be created of the prince or come to that honour by being the eldest sons or highest in succession to their parents. For the eldest son of a duke during his father’s life is an earl, the eldest son of an earl is a baron, or sometimes a viscount, according as the creation is. The creation I call the original donation and condition of the honour given by the prince for good service done by the first ancestor, with some advancement, which, with the title of that honour, is always given to him and his heirs males only. The rest of the sons of the nobility by the rigour of the law be but esquires; yet in common speech all dukes’ and marquesses’ sons and earls’ eldest sons be called lords, the which name commonly doth agree to none of lower degree than barons, yet by law and use these be not esteemed barons.

The barony or degree of lords doth answer to the degree of senators of Rome (as I said) and the title of nobility (as we used to call it in England) to the Roman Patricii. Also in England no man is commonly created baron except he may dispend of yearly revenues a thousand pounds, or so much as may fully maintain and bear out his countenance and port. But viscounts, earls, marquesses, and dukes exceed them according to the proportion of their degree and honour. But though by chance he or his son have less, yet he keepeth this[Pg 4] degree: but if the decay be excessive, and not able to maintain the honour (as Senatores Romani were amoti à senatu), so sometimes they are not admitted to the upper house in the parliament, although they keep the name of “lord” still, which cannot be taken from them upon any such occasion.[58]

The most of these names have descended from the French invention, in whose histories we shall read of them eight hundred years past.[59]

Knights be not born, neither is any man a knight by succession, no, not the king or prince: but they are made either before the battle, to encourage them the more to adventure and try their manhood; or after the battle ended, as an advancement for their courage and prowess already shewed, and then are they called Milites; or out of the wars for some great service done, or for the singular virtues which do appear in[Pg 5] them, and then are they named Equites Aurati, as common custom intendeth. They are made either by the king himself, or by his commission and royal authority given for the same purpose, or by his lieutenant in the wars.[60]

Sometime diverse ancient gentlemen, burgesses, and lawyers are called unto knighthood by the prince, and nevertheless refuse to take that state upon them, for which they are of custom punished by a fine, that redoundeth unto his coffers, and (to say truth) is oftentimes more profitable unto him than otherwise their service should be, if they did yield unto knighthood. And this also is a cause wherefore there be many in England able to dispend a knight’s living, which never come unto that countenance, and by their own consents. The number of the knights in Rome was also uncertain: and so is it of knights likewise, with us, as at the pleasure of the prince. And whereas the Equites Romani had Equum Publicum of custom bestowed upon them, the knights of England have not so, but bear their own charges in that also, as in other kind of furniture, as armour meet for their defence and service. This nevertheless is certain, that whoso may dispend forty pounds by the year of free land, either at the coronation of the king, or marriage of his daughter, or time of his dubbing, may be informed unto the taking of that degree, or otherwise pay the revenues of his land for one year, which is only forty pounds by an old proportion, and so for a time be acquitted of that title.[61]

At the coronation of a king or queen, there be other knights made with longer and more curious ceremonies, called “knights of the bath.” But howsoever one be dubbed or made knight, his wife is by-and-by called “Madam,” or “Lady,” so well as the baron’s wife: he himself having added to his name in common appellation this syllable “Sir,” which is the title whereby we call our knights in England. His wife also of courtesy so long as she liveth is called “my lady,” although[Pg 6] she happen to marry with a gentleman or man of mean calling, albeit that by the common law she hath no such prerogative. If her first husband also be of better birth than her second, though this latter likewise be a knight, yet in that she pretendeth a privilege to lose no honour through courtesy yielded to her sex, she will be named after the most honourable or worshipful of both, which is not seen elsewhere.

The other order of knighthood in England, and the most honourable, is that of the garter, instituted by King Edward the Third, who, after he had gained many notable victories, taken King John of France, and King James of Scotland (and kept them both prisoners in the Tower of London at one time), expelled King Henry of Castille, the bastard, out of his realm, and restored Don Pedro unto it (by the help of the Prince of Wales and Duke of Aquitaine, his eldest son, called the Black Prince), he then invented this society of honour, and made a choice out of his own realm and dominions, and throughout all Christendom of the best, most excellent, and renowned persons in all virtues and honour, and adorned them with that title to be knights of his order, giving them a garter garnished with gold and precious stones, to wear daily on the left leg only; also a kirtle, gown, cloak, chaperon, collar, and other solemn and magnificent apparel, both of stuff and fashion exquisite and heroical to wear at high feasts, and as to so high and princely an order appertaineth.

The order of the garter therefore was devised in the time of King Edward the Third, and (as some write) upon this occasion. The queen’s majesty then living, being departed from his presence the next way toward her lodging, he following soon after happened to find her garter, which slacked by chance and so fell from her leg, unespied in the throng by such as attended upon her. His grooms and gentlemen also passed by it, as disdaining to stoop and take up such a trifle: but he, knowing the owner, commanded one of them to stay and reach it up to him. “Why, and like your[Pg 7] grace,” saith a gentleman, “it is but some woman’s garter that hath fallen from her as she followed the queen’s majesty.” “Whatsoever it be,” quoth the king, “take it up and give it me.” So when he had received the garter, he said to such as stood about him: “You, my masters, do make small account of this blue garter here,” and therewith held it out, “but, if God lend me life for a few months, I will make the proudest of you all to reverence the like.” And even upon this slender occasion he gave himself to the devising of this order. Certes, I have not read of anything that having had so simple a beginning hath grown in the end to so great honour and estimation.[62]

There is yet another order of knights in England called knights bannerets, who are made in the field with the ceremony of cutting away the point of his pennant of arms, and making it as it were a banner, so that, being before but a bachelor knight, he is now of an higher degree, and allowed to display his arms in a banner, as barons do. Howbeit these knights are never made but in the wars, the king’s standard being unfolded.[63]

Moreover, as the king doth dub knights, and createth the barons and higher degrees, so gentlemen whose ancestors are not known to come in with William Duke of Normandy (for of the Saxon races yet remaining we now make none accounted, much less of the British issue) do take their beginning in England, after this manner in our times.

Whosoever studieth the laws of the realm, whoso abideth in the university (giving his mind to his book), or professeth physic and the liberal sciences, or beside his service in the room of a captain in the wars, or good counsel given at home, whereby his commonwealth is benefited, can live without manual labour, and thereto is able and will bear the port, charge, and countenance of a gentleman, he shall for money[Pg 8] have a coat and arms bestowed upon him by heralds (who in the charter of the same do of custom pretend antiquity and service, and many gay things), and thereunto, being made so good cheap, be called master (which is the title that men give to esquires and gentlemen), and reputed for a gentleman ever after, which is so much less to be disallowed of for that the prince doth lose nothing by it, the gentleman being so much subject to taxes and public payments as is the yeoman or husbandman, which he likewise doth bear the gladlier for the saving of his reputation. Being called also to the wars (for with the government of the commonwealth he meddleth little), whatsoever it cost him, he will both array and arm himself accordingly, and shew the more manly courage, and all the tokens of the person which he representeth. No man hath hurt by it but himself, who peradventure will go in wider buskins than his legs will bear, or, as our proverb saith, “now and then bear a bigger sail than his boat is able to sustain.”

Certes the making of new gentlemen bred great strife sometimes amongst the Romans, I mean when those which were Novi homines were more allowed of for their virtues newly seen and shewed than the old smell of ancient race, lately defaced by the cowardice and evil life of their nephews and descendants, could make the other to be. But as envy hath no affinity with justice and equity, so it forceth not what language the malicious do give out, against such as are exalted for their wisdoms. This nevertheless is generally to be reprehended in all estates of gentility, and which in short time will turn to the great ruin of our country, and that is, the usual sending of noblemen’s and mean gentlemen’s sons into Italy, from whence they bring home nothing but mere atheism, infidelity, vicious conversation, and ambitious and proud behaviour, whereby it cometh to pass that they return far worse men than they went out. A gentleman at this present is newly come out of Italy, who went thither an earnest Protestant; but coming home he could say after this manner: “Faith and truth is to be kept where no loss or hindrance of a future purpose is sustained by[Pg 9] holding of the same; and forgiveness only to be shewed when full revenge is made.” Another no less forward than he, at his return from thence, could add thus much: “He is a fool that maketh account of any religion, but more fool that will lose any part of his wealth or will come in trouble for constant leaning to any; but if he yield to lose his life for his possession, he is stark mad, and worthy to be taken for most fool of all the rest.” This gay booty got these gentlemen by going into Italy; and hereby a man may see what fruit is afterward to be looked for where such blossoms do appear. “I care not,” saith a third, “what you talk to me of God, so as I may have the prince and the laws of the realm on my side.” Such men as this last are easily known; for they have learned in Italy to go up and down also in England with pages at their heels finely apparelled, whose face and countenance shall be such as sheweth the master not to be blind in his choice. But lest I should offend too much, I pass over to say any more of these Italianates and their demeanour, which, alas! is too open and manifest to the world, and yet not called into question.

Citizens and burgesses have next place to gentlemen, who be those that are free within the cities, and are of some likely substance to bear office in the same. But these citizens or burgesses are to serve the commonwealth in their cities and boroughs, or in corporate towns where they dwell, and in the common assembly of the realm wherein our laws are made (for in the counties they bear but little sway), which assembly is called the High Court of Parliament: the ancient cities appoint four and the borough two burgesses to have voices in it, and give their consent or dissent unto such things as pass, to stay there in the name of the city or borough for which they are appointed.

In this place also are our merchants to be installed as amongst the citizens (although they often change estate with gentlemen, as gentlemen do with them, by a mutual conversion of the one into the other), whose number is so increased in these our days that their only maintenance is the cause of the exceeding prices of foreign wares, which otherwise,[Pg 10] when every nation was permitted to bring in her own commodities, were far better, cheaper, and more plentifully to be had. Of the want of our commodities here at home, by their great transportation of them into other countries, I speak not, sith the matter will easily betray itself. Certes among the Lacedæmonians it was found out that great numbers of merchants were nothing to the furtherance of the state of the commonwealth: wherefore it is to be wished that the huge heap of them were somewhat restrained, as also of our lawyers, so should the rest live more easily upon their own, and few honest chapmen be brought to decay by breaking of the bankrupt. I do not deny but that the navy of the land is in part maintained by their traffic, and so are the high prices of wares kept up, now they have gotten the only sale of things upon pretence of better furtherance of the commonwealth into their own hands: whereas in times past, when the strange bottoms were suffered to come in, we had sugar for fourpence the pound, that now at the writing of this Treatise is well worth half-a-crown; raisins or currants for a penny that now are holden at sixpence, and sometimes at eightpence and tenpence the pound; nutmegs at twopence halfpenny the ounce, ginger at a penny an ounce, prunes at halfpenny farthing, great raisins three pounds for a penny, cinnamon at fourpence the ounce, cloves at twopence, and pepper at twelve and sixteen pence the pound. Whereby we may see the sequel of things not always, but very seldom, to be such as is pretended in the beginning. The wares that they carry out of the realm are for the most part broad clothes and carsies[64] of all colours, likewise cottons, friezes, rugs, tin, wool,[Pg 11] our best beer, baize, bustian, mockadoes (tufted and plain), rash, lead, fells, etc.: which, being shipped at sundry ports of our coasts, are borne from thence into all quarters of the world, and there either exchanged for other wares or ready money, to the great gain and commodity of our merchants. And whereas in times past their chief trade was into Spain, Portugal, France, Flanders, Danske [Denmark], Norway, Scotland, and Ireland only, now in these days, as men not contented with these journeys, they have sought out the East and West Indies, and made now and then suspicious voyages, not only unto the Canaries and New Spain, but likewise into Cathay, Muscovy, and Tartaria, and the regions thereabout, from whence (as they say) they bring home great commodities. But alas! I see not by all their travel that the prices of things are any whit abated. Certes this enormity (for so I do account of it) was sufficiently provided for (Ann. 9 Edward III.) by a noble statute made in that behalf, but upon what occasion the general execution thereof is stayed or not called on, in good sooth, I cannot tell. This only I know, that every function and several vocation striveth with other, which of them should have all the water of commodity run into her own cistern.

Yeomen are those which by our law are called Legales homines, free men born English, and may dispend of their own free land in yearly revenue to the sum of forty shillings sterling, or six pounds as money goeth in our times. Some are of the opinion, by Cap. 2 Rich. 2 Ann. 20, that they are the same which the Frenchmen call varlets, but, as that phrase is used in my time, it is very unlikely to be so. The truth is that the word is derived from the Saxon term Zeoman, or Geoman,[65] which signifieth (as I have read) a settled or staid[Pg 12] man, such I mean as, being married and of some years, betaketh himself to stay in the place of his abode for the better maintenance of himself and his family, whereof the single sort have no regard, but are likely to be still fleeting now hither now thither, which argueth want of stability in determination and resolution of judgment, for the execution of things of any importance. This sort of people have a certain pre-eminence, and more estimation than labourers and the common sort of artificers, and these commonly live wealthily, keep good houses, and travel to get riches. They are also for the most part farmers to gentlemen (in old time called Pagani, et opponuntur militibus, and therefore Persius calleth himself Semipaganus[66]), or at the leastwise artificers, and with grazing, frequenting of markets, and keeping of servants (not idle servants, as the gentlemen do, but such as get both their own and part of their masters’ living), do come to great wealth, insomuch that many of them are able and do buy the lands of[Pg 13] unthrifty gentlemen, and often setting their sons to the schools, to the universities, and to the Inns of the Court, or, otherwise leaving them sufficient lands whereupon they may live without labour, do make them by those means 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 appertaineth, but only “John” and “Thomas,” etc., yet have they been found to have done very good service.

The kings of England in foughten battles were wont to remain among them (who were their footmen) as the French kings did amongst their horsemen, the prince thereby shewing where his chief strength did consist.

The fourth and last sort of people in England are day-labourers, poor husbandmen, and some retailers (which have no free land), copyholders, and all artificers, as tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, brickmakers, masons, etc.[67]

As for slaves and bondmen, we have none; nay, such is the privilege of our country by the especial grace of God and bounty of our princes, that if any come hither from other realms, so soon as they set foot on land they become so free of condition as their masters, whereby all note of servile bondage is utterly removed from them, wherein we resemble (not the Germans, who had slaves also, though such as in respect of the slaves of other countries might well be reputed free, but) the old Indians and the Taprobanes,[68] who supposed it a great injury to Nature to make or suffer them to be bond, whom she in her wonted course doth product and bring forth free. This fourth and last sort of people therefore have neither voice nor authority in the commonwealth, but are to be ruled and not to rule other: yet they are not altogether neglected, for in cities and corporate towns, for default of yeomen, they are fain to make up their inquests of such manner of people. And in villages they are commonly[Pg 14] made churchwardens, sidesmen, aleconners, now and then constables, and many times enjoy the name of head boroughs. Unto this sort also may our great swarms of idle serving-men be referred, of whom there runneth a proverb, “Young serving-men, old beggars,” because service is none heritage. These men are profitable to none; for, if their condition be well perused, they are enemies to their masters, to their friends, and to themselves: for by them oftentimes their masters are encouraged unto unlawful exactions of their tenants, their friends brought unto poverty by their rents enhanced, and they themselves brought to confusion by their own prodigality and errors, as men that, having not wherewith of their own to maintain their excesses, do search in highways, budgets, coffers, mails, and stables, which way to supply their wants. How divers of them also, coveting to bear an high sail, do insinuate themselves with young gentlemen and noblemen newly come to their lands, the case is too much apparent, whereby the good natures of the parties are not only a little impaired, but also their livelihoods and revenues so wasted and consumed that, if at all, yet not in many years, they shall be able to recover themselves. It were very good therefore that the superfluous heaps of them were in part diminished. And since necessity enforceth to have some, yet let wisdom moderate their numbers, so shall their masters be rid of unnecessary charge, and the commonwealth of many thieves. No nation cherisheth such store of them as we do here in England, in hope of which maintenance many give themselves to idleness that otherwise would be brought to labour, and live in order like subjects. Of their whoredoms I will not speak anything at all, more than of their swearing; yet is it found that some of them do make the first a chief pillar of their building, consuming not only the goods but also the health and welfare of many honest gentlemen, citizens, wealthy yeomen, etc., by such unlawful dealings. But how far have I waded in this point, or how far may I sail in such a large sea? I will therefore now stay to speak any more of those kind of men. In returning therefore to my matter, this furthermore[Pg 15] among other things I have to say of our husbandmen and artificers, that they were never so excellent in their trades as at this present. But as the workmanship of the latter sort was newer, more fine, and curious to the eye, so was it never less strong and substantial for continuance and benefit of the buyers. Neither is there anything that hurteth the common sort of our artificers more than haste, and a barbarous or slavish desire to turn the penny, and, by ridding their work, to make speedy utterance of their wares: which enforceth them to bungle up and despatch many things they care not how so they be out of their hands, whereby the buyer is often sore defrauded, and findeth to his cost that haste maketh waste, according to the proverb.

Oh, how many trades and handicrafts are now in England whereof the commonwealth hath no need! How many needful commodities have we which are perfected with great cost, etc., and yet may with far more ease and less cost be provided from other countries if we could use the means! I will not speak of iron, glass, and such like, which spoil much wood, and yet are brought from other countries better cheap than we can make them here at home; I could exemplify also in many other. But to leave these things and proceed with our purpose, and herein (as occasion serveth) generally, by way of conclusion, to speak of the commonwealth of England, I find that it is governed and maintained by three sorts of persons—

1. The prince, monarch, and head governor, which is called the king, or (if the crown fall to a woman) the queen: in whose name and by whose authority all things are administered.

2. The gentlemen, which be divided into two sorts, as the barony or estate of lords (which containeth barons and all above that degree), and also those that be no lords, as knights, esquires, and simple gentlemen, as I have noted already. Out of these also are the great deputies and high presidents chosen, of which one serveth in Ireland, as another did some time in Calais, and the captain now at Berwick, as one lord president doth govern in Wales, and the other the north parts of this island, which later, with certain counsellors and judges, were[Pg 16] erected by King Henry the Eighth. But, for so much as I have touched their conditions elsewhere, it shall be enough to have remembered them at this time.

3. The third and last sort is named the yeomanry, of whom and their sequel, the labourers and artificers, I have said somewhat even now. Whereto I add that they may not be called masters and gentlemen, but goodmen, as Goodman Smith, Goodman Coot, Goodman Cornell, Goodman Mascall, Goodman Cockswet, etc.: and in matters of law these and the like are called thus, Giles Jewd, yeoman; Edward Mountford, yeoman; James Cocke, yeoman; Harry Butcher, yeoman, etc.; by which addition they are exempt from the vulgar and common sorts. Cato calleth them “Aratores et optimos cives rei publicæ,” of whom also you may read more in the book of commonwealth which Sir Thomas Smith some time penned of this land.[69]



[Pg 17]



[1577, Book II., Chapter 7; 1587, Book II., Chapter 13.]

As in old time we read that there were eight-and-twenty flamines and archflamines in the south part of this isle, and so many great cities under their jurisdiction, so in these our days there is but one or two fewer, and each of them also under the ecclesiastical regiment of some one bishop or archbishop, who in spiritual cases have the charge and oversight of the same. So many cities therefore are there in England and Wales as there be bishoprics and archbishoprics.[70] For, notwithstanding that Lichfield and Coventry and Bath and Wells do seem to extend the aforesaid number unto nine-and-twenty, yet neither of these couples are to be accounted but as one entire city and see of the bishop, sith one bishopric can have relation but unto one see, and the said see be situate but in one place, after which the bishop doth take his name.[71]

Certes I would gladly set down, with the names and number of the cities, all the towns and villages in England and Wales,[Pg 18] with their true longitudes and latitudes, but as yet I cannot come by them in such order as I would; howbeit the tale of our cities is soon found by the bishoprics, sith every see hath such prerogative given unto it as to bear the name of a city and to use Regaleius[72] within her own limits. Which privilege also is granted to sundry ancient towns in England, especially northward, where more plenty of them is to be found by a great deal than in the south. The names therefore of our cities are these: London, York, Canterbury, Winchester, Carlisle, Durham, Ely, Norwich, Lincoln, Worcester, Gloucester, Hereford, Salisbury, Exeter, Bath, Lichfield, Bristol, Rochester, Chester, Chichester, Oxford, Peterborough, Llandaff, St. Davids, Bangor, St. Asaph, whose particular plots and models, with their descriptions, shall ensue, if it may be brought to pass that the cutters can make despatch of them before this history be published.[73]

Of towns and villages likewise thus much will I say, that there were greater store in old time (I mean within three or four hundred year passed) than at this present. And this I note out of divers records, charters, and donations (made in times past unto sundry religious houses, as Glastonbury, Abingdon, Ramsey, Ely, and such like), and whereof in these days I find not so much as the ruins. Leland, in sundry places, complaineth likewise of the decay of parishes in great cities and towns, missing in some six or eight or twelve churches and more, of all which he giveth particular notice. For albeit that the Saxons builded many towns and villages, and the Normans well more at their first coming, yet since the first two hundred years after the latter conquest, they have gone so fast again to decay that the ancient number of them is very much abated. Ranulph, the monk of Chester, telleth of general survey made in the fourth, sixteenth, and nineteenth of the reign of William[Pg 19] Conqueror, surnamed the Bastard, wherein it was found that (notwithstanding the Danes had overthrown a great many) there were to the number of 52,000 towns, 45,002 parish churches, and 75,000 knights’ fees, whereof the clergy held 28,015. He addeth moreover that there were divers other builded since that time, within the space of a hundred years after the coming of the Bastard, as it were in lieu or recompense of those that William Rufus pulled down for the erection of his New Forest. For by an old book which I have, and some time written as it seemeth by an under-sheriff of Nottingham, I find even in the time of Edward IV. 45,120 parish churches, and but 60,216 knights’ fees, whereof the clergy held as before 28,015, or at the least 28,000; for so small is the difference which he doth seem to use. Howbeit, if the assertions of such as write in our time concerning this matter either are or ought to be of any credit in this behalf, you shall not find above 17,000 towns and villages, and 9210 in the whole, which is little more than a fourth part of the aforesaid number, if it be thoroughly scanned.[74]

In time past in Lincoln (as the same goeth) there have been two-and-fifty parish churches, and good record appeareth for eight-and-thirty; but now, if there be four-and-twenty, it is all. This inconvenience hath grown altogether to the church by appropriations made unto monasteries and religious houses—a terrible canker and enemy to religion.

But to leave this lamentable discourse of so notable and grievous an inconvenience, growing as I said by encroaching and joining of house to house and laying land to land, whereby the inhabitants of many places of our country are devoured and eaten up, and their houses either altogether pulled down or suffered to decay little by little,[75] although some time a poor man peradventure doth dwell in one of them, who, not being able to[Pg 20] repair it, suffereth it to fall down—and thereto thinketh himself very friendly dealt withal, if he may have an acre of ground assigned unto him, wherein to keep a cow, or wherein to set cabbages, radishes, parsnips, carrots, melons, pompons,[76] or such like stuff, by which he and his poor household liveth as by their principal food, sith they can do no better. And as for wheaten bread, they eat it when they can reach unto the price of it, contenting themselves in the meantime with bread made of oats or barley: a poor estate, God wot! Howbeit, what care our great encroachers? But in divers places where rich men dwelled some time in good tenements, there be now no houses at all, but hop-yards, and sheds for poles, or peradventure gardens, as we may see in Castle Hedingham,[77] and divers other places. But to proceed.

It is so that, our soil being divided into champaign ground and woodland, the houses of the first lie uniformly builded in every town together, with streets and lanes; whereas in the woodland countries (except here and there in great market towns) they stand scattered abroad, each one dwelling in the midst of his own occupying. And as in many and most great market towns, there are commonly three hundred or four hundred families or mansions, and two thousand communicants (or peradventure more), so in the other, whether they be woodland or champaign, we find not often above forty, fifty, or three score households, and two or three hundred communicants, whereof the greatest part nevertheless are very poor folks, oftentimes without all manner of occupying, sith the ground of the parish is gotten up into a few men’s hands, yea sometimes into the tenure of one or two or three, whereby the rest are compelled either to be hired servants unto the other or else to beg their bread in misery from door to door.

There are some (saith Leland) which are not so favourable, when they have gotten such lands, as to let the houses remain[Pg 21] upon them to the use of the poor; but they will compound with the lord of the soil to pull them down for altogether, saying that “if they did let them stand, they should but toll beggars to the town, thereby to surcharge the rest of the parish, and lay more burden upon them.” But alas! these pitiful men see not that they themselves hereby do lay the greatest log upon their neighbours’ necks. For, sith the prince doth commonly loose nothing of his duties accustomable to be paid, the rest of the parishioners that remain must answer and bear them out: for they plead more charge other ways, saying: “I am charged already with a light horse; I am to answer in this sort, and after that matter.” And it is not yet altogether out of knowledge that, where the king had seven pounds thirteen shillings at a task gathered of fifty wealthy householders of a parish in England, now, a gentleman having three parts of the town in his own hands, four households do bear all the aforesaid payment, or else Leland is deceived in his Commentaries, lib. 13, lately come to my hands,[78] which thing he especially noted in his travel over this isle. A common plague and enormity, both in the heart of the land and likewise upon the coasts. Certes a great number complain of the increase of poverty, laying the cause upon God, as though he were in fault for sending such increase of people, or want of wars that should consume them, affirming that the land was never so full, etc.; but few men do see the very root from whence it doth proceed. Yet the Romans found it out, when they flourished, and therefore prescribed limits to every man’s tenure and occupying. Homer commendeth Achilles for overthrowing of five-and-twenty cities: but in mine opinion Ganges is much better preferred by Suidas for building of three score in India, where he did plant himself. I could (if need required) set down in this place the number of religious houses and monasteries, with the names of their founders, that have been in this island: but, sith it is a thing of small importance, I pass it over[Pg 22] as impertinent to my purpose. Yet herein I will commend sundry of the monastical votaries, especially monks, for that they were authors of many goodly borowes and endwares,[79] near unto their dwellings, although otherwise they pretended to be men separated from the world. But alas! their covetous minds, one way in enlarging their revenues, and carnal intent another, appeared herein too, too much. For, being bold from time to time to visit their tenants, they wrought oft great wickedness, and made those endwares little better than brothel-houses, especially where nunneries were far off, or else no safe access unto them. But what do I spend my time in the rehearsal of these filthinesses? Would to God the memory of them might perish with the malefactors! My purpose was also at the end of this chapter to have set down a table of the parish churches and market towns throughout all England and Wales; but, sith I cannot perform the same as I would, I am forced to give over my purpose; yet by these few that ensue you shall easily see what order I would have used according to the shires, if I might have brought it to pass.

Shires. Market Towns. Parishes.
Middlesex 3 73
London within the walls and without 120
Surrey 6 140
Sussex 18 312
Kent 17 398
Cambridge 4 163
Bedford 9 13
Huntingdon 5 78
Rutland 2 47
Berkshire 11 150
Northampton 10 326
Buckingham 11 196
Oxford 10 216
Southampton 18 248
[Pg 23]Dorset 19 279
Norfolk 26 625
Suffolk 25 575
Essex 18 415


And these I had of a friend of mine, by whose travel and his master’s excessive charges I doubt not but my countrymen ere long shall see all England set forth in several shires after the same manner that Ortelius hath dealt with other countries of the main, to the great benefit of our nation and everlasting fame of the aforesaid parties.[80]



[Pg 24]



[1587, Book II., Chapter 20.[81]]

After such time as Calais was won from the French, and that our countrymen had learned to trade into divers countries (whereby they grew rich), they began to wax idle also, and thereupon not only left off their former painfulness and frugality, but in like sort gave themselves to live in excess and vanity, whereby many goodly commodities failed, and in short time were not to be had amongst us. Such strangers also as dwelled here with us, perceiving our sluggishness, and espying that this idleness of ours might redound to their great profit, forthwith employed their endeavours to bring in the supply of such things as we lacked continually from foreign countries, which yet more augmented our idleness. For, having all things at reasonable prices (as we supposed) by such means from them, we thought it mere madness to spend either time or cost about the same here at home. And thus we became enemies to our own welfare, as men that in those days reposed our felicity in following the wars, wherewith we were often exercised both at home and other places. Besides this, the natural desire that mankind hath to esteem of things far sought, because they be rare and costly, and the irksome contempt of things near hand, for that they are common and plentiful, hath borne no small sway also in this behalf amongst us. For hereby we have neglected our own good gifts of God, growing here at home, as vile and of no value, and had every[Pg 25] trifle and toy in admiration that is brought hither from far countries, ascribing I wot not what great forces and solemn estimation unto them, until they also have waxen old, after which, they have been so little regarded, if not more despised, amongst us than our own. Examples hereof I could set down many and in many things; but, sith my purpose is to deal at this time with gardens and orchards, it shall suffice that I touch them only, and show our inconstancy in the same, so far as shall seem and be convenient for my turn. I comprehend therefore under the word “garden” all such grounds as are wrought with the spade by man’s hand, for so the case requireth. Of wine I have written already elsewhere sufficiently,[82] which commodity (as I have learned further since the penning of that book) hath been very plentiful in this island, not only in the time of the Romans, but also since the Conquest, as I have seen by record; yet at this present have we none at all (or else very little to speak of) growing in this island, which I impute not unto the soil, but the negligence of my countrymen. Such herbs, fruits, and roots also as grow yearly out of the ground, of seed, have been very plentiful in this land, in the time of the first Edward, and after his days; but in process of time they grew also to be neglected, so that from Henry the Fourth till the latter end of Henry the Seventh and beginning of Henry the Eighth, there was little or no use of them in England,[83] but they remained either unknown or supposed as food more meet for hogs and savage beasts to feed upon than mankind. Whereas in my time their use is not only resumed among the poor commons, I mean of melons, pompons, gourds, cucumbers, radishes, skirets,[84][Pg 26] parsnips, carrots, cabbages, navews,[85] turnips, and all kinds of salad herbs—but also fed upon as dainty dishes at the tables of delicate merchants, gentlemen, and the nobility, who make their provision yearly for new seeds out of strange countries, from whence they have them abundantly. Neither do they now stay with such of these fruits as are wholesome in their kinds, but adventure further upon such as are very dangerous and hurtful, as the verangenes, mushrooms, etc., as if nature had ordained all for the belly, or that all things were to be eaten for whose mischievous operation the Lord in some measure hath given and provided a remedy.

Hops in time past were plentiful in this land. Afterwards also their maintenance did cease. And now, being revived, where are any better to be found? Where any greater commodity to be raised by them? Only poles are accounted to be their greatest charge. But, sith men have learned of late to sow ashen kexes in ashyards by themselves, that inconvenience in short time will be redressed.

Madder hath grown abundantly in this island, but of long time neglected, and now a little revived, and offereth itself to prove no small benefit unto our country, as many other things else, which are now fetched from us: as we before time, when we gave ourselves to idleness, were glad to have them other.

If you look into our gardens annexed to our houses, how wonderfully is their beauty increased, not only with flowers, which Columella calleth Terrena sydera, saying,

Pingit et in varios terrestria sydera flores,”

and variety of curious and costly workmanship, but also with[Pg 27] rare and medicinable herbs[86] sought up in the land within these forty years: so that, in comparison of this present, the ancient gardens were but dunghills and laistowes[87] to such as did possess them. How art also helpeth nature in the daily colouring, doubling, and enlarging the proportion of our flowers, it is incredible to report: for so curious and cunning are our gardeners now in these days that they presume to do in manner what they list with nature, and moderate her course in things as if they were her superiors. It is a world also to see how many strange herbs, plants, and annual fruits are daily brought unto us from the Indies, Americans, Taprobane, Canary Isles, and all parts of the world: the which, albeit that in respect of the constitutions of our bodies they do not grow for us (because that God hath bestowed sufficient commodities upon every country for her own necessity), yet, for delectation sake unto the eye and their odoriferous savours unto the nose, they are to be cherished, and God to be glorified also in them, because they are his good gifts, and created to do man help and service. There is not almost one nobleman, gentleman, or merchant that hath not great store of these flowers, which now also do begin to wax so well acquainted with our soils that we may almost account of them as parcel of our own commodities. They have no less regard in like sort to cherish medicinable herbs fetched out of other regions nearer hand, insomuch that I have seen in some one garden to the number of three hundred or four hundred of them, if not more, of the half of whose names within forty years past we had no manner of knowledge. But herein I find some cause of just complaint, for that we extol their uses so far that we fall into contempt of our own, which are in truth more beneficial and apt for us than such as grow elsewhere, sith (as I said before) every region hath abundantly[Pg 28] within her own limits whatsoever is needful and most convenient for them that dwell therein. How do men extol the use of tobacco[88] in my time, whereas in truth (whether the cause be in the repugnancy of our constitution unto the operation thereof, or that the ground doth alter her force, I cannot tell) it is not found of so great efficacy as they write. And beside this, our common germander or thistle benet is found and known to be so wholesome and of so great power in medicine as any other herb, if they be used accordingly. I could exemplify after the like manner in sundry other, as the Salsa parilla, Mochoacan, etc., but I forbear so to do, because I covet to be brief. And truly, the estimation and credit that we yield and give unto compound medicines made with foreign drugs is one great cause wherefore the full knowledge and use of our own simples hath been so long raked up in the embers. And as this may be verified so to be one sound conclusion, for, the greater number of simples that go unto any compound medicine, the greater confusion is found therein, because the qualities and operations of very few of the particulars are thoroughly known. And even so our continual desire of strange drugs, whereby the physician and apothecary only hath the benefit, is no small cause that the use of our simples here at home doth go to loss, and that we tread those herbs under our feet, whose forces if we knew, and could apply them to our necessities, we would honour and have in reverence as to their case behoveth. Alas! what have we to do with such Arabian and Grecian stuff as is daily brought from those parties which lie in another clime? And therefore the bodies of such as dwell there are of another constitution than ours are here at home. Certes they grow not for us, but for the Arabians and Grecians. And albeit that they may by skill be applied unto our benefit, yet to be more skilful in them than in our own is folly; and to use foreign wares, when our own may serve the turn, is more folly; but to despise our own, and magnify above[Pg 29] measure the use of them that are sought and brought from far, is most folly of all: for it savoureth of ignorance, or at the leastwise of negligence, and therefore worthy of reproach.

Among the Indians, who have the most present cures for every disease of their own nation, there is small regard of compound medicines, and less of foreign drugs, because they neither know them nor can use them, but work wonders even with their own simples. With them also the difference of the clime doth show her full effect. For, whereas they will heal one another in short time with application of one simple, etc., if a Spaniard or Englishman stand in need of their help, they are driven to have a longer space in their cures, and now and then also to use some addition of two or three simples at the most, whose forces unto them are thoroughly known, because their exercise is only in their own, as men that never sought or heard what virtue was in those that came from other countries. And even so did Marcus Cato, the learned Roman, endeavour to deal in his cures of sundry diseases, wherein he not only used such simples as were to be had in his own country, but also examined and learned the forces of each of them, wherewith he dealt so diligently that in all his lifetime he could attain to the exact knowledge but of a few, and thereto wrote of those most learnedly, as would easily be seen if those his books were extant. For the space also of six hundred years the colewort only was a medicine in Rome for all diseases, so that his virtues were thoroughly known in those parts.

In Pliny’s time the like affection to foreign drugs did rage among the Romans, whereby their own did grow in contempt. Crying out therefore of this extreme folly, lib. 22, cap. 24, he speaketh after this manner—

“Non placent remedia tam longè nascentia, non enim nobis gignuntur, immò ne illis quidem, alioquin non venderent; si placet etiam superstitionis gratia emantur, quoniam supplicamus, &c. Salutem quidem sine his posse constare, vel ob id probabimus, ut tanto magis sui tandem pudeat.”


For my part, I doubt not if the use of outlandish drugs had not blinded our physicians of England in times past, but that[Pg 30] the virtues of our simples here at home would have been far better known, and so well unto us as those of India are to the practitioners of those parts, and thereunto be found more profitable for us than the foreign either are or may be. This also will I add, that even those which are most common by reason of their plenty, and most vile because of their abundance, are not without some universal and special efficacy, if it were known, for our benefit: sith God in nature hath so disposed his creatures that the most needful are the most plentiful and serving for such general diseases as our constitution most commonly is affected withal. Great thanks therefore be given unto the physicians of our age and country, who not only endeavour to search out the use of such simples as our soil doth yield and bring forth, but also to procure such as grow elsewhere, upon purpose so to acquaint them with our clime that they in time, through some alteration received from the nature of the earth, may likewise turn to our benefit and commodity and be used as our own.

The chief workman (or, as I may call him, the founder of this device) is Carolus Clusius, the noble herbarist whose industry hath wonderfully stirred them up unto this good act. For albeit that Matthiolus, Rembert, Lobell, and others have travelled very far in this behalf, yet none hath come near to Clusius, much less gone further in the finding and true descriptions of such herbs as of late are brought to light. I doubt not but, if this man were in England but one seven years, he would reveal a number of herbs growing with us whereof neither our physicians nor apothecaries as yet have any knowledge. And even like thanks be given unto our nobility, gentlemen, and others, for their continual nutriture and cherishing of such homeborne and foreign simples in their gardens: for hereby they shall not only be had at hand and preserved, but also their forms made more familiar to be discerned and their forces better known than hitherto they have been.

And even as it fareth with our gardens, so doth it with our orchards, which were never furnished with so good fruit nor with such variety as at this present. For, beside that we have[Pg 31] most delicate apples, plums, pears, walnuts, filberts, etc., and those of sundry sorts, planted within forty years past, in comparison of which most of the old trees are nothing worth, so have we no less store of strange fruit, as apricots, almonds, peaches, figs, corn-trees[89] in noblemen’s orchards. I have seen capers, oranges, and lemons, and heard of wild olives growing here, beside other strange trees, brought from far, whose names I know not. So that England for these commodities was never better furnished, neither any nation under their clime more plentifully endued with these and other blessings from the most high God, who grant us grace withal to use the same to his honour and glory! And not as instruments and provocations unto further excess and vanity, wherewith his displeasure may be kindled, lest these his benefits do turn unto thorns and briers unto us for our annoyance and punishment, which he hath bestowed upon us for our consolation and comfort.

We have in like sort such workmen as are not only excellent in grafting the natural fruits, but also in their artificial mixtures, whereby one tree bringeth forth sundry fruits, and one and the same fruit of divers colours and tastes, dallying as it were with nature and her course, as if her whole trade were perfectly known unto them: of hard fruits they will make tender, of sour sweet, of sweet yet more delicate, bereaving also some of their kernels, other of their cores, and finally enduing them with the savour of musk, amber, or sweet spices, at their pleasures. Divers also have written at large of these several practices, and some of them how to convert the kernels of peaches into almonds, of small fruit to make far greater, and to remove or add superfluous or necessary moisture to the trees, with other things belonging to their preservation, and with no less diligence than our physicians do commonly show upon our own diseased bodies, which to me doth seem right strange. And[Pg 32] even so do our gardeners with their herbs, whereby they are strengthened against noisome blasts, and preserved from putrefaction and hindrance: whereby some such as were annual are now made perpetual, being yearly taken up, and either reserved in the house, or, having the ross pulled from their roots, laid again into the earth, where they remain in safety. What choice they make also in their waters, and wherewith some of them do now and then keep them moist, it is a world to see, insomuch that the apothecaries’ shops may seem to be needful also to our gardens and orchards, and that in sundry wise: nay, the kitchen itself is so far from being able to be missed among them that even the very dish-water is not without some use amongst our finest plants. Whereby, and sundry other circumstances not here to be remembered, I am persuaded that, albeit the gardens of the Hesperides were in times past so greatly accounted of, because of their delicacy, yet, if it were possible to have such an equal judge as by certain knowledge of both were able to pronounce upon them, I doubt not but he would give the prize unto the gardens of our days, and generally over all Europe, in comparison of those times wherein the old exceeded. Pliny and others speak of a rose that had three score leaves growing upon one button: but if I should tell of one which bare a triple number unto that proportion, I know I shall not be believed, and no great matter though I were not; howbeit such a one was to be seen in Antwerp, 1585, as I have heard, and I know who might have had a slip or stallon thereof, if he would have ventured ten pounds upon the growth of the same, which should have been but a tickle hazard, and therefore better undone, as I did always imagine. For mine own part, good reader, let me boast a little of my garden, which is but small, and the whole area thereof little above 300 foot of ground, and yet, such hath been my good luck in purchase of the variety of simples, that, notwithstanding my small ability, there are very near three hundred of one sort and other contained therein, no one of them being common or usually to be had. If therefore my little plot, void of all cost in keeping,[Pg 33] be so well furnished, what shall we think of those of Hampton Court, Nonsuch, Tibault’s, Cobham Garden,[90] and sundry others appertaining to divers citizens of London, whom I could particularly name; if I should not seem to offend them by such my demeanour and dealing.



[Pg 34]



[1577, Book II., Chapter 11; 1587, Book II., Chapter 18.]

There are (as I take it) few great towns in England that have not their weekly markets, one or more granted from the prince, in which all manner of provision for household is to be bought and sold, for ease and benefit of the country round about. Whereby, as it cometh to pass that no buyer shall make any great journey in the purveyance of his necessities, so no occupier shall have occasion to travel far off with his commodities, except it be to seek for the highest prices, which commonly are near unto great cities, where round and speediest utterance is always to be had. And, as these have been in times past erected for the benefit of the realm, so are they in many places too, too much abused: for the relief and ease of the buyer is not so much intended in them as the benefit of the seller. Neither are the magistrates for the most part (as men loath to displease their neighbours for their one year’s dignity) so careful in their offices as of right and duty they should be. For, in most of these markets, neither assizes of bread nor orders for goodness and sweetness of grain and other commodities that are brought thither to be sold are any whit looked unto, but each one suffered to sell or set up what and how himself listeth: and this is one evident cause of dearth and scarcity in time of great abundance.

I could (if I would) exemplify in many, but I will touch no one particularly, sith it is rare to see in any country town (as I said) the assize of bread well kept according to the statute;[Pg 35] and yet, if any country baker happen to come in among them on the market day with bread of better quantity, they find fault by-and-by with one thing or other in his stuff, whereby the honest poor man (whom the law of nations do commend, for that he endeavoureth to live by any lawful means) is driven away, and no more to come there, upon some round penalty, by virtue of their privileges. Howbeit, though they are so nice in the proportion of their bread, yet, in lieu of the same, there is such heady ale and beer in most of them as for the mightiness thereof among such as seek it out is commonly called “huffcap,” “the mad dog,” “Father Whoreson,” “angels’ food,” “dragon’s milk,” “go-by-the-wall,” “stride wide,” and “lift leg,” etc. And this is more to be noted, that when one of late fell by God’s providence into a troubled conscience, after he had considered well of his reachless life and dangerous estate, another, thinking belike to change his colour and not his mind, carried him straight away to the strongest ale, as to the next physician. It is incredible to say how our maltbugs lug at this liquor, even as pigs should lie in a row lugging at their dame’s teats, till they lie still again and be not able to wag. Neither did Romulus and Remus suck their she-wolf or shepherd’s wife Lupa with such eager and sharp devotion as these men hale at “huffcap,” till they be red as cocks and little wiser than their combs. But how am I fallen from the market into the alehouse? In returning therefore unto my purpose, I find that in corn great abuse is daily suffered, to the great prejudice of the town and country, especially the poor artificer and householder, which tilleth no land, but, labouring all the week to buy a bushel or two of grain on the market day, can there have none for his money: because bodgers,[91] loaders, and common carriers of corn do not only buy up all, but give above the price, to be served of great quantities. Shall I go any further?[Pg 36] Well, I will say yet a little more, and somewhat by mine own experience.

At Michaelmas time poor men must make money of their grain, that they may pay their rents. So long then as the poor man hath to sell, rich men will bring out none, but rather buy up that which the poor bring, under pretence of seed corn or alteration of grain, although they bring none of their own, because one wheat often sown without change of seed will soon decay and be converted into darnel. For this cause therefore they must needs buy in the markets, though they be twenty miles off, and where they be not known, promising there, if they happen to be espied (which, God wot, is very seldom), to send so much to their next market, to be performed I wot not when.

If this shift serve not (neither doth the fox use always one track for fear of a snare), they will compound with some one of the town where the market is holden, who for a pot of “huffcap” or “merry-go-down,” will not let to buy it for them, and that in his own name. Or else they wage one poor man or other to become a bodger, and thereto get him a licence upon some forged surmise, which being done, they will feed him with money to buy for them till he hath filled their lofts;[92] and then, if he can do any good for himself, so it is; if not, they will give him somewhat for his pains at this time, and reserve him for another year. How many of the like providers stumble upon blind creeks at the sea coast, I wot not well; but that some have so done and yet do under other men’s wings, the case is too, too plain. But who dare find fault with them, when they have once a licence? yes, though it be but to serve a mean gentleman’s house with corn, who hath cast up all his tillage, because he boasteth how he can buy his grain in the market better cheap than he can sow his land, as the rich grazier often doth also upon the like device, because grazing requireth a smaller household and less attendance and charge. If any man[Pg 37] come to buy a bushel or two for his expenses unto the market cross, answer is made: “Forsooth, here was one even now that bade me money for it, and I hope he will have it.” And to say the truth, these bodgers are fair chapmen; for there are no more words with them, but “Let me see it! What shall I give you? Knit it up! I will have it—go carry it to such a chamber, and if you bring in twenty seme more in the week-day to such an inn or sollar where I lay my corn, I will have it, and give you ( ) pence or more in every bushel for six weeks’ day of payment than another will.” Thus the bodgers bear away all, so that the poor artificer and labourer cannot make his provision in the markets, sith they will hardly nowadays sell by the bushel, nor break their measure; and so much the rather for that the buyer will look (as they say) for so much over measure in the bushel as the bodger will do in a quarter. Nay, the poor man cannot oft get any of the farmer at home, because he provideth altogether to serve the bodger, or hath an hope, grounded upon a greedy and insatiable desire of gain, that the sale will be better in the market, so that he must give twopence or a groat more in the bushel at his house than the last market craved, or else go without it, and sleep with a hungry belly. Of the common carriage of corn over unto the parts beyond the seas I speak not; or at the leastwise, if I should, I could not touch it alone, but needs must join other provision withal, whereby not only our friends abroad, but also many of our adversaries and countrymen, the papists, are abundantly relieved (as the report goeth); but sith I see it not, I will not so trust mine ears as to write it for a truth. But to return to our markets again.

By this time the poor occupier hath sold all his crop for need of money, being ready peradventure to buy again ere long. And now is the whole sale of corn in the great occupiers’ hands, who hitherto have threshed little or none of their own, but bought up of other men as much as they could come by. Henceforth also they begin to sell, not by the quarter or load at the first (for marring the market), but by the bushel or two, or[Pg 38] a horseload at the most, thereby to be seen to keep the cross, either for a show, or to make men eager to buy, and so, as they may have it for money, not to regard what they pay. And thus corn waxeth dear; but it will be dearer the next market day. It is possible also that they mislike the price in the beginning for the whole year ensuing, as men supposing that corn will be little worth for this, and of better price the next year. For they have certain superstitious observations whereby they will give a guess at the sale of corn for the year following. And our countrymen do use commonly for barley, where I dwell, to judge after the price at Baldock upon St. Matthew’s day; and for wheat, as it is sold in seed time. They take in like sort experiment by sight of the first flocks of cranes that flee southward in winter, the age of the moon in the beginning of January, and such other apish toys as by laying twelve corns upon the hot hearth for the twelve months, etc., whereby they shew themselves to be scant good Christians; but what care they, so that they come by money? Hereupon also will they thresh out three parts of the old corn, towards the latter end of the summer, when new cometh apace to hand, and cast the same in the fourth unthreshed, where it shall lie until the next spring, or peradventure till it must and putrify. Certes it is not dainty to see musty corn in many of our great markets of England which these great occupiers bring forth when they can keep it no longer. But as they are enforced oftentimes upon this one occasion somewhat to abate the price, so a plague is not seldom engendered thereby among the poorer sort that of necessity must buy the same, whereby many thousands of all degrees are consumed, of whose deaths (in mine opinion) these farmers are not unguilty. But to proceed. If they lay not up their grain or wheat in this manner, they have yet another policy, whereby they will seem to have but small store left in their barns: for else they will gird their sheaves by the band, and stack it up anew in less room, to the end it may not only seem less in quantity, but also give place to the corn that is yet to come into the barn or growing in the field. If there happen to be such plenty in the market on any market day that they cannot sell[Pg 39] at their own price, then will they set it up in some friend’s house, against another on the third day, and not bring it forth till they like of the sale. If they sell any at home, beside harder measure, it shall be dearer to the poor man that buyeth it by twopence or a groat in a bushel than they may sell it in the market. But, as these things are worthy redress, so I wish that God would once open their eyes that deal thus to see their own errors: for as yet some of them little care how many poor men suffer extremity, so that they fill their purses and carry away the gain.

It is a world also to see how most places of the realm are pestered with purveyors, who take up eggs, butter, cheese, pigs, capons, hens, chickens, hogs, bacon, etc., in one market under pretence of their commissions, and suffer their wives to sell the same in another, or to poulterers of London. If these chapmen be absent but two or three market days then we may perfectly see these wares to be more reasonably sold, and thereunto the crosses sufficiently furnished of all things. In like sort, since the number of buttermen have so much increased, and since they travel in such wise that they come to men’s houses for their butter faster than they can make it, it is almost incredible to see how the price of butter is augmented:[93] whereas when the owners were enforced to bring it to the market towns, and fewer of these butter buyers were stirring, our butter was scarcely worth eighteenpence the gallon that now is worth three shillings fourpence and perhaps five shillings. Whereby also I gather that the maintenance of a superfluous number of dealers[94] in most trades, tillage always excepted, is one of the greatest causes why the prices of things become excessive: for[Pg 40] one of them do commonly use to outbid another. And whilst our country commodities are commonly bought and sold at our private houses, I never look to see this enormity redressed or the markets well furnished.

I could say more, but this is even enough, and more peradventure than I shall be well thanked for: yet true it is, though some think it no trespass. This moreover is to be lamented, that one general measure is not in use throughout all England, but every market town hath in manner a several bushel; and the lesser it be, the more sellers it draweth to resort unto the same. Such also is the covetousness of many clerks of the market, that in taking a view of measures they will always so provide that one and the same bushel shall be either too big or too little at their next coming, and yet not depart without a fee at the first, so that what by their mending at one time, and impairing the same at another, the country is greatly charged, and few just measures to be had in any steed. It is oft found likewise that divers unconscionable dealers have one measure to sell by and another to buy withal; the like is also in weights, and yet all sealed and bronded. Wherefore it were very good that these two were reduced unto one standard, that is, one bushel, one pound, one quarter, one hundred, one tale, one number: so should things in time fall into better order and fewer causes of contention be moved in this land. Of the complaint of such poor tenants as pay rent corn[95] unto their landlords, I speak not, who are often dealt withal very hardly. For, beside that in measuring of ten quarters for the most part they lose one through the iniquity of the bushel (such is the greediness of the appointed receivers thereof), fault is found also with the goodness and cleanness of the grain. Whereby some piece of money must needs pass unto their purses to stop their mouths withal, or else “My lord will not like of the corn,” “Thou art worthy to lose thy lease,” etc. Or, if it be cheaper[Pg 41] in the market than the rate allowed for it is in their rents, then must they pay money and no corn, which is no small extremity. And thereby we may see how each one of us endeavoureth to fleece and eat up another.

Another thing there is in our markets worthy to be looked into, and that is the recarriage of grain from the same into lofts and cellars, of which before I gave some intimation; wherefore, if it were ordered that every seller should make his market by an hour, or else the bailey or clerk of the said market to make sale thereof, according to his discretion, without liberty to the farmers to set up their corn in houses and chambers, I am persuaded that the prices of our grain would soon be abated. Again, if it were enacted that each one should keep his next market with his grain (and not to run six, eight, ten, fourteen, or twenty miles from home to sell his corn where he doth find the highest price, and thereby leaveth his neighbours unfurnished), I do not think but that our markets would be far better served than at this present they are. Finally, if men’s barns might be indifferently viewed immediately after harvest, and a note gathered by an estimate, and kept by some appointed and trusty person for that purpose, we should have much more plenty of corn in our town crosses than as yet is commonly seen: because each one hideth and hoardeth what he may, upon purpose either that it will be dearer, or that he shall have some privy vein by bodgers, who do accustomably so deal that the sea doth load away no small part thereof into other countries and our enemies, to the great hindrance of our commonwealth at home, and more likely yet to be, except some remedy be found. But what do I talk of these things, or desire the suppression of bodgers, being a minister? Certes I may speak of them right well as feeling the harm in that I am a buyer, nevertheless I speak generally in each of them.

To conclude therefore, in our markets all things are to be sold necessary for man’s use; and there is our provision made commonly for all the week ensuing. Therefore, as there are no great towns without one weekly market at least, so there are very few of them that have not one or two fairs or more within[Pg 42] the compass of the year, assigned unto them by the prince. And albeit that some of them are not much better than Louse fair,[96] or the common kirkemesses[97] beyond the sea, yet there are divers not inferior to the greatest marts in Europe, as Stourbridge fair near to Cambridge, Bristow fair, Bartholomew fair at London, Lynn mart, Cold fair at Newport pond for cattle, and divers other, all which, or at leastwise the greatest part of them (to the end I may with the more ease to the reader and less travel to myself fulfil my task in their recital), I have set down according to the names of the months wherein they are holden at the end of this book, where you shall find them at large as I borrowed the same from J. Stow and the reports of others.



[Pg 43]



[1577, Book III., Chapter 3; 1587, Book II., Chapter 9.]

That Samothes (or Dis) gave the first laws to the Celts (whose kingdom he erected about the fifteenth of Nimbrote), the testimony of Berosus is proof sufficient. For he not only affirmeth him to publish the same in the fourth of Ninus, but also addeth thereto how there lived none in his days of more excellent wisdom nor politic invention than he, whereof he was named Samothes, as some other do affirm. What his laws were, it is now altogether unknown, as most things of this age, but that they were altered again at the coming of Albion no man can absolutely deny, sith new lords use commonly to give new laws, and conquerors abolish such as were in use before them.

The like also may be affirmed of our Brute, notwithstanding that the certain knowledge, so well of the one as of the other, is perished, and nothing worthy memory left of all their doings. Somewhat yet we have of Mulmutius, who not only subdued such princes as reigned in this land, but also brought the realm to good order that long before had been torn with civil discord. But where his laws are to be found, and which they be from other men’s, no man living in these days is able to determine.

Certes there was never prince in Britain of whom his subjects conceived better hope in the beginning than of Bladudus, and yet I read of none that made so ridiculous an end. In like sort there hath not reigned any monarch in this isle whose ways were more feared at the first than those of Dunwallon (King Henry the First excepted), and yet in the end he proved[Pg 44] such a prince as after his death there was in manner no subject that did not lament his funeral. And this only for his policy in governance, severe administration of justice, and provident framing of his laws and constitutions for the government of his subjects. His people also, coveting to continue his name unto posterity, entitled those his ordinances according to their maker, calling them by the name of the “Laws of Mulmutius,” which endured in execution among the Britons so long as our homelings had the dominion of this isle. Afterwards, when the comeling Saxons had once obtained the superiority of the kingdom, the majesty of those laws fell for a time into such decay that although “Non penitus cecidit, tamen potuit cecidisse videri,” as Leland saith; and the decrees themselves had utterly perished indeed at the very first brunt had they not been preserved in Wales, where they remained amongst the relics of the Britons, and not only until the coming of the Normans, but even until the time of Edward the First, who, obtaining the sovereignty of that portion, endeavoured very earnestly to extinguish those of Mulmutius and to establish his own.

But as the Saxons at their first arrival did what they could to abolish the British laws, so in process of time they yielded a little to relent, and not so much to abhor and mislike of the laws of Mulmutius as to receive and embrace the same, especially at such time as the said Saxon princes entered into amity with the British nobility, and after that began to join in matrimony with the British ladies, as the British barons did with the Saxon frowes, both by an especial statute and decree, whereof in another treatise I have made mention at large. Hereof also it came to pass in the end that they were contented to make a choice and insert no small numbers of them into their own volumes, as may be gathered by those of Athelbert the Great, surnamed King of Kent, Inas and Alfred, kings of the West Saxons, and divers other yet extant to be seen. Such also was the lateward estimation of them, that when any of the Saxon princes went about to make new ordinances they caused those of Mulmutius (which Gildas sometime translated into[Pg 45] Latin) to be first expounded unto them; and in this perusal, if they found any there already framed that might serve their turn, they forthwith revived the same and annexed them to their own.

But in this dealing the diligence of Alfred is most of all to be commended, who not only chose out the best, but gathered together all such whatsoever the said Mulmutius had made: and then, to the end they should lie no more in corners as forlorn books and unknown to the learned of his kingdom, he caused them to be turned into the Saxon tongue, wherein they continued long after his decease.

As for the Normans, who for a season neither regarded the British nor cared for the Saxon statutes, they also at the first utterly misliked of them, till at the last, when they had well weighed that one kind of regiment is not convenient for all peoples (and that no stranger, being in a foreign country newly brought under obedience, could make such equal ordinances as he might thereby govern his new commonwealth without some care and trouble), they fell in with such a desire to see by what rule the state of the land was governed in the time of the Saxons that, having perused the same, they not only commended their manner of regiment, but also admitted a great part of their laws (now current under the name of “St. Edward’s Laws,” and used as principles and grounds), whereby they not only qualified the rigour of their own, and mitigated their almost intolerable burden of servitude which they had lately laid upon the shoulders of the English, but also left us a great number of the old Mulmutian laws, whereof the most part are in use to this day, as I said, albeit that we know not certainly how to distinguish them from others that are in strength amongst us.

After Dunwallon, the next lawgiver was Martia, whom Leland surnameth Proba, and after him John Bale also, who in his Centuries doth justly confess himself to have been holpen by the said Leland, as I myself do likewise for many things contained in this treatise. She was wife unto Gutteline, king of the Britons, and being made protectrix of the realm after her[Pg 46] husband’s decease in the nonage of her son, and seeing many things daily to grow up among her people worthy reformation, she devised sundry and those very politic laws for the governance of her kingdom, which her subjects, when she was dead and gone, did name the “Martian Statutes.” Who turned them into Latin as yet I do not read, howbeit (as I said before of the laws of Mulmutius) so the same Alfred caused those of this excellently well-learned lady (whom divers commend also for her great knowledge in the Greek tongue) to be turned into his own language, whereupon it came to pass that they were daily executed among his subjects, afterwards allowed of (among the rest) by the Normans, and finally remain in use in these our days, notwithstanding that we cannot dissever them also very readily from the other.

