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Anecdotes Of European Manners
by [?]

I shall give a sketch of the domestic life of a nobleman in the reign of Charles the First, from the “Life of the Duke of Newcastle,” written by his Duchess, whom I have already noticed. It might have been impertinent at the time of its publication; it will now please those who are curious about English manners.

“Of his Habit.

“He accoutres his person according to the fashion, if it be one that is not troublesome and uneasy for men of heroic exercises and actions. He is neat and cleanly; which makes him to be somewhat long in dressing, though not so long as many effeminate persons are. He shifts ordinarily once a day, and every time when he uses exercise, or his temper is more hot than ordinary.

“Of his Diet.

“In his diet he is so sparing and temperate, that he never eats nor drinks beyond his set proportion, so as to satisfy only his natural appetite; he makes but one meal a day, at which he drinks two good glasses of small beer, one about the beginning, the other at the end thereof, and a little glass of sack in the middle of his dinner; which glass of sack he also uses in the morning for his breakfast, with a morsel of bread. His supper consists of an egg and a draught of small beer. And by this temperance he finds himself very healthful, and may yet live many years, he being now of the age of seventy-three.

“His Recreation and Exercise.

“His prime pastime and recreation hath always been the exercise of mannage and weapons, which heroic arts he used to practise every day; but I observing that when he had overheated himself he would be apt to take cold, prevailed so far, that at last he left the frequent use of the mannage, using nevertheless still the exercise of weapons; and though he doth not ride himself so frequently as he hath done, yet he taketh delight in seeing his horses of mannage rid by his escuyers, whom he instructs in that art for his own pleasure. But in the art of weapons (in which he has a method beyond all that ever was famous in it, found out by his own ingenuity and practice) he never taught any body but the now Duke of Buckingham, whose guardian he hath been, and his own two sons. The rest of his time he spends in music, poetry, architecture, and the like.”

The value of money, and the increase of our opulence, might form, says Johnson, a curious subject of research. In the reign of Edward the Sixth, Latimer mentions it as a proof of his father’s prosperity, that though but a yeoman, he gave his daughters five pounds each for their portion.[6] At the latter end of Elizabeth’s reign, seven hundred pounds were such a temptation to courtship, as made all other motives suspected. Congreve makes twelve thousand pounds more than a counterbalance to the affection of Belinda. No poet will now fly his favourite character at less than fifty thousand. Clarissa Harlowe had but a moderate fortune.

In Sir John Vanbrugh’s Confederacy, a woman of fashion is presented with a bill of millinery as long as herself.–Yet it only amounts to a poor fifty pounds! at present this sounds oddly on the stage. I have heard of a lady of quality and fashion who had a bill of her fancy dressmaker, for the expenditure of one year, to the tune of, or rather, which closed in the deep diapason of, six thousand pounds!

[Footnote 1:
This was, in fact, a realization of the traditional representations of the Flight into Egypt, in which the Virgin, having the Saviour in her lap, is always depicted seated on an ass, which is led by Joseph. ]

[Footnote 2:
See Article Ancient and Modern Saturnalia, in this Volume. ]