Tag Archives: Early Modern History

Pepys’ Book Presses – 350th Anniversary year

Follow the link below for a really interesting post on Samuel Pepys’ book presses, the first of their kind! I worked at the Pepys Library for almost a year and never got tired of looking at those lovely pieces of practical furniture (the books inside were pretty good too). I heartily recommend a visit to anyone, it’s a wonderful, wonderful place (and FREE!!!):

Source: 350th Anniversary year


It’s Oak Apple Day!

Today is Oak Apple Day, the celebration of Charles II birthday that was once popularly celebrated across the UK. Why Oak Apple Day? Click on the link to find out: Royal Oak.


Stuart Southampton – Study Day on 10th March

The Towne Wall is in manie places decayed & broken

The Towne Wall is in manie places decayed & broken

I don’t normally use the blog for news or notification, but I just came across this event and thought it was worth sharing. The Southampton City Museums Archaeological Society is hosting a study day looking at Stuart Southampton. I’ve not been to one of their study days before, but it sounded rather intriguing and the programme is covering some interesting topics. Personally I’m looking forward to the opportunity to learn more about Southampton in this period and particularly about the fate of Southampton’s medieval walls and (long gone) castle, which in my opinion get a little overlooked when people think about Southampton’s heritage. I think Southampton has a very interesting history, it is one of those cities whose fortunes have fluctuated over the centuries; it’s been an influential medieval port, a spa town, an industrial hub and back to a key port over the last few hundred years. How it got on in Stuart times, well I’ll be interested to find out a little about it.


9.30 Registration. Tea and coffee.

10.00 Welcome – Martyn Dowell, Chair of SCMAS

10.10 Dr Andy Russel “The Towne Wall is in manie places decayed & broken”: changing attitudes to the defence of Southampton.

10.50 Harry Willis Fleming ‘Sir Thomas Fleming (1544-1613)’.

11.30 Coffee

11.50 Ben Jervis & Duncan Brown ‘Pottery in Stuart Southampton and beyond…’

12.40 Presentations by members of Little Woodham – the 1642 living history village’

1.00 – 2.15 LUNCH (not provided – you are welcome to bring a packed lunch or take advantage of the pubs and shops nearby or Tudor House Café)

2.20 Presentations by members of Little Woodham – the 1642 living history village’

2.40 Rosalind Johnson ‘Quakers in Stuart Southampton’

3.30 Coffee

3.50 Stan Roberts ‘Isaac Watts – “I’m not ashamed…..”

4.30 Presentations by members of Little Woodham – the 1642 living history village’

4.55 Martyn Dowell – Closing remarks

5.00 End of Study Day

If you’re interested in the history of Hampshire, maritime cities or the Stuart period it might be worth your while coming along, I’ll certainly be there. The Programme and booking form are below (download the pdf form):


The Complaint of Christmas: A Serialised Christmas Tale. Part 7

A Beggar


And to round of these posts, as John Taylor does his  ‘Complaint of Christmas’ here is his Christmas carol, to the tune of Poore Tom* 


I’ll be honest with you, it’s not the catchiest of carols, though there are familiar elements in there from modern carols. In medieval times carols were sung by the homeless poor in the street at Christmas time, they would sing festive songs as part of their begging. Of course public carol singing retains an element of this to this day.

I haven’t managed to find with any certainty the tune of ‘Poore Tom’, although I’m almost entirely sure its not the same as the Led Zeppelin song . There are a couple of tunes that appear in the old English ballad archives that sound close: ‘Poor Tom’s progress’,  ‘Poor Tom the Taylor’ or ‘Tom O’Bedlam’. Of the three, it seems most likely that it was the latter tune. Tom O’Bedlam was a contemporary song, part of which describes the begging poor, this would fit in quite nicely with the theme of ‘A Complaint of Christmas’ and its concern with the obligation to provide hospitality to the less well off.  Here is the tune anyway:


And here is the carol itself:


A Christmas CARROLL,

To the tune of Poore TOM.

REjoyce, rejoyce, this day is come

Saluation unto Christendome:

All that will heare their blest Redeemers voyce,

Let them all with mirth rejoyce, rejoyce.

The Saviour of the world is borne,

To ransome us that were forlorne:

He left the Heavens, and came to us on earth,

And from a blessed Virgins wombe had birth.

