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Title: Shakespeare Jest-Books - Reprints of the Early and Very Rare Jest-Books Supposed to Have Been Used by Shakespeare
Author: Hazlitt, William Carew, 1834-1913 [Editor]
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Shakespeare Jest-Books - Reprints of the Early and Very Rare Jest-Books Supposed to Have Been Used by Shakespeare" ***

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  Old English Jest-Book.

  VOL. I.

  Shakespeare Jest-Books;


  A Hundred Mery Talys,


  Mery Tales and Quicke Answeres,

  _Edited, with Introduction and Notes._




          ----_That I was disdainful,--and that
  I had my good wit out of the Hundred Merry Tales._

  BEATRICE, in Much Ado about Nothing.



¶ A C. mery


The Table.


  ¶ _Of him that said there were but two commandementes._
  i.                                                                  11

  ¶ _Of the wyfe who lay with her prentys and
  caused him to beate her husbande disguised
  in her rayment._ ii                                                 12

  ¶ _Of John Adroyns in the dyuyls apparell._ iii.                    14

  ¶ _Of the Ryche man and his two sonnes._ iv.                        18

  ¶ _Of the Cockolde who gained a Ring by his
  iudgment._ v.                                                       19

  ¶ _Of the scoler that gave his shoes to cloute._ vi.                20

  ¶ _Of him that said that a womans tongue was
  lightest of digestion._ vii.                                      _ib._

  ¶ _Of the Woman that followed her fourth husbands
  bere and wept._ viii.                                               21

  ¶ _Of the Woman that sayd her woer came to
  late. ix._                                                          22

  ¶ _Of the Mylner with the golden thombe._ x.                        23

  ¶ _Of the horseman of Irelande that prayde
  Oconer for to hange up the frere._ xi.                            _ib._

  ¶ _Of the preest that sayd nother Corpus meus
  nor Corpum meum._ xii.                                              26

  ¶ _Of the two freres whereof the one loued nat the
  ele heed nor the other the tayle._ xiii.                            27

  ¶ _Of the welche man that shroue hym for brekynge
  of hys faste on the fryday._ xiv.                                   28

  ¶ _Of the merchaunte of London that dyd put
  nobles in his mouthe in hys dethe bedde._ xv.                       30

  ¶ _Of the mylner that stale the nuttes of the
  tayler that stale a shepe._ xvi.                                    31

  ¶ _Of the foure elementes where they should sone
  be founde._ xvii.                                                   36

  ¶ _Of the woman that poured the potage in the
  iudges male._ xviii.                                                37

  ¶ _Of the wedded men that came to heuen to
  clayme theyr herytage._ xix.                                        39

  ¶ _Of the merchaunte that charged his sonne to
  fynde one to synge for hys soule._ xx.                              40

  ¶ _Of the mayde wasshynge clothes that answered
  the frere._ xxi.                                                    42

  ¶ _Of the thre wyse men of Gotam._ xxii.                           _ib._

  ¶ _Of the graye frere that answered his penytente._
  xxiii.                                                              43

  ¶ _Of the gentylman that bare the sege borde on
  hys necke._ xxiv.                                                   44

  ¶ _Of the merchantes wyfe that sayd she wolde
  take a nap at a sermon._ xxv.                                       47

  ¶ _Of the woman that said and she lyued another
  yere she wolde haue a cockoldes hatte of her
  owne._ xxvi.                                                        48

  ¶ _Of the gentylman that wysshed his tothe in
  the gentylwomans tayle._ xxvii.                                   _ib._

  ¶ _Of the Welcheman that confessyd hym howe he
  had slayne a frere._ xxviii.                                        49

  ¶ _Of the Welcheman that coude nat gette but a
  lytell male._ xxix.                                                 50

  ¶ _Of the gentyll woman that sayde to a gentyll
  man ye haue a berde aboue and none benethe._
  xxx.                                                                51

  ¶ _Of the frere that sayde our Lorde fed fyue M.
  people with iii fysshys._ xxxi.                                     52

  ¶ _Of the frankelyn that wold haue had the frere
  gone._ xxxii.                                                       53

  ¶ _Of the prest that sayd Our Lady was not so
  curyous a woman._ xxxiii.                                           54

  ¶ _Of the good man that sayde to his wyfe he had
  euyll fare._ xxxiv.                                                 55

  ¶ _Of the frere that bad his childe make a laten._
  xxxv.                                                             _ib._

  ¶ _Of the gentylman that asked the frere for his
  beuer._ xxxvi.                                                      56

  ¶ _Of the thre men that chose the woman._ xxxvii.                 _ib._

  ¶ _Of the gentylman that taught his cooke the
  medycyne for the tothake._ xxxviii.                                 58

  ¶ _Of the gentylman that promysed the scoler of
  Oxford a sarcenet typet._ xxxix.                                    60

  ¶ _Of mayster Skelton that broughte the bysshop
  of Norwiche ii fesauntys._ xl.                                      62

  ¶ _Of the yeman of garde that sayd he wolde bete
  the carter._ xli.                                                   65

  ¶ _Of the fole that saide he had leuer go to hell
  than to heuen._ xlii.                                               66

  ¶ _Of the plowmannys sonne that sayde he sawe
  one to make a gose to creke swetely._ xliii.                        67

  ¶ _Of the maydes answere that was wyth chylde._
  xliv.                                                             _ib._

  ¶ _Of the seruaunt that rymyd with hys mayster._
  xlv.                                                                68

  ¶ _Of the Welcheman that delyuered the letter to
  the ape._ xlvi.                                                     69

  ¶ _Of hym that solde ryght nought._ xlvii.                          71

  ¶ _Of the frere that tolde the thre chyldres fortunes._
  xlviii.                                                             72

  ¶ _Of the boy that bare the frere his masters
  money._ xlix.                                                       74

  ¶ _Of Phylyp Spencer the bochers man._ l.                           75

  ¶ _Of the courtear and the carter._ li.                             76

  ¶ _Of the yong man that prayd his felow to teche
  hym hys paternoster._ lii.                                          77

  ¶ _Of the frere that prechyd in ryme expownynge
  the ave maria._ liii.                                               78

  ¶  _Of the curat that prechyd the Artycles of the
  Crede._ liv.                                                        80

  ¶ _Of the frere that prechyd the x commaundementis._
  lv.                                                                 82

  ¶ _Of the wyfe that bad her husbande ete the
  candell fyrste._ lvi.                                               84

  ¶ _Of the man of lawes sonnes answer._ lvii.                      _ib._

  ¶ _Of the frere in the pulpet that bad the woman
  leve her babelynge._ lviii.                                         85

  ¶ _Of the Welcheman that cast the Scotte into the
  see._ lix.                                                          86

  ¶ _Of the man that had the dome wyfe._ lx.                          87

  ¶ _Of the Proctour of Arches that had the lytel
  wyfe._ lxi.                                                         89

  ¶ _Of ii nonnes that were shryuen of one preste._
  lxii.                                                             _ib._

  ¶ _Of the esquyer that sholde haue ben made
  knight._ lxiii.                                                     91

  ¶ _Of hym that wolde gette the maystrye of his
  wyfe._ lxiv. .                                                      92

  ¶ _Of the penytent that sayd the shepe of God
  haue mercy vpon me._ lxv.                                           93

  ¶ _Of the husbande that sayd he was John daw._
  lxvi.                                                               94

  ¶ _Of the scoler of Oxforde that proued by souestry
  ii chykens iii._ lxvii.                                             95

  ¶ _Of the frere that stale the podynge._ lxviii.                    97

  ¶ _Of the frankelyns sonne that cam to take
  orders._ lxix.                                                      98

  ¶ _Of the husbandman that lodgyd the frere in
  his own bede._ lxx.                                                 99

  ¶ _Of the preste that wolde say two gospels for a
  grote._ lxxi.                                                      100

  ¶ _Of the coutear that dyd cast the frere ouer the
  bote._ lxxii.                                                      101

  ¶ _Of the frere that prechyd what mennys sowles
  were._ lxxiii.                                                    _ib._

  ¶ _Of the husbande that cryed ble vnder the bed. _lxxiv.           102

  ¶ _Of the shomaker that asked the colyer what
  tydynges in hell._ lxxv.                                           103

  ¶ _Of Seynt Peter that cryed cause bobe._ lxxvi.                   104

  ¶ _Of hym that aduenturyd body and soule for
  hys prynce._ lxxvii.                                               105

  ¶ _Of the parson that stale the mylners elys._ lxxviii.            106

  ¶ _Of the Welchman that saw one xl's better
  than God._ lxxix.                                                 _ib._

  ¶ _Of the frere that said dyryge for the hoggys
  soule._ lxxx.                                                     _ib._

  ¶ _Of the parson that sayde masse of requiem for
  Crystes soule._ lxxxi.                                             108

  ¶ _Of the herdeman that sayde: ryde apace, ye
  shall haue rayn._ lxxxii.                                          109

  ¶ _Of hym that sayde: I shall haue neuer a peny._
  lxxxiii.                                                           110

  ¶ _Of the husbande that sayde his wyfe and he
  agreed well._ lxxxiv.                                              111

  ¶ _Of the prest that sayde Comede episcope._ lxxxv.               _ib._

  ¶ _Of the woman that stale the pot._ lxxxvi. .                     112

  ¶ _Of mayster Whyttyntons dreme._ lxxxvii. .                       113

  ¶ _Of the prest that killed his horse called
  modicus._ lxxxviii.                                                114

  ¶ _Of the Welcheman that stale the Englysshmans
  cocke._ lxxxix.                                                    115

  ¶ _Of hym that brought a botell to a preste._ xc.                 _ib._

  ¶ _Of the endytement of Jesu of Nazareth._ xci.                    116

  ¶ _Of the frere that preched agaynst them that
  rode on the Sonday._ xcii.                                         117

  ¶ _Of the one broder that founde a purs._ xciii.                   118

  ¶ _Of the answere of the mastres to the mayde._
  xciv.                                                              119

  ¶ _Of the northern man that was all harte._ xcv.                  _ib._

  ¶ _Of the burnynge of olde John._ xcvi.                           _ib._

  ¶ _Of the courtear that ete the hot custarde._ xcvii.              121

  ¶ _Of the thre pointes belonging to a shrewd
  wyfe._ xcix.                                                       122

  ¶ _Of the man that paynted the lamb upon his
  wyfes bely._ c.                                                    123


When a small impression of these quaint old books issued from the
Chiswick Press, many years ago, under the auspices of the late Mr. S. W.
Singer, that gentleman merely designed the copies struck off for
presentation to a select circle of literary friends who, like himself,
felt a warm interest in every relic of the past which helped to
illustrate Shakespeare and ancient English manners. He did not
consequently feel under the necessity of furnishing notes, and he
preserved not only the old orthography, but the old punctuation, and the
most palpable errors of the press. His edition unfortunately laboured
under one disadvantage: when he printed, in 1814, the _Mery Tales and
Quick Answers_ from Berthelet's edition, he imagined that this was the
book to which Beatrice is made to allude in _Much Ado About Nothing_,
and under this idea he christened the volume _Shakespeare's Jest Book_.
He also thought he was safe in assuming that the edition by Berthelet
was the only one extant. But Mr. Singer discovered, before his
undertaking was a year old, that he had come to an erroneous conclusion
on both these points: for an impression of the _Mery Tales, &c._ printed
by Henry Wykes in 1567, and containing, with all the old matter,
twenty-six additional stories, was brought under his notice, and about
the same time a totally unknown work, bearing the very title mentioned
by Beatrice, was accidentally rescued from oblivion by the Rev. J. J.
Conybeare, who, it is said by Dunlop, picked up the treasure at a
bookstall. This was no other than A C. MERY TALYS.

The copy of _C. Mery Talys_ thus casually brought to light, had been
used by a binder of or about the time of its appearance as pasteboard to
another book, and it was in this state when it fell in the way of Mr.
Conybeare. As might have been expected, many of the leaves were damaged
and mutilated; but (which rendered the matter still more curious) it
happily chanced that _more than one copy_ had been employed by the
aforesaid binder in fashioning the aforesaid pasteboard, and the
consequence was that a much larger fragment than would have been
otherwise saved was formed by means of duplicate leaves. Still several
gaps in the text remained, which it was found impossible to fill up, and
as no other copy has since occurred, no better means exist now than
existed fifty years ago of supplying the deficiencies. Where the hiatus
consisted of a word or two only, and the missing portion could be
furnished by conjecture, Mr. Singer took the liberty of adding what
seemed to be wanting, in italics; his interpolations have been left as
they stood. The old orthography and language, besides the charm of
quaintness, appeared to the editor to possess a certain philological
value, and he has rigidly adhered to it. In respect to the punctuation,
the case was different; there were no reasons of any kind for its
retention; it was very imperfect and capricious; and it has therefore
been modernized throughout.

The _C. Mery Talys_, of which the copy above described has a fair
pretention to the distinction of uniqueness, were first printed by John
Rastell, without date but circa 1525, in folio, 24 leaves. Whether
Rastell printed more than one edition is an open question. The book was
not reprinted, so far as we know at present, till 1558, when John Walley
or Waley paid two shillings to the Stationers' Company for his licence
to produce this and other pieces. Walley reprinted a great number of
books which had originally come from the press of Wynkyn de Worde and
other early masters of the art, but it is not very likely that the _C.
Mery Talys_ made their appearance prior to 1525, and there is room to
doubt whether even then the severe reflections on the scandalous lives
of the Roman Catholic priesthood were not slightly premature. The almost
total destruction of copies may be, after all, due, not to the excessive
popularity of the publication, but to its early suppression by authority
or otherwise. After the triumph of the Reformation, and until the death
of Edward VI. however, although these tales still remained as
unpalatable as ever to a certain party, there was nothing to hinder
their circulation, and that there were intermediate impressions between
that from Rastell's press, and the one licensed to Walley,[1] if not
printed by him, is not at all improbable. The _C. Mery Talys_ were
subsequently and successively the property of Sampson Awdley and John
Charlwood, to the latter of whom they were licensed on the 15th January,
1582. All trace of editions by Walley, Awdley, or Charlwood, has
disappeared, although doubtless all three printed the work.

Of the MERY TALES AND QUICKE ANSWERES, which forms the second portion of
the present volume, only two impressions are known. One of these,
supposed to be the original, was printed by Thomas Berthelet, without
date (about 1535), in 4to.; it contains 114 anecdotes. The other, from
the press of Henry Wykes, bears the date 1567, and is in the duodecimo
form; it produces with tolerable exactness the text of Berthelet, and
has twenty-six new stories. Besides these, at least one other impression
formerly existed: for, in 1576-7, Henry Bynneman paid to the Stationers'
Company fourpence "and a copie" for "a booke entituled mery tales,
wittye questions, and quycke answers."[2] No copy of Bynneman's edition
has hitherto been discovered; a copy of that of 1567 was in the Harleian
library. At the sale of the White-Knights collection in 1819, Mr. George
Daniel of Canonbury gave nineteen guineas for the exemplar of
Berthelet's undated 4to, which had previously been in the Roxburghe
library, and which at the dispersion of the latter in 1812, had fetched
the moderate sum of 5_l._ 15_s._ 6_d._

The reader who is conversant with this class of literature will easily
recognise in the following pages many stories familiar to him either in
the same, or in very slightly different, shapes; a few, which form part
of the _Mery Tales and Quick Answers_, were included in a collection
published many years since under the title of _Tales of the Minstrels_.
No. 42 of the _Mery Tales and Quick Answers_ was perhaps at one time
rather popular as a theme for a joke. There is an Elizabethan ballad
commencing, "ty the mare, tom-boy, ty the mare," by William Keth, which
the editor thought, before he had had an opportunity of examining it,
might be on the same subject; but he finds that it has nothing whatever
to do with the matter.[3] It may also be noticed that the story related
of the king who, to revenge himself on God, forbade His name to be
mentioned, or His worship to be celebrated throughout his dominions, is
said by Montaigne, in one of his essays, to have been current in his
part of France, when he was a boy. The king was Alfonso xi of Castile.
No. 68 of _A C. Mery Talys_, "Of the Friar that stole the Pudding," is
merely an abridgment of the same story, which occurs in _Tarltons Newes
out of Purgatorie_, where it is told of the "Vickar of Bergamo." Many
of the jests in these two pamphlets are also to be found in _Scoggins
Jests_, licensed in 1565; a few occur in the _Philosopher's Banquet_,
1614; and one--that where the lady ties a string to her toe as a signal
to her lover--is repeated at greater length in the "Cobler of
Canterbury," edit. 1608, where it is called "the old wives' tale." It
would be a curious point to ascertain whether the anecdotes common to
these collections and to "_Scoggin's Jests_," do not refer to the same
person; and whether Scoggin is not in fact the hero of many of the
pranks attributed to the "Scholar of Oxford," the "Youngman," the
"Gentleman," &c. in the following pages, which were in existence many
years before the first publication of _Scoggins Jests_. It will hardly
be contested at the present day, that "books of the people,"[4] like
these now reprinted, with all their occasional coarseness and frequent
dulness, are of extreme and peculiar value, as illustrations of early
manners and habits of thought.

The editor has ventured to make certain emendations of the text, where
they were absolutely necessary to make it intelligible; but these are
always carefully noted at the foot of the page where they occur. A word
or two, here and there, has been introduced between brackets to complete
the sense; and a few notes have been given, since it was thought
desirable to point out where a tale was common to several collections in
various shapes or in the same shape, to indicate the source from which
it was derived, and to elucidate obscure phrases or passages. But he has
refrained from overloading the book with comment, from a feeling that,
in the majority of cases, the class of readers, to which a publication
such as this addresses itself, are fully as competent to clear up any
apparent difficulties which may fall in their way, as himself.

The allusions to the _C. Mery Talys_ and to its companion in old writers
are sufficiently numerous.[5]

Bathe, in his _Introduction to the Art of Musick_, 1584, says: "But for
the worthiness I thought it not to be doubted, seeing here are set forth
a booke of a hundred mery tales, another of the bataile between the
spider and the flie, &c." A few years later, Sir John Harington, in his
_Apologie_(for the _Metamorphosis of Ajax_) 1596, writes: "Ralph Horsey,
Knight, the best housekeeper in Dorsetshire, a good freeholder, a
deputie Lieutenant. Oh, sir, you keep hauks and houndes, and hunting
horses: it may be som madde fellowe will say, you must stand up to the
chinne, for spending five hundred poundes, to catch hares, and
Partridges, that might be taken for five poundes." Then comes this note
in the margin: "according to the tale in the hundred Mery Tales." It is
No. 57. In the Epilogue to the play of _Wily Beguild_, printed in 1606,
but written during the reign of Elizabeth, there is a passage in which
the _C. Mery Talys_ are coupled with _Scoggins Jests_, and in his
_Wonderful yeare_, 1603, Decker says: "I could fill a large volume, and
call it the second part of the _Hundred Merry Tales_, only with such
ridiculous stuff as this of the justice." From this extract, first
quoted by Mr. Collier in his valuable History of the Drama, and from the
manner in which Shakespeare, through the mouth of Beatrice, speaks of
the _Mery Talys_, it is to be gathered that neither writer held this
book of jests in very high estimation; and, as no vestiges are traceable
of an edition of the work subsequent to 1582, it is possible that about
that time the title had grown too stale to please the less educated
reader, and the work had fallen into disrepute in higher quarters. The
stories themselves, in some shape or other, however, have been
reproduced in every jest-book from the reign of Elizabeth to the
Restoration, while many of them multiply themselves even to the present
day in the form of chap books.

_A C. Mery Talys_ was one of the popular tracts described by the
pedantic Laneham, in his _Letter from Kenilworth_, 1575, as being in the
Library of Captain Cox, of Coventry.[6]


[1] Walley obtained his licence or the _C. Mery Talys_ in 1557-8, during
the reign of Mary, perhaps in anticipation of a change in the
government, and in order to forestall other stationers. If Walley
printed the Tales, it is most likely that he waited, till Elizabeth came
to the throne.

[2] Collier's Extracts from the Reg. Stat. Co. ii. 25.

[3] An abridgment of this ballad was published in Ritson's _Ancient
Songs and Ballads_, 1829, ii. 31. But see the _Townley Catalogue_, No.

[4] The elder Disraeli has a chapter on this subject in his _Amenities
of Literature_.

[5] For some of these notices I am indebted to Mr. Singer; others I have
added myself from the various sources.

[6] In Act v. Sc. iii of Fletcher's _Nice Valour_ (Dyce's B. & F. x.
361) there is mention of the _Hundred Novels_, alluding, not to the _C.
Mery Talys_, but to the _Decameron_ of Boccaccio, of which an English
translation appeared in 1620-5.

A C.


¶ _Of hym that said there were but two commandementes._ i.

¶ A certayne Curate in the contrey there was that _preched_ in the
pulpet of the ten comaundementys, sayeng _that_ there were ten
commaundementes that euery man _should_ kepe, and he that brake any of
them commytted syn, howbeit he sayd, that somtyme it was _dedely and_
somtyme venyal. But when it was dedely syn and whan venyall there were
many doutes therin. ¶ And a mylner, a yong man, a mad felow that cam
seldom to chyrch and had ben at very few sermons or none in all his
lyfe, answered hym than shortely this wyse: I meruayl, master person,
that ye say there be so many commaundementes and so many doutes: for I
neuer hard tell but of two commaundementes, that is to saye, commaunde
me to you and commaunde me fro you. Nor I neuer harde tell of more
doutes but twayn, that ys to say, dout the candell and dout the fyre.[7]
At which answere all the people fell a laughynge.

By this tale a man may well perceyue that they, that be brought vp
withoute lernynge or good maner, shall neuer be but rude and bestely,
all thoughe they haue good naturall wyttes.

¶ _Of the wyfe who lay with her prentys and caused him to beate her
husbande disguised in her rayment._ ii.

¶ A wyfe there was, which had apoynted her prentys to com to her bed in
the nyght, which seruaunt had long woed her to haue his plesure; which
acordyng to the apoyntement cam to her bed syde in the night, her
husbande lyenge by her. And whan she perceyuyd him there, she caught hym
by the hande and helde hym fast, and incontynent wakened her husbande,
and sayde: 'syr, it is so ye haue a fals and an vntrue seruant, which is
Wylliam your prentys, and hath longe woyd me to haue his pleasure; and
because I coulde not auoyde his importunate request, I haue apoynted
hym this nyght to mete me in the gardeyne in the herber; and yf ye wyll
aray your selfe in myn aray and go theder, ye shall see the profe
therof; and than ye may rebuke hym as ye thynk best by your dyscrecyon.
This husbande, thus aduertysed by hys wyfe, put upon him his wyue's
rayment and went to the herber; and whan he was gone thyder the prentys
cam in to bed to his mastres; where for a season they were bothe content
and plesyd ech other by the space of an hour or ii; but whan she
thoughte tyme conuenient, she said to the prentyse: now go thy way into
the herber, and mete hym and tak a good waster[8] in thy hand, and say
thou dyd it but to proue whether I wold be a good woman or no; and
reward him as thou thinkyst best. This prentys doyng after his mastres
councell went in to the herber, where he found his master in his
mastres' apparell and sayd: A! thou harlot, art thou comen hether? now I
se well, if I wod be fals to my master, thou woldest be a strong hore;
but I had leuer thou were hangid than I wold do him so trayterous a ded:
therefor I shall gyve the som punyshment as thou lyke an hore hast
deseruyd and therewith lapt him well about the sholders and back, and
gaue him a dosen or ii good stripes. The master, felyng him selfe
somwhat to smarte, sayde: peace, Willyam, myn own trew good seruant; for
Goddis sake, _holde thy_ handes: for I am thy mayster and not thy
maystres. Nay, hore, quod _he, thou knowest_ thou art but an harlot, and
I dyd but to proue the; and smote him agayn. _Hold! Hold!_ quod the
mayster, I beseech the, no more: for I am not she: for I am thy
_mayster_, for I haue a berde; and therwith he sparyd hys hand and felt
his berd. Good mayster, quod the prentyse, I crye you mercy; and then
the mayster went unto hys wyfe; and she askyd hym how he had sped. And
he answeryd; I wys, wyfe, I haue been shrewdly betyn; howbeit I haue
cause to be glad: for I thank God I haue as trew a wyfe and as trew a
seruant as any man hath in Englonde.[9]

By thys tale ye may se that yt ys not wysdome for a man to be rulyd
alway after his wyuys councell.


[7] _i.e._ do out. It is, perhaps, scarcely necessary to mention that in
French, the term _commander_ has a double signification, _to command_
and _to commend_. In our language, the two words are of course distinct;
hence the jest.

[8] Cudgel.

¶ _Of John Adroyns in the dyuyls apparell._ iii.

¶ It fortunyd that in a market towne in the counte of Suffolke there was
a stage play, in the which play one, callyd John Adroyns which dwellyd
in a nother vyllage ii myle from thens, playde the dyuyll. And when the
play was done, thys John Adroyns in the euynyng departyd fro the sayde
market towne to go home to hys own house. Because he had there no change
of clothying, he went forth in hys dyuylls apparell, whych in the way
comyng homeward cam thorow a waren of conys[10] belongyng to a gentylman
of the vyllage, wher he him self dwelt. At which tyme it fortunyd a
preste, a vycar of a churche therby, with ii or iii other vnthrifty
felows, had brought with them a hors, a hey[11] and a feret to th'entent
there to get conys; and when the feret was in the yerth, and the hey set
ouer the pathway where thys John Adroyns shuld come, thys prest and hys
other felows saw hym come in the dyuyls rayment. Consideryng that they
were in the dyuyls seruyce and stelyng of conys and supposyng it had ben
the deuyll in dede, [they] for fere, ran away. Thys John Adroyns in the
dyuyls rayment, an' because[12] it was somewhat dark, saw not the hay,
but went forth in hast and stomblid therat and fell doun, that with the
fal he had almost broken his nek. But whan he was a lytyll reuyuyd, he
lookyd up and spyed it was a hay to catch conys, and [he] lokyd further
and saw that they ran away for fere of him, and saw a horse tyed to a
bush laden wyth conys whych they had taken; and he toke the horse and
the haye and lept upon the horse and rode to the gentylmannys place that
was lorde of the waren to the entente to haue thank for takynge suche a
pray. And whan he came, [he] knokyd at the gatys, to whome anone one of
the gentylmanny's seruauntys askyd who was there and sodeinly openyd the
gate; and assone as he percyuyd hym in the deuyls rayment, [he] was
sodenly abashyd and sparryd the dore agayn, and went in to his mayster
and sayd and sware to his mayster, that the dyuell was at the gate and
wolde come in. The gentylman, heryng him say so, callyd another of his
seruauntys and bad him go to the gate to knowe who was there. Thys
seconde seruant [that] came to the gate durst not open it but askyd wyth
lowd voyce who was there. Thys John Adroyns in the dyuyls aparell
answeryd wyth a hye voyce and sayd: tell thy mayster I must nedys speke
with hym or[13] I go. Thys seconde seruaunt heryng * *

  _8 lines of the original are wanting._

the deuyll indede that is at the gate syttynge vpon an _horse laden
with_ soules; and be lykelyhode he is come for your soule. Purpos _ye_
to _let him have your_ soule and if he had your soule I wene he shulde
be _gon_. _The gentyl_man, than, meruaylously abasshed, called his
chaplayne _and sayd: let a can_dell be light, and gette holy water; and
[he] wente to the gate _with as manye ser_uantes as durste go with him;
where the chaplayne with _muche con_iuracyon sayd: in the name of the
father, sonne and holy _ghost, I commande_ and charge the in the holy
name of God to tell me _wherefore thou_ comeste hyther. ¶ This John
Adroynes in the deuylls _apparell_, seying them begynne to coniure after
such maner, sayd: nay, _feare not_ me; for I am a good deuyll; I am John
Adroynes your neyghboure in this towne and he that playde the deuyll to
day in the playe. I _bryng_ my mayster a dosen or two of his owne conyes
that were stolen in _dede_ and theyr horse and theyr haye, and [I] made
them for feare to ronne _awaye_. Whanne they harde hym thus speke by his
voyce, [they] knewe him well, and opened the gate and lette hym come in.
And so all the foresayd feare was turned to myrthe and disporte.

By this tale ye may se that men feare many tymes more than they nede,
whiche hathe caused men to beleue that sperytes and deuyls haue ben sene
in dyuers places, whan it hathe ben nothynge so.


[9] This story is merely the latter portion of the seventh novel of the
Seventh Day of the Decameron; but Boccaccio tells it somewhat
differently. It may also he found in the _Pecorone_ of Ser. Giovanni
Fiorentino, and in _A Sackful of Newes_. 1673 (a reprint of a much older
edition). In the latter there are one or two trifling particulars not
found here.

[10] A rabbit-warren.

[11] Net, Fr. _haie_.

[12] In orig. _and because_.

[13] _i.e._ ere, before.

¶ _Of the ryche man and his two sonnes._ iv.

¶ There was a ryche man whiche lay sore sycke in his bedde to _deth_.
_There_fore his eldest sonne came to hym, and besechyd him to gyue _him
hys_ blessyng, to whome the father sayde: sonne, thou shalt haue Goddes
blessyng and myne; and because thou hast ben euer good of condicyons, I
_giue and_ bequethe the all my lande. To whome he answered and sayd: nay
father, I truste you shall lyue and occupy them your selfe full well by
Goddes grace. Sone after came another sonne to him lyke wyse and desyred
his blessyng, to whome the father said: my sonne, thou hast been euer
kynde and gentyll; I gyue the Goddes blessyng and myne; and I bequethe
the all my mouable goodes. To whome he answered and said: nay father, I
trust you shall lyue and do well and spende and vse your goodes
_yourself_ * * * *

  _8 Lines wanting._

--_By this tale_ men may well perceyue that yonge people that * * * * *
* * theyr frendes counsell in youthe in tymes * * * * * full ende.

¶ _Of the cockolde who gained a ring by his iudgment._ v.

¶ _Two gentylmen_ of acquoyntaunce were apoynted to lye with a
gentylwoman both in one nyght, the one nat knowynge of the other, at
_dyuers houres_. ¶ Thys fyrste at hys houre apoynted came, and in the
_bedde chanced_ to lese a rynge. The seconde gentylman, whanne he _came
to bedde_, fortuned to fynde the same rynge, and whan he hadde _stayde
som tyme_ departed. And two or thre dayes after, the fyrste gentylmanne
_saw hys_ rynge on the others fynger, and chalenged it of hym and he
_refused it_, and badde hym tell where he had loste it: and he sayd: in
suche a _gentylwo_mans bedde. Than quod the other: and there founde I
it. And the _one gentylman_ wolde haue it and the other said he shulde
nat. Than they agreed _to be decyded_ by the nexte man that they dyd
mete. And it fortuned them to _mete_ the husbande of the said gentyll
woman and desyred hym of his _iudg_ment, shewynge hym all the hole
mater. Than quod he: by my iud_gmente, he t_hat ought[14] the shetes
shulde haue the rynge. Than quod they: and _for your_ good iudgement you
shall haue the rynge.

¶ _Of the scoler that gave his shoes to cloute._ vi.

¶ In the Uniuersyte of Oxeforde there was a scoler that delyted moche to
speke eloquente englyssshe and curious termes, and came to the cobler
with his shoes whyche were pyked before (as they used that tyme), to
have them clouted, and sayde this wyse: Cobler, I praye the sette _two
try_angyls and two semycercles vpon my subpedytales, and I shall
_paye_ the for thy laboure. The cobeler, because he vnderstoode hym nat
halfe, answered shortely and sayde: syr, your eloquence passeth myne
intelly_gence_. But I promyse you, yf he meddyll with me the clowtynge
of youre _shoon_ shall cost you thre pens.

By this tale men may lerne, that it is foly to study to speke eloquently
before them, that be rude and vnlerned.

¶ _Of hym that said that a womans tongue was lightest of digestion._

¶ A certayn artificer in London there was, whyche was sore _seke and_
coulde not well dysgest his meat. To whom a physicyon ca_m to give_ hym
councell, and sayd that he must vse to ete metis that be light _of
dig_estyon and small byrdys, as sparowes, swalowes, and specyally that
byrd _which is_ called a wagtayle, whose flessh is meruelouse lyght of
dygestyon, _bycause that_ byrd is euer mouying and styryng. The sekeman,
herynge the phesicion _say so_, answered hym and seyd: sir, yf that be
the cause that those byrdes be lyght of dygestyon, than I know a mete
moch lyghter of dygestyon than other[15] sparow swallow or wagtaile, and
that is my wyues tong, for it is neuer in rest but euer meuying[16] and

By this tale ye may lerne a good generall rule of physyke.


[14] Owned. In _Northward Hoe_, 1607, by Decker and Webster, act i.
scene i., the writers have made use of this story. See Websters' Works,
edit. Hazlitt, i. 178-9.

¶ _Of the woman that followed her fourth husbands bere and wept._ viii.

¶ A woman there was which had had iiii husbandys. It fourtuned also that
this fourth husbande dyed and was brought to chyrche vpon the bere; whom
this woman folowed and made great mone, and waxed very sory, in so moche
that her neyghbours thought she wolde swown and dye for sorow. Wherfore
one of her gosseps cam to her, and spake to her in her ere, and bad her,
for Godds sake, comfort her self and refrayne that lamentacion, or ellys
it wold hurt her and perauenture put her in ieopardy of her life. To
whom this woman answeryd and sayd: I wys, good gosyp, I haue grete
cause to morne, if ye knew all. For I haue beryed iii husbandes besyde
this man; but I was neuer in the case that I am now. For there was not
one of them but when that I folowed the corse to chyrch, yet I was sure
of an nother husband, before the corse cam out of my house, and now I am
sure of no nother husband; and therfore ye may be sure I haue great
cause to be sad and heuy.

By thys tale ye may se that the olde prouerbe ys trew, that it is as
great pyte to se a woman wepe as a gose to go barefote.


[15] either.

[16] moving.

¶ _Of the woman that sayd her woer came too late._ ix.

¶ Another woman there was that knelyd at the mas of requiem, whyle the
corse of her husbande lay on the bere in the chyrche. To whome a yonge
man cam and spake wyth her in her ere, as thoughe it had ben for som
mater concernyng the funerallys; howe be it he spake of no suche matter,
but onely wowyd her that he myght be her husbande to whom she answered
and sayde thus: syr, by my trouthe I am sory that ye come so late, for I
am sped all redy. For I was made sure yesterday to another man.

By thys tale ye maye perceyue that women ofte tymes be wyse and lothe to
lose any tyme.

¶ _Of the mylner with the golden thombe._[17] x.

¶ A marchaunt that thought to deride a mylner seyd vnto the mylner
syttynge amonge company: sir, I haue harde say that euery trew mylner
that tollyth trewlye hathe a gylden thombe. The myllner answeryd and
sayde it was true. Than quod the marchant: I pray the let me se thy
thombe; and when the mylner shewyd hys thombe the marchant sayd: I can
not perceyue that thy thombe is gylt; but it is as all other mens
thombes be. To whome the mylner answered and sayde: syr, treuthe it is
that my thombe is gylt; but ye haue no power to se it: for there is a
properte euer incydent _vnto it_, that he that is a cockolde shall neuer
haue power to se it.[18]

¶ _Of the horseman of Irelande that prayde Oconer for to hange up the
frere._ xi.

¶ One whiche was called Oconer, an Yrysshe lorde, toke an horsman
prisoner that was one of hys great enmys whiche for any request or
entrety that the horsman made gaue iugement that he sholde incontynent
be hanged, and made a frere to shryue hym and bad hym make hem redy to
dye. Thys frere that shroue him examyned hym of dyuers synnes, and asked
him amonge other whiche were the gretteste synnes that euer he dyd. This
horsman answered and sayd: one of the greatest actys that euer I dyd
whiche I now most repent is that, whan I toke Oconer the last weke in a
chyrche, and there I myght haue brennyd[19] hym chyrche and all, and
because I had conscience and pyte of brennyng of the chyrche, I taryed
the tyme so long, that Oconer escaped; and that same deferrynge of
brennynge of the chyrche and so longe taryeng of that tyme is one of the
worst actes that euer I dyd wherof I moste[20] repent. This frere
perceuynge hym in that mynde sayde: peace in the name of God, and change
thy mynde and dye in charite, or els thou shalt neuer come in heuen.
Nay, quod the horsman, I wyll neuer chaunge that mynde what so euer
shall come to my soule. Thys frere perceyuynge hym thus styl contynew
his minde, cam to Oconer and sayde: syr, in the name of God, haue some
pyte vppon this mannys sowle, and let hym not dye now, tyl he be in a
beter mynde. For yf he dye now, he is so ferre out of cheryte, that
vtterly his soule shall be dampned, and [he] shewyd hym what minde he
was in and all the hole mater as is before shewyd. Thys horsman, herynge
the frere thus intrete for hym, sayd to Oconer thus: Oconer, thou seest
well by thys mannys reporte that, yf I dye now, I am out of charyte and
not redy to go to heuen; and so it is that I am now out of charyte in
dede; but thou seest well that this frere is a good man and he is now
well dysposed and in charyte and he is redy to go to heuen, and so am
not I. Therfore I pray the hang vp this frere, whyle that he is redy to
go to heuen and let me tary tyl another tyme, that I may be in charyte
and redy and mete to go to heuen. Thys Oconer, herying thys mad answere
of hym, sparyd the man and forgaue hym hys lyfe at that season.

By thys ye may se, that he that is in danger of hys enmye that hath no
pite, he can do no beter but shew to hym the vttermost of his malycyous
mynde whych that he beryth to ward hym.


[17] See Brand's _Popular Antiquities_, edit. 1849, iii. 387.

[18] The reverse of the Somersetshire saying. The proverb is well known:
"An honest miller hath a golden thumb;" but to this the Somersetshire
folks add, "none but a cuckold can see it."

[19] Burned.

[20] orig. reads _muste_.

¶ _Of the preest that sayd nother corpus meus nor corpus meum._ xii.

¶ The archdekyn of Essex[21] that had ben longe in auctorite, in a tyme
of vysytacyon, whan all the prestys apperyd before hym, called asyde iii
of the yonge prestys which were acusyd that thy could not wel say theyr
dyvyne seruyce, and askyd of them when they sayd mas, whether they sayd
corpus meus or corpum meum. The fyrst prest sayde that he sayd corpus
meus. The second sayd that he sayd corpum meum. And than he asked of the
thyrd how he sayde; whyche answered and sayd thus: syr, because it is so
great a dout and dyuers men be in dyuers opynyons: therfore because I
wolde be sure I wolde not offende, whan I come to the place I leue it
clene out and say nothynge therfore. Wherfore the bysshoppe than openly
rebuked them all thre. But dyuers that were present thought more defaut
in hym, because he hym selfe beforetyme had admytted them to be prestys.

By this tale ye may se that one ought to take hede how he rebukyth an
other lest it torne moste to his owne rebuke.


[21] Richard Rawson was Archdeacon of Essex from 1503 to 1543, and was
perhaps the person here intended. See Le Neve's _Fasti_, ed. Hardy, ii.

¶ _Of two freres whereof the one loued nat the ele heed nor the other
the tayle._ xiii.

¶ Two freres satte at a gentylmans tabyll, whiche had before hym on a
fastyng day an ele and cut the hed of the ele and layd it vpon one of
the frerys trenchars; but the frere, bycause he wold haue had of the
middle parte of the ele, sayd to the gentylman he louyd no ele hedes.
Thys gentylman also cut the tayle of the ele, and layde it on the other
frerys trenchar. He lyke wyse, because he wolde haue had of the myddle
parte of the ele, sayde he loued no ele tayles. This gentylman,
perceuynge that, gaue the tayle to hym that sayd he louyd not the hed,
and gaue the hed to hym that sayd he loued not the tayle. And as fore
the myddell part of the ele, he ete parte hym selfe and parte he gaue to
other folke at the table; wherfore these freres for anger wolde ete
neuer a morsell, and so they for al theyr craft and subtylte were not
only deceyued of the best morsell of the ele, but thereof had no parte
at all.

By this ye se that they that couet the best parte somtyme therfore lese
the meane parte and all.

¶ _Of the welche man that shroue hym for brekynge of hys faste on the
fryday._ xiv.

¶ A Welcheman, dwellynge in a wylde place of Walys, cam to hys curate in
the tyme of Lente and was confessyd; and when hys confessyon was in
maner at the end, the curate askyd hym, and[22] he had any other thyng
to say that greuyd his conscience. Which sore abasshid answered no worde
a great whyle; at last by exhortacyon of his goostly fader he sayde that
there was one thyng in his mynde that greatly greued his conscyence,
which he was asshamed to vtter: for it was so greuous that he trowed God
wold neuer forgyue hym. To whom the curate answerd and sayd, that Goddes
mercy was aboue all, and bad hym not dyspayre in the mercy of God. For
what so euer it was, yf he were repentant, that God wolde forgyue hym. ¶
And so by longe exortacyon at the last he shewyd it and seyde thus. Syr,
it happenyd ones that, as my wyfe was makynge a chese vpon a Fryday, I
wolde fayne haue sayed whether it had ben salt or fresshe, and toke a
lytyll of the whey in my hande, and put it in my mouthe; and or[23] I
was ware, parte of it went downe my throte agaynst my wyll and so I
brake my faste. To whom the curate sayde: and if there be non other
thynge, I warant God shall forgyue the. So whan he had well comforted
hym with the mercy of God, the curate prayed hym to answere a questyon
and to tell hym trueth; and when the welchman had promysed to tell the
truth, the curate sayd that there were robberyes and murders done nye
the place where he dwelte and diuers men found slayn; and asked hym
whether _he knew ought_ poyntynge[24] to any of them. To whom he
answeryd and sayd yes and sayd _he had ben priuye_ to many of them, and
dyd helpe to robe and to slee dyuers of them. _Then the_ curate asked
hym, why he dyd not conffesse hym therof. The Welshman _answeryd_ and
sayde he toke that for no synne: for it was a custome amongest _them
that_, when any boty cam of any ryche merchant rydyng, that it was but a
_trewe_ neyboure dede one to help another when one callyd another; and
so they _held it_ but for good felowshyp and neyghbourhood.

