Chronicle and Romance (The Harvard Classics Series)
by Jean Froissart, Thomas Malory, Raphael Holinshed
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[1] Tape.



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

Order requireth that I speak somewhat of the fowls also of England, which I may easily divide into the wild and tame; but, alas! such is my small skill in fowls that, to say the truth, I can neither recite their numbers nor well distinguish one kind of them from another. Yet this I have by general knowledge, that there is no nation under the sun which hath already in the time of the year more plenty of wild fowl than we, for so many kinds as our island doth bring forth, and much more would have if those of the higher soil might be spared but one year or two from the greedy engines of covetous fowlers which set only for the pot and purse. Certes this enormity bred great troubles in King John's days, insomuch that, going in progress about the tenth of his reign, he found little or no game wherewith to solace himself or exercise his falcons. Wherefore, being at Bristow in the Christmas ensuing, he restrained all manner of hawking or taking of wild fowl throughout England for a season, whereby the land within few years was thoroughly replenished again. But what stand I upon this impertinent discourse? Of such therefore as are bred in our land, we have the crane, the bitter,[1] the wild and tame swan, the bustard, the heron, curlew, snite, wildgoose, wind or doterell, brant, lark, plover (of both sorts), lapwing, teal, widgeon, mallard, sheldrake, shoveller, peewitt, seamew, barnacle, quail (who, only with man, are subject to the falling sickness), the knot, the oliet or olive, the dunbird, woodcock, partridge, and pheasant, besides divers others, whose names to me are utterly unknown, and much more the taste of their flesh, wherewith I was never acquainted. But as these serve not at all seasons, so in their several turns there is no plenty of them wanting whereby the tables of the nobility and gentry should seem at any time furnished. But of all these the production of none is more marvellous, in my mind, than that of the barnacle, whose place of generation we have sought ofttimes as far as the Orchades, whereas peradventure we might have found the same nearer home, and not only upon the coasts of Ireland, but even in our own rivers. If I should say how either these or some such other fowl not much unlike unto them have bred of late times (for their place of generation is not perpetual, but as opportunity serveth and the circumstances do minister occasion) in the Thames mouth, I do not think that many will believe me; yet such a thing hath there been seen where a kind of fowl had his beginning upon a short tender shrub standing near unto the shore, from whence, when their time came, they fell down, either into the salt water and lived, or upon the dry land and perished, as Pena the French herbarian hath also noted in the very end of his herbal. What I, for mine own part, have seen here by experience, I have already so touched upon in the chapter of islands, that it should be but time spent in vain to repeat it here again. Look therefore in the description of Man (or Manaw) for more of these barnacles, as also in the eleventh chapter of the description of Scotland, and I do not doubt but you shall in some respect be satisfied in the generation of these fowls. As for egrets, pawpers, and such like, they are daily brought unto us from beyond the sea, as if all the fowl of our country could not suffice to satisfy our delicate appetites.

