The Elizabethan People

By Henry Thew Stephenson | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER VIII
INDOOR AMUSEMENTS

IT seems hardly necessary to say that gossip was then a matter of great indulgence. Not women so much as men were the prime spreaders of information by this process, and the barber- shop, we learn repeatedly from the old plays, was the centre and source of most of the gossip. Fancy needle-work was a chief source of indoor amusement to women who would otherwise not occupy their idle hours. Flirting, too, should not be winked at as belonging to this division of our subject. So common was this habit, especially among the citizens' wives of London, that "sitting in the bay-window" was an expression synonymous with catching the eye of a passing gallant. Women were fond of pets, especially birds. Squirrels were sometimes led about at the end of a chain. We find an allusion to this custom in Lyly Endymion.* "Fairholt informs us that the Tapestry of Nancy, found lining the tent of Charles the Bold, after his death at the siege of that place in 1476, contains a lady of rank seated with a favourite squirrel secured to her wrist by

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*
Edition Bond, Vol. III., p. 37, and note, p. 508.

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