The complaint of Christmas, and the teares of Twelfetyde by John Taylor

Printed for JAMES BOLER, dwelling at the signe of the Marigold in Pauls Churchyard. 1631.

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ABout that time of the yeare when Skiegilding, and Earthpolishing Don Phoebus had (like a skilfull Clothworker) stretch'd the nights upon the longest Tenterhookes of time, and [illeg.] curtold the dayes to the coldest abreviation, or a briefe coldnesse, (an embleme of frozen charity:) I, Christmas, according to my old custome of 1600. yeares standing, visited the world; and like a quick Post, riding upon the wings of full speed, in ten dayes space I haunted the most Kingdomes and Climates of the Christian world. I was in the stewing-Stoves of Russia, Muscovia, Pollonia, Sweavia, Hungaria, Austria, Bohemia, Germania, and so many other num-cold teethgnashing Regions, that if I should name them all, I should strike the Readers into such a shivering, and indanger their wits and bounties with a perpetuall dead palfie or Apoplexie: In the most of these places my cheere and entertainment was Pilchards, Anchovies, Pickled-Herring, white and red dried Sprats, Neats tongues, Stock fish, hang'd Beefe, Mutton, raw Bacon, Brand-wine, (alias Aqua vitae) Tantablins, durty Puddings, and Flapdraggons sowsd and carowsd [Page 2] with Balderdash. Indeed most of their diet is so well seasoned, that the men doe naturally sweat salt, and the women doe weepe brine: and I noted that they never watered either their saltest fish or flesh in any other vessels than their bellies, which was an exceeding policie to vent their Mault, and a stratagem to make Saltpeeter of their Urin. In Spain and Italy I was welcom'd in many great Dons and Magnificoes houses, with three Alphabets of sallads at one meale, but all the meat upon five of their tables would scarce give a zealous Puritan his supper on good Friday. I have seene a hungry Signeor or Clarissimo eat a trusse of Sampheir, with his forke like a Prenge or Pitchsorke tossing it into the hayloft of his chaps, as if his mouth had beene an Hostry: In a word, I perceived that what either the Italian or Spaniard doth want in glu[...]tony and drunkennesse, he takes out his share in pride and lechery with more extortion than threescore in the hundred. So (amongst their multiplicity of sawces) I leave them like sawcie companions. Being at Rome I was mightily feasted, for they thought nothing too hot, too heavy, or too deare for me: I met there with no sects of dull or cinicall [...] Diogenasses , there was no parsimonious banquets, or Phylosophicall kinde of feasting, I found not a man that was not halfe a Doctor, and was well skild in Kitching Physicke, and they knew that roots and fountaine water would breed Crudities, therefore if they eat any, it was Potatoes, Skerrets, or Eringoes, bak'd with the lushious pulpe, p [...] or linings of the marrowbones of hee Goats, or lusty Rammes. Vitellius or [...] Helliogabalus could not have bid mee better welcome than those charitable minded men did: I mused at it; but at last I considered that his holinesse with all his Cardinals and Clergie, were like Millers, and had toll out of all the kingdomes of Christendome, and that they had Mines of gold and silver in Purgatory, (and it is thought [Page 3] that the Philosophers stone is there,) which was more safely brought into the treasury, than the King of Spaines Ships can come from the West Indies, (for Purgatory is a Country which the Seasowsd pickled Hollander never yet discovered.) Indeed we did out-Epicure the Epicure, and made Epicurisme seeme sobriety, both in meat, musicke, perfumes, masques, or any thing that might with delight fill the five senses, or cinque-ports of man. For recreation I went to visit the leane Carthusian Friers, whom I no sooner beheld, but me thought I saw so many Deaths heads, or Memento mories, a man might have told their ribs like so many ragged laths, their looks were almost as sharp as a hatchet; a good Anatomist might have discerned them onely by the eye without incision: For how could it be otherwise with them, that all their whole life time feed upon flegmaticke fish; fish, fish, nothing but fish. Sometimes perhaps they tasted Caviare, [...] Potathoes , or Anchovies, which they renc'd downe with the suds of Sacke: Then they had Almond Butter, a few blew Figges, and Reisins of the Sunne to make up a starveling meale; but I observ'd one thing in this Frier whom I fasted withall, he would eat no poore John, or offer to catch a Ling by the Pole, but he lov'd a well growne Place exceeding well provided, it were well buttered: he never would goe to bed without a Cods head, for Maids hee fed hungerly upon them, but as for Soles hee trod them under his fect. Hee gave me a dish of fish, drest (as he said) with the same oyle that was made of the Olives that grew upon Mount Olivet the last time my great Lord and Master was there; which I beleev'd to be as true as Saint John Baptist had two heads, or Saint Dennis having his owne head cut off, did take it up in his hands and carry it more than a mile. I gave my Frier the hearing, and the eating of some of his fish to boot, but I was very parsimonious and frugall of beleefe, and indeed I could not spare or affoord him any. [Page 4] At last I grew so bold with him, with whom I dined that day, as to aske him the reason why he and the rest of his order did never eat flesh; he answered me, that it was in honour of S. Peter, because he was a fisherman: by the same substantiall reason, I repli'd you might (for the honor of S. Paul) dwell in Tents, for he was a tentmaker. But there is a great mystery, or misery in it, that men should hold opinion that a man cannot go towards heaven with as good a conscience having the leg or wing of a Capon in his belly, as he might doe with the Cob of a red Herring. For Reverend Sir, quoth I, you are a carnall man though you eat nothing but fish, for you must understand that there is a flesh of fishes: besides, as there are beasts on the land, so there is a Seahorse, a Seacalfe, a Seaoxe, and the like; and further