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

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

The gelding of cocks, whereby capons are made, Is an ancient practice brought in old time by the Romans when they dwelt here in this land; but the gelding of turkeys or Indian peacocks is a newer device, and certainly not used amiss, sith the rankness of that bird is very much abated thereby and the strong taste of the flesh is sundry wise amended. If I should say that ganders grow also to be gelded, I suppose that some will laugh me to scorn, neither have I tasted at any time of such a fowl so served, yet have I heard it more than once to be used in the country, where their geese are driven to the field like herds of cattle by a gooseherd, a boy also no less to be marvelled at than the other. For, as it is rare to hear of a gelded gander, so is it strange to me to see or hear of geese to be led to the field like sheep; yet so it is, and their gooseherd carrieth a rattle of paper or parchment with him when he goeth about in the morning to gather his goslings together, the noise whereof cometh no sooner to their ears than they fall to gaggling, and hasten to go with him. If it happen that the gates be not yet open, or that none of the house be stirring, it is ridiculous to see how they will peep under the doors, and never leave creaking and gaggling till they be let out unto him to overtake their fellows. With us, where I dwell, they are not kept in this sort, nor in many other places, neither are they kept so much for their bodies as their feathers. Some hold furthermore an opinion that in over rank soils their dung doth so qualify the batableness of the soil that their cattle is thereby kept from the garget, and sundry other diseases, although some of them come to their ends now and then by licking up of their feathers. I might here make mention of other fowls produced by the industry of man, as between the pheasant cock and dunghill hen, or between the pheasant and the ringdove, the peacock and the turkey hen, the partridge and the pigeon; but, sith I have no more knowledge of these than what I have gotten by mine ear, I will not meddle with them. Yet Cardan, speaking of the second sort, doth affirm it to be a fowl of excellent beauty. I would likewise intreat of other fowls which we repute unclean, as ravens, crows, pies, choughs, rooks, kites, jays, ringtails, starlings, woodspikes, woodnaws, etc.; but, sith they abound in all countries, though peradventure most of all in England (by reason of our negligence), I shall not need to spend any time in the rehearsal of them. Neither are our crows and choughs cherished of purpose to catch up the worms that breed in our soils (as Polydor supposeth), sith there are no uplandish towns but have (or should have) nets of their own in store to catch them withal. Sundry acts of Parliament are likewise made for their utter destruction, as also the spoil of other ravenous fowls hurtful to poultry, conies, lambs, and kids, whose valuation of reward to him that killeth them is after the head: a device brought from the Goths, who had the like ordinance for the destruction of their white crows, and tale made by the beck, which killed both lambs and pigs. The like order is taken with us for our vermin as with them also for the rootage out of their wild beasts, saving that they spared their greatest bears, especially the white, whose skins are by custom and privilege reserved to cover those planchers whereupon their priests do stand at mass, lest he should take some unkind cold in such a long piece of work: and happy is the man that may provide them for him, for he shall have pardon enough for that so religious an act, to last if he will till doomsday do approach, and many thousands after. Nothing therefore can be more unlikely to be true than that these noisome creatures are nourished amongst us to devour our worms, which do not abound much more in England than elsewhere in other countries of the main. It may be that some look for a discourse also of our other fowls in this place at my hand, as nightingales, thrushes, blackbirds, mavises, ruddocks, redstarts or dunocks, larks, tivits, kingfishers, buntings, turtles (white or grey), linnets, bullfinches, goldfinches, washtails, cherrycrackers, yellowhammers, fieldfares, etc.; but I should then spend more time upon them than is convenient. Neither will I speak of our costly and curious aviaries daily made for the better hearing of their melody, and observation of their natures; but I cease also to go any further in these things, having (as I think) said enough already of these that I have named.[2]...

