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Of the male population of this period, the manners seem to have been compounded from the characters of the two sovereigns. Like Elizabeth, they were brave, magnanimous, and prudent; and sometimes, like James, credulous, curious, and dissipated. On the virtues, happily from their notoriety, there is little occasion to comment; foreigners, as well as natives, bearing testimony to their esistence: thus Hentzner tells us,—“ The English are serious, like the Germans;
- they are powerful in the field, successful against their enemies, impatient of any thing like slavery." But of the foibles and vices, as more evanescent and mutable, it may be interesting to state a few particulars.
of the credulity and superstition which abounded during this era, and which had been fostered by the weakness of James, a sufficient detail has already been given in a former part of this work; and we shall here merely add, that Alchemistry was one of tle foolish pursuits of the day. Scot, who has devoted the fourteenth book of his treatise on the “ Discoverie of Witchcraft,” to this subject, tells us that the admirable description given by Chaucer of this felly, in his Chanones Yemannes prologue and tale, still strictly applied to its cultivators in 1584, who continued to
These folke are knowne and discerned alwaie." of An insatiable curiosity for seeing strange sights, and hearing strange adventures, together with an eager desire for visiting foreign countries, prevailed in an extraordinary degree during the age of Shakspeare, who has, in several parts of his works, satirized these propensities with much humour. In the Tempest, for instance, he has held up to scorn the first of these foibles in an admirable strain of “ A strange fish! Were I in England now (as once I was), and had
I but this fish painted, not a holiday fool there but would give a piece of silver; there would this monster make a man; any strange beast there makes a man: when they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay out ten to see a dead Indian;" (act ii. sc. 2) a passage which Mr. Douce has very appositely illustrated by a quotation from Batman. “Os late years," says the Gothic Pliny, “ there hath been brought into England, the cases or skinnes of such crocodiles to be seene, and much money given for the sight thereof; the policy of strangers laugh at our folly, either that we are too wealthy, or else that we know not how to bestow our money." I
Of the influence arising from the relation of strange adventures, we have a striking proof in the character of Othello, who won the affections of his mistress by the detail of his “ hair-breadth scapes :"
" Wherein of antres vast, and desarts idle,
Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch heaven
Act i. sc. 3. It appears, indeed, that the conversation of this period very frequently turned upon the wonderful discoveries of travellers, whose voyages to, and travels in the New World then occupied much of the public attention. Exaggeration, from a love of importance, too often accompanied these narratives, a license which our poet has happily ridiculed in the following lines:
" When we were boys,
# Hentzner's Travels, p. 63, 64.
+ Discoverie of Witclicraft, 4to. p. 355, 356.- Scot has taken great liberties with the text of Chaucer, boih in modernising the language, and in tarking together widely separated lines and couplets.
* Mlustrations of Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 14.-Batman upon Bartholome, fol. 359 b.
Whose heads stooil in their breasts? which now we find
Tempest. Act iii. sc. 3. The close of this passage alludes to a practice then common among the numerous travellers of those times, of putting out their money, especially when about to undertake a long and hazardous journey, for the purpose of receiving exorbitant interest on their return: a custom which, Moryson informs us, originated among the nobility, but before 1617 had become frequent even with men of base condition. Thus we find Ben Jonson, in 1599, representing Puntarvolo, in “ Every Man out of his Humour,” disclosing such a scheme:-" I do intend,” says he, “ this year of jubilee coming on, to travel: and, because I will not altogether go go upon expense, I am determined to put forth some live thousand pound, to be paid me five for one, upon the return of myself, my wife, and my dog from the Turk’s court in Constantinople. If all or either of us miscarry in the journey, 'tis gone: if we be successful, why there will be five and twenty thousand pound to entertain time withal.” Act ii. sc. 3.
To such a height had this passion for travelling attained, that those who were not able to accomplish a distant expedition, crossed over to France or Italy, and gave themselves as many airs on their return, as is they had been to the antipodes; a species of affectation which Shakspeare acutely satirizes in the following terms : -"Farewell, monsieur traveller; look, you lisp, and wear strange suits ; disable all the benefits of your own country; be out of love with your nativity, and almost chide God for making you that countenance you are; or I will scarce think you have swam in a gondola.”
An equally severe castigation has been bestowed on these superficial ramblers, in “ Observations and Discourses," published by Edward Blount, in 1620, who informs us, that their discourse made them every where ridiculous. “ The name of English gelding,” he adds, “ frights them; and thence they take occasion to fall into the commendation of a mule, or an ass. A pasty of venison makes them sweat, and then swear that the only delicacies be mushrooms, or caveare, or snails. A toast in beer or ale drives them into madness; and so to declaim against the absurd and ignorant customs oftheir own country, and thereupon digress into the commendation of drinking their wine refreshed with ice or snow."
The pernicious habit of gaming had become almost universal in the days of Elizabeth, and, if we may credit George Whetstone, had reached a prodigious degree of excess. Speaking of the licentiousness of the stage previous to the appearance of Shakspeare, he adds,
“ But Ibere are in the bowels of this famous citie, farre more daungerous plays, and little reprehended : that wicked playes of the dice, first invented by the devill (as Cornelius Agrippa wrylelh), and frequented by unhappy men : the detestable roole, upon which a thousand villanies grow.