you know, That whatsoever goes into the mouth doth not defile the man: but he would not heare on that side, but praied me to feed and stop my mouth of such as the blessed Virgin and the Saints had sent him, (indeed I heard him not talke of God at all.) So my belly being more full of his talke than his cheere, I tooke my leave thankfully of him, bidding him heartily farewell, which he could hardly do[...] having no better diet. In France I found a great deale more meat and lese sawce, but the most part of the Mounsiers were sawcie enough of themselves. Indeed the entertainment I had there, made me halfe amazed; for I thought the people themselves had beene so many sacrifices to me, the men (for the most part) the Gallants I meane, were in the most bitterest of winter cut and slash'd and carbonadoed into Rashers, Collops, Steakes, and Spitchcocks; that it was no more but cast a handfull of salt upon a Gentleman, and hee was ready for the broyling. Their Pride would have outfac'd the cold of Caucausus; nay, had they beene under the frozen Zone, they would have shewed their linnen thorow the sippers of their sleeves, breasts and sholders, the heat of the fashion warm'd them, although their teeth chatterd in their heads. [Page 5] The women were wellfac'd creatures, (but like our melancholly Gentlemen, who are in danger of a mancatching Serieant) they seem'd afraid to shew their faces, and therefore they hid their heads in blacke bagges, like Lawyers declarations; the difference is, that the Ladies bagge is silke, and the Lawyers Buckrum. There every Peasant keepes his wife like a Hawke (for they all weare Hoods) and a paire of old English Boots will hood a brace of them from generation to generation: and I observ'd that the miserable Country people durst not eat their o wne Beefe or Mutton (except the tripes and offall) for there is a penalty laid upon them if they bring not their best to the Markets, either of Beast or Bird; the Gallant Mounsiers have a prerogative to have all the Geese, Guls, and Woodcocks that the Country yeelds, the Buzzards, Widgeons, and Cuckooes are for the Cities diet onely, but the Partridge, Pheasant and Peacocke are Courtiers. I had almost forgotten some particularities which I obferved in Germany, for I perceived they had beene mad Gamesters at vi'd Ruffe almost over all the Empire: the most of them had wrangled and played foule play, for Hypocrisie, and Cruelty cut, Ambition rubd, and Oppression wonne the game, whilest Royall and reall Vertues were meerely cheated and abused: Clubs being trump wanne the Sett by fraud and force, the Spades and Diamonds assisting them, so that the Harts onely suffered, whilest Kingdomes, Principalities, and many faire Lordships lay at stake for't. Descending into the Low-Countries, or Netherlands, the Dutch States feasted mee in state; and comming to Amsterdam, where there are almost as many heresies as Nations, I was indifferently bid welcome by most of the Sectaries, but I was most villainously us'd (rather abus'd) by a prickear'd Puritan, whose beard was warp'd like greene Wainscot, or a capitall S. (I thinke it stood as many wayes as a Seamans Compasse.) Hee was a Cobler on [Page 6] Translater by his trade; and comming to him I found his shop open, and he a mending of a bad or wicked soale of a zealous sisters who had often trod awry, and his brotherly function was to patch or peece her upright; but in sincerity I perceived the Cobler was crafty, and wrought altogether to his owne ends. I mused at his little respect of me, because he was at worke, and telling him that I was come to dine with him, and keepe Holyday: hee ask'd me my name, and I told him my name was Christmas. At the very name of Masse, he leap'd from me like a Squirrell, as nimbly as if he had had neither gut in his belly, or stone in his breech. And having recovered himselfe, hee stop'd both his eares, for feare my name the second time should strike him: hee told me that the Masse was prophane, and so were all the dayes in the yeare that ended with the word Masse, as Candlemasse, Lammasse, Michaelmasse, Martlemasse, and that some Papist had beene my Godfather; therefore he would have nothing to doe with mee. It is abomination (said he) and the mimicke solemnizing of this hellborne superstition was borrowed (or stolne) from the Heathens; therefore there was one said well when hee called the Synagogue, or finfull Assembly, or frie of Friers at the Masse, the kingdome of Apes, for there is such mopping and mowing, such crossing and creeping, such ducking and nodding, that any reasonable man would thinke they [...] were mad; besides, the Priest hath more postures than six Fencers, as if he were at quarter-staffe with his Breaden god, that I am perswaded the God of heaven hold them in derision, and their Service to be rather masquing or mummery than Divine; therefore, I say, the Masse is prophane, and so art thou, therefore with me thou gett'st no entertainment. Thus was poore Christmas welcom'd like Jacke Drum and thrust out of doores; yet I suspected his hypocriticality spake at us inuectively against the Masse, that he might (with the more cunning and lesse suspect) defend what was [Page 7] ill in himselfe and be held the more devout, (much like as one Whore or Theefe should revile and scandall another) for howsoever he prated, I thought him a Rascall, that would imploy himselfe about his trade on such a day as was celebrated in the memory of the birth of our glorious Redeemer, God and Man, Jesus Christ, which was the happiest day that mortality ever beheld: for in our Creation God shewed his power, but in our Redemption his unspeakeable love and mercy: therefore this day should bee kept holy in remembrance of him that is the Holy of Holiest. That day wee have escaped any danger, we celebrate with all joy and mirth, and shall this day bee put to prophane uses whereon our inestimable ransome was given us, that on this day put on mortality to make us immortall, that on this blessed day did put off his unspeakable glory, and put on our insupportable misery, thereby to make us eternally glorious; that on