The seventh alteration of laws was practised by the Saxons; for I overpass the use of the civil ordinances used in Rome, finally brought hither by the Romans, and yet in perfect notice among the civilians of our country, though never generally received by all the several regions of this island. Certes there are great numbers of these latter, which yet remain in sound knowledge, and are to be read, being comprehended for the most part under the names of the Martian and the Saxon law. Beside these also, I read of the Dane law, so that the people of middle England were ruled by the first, the West Saxons by the second, as Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, and part of Hertfordshire were by the third, of all the rest the most unequal and intolerable. And as in these days whatsoever the prince in public assembly commanded upon the necessity of his subjects or his own voluntary authority was counted for law, so none of them had appointed any certain place whereunto his people might repair at fixed times for justice, but caused them to resort commonly to their palaces, where, in proper person, they would often determine their causes, and so make shortest work, or else commit the same to the hearing of other, and so despatch them away. Neither had they any house appointed to assemble in for the making of their ordinances, as we have now at Westminster. Wherefore Edmund gave laws at London and[Pg 47] Lincoln, Ethelred at Habam, Alfred at Woodstock and Wannetting, Athelstane in Excester, Crecklade, Feversham, and Thundersley, Canutus at Winchester, etc.: other in other places, whereof this may suffice.[98]

Hitherto also (as I think) sufficiently of such laws as were in use before the Conquest. Now it resteth that I should declare the order of those that have been made and received since the coming of the Normans, referred to the eighth alteration or change of our manner of governance, and thereunto do produce threescore and four several courts. But for as much as I am no lawyer, and therefore have but little skill to proceed in the same accordingly, it shall suffice to set down some general discourses of such as are used in our days, and so much as I have gathered by report and common hearsay.

We have therefore in England sundry laws, and first of all the civil, used in the chancery, admiralty, and divers other courts, in some of which the severe rigour of justice is often so mitigated by conscience that divers things are thereby made easy and tolerable which otherwise would appear to be mere injury and extremity.

We have also a great part of the Canon law daily practised among us, especially in cases of tithes, contracts of matrimony, and such like, as are usually to be seen in the consistories of our bishops and higher courts of the two archbishops, where the exercise of the same is very hotly followed.

The third sort of laws that we have are our own, and those always so variable and subject to alteration and change that oft in one age divers judgments do pass upon one manner of case, whereby the saying of the poet—

Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis,”

[Pg 48]may very well be applied unto such as, being urged with these words, “In such a year of the prince this opinion was taken for sound law,” do answer nothing else but that “the judgment of our lawyers is now altered, so that they say far otherwise.”

The regiment that we have therefore after our own ordinances dependeth upon three laws, to wit, Statute Law, Common Law, Customary Law and Prescription, according to the triple manner of our trials and judgments, which is by Parliament, verdict of twelve men at an assize, or wager of battle, of which the last is little used in our days, as no appeal doth hold in the first and last rehearsed. But to return to my purpose.

The first is delivered unto us by Parliament, which court (being for the most part holden at Westminster, near London) is the highest of all other, and consisteth of three several sorts of people, that is to say, the nobility, clergy, and commons of this realm, and thereto is not summoned but upon urgent occasion when the prince doth see his time, and that by several writs, dated commonly full six weeks before it begin to be holden. Such laws as are agreed upon in the higher house by the lords spiritual and temporal, and in the lower house by the commons and body of the realm (whereof the convocation of the clergy, holden in Paul’s, or, if occasion so require, in Westminster Church, is a member), there speaking by the mouth of the knights of the shire and burgesses, remain in the end to be confirmed by the prince, who commonly resorteth thither of custom upon the first and last days of this court, there to understand what is done and give his royal consent to such statutes as him liketh of. Coming therefore thither into the higher house, and having taken his throne, the speaker of the parliament (for one is always appointed to between the houses, as an indifferent mouth for both) readeth openly the matters there determined by the said three estates, and then craveth the prince’s consent and final confirmation of the same. The king, having heard the sum and principal points of each statute briefly recited unto him, answereth in French with great deliberation unto such as he liketh “Il nous plaist,” but to the rest,[Pg 49]Il ne plaist,” whereby the latter are made void and frustrate. That also which his majesty liketh of is hereby authorised, confirmed, and ever after holden for law, except it be repealed in any like assembly. The number of the commons assembled in the lower house beside the clergy consisteth of ninety knights. For each shire of England hath two gentlemen or knights of greatest wisdom and reputation, chosen out of the body of the same for that only purpose, saving that for Wales one only is supposed sufficient in every county, whereby the number aforementioned is made up. There are likewise forty and six citizens, two hundred and eighty-nine burgesses, and fourteen barons, so that the whole assembly of the laity of the lower house consisteth of four hundred thirty and nine persons, if the just number be supplied. Of the laws here made likewise some are penal and restrain the common law, and some again are found to enlarge the same. The one sort of these also are for the most part taken strictly according to the letter, the other more largely and beneficially after their intendment and meaning.

The Common Law standeth upon sundry maxims or principles and years or terms, which do contain such cases as (by great study and solemn argument of the judges, sound practice confirmed by long experience, fetched even from the course of most ancient laws made far before the Conquest, and thereto the deepest reach and foundations of reason) are ruled and adjudged for law. Certes these cases are otherwise called pleas or action, whereof there are two sorts, the one criminal and the other civil. The means and messengers also to determine those causes are our writs or briefs, whereof there are some original and some judicial. The parties plaintiff and defendant, when they appear, proceed (if the case do so require) by plaint or declaration, bar or answer, replication, rejoinder, and so by rebut, surrebut, to issue and trial, if occasion so fall out, the one side affirmatively, the other negatively, as common experience teacheth. Our trials and recoveries are either by verdict and demur, confession or default, wherein if any negligence or trespass hath been[Pg 50] committed, either in process and form, or in matter and judgment, the party aggrieved may have a writ of error to undo the same, but not in the same court where the former judgment was given.

Customary Law consisteth of certain laudable customs used in some private country, intended first to begin upon good and reasonable considerations, as gavelkind, which is all the male children equally to inherit, and continued to this day in Kent, where it is only to my knowledge retained, and nowhere else in England. It was at the first devised by the Romans, as appeareth by Cæsar in his Commentaries, wherein I find that, to break and daunt the force of the rebellious Germans, they made a law that all the male children (or females for want of males, which holdeth still in England) should have their father’s inheritance equally divided amongst them. By this means also it came to pass that, whereas before time for the space of sixty years they had put the Romans to great and manifold troubles, within the space of thirty years after this law was made their power did wax so feeble and such discord fell out amongst themselves that they were not able to maintain wars with the Romans nor raise any just army against them. For, as a river running with one stream is swift and more plentiful of water than when it is drained or drawn into many branches, so the lands and goods of the ancestors being dispersed amongst their issue males, of one strong there were raised sundry weak, whereby the original or general strength to resist the adversary became enfeebled and brought almost to nothing. “Vis unita (saith the philosopher) fortior est eadem dispersa,” and one good purse is better than many evil; and when every man is benefited alike each one will seek to maintain his private estate, and few take care to provide for public welfare.

Burrowkind is where the youngest is preferred before the eldest, which is the custom of many countries of this region: also the woman to have the third of her husband’s possessions, the husband that marrieth an heir to have such lands as move by her during his natural life if he survive her and hath a child by her which hath been heard cry through four walls, etc. Of[Pg 51] such like to be learned elsewhere, and sometimes frequented generally over all.

Prescription is a certain custom which hath continued time out of mind, but it is more particular than customary law, as where only a parish or some private person doth prescribe to have common, or a way in another man’s soil, or tithes to be paid after this or that manner, I mean otherwise than the common course and order of the law requireth.

Whereof let this suffice at this time, instead of a larger discourse of our own laws, lest I should seem to enter far into that whereof I have no skill. For what hath the meditation of the law of God to do with any precise knowledge of the law of man, sith they are several trades, and incident to divers persons?

There are also sundry usual courts holden once in every quarter of the year, which we commonly call terms, of the Latin word terminus, wherein all controversies are determined that happen within the queen’s dominions. These are commonly holden at London, except upon some great occasion they be transferred to other places. At what times also they are kept, both for spiritual and temporal dealing, the table ensuing shall easily declare. Finally, how well they are followed by suitors, the great wealth of lawyers without any travel of mine can readily express. For, as after the coming of the Normans the nobility had the start, and after them the clergy, so now all the wealth of the land doth flow unto our common lawyers, of whom some one having practised little above thirteen or fourteen years is able to buy a purchase of so many one thousand pounds: which argueth that they wax rich apace, and will be richer if their clients become not the more wise and wary hereafter. It is not long since a sergeant at the law—whom I could name—was arrested upon an extent, for three or four hundred pounds, and another standing by did greatly marvel that he could not spare the gains of one term for the satisfaction of that duty. The time hath been that our lawyers did sit in Paul’s upon stools against the pillars and walls to get clients, but now some of them will not come from their chambers to the Guildhall in London under ten pounds, or twenty nobles at[Pg 52] the least. And one, being demanded why he made so much of his travel, answered that it was but folly for him to go so far when he was assured to get more money by sitting still at home. A friend of mine also had a suit of late of some value, and, to be sure of counsel at his time, he gave unto two lawyers, whose names I forbear to deliver, twenty shillings apiece, telling them of the day and hour wherein his matter should be called upon. To be short, they came not unto the bar at all; whereupon he stayed for that day. On the morrow, after he met them again, increased his former gifts by so much more, and told them of the time; but they once again served him as before. In the end, he met them both in the very hall door, and, after some timorous reprehension of their uncourteous demeanour toward him, he bestowed either three angels or four more upon each of them, whereupon they promised peremptorily to speak earnestly in his cause. And yet for all this, one of them, not having yet sucked enough, utterly deceived him: the other indeed came in, and, wagging a scroll which he had in his hand before the judge, he spake not above three or four words, almost so soon uttered as a “Good morrow,” and so went from the bar. And this was all the poor man got for his money, and the care which his counsellors did seem to take of his cause then standing upon the hazard. But enough of these matters; for, if I should set down how little law poor men can have for their small fees in these days, and the great murmurings that are on all sides uttered against their excessive taking of money—for they can abide no small gain—I should extend this treatise into a far greater volume than is convenient for my purpose. Wherefore it shall suffice to have set down so much of their demeanour, and so much as is even enough to cause them to look with somewhat more conscience into their dealings, except they be dull and senseless.

This furthermore is to be noted, that albeit the princes heretofore reigning in this land have erected sundry courts, especially of the chancery at York and Ludlow, for the ease of poor men dwelling in those parts, yet will the poorest (of all men commonly most contentious) refuse to have his cause[Pg 53] heard so near home, but endeavoureth rather to his utter undoing to travel up to London, thinking there soonest to prevail against his adversary, though his case be never so doubtful. But in this toy our Welshmen do exceed of all that ever I heard: for you shall here and there have some one odd poor David of them given so much to contention and strife that, without all respect of charges, he will up to London, though he go bare-legged by the way and carry his hosen on his neck (to save their feet from wearing), because he hath no change. When he cometh there also, he will make such importunate begging of his countrymen, and hard shift otherwise, that he will sometimes carry down six or seven writs with him in his purse, wherewith to molest his neighbour, though the greatest quarrel be scarcely worth the fee that he hath paid for any one of them. But enough of this, lest, in revealing the superfluous folly of a few brablers in this behalf, I bring no good-will to myself amongst the wisest of that nation. Certes it is a lamentable case to see furthermore how a number of poor men are daily abused and utterly undone by sundry varlets that go about the country as promoters or brokers between the pettifoggers of the law and the common people, only to kindle and espy coals of contention, whereby the one side may reap commodity and the other spend and be put to travel. But, of all that ever I knew in Essex, Denis and Mainford excelled, till John of Ludlow, alias Mason, came in place, unto whom in comparison they two were but children: for this last in less than three or four years did bring one man (among many elsewhere in other places) almost to extreme misery (if beggary be the uttermost) that before he had the shaving of his beard was valued at two hundred pounds (I speak with the least), and finally, feeling that he had not sufficient wherewith to sustain himself and his family, and also to satisfy that greedy ravenour which still called upon him for new fees, he went to bed, and within four days made an end of his woeful life, even with care and pensiveness. After his death also he so handled his son that there was never sheep shorn in May so near clipped of his fleece present as he was of many to come: so that he was[Pg 54] compelled to let away his land, because his cattle and stock were consumed and he no longer able to occupy the ground. But hereof let this suffice, and, instead of these enormities, a table shall follow of the terms containing their beginnings and endings, as I have borrowed them from my friend John Stow, whose study is the only storehouse of antiquities in my time, and he worthy therefore to be had in reputation and honour.

A man would imagine that the time of the execution of our laws, being little above one quarter or not fully a third part of the year, and the appointment of the same to be holden in one place only, to wit, near London in Westminster, and finally the great expenses employed upon the same, should be no small cause of the stay and hindrance of the administration of justice in this land: but, as it falleth out, they prove great occasions and the stay of much contention. The reasons of these are soon to be conceived; for as the broken sleeve doth hold the elbow back, and pain of travel cause many to sit at home in quiet, so the shortness of time and fear of delay doth drive those oftentimes to like of peace who otherwise would live at strife and quickly be at odds. Some men desirous of gains would have the terms yet made shorter, that more delay might engender longer suit; other would have the houses made larger and more offices erected wherein to minister the laws. But as the times of the terms are rather too short than too long by one return apiece, so, if there were smaller rooms and fouler ways unto them, they would enforce many to make pause before they did rashly enter into plea. But, sith my purpose is not to make an ample discourse of these things, it shall suffice to deliver the times of the holding of our terms, which ensueth after this manner:—


A Perfect Rule to know the Beginning and Ending of every Term, with their Returns.

Hilary term beginneth the three-and-twentieth day of January (if it be not Sunday); otherwise the next day after, and is finished the twelfth of February; it hath four returns,

[Pg 55]

Octabis Hilarij. Crastino Purific.
Quind. Hilarij. Octabis Purific.

Easter term beginneth seventeen days after Easter, endeth four days after the Ascension Day, and hath five returns,

Quind. Pasch. Mense. Quinque Paschae.
Tres Paschae. Pasch. Crast. Ascension.

Trinity term beginneth the Friday after Trinity Sunday, and endeth the Wednesday fortnight after, in which time it hath four returns,

Crast. Trinitatis. Quind. Trinitatis.
Octabis Trinitatis. Tres Trinitatis.

Michaelmas term beginneth the ninth of October (if it be not Sunday), and ending the eight-and-twentieth of November; it hath eight returns,

Octabis Michael. Crast. Anima.
Quind. Michael. Crast. Martini.
Tres Michael. Octa. Martini.
Mense Michael. Quind. Martini.

Note also that the Exchequer, which is Fiscus or ærarium publicam princeps, openeth eight days before any term begin, except Trinity term, which openeth but four days before.



[Pg 56]



[1577, Book II., Chapter 5; 1585, Book II., Chapter 1.]

There are now two provinces only in England, of which the first and greatest is subject to the see of Canterbury, comprehending a part of Lhoegres,[100] whole Cambria, and also Ireland, which in time past were several, and brought into one by the[Pg 57] archbishop of the said see, and assistance of the pope, who, in respect of meed, did yield unto the ambitious desires of sundry archbishops of Canterbury, as I have elsewhere declared.[101] The second province is under the see of York. And, of these, each hath her archbishop resident commonly within her own limits, who hath not only the chief dealing in matters appertaining to the hierarchy and jurisdiction of the church, but also great authority in civil affairs touching the government of the commonwealth, so far forth as their commissions and several circuits do extend.[102]

In old time there were three archbishops, and so many provinces in this isle, of which one kept at London, another at York, and the third at Caerleon upon Usk.[103] But as that of London was translated to Canterbury by Augustine, and that of York remaineth (notwithstanding that the greatest part of his jurisdiction is now bereft him and given to the Scottish archbishop), so that of Caerleon is utterly extinguished, and the[Pg 58] government of the country united to that of Canterbury in spiritual cases, after it was once before removed to St. David’s in Wales, by David, successor to Dubritius, and uncle to King Arthur, in the 519 of Grace, to the end that he and his clerks might be further off from the cruelty of the Saxons, where it remained till the time of the Bastard, and for a season after, before it was annexed to the see of Canterbury.[104]

The Archbishop of Canterbury is commonly called the Primate of all England; and in the coronations of the kings of this land, and all other times wherein it shall please the prince to wear and put on his crown, his office is to set it upon their heads. They bear also the name of their high chaplains continually, although not a few of them have presumed (in time past) to be their equals, and void of subjection unto them. That this is true, it may easily appear by their own acts yet kept in record, beside their epistles and answers written or in print, wherein they have sought not only to match but also to mate them with great rigour and more than open tyranny. Our adversaries will peradventure deny this absolutely, as they do many other things apparent, though not without shameless impudence, or at the leastwise defend it as just and not swerving from common equity, because they imagine every archbishop to be the king’s equal in his own province. But how well their doing herein agreeth with the saying of Peter and examples of the primitive church it may easily appear. Some examples also of their demeanour—I mean in the time of popery—I will not let to remember, lest they should say I speak of malice, and without all ground of likelihood.

Of their practices with mean persons I speak not, neither will I begin at Dunstan,[105] the author of all their pride and presumption[Pg 59] here in England.[106]

Wherefore I refer you to those reports of Anselm and Becket sufficiently penned by other, the which Anselm also making a shew as if he had been very unwilling to be placed in the see of Canterbury, gave this answer to the letters of such his friends as did make request unto him to take the charge upon him—

Secularia negotia nescio, quia scire nolo, eorum námque occupationes horreo, liberum affectans animum. Voluntati sacrarum intendo scripturarum, vos dissonantiam facitis, verendúmque est nè aratrum sanctæ ecclesiæ, quod in Anglia duo boves validi et pari fortitudine, ad bonum certantes, id est, rex et archiepiscopus, debeant trahere, nunc ove vetula cum tauro indomito jugata, distorqueatur à recto. Ego ovis vetula, qui si quietus essem, verbi Dei lacte, et operimento lanæ, aliquibus possèm fortassis non ingratus essè, sed si me cum hoc tauro coniungitis, videbitis pro disparilitate trahentium, aratrum non rectè procedere,” etc.


Which is in English thus—

“Of secular affairs I have no skill, because I will not know them; for I even abhor the troubles that rise about them, as one that desireth to have his mind at liberty. I apply my whole endeavour to the rule of the Scriptures; you lead me to the contrary; and it is to be feared lest the plough of holy church, which two strong oxen of equal force, and both like earnest to contend unto that which is good (that is, the king and the archbishop), ought to draw, should thereby now swerve from the right furrow, by matching of an old sheep with a wild, untamed bull. I am that old sheep, who, if I might be quiet, could peradventure shew myself not altogether ungrateful to some, by feeding them with the milk of the Word of God, and covering them with[Pg 60] wool: but if you match me with this bull, you shall see that, through want of equality in draught, the plough will not go to right,” etc.


As followeth in the process of his letters. The said Thomas Becket was so proud that he wrote to King Henry the Second, as to his lord, to his king, and to his son, offering him his counsel, his reverence, and due correction, etc. Others in like sort have protested that they owed nothing to the kings of this land, but their council only, reserving all obedience unto the see of Rome, whereby we may easily see the pride and ambition of the clergy in the blind time of ignorance.[107]

And as the old cock of Canterbury did crow in this behalf, so the young cockerels of other sees did imitate his demeanour, as may be seen by this one example also in King Stephen’s time, worthy to be remembered; unto whom the Bishop of London would not so much as swear to be true subject: wherein also he was maintained by the pope.[108]

Thus we see that kings were to rule no further than it pleased the pope to like of; neither to challenge more obedience of their subjects than stood also with their good will and pleasure. He wrote in like sort unto Queen Maud about the same matter, making her “Samson’s calf”[109] (the better to bring his purpose to pass).[110]

[Pg 61]Is it not strange that a peevish order of religion (devised by man) should break the express law of God, who commandeth all men to honour and obey their kings and princes, in whom some part of the power of God is manifest and laid open unto us? And even unto this end the cardinal of Hostia[111] also wrote to the canons of Paul’s after this manner, covertly encouraging them to stand to their election of the said Robert, who was no more willing to give over his new bishopric than they careful to offend the king, but rather imagined which way to keep it still, maugre his displeasure, and yet not to swear obedience unto him for all that he should be able to do or perform unto the contrary.[112]

Hereby you see how King Stephen was dealt withal. And albeit the Archbishop of Canterbury is not openly to be touched herewith, yet it is not to be doubted but he was a doer in it, so far as might tend to the maintenance of the right and prerogative of holy church. And even no less unquietness had another of our princes with Thomas of Arundel,[113] who fled to Rome for fear of his head, and caused the pope to write an ambitious and contumelious letter unto his sovereign about his restitution. But when (by the king’s letters yet extant, and beginning thus: “Thomas proditionis non expers nostræ regiæ majestati insidias fabricavit”) the pope understood the bottom of the matter, he was contented that Thomas should be deprived, and another archbishop chosen in his stead.

Neither did this pride stay at archbishops and bishops, but[Pg 62] descended lower, even to the rake-hells of the clergy and puddles of all ungodliness. For, beside the injury received of their superiors, how was King John dealt withal by the vile Cistertians at Lincoln in the second of his reign? Certes when he had (upon just occasion) conceived some grudge against them for their ambitious demeanour, and upon denial to pay such sums of money as were allotted unto them, he had caused seizure to be made of such horses, swine, neat, and other things of theirs as were maintained in his forests, they denounced him as fast amongst themselves with bell, book, and candle,[114] to be accursed and excommunicated. Thereunto they so handled the matter with the pope and their friends that the king was fain to yield to their good graces, insomuch that a meeting for pacification was appointed between them at Lincoln, by means of the present Archbishop of Canterbury, who went off between him and the Cistertian commissioners before the matter could be finished. In the end the king himself came also unto the said commissioners as they sat in their chapterhouse, and there with tears fell down at their feet, craving pardon for his trespasses against them, and heartily requiring that they would (from henceforth) commend him and his realm in their prayers unto the protection of the Almighty, and receive him into their fraternity, promising moreover full satisfaction of their damages sustained, and to build an house of their order in whatsoever place of England it should please them to assign. And this he confirmed by charter bearing date the seven-and-twentieth of November, after the Scottish king was returned into Scotland,[115] and departed from the king.[Pg 63] Whereby (and by other the like, as between John Stratford[116] and Edward the Third, etc.) a man may easily conceive how proud the clergymen have been in former times, as wholly presuming upon the primacy of their pope. More matter could I allege of these and the like broils, not to be found among our common historiographers. Howbeit, reserving the same unto places more convenient, I will cease to speak of them at this time, and go forward with such other things as my purpose is to speak of. At the first, therefore, there was like and equal authority in both our archbishops, but as he of Canterbury hath long since obtained the prerogative above York (although I say not without great trouble, suit, some bloodshed, and contention), so the Archbishop of York is nevertheless written Primate of England, as one contenting himself with a piece of a title at the least, when all could not be gotten. And as he of Canterbury crowneth the king, so this of York doth the like to the queen, whose perpetual chaplain he is, and hath been from time to time, since the determination of this controversy, as writers do report. The first also hath under his jurisdiction to the number of one-and-twenty inferior bishops; the other hath only four, by reason that the churches of Scotland are now removed from his obedience unto an archbishop of their own, whereby the greatness and circuit of the jurisdiction of York is not a little diminished. In like sort, each of these seven-and-twenty sees have their cathedral churches, wherein the deans (a calling not known in England before the Conquest) do bear the chief rule, being men especially chosen to that vocation,[Pg 64] both for their learning and godliness, so near as can be possible. These cathedral churches have in like manner other dignities and canonries still remaining unto them, as heretofore under the popish regiment. Howbeit those that are chosen to the same are no idle and unprofitable persons (as in times past they have been when most of these livings were either furnished with strangers, especially out of Italy, boys, or such idiots as had least skill of all in discharging of those functions whereunto they were called by virtue of these stipends), but such as by preaching and teaching can and do learnedly set forth the glory of God, and further the overthrow of anti-Christ to the uttermost of their powers.

These churches are called cathedral, because the bishops dwell or lie near unto the same, as bound to keep continual residence within their jurisdictions for the better oversight and governance of the same, the word being derived a cathedra—that is to say, a chair or seat where he resteth, and for the most part abideth. At the first there was but one church in every jurisdiction, whereinto no man entered to pray but with some oblation or other toward the maintenance of the pastor. For as it was reputed an infamy to pass by any of them without visitation, so it was no less reproach to appear empty before the Lord. And for this occasion also they were builded very huge and great; for otherwise they were not capable to such multitudes as came daily unto them to hear the Word and receive the sacraments.

But as the number of Christians increased, so first monasteries, then finally parish churches, were builded in every jurisdiction: from whence I take our deanery churches to have their original (now called “mother churches,” and their incumbents, archpriests), the rest being added since the Conquest, either by the lords of every town, or zealous men, loth to travel far, and willing to have some ease by building them near hand. Unto these deanery churches also the clergy in old time of the same deanery were appointed to repair at sundry seasons, there to receive wholesome ordinances, and to consult upon the necessary affairs of the whole jurisdiction if necessity so[Pg 65] required; and some image hereof is yet to be seen in the north parts. But as the number of churches increased, so the repair of the faithful unto the cathedrals did diminish; whereby they now become, especially in their nether parts, rather markets and shops for merchandise than solemn places of prayer, whereunto they were first erected. Moreover, in the said cathedral churches upon Sundays and festival days the canons do make certain ordinary sermons by course, whereunto great numbers of all estates do orderly resort; and upon the working days, thrice in the week, one of the said canons (or some other in his stead) doth read and expound some piece of holy Scripture, whereunto the people do very reverently repair. The bishops themselves in like sort are not idle in their callings; for, being now exempt from court and council, which is one (and a no small) piece of their felicity (although Richard Archbishop of Canterbury thought otherwise, as yet appeareth by his letters to Pope Alexander, Epistola 44, Petri Blesensis, where he saith, because the clergy of his time were somewhat narrowly looked unto, “Supra dorsum ecclesiæ fabricant peccatores,” etc.), they so apply their minds to the setting forth of the Word that there are very few of them which do not every Sunday or oftener resort to some place or other within their jurisdictions where they expound the Scriptures with much gravity and skill, and yet not without the great misliking and contempt of such as hate the Word. Of their manifold translations from one see to another I will say nothing, which is not now done for the benefit of the flock as the preferment of the party favoured and advantage unto the prince, a matter in time past much doubted of—to wit, whether a bishop or pastor might be translated from one see to another, and left undecided till prescription by royal authority made it good. For, among princes, a thing once done is well done, and to be done oftentimes, though no warrant be to be found therefore.

They have under them also their archdeacons, some one, divers two, and many four or more, as their circuits are in quantity, which archdeacons are termed in law the bishops’ eyes; and these (beside their ordinary courts, which are holden[Pg 66] within so many or more of their several deaneries by themselves or their officials once in a month at the least) do keep yearly two visitations or synods (as the bishop doth in every third year, wherein he confirmeth some children, though most care but a little for that ceremony), in which they make diligent inquisition and search, as well for the doctrine and behaviour of the ministers as the orderly dealing of the parishioners in resorting to their parish churches and conformity unto religion. They punish also with great severity all such trespassers, either in person or by the purse (where permutation of penance is thought more grievous to the offender), as are presented unto them; or, if the cause be of the more weight, as in cases of heresy, pertinacy, contempt, and such like, they refer them either to the bishop of the diocese, or his chancellor, or else to sundry grave persons set in authority, by virtue of an high commission directed unto them from the prince to that end, who in very courteous manner do see the offenders gently reformed or else severely punished if necessity so enforce.

Beside this, in many of our archdeaconries, we have an exercise lately begun which for the most part is called a prophecy[117] or conference, and erected only for the examination or trial of the diligence of the clergy in their study of holy Scriptures. Howbeit, such is the thirsty desire of the people in these days to hear the Word of God that they also have as it were with zealous violence intruded themselves among them (but as hearers only) to come by more knowledge through their presence at the same. Herein also (for the most part) two of the younger sort of ministers do expound each after other some piece of the Scriptures ordinarily appointed unto them in their courses (wherein they orderly go through with some one of the Evangelists, or of the Epistles, as it[Pg 67] pleaseth the whole assembly to choose at the first in every of these conferences); and when they have spent an hour or a little more between them, then cometh one of the better learned sort, who, being a graduate for the most part, or known to be a preacher sufficiently authorised and of a sound judgment, supplieth the room of a moderator, making first a brief rehearsal of their discourses, and then adding what him thinketh good of his own knowledge, whereby two hours are thus commonly spent at this most profitable meeting. When all is done, if the first speakers have shewed any piece of diligence, they are commended for their travel, and encouraged to go forward. If they have been found to be slack, or not sound in delivery of their doctrine, their negligence and error is openly reproved before all their brethren, who go aside of purpose from the laity after the exercise ended to judge of these matters, and consult of the next speakers and quantity of the text to be handled in that place. The laity never speak, of course (except some vain and busy head will now and then intrude themselves with offence), but are only hearers; and, as it is used in some places weekly, in other once in fourteen days, in divers monthly, and elsewhere twice in a year, so is it a notable spur unto all the ministers thereby to apply their books, which otherwise (as in times past) would give themselves to hawking, hunting, tables, cards, dice, tippling at the alehouse, shooting of matches, and other like vanities, nothing commendable in such as should be godly and zealous stewards of the good gifts of God, faithful distributors of his Word unto the people, and diligent pastors according to their calling.

But alas! as Sathan, the author of all mischief, hath in sundry manners heretofore hindered the erection and maintenance of many good things, so in this he hath stirred up adversaries of late unto this most profitable exercise, who, not regarding the commodity that riseth thereby so well to the hearers as speakers, but either stumbling (I cannot tell how) at words and terms, or at the leastwise not liking to hear of the reprehension of vice, or peradventure taking a misliking at the slender demeanours of such negligent ministers as now and then in[Pg 68] their course do occupy the rooms, have either by their own practice, their sinister information, or suggestions made upon surmises unto other, procured the suppression of these conferences, condemning them as hurtful, pernicious, and daily breeders of no small hurt and inconvenience.[118] But hereof let God be judge, unto the cause belongeth.

Our elders or ministers and deacons (for subdeacons and the other inferior orders sometime used in popish church we have not) are made according to a certain form of consecration concluded upon in the time of King Edward the Sixth by the clergy of England, and soon after confirmed by the three estates of the realm in the high court of parliament. And out of the first sort—that is to say, of such as are called to the ministry (without respect whether they be married or not)—are bishops, deans, archdeacons, and such as have the higher places in the hierarchy of the church elected; and these also, as[Pg 69] all the rest, at the first coming unto any spiritual promotion do yield unto the prince the entire tax of that their living for one whole year, if it amount in value unto ten pounds and upwards, and this under the name and title of first fruits.[119]

With us also it is permitted that a sufficient man may (by dispensation from the prince[120]) hold two livings, not distant either from other above thirty miles; whereby it cometh to[Pg 70] pass that, as her Majesty doth reap some commodity by the faculty, so that the unition of two in one man doth bring oftentimes more benefit to one of them in a month (I mean for doctrine) than they have had before peradventure in many years.

Many exclaim against such faculties,[121] as if there were more good preachers that want maintenance than livings to maintain them. Indeed when a living is void there are so many suitors for it that a man would think the report to be true, and most certain; but when it cometh to the trial (who are sufficient and who not, who are staid men in conversation, judgment, and learning), of that great number you shall hardly find one or two such as they ought to be, and yet none more earnest to make suit, to promise largely, bear a better shew, or find fault with the stage of things than they. Nevertheless I do not think that their exclamations, if they were wisely handled, are altogether grounded upon rumours or ambitious minds, if you respect the state of the thing itself, and not the necessity growing through want of able men to furnish out all the cures in England, which both our universities are never able to perform. For if you observe what numbers of preachers Cambridge[122] and Oxford do yearly[Pg 71] send forth, and how many new compositions are made in the Court of First Fruits by the deaths of the last incumbents, you shall soon see a difference. Wherefore, if in country towns and cities, yea even in London itself, four or five of the little churches were brought into one, the inconvenience would in great part be redressed and amended.

And, to say truth, one most commonly of those small livings is of so little value that it is not able to maintain a mean scholar, much less a learned man, as not being above ten, twelve, sixteen, seventeen, twenty, or thirty pounds at the most, toward their charges, which now (more than before time) do go out of the same. I say more than before, because every small trifle, nobleman’s request, or courtesy craved by the bishop, doth impose and command a twentieth part, a three score part, or twopence in the pound, etc., out of the livings, which hitherto hath not been usually granted, but by the consent of a synod, wherein things were decided according to equity, and the poorer sort considered of, which now are equally burdened.

We pay also the tenths of our livings to the prince yearly, according to such valuation of each of them as hath been lately made: which nevertheless in time past were not annual, but voluntary, and paid at request of king or pope.[123]

But to return to our tenths, a payment first as devised by the[Pg 72] pope, and afterward taken up as by the prescription of the king, whereunto we may join also our first fruits, which is one whole year’s commodity of our living, due at our entrance into the same, the tenths abated unto the prince’s coffers, and paid commonly in two years. For the receipt also of these two payments an especial office or court is erected, which beareth name of First Fruits and Tenths, whereunto, if the party to be preferred do not make his dutiful repair by an appointed time after possession taken, there to compound for the payment of his said fruits, he incurreth the danger of a great penalty, limited by a certain statute provided in that behalf against such as do intrude into the ecclesiastical function and refuse to pay the accustomed duties belonging to the same.

They pay likewise subsidies with the temporalty, but in such sort that if these pay after four shillings for land, the clergy contribute commonly after six shillings of the pound, so that of a benefice of twenty pounds by the year the incumbent thinketh himself well acquitted if, all ordinary payments being discharged, he may reserve thirteen pounds six shillings eightpence towards his own sustentation or maintenance of his family. Seldom also are they without the compass of a subsidy; for if they be one year clear from this payment (a thing not often seen of late years), they are like in the next to hear of another grant: so that I say again they are seldom without the limit of a subsidy. Herein also they somewhat find themselves grieved that the laity may at every taxation help themselves, and so they do, through consideration had of their decay and hindrance, and yet their impoverishment cannot but touch also the parson or vicar, unto whom such liberty is denied, as is daily to be seen in their accounts and tithings.

Some of them also, after the marriages of their children, will have their proportions qualified, or by friendship get themselves quite out of the book. But what stand I upon these things, who have rather to complain of the injury offered by some of our neighbours of the laity, which daily endeavour to bring us also within the compass of their fifteens or taxes for their own ease, whereas the tax of the whole[Pg 73] realm, which is commonly greater in the champagne than woodland soil, amounteth only to 37,930 pounds ninepence halfpenny, is a burden easy enough to be borne upon so many shoulders, without the help of the clergy, whose tenths and subsidies make up commonly a double, if not treble sum unto their aforesaid payments? Sometimes also we are threatened with a Melius inquirendum, as if our livings were not racked high enough already. But if a man should seek out where all those church lands which in time past did contribute unto the old sum required or to be made up, no doubt no small number of the laity of all states should be contributors also with us, the prince not defrauded of her expectation and right. We are also charged with armour and munitions from thirty pounds upwards, a thing more needful than divers other charges imposed upon us are convenient, by which and other burdens our ease groweth to be more heavy by a great deal (notwithstanding our immunity from temporal services) than that of the laity, and, for aught that I see, not likely to be diminished, as if the church were now become the ass whereon every market man is to ride and cast his wallet.

The other payments due unto the archbishop and bishop at their several visitations (of which the first is double to the latter), and such also as the archdeacon receive that his synods, etc., remain still as they did without any alteration. Only this I think he added within memory of man, that at the coming of every prince his appointed officers do commonly visit the whole realm under the form of an ecclesiastical inquisition, in which the clergy do usually pay double fees, as unto the archbishop.

Hereby then, and by those already remembered, it is found that the Church of England is no less commodious to the prince’s coffers than the state of the laity, if it do not far exceed the same, since their payments are certain, continual, and seldom abated, howsoever they gather up their own duties with grudging, murmuring, suit, and slanderous speeches of the payers, or have their livings otherwise hardly valued unto the[Pg 74] uttermost farthing, or shrewdly cancelled by the covetousness of the patrons, of whom some do bestow advowsons of benefices upon their bakers, butlers, cooks, good archers, falconers, and horsekeepers,[124] instead of other recompense, for their long and faithful service, which they employ afterward unto the most advantage.[125]

Certes here they resemble the pope very much; for, as he sendeth out his idols, so do they their parasites, pages, chamberlains, stewards, grooms, and lackeys; and yet these be the men that first exclaim of the insufficiency of the ministers, as hoping thereby in due time to get also their glebes and grounds[Pg 75] into their hands.[126] In times past bishoprics went almost after the same manner under the lay princes, and then under the pope, so that he which helped a clerk unto a see was sure to have a present or purse fine, if not an annual pension, besides that which went to the pope’s coffers, and was thought to be very good merchandise.

To proceed therefore with the rest, I think it good also to remember that the names usually given unto such as feed the flock remain in like sort as in times past, so that these words, parson, vicar, curate, and such, are not yet abolished more than the canon law itself, which is daily pleaded, as I have said elsewhere, although the statutes of the realm have greatly infringed the large scope and brought the exercise of the same into some narrower limits. There is nothing read in our churches but the canonical Scriptures, whereby it cometh to pass that the Psalter is said over once in thirty days, the New Testament four times, and the Old Testament once in the year. And hereunto, if the curate be adjudged by the bishop or his deputies sufficiently instructed in the holy Scriptures, and therewithal able to teach, he permitteth him to make some exposition or exhortation in his parish unto amendment of life. And for so much as our churches and universities have been so spoiled in time of error,[Pg 76] as there cannot yet be had such number of able pastors as may suffice for every parish to have one, there are (beside four sermons appointed by public order in the year) certain sermons or homilies (devised by sundry learned men, confirmed for sound doctrine by consent of the divines, and public authority of the prince), and those appointed to be read by the curates of mean understanding (which homilies do comprehend the principal parts of Christian doctrine, as of original sin, of justification by faith, of charity, and such like) upon the Sabbath days unto the congregation. And, after a certain number of psalms read, which are limited according to the dates of the month, for morning and evening prayer we have two lessons, whereof the first is taken out of the Old Testament, the second out of the New; and of these latter, that in the morning is out of the Gospels, the other in the afternoon out of some one of the Epistles. After morning prayer also, we have the Litany and suffrages, an invocation in mine opinion not devised without the great assistance of the Spirit of God, although many curious mind-sick persons utterly condemn it as superstitious, and savouring of conjuration and sorcery.

This being done, we proceed unto the communion, if any communicants be to receive the Eucharist; if not, we read the Decalogue, Epistle, and Gospel, with the Nicene Creed (of some in derision called the “dry communion”), and then proceed unto an homily or sermon, which hath a psalm before and after it, and finally unto the baptism of such infants as on every Sabbath day (if occasion so require) are brought unto the churches; and thus is the forenoon bestowed. In the afternoon likewise we meet again, and, after the psalms and lessons ended, we have commonly a sermon, or at the leastwise our youth catechised by the space of an hour. And thus do we spend the Sabbath day in good and godly exercises, all done in our vulgar tongue, that each one present may hear and understand the same, which also in cathedral and collegiate churches is so ordered that the psalms only are sung by note, the rest being read (as in common parish churches) by the minister with a loud voice, saving that in the administration[Pg 77] of the communion the choir singeth the answers, the creed, and sundry other things appointed, but in so plain, I say, and distinct manner that each one present may understand what they sing, every word having but one note, though the whole harmony consist of many parts, and those very cunningly set by the skilful in that science.

Certes this translation of the service of the church into the vulgar tongue hath not a little offended the pope almost in every age, as a thing very often attempted by divers princes, but never generally obtained, for fear lest the consenting thereunto might breed the overthrow (as it would indeed) of all his religion and hierarchy; nevertheless, in some places where the kings and princes dwelled not under his nose, it was performed maugre his resistance. Wratislaus, Duke of Bohemia, would long since have done the like also in his kingdom; but, not daring to venture so far without the consent of the pope, he wrote unto him thereof, and received his answer inhibitory unto all his proceeding in the same.

I would set down two or three more of the like instruments passed from that see unto the like end, but this shall suffice, being less common than the other, which are to be had more plentifully.

As for our churches themselves, bells and times of morning and evening prayer remain as in times past, saving that all images, shrines, tabernacles, rood-lofts, and monuments of idolatry are removed, taken down, and defaced, only the stories in glass windows excepted, which, for want of sufficient store of new stuff, and by reason of extreme charge that should grow by the alteration of the same into white panes throughout the realm, are not altogether abolished in most places at once, but by little and little suffered to decay, that white glass may be provided and set up in their rooms. Finally, whereas there was wont to be a great partition between the choir and the body of the church, now it is either very small or none at all, and (to say the truth) altogether needless, sith the minister saith his service commonly in the body of the church, with his face[Pg 78] toward the people, in a little tabernacle of wainscot provided for the purpose, by which means the ignorant do not only learn divers of the psalms and usual prayers by heart, but also such as can read do pray together with him, so that the whole congregation at one instant pour out their petitions unto the living God for the whole estate of His church in most earnest and fervent manner. Our holy and festival days are very well reduced also unto a less number; for whereas (not long since) we had under the pope four score and fifteen, called festival, and thirty profesti, beside the Sundays, they are all brought unto seven and twenty, and, with them, the superfluous numbers of idle wakes, guilds, fraternities, church-ales, help-ales, and soul-ales, called also dirge-ales, with the heathenish rioting at bride-ales, are well diminished and laid aside. And no great matter were it if the feasts of all our apostles, evangelists, and martyrs, with that of all saints, were brought to the holy days that follow upon Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide, and those of the Virgin Mary, with the rest, utterly removed from the calendars, as neither necessary nor commendable in a reformed church.

The apparel in like sort of our clergymen is comely, and, in truth, more decent than ever it was in the popish church, before the universities bound their graduates unto a stable attire, afterward usurped also even by the blind Sir Johns. For, if you peruse well my Chronology ensuing, you shall find that they went either in divers colours like players, or in garments of light hue, as yellow, red, green, etc., with their shoes piked, their hair crisped, their girdles armed with silver, their shoes, spurs, bridles, etc., buckled with like metal, their apparel (for the most part) of silk, and richly furred, their caps laced and buttoned with gold, so that to meet a priest in those days was to behold a peacock that spreadeth his tail when he danceth before the hen,[127] which now (I say) is well reformed. Touching[Pg 79] hospitality, 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 drink is more orderly and frugally dressed, their furniture of household more convenient and better looked unto, and the poor oftener fed generally than heretofore they have been, when only a few bishops and double or treble beneficed men did make good cheer at Christmas only, or otherwise kept great houses for the entertainment of the rich, which did often see and visit them. It is thought much peradventure that some bishops, etc., in our time do come short of the ancient gluttony and prodigality of their predecessors; but to such as do consider of the curtailing of their livings, or excessive prices whereunto things are grown, and how their course is limited by law, and estate looked into on every side, the cause of their so doing is well enough perceived. This also offended many, 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[128] (very few were there, God wot, of this sort) did leave their goods and possessions to their brethren and kinsfolks, whereby (as I can shew by good record) many houses of gentility have grown and been erected. If in any age some one of them did found a college, almshouse, or school, if you look unto these our times, you shall see no fewer deeds of charity done, nor better grounded upon the right stub of piety than before. If you say that their wives be fond, after the decease of their husbands, and bestow themselves not so advisedly as their calling requireth (which, God knoweth, these curious surveyors make small account of truth, further than thereby to gather matter of reprehension), I beseech you then to look into all states of the laity, and tell me whether some duchesses, countesses, barons’ or knights’ wives, do not fully so often offend in the like as they? For Eve will be Eve, though Adam would say nay. Not a few also find fault with our threadbare gowns, as if not our patrons but our wives were causes of our woe. But if it were known to all that I know[Pg 80] to have been performed of late in Essex, where a minister taking a benefice (of less than twenty pounds in the Queen’s books, so far as I remember) was enforced to pay to his patron twenty quarters of oats, ten quarters of wheat, and sixteen yearly of barley (which he called hawks’ meat), and another let the like in farm to his patron for ten pounds by the year which is well worth forty at the least, the cause of our threadbare gowns would easily appear: for such patrons do scrape the wool from our cloaks. Wherefore I may well say that such a threadbare minister is either an ill man or hath an ill patron, or both; and when such cooks and cobbling shifters[129] shall be removed and weeded out of the ministry, I doubt not but our patrons will prove better men, and be reformed whether they will or not, or else the single-minded bishops shall see the living bestowed upon such as do deserve it. When the Pragmatic Sanction took place first in France, it was supposed that these enormities should utterly have ceased; but when the elections of bishops came once into the hands of the canons and spiritual men, it grew to be far worse. For they also, within a while waxing covetous, by their own experience learned aforehand, raised the markets, and sought after new gains by the gifts of the greatest livings in that country, wherein (as Machiavelli writeth) are eighteen archbishoprics, one hundred forty and five bishoprics, 740 abbeys, eleven universities, 1,000,700 steeples (if his report be sound). Some are of the opinion that, if sufficient men in every town might be sent for from the universities, this mischief would soon be remedied;[Pg 81] but I am clean of another mind. For, when I consider whereunto the gifts of fellowships in some places are grown, the profit that ariseth at sundry elections of scholars out of grammar schools to the posers, schoolmasters, and preferers of them to our universities, the gifts of a great number of almshouses builded for the maimed and impotent soldiers by princes and good men heretofore moved with a pitiful consideration of the poor distressed, how rewards, pensions, and annuities also do reign in other cases whereby the giver is brought sometimes into extreme misery, and that not so much as the room of a common soldier is not obtained oftentimes without a “What will you give me?” I am brought into such a mistrust of the sequel of this device that I dare pronounce (almost for certain) that, if Homer were now alive, it should be said to him:

“Tuque licet venias musis comitatus Homere,
Si nihil attuleris, ibis Homere foras!”


More I could say, and more I would say, of these and other things, were it not that in mine own judgment I have said enough already for the advertisement of such as be wise. Nevertheless, before I finish this chapter, I will add a word or two (so briefly as I can) of the old estate of cathedral churches, which I have collected together here and there among the writers, and whereby it shall easily be seen what they were, and how near the government of ours do in these days approach unto them; for that there is an irreconcilable odds between them and those of the Papists, I hope there is no learned man indeed but will acknowledge and yield unto it.

We find therefore in the time of the primitive church that there was in every see or jurisdiction one school at the least, whereunto such as were catechists in Christian religion did resort. And hereof, as we may find great testimony for Alexandria, Antioch, Rome, and Jerusalem, so no small notice is left of the like in the inferior sort, if the names of such as taught in them be called to mind, and the histories well read which make report of the same. These schools were under the jurisdiction of the bishops, and from thence did they and the[Pg 82] rest of the elders choose out such as were the ripest scholars, and willing to serve in the ministry, whom they placed also in their cathedral churches, there not only to be further instructed in the knowledge of the world, but also to inure them to the delivery of the same unto the people in sound manner, to minister the sacraments, to visit the sick and brethren imprisoned, and to perform such other duties as then belonged to their charges. The bishop himself and elders of the church were also hearers and examiners of their doctrine; and, being in process of time found meet workmen for the Lord’s harvest, they were forthwith sent abroad (after imposition of hands and prayer generally made for their good proceeding) to some place or other then destitute of her pastor, and other taken from the school also placed in their rooms. What number of such clerks belonged now and then to some one see, the Chronology following shall easily declare; and, in like sort, what officers, widows, and other persons were daily maintained in those seasons by the offerings and oblations of the faithful it is incredible to be reported, if we compare the same with the decays and oblations seen and practised at this present. But what is that in all the world which avarice and negligence will not corrupt and impair? And, as this is a pattern of the estate of the cathedral churches in those times, so I wish that the like order of government might once again be restored unto the same, which may be done with ease, sith the schools are already builded in every diocese, the universities, places of their preferment unto further knowledge, and the cathedral churches great enough to receive so many as shall come from thence to be instructed unto doctrine. But one hindrance of this is already and more and more to be looked for (beside the plucking and snatching commonly seen from such houses and the church), and that is, the general contempt of the ministry, and small consideration of their former pains taken, whereby less and less hope of competent maintenance by preaching the word is likely to ensue. Wherefore the greatest part of the more excellent wits choose rather to employ their studies unto physic and the laws, utterly giving over the study of the[Pg 83] Scriptures, for fear lest they should in time not get their bread by the same. By this means also the stalls in their choirs would be better filled, which now (for the most part) are empty, and prebends should be prebends indeed, there to live till they were preferred to some ecclesiastical function, and then other men chosen to succeed them in their rooms, whereas now prebends are but superfluous additiments unto former excesses, and perpetual commodities unto the owners, which before time were but temporal (as I have said before). But as I have good leisure to wish for these things, so it shall be a longer time before it will be brought to pass. Nevertheless, as I will pray for a reformation in this behold, so will I here conclude my discourse on the estate of our churches.



[Pg 84]



[1577, Book III., Chapter 1; 1587, Book II., Chapter 6.]

The situation of our region, lying near unto the north, doth cause the heat of our stomachs to be of somewhat greater force: therefore our bodies do crave a little more ample nourishment than the inhabitants of the hotter regions are accustomed withal, whose digestive force is not altogether so vehement, because their internal heat is not so strong as ours, which is kept in by the coldness of the air that from time to time (especially in winter) doth environ our bodies.

It is no marvel therefore that our tables are oftentimes more plentifully garnished than those of other nations, and this trade hath continued with us even since the very beginning. For, before the Romans found out and knew the way unto our country, our predecessors fed largely upon flesh and milk, whereof there was great abundance in this isle,[130] because they[Pg 85] applied their chief studies unto pasturage and feeding. After this manner also did our Welsh Britons order themselves in their diet so long as they lived of themselves, but after they became to be united and made equal with the English they framed their appetites to live after our manner, so that at this day there is very little difference between us in our diets.

In Scotland likewise they have given themselves (of late years to speak of) unto very ample and large diet, wherein as for some respect nature doth make them equal with us, so otherwise they far exceed us in over much and distemperate gormandise, and so ingross their bodies that divers of them do oft become unapt to any other purpose than to spend their times in large tabling and belly cheer. Against this pampering of their carcasses doth Hector Boethius in his description of the country very sharply inveigh in the first chapter of that treatise. Henry Wardlaw also,[131] bishop of St. Andrews, noting their vehement alteration from competent frugality into excessive gluttony to be brought out of England with James the First (who had been long time prisoner there under the fourth[Pg 86] and fifth Henries, and at his return carried divers English gentlemen into his country with him, whom he very honourably preferred there), doth vehemently exclaim against the same in open Parliament holden at Perth, 1433,[132] before the three estates, and so bringeth his purpose to pass in the end, by force of his learned persuasions, that a law was presently made there for the restraint of superfluous diet; amongst other things, baked meats (dishes never before this man’s days seen in Scotland) were generally so provided for by virtue of this Act that it was not lawful for any to eat of the same under the degree of a gentleman, and those only but on high and festival days. But, alas, it was soon forgotten!

In old time these north Britons did give themselves universally to great abstinence, and in time of wars their soldiers would often feed but once or twice at the most in two or three days (especially if they held themselves in secret, or could have no issue out of their bogs and marshes, through the presence of[Pg 87] the enemy), and in this distress they used to eat a certain kind of confection, whereof so much as a bean would qualify their hunger above common expectation. In woods moreover they lived with herbs and roots, or, if these shifts served not through want of such provision at hand, then used they to creep into the water or said moorish plots up unto the chins, and there remain a long time, only to qualify the heats of their stomachs by violence, which otherwise would have wrought and been ready to oppress them for hunger and want of sustenance. In those days likewise it was taken for a great offence over all to eat either goose, hare, or hen, because of a certain superstitious opinion which they had conceived of those three creatures; howbeit after that the Romans, I say, had once found an entrance into this island it was not long ere open shipwreck was made of this religious observation, so that in process of time so well the north and south Britons as the Romans gave over to make such difference in meats as they had done before.

From thenceforth also unto our days, and even in this season wherein we live, there is no restraint of any meat either for religious sake or public order in England, but it is lawful for every man to feed upon whatsoever he is able to purchase, except it be upon those days whereon eating of flesh is especially forbidden by the laws of the realm, which order is taken only to the end our numbers of cattle may be the better increased and that abundance of fish which the sea yieldeth more generally received. Besides this, there is great consideration had in making this law for the preservation of the navy and maintenance of convenient numbers of seafaring men, both which would otherwise greatly decay if some means were not found whereby they might be increased. But, howsoever this case standeth, white meats, milk, butter, and cheese (which were never so dear as in my time, and wont to be accounted of as one of the chief stays throughout the island) are now reputed as food appertinent only to the inferior sort, whilst such as are more wealthy do feed upon the flesh of all kinds of cattle accustomed to be eaten, all sorts of fish taken upon our coasts[Pg 88] and in our fresh rivers, and such diversity of wild and tame fowls as are either bred in our island or brought over unto us from other countries of the main.

In number of dishes and change of meat the nobility of England (whose cooks are for the most part musical-headed Frenchmen and strangers) do most exceed, sith there is no day in manner that passeth over their heads wherein they have not only beef, mutton, veal, lamb, kid, pork, cony, capon, pig, or so many of these as the season yieldeth, but also some portion of the red or fallow deer, beside great variety of fish and wild fowl, and thereto sundry other delicates wherein the sweet hand of the seafaring Portugal is not wanting: so that for a man to dine with one of them, and to taste of every dish that standeth before him (which few used to do, but each one feedeth upon that meat him best liketh for the time, the beginning of every dish notwithstanding being reserved unto the greatest personage that sitteth at the table, to whom it is drawn up still by the waiters as order requireth, and from whom it descendeth again even to the lower end, whereby each one may taste thereof), is rather to yield unto a conspiracy with a great deal of meat for the speedy suppression of natural health than the use of a necessary mean to satisfy himself with a competent repast to sustain his body withal. But, as this large feeding is not seen in their guests, no more is it in their own persons; for, sith they have daily much resort unto their tables (and many times unlooked for), and thereto retain great numbers of servants, it is very requisite and expedient for them to be somewhat plentiful in this behalf.

The chief part likewise of their daily provision is brought in before them (commonly in silver vessels, if they be of the degree of barons, bishops, and upwards) and placed on their tables, whereof, when they have taken what it pleaseth them, the rest is reserved, and afterwards sent down to their serving men and waiters, who feed thereon in like sort with convenient moderation, their reversion also being bestowed upon the poor which lie ready at their gates in great numbers to receive the same. This is spoken of the principal tables whereat the[Pg 89] nobleman, his lady, and guests are accustomed to sit; besides which they have a certain ordinary allowance daily appointed for their halls, where the chief officers and household servants (for all are not permitted by custom to wait upon their master), and with them such inferior guests do feed as are not of calling to associate the nobleman himself; so that, besides those aforementioned, which are called to the principal table, there are commonly forty or three score persons fed in those halls, to the great relief of such poor suitors and strangers also as oft be partakers thereof and otherwise like to dine hardly. As for drink, it is usually filled in pots, goblets, jugs, bowls of silver, in noblemen’s houses; also in fine Venice glasses of all forms; and, for want of these elsewhere, in pots of earth of sundry colours and moulds, whereof many are garnished with silver, or at the leastwise in pewter, all which notwithstanding are seldom set on the table, but each one, as necessity urgeth, calleth for a cup of such drink as him listeth to have, so that, when he has tasted of it, he delivered the cup again to some one of the standers by, who, making it clean by pouring out the drink that remaineth, restoreth it to the cupboard from whence he fetched the same. By this device (a thing brought up at the first by Mnesitheus of Athens, in conservation of the honour of Orestes, who had not yet made expiation for the death of his adulterous parents,[133] Ægisthus and Clytemnestra) much idle tippling is furthermore cut off; for, if the full pots should continually stand at the elbow or near the trencher, divers would always be dealing with them, whereas now they drink seldom, and only when necessity urgeth, and so avoid the note of great drinking, or often troubling of the servitors with filling of their bowls. Nevertheless in the noblemen’s halls this order is not used, neither is any man’s house commonly under the degree of a knight or esquire of great[Pg 90] revenues. It is a world to see in these our days, wherein gold and silver most aboundeth, how that our gentility, as loathing those metals (because of the plenty)[134] do now generally choose rather the Venice glasses, both for our wine and beer, than any of those metals or stone wherein before time we have been accustomed to drink; but such is the nature of man generally that it most coveteth things difficult to be attained; and such is the estimation of this stuff that many become rich only with their new trade unto Murana (a town near to Venice, situate on the Adriatic Sea), from whence the very best are daily to be had, and such as for beauty do well near match the crystal or the ancient murrhina vasa whereof now no man hath knowledge. And as this is seen in the gentility, so in the wealthy communalty the like desire of glass is not neglected, whereby the gain gotten by their purchase is yet much more increased to the benefit of the merchant. The poorest also will have glass if they may; but, sith the Venetian is somewhat too dear for them, they content themselves with such as are made at home of fern and burned stone; but in fine all go one way—that is, to[Pg 91] shards at the last, so that our great expenses in glasses (beside that they breed much strife toward such as have the charge of them) are worst of all bestowed in mine opinion, because their pieces do turn unto no profit. If the philosopher’s stone were once found, and one part hereof mixed with forty of molten glass, it would induce such a metallical toughness thereunto that a fall should nothing hurt it in such manner; yet it might peradventure bunch or batter it; nevertheless that inconvenience were quickly to be redressed by the hammer.[135] But whither am I slipped?

The gentlemen and merchants keep much about one rate, and each of them contenteth himself with four, five, or six dishes, when they have but small resort, or peradventure with one, or two, or three at the most, when they have no strangers to accompany them at their tables. And yet their servants have their ordinary diet assigned, beside such as is left at their master’s boards, and not appointed to be brought thither the second time, which nevertheless is often seen, generally in venison, lamb, or some especial dish, whereon the merchantman himself liketh to feed when it is cold, or peradventure for sundry causes incident to the feeder is better so than if it were warm or hot. To be short, at such times as the merchants do make their ordinary or voluntary feasts, it is a world to see what great provision is made of all manner of delicate meats, from every quarter of the country, wherein, beside that they are often[Pg 92] comparable herein to the nobility of the land, they will seldom regard anything that the butcher usually killeth, but reject the same as not worthy to come in place. In such cases also jellies of all colours, mixed with a variety in the representation of sundry flowers, herbs, trees, forms of beasts, fish, fowls, and fruits, and thereunto marchpane wrought with no small curiosity, tarts of divers hues, and sundry denominations, conserves of old fruits, foreign and home-bred, suckets, codinacs, marmalades, marchpane, sugar-bread, gingerbread, florentines, wild fowls, venison of all sorts, and sundry outlandish confections, altogether seasoned with sugar (which Pliny calleth mel ex arundinibus, a device not common nor greatly used in old time at the table, but only in medicine, although it grew in Arabia, India, and Sicilia), do generally bear the sway, besides infinite devices of our own not possible for me to remember. Of the potato, and such venerous[136] roots as are brought out of Spain, Portugal, and the Indies to furnish up our banquets, I speak not, wherein our mures[137] of no less force, and to be had about Crosby-Ravenswath,[138] do now begin to have place.

But among all these, the kind of meat which is obtained with[Pg 93] most difficulty and costs, is commonly taken for the most delicate, and thereupon each guest will soonest desire to feed. And as all estates do exceed herein, I mean for strangeness and number of costly dishes, so these forget not to use the like excess in wine, insomuch as there is no kind to be had, neither anywhere more store of all sorts than in England, although we have none growing with us but yearly to the proportion of 20,000 or 30,000 tun and upwards, notwithstanding the daily restraints of the same brought over unto us, whereof at great meetings there is not some store to be had. Neither do I mean this of small wines only, as claret, white, red, French, etc., which amount to about fifty-six sorts, according to the number of regions from whence they came, but also of the thirty kinds of Italian, Grecian, Spanish, Canarian, etc., whereof vernage, catepument, raspis, muscadell, romnie, bastard lire, osy caprie, clary, and malmesey, are not least of all accompted of, because of their strength and valour. For, as I have said in meat, so, the stronger the wine is, the more it is desired, by means whereof, in old time, the best was called theologicum, because it was had from the clergy and religious men, unto whose houses many of the laity would often send for bottles filled with the same, being sure they would neither drink nor be served of the worst, or such as was any ways mingled or brewed by the vinterer: nay, the merchant would have thought that his soul should have gone straightway to the devil if he should have served them with other than the best. Furthermore, when these have had their course which nature yieldeth, sundry sorts of artificial stuff as ypocras and wormwood wine must in like manner succeed in their turns, beside stale ale and strong beer, which nevertheless bear the greatest brunt in drinking, and are of so many sorts and ages as it pleaseth the brewer to make them.

