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so constant an accompaniment to a blue coat, as to have produced the proverbial saying, of “ like a blue coat without a badge.”
Liveries and badges were not wholly confined to menial servants. The Retainers, a class of men of considerable importance at that period, and who did not reside with their employers, attending only on days of ceremony, received an annual gift of a suit of clothes, a hat, or hood, and a barige: a quotation from “A Health to the gentlemanly Profession of Serving Men," or “ The Serving-man's Comfort, 1598,” explains the description of persons accepting the office of Retainer. Amongst what sort of people should, then, this serving-man be sought for? Even the duke's son preferred page to the prince, the earl's second son attendant upon the duke, the knight's second son the earl's servant, the esquire's son to wear the knight's livery, and the gentleman's son the esquire's serving-man. Yea, I know at this day, gentlemen, younger-brothers, that wear their elder brother's blue coat and badge, attending him with as reverend regard and dutiful obedience, as if he were their prince or sovereign.
One of the inevitable consequences of keeping numerous Retainers, was quarrels between those of different families, and licentious excesses, which suggested the propriety of licensing them. Strype, mentioning the latter fact, declares, “ that Queen Mary granted thirty-nine licences of re
tainer during her reign, but Elizabeth only fifteen. Gardiner, the prelate, had two hundred retainers. The duke of Norfolk in the latter reign was allowed one hundred; which the Queen never exceeded ; and archbishop Parker had no more than forty."
“ Before we dismiss the present subject,” says Mr. Douce, " it will be necessary to observe, that the badge occurs in all the old representations of posts, or messengers.
On the latter of these characters it may be seen in the fifty-second plate of Mr. Strutt's first volume of the “ Dress and Habits of the People of England,” where, as in the most antient instances, the badge is affixed to the girdle: but it is often seen on the shoulder, and even on the hat, or cap.
“ These figures extend as far back as the thirteenth century, and many old German engravings exhibit both the characters with a badge, that has sometimes the device, or arms of the town, to which the post belongs. He has generally a spear in his hand, not only for personal security, but for repelling any nuisance that might interrupt his progress.
. “ Among ourselves the remains of the antient badge are still preserved in the dresses of porters, firemen, and watermen, and, perhaps, in the shoulder-knots of footmen. The blue coat and badge still remain with the parish and hospital boys."
Henry IV. obtained the crown of England by means which at once established his character as an ambitious man, who would suffer nothing to prevent the indulgence of his favourite wishes; a subject who saw his sovereign perish with famine that himself might profit by his death, could not make a good king. He was envied and disliked, and had to contend against plots and insurrections for more than half of his reign: and that he at length subdued his numerous enemies, is a proof of the superior talents he possessed as a soldier and a politician.
Dr. Henry has given a sketch of the manner of living between 1399 and 1485, in his excellent “ History of England,” an analysis of which follows. That gentleman, consulting various antient authorities, gives it as his opinion,
" that the lower classes lived very wretchedly indeed.” And this may have been the fact, in a certain degree; but it requires considerable faith in the infallibility of Pope Pius II. to believe his assertion, as Æneas Silvius, “ that the inhabitants of a populous village in Northumberland, where he lodged in 1437, had never seen either wine or wheat-bread, and that they expressed great surprise when they saw them on his table.”
Many of the common people are stated to have died of hunger in times of great scarcity; and we cannot doubt the veracity of the statement, after considering the excessive waste of food caused by
the lavish entertainments of the Barons, and the high living of the Clergy. At the same time it would not be amiss to enquire where this profusion was procured. Did they import their Wheat; or was it produced in the country: How i were the materials of the glutton masses obtained ? “ These Glutton Masses,” says Dr. H. from Wilkins's Concilia, tom. 3, p. 389, “ were celebrated five times a year, in lionour of the Virgin Mary, in this manner: early in the morning the people of the parish assembled in the church, loaded with ample stores of meats and drinks of all kinds ; as soon as mass ended, the feast began, in which the Clergy and Laity engaged with equal ardour.
“ The church was turned into a tavern, and became a scene of excessive riot and intemperance. The priests and people of different parishes entered into formal contests, which of them should have the greatest Glutton Masses, i. e, which of them should devour the greatest quantity of meat and drink.”
We will now turn to the Household book of the earls of Northumberland, the very county where wheat, bread, and wine, never were seen by part of the inhabitants. An earl and countess of the above family were in the habit of breakfasting on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, in the holy fast of Lent, “on a loaf of bread, in trenchors, two manchetts, a
quart of beer, a quart of wine, &c. &c." Now we all know that the manchet was a loaf of the finest white bread, weighing six ounces.
This circumstance is sufficient alone, to disprove what has been advanced by Silvius. Besides, the common people must have seen wine; at least, whenever the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was celebrated.
The same curious book contains convincing proofs, that the house of Percy entertained great numbers of their rich and noble friends, retainers, and vassals, at sumptuous feasts; when the lord of the mansion presided, " at the head of his long, clumsy, oaken board,” and his guests were seated, according to their gradations of rank, on each side upon long benches. " The table was loaded with capacious pewter dishes, filled with salted beef, muiton, and butcher's meat of all kinds, with venison, poultry, sea fowls, wild fowls, game, fish, &c. &c. dressed in different ways, according to the fashion of the times. The side-boards were plentifully furnished with ale, beer, and wines; which were handed to the company, when called for, in pewter and wooden cups, by the mareschals, grooms, yeomen, and waiters of the chamber, ranged in regular order."
Surely the vassals who partook of these, and similar entertainments given by the rich in all parts of the country, made them familiar with white bread and wine, though they, perhaps, did