this day came to conquer and confound the power of our conquerors, Sinne, Death, and Hell, and to free us from perpetuall malediction. Saint Austin (that blessed [illeg.] Lamb , and Angelicall Doctor of the Church) did with great thankfulnes celebrate his birthday, saying, Let us so celebrate the day of our births, that wee may give thankes to God who: would have us to be borne that wee might be consecrated to himselfe. Also Pharaoh and Herod did not omit the celebration of the dayes of their nativities. At the birth of a young Prince the Bels doe clamour the joy of the people, the great Ordnance doe thunder out their rejoycings, the Bonefires doe manifest mens fervent affections: Why not then on this happiest day, whereon our chiefest happinesse came, this great day when the Angell of the great Counsell came to make our eternall peace betweene God and man; oh let us then for his sake be merry in God, and charitable to our neighbours, let us feast with thankfulnesse, and [...] releeve [Page 8] with alacrity those impoverish'd members, of whom our gloriour Redeemer is the head. But you Master Confusion the Puritan, who are a Weathercocke, Shittlecocke, a right Laodician, neither hot or cold, fit to be cast out of all good society of Christendome, or to be perpetually Amster-damnified into Holland; your sincerity being void of verity; your Faith unfruitfull of good works, your Hope Innovation, your Charity Inuifible, or like a Noune Adiective, not to be seene, felt, heard, or understood. I arrived in England the 25. of December, about one of the clocke in the morning, where I was no sooner landed, but (as old as I was) I cut a caper for joy, assuring my selfe that I was now in my ancient Harbour or heaven of happinesse, in the Eden of the Earth, the Paradice of Terrestriall Peace, Plenty and Pleasure, the most fruitfull Garden of the rotundious Globe, the comfortable Canaan, that flowest with Milke and Hony. And as thou (O England) hast ever given old Christmas (with his twelve Holyday Servingmen) good entertainment, with such cheere, hospitality, and welcome, as the Christian world never hath done the like. So (I observing the ancient Proverbe) where I was wont to fare well am come againe. I having beene foure houres wrapt in this extasie of joy of my safe landing, at last I heard Master Chantecleere (the nights living Clocke, or Cocke, and the dayes dyall) with the carepiercing clang of his Hornetrumpet, crow out a Proclamation of the approach of Aurora; which I was glad to heare, for poore Christmas was as cold as a Snowball. Day being risen out of his orientall bed (the blacke Curtaines of the night being drawne) I look'd up and downe the Country to see into which house I should goe first, for I saw many faire houses which I had often beene well entertained at; but I could perceive no doores open no lights thorow the windowes, or smoake from the Chimnies, which made mee doubtfull where I was. My [Page 9] poore twelve old fellowes were halfe frozen with feare and amazement, till (by meere fortune) I spi'd a swarme of Beggers, who made towards us, bidding us very welcome, saying, they had mist us long, acknowledging themselves beholding to us all, but chiefly to me. Not much to me (quoth I) but I remember there is a Lords of the Mannours house at the end of this Village, I will goe thither, and doe you come after me, and anon I will give you your bellies full of good cheere. So the Beggers and I parted, and I with my men went to the Lords house, where finding the gate shut, I peep'd in at the Keyhole, saw an old poore halfestarv'd Servingman leane against the wall, bewailing the miseries of the time present, and grieving at the alterations of the time past, despairing of the amendment of the time to come. I was halfe afraid of him dreading that instead of better meat he would fall aboord of mee and my troope; at last, seeing me retreat backe, he beckened to me, and watering every word with a teare, he spake to mee as followeth: Oh Christmas, old reverend Christmas! whither art thou going? What haste art thou now making to this house, where hospitality had once her habitation; where the poore man was relieved, the stranger succoured, the traveller refresh'd, and all men bid welcome? Why art thou making such haste now? Now it is decayed, ruined, sunke. This house that from the Conquest hath beene famour for Hospitality, is now buried in her owne ruins. Looke round about thee, where are now those high woods that did shelter this house from the winds violence? Now they are low enough, the woodmans axe hath humbled their proud heads. Looke into the Parks: Deere may be deare now, for there are very sew there: My young Master not long fince closed them in a Paste Pale, in a Taverne, where they were hunted by a company of fawning flattering hounds. Looke into [Page 10] the Meddowes, dost thou see an Oxe there? No, no; they are all driven to the Citie. Is there a Calfe or Sheepe in the Pastures? no, they are all knockt on the head, and hove their throats cut, having Parchment made of their skinnes to make him bonds after hee had sold their flesh. Looke into the Garden, is there a Beehive there? no, all the honeybirds are fled, and the Waxe spent in sealing Bonds for Commodities. Looke about the Yard, there is not a Ducke, Chicken, Hen or Capon to be seene? not a Goose to be had? they are all pluckt, and have pens made of their quils to set his hand to his undoing. Looke into the Barne, there is not so many Eares to be found there as there are on a common Bailies head; or so much Corne in the Garners as will breakfast a Chicken. O Christmas, Christmas, my old eyes are almost bloodshot with weeping at the follies of my yong Master, who justead of making his Chymneyes smoake in the Countrey, makes his nose smoake in a Tobaceoshop in the Citie. His Predecessours was wont to invite his Tenants to dinner, but now he hath more neede to be invited himselfe; which his Quondam Tenants are not able todoe, for their new Landlord hath used them like Traytors, and set them on the Racke. Instead of keeping a good house in the Countrey, some blinde