The beer that is used at noblemen’s tables in their fixed and standing houses is commonly a year old, or peradventure of two years’ tunning or more; but this is not general. It is also brewed in March, and therefore called March beer; but, for the household, it is usually not under a month’s age,[Pg 94] each one coveting to have the same stale as he may, so that it be not sour, and his bread new as is possible, so that it be not hot.

The artificer and husbandman makes greatest account of such meat as they may soonest come by, and have it quickliest ready, except it be in London when the companies of every trade do meet on their quarter days, at which time they be nothing inferior to the nobility. Their food also consisteth principally in beef, and such meat as the butcher selleth—that is to say, mutton, veal, lamb, pork, etc., whereof he findeth great store in the markets adjoining, beside sows, brawn, bacon, fruit, pies of fruit, fowls of sundry sorts, cheese, butter, eggs, etc., as the other wanteth it not at home, by his own provision which is at the best hand, and commonly least charge. In feasting also, this latter sort, I mean the husbandmen, do exceed after their manner, especially at bridals, purifications of women, and such odd meetings, where it is incredible to tell what meat is consumed and spent, each one bringing such a dish, or so many with him, as his wife and he do consult upon, but always with this consideration, that the lesser friend shall have the better provision. This also is commonly seen at these banquets, that the good man of the house is not charged with anything saving bread, drink, sauce, house-room, and fire. But the artificers in cities and good towns do deal far otherwise; for, albeit that some of them do suffer their jaws to go oft before their claws, and divers of them, by making good cheer, do hinder themselves and other men, yet the wiser sort can handle the matter well enough in these junkettings, and therefore their frugality deserveth commendation. To conclude, both the artificer and the husbandman are sufficiently liberal, and very friendly at their tables; and, when they meet, they are so merry without malice, and plain without inward Italian or French craft and subtlety, that it would do a man good to be in company among them. Herein only are the inferior sort somewhat to be blamed, that, being thus assembled, their talk is now and then such as savoureth of scurrility and ribaldry, a thing naturally incident[Pg 95] to carters and clowns, who think themselves not to be merry and welcome if their foolish veins in this behalf be never so little restrained. This is moreover to be added in these meetings, that if they happen to stumble upon a piece of venison and a cup of wine or very strong beer or ale (which latter they commonly provide against their appointed days), they think their cheer so great, and themselves to have fared so well, as the Lord Mayor of London, with whom, when their bellies be full, they will not often stick to make comparison, because that of a subject there is no public officer of any city in Europe that may compare in port and countenance with him during the time of his office.

I might here talk somewhat of the great silence that is used at the tables of the honourable and wiser sort generally over all the realm (albeit that too much deserveth no commendation, for it belongeth to guests neither to be muti nor loquaces), likewise of the moderate eating and drinking that is daily seen, and finally of the regard that each one hath to keep himself from the note of surfeiting and drunkenness (for which cause salt meat, except beef, bacon, and pork, are not any whit esteemed, and yet these three may not be much powdered); but, as in rehearsal thereof I should commend the nobleman, merchant, and frugal artificer, so I could not clear the meaner sort of husbandmen and country inhabitants of very much babbling (except it be here and there some odd yeoman), with whom he is thought to be the merriest that talketh of most ribaldry or the wisest man that speaketh fastest among them, and now and then surfeiting and drunkenness which they rather fall into for want of heed taking than wilfully following or delighting in those errors of set mind and purpose. It may be that divers of them living at home, with hard and pinching diet, small drink, and some of them having scarce enough of that, are soonest overtaken when they come into such banquets; howbeit they take it generally as no small disgrace if they happen to be cupshotten, so that it is a grief unto them, though now sans remedy, sith the thing is done and past. If the friends also of the wealthier sort come to their houses from far,[Pg 96] they are commonly so welcome till they depart as upon the first day of their coming; whereas in good towns and cities, as London, etc., men oftentimes complain of little room, and, in reward of a fat capon or plenty of beef and mutton largely bestowed upon them in the country, a cup of wine or beer with a napkin to wipe their lips and an “You are heartily welcome!” is thought to be a great entertainment; and therefore the old country clerks have framed this saying in that behalf, I mean upon the entertainment of townsmen and Londoners after the days of their abode, in this manner:

“Primus jucundus, tollerabilis estque secundus,
Tertius est vanus, sed fetet quatriduanus.”


The bread throughout the land is made of such grain as the soil yieldeth; nevertheless the gentility commonly provide themselves sufficiently of wheat for their own tables, whilst their household and poor neighbours in some shires are forced to content themselves with rye, or barley, yea, and in time of dearth, many with bread made either of beans, peas, or oats, or of altogether and some acorns among, of which scourge the poorest do soonest taste, sith they are least able to provide themselves of better. I will not say that this extremity is oft so well to be seen in time of plenty as of dearth, but, if I should, I could easily bring my trial. For, albeit that there be much more ground eared now almost in every place than hath been of late years, yet such a price of corn continueth in each town and market without any just cause (except it be that landlords do get licences to carry corn out of the land only to keep up the prices for their own private gains and ruin of the commonwealth), that the artificer and poor labouring man is not able to reach unto it, but is driven to content himself with horse corn—I mean beans, peas, oats, tares, and lentils: and therefore it is a true proverb, and never so well verified as now, that “Hunger setteth his first foot into the horse-manger.”[139] If the world last awhile after this rate, wheat and rye will be no grain for poor[Pg 97] men to feed on; and some caterpillars there are that can say so much already.

Of bread made of wheat we have sundry sorts daily brought to the table, whereof the first and most excellent is the manchet, which we commonly call white bread, in Latin primarius panis, whereof Budeus also speaketh, in his first book De asse; and our good workmen deliver commonly such proportion that of the flour of one bushel with another they make forty cast of manchet, of which every loaf weigheth eight ounces into the oven, and six ounces out, as I have been informed. The second is the cheat or wheaten bread, so named because the colour thereof resembleth the grey or yellowish wheat, being clean and well dressed, and out of this is the coarsest of the bran (usually called gurgeons or pollard) taken. The ravelled is a kind of cheap bread also, but it retaineth more of the gross, and less of the pure substance of the wheat; and this, being more slightly wrought up, is used in the halls of the nobility and gentry only, whereas the other either is or should be baked in cities and good towns of an appointed size (according to such price as the corn doth bear), and by a statute provided by King John in that behalf.[140] The ravelled cheat therefore is generally so made that out of one bushel of meal, after two and twenty pounds of bran be sifted and taken from it (whereunto they add the gurgeons that rise from the manchet), they make thirty cast, every loaf weighing eighteen ounces into the oven, and sixteen ounces out; and, beside this, they so handle the matter that to every bushel of meal they add only two and twenty, or three and twenty, pound of water, washing also (in some houses) their corn before it go to the mill, whereby their manchet bread is more excellent in colour, and pleasing to the eye, than otherwise it would be. The next sort is named brown bread, of the colour of which we have two sorts one baked up as it cometh from the mill, so that neither the bran nor the flour are any whit diminished; this, Celsus called autopirus panis, lib. 2, and putteth it in the second place[Pg 98] of nourishment. The other hath little or no flour left therein at all, howbeit he calleth it Panem Cibarium, and it is not only the worst and weakest of all the other sorts, but also appointed in old time for servants, slaves, and the inferior kind of people to feed upon. Hereunto likewise, because it is dry and brickie in the working (for it will hardly be made up handsomely into loaves), some add a portion of rye meal in our time, whereby the rough dryness or dry roughness thereof is somewhat qualified, and then it is named miscelin, that is, bread made of mingled corn, albeit that divers do sow or mingle wheat and rye of set purpose at the mill, or before it come there, and sell the same at the markets under the aforesaid name.

In champaign countries much rye and barley bread is eaten, but especially where wheat is scant and geson. As for the difference that is between the summer and winter wheat, most husbandmen know it not, sith they are neither acquainted with summer wheat nor winter barley; yet here and there I find of both sorts, specially in the north and about Kendal, where they call it March wheat, and also of summer rye, but in so small quantities as that I dare not pronounce them to be greatly common among us.

Our drink, whose force and continuance is partly touched already, is made of barley, water, and hops, sodden and mingled together, by the industry of our brewers in a certain exact proportion. But, before our barley do come into their hands, it sustaineth great alteration, and is converted into malt, the making whereof I will here set down in such order as my skill therein may extend unto (for I am scarce a good maltster), chiefly for that foreign writers have attempted to describe the same, and the making of our beer, wherein they have shot so far wide, as the quantity of ground was between themselves and their mark. In the meantime bear with me, gentle reader (I beseech thee), that lead thee from the description of the plentiful diet of our country unto the fond report of a servile trade, or rather from a table delicately furnished into a musty malt-house; but such is now thy hap, wherefore I pray thee be contented.

Our malt is made all the year long in some great towns; but[Pg 99] in gentlemen’s and yeomen’s houses, who commonly make sufficient for their own expenses only, the winter half is thought most meet for that commodity: howbeit the malt that is made when the willow doth bud is commonly worst of all. Nevertheless each one endeavoureth to make it of the best barley, which is steeped in a cistern, in greater or less quantity, by the space of three days and three nights, until it be thoroughly soaked. This being done, the water is drained from it by little and little, till it be quite gone. Afterward they take it out, and, laying it upon the clean floor on a round heap, it resteth so until it be ready to shoot at the root end, which maltsters call combing. When it beginneth therefore to shoot in this manner, they say it is come, and then forthwith they spread it abroad, first thick, and afterwards thinner and thinner upon the said floor (as it combeth), and there it lieth (with turning every day four or five times) by the space of one and twenty days at the least, the workmen not suffering it in any wise to take any heat, whereby the bud end should spire, that bringeth forth the blade, and by which oversight or hurt of the stuff itself the malt would be spoiled and turn small commodity to the brewer. When it hath gone, or been turned, so long upon the floor, they carry it to a kiln covered with hair cloth, where they give it gentle heats (after they have spread it there very thin abroad) till it be dry, and in the meanwhile they turn it often, that it may be uniformly dried. For the more it be dried (yet must it be done with soft fire) the sweeter and better the malt is, and the longer it will continue, whereas, if it be not dried down (as they call it), but slackly handled, it will breed a kind of worm called a weevil, which groweth in the flour of the corn, and in process of time will so eat out itself that nothing shall remain of the grain but even the very rind or husk.

The best malt is tried by the hardness and colour; for, if it look fresh with a yellow hue, and thereto will write like a piece of chalk, after you have bitten a kernel in sunder in the midst, then you may assure yourself that it is dried down. In some places it is dried at leisure with wood alone or straw alone, in others with wood and straw together; but, of all, the straw-dried[Pg 100] is the most excellent. For the wood-dried malt when it is brewed, beside that the drink is higher of colour, it doth hurt and annoy the head of him that is not used thereto, because of the smoke. Such also as use both indifferently do bark, cleave, and dry their wood in an oven, thereby to remove all moisture that should procure the fume; and this malt is in the second place, and, with the same likewise, that which is made with dried furze, broom, etc.: whereas, if they also be occupied green, they are in manner so prejudicial to the corn as is the moist wood. And thus much of our malts, in brewing whereof some grind the same somewhat grossly, and, in seething well the liquor that shall be put into it, they add to every nine quarters of malt one of headcorn (which consisteth of sundry grain, as wheat and oats ground). But what have I to do with this matter, or rather so great a quantity, wherewith I am not acquainted? Nevertheless, sith I have taken occasion to speak of brewing, I will exemplify in such a proportion as I am best skilled in, because it is the usual rate for mine own family, and once in a month practised by my wife and her maid-servants, who proceed withal after this manner, as she hath oft informed me.

Having therefore ground eight bushels of good malt upon our quern, where the toll is saved, she addeth unto it half a bushel of wheat meal, and so much of oats small ground, and so tempereth or mixeth them with the malt that you cannot easily discern the one from the other; otherwise these latter would clunter, fall into lumps, and thereby become unprofitable. The first liquor (which is full eighty gallons, according to the proportion of our furnace) she maketh boiling hot, and then poureth it softly into the malt, where it resteth (but without stirring) until her second liquor be almost ready to boil. This done, she letteth her mash run till the malt be left without liquor, or at the leastwise the greatest part of the moisture, which she perceiveth by the stay and soft issue thereof; and by this time her second liquor in the furnace is ready to seethe, which is put also to the malt, as the first woort also again into the furnace, whereunto she addeth two pounds of the best English[Pg 101] hops, and so letteth them seethe together by the space of two hours in summer or an hour and a half in winter, whereby it getteth an excellent colour, and continuance without impeachment or any superfluous tartness. But, before she putteth her first woort into the furnace, or mingleth it with the hops, she taketh out a vessel full, of eight or nine gallons, which she shutteth up close, and suffereth no air to come into it till it become yellow, and this she reserveth by itself unto further use, as shall appear hereafter, calling it brackwoort or charwoort, and, as she saith, it addeth also to the colour of the drink, whereby it yieldeth not unto amber or fine gold in hue unto the eye. By this time also her second woort is let run; and, the first being taken out of the furnace, and placed to cool, she returneth the middle woort unto the furnace, where it is stricken over, or from whence it is taken again, when it beginneth to boil, and mashed the second time, whilst the third liquor is heat (for there are three liquors), and this last put into the furnace, when the second is mashed again. When she hath mashed also the last liquor (and set the second to cool by the first), she letteth it run, and then seetheth it again with a pound and a half of new hops, or peradventure two pounds, as she seeth cause by the goodness or baseness of the hops, and, when it hath sodden, in summer two hours, and in winter an hour and a half, she striketh it also, and reserveth it unto mixture with the rest when time doth serve therefore. Finally, when she setteth her drink together, she addeth to her brackwoort or charwoort half an ounce of arras, and half a quarter of an ounce of bayberries, finely powdered, and then, putting the same into her woort, with a handful of wheat flour, she proceedeth in such usual order as common brewing requireth. Some, instead of arras and bays, add so much long pepper only, but, in her opinion and my liking, it is not so good as the first, and hereof we make three hogsheads of good beer, such (I mean) as is meet for poor men as I am to live withal, whose small maintenance (for what great thing is forty pounds a year, computatis computandis, able to perform?) may endure no deeper cut, the charges whereof groweth in this manner. I[Pg 102] value my malt at ten shillings, my wood at four shillings (which I buy), my hops at twenty pence, the spice at twopence, servants’ wages two shillings sixpence, with meat and drink, and the wearing of my vessel at twenty pence, so that for my twenty shillings I have ten score gallons of beer or more, notwithstanding the loss in seething, which some, being loth to forego, do not observe the time, and therefore speed thereafter in their success, and worthily. The continuance of the drink is always determined after the quantity of the hops, so that being well hopt it lasteth longer. For it feedeth upon the hop, and holdeth out so long as the force of the same continueth, which being extinguished, the drink must be spent, or else it dieth and becometh of no value.

In this trade also our brewers observe very diligently the nature of the water, which they daily occupy, and soil through which it passeth, for all waters are not of like goodness, sith the fattest standing water is always the best; for, although the waters that run by chalk or cledgy soils be good, and next unto the Thames water, which is the most excellent, yet the water that standeth in either of these is the best for us that dwell in the country, as whereon the sun lieth longest, and fattest fish is bred. But, of all other, the fenny and marsh is the worst, and the clearest spring water next unto it. In this business therefore the skilful workman doth redeem the iniquity of that element, by changing of his proportions, which trouble in ale (sometime our only, but now taken with many for old and sick men’s drink) is never seen nor heard of. Howbeit, as the beer well sodden in the brewing, and stale, is clear and well coloured as muscadel or malvesey,[141] or rather yellow as the gold noble, as our pot-knights call it, so our ale, which is not at all or very little[Pg 103] sodden, and without hops, is more thick, fulsome, and of no such continuance, which are three notable things to be considered in that liquor. But what for that? Certes I know some ale-knights so much addicted thereunto that they will not cease from morrow until even to visit the same, cleansing house after house, till they defile themselves, and either fall quite under the board, or else, not daring to stir from their stools, sit still pinking with their narrow eyes, as half sleeping, till the fume of their adversary be digested that he may go to it afresh. Such slights also have the ale-wives for the utterance of this drink that they will mix it with rosen and salt; but if you heat a knife red-hot, and quench it in the ale so near the bottom of the pot as you can put it, you shall see the rosen come forth hanging on the knife. As for the force of salt, it is well known by the effect, for the more the drinker tippleth, the more he may, and so doth he carry off a dry drunken noll to bed with him, except his luck be the better. But to my purpose.

In some places of England there is a kind of drink made of apples which they call cider or pomage, but that of pears is called perry, and both are ground and pressed in presses made for the nonce. Certes these two are very common in Sussex, Kent, Worcester, and other steeds where these sorts of fruits do abound, howbeit they are not their only drink at all times, but referred unto the delicate sorts of drink, as metheglin is in Wales, whereof the Welshmen make no less account (and not without cause, if it be well handled) than the Greeks did of their ambrosia or nectar, which for the pleasantness thereof was supposed to be such as the gods themselves did delight in. There is a kind of swish-swash made also in Essex, and divers other places, with honeycombs and water, which the homely country wives, putting some pepper and a little other spice among, call mead, very good in mine opinion for such as love to be loose bodied at large, or a little eased of the cough. Otherwise it differeth so much from the true metheglin as chalk from cheese. Truly it is nothing else but the washing of the combs, when the honey is wrung out, and one of the best things that I know belonging thereto is that they spend but little[Pg 104] labour, and less cost, in making of the same, and therefore no great loss if it were never occupied. Hitherto of the diet of my countrymen, and somewhat more at large peradventure than many men will like of, wherefore I think good now to finish this tractation, and so will I, when I have added a few other things incident unto that which goeth before, whereby the whole process of the same shall fully be delivered, and my promise to my friend[142] in this behalf performed.

Heretofore there hath been much more time spent in eating and drinking than commonly is in these days; for whereas of old we had breakfasts in the forenoon, beverages or nunchions[143] after dinner, and thereto rear suppers generally when it was time to go to rest (a toy brought into England by hardy Canutus, and a custom whereof Athenæus[144] also speaketh, lib. 1, albeit Hippocrates speaks but of twice at the most, lib. 2, De rat vict. in feb ac). Now, these odd repasts—thanked be God!—are very well left, and each one in manner (except here and there some young, hungry stomach that cannot fast till dinner-time) contenteth himself with dinner and supper only. The Normans, misliking the gormandise of Canutus, ordained after their arrival that no table should be covered above once in the day, which Huntingdon[145] imputeth to their avarice; but[Pg 105] in the end, either waxing weary of their own frugality, or suffering the cockle of old custom to overgrow the good corn of their new constitution, they fell to such liberty that in often-feeding they surmounted Canutus surnamed the Hardy. For, whereas he covered his table but three or four times in the day, these spread their cloths five or six times, and in such wise as I before rehearsed. They brought in also the custom of long and stately sitting at meat, whereby their feasts resembled those ancient pontifical banquets whereof Macrobius speaketh (lib. 3, cap. 13), and Pliny (lib. 10, cap. 10), and which for sumptuousness of fare, long sitting, and curiosity shewed in the same, exceeded all other men’s feasting; which fondness is not yet left with us, notwithstanding that it proveth very beneficial for the physicians, who most abound where most excess and misgovernment of our bodies do appear, although it be a great expense of time, and worthy of reprehension. For the nobility, gentlemen, and merchantmen, especially at great meetings, do sit commonly till two or three of the clock at afternoon, so that with many it is a hard matter to rise from the table to go to evening prayer, and return from thence to come time enough to supper.[146]

With us the nobility, gentry, and students do ordinarily go to dinner at eleven before noon, and to supper at five, or between five and six at afternoon. The merchants dine and sup seldom before twelve at noon, and six at night, especially in London. The husbandmen dine also at high noon as they call it, and sup at seven or eight; but out of the term in our universities the scholars dine at ten. As for the poorest sort they generally dine and sup when they may, so that to talk of their order of repast it were but a needless matter. I might here take occasion also to set down the variety used by antiquity in their beginnings of their diets, wherein almost every nation had a several fashion, some beginning of custom[Pg 106] (as we do in summer time) with salads at supper, and some ending with lettuce,[147] some making their entry[148] with eggs, and shutting up their tables with mulberries, as we do with fruit and conceits of all sorts. Divers (as the old Romans) began with a few crops of rue, as the Venetians did with the fish called gobius; the Belgæs with butter, or (as we do yet also) with butter and eggs upon fish days. But whereas we commonly begin with the most gross food, and end with the most delicate, the Scot, thinking much to leave the best for his menial servants, maketh his entrance at the best, so that he is sure thereby to leave the worst. We use also our wines by degrees, so that the hostess cometh last to the table: but to stand upon such toys would spend much time, and turn to small profit. Wherefore I will deal with other things more necessary for this turn.



[Pg 107]



[1577, Book III., Chapter 2; 1587, Book II., Chapter 7.]

An Englishman, endeavouring sometime to write of our attire, made sundry platforms for his purpose, supposing by some of them to find out one steadfast ground whereon to build the sum of his discourse. But in the end (like an orator long without exercise), when he saw what a difficult piece of work he had taken in hand, he gave over his travel, and only drew the picture of a naked man,[149] unto whom he gave a pair of shears in the one hand and a piece of cloth in the other, to the end he should shape his apparel after such fashion as himself liked, sith he could find no kind of garment that could please him any while together; and this he called an Englishman. Certes this writer (otherwise being a lewd popish hypocrite and ungracious priest[150]) shewed himself herein not to be altogether void of judgment, sith the phantastical folly of our nation (even from the courtier to the carter) is such[Pg 108] that no form of apparel liketh us longer than the first garment is in the wearing, if it continue so long, and be not laid aside to receive some other trinket newly devised by the fickle-headed tailors, who covet to have several tricks in cutting, thereby to draw fond customers to more expense of money. For my part, I can tell better how to inveigh against this enormity than describe any certainty of our attire; sithence such is our mutability that to-day there is none to the Spanish guise, to-morrow the French toys are most fine and delectable, ere long no such apparel as that which is after the high Almaine[151] fashion, by-and-by the Turkish manner is generally best liked of, otherwise the Morisco gowns, the Barbarian fleeces, the mandilion worn to Colley-Weston ward,[152] and the short French breeches make such a comely vesture that, except it were a dog in a doublet, you shall not see any so disguised as are my countrymen of England.[153] And as these fashions are diverse, so likewise it is a world to see the costliness and the curiosity, the excess and the vanity, the pomp and the bravery, the change and the variety, and finally the fickleness and the folly, that is in all degrees, insomuch that nothing is more constant in England than inconstancy of attire. Oh, how much cost is bestowed nowadays upon our bodies, and how little upon our souls! How many suits of apparel hath the one, and how little furniture hath the other! How long time is asked in decking up of the first, and how little space left[Pg 109] wherein to feed the latter! How curious, how nice also, are a number of men and women, and how hardly can the tailor please them in making it fit for their bodies! How many times must it be sent back again to him that made it! What chafing, what fretting, what reproachful language, doth the poor workman bear away![154] And many times when he doth nothing to it at all, yet when it is brought home again it is very fit and handsome; then must we put it on, then must the long seams of our hose be set by a plumb-line, then we puff, then we blow, and finally sweat till we drop, that our clothes may stand well upon us. I will say nothing of our heads, which sometimes are polled, sometimes curled, or suffered to grow at length like woman’s locks, many times cut off, above or under the ears, round as by a wooden dish. Neither will I meddle with our variety of beards, of which some are shaven from the chin like those of Turks, not a few cut short like to the beard of Marquess Otto, some made round like a rubbing brush, others with a pique de vant (O! fine fashion!), or now and then suffered to grow long, the barbers being grown to be so cunning in this behalf as the tailors. And therefore if a man have a lean and straight face, a Marquess Otton’s cut will make it broad and large; if it be platter-like, a long, slender beard will make it seem the narrower; if he be weasel-becked, then much hair left on the cheeks will make the owner look big like a bowdled hen, and as grim as a goose, if Cornelis of Chelmersford say true. Many old men do wear no beards at all. Some lusty courtiers also and gentlemen of courage do wear either rings of gold, stones, or pearl, in their ears, whereby they imagine the workmanship of God not to be a little amended. But herein they rather disgrace than adorn their persons, as by their niceness in apparel, for which I say most nations do not unjustly deride us, as also for that we do seem to imitate all nations round about us, wherein we be like to the polypus or[Pg 110] chameleon; and thereunto bestow most cost upon our arses, and much more than upon all the rest of our bodies, as women do likewise upon their heads and shoulders. In women also, it is most to be lamented, that they do now far exceed the lightness of our men (who nevertheless are transformed from the cap even to the very shoe), and such staring attire as in time past was supposed meet for none but light housewives only is now become a habit for chaste and sober matrons. What should I say of their doublets with pendant codpieces on the breast full of jags and cuts, and sleeves of sundry colours? Their galligascons to bear out their bums and make their attire to fit plum round (as they term it) about them. Their fardingals, and diversely coloured nether stocks of silk, jerdsey, and such like, whereby their bodies are rather deformed than commended? I have met with some of these trulls in London so disguised that it hath passed my skill to discern whether they were men or women.[155]

Thus it is now come to pass, that women are become men, and men transformed[156] into monsters; and those good gifts which Almighty God hath given unto us to relieve our necessities withal (as a nation turning altogether the grace of God into wantonness, for

“Luxuriant animi rebus plerunque fecundis,”)

not otherwise bestowed than in all excess, as if we wist not[Pg 111] otherwise how to consume and waste them. I pray God that in this behalf our sin be not like unto that of Sodom and Gomorrah, whose errors were pride, excess of diet, and abuse of God’s benefits abundantly bestowed upon them, beside want of charity towards the poor, and certain other points which the prophet shutteth up in silence. Certes the commonwealth cannot be said to flourish where these abuses reign, but is rather oppressed by unreasonable exactions made upon rich farmers, and of poor tenants, wherewith to maintain the same. Neither was it ever merrier with England than when an Englishman was known abroad by his own cloth, and contented himself at home with his fine carsey hosen, and a mean slop; his coat, gown, and cloak of brown, blue, or puke,[157] with some pretty furniture of velvet or fur, and a doublet of sad tawny, or black velvet, or other comely silk, without such cuts and garish colours as are worn in these days, and never brought in but by the consent of the French, who think themselves the gayest men when they have most diversities of jags[158] and change of[Pg 112] colours about them. Certes of all estates our merchants do least alter their attire, and therefore are most to be commended; for albeit that which they wear be very fine and costly, yet in form and colour it representeth a great piece of the ancient gravity appertaining to citizens and burgesses, albeit the younger sort of their wives, both in attire and costly housekeeping, cannot tell when and how to make an end, as being women indeed in whom all kind of curiosity is to be found and seen, and in far greater measure than in women of higher calling. I might here name a sort of hues devised for the nonce, wherewith to please fantastical heads, as goose-turd green,[159] peas-porridge tawny, popingay blue,[160] lusty gallant, the devil-in-the-head (I should say the hedge), and such like; but I pass them over, thinking it sufficient to have said thus much of apparel generally, when nothing can particularly be spoken of any constancy thereof.[161]



[Pg 113]



[1577, Book II., Chapter 10; 1587, Book II., Chapter 12.]

The greatest part of our building in the cities and good towns of England consisteth only of timber, for as yet few of the houses of the communalty (except here and there in the West-country towns) are made of stone, although they may (in my opinion) in divers other places be builded so good cheap of the one as of the other. In old time the houses of the Britons were slightly set up with a few posts and many raddles, with stable and all offices under one roof, the like whereof almost is to be seen in the fenny countries and northern parts unto this day, where for lack of wood they are enforced to continue this ancient manner of building. It is not in vain, therefore, in speaking of building, to make a distinction between the plain and woody soils; for as in these, our houses are commonly strong and well-timbered (so that in many places there are not above four, six, or nine inches between stud and stud), so in the open champaign countries they are forced, for want of stuff, to use no studs at all, but only frankposts, raisins, beams, prickposts, groundsels, summers (or dormants), transoms, and such principals, with here and there a girding, whereunto they fasten their splints or raddles, and then cast it all over with thick clay to keep out the wind, which otherwise would annoy[Pg 114] them. Certes this rude kind of building made the Spaniards in Queen Mary’s days to wonder, but chiefly when they saw what large diet was used in many of these so homely cottages; insomuch that one of no small reputation amongst them said after this manner—“These English (quoth he) have their houses made of sticks and dirt, but they fare commonly so well as the king.” Whereby it appeareth that he liked better of our good fare in such coarse cabins than of their own thin diet in their prince-like habitations and palaces. In like sort as every country house is thus apparelled on the outside, so is it inwardly divided into sundry rooms above and beneath; and, where plenty of wood is, they cover them with tiles, otherwise with straw, sedge, or reed,[163] except some quarry of slate be near hand, from whence they have for their money much as may suffice them. The clay wherewith our houses are impannelled is either white, red, or blue; and of these the first doth participate very much of the nature of our chalk; the second is called loam; but the third eftsoons changeth colour as soon as it is wrought, notwithstanding that it looks blue when it is thrown out of the pit. Of chalk also we have our excellent asbestos or white lime, made in most places, wherewith being quenched, we strike over our clay works and stone walls, in cities, good towns, rich farmers’ and gentlemen’s houses: otherwise, instead of chalk (where it wanteth, for it is so scant that in some places it is sold by the pound), they are compelled to burn a certain kind of red stone, as in Wales, and elsewhere other stones and shells of oysters and like fish found upon the sea coast, which, being converted into lime, doth naturally (as the other) abhor and eschew water, whereby it is dissolved, and nevertheless desire oil, wherewith it is easily mixed, as I have seen by experience. Within their doors also, such as are of ability do oft make their floors and parget of fine alabaster burned, which they call plaster of Paris, whereof in some places we have great plenty, and that very profitable against the rage of fire. In plastering likewise of our fairest houses over our heads, we use to lay first a line or two of white mortar, tempered with[Pg 115] hair, upon laths, which are nailed one by another (or sometimes upon reed of wickers more dangerous for fire, and made fast here and there saplaths for falling down), and finally cover all with the aforesaid plaster, which, beside the delectable whiteness of the stuff itself, is laid on so even and smoothly as nothing in my judgment can be done with more exactness. The walls of our houses on the inner sides in like sort be either hanged with tapestry, arras work, or painted cloths, wherein either divers histories, or herbs, beasts, knots, and such like are stained, or else they are ceiled with oak of our own, or wainscot brought hither out of the east countries, whereby the rooms are not a little commended, made warm, and much more close than otherwise they would be. As for stoves, we have not hitherto used them greatly, yet do they now begin to be made in divers houses of the gentry and wealthy citizens, who build them not to work and feed in, as in Germany and elsewhere, but now and then to sweat in, as occasion and need shall require it.

This also hath been common in England, contrary to the customs of all other nations, and yet to be seen (for example, in most streets of London), that many of our greatest houses have outwardly been very simple and plain to sight, which inwardly have been able to receive a duke with his whole train, and lodge them at their ease. Hereby, moreover, it is come to pass that the fronts of our streets have not been so uniform and orderly builded as those of foreign cities, where (to say truth) the outer side of their mansions and dwellings have oft more cost bestowed upon them than all the rest of the house, which are often very simple and uneasy within, as experience doth confirm. Of old time, our country houses, instead of glass, did use much lattice, and that made either of wicker or fine rifts of oak in checkerwise. I read also that some of the better sort, in and before the times of the Saxons (who notwithstanding used some glass also since the time of Benedict Biscop, the monk that brought the feat of glazing first into this land), did make panels of horn instead of glass, and fix them in wooden calmes. But as horn in windows is[Pg 116] now quite laid down in every place, so our lattices are also grown into less use, because glass is come to be so plentiful, and within a very little so good cheap, if not better than the other. I find obscure mention of the specular stone also to have been found and applied to this use in England, but in such doubtful sort as I dare not affirm it for certain. Nevertheless certain it is that antiquity used it before glass was known, under the name of selenites. And how glass was first found I care not greatly to remember, even at this present, although it be directly beside my purposed matter. In Syria Phenices, which bordereth upon Jewry, and near to the foot of Mount Carmel, there is a moor or marsh whereout riseth a brook called sometime Belus, and falleth into the sea near to Ptolemais. This river was fondly ascribed unto Baal, and also honoured under that name by the infidels long time before there was any king in Israel. It came to pass also, as a certain merchant sailed that way, loaden with nitrum, the passengers went to land for to repose themselves, and to take in some store of fresh water into their vessel. Being also on the shore, they kindled a fire and made provision for their dinner, but (because they wanted trevets or stones whereon to set their kettles on) ran by chance into the ship, and brought great pieces of nitrum with them, which served their turn for that present. To be short, the said substance being hot, and beginning to melt, it mixed by chance with the gravel that lay under it, and so brought forth that shining substance which now is called glass, and about the time of Semiramis. When the company saw this, they made no small accompt of their success, and forthwith began to practise the like in other mixtures, whereby great variety of the said stuff did also ensue. Certes for the time this history may well be true, for I read of glass in Job; but, for the rest, I refer me to the common opinion conceived by writers. Now, to turn again to our windows. Heretofore also the houses of our princes and noblemen were often glazed with beryl (an example whereof is yet to be seen in Sudeley Castle) and in divers other places with fine crystal, but this especially in the time of the Romans, whereof also some[Pg 117] fragments have been taken up in old ruins. But now these are not in use, so that only the clearest glass is most esteemed: for we have divers sorts, some brought out of Burgundy, some out of Normandy, much out of Flanders, beside that which is made in England, which would be so good as the best if we were diligent and careful to bestow more cost upon it, and yet as it is each one that may will have it for his building. Moreover the mansion houses of our country towns and villages (which in champaign ground stand altogether by streets, and joining one to another, but in woodland soils dispersed here and there, each one upon the several grounds of their owners) are builded in such sort generally as that they have neither dairy, stable, nor brew-house annexed unto them under the same roof (as in many places beyond the sea and some of the north parts of our country), but all separate from the first, and one of them from another. And yet, for all this, they are not so far distant in sunder but that the goodman lying in his bed may lightly hear what is done in each of them with ease, and call quickly unto his many if any danger should attack him.

The ancient manors and houses of our gentlemen are yet and for the most part of strong timber, in framing whereof our carpenters have been and are worthily preferred before those of like science among all other nations. Howbeit such as be lately builded are commonly either of brick or hard stone, or both, their rooms large and comely, and houses of office further distant from their lodgings. Those of the nobility are likewise wrought with brick and hard stone, as provision may best be made, but so magnificent and stately as the basest house of a baron doth often match in our days with some honours of princes in old time. So that, if ever curious building did flourish in England, it is in these our years wherein our workmen excel and are in manner comparable in skill with old Vitruvius, Leo Baptista, and Serlo. Nevertheless their estimation, more than their greedy and servile covetousness, joined with a lingering humour, causeth them often to be rejected, and strangers preferred to greater bargains, who are more[Pg 118] reasonable in their takings, and less wasters of time by a great deal than our own.

The furniture of our houses also exceedeth, and is grown in manner even to passing delicacy: and herein I do not speak of the nobility and gentry only, but likewise of the lowest sort in most places of our south country that have anything at all to take to. Certes in noblemen’s houses it is not rare to see abundance of arras, rich hangings of tapestry, silver vessel, and so much other plate as may furnish sundry cupboards to the sum oftentimes of a thousand or two thousand pounds at the least, whereby the value of this and the rest of their stuff doth grow to be almost inestimable. Likewise in the houses of knights, gentlemen, merchantmen, and some other wealthy citizens, it is not geson to behold generally their great provision of tapestry, Turkey work, pewter, brass, fine linen, and thereto costly cupboards of plate, worth five or six hundred or a thousand pounds to be deemed by estimation. But, as herein all these sorts do far exceed their elders and predecessors, and in neatness and curiosity the merchant all other, so in times past the costly furniture stayed there, whereas now it is descended yet lower even unto the inferior artificers and many farmers, who, by virtue of their old and not of their new leases, have, for the most part, learned also to garnish their cupboards with plate, their joined beds with tapestry and silk hangings, and their tables with carpets and fine napery, whereby the wealth of our country (God be praised therefore, and give us grace to employ it well) doth infinitely appear. Neither do I speak this in reproach of any man, God is my judge, but to shew that I do rejoice rather to see how God hath blessed us with his good gifts; and whilst, I behold how (in a time wherein all things are grown to most excessive prices, and what commodity so ever is to be had is daily plucked from the communalty by such as look into every trade) we do yet find the means to obtain and achieve such furniture as heretofore hath been unpossible.

There are old men yet dwelling in the village where I remain which have noted three things to be marvellously altered in[Pg 119] England within their sound remembrance, and other three things 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 realm (the religious houses and manor places of their lords always excepted, and peradventure some great personages), but each one made his fire against a reredos 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 ourselves also, have lain full oft upon straw pallets, on rough mats covered only with a sheet, under coverlets made of dagswain or hopharlots (I use their own terms), 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 years after his marriage purchased a mattress or flock bed, and thereto a stack of chaff to rest his head upon, he thought himself to be as well lodged as the lord of the town, that peradventure lay seldom in a bed of down or whole feathers, so well were they content, and with such base kind of furniture: which also is not very much amended as yet in some parts of Bedfordshire, and elsewhere, further off from our southern parts. Pillows (said they) were thought meet only for women in childbed. As for servants, if they had any sheet above them, it was well, for seldom had they any under their bodies to keep 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 vessel, as of treen platters into pewter, and wooden spoons into silver or tin. For so common were all sorts of treen stuff in old time that a man should hardly find four pieces of pewter (of which one was peradventure a salt) in a good farmer’s house, and yet for all this frugality (if it may so be justly called) they were scarce able to live and pay their rents at their days without selling of a cow, or a horse or more,[164] although they paid but four pounds at the uttermost by the year. Such also was their poverty that,[Pg 120] if some one odd farmer or husbandman had been at the alehouse, a thing greatly used in those days, amongst six or seven of his neighbours, and there in a bravery, to shew what store he had, did cast down 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 ready payment, and they were oft enforced to give a penny for the exchange of an angel), it was very likely that all the rest could not lay down so much against it; whereas in my time, although peradventure four pounds of old rent be improved to forty, fifty, or a hundred pounds, yet will the farmer, as another palm or date tree, think his gains very small toward the end of his term if he have not six or seven years’ rent lying by him, therewith to purchase a new lease, beside a fair garnish of pewter on his cupboard, with so much more in odd vessel going about the house, three or four feather beds, so many coverlids and carpets of tapestry, a silver salt, a bowl for wine (if not a whole neast), and a dozen of spoons to furnish up the suit. This also he takes to be his own clear, for what stock of money soever he gathereth and layeth up in all his years it is often seen that the landlord will take such order with him for the same when he reneweth his lease, which is commonly eight or six years before the old be expired (sith it is now grown almost to a custom that if he come not to his lord so long before another shall step in for a reversion, and so defeat him outright), that it shall never trouble him more than the hair of his beard when the barber hath washed and shaved it from his chin.

And as they commend these, so (beside the decay of housekeeping whereby the poor have been relieved) they speak also of three things that are grown to be very grievous unto them—to wit, the enhancing of rents, lately mentioned; the daily oppression of copyholders, whose lords seek to bring their poor tenants almost into plain servitude and misery, daily devising new means, and seeking up all the old, how to cut them shorter and shorter, doubling, trebling, and now and then seven times increasing their fines, driving them also for every trifle to lose and forfeit their tenures (by whom the greatest part of the realm doth stand and is maintained), to[Pg 121] the end they may fleece them yet more, which is a lamentable hearing. The third thing they talk of is usury, a trade brought in by the Jews, now perfectly practised almost by every Christian, and so commonly that he is accompted but for a fool that doth lend his money for nothing. In time past it was sors pro sorte—that is, the principal only for the principal; but now, beside that which is above the principal properly called Usura, we challenge Foenus—that is, commodity of soil and fruits of the earth, if not the ground itself. In time past also one of the hundred was much; from thence it rose unto two, called in Latin Usura, Ex sextante; three, to wit, Ex quadrante; then to four, to wit, Ex triente; then to five, which is Ex quincunce; then to six, called Ex semisse, etc. As the accompt of the Assis ariseth, and coming at the last unto Usura ex asse, it amounteth to twelve in the hundred, and therefore the Latins call it Centesima, for that in the hundred month it doubleth the principal; but more of this elsewhere. See Cicero against Verres, Demosthenes against Aphobus, and Athenæus, lib. 13, in fine; and, when thou hast read them well, help I pray thee in lawful manner to hang up such as take Centum pro cento, for they are no better worthy as I do judge in conscience. Forget not also such landlords as used to value their leases at a secret estimation given of the wealth and credit of the taker, whereby they seem (as it were) to eat them up, and deal with bondmen, so that if the lessee be thought to be worth a hundred pounds he shall pay no less for his new term, or else another to enter with hard and doubtful covenants. I am sorry to report it, much more grieved to understand of the practice, but most sorrowful of all to understand that men of great port and countenance are so far from suffering their farmers to have any gain at all that they themselves become graziers, butchers, tanners, sheepmasters, woodmen, and denique quid non, thereby to enrich themselves, and bring all the wealth of the country into their own hands, leaving the communalty weak, or as an idol with broken or feeble arms, which may in a time of peace have a plausible shew, but when necessity shall enforce have a heavy and bitter sequel.



[Pg 122]



[1577, Book III., Chapter 5; 1587, Book II., Chapter 10.]

There is no commonwealth at this day in Europe wherein there is not great store of poor people, and those necessarily to be relieved by the wealthier sort, which otherwise would starve and come to utter confusion. With us the poor is commonly divided into three sorts, so that some are poor by impotence, as the fatherless child, the aged, blind, and lame, and the diseased person that is judged to be incurable; the second are poor by casualty, as the wounded soldier, the decayed householder, and the sick person visited with grievous and painful diseases; the third consisteth of thriftless poor, as the rioter that hath consumed all, the vagabond that will abide nowhere, but runneth up and down from place to place (as it were seeking work and finding none), and finally the rogue and the strumpet, which are not possible to be divided in sunder, but run to and fro over all the realm, chiefly keeping the champaign soils in summer to avoid the scorching heat, and the woodland grounds in winter to eschew the blustering winds.

For the first two sorts[165] (that is to say, the poor by impotence[Pg 123] and poor by casualty, which are the true poor indeed, and for whom the Word doth bind us to make some daily provision), there is order taken throughout every parish in the realm that weekly collection shall be made for their help and sustentation—to the end they shall not scatter abroad, and, by begging here and there, annoy both town and country. Authority also is given unto the justices in every county (and great penalties[Pg 124] appointed for such as make default) to see that the intent of the statute in this behalf be truly executed according to the purpose and meaning of the same, so that these two sorts are sufficiently provided for; and such as can live within the limits of their allowance (as each one will do that is godly and well disposed) may well forbear to roam and range about. But if they refuse to be supported by this benefit of the law, and will rather endeavour by going to and fro to maintain their idle trades, then are they adjudged to be parcel of the third sort, and so, instead of courteous refreshing at home, are often corrected with sharp execution and whip of justice abroad. Many there are which, notwithstanding the rigour of the laws provided in that behalf, yield rather with this liberty (as they call it) to be daily under the fear and terror of the whip than, by abiding where they were born or bred, to be provided for by the devotion of the parishes. I found not long since a note of these latter sort, the effect whereof ensueth. Idle beggars are such either through other men’s occasion or through their own default—by other men’s occasion (as one way for example) when some covetous man (such, I mean, as have the cast or right vein daily to make beggars enough whereby to pester the land, espying a further commodity in their commons, holds, and tenures) doth find such means as thereby to wipe many out of their occupyings and turn the same unto his private gains.[166] Hereupon it followeth that, although the wise[Pg 125] and better-minded do either forsake the realm for altogether, and seek to live in other countries, as France, Germany, Barbary, India, Muscovia, and very Calcutta, complaining of no room to be left for them at home, do so behave themselves that they are worthily to be accounted among the second sort, yet the greater part, commonly having nothing to stay upon, are wilful, and thereupon do either prove idle beggars or else continue stark thieves till the gallows do eat them up, which is a lamentable case. Certes in some men’s judgment these things are but trifles, and not worthy the regarding. Some also do grudge at the great increase of people in these days, thinking a necessary brood of cattle far better than a superfluous augmentation of mankind. But I can liken such men best of all unto the pope and the devil, who practise the hindrance of the furniture of the number of the elect to their uttermost, to the end the authority of the one upon the earth, the deferring of the locking up of the other in everlasting chains, and the great gains of the first, may continue and endure the longer. But if it should come to pass that any foreign invasion should be made—which the Lord God forbid for his mercies’ sake!—then should these men find that a wall of men is far better than stacks of corn and bags of money, and complain of the want when it is too late to seek remedy. The like occasion caused the Romans to devise their law Agraria: but the rich, not liking of it, and the covetous, utterly condemning it as rigorous and unprofitable, never ceased to practise disturbance till it was quite abolished. But to proceed with my purpose.

Such as are idle beggars[167] through their own default are of[Pg 126] two sorts, and continue their estates either by casual or mere voluntary means: those that are such by casual means are in the beginning justly to be referred either to the first or second sort of poor aforementioned, but, degenerating into the thriftless sort, they do what they can to continue their misery, and, with such impediments as they have, to stray and wander about, as creatures abhorring all labour and every honest exercise. Certes I call these casual means, not in the respect of the original of all poverty, but of the continuance of the same, from whence they will not be delivered, such is their own ungracious lewdness and froward disposition. The voluntary means proceed from outward causes, as by making of corrosives, and applying the same to the more fleshy parts of their bodies, and also laying of ratsbane, spearwort, crowfoot, and such like unto their whole members, thereby to raise pitiful and odious sores, and move the hearts of the goers-by such places where they lie, to yearn at their misery, and thereupon bestow large alms upon them. How artificially they beg, what forcible speech, and how they select and choose out words of vehemence, whereby they do in manner conjure or adjure the goer-by to pity their cases, I pass over to remember, as judging the name of God and Christ to be more conversant in the mouths of none and yet the presence of the Heavenly Majesty further off from no men than from[Pg 127] this ungracious company. Which maketh me to think that punishment is far meeter for them than liberality or alms, and sith Christ willeth us chiefly to have a regard to Himself and his poor members.

Unto this nest is another sort to be referred, more sturdy than the rest, which, having sound and perfect limbs, do yet notwithstanding sometime counterfeit the possession of all sorts of diseases. Divers times in their apparel also they will be like serving men or labourers: oftentimes they can play the mariners, and seek for ships which they never lost. But in fine they are all thieves and caterpillars in the commonwealth, and by the Word of God not permitted to eat, sith they do but lick the sweat from the true labourers’ brows, and bereave the godly poor of that which is due unto them, to maintain their excess, consuming the charity of well-disposed people bestowed upon them, after a most wicked and detestable manner.

It is not yet full threescore years since this trade began: but how it hath prospered since that time it is easy to judge, for they are now supposed, of one sex and another, to amount unto above 10,000 persons, as I have heard reported. Moreover, in counterfeiting the Egyptian rogues,[168] they have devised a language among themselves, which they name “Canting,” but others, “pedler’s French,” a speech compact thirty years since, of English and a great number of odd words of their own devising, without all order or reason, and yet such is it as none but themselves are able to understand. The first deviser thereof was hanged by the neck—a just reward, no doubt, for his deserts, and a common end to all of that profession.

A gentleman[169] also of late hath taken great pains to search out the secret practices of this ungracious rabble. And among other things he setteth down and describeth three and twenty[Pg 128] sorts of them, whose names it shall not be amiss to remember whereby each one may take occasion to read and know as also by his industry what wicked people they are, and what villainy remaineth in them.


The several disorders and degrees amongst our idle vagabonds.
1.Rufflers. 8.Fraters.
2.Uprightmen. 9.Abrams.
3.Hookers or anglers. 10.Freshwater mariners or whipiacks.
4.Rogues. 11.Drummerers.
5.Wild rogues. 12.Drunken tinkers.
6.Priggers or pransers. 13.Swadders or pedlers.
7.Palliards. 14.Jarkemen or patricoes.
Of the women kind.
1.Demanders for glimmar or fire. 5.Walking mortes.
2.Bawdy-baskets. 6.Doxies.
3.Mortes. 7.Dells.
4.Autem mortem. 8.Kinching mortes.
  9. Kinching cooes.[170]


The punishment that is ordained for this kind of people is very sharp, and yet it cannot restrain them from their gadding: wherefore the end must needs be martial law,[171] to be exercised upon them, as upon thieves, robbers, despisers of all laws, and enemies to the commonwealth and welfare of the land. What notable robberies, pilferies, murders, rapes, and stealings of young children, burning, breaking, and disfiguring their limbs to make them pitiful in the sight of the people, I need not to rehearse; but for their idle rogueing about the country, the law ordaineth this manner of correction. The rogue being apprehended, committed to prison, and tried in the next assizes (whether they be of gaol delivery or sessions of the peace), if he happen to be convicted for a vagabond, either by inquest of office or the testimony of two honest and credible witnesses upon their oaths, he is then immediately adjudged to be grievously[Pg 129] whipped and burned through the gristle of the right ear with a hot iron of the compass of an inch about, as a manifestation of his wicked life, and due punishment received for the same.[172] And this judgment is to be executed upon him except some honest person worth five pounds in the queen’s books in goods, or twenty shillings in land, or some rich householder to be allowed by the justices, will be bound in recognisance to retain him in his service for one whole year. If he be taken the second time, and proved to have forsaken his said service, he shall then be whipped again, bored likewise through the other ear, and set to service: from whence if he depart before a year be expired, and happen afterwards to be attached again, he is condemned to suffer pains of death as a felon (except before excepted) without benefit of clergy or sanctuary, as by the statute doth appear. Among rogues and idle persons, finally, we find to be comprised all proctors that go up and down with counterfeit licences, cozeners, and such as gad about the country, using unlawful games, practisers of physiognomy and palmestry, tellers of fortunes, fencers, players, minstrels, jugglers, pedlers, tinkers, pretended scholars, shipmen, prisoners gathering for fees, and others so oft as they be taken without sufficient licence. From among which company our bearwards are not excepted, and just cause: for I have read that they have, either voluntarily or for want of power to master their savage beasts, been occasion of the death and devouration of many children in sundry countries by which they have passed, whose parents never knew what was become of them. And for that cause there is and have been many sharp laws made for bearwards in Germany, whereof you may read in other. But to our rogues. Each one also that harboureth or aideth them with meat or money is taxed and compelled to fine with the queen’s majesty for every time that he doth succour them as it shall please the justices of peace to assign, so that the taxation exceed not twenty, as I have been informed. And thus much of the poor and such provision as is appointed for them within the realm of England.



[Pg 130]



[1577, Book I., Chapter 13; 1587, Book I., Chapter 18.]

The air (for the most part) throughout the island is such as by reason in manner of continual clouds is reputed to be gross, and nothing so pleasant as that of the main. Howbeit, as they which affirm these things have only respect to the impediment or hindrance of the sunbeams by the interposition of the clouds and of ingrossed air, so experience teacheth us that it is no less pure, wholesome, and commodious than is that of other countries, and (as Cæsar himself hereto addeth) much more temperate in summer than that of the Gauls, from whom he adventured hither. Neither is there any thing found in the air of our region that is not usually seen amongst other nations lying beyond the seas. Wherefore we must needs confess that the situation of our island (for benefit of the heavens) is nothing inferior to that of any country of the main, wheresoever it lie under the open firmament. And this Plutarch knew full well, who affirmeth a part of the Elysian Fields to be found in Britain, and the isles that are situated about it in the ocean.

The soil of Britain is such as by the testimonies and reports both of the old and new writers, and experience also of such as now inhabit the same, is very fruitful, and such indeed as bringeth forth many commodities, whereof other countries have need, and yet itself (if fond niceness were abolished) needless of those that are daily brought from other places. Nevertheless it is more inclined to feeding and grazing than profitable[Pg 131] for tillage and bearing of corn, by reason whereof the country is wonderfully replenished with neat and all kind of cattle; and such store is there also of the same in every place that the fourth part of the land is scarcely manured for the provision and maintenance of grain. Certes this fruitfulness was not unknown unto the Britons long before Cæsar’s time, which was the cause wherefore our predecessors living in those days in manner neglected tillage and lived by feeding and grazing only. The grazers themselves also then dwelled in movable villages by companies, whose custom was to divide the ground amongst them, and each one not to depart from the place where his lot lay (a thing much like the Irish Criacht[173]) till, by eating up of the country about him, he was enforced to remove further and seek for better pasture. And this was the British custom, as I learn, at first. It hath been commonly reported that the ground of Wales is neither so fruitful as that of England, neither the soil of Scotland so bountiful as that of Wales, which is true for corn and for the most part; otherwise there is so good ground in some parts of Wales as is in England, albeit the best of Scotland be scarcely comparable to the mean of either of both. Howbeit, as the bounty of the Scotch doth fail in some respect, so doth it surmount in other, God and nature having not appointed all countries to yield forth like commodities.

But where our ground is not so good as we would wish, we have—if need be—sufficient help to cherish our ground withal, and to make it more fruitful. For, beside the compest that is carried out of the husbandmen’s yards, ditches, ponds, dung-houses, or cities and great towns, we have with us a kind of white marl which is of so great force that if it be cast over a piece of land but once in threescore years it shall not need of any further compesting. Hereof also doth Pliny speak (lib. 17, cap. 6, 7, 8), where he affirmeth that our marl endureth upon the earth by the space of fourscore years: insomuch that it is laid upon the same but once in a man’s life, whereby the owner[Pg 132] shall not need to travel twice in procuring to commend and better his soil. He calleth it marga, and, making divers kinds thereof, he finally commendeth ours, and that of France, above all other, which lieth sometime a hundred foot deep, and far better than the scattering of chalk upon the same, as the Hedui and Pictones did in his time, or as some of our days also do practise: albeit divers do like better to cast on lime, but it will not so long endure, as I have heard reported.

There are also in this island great plenty of fresh rivers and streams, as you have heard already, and these thoroughly fraught with all kinds of delicate fish accustomed to be found in rivers. The whole isle likewise is very full of hills, of which some (though not very many) are of exceeding height, and divers extending themselves very far from the beginning; as we may see by Shooter’s Hill, which, rising east of London and not far from the Thames, runneth along the south side of the island westward until it come to Cornwall. Like unto these also are the Crowdon Hills, which, though under divers names (as also the other from the Peak), do run into the borders of Scotland. What should I speak of the Cheviot Hills, which reach twenty miles in length? of the Black Mountains in Wales, which go from [174] to [174] miles at the least in length? of the Clee Hills in Shropshire, which come within four miles of Ludlow, and are divided from some part of Worcester by the Leme? of the Crames in Scotland, and of our Chiltern, which are eighteen miles at the least from one end of them, which reach from Henley in Oxfordshire to Dunstable in Bedfordshire, and are very well replenished with wood and corn, notwithstanding that the most part yield a sweet short grass, profitable for sheep? Wherein albeit they of Scotland do somewhat come behind us, yet their outward defect is inwardly recompensed, not only with plenty of quarries (and those of sundry kinds of marble, hard stone, and fine alabaster), but also rich mines of metal, as shall be shewed hereafter.

In this island the winds are commonly more strong and[Pg 133] fierce than in any other places of the main (which Cardane also espied): and that is often seen upon the naked hills not guarded with trees to bear and keep it off. That grievous inconvenience also enforceth our nobility, gentry, and communalty to build their houses in the valleys, leaving the high grounds unto their corn and cattle, lest the cold and stormy blasts of winter should breed them greater annoyance; whereas in other regions each one desireth to set his house aloft on the hill, not only to be seen afar off, and cast forth his beams of stately and curious workmanship into every quarter of the country, but also (in hot habitations) for coldness sake of the air, sith the heat is never so vehement on the hill-top as in the valley, because the reverberation of the sun’s beams either reacheth not so far as the highest, or else becometh not so strong as when it is reflected upon the lower soil.

But to leave our buildings unto the purposed place (which notwithstanding have very much increased, I mean for curiosity and cost, in England, Wales, and Scotland, within these few years) and to return to the soil again. Certainly it is even now in these our days grown to be much more fruitful than it hath been in times past. The cause is for that our countrymen are grown to be more painful, skilful, and careful through recompense of gain, than heretofore they have been: insomuch that my synchroni or time fellows can reap at this present great commodity in a little room; whereas of late years a great compass hath yielded but small profit, and this only through the idle and negligent occupation of such as daily manured and had the same in occupying. I might set down examples of these things out of all the parts of this island—that is to say, many of England, more out of Scotland, but most of all out of Wales: in which two last rehearsed, very other little food and livelihood was wont to be looked for (beside flesh) more than the soil of itself and the cow gave, the people in the meantime living idly, dissolutely, and by picking and stealing one from another. All which vices are now (for the most part) relinquished, so that each nation manureth her own with triple commodity to that it was before time.

[Pg 134]The pasture of this island is according to the nature and bounty of the soil, whereby in most places it is plentiful, very fine, batable, and such as either fatteth our cattle with speed or yieldeth great abundance of milk and cream whereof the yellowest butter and finest cheese are made. But where the blue clay aboundeth (which hardly drinketh up the winter’s water in long season) there the grass is speary, rough, and very apt for bushes: by which occasion it becometh nothing so profitable unto the owner as the other. The best pasture ground of all England is in Wales, and of all the pasture in Wales that of Cardigan is the chief. I speak of the same which is to be found in the mountains there, where the hundredth part of the grass growing is not eaten, but suffered to rot on the ground, whereby the soil becometh matted and divers bogs and quick-moors made withal in long continuance: because all the cattle in the country are not able to eat it down. If it be accounted good soil on which a man may lay a wand over night and on the morrow find it hidden and overgrown with grass, it is not hard to find plenty thereof in many places of this land. Nevertheless such is the fruitfulness of the aforesaid county that it far surmounteth this proportion, whereby it may be compared for batableness with Italy, which in my time is called the paradise of the world, although by reason of the wickedness of such as dwell therein it may be called the sink and drain of hell: so that whereas they were wont to say of us that our land is good but our people evil, they did but only speak it; whereas we know by experience that the soil of Italy is a noble soil, but the dwellers therein far off any virtue or goodness.

Our meadows are either bottoms (whereof we have great store, and those very large, because our soil is hilly) or else such as we call land meads, and borrowed from the best and fattest pasturages. The first of them are yearly and often overflown by the rising of such streams as pass through the same, or violent falls of land-waters, that descend from the hills about them. The other are seldom or never overflown, and that is the cause wherefore their grass is shorter than that of the bottoms, and yet is it far more fine, wholesome, and batable,[Pg 135] sith the hay of our low meadows is not only full of sandy cinder, which breedeth sundry diseases in our cattle, but also more rowty, foggy, and full of flags, and therefore not so profitable for store and forrage as the higher meads be. The difference furthermore in their commodities is great; for, whereas in our land meadows we have not often above one good load of hay, or peradventure a little more in an acre of ground (I use the word carrucata, or carruca, which is a wain load, and, as I remember, used by Pliny, lib. 33, cap. 2), in low meadows we have sometimes three, but commonly two or upwards, as experience hath oft confirmed.

