The Description of England.

The Camelot Series.



To the Right Honourable, and his singular good Lord and Master, Sir William Brooke, Knight, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and Baron of Cobham, all increase of the fear and knowledge of God, firm obedience towards his Prince, infallible love to the commonwealth, and commendable renown here in this world, and in the world to come life everlasting. Having had just occasion, Right Honourable, to remain in London during the time of Trinity term last passed, and being earnestly required of divers my friends to set down some brief discourse of parcel of those things which I had observed in the reading of such manifold antiquities as I had perused towards the furniture of a Chronology which I have yet in hand; I was at the first very loth to yield to their desires: first, for that I thought myself unable for want of skill and judgment so suddenly and with so hasty speed to take such a charge upon me; secondly, because the dealing therein might prove an hindrance and impeachment unto mine own Treatise; and, finally, for that I had given over all earnest study of histories, as judging the time spent about the same to be an hindrance unto my more necessary dealings in that vocation and function whereunto I am called in the ministry. But, when they were so importunate with me that no reasonable excuse could serve to put by this travel, I condescended at the length unto their irksome suit, promising that I would spend such void time, as I had to spare, whilest I should be enforced to tarry in the city, upon some thing or other that should satisfy their request and stand in lieu of a description of my Country. For their parts also, they assured me of such helps as they could purchase: and thus with hope of good, although no gay success, I went in hand withal, then almost as one leaning altogether unto memory, since my books and I were parted by forty miles in sunder. In this order also I spent a part of Michaelmas and Hilary terms insuing, being enforced thereto, I say, by other businesses which compelled me to keep in the city, and absent myself from my charge, though in the mean season I had some repair unto my poor library, but not so great as the dignity of the matter required, and yet far greater than the Printer's haste would suffer. One help, and none of the smallest that I obtained herein, was by such commentaries as Leland had some time collected of the state of Britain, books utterly mangled, defaced with wet and weather, and finally imperfect through want of sundry volumes; secondly, I gat some knowledge of things by letters and pamphlets, from sundry places and shires of England, but so discordant now and then amongst themselves, especially in the names and courses of rivers and situation of towns, that I had oft greater trouble to reconcile them one with another than orderly to pen the whole discourse of such points as they contained; the third aid did grow by conference with divers, either at the table or secretly alone, wherein I marked in what things the talkers did agree, and wherein they impugned each other, choosing in the end the former, and rejecting the latter, as one desirous to set forth the truth absolutely, or such things indeed as were most likely to be true. The last comfort arose by mine own reading of such writers as have heretofore made mention of the condition of our country, in speaking whereof, if I should make account of the success and extraordinary coming by sundry treatises not supposed to be extant, I should but seem to pronounce more than may well be said with modesty, and say further of myself than this treatise can bear witness of. Howbeit, I refer not this success wholly unto my purpose about this Description, but rather give notice thereof to come to pass in the penning of my Chronology, whose crumbs as it were fell out very well in the framing of this pamphlet. In the process therefore of this book, if your Honour regard the substance of that which is here declared, I must needs confess that it is none of mine own; but, if your Lordship have consideration of the barbarous composition shewed herein, that I may boldly claim and challenge for mine own, since there is no man of any so slender skill that will defraud me of that reproach which is due unto me for the mere negligence, disorder, and evil disposition of matter comprehended in the same. Certes I protest before God and your Honour that I never made any choice of style, or words, neither regarded to handle this treatise in such precise order and method as many other would have done, thinking it sufficient, truly and plainly to set forth such things as I minded to intreat of, rather than with vain affectation of eloquence to paint out a rotten sepulchre, a thing neither commendable in a writer nor profitable to the reader. How other affairs troubled me in the writing hereof, many know, and peradventure the slackness shewed herein can better testify; but, howsoever it be done, and whatsoever I have done, I have had an especial eye unto the truth of things, and, for the rest, I hope that this foul frizzled treatise of mine will prove a spur to others better learned, more skilful in chorography, and of greater judgment in choice of matter to handle the selfsame argument. As for faults escaped herein, as there are divers I must needs confess both in the penning and printing, so I have to crave pardon of your Honour and of all the learned readers. For such was my shortness of time allowed in the writing, and so great the speed made in printing, that I could seldom with any deliberation peruse, or almost with any judgment deliberate exactly upon, such notes as were to be inserted. Sometimes indeed their leisure gave me liberty, but that I applied in following my vocation; many times their expedition abridged my perusal; and by this latter it came to pass that most of this book was no sooner penned than printed, neither well conveyed, before it came to writing. But it is now too late to excuse the manner of doing. It is possible also that your Honour will mislike hereof for that I have not by mine own travel and eyesight viewed such things as I do here intreat of. Indeed I must needs confess that until now of late, except it were from the parish where I dwell unto your Honour in Kent, or out of London where I was born unto Oxford and Cambridge where I have been brought up, I never travelled forty miles forthright and at one journey in all my life; nevertheless in my report of these things I use their authorities who either have performed in their persons or left in writing upon sufficient ground (as I said before) whatsoever is wanting in mine. It may be in like sort that your Honour will take offence at my rash and retchless behaviour used in the composition of this volume, and much more than that, being scrambled up after this manner, I dare presume to make tender of the protection thereof unto your Lordship's hands. But, when I consider the singular affection that your Honour doth bear to those that in anywise will travel to set forth such profitable things as lie hidden of their country without regard of fine and eloquent handling, and thereunto do weigh on my own behalf my bounden duty and grateful mind to such a one as hath so many and sundry ways benefited me that otherwise can make no recompense, I cannot but cut off all such occasion of doubt, and thereupon exhibit it, such as it is, and so penned as it is, unto your Lordship's tuition, unto whom if it may seem in any wise acceptable I have my whole desire. And as I am the first that (notwithstanding the great repugnance to be seen among our writers) hath taken upon him so particularly to describe this Isle of Britain, so I hope the learned and godly will bear withal, and reform with charity where I do tread amiss. As for the curious, and such as can rather evil-favouredly espy than skilfully correct an error, and sooner carp at another man's doings than publish anything of their own (keeping themselves close with an obscure admiration of learning and knowledge among the common sort), I force not what they say hereof; for, whether it do please or displease them, all is one to me, since I refer my whole travel in the gratification of your Honour, and such as are of experience to consider of my travel and the large scope of things purposed in this treatise, of whom my service in this behalf may be taken in good part: that I will repute for my full recompense and large guerdon of my labours. The Almighty God preserve your Lordship in continual health, wealth, and prosperity, with my good Lady your wife, your Honour's children (whom God hath indued with a singular towardness unto all virtue and learning) and the rest of your reformed family, unto whom I wish farder increase of his holy spirit, understanding of his word, augmentation of honour, and continuance of zeal to follow his commandments. Your Lordship's humble servant and household chaplain, W. H.


