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Royalty Restored or London under Charles II
Chapter XIX
by Molloy, J. Fitzgerald

London under Charles II.--Condition and appearance of the thoroughfares.--Coffee is first drunk in the capital.--Taverns and their frequenters.--The city by night.--Wicked people do creep about.--Companies of young gentlemen.--The Duke of Monmouth kills a beadle.--Sir Charles Sedley's frolic.--Stately houses of the nobility.--St. James's Park.--Amusement of the town.--At Bartholomew Fair.--Bull, bear, and dog fights.--Some quaint sports.

During the first six years of the merry monarch's reign, London town, east of Temple Bar, consisted of narrow and tortuous streets of quaintly gabled houses, pitched roofed and plaster fronted. Scarce four years had passed after the devastating fire which laid this portion of the capital in ashes, when a new and stately city rose upon the ruins of the old. Thoroughfares lying close by the Thames, which were wont to suffer from inundations, were raised; those which from limited breadth had caused inconvenience and bred pestilence were made wide; warehouses and dwellings of solid brick and carved stone, with doors, window- frames, and breastsummers of stout oak, replaced irregular though not unpicturesque habitations; whilst the halls of companies, eminent taverns, and abodes of great merchants, were now built "with fair courtyards before them, and pleasant gardens behind them, and fair spacious rooms and galleries in them, little inferior to some princes' palaces." Moreover, churches designed by the genius of Christopher Wren, adorned with spires, steeples, and minarets, intersected the capital at all points.

This new, handsome, and populous city presented an animated, ever changing, and merry scene. From "the high street which is called the Strand," far eastwards, great painted signs, emblazoned with heraldic arms, or ornamented with pictures of grotesque birds and animals, swung above shop-doors and taverns. Stalls laden with wares of every description, "set out with decorations as valuable as those of the stage," extended into the thoroughfares. In the new Exchange, built by the worshipful company of mercers at a cost of eight thousand pounds, and adorned by a fair statue of King Charles II. in the habit of a Roman emperor, were galleries containing rows of very rich shops, displaying manufactures and ornaments of rare description, served by young men known as apprentices, and likewise by comely wenches.

At corners and nooks of streets, under eaves of churches and great buildings, and other places of shelter, sat followers of various trades and vendors of divers commodities, each in the place which had become his from daily association and long habit. These good people, together with keepers of stalls and shops, extolled their wares in deafening shouts; snatches of song, shouts of laughter, and the clang of pewter vessels came in bursts of discord from open tavern doors; women discoursed with or abused each other, according to their temper and inclination as they leaned from the jutting small-paned windows and open balconies of their homesteads; hackney coaches or "hell carts," as they drove by, cast filth and refuse lying in kennels upon the clothes of passengers; the carriers of sedan-chairs deposited their burthens to fight for right of way in narrow passages and round crowded corners.

Through the busy concourse flowing up and down the thoroughfares from dawn to dusk, street-criers took their way, bearing wares upon their heads in wicker baskets, before them on broad trays, or slung upon their backs in goodly packs. And as they passed, their voices rose above the general din, calling "Fair lemons and oranges, oranges and citrons!" "Cherries, sweet cherries, ripe and red!" "New flounders and great plaice; buy my dish of great eels!" "Rosemary and sweet briar; who'll buy my lavender?" "Fresh cheese and cream!" "Lily-white vinegar!" "Dainty sausages!" which calls, being frequently intoned to staves of melody, fell with pleasant sounds upon the ear. [These hawkers so seriously interfered with legitimate traders, that in 1694 they were forbidden to sell any goods or merchandise in any public place within the city or liberties, except in open markets and fairs, on penalty of forty shillings for each offence, both to buyers and sellers.] Moreover, to these divers sights and sounds were added ballad singers, who piped ditties upon topics of the day; quacks who sold nostrums and magic potions; dancers who performed on tight-ropes; wandering musicians; fire-eaters of great renown; exhibitors of dancing dolls, and such like itinerants "as make show of motions and strange sights," all of whom were obliged to have and to hold "a license in red and black letters, under the hand and seal of Thomas Killigrew, Esq., master of the revels to his sacred majesty Charles II."

