Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/525

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395
DOMESTIC LIFE

their use in the preparation of medicines, perfumes, sauces, etc. She should know all about the ordering of wines, she should be a competent brewer, and know how to gauge wine and ale casks. Then a knowledge of wool was necessary. "The housewife should know when to send it to the dyer, yet, in case of emergency, she should understand dyeing, the action whereof must be got by practice, not by relation." All about flax was another part of her necessary knowledge, and skill in dairy work. Markham, after enumerating all these various duties with descriptions and receipts, belittles the value of his own volume by saying that the housewife must not only find time to read and study about these things, but also to practise them all, else the study will prove of no avail. The modern reader should bear in mind that the average English housewife in the time of Elizabeth was actually skilled in all these various duties, and that it often fell to her lot to train servants to skill in them, even if she did not need to exercise the knowledge otherwise herself.

In those days the retinue of household servants was far more numerous than it is to-day, and a more essential mark of gentility than at any other age. The servants wore their master's arms upon the left sleeve; their distinctive dress was a