house in the City keepes him: Instead of keeping a kennell of hounds, he is afraid to be fed on by hounds; hee dares not looke a Serieant in the face, for feare he should bite him by the shoulder. Instead of keeping a faire Stable of horse, hee keepes a foule Table ofRavenous beasts that at one riotous supper will devoure more than the ParisGarden dogs. Instead of keeping a proper Servingmen, he hath much adoe to keepe himselfe; and whereas hee should walke in his owne gardens in the Country, he walks the Temple garden in the City: and last of all he thinks Milfordlane as safe a harbour for him as Milford Haven. Oh [Page 11] Christmas, is it not pitty that such an ancient house as this where Hospitality, the Romans houshold God dwel [...], should thus decay? An old Userer in the deepe whi [...]epit of his ill conscience, hath devoured my young Masters house and lands. Thus have I unballanced my selfe of that burthen of griefe I was laden with, if you will not beleeve me draw nigh the house; the doore is open for this old pennyfather (whom I am forced to serve) need feares no theeves, for they rather feare him: for if they see any thing in this house now worth carrying away, they have better eyes than ever I had. The complaint of this poore Servingman was but an ill breakfast for me and my company that cold morning; yet I and my Comrades went along with him thorow the yard, which look'd much of his complexion, very leane; and I no sooner was in the house but I fell into a swound: so that had it not beene for those that were about me I had departed; for they gave me hot waters, and rubb'd my temples, and at last, with much adoe, brought me to my selfe; so that then I purposed, what sight soever should poyson my eyes, I would make a full suruey of all the chiefe parts of the house. The wide roome that I first set my foot in, was rather like the hole of some lothsome Iaile, than the Hall of an House: Indeed it rather was a hell where a damnable extorting Divell dwelt with a few spirits about him. I may properly call them spirits, for they had little flesh about them. There was not so much fire in the Chimney as would broyle a Pilcher, for his Harth was as cold as my heart. The BlackeJacke whom every Servingman in the house was wont to wring by the eare, for being too sawcie with them, (for hee often would fling them into the fire, and make them quarrell without without cause) was cast aside in a blinde corner. This spright of the Buttery, (that would runne foaming at the mouth up and downe [Page 12] the house as being weary of travelling) was lamentably abused; this leathersuited Servingman (whom the Butler had often pitch'd over the Barre) I saw lye in a darke corner on his belly, with his mouth wide open like a Canon, as it were gaping for that full Charge hee was wont to have in his old Master's time. Thus lay he sleeping in a hole that had made many sleepe. The Tables (that were wont to be spread with cleane Linnen, Diaper and Damaske for the rich, and homespunne for the poore,) were now covered with dust, and a company of starv'd Mice and Rats, that for want of crummes were scarce able to crawle out of their nests, supplyed the places of many guests, that were wont to fill them, in the time of bounteous housekeepers. I have knowne the time when I have seene a Gentleman Sewer (that Captainelike led a company of Servingmen bare, or bare Servingmen) armed with full dishes of meat, and the Clerke of the Kitching, the Clerke of that stomackfull Band bringing up the Reare, that in a quarter of an houres warning, would performe a brave peece of service, and spite of hunger and famine place the right worshipfull surloyne at the upper end of the Table, attended by two sawcers of Vineger and Pepper, that waited on him like his Pages. I had almost forgot the stiffe-neck'd colerick Coller of Brawn, that boldly charg'd on the Front with his sprig of Rosemary on his head, instead of a white feather, like a Bridebush: but if these stout Captaines, Brawne and burly Beefe could not take downe the stomackes of those that did assault them with their sleighted blades, instantly upon the Reare would come whole troopes of hot souldiers, ss Capons, Hens, Lambe, Mutton and Veale to their rescue, and after them whole compani [...]s of wildefowle would come flying to their succour; many tenderhearted Chicken have I seene torne in peeces in these terrible conflicts, [Page 13] many plumpe Partriges and Quailes that could not quaile their stomacks. Often have I seene the dogges (that could doe more than many Knights of the Post) fall together by the eares for bones, the well fill'd guests have slung under the Tables to them. I have seene the wide throated Usher of the Hall, that tooke no small pride to cry Gentlemen and Yeomen to the Dresser, fill the Almes. basket with meat and bread well sopp'd with the fat of wholesome powder Beefe. I have seene these windowes stucke full of Holly and luy; but now the laborious Spider, that most skilfull Spinner and Weaver, that in his nets intraps the silly Flie, as artificially as the Spiderlike Tradesman doth the young Gentleman, hath his Loomb-worke hanging in every window, not fearing the house wives Broome. Last of all, this Hall have I seene strewed with rushes, a signe of the soft and kinde entertainment the guests should have: I have seene a Lord of Misrule, that with his honest mirth hath made old Christmas laugh: I have seene Armour, Swords, and Pikes adorne this Hall, which seemed to defend and ayd Hospitality, but now there is no such Starre appeares, no such sight seene, and I feare, I am growne so old and dimme, that I shell never see it againe. From the Hall, I made a step into the Buttery, but the thirsty Butler could not make me drinke; he could not entertaine me as a man would doe a dogge, which is with a crust. But the Servingman told me, because his Master would not be thought prodigall, bought his Beere and Bread at the next Alehouse. Instead of Plate, I saw a company of old Peuterpots, which (though they had no leakes) very seldome did hold any Beere in them. The Bynne grew musty for want of