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of thought was utterly decayed. This oblivion of old emotions, this obsoleteness of old things, was by no means confined to England. On the Continent the attacks of Erasmus on the monks were everywhere received with applause. In 1527 one printer issued an edition of 24,000 copies of the Colloquies' of Erasmus, and actually sold them all. He understood the signs of the times. From this digression on parties and policy in England, let State of
England at us again return to special details, descending for that purpose the close of to the close of the seventeenth century. For a long time teenth cenLondon had been the most populous capital in Europe; yet it tury. was dirty, ill built, without sanitary provisions. The deaths were one in twenty-three each year; now, in a much more crowded population, they are not one in forty. Much of the Wild state country was still heath, swamp, warren.
Almost within sight try. of the city was a tract twenty-five miles round, nearly in a state of nature; there were but three houses in it. Wild .animals roamed here and there, very much as they do in the Western territories of North America. It is incidentally mentioned that Queen Anne, on a journey to Portsmouth, saw a herd of five hundred red deer. With such small animals as the marten and badger, found everywhere, there was still seen occasionally the wild bull.
Nothing more strikingly shows the social condition than the Locomo. provisions for locomotion. In the rainy seasons the roads roads and
carriages. were all but impassable, justifying the epithet often applied to them of being in a horrible state. Through such gullies, half filled with mud, carriages were dragged, often by oxen, or, when horses were used, it was as much a matter of necessity as in the city a matter of display to drive half-a-dozen of them. If the country was open, the track of the road was easily mistaken. It was no uncommon thing for persons to lose their way, and have to spend the night out in the open air. Between places of considerable importance the roads were sometimes very little known, and such was the difficulty for wheeled carriages that a principal mode of transport was by pack-horses, of which passengers took advantage, stowing themselves away between the packs. We shall probably not dissent from their
The Mails, Libraries, Printing Presses.
complaint that this method of travelling was hot in summer and cold in winter. The usual charge for freight was 18. 3d. a ton per mile. Toward the close of the century what were termed “flying coaches” were established; they could move at the rate of from thirty to fifty miles in a day. Many per
sons thought the risk so great that it was a tempting of ProThe mails; vidence to go in them. The mail-bag was carried on horsepenny-post back at about five miles an hour. A penny-post had been
established in the City, but with much difficulty, for many long-headed men, who knew very well what they were saying, had denounced it as an insidious “Popish contrivance."
Only a few.years before the period under consideration Parliament had resolved that “all pictures in the royal collection which contained representations of Jesus or the Virgin Mother
should be burnt; Greek statues were delivered over to PuriLewis Mug- tan stonemasons to be made decent.” A little earlier, Lewis gleton; his doctrines. Muggleton had given himself out as the last and greatest of
the prophets, having power to save or damn whom he pleased, It had been revealed to him that God is only six feet high, and the sun only four miles off. The country beyond the Trent was still in a state of barbarism, and near the sources of the Tyne there were people scarcely less savage than American Indians, their “half-naked women chanting a wild measure,
while the men, with brandished dirks, danced a war-dance." Printing At the beginning of the eighteenth century there were private li. thirty-four counties without a printer. The only press in
England north of the Trent was at York. As to private libraries, there were none deserving the name. “An esquire passed for a great scholar if ‘Hudibras,' Baker's Chronicle,' Tarleton's 'Jests,' and the ‘Seven Champions of Christendom' ·lay in his hall-window.” It might be expected that the women were ignorant enough when very few men knew how to write correctly or even intelligibly, and it had become unnecessary
for clergymen to read the Scriptures in the original tongues. Social disci. Social discipline was very far from being of that kind which pline; its barbarity.
we call moral. The master whipped his apprentice, the pedagogue his scholar, the husband his wife. Public punishments partook of the general brutality. It was a day for the rabble
233 when some culprit was set in the pillory to be pelted with brickbats, rotten eggs, and dead cats; when women were fastened by the legs in the stocks at the market-place, or a pilferer flogged through the town at the cart-tail, a clamour not unfrequently arising unless the lash were laid on hard enough “ to make him howl.” In punishments of higher offenders these whippings were perfectly horrible; thus Titus Oates, after standing twice in the pillory, was whipped, and, after an interval of two days, whipped again. A virtuoso in these matters gives us the incredible information that he counted as many as seventeen hundred stripes administered. So far from the community being shocked at such an exhibition, they appeared to agree in the sentiment that, “since his face could not be made to blush, it was well enough to try what could be done with his back.” Such a hardening of heart was in no little degree promoted by the atrocious punishments of state offenders : thus, after the decapitation of Montrose and Argyle, their heads decorated the top of the Tolbooth; and gentlemen, after the rising of Monmouth, were admonished to be careful of their ways, by hanging in chains to their park gate the corpse of a rebel to rot in the air.