Here a mighty mystery well was wrought,

whose depth no man can gather;

A Mayden-mother pure, a Sonne forth brought,

and no man was the father:

God above, with peace and love,

The sinfull world possessed

With heavenly treasure, past all measure,

Who is ever blessed.

He this day to Grace a feast,

sent his Sonne to be a Guest:

Let us then, like thankfull men

give entertainment to him:

And let us still with heart and will,

our best of service doe him:

Himselfe for us he hath given,

to draw us from earth to heaven.

Therefore for all his paine,

let’s give him our selves againe.


TO wipe away our sinnes great summes,

Gods Sonne and heire in person comes;

He left his glorious and Immortall throne,

and underneath his Fathers curse did [illeg.] groane :

Downe from the heavens to the earth he came,

to honour us he tooke our shame;

He suffer’d death that we might live thereby,

and through his merits reigne eternally.

Seeing he hath with his precious blood

wash’d cleare our foule offences,

How can we render any thing

that may be recompences,

Since we may not any way

give any thing worth taking;

Or all that can be done by man,

no satisfaction making:

Let vs doe as David sayes,

give him honour, laud and praise.

Let Christmas day put vs in minde,

that Christ was borne this day:

Let’s entertaine him here, that we

may entertaine him aye.

That we all with one heart and desire,

amidst the [illeg.] Celestiall Quire

All honour and praise may sing,

to Christ our heavenly King.




*Which I can only assume was a ballad about a poor chap who decided to reformat and correct the u/v f/s switches in a 17th C text for modern eyes

The Complaint of Christmas: A Serialised Christmas Tale. Part 6

Christmas Lights


The story of Christmas’ journey continues (Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3, Part 4 & Part 5 here)

In this section, the original introduction from the ‘Complaint of Christmas’, we have the summary of his message as he gives the prodigious and the Scrooges an earful and praises the stout yeoman that he met on his travels in England.

To the most mighty, much unworthy honored, and to the Right Richworshipped disworshipped, & to the al-to much powerfull and respected; the miserable Money mongers & Mammonists, whose hatefull habitations are within the bounds of Europe or the Pales of Christendome; Christmas sends Greeting.

TAke it as you please you Almighty makers of Beggers, you pro|uokers of Theeves and encreasers of Vagabonds; I, I my selfe, old Christmas (without feare or flattery, proclaimes your base entertainment, are you all turn’d Foxfur’d, Goldfinches Wolves, Cormorants, Caterpillers, & Curmudgeans? Hath the divel & the world so besotted and bewitched you, that you will wilfully spend your dayes miserably, to end your lives detestedly? will you live poore to dye rich? will you empty your consciences, to fill your bagges? and will you pinch your bellies to starve yoursoules? Hee that should have told mee for five hundred yeares ago, that Christmas and Hospitalitie should have bin thus unregarded and sleighted, I shold have held him for a lying Prophet, and a false Prognosticator. Oh mad and brutish age, wherein the avarice of one is the prejudice of thousands; when the Coach eates up the Cart, the Backe robs the Belly, when the Perfumes, crewels, cullisses and the Castingbottle, makes a warme Chamber and a cold Kitchin; Know you thick skin’d Hide-bound Chuffes, that you are hared of God & men, yea your owne children or heires (for whom you rake and ravine) doe inwardly curse & hate you, and know, that what most vilely you get over the divels backe, your inheritours will as wickedly spend under his Dammes belly. What a shame it is (if you had the grace to see it) that you shold give your mindes to live upon the unnaturall lecherie and engendring of money, that all the meate you eate in your owne houses is the accursed spawnes of oppression, extortion, bribery, and insatiatcouetousnes: and yet some of you keepe no houses at all, but pinch your owne and your families guttes at home, when at other mens boords you are tirants, where you turne the old custome backeward, and instead of keeping Christmas, you (like droves) make Christmas keepe you; but take it for a warning, let me not finde itso the next yeere; for if I do, I will send you such guests as shall never forsake you; as the Dropsie, Gout, collick, the Stone, & the like kinde tokens of my just anger, which you shall receive as most worthy & deserved


Your friend or foe, as you hereafter use him, Chritmas.

To the most Right and truely honorable, to the Rightly approved and deservinglie beloved, right Worshipfull, and to the Rest of the smal number of Liberall and Charitable Houskeepers of Christendome; old Christmas sends loving Commendations.