use, and the Chipping-knife rusty for want of exercise. The Butler was not many crums the better for all the Bread that came into [Page 14] the house in a weeke, for he had not so many chippins to his fees, as would breakfast a Mouse; or so much waste Beere, as would dround a flye. As for Cards and Dice that were wont to be as good to the Butler as a ten pound Coppyhold, the Master held prophane: for hee held the one were the Divels Bookes, the other Witches bones; therefore unlawfull to be read, or followed. I was going downe into the Celler, but I thought it in vaine to descend so loe, seeing so little drinke stirring above. Seeing I could not quench my thirst in the Buttery, I made bold to see if I could breake my fast in the Kitchin, which had not so many Seacoles or Wood mit as would rost three ribbes of a racke of Mutton: then saw I the Master Cooke (that now was not able to licke his owne fingers) turne the leane spit; so that now he was both Cooke and Scullion. The Dripping pannes and Kettles [...]apt many a scouring, which indeede was good husbandry in their owner, for too much use would make the Kettles looke thinne, and too much scouring the Spits to sharpe. The Oven that had wont to looke as blacke in the mouth as a Tobacco pipe, and as hot as a [...] Maquanella that drinkes nothing but Aquavitae, was now coole enough; hee could not now complaine of any hartburning, or of the unkindnesse of the Cooke that oftentimes did surfet him with filling his belly to full, and cramming him up to the mouth with Pasties, and bak'd meats. The Dresserboord look'd as leane as a cookes shop in the time of the forty fasting dayes. The Collericke Cooke that in times past would out of his fury scald the breakfast beggers, as they stood cutting slices of roast Beefe off from the Spit, and boyld out of the pot, now was as tame as a Waterman in a great frost, as a Player in a great plague. Hee told me that hee had not one quarter of Beefe in the Kitchin, for a quarter of a yeare together; so that now he could not be beholding [Page 15] to the Butler for his Ladle of Beere, or the Butler to him for a trencher of meat: for the one was almost chok'd for want of liquor, and the other starv'd for want of meat. There was one sight did much afflict mee, and that was the Jacke, which in former times did rule the roast, and hindred many poore mens children from the warme office of turnebroches. It never was a bountifull time since a Dogge in the wheele, and the Jacke in the Mantletree began to turne the Spit; for they began first to turne Hospitality out of doores. But the fault is in our English Brewers, that Dutchmen have such devices in their sconces, for if they did not tunne up so many barrels of our Brittanian Barly-broth in their bucking-tubbellies, their Geometricall pates could never finde out such uncharitable Engines. Being weary of the Kitcken, I tooke Lazanello de Coquo by the fingers and bad him be of good cheere (if hee could get any meate to his dinner) and I went into the Larder, that was wont to looke as fat as a Tripe-wife; but now, the coppy of that lovely complexion was changed, for I have knowne when the smell of it (as a man past by) would have given him his breakfast, but now would not yeeld so much as would stay a mans stomacke while dinner time: It was falne much away since I saw it last, by reason of his thin dyet: so I forsooke the Larder, and went into the Dairie, As soone as I came in I saw the Boles whelm'd upon each other backes, like so many men that lay heapt up in one grave in a time of Pestilence: They lay on the ground as if they mourn'd for their emptinesse. The Cherme stood behinde the doore, as if it were asham'd of it selfe; for whereas hee was wont to have his mouth butter'd more then any Flemmings, now he was as leane as any Spaniards. The Cheese-presse, that like a Cockney loved to feede on Curds and congeal'd milke into [Page 16] Welchmens roastmeate, stood close against the wall, as if it had beene loath I should have seene it: and to be plaine with you, there was not so much Cheese to be seene as would baite a Moustrap, or so much Butter as would make a toste for a Citizens sonne. There was not a timerous fearefull Custard to be seene, whose nature is to quake if your teeth doe but water at him. Thus looking into every corner of the house beloestaires (as narrowly as if I had beene some enquiring Constable, and had warrant for the search) but finding no such thing as I expected, up staires went I and all my sorrowfull associates, and looking into a withdrawingChamber I saw the old Mammon himselfe sitting over a few Cinders to warme his gowtie tooes, for no other part did neede the comfort of a fire, for from head to foot, he was furr'd like a Muscovite. Instead of a Bible he had a Bond in his hand, which hee was diligently perusing to see if it were forfeit or no: his face very seldome did looke upward, for his dull melancholy eyes was most commonly fix'd on the earth, as if he were looking out for a Myne: He kept his keyes continually tack'd at his girdie, one hand alwayes on them, as if he feard they would runne from him and unlocke his Chest for those that would doe more good with his bagges, than he himselfe ever had. He was like the Poets Euclio that feard every man that did but looke towards his house, came to rob it: for he no sooner cast his Ospray eyes on me and my company, but hee cried, Theeves, Theeves, as lowd as his hoarse throat could creake it out, braving his poore servants, telling them they had let in fellowes to rob him: so to stop this Hell-hounds mouth, I spake to him as followeth. Sir, feare not, there are none here that intend to hurt you: if you catch any it must be your selfe that must doe it to your selfe, and not we. My name is Christmas, these gray hair'd men that are with me, are men of my neere [Page 17] and deere acquaintance, these poore men in their patch'd cloaks, poore people that wish well to me: all true men, though poore men; and we come to you for a few daies, hoping of a free entertainment: if it is not your pleasure to welcome us as your Guests, it is not our part