Adown the Strand, Fleet Street, and in that part of the city adjoining the Exchange, coffee-houses abounded in great numbers. Coffee, which in this reign became a favourite beverage, was introduced into London a couple of years before the restoration. It had, however, been brought into England at a much earlier period. John Evelyn, in the year 1638, speaks of it being drunk at Oxford, where there came to his college "one Nathaniel Conoposis out of Greece, from Cyrill the patriarch of Constantinople, who, returning many years after, was made Bishop of Smyrna." Twelve good years later, a coffee-house was opened at Oxford by one Jacobs, a Jew, where this beverage was imbibed "by some who delighted in novelty." It was, however, according to Oldys the antiquarian, untasted in the capital till a Turkey merchant named Edwards brought to London a Ragusan youth named Pasqua Rosee, who prepared this drink for him daily. The eagerness to taste the strange beverage drawing too much company to his board, Edwards allowed the lad, together with a servant of his son-in-law, to sell it publicly; whence coffee was first sold in St. Michael's Alley in Cornhill by Pasqua Rosee, "at the sign of his own head," about the year 1658.

Though coffee-drinkers first met with much ridicule from wits about town, and writers of broadsheet ballads, the beverage became gradually popular, and houses for its sale quickly multiplied. Famous amongst these, in the reign of the merry monarch, besides that already mentioned, was Garraway's in Exchange Alley; the Rainbow, by the Inner Temple Gate; Dick's, situated at No. 8, Fleet Street; Jacobs', the proprietor of which moved in 1671 from Oxford to Southampton Buildings, Holborn; the Grecian in the Strand, "conducted without ostentation or noise;" the Westminster, noted as a resort of peers and members of parliament; and Will's, in Russell Street, frequented by the poet Dryden.

These houses, the forerunners of clubs, were, according to their situation and convenience, frequented by noblemen and men of quality, courtiers, foreign ministers, politicians, members of learned professions, wits, citizens of various grades, and all who loved to exchange greetings and gossip with their neighbours and friends. Within these low-ceilinged comfortable coffee-house rooms, fitted with strong benches and oak chairs, where the black beverage was drunk from handless wide brimmed cups, Pepys passed many cheerful hours, hearing much of the news he so happily narrates, and holding pleasant discourse with many notable men. It was in a coffee-house he encountered Major Waters, "a deaf and most amorous melancholy gentleman, who is under a despayer in love, which makes him bad company, though a most good-natured man." And in such a place he listened to "some simple discourse about quakers being charmed by a string about their wrists;" and saw a certain merchant named Hill "that is a master of most sorts of musique and other things, the universal character, art of memory, counterfeiting of hands, and other most excellent discourses."

In days before newspapers came into universal circulation, and general meetings were known, coffee-houses became recognised centres for exchange of thought and advocacy of political action. Aware of this, the government, under leadership of Danby, not desiring to have its motives too freely canvassed, in 1675 issued an order that such "places of resort for idle and disaffected persons" should be closed. Alarmed by this command, the keepers of such houses petitioned for its withdrawal, at the same time faithfully promising libels should not be read under their roofs. They were therefore permitted to carry on their business by license.

Next in point of interest to coffee-houses were taverns where men came to make merry, in an age when simplicity and good fellowship largely obtained. As in coffee-houses, gossip was the order of the day in such places, each tavern being in itself "a broacher of more news than hogsheads, and more jests than news." Those of good standing and fair renown could boast rows of bright flagons ranged on shelves round panelled walls; of hosts, rotund in person and genial in manner; and of civil drawers, who could claim good breeding. The Bear, at the bridge-foot, situated at the Southwark side, was well known to men of gallantry and women of pleasure; and was, moreover, famous as the spot where the Duke of Richmond awaited Mistress Stuart on her escape from Whitehall. The Boar's Head, in Eastcheap, which gained pleasant mention in the plays of William Shakespeare, when rebuilt, after the great fire, became a famous resort. The Three Cranes, in the Vintry, was sacred to the shade of rare Ben Jonson. The White Bear's Head, in Abchurch Lane, where French dinners were served from five shillings a head "to a guinea, or what sum you pleased," was the resort of cavaliers, The Rose Tavern, in the Poultry, was famous for its excellent ale, and no less for its mighty pretty hostess, to whom the king had kissed hands as he rode by on his entry. The Rummer was likewise of some note, inasmuch as it was kept by one Samuel Prior, uncle to Matthew Prior, the ingenious poet. On the balcony of the Cock, near Covent Garden, Sir Charles Sedley had stood naked in a drunken frolic; and at the King's Head, over against the Inner Temple Gate, Shaftesbury and his friends laid their plots, coming out afterwards on the double balcony in front, as North describes them, "with hats and no peruques, pipes in their mouths, merry faces and dilated throats, for vocal encouragement of the canaglia below."

