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Shallow. I'll drink to Master Bardolph and to all the cavaleiroes about London.

Davy. I hope to see London once ere I die.

2 Henry IV., v. iii. 60-61

Shallow. O, Sir John, do you remember since we lay all night in the windmill in Saint George's fields?...

Silence That's fifty-five year ago.

Shallow. Ha! cousin Silence, that thou hadst seen that that this knight and I have seen. Ha! Sir John, said I well?

Falstaff. We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow. Shallow. That we have, that we have, that we have; in faith, Sir John, we have. Our watchword was, "Hem, boys!" Come, let's to dinner ; come, let's to dinner. Jesus, the days that we have seen! come, ibid. III. ii. 208-237


§ 1. The road to London

Jog on, jog on the foot-path way,

And merrily hent the stile-a:

A merry heart goes all the day,

Your sad tires in a mile-a.

The Winter's Tale, IV. ii. 133-136

The State of the Roads

Now to speak generally of our common highways through the English part of the isle (for of the rest I can say nothing), you shall understand that in the clay or cledgy soil they are often very deep and troublesome in the winter half. Wherefore by authority of parliament an order is taken for their yearly amendment, whereby all sorts of the common people do employ

their travail for six days in summer upon the same. And albeit that the intent of the statute is very profitable for the reparations of the decayed places, yet the rich do so cancel their portions, and the poor so loiter in their labours, that of all the six, scarcely two good days' work are well performed and accomplished in a parish on these so necessary affairs. Besides this, such as have land lying upon the sides of the ways do utterly neglect to ditch and scour their drains and water-courses for better avoidance of the winter waters (except it may be set off or cut from the meaning of the statute), whereby the streets do grow to be much more gulled than before, and thereby very noisome for such as travel by the same. Sometimes also, and that very often, these days' works are not employed upon those ways that lead from market to market, but each surveyor amendeth such by-plots and lanes as seem best for his own commodity and more easy passage unto his fields and pastures. And whereas in some places there is such want of stones, as thereby the inhabitants are driven to seek them far off in other soils, the owners of the lands wherein those stones are to be had, and which hitherto have given money to have them borne away, do now reap no small commodity by raising the same to excessive prices, whereby their neighbours are driven to grievous charges, which is another cause wherefore the meaning of that good law is very much defrauded. Finally, this is another thing likewise to be considered of, that the trees and bushes growing by the streets' sides do not a little keep off the force of the sun in summer for drying up of the lanes. Wherefore if order were taken that their boughs should continually be kept short, and the bushes not suffered to spread so far into the narrow paths, that inconvenience would also be remedied, and many a slough prove hard ground that yet is deep and hollow. Of the daily encroaching of the covetous upon the highways I speak not. But this I know by experience, that whereas some streets within these five and twenty years have been in most places fifty foot broad according to the law, whereby the traveller might either escape the thief, or shift the mire, or pass by the loaden cart without danger of himself and his horse; now they are brought unto twelve, or twenty, or six and twenty at the most, which is another cause also whereby the ways be the

worse, and many an honest man encumbered in his journey. But what speak I of these things whereof I do not think to hear a just redress, because the error is so common, and the benefit thereby so sweet and profitable to many by such houses and cottages as are raised upon the same.

WILLIAM HARRISON, Description of England 1587 (2nd ed.)

The Cambridge to London road

On the road we passed through a villainous boggy and wild country and several times missed our way because the country thereabouts is very little inhabited and is nearly a waste; and there is one spot in particular where the mud is so deep that in my opinion it would scarcely be possible to pass with a coach in winter or in rainy weather.


Visit of Frederick, Duke of Würtemberg, 1592 [Rye]

Means of Communication

SCENE. Rochester. An Inn-yard

Good morrow, carriers. What's o'clock ?

First Carrier. I think it be two o'clock.

Gadshill. I prithee, lend me thy lanthorn, to see my gelding in the stable. Second Carrier. ...Lend me thy lanthorn, quoth a'? marry, I'll see thee hanged first.

Gadshill. Sirrah carrier, what time do you mean to come to London ? Second Carrier. Time enough to go to bed with a candle, I warrant thee. Come, neighbour Mugs, we'll call up the gentlemen: they will along with company, for they have great charge.

The Post

1 Henry IV., II. i. 36—51

In England towards the south, and in the west parts, and from London to Berwick upon the confines of Scotland, post-horses are established at every ten miles or thereabouts, which they ride a false gallop after some ten miles an hour sometimes, and that makes their hire the greater for with a commission from the chief post-master, or chief lords of the Council (given either upon public business, or at least pretence thereof) a passenger shall pay twopence halfpenny each mile for his horse, and as much for his guide's horse: but one guide will serve the whole company, though many ride together, who

may easily bring back the horses, driving them before him, who know the way as well as a beggar knows his dish. They which have no such commission pay threepence for each mile. This extraordinary charge of horses' hire may well be recompensed with the speed of the journey, whereby greater expenses in the inns are avoided. All the difficulty is to have a body able to endure the toil. For these horses the passenger is at no charge to give them meat, only at the ten miles' end the boy that carries them back will expect some few pence in gift. Some nobleman hath the office of chief post-master, being a place of such account as commonly he is one of the King's Council. And not only he, but other lords of the Council, according to the qualities of their offices, use to give the foresaid commissions signed with their hands jointly or severally but their hands are less regarded than the postmaster's, except they be favourites, and of the highest offices, or the business be important.


In the inns men of inferior condition use to eat at the host's table, and pay some sixpence a meal: but gentlemen have their chambers, and eat alone, except perhaps they have consorts and friends in their company and of their acquaintance. If they be accompanied, perhaps their reckoning may commonly come to some two shillings a man, and one that eats alone in his own chamber with one or two servants attending him, perhaps upon reckoning may spend some five or six shillings for supper and breakfast. But in the northern parts, when I passed towards Scotland, gentlemen themselves did not use to keep their chambers, but to eat at an ordinary table together, where they had great plenty of good meat and especially of choice kinds of fish, and each man paid no more than sixpence and sometimes but fourpence a meal. One horse's meat will come to twelve pence, or eighteen pence the night for hay, oats and straw, and in summer time commonly they put the horses to grass, after the rate of threepence each horse, though some who ride long journeys will either keep them in the stable at hard meat as they do in winter, or else give them a little oats in the morning when they are brought up from grass. English passengers taking any journey seldom dine, especially not in

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