We, in England, divide our people commonly into four sorts, as gentlemen, citizens or burgesses, yeomen, and artificers or labourers. Of gentlemen the first and chief (next the king) be the prince, dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts, and barons; and these are called gentlemen of the greater sort, or (as our common usage of speech is) lords and noblemen: and next unto them be knights, esquires, and, last of all, they that are simply called gentlemen. So that in effect our gentlemen are divided into their conditions, whereof in this chapter I will make particular rehearsal. The title of prince doth peculiarly belong with us to the king's eldest son, who is called Prince of Wales, and is the heir-apparent to the crown; as in France the king's eldest son hath the title of Dauphin, and is named peculiarly Monsieur. So that the prince is so termed of the Latin word Princeps, since he is (as I may call him) the chief or principal next the king. The king's younger sons be but gentlemen by birth (till they have received creation or donation from their father of higher estate, as to be either viscounts, earls, or dukes) and called after their names, as Lord Henry, or Lord Edward, with the addition of the word Grace, properly assigned to the king and prince, and now also by custom conveyed to dukes, archbishops, and (as some say) to marquesses and their wives. Unto this place I also refer our bishops, who are accounted honourable, called lords, and hold the same room in the Parliament house with the barons, albeit for honour sake the right hand of the prince is given unto them, and whose countenances in time past were much more glorious than at this present it is, because those lusty prelates sought after earthly estimation and authority with far more diligence than after the lost sheep of Christ, of which they had small regard, as men being otherwise occupied and void of leisure to attend upon the same. Howbeit in these days their estate remaineth no less reverend than before, and the more virtuous they are that be of this calling the better are they esteemed with high and low. They retain also the ancient name ("lord") still, although it be not a little impugned by such as love either to hear of change of all things or can abide no superiors. For notwithstanding it be true that in respect of function the office of the eldership is equally distributed between the bishop and the minister, yet for civil government's sake the first have more authority given unto them by kings and princes, to the end that the rest may thereby be with more ease retained within a limited compass of uniformity than otherwise they would be if each one were suffered to walk in his own course. This also is more to be marvelled at, that very many call for an alteration of their estate, crying to have the word "lord" abolished, their civil authority taken from them, and the present condition of the church in other things reformed; whereas, to say truly, few of them do agree upon form of discipline and government of the church succeedent, wherein they resemble the Capuans (of whom Livy doth speak) in the slaughter of their senate. Neither is it possible to frame a whole monarchy after the pattern of one town or city, or to stir up such an exquisite face of the church as we imagine or desire, sith our corruption is such that it will never yield to so great perfection; for that which is not able to be performed in a private house will be much less be brought to pass in a commonwealth and kingdom, before such a prince be found as Xenophon describeth, or such an orator as Tully hath devised. Dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts, and barons either be created of the prince or come to that honour by being the eldest sons or highest in succession to their parents. For the eldest son of a duke during his father's life is an earl, the eldest son of an earl is a baron, or sometimes a viscount, according as the creation is. The creation I call the original donation and condition of the honour given by the prince for good service done by the first ancestor, with some advancement, which, with the title of that honour, is always given to him and his heirs males only. The rest of the sons of the nobility by the rigour of the law be but esquires; yet in common speech all dukes' and marquesses' sons and earls' eldest sons be called lords, the which name commonly doth agree to none of lower degree than barons, yet by law and use these be not esteemed barons. The barony or degree of lords doth answer to the degree of senators of Rome (as I said) and the title of nobility (as we used to call it in England) to the Roman Patricii. Also in England no man is commonly created baron except he may dispend of yearly revenues a thousand pounds, or so much as may fully maintain and bear out his countenance and port. But viscounts, earls, marquesses, and dukes exceed them according to the proportion of their degree and honour. But though by chance he or his son have less, yet he keepeth this degree: but if the decay be excessive, and not able to maintain the honour (as Senatores Romani were amoti à senatu), so sometimes they are not admitted to the upper house in the parliament, although they keep the name of "lord" still, which cannot be taken from them upon any such occasion. The most of these names have descended from the French invention, in whose histories we shall read of them eight hundred years past. Knights be not born, neither is any man a knight by succession, no, not the king or prince: but they are made either before the battle, to encourage them the more to adventure and try their manhood; or after the battle ended, as an advancement for their courage and prowess already shewed, and then are they called Milites; or out of the wars for some great service done, or for the singular virtues which do appear in them, and then are they named Equites Aurati, as common custom intendeth. They are made either by the king himself, or by his commission and royal authority given for the same purpose, or by his lieutenant in the wars. Sometime diverse ancient gentlemen, burgesses, and lawyers are called unto knighthood by the prince, and nevertheless refuse to take that state upon them, for which they are of custom punished by a fine, that redoundeth unto his coffers, and (to say truth) is oftentimes more profitable unto him than otherwise their service should be, if they did yield unto knighthood. And this also is a cause wherefore there be many in England able to dispend a knight's living, which never come unto that countenance, and by their own consents. The number of the knights in Rome was also uncertain: and so is it of knights likewise, with us, as at the pleasure of the prince. And whereas the Equites Romani had Equum Publicum of custom bestowed upon them, the knights of England have not so, but bear their own charges in that also, as in other kind of furniture, as armour meet for their defence and service. This nevertheless is certain, that whoso may dispend forty pounds by the year of free land, either at the coronation of the king, or marriage of his daughter, or time of his dubbing, may be informed unto the taking of that degree, or otherwise pay the revenues of his land for one year, which is only forty pounds by an old proportion, and so for a time be acquitted of that title. At the coronation of a king or queen, there be other knights made with longer and more curious ceremonies, called "knights of the bath." But howsoever one be dubbed or made knight, his wife is by-and-by called "Madam," or "Lady," so well as the baron's wife: he himself having added to his name in common appellation this syllable "Sir," which is the title whereby we call our knights in England. His wife also of courtesy so long as she liveth is called "my lady," although she happen to marry with a gentleman or man of mean calling, albeit that by the common law she hath no such prerogative. If her first husband also be of better birth than her second, though this latter likewise be a knight, yet in that she pretendeth a privilege to lose no honour through courtesy yielded to her sex, she will be named after the most honourable or worshipful of both, which is not seen elsewhere. The other order of knighthood in England, and the most honourable, is that of the garter, instituted by King Edward the Third, who, after he had gained many notable victories, taken King John of France, and King James of Scotland (and kept them both prisoners in the Tower of London at one time), expelled King Henry of Castille, the bastard, out of his realm, and restored Don Pedro unto it (by the help of the Prince of Wales and Duke of Aquitaine, his eldest son, called the Black Prince), he then invented this society of honour, and made a choice out of his own realm and dominions, and throughout all Christendom of the best, most excellent, and renowned persons in all virtues and honour, and adorned them with that title to be knights of his order, giving them a garter garnished with gold and precious stones, to wear daily on the left leg only; also a kirtle, gown, cloak, chaperon, collar, and other solemn and magnificent apparel, both of stuff and fashion exquisite and heroical to wear at high feasts, and as to so high and princely an order appertaineth. The order of the garter therefore was devised in the time of King Edward the Third, and (as some write) upon this occasion. The queen's majesty then living, being departed from his presence the next way toward her lodging, he following soon after happened to find her garter, which slacked by chance and so fell from her leg, unespied in the throng by such as attended upon her. His grooms and gentlemen also passed by it, as disdaining to stoop and take up such a trifle: but he, knowing the owner, commanded one of them to stay and reach it up to him. "Why, and like your grace," saith a gentleman, "it is but some woman's garter that hath fallen from her as she followed the queen's majesty." "Whatsoever it be," quoth the king, "take it up and give it me." So when he had received the garter, he said to such as stood about him: "You, my masters, do make small account of this blue garter here," and therewith held it out, "but, if God lend me life for a few months, I will make the proudest of you all to reverence the like." And even upon this slender occasion he gave himself to the devising of this order. Certes, I have not read of anything that having had so simple a beginning hath grown in the end to so great honour and estimation. There is yet another order of knights in England called knights bannerets, who are made in the field with the ceremony of cutting away the point of his pennant of arms, and making it as it were a banner, so that, being before but a bachelor knight, he is now of an higher degree, and allowed to display his arms in a banner, as barons do. Howbeit these knights are never made but in the wars, the king's standard being unfolded. Moreover, as the king doth dub knights, and createth the barons and higher degrees, so gentlemen whose ancestors are not known to come in with William Duke of Normandy (for of the Saxon races yet remaining we now make none accounted, much less of the British issue) do take their beginning in England, after this manner in our times. Whosoever studieth the laws of the realm, whoso abideth in the university (giving his mind to his book), or professeth physic and the liberal sciences, or beside his service in the room of a captain in the wars, or good counsel given at home, whereby his commonwealth is benefited, can live without manual labour, and thereto is able and will bear the port, charge, and countenance of a gentleman, he shall for money have a coat and arms bestowed upon him by heralds (who in the charter of the same do of custom pretend antiquity and service, and many gay things), and thereunto, being made so good cheap, be called master (which is the title that men give to esquires and gentlemen), and reputed for a gentleman ever after, which is so much less to be disallowed of for that the prince doth lose nothing by it, the gentleman being so much subject to taxes and public payments as is the yeoman or husbandman, which he likewise doth bear the gladlier for the saving of his reputation. Being called also to the wars (for with the government of the commonwealth he meddleth little), whatsoever it cost him, he will both array and arm himself accordingly, and shew the more manly courage, and all the tokens of the person which he representeth. No man hath hurt by it but himself, who peradventure will go in wider buskins than his legs will bear, or, as our proverb saith, "now and then bear a bigger sail than his boat is able to sustain." Certes the making of new gentlemen bred great strife sometimes amongst the Romans, I mean when those which were Novi homines were more allowed of for their virtues newly seen and shewed than the old smell of ancient race, lately defaced by the cowardice and evil life of their nephews and descendants, could make the other to be. But as envy hath no affinity with justice and equity, so it forceth not what language the malicious do give out, against such as are exalted for their wisdoms. This nevertheless is generally to be reprehended in all estates of gentility, and which in short time will turn to the great ruin of our country, and that is, the usual sending of noblemen's and mean gentlemen's sons into Italy, from whence they bring home nothing but mere atheism, infidelity, vicious conversation, and ambitious and proud behaviour, whereby it cometh to pass that they return far worse men than they went out. A gentleman at this present is newly come out of Italy, who went thither an earnest Protestant; but coming home he could say after this manner: "Faith and truth is to be kept where no loss or hindrance of a future purpose is sustained by holding of the same; and forgiveness only to be shewed when full revenge is made." Another no less forward than he, at his return from thence, could add thus much: "He is a fool that maketh account of any religion, but more fool that will lose any part of his wealth or will come in trouble for constant leaning to any; but if he yield to lose his life for his possession, he is stark mad, and worthy to be taken for most fool of all the rest." This gay booty got these gentlemen by going into Italy; and hereby a man may see what fruit is afterward to be looked for where such blossoms do appear. "I care not," saith a third, "what you talk to me of God, so as I may have the prince and the laws of the realm on my side." Such men as this last are easily known; for they have learned in Italy to go up and down also in England with pages at their heels finely apparelled, whose face and countenance shall be such as sheweth the master not to be blind in his choice. But lest I should offend too much, I pass over to say any more of these Italianates and their demeanour, which, alas! is too open and manifest to the world, and yet not called into question. Citizens and burgesses have next place to gentlemen, who be those that are free within the cities, and are of some likely substance to bear office in the same. But these citizens or burgesses are to serve the commonwealth in their cities and boroughs, or in corporate towns where they dwell, and in the common assembly of the realm wherein our laws are made (for in the counties they bear but little sway), which assembly is called the High Court of Parliament: the ancient cities appoint four and the borough two burgesses to have voices in it, and give their consent or dissent unto such things as pass, to stay there in the name of the city or borough for which they are appointed. In this place also are our merchants to be installed as amongst the citizens (although they often change estate with gentlemen, as gentlemen do with them, by a mutual conversion of the one into the other), whose number is so increased in these our days that their only maintenance is the cause of the exceeding prices of foreign wares, which otherwise, when every nation was permitted to bring in her own commodities, were far better, cheaper, and more plentifully to be had. Of the want of our commodities here at home, by their great transportation of them into other countries, I speak not, sith the matter will easily betray itself. Certes among the Lacedæmonians it was found out that great numbers of merchants were nothing to the furtherance of the state of the commonwealth: wherefore it is to be wished that the huge heap of them were somewhat restrained, as also of our lawyers, so should the rest live more easily upon their own, and few honest chapmen be brought to decay by breaking of the bankrupt. I do not deny but that the navy of the land is in part maintained by their traffic, and so are the high prices of wares kept up, now they have gotten the only sale of things upon pretence of better furtherance of the commonwealth into their own hands: whereas in times past, when the strange bottoms were suffered to come in, we had sugar for fourpence the pound, that now at the writing of this Treatise is well worth half-a-crown; raisins or currants for a penny that now are holden at sixpence, and sometimes at eightpence and tenpence the pound; nutmegs at twopence halfpenny the ounce, ginger at a penny an ounce, prunes at halfpenny farthing, great raisins three pounds for a penny, cinnamon at fourpence the ounce, cloves at twopence, and pepper at twelve and sixteen pence the pound. Whereby we may see the sequel of things not always, but very seldom, to be such as is pretended in the beginning. The wares that they carry out of the realm are for the most part broad clothes and carsies of all colours, likewise cottons, friezes, rugs, tin, wool, our best beer, baize, bustian, mockadoes (tufted and plain), rash, lead, fells, etc.: which, being shipped at sundry ports of our coasts, are borne from thence into all quarters of the world, and there either exchanged for other wares or ready money, to the great gain and commodity of our merchants. And whereas in times past their chief trade was into Spain, Portugal, France, Flanders, Danske [Denmark], Norway, Scotland, and Ireland only, now in these days, as men not contented with these journeys, they have sought out the East and West Indies, and made now and then suspicious voyages, not only unto the Canaries and New Spain, but likewise into Cathay, Muscovy, and Tartaria, and the regions thereabout, from whence (as they say) they bring home great commodities. But alas! I see not by all their travel that the prices of things are any whit abated. Certes this enormity (for so I do account of it) was sufficiently provided for (Ann. 9 Edward III.) by a noble statute made in that behalf, but upon what occasion the general execution thereof is stayed or not called on, in good sooth, I cannot tell. This only I know, that every function and several vocation striveth with other, which of them should have all the water of commodity run into her own cistern. Yeomen are those which by our law are called Legales homines, free men born English, and may dispend of their own free land in yearly revenue to the sum of forty shillings sterling, or six pounds as money goeth in our times. Some are of the opinion, by Cap. 2 Rich. 2 Ann. 20, that they are the same which the Frenchmen call varlets, but, as that phrase is used in my time, it is very unlikely to be so. The truth is that the word is derived from the Saxon term Zeoman, or Geoman, which signifieth (as I have read) a settled or staid man, such I mean as, being married and of some years, betaketh himself to stay in the place of his abode for the better maintenance of himself and his family, whereof the single sort have no regard, but are likely to be still fleeting now hither now thither, which argueth want of stability in determination and resolution of judgment, for the execution of things of any importance. This sort of people have a certain pre-eminence, and more estimation than labourers and the common sort of artificers, and these commonly live wealthily, keep good houses, and travel to get riches. They are also for the most part farmers to gentlemen (in old time called Pagani, et opponuntur militibus, and therefore Persius calleth himself Semipaganus), or at the leastwise artificers, and with grazing, frequenting of markets, and keeping of servants (not idle servants, as the gentlemen do, but such as get both their own and part of their masters' living), do come to great wealth, insomuch that many of them are able and do buy the lands of unthrifty gentlemen, and often setting their sons to the schools, to the universities, and to the Inns of the Court, or, otherwise leaving them sufficient lands whereupon they may live without labour, do make them by those means to become gentlemen. These were they that in times past made all France afraid. And albeit they be not called "Master," as gentlemen are, or "Sir," as to knights appertaineth, but only "John" and "Thomas," etc., yet have they been found to have done very good service. The kings of England in foughten battles were wont to remain among them (who were their footmen) as the French kings did amongst their horsemen, the prince thereby shewing where his chief strength did consist. The fourth and last sort of people in England are day-labourers, poor husbandmen, and some retailers (which have no free land), copyholders, and all artificers, as tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, brickmakers, masons, etc. As for slaves and bondmen, we have none; nay, such is the privilege of our country by the especial grace of God and bounty of our princes, that if any come hither from other realms, so soon as they set foot on land they become so free of condition as their masters, whereby all note of servile bondage is utterly removed from them, wherein we resemble (not the Germans, who had slaves also, though such as in respect of the slaves of other countries might well be reputed free, but) the old Indians and the Taprobanes, who supposed it a great injury to Nature to make or suffer them to be bond, whom she in her wonted course doth product and bring forth free. This fourth and last sort of people therefore have neither voice nor authority in the commonwealth, but are to be ruled and not to rule other: yet they are not altogether neglected, for in cities and corporate towns, for default of yeomen, they are fain to make up their inquests of such manner of people. And in villages they are commonly made churchwardens, sidesmen, aleconners, now and then constables, and many times enjoy the name of head boroughs. Unto this sort also may our great swarms of idle serving-men be referred, of whom there runneth a proverb, "Young serving-men, old beggars," because service is none heritage. These men are profitable to none; for, if their condition be well perused, they are enemies to their masters, to their friends, and to themselves: for by them oftentimes their masters are encouraged unto unlawful exactions of their tenants, their friends brought unto poverty by their rents enhanced, and they themselves brought to confusion by their own prodigality and errors, as men that, having not wherewith of their own to maintain their excesses, do search in highways, budgets, coffers, mails, and stables, which way to supply their wants. How divers of them also, coveting to bear an high sail, do insinuate themselves with young gentlemen and noblemen newly come to their lands, the case is too much apparent, whereby the good natures of the parties are not only a little impaired, but also their livelihoods and revenues so wasted and consumed that, if at all, yet not in many years, they shall be able to recover themselves. It were very good therefore that the superfluous heaps of them were in part diminished. And since necessity enforceth to have some, yet let wisdom moderate their numbers, so shall their masters be rid of unnecessary charge, and the commonwealth of many thieves. No nation cherisheth such store of them as we do here in England, in hope of which maintenance many give themselves to idleness that otherwise would be brought to labour, and live in order like subjects. Of their whoredoms I will not speak anything at all, more than of their swearing; yet is it found that some of them do make the first a chief pillar of their building, consuming not only the goods but also the health and welfare of many honest gentlemen, citizens, wealthy yeomen, etc., by such unlawful dealings. But how far have I waded in this point, or how far may I sail in such a large sea? I will therefore now stay to speak any more of those kind of men. In returning therefore to my matter, this furthermore among other things I have to say of our husbandmen and artificers, that they were never so excellent in their trades as at this present. But as the workmanship of the latter sort was newer, more fine, and curious to the eye, so was it never less strong and substantial for continuance and benefit of the buyers. Neither is there anything that hurteth the common sort of our artificers more than haste, and a barbarous or slavish desire to turn the penny, and, by ridding their work, to make speedy utterance of their wares: which enforceth them to bungle up and despatch many things they care not how so they be out of their hands, whereby the buyer is often sore defrauded, and findeth to his cost that haste maketh waste, according to the proverb. Oh, how many trades and handicrafts are now in England whereof the commonwealth hath no need! How many needful commodities have we which are perfected with great cost, etc., and yet may with far more ease and less cost be provided from other countries if we could use the means! I will not speak of iron, glass, and such like, which spoil much wood, and yet are brought from other countries better cheap than we can make them here at home; I could exemplify also in many other. But to leave these things and proceed with our purpose, and herein (as occasion serveth) generally, by way of conclusion, to speak of the commonwealth of England, I find that it is governed and maintained by three sorts of persons-- 1. The prince, monarch, and head governor, which is called the king, or (if the crown fall to a woman) the queen: in whose name and by whose authority all things are administered. 2. The gentlemen, which be divided into two sorts, as the barony or estate of lords (which containeth barons and all above that degree), and also those that be no lords, as knights, esquires, and simple gentlemen, as I have noted already. Out of these also are the great deputies and high presidents chosen, of which one serveth in Ireland, as another did some time in Calais, and the captain now at Berwick, as one lord president doth govern in Wales, and the other the north parts of this island, which later, with certain counsellors and judges, were erected by King Henry the Eighth. But, for so much as I have touched their conditions elsewhere, it shall be enough to have remembered them at this time. 3. The third and last sort is named the yeomanry, of whom and their sequel, the labourers and artificers, I have said somewhat even now. Whereto I add that they may not be called masters and gentlemen, but goodmen, as Goodman Smith, Goodman Coot, Goodman Cornell, Goodman Mascall, Goodman Cockswet, etc.: and in matters of law these and the like are called thus, Giles Jewd, yeoman; Edward Mountford, yeoman; James Cocke, yeoman; Harry Butcher, yeoman, etc.; by which addition they are exempt from the vulgar and common sorts. Cato calleth them "Aratores et optimos cives rei publicæ," of whom also you may read more in the book of commonwealth which Sir Thomas Smith some time penned of this land.


