Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/96

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for the floor than a layer of rushes.[1] In the smaller houses of such a town as Stratford even rushes were dispensed with. The floor of the hall was the bare earth, sometimes sprinkled with sand, but seldom swept or cleaned. Water was plentiful, but not in demand. Woodwork was hardly ever scrubbed, and water upon the person is seldom referred to in contemporary writings. We hear very little of baths, but much of dirty fingers, unkempt hair, and general neglect of personal cleanliness. It was customary to let refuse lie about. When it became too foul it was swept out of the front door into the gutter, or left in a pile against the house wall. Shakespeare's father was fined for such a nuisance. There were several public muck heaps near the edge of town, but far too near the habitations for safety. Pigs and other animals ran loose in the streets, notwithstanding the fact that there were laws against the custom. In 1611 the town council issued an order "that no swine be permitted to be in the open street of the town unless they have a keeper with them, and then only when they are in driving within this borough, upon pain for every strayer of fourpence." The town itself provided for cleaning the bridge, the market place, and the

  1. The word carpet, so often met in the old writings, usually refers to a table cloth.