All day long the streets were crowded by those whom business or diversion carried abroad; but when night fell apace, the keepers of stalls and shops speedily secured their wares and fastened their doors, whilst the honest citizen and his family kept within house. For the streets being unlighted, darkness fell upon them, relieved only as some person of wealth rode homewards from visiting a friend, or a band of late revellers returned from a feast, when the glare of flambeaux, carried by their attendants, for a moment brought the outlines of houses into relief, or flashed red light upon their diamond panes, leaving all in profound gloom on disappearing.

The condition of the thoroughfares favouring the inclination of many loose persons, they wandered at large, dealing mischief to those whose duty took them abroad. From the year 1556, in the reign of Queen Mary, "fit persons with suitable strength" had been appointed to walk the streets and watch the city by night; to protect those in danger, arrest suspected persons, warn householders of danger by fire and candle, help the poor, pray for the dead, and preserve the peace. These burly individuals were known as watch or bell men; one was appointed for each ward, whose duty it was to pass through the district he guarded ringing his bell, "and when that ceaseth," says Stow, "he salutes his masters and mistresses with his rhymes, suitable to the seasons and festivals of the year, and bids them look to their lights."

In the third year of the reign of King Charles II., whilst Sir John Robinson was mayor of London town, divers good orders were made by him and his common council for the better service of these watches. The principal of these set forth that each should be accompanied by a constable and a beadle selected from the inhabitants of their respective wards, who should be required in turn to render voluntary service in guarding the city, from nine of the clock at night till seven in the morning, from Michaelmas to the 1st of April; and from that date until the 31st of March, from ten at night till five in the morning.

These rules were not, however, vigorously carried out; the volunteers were frequently unwilling to do duty, or when, fearful of fine, they went abroad, they usually spent their time in tippling in ale-houses, so that, as Delaune remarks, "a great many wicked persons capable of the blackest villainies do creep about, as daily and sad experience shows." It was not only those who, with drawn swords, darted from some deep porch or sheltering buttress, in hopes of enriching themselves at their neighbour's expense, that were to be dreaded. It was a fashion of the time for companies of young gentlemen to saunter forth in numbers after route or supper, when, being merry with wine and eager for adventure, they were brave enough to waylay the honest citizen and abduct his wife, beat the watch and smash his lantern, bedaub signboards and wrench knockers, overturn a sedan-chair and vanquish the carriers, sing roystering songs under the casements of peaceful sleepers, and play strange pranks to which they were prompted by young blood and high spirits.

Among those who made prominent figures in such unholy sports was the king's eldest son, my Lord Duke of Monmouth. He and his young grace of Albemarle--son to that gallant soldier now deceased, who was instrumental in restoring his majesty--together with some seven or eight young gentlemen, whilst on their rounds one Sunday morning encountered a beadle, whose quaint and ponderous figure presented itself to their blithe minds as a fit object for diversion in lieu of better. Accordingly they accosted him with rough words and unceremonious usage, the which he resenting, they came to boisterous threats and many blows, that ended only when the poor fellow lay with outstretched limbs stark dead upon the pavement. Sir Charles Sedley and Lord Brockhurst were also notable as having been engaged in another piece of what has been called "frolick and debauchery," when "they ran up and down all night almost naked through the streets, at last fighting and being beaten by the watch, and clapped up all night."

It was not until the last years of the merry monarch's reign that there was introduced "an ingenious and useful invention for the good of this great city, calculated to secure one's goods, estates, and person; to prevent fires, robberies and housebreakings, and several accidents and casualties by falls to which man is liable by walking in the dark" This was a scheme for lighting the streets, by placing an oil-lamp in front of every tenth house on each side of the way, from Michaelmas to Lady-day, every night from six of the clock till twelve, beginning the third night after every full moon, and ending on the sixth night after every new moon; one hundred and twenty nights in all. The originator of this plan was one Edward Hemming, of London, gentleman. His project was at first ridiculed and opposed by "narrow-souled and self-interested people," who were no doubt children of darkness and doers of evil deeds; but was eventually hailed with delight by all honest men, one of whom, gifted with considerable imagination, declared these poor oil-lamps "seemed but one great solar light that turned nocturnal shades to noonday."