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

I cannot make as yet any just report how many sorts of hawks are bred within this realm. Howbeit which of those that are usually had among us are disclosed within this land, I think it more easy and less difficult to set down. First of all, therefore, that we have the eagle common experience doth evidently confirm, and divers of our rocks whereon they breed, if speech did serve, could well declare the same. But the most excellent eyrie of all is not much from Chester, at a castle called Dinas Bren, sometime builded by Brennus, as our writers do remember. Certes this castle is no great thing, but yet a pile sometime very strong and inaccessible for enemies, though now all ruinous as many others are. It standeth upon a hard rock, in the side whereof an eagle breedeth every year. This also is notable in the overthrow of her nest (a thing oft attempted), that he which goeth thither must be sure of two large baskets, and so provide to be let down thereto, that he may sit in the one and be covered with the other: for otherwise the eagle would kill him and tear the flesh from his bones with her sharp talons, though his apparel were never so good. The common people call this fowl an erne; but, as I am ignorant whether the word eagle and erne do shew any difference of sex, I mean between the male and the female, so we have great store of them. And, near to the places where they breed, the commons complain of great harm to be done by them in their fields; for they are able to bear a young lamb or kid unto their nests, therewith to feed their young and come again for more. I was once of the opinion that there was a diversity of kind between the eagle and the erne, till I perceived that our nation used the word erne in most places for the eagle. We have also the lanner and the lanneret, the tersel and the goshawk, the musket and the sparhawk, the jack and the hobby, and finally some (though very few) marleons. And these are all the hawks that I do hear as yet to be bred within this island. Howbeit, as these are not wanting with us, so are they not very plentiful: wherefore such as delight in hawking do make their chief purveyance and provision for the same out of Danske, Germany, and the eastern countries, from whence we have them in great abundance and at excellent prices, whereas at home and where they be bred they are sold for almost right nought, and usually brought to the markets as chickens, pullets, and pigeons are with us, and there bought up to be eaten (as we do the aforesaid fowl) almost of every man. It is said that the sparhawk pryeth not upon the fowl in the morning, that she taketh over even, but as loath to have double benefit by one seelie fowl doth let it go to make some shift for itself. But hereof as I stand in some doubt. So this I find among the writers worthy the noting: that the sparhawk is enemy to young children, as is also the ape, but of the peacock she is marvellously afraid, and so appalled that all courage and stomach for a time is taken from her upon the sight thereof. But to proceed with the rest. Of other ravenous birds we have also very great plenty, as the buzzard, the kite, the ringtail, dunkite, and such as often annoy our country dames by spoiling of their young breeds of chickens, ducks, and goslings, whereunto our very ravens and crows have learned also the way: and so much are ravens given to this kind of spoil that some idle and curious heads of set purpose have manned, reclaimed, and used them instead of hawks, when other could not be had. Some do imagine that the raven should be the vulture, and I was almost persuaded in times past to believe the same; but, finding of late, a description of the vulture, which better agreeth with the form of a second kind of eagle, I freely surcease to be longer of that opinion: for, as it hath, after a sort, the shape, colour, and quantity of an eagle, so are the legs and feet more hairy and rough, their sides under their wings better covered with thick down (wherewith also their gorge or a part of their breast under their throats is armed, and not with feathers) than are the like parts of the eagle, and unto which portraiture there is no member of the raven (who is almost black of colour) that can have any resemblance: we have none of them in England to my knowledge; if we have, they go generally under the name of eagle or erne. Neither have we the pygargus or grip, wherefore I have no occasion to treat further. I have seen the carrion crows so cunning also by their own industry of late that they have used to soar over great rivers (as the Thames for example) and, suddenly coming down, have caught a small fish in their feet and gone away withal without wetting of their wings. And even at this present the aforesaid river is not without some of them, a thing (in my opinion) not a little to be wondered at. We have also osprays, which breed with us in parks and woods, whereby the keepers of the same do reap in breeding time no small commodity; for, so soon almost as the young are hatched, they tie them to the butt ends or ground ends of sundry trees, where the old ones, finding them, do never cease to bring fish unto them, which the keepers take and eat from them, and commonly is such as is well fed or not of the worst sort. It hath not been my hap hitherto to see any of these fowl, and partly through mine own negligence; but I hear that it hath one foot like a hawk, to catch hold withal, and another resembling a goose, wherewith to swim; but, whether it be so or not so, I refer the further search and trial thereof unto some other. This nevertheless is certain, that both alive and dead, yea even her very oil, is a deadly terror to such fish as come within the wind of it. There is no cause whereof I should describe the cormorant amongst hawks, of which some be black and many pied, chiefly about the Isle of Ely, where they are taken for the night raven, except I should call him a water hawk. But, sith such dealing is not convenient, let us now see what may be said of our venomous worms, and how many kinds we have of them within our realm and country.[3]

[3] This on "venomous beasts" will be found included in the "savage beasts" of the following.



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

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

This is chiefly spoken of the south and south-west parts of the island. For, whereas we that dwell on this side of the Tweed may safely boast of our security in this behalf, yet cannot the Scots do the like in every point wherein their kingdom, sith they have grievous wolves and cruel foxes, beside some others of like disposition continually conversant among them, to the general hindrance of their husbandmen, and no small damage unto the inhabitants of those quarters. The happy and fortunate want of these beasts in England is universally ascribed to the politic government of King Edgar.[1]...

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

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

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

Other pernicious beasts we have not, except you repute the great plenty of red and fallow deer whose colours are oft garled white and black, all white or all black, and store of conies amongst the hurtful sort. Which although that of themselves they are not offensive at all, yet their great numbers are thought to be very prejudicial, and therefore justly reproved of many, as are in like sort our huge flocks of sheep, whereon the greatest part of our soil is employed almost in every place, and yet our mutton, wool, and felles never the better cheap. The young males which our fallow deer do bring forth are commonly named according to their several ages: for the first year it is a fawn, the second a pricket, the third a sorel, the fourth a soare, the fifth a buck of the first head, not bearing the name of a buck till he be five years old: and from henceforth his age is commonly known by his head or horns. Howbeit this notice of his years is not so certain but that the best woodman may now and then be deceived in that account: for in some grounds a buck of the first head will be as well headed as another in a high rowtie soil will be in the fourth. It is also much to be marvelled at that, whereas they do yearly mew and cast their horns, yet in fighting they never break off where they do grife or mew. Furthermore, in examining the condition of our red deer, I find that the young male is called in the first year a calf, in the second a broket, the third a spay, the fourth a staggon or stag, the fifth a great stag, the sixth a hart, and so forth unto his death. And with him in degree of venerie are accounted the hare, boar, and wolf. The fallow deer, as bucks and does, are nourished in parks, and conies in warrens and burrows. As for hares, they run at their own adventure, except some gentleman or other (for his pleasure) do make an enclosure for them. Of these also the stag is accounted for the most noble game, the fallow deer is the next, then the roe, whereof we have indifferent store, and last of all the hare, not the least in estimation, because the hunting of that seely beast is mother to all the terms, blasts, and artificial devices that hunters do use. All which (notwithstanding our custom) are pastimes more meet for ladies and gentlewomen to exercise (whatsoever Franciscus Patritius saith to the contrary in his Institution of a Prince) than for men of courage to follow, whose hunting should practise their arms in tasting of their manhood, and dealing with such beasts as eftsoons will turn again and offer them the hardest, rather than their horses' feet which many times may carry them with dishonour from the field.[2]...