As in old time we read that there were eight-and-twenty flamines and archflamines in the south part of this isle, and so many great cities under their jurisdiction, so in these our days there is but one or two fewer, and each of them also under the ecclesiastical regiment of some one bishop or archbishop, who in spiritual cases have the charge and oversight of the same. So many cities therefore are there in England and Wales as there be bishoprics and archbishoprics. For, notwithstanding that Lichfield and Coventry and Bath and Wells do seem to extend the aforesaid number unto nine-and-twenty, yet neither of these couples are to be accounted but as one entire city and see of the bishop, sith one bishopric can have relation but unto one see, and the said see be situate but in one place, after which the bishop doth take his name. Certes I would gladly set down, with the names and number of the cities, all the towns and villages in England and Wales, with their true longitudes and latitudes, but as yet I cannot come by them in such order as I would; howbeit the tale of our cities is soon found by the bishoprics, sith every see hath such prerogative given unto it as to bear the name of a city and to use Regaleius within her own limits. Which privilege also is granted to sundry ancient towns in England, especially northward, where more plenty of them is to be found by a great deal than in the south. The names therefore of our cities are these: London, York, Canterbury, Winchester, Carlisle, Durham, Ely, Norwich, Lincoln, Worcester, Gloucester, Hereford, Salisbury, Exeter, Bath, Lichfield, Bristol, Rochester, Chester, Chichester, Oxford, Peterborough, Llandaff, St. Davids, Bangor, St. Asaph, whose particular plots and models, with their descriptions, shall ensue, if it may be brought to pass that the cutters can make despatch of them before this history be published. Of towns and villages likewise thus much will I say, that there were greater store in old time (I mean within three or four hundred year passed) than at this present. And this I note out of divers records, charters, and donations (made in times past unto sundry religious houses, as Glastonbury, Abingdon, Ramsey, Ely, and such like), and whereof in these days I find not so much as the ruins. Leland, in sundry places, complaineth likewise of the decay of parishes in great cities and towns, missing in some six or eight or twelve churches and more, of all which he giveth particular notice. For albeit that the Saxons builded many towns and villages, and the Normans well more at their first coming, yet since the first two hundred years after the latter conquest, they have gone so fast again to decay that the ancient number of them is very much abated. Ranulph, the monk of Chester, telleth of general survey made in the fourth, sixteenth, and nineteenth of the reign of William Conqueror, surnamed the Bastard, wherein it was found that (notwithstanding the Danes had overthrown a great many) there were to the number of 52,000 towns, 45,002 parish churches, and 75,000 knights' fees, whereof the clergy held 28,015. He addeth moreover that there were divers other builded since that time, within the space of a hundred years after the coming of the Bastard, as it were in lieu or recompense of those that William Rufus pulled down for the erection of his New Forest. For by an old book which I have, and some time written as it seemeth by an under-sheriff of Nottingham, I find even in the time of Edward IV. 45,120 parish churches, and but 60,216 knights' fees, whereof the clergy held as before 28,015, or at the least 28,000; for so small is the difference which he doth seem to use. Howbeit, if the assertions of such as write in our time concerning this matter either are or ought to be of any credit in this behalf, you shall not find above 17,000 towns and villages, and 9210 in the whole, which is little more than a fourth part of the aforesaid number, if it be thoroughly scanned. In time past in Lincoln (as the same goeth) there have been two-and-fifty parish churches, and good record appeareth for eight-and-thirty; but now, if there be four-and-twenty, it is all. This inconvenience hath grown altogether to the church by appropriations made unto monasteries and religious houses--a terrible canker and enemy to religion. But to leave this lamentable discourse of so notable and grievous an inconvenience, growing as I said by encroaching and joining of house to house and laying land to land, whereby the inhabitants of many places of our country are devoured and eaten up, and their houses either altogether pulled down or suffered to decay little by little, although some time a poor man peradventure doth dwell in one of them, who, not being able to repair it, suffereth it to fall down--and thereto thinketh himself very friendly dealt withal, if he may have an acre of ground assigned unto him, wherein to keep a cow, or wherein to set cabbages, radishes, parsnips, carrots, melons, pompons, or such like stuff, by which he and his poor household liveth as by their principal food, sith they can do no better. And as for wheaten bread, they eat it when they can reach unto the price of it, contenting themselves in the meantime with bread made of oats or barley: a poor estate, God wot! Howbeit, what care our great encroachers? But in divers places where rich men dwelled some time in good tenements, there be now no houses at all, but hop-yards, and sheds for poles, or peradventure gardens, as we may see in Castle Hedingham, and divers other places. But to proceed. It is so that, our soil being divided into champaign ground and woodland, the houses of the first lie uniformly builded in every town together, with streets and lanes; whereas in the woodland countries (except here and there in great market towns) they stand scattered abroad, each one dwelling in the midst of his own occupying. And as in many and most great market towns, there are commonly three hundred or four hundred families or mansions, and two thousand communicants (or peradventure more), so in the other, whether they be woodland or champaign, we find not often above forty, fifty, or three score households, and two or three hundred communicants, whereof the greatest part nevertheless are very poor folks, oftentimes without all manner of occupying, sith the ground of the parish is gotten up into a few men's hands, yea sometimes into the tenure of one or two or three, whereby the rest are compelled either to be hired servants unto the other or else to beg their bread in misery from door to door. There are some (saith Leland) which are not so favourable, when they have gotten such lands, as to let the houses remain upon them to the use of the poor; but they will compound with the lord of the soil to pull them down for altogether, saying that "if they did let them stand, they should but toll beggars to the town, thereby to surcharge the rest of the parish, and lay more burden upon them." But alas! these pitiful men see not that they themselves hereby do lay the greatest log upon their neighbours' necks. For, sith the prince doth commonly loose nothing of his duties accustomable to be paid, the rest of the parishioners that remain must answer and bear them out: for they plead more charge other ways, saying: "I am charged already with a light horse; I am to answer in this sort, and after that matter." And it is not yet altogether out of knowledge that, where the king had seven pounds thirteen shillings at a task gathered of fifty wealthy householders of a parish in England, now, a gentleman having three parts of the town in his own hands, four households do bear all the aforesaid payment, or else Leland is deceived in his Commentaries, lib. 13, lately come to my hands, which thing he especially noted in his travel over this isle. A common plague and enormity, both in the heart of the land and likewise upon the coasts. Certes a great number complain of the increase of poverty, laying the cause upon God, as though he were in fault for sending such increase of people, or want of wars that should consume them, affirming that the land was never so full, etc.; but few men do see the very root from whence it doth proceed. Yet the Romans found it out, when they flourished, and therefore prescribed limits to every man's tenure and occupying. Homer commendeth Achilles for overthrowing of five-and-twenty cities: but in mine opinion Ganges is much better preferred by Suidas for building of three score in India, where he did plant himself. I could (if need required) set down in this place the number of religious houses and monasteries, with the names of their founders, that have been in this island: but, sith it is a thing of small importance, I pass it over as impertinent to my purpose. Yet herein I will commend sundry of the monastical votaries, especially monks, for that they were authors of many goodly borowes and endwares, near unto their dwellings, although otherwise they pretended to be men separated from the world. But alas! their covetous minds, one way in enlarging their revenues, and carnal intent another, appeared herein too, too much. For, being bold from time to time to visit their tenants, they wrought oft great wickedness, and made those endwares little better than brothel-houses, especially where nunneries were far off, or else no safe access unto them. But what do I spend my time in the rehearsal of these filthinesses? Would to God the memory of them might perish with the malefactors! My purpose was also at the end of this chapter to have set down a table of the parish churches and market towns throughout all England and Wales; but, sith I cannot perform the same as I would, I am forced to give over my purpose; yet by these few that ensue you shall easily see what order I would have used according to the shires, if I might have brought it to pass. Shires. Market Towns. Parishes. Middlesex 3 73 London within the walls and without 120 Surrey 6 140 Sussex 18 312 Kent 17 398 Cambridge 4 163 Bedford 9 13 Huntingdon 5 78 Rutland 2 47 Berkshire 11 150 Northampton 10 326 Buckingham 11 196 Oxford 10 216 Southampton 18 248 Dorset 19 279 Norfolk 26 625 Suffolk 25 575 Essex 18 415 And these I had of a friend of mine, by whose travel and his master's excessive charges I doubt not but my countrymen ere long shall see all England set forth in several shires after the same manner that Ortelius hath dealt with other countries of the main, to the great benefit of our nation and everlasting fame of the aforesaid parties.


After such time as Calais was won from the French, and that our countrymen had learned to trade into divers countries (whereby they grew rich), they began to wax idle also, and thereupon not only left off their former painfulness and frugality, but in like sort gave themselves to live in excess and vanity, whereby many goodly commodities failed, and in short time were not to be had amongst us. Such strangers also as dwelled here with us, perceiving our sluggishness, and espying that this idleness of ours might redound to their great profit, forthwith employed their endeavours to bring in the supply of such things as we lacked continually from foreign countries, which yet more augmented our idleness. For, having all things at reasonable prices (as we supposed) by such means from them, we thought it mere madness to spend either time or cost about the same here at home. And thus we became enemies to our own welfare, as men that in those days reposed our felicity in following the wars, wherewith we were often exercised both at home and other places. Besides this, the natural desire that mankind hath to esteem of things far sought, because they be rare and costly, and the irksome contempt of things near hand, for that they are common and plentiful, hath borne no small sway also in this behalf amongst us. For hereby we have neglected our own good gifts of God, growing here at home, as vile and of no value, and had every trifle and toy in admiration that is brought hither from far countries, ascribing I wot not what great forces and solemn estimation unto them, until they also have waxen old, after which, they have been so little regarded, if not more despised, amongst us than our own. Examples hereof I could set down many and in many things; but, sith my purpose is to deal at this time with gardens and orchards, it shall suffice that I touch them only, and show our inconstancy in the same, so far as shall seem and be convenient for my turn. I comprehend therefore under the word "garden" all such grounds as are wrought with the spade by man's hand, for so the case requireth. Of wine I have written already elsewhere sufficiently, which commodity (as I have learned further since the penning of that book) hath been very plentiful in this island, not only in the time of the Romans, but also since the Conquest, as I have seen by record; yet at this present have we none at all (or else very little to speak of) growing in this island, which I impute not unto the soil, but the negligence of my countrymen. Such herbs, fruits, and roots also as grow yearly out of the ground, of seed, have been very plentiful in this land, in the time of the first Edward, and after his days; but in process of time they grew also to be neglected, so that from Henry the Fourth till the latter end of Henry the Seventh and beginning of Henry the Eighth, there was little or no use of them in England, but they remained either unknown or supposed as food more meet for hogs and savage beasts to feed upon than mankind. Whereas in my time their use is not only resumed among the poor commons, I mean of melons, pompons, gourds, cucumbers, radishes, skirets, parsnips, carrots, cabbages, navews, turnips, and all kinds of salad herbs--but also fed upon as dainty dishes at the tables of delicate merchants, gentlemen, and the nobility, who make their provision yearly for new seeds out of strange countries, from whence they have them abundantly. Neither do they now stay with such of these fruits as are wholesome in their kinds, but adventure further upon such as are very dangerous and hurtful, as the verangenes, mushrooms, etc., as if nature had ordained all for the belly, or that all things were to be eaten for whose mischievous operation the Lord in some measure hath given and provided a remedy. Hops in time past were plentiful in this land. Afterwards also their maintenance did cease. And now, being revived, where are any better to be found? Where any greater commodity to be raised by them? Only poles are accounted to be their greatest charge. But, sith men have learned of late to sow ashen kexes in ashyards by themselves, that inconvenience in short time will be redressed. Madder hath grown abundantly in this island, but of long time neglected, and now a little revived, and offereth itself to prove no small benefit unto our country, as many other things else, which are now fetched from us: as we before time, when we gave ourselves to idleness, were glad to have them other. If you look into our gardens annexed to our houses, how wonderfully is their beauty increased, not only with flowers, which Columella calleth Terrena sydera, saying, "Pingit et in varios terrestria sydera flores," and variety of curious and costly workmanship, but also with rare and medicinable herbs sought up in the land within these forty years: so that, in comparison of this present, the ancient gardens were but dunghills and laistowes to such as did possess them. How art also helpeth nature in the daily colouring, doubling, and enlarging the proportion of our flowers, it is incredible to report: for so curious and cunning are our gardeners now in these days that they presume to do in manner what they list with nature, and moderate her course in things as if they were her superiors. It is a world also to see how many strange herbs, plants, and annual fruits are daily brought unto us from the Indies, Americans, Taprobane, Canary Isles, and all parts of the world: the which, albeit that in respect of the constitutions of our bodies they do not grow for us (because that God hath bestowed sufficient commodities upon every country for her own necessity), yet, for delectation sake unto the eye and their odoriferous savours unto the nose, they are to be cherished, and God to be glorified also in them, because they are his good gifts, and created to do man help and service. There is not almost one nobleman, gentleman, or merchant that hath not great store of these flowers, which now also do begin to wax so well acquainted with our soils that we may almost account of them as parcel of our own commodities. They have no less regard in like sort to cherish medicinable herbs fetched out of other regions nearer hand, insomuch that I have seen in some one garden to the number of three hundred or four hundred of them, if not more, of the half of whose names within forty years past we had no manner of knowledge. But herein I find some cause of just complaint, for that we extol their uses so far that we fall into contempt of our own, which are in truth more beneficial and apt for us than such as grow elsewhere, sith (as I said before) every region hath abundantly within her own limits whatsoever is needful and most convenient for them that dwell therein. How do men extol the use of tobacco in my time, whereas in truth (whether the cause be in the repugnancy of our constitution unto the operation thereof, or that the ground doth alter her force, I cannot tell) it is not found of so great efficacy as they write. And beside this, our common germander or thistle benet is found and known to be so wholesome and of so great power in medicine as any other herb, if they be used accordingly. I could exemplify after the like manner in sundry other, as the Salsa parilla, Mochoacan, etc., but I forbear so to do, because I covet to be brief. And truly, the estimation and credit that we yield and give unto compound medicines made with foreign drugs is one great cause wherefore the full knowledge and use of our own simples hath been so long raked up in the embers. And as this may be verified so to be one sound conclusion, for, the greater number of simples that go unto any compound medicine, the greater confusion is found therein, because the qualities and operations of very few of the particulars are thoroughly known. And even so our continual desire of strange drugs, whereby the physician and apothecary only hath the benefit, is no small cause that the use of our simples here at home doth go to loss, and that we tread those herbs under our feet, whose forces if we knew, and could apply them to our necessities, we would honour and have in reverence as to their case behoveth. Alas! what have we to do with such Arabian and Grecian stuff as is daily brought from those parties which lie in another clime? And therefore the bodies of such as dwell there are of another constitution than ours are here at home. Certes they grow not for us, but for the Arabians and Grecians. And albeit that they may by skill be applied unto our benefit, yet to be more skilful in them than in our own is folly; and to use foreign wares, when our own may serve the turn, is more folly; but to despise our own, and magnify above measure the use of them that are sought and brought from far, is most folly of all: for it savoureth of ignorance, or at the leastwise of negligence, and therefore worthy of reproach. Among the Indians, who have the most present cures for every disease of their own nation, there is small regard of compound medicines, and less of foreign drugs, because they neither know them nor can use them, but work wonders even with their own simples. With them also the difference of the clime doth show her full effect. For, whereas they will heal one another in short time with application of one simple, etc., if a Spaniard or Englishman stand in need of their help, they are driven to have a longer space in their cures, and now and then also to use some addition of two or three simples at the most, whose forces unto them are thoroughly known, because their exercise is only in their own, as men that never sought or heard what virtue was in those that came from other countries. And even so did Marcus Cato, the learned Roman, endeavour to deal in his cures of sundry diseases, wherein he not only used such simples as were to be had in his own country, but also examined and learned the forces of each of them, wherewith he dealt so diligently that in all his lifetime he could attain to the exact knowledge but of a few, and thereto wrote of those most learnedly, as would easily be seen if those his books were extant. For the space also of six hundred years the colewort only was a medicine in Rome for all diseases, so that his virtues were thoroughly known in those parts. In Pliny's time the like affection to foreign drugs did rage among the Romans, whereby their own did grow in contempt. Crying out therefore of this extreme folly, lib. 22, cap. 24, he speaketh after this manner-- "Non placent remedia tam longè nascentia, non enim nobis gignuntur, immò ne illis quidem, alioquin non venderent; si placet etiam superstitionis gratia emantur, quoniam supplicamus, &c. Salutem quidem sine his posse constare, vel ob id probabimus, ut tanto magis sui tandem pudeat." For my part, I doubt not if the use of outlandish drugs had not blinded our physicians of England in times past, but that the virtues of our simples here at home would have been far better known, and so well unto us as those of India are to the practitioners of those parts, and thereunto be found more profitable for us than the foreign either are or may be. This also will I add, that even those which are most common by reason of their plenty, and most vile because of their abundance, are not without some universal and special efficacy, if it were known, for our benefit: sith God in nature hath so disposed his creatures that the most needful are the most plentiful and serving for such general diseases as our constitution most commonly is affected withal. Great thanks therefore be given unto the physicians of our age and country, who not only endeavour to search out the use of such simples as our soil doth yield and bring forth, but also to procure such as grow elsewhere, upon purpose so to acquaint them with our clime that they in time, through some alteration received from the nature of the earth, may likewise turn to our benefit and commodity and be used as our own. The chief workman (or, as I may call him, the founder of this device) is Carolus Clusius, the noble herbarist whose industry hath wonderfully stirred them up unto this good act. For albeit that Matthiolus, Rembert, Lobell, and others have travelled very far in this behalf, yet none hath come near to Clusius, much less gone further in the finding and true descriptions of such herbs as of late are brought to light. I doubt not but, if this man were in England but one seven years, he would reveal a number of herbs growing with us whereof neither our physicians nor apothecaries as yet have any knowledge. And even like thanks be given unto our nobility, gentlemen, and others, for their continual nutriture and cherishing of such homeborne and foreign simples in their gardens: for hereby they shall not only be had at hand and preserved, but also their forms made more familiar to be discerned and their forces better known than hitherto they have been. And even as it fareth with our gardens, so doth it with our orchards, which were never furnished with so good fruit nor with such variety as at this present. For, beside that we have most delicate apples, plums, pears, walnuts, filberts, etc., and those of sundry sorts, planted within forty years past, in comparison of which most of the old trees are nothing worth, so have we no less store of strange fruit, as apricots, almonds, peaches, figs, corn-trees in noblemen's orchards. I have seen capers, oranges, and lemons, and heard of wild olives growing here, beside other strange trees, brought from far, whose names I know not. So that England for these commodities was never better furnished, neither any nation under their clime more plentifully endued with these and other blessings from the most high God, who grant us grace withal to use the same to his honour and glory! And not as instruments and provocations unto further excess and vanity, wherewith his displeasure may be kindled, lest these his benefits do turn unto thorns and briers unto us for our annoyance and punishment, which he hath bestowed upon us for our consolation and comfort. We have in like sort such workmen as are not only excellent in grafting the natural fruits, but also in their artificial mixtures, whereby one tree bringeth forth sundry fruits, and one and the same fruit of divers colours and tastes, dallying as it were with nature and her course, as if her whole trade were perfectly known unto them: of hard fruits they will make tender, of sour sweet, of sweet yet more delicate, bereaving also some of their kernels, other of their cores, and finally enduing them with the savour of musk, amber, or sweet spices, at their pleasures. Divers also have written at large of these several practices, and some of them how to convert the kernels of peaches into almonds, of small fruit to make far greater, and to remove or add superfluous or necessary moisture to the trees, with other things belonging to their preservation, and with no less diligence than our physicians do commonly show upon our own diseased bodies, which to me doth seem right strange. And even so do our gardeners with their herbs, whereby they are strengthened against noisome blasts, and preserved from putrefaction and hindrance: whereby some such as were annual are now made perpetual, being yearly taken up, and either reserved in the house, or, having the ross pulled from their roots, laid again into the earth, where they remain in safety. What choice they make also in their waters, and wherewith some of them do now and then keep them moist, it is a world to see, insomuch that the apothecaries' shops may seem to be needful also to our gardens and orchards, and that in sundry wise: nay, the kitchen itself is so far from being able to be missed among them that even the very dish-water is not without some use amongst our finest plants. Whereby, and sundry other circumstances not here to be remembered, I am persuaded that, albeit the gardens of the Hesperides were in times past so greatly accounted of, because of their delicacy, yet, if it were possible to have such an equal judge as by certain knowledge of both were able to pronounce upon them, I doubt not but he would give the prize unto the gardens of our days, and generally over all Europe, in comparison of those times wherein the old exceeded. Pliny and others speak of a rose that had three score leaves growing upon one button: but if I should tell of one which bare a triple number unto that proportion, I know I shall not be believed, and no great matter though I were not; howbeit such a one was to be seen in Antwerp, 1585, as I have heard, and I know who might have had a slip or stallon thereof, if he would have ventured ten pounds upon the growth of the same, which should have been but a tickle hazard, and therefore better undone, as I did always imagine. For mine own part, good reader, let me boast a little of my garden, which is but small, and the whole area thereof little above 300 foot of ground, and yet, such hath been my good luck in purchase of the variety of simples, that, notwithstanding my small ability, there are very near three hundred of one sort and other contained therein, no one of them being common or usually to be had. If therefore my little plot, void of all cost in keeping, be so well furnished, what shall we think of those of Hampton Court, Nonsuch, Tibault's, Cobham Garden, and sundry others appertaining to divers citizens of London, whom I could particularly name; if I should not seem to offend them by such my demeanour and dealing.