_Here_ maye ye se that some haue remorse of conscyence of small venyall
_sinnis and_ fere not to do gret offencys without shame of the
worled[25] or drede of _God_; and, as the comon prouerbe is, they
stumble at a strawe and lepe ouer a blocke.


[22] if.

[23] before.

[24] appertaining or relevant.

[25] World.

¶ _Of the merchaunte of London that dyd put nobles in his mouthe in hys
dethe bedde._ xv.

¶ A ryche couetous marchant there was that dwellid in London, which euer
gaderyd mony and could neuer fynd in hys hert to spend ought _vpon_ hym
selfe nor vpon no man els. Whiche fell sore syke, and as he laye on hys
deth bed had his purs lyenge at his beddys hede, and [he] had suche a
loue to his money that he put his hande in his purs, and toke out therof
x or xii li. in nobles and put them in his mouth. And because his wyfe
and other perceyued hym very syke and lyke to dye, they exortyd hym to
be confessyd, and brought the curate vnto hym. Which when they had
caused him to say Benedicite, the curate bad hym crye God mercy and
shewe to hym his synnes. Than this seyck man began to sey: I crey God
mercy I haue offendyd in the vii dedly synnes and broken the x
commaundementes; but[26] because of the gold in his mouth he muffled so
in his speche, that the curate could not well vnderstande hym: wherfore
the curat askyd hym, what he had in his mouthe that letted his spech. I
wys, mayster parsone, quod the syke man, muffelynge, I haue nothyng in
my mouthe but a lyttle money; bycause I wot not whither[27] I shal go, I
thought I wold take some spendynge money with me: for I wot not what
nede I shall haue therof; and incontynent after that sayeng dyed, before
he was confessyd or repentant that any man coulde perceyue, and so by
lyklyhod went to the deuyll.

By this tale ye may se, that they that all theyr lyues wyll neuer do
charyte to theyr neghbours, that God in tyme of theyr dethe wyll not
suffre them to haue grace of repentaunce.


[26] Orig. reads _and_: _but_ seems to be required.

¶ _Of the mylner that stale the nuttes of the tayler that stale a
shepe._ xvi.

¶ There was a certayne ryche husbandman in a vyllage, whiche louyd
nuttes meruelously well and sette trees of fylberdes and other nutte
trees in his orcharde, and norysshed them well all his lyfe; and when he
dyed he made his executours to make promyse to bery with him in his
graue a bagge of nuttes, or els they sholde not be his executours;
which executours, for fere of lesynge of theyre romes[28] fulfylled his
mynde and dyd so. It happenyd that, the same nyghte after that he was
beryed, there was a mylner in a whyte cote cam to this mannes garden to
the entent to stele a bagge of nuttes; and in the way he met wyth a
tayler in a black cote, an vnthrift of hys acquayntance, and shewyd hym
hys intent. This tayler lykewyse shewyd hym, that he intendyd the same
tyme to stele a shepe; and so they bothe there agred to go forwarde
euery man seuerally wyth hys purpose; and after that they apoynted to
make god chere eche wyth other and to mete agayn in the chyrch porch,
and he that cam fyrste to tarye for the other. This mylner, when he had
spede of hys nuttys, came furst to the chyrch porch, and there taryed
for hys felow, and the mene whyle satte styll there and knakked nuttes.
It fortuned than the sexten of the church, because yt was about ix of
the cloke, cam to ryng curfue; and whan he lokyd in the porche and sawe
one all in whyte knakkynge nuttes he had wente[29] it had bene the dede
man rysyn owt of hys graue, knakkynge the nuttes that were beryed wyth
hym, and ran home agayne in all hast and tolde to a krepyll that was in
his house what he had sene. Thys crepyll, thus herynge hym, rebuked the
sexten and sayd that yf he were able to go he wolde go thyder and
coniure the spyryte. By my trouthe, quod the sexten, and yf thou darest
do that, I wyll bere the on my neck; and so they both agreed. The sexten
toke the creple on his nek, and cam in to the chyrchyarde again, and the
mylner in the porch seeing[30] one comynge beryng a thynge on his necke
had went[31] it had ben the tayler comynge with the shepe, and rose vp
to mete them. And as he cam towarde them, he askyd and sayd: is he fat,
is he fat? The sexten, heryng hym sey so, for fere cast the crepull down
and sayd: fatte or lene, take hym as he is; and ranne awaye; and the
creple by myracle was made hole, and ran away as fast as he or faster.
Thys mylner perceyuyng that they were two, and that one ran after an
other, thoughte that one had spyed the tayler stelyng the shepe, and
that he had ron after hym to haue taken hym; and fearyng that one had
spyed hym also stelynge the nuttes, he for feare lefte hys nuttes behynd
him; and as secretly as he cowde ran home to hys myll. And anon after
that he was gone, the tayler cam wyth the stolen shepe vppon hys necke
to the chyrche to seke the mylner; and whan he fownde there the nutte
shalys,[32] he supposyd that his felow had ben ther and gone home, as he
was in dede; wherfore he toke vp the shepe agayne on his necke, [and]
went towarde the myll. But yet durynge this while, the sexten which
ranne away went not to hys owne house, but went to the parysh prestys
chamber, and shewyd hym how the spyryt of the man was rysen out of hys
graue knacking nuttes, as ye haue hard before; wherfore the prest sayd
that he wolde go coniure hym, yf the sexten wolde go wyth hym; and so
they bothe agreed. The prest dyd on hys surples and a stole about hys
necke, and toke holy water wyth hym, and cam wyth the sexten toward the
church; and as sone as he entred in the chyrche yard, the talyer wyth
the whyte shepe on hys neck intendyng, as I before haue shewyd yow, to
go downe to the myll, met with them, and had went that the prest in his
surples had ben the mylner in his whyte cote, and seyd to hym: by God! I
haue hym, I haue hym! meanynge thereby[33] the shepe that he had stolen.
The prest, perceyuynge the tayller all in blake and a whyte thynge on
hys nek, had went it had ben the deuyll beryng away the spyryte of the
dede man that was beryed, and ran away as fast as he coude, takyng the
way down towarde the myl, and the sexten ronnyng after hym. Thys tayler,
seying one folowyng hym, had went that one had folowed the mylner to
haue done hym som hurt, and thought he wold folow, if nede were to help
the milner; and went forth, tyl he cam to the mill and knocked at the
myll dore. The mylner beynge wythin asked who was there. The tayler
answeryd and sayd: by God! I haue caught one of them, and made hym sure
and tyed hym fast by the legges. But the mylner, heryng him sey that he
had hym tyed fast by the legges, had went it had ben the constable, that
had taken the tayler for stelyng of the shepe, and had tyed hym by the
legges; and ferid that he had come to haue taken hym also for stelynge
of the nuttes: wherfore the mylner opened a bak dore, and ran away as
fast as he could. The tayler, herynge the backe dore openynge, wente to
the other syde of the myll, and there saw the mylner ronnyng away, and
stode ther a lytyll whyle musyng wyth the shepe on his necke. Then was
the parysshe preest and the sexten standynge there vnder the mylhouse
hydyng them for fere, and seeing[34] the tayler agayn with the shepe on
hys nek, had wende styll it had ben the deuyll wyth the spyryt of the
dede man on[35] hys nek, and for fere ran awaye; but because they knew
not the grounde well, the preste lepte into a dyche almoste ouer the hed
lyke to be drownyde, that he cryed wyth a loude voyce: help, helpe! Than
the tayler lokyd about, and seeing[36] the mylner ronne away and the
sexten a nother way, and hearing[37] the preste creye helpe, had went it
had ben the constable wyth a great company cryeng for helpe to take him
and to bring hym to pryson for stelyng of the shepe: wherfore he threwe
down the shepe and ran away another way as fast as he coud: and so euery
man was afferd of other wythout cause.

By thys ye may se well, it is foly for any man to fere a thyng to moche,
tyll that he se some profe or cause.


[27] Orig. reads _whether_.

[28] Places or appointments. This is one of the best stories of the kind
in the present or any other collection, in our own or other languages.
The construction is excellent.

[29] Weened (guessed).

[30] Orig. reads _saw_.

[31] weened.

[32] shells.

[33] In orig. _by_.

[34] Orig. reads _saw_.

¶ _Of the foure elementes where they shoulde sone be founde._ xvii.

¶ In the old world when all thyng could speke, the iiii elementys[38]
mette to geder for many thynges whych they had to do, because they must
meddell alway one wyth a nother, and had communicacion to gyder of
dyuers maters; and by cause they coulde not conclude all theyr maters at
that season, they appoyntyd to breke communicacion for that tyme and to
mete agayne another tyme. Therfore eche one of them shewed to other
where theyr most abydyng was and where theyr felows shoulde fynde them,
yf nede shuld requyre; and fyrste the erthe sayde: bretherne, ye knowe
well as for me I am permanent alway and not remouable; therfore ye may
be sure to haue me alway whan ye lyste. The wather sayde: yf ye lyst to
seke me, ye shall be sure to haue me under a toft of grene rushes or
elles in a womans eye. The wynde sayde: yf ye lyst to speke wyth me, ye
shall be sure to haue me among aspyn leuys or els in a womans tong. Then
quod the fyre: yf any of you lyst to seke me, ye shall euer be sure to
fynd me in a flynt stone er elles in a womans harte.

By thys tale ye may lerne as well the properte of the iiii elementys as
the properteis[39] of a woman.


[35] Orig. reads _of_.

[36] The orig. _saw_.

[37] Orig. _hard_, i.e. _heard_.

[38] There is perhaps an allusion here to the _Interlude of the Four
Elements_, supposed to have been printed about 1510 by John Rastell.

¶ _Of the woman that poured the potage in the iudges male._ xviii.

¶ There was a iustyce but late in the reame of England callyd master
Vavesour,[40] a uery homely man and rude of condycyons, and louyd neuer
to spend mych money. Thys master Vauysour rode on a tyme in hys
cyrcuyte in the northe contrey, where he had agreed wyth the sheryf for
a certain some of money for hys charges thorowe the shyre, so that at
euery inne and lodgynge this master Vauysour payd for hys owne costys.
It fortunyd so, that when he cam to a certayn lodgyng he comaunded one
Turpyn hys seruant to se that he used good husbondry[41] and to saue
suche thynges as were left and to cary it wyth hym to serue hym at the
nexte baytynge. Thys Turpyn, doyng hys maystres commandement, toke the
broken bred, broken mete and all such thyng that was left, and put it in
hys maysters cloth sak. The wyfe of the hous, perceyuing that he toke
all suche fragmentys and vytayle wyth hym that was left, and put it in
the cloth sake, she brought vp the podage that was left in the pot; and
when Turpyn had torned hys bake a lytyl asyde, she pouryd the podage in
to the cloth sake, whych ran vpon hys robe of skarlet and other of hys
garmentys and rayed[42] them very euyll, that they were mych hurt
therwyth. Thys Turpyn, sodeynly turnyng[43] hym and seeing[44] it,
reuyled the wyfe therfore, and ran to hys mayster and told hym what she
had don: wherfore master Vauesour incontinent callyd the wyf and seyd to
her thus: thou drab, quod he, what hast thow don? why hast thou pourd
the podage in my cloth sake and marrd my rayment and gere? O, syr, quod
the wyfe, I know wel ye ar a iudge of the realme, and I perceyue by you
your mind is to do ryght and to haue that is your owen; and your mynd is
to haue all thyng wyth you that ye haue payd for, both broken mete and
other thynges that is left, and so it is reson that ye haue; and
therfore be cause your seruant hath taken the broken mete and put it in
your cloth sak, I haue therin put the potage that be left, because ye
haue wel and truly payed for them. Yf I shoulde kepe ony thynge from you
that ye haue payed for, paraduenture ye wold troble me in the law a
nother tyme.

Here ye may se, that he that playth the nygarde to mych, som tyme it
torneth him to hys owne losse.


[39] Orig. reads _properte is_.

[40] _Vide infra._

[41] economy.

[42] defiled, from Fr. _rayer_, to shine and give light, as the rays of
the sun, and thence to streak with lines of dirt, and so to soil. The
word is not common. See Nares art _ray_ (edit. 1859), and Cotgrave art
_rayer_ (edit. 1650).

[43] Orig. reads _turnyd_.

[44] Orig. reads _saw_.

¶ _Of the wedded men that came to heuen to clayme theyr herytage._ xix.

¶ A certayn weddyd man there was whyche, whan he was dede, cam to heuen
gates to seynt Peter, and sayd he cam to clayme hys bad heretage whyche
he had deseruyd. Saynt Peter askyd hym what he was, and he sayd a
weddyd man. Anon Saynt Peter openyd the gatys, and bad hym to com in,
and sayde he was worthye to haue hys herytage, bycause he had had much
troble and was worthye to haue a crowne of glory. Anon after there cam a
nother man that claymyd heuen, and sayd to Seynt Peter he had hade ii
wyues, to whom Saynt Peter answered and said: come in, for thou art
worthy to haue a doble crown of glory: for thou hast had doble trouble.
At the last there cam the thyrd, claymynge hys herytage and sayde to
Saynt Peter that he had had iii wyues, and desyryd to come in. What!
quod Saynt Peter, thou hast ben ones in troble and thereof delyueryd,
and than wyllingly woldyst be troblyd again, and yet agayne therof
delyueryd; and for all that coulde not beware the thyrde tyme, but
enterest wyllyngly in troble agayn: therfore go thy waye to Hell: for
thou shalt neuer come in heuen: for thou art not worthy.

Thys tale is a warnyng to them that haue bene twyse in paryll to beware
how they come therin the thyrd tyme.

¶ _Of the merchaunte that charged his sonne to fynde one to synge for
hys soule._ xx.

¶ A ryche marchant of London here was, that had one sonne that was
somewhat vnthryfty. Therfore hys fader vppon hys deth bed called hym to
hym, and sayde he knew well that he had ben vnthryfty; how be it, yf he
knew he wold amend hys condycyons he wolde make hym hys executour and
leue hym hys goods, so that he wolde promyse hym to pray for hys soule
and so fynde one dayly to syng for hym: which thyng to performe hys
sonne there made a faythfull promyse. After that this man made hym hys
executour, and dyed. But after that hys sonne kept such ryot, that in
short tyme he had wasted and spente all, and had nothynge left but a
henne and a cocke that was his fader's. It fortunyd than that one of hys
frendys came to hym, and sayd he was sory that he had wasted so moch,
and askyd hym how he wolde performe hys promyse made to hys fader that
he wolde kepe one to syng for hym. Thys yong man answered and sayde: by
God! yet I wyll performe my promyse: for I wyll kepe this same cocke
alyue styl, and he wyl krow euery day, and so he shall synge euery day
for my faders soule; and so I wyl performe my promyse wel ynough.

By thys ye maye se, that it is wysdome for a man to do good dedys hym
selfe, whyle he is here, and not to trust to the prayer and promyse of
hys executours.

¶ _Of the mayde wasshynge clothes that answered the frere._ xxi.

¶ There was a mayde stode by a reuers syde in her smoke,[45] wasshynge
clothes, and as she stouped ofttymes, her smocke cleued betune her
buttockkes. By whome there cam a frere, seynge[46] her and sayde in
sporte: mayde, mayde, take hede: for Bayarde bytes on the brydell.[47]
Nay, wys [I], master frere, quod the mayden, he doth but wype hys
mouthe, and wenyth ye wyll come and kysse hym.

By thys ye may se that womans answer is neuer to seke.

¶ _Of the thre wyse men of Gotam._ xxii.

¶ A certayn man there was dwellynge in a towne called Gotam that went to
a fayre iii myle for to bye shepe; and as he cam ouer a bryge he met
with one of hys neyghbours and told hym whether[48] he went, and askyd
hym whych way he wold bryng them. Whyche sayd he wolde brynge them ouer
the same bryge. Nay, quod the other man, but thou shalt not, by God!

  _4 lines of the original are wanting._

_Presently there came a milner, who bore a sack of_[49] mele vpon a
horse, a neybour of theyrs, and paciently askyd them what was the cause
of theyr varyaunce; which than she_wyd to hym_ the mater and cause, as
ye haue harde. Thys thyrde man, the mylner, _beganne_ for to rebuke them
by a famylyer example, and toke his sacke of mele _from_ his horse backe
and openyd it, and pouryd all the mele in the sacke ouer the brydge into
the ronnynge ryuer; wherby all the mele was lost, and sayde thus: by my
trouthe, neybours, because ye stryue for dryuynge ouer the brydge those
shepe which be not yet boughte, nor wotte not where they be, me thynketh
therfore there is euen as moche wytte in your hedes as there is mele now
in my _sacke_.

Thys tale shewyth you, that som man takyth _upon him for to teche_ other
men wysdome, when he is but a fole hymselfe.


[45] smock.

[46] _i.e._ who saw her.

[47] An unregistered proverb, perhaps. The meaning is tolerably clear.
See _Tarlton's Newes Out of Purgatarie_ (1590). edit. Halliwell, p. 93.

[48] Whither.

¶ _Of the graye frere that answered his penytente._ xxiii.

¶ A man there was that cam to confesse hym to a _prest and tolde_ hym,
that he had layne with a yonge gentyll woman. The _prest then_ asked
hym in what place; and he sayde it was in * * * all nyght longe in a
soft warme bed. The frere herynge that * * * thys and sayd: Now, by
swete seynt Francys, then, wast thou very[50] * * *


[49] I am myself responsible for these few words in italic, which I have
supplied from conjecture.

¶ _Of the gentylman that bare the sege borde on hys necke._ xxiv.

¶ A CHANDELER beynge a wydower, dwellynge at Holborne, _neere_ London,
had a fayr doughter whom a yonge gentelman of Dauys Ynne[51] woyd[52]
sore to haue hys pleasure of her, whyche by longe sute to her made, at
the last graunted hym, and poynted hym to com upon a nyghte to her
faders hous in the euenynge, and she wold conuey hym into her chamber
secretly, which was an inner chamber within her faders chamber. So
accordynge to the poyntment all thynge was performed, so that he lay
wyth her all nyght, and made good chere tell about foure a clocke in the
mornynge, at whyche tyme it fortunyd this yonge gentylman fell a
coughynge, whych cam vpon hym so sore that he could not refrayn. Thys
wench, than fering her fader that lay in the next chamber, bad hym go
put hys hede in the draught, lest that her fader shold here hym: whych
after her councel rose in his shyrte, and so dyd. But than because of
the sauour of the draught it causyd hym to coughe moche more and louder,
that the wenchys fader herde it, and askyd of hys daughter what man it
was that coughed in her chamber. She aswered and said: no body. But euer
this yong man coughed styll more and more, whom the fader herynge sayd:
by Goddes body! hore, thou lyest; I wyll se who is there;--and rose out
of his bedde. Thys wenche perceyued her fader rysinge, [and] cam to the
gentylman and sayde: take hede syr to your selfe: for my fader comyth.
This gentylman, sodeynly therwyth abasshyd, wolde haue pullyd his hede
oute of the draughte hole, which was [so] very streyghte for hys hede
that he pullyd the sege borde vp therwyth, and, [it] hangyng about his
neck, ran vpon the fader beynge an olde man, and gaue hym a great fall
and bare _him to the ground_.

  _8 lines wanting._

here was two or thre skyttysh horses whych, when they se this gentylman
ronnyng, start[ed] asyde and threwe downe the cart wyth colys, and drew
_backe_ and brake the carte rope, wherby the colys fell out, some in
one place and _some in_ another; and after the horses brake theyr tracys
and ranne, some towarde Smythfelde and som toward Newgate. The
colyar[53] ran after them, and was an houre and more, or[54] euer he
coulde gette his horses to gyder agayne; by which tyme the people of the
strete were rysen and cam to the _place_, and saw yt strawyn with colys.
Euery one for hys parte gaderyd vp _the colys, tyll the_ most parte of
the colys were gone, or the colyar had got his horses _agayne_. _Duryng
thys_ whyle the gentylman went thrugh Seynt Andrews _Chyrch Yarde
towarde_ Dauys Inne, and there met with the sexten commynge to attend to
_ring the bell for_ morow mas: whych, whan he saw the gentylman in the
_Chyrche Yarde in hys_ shyrt wyth the draught borde[55] about his neck,
had wend[56] _it had ben a spryt, and_ cried: alas, alas, a spryt! and
ran back again to his house almost atte b * * for fere was almoste out
of his wytte that he was the worse _a long time after_. This gentilman,
than, because dauys inne gatys were not open, _ranne to the ba_cksyde
and lept ouer the garden wal; but, in lepyng, the draught-bord so
troubled hym, that he fell downe into the gardyn and had almoste broken
his necke: and ther he lay styll, tyll that the pryncypall cam into the
garden; which, wan he saw hym lye there, had wente some man had ben
slayne and there caste ouer the wall, and durst not come nye him, tyll
he had callyd vp hys companye which, when many of the gentylmen[57] wer
com to gether loked well vppon hym, and knewe hym, and after releuyd
hym; but the borde that was about hys necke caused his hed so to swell,
that they coulde not gette it of, tyll they were mynded to cutte it of
with hatchettys. Thus was the wenche well iaped,[58] and for fere she
ranne from her fader; her faders arme was hurte; the colyar lost his
coles; the sexton was almost out of hys wyt; and the gentylman had
almost broke his necke.


[50] Perhaps this story, of which we have here a fragment only, was
similar to the one narrated a little farther on. See Tale 57.

[51] Thavies Inn, near St. Andrew's Church, in Holborn.

[52] wooed.

[53] Orig. reads _that the colyar_.

[54] before.

[55] the seat of the commode.

[56] weened.

¶ _Of the merchantes wyfe that sayd she wolde take a nap at sermon._

¶ A marchantys wyfe there was in Bowe parysh in London, somewhat slepte
in age, to whom her mayde cam on a Sonday in Lente after dyner and
sayde: maystres, quod she, they rynge at Saynte Thomas of Acres, for
there shall be a sermon prechyd anon; to whome the mastres answered and
sayde: mary! Goddys blessynge haue thy harte for warnynge me thereof;
and because I slepte not well all this nyght, I pray the brynge my stole
to me: for I wyll go thyder to loke, whether I can take a nappe there,
whyle the preest is prechynge.

By this ye may se, that many one goth to chyrch as moch for other
thynges as for deuocyon.


[57] Orig. reads _gentylman_.

[58] mocked, made a jest of. See Nares (edit. 1859) _in voce_.

¶ _Of the woman that said and she lyued another yere she wolde haue a
cockoldes hatte of her owne._ xxvi.

  _Of the above tale but a few words remain in the fragment._

¶ _Of the gentylman that wysshed his tothe in the gentylwomans tayle._

¶ A gentylman and gentylwoman satte to gyder talkyng, _which gentylman_
had great pain in one of his tethe, and hapnyd to say _to the
gentylwo_man thus: I wys, maystres, I haue a tothe in my hede which
_greuyth me u_ery sore: wherfore I wold it were in your tayl. She,
heryng him _say this, answe_ryed thus: in good fayth, syr, yf your tothe
were in my tayle it coulde _do it but lytle_ good; but yf there be any
thynge in my tayle that can do your tothe good, I wolde it were in your

By this ye may se that a womans answere is seldome to seke.[59]

¶ _Of the Welcheman that confessyd hym howe he had slayne a frere._

¶ In the tyme of Lente, a Welcheman cam to be confessyd of his curate;
whych in his confessyon sayde that he had kylled a frere; to whome the
curate sayd he coulde nat assoyle hym. Yes, quod the Welchman, yf thou
knewest all, thou woldest assoyle me well ynoughe; and when the curate
had commandyd hym to shew hym all the case, he sayd thus: mary, there
were ii freres; and I myght haue slayn them bothe, yf I had lyst; but I
let the one scape: therfore mayster curate set the tone agaynst the
tother, and than the offence is not so great but ye may assoyle me well

By this ye may se, that dyuers men haue so euyll and larg conscyence
that they thynke, yf they do one good dede or refrayn from doynge of one
euyll synne, that yt ys satysfaccyon for other _synnes_ and ofencys.


[59] This moral is also attached to Tales 21, 44, and 56, in all which
cases the lady's rejoinder is not less opposed to modern notions of
female delicacy.

¶ _Of the Welcheman that coude nat gette but a lytell male._ xxix.

¶ There was a company of gentylmen[60] in Northamptonshyre which wente
to hunte for dere in the porlews[61] in the gollet besyde Stony
Stratford, amonge which gentylmen there was one which had a Welchman to
his seruante, a good archer; whiche, whan they cam to a place where they
thought they _should find dere_, apoynted thys Welchman to stand _still,
and forbade him in_ any wyse to shote at no rascal[62] _dere but to make
sure of the greate male and_ spare not. Well, quod this Welchman, _I
will do so_. _Anon cam by many greate dere and_ Rascall; but euer he
lette them go, and toke no hede to them; and within an houre after he
saw com rydynge on the hye-waye a man of the contrey, whych had a boget
hangynge at hys sadyll bowe.[63] And whan this Welcheman had espyed hym,
he bad hym stande, and began to drawe his bow and bad hym delyuer that
lytell male that hunge at his sadyll bowe. Thys man, for fere of hys
lyfe, was glad to delyuer hym hys boget, and so dyd, and than rode hys
waye, and was glad he was so _escapyd_. And when this man of the
contrey was gone, thys Welcheman was _very glad_ and wente incontynente
to seke hys mayster, and at the laste founde hym wyth hys companye; and
whan he saw hym he came to hym, and sayd thus: mayster, by cottes plut
and her nayle! I haue stande yonder this two hourys, and I colde se
neuer a male but a lytell male that a man had hangynge at his sadell
bow, and thet I haue goten, and lo here it is; and toke his master the
boget whiche he had taken away from the forsayd man, for the whiche dede
bothe the mayster and the seruante were afterwarde in greate trouble.

By this ye may lerne, yt is greate folye for a mayster to putte a
seruaunte to that besynes whereof he can nothynge skyll and wherin he
hath not ben usyd.


[60] orig. reads _gentylman_.

[61] purlieus.

[62] a lean beast not worth hunting--_Nares._

[63] The jest here, such as it is, lies in the play on the words male
(of the deer) and the mail, or post.

¶ _Of the gentyll woman that sayde to a gentyll man: ye haue a berde
aboue and none benethe._ xxx.

¶ A yonge gentylman of the age of xx yere, somwhat dysposed to myrth and
gaye, on a tyme talked wyth a gentylwoman whyche was ryght wyse and also
mery. Thys gentylwoman, as she talked with hym, happenyd to loke vpon
hys berde which was but yonge and somewhat growen vpon the ouer lyppe,
and but lyttell growen benethe as all other yonge mennys berdes comynly
vse to grow, and sayd to hym thus: syr, ye haue a berde aboue and none
beneth; and he, herynge her say so sayde in sporte: maystres, ye haue a
berde beneth and none aboue. Mary, quod she, than set the tone agaynst
the tother. Which answere made the gentylman so abasshed, that he had
not one worde to answere.

¶ _Of the frere that sayde our Lorde fed fyue M. people with iii.
fysshys._ xxxi.

¶ There was a certayn White Frere whiche was a very glotton and a great
nyggyn,[64] which had an vngracyouse boy that euer folowed hym and bare
his cloke, and what for the freres glotony and for his chorlysshnes the
boy, where he wente, cowlde scante gette meate ynoughe: for the frere
wolde eate almoste all hym selfe. But on a tyme the frere made a sermone
in the contry, wherin he touched very many myracles whyche Cryste dyd
afore hys passyon, amonge which he specyally rehersyd the myracle whyche
Cryste did in fedynge fyue thousande people with fyue louys of brede and
with iii lytell fysshes; and this frerys boy which caryd not gretely
for hys mayster * *, _by reason that_ hys mayster was so great a churle,
_cryed out aloude_ that all the church harde, and sayd: by _my faith,
then, there were no_ fryers there! whyche answere made all _the people
laughe, so_ that for shame the frere wente out of the * * * * * he than
departyd out of the churche * * * *

By thys ye may se that it is honeste * * depart with suche as he hath to
them * *


[64] niggard.

¶ _Of the frankelyn that wold haue had the frere gone._ xxxii.

¶ A ryche fraynklyn dwellyn in the countie of * * * _had a frere in his_
house, of whom he could neuer be ryd any _meanes, but he wold tarrye by
the_ space of a senyght[65] and wold neuer depart; wherfore _the
franklyn was sore grevud and sadly_ wery of hym. On a tyme as he and hys
wyfe and this frere _were togydder_, he faynyd hymselfe very angry wyth
hys wyfe, in somoche that he _smote_ her. Thys frere perseyuyng well
what they ment sayd * * * I haue bene here this seuenyght whan ye were
frendys, and _I will tarrye a_ fortenyght lenger but I wyll se you
frendys agayne, or I depart. _The franklyn_, perceyuynge that he coude
no good nor wold not depart by none _other meanes_, answeryd hym
shortely and sayd: by God! frere, but thou shalt abyde here no longer;
and toke hym by the shulders, and thrust hym out of the dorys of the

By this ye may se, that he that wyl lerne no good by examples in a maner
to hym shewyd, is worthy to be taught wyth open rebuke.


[65] a week.

¶ _Of the prest that sayd Our Lady was not so curyous a woman._ xxxiii.

¶ In the towne of Bottelley dwellyd a mylner, whiche had a good homely
wenche to his doughter, whome the curate of the nexte towne louyd, and,
as the fame went, had her at hys pleasure. But on a tyme thys curat
prechyd of those curyouse wyues now a dayes, and whether it were for the
nonys,[66] or whether it cam oute at all aduenturys, he had penyd to say
thus in hys sermon: ye wyues, ye be so curyous in all your warkes, that
ye wot not what ye meane, but ye shold folow Oure Lady. For Our Lady was
nothynge so curyous as ye be; but she was a good homely wenche lyke the
mylners doughter of Botteley. At whych sayng all the parishons made
gret laughyng, and specyally they that knew that he louyd that same

By this ye may se, it is gret foly for a man that is suspectyd with any
person to praise or to name the same parson openly, lest it bryng hym in
forther sclaunder.


[66] nonce.

¶ _Of the good man that sayde to his wyfe he had euyll fare._ xxxiv.

¶ A frere Lymytour[67] come into a pore mannys howse in the countrey,
and because thys pore man thought thys frere myght do hym some good, he
therefore thought to make hym good chere. But bycause hys wyfe wold
dresse hym no good mete for coste, he therfore at dyner tyme sayd thus:
by God! wyfe, bycause thou dyddest dresse me no good mete to my dyner,
were it not for mayster frere, thou shouldest haue halfe a dosyn
strypes. Nay, syr, quod the frere, I pray you spare not for me; wherwyth
the wyfe was angry, and therfore at souper she caused them to fare wors.

¶ _Of the frere that had hys chylde make a laten_ xxxv.

_But very few words remain of this Tale._


[67] Mendicant friar.

¶ _Of the gentylman that asked the frere for his beuer._ xxxvi.

¶ _In the terme_ tyme a good old gentylman, beyng a lawyer, cam to
Lon_don to the_ terme; and as he cam he hapenyd to ouertake a frere,
which _was an un_thrift and went alone wythout hys beuer: wherfore this
_gentylman asked_ thys frere, where was hys beuer that shold kepe hym
compa_ny, and sayd it was_ contrary to his relygyon to go alone, and it
wolde cause people to suppose hym to be som apostata or som vnthryft. By
God, syr, quod the _frere! my beuer_ commaundeth hym unto your
master-shyp. Why, quod the gentylman, I knowe hym not. Than (quod the
frere to the gentylman), ye are the more fole to aske for hym.

By thys tale ye may se, that he that geueth counsell to any vnthryft,
and _tech_eth hym hys dutye, shall haue oftymes but a mock for his

¶ _Of the thre men that chose the woman._ xxxvii.

¶ Thre gentylmen cam into an Inne, where a fayre woman was tapster:
wherfore, as these thre satte there makynge mery, eche of them kyssed
her, and made good pastyme and plesure. Howbeit one spake merley[68]
and sayde: I can not se how this gentylwoman is able to make pastyme and
pleasure to vs all thre excepte that she were departed in thre partes.
By my trouthe, quod one of them, yf that she myght be departed, than I
wolde chuse for my parte her hed and her fayre face, that I myghte alway
kysse her. Than quod the seconde: I wolde haue the breste and harte: for
there lyeth her loue. Than quod the thyrd: then ther is nothyng left for
me but the loynys, buttockes and legges; I am contente to haue it for my
parte. And whan these gentylmen had passed the tyme there by the space
of one hour or ii, they toke theyr leue and were goynge awaye; but, or
the went, the thyrd man whych had chosen the bely and the buttockys did
kys the tapyster and bad her farewell. What! quod the fyrste man that
had chosen the face and the mouth, why dost thou so? thou dost me wronge
to kysse my parte that I haue chosen of her. O! quod the other, I pray
the be nat angry: for I am contente that thou shal kys my parte for it.


[68] Merrily.

¶ _Of the gentylman that taught his cooke the medycyne for the tothake._

¶ In Essex there dwellyd a mery gentylman, whyche had a coke callyd
Thomas that was greatly dysseasyd with the tothake, and complaynyd to
hys mayster thereof; whych sayd he had a boke of medecins and sayd he
wold loke vp hys boke to se whether he could fynd any medecyn therin for
it, and so sent[69] one of hys doughters to hys study for hys boke, and
incontynent lokyd uppon yt a long season; and than sayd thus to hys
coke: Thomas, quod he, here is a medesyn for your tothake; and yt ys a
charm; but yt wyl do you no good except ye knele on your knees, and aske
yt for Sent Charyte. Thys man, glad to be relesyd of hys payn, kneled
and sayd: mayster, for Seint Charyte, let me haue that medecyne. Than,
quod thys gentylman, knele on your knees and say after me; whyche knelyd
down and sayd after hym as he bad hym. Thys gentylman began and sayd

"The son on the Sonday."

"The son on the Sonday," quod Thomas.

"The mone on the Monday."

"The mone on the Monday."

"The Trynyté on the Tewsday."

"The Trynyté on the Tewsday."

"The wyt on the Wednysday."

"The wyt on the Wednysday."

"The holy holy Thursday."

"The holy holy Thursday."

"And all that fast on Fryday."

"And all that fast on Friday."

"---- in thy mouthe on Saterday."

Thys coke Thomas,[70] heryng hys mayster thus mokkyng hym, in anger
stert vp and sayd: by Goddys body! mokkyng churle, I wyll neuer do the
seruyce more; and went forth to hys chamber to gete hys gere to geder to
thentent to haue gon thens by and by; but what for the anger that he
toke wyth his mayster for the mok that he gaue hym, and what for labor
that he toke to geder hys gere so shortly togeder, the payne of the
tothake went from hym incontynent, that hys mayster cam to hym and made
hym to tarry styll, and tolde hym that hys charme was the cause of the
ease of the payne of the tothake.

By thys tale ye may se, that anger oftymes puttyth away the bodely


[69] orig. reads _send_.

[70] orig. reads Thomas coke. In the orig. the text runs on in the above
passage, which is generally done in old books to save room.

¶ _Of the gentylman that promysed the scoler of Oxforde a sarcanet
typet._ xxxix.

¶ A scoler of Oxford latley made Mayster of Art cam in to the cyte of
London, and in Poulys mette with the sayd mery gentleman of Essex, which
was euer disposyd to play many mery pageants,[71] wyth whom before he
had bene of famylyer accoyntaunce and prayd hym to give hym a sercenet
typet. This gentylman, more lyberall of promyse than of gyfte, grauntyd
hym he should haue one, yf he wold com to hys lodgyng to the sygne[72]
of the Bull wythout Byshops gate in the next mornynge at vi of the
cloke. Thys scoler thankyd hym, and for that nyght departyd to hys
lodgyng in Flete Strete, and in the mornyng erely as he poyntyd cam to
hym to the sygne of the Bull. And as [soon as] thys gentylman saw hym,
he bad hym go wyth hym in to the Cyte, and he sholde be sped anon;
whyche incontynent went togyder, tyll they[73] cam in to seynt Laurence
Church in the Jury, where the gentylman espyed a preste raueshyd to
masse[74] and [he] told the skoller that "yonder is the preste that
hath the typet for you," and bad hym knele downe in the pew, and he
shold speke to hym for it. And incontynent thys gentylman went to the
preest and sayd: syr, here is a skoller, a kynnysman of myne, gretly
dyseasyed wyth the chyncough.[75] I pray you, whan masse is donne, gyue
hym iii draughtys of your chales. The preest grantyd hym, and tornyd hym
to the skoler, and sayd: syr, I shall serue you as sone as I haue sayd
masse. The skoler than taryed styll and herd the mas, trusting that whan
the masse was done, that the preste wold giue hym hys typet of sarcenet.
Thys gentylman in the meane whyle departyd out of the chyrche. Thys
preste, whan mas was done, putte wyne in the chales, and cam to the
skoler knelyng in the pew, profferyng hym to drynk of the chales. Thys
skoler lokyd upon hym, and musyd and sayd: why, master parson, wherfore
profer ye me the chales? Mary, quod the prest, for the gentylman told me
ye were dysseasyd with the chyncough, and prayd me therfor that for a
medecyne ye might drynk of the chales. Nay, by seynt mary, quod the
scoler, he promysyd me ye shulde delyuer me a tipet of sarcenet. Nay,
quod the preest, he spake to me of no typet, but he desyred me to gyue
yow drynk of the chales for the chyncough. By Goddis body, quod the
scoler, he is, as he was euer wont to be, but a mokkyng wretch, and
if[76] I lyue I shall quyte hym; and so departid out of the church in
great anger.

By thys tale ye may percyue, it is no wysdom for a man to truste to a
man to do a thing, that is contrary to hys old accustumyd condycyons.


[71] tricks and pranks.

[72] orig. reads _synne_.

[73] orig. reads _he_.

[74] Intently engaged in the celebration of mass. "St. Lawrence Jewry,"
says Mr. Cunningham (_Handbook of Lond._ 471,) "stood in King Street,
Cheapside. It was destroyed in the Fire of 1666, and was rebuilt by Sir
C. Wren."

[75] Hooping-cough.

¶ _Of mayster Skelton that brought the bysshop of Norwiche ii
fesauntes._ xl.

¶ It fortuned ther was a great varyance bitwen the bysshop of Norwych
and one master Shelton[77] a poyet lauryat, in so much that the bysshop
commaundyd hym that he shuld not come in his gatys. Thys mayster Skelton
dyd absent hym selfe for a long seson; but at the laste he thought to do
hys dewty to hym, and studyed weys how he myght obtayne the bysshopys
fauour, and determynyd hem self that he wold come to hym wyth some
present and humble hym self to the byshop; and [he] gat a cople of
fesantes and cam to the bysshuppys place, and requyryd the porter he
might come in to speke wyth my lord. This porter, knowyng his lordys
pleasure, wold not suffer him to come in at the gatys: wherfor thys
mayster Skelton went on the baksyde to seke some other way to come into
the place. But the place was motyd, [so] that he cowlde se no way to
come ouer except in one place, where there lay a long tree ouer the
motte in maner of a brydge that was fallyn down wyth wynd: wherfore thys
mayster Skelton went a long vpon the tree to come ouer; and whan he was
almost ouer hys fote slypyd for lak of sure fotyng, and [he] fel in to
the mote vp to the myddyll. But at the last he recoueryd hym self, and
as wel as he coud dryed hymself ageyne, and sodenly cam to the byshop,
beyng in hys hall than lately rysen from dyner, whyche, whan he saw
Skelton commyng sodenly, sayd to hym: why, thow catyfe, I warnyd the
thow shuldys neuer come in at my gatys and chargyd my porter to kepe the
out. Forsoth, my lorde, quod Skelton, though ye gaue suche charge and
though your gatys be neuer so suerly kept: yet yt ys no more possible to
kepe me out of your dorys than to kepe out crowes or pyes: for I cam not
in at your gatys, but I cam ouer the mote, [so] that I haue ben almost
drownyd for my labour; and shewyd his clothys how euyll he was arayed,
whych causyd many that stode therby to laughe apace. Than quod Skelton:
yf it lyke your lordeshyp, I haue brought you a dyshe to your super, a
cople of Fesantes. Nay, quod the byshop, I defy the and thy Fesantys
also, and, wrech as thou art, pyke the out of my howse, for I wyll none
of thy gyft how * * * * Skelton, than consyderynge that the bysshoppe
called hym fole so ofte, sayd to one of hys famylyers therby that,
thoughe it were euyll to be christened a fole, yet it was moche worse to
be confyrmed a fole of suche a bysshoppe: for the name of confyrmacyon
must nedes abyde. Therfore he ymagened howe he myghte auoyde that
confyrmacyon, and mused a whyle; and at the laste sayde to the bysshope
thus: if your lordeshype knewe the names of these fesantes ye wold _be_
contente to take them. Why, caytese, quod the bisshoppe hastly and
angrey, _what_ be theyr names? Y wys, my lorde, quod Skelton, this
fesante is called Alpha, which is in primys--the fyrst; and this is
called O, that is novissimus, the last; and for the more playne
vnderstandynge of my mynde, if it plese your lordeshype to take them, I
promyse you this alpha is the fyrste that euer I gaue you, and this O is
the laste that euer I wyll gyue you whyle I lyue. At which answere all
that were by made great laughter, and they all _desired the Bishoppe_ to
be good lorde vnto him for his merye conceytes, at which _earnest
entrety, as it_ wente, the bysshope was contente to take hym vnto his
fauer agayne.

