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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.

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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 539



MA HT, FIRST QUEEN REGNANT. Sixth and Mary, there scarcely was a chimney to the houses even in considerable towns. Tbe fire was kindled by the wall, and the smoke sought its way out at the roof, or door, or windows. The houses were nothing but watling, plastered over with clay; the people slept on straw pallets, and had a good round log under their heads for their pillow, and almost all the furniture and utensils were of wood." " Thefloors of these dwellings," says Erasmus, " are strewn with green rushes, which are allowed to increase, layer upon layer, for twenty years together, covering up bones, crumbs from the table, and other filth, and to this, and the general dirty and slovenly habits amongst tho people, may be ascribed the frequent plagues in England." In Mary's reign, fevers prevailed in summer, and quartan agues in winter. In 1556, these distempers became alarming ; the next year the mortality became greater, and, in 1558, so increased, " that," says Cooper (in Strype), " about August, the fevers raged again in such a manner as never plague or pestilence, I think, killed a greater number. If the people of the realm had been divided into four parts, certainly three parts out of these four should have been found Hick. In some shires, no gentleman almost escaped, but either himself or his wife, or both, were sick, and very many died. In. most poor men's houses, the master, dame, and servant, were all sick, in such manner that one could not help another." Holinshed, in speaking of the common people in Mary's reign, says, If the master of the house had a mattrass or flock bed, and thereto a sack of chaff to rest his head upon, he thought himself to he as well lodged as the lord of the town. Pillows were thought meet only for women in childbed; and as for servants, if they had any sheet above them, it was well, for seldom had they any under their bodies to keep them from the pricking straws that ran oft through the canvass and rased their hides. Dishes, platters, spoons, and other similar vessels, were mostly of wood; but their fare was abundant and substantial." Harrison says, "The rude buildings, in Queen Mary's days, made the Spaniards to wonder ; but they were more surprised when they saw that large diet were used in many of these homely cottages, insomuch that one of no small reputation amongst them said, ( The English have their houses made of sticks and dirt, but they fare commonly as well as the Queen.' " At this period, the nobility, gentry, and the students usually dined at eleven in the morning and supped at five in the evening; tliB merchants dined about twelve and supped at six, and the husbandmen dined also at high noon, as they called it, but did not sup till seven or eight. It is remarkable that, all over the world, aa the age becomes luxurious, evening amusements gradually push on the hours, till, in the fashionable world, dinner, which should he the midday meal, is not taken till five, six, seven, eight, or perhaps later, in the evening ; and no one thinks of retiring to rest till the night is half spent, nor of rising again from their pillow till the sun is high up in the heavens, and the beauty of the morning has vanished. END OF VOL. I.


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