Category Archives: School

Children Family Household School

Thou shalt be burned with them in Hell Fire


These fragments come from a 17th century book entitled A Little Book for Children and Youth.  As well as revealing details of the ubiquitous religious tyranny which children in this period were subjected to, the text also offers some lovely domestic detail about a typical day in the life of a 17th century school child.

The reason why I write these instructions for little Children is because I find by sad Experience how the Towns and Streets are filled with lewd wicked Children, and many Children as they have played about the Streets have been heard to curse and swear and call one another Nick-names, and it would grieve ones Heart to hear what bawdy and filthy Communications proceeds from the Mouths of such. And the little ones they learn of the bigger, and so soon as they go or speak they are running fast to Hell. But my dear Child, thou that hast this little book in thine hand to read, I hope thou wilt not learn of the naughty Children to swear and lye and call thy Play-fellows Nick-names, and profane the Sabbath as they do.  If thou do as they do, thou shalt be burned with them in Hell Fire, for they are the Devil’s Children.

A Child of God is one that dearly loves God and Christ. He knows that the Lord Jesus Christ so loved him that he came down and suffered Hunger and Thirst, Misery and Sorrow. Now this Child that loves Jesus has a special love for them that he think loves Christ, and if at any time he hear any discoursing of Christ, and of good things, O! how he does love to be among them, and will sit three or foure hours together a listening. He is very careful of himself that he do not Curse or Swear or Lye nor do anything that is offending to God. And if at any time he unawares tells a Lye, or speaks a naughty Word, or Plays, when the poor child thinks upon what he has done he falls a-weeping and he cannot be contented until he has been upon his knees in some corner, and there begged pardon for what he has done.

A good Child is one that loves his Book, and if his Father and Mother send him to School, then up he gets in the morning betimes, he dresses himself, and then as soon as he is drest, he goes into some corner to Prayers, and having done, he goes to his Father and Mother and makes obedience to them, and then he prays to his Mother to give him Breakfast that he may be gone, then away he hies to School and strives to be there before any of the rest of the Schollars. And those two hours at Noon, which are allowed to Schollars to play, if his School-fellows are rude and wanton, he will not go to play amongst them, but will seek about the Town or Street to find out such Children as are good and civil, and will spend the time in Discoursing  with them about God and Christ, and the matters of another World. And so will keep them company until one of the clock, that is time to go to School again. And whilst he is at School, let the other Schollars play and do what they will, this good Child will be careful to mind his Book, and learn his Lesson. And then towards Night as soon as he comes home, having made obedience to his Father and Mother, he asketh his Mother if she have anything for him to do. If she says no, then he takes his Bible and reads a chapter, and then he tell his Father and Mother what he has learn’d at School and then he goes by himself into some corner to Prayers.

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved
Booze Custom Dining Etiquette Family Household School

If spitting chance to move thee

These fragments, on etiquette and manners, come from a little book entitled The School of Vertue (1619). Intended primarily to be read by children, it also contains wise child-rearing advice for parents.


Laying the cloth, and making ready the table:

Be sure to be ready, the bord to prepare
at times: as accustom’d with diligent care:
the table cloth first see fairely spread.
faire trenchers, cleane napkins, the salt & the bread,
let glasses be scoured, in country guise,
with salt and faire water, and ever devise
the place most convenient, where they may stand,
the safest from breaking and neerest at hand.

The Nose:
Not imitate with Socrates,
to wipe thy snivelled nose
upon thy cap, as he would do,
nor yet upon thy clothes.
But keepe it cleane with handkerchiefe
provided for the same,
not with thy fingers or thy sleeve
therein thou art to blame.
Blow not allowd as thou shalt stand
for that is most absurd,
Sniffing like a broken winded horse
is to be abhorred.
Nor practise snufflingly to speake,
for that doth imitate
the brutish Stork and Elephant
yea and the wailing cat.
If thou of force do chance to sneeze
then backwards turne away
from presence of the company
wherein thou art to stay.

To laugh at all things thou shalt heare,
is neither good nor fit,
it shewes the property and forme
of one with little wit.

If spitting chance to move thee so
thou canst it not forebeare,
remember do it modestly,
consider who is there.
If filthinesse, or ordure thou
upon the floore do cast,
tread out, and cleanse it with thy foot,
let that be done with haste.

If thou to vomit be constrain’d
avoyd from company:
so shall it better be excus’d
if not through gluttony.

Privy members:
Let not thy privy members be
layd open to be viewed,
it is most shameful and abhord,
detestable and rude.

Urine or wind:
Retaine not urine nor the winde,
which doth thy body vex,
so it be done with secrecie
let that not thee perplex.

And in thy sitting use a meane
as may become thee well,
not straddling, no nor tottering,
and dangling like a bell.

Observe in curtsie to take
a rule of decent kinde,
bend not thy body too far forth,
nor backe thy leg behind.

How to order a childe in his diet for [alcoholic] drinke:
For a childe to make the beginning of his dinner drinke is a good way to breed him up to drunkenesse. Especially if he take it for wanton custome, and not for necessity of thirst. It is dishonest to be suffered and anoysome to the body of a childe. Let not a childe drinke after he hath supt hot broth, immediately upon it; much lesse if he hath been fed with milke. Let not a childe drinke above twice or thrice at the most at one meale, and that gently, and not without reason: who bestoweth wine and beere on his childe beyond reason, defameth and abuseth him more by dishonouring his reason and provoking him to an unreasonable diet.’

