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Carnivalesque 64

Fragments is very pleased to be hosting the 64th edition of Early Modern Carnivalesque, a gathering of some of the most interesting blog posts from the early modern blogging community.

First up we have the fate of the Wedgewood Museum over at the award-winning Georgian London. Lucy Inglis considers the plight of the Wedgewood Collection, and its formation under artisan Josiah Wedgewood, who died in 1725.


From the decorative arts, to art of a very different nature, Caroline Rance at The Quack Doctor explores the unusual medicinal practise of diagnosis via urine from 1815.


Taking a detour from urine to royalty, Nick, at Mercurius Politicus, reveals some intriguing royalist graffiti in Cheam.


Odd fellows from Roy, at Early Modern Whale, who takes a look at the early modern Fortune Teller.


‘My appetite is sick for want of a capacity to digest your favours.’ Women in Medieval and Early Modern History offer up some extraordinary early modern chat up lines.

Once you’ve wooed your beloved, you might like to make them a John Evelyn salad. The Gentleman Administrator reveals all you need to know.


The World Cup may be over, but the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust have devised a means to keep your interest alive. Iago is in mid-field in Shakespeare’s Fantasy Football

From Iago to a villain of a different kind, Executed Today examines the hanging of pirate John Quelch.    
Speaking of villains, cartoonist Ade Teal kindly provides us with caricatures of two early modern rogues:


On the other side of the Atlantic, Warren, artistic director of early modern music ensemble Magnificat, recently visited Spain, and reports back on the 18th century composer Martini’s enormous collection of music manuscripts and partbooks  

More printing, this time from the Two Nerdy History Girls, who witnessed the early modern printing process in action.
Sally, over at Travels and Travails in Eighteenth Century England, has been exploring medicinal recipes, including the Lady Puckring’s salve for sore brests.
From sore breasts to slippery weather, Emily at The Artist’s Progress reveals the history of early modern caricature.


Art of a different nature from the engraver Mr Read, who entertains with more spectral escapades at The Cogitations of Read.


And Ben, at Res Obscura, has been getting to grips with some 17th century  apothecary poetry.


Finally, here at Fragments, I’ve been exploring the last will and testament of Mr William Shakespeare, gent. 

If you’re interested in finding out more about Carnivalesque, or would like to be a host, contact the lovely Sharon at Early Modern Web
Arte of Gardening

The Catterpillar is prickle Haired

These fragments come from a book on insects from the mid-17th Century. Not content with the works of other people, the author conducts a series of experiments to confirm his knowledge of ‘creeping things’.

The Catterpillar is prickle Haired; it hath its birth from an Egg, which the Butterfly haveing eyes in its Wings, like those in Peacocks feathers, doth lye upon Netles.

A Cattarpiller I took up the 14 day of May, 1635. And I fed it with the Leaves of Netles, untill the 11. of June, of the same Year. Then it composed it selfe for change, with its head hanging downwards. It remaind in this forme 19 dayes. When a most elegant Butterfly came forth.

At the first coming forth of the Butterfly, its wings were like wet Paper; Off of which fell certain watery dropps: But that, which did seem to me worthy Observation, they became in halfe an houre dry, expanded, and fit for flight.

The Butterfly feeds on sweet things, as Sugar, and the Honey of flowers: Also it is mainly delighted in rotten fruits, for which they fight among them selves.  In winter time they hide them selves within the Chimnies of poor Cottages, from whence I have forc’t them with a good blazing fire.  Also they are found lying hid in hollow Trees.

It is well Observed by our Author that this Catterpillar, hath its beginning from the Egg of such a Butterfly; and so probably have all Catterpillars whatsoever their beginning from the Eggs of their respective Butterflys. The Butterfly is the Mother Insect in perfection, and the Catterpillar, its Aurelia, or Chrysalis are but certain Disguises for a time, wherewith one and thesame Animal is by nature invested for divers ends. viz, that of the Catterpillar to eat such and such food; This of the Aurelia to perfect its limbs.

Although our Fingers suffer and are stung by Nettels, yet the Catterpillar delightes to feed on them: Neither doth it make ready for the change, or obstaine from food, whilst this Plant flourishes.

It began to change the 23. of June, and the 9th. of July came forth the Butterfly marked with beautifull colours. These Butterflyes are to be found all Winter in Stables, where Beasts stand.  These Catterpillars are exceeding Voratious.

