As befits the New Year, here is January from Fantasticks, the strange calendar by Nicholas Breton (1554-1626). I have been altruistically copying out months, as you may see from past postings.
It is now January, and Time beginnes to turne the wheel of his Revolution, the Woods begin to lose the beauty of their spreading boughe, and the proud Oke must stoop to the Axe: the Squirell now surveyeth the Nut and the Maple, and the Hedgehogge rowles up himselfe like a football: an Apple and a Nutmeg make a Gossips cup: and the Ale and the Fagot are the Victuallers merchandise: the Northerne black Dust is the during Fuell, and the fruit of the Grape heats the stomake of the Aged: Downe beds and quilted Cappes are now the pride of their service, and the Cooke and the Pantler are men of no meane office: the Oxe and the fat Weather now furnish the market, and the Coney is so ferreted, that she cannot keepe in her borough: the Currier and the Lime-rod are the death of the fowle, and the Faulcons bels ring the death of the mallard: the trotting gelding makes a way through the mire, and the Hare and the Hound put the Huntsman to his horne: the barren Doe subscribes to the dish, and the smallest seed makes sauce to the greatest flesh: the dryed grasse is the horses ordinary, and the meale of the beanes make him goe through with his travel: Fishermen now have a cold trade, and travellers a foule journey: the Cook room now is not the worst place in the Ship, and the Shepheard hath a bleake seat on the Mountaine: the Blackbird leaveth not the berry on the thorne, and the garden earth is turned up for her roots: the water floods runne over the proud bankes, and the gaping Oister leaves his shell in the streets, while the proud Peacocke leaps into the pye: Muscovia commodities are now much in request, and the water Spaniell is a necessary servant: the Lode horse to the mill hath his full backe burthen; and the Thresher in the barne tyres the strength of his flayle: the Woodcocke and the Pheasant pay their lives for their feed, and the Hare after a course makes his hearse in a pye: the shoulder of a hog is a shooing horn to good drink, and cold almes make a begger shrug. To conclude, I hold it a time of little comfort, the rich mans charge, and the poor mans misery.
The Coney “cannot keepe in her borough” – wonderful spelling
6 thoughts on “Fantasticks – January”
My spell checker flagged 44 words in this post, after examining each one to see if any were genuine typos and also checking the original to see that I had not unconsciously “corrected” any of Breton’s spellings I reasoned thus: Will one more or less really make a difference?
A lovely passage, LW, but I’m not sure about “the Squirell now surveyeth the Nut “. Every year we had squirrels going round the garden industriously burying nuts in the autumn, but then the stupid creatures never seemed to be able to remember where they’d buried them later on. Our lot would have been really pushed to “survey” any nut that wasn’t in the bird feeders.
I suspect the Coney may refer to the island of that name which is well outside the borough too.
Sheona: Yes, ours industriously bury acorns as they fall, then raid the bird feeders all winter, the only result is a crop of oak seedlings in the lawns come spring, they are smart enough to find the bird feeders even when they are moved about, but keep no record of the acorn burials They may have been smarter back in 1620, or hungrier.
Janus: Once an island, after Sandy now more of a reef. However the show must go on so “Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest” will be held there as usual this summer.
Makes bleak reading but then so does the Daily Mail!
Muscovia commodities I presume are furs?
When you think about it it really wouldn’t take much to be back to those days, all you have to do is turn off the electricity!
We don’t have squirrels here, they are to be found nearer the coast though in the County. I can only presume that the large quantity of raptors and eagles have scoffed them all up. We don’t get rabbits or chipmunks either although they are elsewhere in the locality too. All our depredations are perpetrated by deer. The only vermin we have in quantity are voles that live in the stream banks where the eagles can’t get them. I suppose they are too small to be considered even a snack!