Page:Anne Bradstreet and her time.djvu/39

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23
ANNE BRADSTREET.

from the always grosser and coarser type in Old England. Puritan abstinence had much to do with this, though even for them, heavy feeding, as compared with any modern standard was the rule, its results being found in the diaries of what they recorded and believed to be spiritual conflicts. Then, as now, dyspepsia often posed as a delicately susceptible temperament, and the "pasty" of venison or game, fulfilled the same office as the pie into which it degenerated, and which is one of the most firmly established of American institutions. Then, as occasionally even today, indigestion counted as "a hiding of the Lord's face," and a bilious attack as "the hand of the Lord laid heavily on one for reproof and correction." Such "reproof and correction" would often follow if the breakfasts of the Earl of Lincoln and his household were of the same order as those of the Earl of Northumberland, in whose house "the family rose at six and took breakfast at seven. My Lord and Lady sat down to a repast of two pieces of salted fish, and half a dozen of red herrings, with four fresh ones, or a dish of sprats and a quart of beer and the same measure of wine. . . . At other seasons, half a chine of mutton or of boiled beef, graced the board. Capons at two-pence apiece and plovers (at Christmas), were deemed too good for any digestion that was not carried on in a noble stomach."

With the dropping of fasts and meager days, fish was seldom used, and the Sunday morning breakfast of Queen Elizabeth and her retinue in one of her "progresses" through the country, for which three oxen and one hundred and forty geese were furnished, became the standard, which did not alter for many