Of such as are twice mowed I speak not, sith their later math is not so wholesome for cattle as the first; although in the mouth more pleasant for the time: for thereby they become oftentimes to be rotten, or to increase so fast in blood, that the garget and other diseases do consume many of them before the owners can seek out any remedy, by phlebotomy or otherwise. Some superstitious fools suppose that they which die of the garget are ridden with the nightmare, and therefore they hang up stones which naturally have holes in them, and must be found unlooked for; as if such a stone were an apt cockshot for the devil to run through and solace himself withal, while the cattle go scot-free and are not molested by him! But if I should set down but half the toys that superstition hath brought into our husbandmen’s heads in this and other behalf, it would ask a greater volume than is convenient for such a purpose, wherefore it shall suffice to have said thus much of these things.

The yield of our corn-ground is also much after this rate following. Throughout the land (if you please to make an estimate thereof by the acre) in mean and indifferent years, wherein each acre of rye or wheat, well tilled and dressed, will yield commonly sixteen or twenty bushels, an acre of barley six-and-thirty bushels, of oats and such like four or five quarters, which proportion is notwithstanding oft abated toward the north, as it is oftentimes surmounted in the south. Of mixed corn, as peas and beans, sown together, tares and oats (which[Pg 136] they call bulmong), rye and wheat (named miscelin), here is no place to speak, yet their yield is nevertheless much after this proportion, as I have often marked. And yet is not this our great foison comparable to that of hotter countries of the main. But, of all that I ever read, the increase which Eldred Danus writeth of in his De imperie Judæorum in Æthiopia surmounteth, where he saith that in the field near to the Sabbatike river, called in old time Gosan, the ground is so fertile that every grain of barley growing doth yield an hundred kernels at the least unto the owner.

Of late years also we have found and taken up a great trade in planting of hops, whereof our moory hitherto and unprofitable grounds do yield such plenty and increase that there are few farmers or occupiers in the country which have not gardens and hops growing of their own, and those far better than do come from Flanders unto us. Certes the corruptions used by the Flemings, and forgery daily practised in this kind of ware, gave us occasion to plant them here at home; so that now we may spare and send many over unto them. And this I know by experience, that some one man by conversion of his moory grounds into hopyards, whereof before he had no commodity, doth raise yearly by so little as twelve acres in compass two hundred marks—all charges borne towards the maintenance of his family. Which industry God continue! though some secret friends of Flemings let not to exclaim against this commodity, as a spoil of wood, by reason of the poles, which nevertheless after three years do also come to the fire, and spare their other fuel.

The cattle which we breed are commonly such as for greatness of bone, sweetness of flesh, and other benefits to be reaped by the same, give place unto none other; as may appear first by our oxen, whose largeness, height, weight, tallow, hides, and horns are such as none of any other nation do commonly or may easily exceed them. Our sheep likewise, for good taste of flesh, quantity of limbs, fineness of fleece, caused by their hardness of pasturage and abundance of increase (for in many places they bring forth two or three at an eaning), give no place[Pg 137] unto any, more than do our goats, who in like sort do follow the same order, and our deer come not behind. As for our conies, I have seen them so fat in some soils, especially about Meall and Disnege, that the grease of one being weighed hath peised very near six or seven ounces. All which benefits we first refer to the grace and goodness of God, and next of all unto the bounty of our soil, which he hath endued with so notable and commodious fruitfulness.

But, as I mean to intreat of these things more largely hereafter, so will I touch in this place one benefit which our nation wanteth, and that is wine, the fault whereof is not in our soil, but the negligence of our countrymen (especially of the south parts), who do not inure the same to this commodity, and which by reason of long discontinuance is now become inapt to bear any grapes almost for pleasure and shadow, much less then the plain fields or several vineyards for advantage and commodity. Yet of late time some have essayed to deal for wine (as to your lordship also is right well known). But sith that liquor, when it cometh to the drinking, hath been found more hard than that which is brought from beyond the sea, and the cost of planting and keeping thereof so chargeable that they may buy it far better cheap from other countries, they have given over their enterprises without any consideration that, as in all other things, so neither the ground itself in the beginning, nor success of their travel, can answer their expectation at the first, until such time as the soil be brought as it were into acquaintance with this commodity, and that provision may be made for the more easiness of charge to be employed upon the same.

If it be true that where wine doth last and endure well there it will grow no worse, I muse not a little wherefore the planting of vines should be neglected in England. That this liquor might have grown in this island heretofore, first the charter that Probus the Emperor gave equally to us, the Gauls, and Spaniards, is one sufficient testimony. And that it did grow here (beside the testimony of Beda, lib. 1., cap. 1) the old notes of tithes for wine that yet remain in the accounts of some parsons and vicars in Kent, elsewhere, besides the records of[Pg 138] sundry suits, commenced in divers ecclesiastical courts, both in Kent, Surrey, etc., also the enclosed parcels almost in every abbey yet called the vineyards, may be a notable witness, as also the plot which we now call East Smithfield in London, given by Canutus, sometime king of this land, with other soil thereabout, unto certain of his knights, with the liberty of a Guild which thereof was called Knighton Guild. The truth is (saith John Stow, our countryman and diligent traveller in the old estate of this my native city) that it is now named Portsoken Ward, and given in time past to the religious house within Aldgate. Howbeit first Otwell, the archovel, Otto, and finally Geffrey Earl of Essex, constables of the Tower of London, withheld that portion from the said house until the reign of King Stephen, and thereof made a vineyard to their great commodity and lucre. The Isle of Ely also was in the first times of the Normans called Le Ile des Vignes. And good record appeareth that the bishop there had yearly three or four tun at the least given him nomine decimæ, beside whatsoever over-sum of the liquor did accrue to him by leases and other excheats whereof also I have seen mention. Wherefore our soil is not to be blamed, as though our nights were so exceeding short that in August and September the moon, which is lady of moisture and chief ripener of this liquor, cannot in any wise shine long enough upon the same: a very mere toy and fable, right worthy to be suppressed, because experience convinceth the upholders thereof even in the Rhenish wines.

The time hath been also that woad, wherewith our countrymen dyed their faces (as Cæsar saith), that they might seem terrible to their enemies in the field (and also women and their daughters-in-law did stain their bodies and go naked, in that pickle, to the sacrifices of their gods, coveting to resemble therein the Ethiopians, as Pliny saith, lib. 22, cap. 1), and also madder have been (next unto our tin and wools) the chief commodities and merchandise of this realm. I find also that rape oil hath been made within this land. But now our soil either will not, or at the leastwise may not, bear either woad or madder. I say not that the ground is not able so to do, but[Pg 139] that we are negligent, afraid of the pilling of our grounds, and careless of our own profits, as men rather willing to buy the same of others than take any pain to plant them here at home. The like I may say of flax, which by law ought to be sown in every country town in England, more or less; but I see no success of that good and wholesome law, sith it is rather contemptuously rejected than otherwise dutifully kept in any place in England.

Some say that our great number of laws do breed a general negligence and contempt of all good order, because we have so many that no subject can live without the transgression of some of them, and that the often alteration of our ordinances doth much harm in this respect, which (after Aristotle) doth seem to carry some reason withal, for (as Cornelius Gallus hath)—

Eventus varios res nova semper habet.


But very many let not to affirm that the greedy corruption of the promoters on the one side, facility in dispensing with good laws and first breach of the same in the lawmakers and superiors and private respects of their establishment on the other, are the greatest causes why the inferiors regard no good order, being always so ready to offend without any faculty one way as they are otherwise to presume upon the examples of their betters when any hold is to be taken.[175] But as in these things I have no skill, so I wish that fewer licences for the private commodity but of a few were granted (not that thereby I deny the maintenance of the prerogative royal, but rather would with all my heart that it might be yet more honourably increased), and that every one which by fee’d friendship (or otherwise) doth attempt to procure ought from the prince that may profit but few and prove hurtful to many might be at open assizes and sessions denounced enemy to his country and commonwealth of the land.

Glass also hath been made here in great plenty before, and in the time of the Romans; and the said stuff also, beside fine scissors, shears, collars of gold and silver for women’s[Pg 140] necks, cruises and cups of amber, were a parcel of the tribute which Augustus in his days laid upon this island. In like sort he charged the Britons with certain implements and vessels of ivory (as Strabo saith); whereby it appeareth that in old time our countrymen were far more industrious and painful in the use and application of the benefits of their country than either after the coming of the Saxons or Normans, in which they gave themselves more to idleness and following of the wars.

If it were requisite that I should speak of the sundry kinds of mould, as the cledgy, or clay, whereof are divers sorts (red, blue, black, and white), also the red or white sandy, the loamy, roselly, gravelly, chalky, or black, I could say that there are so many divers veins in Britain as elsewhere in any quarter of like quantity in the world. Howbeit this I must need confess, that the sand and clay do bear great sway: but clay most of all, as hath been and yet is always seen and felt through plenty and dearth of corn. For if this latter (I mean the clay) do yield her full increase (which it doth commonly in dry years for wheat), then is there general plenty: whereas if it fail, then have we scarcity, according to the old rude verse set down of England, but to be understood of the whole island, as experience doth confirm—

When the sand doth serve the clay,
Then may we sing well-away;
But when the clay doth serve the sand,
Then is it merry with England.


I might here intreat of the famous valleys in England, of which one is called the Vale of White Horse, another of Evesham (commonly taken for the granary of Worcestershire), the third of Aylesbury, that goeth by Thame, the roots of Chiltern Hills, to Dunstable, Newport Pagnel, Stony Stratford, Buckingham, Birstane Park, etc. Likewise of the fourth, of Whitehart or Blackmoor in Dorsetshire. The fifth, of Ringdale or Renidale, corruptly called Kingtaile, that lieth (as mine author saith) upon the edge of Essex and Cambridgeshire,[Pg 141] and also the Marshwood Vale: but, forsomuch as I know not well their several limits, I give over to go any further in their description. In like sort it should not be amiss to speak of our fens, although our country be not so full of this kind of soil as the parts beyond the seas (to wit, Narbonne, etc.), and thereto of other pleasant bottoms, the which are not only endued with excellent rivers and great store of corn and fine fodder for neat and horses in time of the year (whereby they are exceeding beneficial unto their owners), but also of no small compass and quantity in ground. For some of our fens are well known to be either of ten, twelve, sixteen, twenty, or thirty miles in length, that of the Girwies yet passing all the rest, which is full sixty (as I have often read). Wherein also Ely, the famous isle, standeth, which is seven miles every way, and whereunto there is no access but by three causies, whose inhabitants in like sort by an old privilege may take wood, sedge turf, etc., to burn, likewise hay for their cattle and thatch for their houses of custom, and each occupier in his appointed quantity throughout the isle; albeit that covetousness hath now begun somewhat to abridge this large benevolence and commodity, as well in the said isle as most other places of this land.

Finally, I might discourse in like order of the large commons, laid out heretofore by the lords of the soil for the benefit of such poor as inhabit within the compass of their manors. But, as the true intent of the givers is now in most places defrauded, insomuch that not the poor tenants inhabitating upon the same, but their landlords, have all the commodity and gain. Wherefore I mean not at this present to deal withal, but reserve the same wholly unto the due place, whilst I go forward with the rest, setting down nevertheless by the way a general commendation of the whole island, which I find in an ancient monument, much unto this effect—

“Illa quidem longè celebris splendore, beata,
Glebis, lacte, favis, supereminet insula cunctis,
Quas regit ille Deus, spumanti cujus ab ore
Profluit oceanus,” etc.

 [Pg 142]

And a little after—

“Testis Lundoniaratibus, Wintonia Baccho,
Herefordia grege, Worcestria frugeredundans,
Batha lacu, Salabyra feris, Cantuaria pisce,
Eboraca sylvis, Excestria clara metallis,
Norwicum Dacis hybernis, Cestria Gallis,
Cicestrum Norwagenis, Dunelmia præpinguis,
Testis Lincolnia gens infinita decore,
Testis Eli formosa situ, Doncastria visu,” etc.



[Pg 143]



[1577, Book III., Chapters 16 and 18; 1587, Book III., Chapters 10 and 11.]

With how great benefits this island of ours hath been endued from the beginning I hope there is no godly man but will readily confess, and yield unto the Lord God his due honour for the same. For we are blessed every way, and there is no temporal commodity necessary to be had or craved by any nation at God’s hand that he hath not in most abundant manner bestowed upon us Englishmen, if we could see to use it, and be thankful for the same. But alas! (as I said in the chapter precedent) we love to enrich them that care not for us, but for our great commodities: and one trifling toy not worth the carriage, coming (as the proverb saith) in three ships from beyond the sea, is more worth with us than a right good jewel easy to be had at home. They have also the cast to teach us to neglect our own things; for, if they see that we begin to make any account of our commodities (if it be so that they have also the like in their own countries) they will suddenly abase the same to so low a price that our gain not being worthy our travel, and the same commodity with less cost ready to be had at home from other countries (though but for a while), it causeth us to give over our endeavours and as it were by-and-by to forget the matter whereabout we went before, to obtain them at their hands. And this is the only cause wherefore our commodities are oft so little esteemed of. Some of them can say, without any teacher, that they will buy the case of a fox of an Englishman for a groat, and make him afterwards give twelve pence for the tail. Would to God we might once wax wiser,[Pg 144] and each one endeavour that the commonwealth of England may flourish again in her old rate, and that our commodities may be fully wrought at home (as cloth if you will for an example) and not carried out to be shorn and dressed abroad, while our clothworkers here do starve and beg their bread, and for lack of daily practice utterly neglect to be skilful in this science! But to my purpose.

We have in England great plenty of quicksilver, antimony, sulphur, black lead, and orpiment red and yellow. We have also the finest alum (wherein the diligence of one of the greatest favourers of the commonwealth of England of a subject[176] hath been of late egregiously abused, and even almost with barbarous incivility) and of no less force against fire, if it were used in our parietings, than that of Lipari, which only was in use sometime amongst the Asians and Romans and whereof Sylla had such trial that when he meant to have burned a tower of wood erected by Archelaus, the lieutenant of Mithridates, he could by no means set it on fire in a long time, because it was washed over with alum, as were also the gates of the temple of Jerusalem with like effect, and perceived when Titus commanded fire to be put unto the same. Besides this, we have also the natural cinnabarum or vermillion, the sulphurous glebe called bitumen in old time, for mortar, and yet burned in lamps where oil is scant and geson; the chrysocolla, copperas, and mineral stone, whereof petriolum is made, and that which is most strange, the mineral pearl, which as they are for greatness and colour most excellent of all other, so are they digged out of the main land and in sundry places far distant from the shore. Certes the western part of the land hath in times past greatly abounded with these and many other rare and excellent commodities, but now they are washed away by the violence of the sea, which hath devoured the greatest part of Cornwall and Devonshire on either side; and it doth appear yet by good record that, whereas now there is a great distance between the Scilly Isles and the point of the Land’s End, there was of late years to[Pg 145] speak of scarcely a brook or drain of one fathom water between them, if so much, as by those evidences appeareth, and are yet to be seen in the hands of the lord and chief owner of those isles. But to proceed.

Of coal-mines we have such plenty in the north and western parts of our island as may suffice for all the realm of England; and so must they do hereafter indeed, if wood be not better cherished than it is at this present. And so say the truth, notwithstanding that very many of them are carried into other countries of the main, yet their greatest trade beginneth now to grow from the forge into the kitchen and hall, as may appear already in most cities and towns that lie about the coast, where they have but little other fuel except it be turf and hassock. I marvel not a little that there is no trade of these into Sussex and Southamptonshire, for want thereof the smiths do work their iron with charcoal. I think that far carriage be the only cause, which is but a slender excuse to enforce us to carry them into the main from hence.

Besides our coal-mines, we have pits in like sort of white plaster, and of fat and white and other coloured marble, wherewith in many places the inhabitors do compest their soil, and which doth benefit their land in ample manner for many years to come. We have saltpetre for our ordinance and salt soda for our glass, and thereto in one place a kind of earth (in Southery; as I ween, hard by Codington, and sometime in the tenure of one Croxton of London) which is so fine to make moulds for goldsmiths and casters of metal, that a load of it was worth five shillings thirty years ago; none such again they say in England. But whether there be or not, let us not be unthankful to God, for these and other his benefits bestowed upon us, whereby he sheweth himself a loving and merciful father unto us, which contrariwise return unto him in lieu of humility and obedience nothing but wickedness, avarice, mere contempt of his will, pride, excess, atheism, and no less than Jewish ingratitude.[177]

[Pg 146]All metals receive their beginning of quicksilver and sulphur, which are as mother and father to them. And such is the purpose of nature in their generations that she tendeth always to the procreation of gold; nevertheless she seldom reacheth unto that her end, because of the unequal mixture and proportion of these two in the substance engendered, whereby impediment and corruption is induced, which as it is more or less doth shew itself in the metal that is produced.

And albeit that we have no such abundance of these (as some other countries do yield), yet have my rich countrymen store enough of both in their purses, where in time past they were wont to have least, because the garnishing of our churches, tabernacles, images, shrines, and apparel of the priests consumed the greatest part, as experience hath confirmed.

Of late my countrymen have found out I wot not what voyage into the West Indies, from whence they have brought some gold, whereby our country is enriched; but of all that ever adventured into those parts, none have sped better than Sir Francis Drake, whose success (1582) hath far passed even his own expectation. One John Frobisher in like manner, attempting to seek out a shorter cut by the northerly regions into the peaceable sea and kingdom of Cathay, happened (1577) upon certain islands by the way, wherein great plenty of much gold appeared, and so much that some letted not to give out for certainty that Solomon had his gold from thence, wherewith he builded the temple. This golden shew made him so desirous also of like success that he left off his former voyage and returned home to bring news of such things as he had seen. But, when after another voyage it was found to be but dross, he gave over both the enterprises, and now keepeth home without any desire at all to seek into far countries. In truth, such was the plenty of ore there seen and to be had that, if it had holden perfect, might have furnished all the world with abundance of that metal; the journey also was short and performed in four or five months, which was a notable encouragement. But to proceed.

[Pg 147]Tin and lead, metals which Strabo noteth in his time to be carried unto Marsilis from hence, as Diodorus also confirmeth, are very plentiful with us, the one in Cornwall, Devonshire, and elsewhere in the north, the other in Derbyshire, Weredale, and sundry places of this island; whereby my countrymen do reap no small commodity, but especially our pewterers, who in times past employed the use of pewter only upon dishes, pots, and a few other trifles for service here at home, whereas now they are grown unto such exquisite cunning that they can in manner imitate by infusion any form or fashion of cup, dish, salt bowl, or goblet, which is made by goldsmiths’ craft, though they be never so curious, exquisite, and artificially forged. Such furniture of household of this metal as we commonly call by the name of vessel is sold usually by the garnish, which doth contain twelve platters, twelve dishes, twelve saucers, and those are either of silver fashion or else with broad or narrow brims, and bought by the pound, which is now valued at six or seven pence, or peradventure at eight pence. Of porringers, pots, and other like, I speak not, albeit that in the making of all these things there is such exquisite diligence used, I mean for the mixture of the metal and true making of this commodity (by reason of sharp laws provided in that behalf), as the like is not to be found in any other trade. I have been also informed that it consisteth of a composition which hath thirty pounds of kettle brass to a thousand pounds of tin, whereunto they add three or four pounds of tin-glass; but as too much of this doth make the stuff brickle, so the more the brass be, the better is the pewter, and more profitable unto him that doth buy and purchase the same. But to proceed.

In some places beyond the sea a garnish of good flat English pewter of an ordinary making (I say flat, because dishes and platters in my time begin to be made deep like basins, and are indeed more convenient both for sauce, broth, and keeping the meat warm) is esteemed almost so precious as the like number of vessels that are made of fine silver, and in manner no less desired amongst the great estates, whose workmen are nothing so skilful in that trade as ours, neither their metal so[Pg 148] good, nor plenty so great, as we have here in England. The Romans made excellent looking-glasses of our English tin, howbeit our workmen were not then so exquisite in that feat as the Brundusians, wherefore the wrought metal was carried over unto them by way of merchandise, and very highly were those glasses esteemed of till silver came generally in place, which in the end brought the tin into such contempt that in manner every dishwasher refused to look in other than silver glasses for the attiring of her head. Howbeit the making of silver glasses had been in use before Britain was known unto the Romans, for I read that one Praxiteles devised them in the young time of Pompey, which was before the coming of Cæsar into this island.

There were mines of lead sometimes also in Wales, which endured so long till the people had consumed all their wood by melting of the same (as they did also at Comeriswith, six miles from Stradfleur), and I suppose that in Pliny’s time the abundance of lead (whereof he speaketh) was to be found in those parts, in the seventeenth of his thirty-fourth book; also he affirmeth that it lay in the very sward of the earth, and daily gotten in such plenty that the Romans made a restraint of the carriage thereof to Rome, limiting how much should yearly be wrought and transported over the sea.[178]

Iron is found in many places, as in Sussex, Kent, Weredale, Mendip, Walshall, as also in Shropshire, but chiefly in the woods betwixt Belvos and Willock (or Wicberry) near Manchester, and elsewhere in Wales. Of which mines divers do bring forth so fine and good stuff as any that cometh from beyond the sea, beside the infinite gains to the owners, if we would so accept it, or bestow a little more cost in the refining of it. It is also of such toughness, that it yieldeth to the making of claricord wire in some places of the realm. Nevertheless, it was better cheap with us when strangers only brought it hither; for it is our quality when we get any commodity to use[Pg 149] it with extremity towards our own nation, after we have once found the means to shut out foreigners from the bringing in of the like. It breedeth in like manner great expense and waste of wood, as doth the making of our pots and table vessel of glass, wherein is much loss, sith it is so quickly broken; and yet (as I think) easy to be made tougher, if our alchemists could once find the true birth or production of the red man, whose mixture would induce a metallic toughness unto it, whereby it should abide the hammer.

Copper is lately not found, but rather restored again to light. For I have read of copper to have been heretofore gotten in our island; howbeit as strangers have most commonly the governance of our mines, so they hitherto make small gains of this in hand in the north parts; for (as I am informed) the profit doth very hardly countervail the charges, whereat wise men do not a little marvel, considering the abundance which that mine doth seem to offer, and, as it were, at hand. Leland, our countryman, noteth sundry great likelihoods of natural copper mines to be eastwards, as between Dudman and Trewardth, in the sea cliffs, beside other places, whereof divers are noted here and there in sundry places of this book already, and therefore it shall be but in vain to repeat them here again. As for that which is gotten out of the marchasite, I speak not of it, sith it is not incident to my purpose. In Dorsetshire also a copper mine lately found is brought to good perfection.

As for our steel, it is not so good for edge-tools as that of Cologne, and yet the one is often sold for the other, and like tale used in both, that is to say, thirty gads to the sheaf, and twelve sheaves to the burden.

Our alchemy is artificial, and thereof our spoons and some salts are commonly made and preferred before our pewter with some,[179] albeit in truth it be much subject to corruption, putrefaction, more heavy and foul to handle than our pewter; yet some ignorant persons affirm it to be a metal more natural, and the very same which Encelius calleth plumbum cinereum, the[Pg 150] Germans wisemute, mithan, and counterfeie, adding that where it groweth silver cannot be far off. Nevertheless it is known to be a mixture of brass, lead, and tin (of which this latter occupieth the one-half), but after another proportion than is used in pewter. But alas, I am persuaded that neither the old Arabians nor new alchemists of our time did ever hear of it, albeit that the name thereof do seem to come out of their forge. For the common sort indeed do call it alchemy, an unwholesome metal (God wot) and worthy to be banished and driven out of the land. And thus I conclude with this discourse, as having no more to say of the metals of my country, except I should talk of brass, bell metal, and such as are brought over for merchandise from other countries; and yet I cannot but say that there is some brass found also in England, but so small is the quantity that it is not greatly to be esteemed or accounted for.



[Pg 151]



[1577, Book III., Chapter 8; 1587, Book III., Chapter 1.]

There is no kind of tame cattle usually to be seen in these parts of the world whereof we have not some, and that great store, in England, as horses, oxen, sheep, goats, swine, and far surmounting the like in other countries, as may be proved with ease. For where are oxen commonly made more large of bone, horses more decent and pleasant in pace, kine more commodious for the pail, sheep more profitable for wool, swine more wholesome of flesh, and goats more gainful to their keepers than here with us in England? But, to speak of them peculiarly, I suppose that our kine are so abundant in yield of milk, whereof we make our butter and cheese, as the like any where else, and so apt for the plough in divers places as either our horses or oxen. And, albeit they now and then twin, yet herein they seem to come short of that commodity which is looked for in other countries, to wit, in that they bring forth most commonly but one calf at once. The gains also gotten by a cow (all charges borne) hath been valued at twenty shillings yearly; but now, as land is enhanced, this proportion of gain is much abated, and likely to decay more and more, if ground arise to be yet dearer—which God forbid, if it be His will and pleasure. I heard of late of a cow in Warwickshire, belonging to Thomas Breuer of Studley, which in six years had sixteen calves, that is four at once in three calvings and twice twins, which unto many may seem a thing incredible. In like manner our oxen are such as the like are not to be found in any country of Europe, both[Pg 152] for greatness of body and sweetness of flesh, or else would not the Roman writers have preferred them before those of Liguria. In most places our graziers are now grown to be so cunning that if they do but see an ox or bullock, and come to the feeling of him, they will give a guess at his weight, and how many score or stone of flesh and tallow he beareth, how the butcher may live by the sale, and what he may have for the skin and tallow, which is a point of skill not commonly practised heretofore. Some such graziers also are reported to ride with velvet coats and chains of gold about them, and in their absence their wives will not let to supply those turns with no less skill than their husbands: which is a hard work for the poor butcher, sith he through this means can seldom be rich or wealthy by his trade. In like sort the flesh of our oxen and kine is sold both by hand and by weight as the buyer will; but in young ware rather by weight, especially for the steer and heifer, sith the finer beef is the lightest, whereas the flesh of bulls and old kine, etc., is of sadder substance, and therefore much heavier as it lieth in the scale. Their horns also are known to be more fair and large in England than in any other places, except those which are to be seen among the Pæones, which quality, albeit that it be given to our breed generally by nature, yet it is now and then helped also by art. For, when they be very young, many graziers will oftentimes anoint their budding horns or tender tips with honey, which mollifieth the natural hardness of that substance, and thereby maketh them to grow unto a notable greatness. Certes it is not strange in England to see oxen whose horns have the length of a yard or three feet between the tips, and they themselves thereto so tall as the height of a man of mean and indifferent stature is scarce equal unto them. Nevertheless it is much to be lamented that our general breed of cattle is not better looked unto; for the greatest occupiers wean least store, because they can buy them (as they say) far better cheap than to raise and bring them up. In my time a cow hath risen from four nobles to four marks by this means, which notwithstanding were no great price if they did yearly bring[Pg 153] forth more than one calf a piece, as I hear they do in other countries.

Our horses, moreover, are high, and, although not commonly of such huge greatness as in other places of the main, yet, if you respect the easiness of their pace, it is hard to say where their like are to be had. Our land doth yield no asses, and therefore we want the generation also of mules and somers, and therefore the most part of our carriage is made by these, which, remaining stoned, are either reserved for the cart or appointed to bear such burdens as are convenient for them. Our cart or plough horses (for we use them indifferently) are commonly so strong that five or six of them (at the most) will draw three thousand weight of the greatest tale with ease for a long journey, although it be not a load of common usage, which consisteth only of two thousand, or fifty foot of timber, forty bushels of white salt, or six-and-thirty of bay, or five quarters of wheat, experience daily teacheth, and I have elsewhere remembered. Such as are kept also for burden will carry four hundredweight commonly without any hurt or hindrance. This furthermore is to be noted, that our princes and the nobility have their carriage commonly made by carts, whereby it cometh to pass that when the queen’s majesty doth remove from any one place to another, there are usually 400 carewares, which amount to the sum of 2400 horses, appointed out of the countries adjoining, whereby her carriage is conveyed safely unto the appointed place. Hereby also the ancient use of somers and sumpter horses is in manner utterly relinquished, which causeth the trains of our princes in their progresses to shew far less than those of the kings of other nations.

Such as serve for the saddle are commonly gelded, and now grow to be very dear among us, especially if they be well coloured, justly limbed, and have thereto an easy ambling pace. For our countrymen, seeking their ease in every corner where it is to be had, delight very much in those qualities, but chiefly in their excellent paces, which, besides that it is in manner peculiar unto horses of our soil, and not hurtful to the rider or owner sitting on their backs, it is moreover very[Pg 154] pleasant and delectable in his ears, in that the noise of their well-proportioned pace doth yield comfortable sound as he travelleth by the way. Yet is there no greater deceit used anywhere than among our horsekeepers, horsecoursers, and hostelers; for such is the subtle knavery of a great sort of them (without exception of any of them be it spoken which deal for private gain) that an honest-meaning man shall have very good luck among them if he be not deceived by some false trick or other.

There are certain notable markets wherein great plenty of horses and colts is bought and sold, and whereunto such as have need resort yearly to buy and make their necessary provision of them, as Ripon, Newport Pond, Wolfpit, Harboro’, and divers others. But, as most drovers are very diligent to bring great store of these unto those places, so many of them are too too lewd in abusing such as buy them. For they have a custom, to make them look fair to the eye, when they come within two days’ journey of the market to drive them till they sweat, and for the space of eight or twelve hours, which, being done, they turn them all over the backs into some water, where they stand for a season, and then go forward with them to the place appointed, where they make sale of their infected ware, and such as by this means do fall into many diseases and maladies. Of such outlandish horses as are daily brought over unto us I speak not, as the jennet of Spain, the courser of Naples, the hobby of Ireland, the Flemish roile and the Scottish nag, because that further speech of them cometh not within the compass of this treatise, and for whose breed and maintenance (especially of the greatest sort) King Henry the Eighth erected a noble studdery, and for a time had very good success with them, till the officers, waxing weary, procured a mixed brood of bastard races, whereby his good purpose came to little effect. Sir Nicholas Arnold of late hath bred the best horses in England, and written of the manner of their production: would to God his compass of ground were like to that of Pella in Syria, wherein the king of that nation had usually a studdery of 30,000 mares and 300 stallions, as Strabo doth[Pg 155] remember, lib. 16. But to leave this, let us see what may be said of sheep.

Our sheep are very excellent, sith for sweetness of flesh they pass all other. And so much are our wools to be preferred before those of Milesia and other places that if Jason had known the value of them that are bred and to be had in Britain he would never have gone to Colchis to look for any there. For, as Dionysius Alexandrinus saith in his De situ orbis, it may by spinning be made comparable to the spider’s web. What fools then are our countrymen, in that they seek to bereave themselves of this commodity by practising daily how to transfer the same to other nations, in carrying over their rams and ewes to breed and increase among them! The first example hereof was given under Edward the Fourth, who, not understanding the bottom of the suit of sundry traitorous merchants that sought a present gain with the perpetual hindrance of their country, licensed them to carry over certain numbers of them into Spain, who, having licence but for a few, shipped very many: a thing practised in other commodities also, whereby the prince and his land are not seldom times defrauded. But such is our nature, and so blind are we indeed, that we see no inconvenience before we feel it; and for a present gain we regard not what damage may ensue to our posterity. Hereto some other man would add also the desire that we have to benefit other countries and to impeach our own. And it is, so sure as God liveth, that every trifle which cometh from beyond the sea, though it be not worth threepence, is more esteemed than a continual commodity at home with us, which far exceedeth that value. In time past the use of this commodity consisteth (for the most part) in cloth and woolsteds; but now, by means of strangers succoured here from domestic persecution, the same hath been employed unto sundry other uses, as mockados, bays, vellures, grograines, etc., whereby the makers have reaped no small commodity. It is furthermore to be noted, for the low countries of Belgie know it, and daily experience (notwithstanding the sharpness of our laws to the contrary) doth yet confirm it, that, although our[Pg 156] rams and wethers do go thither from us never so well headed according to their kind, yet after they have remained there a while they cast there their heads, and from thenceforth they remain polled without any horns at all. Certes this kind of cattle is more cherished in England than standeth well with the commodity of the commons or prosperity of divers towns, whereof some are wholly converted to their feeding; yet such a profitable sweetness is their fleece, such necessity in their flesh, and so great a benefit in the manuring of barren soil with their dung and piss, that their superfluous members are the better born withal. And there is never a husbandman (for now I speak not of our great sheepmasters, of whom some one man hath 20,000) but hath more or less of this cattle feeding on his fallows and short grounds, which yield the finer fleece.

Nevertheless the sheep of our country are often troubled with the rot (as are our swine with the measles, though never so generally), and many men are now and then great losers by the same; but, after the calamity is over, if they can recover and keep their new stocks sound for seven years together, the former loss will easily be recompensed with double commodity. Cardan writeth that our waters are hurtful to our sheep; howbeit this is but his conjecture, for we know that our sheep are infected by going to the water, and take the same as a sure and certain token that a rot hath gotten hold of them, their livers and lights being already distempered through excessive heat, which enforceth them the rather to seek unto the water. Certes there is no parcel of the main wherein a man shall generally find more fine and wholesome water than in England; and therefore it is impossible that our sheep should decay by tasting of the same. Wherefore the hindrance by rot is rather to be ascribed to the unseasonableness and moisture of the weather in summer, also their licking in of mildews, gossamire, rowtie fogs, and rank grass, full of superfluous juice, but especially (I say) to over moist weather, whereby the continual rain piercing into their hollow fells soaketh forthwith into their flesh, which bringeth them to their baines. Being also infected, their first shew of sickness is their[Pg 157] desire to drink, so that our waters are not unto them causa ægritudinis, but signum morbi, whatsoever Cardan do maintain to the contrary. There are (and peradventure no small babes) which are grown to be such good husbands that they can make account of every ten kine to be clearly worth twenty pounds in common and indifferent years, if the milk of five sheep be daily added to the same. But, as I wot not how true this surmise is, because it is no part of my trade, so I am sure hereof that some housewives can and do add daily a less portion of ewe’s milk unto the cheese of so many kine, whereby their cheese doth the longer abide moist, and eateth more brickle and mellow than otherwise it would.

Goats we have plenty, and of sundry colours, in the west parts of England, especially in and towards Wales and amongst the rocky hills, by whom the owners do reap so small advantage: some also are cherished elsewhere, in divers steeds, for the benefit of such as are diseased with sundry maladies, unto whom (as I hear) their milk, cheese, and bodies of their young kids are judged very profitable, and therefore inquired for of many far and near. Certes I find among the writers that the milk of a goat is next in estimation to that of the woman, for that it helpeth the stomach, removeth oppilations and stoppings of the liver, and looseth the belly. Some place also next unto it the milk of the ewe, and thirdly that of the cow. But hereof I can shew no reason; only this I know, that ewe’s milk is fulsome, sweet, and such in taste as (except such as are used unto it) no man will gladly yield to live and feed withal.

As for swine, there is no place that hath greater store, nor more wholesome in eating, than are these here in England, which nevertheless do never any good till they come to the table. Of these some we eat green for pork, and other dried up into bacon to have it in more continuance. Lard we make some, though very little, because it is chargeable: neither have we such use thereof as is to be seen in France and other countries, sith we do either bake our meat with sweet suet of beef or mutton and baste all our meat with sweet or salt butter or suffer the fattest to baste itself by leisure. In champaign countries[Pg 158] they are kept by herds, and a hogherd appointed to attend and wait upon them, who commonly gathereth them together by his noise and cry, and leadeth them forth to feed abroad in the fields. In some places also women do scour and wet their clothes with their dung, as other do with hemlocks and nettles; but such is the savour of the clothes touched withal that I cannot abide to wear them on my body, more than such as are scoured with the refuse soap, than the which (in mine opinion) there is none more unkindly savour.

Of our tame boars we make brawn, which is a kind of meat not usually known to strangers (as I take it), otherwise would not the swart Rutters and French cooks, at the loss of Calais (where they found great store of this provision almost in every house), have attempted with ridiculous success to roast, bake, broil, and fry the same for their masters, till they were better informed. I have heard moreover how a nobleman of England not long since did send over a hogshead of brawn ready soused to a Catholic gentleman of France, who, supposing it to be fish, reserved it till Lent, at which time he did eat thereof with great frugality. Thereto he so well liked the provision itself that he wrote over very earnestly, and with offer of great recompense, for more of the same fish against the year ensuing; whereas if he had known it to have been flesh he would not have touched it (I dare say) for a thousand crowns without the pope’s dispensation. A friend of mine also dwelling some time in Spain, having certain Jews at his table, did set brawn before them, whereof they did eat very earnestly, supposing it to be a kind of fish not common in those parts; but when the goodman of the house brought in the head in pastime among them, to shew what they had eaten, they rose from the table, hied them home in haste, each of them procuring himself to vomit, some by oil and some by other means, till (as they supposed) they had cleansed their stomachs of that prohibited food. With us it is accounted a great piece of service at the table from November until February be ended, but chiefly in the Christmas time. With the same also we begin our dinners each day after other; and, because it is somewhat hard of digestion, a[Pg 159] draught of malvesey, bastard, or muscadel, is usually drank after it, where either of them are conveniently to be had; otherwise the meaner sort content themselves with their own drink, which at that season is generally very strong, and stronger indeed than it is all the year beside. It is made commonly of the fore part of a tame boar, set up for the purpose by the space of a whole year or two, especially in gentlemen’s houses (for the husbandmen and farmers never frank them for their own use above three or four months, or half a year at the most), in which time he is dieted with oats and peason, and lodged on the bare planks of an uneasy coat, till his fat be hardened sufficiently for their purpose: afterward he is killed, scalded, and cut out, and then of his former parts is our brawn made. The rest is nothing so fat, and therefore it beareth the name of sowse only, and is commonly reserved for the serving-man and hind, except it please the owner to have any part thereof baked, which are then handled of custom after this manner: the hinder parts being cut off, they are first drawn with lard, and then sodden; being sodden, they are soused in claret wine and vinegar a certain space, and afterward baked in pasties, and eaten of many instead of the wild boar, and truly it is very good meat: the pestles may be hanged up a while to dry before they be drawn with lard, if you will, and thereby prove the better. But hereof enough, and therefore to come again unto our brawn. The neck pieces, being cut off round, are called collars of brawn, the shoulders are named shilds, only the ribs retain the former denomination, so that these aforesaid pieces deserve the name of brawn: the bowels of the beast are commonly cast away because of their rankness, and so were likewise his stones, till a foolish fantasy got hold of late amongst some delicate dames, who have now found the means to dress them also with great cost for a dainty dish, and bring them to the board as a service among other of like sort, though not without note of their desire to the provocation of fleshly lust, which by this their fond curiosity is not a little revealed. When the boar is thus cut out each piece is wrapped up, either with bulrushes, ozier, peels, tape[Pg 160] inkle,[180] or such like, and then sodden in a lead or caldron together, till they be so tender that a man may thrust a bruised rush or straw clean through the fat: which being done, they take it up and lay it abroad to cool. Afterward, putting it into close vessels, they pour either good small ale or beer mingled with verjuice and salt thereto till it be covered, and so let it lie (now and then altering and changing the sousing drink lest it should was sour) till occasion serve to spend it out of the way. Some use to make brawn of great barrow hogs, and seethe them, and souse the whole as they do that of the boar; and in my judgment it is the better of both, and more easy of digestion. But of brawn thus much, and so much may seem sufficient.[181]



[Pg 161]



[1577, Book III., Chapters 9 and 11; 1587, Book III., Chapters 2 and 5.]

Order requireth that I speak somewhat of the fowls also of England, which I may easily divide into the wild and tame; but, alas! such is my small skill in fowls that, to say the truth, I can neither recite their numbers nor well distinguish one kind of them from another. Yet this I have by general knowledge, that there is no nation under the sun which hath already in the time of the year more plenty of wild fowl than we, for so many kinds as our island doth bring forth, and much more would have if those of the higher soil might be spared but one year or two from the greedy engines of covetous fowlers which set only for the pot and purse. Certes this enormity bred great troubles in King John’s days, insomuch that, going in progress about the tenth of his reign, he found little or no game wherewith to solace himself or exercise his falcons. Wherefore, being at Bristow in the Christmas ensuing, he restrained all manner of hawking or taking of wild fowl throughout England for a season, whereby the land within few years was thoroughly replenished again. But what stand I upon this impertinent discourse? Of such therefore as are bred in our land, we have the crane, the bitter,[182] the wild and tame swan, the bustard, the heron, curlew, snite, wildgoose, wind or doterell, brant, lark, plover (of both sorts), lapwing, teal, widgeon, mallard, sheldrake, shoveller, peewitt, seamew, barnacle, quail (who, only with man, are subject to the falling sickness), the knot, the[Pg 162] oliet or olive, the dunbird, woodcock, partridge, and pheasant, besides divers others, whose names to me are utterly unknown, and much more the taste of their flesh, wherewith I was never acquainted. But as these serve not at all seasons, so in their several turns there is no plenty of them wanting whereby the tables of the nobility and gentry should seem at any time furnished. But of all these the production of none is more marvellous, in my mind, than that of the barnacle, whose place of generation we have sought ofttimes as far as the Orchades, whereas peradventure we might have found the same nearer home, and not only upon the coasts of Ireland, but even in our own rivers. If I should say how either these or some such other fowl not much unlike unto them have bred of late times (for their place of generation is not perpetual, but as opportunity serveth and the circumstances do minister occasion) in the Thames mouth, I do not think that many will believe me; yet such a thing hath there been seen where a kind of fowl had his beginning upon a short tender shrub standing near unto the shore, from whence, when their time came, they fell down, either into the salt water and lived, or upon the dry land and perished, as Pena the French herbarian hath also noted in the very end of his herbal. What I for mine own part have seen here by experience, I have already so touched upon in the chapter of islands, that it should be but time spent in vain to repeat it here again.[183] Look therefore in the description of Man (or Manaw) for more of these barnacles, as also in the eleventh chapter of the description of Scotland, and I do not doubt but you shall in some respect be satisfied in the generation of these fowls. As for egrets, pawpers, and such like, they are daily brought unto us from beyond the sea, as if all the fowl of our country could not suffice to satisfy our delicate appetites.

Our tame fowl are such (for the most part) as are common both to us and to other countries, as cocks, hens, geese, ducks, peacocks of Ind, pigeons, now a hurtful fowl by reason of their multitudes, and number of houses daily erected for their[Pg 163] increase (which the boors of the country call in scorn almshouses, and dens of thieves, and such like), whereof there is great plenty in every farmer’s yard. They are kept there also to be sold either for ready money in the open markets, or else to be spent at home in good company amongst their neighbours without reprehension or fines. Neither are we so miserable in England (a thing only granted unto us by the especial grace of God and liberty of our princes) as to dine or sup with a quarter of a hen, or to make as great a repast with a cock’s comb as they do in some other countries; but, if occasion serve, the whole carcases of many capons, hens, pigeons, and such like do oft go to wrack, beside beef, mutton, veal, and lamb, all of which at every feast are taken for necessary dishes amongst the communalty of England.

The gelding of cocks, whereby capons are made, is an ancient practice brought in of old time by the Romans when they dwelt here in this land; but the gelding of turkeys or Indish peacocks is a newer device, and certainly not used amiss, sith the rankness of that bird is very much abated thereby and the strong taste of the flesh in sundry wise amended. If I should say that ganders grow also to be gelded, I suppose that some will laugh me to scorn, neither have I tasted at any time of such a fowl so served, yet have I heard it more than once to be used in the country, where their geese are driven to the field like herds of cattle by a gooseherd, a toy also no less to be marvelled at than the other. For, as it is rare to hear of a gelded gander, so is it strange to me to see or hear of geese to be led to the field like sheep; yet so it is, and their gooseherd carrieth a rattle of paper or parchment with him when he goeth about in the morning to gather his goslings together, the noise whereof cometh no sooner to their ears than they fall to gaggling, and hasten to go with him. If it happen that the gates be not yet open, or that none of the house be stirring, it is ridiculous to see how they will peep under the doors, and never leave creaking and gaggling till they be let out unto him to overtake their fellows. With us where I dwell they are not kept in this sort, nor in many other places, neither are[Pg 164] they kept so much for their bodies as their feathers. Some hold furthermore an opinion that in over rank soils their dung doth so qualify the batableness of the soil that their cattle is thereby kept from the garget, and sundry other diseases, although some of them come to their ends now and then by licking up of their feathers. I might here make mention of other fowls produced by the industry of man, as between the pheasant cock and dunghill hen, or between the pheasant and the ringdove, the peacock and the turkey hen, the partridge and the pigeon; but, sith I have no more knowledge of these than what I have gotten by mine ear, I will not meddle with them. Yet Cardan, speaking of the second sort, doth affirm it to be a fowl of excellent beauty. I would likewise intreat of other fowls which we repute unclean, as ravens, crows, pies, choughs, rooks, kites, jays, ringtails, starlings, woodspikes, woodnaws, etc.; but, sith they abound in all countries, though peradventure most of all in England (by reason of our negligence), I shall not need to spend any time in the rehearsal of them. Neither are our crows and choughs cherished of purpose to catch up the worms that breed in our soils (as Polydor supposeth), sith there are no uplandish towns but have (or should have) nets of their own in store to catch them withal. Sundry acts of Parliament are likewise made for their utter destruction, as also the spoil of other ravenous fowls hurtful to poultry, conies, lambs, and kids, whose valuation of reward to him that killeth them is after the head: a device brought from the Goths, who had the like ordinance for the destruction of their white crows, and tale made by the beck, which killed both lambs and pigs. The like order is taken with us for our vermin as with them also for the rootage out of their wild beasts, saving that they spared their greatest bears, especially the white, whose skins are by custom and privilege reserved to cover those planchers whereupon their priests do stand at mass, lest he should take some unkind cold in such a long piece of work: and happy is the man that may provide them for him, for he shall have pardon enough for that so religious an act, to last if he will till doomsday do approach, and many thousands after. Nothing therefore can[Pg 165] be more unlikely to be true than that these noisome creatures are nourished amongst us to devour our worms, which do not abound much more in England than elsewhere in other countries of the main. It may be that some look for a discourse also of our other fowls in this place at my hand, as nightingales, thrushes, blackbirds, mavises, ruddocks, redstarts or dunocks, larks, tivits, kingfishers, buntings, turtles (white or grey), linnets, bullfinches, goldfinches, washtails, cherrycrackers, yellowhammers, fieldfares, etc.; but I should then spend more time upon them than is convenient. Neither will I speak of our costly and curious aviaries daily made for the better hearing of their melody, and observation of their natures; but I cease also to go any further in these things, having (as I think) said enough already of these that I have named.[184]

I cannot make as yet any just report how many sorts of hawks are bred within this realm. Howbeit which of those that are usually had among us are disclosed within this land, I think it more easy and less difficult to set down. First of all, therefore, that we have the eagle common experience doth evidently confirm, and divers of our rocks whereon they breed, if speech did serve, could well declare the same. But the most excellent eyrie of all is not much from Chester, at a castle called Dinas Bren, sometime builded by Brennus, as our writers do remember. Certes this castle is no great thing, but yet a pile sometime very strong and inaccessible for enemies, though now all ruinous as many others are. It standeth upon a hard rock, in the side whereof an eagle breedeth every year. This also is notable in the overthrow of her nest (a thing oft attempted), that he which goeth thither must be sure of two large baskets, and so provide to be let down thereto, that he may sit in the one and be covered with the other: for otherwise the eagle would kill him and tear the flesh from his bones with her sharp talons, though his apparel were never so good. The common people call[Pg 166] this fowl an erne; but, as I am ignorant whether the word eagle and erne do shew any difference of sex, I mean between the male and the female, so we have great store of them. And, near to the places where they breed, the commons complain of great harm to be done by them in their fields; for they are able to bear a young lamb or kid unto their nests, therewith to feed their young and come again for more. I was once of the opinion that there was a diversity of kind between the eagle and the erne, till I perceived that our nation used the word erne in most places for the eagle. We have also the lanner and the lanneret, the tersel and the goshawk, the musket and the sparhawk, the jack and the hobby, and finally some (though very few) marleons. And these are all the hawks that I do hear as yet to be bred within this island. Howbeit, as these are not wanting with us, so are they not very plentiful: wherefore such as delight in hawking do make their chief purveyance and provision for the same out of Danske, Germany, and the eastern countries, from whence we have them in great abundance and at excellent prices, whereas at home and where they be bred they are sold for almost right nought, and usually brought to the markets as chickens, pullets, and pigeons are with us, and there bought up to be eaten (as we do the aforesaid fowl) almost of every man. It is said that the sparhawk pryeth not upon the fowl in the morning, that she taketh over even, but as loath to have double benefit by one seelie fowl doth let it go to make some shift for itself. But hereof as I stand in some doubt. So this I find among the writers worthy the noting: that the sparhawk is enemy to young children, as is also the ape, but of the peacock she is marvellously afraid, and so appalled that all courage and stomach for a time is taken from her upon the sight thereof. But to proceed with the rest. Of other ravenous birds we have also very great plenty, as the buzzard, the kite, the ringtail, dunkite, and such as often annoy our country dames by spoiling of their young breeds of chickens, ducks, and goslings, whereunto our very ravens and crows[Pg 167] have learned also the way: and so much are ravens given to this kind of spoil that some idle and curious heads of set purpose have manned, reclaimed, and used them instead of hawks, when other could not be had. Some do imagine that the raven should be the vulture, and I was almost persuaded in times past to believe the same; but, finding of late a description of the vulture, which better agreeth with the form of a second kind of eagle, I freely surcease to be longer of that opinion: for, as it hath, after a sort, the shape, colour, and quantity of an eagle, so are the legs and feet more hairy and rough, their sides under their wings better covered with thick down (wherewith also their gorge or a part of their breast under their throats is armed, and not with feathers) than are the like parts of the eagle, and unto which portraiture there is no member of the raven (who is almost black of colour) that can have any resemblance: we have none of them in England to my knowledge, if we have, they go generally under the name of eagle or erne. Neither have we the pygargus or grip, wherefore I have no occasion to treat further. I have seen the carrion crows so cunning also by their own industry of late that they have used to soar over great rivers (as the Thames for example) and, suddenly coming down, have caught a small fish in their feet and gone away withal without wetting of their wings. And even at this present the aforesaid river is not without some of them, a thing (in my opinion) not a little to be wondered at. We have also osprays, which breed with us in parks and woods, whereby the keepers of the same do reap in breeding time no small commodity; for, so soon almost as the young are hatched, they tie them to the butt ends or ground ends of sundry trees, where the old ones, finding them, do never cease to bring fish unto them, which the keepers take and eat from them, and commonly is such as is well fed or not of the worst sort. It hath not been my hap hitherto to see any of these fowl, and partly through mine own negligence; but I hear that it hath one foot like a hawk, to catch hold withal, and another resembling a goose, wherewith to swim; but, whether it be so or not so, I refer the further search and trial thereof[Pg 168] unto some other. This nevertheless is certain, that both alive and dead, yea even her very oil, is a deadly terror to such fish as come within the wind of it. There is no cause whereof I should describe the cormorant amongst hawks, of which some be black and many pied, chiefly about the Isle of Ely, where they are taken for the night raven, except I should call him a water hawk. But, sith such dealing is not convenient, let us now see what may be said of our venomous worms, and how many kinds we have of them within our realm and country.[185]



[Pg 169]



[1577, Book III., Chapters 7 and 12; 1587, Book III., Chapters 4 and 6.]

It is none of the least blessings wherewith God hath endued this island that it is void of noisome beasts, as lions, bears, tigers, pardes, wolves, and such like, by means whereof our countrymen may travel in safety, and our herds and flocks remain for the most part abroad in the field without any herdman or keeper.

This is chiefly spoken of the south and south-west parts of the island. For, whereas we that dwell on this side of the Tweed may safely boast of our security in this behalf, yet cannot the Scots do the like in every point within their kingdom, sith they have grievous wolves and cruel foxes, beside some others of like disposition continually conversant among them, to the general hindrance of their husbandmen, and no small damage unto the inhabitants of those quarters. The happy and fortunate want of these beasts in England is universally ascribed to the politic government of King Edgar.[186]

Of foxes we have some, but no great store, and also badgers in our sandy and light grounds, where woods, furze, broom, and plenty of shrubs are to shroud them in when they be from their burrows, and thereunto warrens of conies at hand to feed upon at will. Otherwise in clay, which we call the cledgy mould, we seldom hear of any, because the moisture[Pg 170] and the toughness of the soil is such as will not suffer them to draw and make their burrows deep. Certes, if I may freely say what I think, I suppose that these two kinds (I mean foxes and badgers) are rather preserved by gentlemen to hunt and have pastime withal at their own pleasures than otherwise suffered to live as not able to be destroyed because of their great numbers. For such is the scantity of them here in England, in comparison of the plenty that is to be seen in other countries, and so earnestly are the inhabitants bent to root them out, that, except it had been to bear thus with the recreations of their superiors in this behalf, it could not otherwise have been chosen but that they should have been utterly destroyed by many years agone.

I might here intreat largely of other vermin, as the polecat, the miniver, the weasel, stote, fulmart, squirrel, fitchew, and such like, which Cardan includeth under the word Mustela: also of the otter, and likewise of the beaver, whose hinder feet and tail only are supposed to be fish. Certes the tail of this beast is like unto a thin whetstone, as the body unto a monstrous rat: as the beast also itself is of such force in the teeth that it will gnaw a hole through a thick plank, or shere through a double billet in a night; it loveth also the stillest rivers, and it is given to them by nature to go by flocks unto the woods at hand, where they gather sticks wherewith to build their nests, wherein their bodies lie dry above the water, although they so provide most commonly that their tails may hang within the same. It is also reported that their said tails are a delicate dish, and their stones of such medicinal force that (as Vertomannus saith) four men smelling unto them each after other did bleed at the nose through their attractive force, proceeding from a vehement savour wherewith they are endued. There is greatest plenty of them in Persia, chiefly about Balascham, from whence they and their dried cods are brought into all quarters of the world, though not without some forgery by such as provide them. And of all these here remembered, as the first sorts are plentiful in every wood and hedgerow, so these latter, especially the otter (for, to say the[Pg 171] truth, we have not many beavers, but only in the Teisie in Wales) is not wanting or to seek in many, but most, streams and rivers of this isle; but it shall suffice in this sort to have named them, as I do finally the martern, a beast of the chase, although for number I worthily doubt whether that of our beavers or marterns may bethought to be the less.

Other pernicious beasts we have not, except you repute the great plenty of red and fallow deer whose colours are oft garled white and black, all white or all black, and store of conies amongst the hurtful sort. Which although that of themselves they are not offensive at all, yet their great numbers are thought to be very prejudicial, and therefore justly reproved of many, as are in like sort our huge flocks of sheep, whereon the greatest part of our soil is employed almost in every place, and yet our mutton, wool, and felles never the better cheap. The young males which our fallow deer do bring forth are commonly named according to their several ages: for the first year it is a fawn, the second a puckot, the third a serell,[187] the fourth a soare, the fifth a buck of the first head, not bearing the name of a buck till he be five years old: and from henceforth his age is commonly known by his head or horns. Howbeit this notice of his years is not so certain but that the best woodman may now and then be deceived in that account: for in some grounds a buck of the first head will be as well headed as another in a high rowtie soil will be in the fourth. It is also much to be marvelled at that, whereas they do yearly mew and cast their horns, yet in fighting they never break off where they do grife or mew. Furthermore, in examining the condition of our red deer, I find that the young male is called in the first year a calf, in the second a broket, the third a spay, the fourth a staggon or stag, the fifth a great stag, the sixth a hart, and so forth unto his death. And with him in degree of venerie are accounted the hare, boar, and wolf. The fallow deer, as bucks and does, are nourished in parks, and conies in warrens and burrows. As for hares, they run at their own adventure, except some gentleman[Pg 172] or other (for his pleasure) do make an enclosure for them. Of these also the stag is accounted for the most noble game, the fallow deer is the next, then the roe, whereof we have indifferent store, and last of all the hare, not the least in estimation, because the hunting of that seely beast is mother to all the terms, blasts, and artificial devices that hunters do use. All which (notwithstanding our custom) are pastimes more meet for ladies and gentlewomen to exercise (whatsoever Franciscus Patritius saith to the contrary in his Institution of a Prince) than for men of courage to follow, whose hunting should practise their arms in tasting of their manhood, and dealing with such beasts as eftsoons will turn again and offer them the hardest, rather than their horses’ feet which many times may carry them with dishonour from the field.[188]

If I should go about to make any long discourse of venomous beasts or worms bred in England, I should attempt more than occasion itself would readily offer, sith we have very few worms, but no beasts at all, that are thought by their natural qualities to be either venomous or hurtful. First of all, therefore, we have the adder (in our old Saxon tongue called an atter), which some men do not rashly take to be the viper. Certes, if it be so, then is not the viper author of the death of her[189] parents, as some histories affirm, and thereto Encelius, a late writer, in his De re Metallica, lib. 3, cap. 38, where he maketh mention of a she adder which he saw in Sala, whose womb (as he saith) was eaten out after a like fashion, her young ones lying by her in the sunshine, as if they had been earthworms. Nevertheless, as he nameth them viperas, so he calleth the male echis, and the female echidna, concluding in the end that echis is the same serpent which his countrymen to this day call ein atter, as I have also noted before out of a Saxon dictionary. For my part I am[Pg 173] persuaded that the slaughter of their parents is either not true at all, or not always (although I doubt not but that nature hath right well provided to inhibit their superfluous increase by some means or other), and so much the rather am I led hereunto for that I gather by Nicander that of all venomous worms the viper only bringeth out her young alive, and therefore is called in Latin vipera quasivivipara, but of her own death he doth not (to my remembrance) say anything. It is testified also by other in other words, and to the like sense, that “Echis id est vipera sola ex serpentibus non ava sed animalia parit.” And it may well be, for I remember that I have read in Philostratus, De vita Appollonii, how he saw a viper licking her young. I did see an adder once myself that lay (as I thought) sleeping on a molehill, out of whose mouth came eleven young adders of twelve or thirteen inches in length apiece, which played to and fro in the grass one with another, till some of them espied me. So soon therefore as they saw my face they ran again into the mouth of their dam, whom I killed, and then found each of them shrouded in a distinct cell or pannicle in her belly, much like unto a soft white jelly, which maketh me to be of the opinion that our adder is the viper indeed. The colour of their skin is for the most part like rusty iron or iron grey, but such as be very old resemble a ruddy blue; and as once in the year (to wit, in April or about the beginning of May) they cast their old skins (whereby as it is thought their age reneweth), so their stinging bringeth death without present remedy be at hand, the wounded never ceasing to swell, neither the venom to work till the skin of the one break, and the other ascend upward to the heart, where it finisheth the natural effect, except the juice of dragons (in Latin called dracunculus minor) be speedily ministered and drunk in strong ale, or else some other medicine taken of like force that may countervail and overcome the venom of the same. The length of them is most commonly two feet, and somewhat more, but seldom doth it extend into two feet six inches, except it be in some rare and monstrous one, whereas our snakes are much longer, and seen sometimes to surmount a yard, or[Pg 174] three feet, although their poison be nothing so grievous and deadly as the others. Our adders lie in winter under stones, as Aristotle also saith of the viper (lib. 8, cap. 15), and in holes of the earth, rotten stubs of trees, and amongst the dead leaves; but in the heat of the summer they come abroad, and lie either round in heaps or at length upon some hillock, or elsewhere in the grass. They are found only in our woodland countries and highest grounds, where sometimes (though seldom) a speckled stone called echites, in Dutch ein atter stein, is gotten out of their dried carcases, which divers report to be good against their poison.[190] As for our snakes, which in Latin are properly named angues, they commonly are seen in moors, fens, loam walls, and low bottoms.