By thys tale ye may se, that mery conceytes dothe _a man more_ good than
to frete hymselfe with _anger_ and melancholy.


[76] orig. reads _ever_.

[77] The celebrated poet. The bishop was of course Bishop Nykke, Nikke,
or Nyx, as the name is variously spelled. He held the see from 1501 to

¶ _Of the yeman of garde that sayd he wolde bete the carter._ xli.

¶ A yoman of the kynges garde, dwellynge in a vyllage besyde London, had
a very fayre yonge wife. To whome a carter of the towne, _a mery_
fellowe, resorted and laye with her dyuers tymes, whan her husbande was
on garde; and thys was so openly knowen that all the towne spake therof.
_A certaine yonge_ man of the towne well acquoyntyd with thys yeman
_told him_ that suche a carter hadde layne by his wyfe. To whome _this
yeman of the garde_ sware by Goddes body, if he mette with hym it
_should go harde but he wolde bete him well._ _Hey_, quod the yonge man,
if ye go streyght euen nowe the _right way_, ye _shall_ ouertake him
dryuyng a carte laden with haye towarde London; wherfore the yeman of
the garde incontynent rode after this carter, and within shorte space
overtoke him and knewe him well ynoughe, and incontynent called the
carter to him and sayd thus: Syrra, I vnderstande that thou doste lye
euery nyght with my wyfe, whan I am from home. Thys carter beynge no
thynge afrayde of hym answered, ye, marry, what than? What than, quod
the yeman of garde! By Goddys harte! hadst thou nat tolde me truth, I
wolde haue broke thy hede. And so the yeman of garde retourned, and no
hurte done, no stroke stryken nor proferyed.

By this ye may se, that the greatyst crakers somtyme, whan it commeth to
the profe, be moste cowardes.

¶ _Of the fole that saide he had leuer go to hell than to heuen._ xlii.

¶ A fole there was, that dwelled with a gentylman in the countrey,
whiche was called a great tyraunte and an extorcyoner. But this fole
loued his mayster meruaylously, because he cherysshed hym so well. It
happened * *

  _3 lines wanting._

to heuen; for I had leuer go to hell. Than the other asked hym why he
had leuer go to hell. By my trouthe, quod the fole: for I wyll go with
my master; and I am sure my master shall go to hell. For euery man seyth
he shall go to the deuyll in hell; and therfore I wyll go thyder with

¶ _Of the plowmannys sonne that sayde he sawe one make a gose to creke
sweetly._ xliii.

¶ There was a certayn plowmans son of the contrey of the age of xvi
yeres, that neuer coming moche amonge company but alway went to plough
and husbandry. On a tyme this yonge lad went to a weddyng with his
fader, where he se one lute[78] vpon a lute; and whan he came home at
nyght his moder asked hym, what sporte he had at weddynge. This lad
answeryd and sayd: by my trouth, moder, quod he, there was one that
brought a gose in his armes and tykled her so vpon the neck, that she
crekyd the sweetlyest that I hard gose creke in my lyfe.

¶ _Of the maydes answere that was with chylde._ xliv.

¶ At a merchauntes house in London there was a mayde whiche was great
with chylde, to whom the maystres of the house cam, and comaunded[79]
her to tell her who was the fader of the chylde. To whom the mayde
answered: forsooth, nobody. Why, quod the maystres, it is not possyble
but som man is the fader thereof? To whom the mayd answered: why,
maystres, why may I not haue a chyld without a man as well as hennys lay
eggys withhout a cocke?

By this ye may se it is harde to fynde a woman wythout an excuse.


[78] _Lute_, as a verb, appears to be obsolete. We still say _to
fiddle_, and no doubt _to lute_ was formerly just as much in use.

[79] Orig. reads _and that commanded_.

¶ _Of the seruaunt that rymyd with hys mayster._ xlv.

¶ A gentleman there was dwellynge nygh Kyngston upon Tamys, and rydynge
in the contrey with his seruaunt which was _not the_ quyckest felowe,
but rode alway sadly[80] by _his maysters side and uttered_ uery fewe
wordys. Hys mayster sayd to him: _wherefore rydyst_ thou so saddly? I
wolde have the tell me some tale to beguyle the tyme with. By my
trouthe, mayster, quod he, I can tell no tale. Then sayd his mayster:
canst thou not synge? No by my trouthe, quod he, I coulde neuer synge in
all my lyfe. Quod the mayster: canst thou ryme? No, by my trouthe, quod
he, I can not; but yf ye wyll begyn to ryme, I wyll folow as well as I
can. By my trouth, quod the mayster, that is well; therfore I wyll begyn
to make a ryme. Let me se how well thou canst folowe thy mayster
meanwhyle; and then [he] began to ryme thus:--

  "Many mennys swannys swymme in Temmys,
        And so do myne."

Then quod the seruant:--

  "And many a man lyeth by other mennys wyues,
        And so do I by thyne."[81]

What dost thou, horeson, quod the mayster? By my trouthe, mayster, no
thynge, quod he, but make vp the ryme. But quod the mayster: I charge
the tell me why thou sayest so? Forsothe Mayster, quod he, for nothynge
in the worlde but to make vp your ryme. Than quod the mayster: yf thou
doist for nothynge ellys, I am content. So the mayster forgaue hym hys
saynge, all thoughe he sayd trouthe peraduenture.


[80] Quietly.

¶ _Of the Welcheman that delyuered the letter to the ape._ xlvi.

  _5 first lines wanting._

fauoure to his seruant and commaunded his seruant shortely to br_ynge
hym an_ answere. This Welcheman came to the chefe Iustyce' place, and
at _the gate saw_ an ape syttynge there in a cote made for hym, as they
use to _apparell apes_ for disporte. This Welchman dyd of hys cappe, and
made curtsye _to the ape and_ sayd: my mayster recommendeth hym to my
lorde youre father, and sendeth hym here a letter. This ape toke this
letter and opened it, and _lokyd theron_, and after lokyd vpon the man,
makynge many mockes and moyes, _as the proper_tyes of apes is to do.
This Welcheman, because he vnde_rstood hym_ nat, came agayne to his
mayster accordynge to his commaundes, _and tolde hym he_ delyuered the
letter vnto my lorde chefe Iustyce' sonne, _who was at the gate_ in a
furred cote. Anone his mayster asked hym what _answere he broughte. The
man_ sayd he gaue hym an answere; but it was other Frenche _or Laten:
for he understode_ him nat. But, syr, quod he, ye nede nat to fere: for
I saw _in his counte_naunce so moche, that I warrante you he wyll do
your errande to my lorde his father. This gentylman in truste therof
made not a_nye further suite_, for lacke wherof his seruaunte, that had
done the felonye, within a monthe after was rayned at the kynges benche
and caste, and afterwarde hanged.

By this ye may se that euery wyse man ought to take hede, that _he
sende nat a fo_lysshe seruaunte vpon a hasty message that is a matter of


[81] This, to save space, is printed like prose in the orig.; but it was
evidently meant to be verse.

¶ _Of hym that solde ryght nought._ xlvii.

¶ A _certaine_ felowe there was whiche profered a dagger to sell to a
fellowe, _the_ which answered hym and sayd, that he had ryght nought _to
giue_ therfore; wherefore the other sayde that he shulde haue hys dagger
_upon_ _c_ondycyon that he shulde gyue and delyuer vnto hym therefore
_within iii_ dayes after ryghte nought, or els forty shyllynges in
money: wher_on the_ other was contente. Thys bergayne thus agreed, he
that shulde del_yuer_ his ryght noughte toke no thoughte, vntyll suche
tyme that the day apoynted drewe nye. At the whiche tyme he began to
ymagen, howe he myght _delyuer_ this man ryght nought. And fyrst of all
he thought on a feder, a straw, a pynnes poynte, and suche other; but
nothynge could he deuyse but that it was somwhat; wherfore he came home
all sadde and pencyfe for sorowe of losynge of his xl. shyllynges, and
coulde nother slepe nor take reste, wherof hys wyfe, beynge agreued,
demaunded the cause of his heuynes; which at the last after many denayes
tolde her all. Well, syr, quod she, lette me here with alone and gette
ye forthe a-towne; and I shall handell this matter well
ynoughe. This man folowynge his wyfes counsell wente forthe of the

  _5 lines wanting._

Therfore, syr, quod she, put your hande in yonder potte, and take your
money. This man beynge glad thrust his hande in it, supposyng to haue
taken xl shyllynges of money, and thrust his hande thoroughe it vp to
the elbowe. Quod the wyfe than: syr, what haue ye there? Mary, quod he,
ryghte nought. Syr, quod she, than haue ye youre bergayne, and than my
husbande hathe contented you for his dagger accordynge to his promyse.

By this ye may se, that oftentymes a womans wytte at an extremyte _is
moche_ better than a mans.

¶ _Of the frere that tolde the thre chyldres fortunes._ xlviii.

¶ There was _a frere_ lymyttour whyche wente a lymyttynge to a
cer_tayne_ towne, wherin dwellyd a certayne ryche man of whome he ne_uer
coulde_ gette the value of an hal[f]peny: yet he thought he wolde go
thyder and assaye hem.[82] And as he wente thyderwarde, the wyfe
stand_yng at the_ dore, perceyuynge hym commynge a farre of, thoughte
that he _was commynge_ thyther, and by and by ranne in and badde her
chyldren standyng _thereby_, that if the frere asked for her, say she
was nat within. The frere _sawe her_ runne in and suspected the cause,
and came to the dore and asked for the wyfe. The chyldren, as they were
bydden, sayde that she was nat within. Than stode he styll lokynge on
the chyldren; and at the laste he called to hym the eldeste and badde
hym let hym se his hande; and whan he _saw his_ hande: O Jesu! quod he,
what fortune for the is ordayned! _Then he asked the_ seconde sonne to
se his hande and, his hande sene, the frere sayd: _O Jesu! what_
destenye for the is prepared. Than loked he in the thyrde sonnes _hand_.
_O God!_ quod he, thy desteny is hardest of all; and therwith wente he
his way. The _wyfe_, heryng these thinges, sodenly ranne out and called
the frere againe, _and pray_de hym to come in, and after to sytte downe,
and sette before hym _all the vita_ile that she had. And whan he had
well eaten and dronken, she be_sought_ hym to tell her the destenyes of
her chyldren; which at the last after many _difficulties_ tolde her that
the fyrste shulde be a beggar, the seconde a thefe, the thyrde a
homicyde; whiche she hearynge fell downe in a soone[83] and toke it
greuouslye. The frere comforted her and said that, thoughe these were
theyr fortunes, there myght be remedy had. Than she besought of him[84]
his counsell. Than said the frere: you must make the eldest that shalbe
a beggar a frere, and the seconde that shalbe a thefe a man of lawe, and
the thyrde that shalbe an homicyde a phisicyon.

By this tale ye may lerne, that they that will come to the speche or
presence of any persone for theyr owne cause, they muste fyrste endeuer
them selfe to shewe suche matters as those persones most delyte in.


[82] _i. e._ him. The Orig. reads _them_.

¶ _Of the boy that bare the frere his masters money._ xlix.

  _4 lines wanting._

Ye, quod the frere. Than wente the man to the boye and sayd: syr, thy
mayster byddeth the gyue me xl pens. I wyll nat, quod the boye. Than
called the man with an hye voyce to the frere and sayd: syr, he sayeth
he wyll not. Than quod the frere: bete him; and whan the boye harde his
mayster say so, he gaue the man xl pens.

By this ye may se, it is foly for a man to say ye or nay to a matter,
excepte he knewe surely what the matter is.


[83] Swoon.

[84] Orig. reads _besought him of_.

¶ _Of Phylyp Spencer the bochers man._ l.

¶ A certayne bocher dwellynge in Saynt Nicolas[85] Flesshambles in
London, called Poule, had a seruaunte called Peter. Thys Peter on a
Sonday was at the churche herynge masse; and one of his felowes, whose
name was Phylyppe Spencer, was sente to call him at the commaundement of
his maister. So it happened at the tyme that the curat _preched_, and in
his sermonde touched many auctoryties of the holy scriptures, amonge
all, the wordes of the pystles of saynt Poule ad[86] phylypenses: howe
[we] be nat onely bounde to beleue in Chryste but also to suffre for
Chrystes sake; and [he] sayd these wordes in the pulpet: what sayeth
Poule ad Phylyppenses to this? Thys yonge man, that was called Philyppe
Spenser, hadde went he had spoken of him [and] answered shortely and
sayd: mary, syr, he bad Peter come home and take his parte of a podynge,
for he shulde go for a Calfe anone. The curate herynge this, was
abasshed, and all the audyence made great laughter.

By thys ye may se, that it is no token of a wyse man to gyue a soden
answere to a questyon, before he knowe surely what the matter is.


[85] Orig, reads _Nocolas_. The Church of St. Nicholas Shambles, which
formerly stood in the neigbourhood of Newgate Market, was pulled down at
the Reformation. See Cunningham, _Handbook of London_, in voce.

[86] Orig. reads _and_.

¶ _Of the courtear and the carter._ li.

¶ There came a courtyer by a carter, the whiche in derysyon preysed the
carters backe, legges, and other membres of his body meruaylously, whose
gestynge the carter perceyued and sayde, he had another properte than
the courtyer espyed in hym; and whan the courtyer had demanded what it
shulde be, he lokyd asyde ouer hys shulder vpon the courtyer and sayde
thus: lo! syr, this is my propertie. I haue a walle eye in my hede: for
I neuer loke ouer my shulder thys wyse but lyghtlye[87] I spye[88] a

By this tale a man may se, that he that useth to deryde and mocke other
folkes, is somtyme him selfe more deryded and mocked.


[87] Quickly.

[88] Orig. reads _lyghtlye espye_.

¶ _Of the yongman that prayd his felow to teche hym hys paternoster._

¶ A yonge man of the age of xx yere, rude and unlerned, in the tyme of
Lente came to his curate to be confessed; whiche, whan he was of his
lyfe serched and examyned could not saye his Pater noster: wherfore his
confessoure exorted him to lerne his Pater noster and shewed him what an
holy and goodly prayer it was and the effecte therof and the vii
peticyons therin contayned. _The i. sanctificetur &c. halowed be thy
name. The ii. adueniat regnum &c. thy kingdome come. The iii. Fiat
voluntas &c. thy will be done in earth as it is in heuen. The iv. Panem
nostrum &c. geue[89] us_ our dayly sustenaunce alway and helpe vs as we
helpe[90] them that haue nede of us. The v. Dimitte &c. Forgyue vs our
synnes done to the as we forgyue them that trespas agaynste vs. The vi.
Et ne nos. Let vs nat be ouercome with euyll temptacyon. The vii. Sed
libera &c. But delyuer us from all euyll. amen. And than his confessour,
after this exposicyon to hym made, injoyned hym in penaunce to faste
euery Fryday on brede and water, tyll he had his Pater noster well and
sufficiently lerned. This yonge man, mekely acceptyng his penaunce, so
departed and came home to one of his companyons, and sayde to his
felowe: so it is that my gostely father hathe gyuen me in penaunce to
faste euery Fryday [on] brede and water, tyll I can say my Pater noster.
Therfore I pray thee teche me my Pater noster, and by my truthe I shall
therfore teche the a songe of Robyn Hode that shall be worth xx of it.

By thys tale ye may lerne to knowe the effecte of the holy prayer of the
Pater noster.


[89] Singer's ed. reads _yeve_.

[90] Orig. ed. and Singer read _we haue and helpe them_.

¶ _Of the frere that prechyd in ryme expownynge the ave maria._ liii.

¶ A certayne frere there was whiche, vpon Our Lady day the Annuncyacion,
made a sermon in the Whyte Freres in London, and began his antetexte
thys wyse. Aue Maria gracia plena dominus tecum &c. These wordes, quod
the frere, were spoken by the aungell Gabryell to Oure Ladye, whan she
conceyued Christe; which is as moche to saye in our mother tonge as: all
hayle, Mary, well thou be; the sonne of God is with the. And furthermore
the aungell sayde: thou shall conceyue and bere a sonne, and thou shalt
call his name Jesum; and Elyzabeth thy swete cosyn, she shall conceyue
the swete Saynt John. And so [he] proceded styll in his sermon in suche
fonde ryme, that dyuers and many gentylmen of the court that were there
began to smyle and laughe. The frere that perceyuyng said thus:
Maysters, I pray you, harke; I shall tell you a narracyon. There was
ones a yonge preest, that was nat all the best clerke, sayd masse and
redde a colect thus: Deus qui vigenti filii tui &c. wherfore he shulde
haue said vnigeniti filii tui &c.; and after, whan masse was done, there
was suche a gentylman, as one of you are, nowe that had herde this
masse, came to the preest and sayde thus: syr, I pray you tell me how
many sonnes had God Almyghty? Quod the preest: why aske you that? Mary,
syr, quod the gentylman, I suppose he had xx sonnes: for ye sayd right
nowe: Deus qui viginti filii tui.[91] The preest, perceyuynge how that
he deryded hym, answered hym shortely and said thus: howe many sonnes so
euer God Almyghty had, I am sure that thou arte none of them: for thou
scornyst the worde of God. And so sayde the frere in the pulpet: no more
are ye none of the chyldren of God: for ye scorne and laughe at me nowe,
that preche to you the worde of God whiche

  _3 lines wanting._

_By this ye may_[92] perceyue wel that the best, the wysyst and the most
holyest matter that is, by fond pronuncyacion and otterauns, may be
marryd nor shall not[93] edyfye to the audyence. Therfore euery proces
shold[94] be vtteryd wyth wordys and countenaunce conuenyent to the

Also yet by thys tale they that be vnlearnyd in the laten tonge may know
the sestence[95] of the Aue Maria.


[91] This portion of the tale is repeated in _Scoggin's or Scogin's

¶ _Of the curat that prechyd the artycles of the Crede._ liv.

¶ In a wyllage in Warwykshyre there was a parysh prest, al though he wer
no great clarke nor graduat of the vnyuersyte, yet he prechid to hys
paryshons vppon a Sonday, declaryng to them xii artycles of the Crede;
shewyng them that the furst artycle was to beleue in God the fader
almyghty maker of heuen and erth; the second, to beleue in Jesu Cryste
hys onely son our Lorde coequal wyth the fader in all thynges perteynyng
to the deyte; the thyrd, that he was conceyuyd of the holy goost, borne
of the vyrgyn Mary; the fourthe, that he suffred deth under Pons pylate
and that he was crucyfyed, dede and beryed; the fyft, that he descended
to hell, and fet[96] out the good sowlys that were in feyth and hope,
and than the thyrd day rose from deth to lyfe; the syxt, [that] he
assendyd into heuen to the ryght syde of God the fader, where he
syttyth; the seuynth, that he shall come at the day of dome to judge
both us that be quyk and them that be dede; the eyght, to beleue in the
Holy Ghost equall God wyth the fader and the sone; the nynth, [to
beleue] in the holy churche Catholyk and in the holy communyon of
sayntes; the tenth, [to beleue] in the remyssion of synnys; the levynth,
[to beleue] in the resurreccyon generall of the body and soule; the
twelfth [to beleue] in eurlastynge lyfe that God shall rewarde them that
be good. And [he] sayd to his paryshons further, that these artycles ye
be bounde to beleue: for they be trewe of auctoryte. And yf you beleue
not me, than for a more surete and suffycyent auctoryte go your way to
Couentre, and there ye shall se them all playe in Corpus Cristi playe.

By redynge of this tale, they that understand no Laten may lerne to
knovve the xii articles of the fayth.


[92] I have supplied these four words from conjecture. They are not in
the original nor in Singer's reprint.

[93] The double negative is very common in old English books.

[94] Orig. reads _wold_.

[95] Essence?

[96] Fetched.

¶ _Of the frere that prechyd the x commaundementis._ lv.

¶ A lymytour of the Gray Freres in London prechyd[97] in a certaine
vyllage in the contrey in the tyme of his lymytacyon, and had prechyd a
sermon which he had lernyd by hart, that of the declaring of the x.
commaundementis. The fyrst, to beleue in one God and to honoure him
aboue all thynges. The seconde, to swere not in vayn by hym nor none of
his creatures. The thyrde, to absteyne from wordely operacyon on the
holy day, thou and all thy seruauntys of whome thou hast cherg. The
fourthe, to honour thy parentys and to help them in theyr necessyte. The
fyft, to sle no man in dede nor wyll, nor for no hatred hurte his bodye
nor good name. The syxte, to do no fornycacyon actuall nor by no
vnlefull[98] thought to desyre no fleshly delectacyon. The seuenthe
(eighth), to stele nor depryue no mannes goodes by thefte. _The ninth,
not to bear false witness against thy neighbour. The tenth, not_[99] to
couete nor desyre no mannes goodes vnlefullye. Thou shalt not desyre
thy neyghbours wyfe for thyne owne apetyte vnlaufully. And because this
frere had preched this sermonde so often, one that had herde it before
tolde the freres seruaunte, that his maister was called frere John x.
Commaundementes; wherfore this seruaunte shewed the frere his mayster
therof, and aduysed him to preche some sermonde of some other matter:
for it greued him to here his maister so deryded and to be called frere
John x. Commaundementes. For euery man knoweth [quod he] what ye wyll
say, as sone as euer ye begyn, because ye haue prechyd it so ofte. Why
than, quod the frere, I am sure thou knowest well whiche be the x
commaundementes that hast herde them so ofte declared. Ye, syr, quod the
seruaunte, that I do. Than, quod the frere, I pray the reherse them vnto
me nowe. Mary, quod the seruaunte, they be these. Pride, couetise,[100]
slouthe, enuy, wrathe, glotony and lechery.

By redyng thys tale ye may lerne to knowe the x commaundementes and the
vii dedely synnes.[101]


[97] Orig. reads _whych perchyd_, which the context will scarcely allow.

[98] Unlawful.

[99] The words in italics are supplied by me from conjecture. They are
not in orig. or in Singer's reprint; but it is evident what the context

[100] Covetousness. Orig. reads _covetous_.

[101] Whitford, in his _Werke for Householders_, 1533, says:--"yet must
you have a lesson to teche your folkes to beware of the vii pryncipall
synnes, whiche ben communely called the seven dedely synnes, but in dede
they doue call them wronge: for they be not alway dedely synnes.
Therfore they sholde be called capytall or pryncipall synnes, and not
dedely synnes. These ben theyr names by ordere after our dyvysion:
Pryde, Envy, Wrath, Covetyse, Glotony, Slouth, and Lechery."

¶ _Of the wyfe that bad her husbande ete the candell fyrste._ lvi.

¶ The husbande sayde to his wyfe thus wyse: by this candell, I dremed
thys nyght that I was cockecolde. To whom she answered and sayd:
husbande, by this brede, ye are none. Than sayd he: wyfe, eate the
brede. She answered and sayd to her husbande: than eate you the candell:
for you sware fyrste.

By this a man may se, that a womans answer is _neuer to seke_.

¶ _Of the man of lawes sonnes answer._ lvii.

¶ A woman demaunded a questyon of a little chylde, sonne unto a man of
lawe, of what crafte his father was; whiche chylde sayde, his father was
a craftye man of lawe.

By this tale a man may perceyue, that somtyme peraduenture yonge
Innocentes speke truely vnaduysed.

¶ _Of the frere in the pulpet that bad the woman leue her babelynge._

¶ In a certayne parrysshe churche in London, after the olde laudable and
accustomed maner, there was a frere Mynor, all thoughe he were nat the
best clerke nor coulde nat make the best sermondes, yet by the lycence
of the curate he there prechyd to the Parysshons. Among the whyche
audyence there was a wyfe at that tyme lytell disposed to contemplacyon,
[who] talked wyth a gossype of hers of other femenyne tales so loude
that the frere harde and somwhat was perturbed therwith. To whome
therfore openly the frere spake and sayd: thou woman there in the tawny
gowne, holde thy peace and leaue thy babelynge; thou troublest the worde
of God. This woman therwith sodenly abasshed, because the frere spake to
her so openly, that all the people her behelde, answered shortly and
said: I beshrowe his harte that babeleth more of us two. At the which
seyng the people dyd laughe, because they felte but lytell frute in hys

By this tale a man may lerne to beware howe he openly rebuketh any
other, and in what audyence, lest it come to his owne reprofe.

¶ _Of the Welchman that cast the Scotte into the see._ lix.

  _5 first lines wanting._

  they toke many great interpryses and many shyppes
  and many prisoners of other realmes that were
  theyr enemyes.  Amonge the whiche they happened
  on a season to take a Scottes shype; and
  dyuers Scottes they slewe and toke prisoners,
  amonge whome there was a Welcheman that had
  one of the Scottes prysoners, and bad him that he
  shulde do of his harneys, whiche to do the Scotte
  was very lothe; howe be it for feare at the laste he
  pulled it of with an euyll wyll, and sayd to the
  Welcheman: and if thou wylte nedes haue my
  harneys, take it there, and cast it ouer the borde
  into the see. The Welcheman, seynge that, sayd:
  by Cottes blud and her nayle,[102] I shall make her
  fette[103] it agayne; and toke him by the legges, and
  caste hym after ouer the borde into the see.

  By this tale a man may lerne, that he that is
  subiecte to another, ought to forsake his owne
  wyll and folowe his wyll and comaundement that
  so hathe subieccyon ouer him, leste it turne to his
  great hurte and damage.


  [102] i.e. By God's blood and His nail.

  [103] Fetch.

  ¶ _Of the man that had the dome wyfe._ lx.

  ¶ There was a man that maryed a woman whiche
  had great ryches and beautie; howe be it she had
  suche an impedyment of nature, that she was
  domme and coulde nat speke. Whiche thinge
  made him to be ryght pensyfe and sadde; wherfore,
  vpon a day as he walked alone ryght heuy in
  harte, thynkynge vpon his wyfe, there came one to
  him and asked hym, what was the cause of his
  heuynesse; whiche answered that it was onely
  because his wife was borne domme. To whome
  this other sayde: I shall shewe the sone a remedye
  and a medecyne therfore, that is thus: go take an
  aspen lefe and laye it vnder her tonge this nyght,
  she beynge a slepe; and I warante the that she
  shall speke on the morowe. Whiche man, beynge
  glad of this medycyne, prepared therfore and
  gathered aspyn leaues; wherfore he layde thre of
  them vnder her tonge, when she was a slepe. And
  on the morowe whan he hymselfe awaked, he, desyrous
  to knowe howe his medecyne wrought,
  beynge in bedde with her, he demaunded of her
  howe she dyd; and sodenly she answered and
  sayd: I beshrowe your harte for wakenynge me so
  erly; and so by the virtue of that medycyne she
  was restored to her speche. But in conclusyon
  her speche so encreased day by day, and she was
  so curste of condycyon, that euery daye she brauled
  and chydde with her husbande so moche, that at
  the laste he was more vexed, and hadde moche
  more trouble and disease with her shrewde wordes,
  than he hadde before whan she was dome. Wherfore,
  as he walked another tyme abrode, he happened
  to meate agayne with the same persone that
  taughte _hym howe to make his wyfe speke_[104]

  _2 or 3 lines wanting._

and more wery of her nowe than I was before, whan she was domme;
wherfore I praye you teche me a medycyne to modefye her, that she speke
nat so moche. This other answered and sayd thus: syr, I am a deuyll of
hell; but I am one of them that haue leste power there. All be it yet I
haue power to make a woman to speke, but and if a woman begyn ones to
speke, I, nor all the deuyls in hell that haue the more power, be nat
able to make a woman to be styll, nor to cause her to leaue her

By thys tale ye may note, that a man ofte tymes desyreth and coueteth
moche that thynge, that ofte turneth to his displeasure.


[104] These words in Italics I have supplied from conjecture. They are
not in orig. or in Singer.

¶ _Of the Proctour of Arches that had the lytel wyfe._ lxi.

¶ One askyd a Proctour of the Arches, lately before maryed, why he chose
so lytel a wyfe; whiche answered: because he had a texte sayenge thus:
ex duobus malis minus[105] est eliendum, that is to saye in englyshe,
amonge euyll thinges the leste is to be chosen.

¶ _Of ii nonnes that were shryuen of one preste._ lxii.

¶ In the tyme of Lente there came two nonnes to saynte Johnns in London
bycause of the great pardon, there to be confessed. Of the whyche
nonnes, the one was a young lady and the other was olde. This yonge lady
chose fyrst her confessour, and confessed her that she hadde synned in
lechery. The confessour asked, with whome it was; she sayd it was with a
lustye gallante. He demaunded where it was; she sayd: in a plesaunte
grene herber. He asked further: whan it was. She sayd: in the mery
moneth of Maye. Than sayd the confessour this wyse: a fayre yonge lady,
with a lusty galante, in a plesaunte herber, and in the mery moneth of
Maye! Ye dyd but your kynde! Nowe, by my truthe, God forgyue you, and I
do; and so she departed. And incontynent the olde nonne mette with her,
askynge her howe she lyked her confessour; whiche sayd he was the best
gostly father that euer she hadde and the most easyest in
penaunce-geuyng. For comfort wherof this other nonne went to the same
confessour and shroue her lykewyse, that she had synned in lechery. And
he demaunded with whome. Whiche sayde: with an old frere. He asked
where. She said: in her olde cloyster. He asked: what season. She sayde:
in Lente. Than the confessour sayd: an old ----, to lye with an old
frere, in her olde cloyster, and in the holy tyme of Lente! by cockes
body,[106] if God forgyue the, yet wyll I neuer forgyue the. Which
wordes caused her to departe all sadde and sore abasshed.

By this tale men may lerne, that a vicyous acte is more abhomynable in
one person than in another, in one season than in another, and in one
place than in an other.[107]


[105] orig. reads: _ex duobus malis minus malis_.

[106] By God's body.

[107] If meant as quiet irony, this moral is admirable.

¶ _Of the esquyer that sholde have ben made knyght._ lxiii.

  _4 lines of the original are wanting._

and the trumpettes began to blowe, a yonge squyer of Englande rydynge on
a lusty courser of whych horse the noyse of the trumpettes so prycked
the corage, that the squyer could nat him retayne; so that agaynste his
wyll he ranne vpon hys enemyes. Whyche squyer, seynge none other remedy,
sette his spere in the rest and rode throughe the thyckest of hys
enemyes, and in conclusyon had good fortune, and saued hym selfe alyue
without hurte: and the Englysshe hooste folowed and had the victorye.
And after, whan the felde was wonne, this kynge Edwarde called the
squyre and badde hym knele down, _and he_ wolde make hym knyght, because
he valyauntely was the man that day, which with the moost couragyous
stomake aduentured fyrste vpon theyr enemyes. To whome the squyer thus
answered: if it lyke your grace to make any one knyghte therfore, I
beseche you to make my horse knyght, and nat _me: for certes_ it was his
dede, and nat myne, and full sore agaynst my wyll. Whiche answere the
kynge herynge refrayned to promote hym to the order of knyghthode,
reputynge hym in maner but for a cowarde; and euer after fauored hym the
lesse therfore.

By this tale a man may lerne, howe it is wysedome _when he is_ in good
credence to kepe hym[self] therein, and in no wyse to dysable[108] hym
selfe to moche.

¶ _Of him that wolde gette the maystrye of his wyfe._ lxiv.

¶ A yonge man, late maryed to a wyfe, thought it was good polecye to
gette the maystrye of her in the begynnynge, came to her, the potte
sethynge ouer the fyre, all thoughe the meate therein were nat ynoughe
soden [and] commaunded[109] her to take the potte fro the fyre; whiche
answered and said that the meate was nat redy to eate. And he said
agayne: I wyll haue it taken of for my pleasure. This good woman, lothe
yet to offende hym, sette the potte besyde the fyre, as he badde. And
anone after he commaunded her to sette the potte behynde the dore, and
she said agayne: ye be nat wyse therin. But he precysely said, it shuld
be so, as he bad. And she gentylly againe dyd his commaundement. This
man, yet nat satisfied, comaunded her to set the pot a-hygh vpon the
henne roste. What! quod the wyfe, I trowe ye be madde. And he fyerslye
than comaunded her to sette it there, or els he sayd she shulde repente
it. She, somwhat afrayde to moue his pacyence, toke a ladder, and sette
it to the rost[110] and wente her selfe vp the ladder, and toke the
potte in her hande, prayeng her husbande than to holde the ladder faste
for [fear of] slydynge; whiche so dyd. And whan the husbande loked up,
and sawe the potte stande there on hyght, he sayd thus: Lo! nowe
standeth the potte there, as I wolde haue it. This wyfe hearynge

  _4 lines wanting._


[108] disparage.

[109] orig. is here apparently very corrupt; it reads: "all thoughe the
meat therein were nat ynoughe, sodenlye commaunded," &c.

¶ _Of the penytent that sayd the shepe of God have mercy upon me._ lxv.

¶ A certayne confessour, in the holy tyme of Lente, enioyned his
penytente to saye dayly for his penaunce this prayer: Agnus Dei miserere
mei, whiche was as moche to saye in englysshe as the Lambe of God haue
mercye vpon me. This penytente acceptynge his penaunce departed, and
that tyme twelfe monthe after came agayne to be confessed of the same
confessoure, whiche demaunded of him whether he had fulfylled his
penaunce that he hym enioyned the laste yeare. _Than_ he sayde thus: ye,
syr, I thanke God I haue fulfylled it. For I haue sayd thus to daye in
the mornynge and so dayly: the shepe of God haue mercy vpon me. To whome
the confessour said: nay, I bad the say: Agnus Dei miserere mei, that
is, the Lamb of God haue mercy vpon me. Ye, syr, quod the _penytente_,
ye say truthe; that was the laste yeare. But now it is a twelfemonthe
_since_, and it is a shepe by this tyme. Therfore I muste nedes say
nowe: the shepe of God haue mercy vpon me.

By this tale ye may perceyue, that if holy scripture be expowned to the
lay people onely in the lytterall sence, peraduenture it shall do lytell


[110] planted it against the roost.

¶ _Of the husbande that sayd he was John Daw._ lxvi.

¶ It _happened_ dyuers to be in communicacyon, amonge whome there was a
curate or a parysshe preest and one John Dawe, a parisshon of his;
whiche ii had communicacyon more busy than other in thys maner. This
preest thought that one myght nat by felynge knowe one from a nother in
the darke. John Dawe his parysshone, [being] of the contrary opinyon,
layde with his curate for a wager xl pence; whervpon the parysshe
preest, wyllynge to proue his wager, wente to this John Dawes house in
the euenynge, and sodenly gate hym to bedde with his wyfe; where, whan
he began to be somwhat busye, she felynge his crowne sayde shortely with
a loude voyce: by God! thou art nat John Dawe. That hearynge, her
husbande answered: thou sayest trouthe, wyfe, I John Dawe am here.[111]
Therfore, mayster persone, gyue me the money: for ye haue loste your xl.

By this tale ye may lerne to perceyue, that it is no wysedome for a man
to be couetous of wynnynge of any wager to put in ieopardye a thynge,
that maye turne him to greatter displeasure.

¶ _Of the scoler of Oxforde that proued by souestry ii chykens iii._

¶ A ryche Frankelyn in the contrey hauynge by his wyfe but one chylde
and no mo, for the great affeccyon that he had to his sayd chylde founde
hym at Oxforde to schole by the space of ii or iii yere. Thys yonge
scoler, in a vacacyon[112] tyme, for his disporte came home to his
father. It fortuned afterwarde on a nyght, the father, the mother and
the sayd yonge scoler

  _5 lines wanting._

_I_ haue studyed souestry, and by that scyence I can proue, that these
ii chekyns in the dysshe be thre chekyns.[113] Mary, sayde the father,
that wolde I fayne se. The scoller toke one of the chekyns in his hande
and said: lo! here is one chekyn, and incontynente he toke bothe the
chekyns in his hande iointely and sayd: here is ii chekyns; and one and
ii maketh iii: ergo here is iii chekyns. Than the father toke one of the
chekyns to him selfe, and gaue another to his wyfe, and sayd thus: lo! I
wyll haue one of the chekyns to my parte, and thy mother shal haue a
nother, and because of thy good argumente thou shalte haue the thyrde to
thy supper: for thou gettyst no more meate here at this tyme; whyche
promyse the father kepte, and so the scoller wente without his supper.

By this tale men may se, that it is great foly to put one to scole to
lerne any subtyll scyence, whiche hathe no naturall wytte.


[111] orig. reads _I am here John Dawe_.

[112] orig. reads _vocacyon_.

[113] The same story is to be found in _Scogin's Jests_, with a trifling
variation. _Scogin's Jests_ were published before 1565. Several of the
anecdotes, here narrated, were re-produced in that and other
collections. See also _Joake upon Joake_, 1721, where the present story
is told of King Charles the Second, Nell Gwynne, and the Duchess of
Portsmouth. In this version the Duchess is the sufferer.

¶ _Of the frere that stale the podynge._[114] lxviii.

¶ A frere of London there was that on a Sonday in the mornynge
yerly[115] in the somer season came fro London to Barnette to make a
colacyon,[116] and was there an houre before hye masse began: and
bycause he wolde come to the churche honestly, he wente fyrst to an ale
house there to wype his shoes and to make him selfe clenly. In the
whyche house there were podynges to sell, and dyuers folkes there
brekynge theyr faste, and eatynge podynges. But the frere brake his
faste in a secrete place in the same house. This frere sone after came
to the church, and by lycence of the curate entered into the pulpet to
make a colacyon or sermon. And in his sermon there he rebuked sore the
maner of them that met to breke theyr faste on the Sonday before hye
masse, and said it was called the deuyls blacke brekefast. And with that
worde spekynge, as he dyd caste his armes out to make his countenaunce,
there fell a podyng out of his sleue, whiche he hym selfe had stolen a
lytell before in the same alehouse; and whan the people saw that, and
specially they that brake theyr faste there the same mornynge, and
knewe well that the wyfe had complayned howe she had one of her podynges
stolen, they laughed so moche at the frere, that he incontynente wente
downe out of the pulpet for shame.

By this tale a man may se that, whan a precher dothe rebuke any synne or
vyce wherin he is knowen openly to be gyltie him selfe, suche prechynge
shall lytell edefye to the people.


[114] This story, as already mentioned in the Introduction, is taken
from the tale of the "Vickar of Bergamo" in _Tarlton's Newes out of
Purgatorie_ (1590). See Halliwell's ed. of _Tarlton's Jests, &c._ p. 82.
(Shakesp. Sec.).

[115] Early.

[116] Homily.

¶ _Of the frankelyns sonne that cam to take ordres._ lxix.

¶ A certayne scoler there was, intendynge to be made a preest, whyche
hadde nother great wytte nor lernynge, came to the bysshoppe to take
orders, whose folysshenes the bysshoppe perceyuynge, because he was a
ryche mannes sonne wolde nat very strongly oppose him, but asked him
thys _questyon: Noye had thre sonnes, Sem, Came, and Japhete; nowe tell
me, who was Japhetes father? But the scoler was all abashed, and knew
nat what to answere: wherefore the bysshoppe sayde: get the home and
consider awhile_, and come agayne and soyle[117] me this questyon, and
thou shalt haue orders. This scoler so departed and came home to his
father, and shewed hym the cause of the hynderaunce of his orders. Hys
father, beyng angry at his folisshenes, thought to teche hym the
solucyon of this questyon by a familier example, and called his spanyels
before hym, and sayd thus: Thou knowest well, Colle my dogge hathe these
iii. whelpes, Ryg, Trygge and Tryboll. Muste nat all my dogges nedes be
syre to Tryboll? Than quod the scoler: by God! father, ye [have] sayd
trouthe. Let me alone nowe; ye shall se me do well ynoughe the nexte
tyme. Wherfore on the morowe he wente to the bysshoppe agayne, and sayd
he coulde soyle his questyon. Than sayd the bysshoppe: Noye had thre
sonnes, Sem, Came,[118] and Japhete. Now, tell me who was Japhetes
father. Mary, syr, quod the scoler, if it plese youre lordeshyppe, Colle
my fathers dogge.

By this tale a man may lerne, that it is but loste tyme to teche a fole
any thynge, whiche hathe no wytte to perceyue it.


[117] Satisfy, a very rare word.

¶ _Of the husbandman that lodgyd the frere in his own bedde._ lxx.

¶ It fortuned so that a frere, late in the euenynge, desyred lodgynge of
a poore man of the countrey, the whiche for lacke of other lodgyng,
glad to harborowe the frere, lodged him in his owne bedde. And after, he
and his wyfe, the frere beynge a slepe, came and laye in the same bedde;
and in the mornynge after the poore man rose and went to the market,
leauyng the frere in the bedde with his wyfe. And as he wente he smiled
and laughte to hym selfe; wherfore hys neyghbours demaunded of hym, why
he so smyled. He answered and sayd: I laughe to thynke, howe shamefaste
the frere shal be whanne he waketh, whome I left in bedde with my wyfe.

