Imágenes de páginas

ber." This letter appears to have been written Nov. 19, 1472; in another place, "the takyng of hyr chambre" is alluded to; and in a third letter, dated Nov. 24, it is stated that the "lady tooke not hyr chambre till yesterday." To the letters containing the above cited allusions, the following note is appended :—

"There appear to have been some ceremonies anciently used when the lady took her chamber. It is stated that when the Queen of Henry VII. took her chamber, 'the Erles of Shrewsbury and of Kente hyld the towelles whan the Queen tote her riffhtes; and the torches were holden by knightes. Whan she was comen into hir great chambre, she stode under her cloth of estate; then there was ordeyned a voide of espices and swet wyne; that doone, my Lorde, the Quene's Chamberlain, in very goode wordes, desired in the Quene's name the pepul there present to pray God to send hir the goode houre: and so she departed to hir inner chambre." From a MS. in the Cotton. Library.

What the rights were, which the Queen took, I have been unable to discover; nor can I explain the ceremony of a lady taking her chamber. Hermione, when before her judges, complains that she was deprived of her privilege

'with immodest hatred

The child-bedprivileyedeaied, which 'longs To women of all fashion :—lastly, hurried Here to this place, i' the open air, before I have got strength of limit."*

Winter's Tale, Act iii. sc. 2.

Were the rights of the same kind as the privilege here claimed? Shakespeare's commentators are silent upon this subject.

The celebrated French midwife, Louise Bourgeois dite Boursier, who has given a very minute account of the several lyings- in of Marie de Medicis, Queen of Henry IV. of France, describes several of the preparations made for her first confinement, A tent or pavilion was erected in the great chamber at Fontainebleau. It was made of very fine holland, at least

* Johnson suggests " strength of limb," and he is supported by one of the folios, which reads "strength of limbs j" but limit is the approved reading.

twenty ells round; within this larger pavilion was a smaller one made of the same material; the Queen's bed was placed in this inner pavilion, and into it none were admitted but the King, who scarcely left the Queen during her illness of twenty-two hours' duration, and those whose immediate attendance upon the Queen was necessary: the larger pavilion was appropriated to those ladies and officers whose presence at a royal birth was officially required.

There were in attendance, in case their assistance should be required, four of the most celebrated physicians and a surgeon, Guillemeau, to whom Louise Bourgeois made occasional reports of the progress of the labour; but no one, except the midwife, took any active share in the labour itself.

The relics of Saint Margaret (les reliques de Madame Saincte Marguerite) were placed upon a table in the chamber, and two priests (Religieux de Sainct Germain des Prez) offered up prayers to God without ceasing: but no ceremony or formal taking of the chamber is mentioned, no rights or privileges are alluded to; nor have I been able to find any information upon this subject, though I have sought for it among the early writers on midwifery, both female and male, both English and foreign.

In an edition of Jacobus Rueffus de Conceptu, printed at Frankfort on the Maine, 1587, 4to. there are some wood-cuts representing several matters illustrative of the practice of midwifery three hundred years ago. One of these represents a lady, evidently far ad^ vanced in her pregnancy, who has called upon her midwife to bespeak her attendance. The lady is very elegantly attired, having a short cloak or mantle over her dress, her head is adorned with a lace cap, on which she wears a small hat; she is in a standing posture, but behind her there is a wellcushioned chair, on which she may, if she pleases, repose: she has been accompanied by a favourite shock dog, which is standing by her side.

The midwife is clad in a mo/e homely style than the lady, but everything about her is neat and handsome, shewing that she ranked high among this useful branch of practitioners; on a table covered with a cloth is a chicken dressed, and a tankard with a glass goblet is standing near; whether because she was about to take her dinner, or that refreshment should be ready in case any person should call, must remain uncertain. The midwife appears as if discussing the question as to the time when the labour may be expected, and the lady is listening with great attention.

Another picture represents the lady placed upon the chair, which was then commonly used for the parturient woman ; the midwife is in attendance, and all that is considered necessary for her in the exercise of her art is placed within reach in proper order. On each side of the lady is a female; one is a domestic with the expression of much feeling in her countenance, soothing and comforting her mistress, the other is an old nurse who may be supposed to say, "Aye! you must bear it, you know." Refreshments are placed upon the table, and on the floor is a large jug of hot water, and likewise a wooden pail. In the background is seen a four-post bedstead prepared with two or three pillows for the lady to be removed to after the labour is over, and in an adjoining closet are two physicians or astrologers carefully noticing the moon and stars, and making calculations on the horoscope to cast the nativity of the infant at its first entrance into the world.