There are (as I take it) few great towns in England that have not their weekly markets, one or more granted from the prince, in which all manner of provision for household is to be bought and sold, for ease and benefit of the country round about. Whereby, as it cometh to pass that no buyer shall make any great journey in the purveyance of his necessities, so no occupier shall have occasion to travel far off with his commodities, except it be to seek for the highest prices, which commonly are near unto great cities, where round and speediest utterance is always to be had. And, as these have been in times past erected for the benefit of the realm, so are they in many places too, too much abused: for the relief and ease of the buyer is not so much intended in them as the benefit of the seller. Neither are the magistrates for the most part (as men loath to displease their neighbours for their one year's dignity) so careful in their offices as of right and duty they should be. For, in most of these markets, neither assizes of bread nor orders for goodness and sweetness of grain and other commodities that are brought thither to be sold are any whit looked unto, but each one suffered to sell or set up what and how himself listeth: and this is one evident cause of dearth and scarcity in time of great abundance. I could (if I would) exemplify in many, but I will touch no one particularly, sith it is rare to see in any country town (as I said) the assize of bread well kept according to the statute; and yet, if any country baker happen to come in among them on the market day with bread of better quantity, they find fault by-and-by with one thing or other in his stuff, whereby the honest poor man (whom the law of nations do commend, for that he endeavoureth to live by any lawful means) is driven away, and no more to come there, upon some round penalty, by virtue of their privileges. Howbeit, though they are so nice in the proportion of their bread, yet, in lieu of the same, there is such heady ale and beer in most of them as for the mightiness thereof among such as seek it out is commonly called "huffcap," "the mad dog," "Father Whoreson," "angels' food," "dragon's milk," "go-by-the-wall," "stride wide," and "lift leg," etc. And this is more to be noted, that when one of late fell by God's providence into a troubled conscience, after he had considered well of his reachless life and dangerous estate, another, thinking belike to change his colour and not his mind, carried him straight away to the strongest ale, as to the next physician. It is incredible to say how our maltbugs lug at this liquor, even as pigs should lie in a row lugging at their dame's teats, till they lie still again and be not able to wag. Neither did Romulus and Remus suck their she-wolf or shepherd's wife Lupa with such eager and sharp devotion as these men hale at "huffcap," till they be red as cocks and little wiser than their combs. But how am I fallen from the market into the alehouse? In returning therefore unto my purpose, I find that in corn great abuse is daily suffered, to the great prejudice of the town and country, especially the poor artificer and householder, which tilleth no land, but, labouring all the week to buy a bushel or two of grain on the market day, can there have none for his money: because bodgers, loaders, and common carriers of corn do not only buy up all, but give above the price, to be served of great quantities. Shall I go any further? Well, I will say yet a little more, and somewhat by mine own experience. At Michaelmas time poor men must make money of their grain, that they may pay their rents. So long then as the poor man hath to sell, rich men will bring out none, but rather buy up that which the poor bring, under pretence of seed corn or alteration of grain, although they bring none of their own, because one wheat often sown without change of seed will soon decay and be converted into darnel. For this cause therefore they must needs buy in the markets, though they be twenty miles off, and where they be not known, promising there, if they happen to be espied (which, God wot, is very seldom), to send so much to their next market, to be performed I wot not when. If this shift serve not (neither doth the fox use always one track for fear of a snare), they will compound with some one of the town where the market is holden, who for a pot of "huffcap" or "merry-go-down," will not let to buy it for them, and that in his own name. Or else they wage one poor man or other to become a bodger, and thereto get him a licence upon some forged surmise, which being done, they will feed him with money to buy for them till he hath filled their lofts; and then, if he can do any good for himself, so it is; if not, they will give him somewhat for his pains at this time, and reserve him for another year. How many of the like providers stumble upon blind creeks at the sea coast, I wot not well; but that some have so done and yet do under other men's wings, the case is too, too plain. But who dare find fault with them, when they have once a licence? yes, though it be but to serve a mean gentleman's house with corn, who hath cast up all his tillage, because he boasteth how he can buy his grain in the market better cheap than he can sow his land, as the rich grazier often doth also upon the like device, because grazing requireth a smaller household and less attendance and charge. If any man come to buy a bushel or two for his expenses unto the market cross, answer is made: "Forsooth, here was one even now that bade me money for it, and I hope he will have it." And to say the truth, these bodgers are fair chapmen; for there are no more words with them, but "Let me see it! What shall I give you? Knit it up! I will have it--go carry it to such a chamber, and if you bring in twenty seme more in the week-day to such an inn or sollar where I lay my corn, I will have it, and give you () pence or more in every bushel for six weeks' day of payment than another will." Thus the bodgers bear away all, so that the poor artificer and labourer cannot make his provision in the markets, sith they will hardly nowadays sell by the bushel, nor break their measure; and so much the rather for that the buyer will look (as they say) for so much over measure in the bushel as the bodger will do in a quarter. Nay, the poor man cannot oft get any of the farmer at home, because he provideth altogether to serve the bodger, or hath an hope, grounded upon a greedy and insatiable desire of gain, that the sale will be better in the market, so that he must give twopence or a groat more in the bushel at his house than the last market craved, or else go without it, and sleep with a hungry belly. Of the common carriage of corn over unto the parts beyond the seas I speak not; or at the leastwise, if I should, I could not touch it alone, but needs must join other provision withal, whereby not only our friends abroad, but also many of our adversaries and countrymen, the papists, are abundantly relieved (as the report goeth); but sith I see it not, I will not so trust mine ears as to write it for a truth. But to return to our markets again. By this time the poor occupier hath sold all his crop for need of money, being ready peradventure to buy again ere long. And now is the whole sale of corn in the great occupiers' hands, who hitherto have threshed little or none of their own, but bought up of other men as much as they could come by. Henceforth also they begin to sell, not by the quarter or load at the first (for marring the market), but by the bushel or two, or a horseload at the most, thereby to be seen to keep the cross, either for a show, or to make men eager to buy, and so, as they may have it for money, not to regard what they pay. And thus corn waxeth dear; but it will be dearer the next market day. It is possible also that they mislike the price in the beginning for the whole year ensuing, as men supposing that corn will be little worth for this, and of better price the next year. For they have certain superstitious observations whereby they will give a guess at the sale of corn for the year following. And our countrymen do use commonly for barley, where I dwell, to judge after the price at Baldock upon St. Matthew's day; and for wheat, as it is sold in seed time. They take in like sort experiment by sight of the first flocks of cranes that flee southward in winter, the age of the moon in the beginning of January, and such other apish toys as by laying twelve corns upon the hot hearth for the twelve months, etc., whereby they shew themselves to be scant good Christians; but what care they, so that they come by money? Hereupon also will they thresh out three parts of the old corn, towards the latter end of the summer, when new cometh apace to hand, and cast the same in the fourth unthreshed, where it shall lie until the next spring, or peradventure till it must and putrify. Certes it is not dainty to see musty corn in many of our great markets of England which these great occupiers bring forth when they can keep it no longer. But as they are enforced oftentimes upon this one occasion somewhat to abate the price, so a plague is not seldom engendered thereby among the poorer sort that of necessity must buy the same, whereby many thousands of all degrees are consumed, of whose deaths (in mine opinion) these farmers are not unguilty. But to proceed. If they lay not up their grain or wheat in this manner, they have yet another policy, whereby they will seem to have but small store left in their barns: for else they will gird their sheaves by the band, and stack it up anew in less room, to the end it may not only seem less in quantity, but also give place to the corn that is yet to come into the barn or growing in the field. If there happen to be such plenty in the market on any market day that they cannot sell at their own price, then will they set it up in some friend's house, against another on the third day, and not bring it forth till they like of the sale. If they sell any at home, beside harder measure, it shall be dearer to the poor man that buyeth it by twopence or a groat in a bushel than they may sell it in the market. But, as these things are worthy redress, so I wish that God would once open their eyes that deal thus to see their own errors: for as yet some of them little care how many poor men suffer extremity, so that they fill their purses and carry away the gain. It is a world also to see how most places of the realm are pestered with purveyors, who take up eggs, butter, cheese, pigs, capons, hens, chickens, hogs, bacon, etc., in one market under pretence of their commissions, and suffer their wives to sell the same in another, or to poulterers of London. If these chapmen be absent but two or three market days then we may perfectly see these wares to be more reasonably sold, and thereunto the crosses sufficiently furnished of all things. In like sort, since the number of buttermen have so much increased, and since they travel in such wise that they come to men's houses for their butter faster than they can make it, it is almost incredible to see how the price of butter is augmented: whereas when the owners were enforced to bring it to the market towns, and fewer of these butter buyers were stirring, our butter was scarcely worth eighteenpence the gallon that now is worth three shillings fourpence and perhaps five shillings. Whereby also I gather that the maintenance of a superfluous number of dealers in most trades, tillage always excepted, is one of the greatest causes why the prices of things become excessive: for one of them do commonly use to outbid another. And whilst our country commodities are commonly bought and sold at our private houses, I never look to see this enormity redressed or the markets well furnished. I could say more, but this is even enough, and more peradventure than I shall be well thanked for: yet true it is, though some think it no trespass. This moreover is to be lamented, that one general measure is not in use throughout all England, but every market town hath in manner a several bushel; and the lesser it be, the more sellers it draweth to resort unto the same. Such also is the covetousness of many clerks of the market, that in taking a view of measures they will always so provide that one and the same bushel shall be either too big or too little at their next coming, and yet not depart without a fee at the first, so that what by their mending at one time, and impairing the same at another, the country is greatly charged, and few just measures to be had in any steed. It is oft found likewise that divers unconscionable dealers have one measure to sell by and another to buy withal; the like is also in weights, and yet all sealed and bronded. Wherefore it were very good that these two were reduced unto one standard, that is, one bushel, one pound, one quarter, one hundred, one tale, one number: so should things in time fall into better order and fewer causes of contention be moved in this land. Of the complaint of such poor tenants as pay rent corn unto their landlords, I speak not, who are often dealt withal very hardly. For, beside that in measuring of ten quarters for the most part they lose one through the iniquity of the bushel (such is the greediness of the appointed receivers thereof), fault is found also with the goodness and cleanness of the grain. Whereby some piece of money must needs pass unto their purses to stop their mouths withal, or else "My lord will not like of the corn," "Thou art worthy to lose thy lease," etc. Or, if it be cheaper in the market than the rate allowed for it is in their rents, then must they pay money and no corn, which is no small extremity. And thereby we may see how each one of us endeavoureth to fleece and eat up another. Another thing there is in our markets worthy to be looked into, and that is the recarriage of grain from the same into lofts and cellars, of which before I gave some intimation; wherefore, if it were ordered that every seller should make his market by an hour, or else the bailey or clerk of the said market to make sale thereof, according to his discretion, without liberty to the farmers to set up their corn in houses and chambers, I am persuaded that the prices of our grain would soon be abated. Again, if it were enacted that each one should keep his next market with his grain (and not to run six, eight, ten, fourteen, or twenty miles from home to sell his corn where he doth find the highest price, and thereby leaveth his neighbours unfurnished), I do not think but that our markets would be far better served than at this present they are. Finally, if men's barns might be indifferently viewed immediately after harvest, and a note gathered by an estimate, and kept by some appointed and trusty person for that purpose, we should have much more plenty of corn in our town crosses than as yet is commonly seen: because each one hideth and hoardeth what he may, upon purpose either that it will be dearer, or that he shall have some privy vein by bodgers, who do accustomably so deal that the sea doth load away no small part thereof into other countries and our enemies, to the great hindrance of our commonwealth at home, and more likely yet to be, except some remedy be found. But what do I talk of these things, or desire the suppression of bodgers, being a minister? Certes I may speak of them right well as feeling the harm in that I am a buyer, nevertheless I speak generally in each of them. To conclude therefore, in our markets all things are to be sold necessary for man's use; and there is our provision made commonly for all the week ensuing. Therefore, as there are no great towns without one weekly market at least, so there are very few of them that have not one or two fairs or more within the compass of the year, assigned unto them by the prince. And albeit that some of them are not much better than Louse fair, or the common kirkemesses beyond the sea, yet there are divers not inferior to the greatest marts in Europe, as Stourbridge fair near to Cambridge, Bristow fair, Bartholomew fair at London, Lynn mart, Cold fair at Newport pond for cattle, and divers other, all which, or at leastwise the greatest part of them (to the end I may with the more ease to the reader and less travel to myself fulfil my task in their recital), I have set down according to the names of the months wherein they are holden at the end of this book, where you shall find them at large as I borrowed the same from J. Stow and the reports of others.