YOU that are thicke sowne and thin come up, as if the world were barren of vertue, or past breeding of Goodnesse: you that are as rare as Phenixes, as scare as black Swans or white Negroes, and as much to be held in admiration as Snow in July, Strawberries in December, the Sunshine at Midnight, or a blazing Starre at Noone: I assure you my brave worthy Benefactors, that I your ancient and yeerly Guest (Christmas,) am heartily sorry to see your quondam number so much shrunke in the wetting; and although you are falne into that lamentable consumption that I with my friends favourers and followers can scarcely finde the tithe of my former entertainment: yet (to shew my thankefull memory to your worthy predecessors,) with my gratefulnesse to you (too few) that are surviuers, and to encourage a fruitfull Spring, enease or multiplication of your successors. I send to you this my loving & friendly Epistle. [illeg.] You in your discetions, hold the commendable and golden meane way betwixt the two extreame Gulphs of Niggerality and prodegality, betwixt Hunger & Gluttony, betwixt Hide all & Spend all, betwixt wilful Slavery and wastefull Bravery. I wish most unfeignedly that the dew of Heaven may descend blessedly, that you may fructifie, multiply fruitfully, encrease and ampliffe, like the tree which Nabuchadnezar drempt of, whose toppe reach’d to Heaven, and whose branches extended and stretch’d to the ends of the Earth: you have the Celestiall Graces; your Hope is constant, your Faith is fervent, your Charity is frequent: your Hope is in assurance of that never faiing possession wherein the unblasted tree of your Faith is firmely fixed and rooted; and your Charity is the pious fruit which springs from that faithfull Tree. And he that with his Grace doth plant it, water it, and cause it to increase, will crowne his own gifts on your heads, that are his beloved instruments; not onely here, with blessings transitory and temporall, but hereafter with that unspeakable glory which was, is, and shall bee permanent and Eternall.

Yours in the best of friendship, Christmas.

To the Profuse Sardana pallitanians, most famous Infamous Heliogabalonians, the compleat companie of Cockbrain’d whimsie-pated Gul-Gallants, the inte~perate prodigals and a busiuely nic nam’d and cald either Honorable, worshipful honest, wise, or any stile or title that hath a relish of Commendations.

BRave Sparks have amongst you, though Christmas be old, yet you shall perceive that hee neither feares your Toledoes, Bilboes, or [illeg.] Steelettoes ; I know that each of you have more shadow than substance, more tongue than truth, and more haire than wit, though many of you be bald or beardlesse. You that have [illeg.] Ror’d away your Land, Whor’d away your money, and Scor’d away your credits; that with often unnaturall going to bed at Sun-rising, and rising at supper time to breakefast, by turning the course of time out of his natural circumuolution; as the day into night, and the night into day, like Owles, Bats, and Glowormes, are monsters against nature, that pay more for the maring of your clothes, then for the making, giving twice as much for the cutting as for the sowing; whose exercise is drinking and dicing, and whose grace is swearing; who entertaine old Christmas with Gluttony and Ebriety, with the ill gotten expences of thievery, cheating, unthristy borrowing, unmeasurable exhausting, unmercifull oppressing, or any unlawfull obtaining; Know, all the whole kennell or litter of you, that I scorne you and your surfeiting welcome: let me perswade you to be wiser hereafter, and not to keepe mee company in such prodigall manner, that you must be forced to fare the worse all the yeere after: Let it not bee imputed to mee, that I and my company did in twelve dayes, eate up that which shold have lasted 365. The old Proverb saith Enough is a feast, and as you love to feast, so have no more then enough, lest to much feasting perforce, doe breed and engender to much fasting spight of your teeth. Finally, Know, that I doe come every yeere in memory of a great blessing, and I would not have your wastefull profusenesse to turne that blessed time of Remembrance into an accursed use of impious blasphemie, and worse then Heathenish, Paganish, Bacchanalliall Beastiallitie. So wishing every of you to use your best endevours each one to mend one, I leave you till the next yeere, in small hope to have my request granted.

No way your friend, till you mend your manners, Christmas.


In the next instalment; A Christmas Carol

The Complaint of Christmas: A Serialised Christmas Tale. Part 5

The story of Christmas’ journey continues (Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3 & Part 4 here)


Christmas did not just visit England in 1631, here he tours the other countries of Europe and regails us with his findings.