I shall here Observe, that catterpillers feed of course from such as the substance of the leaves of Plants; whereas the Butterflyes feed of the Honey of Flowers, and liquid meats. This is contrary to what is naturall in sangvincons and more perfect Animals; who in the Embryo feed of a Prepared Chyle, but after birth have a yet more courser food to nourish them: And yet more course as they grow older, and to maturity. The nourishment of the Catterpillar are the leaves of the Elme.  When the time of the change groes near, they betake themselves to Houses, and fix their hinder parts to a wall, hanging down with their heads, that they may more easily come forth of their shell or Chrysalis, when the time of change is compleated.

Before the Catterpillar changes its shape for that of a Chrysalis, and puts off its old skin, it seems to be very much troubled, turneth, shaking, and tossing its body every way, and trembling as if it had an Ague. At length rising, and falling often with his body it conducts its body into a circle, upon which it swells so, that the skin cracks all the length, and so by little and little it falls off, a new skin growing underneath. And at that time they rest a while.

This is very notable in Catterpillars, that where the back of the Catterpillar was, there are the belly and feet of that Animal it’s changed into; and the contrary, where the belly and feet of the Catterpillar were, there now the back of that Animal is, which was produced by the change of the Catterpillar. And this change is produced in a very short time; so that it may distinctly be seen and observed: For as soon as the old skin is layed aside, this Transfiguration manifestly appeares.

Concerning the Catterpillars fixing his Body to a Wall, it is to be Noted, that this is done by a single thred cross the midle, thus, (for I have more then once actually seen it in doing) This is done, before it appeares in the disguise of an angular Chrysolis. The Catterpillar doubles its head backwards, and touching the place, where it would suspend it selfe, it fixes a thred on both sides its body, drawing it a crosse, and then reducing its head and laying it selfe in a pendulous posture, it tosses it selfe and cracks the skin of the Catterpillar, which flying off, it appeares a Chrysolis, hanging as is described.

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved

Arte of Gardening Shakespeare

Flowers in Shakespeare

Following on from Elizabethan gardens, today’s snippets are some flowers and herbs found in Shakespeare, along with their early modern associations.

There’s fennel for you, and columbines. There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me.
We may call it herb-grace o’ Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference.
There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died.
Ophelia, Hamlet (4.5.180-83)
Fennel was associated with insincerity and flattery. Columbines were associated with cuckoldry, due to the shape of their nectar organs, and rue was often linked with repentance and pity, often called the ‘herb of grace’. Daisies were very common and found all over, particularly in meadows. They were usually associated with unhappy love and dissembling. Violets were associated with love, but could be proverbial for the transcience of life and for unfaithfulness.


Other flowers found in Shakespeare include the gillyflower, ‘one of the fairest flowers o’ th season’, also known as ‘nature’s bastard’. The pansy, found in Hamlet, was associated with thoughts, especially of lovers, and was also called ‘love-in-idleness’.  The Marigold, ‘goes to bed with the sun and with him rises weeping,’ was one of the flowers of middle summer given to men of middle age.


The herb rosemary was often associated with rememberance and funerals, and sweet-marjoram was a herb used in cookery. The bay tree, also known as the laurel, called forth images of fame and reputation which dated from Roman England, willow was associated with grief and unrequited love, and plantain was used to treat wounds.


Unpleasant plants had unpleasant associations. The nettle called forth pain, poisoning and ugliness. The thistle represented the loss of both beauty and utility, and speargrass was associated with beggars who used it to create artificial wounds to garner sympathy.
Source: Shakespeare’s Words – see Useful Reading


© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved
Arte of Gardening Food

Elizabethan Gardens

Gardening was big business in Elizabethan England, as evinced by the plethora of gardening books available at the time. The most popular was Thomas Hill’s The Gardener’s Labyrinth, reprinted countless times from the 1570s onwards.