The situation of our region, lying near unto the north, doth cause the heat of our stomachs to be of somewhat greater force: therefore our bodies do crave a little more ample nourishment than the inhabitants of the hotter regions are accustomed withal, whose digestive force is not altogether so vehement, because their internal heat is not so strong as ours, which is kept in by the coldness of the air that from time to time (especially in winter) doth environ our bodies. It is no marvel therefore that our tables are oftentimes more plentifully garnished than those of other nations, and this trade hath continued with us even since the very beginning. For, before the Romans found out and knew the way unto our country, our predecessors fed largely upon flesh and milk, whereof there was great abundance in this isle, because they applied their chief studies unto pasturage and feeding. After this manner also did our Welsh Britons order themselves in their diet so long as they lived of themselves, but after they became to be united and made equal with the English they framed their appetites to live after our manner, so that at this day there is very little difference between us in our diets. In Scotland likewise they have given themselves (of late years to speak of) unto very ample and large diet, wherein as for some respect nature doth make them equal with us, so otherwise they far exceed us in over much and distemperate gormandise, and so ingross their bodies that divers of them do oft become unapt to any other purpose than to spend their times in large tabling and belly cheer. Against this pampering of their carcasses doth Hector Boethius in his description of the country very sharply inveigh in the first chapter of that treatise. Henry Wardlaw also, bishop of St. Andrews, noting their vehement alteration from competent frugality into excessive gluttony to be brought out of England with James the First (who had been long time prisoner there under the fourth and fifth Henries, and at his return carried divers English gentlemen into his country with him, whom he very honourably preferred there), doth vehemently exclaim against the same in open Parliament holden at Perth, 1433, before the three estates, and so bringeth his purpose to pass in the end, by force of his learned persuasions, that a law was presently made there for the restraint of superfluous diet; amongst other things, baked meats (dishes never before this man's days seen in Scotland) were generally so provided for by virtue of this Act that it was not lawful for any to eat of the same under the degree of a gentleman, and those only but on high and festival days. But, alas, it was soon forgotten! In old time these north Britons did give themselves universally to great abstinence, and in time of wars their soldiers would often feed but once or twice at the most in two or three days (especially if they held themselves in secret, or could have no issue out of their bogs and marshes, through the presence of the enemy), and in this distress they used to eat a certain kind of confection, whereof so much as a bean would qualify their hunger above common expectation. In woods moreover they lived with herbs and roots, or, if these shifts served not through want of such provision at hand, then used they to creep into the water or said moorish plots up unto the chins, and there remain a long time, only to qualify the heats of their stomachs by violence, which otherwise would have wrought and been ready to oppress them for hunger and want of sustenance. In those days likewise it was taken for a great offence over all to eat either goose, hare, or hen, because of a certain superstitious opinion which they had conceived of those three creatures; howbeit after that the Romans, I say, had once found an entrance into this island it was not long ere open shipwreck was made of this religious observation, so that in process of time so well the north and south Britons as the Romans gave over to make such difference in meats as they had done before. From thenceforth also unto our days, and even in this season wherein we live, there is no restraint of any meat either for religious sake or public order in England, but it is lawful for every man to feed upon whatsoever he is able to purchase, except it be upon those days whereon eating of flesh is especially forbidden by the laws of the realm, which order is taken only to the end our numbers of cattle may be the better increased and that abundance of fish which the sea yieldeth more generally received. Besides this, there is great consideration had in making this law for the preservation of the navy and maintenance of convenient numbers of seafaring men, both which would otherwise greatly decay if some means were not found whereby they might be increased. But, howsoever this case standeth, white meats, milk, butter, and cheese (which were never so dear as in my time, and wont to be accounted of as one of the chief stays throughout the island) are now reputed as food appertinent only to the inferior sort, whilst such as are more wealthy do feed upon the flesh of all kinds of cattle accustomed to be eaten, all sorts of fish taken upon our coasts and in our fresh rivers, and such diversity of wild and tame fowls as are either bred in our island or brought over unto us from other countries of the main. In number of dishes and change of meat the nobility of England (whose cooks are for the most part musical-headed Frenchmen and strangers) do most exceed, sith there is no day in manner that passeth over their heads wherein they have not only beef, mutton, veal, lamb, kid, pork, cony, capon, pig, or so many of these as the season yieldeth, but also some portion of the red or fallow deer, beside great variety of fish and wild fowl, and thereto sundry other delicates wherein the sweet hand of the seafaring Portugal is not wanting: so that for a man to dine with one of them, and to taste of every dish that standeth before him (which few used to do, but each one feedeth upon that meat him best liketh for the time, the beginning of every dish notwithstanding being reserved unto the greatest personage that sitteth at the table, to whom it is drawn up still by the waiters as order requireth, and from whom it descendeth again even to the lower end, whereby each one may taste thereof), is rather to yield unto a conspiracy with a great deal of meat for the speedy suppression of natural health than the use of a necessary mean to satisfy himself with a 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; besides 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 aforementioned, 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 has tasted of it, he delivered 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 Mnesitheus of Athens, in conservation of the honour of Orestes, who had not yet made expiation for the death of his adulterous parents, Ægisthus and Clytemnestra) 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 is any 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 loathing 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 near 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 vasa whereof now no man hath knowledge. And as this is seen in the gentility, so in the wealthy communalty 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 worst 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 metallical 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 accompany them at their tables. And yet their servants have their ordinary diet assigned, beside such as is left at their master's boards, and not appointed to be brought thither the second time, which nevertheless is often seen, generally in venison, lamb, or some especial dish, whereon the merchantman himself liketh to feed when it is cold, or peradventure for sundry causes incident to the feeder is better so than if it were warm or hot. To be short, at such times as the merchants do make their ordinary or voluntary 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 anything that the butcher usually killeth, but reject the same as not worthy to come in place. In such cases also jellies of all colours, 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, codinacs, marmalades, marchpane, sugar-bread, gingerbread, florentines, wild fowls, venison of all sorts, and sundry outlandish confections, 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 potato, and such venerous roots as are brought out of Spain, Portugal, and the Indies to furnish up our banquets, I 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 costs, 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 anywhere more store of all sorts than in England, although we have none growing with us but yearly to the proportion of 20,000 or 30,000 tun and upwards, notwithstanding the daily restraints of the same brought over unto us, whereof at great meetings there is not some store to be had. Neither do I mean this of small wines only, as claret, white, red, French, etc., which amount to about fifty-six sorts, according to the number of regions from whence they came, but also of the thirty kinds of Italian, Grecian, Spanish, Canarian, etc., whereof vernage, catepument, raspis, muscadell, romnie, bastard lire, osy caprie, clary, and malmesey, are not least of all accompted of, because of their strength and valour. For, as I have said in meat, so, the stronger the wine is, the more it is desired, by means whereof, in old time, the best was called theologicum, because it was had from the clergy and religious men, unto whose houses many of the laity would often send for bottles filled with the same, being sure they would neither drink nor be served of the worst, or such as was any ways mingled or brewed by the vinterer: nay, the merchant would have thought that his soul should have gone straightway to the devil if he should have served them with other than the best. Furthermore, when these have had their course which nature yieldeth, sundry sorts of artificial stuff as ypocras and wormwood wine must in like manner succeed in their turns, beside stale ale and strong beer, which nevertheless bear the greatest brunt in drinking, and are of so many sorts and ages as it pleaseth the brewer to make them. The beer that is used at noblemen's tables in their fixed and standing houses is commonly a year old, or peradventure of two years' tunning or more; but this is not general. It is also brewed in March, and therefore called March beer; but, for the household, it is usually not under a month's age, each one coveting to have the same stale as he may, so that it be not sour, and his bread new as is possible, so that it be not hot. The artificer and husbandman makes greatest account of such meat as they may soonest come by, and have it quickliest ready, except it be in London when the companies of every trade do meet on their quarter days, at which time they be nothing inferior to the nobility. Their food also consisteth principally in beef, and such meat as the butcher selleth--that is to say, mutton, veal, lamb, pork, etc., whereof he findeth great store in the markets adjoining, beside sows, brawn, bacon, fruit, pies of fruit, fowls of sundry sorts, cheese, butter, eggs, etc., as the other wanteth it not at home, by his own provision which is at the best hand, and commonly least charge. In feasting also, this latter sort, I mean the husbandmen, do exceed after their manner, especially at bridals, purifications of women, and such odd meetings, where it is incredible to tell what meat is consumed and spent, each one bringing such a dish, or so many with him, as his wife and he do consult upon, but always with this consideration, that the lesser friend shall have the better provision. This also is commonly seen at these banquets, that the good man of the house is not charged with anything saving bread, drink, sauce, house-room, and fire. But the artificers in cities and good towns do deal far otherwise; for, albeit that some of them do suffer their jaws to go oft before their claws, and divers of them, by making good cheer, do hinder themselves and other men, yet the wiser sort can handle the matter well enough in these junkettings, and therefore their frugality deserveth commendation. To conclude, both the artificer and the husbandman are sufficiently liberal, and very friendly at their tables; and, when they meet, they are so merry without malice, and plain without inward Italian or French craft and subtlety, that it would do a man good to be in company among them. Herein only are the inferior sort somewhat to be blamed, that, being thus assembled, their talk is now and then such as savoureth of scurrility and ribaldry, a thing naturally incident to carters and clowns, who think themselves not to be merry and welcome if their foolish veins in this behalf be never so little restrained. This is moreover to be added in these meetings, that if they happen to stumble upon a piece of venison and a cup of wine or very strong beer or ale (which latter they commonly provide against their appointed days), they think their cheer so great, and themselves to have fared so well, as the Lord Mayor of London, with whom, when their bellies be full, they will not often stick to make comparison, because that of a subject there is no public officer of any city in Europe that may compare in port and countenance with him during the time of his office. I might here talk somewhat of the great silence that is used at the tables of the honourable and wiser sort generally over all the realm (albeit that too much deserveth no commendation, for it belongeth to guests neither to be muti nor loquaces), likewise of the moderate eating and drinking that is daily seen, and finally of the regard that each one hath to keep himself from the note of surfeiting and drunkenness (for which cause salt meat, except beef, bacon, and pork, are not any whit esteemed, and yet these three may not be much powdered); but, as in rehearsal thereof I should commend the nobleman, merchant, and frugal artificer, so I could not clear the meaner sort of husbandmen and country inhabitants of very much babbling (except it be here and there some odd yeoman), with whom he is thought to be the merriest that talketh of most ribaldry or the wisest man that speaketh fastest among them, and now and then surfeiting and drunkenness which they rather fall into for want of heed taking than wilfully following or delighting in those errors of set mind and purpose. It may be that divers of them living at home, with hard and pinching diet, small drink, and some of them having scarce enough of that, are soonest overtaken when they come into such banquets; howbeit they take it generally as no small disgrace if they happen to be cupshotten, so that it is a grief unto them, though now sans remedy, sith the thing is done and past. If the friends also of the wealthier sort come to their houses from far, they are commonly so welcome till they depart as upon the first day of their coming; whereas in good towns and cities, as London, etc., men oftentimes complain of little room, and, in reward of a fat capon or plenty of beef and mutton largely bestowed upon them in the country, a cup of wine or beer with a napkin to wipe their lips and an "You are heartily welcome!" is thought to be a great entertainment; and therefore the old country clerks have framed this saying in that behalf, I mean upon the entertainment of townsmen and Londoners after the days of their abode, in this manner: "Primus jucundus, tollerabilis estque secundus, Tertius est vanus, sed fetet quatriduanus." The bread throughout the land is made of such grain as the soil yieldeth; nevertheless the gentility commonly provide themselves sufficiently of wheat for their own tables, whilst their household and poor neighbours in some shires are forced to content themselves with rye, or barley, yea, and in time of dearth, many with bread made either of beans, peas, or oats, or of altogether and some acorns among, of which scourge the poorest do soonest taste, sith they are least able to provide themselves of better. I will not say that this extremity is oft so well to be seen in time of plenty as of dearth, but, if I should, I could easily bring my trial. For, albeit that there be much more ground eared now almost in every place than hath been of late years, yet such a price of corn continueth in each town and market without any just cause (except it be that landlords do get licences to carry corn out of the land only to keep up the prices for their own private gains and ruin of the commonwealth), that the artificer and poor labouring man is not able to reach unto it, but is driven to content himself with horse corn--I mean beans, peas, oats, tares, and lentils: and therefore it is a true proverb, and never so well verified as now, that "Hunger setteth his first foot into the horse-manger." If the world last awhile after this rate, wheat and rye will be no grain for poor men to feed on; and some caterpillars there are that can say so much already. Of bread made of wheat we have sundry sorts daily brought to the table, whereof the first and most excellent is the manchet, which we commonly call white bread, in Latin primarius panis, whereof Budeus also speaketh, in his first book De asse; and our good workmen deliver commonly such proportion that of the flour of one bushel with another they make forty cast of manchet, of which every loaf weigheth eight ounces into the oven, and six ounces out, as I have been informed. The second is the cheat or wheaten bread, so named because the colour thereof resembleth the grey or yellowish wheat, being clean and well dressed, and out of this is the coarsest of the bran (usually called gurgeons or pollard) taken. The ravelled is a kind of cheap bread also, but it retaineth more of the gross, and less of the pure substance of the wheat; and this, being more slightly wrought up, is used in the halls of the nobility and gentry only, whereas the other either is or should be baked in cities and good towns of an appointed size (according to such price as the corn doth bear), and by a statute provided by King