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loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

england, 1587: our dogs are ye best

"THERE is no country that may (as I take it) compare with ours in number, excellency, and diversity of dogs."

Not that I'd thought about it very rigourously, but I always thought the Elizabethan reference work Holinshed's Chronicles were written solely by Holinshed. Not so. He had some help - a great deal of it from William Harrison, who includes in "A Description of Elizabethan England" quite a deal of musings "Of Our English Dogs and Their Qualities."

I have blogged upon a tidbit of this before - a snarky bit on ladies' lapdogs who hang about "as meet playfellows for mincing mistresses to bear in their bosoms, to keep company withal in their chambers, to succour with sleep in bed, and nourish with meat at board, to lie in their laps, and lick their lips as they lie (like young Dianas) in their waggons and coaches."

But there's so much more! How about
"Dogs of the homely kind are either shepherd’s curs or mastiffs. The first are so common that it needeth me not to speak of them."

"Some of our mastiffs will rage only in the night, some are to be tied up both day and night. Such also as are suffered to go loose about the house and yard are so gentle in the daytime that children may ride on their backs and play with them at their pleasures."

"Besides these also we have sholts or curs daily brought out of Ireland, and made much of among us, because of their sauciness and quarrelling. Moreover they bite very sore, and love candles exceedingly, as do the men and women of their country" (you should read the rest of THAT anecdote).

It's a bit long but very diverting - why not look it over? (Thanks to Bartleby.com.)


parlance said...

Most interesting! Thanks. I've bookmarked it for a long careful read.

curator said...

I do hope you like it, Parlance.