“ The nurses of thease (worse than heathenysh) hellish exercises are places called ordinary tables : of which there are in London, more in nomber lo honour the devill, than churches lo serve the living God.
“I constantly delermine lo crosse the streets, where these vile houses (ordinaries) are planted, to blesse me from the inticements of them, which in very deed are many, and the more dangerous in that they please with a vain hope of gain. Insomuch on a time, I heard a distemperate dicer solemnly sweare that he faithfully beleeved, that dice were first made of the bones of a wilch, and cards of her skin, in wbich there hath ever sithence reinained an inchantment y' wbosoever once takeih delight in either, he shall never have power uiterly to leave them, for, quoth be, I a hundred limes vowed to Icave both, yet have not the grace to forsake either.” 1
No opportunity for the practice of this ruinous habit seems to have been omitted, and we find the modern mode of gambling, by taking the odds, to have been fully
. As You Like It, act iv. sc. I.
+ “The Enemie to Vnthrystinesse : publishing by Lawes, documents and disciplines, &c. By George Whetstons, Gent. Printed at London by Richard Jones, 1586.” 410. p. 24:32. - Vide British Bibliographer, vol. ill. p. 601-604.
established towards the latter end of the sixteenth century; for Gilbert Talbot, writing to his father, the Earl of Shrewsbury, on May the 15th, 1579, after informing His Lordship, that the matter of the Queen's marriage with Monsieur" is growne very colde,” subjoins, “ and yet I know a man may take a thousande pounds, in this towne, to be bounde to pay doble so muche when Mons. cumethe into Inglande, and treble so muche when he marryethe the Q. Ma“., and if he nether doe the one nor the other, to gayne the thousande poundes cleare.”
Duelling, at this period, from its frequency, had given rise to a complicated system of rules for its regulation, and to fixed schools for its practice and improvement. The “ Noble Science of Defence," as it was called, included three degrees, a Master's, a Provost's, and a Scholar's, and for each of these a regular prize was played. In order, also, to obviate disputes, “ four Ancient Masters of Defence" were constituted, who resided “ in the city of London,” and to whom not only difficult points of honour were referred, but tribute was likewise paid by all inferior professors of the science.
Nor were books wanting to explain, and to adjust, the causes and the modes of quarrelling. Of these the two most celebrated were written by Saviolo and Caranza, authors who are repeatedly mentioned by Shakspeare, Jonson, and Fletcher. The absurd minuteness of Saviolo's treatise, entitled, “ Of Honour and honourable Quarrels,” 4to, 1595, has been ridiculed with exquisite humour in As You Like It, where Touchstone says
“O sir, we quarrel in print, by the book ;-we met, and found the quarrel was upon the seventh Jaq. How did you find the quarrel on the seventh cause ?
Touch. Upon a lie seven times removed ;-as thus : I did dislike the cut of a certain courtier's beard ; he sent me word, if I said his beard was not cut well, he was in the mind it was : This is called the Retort courteous. If I sent him word again, it was not well cut, he would send me word, he cut it to please himself: This is called the Quip modest. If again, it was not well cut, he disabled my judgment: This is call d the Reply churlish. If again, it was not well cut, he would answer, 1 spake not true: This is call'd the Reproof valiant. If again, it was not well cut, he would say, I lie: This is cali'd the Countercheck quarrelsome: and so to the Lie circumstantial, And the Lie direct. --All these you may avoid, but the lie direct; and you may avoid that too, with en If. I knew when seven justices could not take up a quarrel; but when the parties were met themselves, one of them thought but of an If, as, If you said so, then I said so; and they shook hands, and swore brothers. Your If is the only peace-maker; much virtue in If."-Act v. sc. 4.
Nor is this much exaggerated; for Saviolo has a chapter on the Diversity of Lies, and enumerates the “Lie certain," the “conditional Lie,” the “Lie in general, the “Lie in particular," the "foolish Lie," and the “returning back of the Lie.”
A taste for gossiping, as well amongs the male as female sex, was more than usually prevalent at this epoch. An anonymous writer of 1620, speaking of male gossips, describes their trilling and vexatiously intrusive manners, in a way which leads us to conclude, that the evil was severely felt, and of great magnitude :
" It is a wonder,” says he, " to see what mulliludes there be of all sorts that make this their only business, and in a manner spend their whole lime in compliment; as if they were born to no other end, bred to no other purpose, had nothing else to do, than to be a kind of living walking ghosts, to haunt and persecule others with unnecessary observation.-
“ If these giddy goers be forced to give a reason for their wheeling up and down the streels, their answer is, they know not else how to pass their time. And how tedious it is, for a man that accounts his hours, to be subject to these vacancies, and apply bimself to lose a day with such time-passers ; who neither come for business, nor out of true friendship, but only to spend the day; as if one had nothing else to do, but to supply their idle time !
“ After they have asked you how you do, and told some old or fabulous news, laugbed iwice or thrice in your face, and censured those they know you love not (when, peradventure, the next place they go to, is to them where they will be as courleous to you); spoke a few words of fashions and allerations ;-made legs and postures of the last edition; with ihree or four diminulive oaths and protestations of their service and observance ; lhcy then retire.”
The diminutive oaths, mentioned at the close of this quotation, were, unfortu