Page images

I'd sew thy breches, I promise the, with full good

double threed, And set a patch on either knee, shall last this months

twain, Now God, and Saint Sithe, I pray, to send it back

again." Hodge. "Whereto served your hands and eyes, but your neele

keep? What devil had you els to do? ye keep, I wot, no

sheep. I'm fain abrode to dig and delve, in water, mire and

clay, Sossing and possing in the dirt, still from day to day A hundred things that be abroad, I'm set to see them

weel; And four of you sit idle at home, and cannot keep a

neele." Gammer. "My neele, alas, I lost, Hodge, what time I me up

hasted, To save milk set up for thee, which Gib our cat hath

wasted." Hodge. "The devil he take both Gib and Tib, with all the rest;

I m always sure of the worst end, whoever have the

best. Where ha you ben ridging abroad, since you your neele

lost?" Gammer. "Within the house, and at the door, sitting by this same

post; WThere I was looking a long hour, before these folke

came here; But, wel away! all was in vain, my neele is never the

near I"

{(Gammer Gurton's Needle," says Hazlitt, " is a regular comedy, in five acts, built on the circumstance of an old woman having lost her needle which throws the whole village into confusion, till it is at last providentially found sticking in an unlucky part of Hodge's dress. This must evidently have happened at a time when the manufactures of Sheffield and Birmingham had not reached the height of perfection which they have at present done. Suppose that there is only one sewing needle in a village, that the owner, a diligent notable old dame, loses it, that a mischief-making wag sets it about that another old woman has stolen this valuable instrument of household industry, that strict search is made every where in-doors for it in vain, and that then the incensed parties sally forth to scold it out in the open air, till words end in blows, and the affair is referred over to the higher authorities, and we shall have an exact idea (though, perhaps, not so lively a one) of what passes in this authentic document between Gammer Gurton and her gossip Dame Chat; Dickon the Bedlam (the causer of these harms); Hodge, Gammer Gurton's servant; Tyb, her maid; Cocke, her 'prentice boy; Doll Scapethrift; Master Baillie, his master; Dr. Bat, the curate; and Gib, the cat, who may fairly be reckoned one of the dramatis personce, and performs no mean part."

From the needle itself the transition is easy to the needlework which was in vogue at the time when this little implement was so valuable and rare a commodity. We are told that the various kinds of needlework practised at this time would, if enumerated, astonish even the most industrious of our modern ladies. The lover of Shakspeare will remember that the term point device is often used by him, and that, indeed, it is a term frequently met with in the writers of that age with various applications; and it is originally derived, according to Mr. Douce, from the fine stitchery of the ladies.

It has been properly stated, that point device signifies exact, nicely, finical; but nothing has been offered concerning the etymology, except that we got the expression from the French. It has, in fact, been supplied from the labours of the needle. Poind, in the French language, denotes a stitch; devise any thing invented, disposed, or arranged. Point devise was, therefore, a particular sort of patterned lace worked with the needle; and the term point lace is still familiar to every female. They had likewise their point-coupe, point-compte, dentelle au point devant Vaiguille, &c. &c.

But it is apparent, he adds, that the expression point devise became applicable, in a secondary sense, to whatever was uncommonly exact, or constructed with the nicety and precision of stitches made or devised with the needle.

Various books of patterns of needlework for the assistance and encouragement of the fair stitchers were published in those days. Mr. Douce * enumerates some of them, and the omission of any part of his notation would be unpardonable in the present work.

The earliest on the list is an Italian book, under the title of "Esemplario di lavori: dove le tenere fanciulle et altre donne nobile potranno facilmente imparare il modo et ordine di lavorare, cusire, raccamare, et finalment far tutte quelle gentillezze et lodevili opere, le quali po fare una donna virtuosa con laco in mano, con li suoi compasse et misure. Vinegia, per Nicolo D'Aristotile detto Zoppino, Mdxxix, 8vo."

* Illustrations, vol. ii. p. 92.

The next that occurs was likewise set forth by an Italian, and entitled, "Les singuliers et nouveaux pourtraicts du Seigneur Federic de Vinciolo Venitien, pour toutes sortes d'ouvrages de lingerie. Paris, 1588. 4to." It is dedicated to the Queen of of France, and had been already twice published.

In 1599 a second part came out, which is much more difficult to be met with than the former, and sometimes contains a neat portrait, by Gaultier, of Catherine de Bourbon, the sister of Henry the Fourth.

The next is "Nouveaux pourtraicts de point coupe et dantelles en petite moyenne et grande forme, nouvellement inventez et mis en lumiere. Imprime a Montbeliard, 1598. 4to." It has an address to the ladies, and a poem exhorting young damsels to be industrious; but the author's name does not appear. Vincentio's work was published in England, and printed by John Wolfe, under the title of "New and Singular Patternes and Workes of Linnen, serving for paternes to make all sortes of lace, edginges, and cutworkes. Newly invented for the profite and contentment of ladies, gentilwomen, and others that are desireous of this Art. 1591. 4to." He seems also to have printed it with a French title.

We have then another English book, of which this is the title: "Here foloweth certaine Patternes of Cutworkes; newly invented and never published before. Also, sundry sortes of spots, as flowers, birdes, and fishes, &c, and will fitly serve to be wrought, some with gould, some with silke, and some with crewell in coullers; or otherwise at your pleasure. And never but once published before. Printed by Rich. Shorleyker." No date. In oblong quarto.

And lastly, another oblong quarto, entitled, "The Needle's Excellency, a new booke, wherein are divers admirable workes wrought with the needle. Newly invented and cut in copper for the pleasure and profit of the industrious.,' Printed for James Boler, &c, 1640. Beneath this title is a neat engraving of three ladies in a flower garden, under the names of Wisdom, Industrie, and Follie. Prefixed to the patterns are sundry poems in commendation of the needle, and describing the characters of ladies who have been eminent for their skill in needlework, among whom are Queen Elizabeth and the Countess of Pembroke. The poems were composed by John Taylor the water poet. It appears that the work had gone through twelve impressions, and yet a copy is now scarcely to be met with. This may be accounted for by supposing that such books were generally cut to pieces, and used by women to work upon or transfer to their samplers. From the dress of a lady and gentleman on one of the patterns in the last mentioned book, it appears to have been originally published in the reign of James the First. All the others are embellished with a multitude of patterns elegantly cut in wood, several of which are eminently conspicuous for their taste and beauty.

We are happy to add a little further information on some of these works, and on others preserved in the British Museum.

"Les singuliers et nouveaux Pourtraicts du Seigneur Federic de Vinciolo Venitien, pour toutes

« PreviousContinue »