Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/364

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a noble, and the common sort, two, three, or four, and six shillings apiece."

A few years earlier, however, in the time of Shakespeare, it was indeed the custom to give presents of plate, often of great value, at christenings. Money, jewelry, and cups were common presents, but the form of plate considered necessary as a gift from the sponsors was one or more of the well-known apostle spoons. These were wrought with the handle terminating in a carved image representing one of the apostles. Sometimes one, two, or more were given; and the finest example of extravagant generosity on the occasion consisted in presenting the child with a full set of the twelve apostles. In King Henry VIII., when Cranmer professes himself unworthy to be sponsor to the young princess, the king cries out: "Come, come, my lord, you'd spare your spoons."

In a collection of anecdotes compiled by Sir Nicholas L'Estrange under the name of Merry Passages and Jests (MSS. Harl. 6395) occurs the following amusing bits of repartee:

"Shakespeare was godfather to one of Ben Jonson's children, and after the child's christening, being in a deep study, Jonson came to cheer him up, and ask'd him why he was so melancholy. 'No, faith, Ben,' says he, 'not I; but I have been