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

If I should go about to make any long discourse of venomous beasts or worms bred in England, I should attempt more than occasion itself would readily offer, sith we have very few worms, but no beasts at all, that are thought by their natural qualities to be either venomous or hurtful. First of all, therefore, we have the adder (in our old Saxon tongue called an atter), which some men do not rashly take to be the viper. Certes, if it be so, then is not the viper author of the death of her[3] parents, as some histories affirm, and thereto Encelius, a late writer, in his De re Metallica, lib. 3, cap. 38, where he maketh mention of a she adder which he saw in Sala, whose womb (as he saith) was eaten out after a like fashion, her young ones lying by her in the sunshine, as if they had been earthworms. Nevertheless, as he nameth them viperas, so he calleth the male echis. and the female echidna, concluding in the end that echis is the same serpent which his countrymen to this day call ein atter, as I have also noted before out of a Saxon dictionary. For my part I am persuaded that the slaughter of their parents is either not true at all, or not always (although I doubt not but that nature hath right well provided to inhibit their superfluous increase by some means or other), and so much the rather am I led hereunto for that I gather by Nicander that of all venomous worms the viper only bringeth out her young alive, and therefore is called in Latin vipera quasivivipara, but of her own death he doth not (to my remembrance) say anything. It is testified also by other in other words, and to the like sense, that "Echis id est vipera sola ex serpentibus non ova sed animalia parit."[4] And it may well be, for I remember that I have read in Philostratus, De vita Appollonii, how he saw a viper licking her young. I did see an adder once myself that lay (as I thought) sleeping on a molehill, out of whose mouth came eleven young adders of twelve or thirteen inches in length apiece, which played to and fro in the grass one with another, till some of them espied me. So soon therefore as they saw my face they ran again into the mouth of their dam, whom I killed, and then found each of them shrouded in a distinct cell or pannicle in her belly, much like unto a soft white jelly, which maketh me to be of the opinion that our adder is the viper indeed. The colour of their skin is for the most part like rusty iron or iron grey, but such as be very old resemble a ruddy blue; and as once in the year (to wit, in April or about the beginning of May) they cast their old skins (whereby as it is thought their age reneweth), so their stinging bringeth death without present remedy be at hand, the wounded never ceasing to swell, neither the venom to work till the skin of the one break, and the other ascend upward to the heart, where it finisheth the natural effect, except the juice of dragons (in Latin called dracunculus minor) be speedily ministered and drunk in strong ale, or else some other medicine taken of like force that may countervail and overcome the venom of the same. The length of them is most commonly two feet, and somewhat more, but seldom doth it extend into two feet six inches, except it be in some rare and monstrous one, whereas our snakes are much longer, and seen sometimes to surmount a yard, or three feet, although their poison be nothing so grievous and deadly as the others. Our adders lie in winter under stones, as Aristotle also saith of the viper (lib. 8, cap. 15), and in holes of the earth, rotten stubs of trees, and amongst the dead leaves; but in the heat of the summer they come abroad, and lie either round in heaps or at length upon some hillock, or elsewhere in the grass. They are found only in our woodland countries and highest grounds, where sometimes (though seldom) a speckled stone called echites, in Dutch ein atter stein, is gotten out of their dried carcases, which divers report to be good against their poison.[5] As for our snakes, which in Latin are properly named angues, they commonly are seen in moors, fens, loam, walls, and low bottoms.

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

[4] "The adder or viper alone among serpents brings forth not eggs but living creatures."

[5] Sallust, cap. 40, Pliny, lib. 37, cap. 2.—H.