In this reign the city proper was confined eastward of Temple Bar; to the west lay the palaces of Somerset House and Whitehall, the stately parks, and great houses of the nobility surrounded by wide gardens and wooded grounds. Monsieur Sorbiere, who in this reign made a journey into England, an account of which he subsequently published "to divert a person of quality who loved him extremely," resided close by Covent Garden during his stay. It was usual, he writes, for people in the district to say, "I go to London," for "indeed 'tis a journey for those who live near Westminster. 'Tis true," he adds, "they may sometimes get thither in a quarter of an hour by water, which they cannot do in less than two hours by land, for I am persuaded no less time will be necessary to go from one end of its suburb to the other." For a crown a week this ingenious and travelled gentleman had lodgings in Covent Garden, not far removed from Salisbury House, a vicinity which he avows was "certainly the finest place in the suburbs." Covent Garden itself has been described by John Strype, native of the city of London, as "a curious large and airy square enclosed by rails, between which railes and houses runs a fair street." The square, or, as it was commonly called, garden, was well gravelled for greater accommodation of those who wished to take the air; and that its surface might more quickly dry after rain, it was raised by an easy ascent to the centre, where stood a sundial fixed on a black marble pillar, at the base of which were stone steps, "whereon the weary' might rest."

The west side of the square was flanked by the handsome portico of St. Paul's Church, erected at the expense of Francis, Earl of Bedford, from designs by Mr. Inigo Jones; the south side opened to Bedford Gardens, "where there is a small grotto of trees, most pleasant in the summer season. Here, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, a market was held, well stocked with roots, fruits, herbs, and flowers. On the north and east sides stood large and stately houses of persons of quality and consideration, the fronts of which, being supported by strong pillars, afforded broad walks, known as the Piazza, and found convenient in wet and sultry weather.

Here amongst other houses was that of my Lord Brouncker, where Mr. Pepys enjoyed a most noble French dinner and much good discourse, in return for which he gave much satisfaction by the singing of a new ballad, to wit, Lord Dorset's famous song, "To all ye ladies now on land." Not far distant, its face turned to the Strand, was the stately residence of the Duke of Bedford, a large dark building, fronted by a great courtyard, and backed by spacious gardens enclosed by red-brick walls. Likewise in the Strand stood Arundel House, the residence of Henry Frederick Howard, Earl of Arundel and Surrey, and Earl Marshal of England; Hatfield House, built by Thomas Hatfield, Bishop of Durham, as a town residence for himself and his heirs lawfully begotten; York House, richly adorned with the arms of Villiers and Manners--one gloomy chamber of which was shown as that wherein its late noble owner, George, first Duke of Buckingham, was stabbed by Felton; Worcester House, at one time occupied by Lord Chancellor Clarendon; and Essex House, situated near St. Clement Danes, the town residence of Arthur Capel, Earl of Essex, "a sober, wise, judicious, and pondering person, not illiterate beyond the rate of most noblemen of this age."

There were also many other noble mansions lying westward, amongst them being those of the Dukes of Ormond and Norfolk in St. James's Square, which was built at this time; Berkeley House, which stood on the site now occupied by Berkeley Square, a magnificent structure containing a staircase of cedar wood, and great suites of lofty rooms; Leicester House, situated in Leicester Fields, subsequently known as Leicester Square, behind which stretched a goodly common; Goring House, "a very pretty villa furnished with silver jars, vases, cabinets, and other rich furniture, even to wantonnesse and profusion," on the site of which Burlington Street now stands; Clarendon House, a princely residence, combining "state, use, solidity, and beauty," surrounded by fair gardens, that presently gave place to Bond Street; Southampton House, standing, as Evelyn says, in "a noble piazza--a little town," now known as Bloomsbury Square, whose pleasant grounds commanded a full view of the rising hills of Hampstead and Highgate; and Montagu House, described as a palace built in the French fashion, standing on the ground now occupied by the British Museum, which in this reign was backed by lonely fields, the dread scenes of "robbery, murder, and every species of depravity and wickedness of which the heart can think."