(In the original text the story opens with this tour of European countries)


The num-cold teeth-gnashing Regions

Where the women weep brine

I was in the stewing-Stoves of Russia, Muscovia, Pollonia, Sweauia, Hungaria, Austria, Bohemia, Germania, and so many other num-cold teeth-gnashing 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 palsie 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 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.

Spain and Italy

Saucy companions

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 Pitch forke tossing it into the hay-loft 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.

Rome and the particular friars 

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 [illeg.] 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 marrow-bones of hee Goats, or lusty Rammes.

Vitellius or [illeg.] 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 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 Sea-sowsd 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 cinqueports 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, [illeg.] 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 wella

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 therea 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.

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 tent-maker. 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 Reuverend 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 [Note: Corin. 15. ] there is a Sea-horse, a Sea-calfe, a Sea-oxe, 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.


Fashion victims all

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 out-fac’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.

The women were well-fac’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 owne 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.


Gamesters all

I had almost forgotten some particularities which I obserued 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.

The Dutch and the Puritan weathercock

The Amster-damnified puritan

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 vs’d (rather abus’d) by a prick-ear’d Puritan, whose beard was warp’d like greene Wainscot, or a capitall S. (I thinke it stood as many wayes as a Sea-mans Compasse.) Hee was a Cobler on 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 Holy-day: 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 Candle-masse, Lam-masse, Michael-masse,, Martle-masse, and that some Papist had beene my Godfather; there|fore 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 sinfull 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 [illeg.] 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 mum|mery than Diuine; 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 invectively against the Masse, that he might (with the more cunning and lesse suspect) defend what was 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 reioycings, 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 [illeg.] releeve 8 with alacrity those impoverish’d members, of whom our glorious 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 vnfruitfull of good works, your Hope Innovation, your Charity Invisible, or like a Noune Adjective, not to be seene, felt, heard, or understood.


In the next instalment; Christmas sums up the issues at hand.

The Complaint of Christmas: A Serialised Christmas Tale. Part 4

At the farmers house

The story of Christmas’ journey continues (Part 1Part 2 & Part 3 here)

With the  spirit of Christmas thwarted at every turn by misers & City types we finally see how Christmas should be celebrated in Early Modern England, and who provides this demonstration, why the good old yeoman of course!

A Farmer & a warm welcome

In which a farmer shows how hospitality should be shown

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 high-shooes on that look’d as blacke as a Bullice, white stockings made of the wooll of his owne Sheepe, gray Trunke hose, 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 Plow-mens hearts leap’d in their straw-colour’d letherd Doublets for joy of my approach.

Christmas Food

Beef, Beer and music abound

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 bole-dishes 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 Good-man 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.”

Christmas Entertainments

Card, Carols and hotcockles

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 Hobnaile-wearer, with whom I past the time away in discourse while supper, which being ended, wee went to Cards. Some sung Carrols, merry songs, some againe to waste the long nights, would tell Winter-tales. At last came in a company of Maids with Wassell, Wassell, iolly 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 Mince-Pies, and other meat. These being gone, the jolly youths and plaine dealing Plow-swaines, 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.

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 house-holder began to bestirre himselfe, the Maid-servants 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 vs to dinner: Some tooke me by the hands and would have me his guest, another tooke Saint Stephen; a third, Saint Iohn; a fourth, Childermasse; but New-yeares 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 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.

When Charity began to sicken

“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 well-disposed Citizens; the Hospitals and other charitable houses can witnesse it, and that some in these daies follow the foot-steps 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 Umbra, a Shadow, a Ghost: her substance is vanish’d; nay, sheeis 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 death-bed. Will you know when she was in her perfect health? I will tell you.  When Gentlemen did not know what a yard of Sattin, Veluet, Cloth of Gold, or Tissue is worth; when gold and silver lace were not seen in Cheap-side; when Bever Hats, 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 invisible; when we went not hurrying along the streets in their French Carts, as fast as if the Divell had beene the Coach-man: 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

want one, as much as they doe the other.”

Christmas’ Message for England

“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,  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 Heauen: where about March, the Spring begins to cloath the earth in a Summer liuery. Heauen 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.


In the next installment; Christmas visits England’s neighbours, feasts with them and reveals to us their natures.