In addition to a bowling green and an artificial mount, very large Elizabethan gardens often included pattened parterres enclosed by a clipped box hedge, paths and walkways of gravel and sand, a fountain, and an ash arbour. More modest city gardens were less about showing off and were used instead for growing essential herbs and food, but even the great Elizabethan houses of the age had a kitchen garden.  Knot gardens were extremely popular with the aristocracy. They required a fair amount of maintenance, but were very pleasing to the eye and afforded somewhere charming to walk at all times of the year. Thomas Hill includes a pattern for a knot in his book: ‘A proper knotte to be cast in the quarter of a Garden, or otherwise, as there is sufficient roomth’:

Knot gardens were best appreciated from above, so they were often placed at the front of the house where they could be viewed from the upper windows. Or the owner might construct a mount or viewing platform.  Francis Bacon built his mount 30 ft high, ‘with three ascents, and alleys, enough for four to walk abreast… and some fine banqueting house, with some chimneys neatly cast, and without too much glass.’ In other words Bacon built a type of flash summer house where he could entertain his guests and admire his gardeners’ immaculate handiwork. Illustrations from the time show the type of garden Bacon may have designed:


Mazes were also popular with the wealthy. The following is an illustration of a maze from 1603:

Hill offers the following advice on choosing a spot for a garden: ‘The best grounde for a Garden, is the same judged to be whiche in the Summer time is neither very drie, nor cleyie, nor sandie and roughe, nor endamaged with gapings, procured by heate of the Sommer. Wherefore the earth whiche in the Summer time is wonte to be dry, either perisheth or loseth all the seedes sowen, and plantes set in it, or yeeldeth those thinne, and weake proving on the ground. If the same [ground is] through wet and dissolved with water, you shall see to have a muche clamminesse and fastnesse. In whiche grounde, if a waterinesse shall exceede, then shall you judge the same disagreable and unfruitefull: if dissolving the earth with water you shall finde the same very clammie or much cleaving to the hande and fingers, as it were waxe, this earth shall you accompte as wholly unprofitable. A garden plotte before all other matters done to it, be very well cleansed of stones.’ He also advises that ‘Garden plottes ought to be placed farre from Barnes, Hay loftes, and Stables,’ and ‘It behoveth to have a well in a Garden, unlesse some running water as either ditche or small river be neere adjoyning: for that a sweete water sprinckled on young Plantes, and Hearbes, giveth a speciall nourishment.’

Layout of a garden was very important. Here is an example of how a fancy garden from this period may have been designed.

B: Trees 10 yards apart
C: Garden Knot
D: Kitchen Garden
E: Bridge
F: Conduit
G: Steps
H: Walks set with great wood
I: Walks set with great wood round orchard
K: Outer fence
L: Outer fence set with stone fruit
M: Mount
N: Still-house
O: Good standing for Bees
P: If the river run under your door and by your mount it will be pleasant.

A more practical and affordable alternative to the maze or knot garden was to have a series of rectangular flower beds, divided by paths. No bed was wider than three feet across to allow easy weeding. The layout and plot of a garden was terribly important, as was strolling thoughtfully between beds. As Hill states: ‘it much availeth in a Garden, to frame seemelye walkes and Alleys, for the delight of the owner, by which hee maye the freelier walke hither and thither in them, and consider throughly all the matters wrought and done in the Garden.’

Gardening tools were remarkably similar to those found in today’s potting shed; dibble, rake, hoe, spade, trowel and watering pot. Below is an illustration of some essential gardening tools from a gardening book from 1620:

Most people lucky enough to have a garden would devote a large section of it to growing herbs and vegetables. The recent imports from abroad meant people could grow peaches, apricots, even lemons and oranges, in addition to the staple lettuces, peas and beans. Fruit trees were a vaulable source of food, and many books survive on the maintenance and cultivation of an orchard. The following illustration shows gardeners hard at working grafting fruit trees:

In addition to growing fruit and vegetables, a herb garden was a vital component of any household, since most common ailments at the time were treated with everyday herbs. Hill recommends the following as essential planting in a new herb garden:

‘You [may] sow fine seedes to have pleasant hearbes that may be kept drie, for the pot or kitchin in the Winter time, and those which yeeld delectable flowers, to beautifie and refresh the house, as the Majorani, French balme, Time, Hysope, Sage, Marigolde, Buglas, Borage, and sundrie others.’

Elizabethan flowers were less formal than those today; the focus was on scent rather than size or beauty.  Arbours had sweet-smelling climbing plants rambling over them, and Lavender and wall flowers were very popular. In spring, daffodowndillies and tulips would make their appearance in abundance. Roses were usually red, white, or striped. The following illustration shows gardeners tending to the climbers on an arbour:

For more on Elizabethan gardens, particularly some entertaining ways to rid the garden of ‘creeping things’ see my post To Delight A Bee. 
Sources: Numerous, including Dodd, Picard, Tames – see Useful Reading for details

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