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though the Statutes of the Streets were numerous and rigid, and sometimes ridiculously minute, for No. 22. enacts, that “no man shall blowe
any horne in the night, within this citie, or whistle after the houre of nyne of the clock in the night, under paine of imprisonment *,” yet they were so ill executed, that, even in the day-time, disturbances of the most atrocious kind were deemed matters of common occurrence. Thus Gilbert Talbot and his wife, writing to the Earl and Countess of Shrewsbury, consider the following acts of violence as trifling matters : -“ On Thursday laste, (Feb. 13th, 1587,) as my Lorde Rytche was rydynge in the streates, there was one Wyndam that stode in a dore, and shotte a dagge at him, thynkynge to have slayne him; but God pvyded so for my L. Rytche, that this Wyndam apoyntynge his servante y mornynge to charge his dagge wth 11 bulletts, the fellow, doubtinge he mente to doe sum myschefe wth it, charged it only wth powder and paper, and no bullett ; and so this L'. lyfe was thereby saved, for otherwyse he had beene slayne. Wyndam was p*sently taken by my L. Rytche’s men, and, beynge broughte before the Counsell, confessed his intende, but the cause of his quarrell I knowe not; but he is comytted to the Towre. The same daye, also, as S* John Conway was goynge in the streetes, M Lodovyke Grevell came sodenly uppon him, and stroke him on the hedd wth a sworde, and but for one of S John Conwaye's men, who warded the blow, he had cutt of his legges ; yet did he hurte him sumwhat on bothe his shynns: The Councell sente for Lodovyke Grevell, and have coñytted him to the Marchalleye. I am forced to trouble yo" Honors wth thes tryfynge matters, for I know no
Yet a sufficient number of watchmen, constables, and justices of the peace, was not wanting. Of these, the first were armed with halberds, which, in Shakspeare's time, were called bills, and they usually carried a lanthorn in one hand, and sometimes a bell in the
* Vide “ The Statutes of the Streets,” printed by Wolfe, in 1595.
other, resting the halberd on the shoulder. * Notwithstanding these ollicial characters, however, the peace of the city was frequently more attrctually proserved by the interference of the apprentices, than by Woat of the appointed guardians of public order; for it appears, from Bibalespeare's draman, that the cry of Clubs ! was a signal for the ajo parentices to arm themselves with these weapons, and quell the dwboane, Thus in King Henry the Eighth, act v. sc. 3., the Porter's
an anys : --" I hit that woman who cried out, clubs ! when I might *** from for some forty truncheoneers draw to her succour, which waroes the hope of the Strand † ;” and in Henry the Sixth, Part the Minud, over the Mayor of London is represented, on occasion of # qarnaid between the partizans of the Duke of Gloucester and Obres Cardinal of Winchester, as threatening to call in similar as
“ I'll call for clubs, if you will not away." I
We cannot wonder that the inferior officers of the Police should be black in the performance of their duty, when we recollect, that the Justices of the Peace, in these days, especially those resident in the metropolis, were so open to bribery, that many of them obtained the appellation of Basket Justices ; nor did a member of the House of Commons hesitate, during the reign of Elizabeth, to describe a justice of the peace as “ an animal who for half a dozen of chickens would readily dispense with a dozen penal laws.”
Many customs of a miscellaneous nature might with ease be extracted from the dramas of our poet; but to give them any
relative bearing or concatenation would be nearly impossible, and a totally insulated detail of minute circumstances, would prove tedious to the
The costume of the Watchman is thus represented in the title-page to Decker's “ () per se 0,” &c. 4to. 1612, and is copied in Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vi. p. 97. + Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xv. p. 205.
# Ibid. vol. xiii. p. 36. $ D'Ewes's Journals of Parliament, in Queen Elizabeth's Reign, p. 661. 664.
most persevering reader. Enough, we trust, has been collected to throw no feeble light on the general manners and modes of living, of the period under consideration, especially if it be recollected that the full picture is to be formed from a combination of this with the similar chapter, in a former part of the work, on the costume of rural life.
ON THE DIVERSIONS OF THE METROPOLIS, AND THE COURT
THE STAGE; ITS USAGES,
Of the diversions of the metropolis and court, some were peculiar, and some were shared in common with the country. “ The countrey hath his recreations,” observes Burton, “ the city his several Gymnicks and exercises, feasts and merry meetings." “ What so pleasant as to see some Pageant or sight go by, as at Coronations, Weddings, and such like solemnities, to see an Embassadour or a Prince met, received, entertained, with Masks, Shews, Fireworks, &c.*; and an old dramatic poet of 1590, gives us a still more copious list of town amusements:
“ — Let nothing that's magnifical,
Or that may tend to London's graceful state,
Every palace,” continues Burton, “ every city almost, hath his peculiar walks, cloysters, terraces, groves, theatres, pageants, games, and several recreations ;" and we purpose, in this chapter, giving some account of the leading articles thus enumerated, but more particularly of the stage, as being peculiarly connected with the design and texture of our work.
* Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, fol., 8th edit., p. 171. col. i.
† “ The Pleasant and Stately Morall of the Three Lordes and Three Ladies of London,” &c., London. Printed by Jhones, at the Rose and Crowne, neere Holburne Bridge, 1590. Vide Strutt’s Sports and Pastimes, Introduct., p. xxviii.; and Beloe's Anecdotes of Literature, vol. i. p. 350, 351.
† Anatomy of Melancholy, p. 172. col. i.
As the principal object, therefore, of the present discussion, will be the amusements usually appropriated to the capital ; those which it has in common with the country shall be first enumerated, though in a more superficial way.
Of these, card-playing seems to have been as universal in the days of Elizabeth, as in modern times, and carried on, too, with the same ruinous consequences to property and morals; for though Stowe tells us, when commemorating the customs of London, that “ from AllHallows eve to the day following Candlemas-day, there was, among other sports, playing at cards for counters, nails, and points, in every house, more for pastime than for gain,” yet we learn from contemporary. satirists, from Gosson, Stubbes, and Northbrooke *, that all ranks, and especially the upper classes, were incurably addicted to gaming in the pursuit of this amusement, which they considered equally as seductive and pernicious as dice.
The games at cards peculiar to this period, and now obsolete, are, 1. Primero, supposed to be the most ancient game of cards in England. It was very fashionable in the age of Shakspeare, who represents Henry the Eighth playing “ at primero with the duke of Suffolk †;" and Falstaff exclaiming in the Merry Wives of Windsor, “ I never prospered since I foreswore myself at primero." I
The mode of playing this curious game is thus described by Mr. Strutt, from Mr. Barrington's papers upon card-playing, in the eighth volume of the Archæologia : :-“ Each player had four cards dealt to him one by one, the seven was the highest card in point of number that he could avail himself of, which counted for twenty-one, the six counted for sixteen, the five for fifteen, and the ace for the same, but the two, the three, and the four, for their respective points only. The knave of hearts was commonly fixed upon for the quinola, which the
*'“ Schoole of Abuse,” “ Anatomie of Abuses,” and “ Treatise againt Diceing, Cardplaying,” &c.
+ Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 170. Act v. sc. 1. # Ibid. vol. v. p. 186, 187. Act iv. sc. 5.