Travels in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, by Paul Hentzner

OF THE MANNERS OF THE ENGLISH.

The English are serious, like the Germans; lovers of show, liking to be followed wherever they go by whole troops of servants, who wear their masters’ arms in silver, fastened to their left arms, a ridicule they deservedly lie under. They excel in dancing and music, for they are active and lively, though of a thicker make than the French; they cut their hair close on the middle of the head, letting it grow on either side; they are good sailors, and better pirates, cunning, treacherous and thievish; above three hundred are said to be hanged annually at London; beheading with them is less infamous than hanging; they give the wall as the place of honour; hawking is the general sport of the gentry; they are more polite in eating than the French, devouring less bread, but more meat, which they roast in perfection; they put a great deal of sugar in their drink; their beds are covered with tapestry, even those of farmers; they are often molested with the scurvy, said to have first crept into England with the Norman Conquest; their houses are commonly of two storeys, except in London, where they are of three and four, though but seldom of four; they are built of wood, those of the richer sort with bricks; their roofs are low, and, where the owner has money, covered with lead.

They are powerful in the field, successful against their enemies, impatient of anything like slavery; vastly fond of great noises that fill the ear, such as the firing of cannon, drums, and the ringing of bells, so that it is common for a number of them, that have got a glass in their heads, to go up into the belfry, and ring the bells for hours together for the sake of exercise. If they see a foreigner very well made, or particularly handsome, they will say, “It is a pity he is not an Englishman!”

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:38