By this tale a man may lerne, that he that ouershoteth hym selfe doth
folysshely: yet he is more fole to shewe it openly.


[118] Ham.

¶ _Of the preste that wolde say two gospels for a grote._ lxxi.

¶ Somtyme there dwelled a preest in Stretforde vpon Auyne of small
lernyng, which vndeuoutly sange masse and oftentymes twyse on one day.
So it happened on a tyme, after his seconde masse was done in shorte
space, nat a myle from Stretforde there mette with hym dyuers marchaunte
men whiche wolde haue harde masse, and desyred hym to synge masse and he
shuld haue a grote; whiche answered them and sayd: syrs, I wyll say
masse no more this day; but I wyll say you two gospels for one grote,
and that is dogge chepe [for] a masse in any place in Englande.

By this tale a man may se, that they that be rude and unlerned regarde
but lytell the meryte and goodness of holy prayer.

¶ _Of the coutear that dyd cast the frere ouer the bote._ lxxii.

_Too much damaged to decypher._

¶ _Of the frere that prechyd what mennys sowles were._ lxxiii.

¶ A precher in pulpet whiche prechyd the worde _of God, amonge other_
matters spake of mennes soules and sayd _that the soule was so_ subtyll
that a thousande soules myght daunce _on the space of the nayle of a_
mannes fynger. Amonge which audyence there was a mery conceyted _fellow_
of small deuocyon that answered and sayde thus: mayster doctour, if a
thousande soules may daunce on a mannes nayle, I praye you than, where
shall the pyper stande?

By this tale a man may se, that it is but foly to shewe or to teche
vertue to them, that haue no pleasure nor mynde therto.

¶ _Of the husbande that cryed ble under the bed._ lxxiv.

¶ In London there was a certayne artifycer hauyng a fayre wife, to whom
a lusty galante made pursute to accomplisshe his pleasure. This woman,
denyeng, shewed the matter vnto her husband whiche, moued therewith, bad
his wyfe to appoynte him a tyme to come secretly to lye with her all
nyght, and with great crakes and othes sware that, agaynst his comyng,
he wolde be redy harneysed and wolde put him in ieopardye of his lyfe,
except he wolde make hym a great amendes. Thys nyght was then appoynted;
at whiche tyme thys courtyer came at his houre, and entred in at the
chamber, and set his two-hande sworde downe, and sayde these wordes:
stande thou there, thou sworde, the dethe of thre men! This husbande
lyenge vnder the bedde in harneys, herynge these wordes, lay still for
fere. The courtyer anone gat him to bed with the wyfe about his
prepensed busynesse; and within an houre or two the husbande, beynge
wery of lyenge, beganne to remoue hym. The courtyer, that hearynge,
asked the wyfe what thinge that was that remoued vnder the bedde;
whiche, excusyng the matter, sayd it was a lytell shepe, that was wonte
dayly to go about the house; and the husbande, that herynge, anone
cryed _ble_, as it had ben a shepe. And so in conclusyon, whan the
courtyer sawe his tyme, he rose and kissed the wyfe, and took his leaue
and departed. And as sone as he was gone the husbande arose; and, whan
the wyfe loked on him, somwhat abasshed began to make a sad countenance;
and [she] sayde; alas! syr, why did you * *

_The remainder of this tale is wanting._

_By this tale ye may se_, that he is not wyse that will put his
confydence _in bosters_ and great crakers, whiche ofte tymes wyll do but
ly_tell, when it comes to_ the poynte.

¶ _Of the shomaker that asked the colyer what tydynges in hell._[119] lxxv.

¶ A souter[120] syttynge in his shope, that sawe a colyer come by,
_deryded hym_, because he was so blacke, and asked hym, what newes from
hell and howe the deuyll fared. To whome the colyer answeryd hym: he
was well, whan I sawe hym laste; for he was rydynge _and waited_ but for
a souter to plucke on his botes.

By this ye may se that he that vseth to deryde other folkes is somtyme
him selfe more deryded and mocked.


[119] The blackness of colliers was employed of course from a very early
period as a ground for satirical insinuations as to their connection
with the Evil One. In 1568, Ulpian Fulwell, a distinguished writer of
the Elizabethan era, published _A Pleasant Interlude intituled Like will
to Like quoth the Devil to the Collier_; and in the old play of _Grim
the Collier of Croydon_, the epithet grim was intended to convey a
similar idea. In _Robin Goodfellow His Mad Pranks and Merry Jests_,
1628, however, Grim is the name of a Fairy.

[120] Shoemaker or Cobbler. Lat. _Sutor_.

¶ _Of Seynt Peter that cryed cause bobe._ lxxvi.

¶ I fynde wrytten amonge olde gestes,[121] howe God mayde Saynt Peter
porter of heuen, and that God of hys goodnes, sone after his passyon,
suffered many men to come to the kyngdome of Heuen with small
deseruynge; at whiche tyme there was in heuen a great company of
Welchemen, whyche with their crakynge and babelynge troubled all the
other. Wherfore God sayde to saynte Peter, that he was wery of them, and
that he wolde fayne haue them out of heuen. To whome saynte Peter sayd:
Good Lorde, I warrente you, that shal be done. Wherfore saynt Peter
wente out of heuen gates and cryed wyth a loud voyce _Cause bobe_, that
is as moche to saye as rosted chese, whiche thynge the Welchemen
herynge, ranne out of Heuen a great pace. And when Saynt Peter sawe them
all out, he sodenly wente into Heuen, and locked the dore, and so
sparred all the Welchemen out.

By this ye may se, that it is no wysdome for a man to loue or to set his
mynde to moche vpon any delycate or worldely pleasure, wherby he shall
lose the celestyall and eternall ioye.


[121] It is not very usual to find this word in its jocular sense
spelled in this manner. It continued to be used in its original
signification (_action_ or _exploit_) even to the Restoration, perhaps
later. The most recent example of this employment with which the Editor
has happened to meet is at p. 29 of Mauley's _Iter Carolinum_, 1660,
where the writer speaks of "His Majesties Gests from Newcastle to
Holdenby in Feb. 1646." These _gests_ were certainly no _jests_. Since
the former part of this note was written a more recent instance of the
use of _gest_ in the sense in question has occurred to the Editor in the
_Life and Gests of S. Thomas Cantilupe, Gant_, 1674. 8vo.

¶ _Of hym that aduenturyd body and soule for hys prynce._ lxxvii.

¶ Two knyghtes there were which wente to a standynge fylde with theyr
prynce; but one of them was confessed before he wente, but the other
wente into the felde without shryfte or repentaunce. Afterwarde thys
prynce wanne the fylde, and had the victory that day; wherfore he that
was confessed came to the prynce, and asked an offyce and sayd that he
had deserved it, for he had done good seruice and aduentured that day as
farre as any man in the felde. To whome the other that was unconfessed
answered and sayd: nay, by the masse, I am more worthy to haue a rewarde
than he: for he aduentured but his body for your sake, for he durst nat
go to the felde tyll he was confessed; _but I that was unconfessed
adventured my soule_.[122] * * * *

  _The remainder of this tale is wanting._

¶ _Of the parson that stale the mylners elys._ lxxviii.

_Too imperfect to decypher._

¶ _Of the Welchman that saw one xls. better than God._ lxxix.

¶ A Welchman on a tyme went to churche to _be shryued, and chanced_ to
come in euyn at the sacryng-time.[123] When he had _confessed him_ he
went home, wher one of his felowes askyd hym wh_ether he had seen God_
Almighty to day; which answerd and sayd: nay, but I saw _one forty
shillings better_.

¶ _Of the frere that said dyryge for the hoggys soule._ lxxx.

¶ Upon a tyme certayn women in the countrye were _appoynted[124] to
dery_de and mokke a frere limitour, that vsed moche to _trouble them_;
whereupon one of them, a lytyll before the frere came, _tooke a hogge_,
and for dysport leyd it under the borde after the manner of a corse;
_and told the_ frere it was her good man and dysyred hime to say dirige
for his soule. _Where_fore the frere and his felaw began Placebo and
Dirige and so fo_rth, thorough_ the seruyse full devowtly, which the
wyues so heryng could not re_fraine_ them selfe from lawghynge and went
in to a lytyll parler to lawgh _more_ at theyr pleasure. These freris
somwhat suspected the cause, and quikly, _or_ that the women were ware,
lokyd under the borde, and spying[125] that it was an hog, sodenly toke
it bytwene them and bare it homeward as fast as they might. The women,
seyng that, ran after the frere and cryed: com agayn, maester frere,
come agayne, and let it allone. Nay by my faith, quod the frere, he is a
broder of ours, and therefore he must nedys be buryed in oure cloyster.
And so the frerys gate the hog.

By this ye may se, that they that use to deride and mok other, somtyme
it tornyth to theyre owne losse and damage.


[122] The words in Italics are supplied from conjecture. They are not in
orig. or in Singer.

[123] Sacrament.

[124] Prepared, _i.e._ had made themselves ready.

[125] Orig. reads _spyed_.

¶ _Of the parson that sayde masse of requiem for Crystes soul._ lxxxi.

¶ A certayn prest there was that dwellyd in the cuntry which was not
very well lernyd. Therfore on Ester-Euyn he sent his boy to the prest of
the next town, that was ii. myle from thens, to know what masse he
sholde synge on the morowe. This boy came to the sayd prest, and dyd his
maysters errande to hym. Then quod the prest: tel thy mayster that he
must * *

  _Several lines wanting._

masse he shuld synge on the morowe. By my trothe, _quod the boy_, I have
forgotten it; but he bad me tell you it began * * * * _Then quod the
prest_: I trowe thou sayest trewth: for now I remem_ber me it is the
masse of requiem_: for God Almyghty dyed upon Good Fry_day_, and it _is
meet we shulde say masse_ for hys soule.

_By thys tale ye may se, that_ when one fole sendyth another fole on hys
er_rand, hys_ besynes folyshly sped.

¶ _Of the herdeman that sayde: ryde apace, ye shall haue rayn._ lxxxii.

¶ _A certayne skoler of Oxenford_ which had studied the iudicials of
astronomy, _upon a tyme as he_ was rydyng by the way, came[126] by a
herdman; and _he asked thys herdm_an how far it was to the next town.
Syr, quod the herd_man, it is rather_ past a mile and an half; but, sir,
quod he, ye nede to ryde _apace: for ye shal h_aue a shower of rayn, or
ye com thider. What, quod the skoler, _maketh ye say so_? There ys no
token of rayn: for the cloudes be both fayr and clere. _By my troth_,
quod the herdman, but ye shall fynd it so. The skoler then rode forth,
_and it chanced_ or he had ryden half a myle forther, there fell a good
showre of rayn _and[127] thys_ skoler was well washyd and wett to the
skyn. The skoler then tornyd _hym backe, and_ rode to the herdman, and
desyryd hym to tech him that connyng. _Nay_, quod the herdman, I wyll
not tech you my connynge for nought. Then _the skoler_ profferyde hym xl
shyllyngs to teche hym that connynge. The herd_man, after_ he had
reseyuyd hys money, sayd thus: syr, se you not yonder _blacke_ ewe with
the whyte face? Yes, quod the skoler. Suerly, quod the herdman, when she
daunsith and holdeth up her tayle, ye shall haue a showre of rayn within
half an howre after.[128]

By this ye may se, that the connyng of herdmen and shepardes, as
touchinge alteracyons of weders, is more sure than the iudicials of


[126] Orig. reads _which came_.

[127] Singer's conjectural reading is _that_; but _and_ seems to me to
be the word required.

¶ _Of hym that sayde: I shall haue nener a peny._ lxxxiii.

¶ In a certayne towne, there was a rych man that lay on his deth bed at
poynte of deth, whyche chargyd hys executours to dele[129] for hys soule
a certayne some of money in pence, and on thys condicion chargyd them as
they would answere afore God, that euery pore man that cam to them and
told a trew tale shulde haue a peny, and they that said a fals thing
shuld haue none; and in the dole-tyme there cam one whych sayd that God
was a good man. Quod the executours: thou shalt haue a peny, for thou
saist trouth. Anone came a nother and said, the deuil was a good man.
Quod the executours: there thou lyest; therefore thou shalt haue nere a
peny. At laste came on[e] to the executors and said thus: ye shall gyue
me nere a peny: which wordes made the executors amasyd, and toke
aduysment whyther they shuld * * * *

_The end of this tale is wanting._


[128] See _Scoggin's Jests_(reprint 1795), p. 47.

[129] Count out.

¶ _Of the husbande that sayde hys wyfe and he agreed well._ lxxxiv.

  _Too imperfect to decypher._

¶ _Of the prest that sayde Comede episcope._ lxxxv.

¶ In the tyme of visitacyon a bysshoppe, whi_che was maryed_[130] and
had gote many chyldren, prepared to questyon a preest what rule he
kepte, whiche preest had a le_man_ * * * * * and by her had two or thre
small chyldren. In shorte _tyme before the Bys_shoppes commynge, he
prepared a rowme to hyde his _leman and children_ ouer in the rofe of
his hall; and whan the bysshoppe was _come and discoursing_ with him in
the same hall, hauynge x of his owne chyldren about him, _the preest_,
who coude speke lytell lytyn or none, bad the bysshoppe in latyn * * * *
Comede,[131] episcope. This woman in rofe of the house, hearing _the
preest say_ so, had went[132] he had called her, byddynge her: come,
Ede; and _answered him_ and sayde: shall I brynge my chyldren with me
also? The bysshoppe, _hearing_ this, sayde in sporte: vxor tua sicut
vitis abundans in lateribus domus tuæ. The preest than, halfe amasyd,
answerd and sayd: filii tui sicut nouellæ oliuarum in circuitu mensæ

By this ye may se, that they, that have but small lernyng, som tyme
speke truely unaduysed.


[130] These two words are not in orig. or in Singer; but they seem to be
what the context requires.

¶ _Of the woman that stale the pot._ lxxxvi.

¶ On Ashe Wednesday in the mornynge, was a curate of a churche whyche
had made good chere the nyght afore and sytten up late, and came to the
churche to here confessyon, to whome there came a woman; and among other
thynges she confessed her that she had stolen a potte. But than, because
of greate watche that this preest had, he there sodenly felle aslepe;
and whan this woman sawe him nat wyllynge to here her, she rose and went
her waye. And anone an other woman kneled down to the same preest and
began to say: Benedicite; wherwith this preest sodenly awaked, and
wenynge she had ben the other woman,[133] sayd all angerly, what! arte
thou nowe at Benedicite agayne? tell me, what dyddest thou whan thou
haddest stolyn the potte?


[131] Orig. reads _Comode_.

[132] Weened.

¶ _Of mayster Whyttynton dreme._[134] lxxxvii.

¶ Sone after one maister Whyttynton had bylded a colege, on a nyght as
he slepte, he dremed that he satte in his church and many folkes there
also; and further he dremed that he sawe Our Lady in the same church
with a glas of goodly oyntemente in her hande goynge to one askynge him
what he had done for her sake; which sayd that he had sayd Our Ladyes
sauter[135] euery daye: wherfore she gaue him a lytel of the oyle. And
anone she wente to another. * * *

  _Several lines wanting._

_he had buylded_ a great college, and was very gladde in hys mynde. _Whan
that Oure Ladye cam to hym_, she asked him what he hadde suffred for her
_sake, this_ questyon made him greatly abashed, because he had nothing
to _answer; wherefore Our Lady_ him informed that for all the great dede
of buyldynge _of a colege he must haue no parte of_ that goodly

_By this ye may perceue_, that to suffre for Goddes sake is more
_acceptable to God than to buyld or_ gyue great goodes.


[133] Orig. reads _and_ after _woman_.

[134] The celebrated Sir Richard Whittington. In his _If you know Not me
you know No Body_, Part ii. 1606, Heywood introduces the following
dialogue respecting Whittington between Dean Nowell and Old Hobson, the
haberdasher of the Poultry:--

"_Dr. Now._ This Sir Richard Whittington, three times Mayor, Son to a
knight, and 'prentice to a mercer, Began the library of Gray-friars in
London, And his executors after him did build Whittington College,
thirteen almshouses for poor men, Repair'd Saint Bartholomew's, in
Smithfield, Glared the Guildhall, and built Newgate.

_Hob._ Bones a me, then, I have heard lies; For I have heard he was a
scullion, And rais'd himself by venture of a cat.

_Dr. Now._ They did the more wrong to the gentleman."

[135] Psalter.

¶ _Of the prest that killed his horse called modicus._ lxxxviii.

¶ _A certayne Bysshoppe_ appoynted to go on visytacion to a preeste's;
_and, bycause he_ would haue the preest do but lyttel coste vpon him, he
told him to prepare but lytell meate saying thus: Preparas * * * * *
_modicus_. This preest whyche understode hym nat halfe well, had _some
desire_,[136] wherfore he thoughte to obtayne the bysshoppes fauour;
_and therfore againste_ the bysshoppes comynge kylled his horse that
was _called Modicus_, whereof the bysshoppe and his seruauntes ete
parte; whiche, _whan the byss_hoppe knewe afterwarde, was greatly

By this ye may se, that many a fole dothe moche coste in makyng _good
chere_ at dyners, whiche bathe but lytell thanke for his laboure.


[136] Wanting in orig. and left blank by Singer. I have supplied them
from conjecture.

¶ _Of the Welcheman that stale the Englysshmans cocke._ lxxxix.

¶ A Welcheman dwellynge in Englande fortuned to stele an Englysshemans
cocke, and set it on the fyre to sethe; wherefore thys Englysheman,
suspecting the Welcheman, came to his house, and sawe the cocke sethyng
on the fyre and said to the Welcheman thus: syr, this is my cocke. Mary,
quod the Welcheman; and if it be thyne, thou shalte haue thy parte of
it. Nay, quod the Englyssheman, that is nat ynoughe. By cottes blut and
her nayle! quod the Welcheman, if her be nat ynoughe nowe, her will be
ynoughe anone: for her hath a good fyre under her.

¶ _Of hym that brought a botell to a preste._ xc.

¶ Certayne vycars[137] of Poules, disposed to be mery on a Sonday at hye
masse tyme, sente another madde felowe of theyr acquointance unto a
folysshe dronken preest to gyue hym a bottell, whiche man met with the
preest upon the toppe of the stayres by the chauncell dore, and spake to
him and sayd thus: syr, my mayster hath sente you a bottell to put your
drynke in, because he can kepe none in your braynes. This preest,
therwith beynge very angry, all sodenly toke the bottell, and with his
fote flange it downe into the body of the churche upon the gentylmans


[137] Priests.

¶ _Of the endytement of Jesu of Nazareth._ xci.

¶ A certayne Jury in the countye of Myddelsex was enpaneled for the
kynge to enquere of all endytements, murders, and felonyes. The persones
of this panell were folyshe, couetous and unlerned: for who so euer
wolde gyue them a grote, they wolde affyne and verifye his byll, whether
it were true or fals, withoute any profe or euydence; wherefore one that
was * * * *

  _Some lines wanting._

_the Jury loking_ on the grote and nothing on the byll as was their
_costome_, which byll whan it was presented into the courte, _the
judge_ said openly before all the people: lo! syrs, here is the
_straungest byll euer_ presented by an enquest: for here they haue
indyted _Jesu of Nazareth_ for stelyng of an asse. Which whan the people
harde it, it _made them all to laughe_, and to wonder at the folysshenes
and shamefull periury _of the Jury_.

By this ye may se, it is great parell[139] to enpanell _men upon an_
enquest, whiche be folysshe and haue but small _witte or honesty_.


[138] Orig. reads _gentylmens_.

¶ _Of the frere that preched agaynst them that rode on the Sonday._

¶ In a certayne parryshe, a frere preched and _said moche_ againt them,
that rode on the Sonday euer lokyng upon _one that was there_, spurred
redy to ryde. This man, perceuyng that _the frere loked at_ hym, sodenly
halfe in angre answered the frere thus: _I meruayle that ye say so_
moche agaynste them that ryde on the Sonday: for Christe _rode into
Jerusalem_ on Palme Sonday, as thou knowest well it is wrytten * * *
_To_ whome the frere sodenly answered and sayd thus: _but knowe ye not
also what came_ thereof? Was he nat hanged on the Fryday after! Whiche
hearing _all them that were_ in the churche fell on laughynge.


[139] Peril.

¶ _Of the one broder that founde a purs._ xciii.

¶ There was a certayne man that had two sonnes unl_yke eche other_. For
the eldyst was lustye and quycke, and vsed moch_e betimes to_ walke into
the fyldes. Than was the yonger slowe, and vsed _moche_ to lye in his
bed as long as he myght. So on a day the elder, as _he was vsed_, rose
erly and walked into the fyldes; and there by fortune he founde a purse
of money, and brought it home to his father. His father, whan he had it,
wente strayght to hys other sonne yet lyenge than in his bed and sayd to
him: o thou slogarde, quod he, seyst thou nat thyne eldest brother, howe
he by hys erly rysyng had founde a purse with money whereby we shall be
greatly holpen all our lyfe, whyle thou sluggynge in thy bedde dost
no[140] good but slepe? He than wyst nat what to say, but answered
shortly and said: father, quod he, if he that hathe loste the purse and
money had lyne in hys bedde that same tyme that he loste it, as I do
nowe, my brother had founde no purse nor money to day.

By this ye may se, that they that be accustomed in vyce and synne will
alwaye fynde one excuse or other to cloke therewyth theyr vyce and


[140] Orig. reads _thou sluggynge in thy bedde dost thou no good_, which
repetition of _thou_ seems unnecessary.

¶ _Of the answere of the mastres to the mayde._ xciv.

¶ A certayne wyfe there was, whiche was somwhat fayre, and, as all women
be that be fayre, was somwhat proude of her beautye; and as she and her
mayde satte together, she, as one that was desyrous to be praysed, sayd
to her thus: I, faythe, Jone, howe thynkest thou? am I nat a fayre wyfe?
Yes, by my trouth, maistres, quod she, ye be the fayrest that euer was
excepte * * *

  _The end is wanting._

¶ _Of the northern man that was all harte._ xcv.

  _Of this tale but a small fragment remains._

¶ _Of the burnynge of olde John._ xcvi.

¶ _In a certayne_ towne there was a wife somewhat aged, that had beryed
_her husbande_, whose name was John, whome she so tend_erlye loued in
his_ lyfe, that after hys dethe she caused an ymage of tymber _to be
made in forme_ and persone as lyke to hym as coulde be; whiche ymage
_she kept carefully_ under her bedde; and euery nyghte she caused her
mayde to _wrap the ymage in a shete_ and lay it in her bedde; and called
it olde John. Thys _widowe had_ a prentyse whose name was John; whiche
John wolde fayne _haue married hys_ maystres, nat for no great pleasure,
but onely for her good _substance: for she_ was ryche. Wherefore he
ymagened howe he myght obtayne hys _desire and so dyd_ speke to the
mayde of the house, and desyred her to lay hym in hys maystres bedde for
one nyghte in stede of the pycture,[141] and promysed her a good rewarde
for her laboure; whyche mayde ouer nyghte wrapped the sayde younge man
in a shete, and layde hym in his maysters bedde, as she was wonte to
laye the pycture. Thys wydowe was wonte euery nyght, before she slepte
and dyuers tymes whan she waked, to kysse the sayde pycture of olde
John: wherefore the sayde nyghte she kyssed the sayde yonge man,
beleuynge that she hadde kyste the picture. And he sodenly sterte,[142]
and toke her in his armes, and so well pleased her than, that olde John
from thens forth was clene out of her mynde, and [she] was contente
that this yonge John shulde lye with her styll all that nyghte, and that
the pycture of olde John shulde lye styll under the bedde for a thynge
of noughte. After thys in the mornynge, thys wydowe, intendynge to
please this yonge John whyche had made her so good pastyme all the
nyght, bad her mayde go dresse some good mete for their brekefast to
feaste therwith her yonge John. This mayde, whan she had longe sought
for wode to dresse the sayde mete, told her maystres that she coude
fynde no wode that was drye, except onelye the pycture of olde John that
lyeth under the bed. * * * * * * * *

  _Some lines wanting._

and dressyd the brekfast; and so olde John _was brenyd; and_ from thens
forth yong John occupyed _his place_.


[141] Not here put as a painting, but in a general sense, as a

[142] The old perfect of _start_. The orig. reads _starte_.

¶ _Of the courtear that ete the hot custarde._ xcvii.

¶ A certayne merchaunt and a courtear, _being upon a time together_ at
dyner hauing a hote custerd, _the courtear being_ somwhat homely of
maner toke _parte of it and put it_ in hys mouth, whych was so hote that
made him _shed teares. The_ merchaunt, lokyng on him, thought that he
had _ben weeping, and asked hym why_ he wept. This curtear, not wyllynge
[it] to be kn_own that he had brent his_ mouth with the hote custerd,
answered and said, sir: q_uod he, I had_ a brother whych dyd a certayn
offence wherfore he was hanged; _and, chauncing_ to think now vppon his
deth, it maketh me to wepe. This merchaunt thought the courtear had said
trew, and anon after the merchaunt was disposid to ete _of the custerd_,
and put a sponefull of it in his mouth, and brent his mouth also, that
his _eyes watered_. This courtear, that perceuyng, spake to the
merchaunt and seyd: sir, quod _he, pray_ why do ye wepe now? The
merchaunt perseyued how he had _bene deceiued_ and said[143]: mary, quod
he, I wepe, because thou wast not hangid, _when that_ thy brother was

¶ _Of the thre pointes belonging to a shrewd wyfe._ xcix.

¶ A yong man, that was desirous to haue a wyf, cam to a company _of
Phi_losofers which were gadred to gider, requiring them to gif _him
their opinion_ howe he might chose him sich a wyf that wer no shrew.
Th_ese Philos_ofers with gret study and delyberacion determinid and
shewd this man that there _were iii espe_cial pointes, wherebi he shuld
sure know if a woman were a shrew. The _i point is_ that if a woman have
a shril voyce, it is a gret token that she is a shrew. The ii point is
that, if a woman have a sharp nose, then most commenly she is a shrew.
_The_ iii point that neuer doth mis is[144] that if she were [a]
kerchefer,[145] ye may be sure she is a shrew.


[143] Singer inserts _answered_ before _and said_; but the word does not
appear to be required.

¶ _Of the man that paynted the lamb upon his wyfes bely._ c.

¶ A Conning painter ther was dwelling in London, which had a fayre yong
wife, and for thingis that he had to do went ouer se; but because he was
somwhat jelous, he praed his wyfe to be content, that he might paint a
lamb upon her bely, and praed her it might remain ther, til he cam home
again; wherewith she was content. After which lamb so painted he
departid; and sone after that, a lusti yong merchaunt, a bacheler, came
and woed his wyf, and obteined her fauor, so that she was content he
shuld lye with her; which resortid to her and had his plesure oftymes;
and on a time he toke a pensell, and to the lamb he painted ii hornys,
wening to the wif that he had but refreshed the old painting. Than at
the last, about a yere after, her husband cam home again, and the first
night he lay with his wyfe, he loked uppon his wifes bely, and saw the
ii hornes painted there. He said to his wif, that some other body had
ben besy there, and made a new painting: for the picture that he painted
had no hornes and this hath hornes; to whome this wif shortly * *
* *

  _cetera desunt._

  _Here endeth the booke of a C. mery Talys. Imprinted
  at London at the sygne of the meremayde
  at powlys gate nexte to chepesyde._

  ¶ _Cum priuelegio Regali._


[144] Orig. reads _the iii point is that never mis that, &c._

[145] A very costly article of female dress during the reigns of the
Tudor and Stuart sovereigns. It constituted part of the head-gear, and
from the way in which it was worn by some women, was calculated to
convey a notion of skittishness. In the _New Courtly Sonet of the Lady
Greensleeves_, printed in Robinson's "Handful of Pleasant Delites,"
1584, the lover is made to say to his mistress:--

"I bought three kerchers to thy head, That were wrought fine and
gallantly: I kept thee both at board and bed, Which cost my purse



Introduction, vi.--I might have mentioned that Taylor the Water-Poet
cites _The Hundred Merry Tales_ as one of the authorities employed by
him in the composition of his _Sir Gregory Nonsense His Newes from No
Place_, 1622 (Taylor's Works, 1630), and see also Epistle Dedicatory to
Meredith's _Eusebius_, 1577.

P. 19.--This story is found in the _Ducento Novelle_ of Celio Malespini,
printed at Venice, 1609, 4o.

P. 22. _Of the Woman that sayd her Woer cam too late._

  "If thou be slow to speake, as one I knew,
  Thou wouldst assure thy selfe my counsels true;
  Hee (too late) finding her upon her knees
  In Church, where yet her husbands coorse she sees,
  Hearing the Sermon at his funerall,
  Longing to behold his buriall,
  This sutor being toucht with inward love,
  Approached neare his lovely sute to move,
  Then stooping downe he whispered in her eare
  Saying he bore her love, as might appeare,
  In that so soone he shewed his love unto her,
  Before any else did app[r]och to woo her,
  Alass (said she) your labour is in vaine,
  Last night a husband I did entertaine."

--_Uncasing of Machivils Instructions to his Sonne_, 1612,
Sign. C 3. Stories of this kind are of very common occurrence in the
modern collections of facetiæ.

P. 23. "When Davie Diker diggs, and dallies not,
       When smithes shoo horses, as they would be shod,
      _When millers toll not with a golden thumbe_."

--_The Steel Glas, a Satyre_, by George Gascoigne, Esquire (1576), Sign.
H 3 verso.

A writer in the _Retrospective Review_, New Series, ii. 326, states that
this story of the "Miller with the golden thumb" "is still (1854) a
favourite in Yorkshire."

P. 30. _Stumble at a Straw, &c._--This proverb is quoted in _Machivils
Instructions to his Sonne_, 1613, p. 16.

P. 35. _Of the good man that sayd to his wyfe. &c._

"Dr. _South_, visiting a gentleman one morning, was ask'd to stay
Dinner, which he accepted of; the Gentleman stept into the next Room and
told his Wife, and desired she'd provide something extraordinary.
Hereupon she began to murmer and scold, and make a thousand Words; till
at length, Her husband, provok'd at her Behaviour, protested, that if it
was not for the Stranger in the next Room, he would kick her out of
Doors. Upon which the Doctor, who heard all that passed, immediately
stept out, crying, _I beg, Sir, you'll make no Stranger of me_."

--_Complete London Jester_, ed. 1771, p. 73.

P. 44. _Draughthole._--See Dekker's _Guls' Horn Book_, 1609, ed. Nott,
p. 121-2-3.

P. 47. _Saynte Thomas of Acres._

  "A the Austen fryers
  They count us for lyers:
  And at Saynt Thomas of Akers
  They carpe us lyke crakers."

  --Skelton's _Colin Clout_ (Works, ed. Dyce, i. 357).

This tale is imitated in _Hobson's Conceits_.

P. 60. _Of the gentylman, that promysed the scoler of Oxforde a sarcenet
typet_--Sarcenet, at the period to which this story refers, was a
material which only certain persons were allowed to wear. See Nicolas'
note to a passage in the _Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York_, p.
220. This jest is transplanted by Johnson, with very little alteration,
into the _Pleasant Conceits of Old Hobson_, 1607.

P. 78. _Therefore I pray thee, teche me my Pater noster, and by my
truthe, I shall therfore teche thee a songe of Robyn Hode that shall be
worth xx of it!_

The following passage from a poem, which has been sometimes ascribed to
Skelton, is a curious illustration of this paragraph:--

  Thus these sysmatickes,
  And lowsy lunatickes,
  With spurres and prickes
  Call true men heretickes.
  They finger their fidles,
  And cry in quinibles,
  Away these bibles,
  For they be but ridles!
  And give them Robyn Whode,
  To red howe he stode
  In mery grene wode,
  When he gathered good,
  Before Noyes ffloodd!

  _The Image of Ipocrysy_, Part iii.

P. 84. _Of the wyfe that bad, &c._

_Of swearing between a wyfe and her husband._

  "Cis, by this candle in my sleep I thought
  One told me of thy body thou wert nought.
  Good husband, he that told you ly'd, she said,
  And swearing, laid her hand upon the bread.
  Then eat the bread, quoth he, that I may deem
  That fancie false, that true to me did seem.
  Nay, sir, said she, the matter well to handle,
  Since you swore first, you first shall eat the candle."

_Wits Interpreter, the English Parnassus_, By John Cotgrave, 1662, p. 286.

P. 87. _Of the man that had the dome wyfe._

  "A certain man, as fortune fel,
  A woman tungles wedded to wive,
  Whose frowning countenance perceivig by live
  Til he might know what she ment he thought long,
  And wished ful oft she had a tung.
  The devil was redy, and appeered anon,
  An aspin lefe he bid the man take,
  And in her mouth should put but one,
  A tung, said the devil, it shall her make;
  Til he had doon his hed did ake;
  Leaves he gathered, and took plentie,
  And in her mouth put two or three.
  Within a while the medicine wrought:
  The man could tarry no longer time,
  But wakened her, to the end he mought
  The vertue knowe of the medicine;
  The first woord she spake to him
  She said: 'thou whoresonne knave and theef,
  How durst thou waken me, with a mischeef!'
    From that day forward she never ceased.
  Her boistrous bable greeved him sore:
  The devil he met, and him entreated
  To make her tungles, as she was before;
  'Not so,' said the devil, 'I will meddle no more.
  A devil a woman to speak may constrain,
  But all that in hel be, cannot let it again.'"

_Schole-house of Women_, 1542 (Utterson's _Select Pieces of Early
Popular Poetry_, ii. 74).

P. 89. _Of the Proctour of Arches that had the lytel wyfe._

"One ask'd his Friend, why he, so proper a Man himself, marry'd so small
a Wyfe? _Why_, said he, _I thought you had known, that of all evils we
should chuse the least_."--_Complete London Jester_, ed. 1771, p. 65.

P. 92. _Of him that wolde gette, &c._

In the _Scholehouse of Women_, 1542, the same story is differently

  "A husband man, having good trust
  His wife to him bad be agreeable,
  Thought to attempt if she had be reformable,
  Bad her take the pot, that sod over the fire,
  And set it aboove upon the astire.
    She answered him: 'I hold thee mad,
  And I more fool, by Saint Martine;
  Thy dinner is redy, as thou me bad,
  And time it were that thou shouldst dine,
  And thou wilt not, I will go to mine.'
  'I bid thee (said he) vere up the pot.'
  'A ha! (she said) I trow thou dote,'
    Up she goeth for fear, at last,
  No question mooved where it should stand
  Upon his hed the pottage she cast,
  And heeld the pot stil in her hand.
  Said and swore, he might her trust,
  She would with the pottage do what her lust."

As this story in the _C. Mery Talys_ is defective in consequence of the
mutilation of the only known copy, the foregoing extract becomes
valuable, as it exhibits what was probably the sequel in the prose
version, from which the author of the _Scholehouse of Women_ was no
doubt a borrower.

P. 101. _If a thousande soules may dance on a mannes nayle._--This is a
different form of the common saying that a thousand angels can stand on
the point of the needle. "One querying another, whether a thousand
angels might stand on the point of a needle, another replied, 'That was
a _needles_ point.'"--Ward's _Diary_, ed. 1839, p. 94.

P. 106. Scot, in his _Discovery of Witchcraft_, 1584, ed. 1651, p. 191,
has a story, which bears the mark of being the same as the one here
entitled "Of the parson that stale the mylner's elys." The passage in
Scot, which may help to supply the unfortunate _lacuna_ in the _C. Mery
Talys_, is as follows:--

"So it was, that a certain Sir John, with some of his company, once went
abroad jetting, and in a moon-light evening, robbed a miller's weire and
stole all his eeles. The poor miller made his mone to Sir John himself,
who willed him to be quiet; for he would so curse the theef, and
all his confederates, with bell, book, and candel, that they should have
small joy of their fish. And therefore the next Sunday, Sir John got him
to the pulpit, with his surplisse on his back, and his stole about his
neck, and pronounced these words following in the audience of the

  'All you that have stolne the millers eeles,
    _Laudate Dominum de coelis_,
  And all they that have consented thereto,
    _Benedicamus Domino_.'

Lo (saith he), there is savoe for your eeles, my masters."

P. 108. _Of the parson that sayde masse of requiem, &c._--This story is
also in _Scoggin's Jests_, 1626, and perhaps the lacunæ may be supplied
from that source. Thus (the words supplied from _Scoggin's Jests_ are in

"Then quod the prest: tel thy mayster that he must _say the Masse which
doth begin with a great R_. [when the boy returned, the Prest asked him
whether the Parson had told him what] masse, &c."

And again, a line or two lower down, there can be no doubt, on a
comparison of Scoggin's Jests, p. 74, what the missing words are. We
ought to read:--"but he had me tell you it began _with a great R_."

[Illustration: Johannes Ractell]

  ¶ Tales, and quicke

  answers, very mery,

  and pleasant to



  Tales, Wittie


  and Quicke Answeres,

  Very pleasant to
  be Readde.


  _at London

  in Fleete strete, by_

  H. Wykes.


The Table.


