Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/267

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banquet. On such occasions the hall was cleared by turning the tables up, that is, laying the tops and trestles of the dining tables against the wall. "A hall, a hall!" is the cry generally met with in the old plays as the sign for this preliminary. Unless they were dancing the measure, or the equally slow and dignified pavin, it was customary for the men dancers to unhasp their swords and to give them to a page or to one of the torchbearers. Prizes were frequently given at the end of an evening's dancing for the best dancer among the women, much as prizes are given at card parties to-day. Cavendish alludes to this habit. "And after supper and the banquet finished, the ladies and gentlemen went to dancing: among whom one Madam Fountaine, a maid, had the prize."[1]

Elsewhere in the present volume something is said about the special kinds of cozenage so much more prevalent then than now in England. Here, however, is a more suitable place to speak of the almost universal custom of dice play and gambling. The following tirade dates from 1586:

"But there are in the bowels of this famous citie [London], farre more dangerous plays, and little reprehended: that wicked plays of the dice,

  1. Life of Wolsey, Temple Ed., p. 80.