To a debased public life private life corresponded. The Private life houses of the rural population were huts covered with straw- classes of thatch; their inmates, if able to procure fresh meat once a
society, week, were considered to be in prosperous circumstances. Onehalf of the families in England could hardly do that. Children of six years old were not unfrequently set to labour. The lord of the manor spent his time in rustic pursuits; was not an unwilling associate of pedlars and drovers; knew how to ring a pig or shoe a horse; his wife and daughters "stitched and spun, brewed gooseberry wine, cured marigolds, and made the crust for the venison pasty.” Hospitality was displayed in immoderate eating, and drinking of beer, the guest not being considered as having done justice to the occasion unless he had gone under the table. The dining-room was uncarpeted; but then it was tinted with a decoction of “soot and small beer.” The chairs were rush-bottomed. In London the houses were mostly of wood and plaster, the streets filthy beyond
Public Morality. expression. After nightfall a passenger went at his peril, for chamber windows were opened and slop-pails unceremoniously emptied down. There were no lamps in the streets until Master Heming established his public lanterns. As a necessary consequence, there were plenty of shoplifters, highway
men, and burglars. General As to the moral condition, it is fearfully expressed in the immorality and bru statement that men not unfrequently were willing to sacrifice tality.
their country for their religion. Hardly any personage died who was not popularly suspected to have been made
with by poison, an indication of the morality generally supposed to prevail among the higher classes. If such was the state of society in its serious aspect, it was no better in its lighter. We can scarcely credit the impurity and immodesty of the theatrical exhibitions. What is said about them would be beyond belief if we did not remember that they were the amusements of a community whose ideas of female modesty and female sentiment were altogether different from ours. Indecent jests were put into the mouths of lively actresses, and the dancing was not altogether of a kind to meet our approval. The rural
clergy could do but little to withstand this flood of immorality. DegradedTheir social position for the last hundred years had been rathe lower pidly declining; for though the Church possessed among her clergy.
dignitaries great writers and great preachers, her lower orders, partly through the political troubles that had befallen the state, but chiefly in consequence of sectarian bitterness, had been reduced to a truly menial condition. It was the business of the rich man's chaplain to add dignity to the dinner-table by saying grace" in full canonicals,” but he was also intended to be a butt for the mirth of the company. “The young Levite,” such was the phrase then in use, "might fill himself with the corned beef and the carrots, but as soon as the tarts and cheese-cakes made their appearance he quitted his seat, and stood aloof till he was summoned to return thanks for the repast,” the daintiest part of which he had not tasted. If need arose, he could curry a horse, "carry a parcel ten miles,” or “cast up the farrier's bill.” The "wages” of a parish priest were at starvation-point. The social degradation of the ecclesiastic is well illustrated by
an order of Queen Elizabeth, that no clergyman should presume to marry a servant-girl without the consent of her master or mistress.
The clergy, however, had not fallen into this condition without in a measure deserving it. Their time had been too much occupied in persecuting Puritans and other sectaries, with whom they would have gladly dealt in the same manner as they had dealt with the Jews, who, from the thirteenth century till Cromwell, were altogether interdicted from public worship. The University of Oxford had ordered the political works of Burning of Buchanan, Milton, and Baxter to be publicly burnt in the persecution court of the schools. The immortal vagabond, Bunyan, had
preach. been committed to jail for preaching out of his head the way of salvation to the common people, and had remained there twelve years, the stout old man refusing to give his promise not to offend in that manner again. The great doctrine inculcated from the pulpit was submission to temporal power. Men were taught that rebellion is a sin not less deadly than witchcraft. On a community thirsting after the waters of life were still in. flicted wearisome sermons respecting “the wearing of surplices, position at the Eucharist, or the sign of the cross at baptism," things that were a stench in the nostrils of the lank-haired The PuriPuritan, who with his hands clasped on his bosom, his face of ortho
doxy. corrugated with religious astringency, the whites of his eyes turned up to heaven, rocking himself alternately on his heels and the tips of his toes, delivered, in a savoury prayer uttered through his nose, all such abominations of the Babylonish harlot to the Devil, whose affairs they were.
In administering the law, whether in relation to political or Brutal adreligious offences, there was an incredible atrocity. In Lon- tion of the don, the crazy old bridge over the Thames was decorated with law. grinning and mouldering heads of criminals, under an idea that these ghastly spectacles would fortify the common people in their resolves to act according to law. The toleration of the times may be understood from a law enacted by the Scotch Parliament, May 8, 1685, that whoever preached or heard in a conventicle should be punished with death and the confiscation of his goods. That such an infamous spirit did not con