As we have great store of toads where adders commonly are found, so do frogs abound where snakes do keep their residence. We have also the slow-worm, which is black and greyish of colour, and somewhat shorter than an adder. I was at the killing once of one of them, and thereby perceived that she was not so called of any want of nimble motion, but rather of the contrary. Nevertheless we have a blind-worm, to be found under logs, in woods and timber that hath lain long in a place, which some also do call (and upon better ground) by the name of slow-worms, and they are known easily by their more or less variety of striped colours, drawn long-ways from their heads, their whole bodies little exceeding a foot in length, and yet is their venom deadly. This also is not to be omitted; and now and then in our fenny countries other kinds of serpents are found of greater quantity than either our adder or our snake, but, as these are not ordinary and oft to be seen, so I mean not to intreat of them among our common annoyances. Neither have we the scorpion, a plague of God sent not long since into Italy, and whose poison (as Apollodorus saith) is white, neither the tarantula or Neapolitan spider, whose poison bringeth death, except music be at hand. Wherefore I suppose our country to be the more[Pg 175] happy (I mean in part) for that it is void of these two grievous annoyances wherewith other nations are plagued.

We have also efts both of the land and water, and likewise the noisome swifts, whereof to say any more it would be but loss of time, sith they are all well known, and no region to my knowledge found to be void of many of them. As for flies (sith it shall not be amiss a little to touch them also), we have none that can do hurt or hindrance naturally unto any: for whether they be cut-waisted or whole-bodied, they are void of poison and all venomous inclination. The cut or girt waisted (for so I English the word insecta) are the hornets, wasps, bees, and such like, whereof we have great store, and of which an opinion is conceived that the first do breed of the corruption of dead horses, the second of pears and apples corrupted, and the last of kine and oxen: which may be true, especially the first and latter in some parts of the beast, and not their whole substances, as also in the second, sith we have never wasps but when our fruit beginneth to wax ripe. Indeed Virgil and others speak of a generation of bees by killing or smothering a bruised bullock or calf and laying his bowels or his flesh wrapped up in his hide in a close house for a certain season; but how true it is, hitherto I have not tried. Yet sure I am of this, that no one living creature corrupteth without the production of another, as we may see by ourselves, whose flesh doth alter into lice, and also in sheep for excessive numbers of flesh flies, if they be suffered to lie unburied or uneaten by the dogs and swine, who often and happily present such needless generations.

As concerning bees, I think it good to remember that, whereas some ancient writers affirm it to be a commodity wanting in our island, it is now found to be nothing so. In old times peradventure we had none indeed; but in my days there is such plenty of them in manner everywhere that in some uplandish towns there are one hundred or two hundred hives of them, although the said hives are not so huge as those of the east country, but far less, and not able to contain above one bushel of corn or five pecks at the most. Pliny (a man[Pg 176] that of set purpose delighteth to write of wonders), speaking of honey, noteth that in the north regions the hives in his time were of such quantity that some one comb contained eight foot in length, and yet (as it should seem) he speaketh not of the greatest. For in Podolia, which is now subject to the King of Poland, their hives are so great, and combs so abundant, that huge boars, overturning and falling into them, are drowned in the honey before they can recover and find the means to come out.

Our honey also is taken and reputed to be the best, because it is harder, better wrought, and cleanlier vesselled up, than that which cometh from beyond the sea, where they stamp and strain their combs, bees, and young blowings altogether into the stuff, as I have been informed. In use also of medicine our physicians and apothecaries eschew the foreign, especially that of Spain and Pontus, by reason of a venomous quality naturally planted in the same, as some write, and choose the home-made: not only by reason of our soil (which hath no less plenty of wild thyme growing therein than in Sicilia and about Athens, and maketh the best stuff) as also for that it breedeth (being gotten in harvest time) less choler, and which is oftentimes (as I have seen by experience) so white as sugar, and corned as if it were salt. Our hives are made commonly of rye straw and wattled about with bramble quarters; but some make the same of wicker, and cast them over with clay. We cherish none in trees, but set our hives somewhere on the warmest side of the house, providing that they may stand dry and without danger both of the mouse and the moth. This furthermore is to be noted, that whereas in vessels of oil that which is nearest the top is counted the finest and of wine that in the middest, so of honey the best which is heaviest and moistest is always next the bottom, and evermore casteth and driveth his dregs upward toward the very top, contrary to the nature of other liquid substances, whose grounds and leeze do generally settle downwards. And thus much as by the way of our bees and English honey.

As for the whole-bodied, as the cantharides, and such venomous creatures of the same kind, to be abundantly found[Pg 177] in other countries, we hear not of them: yet have we beetles, horseflies, turdbugs or dors (called in Latin scarabei), the locust or the grasshopper (which to me do seem to be one thing, as I will anon declare), and such like, whereof let other intreat that make an exercise in catching of flies, but a far greater sport in offering them to spiders, as did Domitian sometime, and another prince yet living who delighted so much to see the jolly combats betwixt a stout fly and an old spider that divers men have had great rewards given them for their painful provision of flies made only for this purpose. Some parasites also, in the time of the aforesaid emperor (when they were disposed to laugh at his folly, and yet would seem in appearance to gratify his fantastical head with some shew of dutiful demeanour), could devise to set their lord on work by letting a flesh fly privily into his chamber, which he forthwith would eagerly have hunted (all other business set apart) and never ceased till he had caught her into his fingers, wherewith arose the proverb, “Ne musca quidem,” uttered first by Vibius Priscus, who being asked whether anybody was with Domitian, answered “Ne musca quidem,” whereby he noted his folly. There are some cockscombs here and there in England, learning it abroad as men transregionate, which make account also of this pastime, as of a notable matter, telling what a sight is seen between them, if either of them be lusty and courageous in his kind. One also hath made a book of the spider and the fly, wherein he dealeth so profoundly, and beyond all measure of skill that neither he himself that made it nor any one that readeth it can reach unto the meaning thereof. But if those jolly fellows, instead of the straw that they must thrust into the fly’s tail (a great injury no doubt to such a noble champion), would bestow the cost to set a fool’s cap upon their own heads, then might they with more security and less reprehension behold these notable battles.

Now, as concerning the locust, I am led by divers of my country, who (as they say) were either in Germany, Italy, or Pannonia, 1542, when those nations were greatly annoyed with that kind of fly, and affirm very constantly that they[Pg 178] saw none other creature than the grasshopper during the time of that annoyance, which was said to come to them from the Meotides. In most of our translations also of the Bible the word locusta is Englished a grasshopper, and thereunto (Leviticus xi.) it is reputed among the clean food, otherwise John the Baptist would never have lived with them in the wilderness. In Barbary, Numidia, and sundry other places of Africa, as they have been,[191] so are they eaten to this day powdered in barrels, and therefore the people of those parts are called Acedophagi: nevertheless they shorten the life of the eaters, by the production at the last of an irksome and filthy disease. In India they are three foot long, in Ethiopia much shorter, but in England seldom above an inch. As for the cricket, called in Latin cicada, he hath some likelihood, but not very great, with the grasshopper, and therefore he is not to be brought in as an umpire in this case. Finally, Matthiolus and so many as describe the locust do set down none other form than that of our grasshopper, which maketh me so much the more to rest upon my former imagination, which is that the locust and the grasshopper are one.



[Pg 179]



[1577, Book III., Chapter 13; 1587, Book III., Chapter 7.]

There is no country that may (as I take it) compare with ours in number, excellency, and diversity of dogs.

The first sort therefore he divideth either into such as rouse the beast, and continue the chase, or springeth the bird, and bewrayeth her flight by pursuit. And as these are commonly called spaniels, so the other are named hounds, whereof he maketh eight sorts, of which the foremost excelleth in perfect smelling, the second in quick espying, the third in swiftness and quickness, the fourth in smelling and nimbleness, etc., and the last in subtlety and deceitfulness. These (saith Strabo) are most apt for game, and called Sagaces by a general name, not only because of their skill in hunting, but also for that they know their own and the names of their fellows most exactly. For if the hunter see any one to follow skilfully, and with likelihood of good success, he biddeth the rest to hark and follow such a dog, and they eftsoones obey so soon as they hear his name. The first kind of these are often called harriers, whose game is the fox, the hare, the wolf (if we had any), hart, buck, badger, otter, polecat, lopstart, weasel, conie, etc.: the second height a terrier, and it hunteth the badger and grey only: the third a bloodhound, whose office is to follow the fierce, and now and then to pursue a thief or beast by his dry foot: the fourth height a gazehound, who hunteth by the eye: the fifth a greyhound, cherished for his strength and swiftness and stature, commended by Bratius in his De Venatione, and not unremembered by Hercules Stroza in a like treatise, and[Pg 180] above all other those of Britain, where he saith: “Magna spectandi mole Britanni;” also by Nemesianus, libro Cynegeticôn, where he saith: “Divisa Britannia mittit Veloces nostrique orbis venatibus aptos,” of which sort also some be smooth, of sundry colours, and some shake-haired: the sixth a liemer, that excelleth in smelling and swift running: the seventh a tumbler: and the eighth a thief whose offices (I mean of the latter two) incline only to deceit, wherein they are oft so skilful that few men would think so mischievous a wit to remain in such silly creatures. Having made this enumeration of dogs which are apt for the chase and hunting, he cometh next to such as serve the falcons in their time, whereof he maketh also two sorts. One that findeth his game on the land, another that putteth up such fowl as keepeth in the water: and of these this is commonly most usual for the net or train, the other for the hawk, as he doth shew at large. Of the first he saith that they have no peculiar names assigned to them severally, but each of them is called after the bird which by natural appointment he is allotted to hunt or serve, for which consideration some be named dogs for the pheasant, some for the falcon, and some for the partridge. Howbeit the common name for all is spaniel (saith he), and thereupon alluded as if these kinds of dogs had been brought hither out of Spain. In like sort we have of water spaniels in their kind. The third sort of dogs of the gentle kind is the spaniel gentle, or comforter, or (as the common term is) the fistinghound, and those are called Melitei, of the Island Malta, from whence they were brought hither. These are little and pretty, proper and fine, and sought out far and near to falsify the nice delicacy of dainty dames, and wanton women’s wills, instruments of folly to play and dally withal, in trifling away the treasure of time, to withdraw their minds from more commendable exercises, and to content their corrupt concupiscences with vain disport—a silly poor shift to shun their irksome idleness. These Sybaritical puppies the smaller they be (and thereto if they have a hole in the fore parts of their heads) the better they are accepted, the more pleasure also they provoke, as meet playfellows for[Pg 181] mincing mistresses to bear in their bosoms, to keep company withal in their chambers, to succour with sleep in bed, and nourish with meat at board, to lie in their laps, and lick their lips as they lie (like young Dianas) in their waggons and coaches. And good reason it should be so, for coarseness with fineness hath no fellowship, but featness with neatness hath neighbourhood enough. That plausible proverb therefore versified sometime upon a tyrant—namely, that he loved his sow better than his son—may well be applied to some of this kind of people, who delight more in their dogs, that are deprived of all possibility of reason, than they do in children that are capable of wisdom and judgment. Yea, they oft feed them of the best where the poor man’s child at their doors can hardly come by the worst. But the former abuse peradventure reigneth where there hath been long want of issue, else where barrenness is the best blossom of beauty: or, finally, where poor men’s children for want of their own issue are not ready to be had. It is thought of some that it is very wholesome for a weak stomach to bear such a dog in the bosom, as it is for him that hath the palsy to feel the daily smell and savour of a fox. But how truly this is affirmed let the learned judge: only it shall suffice for Doctor Caius to have said thus much of spaniels and dogs of the gentle kind.

Dogs of the homely kind are either shepherd’s curs or mastiffs. The first are so common that it needeth me not to speak of them. Their use also is so well known in keeping the herd together (either when they grass or go before the shepherd) that it should be but in vain to spend any time about them. Wherefore I will leave this cur unto his own kind, and go in hand with the mastiff, tie dog, or band dog, so called because many of them are tied up in chains and strong bonds in the daytime, for doing hurt abroad, which is a huge dog, stubborn, ugly, eager, burthenous of body (and therefore of but little swiftness), terrible and fearful to behold, and oftentimes more fierce and fell than any Archadian or Corsican cur. Our Englishmen, to the extent that these dogs may be more cruel and fierce, assist nature with some art, use, and custom. For[Pg 182] although this kind of dog be capable of courage, violent, valiant, stout, and bold: yet will they increase these their stomachs by teaching them to bait the bear, the bull, the lion, and other such like cruel and bloody beasts (either brought over or kept up at home for the same purpose), without any collar to defend their throats, and oftentimes there too they train them up in fighting and wrestling with a man (having for the safeguard of his life either a pikestaff, club, sword, privy coat), whereby they become the more fierce and cruel unto strangers. The Caspians make so much account sometimes of such great dogs, that every able man would nourish sundry of them in his house of set purpose, to the end they should devour their carcases after their deaths, thinking the dog’s bellies to be the most honourable sepulchres. The common people also followed the same rate, and therefore there were tie dogs kept up by public ordinance, to devour them after their deaths: by means whereof these beasts became the more eager, and with great difficulty after a while restrained from falling upon the living. But whither am I digressed? In returning therefore to our own, I say that of mastiffs, some bark only with fierce and open mouth but will not bite; but the cruelest do either not bark at all or bite before they bark, and therefore are more to be feared than any of the other. They take also their name of the word “mase” and “thief” (or “master-thief” if you will), because they often stound and put such persons to their shifts in towns and villages, and are the principal causes of their apprehension and taking. The force which is in them surmounteth all belief, and the fast hold which they take with their teeth exceedeth all credit: for three of them against a bear, four against a lion, are sufficient to try mastries with them. King Henry the Seventh, as the report goeth, commanded all such curs to be hanged, because they durst presume to fight against the lion, who is their king and sovereign. The like he did with an excellent falcon, as some say, because he feared not hand-to-hand match with an eagle, willing his falconers in his own presence to pluck off his head after he was taken down, saying that it was[Pg 183] not meet for any subject to offer such wrong unto his lord and superior, wherein he had a further meaning. But if King Henry the Seventh had lived in our time what would he have done to our English mastiff, which alone and without any help at all pulled down first a huge bear, then a pard, and last of all a lion, each after other before the French King in one day, when the Lord Buckhurst was ambassador unto him, and whereof if I should write the circumstances, that is, how he took his advantage being let loose unto them, and finally drave them into such exceeding fear, that they were all glad to run away when he was taken from them, I should take much pains, and yet reap but small credit: wherefore it shall suffice to have said thus much thereof. Some of our mastiffs will rage only in the night, some are to be tied up both day and night. Such also as are suffered to go loose about the house and yard are so gentle in the daytime that children may ride on their backs and play with them at their pleasures. Divers of them likewise are of such jealousy over their master and whosoever of his household, that if a stranger do embrace or touch any of them, they will fall fiercely upon them, unto their extreme mischief if their fury be not prevented. Such a one was the dog of Nichomedes, king sometime of Bithynia, who seeing Consigne the queen to embrace and kiss her husband as they walked together in a garden, did tear her all to pieces, maugre his resistance and the present aid of such as attended on them. Some of them moreover will suffer a stranger to come in and walk about the house or yard where he listeth, without giving over to follow him: but if he put forth his hand to touch anything, then will they fly upon them and kill them if they may. I had one myself once, which would not suffer any man to bring in his weapon further than my gate: neither those that were of my house to be touched in his presence. Or if I had beaten any of my children, he would gently have essayed to catch the rod in his teeth and take it out of my hand or else pluck down their clothes to save them from the stripes: which in my opinion is not unworthy to be noted.

[Pg 184]The last sort of dogs consisteth of the currish kind meet for many toys, of which the whappet or prick-eared cur is one. Some men call them warners, because they are good for nothing else but to bark and give warning when anybody doth stir or lie in wait about the house in the night season. Certes it is impossible to describe these curs in any order, because they have no one kind proper unto themselves, but are a confused company mixed of all the rest. The second sort of them are called turnspits, whose office is not unknown to any. And as these are only reserved for this purpose, so in many places our mastiffs (beside the use which tinkers have of them in carrying their heavy budgets) are made to draw water in great wheels out of deep wells, going much like unto those which are framed for our turnspits, as is to be seen at Roiston, where this feat is often practised. Besides these also we have sholts or curs daily brought out of Ireland, and made much of among us, because of their sauciness and quarrelling. Moreover they bite very sore, and love candles exceedingly, as do the men and women of their country: but I may say no more of them, because they are not bred with us. Yet this will I make report of by the way, for pastime’s sake, that when a great man of those parts came of late into one of our ships which went thither for fish, to see the form and fashion of the same, his wife apparelled in fine sables, abiding on the deck whilst her husband was under the hatches with the mariners, espied a pound or two of candles hanging on the mast, and being loath to stand there idle alone, she fell to and eat them up every one, supposing herself to have been at a jolly banquet, and shewing very pleasant gesture when her husband came up again unto her.

The last kind of toyish curs are named dancers, and those being of a mongrel sort also, are taught and exercised to dance in measure at the musical sound of an instrument, as at the just stroke of a drum, sweet accent of the citharne, and pleasant harmony of the harp, shewing many tricks by the gesture of their bodies: as to stand bolt upright, to lie flat on the ground, to turn round as a ring holding their tails[Pg 185] in their teeth, to saw and beg for meat, to take a man’s cap from his head, and sundry such properties, which they learn of their idle roguish masters, whose instruments they are to gather gain, as old apes clothed in motley and coloured short-waisted jackets are for the like vagabonds, who seek no better living than that which they may get by fond pastime and idleness. I might here intreat of other dogs, as of those which are bred between a bitch and a wolf, also between a bitch and a fox, or a bear and a mastiff. But as we utterly want the first sort, except they be brought unto us: so it happeneth sometime that the other two are engendered and seen at home amongst us. But all the rest heretofore remembered in this chapter there is none more ugly and odious in sight, cruel and fierce in deed, nor untractable in hand, than that which is begotten between the bear and the bandog. For whatsoever he catcheth hold of he taketh it so fast that a man may sooner tear and rend his body in sunder than get open his mouth to separate his chaps. Certes he regardeth neither wolf, bear, nor lion, and therefore may well be compared with those two dogs which were sent to Alexander out of India (and procreated as it is thought between a mastiff and a male tiger, as be those also of Hircania), or to them that are bred in Archadia, where copulation is oft seen between lions and bitches, as the lion is in France (as I said) between she wolves and dogs, whereof let this suffice, sith the further tractation of them doth not concern my purpose, more than the confutation of Cardan’s talk, De subt., lib. 10, who saith that after many generations dogs do become wolves, and contrariwise, which if it were true, then could not England be without many wolves: but nature hath set a difference between them, not only in outward form, but also in inward disposition of their bones, whereof it is impossible that his assertion can be sound.



[Pg 186]



[1577, Book III., Chapter 10; 1587, Book III., Chapter 3.]

I have in my description of waters, as occasion hath served, treated of the names of some of the several fishes which are commonly to be found in our rivers. Nevertheless, as every water hath a sundry mixture, and therefore is not stored with every kind, so there is almost no house, even of the meanest boors, which hath not one or more ponds or holes made for reservation of water unstored with some of them, as with tench, carp, bream, roach, dace, eels, or such like as will live and breed together. Certes it is not possible for me to deliver the names of all such kinds of fishes as our rivers are found to bear; yet, lest I should seem injurious to the reader in not delivering as many of them as have been brought to my knowledge, I will not let to set them down as they do come to mind. Besides the salmon therefore, which are not to be taken from the middest of September to the middest of November, and are very plentiful in our greatest rivers, as their young store are not to be touched from mid April unto Midsummer, we gave the trout, barbel, graile, pout, cheven, pike, gudgeon, smelt, perch, menan, shrimps, crevises, lampreys, and such like, whose preservation is provided for by very sharp laws, not only in our rivers, but also in plashes or lakes and ponds, which otherwise would bring small profit to the owners, and do much harm by continual maintenance of idle persons, who would spend their whole time upon their banks, not coveting to labour with their hands nor follow any good trade. Of all these there are none more prejudicial to their neighbours that dwell in the same[Pg 187] water than the pike and eel, which commonly devour such fish or fry and spawn as they may get and come by. Nevertheless the pike is friend unto the tench, as to his leech and surgeon. For when the fishmonger hath opened his side and laid out his rivet and fat unto the buyer, for the better utterance of his ware, and cannot make him away at that present, he layeth the same again into the proper place, and sewing up the wound, he restoreth him to the pond where tenches are, who never cease to suck and lick his grieved place, till they have restored him to health, and made him ready to come again to the stall, when his turn shall come about. I might here make report how the pike, carp, and some other of our river fishes are sold by inches of clean fish, from the eyes or gills to the crotch of the tails, but it is needless: also how the pike as he ageth receiveth divers names, as from a fry to a gilthead, from a gilthead to a pod, from a pod to a jack, from a jack to a pickerel, from a pickerel to a pike, and last of all to a luce; also that a salmon is the first year a gravellin, and commonly as big as a herring, the second a salmon peal, the third a pug, and the fourth a salmon: but this is in like sort unnecessary.

I might finally tell you how that in fenny rivers’ sides, if you cut a turf, and lay it with the grass downwards upon the earth in such sort as the water may touch it as it passeth by, you shall have a brood of eels. It would seem a wonder; and yet it is believed with no less assurance by some, that than a horse hair laid in a pail full of the like water will in a short time stir and become a living creature. But sith the certainty of these things is rather proved by few than the certainty of them known unto many, I let it pass at this time. Nevertheless this is generally observed in the maintenance of fry as well in rivers as in ponds, that in the time of spawn we use to throw in faggots made of willow and sallow (and now and then of bushes for want of the other), whereby such spawn as falleth into the same is preserved and kept from the pike, perch, eel, and other fish, of which the carp also will feed upon his own, and thereby hinder the store and increase of proper kind. Some use in[Pg 188] every sixth or seventh year to lay their great ponds dry for all the summer time, to the end they may gather grass, and a thin swart for the fish to feed upon; and afterwards store them with breeders, after the water be let anew again into them. Finally, when they have spawned, they draw out the breeders, leaving not above four or six behind, even in the greatest ponds, by means whereof the rest do prosper the better: and this observation is most used in carp and bream. As for perch (a delicate fish), it prospereth everywhere, I mean so well in ponds as rivers, and also in moats and pits, as I do know by experience, though their bottoms be but clay. More would I write of our fresh fish, if any more were needful: wherefore I will now turn over unto such of the salt water as are taken upon our coasts. As our fowls therefore have their seasons, so likewise have all our sorts of sea fish: whereby it cometh to pass that none, or at least very few of them, are to be had at all times. Nevertheless the seas that environ our coasts are of all other most plentiful; for as by reason of their depth they are a great succour, so our low shores minister great plenty of food unto the fish that come thereto, no place being void or barren, either through want of food for them or the falls of filthy rivers, which naturally annoy them. In December therefore and January we commonly abound in herring and red fish, as rochet and gurnard. In February and March we feed on plaice, trouts, turbot, mussels, etc. In April and May, with mackerel and cockles. In June and July, with conger. In August and September, with haddock and herring: and the two months ensuing with the same, as also thornback and ray of all sorts: all which are the most usual, and wherewith our common sort are best of all refreshed.

For mine own part, I am greatly acquainted neither with the seasons, nor yet with the fish itself: and therefore, if I should take upon me to describe or speak of either of them absolutely, I should enterprise more than I am able to perform, and go in hand with a greater matter than I can well bring about. It shall suffice therefore to declare what sorts of fishes I have most often seen, to the end I may not altogether pass over this[Pg 189] chapter without the rehearsal of something, although the whole sum of that which I have to say be nothing indeed, if the performance of a full discourse hereof be anything hardly required.

Of fishes, therefore, as I find five sorts (the flat, the round, the long, the legged, and shelled), so the flat are divided into the smooth, sealed, and tailed. Of the first are the plaice, the but, the turbot, birt, fluke or sea flounder, doree, dab, etc. Of the second the soles and thornback, whereof the greater be for the most part either dried and carried into other countries, or sodden, soused, and eaten here at home, whilst the lesser be fried or buttered soon after they be taken, as provision not to be kept long for fear of putrefaction. Under the round kinds are commonly comprehended lumps (an ugly fish to sight, and yet very delicate in eating if it be kindly dressed), the whiting (an old waiter or servitor in the court), the rochet, sea bream, pirle, hake, sea trout, gurnard, haddock, cod, herring, pilchard, sprat, and such like. And these are they whereof I have best knowledge, and are commonly to be had in their times upon our coasts. Under this kind also are all the great fish contained, as the seal, the dolphin, the porpoise, the thirlepole, whale, and whatsoever is round of body, be it never so great and huge. Of the long sort are congers, eels, garefish, and such other of that form. Finally, of the legged kind we have not many, neither have I seen any more of this sort than the polypus, called in English the lobster, crayfish (or crevis), and the crab. As for the little crayfishes, they are not taken in the sea, but plentifully in our fresh rivers in banks, and under stones, where they keep themselves in most secret manner, and oft, by likeness of colour with the stones among which they lie, deceive even the skilful takers of them except they use great diligence. Carolus Stephanus, in his Maison Rustique, doubted whether these lobsters be fish or not; and in the end concludeth them to grow of the purgation of the water, as doth the frog, and these also not to be eaten, for that they be strong and very hard of digestion. But hereof let other determine further.

[Pg 190]I might here speak of sundry other fishes now and then taken also upon our coasts; but, sith my mind is only to touch either on all such as are usually gotten, or so many of them only as I can well rehearse upon certain knowledge, I think it good at this time to forbear the further intreaty of them. As touching the shelly sort, we have plenty of oysters; whose value in old time for their sweetness was not unknown in Rome (although Mutianus, as Pliny noteth, lib. 32, cap. 6, prefer the Cyzicene before them), and these we have in like manner of divers quantities, and no less variety also of our mussels and cockles. We have in like sort no small store of great whelks, scallops, and periwinkles, and each of them brought far into the land from the sea coast in their several seasons. And albeit our oysters are generally forborne in the four hot months of the year (that is to say, May, June, July, and August) which are void of the letter R, yet in some places they be continually eaten, where they are kept in pits, as I have known by experience. And thus much of our sea fish, as a man in manner utterly unacquainted with their diversity of kinds, yet so much have I yielded to do, hoping hereafter to say somewhat more, and more orderly of them, if it shall please God that I may live and have leisure once again to peruse this treatise and so make up a perfect piece of work of that which, as you now see, is very slenderly attempted and begun.



[Pg 191]



[1577, Book II., Chapter 11; 1587, Book II., Chapter 18.]

Quarries with us are pits or mines, out of which we dig our stone to build withal, and of these as we have great plenty in England so are they of divers sorts, and those very profitable for sundry necessary uses. In times past the use of stone was in manner dedicated to the building of churches, religious houses, princely palaces, bishops’ manors, and holds only; but now that scrupulous observation is altogether infringed, and building with stone so commonly taken up that amongst noblemen and gentlemen the timber frames are supposed to be not much better than paper work, of little continuance, and least continuance of all. It far passeth my cunning to set down how many sorts of stone for building are to be found in England, but much further to call each of them by their proper names. Howbeit, such is the curiosity of our countrymen, that notwithstanding Almighty God hath so blessed our realm in most plentiful manner with such and so many quarries apt and meet for piles of longest continuance, yet we as loathsome of this abundance, or not liking of the plenty, do commonly leave these natural gifts to mould and cinder in the ground, and take up an artificial brick, in burning whereof a great part of the wood of this land is daily consumed and spent, to the no small decay of that commodity, and hindrance of the poor that oft perish for cold.

Our elders have from time to time, following our natural vice in misliking of our own commodities at home, and desiring those of other countries abroad, most esteemed the Caen stone[Pg 192] that is brought hither out of Normandy: and many even in these our days following the same vein, do covet in their works almost to use none other. Howbeit experience on the one side, and our skilful masons on the other (whose judgment is nothing inferior to those of other countries), do affirm that in the north (and south) parts of England, and certain other places, there are some quarries which for hardness and beauty are equal to the outlandish greet. This may also be confirmed by the king’s chapel at Cambridge, the greatest part of the square stone whereof was brought thither out of the north. Some commend the vein of white free-stone, slate, and mere stone, which is between Pentowen and the black head in Cornwall, for very fine stuff. Other do speak much of the quarries at Hamden, nine miles from Milbery, and paving stone of Burbeck. For toph stone not a few allow of the quarry that is at Dresley, divers mislike not of the veins of hard stone that are at Oxford and Burford. One praiseth the free-stone at Manchester and Presbury in Gloucestershire; another the quarries of the like in Richmond. The third liketh well of the hard stone in Clee Hill in Shropshire; the fourth of that of Thorowbridge, Welden, Terrinton. Whereby it appeareth that we have quarries enough (and good enough) in England sufficient for us to build withal, if the peevish contempt of our own commodities, and delectations to enrich other countries, did not catch such foolish hold upon us. It is also verified (as any other way) that all nations have rather need of England than England of any other. And this I think may suffice for the substance of our works. Now if you have regard to their ornature, how many mines of sundry kinds of coarse and fine marble are there to be had in England? But chiefly one in Staffordshire, another near to the Peak, the third at Uavldry, the fourth at Snothill (longing to the Lord Chandos), the fifth at Eglestone, which is of black marble, spotted with grey or white spots; the sixth not far from Durham. (Of white marble also we have store, and so fair as the Marpesian of Paris Isle.) But what mean I to go about to recite all, or the most excellent? sith these which I have named already are not altogether of the best, nor scarcely of any[Pg 193] value in comparison of those whose places of growth are utterly unknown unto me, and whereof the black marble spotted with green is none of the vilest sort, as may appear by parcel of the pavement of the lower part of the choir of Paul’s in London (and also in Westminster), where some pieces thereof are yet to be seen and marked, if any will look for them. If marble will not serve, then have we the finest alabaster that may elsewhere be had, as about Saint David’s of Wales; also near to Beau manor, which is about four or five miles from Leicester, and taken to be the best, although there are divers other quarries hereof beyond the Trent (as in Yorkshire, etc., and fully so good as that) whose names at this time are out of my remembrance. What should I talk of the plaster of Axholm (for of that which they dig out of the earth in sundry places of Lincoln and Derbyshire, wherewith they blanch their houses instead of lime, I speak not), certes it is a fine kind of alabaster. But sith it is sold commonly but after twelvepence the load, we judge it to be but vile and coarse. For my part I cannot skill of stone, yet in my opinion it is not without great use for plaster of Paris, and such is the mine of it that the stones (thereof) lie in flakes one upon another like planks or tables, and under the same is an (exceeding) hard stone very profitable for building, as hath oftentimes been proved. (This is also to be marked further of our plaster white and grey, that not contented with the same, as God by the quarry doth send and yield it forth, we have now devised to cast it in moulds for windows and pillars of what form and fashion we list, even as alabaster itself: and with such stuff sundry houses in Yorkshire are furnished of late. But of what continuance this device is likely to prove the time to come shall easily betray. In the meantime Sir Ralph Burcher, knight, hath put the device in practice, and affirmeth that six men in six months shall travel in that trade to see greater profit to the owner than twelve men in six years could before this trick was invented.)

If neither alabaster nor marble doth suffice, we have the touchstone, called in Latin lydius lapis (shining as glass), either to match in sockets with our pillars of alabaster, or[Pg 194] contrariwise: or if it please the workmen to join pillars of alabaster or touch with sockets of brass, pewter, or copper, we want not (also) these metals. So that I think no nation can have more excellent and greater diversity of stuff for building than we may have in England, if ourselves could so like of it. But such, alas! is our nature, that not our own but other men’s do most of all delight us; and for desire of novelty we oft exchange our finest cloth, corn, tin, and wools for halfpenny cockhorses for children, dogs of wax (or of cheese), twopenny tabers, leaden swords, painted feathers, gewgaws for fools, dog-tricks for disards, hawk’s hoods, and such like trumpery, whereby we reap just mockage and reproach (in other countries). I might remember here our pits for millstones, that are to be had in divers places of our country, as in Anglesea (Kent), also at Queen-hope of blue greet, of no less value than the Colaine, yea, than the French stones: our grindstones for hardware men. Our whetstones are no less laudable than those of Crete and Lacedæmonia, albeit we use no oil with them, as they did in those parts, but only water, as the Italians and Narians do with theirs: whereas they that grow in Cilicia must have both oil and water laid upon them, or else they make no edge. There also are divided either into hard greet, as the common that shoemakers use, or the soft greet called hones, to be had among the barbers, and those either black or white, and the rub or brickle stone which husbandmen do occupy in the whetting of their scythes.

In like manner slate of sundry colours is everywhere in manner to be had, as is the flint and chalk, the shalder and the pebble. Howbeit for all this we must fetch them still from far, as did the Hull men their stones out of Iceland, wherewith they paved their town for want of the like in England: or as Sir Thomas Gresham did when he bought the stones in Flanders wherewith he paved the Burse. But as he will answer (peradventure) that he bargained for the whole mould and substance of his workmanship in Flanders, so the Hullanders or Hull men will say how that stock-fish is light loading, and[Pg 195] therefore they did balance their vessels with these Iceland stones to keep them from turning over in their so tedious a voyage.

Sometimes also they find precious stones (though seldom), and some of them perfectly squared by nature, and much like unto the diamond found of late in a quarry of marble at Naples, which was so perfectly pointed as if all the workmen in the world had consulted about the performance of that workmanship. I know that these reports unto some will seem incredible, and therefore I stand the longer upon them; nevertheless omitting to speak particularly of such things as happen amongst us, and rather seeking to confirm the same by the like in other countries, I will deliver a few more examples, whereby the truth hereof shall so much the better appear. For in the midst of a stone not long since found at Chius, upon the breaking up thereof, there was seen Caput panisci enclosed therein, very perfectly formed, as the beholders do remember. How come the grains of gold to be so fast enclosed in the stones that are and have been found in the Spanish Baetis? But this is most marvellous, that a most delectable and sweet oil, comparable to the finest balm, or oil of spike in smell, was found naturally enclosed in a stone, which could not otherwise be broken but with a smith’s hammer.

Finally, I myself have seen stones opened, and within them the substances of corrupted worms like unto adders (but far shorter), whose crests and wrinkles of body appeared also therein as if they had been engraved in the stones by art and industry of man. Wherefore to affirm that as well living creatures as precious stones, gold, etc., are now and then found in our quarries, shall not hereafter be a thing so incredible as many talking philosophers, void of all experience, do affirm and wilfully maintain against such as hold the contrary.



[Pg 196]



[1577, Book II., Chapter 16; 1587, Book II., Chapter 22.]

It should seem by ancient records, and the testimony of sundry authors, that the whole countries of Lhoegres and Cambria, now England and Wales, have sometimes been very well replenished with great woods and groves, although at this time the said commodity be not a little decayed in both, and in such wise that a man shall oft ride ten or twenty miles in each of them and find very little, or rather none at all, except it be near unto towns, gentlemen’s houses, and villages, where the inhabitants have planted a few elms, oaks, hazels, or ashes about their dwellings, for their defence from the rough winds and keeping of the stormy weather from annoyance of the same. This scarcity at the first grew (as it is thought) either by the industry of man, for maintenance of tillage (as we understand the like to be done of late by the Spaniards in the West Indies, where they fired whole woods of very great compass, thereby to come by ground whereon to sow their grains), or else through the covetousness of such as, in preferring of pasture for their sheep and greater cattle, do make small account of firebote and timber, or, finally, by the cruelty of the enemies, whereof we have sundry examples declared in our histories. Howbeit where the rocks and quarry grounds are I take the swart of the earth to be so thin that no tree of any greatness, other than shrubs and bushes, is able to grow or prosper long therein for want of sufficient moisture wherewith to feed them with fresh humour, or at the leastwise of mould to shroud, stay upright, and cherish the same in the[Pg 197] blustering winter’s weather, till they may grow into any greatness, and spread or yield their roots down right into the soil about them: and this either is or may be one other cause, wherefore some places are naturally void of wood. But to proceed. Although I must needs confess that there is good store of great wood or timber here and there even now in some places of England, yet in our days it is far unlike to that plenty which our ancestors have seen heretofore when stately building was less in use. For, albeit that there were then greater number of messuages and mansions almost in every place, yet were their frames so slight and slender that one mean dwelling-house in our time is able to countervail very many of them, if you consider the present charge with the plenty of timber that we bestow upon them. In times past men were contented to dwell in houses built of sallow, willow, plum tree, hardbeam, and elm, so that the use of oak was in manner dedicated wholly unto churches, religious houses, princes’ palaces, noblemen’s lodgings, and navigation; but now all these are rejected, and nothing but oak any whit regarded. And yet see the change! For, when our houses were built of willow, then had we oaken men; but, now that our houses are come to be made of oak, our men are not only become willow, but a great many through Persian delicacy crept in among us altogether of straw: which is a sore alteration. In those, the courage of the owner was a sufficient defence to keep the house in safety; but now the assurance of the timber, double doors, locks, and bolts, must defend the man from robbing. Now have we many chimneys; and yet our tenderlings complain of rheums, catarrhs, and poses. Then had we none but reredosses; and our heads did never ache. For, as the smoke in those days was supposed to be a sufficient hardening for the timber of the house, so it was reputed a far better medicine to keep the goodman and his family from the quake or pose, wherewith as then very few were oft acquainted.

Of the curiousness of these piles I speak not, sith our workmen are grown generally to such an excellency of device in the frames now made that they far pass the finest of the[Pg 198] old. And, such is their husbandry in dealing with their timber, that the same stuff which in time past was rejected as crooked, unprofitable, and of no use but the fire doth now come in the fronts and best part of the work. Whereby the common saying is likewise in these days verified in our mansion houses, which erst was said only of the timber for ships, that “no oak can grow so crooked but it falleth out to some use,” and that necessary in the navy. It is a world to see, moreover, how divers men being bent to building, and having a delectable vein in spending of their goods by that trade, do daily imagine new devices of their own, to guide their workmen withal, and those more curious and excellent always than the former. In the proceeding also of their works, how they set up, how they pull down, how they enlarge, how they restrain, how they add to, how they take from, whereby their heads are never idle, their purses never shut, nor their books of account never made perfect.

Destruunt, ædificant, mutant quadrata rotundis,”

saith the poet. So that, if a man should well consider of all the odd crotchets in such a builder’s brain, he would think his head to have even enough of those affairs only, and therefore judge that he would not well be able to deal in any other. But such commonly are our work-masters that they have beside this vein aforementioned either great charge of merchandises, little less business in the commonwealth, or, finally, no small dealings otherwise incident unto them, whereby gain ariseth, and some trouble oft among withal. Which causeth me to wonder not a little how they can play the parts so well of so many sundry men, whereas divers other, of greater forecast in appearance, can seldom shift well or thrive in any one of them. But to our purpose.

We have many woods, forests, and parks, which cherish trees abundantly, although in the woodland countries there is almost no hedge that hath not some store of the greatest sort, beside infinite numbers of hedgerows, groves, and springs, that are maintained of purpose for the building and provision[Pg 199] of such owners as do possess the same. Howbeit, as every soil doth not bear all kinds of wood, so there is not any wood, park, hedgerow, grove, or forest, that is not mixed with divers, as oak, ash, hazel, hawthorn, birch, beech, hardbeam, hull, sorb, quicken, asp, poplars, wild cherry, and such like, whereof oak hath always the pre-eminence, as most meet for building and the navy, whereunto it is reserved. This tree bringeth forth also a profitable kind of mast, whereby such as dwell near unto the aforesaid places do cherish and bring up innumerable herds of swine. In time of plenty of this mast, our red and fallow deer will not let to participate thereof with our hogs, more than our neat, yea, our common poultry also, if they may come unto them.[192] But, as this abundance doth prove very pernicious unto the first, so the eggs which these latter do bring forth (beside blackness in colour and bitterness of taste) have not seldom been found to breed divers diseases unto such persons as have eaten of the same. I might add in like sort the profit ensuing by the bark of this wood, whereof our tanners have great use in dressing leather, and which they buy yearly in May by the fadame, as I have oft seen; but it shall not need at this time to enter into any such discourse, only this I wish, that our sole and upper leathering may have their due time, and not be hasted on by extraordinary flights, as with ash, bark, etc. Whereby, as I grant that it seemeth outwardly to be very thick and well done, so if you respect the sadness thereof, it doth prove in the end to be very hollow, and not able to hold out water. Nevertheless we have good laws for the redress of this enormity, but it cometh to pass in these as in the execution of most penal statutes. For the gains to be got by the same being given to one or two hungry and unthrifty persons, they make a shew of great reformation at the first, and for a little while, till they find that following of suit in law against the offenders is somewhat too chargeable and tedious. This therefore perceived, they give over the law, and fall to the admission of gifts and rewards to[Pg 200] wink at things past; and, when they have once gone over their ground with this kind of tillage, then do they tender licences, and offer large dispensations unto him that shall ask the same, thereby to do what he listeth in his trade for a yearly pension, whereby the briber now groweth to some certain revenues and the tanner to so great liberty that his leather is much worse than before. But is not this a mockery of our laws, and manifest illusion of the good subject whom they thus pill and poll? Of all oak growing in England the park oak is the softest, and far more spalt and brittle than the hedge oak. And of all in Essex, that growing in Bardfield Park is the finest for joiners’ craft; for oftentimes have I seen of their works made of that oak as fine and fair as most of the wainscot that is brought hither out of Denmark: for our wainscot is not made in England. Yet divers have essayed to deal without oaks to that end, but not with so good success as they have hoped, because the ab or juice will not so soon be removed and clean drawn out, which some attribute to want of time in the salt water. Nevertheless, in building, so well the hedge as the park oak go all one way, and never so much hath been spent in a hundred years before as is in ten years of our time; for every man almost is a builder, and he that hath bought any small parcel of ground, be it never so little, will not be quiet till he have pulled down the old house (if any were there standing) and set up a new after his own device. But whereunto will this curiosity come?

Of elm we have great store in every highway and elsewhere, yet have I not seen thereof any together in woods or forests but where they have been first planted and then suffered to spread at their own wills. Yet have I known great woods of beech and hazel in many places, especially in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, and Buckinghamshire, where they are greatly cherished, and converted to sundry uses by such as dwell about them. Of all the elms that ever I saw, those in the south side of Dovercourt, in Essex, near Harwich, are the most notable, for they grow (I mean) in crooked manner, that they are almost apt for nothing else but navy timber, great ordinance,[Pg 201] and beetles; and such thereto is their natural quality that, being used in the said behalf, they continue longer, and more long than any the like trees in whatsoever parcel else of this land, without cuphar, shaking, or cleaving, as I find.

Ash cometh up everywhere of itself, and with every kind of wood. And as we have very great plenty, and no less use of these in our husbandry, so are we not without the plane, the yew, the sorb, the chestnut, the lime, the black cherry, and such like. And although we enjoy them not in as great plenty now in most places as in times past, or the other afore remembered; yet have we sufficient of them all for our necessary turns and uses, especially of yew; as may be seen betwixt Rotherham and Sheffield, and some steads of Kent also, as I have been informed.

The fir, frankincense, and pine we do not altogether want, especially the fir, whereof we have some store in Chatley Moor in Derbyshire, Shropshire, Anderness, and a moss near Manchester, not far from Leicester’s house: although that in time past, not only all Lancashire, but a great part of the coast between Chester and the Solme, were well stored. As for the frankincense and the pine, they have been planted only in colleges and cloisters, by the clergy and religious heretofore. Wherefore (in mine opinion) we may rather say that we want them altogether: for, except they grew naturally, and not by force, I see no cause why they should be accounted for parcel of our commodities. We have also the asp, whereof our fletchers make their arrows. The several kinds of poplars of our turners have great use for bowls, trees, troughs, dishes, etc. Also the alder, whose bark is not unprofitable to dye black withal, and therefore much used by our country wives in colouring their knit hosen. I might here take occasion to speak of the great sales yearly made of wood, whereby an infinite quantity hath been destroyed within these few years: but I give over to travel in this behalf. Howbeit, thus much I dare affirm, that if woods go so fast to decay in the next hundred years of Grace as they have done and are like to do in this, sometimes for increase of sheepwalks, and some[Pg 202] maintenance of prodigality and pomp (for I have known a well-burnished gentleman that hath borne threescore at once in one pair of galigascons to shew his strength and bravery[193]), it is to be feared that the fenny bote, broom, turf, gall, heath, furze, brakes, whins, ling, dies, hassacks, flags, straw, sedge, reed, rush, and also seacale, will be good merchandise even in the city of London, whereunto some of them even now have gotten ready passage, and taken up their inns in the greatest merchants’ parlours. A man would think that our laws were able enough to make sufficient provision for the redress of this error and enormity likely to ensue. But such is the nature of our countrymen that as many laws as are made, so they will keep none; or, if they be urged to make answer, they will rather seek some crooked construction of them to the increase of their private gain than yield themselves to be guided by the same for a commonwealth and profit to their country. So that in the end, whatsoever the law saith, we will have our wills, whereby the wholesome ordinances of the prince are contemned, the travel of the nobility and councillors (as it were) derided, the commonwealth impoverished, and a few only enriched by this perverse dealing. Thus many thousand persons do suffer hindrance by this their lewd behaviour. Hereby the wholesome laws of the prince are oft defrauded, and the good-meaning magistrate in consultation about the commonwealth utterly neglected. I would wish that I might live no longer than to see four things in this land reformed, that is, the want of discipline in the church, the covetous dealing of most of our merchants in the preferment of the commodities of other countries and hindrance of their own, the holding of fairs[194] and markets upon the Sundays be abolished and referred to the Wednesdays, and that every man in whatsoever part of the champaign soil enjoyeth forty acres of land and upwards (after that rate, either by free deed, copyhold, or free farm) might[Pg 203] plant one acre of wood or sow the same with oak mast, hazel, beech, and sufficient provision be made that it may be cherished and kept. But I fear me that I should then live too long, and so long that I should either be weary of the world, or the world of me; and yet they are not such things but that they may easily be brought to pass.

Certes every small occasion in my time is enough to cut down a great wood, and every trifle sufficeth to lay infinite acres of ground unto pasture. As for the taking down of houses, a small fine will bear out a great many. Would to God we might once take example of the Romans, who, in restraint of superfluous grazing, made an exact limitation how many head of cattle each estate might keep, and what number of acres should suffice for that and other purposes. Neither was wood ever better cherished, or mansion houses maintained, than by their laws and statutes. Such also was their care in the maintenance of navigation that it was a great part of the charge of their consuls yearly to view and look unto the hills whereon great timber did grow, lest their unnecessary faults for the satisfaction of the private owner and his covetous mind might prove a prejudice unto the commonwealth in the hindrance of sufficient stuff for the furniture of their navy. Certes the like hereof is yet observed in Venice. Read also, I pray you, what Suetonius writeth of the consulship of Bibulus and Cæsar. As for the wood that Ancus Martius dedicated toward the maintenance of the common navy, I pass it over, as having elsewhere remembered it unto another end. But what do I mean to speak of these, sith my purpose is only to talk of our own woods? Well, take this then for a final conclusion in woods, that besides some countries are already driven to sell their wood by the pound, which is a heavy report, within these forty years we shall have little great timber growing about forty years old; for it is commonly seen that those young staddles which we leave standing at one and twenty years fall are usually at the next sale cut down without any danger of the statute, and serve for fire bote, if it please the owner to burn them.

Marshes and fenny bogs we have many in England, though[Pg 204] not now so many as some of the old Roman writers do specify, but more in Wales, if you have respect unto the several quantities of the countries. Howbeit, as they are very profitable in the summer half of the year, so are a number of them which lie low and near to great rivers to small commodity in the winter part, as common experience doth teach. Yet this I find of many moors, that in times past they have been harder ground, and sundry of them well replenished with great woods that now are void of bushes. And, for the example hereof, we may see the trial (beside the roots that are daily found in the deeps of Monmouth, where turf is digged, also in Wales, Abergavenny, and Merioneth) in sundry parts of Lancashire, where great store of fir hath grown in times past, as I said, and the people go unto this day into their fens and marshes with long spits, which they dash here and there up to the very cronge into the ground. In which practice (a thing commonly done in winter), if they happen to smite upon any fir trees which lie there at their whole lengths, or other blocks, they note the place, and about harvest time (when the ground is at the driest) they come again and get them up, and afterward, carrying them home, apply them to their uses. The like do they in Shropshire with the like, which hath been felled in old time, within seven miles of Salop. Some of them foolishly suppose the same to have lien there since Noah’s flood: and other, more fond than the rest, imagine them to grow even in the places where they find them, without all consideration that in times past the most part, if not all, Lhoegres and Cambria was generally replenished with wood, which, being felled or overthrown upon sundry occasions, was left lying in some places still on the ground, and in process of time became to be quite overgrown with earth and moulds, which moulds, wanting their due sadness, are now turned into moory plots. Whereby it cometh to pass also that great plenty of water cometh between the new loose swart and the old hard earth, that being drawn away by ditching and drains (a thing soon done, if our countrymen were painful in that behalf) might soon leave a dry soil to the great lucre and advantage of the owner. We find in our[Pg 205] histories that Lincoln was sometime builded by Lud, brother to Cassibelan, who called it Cair Ludcoit, of the great store of woods that environed the same: but now the commodity is utterly decayed there, so that if Lud were alive again he would not call it his city in the wood, but rather his town in the plains: for the wood (as I hear) is wasted altogether about the same. The hills called the Peak were in like sort named Mennith and Orcoit—that is, the woody hills and forests. But how much wood is now to be seen in those places, let him that hath been there testify if he list; for I hear of no such store there as hath been in time past by those that travel that way. And thus much of woods and marshes, and as far as I can deal with the same.



[Pg 206]



[1577, Book II., Chapter 15; 1587, Book II., Chapter 19.]

In every shire of England there are great plenty of parks, whereof some here and there, to wit, well near to the number of two hundred, for her daily provision of that flesh, appertain to the prince, the rest to such of the nobility and gentlemen as have their lands and patrimonies lying in or near unto the same. I would gladly have set down the just number of these enclosures to be found in every county; but, sith I cannot so do, it shall suffice to say that in Kent and Essex only are to the number of an hundred, and twenty in the bishopric of Durham, wherein great plenty of fallow deer is cherished and kept. As for warrens of conies, I judge them almost innumerable, and daily like to increase, by reason that the black skins[195] of those beasts are thought to countervail the prices of their naked carcases, and this is the only cause why the grey are less esteemed. Near unto London their quickest merchandise is of the young rabbits, wherefore the older conies[196] are brought from further off, where there is no such speedy utterance of rabbits and sucklings[197] in their season, nor so great loss by their skins, sith they are suffered to grow up to their full greatness with their owners. Our parks are generally enclosed with strong pales made of oak, of which kind of wood there is great store cherished in the woodland countries from time to time in each[Pg 207] of them only for the maintenance of the said defence and safe keeping of the fallow deer from ranging about the country. Howbeit in times past divers have been fenced in with stone walls, especially in the times of the Romans, who first brought fallow deer into this land (as some conjecture), albeit those enclosures were overthrown again by the Saxons and Danes, as Cavisham, Towner, and Woodstock, beside other in the west country, and one also at Bolton. Among other things also to be seen in that town there is one of the fairest clocks in Europe. Where no wood is they are also enclosed with piles of slate; and thereto it is doubted of many whether our buck or doe are to be reckoned in wild or tame beasts or not. Pliny deemeth them to be wild; Martial is also of the same opinion, where he saith, “Imbelles damæ quid nisi præda sumus?” And so in time past the like controversy was about bees, which the lawyers call feras (Tit de acquirendo rerum dominio, lib. 2 Instit.). But Pliny, attempting to decide the quarrel, calleth them medias inter feras et placidas aves. But whither am I so suddenly digressed? In returning therefore unto our parks, I find also the circuit of these enclosures in like manner contain oftentimes a walk of four or five miles, and sometimes more or less. Whereby it is to be seen what store of ground is employed upon that vain commodity, which bringeth no manner of gain or profit to the owner, sith they commonly give away their flesh, never taking penny for the same, except the ordinary fee, and parts of the deer given unto the keeper by a custom, who beside three shillings four pence or five shillings in money, hath the skin, head, umbles, chine, and shoulders: whereby he that hath the warrant for a whole buck hath in the end little more than half, which in my judgment is scarcely equal dealing; for venison in England is neither bought nor sold, as in other countries, but maintained only for the pleasure of the owner and his friends. Albeit I heard of late of one ancient lady which maketh a great gain by selling yearly her husband’s venison[198] to the cooks (as[Pg 208] another of no less name will not stick to ride to the market to see her butter sold), but not performed without infinite scoffs and mocks, even of the poorest peasants of the country, who think them as odious matters in ladies and women of such countenance to sell their venison and their butter as for an earl to feel his oxen, sheep, and lambs, whether they be ready for the butcher or not, or to sell his wool unto the clothier, or to keep a tan-house, or deal with such like affairs as belong not to men of honour, but rather to farmers or graziers; for which such, if there be any, may well be noted (and not unjustly) to degenerate from true nobility, and betake themselves to husbandry.[199] And even the same enormity took place sometimes among the Romans, and entered as far as into the very senate, of whom some one had two or three ships going upon the sea, pretending provision for their houses, but in truth following the trades of merchandise, till a law was made which did inhibit and restrain them. Livy also telleth of another law which passed likewise against the senators by Claudius the tribune, and help only of C. Flaminius, that no senator, or he that had been father to any senator, should possess any ship or vessel above the capacity of three hundred amphoras, which was supposed sufficient for the carriage and recarriage of such necessities as should appertain unto his house, sith further trading with merchandises and commodities doth declare but a base and covetous mind (not altogether void of envy that any man should live but he: or that, if any gain were to be had, he only would have it himself), which is a wonderful dealing, and must needs prove in time the confusion of that country wherein such enormities are exercised. Where in times past many large and wealthy occupiers were dwelling within the compass of some one park, and thereby great plenty of corn and cattle seen and to be had among them, beside a more copious procreation of human issue, whereby the realm was always better furnished with able men to serve the prince in his affairs, now there is almost nothing kept but a sort of wild and savage beasts, cherished for pleasure and delight; and yet some owners, still desirous to enlarge[Pg 209] those grounds, as either for the breed and feeding of cattle, do not let daily to take in more, not sparing the very commons whereupon many townships now and then do live, affirming that we have already too great store of people in England, and that youth by marrying too soon do nothing profit the country, but fill it full of beggars to the hurt and utter undoing (they say) of the commonwealth.

Certes if it be not a curse of the Lord to have our country converted in such sort, from the furniture of mankind into the walks and shrouds of wild beasts, I know not what is any.[200] How many families also these great and small game (for so most keepers call them) have eaten up and are likely hereafter to devour, some men may conjecture, but many more lament, sith there is no hope of restraint to be looked for in this behalf because the corruption is so general. But, if a man may presently give a guess at the universality of this evil by contemplation of the circumstance, he shall say at the last that the twentieth part of the realm is employed upon deer and conies already, which seemeth very much if it be duly considered of.

King Henry the Eighth, one of the noblest princes that ever reigned in this land, lamented oft that he was constrained to hire foreign aid, for want of competent store of soldiers here at home, perceiving (as it is indeed) that such supplies are oftentimes more hurtful than profitable unto those that entertain them, as may chiefly be seen in Valens the Emperor, our Vortiger, and no small number of others. He would oft marvel in private talk how that, when seven or eight princes ruled here at once, one of them could lead thirty or forty thousand men to the field against another, or two of them 100,000 against the third, and those taken out only of their own dominions. But as he found the want, so he saw not the cause of this decay, which grew beside this occasion now mentioned, also by laying house to house and land to land, whereby many men’s occupyings were converted into one, and the breed of people not a little thereby diminished. The avarice of landlords, by[Pg 210] increasing of rents and fines, also did so weary the people that they were ready to rebel with him that would arise, supposing a short end in the wars to be better than a long and miserable life in peace.

Privileges and faculties also are another great cause of the ruin of a commonwealth and diminution of mankind: for, whereas law and nature doth permit all men to live in their best manner, and whatsoever trade they are exercised in, there cometh some privilege or other in the way which cutteth them off from this or that trade, whereby they must needs shift soil and seek unto other countries. By these also the greatest commodities are brought into the hands of few, who imbase, corrupt, and yet raise the prices of things at their own pleasures. Example of this last I can give also in books, which, after the first impression of any one book, are for the most part very negligently handled:[201] whereas, if another might print it so well as the first, then would men strive which of them should do it best; and so it falleth out in all other trades. It is an easy matter to prove that England was never less furnished with people than at this present; for, if the old records of every manor be sought (and search made to find what tenements are fallen either down or into the lord’s hands, or brought and united together by other men), it will soon appear that, in some one manor, seventeen, eighteen, or twenty houses are shrunk. I know what I say, by mine own experience. Notwithstanding that some one cottage be here and there erected of late, which is to little purpose. Of cities and towns either utterly decayed or more than a quarter or half diminished, though some one be a little increased here and there, of towns pulled down for sheep-walks,[202] and no more but the lordships now standing in them, beside those that William Rufus pulled down in his time, I could say somewhat; but then I should swerve yet further from my purpose, whereunto I now return.

[Pg 211]We had no parks left in England at the coming of the Normans, who added this calamity also to the servitude of our nation, making men of the best sort furthermore to become keepers of their game, whilst they lived in the meantime upon the spoil of their revenues, and daily overthrew towns, villages, and an infinite sort of families, for the maintenance of their venery. Neither was any park supposed in these times to be stately enough that contained not at the least eight or ten hidelands, that is, so many hundred acres or families (or, as they have been always called in some places of the realm, carrucats or cartwares), of which one was sufficient in old time to maintain an honest yeoman.

King John, travelling on a time northwards, to wit, 1209, to war upon the King of Scots, because he had married his daughter to the Earl of Bullen without his consent, in his return overthrew a great number of parks and warrens, of which some belonged to his barons, but the greatest part to the abbots and prelates of the clergy. For hearing (as he travelled), by complaint of the country, how these enclosures were the chief decay of men, and of tillage in the land, he sware with an oath that he would not suffer wild beasts to feed upon the fat of his soil, and see the people perish for want of ability to procure and buy them food that should defend the realm. Howbeit, this act of his was so ill taken by the religious and their adherents, that they inverted his intent herein to another end, affirming, and most slanderously, how he did it rather of purpose to spoil the corn and grass of the commons and catholics that held against him of both estates, and by so doing to impoverish and bring the north part of the realm to destruction because they refused to go with him into Scotland. If the said prince were alive in these days (wherein Andrew Boord saith there are more parks in England than in all Europe, over which he travelled in his own person), and saw how much ground they consume, I think he would either double his oaths, or lay most of them open, that tillage might be better looked unto. But this I hope shall not need in time, for the owners of a great sort of them begin now to smell out that such parcels might be[Pg 212] employed to their more gain, and therefore some of them do grow to be disparked.

