Page:A short history of social life in England.djvu/214

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194
EMPLOYMENTS OF WOMEN

breakfast, the master of the household and his sons got into the saddle and went off to hunt the deer, followed by scores of attendants, while the lady and her daughters superintended the dairy and buttery, dealt out bread and meat to the poor at their gates, and ordered the day's spinning. Indeed, the spinning of wool and flax was laborious and incessant, and the beautiful linen was handed down from generation to generation, as was also the hand embroidery, which often took some generations to complete. Needlework was a very necessary part of a woman's education in the seventeenth century; not less important was a knowledge of fine cooking, curing, preserving, distilling, candying, the making of syrups and jellies, beautifying washes, vinegar, pickles, and essences. Thus we get a lady excusing herself for not writing her letters, "Being almost melted with the double heat of the weather and my hotter employment because the fruit is suddenly ripe and I am busy preserving."

At noon came dinner, proclaimed by a noisy bell—a large and solid meal, after which sack and home-brewed ale, foreign wines, card-playing, love-making, dancing and other amuse-