A third picture shews that the labour has happily terminated; the lady has been conveyed to her bed, and two attendants, one on each side, are offering her cordials and refreshments, but she seems disinclined to take anything, and wishes for repose. In frontthenurseiarepresented bathing and washing the new-born babe in a large bason ; a small pan with a sponge in it is ready at her side; an under nurse is holding a large cloth or flannel to receive the child as soon as the washing is finished ; a handsome cradle is at hand which an older child, carrying a doll in her arms, is amusing herself with rocking. At a side table are seen the two astrologers and the midwife, enjoying the various good things that have been prepared for

them; the midwife has a good sized drinking cup at her mouth, evidently intent on draining it to the bottom. A door opens into a kitchen at some distance, where a female servant is preparing some necessaries over a large fire.

Nothing in these prints indicates the darkness or closeness of the lying-in chamber which prevailed formerly to so great and injurious an extent in England; but probably, though the prints exhibit light and ventilation, the rooms inGermany were kept quite as closeand dark as in England, for the adage Frigus omnibus parturienlibiu el puerperis peilii est, id quod etiam de potu frigido intelligendum, comes from a German author. So great a dread of cold existed even within the last twenty years that very careful nurses were accustomed, during the entire month of childbed, to wrap the handles of spoons, knives and forks, &c. with silver paper, that they might not feel cold to the touch; even the elegant little silver hand-bell which rested on the bed for the convenience of the invalid was enshrined in silver paper. Yours, &c. S. M.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[graphic][merged small][graphic][graphic][graphic]

Mr. Urban,

Malvern Wellt,

May 17.

BEFORE I proceed to enumerate the various personal memorials or devices which are seen amongst the decorations of the ancient pavement at Great Malvern Church, one singular tile remains to be noticed, which ought more properly to have found a place in my former communication. It bears an inscription in eight lines, •which conveys the moral admonition to " work while it is day," not deferring to the care of an executor, after life is passed, those duties of Christian benevolence, which might be better, and more surely, discharged by our own hand.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Think, man, thy life

May not ever endare;
That thou dost thyself

Of that thou art sure;
But that thou keepest

Unto thy executor's cure,
And ever it availe I her,

It is but aventure.

This same tile may be seen in the church of Little Malvern; it has been also found at Hereford, and Nash, in his History of Worcestershire, vol. ii. App. p. 70, has given a representation of one preserved at Stanford Church in that county: it has been more correctly copied in the selection recently published, entitled "Examples of Encaustic Tiles." Similar admonitions are of no uncommon occurrence amongst monumental inscriptions of the XVth century; several examples have been enumerated by Mr. John Gough Nichols, in a communication which appeared in your pages. (Oct. 1833, p. 302.) The date of the tile appears to be about 1450, when the Saxon character t> was still frequently, but not invariably, used. The obsolete words which occur in these lines accord perfectly with the language of

Gent. Mao. Vol. XXII.

that period; thus, many instances might be cited of the use of the verb to keep, in the sense of reservation rather than preservation, as also of the words sectur, an executor, and cure, euro.

In describing the principal heraldic decorations introduced on the Malvern tiles, the arms of the Sovereign first claim attention; they occur frequently, the most ancient example, which is not of earlier date than the reign of Richard II. or Henry IV., is the lower moiety of the quarterly bearing, France and England j this tile for want of the upper one, which completed the arms, appears at first sight to present the bearing of England impaling France (three fleurs de lys.) Three lions passant towards the sinister side, and regardant, occurs on a tile of which numerous other specimens are preserved in the choir of Gloucester cathedral ; the date appears to be the XlVth century. Instances occur of tiles on which letters or ornaments appear in the inverse direction to that in which they should properly be placed, and in these cases, as in that herenoticed of the lions turned towards the sinister side of the scutcheon, the cause may be attributed to the carelessness of the artificer, who, in preparing the mould or stamp, neglected to invert the design. The arms of England alone without those of France may be noticed on tiles of very elegant design, four of which form a complete compartment; each tile is ornamented with a scutcheon, surmounted by the inscription, JFiat. toolimt.W . od . (the will of God be done.) The same tile has been found near Monmouth Priory j its date appears to be about 1450. The like bearing of England is also found on the large set of wall-tiles, which will be noticed hereafter, dated 1453.

The most interesting series of heraldic tiles which are here to be seen, are illustrative of the descent of the chase and manor of Malvern, which had been given by Edward I. in marriage with the Princess Joan of Acre, to Gilbert de Clare Earl of Gloucester. On the death of their only son at Bannockburn, the manor was brought by Alianor, his sister and coheiress, to her husband Hugh le Despenser; as also, subsequently, by E

« AnteriorContinuar »