Category Archives: London

Clothing Conversation Custom London

Will you weare any weapons to daye?

More entertaining conversation from John Florio. This time a man visits his friend at home and waits while he dresses. Florio provides some really lovely detail about clothing, and gives us a glimpse into the daily lives of Londoners in late 16th Century London. The conversation takes place between Mr Nolano, Mr Torquato, and the servant, Ruspa. It is entitled ‘of rising in the morning, and of things belonging to the chamber’.

Nolano: What ho, M Torquato, will you lye a bed all day?
Torquato: Who is there? Who calleth me? Who asketh for me?
Nolano: A friend of yours. Are you up?
Torquato: M Nolano, I pray you, excuse me. Ile be with you by and by.
Nolano: Rise at your leisure, for I will stay for you.
Torquato: The doore is open, will it please you to come in?
Norlano: God give you good morrow.
Torquato: The like to you, you are very heartily welcome.
Norlano: Are you not ashamed to lie a bed so long?
Torquato: I was not asleep, I was slumbering.
Norlano: How have you rested this night?
Torquato: Well, but I have had many dreadfull dreames. What ho, Ruspa, come hither, where art thou? What art thou doing?
Ruspa: Here I am. What lacke you?
Torquato: Open that window and give me my clothes.
Ruspa: What apparell will you have this day?
Torquato: First give me a clean shirt, one of the fine ones.
Ruspa: There are but two that be cleane.
Torquato: Where be all the others?
Ruspa: The laundress hath fix of them.
Torquato: Dispatch and give me a shirt.
Ruspa: With what band with you have it?
Torquato: With a falling band [a band or flat collar worn around the neck].
Ruspa: There is none.
Tarquato: Give me one with ruffes then.
Ruspa: Here is one with ruffes.
Tarquato: Give me my wastecote.
Ruspa: Which will you have, that of flannell?
Tarquato: No, give me that which is knit.
Ruspa: What sute of apparell will you weare today?
Torquato: That of white satten, laide on with gold lace.
Ruspa: That lacks I know not how many buttons.
Torquato: Set them on then by and by.
Ruspa: I have neither needle, thred, nor thimble.
Tarquato: Mr Nolano, think not the time long, Ile be with you presently.
Nolano: In the meane while I will reade this booke.

Here follows an inventory of all Tarquato’s clothes. Presumably to assist the reader in learning the Italian names. He owns:

A long gown furr’d with Martines, a furr’d gown, a night gown of chamlet [a fabric made from Angora], a rugge gowne, a cloake lined with bayes, a cape cloak of fine cloth, a riding cloake of broad-cloth, two doublets, one coate, one velvet Jerkin, one Spanish leather jerkin, one of beaver and the other of felt, and two velvet caps.

He also owns shoes:

Two payre of bootes, one of Spanish, the other of neates leather, one payre of spurrs, three payre of boote hose, one payre of pumps and pantofles [a sort of indoor shoe], and a payre of night slippers.

The inventory continues with:

A dozen shirtes, two of handkerchers, and as many falling bands of lawne, eight ruffes bandes with their hand cuffs, four towels, six wipers [flannels], eight quoifes [night cap or skull cap], ivory combes, cisors, eare pickers and other knacks [nick nacks].

Back to the conversation:

Ruspa: Will you weare shooes or buskins to daye?
Tarquato: Give me the shooing horne, to pull on my shooes. Tye my poynts [laces] with slyding knotts but not with fast knotts.
Ruspa: What girdle will you have?
Torquato: Reach me that of blew velvet embroydered.
Ruspa: Will you weare any weapons to daye?
Torquato: Give me my sword and dagger.
Ruspa: Take this rapier, for it is lighter.
Torquato: Reach me the combe, to combe my beard.
Ruspa: Everie thing is in the case upon the window.
Torquato: Where be my gloves? I see them not.
Ruspa: You forgot them in some place yesternight.
Torquato: What ho, Ruspa, bring hither some drinke.
Ruspa: What would you have Master?
Torquato: Bring some wine, and a manchet [a loaf of fine bread], and
a napkin. Wash the glasses verie well.
Ruspa: Anon, anon, Ile come by and by.
Torquato: Pour out some wine and give me a drinke.
Nolanto: I marvell how you can drinke so earlie. I drinke very
seldome between meales.
Torquato: It is good to drinke in a morning to charme the mist.
Ruspa: Will your worship have anything else?
Torquato: Give me my cap and gird my sword about me.
Nolano: This cloake becommeth you verie well.
Ruspa: Shall I goe with you?
Torquato: No, dresse up the Chamber and laye everything in his place.
Nolano: I pray you let us lose no more time.
Torquato: I am readie, goe before and I will followe you. What ho, boy,
come after me.
Ruspa: I come, but first I will shut the dore.
Torquato: Lock it with the key
Ruspa: Fast binde, fast finde.
Torquato: And he that shuts well, avoydeth ill luck.

Next time, admiring a man’s lodgings, and a dinner party.

More from Florio: Let us make a match at tennis and Master Andrew, will it please you to eate an egg?


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Conversation Entertainment Games London Sport

Let us make a match at tennis

Browsing through John Florio’s English-Italian dictionary and phrasebook, I discovered this charming conversation between the fictional Thomas, John, and Henry. Florio gives these characters typical English exchanges, which he then translates into Italian to enable people to learn the language. Their conversation reveals fascinating everyday detail about late 16th and early 17th century life.