Next of all, we have the frank chase, which taketh something both of park and forest, and is given either by the king’s grant or prescription. Certes it differeth not much from a park; nay, it is in manner the selfsame thing that a park is, saving that a park is environed with pale, wall, or such like, the chase always open and nothing at all enclosed, as we see in Enfield and Malvern chases. And, as it is the cause of the seizure of the franchise of a park not to keep the same enclosed, so it is the like in a chase if at any time it be imparked. It is trespass, and against the law also, for any man to have or make a chase, park, or free warren, without good warranty of the king by his charter or perfect title of prescription; for it is not lawful for any subject either to carnilate, that is, build stone houses, embattle, have the querk of the sea, or keep the assize of bread, ale, or wine, or set up furels, tumbrel, thew, or pillory, or enclose any ground to the aforesaid purposes within his own soil, without his warrant and grant. The beasts of the chase were commonly the buck, the roe, the fox, and the martern. But those of venery in old time were the hart, the hare, the boar, and the wolf; but as this held not in the time of Canutus, so instead of the wolf the bear has now crept in, which is a beast commonly hunted in the east countries, and fed upon as excellent venison, although with us I know not any that feed thereon or care for it at all. Certes it should seem that forests and frank chases have always been had, and religiously preserved in this island, for the solace of the prince and the recreation of his nobility: howbeit I read not that ever they were enclosed more than at this present, or otherwise fenced than by usual notes of limitation, whereby their bounds were remembered from time to time for the better preservation of such venery and vert of all sorts as were nourished in the same. Neither are any of the ancient laws prescribed for their maintenance before the days of Canutus now to be had, sith time hath so dealt with them that they are perished and lost. Canutus therefore, seeing the[Pg 213] daily spoil that was made almost in all places of his game, did at the last make sundry sanctions and decrees, whereby from thenceforth the red and fallow deer were better looked to throughout his whole dominions. We have in these days divers forests in England and Wales, of which some belong to the king, and some to his subjects, as Waltham Forest, Windsor, Pickering, Fecknam, Delamore, Gillingham, Kingswood, Wencedale, Clun, Rath, Bredon, Weir, Charlie, Leicester, Lee, Rockingham, Selwood, New Forest, Wichwood, Hatfield, Savernake, Westbury, Blacamore Peak, Dean, Penrise, and many others now clean out of my remembrance; and which, although they are far greater in circuit than many parks and warrens, yet are they in this our time less devourers of the people than these latter, sith, beside, much tillage and many towns are found in each of them, whereas in parks and warrens we have nothing else than either the keeper’s and warrener’s lodge, or, at least, the manor place of the chief lord and owner of the soil. I find also, by good record, that all Essex hath in time past wholly been forest ground, except one cantred or hundred; but how long it is since it lost the said denomination, in good sooth I do not read. This nevertheless remaineth yet in memory, that the town of Walden in Essex, standing in the limits of the aforesaid county, doth take her name thereof. For in the Keltic tongue, wherewith the Saxon or Scythian speech doth not a little participate, huge woods and forests were called walds, and likewise their Druids were named walie or waldie, because they frequented the woods, and there made sacrifice among the oaks and thickets. So that, if my conjecture in this behalf be anything at all, the aforesaid town taketh denomination of Wald and end, as if I should say, “The end of the woody soil;” for, being once out of that parish, the champaign is at hand. Or it may be that it is so called of Wald and dene: for I have read it written in old evidences Waldæne, with a diphthong. And to say truth, dene is the old Saxon word for a vale or low bottom, as dune or don is for a hill or hilly soil. Certes, if it be so, then Walden taketh her name of the woody vale, in which it sometime stood. But the[Pg 214] first derivation liketh me better; and the highest part of the town is called also Chipping-Walden, of the Saxon word Zipping, which signifies “Leaning or hanging,” and may very well be applied thereunto, sith the whole town hangeth as it were upon the sides of two hills, whereof the lesser runneth quite through the midst of the same. I might here, for further confirmation of these things, bring in mention of the Wald of Kent; but this may suffice for the use of the word wald, which now differeth much from wold. For as that signifieth a woody soil, so this betokeneth a soil without wood, or plain champaign country, without any store of trees, as may be seen in Cotswold, Porkwold, etc. Beside this I could say more of our forests, and the aforesaid enclosures also, and therein to prove by the book of forest law that the whole county of Lancaster hath likewise been forest heretofore. Also how William the Bastard made a law that whosoever did take any wild beast within the forest should lose an ear (as Henry the First did punish them either by life or limb, which ordinance was confirmed by Henry the Second and his peers at Woodstock, whereupon great trouble rose under King John and Henry the Third, as appeareth by the chronicles); but it shall suffice to have said so much as is set down already.[203]



[Pg 215]



[1577, Book II., Chapter 9; 1587, Book II., Chapter 15.]

It lieth not in me to set down exactly the number and names of the palaces belonging to the prince, nor to make any description of her grace’s court, sith my calling is, and hath been such, as that I have scarcely presumed to peep in at her gates; much less then have I adventured to search out and know the estate of those houses, and what magnificent behaviour is to be seen within them. Yet thus much will I say generally of all the houses and honours pertaining to her majesty, that they are builded either of square stone or brick, or else of both. And thereunto, although their capacity and hugeness be not so monstrous as the like of divers foreign princes are to be seen in the main and new found nations of the world, yet are they so curious, neat, and commodious as any of them, both for convenience of offices and lodgings and excellence of situation, which is not the least thing to be considered of in building. Those that were builded before the time of King Henry the Eighth retain to these days the shew and image of the ancient kind of workmanship used in this land; but such as he erected after his own device (for he was nothing inferior in this trade to Adrian the emperor and Justician the law-giver) do represent another manner of pattern, which, as they are supposed to excel all the rest that he found standing in this realm, so they are and shall be a perpetual precedent unto those that do come after to follow in their works and buildings of importance. Certes masonry did never better flourish in England than in his time. And albeit that in these[Pg 216] days there be many goodly houses erected in the sundry quarters of this island, yet they are rather curious to the eye like paper work than substantial for continuance: whereas such as he did set up excels in both, and therefore may justly be preferred far above all the rest. The names of those which come now to my remembrance and are as yet reserved to her majesty’s only use at pleasure are these: for of such as are given away I speak not, neither of those that are utterly decayed (as Baynard’s castle in London, builded in the days of the Conqueror by a noble man called William Baynard, whose wife Inga builded the priory of little Dunmow in the days of Henry the First), neither of the tower royal there also, etc., sith I see no cause wherefore I should remember them and many of the like, of whose very ruins I have no certain knowledge. Of such (I say therefore) as I erst mentioned, we have, first of all, Whitehall, at the west end of London (which is taken for the most large and principal of all the rest), was first a lodging of the archbishops of York, then pulled down, begun by Cardinal Wolsey, and finally enlarged and finished by King Henry the Eighth. By east of this standeth Durham Place, sometime belonging to the bishops of Durham, but converted also by King Henry the Eighth into a palace royal and lodging for the prince. Of Somerset Place I speak not, yet if the first beginner thereof (I mean the Lord Edward, the learned and godly duke of Somerset) had lived, I doubt not but it should have been well finished and brought to a sumptuous end; but as untimely death took him from that house and from us all, so it proved the stay of such proceeding as was intended about it. Whereby it cometh to pass that it standeth as he left it. Neither will I remember the Tower of London, which is rather an armoury and house of munition, and thereunto a place for the safe keeping of offenders, than a palace royal for a king or queen to sojourn in. Yet in times past I find that Belliny held his abode there, and thereunto extended the site of his palace in such wise that it stretched over the Broken Wharf, and came further into the city, insomuch that it approached near to Billingsgate; and, as it is thought, some of the ruins of his house[Pg 217] are yet extant, howbeit patched up and made warehouses in that tract of ground in our times. St. James’s, sometime a nunnery, was builded also by the same prince. Her grace hath also Oteland, Ashridge, Hatfield, Havering, Enfield, Eltham, Langley, Richmond (builded by Henry the First), Hampton Court (begun sometime by Cardinal Wolsey, and finished by her father), and thereunto Woodstock, erected by King Henry the First, in which the queen’s majesty delighteth greatly to sojourn, notwithstanding that in time past it was the place of a parcel of her captivity, when it pleased God to try her by affliction and calamity.

For strength, Windlesor or Windsor is supposed to be the chief, a castle builded in time past by King Arthur, or before him by Arviragus, as it is thought, and repaired by Edward the Third, who erected also a notable college there. After him, divers of his successors have bestowed exceeding charges upon the same, which notwithstanding are far surmounted by the queen’s majesty now living, who hath appointed huge sums of money to be employed upon the ornature and alteration of the mould, according to the form of building used in our days, which is more for pleasure than for either profit or safeguard. Such also hath been the estimation of this place that divers kings have not only been interred there, but also made it the chief house of assembly and creation of the knights of the honourable Order of the Garter, than the which there is nothing in this land more magnificent and stately.

Greenwich was first builded by Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, upon the Thames side, four miles east from London, in the time of Henry the Sixth, and called Pleasance. Afterwards it was greatly enlarged by King Edward IV., garnished by King Henry VII., and finally made perfect by King Henry VIII., the only Phœnix of his time for fine and curious masonry.

Not far from this is Dartford, and not much distant also from the south side of the said stream, sometime a nunnery builded by Edward the Third, but now a very commodious palace, whereunto it was also converted by King Henry the Eighth.[Pg 218] Eltham (as I take it) was builded by King Henry the Third, if not before. There are besides these, moreover, divers others. But what shall I need to take upon me to repeat all, and tell what houses the queen’s majesty hath? Sith all is hers: and, when it pleaseth her in the summer season to recreate herself abroad, and view the estate of the country, and hear the complaints of her poor commons injured by her unjust officers or their substitutes, every noble man’s house is her palace, where she continueth during pleasure, and till she return again to some of her own, in which she remaineth so long as pleaseth her.

The Court of England, which necessarily is holden always where the prince lieth, is in these days one of the most renowned and magnificent courts[204] that are to be found in Europe. For, whether you regard the rich and infinite furniture of household, order of officers, or the entertainment of such strangers as daily resort unto the same, you shall not find many equal thereunto, much less one excelling it in any manner of wise. I might here (if I would, or had sufficient disposition of matter conceived of the same) make a large discourse of such honourable ports, of such grave councillors, and noble personages, as give their daily attendance upon the queen’s majesty there. I could in like sort set forth a singular commendation of the virtuous beauty or beautiful virtues of such ladies and gentlewomen as wait upon her person, between whose amiable countenances and costliness of attire there seemeth to be such a daily conflict and contention as that it is very difficult for me to guess whether of the twain shall bear away the pre-eminence. 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 very few of them which have not the use and skill of sundry speeches, besides an excellent vein of writing beforetime not regarded. Would to God the rest of their lives and conversations were correspondent to these gifts! For as our common[Pg 219] courtiers (for the most part) are the best learned and endued with excellent gifts, so are many of them the worst men when they come abroad that any man shall either hear or read of. Truly it is a rare thing with us now to hear of a courtier which hath but his own language. And to say how many gentlewomen and ladies there are that besides sound knowledge of the Greek and Latin tongues are thereto no less skilful 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 behalf, so these come very little or nothing at all behind them for their parts: which industry God continue, and accomplish that which otherwise is wanting!

Besides these things, I could in like sort set down the ways and means whereby our ancient ladies of the court do shun and avoid idleness, some of them exercising their fingers with the needle, others in caulwork, divers in spinning of silk, some in continual reading either of the Holy Scriptures, or histories of our own or foreign nations about us, and divers in writing volumes of their own, or translating of other men’s into our English and Latin tongue,[205] whilst the youngest sort in the meantime apply their lutes, citherns, pricksong, and all kind of music, which they use only for recreation’s sake when they have leisure, and are free from attendance upon the queen’s majesty or such as they belong unto. How many of the eldest sort also are skilful in surgery and distillation of waters, besides sundry other artificial practices pertaining to the ornature and commendations of their bodies, I might (if I listed to deal further in this behalf) easily declare; but I pass over such manner of dealing, lest I should seem to glaver and curry favour with some of them. Nevertheless this I will generally say of them all, that as each of them are cunning in[Pg 220] something whereby they keep themselves occupied in the court, so there is in manner none of them but when they be at home can help to supply the ordinary want of the kitchen with a number of delicate dishes of their own devising, wherein the Portuguese is their chief counsellor, as some of them are most commonly with the clerk of the kitchen, who useth (by a trick taken up of late) to give in a brief rehearsal of such and so many dishes as are to come in at every course throughout the whole service in the dinner or supper while, which bill some do call a memorial, others a billet, but some a fillet, because such are commonly hanged on the file and kept by the lady or gentlewoman unto some other purpose. But whither am I digressed?

I might finally describe the large allowances in offices and yearly liveries, and thereunto the great plenty of gold and silver plate, the several pieces whereof are commonly so great and massive, and the quantity thereof so abundantly serving all the household, that (as I suppose) Cinyras, Crœsus, and Crassus had not the like furniture; nay, if Midas were now living and once again put to his choice, I think he could ask no more, or rather not half so much as is there to be seen and used. But I pass over to make such needless discourses, resolving myself that even in this also, as in all the rest, the exceeding mercy and loving kindness of God doth wonderfully appear towards us, in that he hath so largely endued us with these his so ample benefits.

In some great princes’ courts beyond the seas, and which even for that cause are likened unto hell by divers learned writers that have spent a great part of their time in them, as Henricus Cornelius Agrippa, one (for example) who in his epistle Ad aulicum quendam, saith thus—

An non in inferno es amice, qui es in aula, ubi dæmonum habitatio est, qui illic suis artibus humana licet effigie regnant, atque ubi scelerum schola est, et animarum jactura ingens, ac quicquid uspiam est perfidæ ac doli, quicquid crudelitatis et inclementiæ quicquid effrænatæ superbiæ et rapacis avariciæ quicquid obscenæ libidinis, fædissimæ impudicitiæ, quicquid nefandæ impietatis et norum pessimorum, totum illic acervatur [Pg 221]cumulatissime ubi strupra, raptus, incestus, adulteria, principum et nobilium ludi sunt ubi fastus et tumor, ira, livor, fœdaque cupido cum sociis suis imperavit, ubi, criminum omnium procellæ virtutumque omnium inenarrabile naufragium,” etc.

In such great princes’ courts (I say) it is a world to see what lewd behaviour is used among divers of those that resort unto the same, and what whoredom, swearing, ribaldry, atheism, dicing, carding, carousing, drunkenness, gluttony, quarrelling, and such like inconveniences do daily take hold, and sometimes even among those in whose estates the like behaviour is least convenient (whereby their talk is verified, which say that the thing increaseth and groweth in the courts of princes, saving virtue, which in such places doth languish and daily fade away), all which enormities are either utterly expelled out of the court of England or else so qualified by the diligent endeavour of the chief officers of her grace’s household that seldom are any of these things apparently seen there without due reprehension and such severe correction as belongeth to those trespassers. Finally, to avoid idleness, and prevent sundry transgressions otherwise likely to be committed and done, such order is taken that every office hath either a Bible, or the books of the Acts and Monuments of the Church of England, or both, besides some histories and chronicles lying 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 himself to come into some public school of the universities, where many give ear to one that readeth, than into a princes’ palace, if you confer the same with those of other nations. Would to God all honourable personages would take example of her grace’s godly dealing in this behalf, and shew their conformity unto these her so good beginnings! Which, if they would, then should many grievous offences (wherewith God is highly displeased) be cut off and restrained, which now do reign exceedingly, in most noble and gentlemen’s houses, whereof they see no pattern within her grace’s gates.

I might speak here of the great trains and troops of serving men also which attend upon the nobility of England in their[Pg 222] several liveries and with differences of cognisances on their sleeves, whereby it is known to whom they appertain. I could also set down what a goodly sight it is to see them muster in the court, which, being filled with them, doth yield the contemplation of a noble variety unto the beholder, much like to the shew of the peacock’s tail in the full beauty, or of some meadow garnished with infinite kinds and diversities of pleasant flowers.[206] But I pass over the rehearsal hereof to other men, who more delight in vain amplification than I, and seek to be more curious in these points than I profess to be.[207]



[Pg 223]



[1577, Book II., Chapter 12; 1587, Book II., Chapter 16.]

How well or how strongly our country hath been furnished in times past with armour and artillery it lieth not in me as of myself to make rehearsal. Yet that it lacketh both in the late time of Queen Mary, not only the experience of mine elders, but also the talk of certain Spaniards not yet forgotten, did leave some manifest notice. Upon the first I need not stand, for few will deny it. For the second, I have heard that when one of the greatest peers of Spain espied our nakedness in this behalf, and did solemnly utter in no obscure place that “it should be an easy matter in short time to conquer England, because it wanted armour,” his words were then not so rashly uttered as they were politically noted. For, albeit that for the present time their efficacy was dissembled and semblance made as though he spake but merrily, yet at the very entrance of this our gracious queen unto the possession of the crown they were so providently called to remembrance, and such speedy reformation sought of all hands for the redress of this inconvenience, that our country was sooner furnished with armour and munition, from divers parts of the main (beside great plenty that was forged here at home), than our enemies could get understanding of any such provision to be made. By this policy also was the no small hope conceived by Spaniards utterly cut off, who, of open friends being now become our secret enemies, and thereto watching a time wherein to achieve some heavy exploit against us and our country, did thereupon change their purposes, whereby England obtained[Pg 224] rest, that otherwise might have been sure of sharp and cruel wars. Thus a Spanish word uttered by one man at one time overthrew, or at the leastwise hindered, sundry privy practices of many at another. In times past the chief force of England consisted in their long bows.[208] But now we have in manner generally given over that kind of artillery, and for long bows indeed do practise to shoot compass for our pastime: which kind of shooting can never yield any smart stroke, nor beat down our enemies, as our countrymen were wont to do at every time of need. Certes the Frenchmen and Rutters, deriding our new archery in respect of their corslets, will not let, in open skirmish, if any leisure serve, to turn up their tails and cry: “Shoot, English!” and all because our strong shooting is decayed and laid in bed. But, if some of our Englishmen now lived that served King Edward the Third in his wars with France, the breech of such a varlet should have been nailed to his bum with one arrow, and another feathered in his bowels before he should have turned about to see who shot the first. But, as our shooting is thus in manner utterly decayed among us one way, so our countrymen wax skilful in sundry other points, as in shooting in small pieces, the caliver, the handling of the pike, in the several uses whereof they are become very expert.

Our armour differeth not from that of other nations, and therefore consisteth of corslets, almaine rivets, shirts of mail, jacks quilted and covered over with leather, fustian, or canvas, over thick plates of iron that are sewed in the same, and of which there is no town or village that hath not her convenient furniture. The said armour and munition likewise is kept in one several place of every town, appointed by the consent of the whole parish, where it is always ready to be had and worn within an hour’s warning. Sometimes also it is occupied when[Pg 225] it pleaseth the magistrate either to view the able men, and take note of the well-keeping of the same, or finally to see those that are enrolled to exercise each one his several weapon, at the charge of the townsmen of each parish, according to his appointment. Certes there is almost no village so poor in England (be it never so small) that hath not sufficient furniture in a readiness to set forth three or four soldiers, as one archer, one gunner, one pike, and a billman at the least. No, there is not so much wanting as their very liveries and caps, which are least to be accounted of, if any haste required: so that, if this good order may continue, it shall be impossible for the sudden enemy to find us unprovided. As for able men for service, thanked be God! we are not without good store; for, by the musters taken 1574 and 1575, our number amounted to 1,172,674, and yet were they not so narrowly taken but that a third part of this like multitude was left unbilled and uncalled. What store of munition and armour the queen’s majesty had in her storehouses it lieth not in me to yield account, sith I suppose the same to be infinite. And whereas it was commonly said after the loss of Calais that England should never recover the store of ordinance there left and lost, that same is at this time proved false, sith even some of the same persons do now confess that this land was never better furnished with these things in any king’s days that reigned since the Conquest.

The names of our greatest ordnance are commonly these: Brobonet, whose weight is two hundred pounds, and it hath one inch and a quarter within the mouth; Falconet, weigheth five hundred pounds, and his wideness is two inches within the mouth; Falcon, hath eight hundred pounds, and two inches and a half within the mouth; Minion, poiseth eleven hundred pounds, and hath three inches and a quarter within the mouth; Sacre, hath fifteen hundred pounds, and is three inches and a half wide in the mouth; Demi-Culverin, weigheth three thousand pounds, and hath four inches and a half within the mouth; Culverin, hath four thousand pounds, and five inches and a half within the mouth; Demi-Cannon, six thousand pounds, and six inches and a half within the mouth; Cannon,[Pg 226] seven thousand pounds, and seven inches within the mouth; E. Cannon, eight thousand pounds, and seven inches within the mouth; Basilisk, nine thousand pounds, eight inches and three-quarters within the mouth. By which proportions also it is easy to come by the weight of every shot, how many scores it doth flee at point-blank, and how much powder is to be had to the same, and finally how many inches in height each bullet ought to carry:

The names of the
greatest ordnance.
Weight of
the shot.
Scores of
Pounds of
Height of
Robinet   1 lb.   0      0½ 1
Falconet   2 " 14   2    1¼
Falcon   2½  " 16      2½    2¼
Minion   4½  " 17      4½ 3
Sacre   5 " 18   5    3¼
Demi-Culverin   9 " 20   9 4
Culverin 18 " 25 18    5¼
Demi-Cannon 30 " 38 28    6¾
Cannon 60 " 20 44    7¾
E. Cannon 42 " 20 20    6¾
Basilisk 60 " 21 60    8¼


I might here take just occasion to speak of the prince’s armories. But what shall it need? sith the whole realm is her armory, and therefore her furniture infinite. The Turk had one gun made by one Orban, a Dane, the caster of his ordnance, which could not be drawn to the siege of Constantinople but by seventy yoke of oxen and two thousand men; he had two other there also whose shot poised above two talents in weight, made by the same Orban. But to proceed. As for the armories of some of the nobility (whereof I also have seen a part), they are so well furnished that within some one baron’s custody I have seen three score or a hundred corslets at once, besides calivers, hand-guns, bows, sheaves of arrows, pikes, bills, poleaxes, flasks, touchboxes, targets, etc., the very sight whereof appalled my courage. What would the wearing of some of them do then (trow you) if I should be enforced to use one of them in the field? But thanked be God! our peaceable days are such as no man hath any great cause to[Pg 227] occupy them at all, but only taketh good leisure to have them in a readiness, and therefore both high and low in England.[209]

Cymbala pro galeis pro scutis tympana pulsant.


I would write here also of our manner of going to the wars, but what hath the long black gown to do with glittering armour? what sound acquaintance can there be betwixt Mars and the Muses? or how should a man write anything to the purpose of that wherewith he is nothing acquainted? This nevertheless will I add of things at home, that seldom shall you see any of my countrymen above eighteen or twenty years old to go without a dagger at the least at his back or by his side, although they be aged burgesses or magistrates of any city who in appearance are most exempt from brabling and contention. Our nobility wear commonly swords or rapiers with their daggers, as doth every common serving-man also that followeth his lord and master. Some desperate cutters we have in like sort, which carry two daggers or two rapiers in a sheath always about them, wherewith in every drunken fray they are known to work much mischief. Their swords and daggers also are of a great length, and longer than the like used in any other country, whereby each one pretendeth to have the more advantage of his enemy. But as many orders have been taken for the intolerable length of these weapons, so I see as yet small redress; but where the cause thereof doth rest, in sooth for my part, I wot not. I might here speak of the excessive staves which divers that travel by the way do carry upon their shoulders, whereof some are twelve or thirteen foot long, beside the pike of twelve inches; but, as they are commonly suspected of honest men to be thieves and robbers, or at the leastwise scarce true men which bear them, so by reason of this and the like suspicious weapons the honest traveller is now forced to ride with a case of dags at his saddlebow,[Pg 228] or with some pretty short snapper, whereby he may deal with them further off in his own self-defence before he come within the danger of these weapons. Finally, no man travelleth by the way without his sword, or some such weapon, with us, except the minister, who commonly weareth none at all, unless it be a dagger or hanger at his side. Seldom also are they or any other wayfaring men robbed, without the consent of the chamberlain, tapster, or ostler where they bait and lie, who feeling at their alighting whether their capcases or budgets be of any weight or not, by taking them down from their saddles, or otherwise see their store in drawing of their purses, do by-and-by give intimation to some one or other attendant daily in the yard or house, or dwelling hard by, upon such matches, whether the prey be worth the following or no. If it be for their turn, then the gentleman peradventure is asked which way he travelleth, and whether it please him to have another guest to bear him company at supper, who rideth the same way in the morning that he doth, or not. And thus if he admit him, or be glad of his acquaintance, the cheat is half wrought. And often it is seen that the new guest shall be robbed with the old, only to colour out the matter and keep him from suspicion. Sometimes, when they know which way the passenger travelleth, they will either go before and lie in wait for him, or else come galloping apace after, whereby they will be sure, if he ride not the stronger, to be fingering with his purse. And these are some of the policies of such shrews or close-booted gentlemen as lie in wait for fat booties by the highways, and which are most commonly practised in the winter season, about the feast of Christmas, when serving-men and unthrifty gentlemen want money to play at the dice and cards, lewdly spending in such wise whatsoever they have wickedly gotten, till some of them sharply set upon their chevisances, be trussed up in a Tyburn tippet, which happeneth unto them commonly before they come to middle age. Whereby it appeareth that some sort of youth will oft have his swing, although it be in a halter.[210]



[Pg 229]



[1577, Book II., Chapter 13; 1587, Book II., Chapter 17.]

There is nothing that hath brought me into more admiration of the power and force of antiquity than their diligence and care had of their navies: wherein, whether I consider their speedy building, or great number of ships which some one kingdom or region possessed at one instant, it giveth me still occasion either to suspect the history, or to think that in our times we come very far behind them.[211]

I must needs confess therefore that the ancient vessels far exceeded ours for capacity, nevertheless if you regard the form, and the assurance from peril of the sea, and therewithal the strength and nimbleness of such as are made in our time, you shall easily find that ours are of more value than theirs: for as the greatest vessel is not always the fastest, so that of most huge capacity is not always the aptest to shift and brook the seas: as might be seen by the Great Henry,[212] the hugest vessel that ever England framed in our times. Neither were the ships of old like unto ours in mould and manner of building above the water (for of low galleys in our seas we[Pg 230] make small account) nor so full of ease within, since time hath engendered more skill in the wrights, and brought all things to more perfection than they had in the beginning. And now to come unto our purpose at the first intended.

The navy of England may be divided into three sorts, of which the one serveth for the wars, the other for burden, and the third for fishermen which get their living by fishing on the sea. How many of the first order are maintained within the realm it passeth my cunning to express; yet, since it may be parted into the navy royal and common fleet, I think good to speak of those that belong unto the prince, and so much the rather, for that their number is certain and well known to very many. Certainly there is no prince in Europe that hath a more beautiful or gallant sort of ships than the queen’s majesty of England at this present, and those generally are of such exceeding force that two of them, being well appointed and furnished as they ought, will not let to encounter with three or four of those of other countries, and either bowge them or put them to flight, if they may not bring them home.[213]

Neither are the moulds of any foreign barks so conveniently made, to brook so well one sea as another lying upon the shore of any part of the continent, as those of England. And therefore the common report that strangers make of our ships amongst themselves is daily confirmed to be true, which is, that for strength, assurance, nimbleness, and swiftness of sailing, there are no vessels in the world to be compared with ours. And all these are committed to the regiment and safe custody of the admiral, who is so called (as some imagine) of the Greek word almiras, a captain on the sea; for so saith Zonaras in Basilio Macedone and Basilio Porphyriogenito, though others fetch it from ad mare, the Latin words, another sort from Amyras, the Saracen magistrate, or from some French derivation: but these things are not for this place, and therefore I pass them over. The queen’s highness hath at this present (which is the[Pg 231] four-and-twentieth of her reign) already made and furnished, to the number of four or five-and-twenty great ships, which lie for the most part in Gillingham Road, beside three galleys, of whose particular names and furniture (so far forth as I can come by them) it shall not be amiss to make report at this time.[214]


The names of so many ships belonging to her majesty as I could come by at this present.

The Bonadventure. Foresight.
Elizabeth Jonas.[215] Swift sute.
White Bear. Aid.
Philip and Mary. Handmaid.
Triumph. Dreadnought.
Bull. Swallow.
Tiger.[216] Genet.
Antelope. Bark of Bullen.
Hope. Achates.
Lion. Falcon.
Victory. George.
Mary Rose. Revenge.[217]

 [Pg 232]

It is said that as kings and princes have in the young days of the world, and long since, framed themselves to erect every year a city in some one place or other of their kingdom (and no small wonder that Sardanapalus should begin and finish two, to wit, Anchialus and Tarsus, in one day), so her grace doth yearly build one ship or other to the better defence of her frontiers from the enemy. But, as of this report I have no assured certainty, so it shall suffice to have said so much of these things; yet this I think worthy further to be added, that if they should all be driven to service at one instant (which God forbid) she should have a power by sea of about nine or ten thousand men, which were a notable company, beside the supply of other vessels appertaining to her subjects to furnish up her voyage.

Beside these, her grace hath other in hand also, of whom hereafter, as their turns do come about, I will not let to leave some further remembrance. She hath likewise three notable galleys: the Speedwell, the Try Right, and the Black Galley, with the sight whereof, and the rest of the navy royal, it is incredible to say how greatly her grace is delighted: and not without great cause (I say) since by their means her coasts are kept in quiet, and sundry foreign enemies put back, which otherwise would invade us.[218] The number of those that serve[Pg 233] for burden with the other, whereof I have made mention already and whose use is daily seen, as occasion serveth in time of the wars, is to me utterly unknown. Yet if the report of one record be anything at all to be credited, there are one hundred and thirty-five ships that exceed five hundred ton; topmen, under one hundred and above forty, six hundred and fifty-six; hoys, one hundred; but of hulks, catches, fisherboats, and crayers, it lieth not in me to deliver the just account, since they are hard to come by. Of these also there are some of[Pg 234] the queen’s majesty’s subjects that have two or three; some, four or six; and (as I heard of late) one man, whose name I suppress for modesty’s sake, hath been known not long since to have had sixteen or seventeen, and employed them wholly to the wafting in and out of our merchants, whereby he hath reaped no small commodity and gain. I might take occasion to tell of the notable and difficult voyages made into strange countries by Englishmen, and of their daily success there;[219] but as these things are nothing incident to my purpose, so I surcease to speak of them. Only this will I add, to the end all men shall understand somewhat of the great masses of treasure daily employed upon our navy, how there are few of those ships, of the first and second sort, that, being apparelled and made ready to sail, are not worth one thousand pounds, or three thousand ducats at the least, if they should presently be sold. What shall we think then of the greater, but especially of the navy royal, of which some one vessel is worth two of the other, as the shipwrights have often told me? It is possible that some covetous person, hearing this report, will either not credit it at all, or suppose money so employed to be nothing profitable to the queen’s coffers: as a good husband said once when he heard there should be a provision made for armour, wishing the queen’s money to be rather laid out to some speedier return of gain unto her grace, “because the realm (saith he) is in case good enough,” and so peradventure he thought. But if, as by store of armour for the defence of the country, he had likewise understanded that the good keeping of the sea is the safeguard of our land, he would have altered his censure, and soon given over his judgment. For in times past, when our nation made small account of navigation, how soon did the Romans, then the Saxons, and last of all the Danes, invade this island? whose cruelty in the end enforced our countrymen, as it were even against their wills, to provide for ships from other places, and build at home of their own, whereby their enemies were oftentimes distressed. But most[Pg 235] of all were the Normans therein to be commended. For, in a short process of time after the conquest of this island, and good consideration had for the well-keeping of the same, they supposed nothing more commodious for the defence of the country than the maintenance of a strong navy, which they speedily provided, maintained, and thereby reaped in the end their wished security, wherewith before their times this island was never acquainted. Before the coming of the Romans I do not read that we had any ships at all, except a few made of wicker and covered with buffalo hides, like unto which there are some to be seen at this present in Scotland (as I hear), although there be a little (I wot not well what) difference between them. Of the same also Solinus speaketh, so far as I remember: nevertheless it may be gathered from his words how the upper parts of them above the water only were framed of the said wickers, and that the Britons did use to fast all the whiles they went to the sea in them; but whether it were done for policy or superstition, as yet I do not read.

In the beginning of the Saxons’ regiment we had some ships also; but as their number and mould was little, and nothing to the purpose, so Egbert was the first prince that ever thoroughly began to know this necessity of a navy and use the service thereof in the defence of his country. After him also other princes, as Alfred, Edgar, Ethelred, etc., endeavoured more and more to store themselves at the full with ships of all quantities, but chiefly Edgar, for he provided a navy of 1600 aliàs 3600 sail, which he divided into four parts, and sent them to abide upon four sundry coasts of the land, to keep the same from pirates. Next unto him (and worthy to be remembered) is Etheldred, who made a law that every man that hold 310 hidelands should find a ship furnished to serve him in the wars. Howbeit, as I said before, when all their navy was at the greatest, it was not comparable for force and sure building to that which afterward the Normans provided, neither that of the Normans anything like to the same that is to be seen now in these our days. For the journeys also of our ships, you shall understand that a well-builded vessel will run or sail commonly three hundred[Pg 236] leagues or nine hundred miles in a week, or peradventure some will go 2200 leagues in six weeks and a half. And surely, if their lading be ready against they come thither, there be of them that will be here, at the West Indies, and home again in twelve or thirteen weeks from Colchester, although the said Indies be eight hundred leagues from the cape or point of Cornwall, as I have been informed. This also I understand by report of some travellers, that, if any of our vessels happen to make a voyage to Hispaniola or New Spain (called in time past Quinquegia and Haiti), which lieth between the north tropic and the Equator, after they have once touched at the Canaries (which are eight days’ sailing or two hundred and fifty leagues from St. Lucas de Barameda, in Spain) they will be there in thirty or forty days, and home again in Cornwall in other eight weeks, which is a goodly matter, beside the safety and quietness in the passage, but more of this elsewhere.



[Pg 237]



[1577, Book III., Chapter 6; 1587, Book II., Chapter 11.]

In cases of felony, manslaughter, robbery, murder, rape, piracy, and such capital crimes as are not reputed for treason or hurt of the estate, our sentence pronounced upon the offender is, to hang till he be dead. For of other punishments used in other countries we have no knowledge or use; and yet so few grievous crimes committed with us as elsewhere in the world. To use torment also or question by pain and torture in these common cases with us is greatly abhorred, since we are found always to be such as despise death, and yet abhor to be tormented, choosing rather frankly to open our minds than to yield our bodies unto such servile haulings and tearings as are used in other countries. And this is one cause wherefore our condemned persons do go so cheerfully to their deaths; for our nation is free, stout, haughty, prodigal of life and blood, as Sir Thomas Smith saith, lib. 2, cap. 25, De Republica,[220] and therefore[Pg 238] cannot in any wise digest to be used as villains and slaves, in suffering continually beating, servitude, and servile torments.[221] No, our gaolers are guilty of felony, by an old law of the land, if they torment any prisoner committed to their custody for the revealing of his accomplices.

The greatest and most grievous punishment used in England for such as offend against the State is drawing from the prison to the place of execution upon an hurdle or sled, where they are hanged till they be half dead, and then taken down, and quartered alive; after that, their members and bowels are cut from their bodies, and thrown into a fire,[222] provided near hand and within their own sight, even for the same purpose.

Sometimes, if the trespass be not the more heinous, they are suffered to hang till they be quite dead. And whensoever any of the nobility are convicted of high treason by their peers,[Pg 239] that is to say, equals (for an inquest of yeomen passeth not upon them, but only of the lords of parliament), this manner of their death is converted into the loss of their heads only, notwithstanding that the sentence do run after the former order. In trial of cases concerning treason, felony, or any other grievous crime not confessed, the party accused doth yield, if he be a noble man, to be tried by an inquest (as I have said) and his peers; if a gentleman, by gentlemen; and an inferior, by God and by the country, to wit, the yeomanry (for combat or battle is not greatly in use), and, being condemned of felony, manslaughter, etc., he is eftsoons hanged by the neck till he be dead, and then cut down and buried. But if he be convicted of wilful murder, done either upon pretended malice or in any notable robbery, he is either hanged alive in chains near the place where the fact was committed (or else upon compassion taken, first strangled with a rope), and so continueth till his bones consume to nothing. We have use neither of the wheel nor of the bar, as in other countries; but, when wilful manslaughter is perpetrated, beside hanging, the offender hath his right hand commonly stricken off before or near unto the place where the act was done, after which he is led forth to the place of execution, and there put to death according to the law.

The word felon is derived of the Saxon words fell and one, that is to say, an evil and wicked one, a one of untameable nature and lewdness not to be suffered for fear of evil example and the corruption of others. In like sort in the word felony are many grievous crimes contained, as breach of prison (Ann. 1 of Edward the Second), disfigurers of the prince’s liege people (Ann. 5 of Henry the Fourth), hunting by night with painted faces and visors (Ann. 1 of Henry the Seventh), rape, or stealing of women and maidens (Ann. 3 of Henry Eight), conspiracies against the person of the prince (Ann. 3 of Henry the Seventh), embezzling of goods committed by the master to the servant above the value of forty shillings (Ann. 17 of Henry the Eighth), carrying of horses or mares into Scotland (Ann. 23 of Henry Eight), sodomy and[Pg 240] buggery[223] (Ann. 25 of Henry the Eighth), conjuring,[224] forgery, witchcraft, and digging up of crosses (Ann. 33 of Henry Eight),[225] prophesying upon arms, cognisances, names, and badges (Ann. 33 of Henry Eight), casting of slanderous bills (Ann. 37, Henry Eight), wilful killing by poison (Ann. 1 of Edward the Sixth), departure of a soldier from the field (Ann. 2 of Edward the Sixth), diminution of coin, all offences within case of premunire, embezzling of records, goods taken from dead men by their servants, stealing of whatsoever cattle, robbing by the high way, upon the sea, or of dwelling houses, letting out of ponds, cutting of purses,[226] stealing of deer by night,[227] counterfeits of coin,[228] evidences charters,[Pg 241] and writings, and divers other needless to be remembered. If a woman poison her husband, she is burned alive;[229] if the servant kill his master, he is to be executed for petty treason; he that poisoneth a man is to be boiled to death in water or lead, although the party die not of the practice; in cases of murder, all the accessories are to suffer pains of death accordingly. Perjury is punished by the pillory, burning in the forehead with the letter P, the rewalting of the trees growing upon the grounds of the offenders, and loss of all his movables. Many trespasses also are punished by the cutting off of one or both ears from the head of the offender, as the utterance of seditious words against the magistrates, fraymakers, petty robbers, etc. Rogues are burned through the ears; carriers of sheep out of the land, by the loss of their hands; such as kill by poison are either boiled or scalded to death in lead or seething water. Heretics are burned quick;[230] harlots and[Pg 242] their mates, by carting, ducking, and doing of open penance in sheets in churches and market steeds, are often put to rebuke. Howbeit, as this is counted with some either as no punishment at all to speak of, or but little regarded of the offenders, so I would with adultery and fornication to have some sharper law. For what great smart is it to be turned out of hot sheet into a cold, or after a little washing in the water to be let loose again unto their former trades? Howbeit the dragging of some of them over the Thames between Lambeth and Westminster at the tail of a boat is a punishment that most terrifieth them which are condemned thereto; but this is inflicted upon them by none other than the knight marshall, and that within the compass of his jurisdiction and limits only. Canutus was the first that gave authority to the clergy to punish whoredom, who at that time found fault with the former laws as being too severe in this behalf. For, before the time of the said Canutus, the adulterer forfeited all his goods to the king and his body to be at his pleasure; and the adulteress was to lose her eyes or nose, or both if the case were more than common: whereby it appears of what estimation marriage was amongst them, since the breakers of that holy estate were so grievously rewarded. But afterward the clergy dealt more favourably with them, shooting rather at the punishments of such priests and clerks as were married than the reformation of adultery and fornication, wherein you shall find no example that any severity was shewed except upon such lay men as had defiled their nuns. As in theft therefore, so in adultery and whoredom, I would wish the parties trespassing to be made bond or slaves unto those that received the injury, to sell and give where they listed, or to be condemned to the galleys: for that punishment would prove more bitter to them than half-an-hour’s hanging, or than standing in a sheet, though the weather be never so cold.

Manslaughter in time past was punished by the purse, wherein the quantity or quality of the punishment was rated[Pg 243] after the state and calling of the party killed: so that one was valued sometime at 1200, another at 600, or 200 shillings. And by a statute made under Henry the First, a citizen of London at 100, whereof elsewhere I have spoken more at large. Such as kill themselves are buried in the field with a stake driven through their bodies.

Witches are hanged, or sometimes burned; but thieves are hanged (as I said before) generally on the gibbet or gallows, saving in Halifax, where they are beheaded after a strange manner, and whereof I find this report. There is and has been of ancient time a law, or rather a custom, at Halifax, that whosoever does commit any felony, and is taken with the same, or confesses the fact upon examination, if it be valued by four constables to amount to the sum of thirteenpence-halfpenny, he is forthwith beheaded upon one of the next market days (which fall usually upon the Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays), or else upon the same day that he is so convicted, if market be then holden. The engine wherewith the execution is done is a square block of wood of the length of four feet and a half, which does ride up and down in a slot, rabbet, or regall, between two pieces of timber, that are framed and set upright, of five yards in height. In the nether end of the sliding block is an axe, keyed or fastened with an iron into the wood, which being drawn up to the top of the frame is there fastened by a wooden pin (with a notch made into the same, after the manner of a Samson’s post), unto the midst of which pin also there is a long rope fastened that cometh down among the people, so that, when the offender hath made his confession and hath laid his neck over the nethermost block, every man there present doth either take hold of the rope (or putteth forth his arm so near to the same as he can get, in token that he is willing to see true justice executed), and, pulling out the pin in this manner, the head-block wherein the axe is fastened doth fall down with such a violence that, if the neck of the transgressor were as big as that of a bull, it should be cut in sunder at a stroke and roll from the body by a huge distance. If it be so that the offender be apprehended for an ox, oxen, sheep, kine, horse, or[Pg 244] any such cattle, the self beast or other of the same kind shall have the end of the rope tied somewhere unto them, so that they, being driven, do draw out the pin, whereby the offender is executed. Thus much of Halifax law, which I set down only to shew the custom of that country in this behalf.

Rogues and vagabonds are often stocked and whipped; scolds are ducked upon cucking-stools in the water. Such felons as stand mute, and speak not at their arraignment, are pressed to death by huge weights laid upon a board, that lieth over their breast, and a sharp stone under their backs; and these commonly held their peace, thereby to save their goods unto their wives and children, which, if they were condemned, should be confiscated to the prince. Thieves that are saved by their books and clergy, for the first offence, if they have stolen nothing else but oxen, sheep, money, or such like, which be no open robberies, as by the highway side, or assailing of any man’s house in the night, without putting him in fear of his life, or breaking up his walls or doors, are burned in the left hand, upon the brawn of the thumb, with a hot iron, so that, if they be apprehended again, that mark betrayeth them to have been arraigned of felony before, whereby they are sure at that time to have no mercy. I do not read that this custom of saving by the book is used anywhere else than in England; neither do I find (after much diligent enquiry) what Saxon prince ordained that law. Howbeit this I generally gather thereof, that it was devised to train the inhabitants of this land to the love of learning, which before contemned letters and all good knowledge, as men only giving themselves to husbandry and the wars: the like whereof I read to have been amongst the Goths and Vandals, who for a time would not suffer even their princes to be learned, for weakening of their courage, nor any learned men to remain in the council house, but by open proclamation would command them to avoid whensoever anything touching the state of the land was to be consulted upon. Pirates and robbers by sea are condemned in the Court of the Admiralty, and hanged on the shore at low-water mark, where they are[Pg 245] left till three tides have overwashed them.[231] Finally, such as having walls and banks near unto the sea, and do suffer the same to decay (after convenient admonition), whereby the water entereth and drowneth up the country, are by a certain ancient custom apprehended, condemned, and staked in the breach, where they remain for ever as parcel of the foundation of the new wall that is to be made upon them, as I have heard reported.

And thus much in part of the administration of justice used in our country, wherein, notwithstanding that we do not often hear of horrible, merciless, and wilful murders (such I mean as are not seldom seen in the countries of the main), yet now and then some manslaughter and bloody robberies are perpetrated and committed, contrary to the laws, which be severely punished, and in such wise as I have before reported. Certes there is no greater mischief done in England than by robberies, the first by young shifting gentlemen, which oftentimes do bear more port than they are able to maintain. Secondly by serving-men,[232] whose wages cannot suffice so much as to find them breeches; wherefore they are now and then constrained either to keep highways, and break into the wealthy men’s houses with the first sort, or else to walk up and down in gentlemen’s and rich farmer’s pastures, there to see and view which horses feed best, whereby they many times get something, although with hard adventure: it hath been known by their confession at the gallows that some one such[Pg 246] chapman hath had forty, fifty, or sixty stolen horses at pasture here and there abroad in the country at a time, which they have sold at fairs and markets far off, they themselves in the mean season being taken about home for honest yeomen, and very wealthy drovers, till their dealings have been betrayed. It is not long since one of this company was apprehended, who was before time reputed for a very honest and wealthy townsman; he uttered also more horses than any of his trade, because he sold a reasonable pennyworth and was a fair-spoken man. It was his custom likewise to say, if any man hucked hard with him about the price of a gelding, “So God help me, gentlemen (or sir), either he did cost me so much, or else, by Jesus, I stole him!” Which talk was plain enough; and yet such was his estimation that each believed the first part of his tale, and made no account of the latter, which was truer indeed.

Our third annoyers of the commonwealth are rogues, which do very great mischief in all places where they become. For, whereas the rich only suffer injury by the first two, these spare neither rich nor poor; but, whether it be great gain or small, all is fish that cometh to net with them. And yet, I say, both they and the rest are trussed up apace. For there is not one year commonly wherein three hundred or four hundred of them are not devoured and eaten up by the gallows in one place and other. It appeareth by Cardan (who writeth it upon the report of the bishop of Lexovia), in the geniture of King Edward the Sixth, how Henry the Eighth, executing his laws very severely against such idle persons, I mean great thieves, petty thieves, and rogues, did hang up threescore and twelve thousand of them in his time. He seemed for a while greatly to have terrified the rest; but since his death the number of them is so increased, yea, although we have had no wars, which are a great occasion of their breed (for it is the custom of the more idle sort, having once served, or but seen the other side of the sea under colour of service, to shake hand with labour for ever, thinking it a disgrace for himself to return unto his former trade), that, except some better order be taken, or[Pg 247] the laws already made be better executed, such as dwell in uplandish towns and little villages shall live but in small safety and rest. For the better apprehension also of thieves and man-killers, there is an old law in England very well provided whereby it is ordered that, if he that is robbed (or any man) complain and give warning of slaughter or murder committed, the constable of the village whereunto he cometh and crieth for succour is to raise the parish about him, and to search woods, groves, and all suspected houses and places, where the trespasser may be, or is supposed to lurk; and not finding him there, he is to give warning unto the next constable, and so one constable, after search made, to advertise another from parish to parish, till they come to the same where the offender is harboured and found. It is also provided that, if any parish in this business do not her duty, but suffereth the thief (for the avoiding of trouble sake) in carrying him to the gaol, if he should be apprehended, or other letting of their work to escape, the same parish is not only to make fine to the king, but also the same, with the whole hundred wherein it standeth, to repay the party robbed his damages, and leave his estate harmless. Certainly this is a good law; howbeit I have known by my own experience felons being taken to have escaped out of the stocks, being rescued by other for want of watch and guard, that thieves have been let pass, because the covetous and greedy parishioners would neither take the pains nor be at the charge, to carry them to prison, if it were far off; that when hue and cry have been made even to the faces of some constables, they have said: “God restore your loss! I have other business at this time.” And by such means the meaning of many a good law is left unexecuted, malefactors emboldened; and many a poor man turned out of that which he hath sweat and taken great pains toward the maintenance of himself and his poor children and family.



[Pg 248]



[1577, Book II., Chapter 6; 1587, Book II., Chapter 3.]

There have been heretofore, and at sundry times, divers famous universities in this island, and those even in my days not altogether forgotten, as one at Bangor, erected by Lucius, and afterward converted into a monastery, not by Congellus (as some write), but by Pelagius the monk. The second at Caerleon-upon-Usk, near to the place where the river doth fall into the Severn, founded by King Arthur. The third at Thetford, wherein were six hundred students, in the time of one Rond, sometime king of that region. The fourth at Stamford, suppressed by Augustine the monk. And likewise other in other places, as Salisbury, Eridon or Cricklade, Lachlade, Reading, and Northampton; albeit that the two last rehearsed were not authorised, but only arose to that name by the departure of the students from Oxford in time of civil dissension unto the said towns, where also they continued but for a little season. When that of Salisbury began I cannot tell; but that it flourished most under Henry the Third and Edward the First I find good testimony by the writers, as also by the discord which fell, 1278, between the chancellor for the scholars there on the one part and William the archdeacon on the other, whereof you shall see more in the chronology here following. In my time there are three noble universities in England—to wit, one at Oxford, the second at Cambridge, and the third in London; of which the first two are the most famous, I mean Cambridge and Oxford, for that in them the use of the tongues, philosophy, and the liberal sciences, besides the profound[Pg 249] studies of the civil law, physic, and theology, are daily taught and had: whereas in the latter the laws of the realm are only read and learned by such as give their minds unto the knowledge of the same. In the first there are not only divers goodly houses builded four square for the most part of hard freestone or brick, with great numbers of lodgings and chambers in the same for students, after a sumptuous sort, through the exceeding liberality of kings, queens, bishops, noblemen and ladies of the land; but also large livings and great revenues bestowed upon them (the like whereof is not to be seen in any other region, as Peter Martyr did oft affirm) to the maintenance only of such convenient numbers of poor men’s sons as the several stipends bestowed upon the said houses are able to support.[233]

Of these two, that of Oxford (which lieth west and by north from London) standeth most pleasantly, being environed in manner round about with woods on the hills aloft, and goodly rivers in the bottoms and valleys beneath, whose courses would breed no small commodity to that city and country about if such impediments were removed as greatly annoy the same and hinder the carriage which might be made thither also from London. That of Cambridge is distant from London about forty and six miles north and by east, and standeth very well, saving that it is somewhat near unto the fens, whereby the wholesomeness of the air is not a little corrupted. It is excellently well served with all kinds of provisions, but especially of fresh water fish and wild fowl, by reason of the river that passeth thereby; and thereto the Isle of Ely, which is so near at hand. Only wood is the chief want to such as study there, wherefore this kind of provision is brought them either from Essex and other places thereabouts, as is also their coal, or otherwise the necessity thereof is supplied with gall (a bastard kind of mirtus as I take it) and seacoal, whereof they have great plenty led thither by the Grant. Moreover[Pg 250] it hath not such store of meadow ground as may suffice for the ordinary expenses of the town and university, wherefore the inhabitants are enforced in like sort to provide their hay from other villages about, which minister the same unto them in very great abundance.

Oxford is supposed to contain in longitude eighteen degrees and eight and twenty minutes, and in latitude one and fifty degrees and fifty minutes: whereas that of Cambridge standing more northerly, hath twenty degrees and twenty minutes in longitude, and thereunto fifty and two degrees and fifteen minutes in latitude, as by exact supputation is easy to be found.

The colleges of Oxford, for curious workmanship and private commodities, are much more stately, magnificent, and commodious than those of Cambridge: and thereunto the streets of the town for the most part are more large and comely. But for uniformity of building, orderly compaction, and politic regiment, the town of Cambridge, as the newer workmanship,[234] exceeds that of Oxford (which otherwise is, and hath been, the greater of the two) by many a fold (as I guess), although I know divers that are of the contrary opinion. This also is certain, that whatsoever the difference be in building of the town streets, the townsmen of both are glad when they may match and annoy the students, by encroaching upon their liberties, and keep them bare by extreme sale of their wares, whereby many of them become rich for a time, but afterward fall again into poverty, because that goods evil gotten do seldom long endure.[235]

In each of these universities also is likewise a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, wherein once in the year—to wit, in July—the scholars are holden, and in which such as have been called to any degree in the year precedent do there receive the accomplishment of the same, in solemn and sumptuous[Pg 251] manner. In Oxford this solemnity is called an Act, but in Cambridge they use the French word Commencement; and such resort is made yearly unto the same from all parts of the land by the friends of those who do proceed that all the town is hardly able to receive and lodge those guests. When and by whom the churches aforesaid were built I have elsewhere made relation. That of Oxford also was repaired in the time of Edward the Fourth and Henry the Seventh, when Doctor Fitz James, a great helper in that work, was warden of Merton College; but ere long, after it was finished, one tempest in a night so defaced the same that it left few pinnacles standing about the church and steeple, which since that time have never been repaired. There were sometime four and twenty parish churches in the town and suburbs; but now there are scarcely sixteen. There have been also 1200 burgesses, of which 400 dwelt in the suburbs; and so many students were there in the time of Henry the Third that he allowed them twenty miles compass about the town for their provision of victuals.

The common schools of Cambridge also are far more beautiful than those of Oxford, only the Divinity School at Oxford excepted, which for fine and excellent workmanship cometh next the mould of the King’s Chapel in Cambridge, than the which two, with the Chapel that King Henry the Seventh did build at Westminster, there are not (in my opinion) made of lime and stone three more notable piles within the compass of Europe.

In all other things there is so great equality between these two universities as no man can imagine how to set down any greater, so that they seem to be the body of one well-ordered commonwealth, only divided by distance of place and not in friendly consent and orders. In speaking therefore of the one I cannot but describe the other; and in commendation of the first I cannot but extol the latter; and, so much the rather, for that they are both so dear unto me as that I cannot readily tell unto whether of them I owe the most good-will. Would to God my knowledge were such as that neither of them[Pg 252] might have cause to be ashamed of their pupil, or my power so great that I might worthily requite them both for those manifold kindnesses that I have received of them! But to leave these things, and proceed with other more convenient to my purpose.

The manner to live in these universities is not as in some other of foreign countries we see daily to happen, where the students are enforced for want of such houses to dwell in common inns, and taverns, without all order or discipline. But in these our colleges we live in such exact order, and under so precise rules of government, as that the famous learned man Erasmus of Rotterdam, being here among us fifty years passed, did not let to compare the trades in living of students in these two places, even with the very rules and orders of the ancient monks, affirming moreover, in flat words, our orders to be such as not only came near unto, but rather far exceeded, all the monastical institutions that ever were devised.

In most of our colleges there are also great numbers of students, of which many are found by the revenues of the houses and other by the purveyances and help of their rich friends, whereby in some one college you shall have two hundred scholars, in others an hundred and fifty, in divers a hundred and forty, and in the rest less numbers, as the capacity of the said houses is able to receive: so that at this present, of one sort and other, there are about three thousand students nourished in them both (as by a late survey it manifestly appeared). They were erected by their founders at the first only for poor men’s sons, whose parents were not able to bring them up unto learning; but now they have the least benefit of them, by reason the rich do so encroach upon them. And so far has this inconvenience spread itself that it is in my time a hard matter for a poor man’s child to come by a fellowship (though he be never so good a scholar and worthy of that room). Such packing also is used at elections that not he which best deserveth, but he that has most friends, though he be the worst scholar, is always surest[Pg 253] to speed, which will turn in the end to the overthrow of learning. That some gentlemen also whose friends have been in times past benefactors to certain of those houses do intrude into the disposition of their estates without all respect of order or statutes devised by the founders, only thereby to place whom they think good (and not without some hope of gain), the case is too evident: and their attempt would soon take place if their superiors did not provide to bridle their endeavours. In some grammar schools likewise which send scholars to these universities, it is lamentable to see what bribery is used; for, ere the scholar can be preferred, such bribage is made that poor men’s children are commonly shut out, and the richer sort received (who in time past thought it dishonour to live as it were upon alms), and yet, being placed, most of them study little other than histories, tables, dice, and trifles, as men that make not the living by their study the end of their purposes, which is a lamentable hearing. Beside this, being for the most part either gentlemen or rich men’s sons, they often bring the universities into much slander. For, standing upon their reputation and liberty, they ruffle and roist it out, exceeding in apparel, and banting riotous company (which draweth them from their books unto another trade), and for excuse, when they are charged with breach of all good order, think it sufficient to say that they be gentlemen, which grieveth many not a little. But to proceed with the rest.

Every one of these colleges have in like manner their professors or readers of the tongues and several sciences, as they call them, which daily trade up the youth there abiding privately in their halls, to the end they may be able afterward (when their turn cometh about, which is after twelve terms) to shew themselves abroad, by going from thence into the common schools and public disputations (as it were “In aream”) there to try their skill, and declare how they have profited since their coming thither.

Moreover, in the public schools of both the universities, there are found at the prince’s charge (and that very largely)[Pg 254] fine professors and readers, that is to say, of divinity, of the civil law, physic, the Hebrew and the Greek tongues. And for the other lectures, as of philosophy, logic, rhetoric, and the quadrivials (although the latter, I mean arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy, and with them all skill in the perspectives, are now smally regarded in either of them), the universities themselves do allow competent stipends to such as read the same, whereby they are sufficiently provided for, touching the maintenance of their estates, and no less encouraged to be diligent in their functions.

These professors in like sort have all the rule of disputations and other school exercises which are daily used in common schools severally assigned to each of them, and such of their hearers as by their skill shewed in the said disputations are thought to have attained to any convenient ripeness of knowledge according to the custom of other universities (although not in like order) are permitted solemnly to take their deserved degrees of school in the same science and faculty wherein they have spent their travel. From that time forward also they use such difference in apparel as becometh their callings, tendeth unto gravity, and maketh them known to be called to some countenance.

The first degree is that of the general sophisters, from whence, when they have learned more sufficiently the rules of logic, rhetoric, and obtained thereto competent skill in philosophy, and in the mathematicals, they ascend higher unto the estate of bachelors of art, after four years of their entrance into their sophistry. From thence also, giving their minds to more perfect knowledge in some or all the other liberal sciences and the tongues, they rise at the last (to wit, after other three or four years) to be called masters of art, each of them being at that time reputed for a doctor in his faculty, if he profess but one of the said sciences (besides philosophy), or for his general skill, if he be exercised in them all. After this they are permitted to choose what other of the higher studies them liketh to follow, whether it be divinity, law, or physic, so that,[Pg 255] being once masters of art, the next degree, if they follow physic, is the doctorship belonging to that profession; and likewise in the study of the law, if they bend their minds to the knowledge of the same. But, if they mean to go forward with divinity, this is the order used in that profession. First, after they have necessarily proceeded masters of art, they preach one sermon to the people in English, and another to the university in Latin. They answer all comers also in their own persons unto two several questions of divinity in the open schools at one time for the space of two hours, and afterward reply twice against some other man upon a like number and on two several dates in the same place, which being done with commendation, he receiveth the fourth degree, that is, bachelor of divinity, but not before he has been master of arts by the space of seven years, according to their statutes.

The next, and last degree of all, is the doctorship, after other three years, for the which he must once again perform all such exercises and acts as are before remembered; and then is he reputed able to govern and teach others, and likewise taken for a doctor. I have read that John of Beverley was the first doctor that ever was in Oxford, as Beda was in Cambridge. But I suppose herein that the word “doctor” is not so strictly to be taken in this report as it is now used, since every teacher is in Latin called by that name, as also such in the primitive church as kept schools of catechists, wherein they were trained up in the rudiments and principles of religion, either before they were admitted unto baptism or any office in the Church.