Besides the grounds and gardens surrounding these stately mansions, a further aspect of space and freshness was added to the capital by public parks. Foremost amongst these was St. James's, to which the merry monarch added several fields, and for its greater advantage employed Monsieur La Notre, the famous French landscape-gardener. Amongst the improvements this ingenious man effected were planting trees of stately height, contriving a canal one hundred feet broad and two hundred and eighty feet long, with a decoy and duck island, [The goodnatured Charles made Monsieur St. Evremond governor of Duck Island, to which position he attached a salary much appreciated by the exile. The island was removed in 1790 to make room for fresh improvements.] and making a pleasant pathway bordered by an aviary on either side, usually called Bird Cage Walk. An enclosure for deer was formed in the centre of the park; not far removed was the famous Physic Garden, where oranges were first seen in England; and at the western end, where Buckingham Palace has been erected, stood Arlington House, described as "a most neat box, and sweetly seated amongst gardens, enjoying the prospect of the park and the adjoining fields."

The great attraction of St. James's Park was the Mall, which Monsieur Sorbiere tells us was a walk "eight hundred and fifty paces in length, beset with rows of large trees, and near a small wood, from whence you may see a fine mead, a long canal, Westminster Abbey, and the suburbs, which afford an admirable prospect." This path was skirted by a wooded border, and at the extreme end was set with iron hoops, "for the purpose of playing a game with a ball called the mall." ["Our Pall Mall is, I believe, derived from paille maille, a game somewhat analogous to cricket, and imported from France in the reign of the second Charles. It was formerly played in St. James's Park, and in the exercise of the sport a small hammer or mallet was used to strike the ball. I think it worth noting that the Malhe crest is a mailed arm and hand, the latter grasping a mallet."--NOTES AND QUERIES, 1st series, vol. iii. p. 351.]

In St. James's Park Samuel Pepys first saw the Duke of York playing at "pelemele"; and likewise in 1662 witnessed with astonishment people skate upon the ice there, skates having been just introduced from Holland; on another occasion he enjoyed the spectacle of Lords Castlehaven and Arran running down and killing a stout buck for a wager before the king. And one sultry July day, meeting an acquaintance here, the merry soul took him to the farther end, where, seating himself under a tree in a corner, he sung him some blithesome songs. It was likewise in St. James's Park the Duke of York, meeting John Milton one day, asked him if his blindness was not to be regarded as a just punishment from heaven, due to his having written against the martyred king. "If so, sir," replied the great poet and staunch republican, "what must we think of his majesty's execution upon a scaffold?" To which question his royal highness vouchsafed no reply.

It was a favourite custom of his majesty, who invariably rose betimes, to saunter in the park whilst the day was young and pass an hour or two in stroking the heads of his feathered favourites in the aviary, feeding the fowls in the pond with biscuits, and playing with the crowd of spaniels ever attending his walks. For his greater amusement he had brought together in the park a rare and valuable collection of birds and beasts; amongst which were, according to a quaint authority, "an onocratylus, or pelican, a fowl between a stork and a swan--a melancholy water-fowl brought from Astracan by the Russian ambassador." This writer tells us, "It was diverting to see how the pelican would toss up and turn a flat fish, plaice or flounder, to get it right into its gullet at its lower beak, which being filmy stretches to a prodigious wideness when it devours a great fish. Here was also a small water-fowl, not bigger than a more-hen, that went almost quite erect like the penguin of America. It would eate as much fish as its whole body weighed, yet ye body did not appear to swell the bigger. The Solan geese here are also great devourers, and are said soon to exhaust all ye fish in a pond. Here was a curious sort of poultry not much exceeding the size of a tame pidgeon, with legs so short as their crops seemed to touch ye earth; a milk-white raven; a stork which was a rarity at this season, seeing he was loose and could fly loftily; two Balearian cranes, one of which having had one of his leggs broken, and cut off above the knee, had a wooden or boxen leg and thigh, with a joint so accurately made that ye creature could walke and use it as well as if it had ben natural; it was made by a souldier. The park was at this time stored with numerous flocks of severall sorts of ordinary and extraordinary wild fowle breeding about the decoy, which, looking neere so greate a citty, and among such a concourse of souldiers and people, is a singular and diverting thing. There are also deere of several countries, white, spotted like leopards; antelopes, an elk, red deere, roebucks, staggs, Guinea goates, Arabian sheepe, etc. There are withy-potts or nests for the wild fowle to lay their eggs in, a little above ye surface of ye water."

