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Chronicle and Romance (The Harvard Classics Series)
by Jean Froissart, Thomas Malory, Raphael Holinshed
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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 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 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 a 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 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 vessels, 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 England within their sound remembrance, and other three things too too much increased.

One is the multitude of chimneys lately erected, whereas in their young days there were not above two or three, if so many, in most uplandish towns of the 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,[1] although they paid but four pounds at the uttermost by the year. Such also was their poverty that, if some one odd farmer or husbandman had been at the ale-house, 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 of 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 oft 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.

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

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 grevious 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 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 Athenaeus, 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.



CHAPTER IX

OF PROVISION MADE FOR THE POOR

[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 (that is to say, the poor by impotence 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 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.[1] Hereupon it followeth that, although the wise 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.

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

Such as are idle beggars through their own default are of 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 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, 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 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 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. 2. Uprightmen. 3. Hookers or anglers. 4. Rogues. 5. Wild rogues. 6. Priggers or pransers. 7. Palliards. 8. Fraters. 9. Abrams. 10. Freshwater mariners or whipjacks. 11. Drummerers. 12. Drunken tinkers. 13. Swadders or pedlers. 14. Jarkemen or patricoes.

Of the women kind.

1. Demanders for glimmar or fire. 2. Bawdy-baskets. 3. Mortes. 4. Autem mortem. 5. Walking mortes. 6. Doxies. 7. Dells. 8. Kinching mortes. 9. Kinching cooes.

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,[2] 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 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. 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 physiogonomy 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.

[2] Law of the Marshal.—Furnivall.



CHAPTER X

OF THE AIR AND SOIL AND COMMODITIES OF THIS ISLAND

[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 Caesar 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 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 Caesar'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 graziers 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) 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 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 ([1]) to ([1]) 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.

[1] Here lacks.—H.

In this island the winds are commonly more strong and 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 communality 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.

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 quickmoors 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, 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 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 Judaeorum in Aethiopia 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 caning), give no place 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 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 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 decimae, 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 Caesar 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 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."[1]

[1] "An innovation, has always mixed effects."

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. 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 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, 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 longe celebris splendore, beata, Glebis, lacte, favis, supereminet insula cunctis, Quas regit ille Deus, spumanti cujus ab oro Proffuit oceanus," etc.

And a little after—

"Testis Lundoniurntibus, Wintonia Baccho, Herefordia grege, Worcestria frugeredundans, Batha lacu, Salabyra feris, Cantuarin pisce, Eboraca sylvis, Excestria clara metallis, Norwicum Dacis hybernis, Cestria Gallis, Cicestrum Norwagenis, Dunelmia praepinguia, Testis Lincolnia gens infinita decore, Testis Ell formosa situ, Doncastria visu," etc.



CHAPTER XI

OF SUNDRY MINERALS AND METALS

[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 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, and each one endeavour that the commonwealth of England may nourish 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[1] hath been of late egregriously 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 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.

[1] The Lord Mountjoy.—H.

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.[2]

[2] Here ends the chapter entitled "Minerals," and the one on "Metals" begins.—W.

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.

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 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 Caesar 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.[3]

[3] Here follow two stories about crows and miners.—W.

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 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 vessels 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 talc 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,[4] 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 cincreum, the 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.

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



CHAPTER XII

OF CATTLE KEPT FOR PROFIT

[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 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 Paeones, 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 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 carriages 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, of 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 grew 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 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 hostlers; 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 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 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 stock 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 desire to drink, so that our waters are not unto them causa aegritudinis, 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 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 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 inkle,[1] 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 wax 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.

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