Thus we see that from our entrance into the university unto the last degree received is commonly eighteen or twenty years, in which time, if a student has not obtained sufficient learning thereby to serve his own turn and benefit his commonwealth, let him never look by tarrying longer to come by any more. For after this time, and forty years of age, the most part of students do commonly give over their wonted diligence, and live like drone bees on the fat of colleges, withholding better wits from the possession of their places, and yet doing little good in[Pg 256] their own vocation and calling. I could rehearse a number (if I listed) of this sort, as well in one university as the other. But this shall suffice instead of a large report, that long continuance in those places is either a sign of lack of friends, or of learning, or of good and upright life, as Bishop Fox[236] sometime noted, who thought it sacrilege for a man to tarry any longer at Oxford than he had a desire to profit.

A man may (if he will) begin his study with the law, or physic (of which this giveth wealth, the other honour), so soon as he cometh to the university, if his knowledge in the tongues and ripeness of judgment serve therefor: which if he do, then his first degree is bachelor of law, or physic; and for the same he must perform such acts in his own science as the bachelors or doctors of divinity do for their parts, the only sermons except, which belong not to his calling. Finally, this will I say, that the professors of either of those faculties come to such perfection in both universities as the best students beyond the sea do in their own or elsewhere. One thing only I mislike in them, and that is their usual going into Italy, from whence very few without special grace do return good men, whatsoever they pretend of conference or practice, chiefly the physicians[237] who under pretence of seeking of foreign simples do oftentimes learn the framing of such compositions as were better unknown than practised, as I have heard often alleged, and therefore it is most true that Doctor Turner said: “Italy is not to be seen without a guide, that is, without special grace given from God, because of the licentious and corrupt behaviour of the people.”

There is moreover in every house a master or provost, who has under him a president and certain censors or deans, appointed to look to the behaviour and manners of the students there, whom they punish very severely if they make any default, according to the quantity and quality of their trespass. And these are the usual names of governors in Cambridge. Howbeit in Oxford the heads of houses are now and then called[Pg 257] presidents in respect of such bishops as are their visitors and founders. In each of these also they have one or more treasurers, whom they call bursarios or bursars, beside other officers whose charge is to see unto the welfare and maintenance of these houses. Over each university also there is a several chancellor, whose offices are perpetual, howbeit their substitutes, whom we call vice-chancellors, are changed every year, as are also the proctors, taskers, masters of the streets, and other officers, for the better maintenance of their policy and estate.

And thus much at this time of our two universities, in each of which I have received such degree as they have vouchsafed—rather of their favour than my desert—to yield and bestow upon me, and unto whose students I wish one thing, the execution whereof cannot be prejudicial to any that meaneth well, as I am resolutely persuaded, and the case now standeth in these our days. When any benefice therefor becometh void it were good that the patron did signify the vacation thereof to the bishop, and the bishop the act of the patron to one of the universities, with request that the vice-chancellor with his assistants might provide some such able man to succeed in the place as should by their judgment be meet to take the charge upon him. Certainly if this order were taken, then should the church be provided of good pastors, by whom God should be glorified, the universities better stored, the simoniacal practices of a number of patrons utterly abolished, and the people better trained to live in obedience toward God and their prince, which were a happier estate.

To these two also we may in like sort add the third, which is at London (serving only for such as study the laws of the realm) where there are sundry famous houses, of which three are called by the name of Inns of the Court, the rest of the Chancery, and all built before time for the furtherance and commodity of such as apply their minds to our common laws. Out of these also come many scholars of great fame, whereof the most part have heretofore been brought up in one of the aforesaid universities, and prove such commonly as in process of time rise up (only[Pg 258] through their profound skill) to great honour in the commonwealth of England. They have also degrees of learning among themselves, and rules of discipline, under which they live most civilly in their houses, albeit that the younger of them abroad in the streets are scarcely able to be bridled by any good order at all. Certainly this error was wont also greatly to reign in Cambridge and Oxford, between the students and the burgesses; but, as it is well left in these two places, so in foreign countries it cannot yet be suppressed.

Besides these universities, also there are great number of grammar schools throughout the realm, and those very liberally endowed, for the better relief of poor scholars, so that there are not many corporate towns now under the Queen’s dominion that have not one grammar school at the least, with a sufficient living for a master and usher appointed to the same.

There are in like manner divers collegiate churches, as Windsor, Winchester, Eton, Westminster (in which I was some time an unprofitable grammarian under the reverend father Master Nowell, now dean of Paul’s), and in those a great number of poor scholars, daily maintained by the liberality of the founders, with meat, books, and apparel, from whence, after they have been well entered in the knowledge of the Latin and Greek tongues, and rules of versifying (the trial whereof is made by certain apposers yearly appointed to examine them), they are sent to certain special houses in each university, where they are received and trained up in the points of higher knowledge in their private halls, till they be adjudged meet to shew their faces in the schools as I have said already.

And thus much have I thought good to note of our universities, and likewise of colleges in the same, whose names I will also set down here, with those of their founders, to the end the zeal which they bare unto learning may appear, and their remembrance never perish from among the wise and learned.

 [Pg 259]

Of the Colleges of Cambridge with their Founders.
Years of the
15461Trinity CollegeKing Henry 8.
14412The King’s CollegeKing Henry 6, Edward 4, Henry 7, and Henry 8.
15113St. John’sLady Margaret, grandmother to Henry 8.
15054Christ’s CollegeKing Henry 6 and the Lady Margaret aforesaid.
14465The Queen’s CollegeLady Margaret, wife to King Henry 6.
14966Jesus CollegeJohn Alcock, bishop of Ely.
13427Bennet CollegeThe brethren of a Popish guild called Corporis Christi.
13438Pembroke HallMaria de Valentia, Countess of Pembroke.
12569Peter CollegeHugh Balsham, bishop of Ely.
134810Gundewill and Caius CollegeEdmund Gundevill, parson of Terrington, and John Caius, doctor of physic.
135411Trinity HallWilliam Bateman, bishop of Norwich.
132612Clare HallRichard Badow, chancellor of Cambridge.
145913Catherine HallRobert Woodlark, doctor of divinity.
151914Magdalen CollegeEdward, Duke of Buckingham, and Thomas, lord Audley.
158515Emanuel CollegeSir Walter Mildmay, etc.
Of the Colleges at Oxford.
15391Christ’s ChurchKing Henry 8.
14592Magdalen CollegeWilliam Wainfleet, first fellow of Merton College, then scholar at Winchester,
and afterwards bishop there.[238]
13753New CollegeWilliam Wickham, bishop of Winchester.
12764Merton CollegeWalter Merton, bishop of Rochester.
14375All Souls’ CollegeHenry Chicheley, archbishop of Canterbury.
15166Corpus Christi CollegeRichard Fox, bishop of Winchester.
14307Lincoln CollegeRichard Fleming, bishop of Lincoln.
13238Auriel CollegeAdam Broune, almoner to Edward 2.
13409The Queen’s CollegeR. Eglesfeld, chaplain to Philip, queen of England, wife to Edward 3.
126310Balliol CollegeJohn Balliol, king of Scotland.
155711St. John’sSir Thomas White, knight.
155612Trinity CollegeSir Thomas Pope, knight.
131613Excester CollegeWalter Stapleten, bishop of Excester.
151314Brasen NoseWilliam Smith, bishop of Lincoln.
187315University CollegeWilliam, archdeacon of Duresine.
 16Gloucester CollegeJohn Crifford, who made it a cell for thirteen monks.
 17St. Mary’s College
 18Jesus College, now in handHugh ap Rice, doctor of the civil law.


There are also in Oxford certain hotels or halls which may right well be called by the names of colleges, if it were not[Pg 260] that there is more liberty in them than is to be seen in the other. In my opinion the livers in these are very like to those that are of the inns in the chancery, their names also are these so far as I now remember:

Brodegates. St. Mary Hall.
Hart Hall. White Hall.
Magdalen Hall. New Inn.
Alburne Hall. Edmond Hall.
Postminster Hall.


The students also that remain in them are called hostlers or halliers. Hereof it came of late to pass that the right Reverend Father in God, Thomas late archbishop of Canterbury, being brought up in such an house at Cambridge, was of the ignorant sort of Londoners called an “Hostler,” supposing that he had served with some inn-holder in the stable, and therefore, in despite, divers hung up bottles of hay at his gate when he began to preach the gospel, whereas indeed he was a gentleman born of an ancient house, and in the end a faithful witness of Jesus Christ, in whose quarrel he refused not to shed his blood, and yield up his life, unto the fury of his adversaries.

Besides these there is mention and record of divers other halls or hostels that have been there in times past, as Beef Hall, Mutton Hall, etc., whose ruins yet appear: so that if antiquity be to be judged by the shew of ancient buildings which is very plentiful in Oxford to be seen, it should be an easy matter to conclude that Oxford is the elder university. Therein are also many dwelling-houses of stone yet standing that have been halls for students, of very antique workmanship, besides the old walls of sundry others, whose plots have been converted into gardens since colleges were erected.

In London also the houses of students at the Common Law are these:

Sergeant’s Inn. Furnival’s Inn.
Gray’s Inn. Clifford’s Inn.
The Temple. Clement’s Inn.
[Pg 261]Lincoln’s Inn. Lion’s Inn.
David’s Inn. Barnard’s Inn.
Staple Inn. New Inn.


And thus much in general of our noble universities, whose lands some greedy gripers do gape wide for, and of late have (as I hear) propounded sundry reasons whereby they supposed to have prevailed in their purposes. But who are those that have attempted this suit, other than such as either hate learning, piety, and wisdom, or else have spent all their own, and know not otherwise than by encroaching upon other men how to maintain themselves? When such a motion was made by some unto King Henry the Eighth, he could answer them in this manner: “Ah, sirra! I perceive the Abbey lands have fleshed you, and set your teeth on edge, to ask also those colleges. And, whereas we had a regard only to pull down sin by defacing the monasteries, you have a desire also to overthrow all goodness, by subversion of colleges. I tell you, sirs, that I judge no land in England better bestowed than that which is given to our universities; for by their maintenance our realm shall be well governed when we be dead and rotten. As you love your welfares therefore, follow no more this vein, but content yourselves with that you have already, or else seek honest means whereby to increase your livelihoods; for I love not learning so ill that I will impair the revenues of any one house by a penny, whereby it may be upholden.” In King Edward’s days likewise the same suit was once again attempted (as I have heard), but in vain; for, saith the Duke of Somerset, among other speeches tending to that end—who also made answer thereunto in the king’s presence by his assignation: “If learning decay, which of wild men maketh civil; of blockish and rash persons, wise and goodly counsellors; of obstinate rebels, obedient subjects; and of evil men, good and godly Christians; what shall we look for else but barbarism and tumult? For when the lands of colleges be gone, it shall be hard to say whose staff shall stand next the door; for then I doubt not but the state of bishops, rich farmers, merchants, and[Pg 262] the nobility, shall be assailed, by such as live to spend all, and think that whatsoever another man hath is more meet for them and to be at their commandment than for the proper owner that has sweat and laboured for it.” In Queen Mary’s days the weather was too warm for any such course to be taken in hand; but in the time of our gracious Queen Elizabeth I hear that it was after a sort in talk the third time, but without success, as moved also out of season; and so I hope it shall continue for ever. For what comfort should it be for any good man to see his country brought into the estate of the old Goths and Vandals, who made laws against learning, and would not suffer any skilful man to come into their council-house: by means whereof those people became savage tyrants and merciless hell-hounds, till they restored learning again and thereby fell to civility.



[Pg 263]


A.—Holinshed’s Dedication.

Holinshed himself does not come on the scene in the work that goes by his name until in the second volume, devoted to the History of Scotland, which he dedicates to Dudley, whose star was about to set. The third volume was much the larger of the three, being the History of England, which is inscribed to Burghley in this fashion:—

Right Honorable and his singular good Lord,
Sir William Cecill, Baron of Burghleygh, Knight of
the most noble order of the Garter, Lord high Treasu-
rer of England, Maister of the Courts of Wards and
Liueries, and one of the Queenes Maiesties
priuee Councell.

Considering with my selfe, right Honorable and my singular good Lord, how redie (no doubt) manie will be to accuse me of vaine presumption, for enterprising to deale in this so weightie a worke, and far aboue my reach to accomplish: I haue thought good to aduertise your Honour, by what occasion I was first induced to vndertake the same, although the cause that moued me thereto hath (in part) yer this beene signified vnto your good Lordship.

Whereas therefore, that worthie Citizen Reginald Wolfe, late Printer to the Queenes Maiestie, a man well knowne and beholden to your Honour, meant in his life time to publish an vniuersall Cosmographie of the whole world, and therwith also certaine particular histories of euery knowne nation, amongst other whom he purposed to vse for performance of his intent in that behalfe, he procured me to take in hand the collection of those histories; and hauing proceeded so far in the same, as little wanted to the accomplishment of that long promised worke, it pleased God to call him to his mercie, after fiue and twentie yeares trauell spent therein; so that by his vntimelie deceasse, no hope remained to see that performed, which we had so long trauelled about. Neuerthelesse, those whom he put in trust to dispose his things after his departure hence, wishing to the benefit of others, that some fruit might follow of that whereabout he had imployed so long time, willed me to[Pg 264] continue mine endeuour for their furtherance in the same. Which, although I was redie to doo, so far as mine abilitie would reach, and the rather to answere that trust which the deceassed reposed in me, to see it brought to some perfection; yet when the volume grew so great, as they that were to defraie the charges for the impression, were not willing to go through with the whole, they resolued first to publish the histories of England, Scotland, and Ireland, with their descriptions; which descriptions, bicause they were not in such readinesse as those of forren countries, they were inforced to vse the helpe of other better able to doo it than my selfe.

Moreouer, the Charts wherein Maister Wolfe spent a great part of his time were not found so complet as we wished: and againe, vnderstanding of the great charges and notable enterprise of that worthie Gentleman maister Thomas Sackford, in procuring the Charts of the seuerall prouinces of this realme to be set foorth, we are in hope that in time he will delineate this whole land so perfectlie, as shall be comparable or beyond anie delineation heretofore made of anie other region; and therefore leaue that to his well deserued praise. If any well willer will imitate him in so praiseworthie a work for the two other regions, we will be glad to further his endeauour with all the helpes we may.

The histories I haue gathered according to my skill, and conferred the greatest part with Maister Wolfe in his life time, to his liking, who procured me so manie helpes to the furtherance thereof, that I was loth to omit anie thing that might increase the readers knowledge, which causeth the book to grow so great. But receiuing them by parts, and at seuerall times (as I might get them) it may be, that hauing had more regard to the matter than the apt penning, I haue not so orderlie disposed them, as otherwise I ought; choosing rather to want order, than to defraud the reader of that which for his further understanding might seeme to satisfie expectation.

I therefore most humbly beseech your Honour to accept these Chronicles of England vnder your protection, and according to your wisedome and accustomed benignitie to beare with my faults; the rather, bicause you were euer so especiall good Lord to Maister Wolfe, to whom I was singularlie beholden; and in whose name I

humblie present this rude worke vnto you, beseeching
God that as he hath made you an instrument
to aduance his truth, so it may please him
to increase his good gifts in you,
to his glorie, the furtherance of the
Queenes Maiesties seruice,
and the comfort of all her
faithful and louing
Your Honours most humble to be commanded,
Raphael Holinshed.

 [Pg 265]

B.—An Elizabethan Survey of England.

Harrison closes Chapter 16 of his first book (which is the last of several chapters describing all the English rivers) with a most interesting complaint of a literary theft of which he was the victim. From his words it is evident that a complete and minute survey of England may still be possibly hidden away in some heap of manuscripts, and which was the work of Thomas Seckford, who died three or four months after the Holinshed of 1587 was issued, and who was evidently intimate with the group engaged on the great folio. Seckford was a Londoner by residence and occupation, but a Suffolk man by birth, and founder of the present Seckford Hospital at Woodbridge, to which place he was taken for burial. He was a barrister of Grey’s Inn, master of requests, surveyor of the court of wards, and steward of the Marshalsea. He weathered the storm under Catholic and Protestant sway, and was a most industrious scholar, although any of his published works are very rare. He apparently had more taste for helping others to literary fame than for appearing himself in Athene’s arena. Harrison’s interesting reference to Seckford (to whom Harrison dedicated the Description of Scotland as well) is as follows:—

“Thus haue I finished the description of such riuers and streames as fall into the Ocean, according to my purpose, although not in so precise an order and manner of handling as I might, if information promised had been accordinglie performed; or others would, if they had taken the like in hand. But this will I saie of that which is here done, that from the Solueie by west, which parteth England & Scotland on that side, to the Twede which separateth the said kingdoms on the east, if you go backeward, contrarie to the course of my description, you shall find it so exact, as beside a verie few by-riuers, you shall not need to vse any further aduise for the finding and falles of the aforesaid streames. For such hath beene my help of maister Sackfords cardes, and conference with other men about these, that I dare pronounce them to be perfect and exact. Furthermore, this I have also to remember, that in the courses of our streames, I regard not so much to name the verie towne or church, as the limits of the paroch. And therefore if I saie it goeth by such a towne, I thinke my dutie discharged, if I hit vpon anie part or parcell of the paroch. This also hath not a little troubled me, I meane the euill writing of the names of manie townes and villages; of which I have noted some one man, in the description of a riuer, to write one towne two or three manner of waies, whereby I was inforced to choose one (at adventure most commonlie) that seemed the likeliest to be sound in mine opinion and iudgement.

“Finallie, whereas I minded to set downe an especiall chapter of ports and creeks, lieng on ech coast of the English part of this Ile, and had provided the same in such wise as I iudged most convenient, it came to passe, that the greater part of my labour was taken from me by stealth, and therefore as discouraged to meddle with that argument, I would have giuen ouer to set downe anie thing thereof at all, and so much the rather, for that I see it may prooue a spurre vnto further mischeefe, as things come to passe in these daies. Neverthelesse because a title thereof is passed in the beginning of the booke, I will deliuer that parcell thereof [Pg 266]which remaineth, leauing the supplie of the rest either to my selfe hereafter (if I may come by it), or to some other that can better performe the same.

“Againe, vnderstanding of the great charges & notable enterprise of that worthie gentleman maister Thomas Sackford, in procuring the Charts of the seuerall prouinces of this realme to be set foorth, we are in hope that in time he will delineate this whole land so perfectlie,” etc.


C.—Somebody’s Quarrel with Harrison.

The last section refers to Harrison’s loss by somebody’s pilfering. Now comes another of the tribulations he had to endure. Somebody is in a huff about something, and refused the aid promised to describe all the towns in England. It must have been no ordinary topographer, and may possibly be young Camden, whose name seems never to be mentioned by Harrison, although in 1587 at least his initial labours must have been well known to every scholar in London, especially a man like Harrison who knew all that was going to happen in the world of letters as well as all that the public knew. His complaint is as follows, beginning the 11th chapter of Book I., the first of our series just referred to, the Thames having as natural the place of honour:—

“Having (as you [Lord Cobham] haue seene) attempted to set downe a full discourse of all the Ilands, that are situat upon the coast of Britaine, and finding the successe not correspondent to mine intent, it has caused me some what to restreine my purpose in this description also of our riuers. For whereas I intended at the first to haue written at large, of the number situation names quantities townes villages castles mounteines fresh waters plashes or lakes, salt waters, and other commodities of the aforesaid Iles, mine expectation of information from all parts of England was so deceiued in the end, that I was faine at last onelie to leane to that which I knew my selfe either by reading, or such other helpe as I had alreadie purchased and gotten of the same. And even so it happeneth in this my tractation of waters, of whose heads, courses, length, bredth, depth of chanell (for burden) ebs, flowings, and falles, I had thought to haue made a perfect description under the report also of an imagined course taken by them all. But now for want of instruction, which hath beene largelie promised, & slacklie perfourmed, and other sudden and iniurious deniall of helpe voluntarilie offered, without occasion giuen on my part, I must needs content my selfe with such observations as I haue either obteined by mine owne experience, or gathered from time to time out of other mens writings: whereby the full discourse of the whole is vtterlie cut off, and in steed of the same, a mangled rehearsall of the residue set downe and left in memorie.”


D.—Harrison’s Chronology.

Dr. Furnivall has told in a note to his “Forewords” that the manuscript of Harrison’s still unpublished “Chronology” was unearthed in the library of Derry diocese. How it came there is very evident.[Pg 267] Harrison’s only son and heir, Edmund Harrison, was the first prebendary of the diocese, who is described in the Visitation as “a man very well qualified both for life and learning.” From the manuscript Dr. Furnivall extracted various entries relating to Harrison’s own time, which are of most picturesque quality if of rather meagre quantity. Those of especial bearing on the reign of Elizabeth, though beginning just before her advent, are as follows:—


Dearth and Sickness in England.

1556. Derth in England, wherein wheat is worthe liij sh: iiij d the quarter; malt, beanes, Rie, at 40 sh:; & peasen at 46 shillinges; but after harvest, wheate was sold for 5 shillinges the quarter, malt at a noble, Rie at 3 sh: 4 d. in London; & therefore the price was not so highe in the country....

Soche was the plenty of Saffron in this yere, that the murmuring Crokers envieng the store, said in blasphemous maner, in & aboute Waldon in Essex, that “God did now shite saffron”; but as some of them died afterward, starke beggars, so in 20 yeres after, there was so little of this Commodity, that it was almost lost & perished in England....

A generall sickenesse in England, where-of the third parte of the people of the land did tast; & many clergymen had their desire, who, suspecting an alteration in relligion to insue after the death of Quene Mary, & fearing to be called to accompt for their bloodshed made, & practize of the losse of Calais, craved of God in their daiely praiers, that they might die before her; & so they did; the Lord hearing their praiers, & intending therby to geue his churche a breathing time....


Harrison on Religious Hatred.

1560. The French Protestantes are exiled out of Frankeford, Aprillis 23, onely for that, in doctrine, they did not agree with Luther, the Augustane confession, pacification at Wittenberg, & reconciliation made at Frankeford: a slender cause, God wote! If it be well examined, you shall find it a thing onely diuised, thereby to put their brethren to incumbrauns. But when I consider what hatred the Lutheranes do here vnto the Calvinistes, & the Precisians to the Protestantes, I can liken the same to nothing better then that mallice which reigneth betwene the papistes & the gospellers....


The Spire of St. Paul’s struck by Lightning.

1560. The Rooffe, with the Spire & steple of Paules church in London, is consumed to ashes, Junij 4, by lightning. Certes the toppe of this Spire, where the wethercocke stode, was 520 foote from the ground, of which the spire was the one halfe. the bredth of the church also, saith Stow, is 130 foote, & the length 2690, or 836 yardes, 2 foote, at this present. Also an erthquake is felt in the kingdome.... (Stowe, p. 1095.—F.)

 [Pg 268]

Queen Elizabeth at Oxford. “Falamon and Arcite.”

1565. The Queene of England beginneth hir progresse, & vpon the 31 of August cometh to Oxford, where she visiteth eche college after other, & making an oration vnto them in Latine, as she had done in Cambridge two yeres passed, to the gret comfort of all soche as are, or had bene, studentes there. During her being there also the Academicall exercises were holden as in their vsuall termes. Diuerse Commedies & plaies also were set forthe by the studentes of Christes Church, where her Majestie lodged; but of all the rest, onely that of “Arcite & Palemon”[239] had a tragicall successe; for, by the falle, of a walle & wooden gallery that leadeth from the staiers vnfinished to the hall, diuers persons were sore hurt, & 3 men killed out right, which came to behold the pastimes. [This paragraph takes up seven lines, and 1¼ inch of the height, of Harrison’s MS.; so close is the writing.—F.]....


Evils of Plays and Theatres.[240]

1572. Plaies are banished for a time out of London, lest the resort vnto them should ingender a plague, or rather disperse it, being alredy begonne. Would to god these comon plaies were exiled for altogether, as semenaries of impiety, & their theaters pulled downe, as no better then houses of baudrie. It is an euident token of a wicked time when plaiers wexe so riche that they can build[241] suche houses / As moche I[Pg 269] wish also to our comon beare baitinges vsed on the sabaothe daies.[243]



1573. In these daies, the taking-in of the smoke of the Indian herbe called “Tabaco,” by an instrument formed like a litle ladell, wherby it passeth from the mouth into the hed & stomach, is gretlie taken-vp & vsed in England, against Rewmes & some other diseases ingendred in the longes & inward partes, & not without effect / This herbe as yet is not so common, but that for want thereof diuers do practize for the like purposes with the Nicetian, otherwise called in latine, “Hyosciamus Luteus,” or the yellow henbane, albeit, not without gret error; for, althoughe that herbe be a souerene healer of old vlcers & sores reputed incurable outwardly, yet is not the smoke or vapour thereof so profitable to be receaued inwardly. The herbe [Tobacco] is comonly of the height of a man,[244] garnished with great leaues like the paciens,[245] bering seede, colloured, & of quantity like vnto, or rather lesse then, the fine margeronie; the herbe it self yerely coming vp also of the shaking of the seede; the collour of the floure is carnation, resembling that of the lemmon in forme: the roote yellow, with many fillettes, & therto very small in comparison, if you respect the substauns of the herbe.[246]

 [Pg 270]

A monstrous fish.

1573. A monstrous fish is taken in Thenet vpon the xjth of July, of 66 foote in length; one of whose eies was a full cart lode, & the diameter or thickenesse thereof, full two yardes, or 6 of our english feete....


London Bridge Tower.

1576. The towre on the drawe bridge vpon london bridge is taken downe in Aprill, being in great decaie; & sone after made a pleasaunt & beautiful dwelling house / & whereas the heddes of soche as were executed for treason were wont to be placed vpon this towre, they were now remoued, & fixed ouer the gate which leadeth from Southwarke into the citie by that bridge....


A great Snowstorm.

1578. A Cold winter, & ere long there falleth a great snow in England, whose driftes, in many places, by reason of a Northest winde, were so depe that the mere report of them maie seme incredible. It beganne in the 4 of feb: & held on vntil the 8 of the same moneth; during which time some men & women, beside cattell, were lost, & not heard of till the snow was melted & gone, notwithstanding that some shepe & catle lived vnder it, & fedd in the places where they laie, vpon soche grasse as they cold come by. Vpon the xjth also of that moneth, the Thames did rise so highe, after the dissolution of this snow, that westminster hall was drowned, & moche fishe left there in the pallace yard when the water returned to her Channell, for who so list, to gather vp....

 [Pg 271]

Plagues of Locusts or Grasshoppers, and Mice.

1583. Great harme done in England in diuerse shires, by locustes, or “grashoppers” as we call them, which deuoured the grasse, & consumed the pastures & medowes in very pitifull maner: soche great nombers of crowes also do come into those partes to fede vpon those creatures, that they tread downe & trample the rest, I meane, whatsoeuer the locust had left vntouched. Not long before, if not about this time, also some places of the hundredes in Essex were no lesse annoyed with mise, as report then went, which did gret hurt to corne & the fruites of the erth, till an infinite nomber of Owles were assembled into those partes, which consumed them all to nothing. Certes the report is true; but I am not sure whether it was in this, or the yere before or after this, for I did not enter the note when it was first sent vnto me, the lettre being cast aside, & not hard of after the receipt.


Stafford’s Conspiracy.[247]

1586. Another Conspiracy is detected vpon Newyeres daie, wherein the death of our Queene is ones againe intended, by Stafford & other, at the receipt of her Newyeres giftes; but, as God hath taken vpon him the defence of his owne cause, so hath he, in extraordinary maner, from time to time preserued her Majestie, his servant, from the treason & traiterous practizes of her aduersaries, & wonderfully bewraied their diuises./


A Star in the Moon. A wet Summer in Autumn.

1587. A Sterre is sene in the bodie of the mone vpon the   of Marche, whereat many men merueiled, & not without cause, for it stode directly betwene the pointes of her hornes, the mone being chaunged, not passing 5 or 6 daies before; & in the later end of the Crabbe after this, also there insued a very moyst & wet somer, wherby moche haie was lost, & harvest in the begining grew to be very troublesome. There followed also a like Autumn; by meanes wherof, shepe & moche other cattell died in abundant maner in most places of our Iland,[248] wherby the residew grew to be very dere ... (“a reasonable good haruest for corne.”—Stowe, 1243.—F.)

The first skonses are made in England vpon the borders of the Thames, & in other places of the land, to kepe the Spanish powre from entrauns, whose chief purpose is, as most affirme, to invade Kent with one part of their navie, & to come by the River of Thames to sacke London with the other./....

 [Pg 272]

The Spanish Armada. Leicester’s Death.

1588. The Spanish navie so long loked for, doth now at last show it self ouer against our coastes, vpon our 20 of July, where it is foughten withall vpon the morow, onely with 50 saile of our English shipps vnder the conduct of the lord Admirall[249] & Sir Fraunces Drake; afterward by our whole navie of 150 saile, for the space of 2 daies together: in thend whereof, they are put to flight before Calice, & driven to returne home about by Scotland, with great losse, so that, of 160 saile & more, which came out of Spaine, scasely 40 returned againe in safety vnto that king; God himself so fighting for vs, that we lost not 80 men, neither was there so moche as one vessell of oures sonke by the enemy, or taken, in all these skirmishes. In their returne also, & beside those 15 vesselles which they lost in our seas, 17 other of them did either perish vpon the coast of Ireland, or, coming thether for succour, were seized vpon also vnto her Majesties vse. The lieftenaunt of this great navie was the duke Medina of Cydonia, & with him were 210 noble men, among which, beside the kinges bastard sonne, were 2 marquesses, one prince, one duke, 4 erles, & 3 Lordes, which came to seeke aduentures, & winne honor vpon England, as they said; howbeit, as God would, they neuer touched the land, nor came nere vnto our shore by diuers miles. The duke of Parma should haue assisted them at this present with 80 or 100 saile prouided out of the Low Countries; but being kept in by wether, & a portion of our navie, & his mariners also forsaking him, he was inforced to staie & kepe vpon the land, where he abode in safety, & out of the roring gunshot / (Stowe’s Annals, 1605, pp. 1243-1258.—F.)

Robert, Erle of Leicester, dieth, who in his time became the man of grettest powre (being but a subiect) which in this land, or that euer had bene exalted vnder any prince sithens the times of Peers Gavestone & Robert Veer,[250] some time duke of Ireland. Nothing almost was done, wherein he had not, either a stroke or a commoditie; which, together with his scraping from the churche & comons, spoile of her maiesties thresure, & sodeine death of his first wife &c. procured him soche inward envie & hatred, that all men, so farre as they durst, reioysed no lesse outwardlie at his death, then for the victorie obteined of late against the Spanish nauie /.... (Stowe’s Annals, 1605, p. 1259.—F.)

A generall thankesgeuing thorow out England in euery church, for the victory of the Allmightie geuen by thenglish ouer the Spanish navie; in which, the Queene her selfe, & her nobility, came to St Paules churche in London, November the 19, where, after she had hard the divine service, & in her owne person geuen solemne thankes[Pg 273] to God, in the hering of soche as were present, she hard the sermon at the Crosse preached by the bishop of Sarum, & then dined with the bishop of London in his pallace thereunto annexed. The kinges of Scotland, Denmarke, Sueden, Navarra, with the churches of Geneva & diuers other cities of Germany, had done the like also, a litle while before, in their churches, as we are credibly informed. The Spanierdes also, indeuoring to hide their reprochefull voiage from the eies of their comon people, do triumphe for their victory obteined ouer the Englishe nation, & send to the pope for a seconde million of gold, which he bound himself to geue them at their landing in England, they having alredy receaved the first at their departure from the Groyne in Maie past; but his intelligencers informed him, so that he kept his crownes at home/... (Stowe, p. 1260.—F.)


The Mad Parliament.

1588. A parliament is holden in London, which some doe call “the greene meting,” other, “the madde parliament,” because it consisted, for the most part, of yong burgesses, picked out of purpose to serue some secrete turne against the state present of the clergy; of whome no tale was there left vntold, that might deface their condicion. In this assembly, billes were put vp, as it is said, which required that the ministery of England should be subiect to service in the warres, & called to appeare at musters, sizes, &c. as laie subiectes of the land; that they should prouide furniture of armour & munition, according to the seuerall valuation of their livinges; that eche of them should haue but one living, & be resident vpon the same; & that all impropriations in spirituall mens handes onely, should be restored to the churche, with other like diuises; but in thend, none of them all went forward; & right good cause; for hereby most churches should quickely haue bene without their pastor, the Collegiate & cathedrall houses (the chief marke whereat they shot) rellinquished, & some of the spiritualty more charged then vj of the greattest of the nobility in the land, whose livinges are not valued in soche strict maner as those are of the clergy, who also in this parliament are charged with a doble subsidie to be paid in 6 yeres. (Stowe’s Annals, 1605, p. 1261.—F.)


The Parliament of Feb. 1592-3.

[Last entry, in a very tottery hand, 2 months before Harrison’s death or burial on 24 April 1593, six days after he’d ended his 59th year.—F.]

1592. A Parliament beginneth at London, feb. 19 [1592-3], being mondaie / many men looke for many thinges at the handes of the congregates, chiefly the precisiens for the ouerthrow of bishops & all ecclesiasticall regiment, and erection of soche discipline as thei themselues haue prescribed / the Clergy also feared some stoppage of former lawes provided for the wel [?] paiment of their tithes / but all men expect a generall graunt of money, the cheef end, in our time, of the aforesaid Assemblies; which being obserued, the rest will sone haue an[Pg 274] ende / In the very begining of this parliament, there were more then 100 of the lower house, returned for outlawes, I meane, so well of knightes as of burgesses, & more are daiely loked for to be found in like estate / but is it not, thinke you, a likely matter, that soche men can be authors of good lawes, who, for their own partes, will obey no law at all? How gret frendes the precisians in ther practizes are to these men, the possession of their desire wold esily declare, if thei might ones obteine it. [a later entry: the Parliament broke up on April 10, 1593,[251] a fortnight before Harrison’s death.—F.] neuerthelesse, in the vpshot of that meting, it was found, that notwithstanding the money graunted—which was well nigh yelded vnto, in respect of our generall necessitie—there were so many good profitable lawes ordeined in this parliament as in any other that haue passed in former times, the mallicious dealinges also of the precisians, papistes, & comeling [?] provokers[252] was not a litle restreigned in the same, to the gret benefite of the country.


[“The rest is silence.”]


Printed by Walter Scott, Felling, Newcastle-on-Tyne.




[1] Condensed from the first part of the edition of 1876 for the “New Shakspere Society.”—W.

[2] This does not apply to a small portion of Book I. used by Dr. F., and also somewhat in this reprint.—W.

[3] Who’ll write a like one for Victorian England? (Mr. Fyffe has since done this.) Oh that we had one for Chaucer’s England!—F.

[4] The Elizabethan sweep in this, as in so many other plans of the day.—F.

[5] See Holinshed’s Dedication to Lord Burghley in vol. iii. of his Chronicle.—F. (See Appendix.—W.)

[6] William Harrison’s Chronologie is mentioned on the last leaf of the Preface to vol. iii. of Holinshed, p. 1, at foot—“For the computation of the yeares of the world, I had by Maister Wolfes aduise followed Functius; but after his [Wolfe’s] deceasse, M. W[illiam] H[arrison] made me partaker of a Chronologie, which he had gathered and compiled with most exquisit diligence, following Gerardus Mercator, and other late chronologers, and his owne obseruations, according to the which I haue reformed the same.”—Holinshed, in the Preface to his Chronicles, vol. iii. sign A 4, ed. 1587,—and in his Description, “I haue reserued them vnto the publication of my great Chronologie, if (while I liue) it happen to come abroad.” It was never publisht. My search for the MS. of it results in my having just received (Aug. 28) its large folio vols. 2, 3, 4, from the Diocesan Library of Derry, in Ireland. The Rev. H. Cotton, Thurles, Ireland (Dec. 21, 1850), said where it was, in I. Notes and Queries, iii. 105, col. 2; and after two fruitless searches it was found, and lent me by the Bishop, through his Librarian, the Rev. B. Moffett of Foyle College, Londonderry, as well as a curious and terribly corrected MS. of an English work on Weights and Measures, Hebrew, Greek, English, etc., dated 1587, which must be Harrison’s too.

The 3 folio volumes of the Chronologie are 8 inches deep as they lie, each being 10¾ inches broad, by 17½ high, with 73, and sometimes more, lines to a page. An enormous amount of work is in them, and all of them are in Harrison’s own hand, at different times of his life. Vol. 2, “The second part of the English Chronologye written by Wm. Harrison,” runs from the Creation to Christ’s birth. Vol. 3, “The third part of the Chronology conteining a just & perfite true &c. as followeth in the next Leafe, to thend of the title, & to be brought hether,” stretches from the birth of Christ to William the Norman’s Conquest of England. Vol. 4, “The iijth and Last part of the great English Chronology written By Wm. H.,” [title in another hand?] goes from the beginning of William the Conqueror’s reign, Oct. 14, 1066, to the February of 1592-3, only two months before Harrison’s own death (or burial) on April 24, 1593. And each volume tells, in Chronicle fashion, what went on all over the world in each successive year, so far as Harrison knew. The contemporary part of vol. 4 is of course the most interesting: “A William Harrison wrote some Latin lines on the deaths of the Brandons, Dukes of Suffolk, printed with the collection published on that occasion, 4to, London, 1552.”—F.

[7] Holinshed, iii. 1499; extract in my edition of Thynne’s Animadversions, 1875, p. lxxxv.—F.

[8] In his account of the rivers, etc., Harrison sometimes quotes other people in the first person, “I, we,” as if he had himself been to the places they describe.—F.

[9] Folio Harrison, p. 103, col. 2, ed. 1587.—F.

[10] Folio Harrison, p. 107, col. 2 (ed. 1587).—F. [See Appendix.—W.]

[11] He complains of help promist, and never given: see in the folio Harrison, p. 45, col. I (beginning of cap. II, Book I., about the Thames).—F. [See Appendix.—W.]

[12] Still you get his side-note—I suppose ’tis his—at p. 254 below, on the report of two old British books being found in a stone wall at Verolamium, “This soundeth like a lie.” Other bits of wholesome doubt turn up elsewhere.—F.

[13] The Thames “hieth to Sudlington, otherwise called Maidenhead, and so to Windleshore (or Windsore), Eaton, and then to Chertseie.... From Chertseie it hasteth directlie vnto Stanes, and receiuing an other streame by the waie, called the Cole (wherevpon Colbrooke standeth), it goeth by Kingstone, Shene, Sion, and Brentford or Bregentford.”... Bk. I. p. 46, col. 1, l. 30, vol. i., folio ed. 1587.—F.

[14] The extracts quoted by Dr. F. will be mostly found in the modernised text. Here they are printed in the old spelling, giving an idea of the original volume, saving the black letter type.—W.

[15] Still, I find it very hard that he spoke so harshly of Andrew Boorde.—F.

[16] Harrison doesn’t scold the women for painting their faces and wearing false hair, in the persistent way that Shakspere does. These two bits of falseness (in town women only?) evidently made a great impression on the country-bred Shakspere’s mind. Stubbes complaind bitterly of them too.

[17] “Before the earliest date of Parish Registers (1538). I have all the Marriage Licences issued by the Bishop of London, beginning as early as 1521; but they do not include that of Harrison’s father.”—J. L. Chester.

[18] As Harrison left by his will twenty shillings to the poor of St. Thomas the Apostle in London, Colonel Chester thinks he may have been born in that parish.——P.S. Aug. 31, 1876. I’ve just found in Harrison’s MS. Chronologie, under 1534, “The Author of this boke is borne, vpon ye 18 of Aprill, hora 11 minut 4, Secunde 56, at London, in Cordwainer streete, otherwise called bowe lane in ye [crosst thro’: house next to ye holly lambe towards chepeside, & in ye] parish of St. Thomas the Apostle.”—F.

[19] Dr. Scott, the present Head-Master, tells me that the early registers are not. “My dear Sir,—I regret to say that no early records of Westminster School are known to be in existence anywhere, except the names of those admitted to the Foundation, and even these merely from an old “Buttery Book” in the earliest times, to which Noel belongs; only those who were elected to Ch. Ch. or Trinity are recorded. There is no trace of such a name as Harrison. I have done my best to hunt up old records, but with very small result.—Faithfully yours, Chas. B. Scott.” After Harrison’s days, Dean Goodman gave the School for a time a Sanatorium at Chiswick—“Cheswicke, H. 14, belonging to a prebend of Paules now in the handes of Doctor Goodman, Deane of Westminster, where he hath a Faire house, whereunto (in the time of any common plague or sicknes, as also to take the aire) he withdraweth the schollers of the colledge of Westminster.” 1596. Jn. Norden’s Description of Middlesex, p. 17, ed. 1723.

[20] Alexander Nowell was one of the most famous divines of the Reformation. Born in Lancashire about 1507, he got a fellowship at Brasenose in 1540; in 1543 became second master of Westminster School; and in 1551 Prebendary of Westminster. He was elected M.P. for Looe in Cornwall, in the first Parliament of Queen Mary, but his election was voided because he was a Church dignitary. He then went to Strassburg; returnd on the accession of Elizabeth, and was made Dean of St. Paul’s in 1560. He publisht his celebrated Larger Catechism, and an abridgment of it, both in Latin, in 1570; and is supposed to have written the greater part of the Church of England Catechism. He was elected Master of Brasenose in 1595, and died 13 February, 1601-2. (Cooper.).—F.

[21] Cooper, in his Athenæ Cantabrigienses, says of Harrison—“He was a member of this university [Cambridge] in 1551, and afterwards studied at Oxford. We are unable to ascertain his house at either university.” ? Merton, Oxf. see p. xvi. (There’s no Merton Admission book so early as Harrison’s time, the Bursar says.)

[22] He us’d his eyes too at both places, and at school; for he says of the buildings: “The common schooles of Cambridge also are farre more beautifull than those of Oxford, onelie the diuinitie schoole at Oxford excepted, which for fine and excellent workemanship, commeth next the moold of the kings chappell in Cambridge, than the which two, with the chappell that king Henrie the seauenth did build at Westminster, there are not (in mine opinion) made of lime & stone three more notable piles within the compasse of Europe.”—F.

[23] Mr. Luard of Trinity, the Registrar of the University, has kindly copied the grace for me:—“1569. Grace Book Δ, fol. 97 b: Conceditur 10 Junii magistro Willelmo Harryson ut studium 7 annorum in Theologia postquam rexerit in artibus Oxoniæ cum oppositionibus etc. perficiendis etc. sub pœna x librarum ponendarum etc. sufficiat ei tam ad opponendum quam ad intrandum in sacra Theologia, præsentatus per D. Longeworth[24] et admissus 17 Junii.”—F.

[24] Master of St. John’s.

[25] Wood’s Ath. Ox., ed. Bliss., i. col. 537; Cooper’s Ath. Cant. ii. 164.

[26] The Manor and advowson of Great Radwinter had been part of the property of the Cobham family since 1433, if not before. (See Wright’s Hist. of Essex, II. 92; Morant’s do., II. 535.).—F.

[27] See his defence of pluralism. [In the chapter on “The Church of England.”—W.] It was vehemently condemnd by most of his contemporaries.—F.

[28] The Vicarage of Wimbish not being a “competent maintenance,” and the adjoining vicarage of Thunderley being so small that no one would accept of it, Dr. Kemp, Bishop of London in 1425, united the two. The presentation to these incorporated vicarages was made alternate in the Rector of Wimbish (it is a sinecure rectory) and the Priory of Hatfield Regis (who had the great tithes and advowson of Thunderley). In 1547, Ed. VI. granted this Priory’s advowson or right of presenting alternately to Wimbish, to Ed. Waldgrave, Esq.; and it passed on in private hands, so that from 1567 to 1599 it belonged to Francis de la Wood, who thus, it would seem, must have been the patron who presented William Harrison. See Morant’s Hist. of Essex, pp. 560, 561. By the Valor Ecclesiasticus of Hen. VIII. the clear yearly value of Wimbish Vicarage was £8; tithes 16s. That of Radwinter Rectory £21 11s. 4d.; tithes £2 3s. 2½d. Some of the parson of Radwinter’s tithes were made up thus:—“to the parson of Radwynter forseid for the yerely tythes of the said maner [Bendish Hall, in the parish of Radwinter], one acre of whete in harvest price x s, one acre of otes price v s iiij d, a lambe price viij d, a pigg, price iiij d, and in money iij s iiij d.”—Valor Eccl., Vol. I. p. 85, col. 2.—F.

[29] I assume that Harrison had once more children, whom he floggd occasionally. When speaking of mastiffs in Bk. 3, chap. 7, p. 231, col. 1, l. 60, ed. 1587, he says, “I had one my selfe once, which would not suffer anie man to bring in his weapon further than my gate, neither those that were of my house, to be touched in his presence. Or if I had beaten anie of my children, he would gentlie haue assaied to catch the rod in his teeth, and take it out of my hand, or else pluck downe their clothes to saue them from the stripes: which in my opinion is not vnworthie to be noted. And thus much of our mastiffes, creatures of no lesse faith and loue towards their maisters than horses.” Still, girls were floggd in Elizabeth’s days, no doubt (compare Lady Jane Grey’s case, in Ascham), as well as a hundred years before. See how Agnes Paston beat her daughter Elizabeth in 1449, Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner, vol. i., Introd., p. cxvi.—F. [See Chapter XVI., “Of our English Dogs and their Qualities.”—W.]

[30] Gerard had above a thousand—

Gerard’s Catalogue of his Garden.—A reprint of ‘the first professedly complete catalogue of any one garden, either public or private, ever published’ certainly deserves putting on record here. Gerard’s Herball is by no means a rare book; but the Catalogus arborum fruticum ac plantarum tam indigenarum quam exoticarum in horto Johannis Gerardi civis et chirurgi Londinensis nascentium is exceedingly rare. This reprint, therefore, which we owe to the liberality of Mr. B. Daydon Jackson, will be extremely welcome to all interested in the early introduction of exotic plants. The reprint consists of a limited number of copies for private circulation only. Without being an absolute fac-simile it is almost an exact reproduction of the original, the first edition of which was published in 1596. A second edition appeared in 1599, which Mr. Jackson also reprints, together with some of his own remarks and notes on the Herball, and a Life of Gerard. But what will be found especially useful is the list of modern names affixed to the old ones. Gerard’s physic garden was in Holborn, and included upwards of a thousand different kinds of plants.... There are several other lists of this kind we should be glad to see reprinted—Tradescant’s, among others, as the younger Tradescant made a voyage to Virginia and introduced many American trees.”—(Academy, July 1876.)—F.

[31] (Note by the late Dr. Goodall): Erat quidem Gulielmus Harrison Socius Etonensis Mar. 3, 1592, Vice præpositus Collegii et Rector de Everdon in Comitatu Northampt. Ut ille mortuus est Etonæ, et ibidem Sepultus Dec. 27, 1611.—F.

[32] Mr. J. Higgs, of Sheet Street, Windsor, has kindly searcht the Parish Register of Burials, which dates from 1564, but he finds no entry of Canon Harrison’s burial.—F. [At Radwinter. See Appendix.—W.]

[33] See his defence of priests leaving “their substances to their wives and children,” in his Description.—F. [In “Church” chapter.—W.]

[34] Compare the smart red dress with blue hood and long blue liripipe from it, of the Nun’s Priest, in the colourd illumination of the Ellesmere MS. given in my Six-Text Canterbury Tales.—F.


Proude preestes coome with hym, Mo than a thousand,
In paltokes and pyked shoes, And pisseris long knyves.

Vision of Piers Plowman, Pass. xx. l. 14,360, ii. 438, ed. Wright.—F.

[36] William Rede or Reade, made Bp. of Chichester 1369, died 1385, “is said to have been a native of Devonshire, and to have received his early education in Exeter Coll., Oxford, from whence he removed to Merton, having been elected a fellow. He soon discovered a singular genius for the sciences, as they were then known and practised, and excelled in geography, astronomy, and architecture. About the year 1349, he gave a design for a library at Merton College, and superintended the building, which is very spacious, if considered as a repository of MSS. only.... He contributed greatly to furnishing the library with valuable MSS., adding his own, which consisted of several scientific treatises, astronomical tables, and maps. He was a great encourager of learning, particularly by procuring many rare MSS. from the continent, which were transcribed at his expense.” He built Amberley Castle, an episcopal residence for Chichester.—Dallaway’s History of the Western Division of the County of Sussex, 1832, vol. i. pp. 54, 55.—F.

[37] Cambridge studies. 1516, Aug. 31. Er. Ep. II. 10. Erasmus to Bovill. Thirty years ago, nothing was taught at Cambridge except Alexander’s parva Logicalia, some scraps from Aristotle, and the Quæstiones of Duns Scotus. In process of time improved studies were added; mathematics, a new Aristotle, a knowledge of Greek letters. What has been the consequence? The University can now hold its head with the highest, and has excellent theologians. Of course they must now study the New Testament with greater attention, and not waste their time, as heretofore, in frivolous quibbles.—Brewer’s Calendar of Henry VIII.’s Time, vol. ii., pt. i., p. 716.—F.

[38] As a usually accurate friend of mine always calls this name “Asham,” I note that it’s often spelt “Askham” in old writers.—F.

[39] Harrison repeats his warning in stronger terms. [See Chapter I.—W.] “This neuerthelesse is generallie to be reprehended in all estates of gentilitie, and which in short time will turne to the great ruine of our countrie, and that is the vsuall sending of noblemens & meane gentlemens sonnes into Italie, from whence they bring home nothing but meere atheisme, infidelitie, vicious conuersation, & ambitious and proud behauiour, wherby it commeth to passe that they returne far worsse men than they went out.” See the sequel.—F.

[40] See Sir T. More’s Utopia, “a huge number of idle fellows, who never learned any art by which they may gain their living,” etc.—F.

[41] On the finest kind of bread, manchet, note that Queen Elizabeth’s was made from Heston wheat, Middlesex:—“Heston, H. 10, a most fertyle place of wheate, yet not so much to be commended for the quantitie, as for the qualitie, for the wheat is most pure, accompted the purest in manie shires. And therefore Queene Elizabeth hath the most part of her provision from that place for manchet for her Highnes own diet, as is reported.” 1596. Jn. Norden, Description of Middlesex, p. 25, ed. 1723.—F.

[42] But he speaks, at p. 69, “of the common sort, whose mouthes are alwaies wide open vnto reprehension, and eies readie to espie anie thing that they may reprooue and carpe at.” Still, Harrison took more kindly to the common sort than Shakspere did in his plays.—F.

[43] Now Chapter VIII.—W.

[44] De Republica Anglorum. The maner of Gouernement or policie of the Realme of England, compiled by the Honorable Sir Thomas Smyth, Knight, Doctor of both the lawes, and one of the principal Secretaries vnto the two most worthy Princes, King Edward the sixt, and Queen Elizabeth ... London ... 1584 (some copies 1583). A posthumous publication.—Hazlitt.—F.

[45] Did Shakspere ever turn out and chevy a Stratford thief, I wonder? He must have been able to hit and hold hard.—F.

[46] Made of tree or wood.—F.

[47] See an instance in Burleigh House.

[48] Of hostlers, Harman says, “not one amongst twenty of them but haue well left their honesty, as I here a great sorte saye.”—Harman’s Caueat, p. 62, ed. Viles and Furnivall.—F.

[49] Harrison wasn’t the only man who felt thus. See Arthur Standish’s two tracts: “The Commons Complaint. Wherein is contained two speciall Grievances: The first, the generall destruction and waste of Woods in this Kingdome.... The Second Grievance is, The extreame dearth of Victvals. Fovre Remedies for the same, etc. London Printed by William Stansby, 1611.” 4o. F 2 in fours. “New Directions of Experience to the Commons Complaint by the incouragement of the Kings most excellent Maiesty, as may appeare, for the planting of Timber and Fire-wood. With a neere Estimation what Millions of Acres the Kingdome doth containe, what Acres is waste ground, whereon little profit for this purpose will arise.... Inuentid by Arthur Standish. Anno Domini. MDCXIII. 4o. A—D in fours; E, 4 leaves, and a leaf of F.”—Hazlitt’s Collections and Notes, p. 401-2. Also Massinger’s Guardian, II. iv—F.

[50] “If woods go so fast ... I have knowne a well burnished gentleman that hath borne threescore at once [weren’t they trees?] in one paire of galigascons, to shew his strength and brauerie.” Brick-burning also consumd much wood: compare Harrison, bk. 3, chap. 9, p. 234, col. 2, l. 46, ed. 1587:—“such is the curiositie of our countrimen, that notwithstanding almightie God hath so blessed our realme in most plentifull maner, with such and so manie quarries apt and meet for piles of longest continuance, yet we, as lothsome of this abundance, or not liking of the plentie, doo commonlie leaue these naturall gifts to mould and cinder in the ground, and take vp an artificiall bricke, in burning whereof a great part of the wood of this land dailie consumed and spent, to the no small decaie of that commoditie, and hinderance of the poore that perish off for cold.” See, too, chap. 10, p. 236, col. 2, l. 44, “Of colemines we have such plentie in the north and westerne parts of our Iland, as may suffice for all the realme of England: and so must they doo hereafter in deed, if wood be not better cherrished than it is at this present.”

[51] Of the 1876 reprint.—W.

[52] See Dr. Furnivall’s “Forewords.”—W.

[53] This apology for “faults escaped herein” was of course omitted in 1587.—W.

[54] See “The English Courtier” ... and “The Court and Country.” Both reprinted in Mr. W. C. Hazlitt’s “Roxburghe Library.”—F.

[55] Here follow etymologies of the terms “Duke,” “Marquess,” and “Baron.”—W.

[56] 1 Sam. ii. 15; 1 Kings i. 7.—H.

[57] Here follows a long paragraph on the character of the clergy which is more appropriate to the chapter on “The Church.”—W.

[58] Every peer ceases to be a legislator the moment the Crown considers the advice and aid of such peer unnecessary. The historic meeting between Elizabeth Woodville and Edward Plantagenet (which incidentally has made the lady ancestress to nearly every royal house in Europe), when she declared herself

“too mean to be your queen,
And yet too good to be your concubine,”

was occasioned by the mean estate left by her late husband, Sir John Grey, to his orphan children. Sir John was by right Lord Grey of Groby, but never sat at Westminster as such, being killed at Saint Albans. His children would have had small chance of writs of summons had not their beautiful mother ensnared the monarch who (much to his crook-backed brother’s disgust, at least in the play) would “use women honourably.” The heir of the Birminghams was not only evicted from the House of Peers, but from Dudley Castle, because he was poor. The heir of the Staffords had the old barony taken from him by Charles I. (simply because he, Roger Stafford, was poor), and saw it given to a court favourite, one of the honour-hooking Howards.—W.

[59] Here follows a learned disquisition upon “Valvasors.”—W.

[60] Here follows a discourse upon Equites Aurati.—W.

[61] Here is a description of dubbing a knight.—W.

[62] Long details are given of Garter history, very inaccurate, both here and in the last omitted passage.—W.

[63] Derivations of “Esquire” and “Gentleman” are given.—W.

[64] The proper spelling of what is now called kersey. It is really “causeway cloth,” and causeway is still pronounced (as it should be) karsey by the homely people who are not tied to the tail of the dogmatic dictionary man, whose unnecessary ingenuity (in place of a small knowledge of “country matters”) has in this case set up a phantom phalanx of busy looms in the harmless little village of Kersey in Suffolk. The Scotch have the full phrase still. The French causie is nearer to carsie than to book-made causeway.—W.

[65] This etymology of a much-disputed word is doubtless accurate. Thus Piers Plowman’s

“Thoruh ziftes haven zemen to rennen and to ride.”

The peculiar “z” stood the Saxon “ge.” In fact Geo, old Mother Earth, stares us in the face. A yeoman is an “earth-man.” We may literally say our modern English sabremen of the shires, at a periodical muster on caracoling steeds, are “racy of the soil.”—W.

[66] Harrison was quick to catch a true idea of the authors he delights in, and his weakness for displaying his fund of classical lore is therefore generally a pleasure instead of a bore. The phrase from the distinguished Roman youth, Aulus Persius Flaccus, occurs in the Prologue to his poems:

“Heliconidas pallidamque Pirenen
Illis remitto quorum imagines lambunt
Hederæ sequaces: ipse semipaganus
Ad sacra vatum carmen adfero nostrum;”

which may be thus Englished:

“Those Helicon-births and pallor-breeding Pirenes
Must remit I to them o’er whose countenance traileth
The ivy up-clinging: myself, half-breed of the soil,
To the shrine of our prophets my song I deliver.”

Almost every annotator of Persius has handled this passage as though the poet simply prosaically alluded to his being half of rustic birth. As a fact, he was of the bluest blood of the Augustine age. Harrison makes a happy hit in understanding the passage as alluding to a semi-connection with the territory of the Muses, as I have treated it.—W.

[67] Capite censi, or Proletarii.—H.

[68] The Ceylonese. The Greek name for the island of Ceylon was Taprobane, which Harrison used merely as a classical scholar.—W.

[69] The wise and learned Secretary of State in the dangerous days of Edward VI., who under Elizabeth had the task of furnishing Burleigh with brains (thus heaping “coals of fire” on the man who had stolen his place when Reform was triumphant and danger past), was himself born within a gunshot of Harrison’s Radwinter rectory, at Saffron Walden. Though Sir Thomas Smith’s own seat was a dozen miles to the south, at Theydon, Harrison was evidently very intimate with the Secretary. Some of the foregoing chapter (and much more which has been omitted) are literal transcripts from Smith’s De Republica Anglorum. This work was still in manuscript in 1577 (the year of the first “Holinshed”), and late in the summer of that year Sir Thomas himself committed suicide. In 1583, before the second “Holinshed,” the first edition of De Republica was issued, probably edited by our Harrison. The very title breathed the spirit of Elizabethan politics. Secretaries of State do not now talk about the “English Republic.” The Hampdens were closely connected with Sir Thomas Smith, and De Republica was a text-book of John Hampden. In 1589 the title for Smith’s work was first Englished (without doubt Harrison’s own handiwork), and that title has been made immortal in English history by Hampden’s disciples: The Commonwealth of England.—W.

[70] If Harrison means to give us the impression that a city has any direct connection with episcopal affairs, he is quite in error. Cities are distinctly royal and imperial institutions. The accident of the number of cities and sees being the same comes from the natural tendency of the two institutions to drift together, though of distinct origin.—W.

[71] Here follows a long and learned disquisition upon the Roman and other early towns, especially about St. Albans, a portion of which will be found in the Appendix.—W.

[72] The regalia which denoted sovereign right within the city limits, even to excluding kings at the head of their armies as the “scroyles of Angiers” do in King John, much to the Bastard’s disgust.—W.

[73] The cutters have not been heard from for the three centuries intervening. These would have been the most valuable set of Elizabethan maps ever known had they been executed as Harrison expected.—W.

[74] Here follows an allusion to the decay of Eastern cities.—W.

[75] See on this my Ballads from MSS., i.; Mr. Cowper’s edition of Life in Tudor England; Four Supplications; and Crowley’s Select Works for the Early English Text Society; More’s Utopia, etc.—F.

[76] The old and proper form of the modern pumpkin.—W.