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

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

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

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

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

Now, as concerning the locust, I am led by divers of my country, who (as they say) were either in Germany, Italy, or Pannonia, 1542, when those nations were greatly annoyed with that kind of fly, and affirm very constantly that they saw none other creature than the grasshopper during the time of that annoyance, which was said to come to them from the Meotides. In most of our translations also of the Bible the word locusta is Englished a grasshopper, and thereunto (Leviticus xi.) it is reputed among the clean food, otherwise John the Baptist would never have lived with them in the wilderness. In Barbary, Numidia, and sundry other places of Africa, as they have been,[6] so are they eaten to this day powdered in barrels, and therefore the people of those parts are called Acedophagi: nevertheless they shorten the life of the eaters, by the production at the last of an irksome and filthy disease. In India they are three foot long, in Ethiopia much shorter, but in England seldom above an inch. As for the cricket, called in Latin cicada, he hath some likelihood, but not very great, with the grasshopper, and therefore he is not to be brought in as an umpire in this case. Finally, Matthiolus and so many as describe the locust do set down none other form than that of our grasshopper, which maketh me so much the more to rest upon my former imagination, which is that the locust and the grasshopper are one.

[6] See Diodorus Siculus.—H.



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

There is nothing that hath brought me into more admiration of the power and force of antiquity than their diligence and care had of their navies: wherein, whether I consider their speedy building, or great number of ships which some one kingdom or region possessed at one instant, it giveth me still occasion either to suspect the history, or to think that in our times we come very far behind them.[1]...

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

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

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

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

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

The Bonadventure. White Bear. Elizabeth Jonas.[2] Philip and Mary. Triumph. Aid. Bull. Handmaid. Tiger.[3] Dreadnought. Antelope. Swallow. Hope. Genet. Lion. Bark of Bullen. Victory. Achates. Mary Rose. Falcon. Foresight. George. Swiftsure. Revenge.

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

There have been heretofore, and at sundry times, divers famous universities in this island, and those even in my days not altogether forgotten, as one at Bangor, erected by Lucius, and afterward converted into a monastery, not by Congellus (as some write), but by Pelagius the monk. The second at Caerleon-upon-Usk, near to the place where the river doth fall into the Severn, founded by King Arthur. The third at Thetford, wherein were six hundred students, in the time of one Rond, sometime king of that region. The fourth at Stamford, suppressed by Augustine the monk. And likewise other in other places, as Salisbury, Eridon or Cricklade, Lachlade, Reading, and Northampton; albeit that the two last rehearsed were not authorised, but only arose to that name by the departure of the students from Oxford in time of civil dissension unto the said towns, where also they continued but for a little season. When that of Salisbury began I cannot tell; but that it flourished most under Henry the Third and Edward the First I find good testimony by the writers, as also by the discord which fell, 1278, between the chancellor for the scholars there on the one part and William the archdeacon on the other, whereof you shall see more in the chronology here following. In my time there are three noble universities in England—to wit, one at Oxford, the second at Cambridge, and the third in London; of which the first two are the most famous, I mean Cambridge and Oxford, for that in them the use of the tongues, philosophy, and the liberal sciences, besides the profound studies of the civil law, physic, and theology, are daily taught and had: whereas in the latter the laws of the realm are only read and learned by such as give their minds unto the knowledge of the same. In the first there are not only divers goodly houses builded four square for the most part of hard freestone or brick, with great numbers of lodgings and chambers in the same for students, after a sumptuous sort, through the exceeding liberality of kings, queens, bishops, noblemen and ladies of the land; but also large livings and great revenues bestowed upon them (the like whereof is not to be seen in any other region, as Peter Martyr did oft affirm) to the maintenance only of such convenient numbers of poor men's sons as the several stipends bestowed upon the said houses are able to support.[1]...

[1] Here follows a paragraph about the legendary foundation of the universities.—W.

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

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

The colleges of Oxford, for curious workmanship and private commodities, are much more stately, magnificent, and commodious than those of Cambridge: and thereunto the streets of the town for the most part are more large and comely. But for uniformity of building, orderly compaction, and politic regiment, the town of Cambridge, as the newer workmanship,[2] exceeds that of Oxford (which otherwise is, and hath been, the greater of the two) by many a fold (as I guess), although I know divers that are of the contrary opinion. This also is certain, that whatsoever the difference be in building of the town streets, the townsmen of both are glad when they may match and annoy the students, by encroaching upon their liberties, and keep them bare by extreme sale of their wares, whereby many of them become rich for a time, but afterward fall again into poverty, because that goods evil gotten do seldom long endure.[3]...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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