Hyde Park, lying close by, likewise afforded a pleasant and convenient spot for recreation. Here, in a large circle railed off and known as the Ring, the world of quality and fashion took the air in coaches. The king and queen, surrounded by a goodly throng of maids of honour and gentlemen in waiting, were wont to ride here on summer evenings, whilst courtiers and citizens looked on the brilliant cavalcade with loyal delight. Horse and foot races were occasionally held in the park, as were reviews likewise, Cosmo, Grand Duke of Tuscany, "a very jolly and good comely man," whilst visiting England in 1669, was entertained by his majesty with a military parade held here one Sunday in May.

On arriving at Hyde Park, he found a great concourse of people and carriages waiting the coming of his majesty, who presently appeared with the Duke of York and many lords and gentlemen of the court. Having acknowledged an enthusiastic greeting, Charles retired under shade of some trees, in order to protect himself from the sun, and then gave orders for the troops to march past. "The whole corps," says the Grand Duke, "consisted of two regiments of infantry, and one of cavalry, and of three companies of the body-guard, which was granted to the king by parliament since his return, and was formed of six hundred horsemen, each armed with carabines and pistols, all well mounted and dressed, which are uniform in every; thing but colour. When they had marched by, without firing either a volley or a salve, his majesty dismounted from his horse, and entering his carriage, retired to Whitehall."

Besides such diversions as were enjoyed in the parks, the people had various other sources of public amusement; amongst these puppet-shows, exhibitions of strength and agility, bear-baiting, cock-fighting, and dancing obtained. Until the restoration, puppet-shows had not been seen for years; for these droll dolls, being regarded as direct agents of Satan, were discountenanced by the puritans. With the coming of his majesty they returned in vast numbers, and were hailed with great delight by the people. One of these exhibitions which found special favour with the town, and speedily drew great audiences of gallants and ladies of quality, was situated within the rails of Covent Garden. And so perfect were the marionettes of this booth in the performance of divers sad tragedies and gay comedies, that they had the honour of receiving a royal command to play before their majesties at Whitehall. Amongst the most famous tumblers, or, as they were then styled, posturemakers, of this reign were Jacob Hall the friend of my Lady Castlemaine, and Joseph Clarke, beloved by the citizens. Though the latter was "a well-made man and rather gross than thin," we are told he "exhibited in the most natural manner almost every species of deformity and dislocation; he could dislocate his vertebrae so as to render himself a shocking spectacle; he could also assume all the uncouth faces he had seen at a quaker's meeting, at the theatre, or any public place. He was likewise the plague of all the tailors about town. He would send for one of them to take measure of him, but would so contrive it as to have a most immoderate rising in one of his shoulders; when his clothes were brought home and tried upon him, the deformity was removed into the other shoulder, upon which the tailor begged pardon for the mistake, and mended it as fast as he could; but on another trial found him as straight-shouldered a man as one would desire to see, but a little unfortunate in a hump back. In fact, this wandering tumour puzzled all the workmen about town, who found it impossible to accommodate so changeable a customer."

Florian Marchand, "the water-spouter," was another performer who enjoyed considerable fame. Such was the dexterity of this conjurer that, "drinking only fountaine-water, he rendered out of his mouth in severall glasses all sorts of wine and sweete waters." A Turk, who walked up an almost perpendicular line by means of his toes, danced blindfold on a tight rope with a boy dangling from his feet, and stood on his head on the top of a high mast, shared an equal popularity with Barbara Vanbeck, the bearded woman, and "a monstrous beast, called a dromedary." These wondrous sights, together with various others of a like kind, which were scattered throughout the town and suburbs during the greater part of the year, assembled in full strength at the fairs of St. Margaret, Southwark, and St. Bartholomew, in Smithfield. These gatherings, which usually lasted a fortnight, were looked forward to with considerable pleasure, and frequented not only by citizens bent on sport, but by courtiers in search of adventure.