[77] The historic seat of the De Veres is thus a by-word even before the line had risen to its most glorious achievements and gone out in a blaze of military honour.—W.

[78] Harrison must have been given access to Leland’s manuscripts, as the “Commentarii” were not published until 1709, or one hundred and fifty-seven years after the author died in the madhouse.—W.

[79] The first is a variant on a Keltic, the second on a Saxon, word, both relating to matters sufficiently indicated in the text.—W.

[80] Harrison may refer to Camden, then a young man starting out on the life-mission which has made him immortal. The chief works of Abraham Ortelius were not as yet published, 1577; but Harrison seems to have had early information on various forthcoming publications.—W.

[81] This chapter (misnumbered 19) does not appear anywhere in the edition of 1577.—F.

[82] In a chapter on “Vineyards,” for an extract from which see Appendix.—W.

[83] No vegetables are mentioned by John Russell in his different bills of fare for dinners in his “Boke of Nurture,” ab. 1440 A.D., Babees Book, pp. 164-175.—F.

[84] Skirret is in my book, p. 214, 1. I, Sium Sisarum, an umbelliferous plant with a small root like a little carrot, no longer cultivated in England, or very rarely.—R. C. A. Prior.

[85] Navew, Brassica Napus, is probably only a variety of the turnip, from which it differs in the smaller and less orbicular root, and the leaves being glabrous and not rough. It is that which is cultivated for making Colza oil, and for sheep-feed. The differences between Brassica Napus, B. campestris, and B. Rapa (the turnip) are really very slight, as you will see in any botanical work on British plants.—R. C. A. Prior.

[86] See John Russell’s list of those for the bath of Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester, in The Babees Book, pp. 183-185.—F.

[87] Harrison makes a distinction between “dunghill” and “laistowe” (or laystowe, laystall, etc.), again upsetting the theories of the dictionary men.—W.

[88] This was about the epoch when Captain Price, the “salt sea dog,” was smoking the first pipe ever seen on London streets. Harrison seems to know of tobacco only as a medicine.—W.

[89] “Corn-trees” are probably cornels, from one of which, the C. ras, L., the berries are commonly eaten in Italy, and sherbet made from them in the East. In Italy they are called cornia and corniola.—R. C. A. Prior.

[90] Of these four examples, in four shires, surrounding London, west, south, north, and east, not one remains as Harrison had it in view. The famous grounds of Hampton Court are of William III., Wolsey work being effaced. Nonsuch in Surrey, near Epsom race-course, is a mere memory. In Harrison’s time it was a favourite resort of Elizabeth, being designed by her father as the child of his old age, but really built as a “labour of love” by the last of the Fitzalans, who saved it from destruction by Mary (who loved not her father’s works), making it the scene of many an act in the tragic drama of the royal sisters and their cousin of Scotland. Theobald’s, in Herts, known to all readers of Izaac Walton, was just before Harrison’s day the seat of the family of Burbage, the “original Hamlet,” being bought in 1564 by Cecil, made the favourite haunt of the Stuarts, and finally was destroyed by the Commonwealth people. Cobham, near Gravesend in Kent, was the seat of the Brookes, the ill-starred patrons of Harrison himself. It is still famous in horticultural annals, just as Nonsuch will be immortal from its luscious apples.—W.

[91] Harrison may be said to have made this word his own, and a classic in the language. Its meaning is sufficiently indicated in the text, but the published definition and etymologies are evidently incomplete. A bodger was probably a (tax) collector in his bodge or budget, before he was a buyer and seller.—W.

[92] What a pity the poor men couldn’t co-operate, imitate the rich buyer, and have their own bodger to buy for them!—F.

[93] Victorian writers can say this too. I recollect fresh butter at 8d. and 10d. a pound here at Egham, and now we pay 20d. The imported Italian butter that we get in London, from Ralli, Greek Street, Soho, is 19d.—F.

[94] An interesting anticipation of John Stuart Mill’s point of the evil of a large middleman class checked only by competition. Co-operation, with a few middlemen, the agents and servants of the co-operators, is what we want.—F.

[95] Elizabethan England was the transition period when the slavery of money rents was fastened upon an unsuspecting people, leading to the great famines and revolts of the Stuart period.—W.

[96] The ancient London counterpart of the more modern “Rag Fair” known to literary fame.—W.

[97] The Kermess, or literally, “Church mass,” so famous in “Faust.”—W.

[98] Here follows a long treatise on the “Law of Ordeal.” Habam was at the mouth of the Trent, where the Romans crossed the Humber; Wannetting is Wantage; Thundersley survives still in Essex; Excester is Exeter; Crecklade (misprinted Grecklade) is Cricklade. All are of historic foundation.—W.

[99] A good deal of this chapter and the following one is mere compilation; but there are interesting bits of Harrison’s own self in his “old cock of Canterbury,” the prophecies or conferences then lately begun, and soon blessed, the taxes on parsons, the Church being the “ass for every market man to ride on,” the then state of the churches, and abolition of feast and guild-days, the popish priest “dressed like a dancing peacock,” the contempt felt for the ministry and their poverty.—F. [Some of the merely historical recapitulation has been banished altogether, along with the next chapter referred to, that upon “Bishoprics.”—W.]

[100] The Welsh name for England, as distinct from their own Cambria, usually written “Lloegr,” and poetically derived from the eldest of the three sons of Brute, Locrine of Loegria, Camber of Cambria, and Alban of Albania (Albany, Alban, or Scotland), the adventures of this trio furnishing all the island with names, as King Humber of the Huns defeated and drowned in the Humber, his beautiful protegée Estreldis and her daughter Sabra (by Locrine) thrown into the Severn (from Sabrina) by the jealous and discarded Queen Gwendolen after she had settled accounts with Locrine himself by the banks of the Sture. See Spenser, Milton, the old play of “Locrine,” and the new one by Swinburne: “How Britain at the first grew to be divided into three portions.”—W.

[101] In his first book and in this chapter.—W.

[102] This “authority” was for ever chopped off in the next generation with the head of William Laud.—W.

[103] “There can be no reasonable doubt that there existed an episcopal see at Caerleon in early times. It is pretty certain that it disappeared about the sixth century, and that the bishoprics of St. David’s, Llandaff, and Llanbadarn were founded about the same time. Nor have we, with a single doubtful exception, any indication of sees in any part of South Wales, with the sole exception of Caerleon. We may therefore regard the change to a certain extent as a portion of the spiritual jurisdiction between the three chief principalities into which South Wales seems at this time to have been divided, and partly as an imitation of the policy of St. Martin, by transferring it from the city to the wilderness. Or, if we please, we may regard St. David’s and Llanbadarn as new sees, Llandaff being the legitimate representative of Caerleon. The question remains whether a metropolitan jurisdiction resided with any of these sees, and with which of them. It was claimed in after times by the bishops of Llandaff, as well as by those of St. David’s,” etc. (History and Antiquity of St. David’s, by W. B. Jones and E. A. Freeman.)—W.

[104] This is a minor error, Canterbury having assumed the functions of St. David’s archiepiscopate over a century before Archbishop Lanfranc of the Conquest came to assert the primacy over York, which was doubtless in Harrison’s mind here.—W.

[105] Harrison had doubtless a special antipathy to Saint Dunstan, because that great autocrat of Canterbury, along with his busy labours of humbling kings, enforcing celibacy on the priesthood, building the “church triumphant” over the whole body politic, found time to usurp the archiepiscopal functions of Saint David’s in the year 983, thus bringing Welshmen for the first time under English ecclesiastical rule, where (much to their disgust) they remain to our own time.—W.

[106] The details of the well-known story of Earl Godwin, as rendered by Harrison, here follow. The great interest of these recapitulations of English clerical history is in the utterance of a mind fresh from the great wrench of the Reformation.—W.

[107] The last clause was significantly deleted in the edition of 1587. The Armada was looming in the horizon, and the poor printer was obliged to mind his Protestant p’s and q’s for the nonce.—W.

[108] “As appeareth by these letters.” Giving letter of Pope Eugenius to King Stephen.—W.

[109] “Calf,” meaning a fool (as witness Cotgrave’s definition of “Veau, a calfe or veale; also a lozell, hoydon, dunce, jobbernoll, doddipole”), had divers owners put before it, of whom Waltham seems to have been the best known: “Waltham’s calf. As wise as Waltham’s calf—i.e., very foolish. Waltham’s calf ran nine miles to suck a bull.” (Hallwell’s Glossary.)—F.

[110] “As appeareth by the same letter here ensuing.” Companion letter to Maud of Boulogne.—W.

[111] Ostia, referring to Leo Marsicanus, cardinal-archbishop of Ostia.—W.

[112] The letter of Marsicanus is given in full.—W.

[113] Thomas Fitzalan, son of the Earl of Arundel, and great-grandson of Edmund Crouchback, and third cousin of the Black Prince and John of Gaunt, fathers of the king and his rival Bolingbroke, but closely allied to the latter, being cousin-german of John of Gaunt’s first wife, Bolingbroke’s mother. The printers misprinted his name as “John.” He has been handed down as the great persecutor of the Lollards, whom John of Gaunt patronised.—W.


“Bell, book, and candle shall not drive me back
While gold and silver beck me to come on,”

blurts out the Bastard in King John. Shakespeare was not above taking a hint from Harrison.—W.

[115] William the Lion, who at Cœur de Lion’s death came into England to do feudal homage for his English lands to the wily John Lackland, a visit which John, after his fashion, turned to account by imposing on William the impossible task of following him across the Channel and making war upon Philip Augustus, and, on King William’s refusal to drag Scotland into a quarrel which was not even English, John declared the English lands of William forfeited, and started a feud which had momentous issue in after years.—W.

[116] Harrison has here shown less than his usual broad-mindedness. All agree in praising John de Stratford as being gentle enough to match his illustrious townsman yet to be, Avon apparently breeding nothing but “sweet swans.” The archbishop’s quarrel with Edward about his friendship for the Spencers has always been his glory, not his disgrace.—W.

[117] The “vain prophecy of Nicholas Hopkins” was not the only outbreak of that soul-stirring century, Harrison here alluding to the great birth of the Puritans, who (contrary to usual belief, and as their historian particularly insisted upon) were a party in the Church of England—its whole life, in fact—for one generation, and not by any means non-conformists or dissenters.—W.

[118] Writing on March 25, 1574, to one Matchet, his chaplain, parson of Thurgarton, in the diocese of Norwich, Archbishop Parker requested him to repair to his ordinary, and to show him how the Queen willd the Archbishop to suppress those vain prophesyings, and requird the ordinary, in her Majesty’s name, to stop them. This not being acceptable to the Bishop of Norwich, an altercation between the Archbishop and the Bishop ensu’d. But eventually the prophesyings were stopt,—the following order being sent by the Bishop of Norwich to his Chancellor on the 7th of June, 1574:—“After my hearty commendations: whereas by the receipt of my Lord of Canterbury’s letter, I am commanded by him, in the Queen her Majesty’s name, that the prophesyings throughout my diocese should be suppressed; these are therefore to will you, that, as conveniently as you may, you give notice to every of my Commissaries, that they, in their several circuits, may suppress the same. And so I leave you to God.”—Strype’s Life of Abp. Parker, vol. ii. p. 362. See more about them in these references to Strype’s Works, from the Index:—“Prophesyings, certain exercises expounding the Scriptures, so called, P. II. 358, A. II. i. 133; orders respecting their use in the church of Northampton, 136, G. 260; this exercise set up at Bury, A. II. i. 325; Bishop Parkhurst’s letter of permission, ii. 494; generally used by the clergy, i. 472; Bishop Cooper’s regulations and allowance for them in Herefordshire, ib. 476; Bishop Parkhurst stops them in the diocese of Norwich, 477-480, P. II. 358-362; some privy counsellors write to him in their favour, ib.; he communicates with Archbishop Parker and some bishops upon the matter, ib.; they are suppressed, ib.; the contentions of the ministers, the occasion thereof, ib.; directions for this exercise in the diocese of Chester, A. II. i. 481, ii. 544; III. i. 476; the permission of Bishop Chaderton, II. ii. 546; III. i. 477; Bishop Cox’s opinion of them, II. ii. 13; the Queen’s letter to the Bishop of Lincoln to stop them in his diocese, 114, 612; abuses of these exercises, G. 326; Archbishop Grindal’s orders for their reformation, 327; the Queen orders the Archbishop to put a stop to them, 328; his expostulations with her on the subject, 329, 558; the Queen’s letter for their suppression, 574, W. I. 163.”—Index to Strype’s Works, vol. ii. p. 208 (1828 edit.). There are frequent allusions to the Prophesyings “in the Bishops’ Injunctions and Questions, the whole of which are printed in the Appendix to the 2nd Report of the Ritual Commission. See page 432, par. 25; p. 435, par. 20; p. 445, par. 26; p. 447, par. 18.”—F.

[119] John Parkhurst, Bishop of Norwich, writing to his friend Henry Bullinger, on April 28, 1562, says:—“And that you might not think I had forgotten you (since I was unable to write through illness), I sent you a small present. Whenever I shall have paid my first fruits, and extricated myself from debt, you shall know who and what kind of a man is your friend Parkhurst.”—Parker Society’s Zürich Letters, i. 107.—F.

[120] The Act of Henry VIII. for restraining pluralities contains a clause making employment at court an excuse for non-residence and pluralities; see Tyndale’s Expositions, etc., 256, 336. Bradford contends that they are hurtful to the Church, Writings, ii. 395; so does Jewel, ii. 984; Whitgift defends them, i. 528, etc. See also Bullinger’s Decades, iv. 144; Hutchinson’s Works, 5; Latimer’s Works, i. 122; Whitgift’s Works, i. 506, etc., Parker Society (Index).—F.

[121] See W. Stafford’s argument against pluralities in his Compendious Examination, 1581, fol. 53. “What reason is it that one man should haue two mens liuinges and two mens charge, when he is able to discharge but one? Then, to haue more, and discharge the cure of neuer a one, is to farre agaynst reason. But some percase will say, ‘there be some of vs worthy a greater preferment then others, and one benefice were to litle for such a one.’ Is there not as many degrees in the variety of benefices as there is in mens qualities? Yes, forsooth, there is yet in this realme (thanked be God) benefices from M. markes to XX. markes a yeare of sundry value to endow euery man with, after his qualities and degree. And if a meane benefice happen to fal, let euery man be contented therewith til a better fal,” etc., etc.—F.

[122] “It would pytye a mans heart to heare that that I heare of the state of Cambridge: what it is in Oxforde I can not tell. Ther be few do study diuinitie, but so many as of necessiti must furnish the Colledges. For their lyuynges be so small, and vytaylee so dere, that they tarry not ther, but go other where to seke lyuynges, and so they go aboute. Nowe there be a fewe gentylmen, and they studye a little diuinitie.... There be none nowe but greate mens sonnes in Colledges, and theyr fathers loke not to haue them preachers, so euerye waye thys offyce of preachynge is pyncht at.”—Latimer’s 5th Sermon before Edward IV., A.D. 1549, p. 140, ed. Arber. The scarcity of preachers in the time of Queen Elizabeth is lamented by Jewel in his Works, ii. 999, 1000, and by Archbp. Sandys, Works, p. 154 (Parker Soc.). He also complains of the ignorance of ministers in Elizabeth’s time, Works, ii. 1012 (Parker Soc).—F.

[123] Here follows a story about the bootless errand of a pope’s legate in 1452.—W.

[124] “But what do you patrons? Sell your benefices, or give them to your servants for their service, for keeping of hounds or hawks, for making of your gardens. These patrons regard no souls, neither their own nor other men’s. What care they for souls, so they have money, though they [souls] perish, though they go to the devil?” (Latimer’s Sermon at Stamford, 9th Nov. 1550, Works, i. 290).—On the general character of the ministers of England, see the Parker Society’s Zürich Letters, ii. 63. Harding calls them tinkers, tapsters, fiddlers and pipers, Jewel’s Works, iv. 873, 209; Jewel admits their want of learning, ib. 910; many of them were made of “the basest sort of the people,” Whitgift’s Works, i. 316; artificers and unlearned men were admitted to the ministry, Archbp. Parker’s Correspondence, p. 120; many had come out of the shop into the clergy, Fulke’s Works, ii. 118; an order was given to ordain no more artificers, Archbp. Grindal’s Remains, p. 241, note; some beneficed ministers were neither priests nor deacons, Archbp. Parker’s Corr., pp. 128, 154, 308; laymen were presented to benefices, and made prebendaries, ib. 371, 312; and an Archdeacon was not in orders, ib. 142, note.—Parker Society’s Index, p. 537—F.

[125] “I will not speak now of them that, being not content with their lands and rents, do catch into their hands spiritual livings, as parsonages and such like; and that under the pretence to make provision for their houses. What hurt and damage this realm of England doth sustain by that devilish kind of provision for gentlemen’s houses, knights’ and lords’ houses, they can tell best that do travel in the countries, and see with their eyes great parishes and market towns, with innumerable others, to be utterly destitute of God’s word; and that, because that these greedy men have spoiled the livings, and gotten them into their hands; and instead of a faithful and painful preacher, they hire a Sir John, which hath better skill in playing at tables, or in keeping of a garden, than in God’s word; and he for a trifle doth serve the cure, and so help to bring the people of God in danger of their souls. And all those serve to accomplish the abominable pride of such gentlemen, which consume the goods of the poor (the which ought to have been bestowed upon a learned minister) in costly apparel, belly-cheer, or in building of gorgeous houses.” 1562. A. Bernher’s Dedication to Latimer’s Sermons on the Lord’s Prayer of A.D. 1552. Latimer’s Works, i. 317 (Parker Soc.).—F.

[126] On the neglect of their duties by the Elizabethan clergy, and shifting the consequences of it on to the laity, see the Doctor’s speech, on leaves 51-53 of Wm. Stafford’s Compendious Examination, 1581 A.D.—F.

[127] See Chaucer, description of his Monk, Prologue to Canterbury Tales, lines 165-207, and my Ballads from Manuscripts, vol. i. pp. 193, 194.—F.

[128] See Ballads from Manuscripts, vol. i. pp. 59-78.—F.

[129] Long side-note here in edition of 1577, as follows:—“The very cause why weauers pedlers & glouers haue been made Ministers, for the learned refuse such matches, so that yf the Bishops in times past hadde not made such by oversight friendship I wote not howe such men should haue done wyth their aduousons, as for a glouer or a tayler will be glad of an augmentation of 8 or 10 pound by the yere, and well contented that his patrone shall haue all the rest, so he may be sure of this pension.”—F.

[130] Such a classical expert as Harrison makes a curious error here. Cæsar, in his Commentaries, tells of the way in which the Britons instantly apprehended his weakness, perceiving during the truce his army’s lack of corn, and thereupon plotting to secretly break the truce and annihilate the Mightiest Julius and his little following (teaching all future invaders a lasting lesson to beware the chalk cliffs of Albion). Cæsar also notes how he himself quietly neutralised these efforts by gathering in corn from the country thereabouts. The Britons, just as much as himself, understood corn as the staff of life, the mainstay of war as well as of peace. The fact is that Harrison thought with two brains, his Welsh one and his Latin one, and, lost in the mists of Welsh fictions, sometimes forgot the most incontrovertible of Latin authorities. Man’s written records of things British start with Cæsar.—W.

[131] By omitting a comma (upon which the fate of empires may sometimes turn), our brother printers of 1587 (for this Scotch paragraph is not in the edition of 1577) have made pope Harrison bestow a mitre upon Hector Boece. That remarkable native of Dundee (who may be said to have invented Macbeth as we moderns know him) was a doctor of theology, and learned in every art, as becomes the first implanter of the tough fibres of Aberdonian scholarship (for, when one has the rare fortune to overcome the capacious skull and strong brain of a son of Aberdeen, the victor well may cry—

“Achilles hath the mighty Hector slain”),

but was never much of an ecclesiastic, although he held a canonry. Note, by the way, that Harrison (and not John Bellendon, as generally stated) was the channel through which Boece’s History of Scotland came into the magic cauldron of Shakespearian transformation. Cardinal Wardlaw, the founder of the oldest of Scottish schools, was a very different man from Boece, being the glow-worm to the grub.—W.

[132] There was no Parliament at Perth in 1433. The short session of that year was at Stirling. No official record of this remarkable law remains. In fact, Boece (from whom Harrison evidently quotes by memory) does not say either 1433 or that a law was made. He simply records the immediate effect of Cardinal Wardlaw’s speech. However, it had a short shift. Fate was against the patriotic Scot. James Stuart took matter more important than “divers English gentlemen” into Scotland: the royal troubadour carried something beside his batch of love rondels away from Windsor Castle as the fruit of his long captivity. He had not sung nor sighed in vain. The “mistress’ eyebrow” of his “woeful ballad” belonged to Joan of Somerset, one of the three fair Joans of the house of Plantagenet whose marriages were so wonderfully

“Auspicious to these sorrowing isles.”

From Joan of Kent, Princess of Wales, Joan of Beaufort, Countess of Warwick, and Joan of Somerset, Queen of Scotland, are descended most of our English, Irish, Welsh, as well as Scotch families. We may be said to owe most of our Joans, Johannas, Janes, Jeans, and Janets to these three women “big with the fate” of nations.—W.

[133] One would suppose Harrison himself had been “conserving the honour of Orestes” when he penned this passage. He doubtless quoted from the lost works of the Greek physician by means of his favourite Athenæus.—W.

[134]As loathing those metals because of the plenty” sounds strangely to modern ears. Yet Harrison in this one phrase, by mere accident, lets in more light upon the secret of the towering supremacy of the Elizabethan age than have all the expounders, historians, and philosophers from that day to this. The comparative plenty of gold in the time of Elizabeth was brought about by the Spanish invasions of Peru and Mexico. England had far more gold than it had hitherto understood any use for, and she fortunately escaped being seized with that insatiable gold thirst which swiftly sapped the foundations of Spanish dominion as it had that of Rome and other empires of the past. We need seek no further for a reason why the England of Elizabeth surpassed all other communities. Having all material wealth beyond any other people, at no time has the doctrine of universal labour and repudiation of the fictitious riches of metallic hordes or usurious accumulations been so invariably denounced. Harrison’s simple evidence is supported by all the records of the time.—W.

[135] Roger Bacon.—H. [The philosopher’s stone is yet missing which is to accomplish this miracle of making malleable glass, something which has had a strange fascination as an inventor’s dream in all ages. The account of Tiberius Cæsar dashing out the brains of the all-too-clever mechanic (who had actually accomplished this feat), so as to prevent the Roman world from emancipating itself from the rule of iron (or of gold), is the most startling legend in the imperial annals. Old Friar Bacon, who devoted so much attention to optics, naturally put this feat in the forefront of the list of wonders to be accomplished by his great elixir; and Harrison’s slip yet remains beyond the eager grasp of men, though the grand desideratum has been again and again announced in our own time.—W.]

[136] This was the first English idea of the potato as instanced in the last scene of the Merry Wives of Windsor. This was not what is now generally understood as the potato, but the sweet potato of Virginia brought home by Raleigh. The common potato (which has been only common even in North America for less than a century) is often mixed historically with this other tuber. As a fact, our familiar vegetable of to-day is largely a creature of artificial development, and nowhere grows in the same quality wild, whereas the yam or sweet potato is very little altered from its native state.—W.

[137] Sweet cicely, sometimes miscalled myrrh. Mure is the Saxon word. At one time the plant was not uncommon as a salad.—W.

[138] Crosby Ravensworth in Westmorland is misnamed. It is either Raven’s thwaite or Raven’s swarth, but never worth, which is here meaningless. Swarth still lingers on the tongues of the mowers, and thwaite was the form adopted by a once famous family from this mountain fastness. The parish is notable as the home of the Addisons.—W.

[139] A famine at hand is first seen in the horse-manger, when the poor do fall to horse corn.—H.

[140] The size of bread is very ill kept or not at all looked unto in the country towns or markets.—H.

[141] The wine which Scott has (from the Gallic tinge to everything Caledonian) buried for all modern literature in the French form of malvoisie

“Come broach me a pipe of malvoisie!”

It is evident from Harrison that a good English form was used.—W.

[142] Holinshed. This occurs in the last of Harrison’s prefatory matter.—W.

[143] This word is not obsolete. South-coast countrymen still eat nuntions and not luncheons.—W.

[144] Harrison must have got some of these out-of-the-way references at second hand—a valuable trick of the trade among learned pundits. The “Sophists” of Athenæus of Naucratis has never even to our day been handled by an English printer, a modern translation in a classical series excepted, but the Aldine edition was a favourite of European scholars long before the time of Harrison.—W.

[145] It was very wrong of Harrison to crib from the copy which Newberry, the printer, had in his office—that is, unless Sir Henry Savile gave permission. Henry of Huntingdon’s History of England was not issued until eight years after this, but the printers had it evidently in hand. It is not likely that Harrison used the original at Oxford.—W.

[146] Here follows a disquisition upon the table practices of the ancients.—W.

[147] Lettuce was brought over from the Low Countries along with various new notions in the days of Luther. Harrison does not seem to mention it as an English institution as yet however.—W.

[148] After three centuries we have not yet plucked up courage to spell this pet phrase of the bill-of-fare writers as an English word. Entry, as a tangible object, means something between, and not at the beginning; and if we contract entremets there is no reason why we should for ever talk French and say entrée, and use superfluous signs, meaningless to English eyes.—W.

[149] [Cut.]

“I am an English man and naked I stand here,
Musying in my mynde what rayment I shall were;
For now I will were thys, and now I will were that;
Now I will were I cannot tell what.
All new fashyons be plesaunt to me;
I wyl haue them, whether I thryve or thee.”

From Andrew Boorde’s Introduction (1541), and Dyetary (1542), edited by F. J. F. for Early English Text Society, 1870, p. 116. (A most quaint and interesting volume, though I say so.).—F.

[150] This is too harsh a character for Boorde; for a juster one, as I hope, see my preface to his Introduction, p. 105.—F.

[151] Almaine; see Halle, pp. 516-527.—F.

[152] There is no reason to suppose that Collyweston was ever in general English use. It is a Cheshire side-hit (and not common there), and all the Cheshire students cannot unravel the mystery. I have no doubt it belongs to one of the great baronial family of Weston, who were geniuses, and therefore of course “to madness near allied,” wits and cloaks awry.—W. [Weston Colvil is eleven miles from Cambridge, north of the Gogmagog Hills.—F.]

[153] See Wynkin de Worde’s Treatise of this Galaunt (? about 1520 A.D.) in my Ballads from Manuscripts (1520-54), vol. i., pp. 438-453 (Ballad Society, 1868 and 1872), a satire on the gallant or vicious dandy of the day.—F.

[154] Of the many of Shakespeare’s happiest hits which can be traced to Harrison’s fertile suggestion, this is one of the most apparent. Who can fail to appreciate that Petruchio’s side-splitting bout with the tailor had its first hint here?—W.

[155] Shakespeare complains of women painting their faces, and wearing sham-hair, in Love’s Labour’s Lost, IV. iii., and the locks from “the skull that bred them in the sepulchre,” in Merchant, III. ii.—F.

[156] The extravagant variety of woman’s attire in the days of the Virgin Queen (whose own legendary allowance of different habit for each day in the year is still a fondly preserved faith amongst the women and children) was the subject of rebuke from far more famous pulpits than Harrison’s modest retreat. No choice morsel of the “English Chrysostom” surpasses the invective against feminine vanities in his “Wedding Garment” of almost this very year. For instance: “Thus do our curious women put on Christ, who, when they hear the messengers of grace offering this garment, and preparing to make the body fit to be garnished with so glorious a vesture (as Paul did the Romans, first washing away drunkenness and gluttony, then chamberings and wantonness, then strife and envy, and so sin after sin), they seem like the stony ground to receive it with joy, and think to beautify their head with this precious ornament; but when he tells them that there is no communion between Christ and Belial, that if this garment be put on all other vanities must be put off, they then turn their day into darkness, and reject Christ, that would be an eternal crown of beauty to their heads, and wrap their temples in the uncomely rags of every nation’s pride.”—W.

[157] The etymology of the word is not known. Baret describes the colour as between russet and black.—Alvearie, A.D. 1586.—F. [In the Middle Ages country housewives mostly made their own colours, and this was most likely made from bilberries, which children still sometimes call “poke-berrys” or “puckers,” because of their astringent effect upon the lips.—W.]

[158] A jag was first a notch, a chink, then perhaps any ornamental pendant, ribbon, or other, to one’s dress. A saddler was a jagger.—W.

[159] Ver d’oye. Goose-turd greene; a greenish yellow; or a colour which is between a green and a yellow.—Cotgrave.—F.

[160] Verd gay. A popinjay greene.—Cotgrave.—F.

[161] For Chaucer’s complaints of the men and women’s dress of his day see his Parson’s Tale, Part II., of Confession, De Superbia. For a ballad on the fantastic dresses of Charles I.’s time see Roxburgh Collections, I. 476; Ballad Society’s Reprint, ii. 117 and 97. And on the point generally see the Percy Society’s Poems on Costume.—F.

[162] See Andrew Boorde’s Dyetary of Helth, 1542, Early English Text Society, 1870, for a description of how to build houses, and manage them and men’s income, and what food folk should eat.—F.

[163] Moss, in the Gawthorp Accounts.—F.

[164] This was in the time of general idleness.—H.

[165] See the interesting account in Holinshed, iii. 1081-82, of how the good young King Edward VI., mov’d by a sermon of Bishop Ridley’s, talkt with him about means for relieving the poor, and on his suggestion resolvd to begin with those of London, and wrote to the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Richard Dobs, about it. Dobs, Ridley, two aldermen, and six commoners, got up a committee of twenty-four. “And in the end, after sundrie meetings (for by meane of the good diligence of the bishop it was well followed), they agreed vpon a booke that they had deuised, wherein first they considered of nine speciall kinds and sorts of poore people, and those same they brought in these three degrees:

Three degrees of poore {The poore by impotencie.
Poor by casualtie.
Thriftlesse poore.
1. The poore by impotencie
are also diuided into three
kinds, that is to saie:
 {1. The fatherlesse poore mans child.
2. The aged, blind, and lame.
3. The diseased person, by leprosie, dropsie, etc.
2. The poore by casualtie
are of three kinds,
that is to saie:
 {4. The wounded souldier.
5. The decaied housholder.
6. The visited with greeuous disease.
3. The thriftles poore
are three kinds
in like wise,
that is to saie:
 {7. The riotor that consumeth all.
8. The vagabond that will abide in no place.
9. The idle person, as the strumpet and others.

For these sorts of poore were prouided three seuerall houses. First for the innocent and fatherlesse, which is the beggers child, and is in deed the seed and breeder of beggerie, they prouided the house that was late Graie friers in London, and now is called Christes hospitall, where the poore children are trained in the knowledge of God, and some vertuous exercise to the ouerthrowe of beggerie. For the second degree, is prouided the hospitall of saint Thomas in Southworke, & saint Bartholomew in west Smithfield, where are continuallie at least two hundred diseased persons, which are not onelie there lodged and cured, but also fed and nourished. For the third degree, they prouided Bridewell, where the vagabond and idle strumpet is chastised, and compelled to labour, to the ouerthrow of the vicious life of idlenes. They prouided also for the honest decaied housholder, that he should be relieued at home at his house, and in the parish where he dwelled, by a weekelie reliefe and pension. And in like manner they prouided for the lazer, to keepe him out of the citie from clapping of dishes, and ringing of bels, to the great trouble of the citizens, and also to the dangerous infection of manie, that they should be relieued at home at their houses with seuerall pensions.”—Holinshed, iii. 1082. The rest of the page should be read about “blessed king” Edward VI., and his thanking God that he’d given him life to finish “this worke” of relief to the poor “to the glorie of thy name”: two days after, the good young king died.—F.

[166] At whose hands shall the blood of these men be required?—H.

[167] Objection 2, sign. e. i. “I praie you shewe me by what occasion or meanes, this huge nomber of Beggers and Vacaboundes doe breede here in Englande. And why you appointe twelue of them to euery Shipp: I thinke they maie carie the Shippe awaie, & become Pirates. [Answer.] If you consider the pouerty that is and doth remaine in the Shire tounes, and Market tounes, within this Realme of England and Wales, which tounes, being inhabited with greate store of poore householders, who by their pouertie are driuen to bring vp their youth idlely; and if they liue vntil they come to mans state, then are they past all remedie to be brought to woorke. Therfore, at suche tyme as their Parentes fayles them, they beginne to shifte, and acquainte them selues with some one like brought vppe, that hath made his shifte, with dicyng, cosenyng, picking or cutting of purses, or els, if he be of courage, plaine robbing by the waie side, which they count an honest shift for the time; and so come they daiely to the Gallowes. Hereby growes the greate and huge nomber of Beggers and Vacaboundes, which by no reasonable meanes or lawes could yet be brought to woorke, being thus idely brought vp. Whiche perilous state and imminent daunger that they now stande in, I thought it good to auoide, by placeyng twelue of these poore people into euery fishynge Shippe, accordyng to this Platte.” 1580. Robert Hitchcok’s Pollitique Platt.—F.

[168] See the earliest known specimen of the Gipsy language, the “Egyptian rogues’” speech, in my edition of Andrew Boorde, Early English Text Society, first series, 1870, p. 218.—F.

[169] Thomas Harman. See the edition of his book, and Audeley’s prior one, by Mr. Viles and myself, in the Early English Text Society’s extra series, 1869, No. IX.—F.

[170] See Appendix.

[171] Law of the Marshal.—F.

[172] See my Ballads from MSS., 121-123, Ballad Society.—F.

[173] Harrison has confounded two very similar Keltic words. It should be a “d” in place of the second “c.”—W.

[174] Here lacks.—H.

[175] Principes longè magis exemple quàm culpa peccare solent.—H.

[176] The Lord Mountjoy.—H.

[177] Here ends the chapter entitled “Minerals,” and the one on “Metals” begins.—W.

[178] Here follow two stories about crows and miners. See Appendix.—W.

[179] Some tell me that it is a mixture of brass, lead, and tin.—H.

[180] Harrison substituted inkle in 1587 for packthread in 1577, a curious flight backward for modern readers. The inkle was a favourite pedlar-sold tape of the day, probably more at hand and more to the purpose than packthread.—W.

[181] Though boars are no longer bred, but only bred by, in Elizabethan days and before then the rearing of them for old English braun (not the modern substitute) was the chief feature of swine-herding; thus in “Cheape and Good Husbandry,” the author says: “Now, lastly, the best feeding of a swine for Lard or of a Boare for Braune, is to feed them the first week with Barley, sodden till it breake, and sod in such quantity that it may ever be given sweete: then after to feed them with raw Mault from the floore, before it be dried, till they be fat enough: and then for a weeke after, to give them drie Pease or Beanes to harden their flesh. Let their drinke be the washing of Hoggesheads, or Ale Barrels, or sweete Whay, and let them have store thereof. This manner of feeding breeds the whitest, fattest, and best flesh that may be, as hath beene approved by the best Husbands.” After this, Harrison’s maltbugs well might ask: “Who would not be a hog?”—W.

[182] The proper English name of the bird which vulgar acceptance forces us to now call bittern.—W.

[183] See more in the second chapter of the Description of Scotland.—H.

[184] Here ends the first chapter of “fowls,” that which follows being restricted to “hawks and ravenous fowls.”—W.

[185] This on “venomous beasts” will be found included in the “savage beasts” of the following.

[186] Here follows an account of the extermination of wolves, and a reference to lions and wild bulls rampant in Scotland of old.—W.

[187] Misprints for “pricket” and “sorel”; see Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, IV. ii. 58-63; The Return from Parnassus, etc., etc.—F.

[188] Here follows a discourse on ancient boar-hunting, exalting it above the degenerate sports of the day. This ends the chapter on “savage beasts.”—W.

[189] Galenus, De Theriaca ad Pisonem; Pliny, lib. 10, cap. 62.—H.

[190] Salust, cap. 40; Pliny, lib. 37, cap. 2.—H.

[191] See Diodorus Siculus.—H.

[192] The like have I seen when hens do feed upon the tender blades of garlic.—H.

[193] This gentleman caught such an heat with this sore load that he was fain to go to Rome for physic, yet it would not save his life; but he must needs hie homewards.—H.

[194] Compare Stubs’s Anatomie, p. 218. Turnbull.—F.

[195] See Percy Folio, Loose and Humorous Songs, p. 86, l. 31-4.—F.

[196] We’ve unluckily lost the distinction between rabbit and coney.—F.

[197] Called “suckers” in Babees Book and Henry VIII.’s Household Ordinances.—F.

[198] See Andrew Boorde’s amusing bit about venison in his Dyetary (my edition, p. 275).—F.

[199] Harrison was not quite up to the Dignity of Labour.—F.

[200] The decay of the people is the destruction of a kingdom: neither is any man born to possess the earth alone.—H.

[201] The fact is well known. See instances in W. de Worde’s “Kerving,” second edition, in Babees Book.—F.

[202] See the curious tract on this in Mr. John Cowper’s Four Supplications, Early English Text Society, extra series.—F.

[203] The chapter ends with the forest laws of Canute. Born Londoner though he be, Harrison dwells lovingly upon the least point connected with his country home. His Saffron Walden is ever a fruitful source of discourse, Saffron being a prolific theme in other places of the work, and Walden here made to “point the moral and adorn the tale.”—W.

[204] For her household in 1600-1601 see Household Ordinances, p. 281.—F.

[205] I suppose that Sir Thomas More, and Henry VIII., and Lady Jane Grey’s parents began “the higher education of women” in England by having their daughters properly taught. On “Education in Early England” see my Forewords (tho’ sadly imperfect) to the Babees Book (Early English Text Society).—F.

[206] Compare Chaucer’s Prologue: The Squire. On the evils of serving-men see Sir T. More’s Utopia, and my Ballads from MSS., i.—F.

[207] The chapter concludes with the special penal regulations for disturbers in the court precincts.—W.

[208] See Ascham’s Toxophilus. When our folk and government come to their senses every English boy and man’ll be taught rifle-shooting; ranges will be provided by compulsory powers; and every male over sixteen be made sure of his man in any invading force. If then any foreign force wants to come, let it, and find its grave.—F.

[209] “Our peaceable days” were on the eve of the greatest struggle for life ever known to England, but never before or since could she put a million men armed to the teeth into the field, and have still a reserve to fall back on. People who dream that the Spaniards would have fared better on land than sea are grievously out in their reckoning.—W.

[210] See the amusing extract from William Bulleyn in my Babees Book, pp. 240-243.—F.

[211] Here follows an account of Roman and Carthaginian galleys which “did not only match, but far exceed” in capacity our ships and galleys of 1587.—W.

[212] See my Ballads from MSS., i. 120, on this and Henry VIII.’s navy. There’s an engraving of this Great Henry, or Henry Grace (burnt August 27, 1553), in the British Museum.—F.

[213] Surely this statement was justified by facts. And Nelson, Dundonald, and their successors have shown that English sailors since have not degenerated.—F.

[214] See in Household Ordinances, pp. 267-270, “An account of all the Queen’s Ships of War; the musters taken in 1574 and 1575; the warlike stores in the Tower and aboard the Navy in 1578; the Custodes Rotolorum of every county in England and Wales, and the names of all the English fugitives.”—F.

[215] A name devised by her grace in remembrance of her own deliverance from the fury of her enemies, from which in one respect she was no less miraculously preserved than was the prophet Jonas from the belly of the whale.—H.

[216] So called of her exceeding nimbleness in sailing and swiftness of course.—H.

[217] The list of twenty-four ships (with their men and arms) in the 1578 list in Household Ordinances, pp. 267-270, contains all these in the note here except the Cadish, and adds to them the Primrose, and the Faulcon, Aibates (for Achates), and George, named above. The 1578 list has not the Revenge above. It calls the White Boare and Dreadnot the White Bear and Dreadnought (as above); and the Genet, Jenett. And adds, “The sum of all other, as well merchant shipps as other, in all places in England, of 100 tunns and upwards, 135. The sum of all barkes and shippes of 40 tunne and upward to an 100 tunne, 656. There are besides, by estimation, 100 saile of hoyes. Also of small barkes and fishermen an infinite number. So as the number of ... through the realme cannot be lesse than 600, besides London.” No doubt Mrs. Green’s Calendar of State Papers, temp Elizabeth, gives further details.—F. [The “note” to which Dr. Furnivall refers is one collating the 1577 text where the Cadish is inserted between the Forresight and Swift sute, and the last four above are not given.—W.]

[218] My friend, Mr. H. H. Sparling (who has made a special study of the English navy archives from Henry VIII.’s time downward) kindly furnishes the following navy list of the Armada year, dividing the boats into classes with wages descending in scale from these I have retained:

“The newe increase of sea wages to Maisters, Botswaynes, Gunners, Pursers, and Cookes, as also shall serue her matie. at the seas in any of thes her highnes shipps hereafter, as also what rates have bene & yet are payde, wc at this Present are servinge in any of these her Maties. shipes now in the narrow seas or ells wheare abroad, as followeth:

The Elizabet Jonas, Triumphe, Whit Beare, Merhonour, Arke Raughley, Victory; Mathewe and Andrewe, 2 Spanish shipps. In these viij shippes, yf any of her mgties vj mrs shalbe appointed to serue, then to haue—

   New rates
per mensem.
  Olde rates
per mensem.
The Boteson  400  326
The Gonner  1126  0150
The purser  168  100
The Cooke  100  0176

Repulse, Warspight, Garland, Defiance, Mary Roase, Lyon, Bonauentur, Hope, Vauntgard, Raynebowe, Nonperelia. Yf any of these xj shipps, then to have, etc.


Dreadnought, Swifsuer, Antelope, Swallowe, Foresight, Aduentur. Yf any, etc.


Ayde, Answere, Quittance, Crane, Aduauntage, Teiger. Yf any, etc.


Tremontaine, Scoute, Achates, The Gally Mercury. Yf any, etc.


Charles, Aduice, Moone, Frigett, Spye, Signet, Sonne, George hoye, Primrose.


Memorand: that these aduanced Rates doe onlie concerne the Queens maties vj maisters, and the Botesons, Gunners, Pursers, & Cooks, that daylie serue her Matie in the shipps in ordinarie in Harborow, and noe others: wch is so increased to them especiallie to containe them in true seruice and due obedience to her matie.”

This will be seen to differ somewhat from Harrison’s list of the previous year.—W.

[219] See Hakluyt’s record of the daring and endurance of our Elizabethan seamen.—F.

[220] “Confession by torment is esteemed for nothing, for if hee confesse at the iudgement, the tryall of the 12 goeth not vpon him; if hee deny the fact: that which he said before, hindreth him not. The nature of English-men is to neglect death, to abide no torment: and therefore hee will confesse rather to haue done anything, yea to haue killed his owne father, than to suffer torment: for death, our nation doth not so much esteeme as a meere torment. In no place shall you see malefactors goe more constantly, more assuredly, and with lesse lamentation to their death than in England.... The nature of our nation is free, stout, haulty, prodigall of life and blood; but contumely, beating, servitude, and seruile torment, and punishment; it will not abide. So in this nature & fashion, our ancient Princes and legislatoors haue nourished them, as to make them stout-hearted, couragious, and souldiers, not villaines and slaues; and that is the scope almost of all our Policie.”—Sir Thomas Smith’s Commonwealth of England, ed. 1621, p. 97, Book II., chap. 27 (not 25).—F.

[221] But see how felons who won’t confess are pressed to death by heavy weights.—F.

[222] A.D. 1586. Hol. iii. 1434, col. 2. “On the one and twentith daie of Ianuarie, two Seminarie preests (before arreigned and condemned) were drawne to Tiburne, and there hanged, bowelled, and quartered. Also on the same daie a wench was burnt in Smithfield, for poisoning of hir aunt and mistresse, and also attempting to haue doon the like to hir vncle.”——A.D. 1577. “The thirtith daie of Nouember, Cutbert Maine was drawne, hanged, and quartered at Lanceston in Cornewall for preferring Romane power ... 1577-8. The third daie of Februarie, John Nelson, for denieng the queenes supremasie, and such other traitorous words against hir maiestie, was drawne from Newgate to Tiburne, and there hanged, bowelled, and quartered. And on the seuenth of the same moneth of Februarie, Thomas Sherewin was likewise drawne from the tower of London to Tiburne, and there hanged, bowelled, and quartered for the like offense.”—Holinshed iii. 1271, col. 1, l. 15, l. 47—F.

[223] A.D. 1540. “The eight and twentith of Julie (as you have heard before), the Lord Cromwell was beheaded, and likewise with him the Lord Hungerford of Heitesburie, who at the houre of his death seemed vnquiet, as manie iudged him rather in a frensie than otherwise: he suffered for buggerie.”—Holinshed, iii. 952, col. 2, l. 21. See the rest of the column for other executions for heresy, for affirming Henry VIII.’s marriage with his first queen, Katherine, to be good, for treason, and for robbing a lady.—F.

[224] A.D. 1580, ann. Elizabeth 23. “The eight and twentith daie of Nouember, were arreigned in the King’s [Queen’s] Bench, William Randoll for coniuring to know where treasure was hid in the earth, and goods felloniouslie taken, were become: Thomas Elks, Thomas Lupton, Rafe Spacie, and Christopher Waddington, for being present, aiding, and procuring the said Randoll to the coniuration aforesaid: Randoll, Elks, Spacie, and Waddington, were found guiltie, and had iudgement to be hanged: Randoll was executed, the other were repriued.”—Holinshed, iii. 1314, col. 2, l. 68.——A.D. 1587. “The thirteenth of Januarie, a man was draune to Saint Thomas of Waterings, and there hanged, headed and quartered, for begging by a licence whereunto the queenes hand was counterfeited.”—Holinshed, iii. 1315, col. 1, l. 46.—F.

[225] Cap. 8, Record Commission Statutes.—F.

[226] Sir John Falstaff.—F.

[227] Mr. William Shakspere.—F.

[228] A.D. 1569-70. “The seven and twentith of Januarie, Philip Mestrell, a Frenchman, and two Englishmen, were draune from Newgate to Tiburne, and there hanged, the Frenchman quartered, who had coined gold counterfeit; the Englishmen, the one had dipped silver, the other, cast testons of tin.”—Hol., iii. 1211, col. 1, l. 65.——A.D. 1577-8. “The fiue and twentith of Februarie, John de Loy, a Frenchman, and fiue English gentlemen, was conueied from the tower of London towards Norwich, there to be arreigned and executed for coining of monie counterfeit.”—Hol., iii. 1271, col. 1, l. 55.—F.

[229] See note [p. 227], A.D. 1575. “The ninteenth of Julie, a woman was burnt at Tunbridge in Kent for poisoning of hir husband: and two daies before, a man named Orleie was hanged at Maidstone, for being accessarie to the same fact.”—Holinshed, iii. 1262, col. 1, l. 70.—F.

A.D. 1571. “On the sixteenth of Julie, Rebecca Chamber, late wife to Thomas Chamber of Heriettesham, was found culpable [= guilty] of poisoning the said Thomas Chamber hir husband, at the assises holden at Maidstone in the countie of Kent. For the which fact, she (hauing well deserued) was there burnt on the next morrow.”—Hol., iii. 1226, col. 2, l. 30. See like instances in Stowe’s Annales.—F.

[230] Note folio 388, A.D. 1583. “On the eighteenth daie of September, John Lewes, who named himself Abdoit, an obstinate heretike, denieng the godhead of Christ, and holding diuers other detestable heresies (much like to his predecessor Matthew Hamont), was burned at Norwich.”—Holinshed, iii. 1354, col. 2, l. 62.—F.

[231] A.D. 1577-8.—“On the ninth of March seven pirats were hanged at Wapping in the ouze, beside London.”—Holinshed, iii. 1271, column 1, lines 59-61.—F.

[232] On serving-men, see the striking passage in Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, pp. 27-29, edition of 1852, and “A Health to the Gentlemanly Profession of Seruing-men; or, The Seruing-man’s Comfort: with other thinges not impertinent to the Premises, as well pleasant as profitable to the courteous Reader,” 1598, reprinted in W. C. Hazlitt’s Roxburghe Library, Inedited Tracts, 1868. Also “The Serving-man and the Husbandman: a Pleasaunt New Dialogue,” Roxburgh Ballads, Ballad Society, 1870, i. 300.—F.

[233] Here follows a paragraph about the legendary foundation of the universities. See Appendix.—W.

[234] Cambridge burned not long since.—H.

[235] Here follows an account of Oxford and Cambridge castles, and the legend of the building of Osney Abbey by Robert and Edith D’Oyley. See Appendix.—W.

[236] This Fox builded Corpus Christi College, in Oxford.—H.

[237] So much also may be inferred of lawyers.—H.

[238] He founded also a good part of Eton College, and a free school at Wainfleet, where he was born.

[239] Compare the later, and no doubt distinct, Two Noble Kinsmen by Shakspere and Fletcher.—F.

[240] See the notes on Theatres in the “New Shakspere Society” reprint.—W. [Also the notes to John Lane in my Tell-Trothe volume.—F.]

[241] Unless this can be shown to have been written later, it must modify Mr. Halliwell’s argument and statement, in his Illustrations, pp. 36, 42, against the early theatres and houses—those before “The Theatre” (Burbage’s) in 1576—being “built” for play-acting. He says, p. 36, “In Northbrooke’s Treatise, 1577-8, Youth asks,—‘doe you speake against those places also whiche are made uppe and builded for such playes and enterludes, as the Theatre and Curtaine is, and other suche lyke places besides?’ By ‘other suche lyke places,’ that is, similar places, the writer perhaps alludes [or perhaps does not] to houses or taverns in which interludes were performed, speaking of such buildings generally, the construction of the sentence not necessarily implying that he refers to other edifices built especially for dramatic representations.” (Yet surely the fair and natural inference from the words is that the “other lyke places” were built for the same purpose as “the Theatre and Curtaine.”) Again, at p. 42, “When Gosson, in his Playes Confuted, c. 1580, speaks of ‘Cupid and Psyche plaid at Paules, and a greate many comedies more at the Blacke friers and in every playe house in London,’ he unquestionably refers to houses or taverns temporarily employed for the performances alluded to.” And, after quoting Rawlidge’s Monster Late Found out, 1628,—“some of the pious magistrates made humble suit to the late Queene Elizabeth of ever-living memorie, and her Privy Counsaile, and obteined leave from her Majesty to thrust those players out of the Citty, and to pull downe the dicing houses; which accordingly was affected; and the play-houses in Gracious street, Bishopsgate street, nigh Paules, that on Ludgate hill, the Whitefriars, were put downe, and other lewd houses quite supprest within the liberties, by the care of those religious senators”—Mr. Halliwell says, “The ‘play-houses’ in Gracious or Gracechurch Street, Bishopsgate Street, and on Ludgate Hill, were the yards respectively of the well-known taverns called the Cross Keys, the Bull, and the Belle Savage.[242] There is no good reason for believing that the other ‘play-houses’ mentioned, those near St. Paul’s and in the Whitefriars, were, at the period alluded to, other than buildings made for the representation of plays, not edifices expressly constructed for the purpose.”—F.

[242] He quotes from Flecknoe’s Short Discourse of the English Stage, 1664, “about the beginning of queen Elizabeths reign they began here to assemble into companies and set up theaters, first in the city, as in the inn-yards of the Cross-Keyes and Bull, in Grace and Bishopsgate street, at this day is to be seen.”—Illustrations, p. 43.—F.

[243] See Crowley’s Epigrams on this, E. E. T. Soc. p. 17.—F.

[244] Very short men or very tall tobacco.—W.

[245] Passions or Patience, a dock so called, apparently from the Italian name under which it was introduced from the South, Lapazio, a corruption of L. lapathum, having been mistaken for la Passio, the Passion of Jesus Christ, Rumex Patientia, L. Dr. Prior, Popular Names of British Plants, p. 175.—F.

[246] The use of tobacco spread very fast in England, to the disgust of Barnaby Rich, James I., and many others. Rich, in The Honestie of this Age, 1614, pp. 25-6, complains of the money wasted on it. He also contests the fact admitted by Harrison above, of tobacco doing good; says it’s reported that 7000 houses live by the trade of tobacco-selling, and that if each of these takes but 2s. 6d. a-day,—and probably it takes 5s.—the sum total amounts to £399,375 a year, “all spent in smoake.” “They say it is good for a cold, for a pose, for rewms, for aches, for dropsies, and for all manner of diseases proceeding of moyst humours: but I cannot see but that those that do take it fastest, are as much (or more) subject to all these infirmities (yea, and to the poxe itself) as those that have nothing at all to do with it.... There is not so base a groome that commes into an ale-house to call for his pot, but he must have his pipe of tobacco; for it is a commoditie that is nowe as vendible in every taverne, inne, and ale-house, as eyther wine, ale, or beare; and for apothicaries shops, grosers shops, chandlers shops, they are (almost) never without company that, from morning till night, are still taking of tobacco. What a number are there besides that doe keep houses, set open shoppes, that have no other trade to live by, but by the selling of tobacco!” See Sir John Davies’s Epigram ‘Of Tobacco, xxxvi.’ (Marlowe’s Works, ed. Cunningham, p. 268) singing its praises in 1598; and also that ‘In Syllam, xxviii.’, p. 267, on the boldness of the man who horrified ‘society’ then, “that dares take tobacco on the stage,” ‘dance in Paul’s,’ etc. (and contrast with him the capital description of a Gull in Epigram II., p. 263). Also the Epigram ‘In Ciprium, xxii.’, 7, p. 266, col. 1.—F.

[247] Lady Dorothy Stafford’s son, and not the William Stafford who wrote the Compendious & briefe Examination, 1581. See my Forewords to the Society’s edition.—F.

[248] Will the memory of this do for the Midsummer Night’s Dream contagious fogs, corn rotted (II. i. 88-100), and empty fold? The rainfloods of 1594 suit better, no doubt; see the end of my Stafford Forewords.—F.

[249] Charles Howard, afterwards Earl of Nottingham, a half-cousin of the poet Surrey.—W.

[250] The respective “minions” (i.e., “darlings”) of the second Edward and the second Richard; but both, unlike Dudley, died wretchedly, one in exile, the other by the block.—W.

[251] “The 10. of Aprill the Parliament brake vp at Westminster, for the time, wherein was granted three subsidies of 2.s. 8.d. the pound goods, and foure s. lands, and 6. fifteenes.”—Stowe’s Annals, ed. 1605, p. 1272. (A good ‘Oration of her maiesty to the parliament men’ follows.)—F.

[252] MS. corrected. I’m not sure of either word. ‘Comeling’ is Harrison’s word for ‘foreigner’; ‘homeling’ for ‘native.’ Can’t we revive ’em? They’re a nice pair.—F.



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THE ORIGIN OF THE ARYANS. By Dr. Isaac Taylor. With numerous Illustrations. [Ready 25th December.

The following Writers, among others, are preparing volumes for this Series:—

Prof. E. D. Cope, Prof. G. F. Fitzgerald, Prof. J. Geikie, G. L. Gomme, E. C. K. Gonner, Prof. J. Jastrow (Wisconsin), E. Sidney Hartland, Prof. C. H. Herford, J. Bland Sutton, Dr. C. Merrier, Sidney Webb, Dr. Sims Woodhead, Dr. C. M. Woodward (St. Louis, Mo.), etc.

London: Walter Scott, 24 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row.



Crown 8vo, about 350 pp. each, Cloth Cover, 2s. 6d. per vol. Half-polished Morocco, gilt top, 5s.


Arrangements have been made to publish, in Monthly Volumes, a series of translations of works by the eminent Russian Novelist, Count Lyof. N. Tolstoï. The English reading public will be introduced to an entirely new series of works by one who is probably the greatest living master of fiction in Europe. To those unfamiliar with the charm of Russian fiction, and especially with the works of Count Tolstoï, these volumes will come as a new revelation of power.

The following Volumes are already issued

IVAN ILYITCH, and other Stories.
THE INVADERS, and other Stories.
WAR AND PEACE. (4 Vols.)
THE LONG EXILE, and other Stories for Children.

Ready December 21st.

London: Walter Scott, 24 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row.




Crown 8vo, in White Embossed Boards, Gilt Lettering, One Shilling each.



Published originally in Russia, as tracts for the people, these little stories, which Mr. Walter Scott will issue separately early in February, in “booklet” form, possess all the grace, naïveté, and power which characterise the work of Count Tolstoï, and while inculcating in the most penetrating way the Christian ideas of love, humility, and charity, are perfect in their art form as stories pure and simple.


London: Walter Scott, 24 Warwick Lane.



Windsor Series of Poetical Anthologies.

Printed on Antique Paper. Crown 8vo. Bound in Blue Cloth, each with suitable Emblematic Design on Cover, Price 3s. 6d. Also in various Calf and Morocco Bindings.

Women’s Voices. An Anthology of the most Characteristic Poems by English, Scotch, and Irish Women. Edited by Mrs. William Sharp.

Sonnets of this Century. With an Exhaustive Essay on the Sonnet. Edited by Wm. Sharp.

The Children of the Poets. An Anthology from English and American Writers of Three Centuries. Edited by Professor Eric S. Robertson.

Sacred Song. A Volume of Religious Verse. Selected and arranged by Samuel Waddington.

A Century of Australian Song. Selected and Edited by Douglas B. W. Sladen, B.A., Oxon.

Jacobite Songs and Ballads. Selected and Edited, with Notes, by G. S. Macquoid.

Irish Minstrelsy. Edited, with Notes and Introduction, by H. Halliday Sparling.

The Sonnets of Europe. A Volume of Translations. Selected and arranged by Samuel Waddington.

Early English and Scottish Poetry. Selected and Edited by H. Macaulay Fitzgibbon.

Ballads of the North Countrie. Edited, with Introduction, by Graham R. Tomson.

Songs and Poems of the Sea. An Anthology of Poems Descriptive of the Sea. Edited by Mrs. William Sharp.

Songs and Poems of Fairyland. An Anthology of English Fairy Poetry, selected and arranged, with an Introduction, by Arthur Edward Waite.

Songs and Poems of the Great Dominion. Edited by W. D. Lighthall, of Montreal.

London: Walter Scott, 24 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row.




Edition de Luxe. Crown 4to, on Antique Paper, Price 12s. 6d.



Crown 8vo, Cloth, Bevelled Boards, Price 3s. 6d. each.




Crown 8vo, Cloth, Bevelled Boards, Price 3s. 6d.



Cloth Gilt, Price 3s.



Crown 8vo, Cloth Gilt, Price 3s. 6d.



Fourth Edition, Crown 8vo, Cloth Gilt, Price 3s. 6d.



Second Edition. Price 3s.



Parchment Limp, 3s.

DEATH’S DISGUISES and Other Sonnets.


London: Walter Scott, 24 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row.



Small Crown 8vo.

Printed on Antique Laid Paper. Cloth Elegant,

Gilt Edges, Price 3/6.

Summer Legends.



This is a collection of charming fanciful stories translated from the German. In Germany they have enjoyed remarkable popularity, a large number of editions having been sold. Rudolph Baumbach deals with a wonderland which is all his own, though he suggests Hans Andersen in his simplicity of treatment, and Heine in his delicacy, grace, and humour. These are stories which will appeal vividly to the childish imagination, while the older reader will discern the satirical or humorous application that underlies them.

London: Walter Scott, 24 Warwick Lane.



Transcriber’s Notes:

Additional spacing after some of the quotes is intentional to indicate both the end of a quotation and the beginning of a new paragraph as presented in the original text.

The mismatched quotation mark before footnote marker ten is presented as in the original text.

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