to force it. This old Penny-father- look'd as sowre on me, as if I had brought him a PrivySeale to borrow money of him, or a Subpaena out of the Exchequer for extortion: and in briefe told me, that I was an imposture, and onely came to entice the people to prodigality and expence: and as for the poore, he had nothing to doe with them, for he was poore himselfe. Poore your selfe, said I, 'tis true; for how can you be rich, that never thinke you have enough. In this you shew your selfe most unnaturall, for Nature is content with a little, but you with never so much. Therefore covetous rich men may well bee called the sonnes of the Earth because they hunt after nothing but earth. What need you be covetous? Hath not God given you himselfe, what need you have any more? If God cannot suffice you, what can satisfie you? As for externall riches they are more fugitive than Chymists Quicksilver, or the most notorious Vagabond. He inherits nothing that loseth Christ, hee loseth nothing that possesseth Christ. Will you possesse him, let the poore possesse some of your wealth? Wilt thou lose nothing, then put it to a spirituall interest, let the poore borrow some of thee? Here on earth thou hast but eight for a hundred, which is most finfull use; but with the poore thou shalt have a hundred for eight, which is a most heavenly interest. He that doth bestow his benevolence on the poore, doth not lose, but get; and by scattering his bread on the waters, doth gather and increase. By keeping them you doe not possesse them, or by dispersing them, lose them. Gold and silver are good, not [Page 18] that they can make you good, but that you may doe good. How can money be better lent than to the poore, for my Lord and Master will be bound to see it payd in againe but he is a surety few Userers will take. What is gold, but yellow rubbish? What is silver, but white drosse? and nothing makes them precious but covetousnesse. Gold is a matter of labour, his perill that doth possesse it: It is an ill master, a worse servant. Bee not a slave then to your estate, but entertaine mee with some part of it, releeve those that follow me, cover your boords and load them with wellfild dishes, so shall you crowne your selfe with all our blessings. My Oratory would doe no good, my Physicke would not worke; blessings he regarded as much as a true Protestant will the Anathema of the holy Father the Pope; for without any verball answer hee thrust mee and my company out of doores without saying Farewell. Thus was poore Christmas used, which made me and my consorts looke very blanke upon the matter: so we wandred up and downe from house to house but found little comfort. Some would onely smile on me, another aske me how I did, and give me a cup of small Beere and a crust, and so farewell: a fourth, that laid all on his backe, would not looke on me; so away went wee still iogging on. At last I cast up my dimme eyes, and I saw a house where for foure or five yeares together I had not beene bountifully, but profusely entertained, for the Master of it did almost surfeit me every meale: A way went we thither, and comming to the gate, the grumbling Servingman (that opened his mouth wider than a trap doore) told me, there was no entertainment for me, but began to raile at me, and said, that his Master was the worse for me by a thousand pound a yeare, therefore bid me be gone, for he had warrant from his Master to locke me, out of doores; telling mee moreover, if I would speake with his master I must to London, for he was soiourning [Page 19] there, not intending to returne while the Parliament was ended. Well, thought I, it were good if the Proclamation that summons all Country-Gentlemen to returne into the Countrey, would [...]ake hold of him and many others that lye lurking there because they would not be troubled in the Country with their poore nieghbours. As for thy Master, that spent more in three or foure yeare, than hee is able to get together againe in threescore, I did not entice to that expence. Can I helpe his riot and excesse? I desire to undoe no man. I love to see men bountifull, not prodigall: I never enticed him to luxury; I thought what would become of his prodigality. He was prodigall because hee would be accounted a good housekeeper. A good housekeeper? Oh simplicity that for keeping three or foure prodigall and fulsome feasts he should make himselfe a begger for ever after. I thinke indeed now that a good house is [...] abler to keepe him, than he a good house. No, no, they are the meanes that blesse, no man can live without them, though few have them. What cause had your Master to feast all the richest in the Country, and at one sumptuous and sinfull supper, to consume more than would releeve a Parish of poore folks a quarter? Is this charity? No, no. But I thinke your Master doth scarce know where he may [...] reade this. His fulsome, gluttonous, and Bacchanalian Feasts, did presage of fasts. It grieved mee first to foresee it, now to know it. Is it charity to lard and grease the fat Country Bores, I meane the rich chuffes that have enough in their Barnes to releeve themselves and their poore neighbours? This kils, not cures charity. Gluttonous Feasts cost much, doe little good, much hurt. They mingle Earth, Heaven, Sea, and Fire in their bellies at one sitting. What Fowle soever flies in the Aire, what Beast soever treads on the Earth, what Fish soever swimmes in the Sea, and what strange drinkes, [Page 20] Wines, and strong Waters soever, (that are of fiery natures) we barrall up in our bellies at one dinner or supper: So that the confusion of these Elements cannot choose but beget divers tempests in us, which like earthquakes continually shake our bodies by the arising of hot and fiery vapours from our stomackes. So that if Nature could finde her tongue now, as in the dayes of Ouid, shee would complaine once more to Iove of her wrongs: for is it not against Nature to see fishes that should swimme in the Seas, first swimme in wine vinegar, then in wine, being so scorcht, carbonadoed, sows'd, and so martyred, that when it comes to the Table, a man cannot