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

Court Education School

The Schoolmaster

These snippets come from Roger Ascham (1515-1568), noted Elizabethan educator and tutor to Elizabeth I.  His book The scholemaster or plaine and perfite way of teachyng children, to understand, write, and speake, the Latin tong but specially purposed for the priuate brynging up of youth in gentlemen and noble mens houses, and commodious also for all such, as have forgot the Latin tonge, was published in 1570. The fragments which follow regard the beating of children in schools, and Ascham’s recollections of a conversation with Lady Jane Grey. Both bear witness to an age in which education began to undergo its own renaissance.

When the great plauge was at London, the yeare 1563. the Queenes Maiestie Queene Elizabeth, lay at her Castle of Windsor: Where, upon the 10th day of December, it fortuned, that in Sir William Cicells chamber, her Highnesse Principall Secretarie, there dined together these personages, M. Secretarie him selfe, Sir William Peter, Sir I. Mason, D. Wotton, Sir Richard Sackville Treasurer of the Exchecker, Sir Walter Mildmaye Chauncellor of the Exchecker, M. Haddon Master of Requestes, M. John Astely Master of the Jewell house, M. Bernard Hampton, M. Nicasius, and I. Of which number, the most part were of her Maiesties most honourable privie Counsell, and the rest serving her in verie good place. I was glad then, and do rejoice yet to remember, that my chance was so happie, to be there that day, in the companie of so manie wise & good men together, as hardly than could haue beene picked out againe, out of all England beside.

M. Secretarie hath this accustomed manner, though his head be never so full of most weightie affaires of the Realme, yet, at dinner time he doth seeme to lay them alwaies aside: and findeth ever fitte occasion to talke pleasantlie of other matters, but most gladlie of some matter of learning: wherein, he will curteslie heare the minde of the meanest at his Table.

Not long after our sitting downe, I have strange newes brought me, sayth M. Secretarie, this morning, that diverse Scholers of Eaton, be runne awaie from the Schoole, for feare of beating. Whereupon, M. Secretarie tooke occasion, to wishe, that some more discretion were in many Scholemasters, in using correction, than commonlie there is. Who many times punishe rather the weakeness of nature, than the fault of the Scholer. Whereby, many Scholers, that might else prove well, be driven to hate learning, before they knowe what learning meaneth: and so, are made willing to forsake their booke, and be glad to be put to any other kinde of living.

M. Peter, as one somewhat severe of nature, said plainlie, that the Rodde onelie was the sworde that must keepe the Schoole in obedience, and the Scholer in good order. M. Wotton a man milde of nature, with soft voice, and fewe wordes, inclined to M. Secretaries judgement, and said, in mine opinion, the Scholehouse should be in deede, as it is called by name, the house of playe and pleasure, and not of feare and bondage: and as I do remember, so saith Socrates. And therefore, if a Rodde carrie the feare of a Sworde, it is no marvell, if those that be fearefull of nature, chose rather to forsake the Play, than to stand alwaies within the feare of a Sworde in a fonde mans handling. M. Mason after his manner, was verie merrie with both parties, pleasantlie playing, both with the shrewde touches of many course boyes, and with the small discretion of many lewde Scholemasters. M. Haddon was fullie of M. Peters opinion, and said, that the best Scholemaster of our time, was the greatest beater, and named the Person. Though, quoth I, it was his good fortune, to send from his Schole unto the Universitie, one of the best Scholers in deede of all our time, yet wise men do thinke, that that came so to passe, rather, by the great towardness of the Scholer, than by the great beating of the Master: and whether this be true or no, you your selfe are best witness.

Before I went into Germanie, I came to Brodegate in Leicestershire, to take my leave of that noble Ladie Jane Grey, to whom I was exceeding much beholdinge. Her parentes, the Duke and the Duchess, with all the household, Gentlemen and Gentlewomen, were huntinge in the Parke. I founde her, in her Chamber, readinge Phaedon Platonis in Greeke, and that with as much delighte as some gentleman would read a merrie tale. After salutation, and dutie done, with some other talke, I asked her, why she would lease such pastime in the Parke? Smiling she answered me: all their sporte in the Parke is but a shadow to that pleasure that I find in Plato. Alas good folke, they never felt what true pleasure meant.

And howe came you Madame, quoth I, to this deepe knowledge of pleasure, and what did chieflie allure you unto it: seeinge, not many women, but verie fewe men have attained thereunto.

I will tell you, quoth she, and tell you a truth, which perchance ye will marvell at. One of the greatest benefites, that ever God gave me, is, that he sent me so sharpe and severe Parentes, and so gentle a scholemaster. For when I am in presence either of father or mother, whether I speake, keepe silence, sit, stand, or go, eate, drinke, be merrie, or sad, be sawing, playing, dancing, or doing anie thing else, I must do it, as it were, in such weight, measure, and number, even so perfectlie as God made the world, or else I am so sharplie taunted, so cruellie threatened, yea presentlie some times, with pinches, nippes, and bobbes, and other waies, which I will not name, for the honor I beare them, so without measure misordered, that I thinke my selfe in hell, till time come, that I must go to M. Elmer, who teacheth me so gentlie, so pleasantlie, with such faire allurementes to learning, that I thinke all the time nothing, whiles I am with him. And when I am called from him, I fall on weeping, because, what soever I do else, but learning, is full of grief, trouble, feare, and whole misliking unto me.  And thus my booke hath beene so much my pleasure, & bringeth dayly to me more pleasure & more, that in respect of it, all other pleasures, in very deede, be but trifles and troubles unto me.

I remember this talke gladly, both because it is so worthy of memorie, & because also, it was the last talke that ever I had, and the last time, that ever I saw that noble and worthie Ladie.’

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

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