  ¶ _Of hym that rode out of London, and had his
  seruaunt folowynge hym on foote._ i.                                15

  ¶ _Of hym that preached on saynte Christofers
  day._ ii.                                                           16

  ¶ _Of the frenche man that stroue with the
  Fanwaye for his armes._ iii.                                      _ib._

  ¶ _Of the curate that sayde our lorde fedde fyue
  hundred persones._ iiii.                                            17

  ¶ _Of hym that profered his doughter to one
  in maryage._ v.                                                     18

  ¶ _Of the men of the countrey, that came to
  London to bye a crucifixe of wodde._ vi.                          _ib._

  ¶ _Of hym that folowed his wyfe to buryeng._ vii.                   19

  ¶ _Of hym that felle in to the fyre._ viii.                       _ib._

  ¶ _Of hym that used to calle his seruaunte the
  kynge of fooles._ ix.                                               20

  ¶ _Of the yonge woman, that sorowed so greatly
  the deathe of her husbande._ x.                                     21

  ¶ _Of hym that kyssed the fayre mayde with the
  longe nose._ xi.                                                  _ib._

  ¶ _Of the uplandysshe mans answere concernyng
  the steple and pulpytte._ xii.                                      23

  ¶ _Of the beggers aunswere to mayster Skelton
  the poete._ xiii.                                                 _ib._

  ¶ _Of the chaplen that sayde our ladye mattens
  lyenge in his bedde._ xiiii.                                        24

  ¶ _Of hym that loste his purse in London._ xv.                      25

  ¶ _Of the marchaunt that loste his boudget betwene
  ware and London._ xvi.                                              26

  ¶ _Of him that was called kockold._ xvii.                           27

  ¶ _Of the iolus man._ xviii.                                        28

  ¶ _Of the fat woman that sat and solde frute._ xix.               _ib._

  ¶ _Of a poller that begyled a preste._ xx.                          29

  ¶ _Of Papirius pretextatus._ xxi.                                   31

  ¶ _Of the corrupte man of lawe._ xxii.                              33

  ¶ _Of kynge Lowes of Fraunce and the husbandman
  Conon._ xxiii.                                                      34

  ¶ _Of a picke thanke, that thought to begyle the
  same moste prudent kynge._ xxiiii.                                  37

  ¶ _Of Thales the great astronomer, the whiche
  felle in to a ditche._ xxv.                                         38

  ¶ _Of the astronomer that theues robbed._ xxvi.                     39

  ¶ _Of the plough man that wolde saye his pater
  noster with a stedfast mynde._ xxvii.                             _ib._

  ¶ _Of him that dreamed he founde golde._ xxviii.                    40

  ¶ _Of the crakynge yonge gentyll man that wolde
  ouerthrowe his enemys a myle of._ xxix.                             42

  ¶ _Of him that fell of a tre and brake a rybbe in
  his syde._ xxx.                                                     44

  ¶ _Of the fryer that brayed in his sermon._                         45

  ¶ _The oration of th ambassadour that was sent
  to Pope Urban._ xxxii.                                              46

  ¶ _Of the ambassadour that was sent to the prince
  Agis._ xxxiii.                                                      47

  ¶ _The answere of Cleomenes to the Samiens
  ambassadour._ xxxiiii.                                            _ib._

  ¶ _Of the wyse man Piso, and his seruant._ xxxv.                    48

  ¶ _Of the marchant that made a wager with his
  lorde._ xxxvi.                                                      49

  ¶ _Of the scrowes that the frier gaue out against
  the pestilence._ xxxvii.                                            51

  ¶ _Of the physition that used to wryte bylles
  ouer nyght called resceytes._ xxxviii.                              52

  ¶ _Of him that wolde confesse him by a lybell in
  wrytynge._ xxxix.                                                   53

  ¶ _Of the hermite of Padowe._ xl.                                   54

  ¶ _Of the uplandissh man that saw the kyng._ xli.                   56

  ¶ _Of the courtier that bade the boye to holde his
  horse._ xlii.                                                       57

  ¶ _Of the deceytfull scriuener._ xliii.                            _ib._

  ¶ _Of him that sayde he beleved his wyfe better
  than other, that she was chaste._ xliiii.                           59

  ¶ _Of him that paid his det with cryeng bea._ xlv.                  60

  ¶ _Of the woman that appeled from kynge Philip
  to kynge Philip._ xlvi.                                             62

  ¶ _Of the olde woman that prayd for the welfare
  of the tyran Denyse._ xlvii.                                        63

  ¶ _Of the phisitian Eumonus._ xlviii.                               64

  ¶ _Of Socrates and his scoldynge wyfe._ xlix.                       65

  ¶ _Of the phisitian that bare his pacient on hand
  he had eaten an asse._ l.                                         _ib._

  ¶ _Of the inholders wyfe, and her ii louers._ li.                   67

  ¶ _Of hym that healed franticke men._ lii.                          68

  ¶ _Of hym that sayd he was nat worthy to open
  the gate to the kynge._ liii.                                       70

  ¶ _Of Mayster Uauasour and Turpyn his manne._
  liiii.                                                            _ib._

  ¶ _Of hym that sought his wyfe, that was drowned,
  agaynst the streme._ lv.                                            72

  ¶ _Of hym that at a skyrmyssh defended hym
  valiauntly with his feete._ lvi.                                    73

  ¶ _Of hym that wolde gyue a songe to the tauerner
  for his dyner._ lvii.                                               74

  ¶ _Of the foole that thought him selfe deed, whan
  he was a lyue._ lviii.                                              75

  ¶ _Of the olde man and his sonne that brought
  his asse to the towne to sylle._ lix.                               78

  ¶ _Of him that sought his asse, and rode upon his
  backe._ lx.                                                         80

  ¶ _The answere of Fabius to Liuius._ lxi.                           81

  ¶ _The answere of Poltis the kynge of Trace to
  the Troyan ambassadours._ lxii.                                     82

  ¶ _The wyse answere of Haniball to kynge Antiochus
  concerninge his ryche army._ lxiii.                                 83

  ¶ _The wordes of Popilius the Romayn ambassadour
  to Antiochus the kynge._ lxiiii.                                  _ib._

  ¶ _Of hym that loued the marchantes wyfe._ lxv.                     84

  ¶ _Of the woman that couered her heed, and
  shewed up her tayle._ lxvi.                                         86

  ¶ _How Alexander was monisshed to slee the
  firste that he mette. lxvii._                                     _ib._

  ¶ _How the aunciente cyte of Lamsac was saued
  from destruction._ lxviii.                                          87

  ¶ _Howe Demosthenes defended a mayde._ lxix.                        88

  ¶ _Of him that desyred to be a gentylman._ lxx.                     89

  ¶ _Of the gentyllman and his shrewd wife._ lxxi.                    90

  ¶ _Of the two yonge men that rode to Walsyngham
  to gether._ lxxii.                                                  91

  ¶ _Of the yong man of Brugis and his spouse._
  lxxiii.                                                             92

  ¶ _Of him that made as he hadde ben a chaste
  lyuer._ lxxiiii.                                                    93

  ¶ _Of him that the olde roode fell on._ lxxv.                       94

  ¶ _Of the wydowe that wolde not wedde for bodily
  pleasure._ lxxvi.                                                   95

  ¶ _Of the couetous ambassadour, that wolde here
  no musike for sparinge of his purse._ lxxvii.                     _ib._

  ¶ _Howe Denyse the tyran of Syracuse serued
  a couetouse man._ lxxix.                                            97

  ¶ _Of the old man that quyngered the boy oute of
  the aple tre with stones._ lxxx.                                    98

  ¶ _Of the ryche man that was sycke and wolde
  not receyue a glyster._ lxxxi.                                      99

  ¶ _Of him that feyned him selfe deed, to proue
  what his wyfe wolde do._ lxxxii.                                  _ib._

  ¶ _Of the poure man, in to whose house theues
  brake by nyght._ lxxxiii.                                          101

  ¶ _Of him that shulde haue ben hanged for his
  scoffinge and his iestynge._ lxxxiiii.                            _ib._

  ¶ _Of him that had his goose stole._ lxxxv.                        102

  ¶ _Of the begger that sayde he was of kynne to
  kynge Phylip of Macedone._ lxxxvi.                                 103

  ¶ _Of Dantes answere to the iester._ lxxxvii.                     _ib._

  ¶ _Of hym that had sore eies._ lxxxviii.                           104

  ¶ _Of the olde woman that had sore eies._ lxxxix.                  105

  ¶ _Of hym that had the custody of a warde._  xc.                   106

  ¶ _Of the excellente peynter, that hadde foule
  chyldren._ xci.                                                   _ib._

  ¶ _Of the scoffer that made one a southsayer._ xcii.               107

  ¶ _Of the marchant of Florence, Charles._ xciii.                  _ib._

  ¶ _Of the chesshire man called Eulyn._ xciiii.                     108

  ¶ _Of hym that desyred to be sette vpon the
  pyllorye._ xcv.                                                    109

  ¶ _Of the wydowes daughter, that was sente to
  the abbot with a couple of capons._ xcvi.                          111

  ¶ _Of the two men that dranke a pynte of whyte
  wyne to gether._ xcvii.                                            112

  ¶ _Of the doctour that desyred to go with a fouler
  to catche byrdes._ xcviii.                                         114

  ¶ _Of hym that undertoke to teache an asse to
  spelle and rede._ xcix.                                            115

  ¶ _Of the fryer that confessed the fayre woman._ c.                116

  ¶ _Of the chapplen of Louen called syr Antonye
  that deceyued an vserer._ ci.                                      118

  ¶ _Of the same chaplen and his spiter._ cii.                       119

  ¶ _Of the olde manne that putte hym selfe in his
  sonnes handes._ ciii.                                              121

  ¶ _Of hym that had a flye peynted in his shilde._
  ciiii.                                                             122

  ¶ _Of the emperour Augustus and the olde men._ cv.                 123

  ¶ _Of Phocions oration to the Atheniens._ cvi.                    _ib._

  ¶ _Of Demosthenes and Phocion._ cvii.                              124

  ¶ _Of the aunswere of Phocion to them that brought
  hym a great gyfte from Alexander._ cviii.                         _ib._

  ¶ _Of Denyse the tyran and his sonne._ cix.                        125

  ¶ _Of Pomponius the Romayne that was taken
  and brought before Mithridates._ cx.                              _ib._

  ¶ _Of Titus and the scoffer._ cxi.                                 126

  ¶ _Of Scipio Nasica, and Ennius the poete._ cxii.                 _ib._

  ¶ _Of Fabius Minutius and his sonne._ cxiii.                       127

  ¶ _Of Aurelian the emperour, that was displeased,
  bycause the citie Tyana was closed
  agaynste him._ cxiiii.                                             128

  ¶ _Of the Nunne forced that durst not crie._ cxv.                  129

  ¶ _Of him that sayde he was the Diuelles man._
  cxvi.                                                             _ib._

  ¶ _Of the vplandishe priest, that preached of
  Charitie._ cxvii.                                                  130

  ¶ _An other sayinge of the same preest._ cxviii.                   131

  ¶ _Of the fryer that praysed sainct Frauncis._
  cxix.                                                              133

  ¶ _Of hym that warned his wife of wasshynge her
  face in foule puddell water._ cxx.                                _ib._

  ¶ _Of the husband man that caused his iudge to
  geue sentence agaynst him selfe._ cxxi.                            134

  ¶ _Of the Italian frier that shoulde preach before
  the B. of Rome and his cardinals._ cxxii.                         _ib._

  ¶ _Of the doctour that sayd, in Erasmus workes
  were heresies._ cxxiii.                                            136

  ¶ _Of the frier that preached at Paules crosse
  agaynst Erasmus._ cxxiiii.                                         137

  ¶ _Of an other frier that taxed Erasmus for
  writyng Germana theologia._ cxxv.                                  138

  ¶ _Of an other that inueighed agaynst the same
  Erasmus._ cxxvi.                                                  _ib._

  ¶ _Of kyng Richarde the iii. and the Northern
  man._ cxxvii.                                                      139

  ¶ _Of the Canon and his man._ cxxviii.                             140

  ¶ _Of the same Canon and his sayd man._ cxxix.                    _ib._

  ¶ _Of the gentilman that checked hys seruant
  for talke of ryngyng._ cxxx.                                       141

  ¶ _Of the blynde man and his boye._ cxxxi.                         142

  ¶ _Of him that sold two lodes of hey._ cxxxii.                    _ib._

  ¶ _How a mery man deuised to cal people to a
  playe._ cxxxiii.                                                   145

  ¶ _How the image of the dyuell was lost and
  sought._ cxxxiiii.                                                 148

  ¶ _Of Tachas, kyng of Aegypt, and Agesilaus._
  cxxxv.                                                             149

  ¶ _Of Corar the Rhetorician, and Tisias hys
  scoler._ cxxxvi.                                                   150

  ¶ _Of Augustus and Athenodorus the Phylosopher._
  cxxxvii.                                                           151

  ¶ _Of the frenche kyng and the brome seller._
  cxxxviii.                                                          152

  ¶ _An other tale of the same frenche kyng._
  cxxxix.                                                            153

  ¶ _What an Italyan fryer dyd in his preaching._
  cxl.                                                               155




¶ _Of hym that rode out of London and had his seruaunt folowynge on
foote._ i.

¶ There was a manne on a tyme that rode v myle out of London, and had
his seruaunt folowyng after hym on fote, the whiche came so nere, that
the horse strake hym a great stroke vpon the thye. The seruaunte,
thynkynge to be reuenged, toke and threwe a great stone at the horse,
and hytte his mayster on the raynes of the backe, who thought it had
bene his horse. He within a whyle loked backe and chydde his seruaunte,
bycause he came haltynge so farre behynde. The seruaunt aunswered: Sir,
your horse hath gyuen me suche a stroke vpon my thygh, that I can go no
faster. Trewely, sayde his mayster, the horse is a great kyckar, for
lyke-wyse with his hele right nowe[146] he gaue me a great stroke vpon
the raynes of my backe.

¶ _Of hym that preched on saynt Chrystophers day._ ii.

¶ A fryere that preached vpon a saynt Christofers daye, greatly laudynge
saynte Christopher, sayde: what a prerogatyue hadde he here in erthe in
his armes to beare our Sauioure! was there euer any lyke hym in grace? A
homely blount felowe, heryng hym aske twyse or thryse that question so
ernestly, answered: yes, mary: the asse that bare both hym and his

¶ _Of the frenche man, that stroue with the Janway for his armes._ iii.

¶ There was one amonge the Janwayes[147] that the Frenche kyng had hyred
to make warre agaynst the Englysshe men, which bare an oxe heed paynted
in his shelde: the whiche shelde a noble man of France challenged: and
so longe they stroue, that they must needs fyght for it. So, at a day
and place appoynted, the frenche gallaunt came into the felde, rychely
armed at all peces.[148] The Janway all vnarmed came also in to the
felde, and said to the frenche man: wherfore shall we this day fyght?
Mary, sayd the frenche man, I wyll make good with my body, that these
armes were myne auncetours' before thyne. What were your auncetours'
armes, quod the Janwaye? An oxe heed, sayd the frenche man. Than, sayde
the Janwaye, here needeth no batayle: for this that I beare is a cowes

By thys tale ye perceyue howe nycely the vayne braggynge of the frenche
man was deryded.


[146] Just now.

[147] The Genoese.

¶ _Of the curate that sayde our Lorde fedde U. C. persons._ iiii.

¶ A certayne curate, preachynge on a tyme to his parysshens sayde, that
our Lorde with fyue loues fedde v hundred persones. The clerke, herynge
hym fayle,[149] sayde softely in his eare: Sir, ye erre; the gospell is
v. thousande. Holde thy peace, foole, said the curate; they wyll scantly
beleue, that they were fyue hundred.


[148] At all points.

[149] Make a mistake.

¶ _Of hym that profered his doughter in mariage._ v.

¶ There was a man vpon a tyme, whiche profered his doughter to a yonge
man in mariage, the which yonge manne refused her, sayenge, that she was
to yonge to be maryed. I wys, quod her foolysshe father, she is more
able than ye wene. For she hath borne iii. children by our parysshe

Lo, by this tale ye se, that foles can nat telle what and whan to
speake: therfore it were best for them to kepe alway silence.

¶ _Of them that came to London to bye a Crucifixe._ vi.

¶ There were certayne men vpon a tyme sent out of a village to London to
bye a Crucifixe of wodde. The Caruer that they came to, seynge and
herynge by theyr wordes, that they were but folysshe blount felowes,
asked them, whether they wolde haue the ymage a lyue or elles deade;
whiche question so abasshed them, that they went a syde to deuyse
whether[150] was beste. So whan they had spoken priuely to gether, they
came to the caruer agayne and said they wold haue the image a lyue:
for, if theyr neighbours at home where nat so contente, they myghte
lyghtly[151] kylle hym.


[150] Which of the two.

¶ _Of hym that folowed his wyfe to buryenge._ vii.

¶ A man, that wepynge folowed his wyfe to buryenge, rebuked his lyttel
sonne, that wente with hym, because he sange, sayenge that he was
peuysshe and madde to synge at his mothers buryenge, but he shulde
rather be sory and wepe. The chylde answered: father, seynge ye gyue to
these prestes money to synge at my mothers buryenge, why be ye angry
with me, that aske you nothynge for my syngynge? His father aunswered:
the preestes offyce and thyne is nat all one.

By thys tale ye may perceyue that all thynges beseme nat euery body.

¶ _Of hym that felle into the fyre._ viii.

¶ A felowe, that was frowarde to his wyfe, vsed to be oute drynkynge
many tymes verye late. So on a nyghte he taryed so longe oute, that his
wyfe wente to bedde, and badde her mayde make a good fyre, and tarye vp
for hym. About xij. of the clocke home he came, and as he stode warmynge
him by the fyre his heed was so tottye,[152] that he felle into the
fyre. The mayde, seing him fall, ranne vp cryenge to her maistres, and
sayd: Alas! my maister is fallen and lyeth longe straughte in the fyre.
No force,[153] mayde, said her maistres, let him lye and take his
pleasure in his owne house, where so euer him listeth.


[151] A too literal translation of the French word _legierement_, which
ought here to have been rendered _readily_, rather than _lightly_.

¶ _Of him that vsed to cal his servant the kinge of foles._ ix.

¶ There was a man that had a dulle lumpisshe felow to his seruant,
wherfore he vsed commonly to call him the kinge of fooles. The felow at
laste waxed angry in his minde to be alway so called and sayde to his
mayster: I wolde that I were the kinge of foles: for then no man coulde
compare with me in largenes of kingedome, and also you shulde be my
subiect. By this one may perceiue, that to moch of one thing is not
good: many one calleth an other fole, and is more fole him selfe.


[152] Giddy.

[153] No matter.

¶ _Of the yonge woman that sorowed so greatly her husbondes deth._ x.

¶ There was a yonge woman, the whiche for her husbande, that laye a
dyenge, sorowed oute of all measure, wherfore her father came often to
her and sayde: daughter, leaue your mourninge: for I haue prouyded for
you a nother husbande, a farre more goodly man. But she did nat onely
continue in her sorowe, but also was greatly displeased, that her father
made any motion to her of an other husbande. As sone as she had buryed
her husbande, and the soule masse was songe, and that they were at
dyner, betwene sobbynge and wepynge she rowned[154] her father in the
eare, and sayde: father, where is the same yonge man, that ye said shuld
be min husbande? Lo, thus may ye se, that women sorowe ryght longe,
after theyr husbondes be departed to God.

¶ _Of him that kissed the mayd with the longe nose._ xi.

¶ A bablynge gentylman, the whiche on a tyme wolde haue bassed[155] a
fayre mayde, that had nat the leest nose, sayde: how shulde I kysse you:
youre nose wyll not suffre our lyppes to mete? The mayden, waxinge
shamfast and angrye in her mynde (for with his scoffe he a lyttell
touched her) answered on this wyse: syr, if ye can not kysse my mouth
for my nose, ye may kysse me there as I haue nere a nose.

Ye may by this tale lerne, that it is folye so to scoffe, that youre
selfe therby shulde be laughed to scorne agayne. One that is
ouer-couetous ought nat to attwite[156] an other of prodigalite. Thou
arte her brother (sayd Alcmeon to Adrastus) that slewe her husbande. But
he blamed nat Alcmeon for an others faute, but obiected against him his
owne. Thou hast with thy hande (sayd he) slayne thin owne mother. It is
nat ynough to haue rebukes redie, and to speke vyle wordes agaynst
other: for he, that so shuld do, ought to be without any vyce. For of
all men, sayth Plutarchus, he ought to be innocent and haue the lyfe
vnculpable, that wolde reprehende the fautes of other. The lyttell
morall boke[157] sayth:

  It is a foule thynge worthye rebuke and blame
  A vyce to reprehende and do the same.


[154] Whispered--_Singer_.

[155] Kissed, from the French word.

[156] _i.e._ twit or taunt.

[157] _Parvus et Magnus Catho_, printed by Caxton, n.d. 4to. Chaucer, in
his _Miller's Tale_ (_Chaucer's Works_, ed. Bell, i. 194), describes the
old carpenter of Oxford, who had married a young girl, as having
neglected to study [_Magnus_] _Catho_, which prescribed that marriages
ought to take place between persons of about the same age.

"He knew not Catoun, for his wyt was rude, That bad man schulde wedde
his similitude."

No doubt both _Cato_ and _Parvus Cato_ circulated in MS. before the
invention of printing. The former was printed by Caxton in 1483-4. See
Blades (_Life and Typography of William Caxton_, ii. 53-4).

¶ _The Uplandisshe mans answere, concerninge the steple and pulpit._

¶ In a certayne place, on a tyme the perysshyns[158] had pulled downe
theyr steple, and had buylded it vp newe agayne, and had put out theyr
belles to be newe-founded: and bycause they range nat at the bysshops
entrynge into the village, as they were wont and acustomed to do, he
asked a good homely man, whether they had no belles in theyr steple: he
answered: no! Than, sayde the bysshop, ye may sylle aweye[159] your
steple. Why so, and please your lordship, sayd the man? Bycause hit
stondeth vacant, said the bysshop. Than sayde the man, we may well sylle
away an other thinge, that we haue in our churche. What is that, sayd
the bysshop? That is a pulpit, quod he. For this vii yere ther was no
sermon made therin.

¶ _Of the beggers answere to M. Skelton the poete._ xiii.

¶ A poure begger, that was foule, blacke and lothlye to beholde, cam
vpon a tyme vnto mayster Skelton the poete, and asked him his almes. To
whom mayster Skelton sayde: I praye the, gette the awaye fro me: for
thou lokeste as though thou camest out of helle. The poure man,
perceyuing he wolde gyue him no thynge, answerd: For soth, syr, ye say
trouth, I came oute of helle. Why dyddest thou nat tary styl there, quod
mayster Skelton? Mary, syr, quod the begger, there is no roume for suche
poure beggers as I am: all is kepte for suche gentyl men as ye be.


[158] Parishioners. This jest is included by Johnson in his _Pleasant
Conceits of Old Hobson, the Merry Londoner_, 1607 (reprinted 1843. p.

[159] Sell away.

¶ _Of the chaplen, that sayde our lady matens a bed._ xiiii.

¶ A certayne lorde's chaplen bosted on a tyme, syttynge at his lorde's
table, that he sayde our lady matyns euery morninge besyde all his other
seruice and orisons. The lorde, to proue whether his chaplen did as he
sayde, arose yerly on a morninge, and went to his chaplen's chamber, and
called hym, saying: where be ye, syr wylliam? Here, and please your
lordshyp (quod he), in my bedde. Why, sayd the lorde, I thought ye had
ben vp and sayenge of our lady matyns. I am nowe sayinge it, quod the
chappleyn. What! lienge in your bedde, quod the lord? why, syr, sayd the
chapplain, where shudde women be serued but a bedde?

¶ _Of him that lost his purse in London._ xv.

¶ A certayn man of the countre, the whiche for busines came vp to
London, lost his purse as he wente late in the euenynge; and by cause
the somme therin was great, he sette vp bylles in dyuers places that, if
any man of the cyte had founde the purse, and wolde brynge it agayne to
him, he shulde haue welle for his laboure. A gentyll man of the Temple
wrote vnder one of the byls, howe the man shulde come to his chamber,
and tolde [him] where. So, whan he was come, the gentyll man asked him
fyrst what was in the purse; secondli, what countrey man he was, and
thirdly, what was his name? Syr, quod he, xx nobles was inne the pourse;
I am halfe a walshe man; and my name is John vp Janken.[160] John vp
Jankyn (sayde the gentyll man), I am gladde I knowe thy name: for so
longe as I lyue, thou nor none of thyn name shal haue my purse to kepe;
and nowe fare well, gentyll John vp Jankyn. Thus he was mocked to scorne
and went his way.

Hereby ye may perceyue, that a man can not haue a shrewde tourne, but
otherwhyle a mocke withall.


[160] John ap Jenkin.

¶ _Of the marchaunt that lost his bodgette betwene Ware and Lon[don]._

¶ A certayne marchant betwene Ware and London lost his bodget and a c
li. therin, wherfore he caused to proclayme in dyuers market townes,
that who so euer[161] founde the sayde bodget, and wolde bryng it
agayne, shulde haue xx li. for his labour. An honeste husbandeman, that
chaunsed to fynde the sayde bodget, brought it to the baily[162] of
Ware, accordynge to the crye, and required his xx li. for his labour, as
it was proclaymed. The couetous marchant, whan he vnderstode this, and
that he muste nedes pay xx li. for the fyndynge, he sayd, that there was
an c and xx li. in his bodgette, and so wolde haue hadde his owne money
and xx li. ouer. So longe they stroue, that the matter was brought
before mayster Vauasour the good Judge. Whan he vnderstode by the
bayllye, that the crye was made for a bodget with an c li. therin, he
demanded where hit[163] was? Here, quod the bailly, and toke it vnto
him. Is it iust an c li. sayde the Judge? Ye, trulye, quod the baillye.
Holde, sayde the Judge (to him that founde the bodget), take thou this
money vnto thyne owne vse: and if thou hap to fynde a bodgette with a c
and xx li. therin, brynge it to this honest marchante man. It is myn; I
lost no more but an c li. quod the marchant. Ye speke nowe to late, quod
the Judge.

By this tale ye may vnderstande, that they that go about to disceyue
other, be often tymes disceyued them selfe. And some tyme one fallethe
in the dytche, that he him selfe made.


[161] The original has _who so ever that_.

[162] Baillie or magistrate, from the old French word _bailli_.

[163] This form of _it_, though it does not occur in the _C. Mery
Tales_, is very common in old English works; see the _Seven Sages_,
edited by Wright, 1845, for the Percy Society, and the _Anglo-Saxon
Passion of St. George_, 1850 (Percy Soc.).

¶ _Of him that was called cuckolde._ xvii.

¶ A certayne man, whiche vpon a tyme in company betwene ernest and game
was called cuckolde, went angerly home to his wife and sayde: wyfe, I
was this day in company called kockolde; whether am I one or nat? Syr,
truly, sayde she, ye be none. By my fayth (sayde he), thou shall swere
so vpon this boke; and helde to her a boke. She denyed it longe; but
whan she sawe there was no remedy, she sayde: well, sythe I must nedes
swere, I promyse you by my faythe, I will swere truly. Yea, do so, quod
he. So she toke the boke in her hande and sayd: By this boke, syr, ye
be a cokolde. By the masse, hore, sayd he, thou lyest! thou sayste it
for none other cause but to anger me.

By this tale ye may parceyue, that it is nat best at all tymes for a man
to beleue his wife, though she swere vpon a boke.

¶ _Of the iolous man._ xviii.

¶ A man that was ryght iolous on his wyfe, dreamed on a nyght as he laye
a bed with her and slepte, that the dyuell aperd vnto him and sayde:
woldest thou nat be gladde, that I shulde put the in suretie of thy
wife? Yes, sayde he. Holde, sayde the dyuell, as longe as thou hast this
rynge vpon thy fynger, no man shall make the kockolde. The man was
gladde therof, and whan he awaked, he founde his fynger in * * * * * * *.

¶ _Of the fatte woman that solde frute._ xix.

¶ As a greate fatte woman sate and solde frute in a Lente, there came a
yonge man bye, and behelde her frute ernestly, and specially he caste
his eyes on her fygges. She asked him, as was her gyse: syr, wyll ye
haue any fygges; they be fayre and good? And whan she sawe he was
content, she sayde, howe manye? wyll ye haue fyue li? He was content.
So she wayed him oute fyue li. into his lappe: and whyle she layde aside
her balaunce, he wente his waye faire and softely. Whan she tourned to
haue taken her[164] money, and sawe her chapman go his waye, she made
after apace, but faster with her voice than with hir fote. He,
dissemblinge the mater, wente styll forth on. She made suche a cryenge
and folkes gathered so faste, that he stode styll. So in the preace he
shewed to the people all the matter, and said: I bought nothing of hir;
but that that she vnbyd gaue me, I toke; and if she wyll, I am contente
to go before the Justice.

¶ _Of a poller that begyled a prest._ xx.

¶ Vpon a tyme in Andwarpe a false pollynge[165] felowe came vnto a
certeyne preste, that hadde his purse hangynge at his gyrdell
strouttinge[166] oute full of money that he a lytell before had
resceyued, and gentilly gretynge hym sayde: good Mayster, our parysshe
preste bad me bye him a palle[167] (which is the vppermoste vestement,
that a preste syngeth masse in); if it wolde please you to go with me, I
were moche bounde to you: for our curat and you be of one stature. The
preste was contente. Whan they came there where he wolde bye it, the
palle was broughte forth, and the preste dyd it on: the poller loketh
and toteth[168] thereon, and preyseth it, but he layde a wyte,[169] that
it was to shorte before. Nay, quod the syller, the faute is nat in the
vestement, hit is the strouttinge purse vnderneth that beareth hit up.
Shortely to speake, the prest dyd of his purse, and layde hit by, and
than the vestiment they behelde agayne. Whan the poller sawe the preste
was tourned, he snatched vp the purs, and toke his legges and to
go.[170] The preste rounne after with the vestement on his backe: and
the vestement-maker after the prest. The prest bad stop the thefe, the
siller bad stop the prest, the poller bade holde the mad preste, and
euery man wende[171] he had ben mad in dede, bicause he had the
vestement on his backe; and so whyle one letted an other, the false
poller went his waye.


[164] The original has _whan she turned her to have taken money_.

[165] Cheating.

[166] The word seems to be here used in a rare sense. The meaning is

[167] This word (Latinè _pallium_) was originally used in a special and
exclusive signification.

[168] Singer explains this to mean _gazeth_.

[169] Found fault with it.

[170] There is probably some corruption here. We ought perhaps to read:
"and toke _to_ his legges _as if_ to go."

[171] Weened.

¶ _Of Papirius pretextatus._ xxi.

¶ AULUS GELLIUS[172] reherseth, how the Senatours of Rome on a tyme
helde a great counsaile. Before which tyme the senatours chyldren,
called of their garmentes _Pueri pretextati_, vsed to come into the
parlemente house with theyre fathers. So at this tyme a chylde, called
Papyrius, cam in with his father and herde the great counsayl the which
was straytely commaunded to be kept secrete, tyll hit was decreed. Whan
this chylde came home, his mother asked him what the counsaile was. The
chylde answered, hit oughte nat to be tolde. Now was his mother more
desyrous to knowe hit than she was before; wherfore she enquered more
straitly and more violentlye. The chylde, beinge sore constrayned of his
mother, shortelye deuysed a propre merye leasynge.[173] It is reasoned
in the parlemente (quod he), whether of both[174] shulde be more
profytable for the comon welth, a man to haue ii wiues or els a woman ii
husbandes. Whan she harde him saye so, her mynde was pacified: and
forth-with she wente and tolde hit to the other matrones.

On the morowe, a great company of the moste notable wyues of Rome came
to the parlemente house weping, and humbly prayeng, that rather one
woman shuld be maryed vnto ii men than ii wemen to one man. The
Senatours entringe into the court, what with the sodayn assembling of
the wyues and of their request, were right sore astonied. Than the
childe Papyrius stode forth, and enformed the senatours, how his mother
wold haue compelled him to vtter the secrete counsayle: and howe he, to
contente her mynde, feyned that leasynge. For which dede the Senatours
right hyghly commended the childes fydelite and wytte. And forth-with
they made a law, that no child after that (saue only Papirius) shuld
come in to the parlement house with his father. And for his great
prudence in that tender age he hadde gyuen to hym, to his great honour,
this surname _Pretextatus_.

Whereby ye may se, that the hygh treasure of man, and greattest grace,
rested in well-ordrynge of the tonge. The moste prudent poete Hesiodus
sayth: The tonge shulde not ronne at large, but be hydde as a precious
treasure: for, of all the membres of man, the tonge yll-ordered is the
worste. The tonge blasphemeth God. The tonge slaundereth thy neyghbour.
The tonge breaketh peace, and stereth vp cruell warre, of all thynges
to mankynde moste mischefull; the tonge is a broker of baudrye; the
tonge setteth frendes at debate; the tonge with flatterynge, detraction
and wanton tales enfecteth pure and clene myndes; the tonge without
sworde or venome strangleth thy brother and frende; and brefely to
speake, the tonge teacheth cursed heresyes, and of good Christiens
maketh Antichristes.


[172] _Noctes Atticæ_, translated by Belue, vol. i. p. 86. The _Historie
of Papyrius Prætextatus_ is related in the 18th Novel of the 1st Tome of
Painter's _Palace of Pleasure_.

[173] Deceit, or what would now be called a _white lie._

[174] _i.e._ which of the two.

¶ _Of the corrupte man of lawe._ xxii.

¶ There was a man of lawe, whiche on a tyme shulde be iudge betwene a
poure man and a ryche: the poure man came, and gaue hym a glasse of oyle
(whiche was as moche as his power wold stretche to) and desyred, that he
wolde be good in his matter. Yes, quod he, the matter shall passe[175]
with the. The riche man, perceyuynge that, sente to the same iudge a
fatte hogge, and prayed hym to be fauorable on his syde. Wherfore he
gaue iudgement agaynst the poure man. Whan the poure man sawe that he
was condemned, pytously complaynyng he sayd to the Judge: syr, I gaue
you a glasse of oyle, and ye promysed by your faith, the matter shulde
passe with me. To whom the iuge sayde: for a trouth there came a hogge
into my house, whiche founde the glasse of oyle, and ouerthrewe and
brake it: and so through spyllynge of the oyle I cleane forgot the.

  Wherby ye may se, that euermore amonge
  The ryche hath his wyll, the pore taketh wronge.


[175] Go easily.

¶ _Of kynge Lowes of France, and the husbandman._ xxiii.

¶ What tyme kynge Lowes of Fraunce, the xi of that name, bycause of the
trouble that was in the realme, kepte hym selfe in Burgoyne, he chaunced
by occasion of huntinge to come acqueynted with one Conon a homely
husbande man, and a plaine meanynge felowe, in whiche maner of men the
hygh princes greatly delyte them. To this man's house the kynge ofte
resorted from huntynge. And with great pleasure he wolde eate radysshes
rotes with hym. Within a whyle after, whan Lowes was restored home, and
had the gouernaunce of France in his hande, this husbandeman was
counsailed by his wyfe to take a goodiy sorte of radysshe rotes and to
go and gyue them to the kyng, and put him in mind of the good chere,
that he had made hym at his house. Conon wolde nat assente therto. What
folysshe woman! quod he, the greate princes remembre nat suche smalle
pleasures. But for all that she wolde not reste, tyll Conon chose out a
great syght[176] of the fayrest rootes, and toke his iourney towarde the
courte. But as he went by the way, he yete vp all the radysshes save one
of the greattest.

Conon peaked[177] into the courte, and stode where the kynge shulde
passe by: By and by the kynge knewe hym, and called hym to hym. Conon
stepte to the kynge and presented his rote with a gladde chere. And the
kynge toke it more gladly, and bad one, that was nerest to hym, to laye
it vp amonge those iewels that he best loued; and than commaunded Conon
to dyne with hym. Whan dyner was done, he thanked Conon: and whan the
kyng sawe that he wolde departe home, he commaunded to gyue hym a
thousande crownes of golde for his radisshe rote. Whan this was knowen
in the kinges house, one of the court gaue the kyng a propre mynion[178]
horse. The king, perceiuing that he dyd it, bicause of the liberalite
shewed vnto Conon, with very glad chere he toke the gyft, and counsailed
with his lordes, howe and with what gyft he myght recompence the
horse, that was so goodly and faire. This meanewhile the picke-thank had
a meruailous great hope, and thought in his mynde thus: if he so wel
recompensed the radysshe rote, that was gyuen of a rusticall man, howe
moche more largely wyl he recompence suche an horse, that is gyuen of me
that am of the courte? Whan euery man had sayde hys mynde, as though the
kynge had counsayled aboute a great weyghty matter, and that they hadde
longe fedde the pycke thanke with vayne hope, at last the kyng sayd: I
remembre nowe, what we shal gyue hym; and so he called one of his
lordes, and badde hym in his eare go fetche hym that that he founde in
his chambre (and told hym the place where) featly[179] folded vp in
sylke. Anone he came and brought the radysshe roote, and euen as it was
folded vp, the kyng with his owne hand gaue it to the courtier, sayenge:
we suppose your horse is well recompensed with this iewell, for it hath
cost vs a thousande crownes. The courtier went his way neuer so glad,
and whan he had vnfolded it, he found none other treasure but the
radysshe rote almoste wethered.[180]


[176] This old phrase is still in colloquial use. "A good sight better,"
or a "great sight more," are well understood terms among us, though

[177] A rare word as a verb, though the adjective _peakish_ is common
enough in old English writers. By _peaked_ we must understand "stole" or
got admission by stealth.

[178] A literal rendering of the Fr. _mignon_, delicate or dainty.

[179] Neatly.

[180] The germ of this and the fallowing story may be found in Lane's
_Arabian Tales and Anecdotes_, p. 112.

¶ _Of an other picke-thanke, and the same kinge._ xxiiii.

¶ Vpon a time a seruant of the fornamed kinges, seynge a louce crepe
vpon the kynges robe, kneled downe and put vp his hande, as though he
wolde do somwhat, and as the kynge bowed hym self a lyttell, the man
toke the louce, and conueyed her away priuely. The kynge asked hym what
it was, but he was ashamed to shew. So moche the kyng instanted[181]
hym, that at laste he confessed hit was a louce. Oh! quod the kynge, it
is good lucke: for this declareth me to be a man. For that kynde of
vermyne principally greueth mankynde, specially in youth. And so the
kynge commanded to gyue him fyfty crownes for his labour.

Nat longe after, an other, seynge that the kynge gaue so good a rewarde
for so smalle a pleasure, came and kneled downe, and put vp his hande,
and made as though he toke and conueyed some what priuelye awaye. And
whan the kynge constrayned him to tell what hit was, with moche
dissemblyng shamfastnes he sayd, hit was a flee. The kynge, perceyuinge
his dissimulation, sayd to him: what, woldest thou make me a dogge? and
so for his fifty crownes, that he prooled[182] for, the kinge commaunded
to gyue him fiftye strypes.

Wherby ye may note, that there is great difference betwene one that doth
a thynge of good will and mynde, and hym that doth a thynge by crafte
and dissymulation; whiche thinge this noble and moste prudent prince
well vnderstode. And one ought to be well ware[183] howe he hath to do
with highe princes and their busynes. And if _Ecclesiast[es]_ forbid,
that one shall mynde none yll to a kynge, howe shulde any dare speake


[181] Importuned.

¶ _Of Thales the astronomer that fell in a ditch._ xxv.

¶ Laertius wryteth,[184] that Thales Milesius wente oute of his house
vpon a time to beholde the starres for a certayn cause: and so longe he
went backeward, that he fell plumpe in to a ditche ouer the eares;
wherfore an olde woman, that he kepte in his house laughed and sayde to
him in derision: O Thales, how shuldest thou haue knowlege in heuenly
thinges aboue, and knowest nat what is here benethe vnder thy feet?


[182] Prowled.

[183] Careful.

[184] Diogenes Laertius (_Lives of the Philosophers_, translated by
Yonge. 1853, p. 18).

¶ _Of the astronomer that theues robbed._ xxvi.

¶ As an astronomer that satte vpon a tyme in the market place of a
certayne towne, and toke vpon him to dyuine and to shewe what theyr
fortunes and chaunses shuld be, that came to him: there came a felow and
tolde him (as it was in deede) that theues had broken in to his house,
and had borne away all that he hadde. These tidinges greued him so sore,
that all hevy and sorowefullye he rose vp and wente his waye. Whan the
felowe sawe him do so, he sayde: O thou folissh and madde man, goest
thou aboute to dyuine other mennes matters, and arte ignorant in thine

This tale (besyde the blynde errour of suche foles) toucheth them, that
handell theyr owne matters lewdly, and wyll entermedle in other mens.
And Cicero saythe: That wyse man, that can nat profytte him selfe, hath
but lytell wysdome.

¶ _Of the plough man that sayde his pater noster._ xxvii.

¶ A rude vplandisshe ploughman, on a tyme[185] reprouynge a good holy
father sayd, that he coude saye all his prayers with a hole mynde and
stedfaste intention, without thinkyng on any other thynge. To whome the
good holy man sayde: Go to, saye one _Pater noster_ to the ende, and
thynke on none other thinge, and I wyll gyue the myn horse. That shall I
do, quod the plough man, and so began to saye: _Pater noster qui es in
celis_, tyll he came to _Sanctificetur nomen tuum_, and than his thought
moued him to aske this question: yea, but shal I haue the sadil and
bridel withal? And so he lost his bargain.


[185] The orig. reads _whiche on a tyme_. I have therefore ventured to
strike out the unnecessary word.

¶ _Of him that dreamed he fonde golde._ xxviii.

¶ There was a man, that sayde in company vpon a tyme, howe he dreamed on
a nyghte, that the deuyll ledde him in to a felde to dygge for golde.
Whan he had founde the golde, the deuyll sayde: Thou canste not carye
hit a waye nowe, but marke the place, that thou mayste fetche hit an
other tyme. What marke shall I make, quod the man? S**** ouer hit, quod
the deuyl: for that shall cause euery man to shonne the place, and for
the hit shall be a speciall knowlege. The man was contente, and dyd so.
So whan he awaked oute of his slepe, he parceyued, that he had foule
defyled his bedde. Thus betwene stynke and dyrte vp he rose, and made
him redy to go forth: and laste of all he put on his bonette, wherin
also the same nighte the catte hadde s***; For great stinke wherof he
threwe away his couer knaue,[186] and was fayne to wasshe his
busshe.[187] Thus his golden dreame tournedde all to dyrte.[188]

Tibullus sayth: Dreames in the nyght begylen, and cause fearefull myndes
to drede thynges that neuer shalbe. But yet Claudian sayeth: Dreames in
sondrye wyse fygured gyueth warnynge of vnluckye thynges. And Valerius
Maximus wryteth that, as Hamylcar besiged the cyte of Syracuse, he
dreamed, that he harde a voyce saye, that he the nexte daye shulde suppe
with in the cyte. Wherfore he was ioyfull, as thoughe the victorye from
heuen had ben to him promised. And so [he] apparayled his hooste to
assaute the towne: in whiche assaute he chaunced to be taken in his
lodgynge by them of the cyte, and so bounden lyke a prysoner, they ledde
hym in to theyr cite. Thus he more disceyued by hope, than by his dreme,
supped that nyghte within the citie as a prisoner, and nat as a
conquerour, as he presumed in his mynde. Alcibiades also hadde a
certayne vision in the nyghte of his miserable ende.

This tale sheweth that dreames sometyme come to passe by one meane or
other. And he that desyreth to knowe more of dreames wrytten in our
englysshe tonge, let hym rede the tale of the nounnes preste, that G.
Chauser wrote: and for the skeles howe dreames and sweuens[189] are
caused, the begynnynge of the Boke of Fame, the whiche the sayde Chauser
compiled with many an other matter full of wysedome.


[186] A cant term for a bonnet.

[187] Thick bushy hair.

[188] See Brand's _Popular Antiquities_, ed. 1849, iii. 132, where Brand
cites Melton's _Astrologaster, or the Figure-Caster_, 1620, to show that
to dream of the devil and of gold was deemed an equally lucky portent.
To dream of gold is also pronounced a happy omen in the _Countryman's
Counsellor_. 1633.

¶ _Of the crakynge yonge gentyll man, that wold ouerthrowe his enmyes a
myle of._ xxix.

¶ A yonge gentyl man in a cite that was beseged, rebuked the other and
called them cowherdes, bycause they wolde nat issue out and fight with
their enmyes. So he armed at all peces lepte on horsebacke, and galopte
out at the gates. Whan he, thus crakynge,[190] hadde prycked on aboute
a myle, he encountred with manye, that retourned home from the
skyrmysshe sore wounded; wherfore he beganne to ryde a softer pace. But
whan he harde the hydous noyse, and sawe a myle frome hym howe fyerslye
they of the citie and theyr enmyes assayled eche other, he stode euen
stylle. Than one, that harde his crakynge before, asked hym, why he rode
no nere[r] to fyghte with their enmyes. He answered and sayde: Trewly I
fynde nat my selfe so able and stronge in armes, that my harte wyl serue
me to ryde any nere[r] to them.

Wherby may be noted, that nat onely the force of the mynde, but also of
the body, shulde be wel consydred. Nor one shulde nat bragge and bost to
do more than he maye welle atcheue. There be many, whiche with their
wordes slee[191] theyr enmyes a great waye of, but whan they se theyr
enmye, they put on a sure breste plate and a gorget of a myle of
lengthe. Plutarche wryteth that, whan Memnon made warre for Darius
agaynste Alexander, he harde one of his souldyours crake and speake many
yll wordes agaynst Alexander; wherfore he rapte hym on the pate with a
iauelynge, sayenge: I hyred the to fyght agaynste Alexandre, and not to
crake and prate.

