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competent repast, to sustain his body withal. But as this large feeding is not seen in their guests, no more is it in their own persons: for sith they have daily much resort unto their tables, (and many times unlooked for,) and thereto retain great numbers of servants, it is very requisite and expedient for them to be somewhat plentiful in this behalf.
The chief part likewise of their daily provision is brought in before them (commonly in silver vessels, if they be of the degree of barons, bishops, and upwards,) and placed on their tables, whereof when they have taken what it pleaseth them, the rest is reserved, and afterwards sent down to their serving men and waiters, who feed thereon in like sort with convenient moderation, their reversion also being bestowed upon the poor, which lie ready at their gates in great numbers to receive the same. This is spoken of the principal tables whereat the nobleman, his lady, and guests, are accustomed to sit; beside which they have a certain ordinary allowance daily appointed for their halls, where the chief officers and household servants, (for all are not permitted by custom to wait upon their master,) and with them such inferior guests do feed as are not of calling to associate the nobleman himself; so that besides those afore-mentioned, which are called to the principal table, there are commonly forty or three-score persons fed in those halls, to the great relief of such
poor suitors and strangers also as oft be partakers thereof, and otherwise like to dine hardly. As for drink, it is usually filled in pots, goblets, jugs, bowls of silver in noblemen's houses; also in fine Venice glasses of all forms, and for want of these elsewhere, in pots of earth of sundry colours and moulds, whereof many are garnished with silver, or at the leastwise in pewter; all which notwithstanding are seldom set on the table, but each one, as necessity urgeth, calleth for a cup of such drink as him listeth to have; so that when he hath tasted of it, he delivereth the cup again to some one of the standers by, who making it clean by pouring out the drink that remaineth, restoreth it to the cupboard from whence he fetched the same. By this device, (a thing brought up at the first by Mnesteus of Athens, in conservation of the honour of Orestes, who had not yet made expiation for the death of his adulterous parents Egistus and Clitemnestra,) much idle tippling is furthermore cut off: for if the full pots should continually stand at the elbow, or near the trencher, divers would always be dealing with them; whereas now they drink seldom, and only when necessity urgeth, and so avoid the note of great drinking, or often troubling of the servitors with filling of their bowls. Nevertheless, in the noblemen's halls this order is not used, neither in an man's house commonly under the degree of a knight,
or esquire of great revenues. It is a world to see in these our days, wherein gold and silver most aboundeth, how that our gentility as lothing those metals, (because of the plenty,) do now generally choose rather the Venice glasses both for our wine and beer, than any of those metals or stone wherein before time we have been accustomed to drink; but such is the nature of man generally, that it most coveteth things difficult to be attained; and such is the estimation of this stuff, that many become rich only with their new trade unto Murana, (a town
to Venice, situate on the Adriatic sea,) from whence the very best are daily to be had, and such as for beauty do well near match the crystal or the ancient Murrhina vasá, whereof now no man hath knowledge. And as this is seen in the gentility, so in the wealthy commonalty the like desire of glass is not neglected, whereby the gain gotten by their purchase is yet much more increased to the benefit of the merchant. The poorest also will have glass if they may, but sith the Venetian is somewhat too dear for them, they 'content themselves with such as are made at home of fern and burned stone; but in fine, all go one way, that is, to shards at the. last : so that our great expenses in glasses, (beside that they breed much strife toward such as have the charge of them,) are worse of all bestowed, in mine opinion, because their pieces do turn unto no profit.
If the philosopher's stone were once found, and one part hereof mixed with forty of molten glass, it would induce such a metallic toughness thereunto, that a fall should nothing hurt it in such manner, yet it might, peradventure, bunch or batter it; nevertheless that inconvenience were quickly to be redressed by the hammer. But whither am I slipped?
The gentlemen and merchants keep much about one rate, and each of them contenteth himself with four, five, or six dishes, when they have but small resort, or peradventure with one, or two, or three at the most, when they have no strangers to acompany them at their tables. And yet their servants have , their ordinary diet assigned, besides such as is left at their masters boards, and not appointed to be, brought thither the second time, which nevertheless is often seen generally in venison, lamb, or some es: pecial dish, whereon the merchant. man himself liketh to feed when it is cold, or peradventure, for sundry causes incident to the seeder, is better so, than if it were warm or hot. To be short; at such time as the merchants do make their ordinary or volun, tary feasts, it is a world to see what great provision is made of all manner of delicate meats, from every quarter of the country, wherein beside that they are often comparable herein to the nobility of the land, they will seldom regard any thing that the butcher usually killeth, but reject the same as not worthy to
come in place. In such cases also geliffes of all com lours, mixed with a variety in the representation of sundry flowers, herbs, trees, forms of beasts, fish, fowls, and fruits; and thereunto marchpane wrought with no small curiosity, tarts of divers hues and sundry denominations, conserves of old fruits, foreign and home-bred, suckets, codiniacs, marmilades, marehpane, sugarbread, gingerbread, florentines, wild fowl, venison of all sorts, and sundry outlandish conféctions, altogether seasoned with sugar, (which Pliny calleth Mel ex arundinibus, a device not common-nor greatly used in old time at the table, but only in medicine, although it grew in Arabia, India, and Sicilia,) do generally bear the sway, besides infinite devices of our own not possible for me to remember. Of the potatoe and such venerous roots brought out of Spain, Portingale, and the Indies, to furnish up our banquets, F speak not, wherein our Mures of no less force, and to be had about Crosby Ravenswath, do now begin to have place.
But among all these, the kind of meat which is obtained with most difficulty and cost, is commonly taken for the most delicate, and thereupon each guest will soonest desire to feed. And as all estates do exceed herein, I mean for strangeness and number of costly dishes, so these forget not to use the like excess in wine, insomuch as there is no kind to be had, (neither any where more store of all