John in that behalf. The ravelled cheat therefore is generally so made that out of one bushel of meal, after two and twenty pounds of bran be sifted and taken from it (whereunto they add the gurgeons that rise from the manchet), they make thirty cast, every loaf weighing eighteen ounces into the oven, and sixteen ounces out; and, beside this, they so handle the matter that to every bushel of meal they add only two and twenty, or three and twenty, pound of water, washing also (in some houses) their corn before it go to the mill, whereby their manchet bread is more excellent in colour, and pleasing to the eye, than otherwise it would be. The next sort is named brown bread, of the colour of which we have two sorts one baked up as it cometh from the mill, so that neither the bran nor the flour are any whit diminished; this, Celsus called autopirus panis, lib. 2, and putteth it in the second place of nourishment. The other hath little or no flour left therein at all, howbeit he calleth it Panem Cibarium, and it is not only the worst and weakest of all the other sorts, but also appointed in old time for servants, slaves, and the inferior kind of people to feed upon. Hereunto likewise, because it is dry and brickie in the working (for it will hardly be made up handsomely into loaves), some add a portion of rye meal in our time, whereby the rough dryness or dry roughness thereof is somewhat qualified, and then it is named miscelin, that is, bread made of mingled corn, albeit that divers do sow or mingle wheat and rye of set purpose at the mill, or before it come there, and sell the same at the markets under the aforesaid name. In champaign countries much rye and barley bread is eaten, but especially where wheat is scant and geson. As for the difference that is between the summer and winter wheat, most husbandmen know it not, sith they are neither acquainted with summer wheat nor winter barley; yet here and there I find of both sorts, specially in the north and about Kendal, where they call it March wheat, and also of summer rye, but in so small quantities as that I dare not pronounce them to be greatly common among us. Our drink, whose force and continuance is partly touched already, is made of barley, water, and hops, sodden and mingled together, by the industry of our brewers in a certain exact proportion. But, before our barley do come into their hands, it sustaineth great alteration, and is converted into malt, the making whereof I will here set down in such order as my skill therein may extend unto (for I am scarce a good maltster), chiefly for that foreign writers have attempted to describe the same, and the making of our beer, wherein they have shot so far wide, as the quantity of ground was between themselves and their mark. In the meantime bear with me, gentle reader (I beseech thee), that lead thee from the description of the plentiful diet of our country unto the fond report of a servile trade, or rather from a table delicately furnished into a musty malt-house; but such is now thy hap, wherefore I pray thee be contented. Our malt is made all the year long in some great towns; but in gentlemen's and yeomen's houses, who commonly make sufficient for their own expenses only, the winter half is thought most meet for that commodity: howbeit the malt that is made when the willow doth bud is commonly worst of all. Nevertheless each one endeavoureth to make it of the best barley, which is steeped in a cistern, in greater or less quantity, by the space of three days and three nights, until it be thoroughly soaked. This being done, the water is drained from it by little and little, till it be quite gone. Afterward they take it out, and, laying it upon the clean floor on a round heap, it resteth so until it be ready to shoot at the root end, which maltsters call combing. When it beginneth therefore to shoot in this manner, they say it is come, and then forthwith they spread it abroad, first thick, and afterwards thinner and thinner upon the said floor (as it combeth), and there it lieth (with turning every day four or five times) by the space of one and twenty days at the least, the workmen not suffering it in any wise to take any heat, whereby the bud end should spire, that bringeth forth the blade, and by which oversight or hurt of the stuff itself the malt would be spoiled and turn small commodity to the brewer. When it hath gone, or been turned, so long upon the floor, they carry it to a kiln covered with hair cloth, where they give it gentle heats (after they have spread it there very thin abroad) till it be dry, and in the meanwhile they turn it often, that it may be uniformly dried. For the more it be dried (yet must it be done with soft fire) the sweeter and better the malt is, and the longer it will continue, whereas, if it be not dried down (as they call it), but slackly handled, it will breed a kind of worm called a weevil, which groweth in the flour of the corn, and in process of time will so eat out itself that nothing shall remain of the grain but even the very rind or husk. The best malt is tried by the hardness and colour; for, if it look fresh with a yellow hue, and thereto will write like a piece of chalk, after you have bitten a kernel in sunder in the midst, then you may assure yourself that it is dried down. In some places it is dried at leisure with wood alone or straw alone, in others with wood and straw together; but, of all, the straw-dried is the most excellent. For the wood-dried malt when it is brewed, beside that the drink is higher of colour, it doth hurt and annoy the head of him that is not used thereto, because of the smoke. Such also as use both indifferently do bark, cleave, and dry their wood in an oven, thereby to remove all moisture that should procure the fume; and this malt is in the second place, and, with the same likewise, that which is made with dried furze, broom, etc.: whereas, if they also be occupied green, they are in manner so prejudicial to the corn as is the moist wood. And thus much of our malts, in brewing whereof some grind the same somewhat grossly, and, in seething well the liquor that shall be put into it, they add to every nine quarters of malt one of headcorn (which consisteth of sundry grain, as wheat and oats ground). But what have I to do with this matter, or rather so great a quantity, wherewith I am not acquainted? Nevertheless, sith I have taken occasion to speak of brewing, I will exemplify in such a proportion as I am best skilled in, because it is the usual rate for mine own family, and once in a month practised by my wife and her maid-servants, who proceed withal after this manner, as she hath oft informed me. Having therefore ground eight bushels of good malt upon our quern, where the toll is saved, she addeth unto it half a bushel of wheat meal, and so much of oats small ground, and so tempereth or mixeth them with the malt that you cannot easily discern the one from the other; otherwise these latter would clunter, fall into lumps, and thereby become unprofitable. The first liquor (which is full eighty gallons, according to the proportion of our furnace) she maketh boiling hot, and then poureth it softly into the malt, where it resteth (but without stirring) until her second liquor be almost ready to boil. This done, she letteth her mash run till the malt be left without liquor, or at the leastwise the greatest part of the moisture, which she perceiveth by the stay and soft issue thereof; and by this time her second liquor in the furnace is ready to seethe, which is put also to the malt, as the first woort also again into the furnace, whereunto she addeth two pounds of the best English hops, and so letteth them seethe together by the space of two hours in summer or an hour and a half in winter, whereby it getteth an excellent colour, and continuance without impeachment or any superfluous tartness. But, before she putteth her first woort into the furnace, or mingleth it with the hops, she taketh out a vessel full, of eight or nine gallons, which she shutteth up close, and suffereth no air to come into it till it become yellow, and this she reserveth by itself unto further use, as shall appear hereafter, calling it brackwoort or charwoort, and, as she saith, it addeth also to the colour of the drink, whereby it yieldeth not unto amber or fine gold in hue unto the eye. By this time also her second woort is let run; and, the first being taken out of the furnace, and placed to cool, she returneth the middle woort unto the furnace, where it is stricken over, or from whence it is taken again, when it beginneth to boil, and mashed the second time, whilst the third liquor is heat (for there are three liquors), and this last put into the furnace, when the second is mashed again. When she hath mashed also the last liquor (and set the second to cool by the first), she letteth it run, and then seetheth it again with a pound and a half of new hops, or peradventure two pounds, as she seeth cause by the goodness or baseness of the hops, and, when it hath sodden, in summer two hours, and in winter an hour and a half, she striketh it also, and reserveth it unto mixture with the rest when time doth serve therefore. Finally, when she setteth her drink together, she addeth to her brackwoort or charwoort half an ounce of arras, and half a quarter of an ounce of bayberries, finely powdered, and then, putting the same into her woort, with a handful of wheat flour, she proceedeth in such usual order as common brewing requireth. Some, instead of arras and bays, add so much long pepper only, but, in her opinion and my liking, it is not so good as the first, and hereof we make three hogsheads of good beer, such (I mean) as is meet for poor men as I am to live withal, whose small maintenance (for what great thing is forty pounds a year, computatis computandis, able to perform?) may endure no deeper cut, the charges whereof groweth in this manner. I value my malt at ten shillings, my wood at four shillings (which I buy), my hops at twenty pence, the spice at twopence, servants' wages two shillings sixpence, with meat and drink, and the wearing of my vessel at twenty pence, so that for my twenty shillings I have ten score gallons of beer or more, notwithstanding the loss in seething, which some, being loth to forego, do not observe the time, and therefore speed thereafter in their success, and worthily. The continuance of the drink is always determined after the quantity of the hops, so that being well hopt it lasteth longer. For it feedeth upon the hop, and holdeth out so long as the force of the same continueth, which being extinguished, the drink must be spent, or else it dieth and becometh of no value. In this trade also our brewers observe very diligently the nature of the water, which they daily occupy, and soil through which it passeth, for all waters are not of like goodness, sith the fattest standing water is always the best; for, although the waters that run by chalk or cledgy soils be good, and next unto the Thames water, which is the most excellent, yet the water that standeth in either of these is the best for us that dwell in the country, as whereon the sun lieth longest, and fattest fish is bred. But, of all other, the fenny and marsh is the worst, and the clearest spring water next unto it. In this business therefore the skilful workman doth redeem the iniquity of that element, by changing of his proportions, which trouble in ale (sometime our only, but now taken with many for old and sick men's drink) is never seen nor heard of. Howbeit, as the beer well sodden in the brewing, and stale, is clear and well coloured as muscadel or malvesey, or rather yellow as the gold noble, as our pot-knights call it, so our ale, which is not at all or very little sodden, and without hops, is more thick, fulsome, and of no such continuance, which are three notable things to be considered in that liquor. But what for that? Certes I know some ale-knights so much addicted thereunto that they will not cease from morrow until even to visit the same, cleansing house after house, till they defile themselves, and either fall quite under the board, or else, not daring to stir from their stools, sit still pinking with their narrow eyes, as half sleeping, till the fume of their adversary be digested that he may go to it afresh. Such slights also have the ale-wives for the utterance of this drink that they will mix it with rosen and salt; but if you heat a knife red-hot, and quench it in the ale so near the bottom of the pot as you can put it, you shall see the rosen come forth hanging on the knife. As for the force of salt, it is well known by the effect, for the more the drinker tippleth, the more he may, and so doth he carry off a dry drunken noll to bed with him, except his luck be the better. But to my purpose. In some places of England there is a kind of drink made of apples which they call cider or pomage, but that of pears is called perry, and both are ground and pressed in presses made for the nonce. Certes these two are very common in Sussex, Kent, Worcester, and other steeds where these sorts of fruits do abound, howbeit they are not their only drink at all times, but referred unto the delicate sorts of drink, as metheglin is in Wales, whereof the Welshmen make no less account (and not without cause, if it be well handled) than the Greeks did of their ambrosia or nectar, which for the pleasantness thereof was supposed to be such as the gods themselves did delight in. There is a kind of swish-swash made also in Essex, and divers other places, with honeycombs and water, which the homely country wives, putting some pepper and a little other spice among, call mead, very good in mine opinion for such as love to be loose bodied at large, or a little eased of the cough. Otherwise it differeth so much from the true metheglin as chalk from cheese. Truly it is nothing else but the washing of the combs, when the honey is wrung out, and one of the best things that I know belonging thereto is that they spend but little labour, and less cost, in making of the same, and therefore no great loss if it were never occupied. Hitherto of the diet of my countrymen, and somewhat more at large peradventure than many men will like of, wherefore I think good now to finish this tractation, and so will I, when I have added a few other things incident unto that which goeth before, whereby the whole process of the same shall fully be delivered, and my promise to my friend in this behalf performed. Heretofore there hath been much more time spent in eating and drinking than commonly is in these days; for whereas of old we had breakfasts in the forenoon, beverages or nunchions after dinner, and thereto rear suppers generally when it was time to go to rest (a toy brought into England by hardy Canutus, and a custom whereof Athenæus also speaketh, lib. 1, albeit Hippocrates speaks but of twice at the most, lib. 2, De rat vict. in feb ac). Now, these odd repasts--thanked be God!--are very well left, and each one in manner (except here and there some young, hungry stomach that cannot fast till dinner-time) contenteth himself with dinner and supper only. The Normans, misliking the gormandise of Canutus, ordained after their arrival that no table should be covered above once in the day, which Huntingdon imputeth to their avarice; but in the end, either waxing weary of their own frugality, or suffering the cockle of old custom to overgrow the good corn of their new constitution, they fell to such liberty that in often-feeding they surmounted Canutus surnamed the Hardy. For, whereas he covered his table but three or four times in the day, these spread their cloths five or six times, and in such wise as I before rehearsed. They brought in also the custom of long and stately sitting at meat, whereby their feasts resembled those ancient pontifical banquets whereof Macrobius speaketh (lib. 3, cap. 13), and Pliny (lib. 10, cap. 10), and which for sumptuousness of fare, long sitting, and curiosity shewed in the same, exceeded all other men's feasting; which fondness is not yet left with us, notwithstanding that it proveth very beneficial for the physicians, who most abound where most excess and misgovernment of our bodies do appear, although it be a great expense of time, and worthy of reprehension. For the nobility, gentlemen, and merchantmen, especially at great meetings, do sit commonly till two or three of the clock at afternoon, so that with many it is a hard matter to rise from the table to go to evening prayer, and return from thence to come time enough to supper. With us the nobility, gentry, and students do ordinarily go to dinner at eleven before noon, and to supper at five, or between five and six at afternoon. The merchants dine and sup seldom before twelve at noon, and six at night, especially in London. The husbandmen dine also at high noon as they call it, and sup at seven or eight; but out of the term in our universities the scholars dine at ten. As for the poorest sort they generally dine and sup when they may, so that to talk of their order of repast it were but a needless matter. I might here take occasion also to set down the variety used by antiquity in their beginnings of their diets, wherein almost every nation had a several fashion, some beginning of custom (as we do in summer time) with salads at supper, and some ending with lettuce, some making their entry with eggs, and shutting up their tables with mulberries, as we do with fruit and conceits of all sorts. Divers (as the old Romans) began with a few crops of rue, as the Venetians did with the fish called gobius; the Belgæs with butter, or (as we do yet also) with butter and eggs upon fish days. But whereas we commonly begin with the most gross food, and end with the most delicate, the Scot, thinking much to leave the best for his menial servants, maketh his entrance at the best, so that he is sure thereby to leave the worst. We use also our wines by degrees, so that the hostess cometh last to the table: but to stand upon such toys would spend much time, and turn to small profit. Wherefore I will deal with other things more necessary for this turn.