Thomas: Let us goe and plaie at tennis
Henry: One of us must staie out then
John: I will stay out, plaie you two
Thomas: We will cast lotts
John: No, let me be rather a looker on than a plaier
Henry: Go to, since you will have it so, let us two plaie
Thomas: What odds will you give me?
Henry: I will not plaie unless I plaie even hand
John: You may plaie even hand well enough
Thomas: I am content for a set or two
Henry: To what tennis court shall we goe?
Thomas: To charter house court
Henry: Trulie it is the fairest court about London
Thomas: But what shall master John doo in the mean while?
John: I will goe with you to see you plaie
Henry: You shall looke on and be our judge

At the court:

Thomas: What ho boy, bring hither some balles and some rackets
Boy: How manie are you my masters?
Henry: We are but two that will plaie
Boy: Will you plaie in set?
Thomas: Yea marrie, therefore give us good balles
Boy: Here are two dozen of faire and white balles
Thomas: Let us keepe the lawes of the court
John: That is, stake money under the line is it not so?
Thomas, Yea sir, you hit it right
Henry: Here is my monie, now stake you
Thomas: Whose lot is it to plaie?
Henry: Mine, for you are at the house
Thomas: Plaie then, and give me a faire balle

Thomas: A losse: I have fifteene
Henry: Fifteen for fifteene
Thomas: I am thirtie
Henry: Is that balle under or over?
John: Methinks it is under more than a handfull.
Henry: You have fortie then, goe to, plaie
Thomas: And I a dewes then.
Henry: I have the advantage
John: That was a verie faire stroake
Thomas: Everie man is against me.
Henry: I have wonne the first game.
Thomas: This is my woonted ill luck
Henry: I sweate, and am all in a water
Thomas: Let us give over plaie if you will
John: Who must paie for the balles?
Thomas I must, how manie dozens have we had?
Boy: Three dozen and a halfe
Thomas: Here is monie

Henry: Whether shall we goe now?
Thomas: Ile goe home to mine owne chamber
John: What to doo there?
Thomas: To rest a while, for I am wearie.
John: Then let us goe to my lodging.
Henry: It will be best since it is not farre hence.
Thomas: Let us goe apace then, for it is late.

I’ll post more entertaining and illuminating chit-chat from Thomas, Henry, and John soon.

More from Florio – Master Andrew, will it please you to eate an egg? and Will you wear any weapons to daye?

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved


London Woodcut

I stumbled on this woodcut earlier today. It appears to be a copy of an earlier woodcut dated 1565, and depicts the city as it looked before the Great Fire.  Click on the image to open a larger version, and for larger version still, click second time once it’s open in a new window. 

London Weather

The air was more severely piercing than ever

These fragments come from an account of a terrible cold snap in the winter of 1683. The author begins by recounting some of the more infamous frosts experienced in England, and then goes on to provide an interesting account of how Londoners are coping with the freezing conditions of 1683.

In the reign of King Edward the Third, a frost lasted from the midst of September to the month of April, and a great part of the time with great violence. In the 15th year of the reign of King Henry the Eighth, after great rains and winds, there followed so sore a frost, that many dyed for cold, and some lost fingers, some toes, and many their nails. In the seventh year of Queen Elizabeth, on the 21st of December, began a frost so extreme, that on New-Years-Eve, people passed over the Thames on foot. Some played at Football, some shot at Pricks, as if it had been firm ground. Yet the great frost, the third of January at night, began to thaw, and by the fifth day, there was no ice at all to be seen, which sudden thaw, caused great inundations. In the sixth year of the reign of King James the First, 1608, a frost began in December, which continued till April following, with such violence, that not only the Thames was so frozen that carts loaden were driven over as on dry land, but many fowls and birds perished; as also much herbage in gardens, especially Artichoaks and Rosemary were destroyed. In the ninth year of the reign of King Henry the Fourth, there was so sharp a winter, and so great a frost, with such abundance of snow, continuing December, January, February, and March, that great quantities of cattle and large fowl died, and almost all small birds perished through hunger.

About the midst of December 1683, at first by mean and ordinary degrees, but towards Christmas, came a sharp frost. The first week of January the river Thames was so frozen that people began to walk over. On Monday January the 7th, on the change of the moon, there were expectations, and some likelyhood of a thaw; but presently after, it froze more violently, and on the 10th and 11th in the morning, a coach plied between the Temple and the Old Barge house. Yet towards night on the 11th it thawed a little, and the 12th and 13th was fine gentle weather, yet not much thawing, the wind continuing still at north-east. On the 13th, it froze again briskly, till the 17th, when a great snow fell. The 18th came high, most sharp, and piercing winds, and on the 23rd the air was more severely piercing than ever and more snow fell. And being the first day of the Term, coaches plied at the Temple Staires, and carried the lawyers to Westminster on the ice. A kind of a fair was kept there on the river, called Blanket-Fair, from the numerous company of blankets used to cover huts or tents, where both men, women, and children, horses, carts and coaches, went thereon as on dry ground. Whole streets of shedds everywhere were built on the Thames, thousands passing, buying, selling, drinking and revelling (I wish I could not say on the Lords Day too) and most sorts of trade shops on the ice. Foot passengers went as thick as in any street in London.  There were also several diversions, as bull-baiting, nine-pin-playing &c. A whole oxe was roasted on the ice against Whitehall, and likewise a printing press was kept in a booth over against York Stairs, where many thousands had their names printed. All of which still continues at the writing hereof, being January the 29th 1683.

For the Frost Fair of 1608 see my post here

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved

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