Nay, even her majesty was tempted on one occasion to go a- fairing, as we gather from a letter addressed to Sir Robert Paston, contained in Ives's select papers. "Last week," says the writer thereof, "the queen, the Duchess of Richmond, and the Duchess of Buckingham had a frolick to disguise themselves like country lasses, in red petticoates, waistcoates, etc., and so goe see the faire. Sir Bernard Gascoign, on a cart jade, rode before the queen; another stranger before the Duchess of Buckingham, and Mr. Roper before Richmond. They had all so overdone it in their disguise, and look'd so much more like antiques than country volk, that as soon as they came to the faire, the people began to goe after them; but the queen going to a booth to buy a pair of yellow stockins for her sweethart, and Sir Bernard asking for a pair of gloves, sticht with blew, for his sweethart, they were soon, by their gebrish, found to be strangers, which drew a bigger flock about them. One amongst them [who] had seen the queen at dinner, knew her, and was proud of her knowledge. This soon brought all the faire into a crowd to stare at the queen. Being thus discovered, they as soon as they could got to their horses; but as many of the faire as had horses, got up with their wives, children, sweetharts, or neighbours behind them, to get as much gape as they could till they brought them to the court gate. Thus by ill conduct was a merry frolick turned into a penance."

On another occasion my Lady Castlemaine went to Bartholomew fair to see the puppets play "Patient Grissel;" and there was the street "full of people expecting her coming out," who, when she appeared, "suffered her with great respect to take the coach." Not only the king's mistress, but likewise the whole court went to St. Margaret's fair to see "an Italian wench daunce and performe all the tricks on the high rope to admiration; and monkies and apes do other feates of activity." "They," says a quaint author, "were gallantly clad A LA MODE, went upright, saluted the company, bowing and pulling off their hats, with as good a grace as if instructed by a dancing master. They turned heels over head with a basket having eggs in it, without breaking any; also with lighted candles on their heads, without extinguishing them; and with vessells of water without spilling a drop."

The cruel sport of bull and bear baiting was also commonly practised. Seated round an amphitheatre, the people witnessed these unfortunate animals being torn to pieces by dogs, the owners of which frequently jumped into the arena to urge them to their sanguinary work, on the result of which great wagers depended. Indignation arising against those who witnessed such sights may be somewhat appeased by the knowledge that infuriated bulls occasionally tossed the torn and bleeding carcases of their tormentors into the faces and laps of spectators. Pepys frequently speaks of dense crowds which assembled to witness this form of cruelty, which he designates as good sport; and Evelyn speaks of a gallant steed that, under the pretence that he had killed a man, was baited by dogs, but fought so hard for his life "the fiercest of them could not fasten on him till he was run through with swords." Not only bull and bear baiting, cock and dog fighting were encouraged, but prize combats between man and man were regarded as sources of great diversion. Pepys gives a vivid picture of a furious encounter he, in common with a great and excited crowd, witnessed at the bear-garden stairs, at Bankside, between a butcher and a waterman. "The former," says he, "had the better all along, till by-and-by the latter dropped his sword out of his hand; and the butcher, whether not seeing his sword dropped I know not, but did give him a cut over the wrist, so as he was disabled to fight any longer. But Lord! to see how in a minute the whole stage was full of watermen to revenge the foul play, and the butchers to defend their fellow, though most blamed him; and then they all fell to it to knocking down and cutting many on each side. It was pleasant to see, but that I stood in the pit, and feared that in the tumult I might get some hurt."

Among the more healthy sports which obtained during the reign were horse-racing, tennis, and bowling. The monarch had, at vast expense, built a house and stables at Newmarket, where he and his court regularly repaired, to witness racing. Here likewise the king and "ye jolly blades enjoyed dauncing, feasting, and revelling, more resembling a luxurious and abandoned route than a Christian court." He had likewise a tennis-court and bowling green at Whitehall, where at noonday and towards eve, blithe lords, and ladies in brave apparel, might be seen at play. Bowling was a game to which the people were much devoted, every suburban tavern having its green, where good friends and honest neighbours challenged each other's strength and skill. And amongst other pleasant sports and customs were those practised on May-day, when maids rose betimes to bathe their faces in dew, that they might become sweet-complexioned to men's sight; and milk-maids with garlands of spring flowers upon their pails, and posies in their breasts, danced to the merry music of fiddles adown the streets.


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