There is no commonwealth at this day in Europe wherein there is not great store of poor people, and those necessarily to be relieved by the wealthier sort, which otherwise would starve and come to utter confusion. With us the poor is commonly divided into three sorts, so that some are poor by impotence, as the fatherless child, the aged, blind, and lame, and the diseased person that is judged to be incurable; the second are poor by casualty, as the wounded soldier, the decayed householder, and the sick person visited with grievous and painful diseases; the third consisteth of thriftless poor, as the rioter that hath consumed all, the vagabond that will abide nowhere, but runneth up and down from place to place (as it were seeking work and finding none), and finally the rogue and the strumpet, which are not possible to be divided in sunder, but run to and fro over all the realm, chiefly keeping the champaign soils in summer to avoid the scorching heat, and the woodland grounds in winter to eschew the blustering winds. For the first two sorts (that is to say, the poor by impotence and poor by casualty, which are the true poor indeed, and for whom the Word doth bind us to make some daily provision), there is order taken throughout every parish in the realm that weekly collection shall be made for their help and sustentation--to the end they shall not scatter abroad, and, by begging here and there, annoy both town and country. Authority also is given unto the justices in every county (and great penalties appointed for such as make default) to see that the intent of the statute in this behalf be truly executed according to the purpose and meaning of the same, so that these two sorts are sufficiently provided for; and such as can live within the limits of their allowance (as each one will do that is godly and well disposed) may well forbear to roam and range about. But if they refuse to be supported by this benefit of the law, and will rather endeavour by going to and fro to maintain their idle trades, then are they adjudged to be parcel of the third sort, and so, instead of courteous refreshing at home, are often corrected with sharp execution and whip of justice abroad. Many there are which, notwithstanding the rigour of the laws provided in that behalf, yield rather with this liberty (as they call it) to be daily under the fear and terror of the whip than, by abiding where they were born or bred, to be provided for by the devotion of the parishes. I found not long since a note of these latter sort, the effect whereof ensueth. Idle beggars are such either through other men's occasion or through their own default--by other men's occasion (as one way for example) when some covetous man (such, I mean, as have the cast or right vein daily to make beggars enough whereby to pester the land, espying a further commodity in their commons, holds, and tenures) doth find such means as thereby to wipe many out of their occupyings and turn the same unto his private gains. Hereupon it followeth that, although the wise and better-minded do either forsake the realm for altogether, and seek to live in other countries, as France, Germany, Barbary, India, Muscovia, and very Calcutta, complaining of no room to be left for them at home, do so behave themselves that they are worthily to be accounted among the second sort, yet the greater part, commonly having nothing to stay upon, are wilful, and thereupon do either prove idle beggars or else continue stark thieves till the gallows do eat them up, which is a lamentable case. Certes in some men's judgment these things are but trifles, and not worthy the regarding. Some also do grudge at the great increase of people in these days, thinking a necessary brood of cattle far better than a superfluous augmentation of mankind. But I can liken such men best of all unto the pope and the devil, who practise the hindrance of the furniture of the number of the elect to their uttermost, to the end the authority of the one upon the earth, the deferring of the locking up of the other in everlasting chains, and the great gains of the first, may continue and endure the longer. But if it should come to pass that any foreign invasion should be made--which the Lord God forbid for his mercies' sake!--then should these men find that a wall of men is far better than stacks of corn and bags of money, and complain of the want when it is too late to seek remedy. The like occasion caused the Romans to devise their law Agraria: but the rich, not liking of it, and the covetous, utterly condemning it as rigorous and unprofitable, never ceased to practise disturbance till it was quite abolished. But to proceed with my purpose. Such as are idle beggars through their own default are of two sorts, and continue their estates either by casual or mere voluntary means: those that are such by casual means are in the beginning justly to be referred either to the first or second sort of poor aforementioned, but, degenerating into the thriftless sort, they do what they can to continue their misery, and, with such impediments as they have, to stray and wander about, as creatures abhorring all labour and every honest exercise. Certes I call these casual means, not in the respect of the original of all poverty, but of the continuance of the same, from whence they will not be delivered, such is their own ungracious lewdness and froward disposition. The voluntary means proceed from outward causes, as by making of corrosives, and applying the same to the more fleshy parts of their bodies, and also laying of ratsbane, spearwort, crowfoot, and such like unto their whole members, thereby to raise pitiful and odious sores, and move the hearts of the goers-by such places where they lie, to yearn at their misery, and thereupon bestow large alms upon them. How artificially they beg, what forcible speech, and how they select and choose out words of vehemence, whereby they do in manner conjure or adjure the goer-by to pity their cases, I pass over to remember, as judging the name of God and Christ to be more conversant in the mouths of none and yet the presence of the Heavenly Majesty further off from no men than from this ungracious company. Which maketh me to think that punishment is far meeter for them than liberality or alms, and sith Christ willeth us chiefly to have a regard to Himself and his poor members. Unto this nest is another sort to be referred, more sturdy than the rest, which, having sound and perfect limbs, do yet notwithstanding sometime counterfeit the possession of all sorts of diseases. Divers times in their apparel also they will be like serving men or labourers: oftentimes they can play the mariners, and seek for ships which they never lost. But in fine they are all thieves and caterpillars in the commonwealth, and by the Word of God not permitted to eat, sith they do but lick the sweat from the true labourers' brows, and bereave the godly poor of that which is due unto them, to maintain their excess, consuming the charity of well-disposed people bestowed upon them, after a most wicked and detestable manner. It is not yet full threescore years since this trade began: but how it hath prospered since that time it is easy to judge, for they are now supposed, of one sex and another, to amount unto above 10,000 persons, as I have heard reported. Moreover, in counterfeiting the Egyptian rogues, they have devised a language among themselves, which they name "Canting," but others, "pedler's French," a speech compact thirty years since, of English and a great number of odd words of their own devising, without all order or reason, and yet such is it as none but themselves are able to understand. The first deviser thereof was hanged by the neck--a just reward, no doubt, for his deserts, and a common end to all of that profession. A gentleman also of late hath taken great pains to search out the secret practices of this ungracious rabble. And among other things he setteth down and describeth three and twenty sorts of them, whose names it shall not be amiss to remember whereby each one may take occasion to read and know as also by his industry what wicked people they are, and what villainy remaineth in them. The several disorders and degrees amongst our idle vagabonds. 1. Rufflers. 8. Fraters. 2. Uprightmen. 9. Abrams. 3. Hookers or anglers. 10. Freshwater mariners or whipiacks. 4. Rogues. 11. Drummerers. 5. Wild rogues. 12. Drunken tinkers. 6. Priggers or pransers. 13. Swadders or pedlers. 7. Palliards. 14. Jarkemen or patricoes. Of the women kind. 1. Demanders for glimmar or fire. 5. Walking mortes. 2. Bawdy-baskets. 6. Doxies. 3. Mortes. 7. Dells. 4. Autem mortem. 8. Kinching mortes. 9. Kinching cooes. The punishment that is ordained for this kind of people is very sharp, and yet it cannot restrain them from their gadding: wherefore the end must needs be martial law, to be exercised upon them, as upon thieves, robbers, despisers of all laws, and enemies to the commonwealth and welfare of the land. What notable robberies, pilferies, murders, rapes, and stealings of young children, burning, breaking, and disfiguring their limbs to make them pitiful in the sight of the people, I need not to rehearse; but for their idle rogueing about the country, the law ordaineth this manner of correction. The rogue being apprehended, committed to prison, and tried in the next assizes (whether they be of gaol delivery or sessions of the peace), if he happen to be convicted for a vagabond, either by inquest of office or the testimony of two honest and credible witnesses upon their oaths, he is then immediately adjudged to be grievously whipped and burned through the gristle of the right ear with a hot iron of the compass of an inch about, as a manifestation of his wicked life, and due punishment received for the same. And this judgment is to be executed upon him except some honest person worth five pounds in the queen's books in goods, or twenty shillings in land, or some rich householder to be allowed by the justices, will be bound in recognisance to retain him in his service for one whole year. If he be taken the second time, and proved to have forsaken his said service, he shall then be whipped again, bored likewise through the other ear, and set to service: from whence if he depart before a year be expired, and happen afterwards to be attached again, he is condemned to suffer pains of death as a felon (except before excepted) without benefit of clergy or sanctuary, as by the statute doth appear. Among rogues and idle persons, finally, we find to be comprised all proctors that go up and down with counterfeit licences, cozeners, and such as gad about the country, using unlawful games, practisers of physiognomy and palmestry, tellers of fortunes, fencers, players, minstrels, jugglers, pedlers, tinkers, pretended scholars, shipmen, prisoners gathering for fees, and others so oft as they be taken without sufficient licence. From among which company our bearwards are not excepted, and just cause: for I have read that they have, either voluntarily or for want of power to master their savage beasts, been occasion of the death and devouration of many children in sundry countries by which they have passed, whose parents never knew what was become of them. And for that cause there is and have been many sharp laws made for bearwards in Germany, whereof you may read in other. But to our rogues. Each one also that harboureth or aideth them with meat or money is taxed and compelled to fine with the queen's majesty for every time that he doth succour them as it shall please the justices of peace to assign, so that the taxation exceed not twenty, as I have been informed. And thus much of the poor and such provision as is appointed for them within the realm of England.