judge whether it be fish or flesh? Then to have another dish brought to the boord cover'd over with an inundation of Vinegar, Oyle, and Pepper? Is it not against Nature to have pounds of Butter rosted, whose Cooking with whitebread, Cinamond and Sugar will cost more than halfe a dozen Milch Kine will yeeld in a weeke? Is it not against Nature to have Mutton larded with Ambergreece, and breaded with Civet? To have Birds come to the Table lim'd to the dish with viscous and clammy sawces, faster than they were before in the Fowlers limetwigs? And to have many of these invented and made dishes come to a Table, doe you thinke it would not make Nature complaine? Yes, yes; for all this doth no good to Charity. And it is no wonder, as the Philosopher faith, why so suddenly we dye, seeing we live by [...] Deathe . Some will out-Epicure Geta the Emperour, that had his Table furnish'd with dishes according to the Alphabet: some againe almost as gluttonous as Theocritus [...] Chius , that having devoured at one bit, a live fish, said that hee had swallowed heaven: To whom one answered, that he wanted one thing, which was to drinke off the Sea at a draught; now if hee had but remembred to bid him eat the earth instead of bread, he had made a pretty meale of it. Alas, alas, this luxuriousnesse [Page 21] kils as many as Physicke. Let Christmas be at a feast where is good store of good cheere, but not too dainty or costly, but such as a mans [...] owne yard or pasture affords: where the Tables are fill'd with guests, not rich, but poore: not so few as the Graces, that are onely three; or no more than the Muses, nine; for a feast ought to be absolute for all commers. I am of his minde, for if I have a moderate preparation of meat and drinke, honest mirth, good welcome, and a cup of good Wine or Beere; I care not for set Suppers, high Musicke, complementall Cringies. No, no, if your master had but began thus moderately, he need not now to have taken the City over his head to hide himselfe from me. But he is not the first that hath done so, (though that bee no excuse for him) I would he might be the last, for I and my followers fare the worse for him and such profuse Prodigals. So away went I and my traine, having little comfort yet as you may perceive, but as wee were walking and talking of our bad fortune, wee might perceive a plaine Country man come towards us: hee had highshooes on that look'd as blacke as a Bullice, white stockings made of the wooll of his owne Sheepe, gray Trunkehose, with all accoutriments belonging to this Country plainenesse: As soone as hee came somewhat nigh mee, he began to salute mee and bid mee welcome into the Country, telling me if it pleased me I should be welcome to his house: So without many circumstances I tooke his proffer, and with my (now) merry mates went toward his Farme, which was not farre off. As soone as we came into the yard (well stored with Poultrey) the Farmer himselfe shooke me by the hand, and bid all the rest welcome. The Dame of the house drest up in her home-spunne Gowne, came to meet me; the Maid-servants rejoyced to see mee, and the Plowmens hearts leap'd in their strawcolour'd letherd Doublets for joy [Page 22] of my approach. Then with all Country solemnity I was had into the Parlour and set downe by a good fire. I was presented with a cup of browne Ale, seasoned with Sinamon, Nutmegs, and Sugar. When dinner was ready, I was set at the upper end of the Table, my owne company set round about me, and the rest eat with the servants. We had Brawne of their owne feeding, Beefe of their owne killing; wee had brave plum broth in boledishes of a quart. The Whiteloafe ranne up and downe the Table, like a Bowle in an Alley, every man might have a fling at him: the March Beere march'd up and downe, and wee were all merry without the helpe of any Musicians. We had good cheere, and good welcome which was worth all: for the Goodman of the house did not looke with a sower or stoicall brow, but was full of mirth and alacrity, so that it made the house merry. A, ha, quoth I, this is something like, our dinner is better than our breakfast, this is as Christmas would have it, here is neither too delicate cheere, which doth cost much, or will cause surfeits, or too little or meane, but such as will kill hunger. They are the best feasts where the poore are releeved, the rich are able to helpe themselves. Dinner being done, Grace being said, the Cloth taken away, the poore refresh'd, wee went to the fire: before which, lay store of Apples piping hot, expecting a bole of Ale to coole themselves in. Evening Prayer drew nigh, so we all repaired to Church, where I heard my selfe much spoken of, but after Service was done, few respected me: some indeed, invited me to their houses, but I thought my entertainment would not bee worth my labour, considering my company: so went I home againe with my honest Hobnailewearer, with whom I past the time away in discourse while supper, which being ended, wee went to Cards. Some sung Carrols, [Page 23] merry songs, some againe to waste the long nights, would tell Wintertales. At last came in a company of Maids with Wassell, Wassell, jolly Wassell: I tasted of their Cakes, and sup'd of their Bole: and for my sake, the White-loafe and Cheese were set before them, with MineePies, and other meat. These being gone, the jolly youths and plaine dealing Plowswaines, being weary of Cards, fell to dancing; from dancing to shew mee some Gambols. Some ventured the breaking of their shinnes to make mee sport, some the scalding of their lippes to catch at Apples tyed at the end of a sticke, having a lighted candle at the other; some shod the wilde Mare; some at hotcockles, and the like. These Country revels expiring with the night, early in the morning we all tooke our leave of them, being loth to be too troublesome; and rendring them unfained thanks for our good cheere (who still desired that we would stay with them a little longer) wee instantly travelled towards the City. Being entred into it, we saw very few look with a smiling countenance on us, but a few Prentices or Journeymen that