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turns; beside stale ale and strong beer, which ne1 vertheless bear the greatest brunt in drinking, and are of so many sorts and ages as it pleaseth the brewer to make them.
The artificer and husbandman make greatest account of such meat as they may soonest come by, and have it quicklicst ready. Their food also consisteth principally in beef, and such meat as the butcher selleth; that is to say, mutton, veal, lamb, pork, &c. whereof the artificer findeth great store in the markets adjoining; beside souse, brawn, bacon, fruit, pies of fruit, fowls of sundry sorts, cheese, butter, eggs, &c. 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 do exceed after their manner; especially at bridals, purifications of women, and such like odd meetings, where it is incredible to tell what meat is consumed and spent, each one bringing such a dish, or so many as his wife and he do consult upon; but always with this consideration, that the leefer friend shall have the best entertainment. This also is commonly seen at these banquets, that the good man of the house is not charged with any thing, saving bread, drink, 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, aud very friendly at their tables; and when they meet, they are so merry without malice, and plain without inward craft and subtlety, that it would do
i leef, willing, liberal.
man good to be in company among them. Herein only are the inferior sort to be blamed, that being thus assembled, their talk is now and then such as savoureth of scurrility and ribaldry, a thing naturally incident 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 assemblies, 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 often make comparison.
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 finisht this chapter, and so will I when I have added a few other things incident unto thai which goeth before, whereby the whole process of the same shall fully be delivered, and my promise to my friend 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 forenoons, beverages or nuntions after dinner; and thereto rere-suppers generally when it was time to go to rest, (a toy brought in by Hard Canutus,) 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, disliking the gormandize of Canutus, ordained after their arrival, that no table should be covered above once in the day, which Huntingdon imputeth to their avarice; but in the end, either wexing 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, they 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 meaty
which is not yet left, although it be a great expence of time, and worthy 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 an hard matter to rise from the table to go to evening prayer, and return from thence to come time enough to supper. For my part, I am persuaded that the purpose of the Normans, at the first, was to reduce the ancient Roman order in feeding once in the day, and toward the evening, as I have read and noted.
The above extract, from the curious information it contains, could not well have been shortened; but its length precludes my giving a specimen from either of the other contributors. What would our forefathers think of dinners begun at six and eight o'clock, and protracted to beyond midnight!
The Chronicles compiled by Fabian, Hall, Grafton, and Holinshed, produced a considerable revolution in the state of popular knowledge. Prior to the appearance of these elaborate and voluminous compilations, the history of England was shut up from the general reader in the Latin narratives of the monkish
annalists. And though small portions of English history are contained in the Polychronicon, and in the Chronicles of England, they are so interwoven with fable, as to be often of little real utility. Fabian, indeed, retains the romantic origin of the Britons; and even Holinshed's work commences with a fabulous narrative, by Harrison, though different from that of his early predecessors. But with Holinshed fable dies; the historians and chroniclers subsequent to him, call our attention to accounts which, for the most part, are proper subjects for authentic and rational history.