Otherwhyle sayth Quintus Curtius, the couetousnes of glory and
insaciable desire of fame causeth, that we thynke nothing ouermoche or
ouer hard. But Salust saith: Before a man enterprise any feate, he ought
fyrst to counsayle: and after to go in hande there with nat
heedlynge[192] nor slowly.


[189] Dreams. Thus Chaucer, in the opening lines of the _House of Fame_
(called in the old editions and in the present text the _Boke of Fame_),

"God turne us every dreme to goode! For hyt is wonder thing, be the
roode, To my wytte, what causeth swevenes Eyther on morwes, or on

For examples of the later use of the word, see Nares by Halliwell and
Wright, art. _Sweven_.

[190] Boasting.

[191] Singer reads _flee_.

¶ _Of hym that fell of a tre and brake his rybbe._ xxx.

¶ There was a husbande man whiche, on a tyme, as he clymbed a tree to
gette downe the frute, felle and brake a rybbe in his syde. To comforte
hym there came a very merye man whiche, as they talked to gether sayde,
he wolde teache hym suche a rule that, if he wold folowe it, he shuld
neuer falle from tree more. Marye, sayde the hurte man, I wolde ye hadde
taught me that rule before I felle: neuer the lesse, bycause it may
happe to profyte me in tyme to come, lette me here what it is. Than the
other sayd: Take hede, that thou go neuer downe faster than thou wentest
vp, but discende as softly as thou clymmest vp; and so thou shalt neuer

By this tale ye may note, that abidyng and slownesse otherwhile are
good and commendable, specially in those thynges, wherin spede and
hastines cause great hurte and damage. Seneca saythe: A sodayne thynge
is nought.


[192] Headlong.

¶ _Of the frier that brayde in his sermon._ xxxi.

¶ A fryer, that preached to the people on a tyme, wolde otherwhyle crie
out a loude (as the maner of some fooles is) whiche brayenge dyd so moue
a woman that stode herynge his sermone, that she wepte. He, parceyuyng
that, thought in his mynde her conscience being prycked with his wordes
had caused her to wepe. Wherfore, whan his sermon was done, he called
the woman to hym, and asked what was the cause of her wepynge, and
whether his wordes moued her to wepe or nat? Forsoth, mayster (sayde
she), I am a poure wydowe: and whan myne husbande dyed, he lefte me but
one asse, whiche gotte parte of my lyuynge, the whiche asse the wolues
haue slayne: and nowe, whan I hard your hyghe voyce, I remembred my
selye asse: for so he was wonte to braye bothe nyghte and daye. And
this, good mayster, caused me to wepe. Thus the lewde brayer, rather
than preacher, confuted with his folysshenes, wente his way; which,
thinkynge for his brayenge lyke an asse to be reputed for the beste
preacher, deserued well to here hym selfe to be compared to an asse.

  For truely one to suppose hym selfe wyse
  Is vnto folysshenes the very fyrste gryce.[193]

¶ _The oration of the ambassadour sent to Pope Urban._ xxxii.

¶ Out of the towne of Parusyn were sente vpon a tyme thre ambassadours
vnto our holye father Pope Urban, whom they founde sycke in his bed.
Before whose holynes one of the sayde ambassadours had a longe and a
tedious oration, that he had deuysed by the way; the whiche, er it was
ended, ryght sore anoyed the popes holynesse. Whan he hadde all sayde,
the pope asked: Is there anye thynge elles? An other of the thre,
percevuynge howe greately the ambagious[194] tale greued the popes
holynes to here it out, sayde: Moost holy father, this is all the
effece, and if your holynes spede vs nat forthewith, my felowe shall
telle his tale agayne. At whiche sayenge the pope laughed, and caused
the ambassadours to be spedde incontinent.

By this tale one maye lerne, that superfluous wordes ought dilygently to
be auoyded, specially where a matter is treated before an hygh prince.


[193] Step, from the Latin _grassus_ or _gressus_.

[194] Circumlocutory.--SINGER.

¶ _Of the ambassadour sent to the prince Agis._ xxxiii.

¶ Nat moch vnlike the forsayd tale, Plutarche reciteth that, whan the
ambassadour of the Abderites had at laste ended a longe tale to the
prynce Agis, he asked what answere he shulde make to them that sent him?
Say vnto them (quod the prince), whan thou comest home, that all the
longe tyme that thou didest dispende in tellynge thy tale, I sate styll
and harde the paciently.

¶ _The answere of Cleomenes to the Samiens ambassadour._ xxxiiii.

¶ Plutarche rehersethe also, that what tyme an ambassadour, that was
sente frome the Samiens, had made a longe oration vnto Cleomines, to
perswade him to make warre to Polycrates, he answered the ambassadour on
this maner of wyse: I remembre nat, what thou sayddest in the begynnyng
of thy tale, and therfore I vnderstand nat the myddis; and thy
conclusion pleaseth me nat.

Wherby we may perceyue, that the noble wyse men loue fewe wordes. And
as the Rhetoriciens say: amonge the vices of an oratoure, there is none
more hurtefull than the superfluous heape of wordes.

¶ _Of the wyse man Piso and his seruant._ xxxv.

¶ A certayn wise man called Piso, to auoyde greuous ianglynge,
commaunded that his seruauntes shulde saye nothinge, but answere to that
that thei were demaunded, and no more. Vpon a daye the sayde Piso made a
dyner, and sente a seruaunt to desire Clodius the Consull to come and
dyne with him. Aboute the houre of diner al the guestes came saue
Clodius, for whom they taryed tyll hit was almoste nyght, and euer sente
to loke if he came. At laste Piso sayde to his seruaunt: diddest thou
byd the Consull come to dyner? Yes, truely, sayde he. Why cometh he nat
than, quod Piso? Mary, quod the seruaunt, he sayde he wolde nat.
Wherfore toldest me nat so incontinent, quod Piso? Bycause, quod the
seruaunt, ye dyd nat aske me.

By this tale, seruauntes may lerne to kepe theyr maisters biddyng: but
yet I aduise maysters therby to take hede, howe they make an

¶ _Of the marchant that made a wager with his lord._ xxxvi.

¶ A certayne marchaunt, before his lorde that he was subiecte vnto,
amonge other thynges praysed his wyfe, and sayde, that he neuer harde
her lette a *****. Wherat the lorde meruailed, and sayd it was
impossible: and so layde and ventred a souper with the marchant, that
before thre monethes were ended, he shulde here her lette a ***** or
twayne. On the morowe, the lorde came to the marchaunt, and borowed
fyfty crownes, the whiche he promysed trewely to repay agayne within
viij dayes after. The marchaunt ryght sore agaynst his wylle lent it,
and thoughtfully abode, tyll the daye of payment was come: and than he
wente to his lorde and requyred his moneye. The lorde, makynge as though
he had hadde more nede than before, desyred the marchaunt to lende hym
other fyftye crownes, and promysed to paye all within a monethe. And all
though the good man denyed hit longe, yet for feare lest he shulde lose
the first somme, with moche grutchynge he lente hym the other fyfty
crownes. And so wente home to his house ryghte heuye and sorowfull in
his mynde. Thus thynkynge and dredynge diuers thynges, he passed many
nyghtes awaye without slepe. And as he laye wakyng, he harde his wyfe
nowe and than rappe out *****. At the monethes' ende the lorde sente for
the marchant, and asked him, if he neuer sythe harde his wyfe let a
*****. The marchant aknoweleginge his folye, answered thus: Forsothe,
syr, if I shulde for euery ***** paye a souper, all my goodes and landes
wolde nat suffice therto. After whiche answere, the lorde payde the
marchant his money, and the marchant payde the souper.

Here by ye maye se, that many thinges passe by them that slepe, and it
is an old sayenge: He that slepeth, byteth no body. By this tale ye may
note also that they, the whiche fortune swetelye enbraceth, take theyr
reste and slepe soundely; And contrarye wyse, they that bene oppressed
with aduersite, watche sorowefullye whan they shulde slepe. This man,
which for a very folisshe thing preysed his wyfe, afterwarde whan a
lyttell care beganne to crepe aboute his stomacke, he perceiued that
faute in her ryght great. The morall boke, called Cato,[195] counsayleth
vs to watche for the more parte: For moche slomber and slepe is the
norisshinge of vice.


[195] Vide supra, p. 22.

¶ _Of the friere that gaue scrowes agaynst the pestilence._ xxxvii.

¶ Amonge the limitours[196] in the cyte of Tiburtine (Tivoli), was a
certayne friere, which vsed to preache about in the villages to men of
the countrey: and for as moch as they greately suspecte[d] that a plague
of pestilence shulde come amonge them, he promysed eche of them a lytell
scrowe:[197] which he sayde was of suche a vertue, that who so euer bare
hit hangynge aboute his necke xv dayes shulde nat dye of the pestilence.
The folisshe people trustynge herevpon, euerye one after his power gaue
him money for a scrowe; and with a threde of a mayden's spynninge, they
hanged hit aboute their neckes. But he charged them that they shuld nat
open it tyll the xv dayes ende: for, if they did, he sayde hit had no
vertue. So whan the frire hadde gathered moche moneye, he wente his
waye. Soone after (as the desyre of folkes is to knowe newes) the sayd
scrowes were redde, in which was writen in Italian speche:

  _Donna, si fili et cadeti lo fuso,
  Quando ti pieghi, tieni lo culo chiuso._[198]

Which is to saye in englysshe: woman, if thou spynne, and thy spyndell
falle awaye, whan thou stoupest to reache for him, holde thyne ****
close. He sayde, that this passed all the preceptes and medicines of the

By whiche tale one may lerne, that all is nat gospell that suche
wanderers about saye, nor euerye word to be beleued: For often tymes:--

  _Gelidus jacet anguis in herbâ._


[196] A word used by Chaucer. It signifies a person licensed to preach
and beg within a certain _limit_. There was an order of mendicant

"Lordings, ther is in Engelond, I gesse, A mersschly land called
Holdernesse, In which there went a lymytour aboute, To preche and eek to
begge, it is no doubte."

CHAUCER'S _Sompnour's Tale_; Works, ed. Bell. ii. 103.

[197] Scrowl.

¶ _Of the phisitian, that vsed to write bylles ouer eue._ xxxviii.

¶ A certayne phisitian of Italy vsed ouer night to write for sondry
diseasis diuers billes, called resceitz, and to put them in a bag al to
gether. In the morning whan the vrins (as the custome is) were brought
to him, and he [was] desired to showe some remedy, he wolde put his hand
in to the bag, and at al auentures take oute a bille. And in takinge
oute the bille he wolde say to him that came to seke remedye in their
language: _Prega dio te la mandi bona_. That is to saye: Praye God to
sende the a good one.

By this tale ye may se, that miserable is their state whiche fortune
muste helpe and nat reason. Suche a phisitian on a tyme sayde to
Pausanias: Thou aylest nothinge. No, sayde he, I haue nat had to do with
thy phisicke. And an other tyme a frende of his sayde: Syr, ye ought not
to blame that phisitian: for his phisicke dyd you neuer hurte. Thou
sayest trouthe, quod he: for, if I hadde proued his phisicke, I shulde
nat nowe haue been alyue. And ageyne to an other that sayde: Syr, ye be
an olde man, he answered: yea, thou were nat my phisitian. Such maner
[of] checkes are to lyttell for the leude foles, that wyll practise
phisicke, before they knowe what [be]longeth to theyr name.


[198] In orig. and in Singer this is printed as prose, according to the
usual practice. The same is the case with the line below.

¶ _Of hym that wolde confesse hym by writinge._ xxxix.

¶ Ther was a yonge man on a tyme, which wrote a longe lybell[199] of his
synnes; whether he did hit for hypocrisy, folysshenesse, or oblyuion I
can not say: and whan he shulde confesse him, he gaue hit to the
confessour to rede: whiche confessor, beinge well lerned and experte in
that busynes, parceyued hit wolde requyre a longe tyme to rede ouer:
wherfore after a fewe wordes he sayde: I assoyle the frome all the
synnes conteyned in this lybell. Yea, but what shall my penaunce be,
quod the yonge man? Nothinge els, sayde the confessour, but that thou
shalte the space of a moneth rede this lybell ouer euery daye vii tymes.
And all thoughe he sayde it was impossyble for him to do, yet the
confessour wolde nat chaunge his sentence. By which mery subtyle answere
he confuted the breble brable[200] of the folysshe felowe.

By this tale ye may perceyue that he that occupyeth this office, that is
to saye, a confessour, ought to be discrete, prudent, and well lernedde.
This confessour knewe well the ordinaunce of holye churche: whiche
wylleth confession to be made with the mouthe, and nat by wrytynge.


[199] Narrative or account. In its original signification, libel merely
implied _libellus_, a little book or volume, a pamphlet, but not
necessarily one of an offensive kind.

¶ _Of the hermite of Padowe._ xl.

¶ An hermite of Padow,[201] that was reputed for an holy man, vnder the
semblaunce of confession, entyced many of the notablest wyues of the
towne vnto folye and lewednes. So at last, whan his offence was
dyuulgate and knowen (for hypocrisy can nat longe be hid) he was taken
by the prouost, and brought before the prince of Padowe, duke Francis
the vii of that name, whiche for his disporte sent for his secretarye,
to wryte the womens names, that the hermit had layen by. Whan the
hermyte had rehersed manye of the dukes seruantes wyues, and the
secretarye merely laughenge had writen them, he semed as he had al said.
Be there any mo, sayde the duke? No forsothe, said the hermite. Tel vs
trouth, quod the secretarie, who be mo, or els thou shalte be sharply
punisshed. Than the hermyte sighinge said: Go to, write in thin owne
wife amonge the nomber of the other; which saienge so sore greued the
secretarye, that the penne felle out of his hande and the duke laughed
right hartily, and sayde it was well done: that he that with so great
pleasure harde the fautes of other mennes wyues, shulde come in the same

By this ieste we may lerne, that one ought nat to reioyce at an others
grefe or hurte: For lytell woteth a man what hangeth ouer his owne


[200] Silly and licentious talk. Taylor the Water-Poet, at the end of
his _Wit and Mirth_, 1622 (_Works_, 1630, folio I. p. 200), uses the
expression _Ribble-rabble of Gossips_, which seems to be a phrase of
very similar import.

[201] Padua.

¶ _Of the Uplandysshe man, that sawe the kynge._ xli.

¶ An vplandysshe man, nourysshed in the woddes, came on a tyme to the
citie, whanne all the stretes were full of people, and the common voyce
amonge them was: The kynge cometh. This rurall manne, moued with
noueltie of that voyce, had great desyre to se, what that multitude
houed[202] to beholde. Sodaynly the kynge, with many nobuls and states
before hym, came rydynge royally. Than the people all about stedfastly
behelde the kynge and cryed aloude: God saue the kynge: God saue the
kynge. This villayne[203] herynge them crye so, sayde: O where is the
kynge, where is the kynge? Than one, shewynge hym the kynge, sayde:
yonder is he, that rydeth upon the goodly whyte horse. Is that the kyng,
quod the villayne? what, thou mockest me, quod he; me thinke that is a
man in a peynted garment.

By this tale ye may perceyue (as Lycurgus proued by experience) that
nourysshynge, good bryngynge vp and exercyse ben more apte to leade
folke to humanite and the doynge of honest thynges than Nature her
selfe. They for the mooste part are noble, free, and vertuous, whiche in
their youthe bene well nourysshed vp, and vertuously endoctryned.


[202] Hovered. This form of the word is used by Gower and Spenser. See
Nares (ed. 1859), voce _Hove_.

[203] Rustic.

¶ _Of the courtier that bad the boy holde his horse._ xlii.

¶ A courtier on a tyme that alyghted of his horse at an Inde[204] gate
sayde to a boye that stode therby: Ho, syr boye, holde my horse. The
boye, as he had ben aferde, answered: O maister, this a fierce horse; is
one able to holde him? Yes, quod the courtier, one may holde hym well
inough. Well, quod the boye, if one be able inough, than I pray you
holde hym your owne selfe.[205]

¶ _Of the deceytfull scriuener._ xliii.

¶ A certayne scriuener, whiche hadde but a bare lyuynge by his crafte,
imagyned howe he myght gette money. So he came to a yonge man, and asked
hym if he were payde x li. whiche a certayne man, that was deade,
borowed and ought to paye his father in tyme paste. The yonge manne
sayde there was no such duetye[206] owynge in his father's name, that
he knewe of. It is of trouthe, quod the scriuener: for here is the
oblygacyon therof, whiche I made my selfe. He prouoked the yonge manne
so moche, that he gaue hym money for the oblygation, and before the
mayre he required the duetie. His sonne, that was named to be dettour,
sayde playnely, that his father neuer borowed money: for if he had, it
wolde appere by his bokes, after the marchantes' maner. And forth with
he went to the scriuener and sayde to him, that he was a false man to
write a thing that neuer was done. Sonne, sayde the scriuener, thou
wotteste nat what was done that tyme: whan thy father borowed that somme
of money, thou were nat borne: but he payde it agayne within thre
monthes after, I made the quittance therof my selfe: wherby thy father
is discharged. So the yonge man was faine to gyue hym money for the
quittaunce. And whan he had shewed the quittaunce he was discharged of
that greuance. Thus by his faire fraude he scraped money from them

By this tale ye may se, that the children in this our tyme be very
prudent to get money.


[204] Inn.

[205] See _Introduction_ vi.

[206] Debt.

¶ _Of hym that saide he beleued his wyfe better than other, that she was
chaste._ xliiii.

¶ A Certayne man, whose wyfe (as the voyce wente) was nat very chaste of
her bodye, was warned of his frendes to loke better to the matter. The
man wente home and sharpely rebuked his wyfe, and told her betwene them
bothe, what his frendes had sayde. She, knowynge that periurye was no
greatter offence than aduoutry,[207] with wepynge and swerynge defended
her honestie: and bare her husbande on hande, that they feyned those
tales for enuye that they hadde to se them lyue so quietly. With those
wordes her husbande was content and pleased. So yet an other tyme
agayne, his frendes warned him of his wyfe, and badde hym rebuke and
chastice her. To whome he sayd: I pray you trouble me no more with suche
wordes. Telle me, whether knoweth better my wiue's fautes, you or she?
They sayde: She. And she (quod he), whom I beleue better than you all,
sayth playnly, that ye lye. This was well and wysely done: For one
ought nat to gyue light credence to those thinges, wherin resteth
perpetuall grefe of mynde.


[207] Adultery. The word occurs in Bacon's Essays. In his _Essay of
Empire_, the writer says:--"This kind of danger is then to be feared
chiefly when the wives have plots for the raising of their own children,
or else that they be _advoutresses_." Sir Simonds D'Ewes, in his account
of the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury, in 1613, describes the Countess of
Essex as "Somerset's _advoutress_" (_Autobiography and Correspondence of
Sir Simonds D'Ewes_, ed. Halliwell, I. 74).

¶ _Of hym that payde his dette with crienge bea._ xlv.

¶ There was a man on a tyme, which toke as moche ware of a marchaunt, as
drewe to fyftie li. and riottously playde and spente the same awaye
within shorte space. So whanne the day of payemente came, he hadde
nother[208] moneye nor ware to paye: wherfore he was arrested, and muste
come before the Justyce; whan he sawe there was none other remedye, but
that he shulde be constrayned eyther to pay the dette, or else to go to
prison. Wherfore he went to a subtyle man of lawe, and shewed to hym his
matter, and desyred of hym[209] his counsayle and helpe. What wylt thou
gyue me (quod the man of lawe), if I rydde the of this dette? By my
faythe, sayde the dettour, v marke: and lo, here it is redy; as sone as
I am quitte, ye shall haue hit. Good inough, quod the man of lawe; but
thou muste be ruled by my counsaile, and thus do. Whan thou comest
before the Justice, what som euer be saye[210] vnto the, loke that thou
answere to nothing, but cry bea styl: and lette me alone with the reste.
Content, quod he.

So, whan they were com before the Justice, he said to the dettour: doste
thou owe this marchant this somme of money or no? Bea! quod he. What
beste! (quod the Justice) answere to thy plaint, orels thou wilte be
condemned. Bea! quod he agayne. Than his man of lawe stode forth, and
sayd: Sir, this man is but an ideot. Who wolde beleue that this
marchaunt, whiche is both wyse and subtyle, wolde truste this ideot,
that can speke neuer a redy worde, of xl peny worth of ware? and so with
suche reasons he perswaded the Justyce to caste the marchaunt in his
owne action. So whan the sentence was gyuen, the man of lawe drewe the
dettour asyde, and said: Lo, howe sayst thou nowe? Haue not I done well
for the? Thou arte clere quitte of the dette that was demanded of the:
wherfore giue me my money, and God be with the. Bea! quod he. What, quod
the laweer, thou nedest not to crie bea no longer; thy matter is
dispatched; all is at a poynt, there resteth nothynge but to gyue me my
wages, that thou promysyddest. Bea! quod he agayne. I saye, quod the man
of lawe, crie bea no longer nowe, but gyue me my money. Bea! quod he.
Thus the man of lawe, neyther for fayre nor foule, coulde gette any
other thinge of his client but Bea: wherfore all angerly he departed,
and went his waye.

By this tale ye may perceyue, that they whiche be the inuenters and
diuisers of fraude and disceit, ben often times therby deceyued them
selfe. And he, that hath hyd a snare to attrap an other with, hath hym
selfe ben taken therin.


[208] An old form of _neither_.

[209] In orig. _desired him of_.

[210] Orig. reads _sayd_.

¶ _Of the woman that appeled fro kyng Philip to kynge Philippe._ xlvi.

¶ A woman, whiche [was] gyltlesse, on a tyme was condempned by kynge
Philippe of Macedone, whan he was not sobre: wherfore she sayde: I
appele. Whether,[211] quod the kynge? To kynge Philippe, quod she; but
that is whan he is more sobre and better aduysed; whiche sayenge caused
the kynge to loke better on the matter, and to do her ryght.

This wryteth Val. Maximus. But Plutarche sayth, it was a man, and kynge
Philip was halfe a slepe, whan he gaue sentence.


[211] Whither.

¶ _Of the olde woman, that prayde for the welfare of the tyrant Denise._

¶ What tyme Denyse[212] the tyranne raygned, for his cruelte and
intollerable dealynge he was hated of all the[213] cite of Syracuse, and
euery body wysshed his dethe, saue one olde woman, the whiche euery
morning praid God to saue him in good life and helth. Whan he vnderstode
that she so dyd, he meruailed greatly at her vndeserued beniuolence:
wherfore he sente for her, and asked, why and howe he had deserued, that
she prayde for hym? She answered and sayd: I do it nat with out a cause.
For, whan I was a mayde, we had a tyran raignynge ouer us, whose death I
greatly desyred; whan he was slayne, there succided an other yet more
cruell than he, out of whose gouernance to be also deliuered I thought
it a hygh benifyte. The thyrde is thy selfe, that haste begon to raygne
ouer vs more importunately[214] than either of the other two. Thus,
fearynge leest, whan thou arte gone, a worse shuld succede and reigne
ouer vs, I praye God dayly to preserue the in helthe.


[212] Dionysius.

[213] Orig. reads _che_.

[214] _Importunate_ seems to be used here in the sense of _oppressive_
or _overbearing_.

¶ _Of the phisitian Eumonus._ xlviii.

¶ A phisitian called Eumonus tolde a sicke man, that laye in great
payne, that he coulde nat scape, but he muste nedes dye of that disese.
This sicke man within a whyle after, nat by the phisitians helpe, but by
the wille of God, guerysshed[215] and was holle of his disease: howe be
hit, he was verye lowe and bare[216] broughte. And as he walked forth on
a daye, he met the same phisytian, whiche, doubtynge whether hit were
the same sycke man or nat, sayd: Arte nat thou Gaius? yes, truelye, quod
he. Arte thou alyue or deed, sayde the phisitian? I am deed, quod he.
What doste thou here than, said the phisitian? Bycause, quod he, that I
haue experience of many thinges, God hath commanded me that I shulde
come and take vp all the phisitians that I can get, to him. Whiche
sayenge made Eumonus as pale as asshes for fere. Than Gaius sayd to him:
drede thou nat, Eumonus, thoughe I sayd all phisitians: for there is no
man that hath wytte, that wylle take the for one.


[215] Fr. "guerir," to heal.

[216] Poor, or, perhaps, poorly.

¶ _Of Socrates and his scoldinge wyfe._ xlix.

¶ Laertius wryteth, that the wyse man Socrates had a coursed scoldinge
wyfe, called Xantippe, the whiche on a daye after she hadde alto[217]
chydde him powred a * * * * * potte on his heed. He, takynge all
paciently, sayde: dyd nat I tell you that, whan I herde Xantippe thonder
so fast, that it wolde rayne anone after?

Wherby ye maye se, that the wyser a man is, the more pacience he taketh.
The wyse poet Virgil sayth: all fortune by suffrance must be ouercome.

¶ _Of the phisitian that bare his paciente on honde, he had eaten an
asse._ l.

¶ A Phisitian, which had but smalle lerning, vsed whan he came to viset
his pacientes to touche the pulce; and if any appayred, he wolde lay the
blame on the paciente, and beare him on hande,[218] that he did eate
fygges, apples, or some other thinge that he forbade: and bicause the
pacientes other whyle confessed the same, they thought he had ben a
very connynge man. His seruante hadde great maruayle, howe he parceyued
that, and desyred his mayster to telle hym, whether he knewe hit by
touching of the pulce, orels by some other hygher knowlege. Than sayde
his mayster: for the good seruice that thou haste done me, I wyll open
to the this secrete point. Whan I come in to the pacientes chamber, I
loke al a bout: and, if I spye in the flore shales,[219] parynge of
chese, of aples, or of peares, or any other scrappes, anone I
coniecte,[220] that the paciente hath eaten thereof. And so to th' ende
I wold be blameles, I lay the faute on theyr mysdiettynge.

Nat longe after, the same seruaunte toke on hym to practise physike,
whyche in lyke maner blamed his pacientes, and sayde, that they kepte
nat the diete that he gaue them; and he bare them on hande that they
yete some what, wherof he sawe the scrappes in the flore. On a tyme he
cam to a poure man of the countre, and promysed to make him hole, if he
wolde be gouerned after him, and sa gaue him to drinke I wote nat what,
and went his waye tyll on[221] the morowe. Whan he came agayne, he
founde the man sicker than euer he was. The rude fole, nat knowinge the
cause, behelde here and there aboute, and whan he coude se no skrappes
nor parynges, he was sore troubled in his mynde. So at the last he
espied a saddel vnder the bed. Than said he all a loude, that he hadde
at length parceyued, howe the sicke man enpayred: he hath so excessiuely
passed diete (quod he), that I wonder he is nat deed. How so, quod they?
Marye, quod he, ye haue made him to eate an holle asse! Lo, where the
saddell lyethe yet vnder the bedde. For he thoughte the saddell had be
lefte of the asse, as bones are of fleshe. For which folysshnes he was
well laughed to skorne and mocked.

Thus as a good faythfull phisitian is worthy of greate honour: for
truely of hym dependethe the greattest parte of mans helthe, so lyke
wyse a folysshe and an vnlerned, that thynkethe to cure with wordes,
that he ought to do with herbes, is nat onely worthy to be deryded and
mocked, but also punysshed: for nothynge is more perillous.


[217] Orig. reads _all to_. We take the true meaning to be _alto_, as
above, _i.e._ in a loud key.

[218] Delude him with the false notion. _To bear on hande_, I presume to
be synonymous with _To bear in hande_ of the use of which among old
authors several examples are furnished by Nares (edit. 1859).

[219] Shells.

[220] Conjecture.

[221] Orig. and Singer read _an_.

¶ _Of the inholders[222] wyfe and her ii louers._ li.

¶ Nere vnto Florence dwelled an inholder, whos wyfe was nat very
dangerous[223] of her tayle. Vpon a nyghte as she was a bed with one of
her louers, there came a nother to haue lyen with her. Whan she herde
him come vp the ladder, she met him, and bade hym go thence, for she
hadde no tyme than to fulfylle his pleasure. But for all her wordes he
wolde nat go a waye, but stylle preaced[224] to come in. So longe they
stode chydinge, that the good man came vpon them, and asked them why
they brauled so. The woman, nat unprouyded of a disceytefull answere,
sayde: Syr, this man wolde come in per force to slee or myschiefe an
other, that is fled in to our house for succoure, and hitherto I haue
kepte him backe. Whan he, that was within, herde her saye so, he beganne
to plucke vp his harte and say, he wold be a wreked[225] on him
withoute. And he that was withoute made a face, as he wolde kylle him
that was within. The folysshe man, her husbande, enquered the cause of
theyr debate, and toke vpon him to sette them at one.[226] And so the
good sely man spake and made the pese betwene them both; yea, and
farther he gaue them a gallon of wyne, addynge to his wiues aduoutry the
losse of his wine.


[222] Innkeeper.

[223] Jealous, careful.

¶ _Of hym that healed franticke men._ lii.

¶ There dwelled a man in Italy, whiche vsed to heale men, that were
franticke, on this maner. He had within his house a gutter, or a
ditche, full of water, wherin he wold put them, some to the middell
legge, some to the knee, and some dypper, as they were madde.[227] So
one that was well amended, and wente aboute the house to do one thinge
and other for his meate, as he stode on a tyme at the gate, lokinge in
to the strete, he sawe a gentyll man ryde by with a great sorte[228] of
haukes and houndes; the which he called to him and said: you gentyll
man, whither go ye? On huntynge, quod the gentyll man. What do you with
all those kytes and dogges, quod he? They be haukes and houndes, quod
the gentyll man. Wherfore kepe you them, quod the other? For my
pleasure, quod the gentyl man. What costeth it you a yere to kepe them,
quod the other? XL duckettes, quod the gentyll man. And what do they
profytte you, quod he? Foure duckettes, quod the gentyll man. Gette the
lyghtlye hense, quod the madde man: for, if my mayster come and fynde
the here, he wyll put the in to the gutter vp to the throte.

This tale toucheth suche young gentyll menne, that dispende ouer moche
good[229] on haukes, houndes, and other trifils.


[224] Pressed.

[225] Wreaked, revenged.

[226] Reconcile them.

[227] _i. e._ according to their degree of madness. See _Introduction_,
viii. ix.

[228] Assortment.

[229] Goods

¶ _Of hym that sayde he was not worthy to open the gate to the kynge._

¶ As a kynge of Englande hunted on a tyme in the countie of Kent, he
hapte to come rydynge to a great gate, wherby stode a husbande man of
the countrey, to whom the kynge sayde: good felowe, putte open the gate.
The man perceyuynge it was the kynge, sayde: no, and please your grace,
I am nat worthy; but I wyll go fetche Mayster Couper, that dwelleth nat
past ij myles hense, and he shal open to you the gate.

¶ _Of mayster Uauasour and Turpin his man._ liiii.

¶ Mayster Vauasour,[230] sometyme a iudge of Englande, hadde a seruaunt
with hym called Turpin, whiche had done hym seruyce many yeres; wherfore
he came vnto his mayster on a tyme, and sayde to hym on this wyse: syr,
I haue done you seruice longe; wherfore I pray you gyue me somwhat to
helpe me in myn old age. Turpin, quod he, thou sayst trouthe, and
hereon I haue thought many a tyme; I wyll tell the, what thou shalt do.
Nowe shortly I must ride vp to London; and, if thou wilt beare my costis
thether, I wyll surely gyue the suche a thing, that shall be worth to
the an hundred pounde. I am contente, quod Turpin. So all the waye as he
rode Turpin payd his costis, tyll they came to theyr last lodginge: and
there after souper he cam to his mayster and sayde: sir, I haue born
your costes hitherto, as ye badde me; nowe, I pray you let me se, what
thynge hit is, that shulde be worthe an hundred pounde to me. Dyd I
promise the suche a thynge, quod his mayster? ye, forsoth, quod Turpin.
Shewe me thy wrytinge, quod maister Vauasour. I haue none, sayde Turpin.
Than thou arte lyke to haue nothinge, sayde his maister. And lerne this
at me.[231] Whan sa euer thou makest a bargayne with a man, loke that
thou take sure wrytynge, and be well ware howe thou makest a writynge to
any man. This poynte hath vayled[232] me an hundred pounde in my dayes:
and so hit may the. Whan Turpin sawe there was none other remedy, he
helde him selfe contente. On the morowe Turpin taryed a lytelle behynde
his mayster to reken with the hostes, where they laye, and of her he
borowed so moche money on his maysters skarlet cloke, as drewe to[233]
all the costes that they spente by the waye. Mayster Vauasour had nat
ryden past ii myle but that it began to rayne; wherfore he calledde for
his cloke.--His other seruauntes saide, Turpin was behinde, and had hit
with him. So they houedde[234] vnder a tre, tylle Turpin ouer toke them.
Whan he was come, Mayster Vauasour all angerly sayde: thou knaue, why
comest thou nat aweye with my cloke? Syr, and please you, quod Turpin, I
haue layde hit to gage[235] for your costes al the waye. Why, knaue,
quod his mayster, diddiste thou nat promyse to beare my charges to
London? Dyd I, quod Turpin? ye, quod his mayster, that thou diddest. Let
se, shew me your wriytinge therof, quod Turpin; wherto his mayster, I
thinke, answered but lytell.


[230] This old Yorkshire family produced several persons eminent in the
legal profession from the time of Henry I. downward; but the one here
intended was, in all probability, John Vavasour, who became Recorder of
York, I Henry VII., and was made a justice of the Common Pleas in
August, 1490. See Foss's _Judges of England_, v. 78, 79.

[231] Of me.

[232] _i. e._ availed, has been worth £100 to me.

¶ _Of hym that sought his wyfe agaynst the streme._ lv.

¶ A man the[re] was whose wyfe, as she came ouer a bridg, fell in to the
ryuer and was drowned; wherfore he wente and sought for her vpward
against the stream, wherat his neighboures, that wente with hym,
maruayled, and sayde he dyd nought, he shulde go seke her downeward with
the streme. Naye, quod he, I am sure I shall neuer fynde her that waye:
for she was so waywarde and so contrary to euery thynge, while she
lyuedde, that I knowe very well nowe she is deed, she wyll go a gaynste
the stream.


[233] _i. e. came_ to, or amounted to, covered.

[234] Hovered, _i. e._ halted for shelter.

[235] Laid it in pledge.

¶ _Of hym that at a skyrmyshe defended him with his feet._ lvi.

¶ A lustye yonge gentyll man of France, that on a tyme was at a
skyrmysshe, and defended him selfe valyantly with his feet, came in to
the courte, in to a chambre amonge ladies, with a goodly ringe vpon his
fynger, to whom a fayre lady sayde: syr, why weare ye that rynge vpon
your fynger? Wherfore aske you, madame, quod he? Bycause (sayde she)
your feet dyd you better seruice than your handes at the last skyrmysshe
that ye were at.

By this tale yonge men may lerne to beare them well and valyantly for
drede of reproche. Better is it with worshyp to dye than with shame to
lyue, albe hit that Demosthenes sayde: he that fleethe cometh agayne to

¶ _Of hym that wolde gyue a songe for his dyner._ lvii.

¶ There came a felowe on a tyme in to a tauerne, and called for meate.
So, whan he had well dyned, the tauerner came to reken and to haue his
money, to whom the felowe sayde, he had no money, but I wyll, quod he,
contente you with songes. Naye, quod the tauerner, I nede no songes, I
must haue money. Whye, quod the felowe, if I synge a songe to your
pleasure, will ye nat than be contente? yes, quod the tauerner. So he
began, and songe thre or foure balades, and asked if he were pleased?
No, sayde the tauerner. Than he opened his pourse, and beganne to synge

  Whan you haue dyned make no delaye
  But paye your oste, and go your waye.

Dothe this songe please you, quod he? Yes, marye, said the tauerner,
this pleaseth me well. Than, as couenant was (quod the felowe), ye be
paide for your vitaile. And so he departed, and wente his waye.

This tale sheweth, that a man may be to hastye in makynge of a bargayne
and couenantynge; and therfore a man ought to take good hede, what he
sayth: for one worde may bynde a man to great inconuenience, if the
matter be weighty.

¶ _Of the foole that thought hym selfe deed._ lviii.

¶ There was a felowe dwellynge at Florence, called Nigniaca, whiche was
nat verye wyse, nor all a foole, but merye and iocunde. A sorte[236] of
yonge men, for to laughe and pastyme, appoynted to gether to make hym
beleue that he was sycke. So, whan they were agreed howe they wolde do,
one of them mette hym in the mornynge, as he came out of his house, and
bad him good morowe, and than asked him, if he were nat yl at ease? No,
quod the foole, I ayle nothynge, I thanke God. By my faith, ye haue a
sickely pale colour, quod the other, and wente his waye.

Anone after, an other of them mette hym, and asked hym if he had nat an
ague: for your face and colour (quod he) sheweth that ye be very sycke.
Than the foole beganne a lyttel to doubt, whether he were sycke or no:
for he halfe beleued that they sayd trouth. Whan he had gone a lytel
farther, the thyrde man mette hym, and sayde: Jesu! manne, what do you
out of your bed? ye loke as ye wolde nat lyue an houre to an ende. Nowe
he doubted greatly, and thought verily in his mynde, that he had hadde
some sharpe ague; wherfore he stode styll and wolde go no further; and,
as he stode, the fourth man came and sayde: Jesu! man, what dost thou
here, and arte so sycke? Gette the home to thy bedde: for I parceyue
thou canste nat lyue an houre to an ende. Than the foles harte beganne
to feynte,[237] and [he] prayde this laste man that came to hym to helpe
hym home. Yes, quod he, I wyll do as moche for the as for myn owne
brother. So home he brought hym, and layde hym in his bed, and than he
fared with hym selfe, as thoughe he wolde gyue vp the gooste. Forth with
came the other felowes, and saide he hadde well done to lay hym in his
bedde. Anone after, came one whiche toke on hym to be a phisitian;
whiche, touchynge the pulse, sayde the malady was so vehement, that he
coulde nat lyue an houre. So they, standynge aboute the bedde, sayde one
to an other: nowe he gothe his waye: for his speche and syght fayle him;
by and by he wyll yelde vp the goste. Therfore lette vs close his eyes,
and laye his hands a crosse, and cary hym forth to be buryed. And than
they sayde lamentynge one to an other: O! what a losse haue we of this
good felowe, our frende?

The foole laye stylle, as one [that] were deade; yea, and thought in his
mynde, that he was deade in dede. So they layde hym on a bere, and
caryed hym through the cite. And whan any body asked them what they
caryed, they sayd the corps of Nigniaca to his graue. And euer as they
went, people drew about them. Among the prece[238] ther was a tauerners
boy, the whiche, whan he herde that it was the cors of Nigniaca, he said
to them: O! what a vile bestly knaue, and what a stronge thefe is deed!
by the masse, he was well worthy to haue ben hanged longe ago. Whan the
fole harde those wordes, he put out his heed and sayd: I wys, horeson,
if I were alyue nowe, as I am deed, I wolde proue the a false lyer to
thy face. They, that caryed him, began to laugh so hartilye, that they
sette downe the bere, and wente theyr waye.

By this tale ye maye se, what the perswasion of many doth. Certaynly he
is very wyse, that is nat inclined to foly, if he be stered therevnto by
a multitude. Yet sapience is founde in fewe persones: and they be
lyghtly[239] olde sobre men.[240]


[236] Knot, party.

[237] To grow faint.

[238] Crowd.

[239] Usually. See Nares, edit. 1839, _in voce_.

[240] This story is to be found in Poggius, who calls it _Mortuus
Loquens_, and from Poggius it was transferred by Grazzini to his
collection of Tales, not published till after his death.

¶ _Of the olde man and his sonne that brought his asse to the towne to
sylle._ lix.

¶ An olde man on a tyme and a lyttell boye his sonne droue a litel asse
before them, whiche he purposed to sylle at the markette towne, that
they went to. And bicause he so dyd, the folkes that wrought by the way
syde, blamed hym; wherfore he set vp his sonne, and went hym selfe on
fote. Other, that sawe that, called hym foole, by cause he lette the
yonge boye ryde, and he, beynge so aged, to goo a foote. Than he toke
downe the boye, and lepte vp and rode hym selfe. Whanne he hadde rydden
a lyttell waye, he harde other that blamed hym, bycause he made the
lyttell yonge boye ronne after as a seruaunte, and he his father to
ryde. Than he sette vppe the boye behynde hym, and so rode forthe.

Anone he mette with other, that asked hym if the asse were his owne, by
whiche wordes he coniected, that he did nat wel so to ouercharge the
lyttell sely asse, that vnethe[241] was able to beare one. Thus he,
troubled with their dyuers and manyfolde opinions; whiche, neither with
his asse vacant, nor he alone, nor his sonne alone, nor bothe to gether
rydyng at ones on the asse, coulde passe forth with out detraction and
blame. Wherfore at last he bounde the asse[s] feet to gether, and put
through a staffe; and so he and his sonne began to beare the asse
betwene them on their shulders to the towne. The noueltie of whiche
syght caused euery body to laughe and blame the folysshenes of them
both. The sely olde man was so sore agreued that, as he sat and rested
hym on a ryuers syde, he threwe his asse in to the water; and so whan he
had drowned his asse he tourned home agayne. Thus the good man,
desyrynge to please euerye bodye, contentynge none at all, loste his

By this tale appereth playnelye, that they, whiche commyt them selfe to
the opinion of the common people, ben oppressed with great myserye and
seruage: for how is it possible to please all, whan euerye man hath a
dyuers opinion, and dyuerslye iudgeth and that was well knowen to the
poet, whan he sayde:

  _Scinditur incertum studia in contraria vulgus._

And as Cicero, Persius, and Flaccus say: as many men so many myndes: as
many heedes so many wyttes. That, that pleaseth one, displeaseth an
other: Fewe alowe that that they loue nat: and that that a man aloweth,
he thynketh good. Therfore the beste is, that euery man liue well, as a
good Christen man shulde, and care nat for the vayne wordes and
ianglynge of the people. For bablynge (as Plutarchus sayth) is a greuous
disease, and harde to be remedied. For that that shulde heale it (which
is wordes of wisdome) cureth them that harkneth there vnto; but pratlers
wille here none but them selfe.


