« AnteriorContinuar »
ed at Whichenovre, for to do and perform the services which they owe to the bacon. And at the day assigned, all such as owe services to the bacon shall be ready at the gate of the manor of Whichenovre, from the sun-rising to noon, attending and awaiting for the coming of him who fetcheth the bacon. And when he is come, there shall be delivered to him and his fellows, chaplets, and to all those which shall be there, to do their services due to the bacon. And they shall lead the said demandant with trumps and tabors, and other manner of minstrelsy, to the hall door, where he shall find the lord of Whichenovre, or his steward, ready to deliver the bacon in this manner.
“He shall inquire of him which demandeth the bacon, if he have brought twain of his neighbours with him : which must answer, “they be here ready.' And then the steward shall cause these two neighbours to swear, if the said demandant be a wedded man, or have been a man wedded ; and if since his marriage one year and a day be past; and if he be a freeman or a villein *. And if his said neighbours make oath that he hath for him all these three points rehearsed, then shall the bacon be taken down and brought to the hall door, and shall there be laid upon one half-quarter of wheat, and upon one other of rye. And he that demandeth the bacon shall kneel upon his knee, and shall hold his right hand upon a book, which book shall be laid upon the bacon and the corn, and shall make oath in this manner.
Here ye, Sir Philip de Somervile, lord of Whichenovre, mayntener and gyver of this baconne: that I, A. sithe I wedded B. my wife, and sithe I had
* i. e. according to the acceptation of the word at the date of this institution, a freeman, or a servant."
hyr in my kepying, and at my wylle by a year and a day after our marriage, I would not have chaunged for none other; farer ne fowler ; richer ne pourer; ne for none other descended of greater lynage; slepying ne waking, at noo tyme. And if the seyd B. were sole, and I sole, I would take her to be my wyfe before all the wymen of the worlde, of what condiciones soever they be, good or evylle; as help me God and his seyntes, and this flesh and all fleshes.'
« And his neighbours shall make oath, that they trust verily he hath said truly. And if it be found by his neighbours before-named, that he be a freeman, there shall be delivered to him half a quarter of wheat and a cheese ; and if he be a villein, he shall have a quarter of rye without cheese. And then shall Knightleye, the lord of Rudlow, be called for, to carry all these things tofore rehearsed; and the said corn shall be laid on one horse and the bacon above it: and he to whom the bacon appertaineth shall ascend upon his horse, and shall take the cheese before him, if he have a horse. And if he have none, the lord of Whichenovre shall cause him to have one horse and saddle, to such time as he be passed his lordship; and so shall they depart the manor of Whichenovre with the corn and the bacon, tofore him that hath won it, with trumpets, taborets, and other manner of minstrelsy. And all the free tenants of Whichenovre shall conduct him to be passed the lordship of Whichenovre. And then shall they all return except him to whom appertaineth to make the carriage and journey without the county of Stafford, at the costs of his lord of Whichenovre.”
No. 608. MONDAY, OCTOBER 18, 1714.
Perjuria ridet amantum.
Ovid. Ars Amor. i. 633.
According to my promise I herewith transmit to you a list of several persons, who from time to time demanded the flitch of bacon of sir Philip de Somerville, and his descendants; as it is preserved in an ancient manuscript, under the title of “The Register of Whichenovre-hall, and of the bacon Aitch there maintained.”
• In the beginning of this record is recited the law or institution in form, as it is already printed in your last paper: to which are added two by-laws, as a comment upon the general law, the substance whereof is, that the wife shall take the same oath as the husband, mutatis mutandis ; and that the judges shall as they think meet, interrogate or cross-examine the witnesses. After this proceeds the register in manner following:
“ Aubry de Falstaff, son of sir John Falstaff, kt. with dame Maude his wife, were the first that demanded the bacon, he having bribed twain of his father's companions to swear falsely in his behoof, whereby he gained the flitch: but he and his said wife falling immediately into a dispute how the said bacon should be dressed, it was, by order of the judges, taken from him, and hung up again in the hall.
" Alison, the wife of Stephen Freckle, brought her said husband along with her, and set forth tha
good conditions and behaviour of her consort, adding withal that she doubted not but he was ready to attest the like of her, his wife; whereupon he, the said Stephen, shaking his head, she turned short upon him, and gave him a box on the ear.
« Philip de Waverland, having laid his hand upon the book, when the clause, were I sole and she sole,' was rehearsed, found a secret compunction rising in his mind, and stole it off again.
“ Richard de Loveless, who was a courtier, and a very well-bred man, being observed to hesitate at the words “after our marriage,' was thereupon required to explain himself. He replied, by talking very largely of his exact complaisance while he was a lover; and alleged that he had not in the least disobliged his wife for a year and a day before mar. riage, which he hoped was the same thing.
“ Joceline Jolly, esq. making it appear, by un. questionable testimony, that he and his wife had preserved full and entire affection for the space of the first month commonly called the honey-moon, he had, in consideration thereof, one rasher bestowed upon him.”
After this, says the record, many years passed over before any demandant appeared at Whichenovre-hall; insomuch that one would have thought that the whole country were turned Jews, so little was their affection to the flitch of bacon.
The next couple enrolled had like to have carried it, if one of the witnesses had not deposed, that dining on a Sunday with the demandant, whose wife had sat below the squire's lady at church, she the said wife dropped some expressions, as if she thought her husband deserved to be knighted; to which he returned a passionate pish! The judges, taking the premises into consideration, declared the aforesaid
behaviour to imply an unwarrantable ambition in the wife, and anger in the husband.
It is recorded as a sufficient disqualification of a certain wife, that speaking of her husband, she said, “ God forgive him.”
It is likewise remarkable, that a couple were rejected upon the deposition of one of their neighbours, that the lady had once told her husband, that “ it was her duty to obey :” to which he replied, “ () my dear; you are never in the wrong!"
The violent passion of one lady for her lapdog ; the turning away of the old housemaid by another; a tavern bill torn by the wife, and a tailor's by the husband ; a quarrel about the kissing-crust; spoiling of dinners, and coming in late of nights, are so many several articles which occasioned the reprobation of some scores of demandants, whose names are recorded in the aforesaid register.
Without enumerating other particular persons, I shall content myself with observing that the sentence pronounced against one Gervase Poacher is, that “he might have had bacon to his eggs, if he had not heretofore scolded his wife when they were over-boiled.” And the deposition against Dorothy Dolittle runs in these words, “ that she had so far usurped the dominion of the coal fire (the stirring whereof her husband claimed to himself) that by her good-will she never would suffer the poker out of her hand.”
I find but two couples in this first century that were successful: the first was a sea-captain and his wife, who since the day of their marriage had not seen one another until the day of the claim. The second was an honest pair in the neighbourhood; the husband was a man of plain good sense, and a peaceable temper; the woman was dumb.'