The air (for the most part) throughout the island is such as by reason in manner of continual clouds is reputed to be gross, and nothing so pleasant as that of the main. Howbeit, as they which affirm these things have only respect to the impediment or hindrance of the sunbeams by the interposition of the clouds and of ingrossed air, so experience teacheth us that it is no less pure, wholesome, and commodious than is that of other countries, and (as Cæsar himself hereto addeth) much more temperate in summer than that of the Gauls, from whom he adventured hither. Neither is there any thing found in the air of our region that is not usually seen amongst other nations lying beyond the seas. Wherefore we must needs confess that the situation of our island (for benefit of the heavens) is nothing inferior to that of any country of the main, wheresoever it lie under the open firmament. And this Plutarch knew full well, who affirmeth a part of the Elysian Fields to be found in Britain, and the isles that are situated about it in the ocean. The soil of Britain is such as by the testimonies and reports both of the old and new writers, and experience also of such as now inhabit the same, is very fruitful, and such indeed as bringeth forth many commodities, whereof other countries have need, and yet itself (if fond niceness were abolished) needless of those that are daily brought from other places. Nevertheless it is more inclined to feeding and grazing than profitable for tillage and bearing of corn, by reason whereof the country is wonderfully replenished with neat and all kind of cattle; and such store is there also of the same in every place that the fourth part of the land is scarcely manured for the provision and maintenance of grain. Certes this fruitfulness was not unknown unto the Britons long before Cæsar's time, which was the cause wherefore our predecessors living in those days in manner neglected tillage and lived by feeding and grazing only. The grazers themselves also then dwelled in movable villages by companies, whose custom was to divide the ground amongst them, and each one not to depart from the place where his lot lay (a thing much like the Irish Criacht) till, by eating up of the country about him, he was enforced to remove further and seek for better pasture. And this was the British custom, as I learn, at first. It hath been commonly reported that the ground of Wales is neither so fruitful as that of England, neither the soil of Scotland so bountiful as that of Wales, which is true for corn and for the most part; otherwise there is so good ground in some parts of Wales as is in England, albeit the best of Scotland be scarcely comparable to the mean of either of both. Howbeit, as the bounty of the Scotch doth fail in some respect, so doth it surmount in other, God and nature having not appointed all countries to yield forth like commodities. But where our ground is not so good as we would wish, we have--if need be--sufficient help to cherish our ground withal, and to make it more fruitful. For, beside the compest that is carried out of the husbandmen's yards, ditches, ponds, dung-houses, or cities and great towns, we have with us a kind of white marl which is of so great force that if it be cast over a piece of land but once in threescore years it shall not need of any further compesting. Hereof also doth Pliny speak (lib. 17, cap. 6, 7, 8), where he affirmeth that our marl endureth upon the earth by the space of fourscore years: insomuch that it is laid upon the same but once in a man's life, whereby the owner shall not need to travel twice in procuring to commend and better his soil. He calleth it marga, and, making divers kinds thereof, he finally commendeth ours, and that of France, above all other, which lieth sometime a hundred foot deep, and far better than the scattering of chalk upon the same, as the Hedui and Pictones did in his time, or as some of our days also do practise: albeit divers do like better to cast on lime, but it will not so long endure, as I have heard reported. There are also in this island great plenty of fresh rivers and streams, as you have heard already, and these thoroughly fraught with all kinds of delicate fish accustomed to be found in rivers. The whole isle likewise is very full of hills, of which some (though not very many) are of exceeding height, and divers extending themselves very far from the beginning; as we may see by Shooter's Hill, which, rising east of London and not far from the Thames, runneth along the south side of the island westward until it come to Cornwall. Like unto these also are the Crowdon Hills, which, though under divers names (as also the other from the Peak), do run into the borders of Scotland. What should I speak of the Cheviot Hills, which reach twenty miles in length? of the Black Mountains in Wales, which go from to miles at the least in length? of the Clee Hills in Shropshire, which come within four miles of Ludlow, and are divided from some part of Worcester by the Leme? of the Crames in Scotland, and of our Chiltern, which are eighteen miles at the least from one end of them, which reach from Henley in Oxfordshire to Dunstable in Bedfordshire, and are very well replenished with wood and corn, notwithstanding that the most part yield a sweet short grass, profitable for sheep? Wherein albeit they of Scotland do somewhat come behind us, yet their outward defect is inwardly recompensed, not only with plenty of quarries (and those of sundry kinds of marble, hard stone, and fine alabaster), but also rich mines of metal, as shall be shewed hereafter. In this island the winds are commonly more strong and fierce than in any other places of the main (which Cardane also espied): and that is often seen upon the naked hills not guarded with trees to bear and keep it off. That grievous inconvenience also enforceth our nobility, gentry, and communalty to build their houses in the valleys, leaving the high grounds unto their corn and cattle, lest the cold and stormy blasts of winter should breed them greater annoyance; whereas in other regions each one desireth to set his house aloft on the hill, not only to be seen afar off, and cast forth his beams of stately and curious workmanship into every quarter of the country, but also (in hot habitations) for coldness sake of the air, sith the heat is never so vehement on the hill-top as in the valley, because the reverberation of the sun's beams either reacheth not so far as the highest, or else becometh not so strong as when it is reflected upon the lower soil. But to leave our buildings unto the purposed place (which notwithstanding have very much increased, I mean for curiosity and cost, in England, Wales, and Scotland, within these few years) and to return to the soil again. Certainly it is even now in these our days grown to be much more fruitful than it hath been in times past. The cause is for that our countrymen are grown to be more painful, skilful, and careful through recompense of gain, than heretofore they have been: insomuch that my synchroni or time fellows can reap at this present great commodity in a little room; whereas of late years a great compass hath yielded but small profit, and this only through the idle and negligent occupation of such as daily manured and had the same in occupying. I might set down examples of these things out of all the parts of this island--that is to say, many of England, more out of Scotland, but most of all out of Wales: in which two last rehearsed, very other little food and livelihood was wont to be looked for (beside flesh) more than the soil of itself and the cow gave, the people in the meantime living idly, dissolutely, and by picking and stealing one from another. All which vices are now (for the most part) relinquished, so that each nation manureth her own with triple commodity to that it was before time. The pasture of this island is according to the nature and bounty of the soil, whereby in most places it is plentiful, very fine, batable, and such as either fatteth our cattle with speed or yieldeth great abundance of milk and cream whereof the yellowest butter and finest cheese are made. But where the blue clay aboundeth (which hardly drinketh up the winter's water in long season) there the grass is speary, rough, and very apt for bushes: by which occasion it becometh nothing so profitable unto the owner as the other. The best pasture ground of all England is in Wales, and of all the pasture in Wales that of Cardigan is the chief. I speak of the same which is to be found in the mountains there, where the hundredth part of the grass growing is not eaten, but suffered to rot on the ground, whereby the soil becometh matted and divers bogs and quick-moors made withal in long continuance: because all the cattle in the country are not able to eat it down. If it be accounted good soil on which a man may lay a wand over night and on the morrow find it hidden and overgrown with grass, it is not hard to find plenty thereof in many places of this land. Nevertheless such is the fruitfulness of the aforesaid county that it far surmounteth this proportion, whereby it may be compared for batableness with Italy, which in my time is called the paradise of the world, although by reason of the wickedness of such as dwell therein it may be called the sink and drain of hell: so that whereas they were wont to say of us that our land is good but our people evil, they did but only speak it; whereas we know by experience that the soil of Italy is a noble soil, but the dwellers therein far off any virtue or goodness. Our meadows are either bottoms (whereof we have great store, and those very large, because our soil is hilly) or else such as we call land meads, and borrowed from the best and fattest pasturages. The first of them are yearly and often overflown by the rising of such streams as pass through the same, or violent falls of land-waters, that descend from the hills about them. The other are seldom or never overflown, and that is the cause wherefore their grass is shorter than that of the bottoms, and yet is it far more fine, wholesome, and batable, sith the hay of our low meadows is not only full of sandy cinder, which breedeth sundry diseases in our cattle, but also more rowty, foggy, and full of flags, and therefore not so profitable for store and forrage as the higher meads be. The difference furthermore in their commodities is great; for, whereas in our land meadows we have not often above one good load of hay, or peradventure a little more in an acre of ground (I use the word carrucata, or carruca, which is a wain load, and, as I remember, used by Pliny, lib. 33, cap. 2), in low meadows we have sometimes three, but commonly two or upwards, as experience hath oft confirmed. Of such as are twice mowed I speak not, sith their later math is not so wholesome for cattle as the first; although in the mouth more pleasant for the time: for thereby they become oftentimes to be rotten, or to increase so fast in blood, that the garget and other diseases do consume many of them before the owners can seek out any remedy, by phlebotomy or otherwise. Some superstitious fools suppose that they which die of the garget are ridden with the nightmare, and therefore they hang up stones which naturally have holes in them, and must be found unlooked for; as if such a stone were an apt cockshot for the devil to run through and solace himself withal, while the cattle go scot-free and are not molested by him! But if I should set down but half the toys that superstition hath brought into our husbandmen's heads in this and other behalf, it would ask a greater volume than is convenient for such a purpose, wherefore it shall suffice to have said thus much of these things. The yield of our corn-ground is also much after this rate following. Throughout the land (if you please to make an estimate thereof by the acre) in mean and indifferent years, wherein each acre of rye or wheat, well tilled and dressed, will yield commonly sixteen or twenty bushels, an acre of barley six-and-thirty bushels, of oats and such like four or five quarters, which proportion is notwithstanding oft abated toward the north, as it is oftentimes surmounted in the south. Of mixed corn, as peas and beans, sown together, tares and oats (which they call bulmong), rye and wheat (named miscelin), here is no place to speak, yet their yield is nevertheless much after this proportion, as I have often marked. And yet is not this our great foison comparable to that of hotter countries of the main. But, of all that I ever read, the increase which Eldred Danus writeth of in his De imperie Judæorum in Æthiopia surmounteth, where he saith that in the field near to the Sabbatike river, called in old time Gosan, the ground is so fertile that every grain of barley growing doth yield an hundred kernels at the least unto the owner. Of late years also we have found and taken up a great trade in planting of hops, whereof our moory hitherto and unprofitable grounds do yield such plenty and increase that there are few farmers or occupiers in the country which have not gardens and hops growing of their own, and those far better than do come from Flanders unto us. Certes the corruptions used by the Flemings, and forgery daily practised in this kind of ware, gave us occasion to plant them here at home; so that now we may spare and send many over unto them. And this I know by experience, that some one man by conversion of his moory grounds into hopyards, whereof before he had no commodity, doth raise yearly by so little as twelve acres in compass two hundred marks--all charges borne towards the maintenance of his family. Which industry God continue! though some secret friends of Flemings let not to exclaim against this commodity, as a spoil of wood, by reason of the poles, which nevertheless after three years do also come to the fire, and spare their other fuel. The cattle which we breed are commonly such as for greatness of bone, sweetness of flesh, and other benefits to be reaped by the same, give place unto none other; as may appear first by our oxen, whose largeness, height, weight, tallow, hides, and horns are such as none of any other nation do commonly or may easily exceed them. Our sheep likewise, for good taste of flesh, quantity of limbs, fineness of fleece, caused by their hardness of pasturage and abundance of increase (for in many places they bring forth two or three at an eaning), give no place unto any, more than do our goats, who in like sort do follow the same order, and our deer come not behind. As for our conies, I have seen them so fat in some soils, especially about Meall and Disnege, that the grease of one being weighed hath peised very near six or seven ounces. All which benefits we first refer to the grace and goodness of God, and next of all unto the bounty of our soil, which he hath endued with so notable and commodious fruitfulness. But, as I mean to intreat of these things more largely hereafter, so will I touch in this place one benefit which our nation wanteth, and that is wine, the fault whereof is not in our soil, but the negligence of our countrymen (especially of the south parts), who do not inure the same to this commodity, and which by reason of long discontinuance is now become inapt to bear any grapes almost for pleasure and shadow, much less then the plain fields or several vineyards for advantage and commodity. Yet of late time some have essayed to deal for wine (as to your lordship also is right well known). But sith that liquor, when it cometh to the drinking, hath been found more hard than that which is brought from beyond the sea, and the cost of planting and keeping thereof so chargeable that they may buy it far better cheap from other countries, they have given over their enterprises without any consideration that, as in all other things, so neither the ground itself in the beginning, nor success of their travel, can answer their expectation at the first, until such time as the soil be brought as it were into acquaintance with this commodity, and that provision may be made for the more easiness of charge to be employed upon the same. If it be true that where wine doth last and endure well there it will grow no worse, I muse not a little wherefore the planting of vines should be neglected in England. That this liquor might have grown in this island heretofore, first the charter that Probus the Emperor gave equally to us, the Gauls, and Spaniards, is one sufficient testimony. And that it did grow here (beside the testimony of Beda, lib. 1., cap. 1) the old notes of tithes for wine that yet remain in the accounts of some parsons and vicars in Kent, elsewhere, besides the records of sundry suits, commenced in divers ecclesiastical courts, both in Kent, Surrey, etc., also the enclosed parcels almost in every abbey yet called the vineyards, may be a notable witness, as also the plot which we now call East Smithfield in London, given by Canutus, sometime king of this land, with other soil thereabout, unto certain of his knights, with the liberty of a Guild which thereof was called Knighton Guild. The truth is (saith John Stow, our countryman and diligent traveller in the old estate of this my native city) that it is now named Portsoken Ward, and given in time past to the religious house within Aldgate. Howbeit first Otwell, the archovel, Otto, and finally Geffrey Earl of Essex, constables of the Tower of London, withheld that portion from the said house until the reign of King Stephen, and thereof made a vineyard to their great commodity and lucre. The Isle of Ely also was in the first times of the Normans called Le Ile des Vignes. And good record appeareth that the bishop there had yearly three or four tun at the least given him nomine decimæ, beside whatsoever over-sum of the liquor did accrue to him by leases and other excheats whereof also I have seen mention. Wherefore our soil is not to be blamed, as though our nights were so exceeding short that in August and September the moon, which is lady of moisture and chief ripener of this liquor, cannot in any wise shine long enough upon the same: a very mere toy and fable, right worthy to be suppressed, because experience convinceth the upholders thereof even in the Rhenish wines. The time hath been also that woad, wherewith our countrymen dyed their faces (as Cæsar saith), that they might seem terrible to their enemies in the field (and also women and their daughters-in-law did stain their bodies and go naked, in that pickle, to the sacrifices of their gods, coveting to resemble therein the Ethiopians, as Pliny saith, lib. 22, cap. 1), and also madder have been (next unto our tin and wools) the chief commodities and merchandise of this realm. I find also that rape oil hath been made within this land. But now our soil either will not, or at the leastwise may not, bear either woad or madder. I say not that the ground is not able so to do, but that we are negligent, afraid of the pilling of our grounds, and careless of our own profits, as men rather willing to buy the same of others than take any pain to plant them here at home. The like I may say of flax, which by law ought to be sown in every country town in England, more or less; but I see no success of that good and wholesome law, sith it is rather contemptuously rejected than otherwise dutifully kept in any place in England. Some say that our great number of laws do breed a general negligence and contempt of all good order, because we have so many that no subject can live without the transgression of some of them, and that the often alteration of our ordinances doth much harm in this respect, which (after Aristotle) doth seem to carry some reason withal, for (as Cornelius Gallus hath)-- "Eventus varios res nova semper habet." But very many let not to affirm that the greedy corruption of the promoters on the one side, facility in dispensing with good laws and first breach of the same in the lawmakers and superiors and private respects of their establishment on the other, are the greatest causes why the inferiors regard no good order, being always so ready to offend without any faculty one way as they are otherwise to presume upon the examples of their betters when any hold is to be taken. But as in these things I have no skill, so I wish that fewer licences for the private commodity but of a few were granted (not that thereby I deny the maintenance of the prerogative royal, but rather would with all my heart that it might be yet more honourably increased), and that every one which by fee'd friendship (or otherwise) doth attempt to procure ought from the prince that may profit but few and prove hurtful to many might be at open assizes and sessions denounced enemy to his country and commonwealth of the land. Glass also hath been made here in great plenty before, and in the time of the Romans; and the said stuff also, beside fine scissors, shears, collars of gold and silver for women's necks, cruises and cups of amber, were a parcel of the tribute which Augustus in his days laid upon this island. In like sort he charged the Britons with certain implements and vessels of ivory (as Strabo saith); whereby it appeareth that in old time our countrymen were far more industrious and painful in the use and application of the benefits of their country than either after the coming of the Saxons or Normans, in which they gave themselves more to idleness and following of the wars. If it were requisite that I should speak of the sundry kinds of mould, as the cledgy, or clay, whereof are divers sorts (red, blue, black, and white), also the red or white sandy, the loamy, roselly, gravelly, chalky, or black, I could say that there are so many divers veins in Britain as elsewhere in any quarter of like quantity in the world. Howbeit this I must need confess, that the sand and clay do bear great sway: but clay most of all, as hath been and yet is always seen and felt through plenty and dearth of corn. For if this latter (I mean the clay) do yield her full increase (which it doth commonly in dry years for wheat), then is there general plenty: whereas if it fail, then have we scarcity, according to the old rude verse set down of England, but to be understood of the whole island, as experience doth confirm-- "When the sand doth serve the clay, Then may we sing well-away; But when the clay doth serve the sand, Then is it merry with England." I might here intreat of the famous valleys in England, of which one is called the Vale of White Horse, another of Evesham (commonly taken for the granary of Worcestershire), the third of Aylesbury, that goeth by Thame, the roots of Chiltern Hills, to Dunstable, Newport Pagnel, Stony Stratford, Buckingham, Birstane Park, etc. Likewise of the fourth, of Whitehart or Blackmoor in Dorsetshire. The fifth, of Ringdale or Renidale, corruptly called Kingtaile, that lieth (as mine author saith) upon the edge of Essex and Cambridgeshire, and also the Marshwood Vale: but, forsomuch as I know not well their several limits, I give over to go any further in their description. In like sort it should not be amiss to speak of our fens, although our country be not so full of this kind of soil as the parts beyond the seas (to wit, Narbonne, etc.), and thereto of other pleasant bottoms, the which are not only endued with excellent rivers and great store of corn and fine fodder for neat and horses in time of the year (whereby they are exceeding beneficial unto their owners), but also of no small compass and quantity in ground. For some of our fens are well known to be either of ten, twelve, sixteen, twenty, or thirty miles in length, that of the Girwies yet passing all the rest, which is full sixty (as I have often read). Wherein also Ely, the famous isle, standeth, which is seven miles every way, and whereunto there is no access but by three causies, whose inhabitants in like sort by an old privilege may take wood, sedge turf, etc., to burn, likewise hay for their cattle and thatch for their houses of custom, and each occupier in his appointed quantity throughout the isle; albeit that covetousness hath now begun somewhat to abridge this large benevolence and commodity, as well in the said isle as most other places of this land. Finally, I might discourse in like order of the large commons, laid out heretofore by the lords of the soil for the benefit of such poor as inhabit within the compass of their manors. But, as the true intent of the givers is now in most places defrauded, insomuch that not the poor tenants inhabitating upon the same, but their landlords, have all the commodity and gain. Wherefore I mean not at this present to deal withal, but reserve the same wholly unto the due place, whilst I go forward with the rest, setting down nevertheless by the way a general commendation of the whole island, which I find in an ancient monument, much unto this effect-- "Illa quidem longè celebris splendore, beata, Glebis, lacte, favis, supereminet insula cunctis, Quas regit ille Deus, spumanti cujus ab ore Profluit oceanus," etc. And a little after-- "Testis Lundoniaratibus, Wintonia Baccho, Herefordia grege, Worcestria frugeredundans, Batha lacu, Salabyra feris, Cantuaria pisce, Eboraca sylvis, Excestria clara metallis, Norwicum Dacis hybernis, Cestria Gallis, Cicestrum Norwagenis, Dunelmia præpinguis, Testis Lincolnia gens infinita decore, Testis Eli formosa situ, Doncastria visu," etc.

This is a selection from the original text


air, authority, diet, entertainment, food, health, physiognomy, plenty, poor, provision, soil, trade, travel, virtue, war, wealth

Source text


Author: William Harrison

Editor(s): Lothrop Withington

Publisher: Walter Scott

Publication date: 1968

Original compiled 1577

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Project Gutenberg: Original compiled 1577

Digital edition

Original author(s): William Harrison

Original editor(s): LOTHROP WITHINGTON

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) (tp, harrison’s preface, chs.1-4, 7, 10-11)


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: Britain > surveys description maps

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.