[241] Scarcely.

¶ _Of him that sought his asse and rode on his backe._ lx.

¶ There was in the countrey of Florence an husbande man, that vsed to
carye corne to the market vpon many lytell asses. On a tyme as he came
home warde, bycause he was somewhat werye, to ease him selfe, he rode on
one the strongest of them. And as he rode, dryuinge his asses before
him, he counted them, and forgot the asse that he rode on; wherfore he
thought still that he lacked one. Thus sore troubled in his mynde, he
bad his wyfe set vp his asses, and hastily rode agayne backe to the
towne vii myles of, to seke the asse that he rode on. He asked euery
body that he met, if they sawe an asse straye alone. Whan he herde euery
bodye saye they sawe none suche, makynge great sorowe, he retourned
home agayne. At laste, whan he was alyghted his wyfe parceyued and
shewedde hym playnlye, that the asse, that he rode on, was the same that
he soughte, and made suche sorowe fore.

This ieste may be well applied vnto suche as note the defautes, that
they lyghtly[242] spy in other, and take none hede, nor can nat se, what
ils they haue or[243] bene spotted with them selfe.

¶ _The answere of Fabius to Liuius._ lxi.

¶ Whan Anniball, the capitayne of Cartage, had conquered Tarent (a towne
perteinyng to the Romayns), all saue the castell, and had lefte a
garnison to kepe it, whan the worthy Romayne Fabius had knowelege
therof, he pryuely conducted an armye thether, and got the towne agayne,
and pylled[244] it. Than M. Liuius that kepte the castell with the
garnison, sayde bostynge him selfe, that Fabius had gotte the towne
through him and his helpe. You saye trouth, quod Fabius: for if you had
nat loste the towne, I shulde neuer haue gotte hit.[245]


[242] Readily. A story very like this occurs in _A Sackful of Newes_,
1673. It was originally related by Poggius in his Facetiæ, where it is
entitled _Asinus Perditus_, and it has been imitated by La Fontaine in
the fable of "Le Villageois qui cherche son veau." It is also the 12th
tale of _Les Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles_.

[243] Before.

[244] Pillaged.

¶ _The answere of Poltis, the kynge of Thrace, to the Troyan
embassadors._[246] lxii.

¶ Plutarche lyke wyse reherseth that, durynge the warre of Troy, the
Grekes and also the Troians sent ambassadours to a kynge of Thrace
calledde Poltis, whiche kynge answered th ambassadours and bade, that
Alexandre shulde delyuer agayne Helayne (for she was the cause of the
warre), and he wolde gyue him ii fayre wyues for her.


[245] "Now there was one _Marcus Livius_, a ROMAINE that was Gouernour
of TARENTUM at that time when _Hanniball_ tooke it, and neverthelesse
kept the castell still out of _Hannibals_ hands, and so held it untill
the city came againe into the hands of the ROMAINES. This _Livius_
spited to see such honour done to _Fabius_, so that one day in open
Senate, being drowned with enuy and ambition, he burst out and said,
that it was himselfe, not _Fabius_, that was cause of taking of the city
of TARENTUM again. _Fabius_, smiling to hear him, answeryd him opely:
'Indeed, thou saiest true, for if thou hadst not lost it, I had never
won it again.'"--Plutarch's _Lives_, transl. by Sir T. North, ed. 1603,
fol. 192.

[246] [Greek: Poltus, ho Thrakôn basileus en tô Trôikô polemô
presbeusamenôn pros auton hama tôn Trôôn kai tôn Achaiôn, ekeleuse ton
Alexandron apodonta tên Helenên, duo par autou labein kalas
gynaikas.]--Plutarchi _Apothegmata_ (Opera Moralia et Philosophica, vol.
vi. p. 665, edit. Lipsiæ, 1777).

¶ _The wyse answere of Hanibal to kynge Antiochus, concerninge his ryche
armye._ lxiii.

¶ Whan kynge Antiochus had prepared to make warre to the Romayns, he
caused his armye to mustre before Anniball. So they shewed and mustred,
both horse men and fote men; of whose ryche and sumptuous armour and
apparaile al the felde glistred and shone. How saye you, quod the kynge
to Hanibal, is nat this armye sufficient ynough for the Romayns? Yes,
quod Haniball, and though they were the moste couetous of all the
worlde. The kynge mente one thing, and he answered an other.[247]

¶ _The wordes of Popilius the Romayn embassadour to Antiochus the
kynge._ lxiiii.

¶ One C. Popilius was sente vp[o]n a tyme by the Senatours of Rome with
letters to Antiochus the kynge of Syrye, wherin the kyng was commaunded
to calle his armye backe agayne oute of Aegipte: and that he shulde
suffer the chyldren of Ptolome and theyr realme in peace. As th
embassadour came by the kynges tentes and pauylyons, Antiochus a good
waye of saluted him, but he did nat salute the kynge agayne, but
delyuered to him his letters. Whan the kynge hadde redde the letters, he
sayde, that he muste take counsayle, before he made him an answere.
Popilius, with a rod that he had in his hande, made a compace aboute the
kynge, and sayde: euen here standinge, take counsayle, and make me an
answere. Euery man hadde meruayle at the grauite and stout stomacke of
the man; and whan Antiochus was contente to do as the Romayns wolde haue
hym, than Popilius both saluted and embraced him.[248]


[247] See the 21st Novel of the 1st tome of the _Palace of Pleasure_
(Haslewood's edit. i. 74).

¶ _Of him that loued the marchants wyfe._ lxv.

¶ Ther was a yonge lusty gentyll man vpon a tyme that was ryght amorous,
and loued a certayne marchauntes wyfe oute of all measure, in so moch
that he folowed her to the churche and other places, but he durste neuer
speake. At the laste he, with two or thre of his felowes, folowed her
to a fryers, where he hadde tyme and place conueniente to speake thre
or four wordes to her, that he before had deuysed. So one of his felowes
sayde: go nowe, speake to her. But he stode styll all astonied. They
egged[249] and prouoked him so moche, that at last he wente vnto her,
and, clene forgettynge those wordes that he had thoughte to haue spoken,
he said to her on this wise: maistres, I am your owne lytel seruante;
wherat she smyled and sayd: syr, I nede nat your seruyce: for I haue
seruantes inow at home, that can brusshe, sponge, wasshe and do all my
other busines. The whiche answere and folysshe basshemente of the gentyl
man caused his felowes to laugh hartelye. This maner of folye was well
knowen to the poet, whan he sayde:

  _Incipit affari, mediaque in voce resistit._

  Folysshe loue maketh folkes astonied
  And eke to raue without remembrance
  Whan they shulde speake, they bene abasshed
  And of theyr wordes can make none vtterance
  Nor be so hardye them selfe to auance
  What tyme they se of her the swete face
  Of whom the loue theyr hartes doth enbrace.


[248] "Quibus perlectis, quum se consideraturum, adhibitis amicis, quid
faciendum sibi esset, dixisset, Popilius, pro cetera asperitate animi,
virga, quam in manu gerebat, circumscripsit regem: ac, 'Priusquam hoc
circulo excedas,' inquit, 'redde responsum, senatui quod referam.'
Obstupefactus tam violento imperio parumper quum hæsitasset, 'Faciam,'
inquit 'quod censet Senatus.' Tun demum Popilius dextram regi, tanquam
socio atque amico, porrexit."--Livy, lib. xlv. c. 12, edit. Twiss.

[249] Edged.

¶ _Of the woman that couerd her heed and shewed her taile._ lxvi.

¶ As a woman, that for a certayne impedimente had shaued her heed, sat
in her house bare heed, one of her neighbours called her forth hastely
into the strete, and for haste she forgotte to putte on her kerchefe.
When her neighbour sawe her so, she blamed her for cominge abrode bare
heed: wherfore she whypte vp her clothes ouer her heed. And so to couer
her hed she shewed her * * *. They, that stode by, beganne to laugh at
her folysshenes, whiche to hyde a lytell faute shewed a greatter.[250]

This tale touchethe them, that wolde couer a smalle offence with a
greatter wyckednesse; and as the prouerbe saythe: Stomble at a strawe,
and leape ouer a blocke.

¶ _Howe Alexander was monysshed to slee the fyrste that he mette._

¶ Whan great Alexander wolde entre in to Perse lande with his armye, he
counsayled with Apollo of his good spede:[251] and by lotte[252] he was
warned, that he shulde commaunde to slee the fyrst that he mette, whan
he issued out at a gate. Perchaunce, the fyrste that he mette was a man
dryuynge an asse before hym. Incontinent the kyng commaunded to take and
put hym to dethe. Whan the poore man sawe, that they wolde slee him, he
said: what haue I done? Shall I that am an innocent [man] be putte to
deathe? Alexander, to excuse his dede, sayde, he was warned by diuine
monition to commaunde to slee the fyrste that he mette comynge out at
that gate. If it be so, myghty kyng (quod the man), than the lotte
dyuine hath ordeyned an other to suffre this deth and not me: for the
lytel asse, that I droue before me, mette you fyrste.

Whiche subtyle sayenge greatly pleased Alexander: for elles he had done
amysse; and so he caused the beaste to be slayne.

By this tale one may note, that it is better sometyme to be laste than


[250] "Mal est caché a qui l'on void le dos."--Leigh's _Select French
Proverbs_, 1664.

[251] Good fortune.

[252] Casting of lots.

¶ _Howe the cite of Lamsac was saued from destruction._ lxviii.

¶ As great Alexander on a tyme was fully purposed to haue vtterly
distroyed a great cite, called Lamsac,[253] he sawe his mayster
Anaximenes[254] come towarde him withoute the walles: and bicause the
kynge perceyued manifestlye, that he came to entreate hym for the cite,
he sware a great othe, that he wolde nat do that that he came to desyre
hym fore. Than Anaximenes sayde: sir, I desyre your grace, that this
same cite Lampsac may be vtterly distroyed. Through which sage and
subtile sayeng the noble auncient citie was saued from ruyne and


[253] Lampsacus.

[254] Anaximenes, the historian, who wrote an account of the Life of
Alexander the Great. He was a native of Lampsacus, and the nephew of the
orator of the same name.

¶ _Howe Demosthenes defended a mayde._ lxix.

¶ There were two men on a time, the whiche lefte a great somme of money
in kepyng with a maiden on this condition, that she shulde nat delyuer
hit agayne, excepte they came bothe to gether for hit. Nat lang after,
one of them cam to hir mornyngly arayde, and sayde that his felowe was
deed, and so required the money, and she delyuered it to hym. Shortly
after came the tother man, and required to haue the moneye that was
lefte with her in kepyng. The maiden was than so sorowfull, both for
lacke of the money, and for one to defende her cause, that she thought
to hange her selfe. But Demosthenes, that excellent oratour, spake for
her and sayd: sir, this mayden is redy to quite her fidelite,[255] and
to deliuer agayne the money that was lefte with her in kepynge, so that
thou wylt brynge thy felowe with the to resceyue it. But that he coude
nat do.

¶ _Of him that desired to be made a gentilman._ lxx.

¶ There was a rude clubbysshe[256] felowe, that longe had serued the
duke of Orliance; wherfore he cam on a tyme to the duke, and desired to
be made a gentyll man. To whom the duke answered: in good feyth, I may
well make the ryche, but as for gentyl man I can neuer make the.[257]

By which wordes appereth, that goodes and riches do not make a gentyl
man, but noble and vertuous conditions do.


[255] _i.e._ Discharge, or acquit herself of, her trust.

[256] Uncouth. "If thou shuldest refuse to do any of these thynges, and
woldest assaye to do some thing of more sadnes and prudence, they wyll
esteme and count the vnmanerly, _cloubbysshe_, frowarde, and clene
contrarye to all mennes myndes."--Erasmus _De Contemptu Mundi_, transl.
by Thomas Paynel, 1533, fol. 42. "Rusticitie may seem to be an ignorance
of honesty and comelinesse. A Clowne or rude fellow is he, who will goe
into a crowd or presse, when he hath taken a purge: and hee that sayth,
that Garlicke is as sweet as a gillifiower: that weares shooes much
larger then his foot: that speakes alwaies very loud:"
&c.,--_Theophrastus His Characters_, translated by John Healey, 1616,
pp. 15, 16. It is a generally received opinion that this work has come
down to us in a corrupt shape.

[257] Times were altered when the curious ballad "These Knights will
hack," printed by Mr. Halliwell from Addit. MS. 5832, in one of the
Shakespeare Society's publications (_Marriage of Wit and Wisdom_, &c.,
p. 144), was directed against the mushroom-knights of James I.:--

"Come all you farmers out of the countrey, Carters, plowmen, hedgers,
and all, Tom, Dick, and Will, Ralph, Roger, and Humphrey, Leave of your
gestures rusticall. Bidde all your home-sponne russets adue, And sute
yourselves in fashions new: Honour invits you to delights; Come all to
court, and be made knights. He that hath fortie pounds per annum Shal be
promoted from the plow: His wife shall take the wall of her grannam,
Honour is sould so dog-cheap now," &c.

¶ _Of the gentyll man and his shrewde wyfe._ lxxi.

¶ There was a certayne gentyll man, that had a cursed chydynge wyfe,
that wente euery day, and complayned on hym to a religious man, the
whiche religious man toke vpon hym by weye of confession to reconcile
and accorde them to gether: and the gentyll man was very well contente,
that he so shulde do, and came to him therfore. Whan the gentyll man was
come, the religious man badde hym shewe his offences and trespaces. No,
quod the gentyll man, that nedeth nat: for I knowe verye well my wyfe
hath shewed vnto you all the offences that euer I dyd, and moche more.

¶ _Of the two yonge men that rode to Walsyngham._[258] lxxii.

¶ One John Roynoldes[259] rode oute of London vpon a tyme towarde
Walsyngham, in company of a yonge man of the same cite, that hadde nat
moche ben accustomed to ryde. So they came to an Inne, where a[260]
great companye was lodged. And in the mornynge whan euery man made hym
redy to ryde, and some were on horsebacke setting forwarde, John
Roynoldes founde his companion, syttynge in a browne study at the Inne
gate, to whom he sayd: for shame, man, how syttest thou? Why doste thou
nat make the redy to horsebacke, that we myght sette forwarde with
companye? I tary (quod he) for a good cause. For what cause, quod
Roynoldes? Marye (quod he), here be so many horses, that I can nat telle
whiche is myne owne amonge the other, and I knowe well, whan euery man
is riden and gone, the horse that remaineth behynde must nedes be myn.


[258] Consult the new edition of Nares' Glossary, voce _Walsingham_.
"This is an Image of oure Ladye. Ergo it is oure Ladye, and here she
wyll worke wounders more than in an other place, as she dyd at
Walsingham, at Boston, at Lincoln, at Ipswiche, and I cannot tell
where."--Wilson's _Rule of Reason_, 1551, 8vo. sign S ii _verso_. In
Percy's _Reliques_, ii. 91, is the ballad "As I went to Walsingham."
"Have with you to Walsingham" is mentioned as a musical composition in
Ward's _Lives of the Professors of Gresham College_. See also Burney's
_Hist. of Music_, iii. p. 111. When people employed this form of
adjuration, as was formerly very common, they were said, for brevity's
sake, "to swear Walsingham." In the play of _The Weakest Goeth to the
Wall_, 1600, 4to. Barnaby Bunch the Botcher sings:

"King Richard's gone to Walsingham, To the Holy Land!"

with what are intended for comic interlocutions. In March, 1502--3,
Elizabeth of York, consort of Henry VII, made an oblation of six
shillings and eightpence to "oure lady of Walsingham" (_Privy Purse
Expenses of Elizabeth of York_, edited by Nicolas, p. 3). This offering
may not appear very large, but it was thought a considerable sum to
devote to the purpose in those days; for in the _Northumberland
Household Book_, ed. 1827, p. 337, we find that the yearly offering of
the Earl of Northumberland (Henry Algernon Percy, 5th. Earl, b. 1478, d.
1527) to the same shrine was fourpence. There is a fuller account of the
Shrine of Walsingham, &c., in Chappell's _Popular Music of the Olden
Time_, 121, et seqq.

[259] It is just possible that this individual may be identical with the
"John Reynolde" mentioned in the subjoined extract from the _Privy Purse
Expenses of Elizabeth of York_, under date of December, 1502:--

"It[=m] the xvth day of Decembre, to John Reynolde for money by him
payed to a man that broke a yong hors of the Quenes at Mortymer by the
space of v wekes, every weke iis. s[=m]. xs."

¶ _Of the yonge man of Bruges, and his spouse._ lxxiii.

¶ A yonge man of Bruges, that was betrouthed to a fayre mayden, came on
a tyme, whan her mother was out of the way, and had to do with her. Whan
her mother was come in, anone she perceyued by her doughters chere, what
she had done; wherfore she was so sore displesed, that she sewed a
diuorse, and wolde in no wyse suffre that the yonge man shulde marye her

Nat longe after, the same yonge man was maryed to an other mayden of the
same parysshe: and as he and his wyfe satte talkynge on a tyme of the
forsayde dammusell, to whome he was betrouthed, he fell in a nyce[261]
laughyng. Whereat laugh ye? quod his wyfe. It chaunced on a tyme (quod
he), that she and I dydde suche a thyng to gether, and she tolde hit to
her mother. Therin (quod his wyfe) she playde the foole: a seruante of
my fathers playde that game with me an hundred tymes, and yet I neuer
tolde my mother. Whan he herde her saye so, he lefte his nyce laughynge.


[260] Orig. reads _as_.

¶ _Of hym that made as he hadde ben a chaste lyuer._ lxxiiii.

¶ A felowe, that toke vpon him, as he had ben the moste chaste and beste
disposed man lyuinge, was by one of his felowes on a tyme taken in
aduoutry,[262] and sharpely rebuked for it, bycause he prated so moche
of chastite, and yet was taken in the same faute. To whome he answerde
againe: O fool, doste thou thinke that I did it for bodely pleasure? No!
no! I dyd it but onely to subdue my flesshe, and to purge my reynes.

Wherby ye may perceyue, that of all other dissemblynge hipocrytes are
the worste.


[261] Foolish. Used in this sense by Chaucer and Shakespeare. See the
last edit, of Nares _in voce_.

[262] I have already explained this word to signify adultery. The latter
form appears to have been little used by old writers (though it occurs
in the _Rule of Reason_, 1551, 8vo. by Thomas Wilson). Thus in Paynel's
translation of Erasmus _De Contemptu Mundi_,1533, fol. 16, we
find--"Richesse engendre and brynge forth inceste and advoutry."

"_Hobs._ Mass, they say King Henry is a very _advoutry_ man.

"_King._ A devout man? And what King Edward?"--

Heywood's _Edward IV._ Part I. 1600.

¶ _Of hym that the olde roode fell on._ lxxv.

¶ As a man kneled vpon a tyme prayenge before an olde rode, the rode
felle downe on him and brak his hede; wherfore he wolde come no more in
the churche halfe a yere after. At lengthe, by the prouocation of his
nighbours, he cam to the churche agayne; and bycause he sawe his
nighbours knele before the same rode, he kneled downe lyke wyse and
sayde thus: well, I may cappe and knele to the; but thou shake neuer
haue myn harte agayne, as long as I lyue.

By which tale appereth, that by gentyll and courteyse entreatinge mens
myndes ben obteyned.[263] For though the people cappe and knele to one
in highe authorite, yet lyttell whoteth he, what they thynke.


[263] Orig. and Singer read _opteyned_.

¶ _Of the wydow that wolde nat wedde for bodily pleasure._ lxxvi.

¶ There was a ryche wydowe, whiche desyredde a gossyp of hers, that she
wold get her an husband: nat for the nyce playe, quod she, but to th'
entente he may kepe my goodes to gether, whiche is an harde thinge for
me to do, beynge a lone woman. Her gossyp, whiche vnderstode her
conceyte, promysed her so to do. Aboute iii or iiii dayes after, she
came to her agayne, and sayde: gossyp, I haue founde an husbande for
you, that is a prudente, a ware, and a worldlye[264] wyse man, but he
lacketh his priuey members, wherof ye force nat. Go to the dyuell with
that husbande (quod the wydowe): for though that I desyre nat the nyce
playe: yet I wylle that myne husbande shall haue that, where with we may
be reconciled, if we falle at variance.

¶ _Of the couetous ambassodour, that wolde here no musike._ lxxvii.

¶ Whan a couetous man on a time was come vnto a certain cite, whither he
was sent as ambassadour for his contrey, anon the mynstrels of the cite
came to him to fil his eares with swete din, to th' intente he shuld fyl
their purses with money. But he, perceyunge that, bad one of his
seruauntes go and telle them, that he coulde nat than intende[265] to
here their musicke, but he muste demene great sorow, for his mother was
deed. So the minstrels, disapointed of theyr purpose, all sadlye went
theyr waye. And whan a worshipfull man of the cite, that was his frende,
herd tell of his mourning, he came to visete and comforte him; and so in
talkynge together he asked, howe longe a go it was that his mother
deceased? Truelye (quod he), hit is xl yere ago. Than his frende,
vnderstandyinge his subtilte, beganne to laughe hartely.

This tale is aplyed to the couetous men, whiche by al crafte and meanes
study to kepe and encreace theyr money and substance; agaynst whiche
vyce many thinges ben wryten. As farre (sayth one) is that frome a
couetous man that he hath, as that he hath nat.[266] And Diogenes
calleth couetousnes the heed of all yuels, and saynt Hieronyme calleth
couetousnes the rote of all yuels. And for an example, the tale
folowinge shall be of couetousnes.


[264] Orig. and Singer read _wordlye_.

[265] Give attention.

[266] "The covetous man is servaunt and nat mayster vnto riches: and the
waster will nat longe be mayster therof. The one is possessed and doth
nat possesse; and the other within a shorte whyle leueth the possession
of riches."--Erasmus _De Contemptu Mundi_, 1533, fol. 17 (Paynel's
translation). So also, in the _Rule of Reason_, 1551, 8vo, Wilson
says:--"Is a covetous man poore or not? I may thus reason with my self.
Why should a couetous man be called poore, what affinitie is betwixt
them twoo? Marie, in this poynct thei bothe agree, that like as the
poore man ever lacketh and desireth to have, so the covetous manne ever
lacketh, wantyng the use of that whiche he hath, and desireth styl to
have." "To a covetous ma he (Pythagoras) sayde:--"O fole, thy ryches are
lost upon the, and are very pouertie."--Baldwin's _Treatise of Morall
Phylosophie_, 1547.

¶ _How Denise the tirant serued a couetous man._ lxxix.

¶ It was shewed to Denise the tyran, that a couetous man of the cite had
hyd a great some of money in the grounde, and lyued moste wretchedly:
wherfore he sente for the man, and commaunded him to go dyg vp the
money, and so to deliuer it vnto him. The man obeyed, and delyuered vnto
the tyran all the golde and treasure that he hadde, saue a small some,
that he priuelye kept a syde: where with he wente in to an other cite,
and forsoke Syracuse: and there bought a lytell lande, where vpon he
lyued. Whan the tyran vnderstode that he hadde so done, he sent for him
agayne; and whan he was come, the tyran sayde to him: syth thou haste
lerned nowe to vse well thy goodes, and nat to kepe them vnprofytably, I
wyll restore them all to the agayne. And so he dyd.

¶ _Of the olde man, that quengered[267] the boy oute of the apletree
with stones._ lxxx.

¶ As an olde man walked on a tyme in his orcherd he loked vp, and sawe a
boye sytte in a tree, stealynge his apples; whom he entreated with fayre
wordes to come downe, and let his apples alone. And whan the olde man
sawe, that the boye cared nat for him, by cause of his age, and set
noughte by his wordes, he sayde: I haue harde saye, that nat onlye in
wordes, but also in herbes, shulde be greatte vertue. Wherfore he
plucked vp herbes, and beganne to throwe them at the boye, wherat the
boye laughed hartelye, and thought that the olde man hadde ben mad, to
thynke to driue him out of the tree with casting of herbes. Than the
olde man sayde: well, seynge that nother wordes nor herbes haue no
vertue agaynste the stealer of my goodes, I wylle proue what stones
wylle do, in whiche, I haue harde men saye, is great vertue; and so he
gathered his lappe full of stones, and threwe them at the boye, and
compelled hym to come downe, and renne awaye.

This tale sheweth, that they, that bene wyse, proue many wayes, before
they arme them.


[267] Conjured.

¶ _Of the ryche man that wolde not haue a glyster._ lxxxi.

¶ There was a certayn riche man on a tyme, whiche felle sycke, to the
whose curynge came many phisitians (for flyes by heapes flee to honye).
Amonge them all there was one that sayde, that he muste nedes take a
glyster, if he wolde be holle. Whan the sicke man, that was nat envred
with that medicine, harde hym saye so, he sayde in a great furye: out a
dores with those phisitians! they be madde: for, where as my payne is in
my heed, they wolde heale me in myne * * * *.

This fable sheweth that holsom thynges to them, that lacke knowlege and
experyence, seme hurtfull.

¶ _Of hym that feyned hym selfe deed to proue what his wyfe wolde do._

¶ A yonge married man on a time, to proue, to here and to se what his
wyfe wolde do, if he were deed, came in to his house, whyle his wyfe was
forthe wasshynge of clothes, and layd him downe in the floore, as he had
ben deed. Whan his wyfe came in, and sawe him lye so, she thought he had
ben deed in dede; wherfore she stode euen stylle, and deuysed with her
selfe whether was better to bewayle his dethe forth with, or els to dyne
fyrste; for she had eate of nomeate[268] all the day. All other thinges
consydered, she determined to dyne fyrste. So she cut a coloppe of
baken, and broyled it on the coles, and began to eate theron a pace; she
was so hungrye, that she toke no hede of drynke. At laste, the saltenes
of the meate made her to thyrste so sore, that she muste nedes drynke.
So, as she toke the potte in her hande, and was goyng downe into her
seller to drawe drynke, sodaynely came one of her neyghbours for a cole
o' fyre.[269] Wherfore she stepped backe quickely, and though she was
right thyrsty, yet she sette the potte a syde; and as [if] her husbande
had than fallen downe deed, she beganne to wepe, and with many
lamentable wordes to bewayle his dethe; which wepynge and walyng and
sodaine dethe of her husbande caused all the neyghbours to come thyther.
The man laye stylle in the floore, and so helde his brethe, and closed
his eies, that he semed for certayne to be deade. At laste, whanne he
thought he had made pastyme inough, and herynge his wyfe saye thus:
alas! dere husbande, what shall I do nowe? he loked vp and sayde: full
yll, my swete wyfe, excepte ye go quyckely and drynke; wherwith they al
from wepyng tourned to laughynge, specially whan they vnderstode the
matter and the cause of her thyrste.

Wherby ye may se, that nat without a good skyl the poet sayde:

  _Ut flerent oculos erudiere suos._


[268] Orig. reads _no meat of_.

[269] Orig. reads _a fire_.

¶ _Of the poure man, into whose house theues brake by nyghte._[270]

¶ There was a poore man on a tyme, the whiche vnto theues, that brake
into his house on nyght, he sayde on this wyse: syrs, I maruayle, that
ye thynke to fynde any thyng here by nyght: for I ensure you I can fynd
nothing, whan it is brode day.

  By this tale appereth playnly
  That pouerte is a welthy mysery.

¶ _Of hym that shulde haue ben hanged for his scoffynge._ lxxxiiii.

¶ There was a mery felowe in hygh Almayn, the whiche, with his scoffynge
and iestynge, had so moche displeased a great lorde of the countreye,
that he thretned to hange hym, if euer he coude take hym in his
countrey. Nat longe after, this lordes seruauntes toke hym, and hanged
he shulde be. Whanne he sawe there was no remedy but that he shulde dye,
he sayde: my lorde, I muste nedes suffre dethe, whiche I knowe I haue
wel deserued. But yet I beseke you graunte me one peticion for my
soule[s] helthe. The lorde, at the instaunce of the people that stode
aboute, so it dydde not concerne his lyfe, was contente to graunte it
hym. Than the felowe sayde: I desyre you, my lorde, that after I am
hanged, to come iii mornynges, fresshe and fastynge, and kysse me on the
bare ****. Where vnto the lorde answered: the deuyll kysse thyne ****:
and so let hym go.


[270] This tale, which is a very old one, is also found in _Jests to
Make You Merie_, by T[homas] D[ekker] and George Wilkins, Lond. 1607,
4to. and in the _Philosophers Banquet_, 1614, 3vo.

¶ _Of hym that had his goose stole._ lxxxv.

¶ A man, that had a goose stoole from hym, went and complayned to the
curate, and desyred hym to do so moche as helpe, that he had his goose
again. The curate sayde he wolde. So on Sonday the curate, as though he
wolde curse, wente vp in to the pulpit, and bade euery body syt downe.
So, whan they were set, he said: why sit ye nat downe? We be set all
redy, quod they. Naye (quod the curate) he that dyd stele the goose
sitteth nat. Yes, that I do, quod he. Sayste thou that, quod the curate?
I charge the, on peyne of cursing, to bryng the goose home ageyn.

¶ _Of the begger that sayd he was kyn to kyng Philip of Macedone._

¶ There came a begger to kyng Philip of Macedone on a tyme, and prayde
the kyng to gyue hym some what; and farther he sayde he was his kynse
man. And whan the kyng asked hym which way, he answered and sayde howe
they came bothe of Adam. Than the kynge commanded to gyue hym an almes.
Whan the begger sawe it was but a small pece of moneye, he sayde, that
was nat a semely gyfte for a kynge. The kynge answered: if I shuld gyue
euery manne so moche, that is my kynse manne lyke as thou arte, I shulde
leaue nothynge for my selfe.[271]

¶ _Of Dantes answere to the iester._ lxxxvii.

¶ Dantes the poete dwelled a whyle with Can, the Prince de la
Scale,[272] with whome also dwelled an other Florentyne, that hadde
neyther lernynge nor prudence, and was a man mete for nothynge but to
scoffe and ieste; but yet with his mery toyes, he so moued the sayd Can,
that he dydde greatly enryche hym. And, bycause Dantes dispised his
foolysshenes, this scoffer sayd to hym: how cometh it, Dantes, that thou
art helde[273] so wyse and so well lerned, and yet arte poore and nedy?
I am an vnlerned man and am an ignorant fole, and yet I am farre richer
than thou art. To whom Dantes answered: if I may fynde a lord lyke and
conformable to my maners, as thou hast founde to thyn, he wyll lyke wyse
make me ryche.


[271] In _Chevræana_, première partie, Paris, 1697, 8vo. p. 119, this
story is altered to suit the Emperor Maximilian I.

[272] See Balbo, _Vita di Dante_, edit. 1853. Can de la Scala, mentioned
in the text, was one of the sons of Alberto de la Scala, Lord of Verona,
and was born in 1292. Some account of Alberto de la Scala may be found
in my _Venetian History_.

The anecdote related here probably refers to the earlier period of
Dante's acquaintance with the prince, about A. D. 1318-20. Balbo does
not seem to have thought this story worthy of notice, though he
furnishes one or two other examples of the poet's powers of retort. See
also Cinthio's _Hecatommithi, Deca Settima, Novella settima_, edit.

¶ _Of hym that had sore eyes._[274] lxxxviii.

¶ One, that had sore eies, was warned of the phisitian, that he shulde
in any wyse forbeare drinking or els lose his eies: to whom he sayd: it
is more pleasure for me to lose myne eies with drinkynge, than to kepe
them for wormes to eate them oute.

By this tale ye may perceyue, that it auayleth nat to warne some for
theyr own profytte.


[273] Orig. reads _holde_.


"_On Sore Eyes._

_Fuscus_ was councell'd if he would preserve His eyes in perfect sight,
drinking to swerve; But he reply'd, 'tis better that I shu'd Loose the,
then keep them for the worms as food."

_Wits Recreations_, 1640 (p. 35 of reprint 1817).

¶ _Of the olde woman that had sore eyes._ lxxxix.

¶ There was an olde woman, the whiche bargayned with a surgean to heale
her sore eyes; and whanne he hadde made her eies hole, and that she sawe
better, she couenaunted that he shulde be payde his moneye, and not
before. So he layde a medycyne to her eyes, that shulde not be taken
awaye the space of v dayes, in whiche tyme she myghte nat loke vppe.
Euery daye, whan he came to dresse her, he bare awaye some what of her
householde stouffe, table clothes, candelstickes and disshes. He lefte
no thinge, that he coulde carye clene. So whan her eies were hole, she
loked vp, and sawe that her householde stouffe was caryede awaye. She
sayde to the surgian, that came and required his money for his labour:
syr, my promise was to pay you, whan ye made me se better than I did
before. That is trouth, quod he. Mary, quod she, but I se worse nowe
than I did. Before ye layde medicins to myn eies, I sawe moche fayre
stouffe in myn house, and now I se nothinge at all.

¶ _Of hym that had the custodi of a warde._ xc.

¶ A certayn man, that had the custody of a ward and his goodes, and in
shorte space had spente all awaye, was by the gouernour of the cite
commanded to bring in his bookes of _Introitus et exitus_, that is to
saye, of entraunce and layenge oute, and to gyue accompte of the
orphlins[275] goodes. So whan he came, he shewed fyrste his mouthe, and
sayde, here it wente in: and after he shewed vp his ****, and sayde:
here hit wente out, and other bookes of _Introitus et exitus_ I haue

¶ _Of the excellent paynter, that had foule children._ xci.

¶ There was a peinter in Rome that was an excellent counnynge man, and
bycause he had foule children, one sayde to him: by my feyth, I maruayle
that you paynte so goodelye, and gette so foule chyldren. Yea, quod the
peynter, I make my chyldren in the darke, and I peynte those fygures by
daye lyght.[276]

[275] See the new edition of Nares _in voce_. _Orphlin_ is merely a
contraction of the French _orphelin_.


"A Skilfull Painter such rare pictures drew, That every man his
workemanship admir'd:

So neere the life in beautie, forme and hew, As if dead Art 'gainst
Nature had conspir'd. Painter, sayes one, thy wife's a pretty woman, I
muse such ill-shapt children thou hast got, Yet mak'st such pictures as
their likes makes no man, I prethee tell the cause of this thy lot?
Quoth he, I paint by day when it is light, And get my children in the
darke at night."--

Taylor's _Sculler_, 1612 (Works, 1630, iii. 22).

¶ _Of the scoffer that made a man a south sayer._ xcii.

¶ There was a mery scoffynge felowe on a tyme, the whiche toke on him to
teach a man to be a south sayer. Whan they were agreedde, what he shuld
haue for his labour, the scoffer sayde to the man: holde! eate this
rounde pellet, and I warant thou shalte be a south sayer. The man toke
and put it in his mouth, and began to champe theron, but hit sauered so
ill, that he spyt it out forth with, and said: phy! this pellet, that
thou gyueste me to eate, sauereth all of a *****: Thou sayst trouth
(quod the scoffer), nowe thou arte a south sayer; and therefore paye me
my money.[277]

¶ _Of the marchaunt of Florence called Charles._ xciii.

¶ A marchaunt of Florence, called Charles, came frome Auignone to Rome;
and as he sate at souper with a great company, one asked him how the
Florentins at Auignone fared? He sayde they were merye and gladde: for
they that dwelle there a yere (quod he) be as men that were franticke
and out of theyr myndes. Than an other, that sate at souper with them,
asked this Charles, how longe he had dwelled there. He answerde: vi
monethes. Charles (quod he that asked him the question), thou haste a
great wytte: for hit, that other be about xii monethes, thou hast
fulfylled in halfe a yere.


[277] See _Scoggin's Jests_, p. 28 (edit. 1796).

¶ _Of the chesshire man called Eulyn._ xciiii.

¶ Ther dwelled a man in Chesshyre called Eulyn, whiche vsed to go to the
towne many tymes; and there he wolde sytte drynkyng tyl xii of the
clocke at nyghte, and than go home. So on a tyme he caryed a lyttell
boye his sonne on his shulder with him, and whan the chylde fell a slepe
about ix of the clocke, the ale wyfe brought him to bed with her
chyldren. At mydnyghte Eulyn wente home, and thought no more of his
chylde. As sone as he came home, his wyfe asked for her chyld. Whan she
spake of the chylde, he loked on his shulder; and whan he sawe he was
not ther, he said he wist nat where he was. Out vpon the, horson (quod
she), thou hast let mi child fal in to the water (for he passed ouer the
water of Dee at a brige). Thou list,[278] hore (quod he): for if he had
fallen into the water, I shuld haue hard him plump.

¶ _Of him that desired to be set vpon the pillori._ xcv.

¶ There were iii loytteringe felowes fell in companye on a tyme, the
whiche wente so longe to gether tylle all theyr money was spente. Whan
their money was gone, one of them sayd: what shal we do now? By my faith
(quod an other), if I might come where preace of people were, I coulde
get moneye inough for vs. And I (quod the iii) can assemble people to
gether lyghtly. So whan they came in to a lyttelle towne, where a newe
pillory was sette vp, he, that sayde he coude lyghtly assemble people to
gether, went to the bayly of the towne whiche was a boucher, and desyred
him, that he wolde gyue him leaue to haue the maidenheed of the pyllory.
Whiche requeste at the fyrste abasshed the bayllye: for he wyst not what
he mente therby; wherfore he toke counsayle of his neighbours, what was
best to do, and they bade him set vp the knaue, and spare nat. So whan
he was on the pillorye, he loked aboute, and sawe his ii felowes busy in
the holes of the bouchers aprons, where thei vsed to put theyr money.
Than he said: ther now, go to a pace. The people gaped vp styll and
laughed; and whan he saw that his felowes had sped their maters, and
were going away, he said to the peple: now turne the pilori ones about,
and than I wyl com downe. So they laughing hartily did. Whan the felow
was com downe from the pyllory, the baylie sayde to hym: by my faythe,
thou arte a good felowe, and by cause thou haste made vs so good sporte,
holde I wyll gyue the a grote to drynke, and so putte his hande in the
hole of his apron. But there he founde neuer a penye. Cockes[279] armes!
(quod the bayllye) my pourse is pycked, and my moneye is gone. Syr
(quod the felowe), I truste ye wyll beare me recorde, that I haue hit
nat. No, by the masse, quod he, thou were on the pyllorie the whyle.
Than, no force, quod the felow, and wente his waye.


[278] Liest.

[279] (?) God's alms. Browne calls this a _dunghill_ oath:--

"With that the _Miller_ laughing brush'd his cloathes, Then swore by
Cocke and other dung-hill oathes."

_Britannias Pastorals_, lib. i. p. 100 (ed. 1625).

It is very commonly found in the early dramatists, and long before the
statute of James the First, _By cock_ and similar phrases were used, in
order to evade the charge of profaning the name of the Deity. It is of
particularly frequent occurrence in Skelton's _Magnyfycence_:--

"_Cr_[afty] _Con_[veyance]. Cockes armes, thou shalt kepe the brewhouse

_Fol_[ye]. But may I drynke thereof whylest that I stare?"

_Magnyfycence_ (Skelton's Works, ed. Dyce, i. 268).

But this writer seems to have employed it rather fantastically than from
any desire to soften the oath; for elsewhere in the same piece we find
_By God, Goddes fote_, &c. The practice of swearing had grown to such a
pitch in the time of Taylor the Water-Poet, that that writer says
(_Against Cursing and Swearing_, Works, 1630, i. 50):--"If the penalty
of twelve pence for every oath had been duly paid (as the statute hath
in that case provided) I doe verily beleeve that all the coyned money in
England would have been forfeited that way." Whitford, in his _Werke for
Housholders_, first printed about 1528 (edit. 1533, sign. c. ii et
seqq.), relates several remarkable judgments as having fallen, within
his personal knowledge, on profane swearers, who were as plentiful and
as reckless in the time of Henry VIII. as they were a century later.

¶ _Of the wydowes daughter that was sent to the abbot with a couple of
capons._ xcvi.

¶ There was an abbot that had a wydowe to his tenant, which wydow on a
tyme sent her doughter with a couple of capons to the abbotte. And whan
the mayden came with her present, she founde the abbot syttyng at dyner,
to whom she sayd: moch good dutte[280] the, my lorde! Ha! welcome,
mayden, quod he. My lorde (quod she), my mother hath sent the here a
couple of capons. God a mercy,[281] mayden, quod he. And so he made her
to be sette downe atte his owne table to eate some meate. Amonge other
meates, the abbotte had than a grene goose with sorell sauce, wherof he
dyd eate. So one, that sat at the abbottes tables, gaue the rompe of the
goose to the mayde to picke theron. She toke the rompe in her hande, and
bycause she sawe the abbot and other wete their meate in the sorell
sauce, she sayde: my lorde, I pray the gyue me leue to wete myn rompe in
thy grene sauce.