were trick'd up in their Holliday cloathes; but we conjectured their Masters were not up, or else wee could not goe so farre unbidden. At last the Bels began to ring, every householder began to bestirre himselfe, the Maidservants wee saw run hurrying to the Cookes shops with Pies, and the Jacks went as nimbly as any of the wives tongues: and before we were aware, whole Parishes of people came to invite us to dinner: Some tooke me by the hands and would have me his guest, another tooke Saint Stephen; a third, Saint John; a fourth, Childermasse; but Newyeares day was welcome to them all, especially to the rich; but all this while the poore was not look'd on, they were not invited: It grieved me, as it did them (poore soules) and I spake as much as I could for them; but I was answered, the Parish had [Page 24] taken order for the poore already, and that their houses were onely for their friends, and not Beggers; and for my part, if I would stay with them for a weeke or so, I should bee as welcome to them as any of their rich neighbours. Alas, alas, said I, is Charity as well as Conscience banish'd out of your freedome? How can you make me truly welcome, except the poore feed with me? It doth me more good to see a prisoner releas'd, and the poore man relieved, than taste of your daintiest meat. Yet I will confesse I have scene many famous and memorable deeds done by welldisposed Citizens; the Hospitals and other charitable houses can witnesse it, and that some in these daies follow the footsteps of their predecessors; but the present compared to those past, are no more in comparison than the least Starre to the Sunne, or a Gloworme to a Starre. Charity in those times was in her youth, in her prime, in her perfect ripenesse; now shee is old, decrepit, and lame: for she is seldome seene walking in the streets, shee is now onely an Vmbra, a Shadow, a Ghost: her substance is vanish'd; nay, shee is dead: And will you know when shee died? I will tell you, When Prodigality, Drunkennesse, and Excesse began to live, then she died; their generation was her destruction. When Prodigality spent as much one day as would keepe her a moneth; when Pride wore as many cloathes on her backe as would cloath an Hospitall of fatherlesse children; when Drunkennesse swallowed, in the whirlepoole of his belly, more drinke at one draught than would quench the thirsts of many poore children; when Gluttony spent more at one meale than would content many hungry Lazars; when Farmers began to make their sonnes Gentlemen, and young Gentlemen began to be devoured by Usurers: then, then, Charity lay on her sicke-bed, nay, on her deathbed. Will you know when she was in her perfect health? I will tell you. [Page 25] When Gentlemen did not know what a yard of Sattin, Velvet, Cloth of Gold, or Tissue is worth; when gold and silver lace were not seen in Cheap-side; when BeverHats, blew, red, yellow, and greene Starch were not worne; when Lords went in good Cloth, and their Servingmen in good Frize, or Stuffe; when the Gentry did not know what did belong to Tobacco, Anchovies, Chaviare, and Pickled-Oysters; when such walking-Spirits as Foot-boyes and Pages went inuisible; when we went not hurrying along the streets in their French Carts, as fast as if the Divell had beene the Coachman: then, then. Charity was well, was in health, and look'd cheerefully. The Roman Catholikes boast they have Charity living with them (which they reverence as much as they doe their Saints) by which, with the helpe of good works they hope to merite. Alas, alas, they are deceived, their Charity will doe them little good, except they have the helpe of her elder sister, Faith. Therefore I thinke it not amisse, if the Romanists would borrow some of our Faith for some of their Charity and good deeds, for wee wnnt one, as much as they doe the other. But I beginne to bee weary with talking thus to no purpose: Therefore England, beautifull, fruitfull, and yet blessed Land, take heed lest thy Gluttony, Pride, and Excesse, Covetousnesse, Bribery, and Extortion, have that Adamantine force to pull downe Heavens Judgements on thee as they did on Sodome. Thou art as sumptuous as that City was, be not thou so sinfull. Before it was burnt it was compared to a Garden, nay, to a Paradise for the neat and pleasant scituation, and the happy plentifulnesse of all things: But now it is a place destitute of water and fruit; onely, there are such growing, that onely delight the eye, but deride the touch and taste: for on those stinking and burnt bankes, grow Apples, that being toucht fall in dust. Thou maist be so, [Page 26] thou wilt be so, except some of thy fulnesse have vent toward the poore. Thou art such a fortunate Iland, that Histrographers write of, blest with an excellent temperature of Ayre, and singular Clemencie of Heaven: where about March, the Spring begins to cloath the earth in a Summer livery. Heaven is bountifull and patient, bee thou penitent and thankfull. But as I was going forward with my Admonition, they stop'd my mouth by their entreating me to be their guest for three or foure daies: so for such a small quantity of time, I bestowed my selfe among them. But I was the most royallest, noblest, and worthiliest entertained at Court, Innes of Court and Temples, where I was resident while Candlemas, and then left this Land.


This is the full version of the original text


bacon, charity, death, entertainment, fish, flesh, malt, trade, wine

Source text

Title: The complaint of Christmas, and the teares of Twelfetyde by John Taylor

Author: John Taylor

Publication date: 1631

Edition: 2nd Edition

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: Bibliographic name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 23745.5 Physical description: [8], 26, [5] p. Copy from: Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery Reel position: STC / 1782:21

Digital edition

Original author(s): John Taylor

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) whole


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 > prose fiction

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