[280] Do it.

¶ _Of the two men, that dranke a pynte of whyte wyne to gether._ xcvii.

¶ There came two homely men of the countreye in to a tauerne on a tyme
to drinke a pynte of wine. So they satte stylle, and wyste not what wyne
to calle for. At last, herynge euerye man call for white wyne as clere
as water of the rocke, they bad the drawer brynge them a pynte of whyte
wyne as clere as water of the rocke. The drawer, seyng and perceyuyng by
their wordes that they were but blont felowes, he brought them a pinte
of clere water. The one of them fylled the cuppe, and dranke to his
felow, and sayd: holde, neighbour, by masse, chadde[282] as lefe drynke
water, saue only for the name of wyne.[283]


[281] God thank you.

[282] _i.e._ I had.

[283] The beverage of which these persons are here supposed to partake
was probably what, in Charles the First's time, was called _white wine_;
which, if diluted, as was no doubt very commonly done, would present a
very watery aspect. A very curious account of the wines in vogue during
the reigns of Elizabeth and James I. is given by Taylor the Water-Poet
in his _Praise of Hempseed_. Cartwright, in his _Ordinary_, has the
following passage, describing the various sorts of wine used in his

"_Hearsay._ Thou hast forgotten Wine, Lieutenant, wine.

_Slicer._ Then to avoid the grosse absurdity Of a dry Battel, 'cause
there must some bloud Be spilt (on th' enemies side, I mean) you may
Have there a Rundlet of brisk Claret, and As much of Aligant, the same
quantitie Of Tent would not be wanting, 'tis a wine Most like to bloud.
Some shall bleed fainter colours, As Sack, and white wine. Some that
have the itch (As there are Taylors still in every Army) Shall run with
Renish, that hath Brimstone in't."

_Aligant_ mentioned in this extract was the wine grown in Alicante, a
province of the ancient Kingdom of Valencia. Sometimes it was spelled
Aligaunt or Aligaunte:--

"_Pseud._ In Ganges Iles I thirty rivers saw Fill'd with sweet nectar.

_Lach._ O dainty lyer!

_Pseud._ Thirty rivers more With Aligaunte."

_Timon_, a Play, p. 39.

In the _Privy Purse Expenses of Henry VIII._, under date of Feb. 16,
1530, occurs the following item:--"Paied to the S'geant of the Sello'
for iii tonne of white wyne of galiake (Gaillac in Languedoc)." See also
_the Northumberland House-Hold Book_, ed. 1827, p. 414; and Taylor's
_Penniless Pilgrimage_, 1618 (_Works_, 1630, i. 136).

¶ _Of the doctour that went with the fouler to catche byrdes._ xcviii.

¶ There was a doctour on a tyme, whiche desired a fouler, that went to
catche byrdes with an owle, that he might go with hym. The byrder was
content, and dressed hym with bowes, and set hym by his oule, and bad
hym say nothynge. Whan he saw the byrdes alyght a pace, he sayde: there
be many byrdes alyghted, drawe thy nettes; where with the byrdes flewe
awaye. The byrder was very angry, and blamed him greatly for his
speakyng. Than he promysed to hold his peace. Whan the byrder was in
agayn, and many byrdes were alyghted, mayster doctour said in latyn:
_aves permultæ adsunt_; wherwith the byrdes flewe away. The byrder came
out ryghte angrye and sore displeased, and sayde, that by his bablynge
he had twyse loste his pray.[284] Why, thynkest thou, foole (quod the
doctour), that the birdes do vnderstand latin? This doctour thought that
the vnderstandynge, and nat the noyse, hadde feared awaye the byrdes.


[284] "He that will take the bird, must not skare it."--Herbert's
_Outlandish Proverbs_, 1640, No. 41.

¶ _Of hym that vndertoke to teache an asse to rede._ xcix.

¶ There was a certayne tyran,[285] the which, to pylle one of his
subiectes of his goodes, commaunded hym to teache an asse to spelle and
rede. He sayd it was impossible, except he might haue space inough
therto. And whan the tyran bade hym aske what tyme he wolde, he desyred
x yeres respite. But yet, bycause he vndertoke a thynge impossible,
euerye bodye laughed hym to scorne. He tourned towarde his frendes and
sayde: I am nothynge affrayde: for in that space, either I, the asse, or
elles my lorde may dye.

By whiche tale appereth, that it is holsome to take leyser inough aboute
a thynge that is harde to do, specially whanne a man can nat chose to
take hit on hande.[286]


[285] This word, which frequently occurs in the course of the present
work, must be understood to be merely equivalent to the Greek [Greek:
tyrannos], a prince whose authority is unlimited by constitutional
restraints. There seems to be some ground for the supposition that
[Greek: tyrannos] is nothing more than the Doric form of [Greek:
koipanos]. It may be mentioned that in middle-Greek the word _despota_
([Greek: despotês]) bore no harsher meaning than that of a _petty
prince_, acting independently, but acknowledging a suzerain. It is to be
found in this sense, I think, in almost all the Byzantine historians.

[286] _i.e._ when the undertaking is no matter of choice.

¶ _Of the fryer that confessed the woman._[287] c.

¶ As a fayre yong woman of the towne of Amilie confessed her to a
friere, he beganne to burne so in concupiscence of the flesshe, that he
entyced her to consente to his wylle. And they agreed, that she shulde
feyne her selfe sycke, and sende for hym to shryue her. Within iij
dayes after, she feyned her selfe sycke, and laye downe in her bedde,
and sente for the same fryere to shryue her. Whan the friere was come,
and euery body voided out of the chambre, he went to bedde to the woman,
and there laye a longe space with her. Her husbande, suspectyng so longe
a confession, came in to the chaumbre; whose sodayne comynge so sore
abasshed the fryer, that he went his way and lefte his breche behynde
him lyenge on the bedde. Whan her husbande sawe the breche, he sayd a
loude, this was nat a frier, but an aduouterer; and for great
abbomination of the dede he called all his householde to se hit. And
forthe with he went and complayned to the warden of that couent, and
thretned to slee hym that had done the dede. The wardyen, to appease his
anger, sayde, that suche publysshynge was to the shame of hym and his
householde. The man said, the breche was so openly founde, that he coude
nat hyde it. The warden to remedy the matter sayde, it was saynt
Fraunces' breche, an holy relyke that his brother caryed thither for the
womans helth, and that he and his couent wolde come and fetche hit home
with procession. With those wordes the man was contente. Anone the
warden and his frieres, with the crosse before them, and arayed in holye
vestementes, went to the house and toke vppe the breche; and two of
them, on a clothe of sylke, bare it solemlye on hyghe betwene theyr
handes, and euerye bodye that mette them kneled downe and kyssed it. So,
with great ceremony and songe, they brought it home to their couente.
But after, whanne this was knowen, ambassadoures of the same citie wente
and complayned therof before the Holy See Apostolyke.


[287] This is a very favourite tale with the early Italian novelists. In
Dunlop's _History of Fiction_, ii. 364-5 (Second Edition), the incident
is said to have been founded on a real adventure of a French priest. In
the following extract from a highly curious pamphlet, it appears in a
different form:--

"There was a rich Burgess of Antwerp, a Mercer by his trade, who was a
Bawd to his own Wife (though it was against his will or knowledge), but
I blame him not, for I doubt hee hath many more fellowes as innocent and
ignorant as himselfe, but this was the case, his wife wearing corke
shooes, was somewhat light-heel'd, and like a foul player at Irish,
sometimes she would beare a man too many, and now and then make a wrong
Entrance. The summe was, that shee lov'd a Doctor of Physicke well, and
to attaine his company shee knew no better or safer way, than to faine
her selfe sicke, that hee under the colour of visitation might feele her
pulses, and apply such cordiall Remedies as might either ease or cure
her. In briefe, the Doctor being sent for, comes and finds the Mercer
her husband walking in his shop with a neighbour of his, where after a
leash of _Congees_, and a brace of _Baza los manus_, the Mercer told him
that his Wife is a languishing sicke woman, and withall entreats him to
take the paines to walke up the staires, and minister some comfort unto
her: Master Doctor, who knew her disease by the Symptomes, ascends up
into the Chamber to his longing patient, staying an houre with her,
applying such directions and refections, that her health was upon the
sudden almost halfe recovered; so taking his leave of her (with promise
of often visitation) he comes downe into the shope, where the guiltlesse
_Bawd_ her husband was, who demanding of the Doctor how all did above;
truely quoth hee, much better than when I came, but since I went up,
your wife hath had two such strange violent fits upon her, that it would
have grieved your very heart to have seene but part of one of
them."--Taylor's _Bawd_ (Works, 1630, ii. 94).

¶ _Howe a chaplen of Louen deceyued an vsurer._ ci.

¶ In the towne of Louen[288] was a chaplayne called Antonye, of whose
merye sayenges and doynges is moche talkynge. As he mette on a daye one
or two of his acqueyntaunce, he desyred them home with him to dyner: but
meate had he none, nor money. There was no remedy but to make a shefte.
Forth he goth, and in to an vserers kytchynne, with whome he was
famylier; and priueilye vnder his gowne he caryed oute the potte with
meate, that was sod[289] for the vsurers dyner. Whan he came home, he
putte oute the meate, and made the pot to be scoured bryght, and sente a
boye with the same pot to the vserer to borowe ii grotes theron, and
bade the boye take a bylle of his hande, that suche a brasse potte be
delyuered hym. The boy did as he was bydde; and with the money that he
hadde of the vsurer, he bought wine for theyr dyner. Whan the vsurer
shulde go to dyner, the potte and meate was gone, wherfore he alto
chydde his mayde. She said there came no bodye of all the daye, but syr
Antony.[290] They asked him, and he sayde he had none. At length, they
sayde in erneste, he and no man els had the pot. By my fayth (quod he),
I borowed suche a potte vpon a tyme, but I sente hit home agayne; and so
called witnes to them, and sayde: lo, howe peryllous it is to deale with
men nowe a dayes withoute wrytynge. They wolde lay thefte to my charge,
an' if I had no wrytinge of the vsurers hande; and so he shewed oute the
wrytinge. And whan they vnderstode the disceyte, there was good


[288] Louvaine.

[289] Cooked.

¶ _Of the same chaplen and one that spited him._ cii.

¶ The same Antony dyned on a tyme with a sorte of merye felowes, amonge
whome there was one that greatly spited[291] him in his scoffes and
merye iestes. And as they sate laughynge and sporting, one asked whiche
was the most reuerent part of mans bodye? One sayd the eie, an other the
nose; but Antony, bycause he knew his enuyer wolde name the clene
contrarye, sayde the mouth was the most reuerent parte. Naye, quod his
enuyer, the parte that we sytte on is the moste reuerent; and bicause
they meruayled whye, he made this reason, that he was moste honourable
amonge the common people, that was fyrste sette; and the parte that he
named was fyrste sette. Whiche sayenge contented them, and they laughed
merelye. He was nat a littell proude of his sayenge, and that he hadde
ouer come Antonye. This past forth. Four or fyue dayes after, they were
bothe bydde to dyner in a nother place. Whan Antony cam in, he found his
enuier, that sat talkynge with other, whyle the diner was makynge redy.
Antony tourned his backe to him and lette a great ***** agaynst his
face. His enuyer, greatlye disdayninge, sayde: walke knaue with a
myschiefe, where hast thou ben nourtered? Why and dysdaynest thou, quod
Antony? if I had saluted the with my mouthe, thou woldest haue saluted
me agayne; and nowe I grete the with that parte of my body, that by
thyn owne sayenge is moste honourable, thou callest me knaue.

Thus he got agayne his praise, that he hadde loste before.


[290] It is scarcely necessary to mention that formerly all priests were
styled Sir. One of John Heywood's interludes is called: _A Play between
Johan the Husband, Tyb the Wife, and Sir Johan the Prest_. In an old
ballad in the Ashmole Collection, beginning, "Adew! my pretty pussy,"
there is this passage:--

"But the gyrld ys gon, syr, With a chokynge bon, syr, For she hath got
Syr John, syr, And ys oure vyckars wyff."

[291] Thwarted, crossed.

¶ _Of the olde man that put him selfe in his sonnes handes._ ciii.

¶ There was a certayne olde man, whiche let his sonne to mary, and to
brynge his wyfe and his chyldren to dwelle with him, and to take all the
house in to his owne hande and gydinge. So a certeyne tyme the olde man
was sette and kepte the vpper ende of the table; afterwarde they sette
him lower, aboute the myddes of the table; thyrdely they set him at the
nether ende of the table; fourthly he was set amonge the seruantes;
fyfthly they made him a couche behynde the halle dore, and cast on him
an olde sacke clothe. Nat longe after, the olde man died. Whan he was
deed, the yonge mans sonne came to him and sayde: father, I prey you
gyue me this olde sacke cloth, that was wonte to couer my graundfather.
What woldest thou do with it, sayde his father? forsoth, sayd the
chylde, it shall serue to couer you whan ye be olde, lyke as it did my
grandfather;--at whiche wordes of the chylde this man ought to haue ben
ashamed and sory. For it is wryten: sonne, reuerence and helpe thy
father in his olde age, and make him not thoughtfull and heuy in his
lyfe, and though he dote, forgyue it him. He that honoreth his father,
shall lyue the longer, and shall reioyce in his owne chyldren.[292]

¶ _Of hym that had a flye peynted in his shilde._ ciiii.

¶ A yonge man, that on a tyme went a warfare, caused a flye to be
peynted in his shylde, euen of the very greatnes of a flye; wherfore
some laughed at him and sayde: ye do well, because ye wyll not be
knowen. Yes, quod he, I do it because I wyll be knowen and spoken of.
For I wyll approch so nere our enemys, that they shall well decerne what
armes I beare.

Thus it, that was layde to him for a blame of cowardise, was by his
sharpe wytte turned to a shewe of manlynes; and the noble and valiaunt
Archidamus sayde: shotte of crossebowes, slynges, and suche lyke ingins
of warre are no proffe of manhode; but whan they come and fyghte hande
to hande, appereth who be men and who be not.


[292] The original of this is the Fabliau of _La Hence Partie_, in
Barbazan's Collection. The story has been used by Lando, in his _Varii
Componimenti_, 1552, 8vo.

¶ _Of th' emperour Augustus and the olde men._ cv.

¶ As the noble emperour Augustus on a time cam in to a bayne,[293] he
behelde an olde man, that hadde done good seruice in the warres,
frotte[294] him selfe a gaynste a marble pyller for lacke of one to
helpe to wasshe him. Th' emperour, moued with pite, gaue an annuite to
fynde hym and a seruaunt to wayte vpon him. Whan this was knowen, a
great sorte of olde men drewe them to gether, and stode where as the
emperour shulde passe forth by, euerye one of them rubbynge his owne
backe with a marble stone. The emperour demaunded why they dyd so?
Bycause, noble emperour, sayd they, we be not able to kepe seruantes to
do it. Why, quod the emperour, one of you maye clawe and frote an others
backe well inough.

¶ _Phocions oration to the Athen[ian]s._[295] cvi.

¶ Phocion on a daye, treatynge a longe oration to the people of Athenes,
plesed them very wel; and whan he sawe that they all to gether allowed
his wordes, he tourned to his frendes and sayd: haue I vnwarely spoken
any hurte? So moche he perswaded hym selfe, that nothyng coude plese
them that was well and truely spoken.


[293] Bath.

[294] Rub, from the French, _frotter_.

[295] Phocion, the celebrated Athenian patriot, b. 402 B.C. d. 317 B.C.
Full particulars about him may be found in Mr. Grote's _History of
Greece_, and in Dr. Smith's _Dictionary of Classical Biography_.

¶ _Of Demosthenes and Phocion._ cvii.

¶ Demosthenes sayde to Phocion: if the Atheniens falle ones in a madnes,
they woll slee the. To whom he answered: ye, surely, if they waxe madde
they woll slee me; but an' they waxe ones wyse, they wyll slee thee. For
Demosthenes spake moche to the peoples pleasure, and spake thynges
rather delytable than holsome.

¶ _Of Phocion that refused Alexanders gyfte._ cviii.

¶ What tyme Alexander, kynge of Macedone, sent an hundred besauntes of
golde for a gyfte to Phocion, he asked them that brought the money, how
it came that Alexander sent it to hym alone, seyng there were many other
men in Athenes beside him. They answered: bycause he iugeth you alone to
be an honest and a good man. Therfore, quod he, let hym suffre me to be
taken to be suche one styll.[296]

Who wolde not wonder at the cleane and vncorrupt courage of this
Phocion? He was but a poore man, and yet the greatnes of the gyft coude
nothinge moue hym. Besyde also he shewed, that they the whiche, while
they mynistre the common welthe, absteyne not from takyng of gyftes,
neyther be nor ought not to be taken for good men.


[296] Orig. reads unnecessarily, _and to be such one styll_.

¶ _Of Denyse the tyranne and his sonne._ cix.

¶ What tyme Denyse the tyranne vnderstode that his sonne, that shulde
reigne after hym, had commytted aduoutry with a worshypfull mans wyfe,
angerly he sayde to hym: dyd I, thy father, euer suche a dede? The yonge
man answered: no, ye had not a kynge to your father. Nor thou, sayde
Denyse, art not lyke to haue a sonne a kynge, excepte thou leaue
commyttynge of suche wyckedde dedes.

¶ _Of Pomponius the Romayne, that was brought before Mithridates._ cx.

¶ Pomponius, a noble man of Rome sore hurte and wounded, was taken and
brought before Mithridates, whiche asked hym this questyon: if I cure
and heale thy woundes, wylte thou than be my frende? He answered hym
agayne thus: if thou wylte be a frende to the Romaynes, thou shalt than
haue me thy frende.

This was a noble stomacke, that preferred the welth of his countrey
before his owne helth.

¶ _Of Titus and the iester._ cxi.

¶ Suetonius sheweth that Titus the father prouoked a scoffer, that stode
iesting with euery body, that he shulde lyke wyse saye somewhat to hym.
I woll, sayde the scoffer, after ye haue done youre easement. He iested
at the emperours countinance; he loked alway as one that streyned hym

On suche a visaged man writeth Martiall:

  _Utere lactucis, ac mollibus utere maluis._
  _Nam faciem durum Phebe cacantis habes._

¶ _Of Scipio Nasica and Ennius the poete._[297] cxii.

¶ Whan Scipio Nasica came on a tyme to speake with Ennius the Poete, he
asked his mayde at the dore, if he were within; and she sayde, he was
not at home. But Nasica perceyued, that her mayster badde her say so,
and that he was within; but, for that tyme dissemblynge the matter, he
wente his waye. Within a fewe dayes after, Ennius came to Nasica, and
knockynge at the dore, asked if he were within. Nasica hym selfe spake
oute a loude and sayd, he was not at home. Than sayde Ennius: what,
manne, thynke you that I knowe not your voyce? Wherevnto Nasica
aunsweredde and sayde: what a dishoneste man be you? Whan I sought you,
I beleued your mayde, that sayde ye were not at home, and ye wyll not
beleue me myn owne selfe.


[297] The celebrated Latin poet. "Quintus Ennius," Gellius tells us (_N.
A._ lib. xvii. cap. 17), "said he had three hearts, because he
understood the Greek, Oscan, and Latin languages."

¶ _Of Fabius Minutius and his sonne._ cxiii.

¶ Fabius Minutius was of his sonne exhorted on a tyme to gette and
conquere a place that was mete for them, and to theyr great auauntage,
the whiche thynge he sayde, they myght do with the losse of a fewe men.
Wyll ye be one of those fewe, sayde Fabius to his sonne?

Therby shewynge, that it is a poynt of a good capiteyne to care for the
lest of his souldiours, and to saue them as nere as he can.[298]

Th' emperour Antoni[n]us Pius loued moche this sentence of Scipio,
whiche wolde ofte saye: I hadde leauer saue one citezen, thanne slee a
thousande ennemyes.


[298] Orig. reads _coude_.

¶ _Of Aurelian, that was displeased, bycause the cite Tyna was closed
agaynst hym._ cxiiii.

¶ What tyme the emperour Aurelian came to the cytie Tyana, he founde hit
closed agaynste hym; wherfore all angerly he sayde: I woll not leaue a
dogge a lyue in this towne;--whiche wordes reioyced moche his menne of
warre, by cause of the great praye and botye that they thoughte to wynne
there. One of the citezins, called Heradamon, for feare lest he shuld be
slayne amonge the other, betrayed the cyte. Whan Aurelian had taken the
cite, the fyrste thinge he dyd, he slewe Heradamon the traytour to his
contrey; and to his souldiors that came to hym and desyred, that they
myght accordynge to his promyse, ouerren and spoile the cyte, he
answered: go to, I sayde I wolde nat leaue a dogge a lyue; spare nat,
kyll al the dogges in the towne.

  By this meane the gentyl prince rewarded
  the traytoure accordinge to his
  deseruinge, and dispointed
  the couetise of his


[299] So far extends Berthelet's edition, of which the colophon is:
Imprinted at London in Flete Strete in the house of Thomas Berthelet
nere to the Cundite, at the sygne of Lucrece. ¶ Cum priuilegio. The
remaining 26 tales are from the Ed. of 1567.

¶ _Of the Nunne forced that durst not crie._ cxv.

¶ A certayne Nunne with swellyng of hir bealie was bewrayed to haue
companied with a man. And beyng called before the couente, was right
sharpely rebuked by the Abbesse, for puttinge of their house to so great
a shame. She, to excuse hir-selfe, sayde, she was forced by a yonge man,
that came into hir bedde chaumbre, agaynst whom (beynge stronger than
she) it was in vain for hir to striue, and force coulde not be imputed
to hir for a cryme. Then sayde the Abbesse: thou mought est haue bene
helde excused, if thou haddest cryed. The Nunne sayed: so woulde I haue
doone, had it not beene in our Dortour[300] where to crye is contrary to
our Religion.

¶ _Of him that sayde he was the Diuelles man._ cxvi.

¶ In the ciuile seditious time of Edwarde the fourth and Henry the
syxte,[301] one chaunced to mete with a company, that quickly asked him:
whose man art thou? Kinge Edwardes, quoth he. Art thou so (quoth they)?
and all [set] to beate him: For they were of Henrie's syde. Wherefore to
the nexte company that mette him and demaunded whose man he was, he
answered: kyng Henries. Art thou so (quoth they), and likewyse all [set]
to bete him. For they were on Edwardes parte. The Felow, thus sore
beaten, went foorth, and met with another route, who asked him: whose
man art thou? He, beynge at his wittes ende what to saye, aunswered: the
Dyuelles man. Than the dyuell goe[302] with thee (saide they). Amen
(quoth he): For it is the best maister that I [have] serued this daie.

By this tale ye maye perceiue, how greuouse and perillous all ciuyle
sedicions be, so doubtfull may it stand, that a man can not tel on which
side to holde. For he that now is stronger, another tyme is weaker, as
Fortune list to turne hir wheele.


[300] Dormitory.

[301] During the Wars of the Roses. In _The First Part of Edward IV._,
by Thomas Heywoud, 1600 (Shakesp. Soc. repr. p. 41), Hobs, the Tanner of
Tamworth, says:--

"By my troth, I know not, when I speak treason, when I do not. There's
such halting betwixt two kings, that a man cannot go upright, but he
shall offend t'one of them. I would God had them both, for me."

¶ _Of the vplandishe[303] priest, that preached of Charitie._ cxvii.

¶ A priest in the countrey, not the wysest nor the best learned,
preached to his parisheners of charitie so vehemently, that he sayed
plainely, that it was impossible for anye man to be saued or to come to
heauen without charitie, except onely the kynges grace, God saue hym.


[302] This word is in the original text printed twice by an oversight. I
have struck out the duplicate.

[303] _i.e._ a person dwelling in the uplands or mountainous districts
where the learning of the cities had not very deeply penetrated. Hence
the word became synonymous with ignorant and uninformed. Alexander
Barclay's fifth eclogue is "Of the Citizen and Uplandish Man." The poem
of _Jack Upland_ is printed in the old editions of Chaucer and in
Wright's _Political Poems and Songs_, 1861, ii. 16. Mr. Wright assigns
to it the date of 1401.

"He hath perus'd all the impressions Of Sonnets, since the fall of
Lucifer, And made some scurvy quaint collections Of fustian phrases, and
_uplandish_ words."

Heywood's _Fair Maid of the Exchange_, 1600.

¶ _Another sayinge of the same preest._ cxviii.

¶ Before the kynges Maiestyes commissioners sent[304] downe intoo the
realme in visytacyon, it chaunced the forsayd preest among other to
appere: to whom one of the vysytours (guessyng quickly what docter he
was) sayde: Mayster parsone, howe spende you youre tyme? what rede you?
Forsoothe, syr (sayd the preest), I occupy my selfe in readyng the New
Testament. That is very well done (sayd the commissioner). But sir, I
pray you, who made the newe Testament? That dyd (said the preest) kynge
Henry the eyghte, God haue mercye vpon hys soule![305]


[304] Perhaps _went_ is the true reading.

[305] "What must he (the king) do then? He must be a student. He must
write God's booke himselfe, not thinking because he is a king, but he
hath licence to do what he will, as these worldly flatterers are wont to
say."--_Latimer's Second Sermon before King Edward VI._ 1549.

¶ _Of the fryer that praysed sainct Frauncis._ cxix.

¶ A fryer, preachyng to the people, extolled saynct Frauncis aboue
confessors, doctours, vyrgins, martyrs, prophetes, yea, and aboue one
more than prophetes, John the Baptist, and finially aboue the
Seraphicall order of angels ; and stil he sayd: yet let vs goe higher.
So whan he could goe no further, exccpte he shoulde put Christe out of
hys place, whiche the good man was halfe afrayed to do, hee sayd aloude:
and yet we haue founde no fit place for hym. And staying a lyttell
whyle, hee cryed out at laste, sayinge: Where shall we place this holy
father? A frowarde felowe, standyng among the audeynce, saide: if thou
canst find none other, than set hym here in my place: for I am weary.
And so went his way.

¶ _Of hym that warned his wife of wasshynge her face in foule puddell
water._ cxx.

¶ A man dwellyng in the countrey, takynge his iourney, bad hys wife in
his absence playe the good husewyfe, that he at his home comyng[306]
might finde all thynges well. Swete husbande (quoth she), commaunde
what ye wyll, and you shall fynde me obedyense in al thynges. Dere heart
(sayd he), I wil you no more but this one thynge, whiche is easye ynough
to do. What is that (quoth she)? That you wasshe not your face wyth this
water, shewing hir a puddell in a donghill, foule blacke, and stinkynge.
As oft as she in his absence went by that puddell, hir mynde was
meruallously moued, for what cause hir husebande so diligently warned
hir of that thynge onely. Nor shee coulde not perswade hir selfe, but
that there was some great thynge in it. To be brefe, it tempted hir so,
that she wasshed, that is, she defiled hir face. She loked in the
glasse, and was greatly displeased with hir self. Yea, and it was foure
or fyue daies after, er shee coulde wasshe out the stynke and steinyng.
Whan the good manne came home, hee found his wyfe very pensife and
loking angerly. What is the matter (quoth he)? Shee at laste coulde not
forbeare, but blamed him for warnyng hir to wasshe in that water, and
shewed hym what had chaunced. Why wasshed you in it (quoth he)? I gaue
you warnynge, that you shoulde not wasshe therein, to the intente this
harme shoulde haue not happned.

By thys tale ye may perceyue, that the more yee forbydde some women a
thynge, the greater desyre they haue to do it.


[306] _i.e._ coming home.

¶ _Of the husbandman that caused the iudge to geue sentence agaynst him
selfe._ cxxi.

¶ An husbandman in Zeland came before the chiefe ruler of the countrey
(whose bull had kyld the poore mans cow) and after he had leaue to
speake, hee sayde: my bull leapyng ouer the dyche hath kyld your cow;
what is the law? The ruler, mistrustyng no deceit, answered: thou muste
paie for hir. Than with licence the poore man sayd: Sir, I failled in my
tale: your bull hath kyld my cow. The ruler, beyng a little amoued,
sayde: this is another matter. The poore man sayd: Verely it is all one
thyng: and you haue truely iudged.

By this tale ye perceyue, that a wyse iudge wyll first know the cause
well, and yet will not be hasty to geue sentence. The prouerbe biddeth
thus: Iudge righteously the cause of the pore and needy.

¶ _Of the Italian friar that shoulde preach before the B. of Rome and
his cardinals._ cxxii.

¶ A famous frier in Italye, called Robert Liciens,[307] appoincted to
preache before the bishop of Rome and his cardynals beinge in the
pulpit, and beholdyng the bishop and his cardinals, enter into the
churche with so great pompe, noise, and rufflyng, that no king vse[d]
the lyke, and seyng the bishop borne by vi men, and beynge at great
leysure set downe, and harkenyng what he would saye, he sayd nought
elles but this: Phy on S. Peter! phy on S. Paule! and with rauyng he
spit now on the ryght side, and nowe on the left syde: and so, without
more ado, shouyng through the preace,[308] gat hym awaie, leauyng them
all astonied: some thynkyng hym to bee fallen into a furie: other
supposyng him to bee fallen into some heresy, Iewishe or Paganise
belefe, that he so burst out intoo suche blasphemies. And whan it was
consulted to laie hym in prison, a cardinall, who knewe his wytte, and
loued hym, perswaded, that he shoulde fyrste be called before the bishop
and certayne cardinals, to here what he would saye. And so beyng
inquired, why hee burste out into so horrible blasphemies, he answered,
that he had appointed a farre other argument: and in fewe woordes
declared the whole summe of hys sermon. But whan I (sayde he) sawe you
lyue so pompously, and in so great delites and pleasures: and on
th'other side consydered, howe homely, howe peyneful, and how harde a
lyfe the Apostles ledde, whose places you supplie, I gathered, that
eyther they were mad, that by so sharpe a waye contended to come to
heauen, or els that you holde[309] the streight way to hell. But of you
that beare the keyes of heauen, I could not perswade my self to deeme
euill. Than what els could I do, but detest theyr foolyshnes whiche,
whan thei might after this facion haue liued gloriously in all welth and
pleasure, wold rather all their life turment them selfes with
watchynges, fastynges and other peynfull labours?


[307] Better known as Roberto Caraccioli-Caraccioli. He was born in 1425
at Licio, in the Neapolitan territory, and was thence often called
Robertus Liciensis. Watt (_Bibliotheca Britannica_, voce _Licio_)
mentions only his sermons: but he published several other tracts.

[308] Usually spelt _prease_ or _prese_. The word signifies _crowd_. It
occurs in this sense in Edwardes' _Damon and Pythias_, composed about

"Yet shall there no restraynt Cause me to cese, Among this prese, For to
encrese Youre goodly name."

Skelton's _Garlande of Laurell_.

¶ _Of the doctour that sayd, in Erasmus workes were heresies._ cxxiii.

¶ A notable doctour, preachyng in a solemne audience, sayd, that in
Erasmus workes were certayne heresies. Who, beyng come out of the
pulpit, was desired of a learned man to shewe foorthe some place
hereticall. Hee aunswered, that he had neuer red Erasmus bookes: hee
began once to reade the woorke intitled _Moria_,[310] but by reason it
was so high a stile, he feared to fal into some heresy.


[309] Orig. and Singer read _or els you to holde_.

¶ _Of the frier that preached at Paules crosse agaynst Erasmus._ cxxiv.

¶ A great clerke, noseld[311] vp in scoole doctours, not well
vnderstanding the latin stile and phrase, that than began to florishe
apase, and hauynge smale acquaintaunce with the noble authours of the
latyne tongue, saide, that Erasmus, with his rhetorike and eloquence
went about to corrupte the Byble. For this (quoth he) I dare be bolde to
say: that the holy scripture ought not to be mingled with the eloquence
of Tully, nor yet of Cicero.[312]


[310] The celebrated _Moria Encomium_, of which an English version
appeared in 1549.

[311] _Nosled_ or _nousled_ is the same as _nursled_, brought up. See
Todd's Johnson, 1827, in voce _nosled_; and Richardson's Dict. _ibid._
The word is not in Webster or Nares.

[312] The allusion in the text is probably to the paraphrastic version
of the New Testament by Erasmus, which had then recently appeared in two
volumes, folio (1516). The work did not appear in an English dress till

¶ _Of an other frier that taxed Erasmus for writyng Germana theologia._

¶ A fryer, that preached on a tyme too the people, inueighed greatly
agaynste Erasmus, because he, in his booke called _Enchiridion_,[313]
preysyng the Apostles doctryne, sayde, that theirs was _Germana
theologia_, that is to saye in Englishe, the very ryght diuinitee. Lo
(sayeth this dotishe fryer), here may ye see, what a man Erasmus is: he
sayeth, there is no diuinite but in Germonie, where heretikes are
specially fauored and maintayned.

¶ _Of an other that inueighed agaynst the same Erasmus._ cxxvi.

¶ Because Erasmus wrote, that it wer better for the monke of the
charterhouse to eate fleshe than to suffer his brother _Venire in
capitis discrimen_, that is to saye, than his brother should stand in
ieoperdie of his life: this dotishe doctour interpretat his wordes thus:
The charterhouse monke wer better eate fleshe, than his head shoulde a
littell ake.[314]

By these tales we may se, what peuysshe preachers haue been in this
world: And be thei neuer so foolishe: yet the ignorant people, lacking
lerninge to iudge suche matters, thinke them selues well taught, when
they be cleane misledde.


[313] _Enchiridion Militis Christiani._ An English translation of this
work appeared in 1533, in which Enchiridion is rendered _The Handsome

[314] These pleasantries at the expense of the preachers in the time of
Henry VIII. bear perhaps a little hard upon the fraternity. The
rendering of Latin authors was not much improved a century or two later.

¶ _Of kyng Richarde the iii, and the Northern man._[315] cxxvii.

¶ After kyng Richard the iii had vsurped the crowne of England, he, to
staye and stablishe the people, that sore murmured against his dooynges,
sent for fyue thousand men out of the North partes vp to London: and as
he was mustryng of them in Thickettes feelde, one of the souldiers, cam,
and clappynge the kyng on the shoulder, said: Diccon, Diccon, by the
mis, ays blith that thaust kyng![316]


[315] The Northern men seem to have been formerly favourite subjects for
story tellers and ballad-writers. Martin Parker published a poem called
"The King and a Poore Northern man," and there is a ballad entitled "The
King and the Northern man." Neither has anything to do with the present
tale. No. 95 of the _C. Mery Talys_, of which only a small fragment is
at present known to exist, is entitled, "Of the Northern man that was
all harte."

[316] "Richard, Richard, by the mass I am glad that thou art king!"

¶ _Of the Canon and his man._ cxxviii

¶ A canon in Hereforde, that kepte a good house, toke into his seruice a
gentilmans sonne, to trane and bryng hym vp, to wayte and serue at the
table.[317] So on a day the sayde canon, hauynge many strangers at his
bourd, made a signe to his man, that there wanted some thyng. He, nought
perceuyng, cam to his maister and sayde: Sir, what lacke you? Seest not,
man (quoth he), they haue no bread on the table? Sir, saide his man,
there was enough euen now, if they woulde haue let it alone.

¶ _Of the same Canon and his sayd man._ cxxix.

¶ The same Canon, an other tyme, bad his sayd seruant after supper, go
downe and draw a cuppe of wyne, to make his guestes drinke at theyr
departing, whom he had before taught, how he shuld take of the couer. So
the yong man, bringyng the candell in one hand, and the cup of wine
couered in the other, offred it vnto them. His mayster, seyng that,
made a token to hym. He, not knowyng wherfore, sayd: Sir, what woulde
you haue? Take of the couer (quoth his mayster). Then holde you the
candell (saide the seruaunt).


[317] A very usual practice in those days. At p. 254 of the
_Northumberland House-hold Book_ (ed. 1827) we find:--

"Two Gentlemen waiters for the Bordes Ende and a servaunt betwixt theim
iii--Hannsmen and Yonge Gentlemen at their Fryndes fynding v (as to say
Hanshmen [Henchmen] iii and yong Gentlemen iii)."

Orig. and Singer, for _trane_ read _trade_.

¶ _Of the gentilman that checked hys seruant for talke of ryngyng._

¶ A gentilman, brought vp at London in an In of court, was maryed, and
kepte an house in the countrey: and as he sate at supper with his
neyghbours aboute hym, vpon an alhalow-daie at night, amonge other
communication, he talked of the solemne ringyng of the belles (as was
the vsage than). His man, that waited on the table, sayd to his maister:
sir, he that were this nyghte in London, shoulde here wonderfull
ryngyng, and so began a tale. Hys mayster, not content with his talke,
said: Hold thy peace, foole, wilt thou tel me of ringing in London? I
know it (I trow) a lyttell better than thou. For I haue beene there an C
alhalow nyghtes.

¶ _Of the blynde man and his boye._ cxxxi.

¶ A certayne poore blynde man[318] in the countrey was ledde by a curst
boy to an house where a weddyng was: so the honest folkes gaue him
meate, and at last one gaue hym a legge of a good fatte goose: whiche
the boy receyuyng kept a syde, and did eate it vp hym selfe. Anon the
blynde man saide: Iacke, where is the leg of the goose? What goose (quod
the boy)? I haue none. Thou liest (quoth the blinde man), I dyd smell
it. And so they wente forth chidyng together, tyll the shrewde boye led
the poore man against a post: where hittyng his brow a great blow, he
cryed out: A hoorson boy, what hast thou done? Why (quod the boy) could
you not smell the post, that was so nere, as wel as the goose that was
so farre from your nose?

¶ _Of him that sold two lodes of hey._ cxxxii.

¶ In London dwelled a mery pleasant man (whiche for [t]his tyme we may
call Makeshift[319]) who, beyng arrayed somewhat haruest lyke, with a
pytcheforke on his necke, went forth in a mornyng and mette with twoo
lode of hey comeyng to the citieward, for the whiche he bargayned with
the owners to paye xxx shillynges. Whyther shall we bring them, quoth
thei? To the Swan in Longe Lane[320] by Smithfeeld (quoth he), and soo
left them, and sped him thether the next[321] waye. Whan he came to the
good man of the Swanne, he asked, if he would bye two good lodes of hey?
Yes marie, sayde he. Where be thei? Euen here they come (quoth
Makshyft). What shall I paye? sayde the inholder. Foure nobles (quoth
hee): but at length they agreed to xx shilling. Whan the hey was come,
Makshyft bad them vnlode. While they were doyng so,[322] he came to the
inholder,[323] and said: sir, I prai you let me haue my monei: for,
while my men be vnloding, I wil goe into the citee to buy a littell
stuffe to haue home with me. The good man was content, and gaue it hym.
And so he went his way. Whan the men had vnloded the hey, they came and
demanded their money. To whom the inholder saide: I haue paid your
maister. What master (quoth they)? Mary, quod he, the same man that made
you bring the hey hether. We know hym not, quod they. No more doe I
(quod he); that same man bargayned with me for the hey, and hym haue I
payed: I neyther bought nor sold with you. That is not enough for vs,
quod they; and thus thei stroue together. But what ende thei made, I
know not. For I thynke Makeshift came not againe to agree them.


[318] Tricks upon blind persons naturally form a feature in the jest
books. The eighty-third adventure of Tyl Owlglass is a practical joke on
a blind man, and in _Scoggin's Jests_, 1626, there are one or two

[319] A cheat or rogue. See Rowland's _Knave of Clubbs_, 1600 (Percy
Soc. ed. p. 18). The word _Shifter_ is employed by Rowlands in the
_Knave of Harts_, 1613, and by others of our elder writers in the same
sense. In the following passage, shift is used to signify a piece of

_"Ferd._ Brother, you lie; you got her with a _shift_.

_Frank._ I was the first that lov'd her."

Heywood's _Fair Maid of the Exchange_, 1607 (Shakesp. Soc. ed. p. 87).

See also Taylor's _Works_, 1630, ii. 144. In his _Sculler_, 1612, the
last mentioned writer introduces a sharper into one of his epigrams
under the name _of Mounsieur Shift_, "cozen-german to Sir Cuthert
_Theft_" (_Works_, iii. 25).

[320] Antiently, no doubt, Long Lane ran between hedges into Smithfield;
but it appears that even in the early part of Elizabeth's reign building
had commenced in this locality. Stow (_Survey of London_, edit. 1720,
lib. iii. p. 122) says:--"Long Lane, so called from its length, coming
out of _Aldersgate Street_ against _Barbican_, and falleth into _West
Smithfield_. A Place also of Note for the Sale of Apparel, Linnen, and
Upholsters Goods, both Secondhand and New, but chiefly for old, for
which it is of note." See also p. 284 of the same book, and Cunningham's
_Hand Book of London_, edit. 1848, _in voce_, with the authorities and
illustrations there given. Rowlands, in his _Letting of Humors Blood in
the Head Vein_, 1611, Sign. C. 2 _verso_, celebrates this spot as one of
the principal haunts of the pawnbrokers. In _Wits Recreations_, 1640
(edit. 1817, p. 109), there is the following epigram:--

"He which for 's wife a widow doth obtain, Doth like to those that buy
clothes in _Long Lane_, One coat's not fit, another's too too old, Their
faults I know not, but th' are manifold."

Day, in the _Parliament of Bees_, 1641, 40, Sign. C, speaks very
disrespectfully of the population of Long Lane in his time. See
_Maroccus Extaticus_, 1595 (Percy Soc. ed. p. 16), Dekker's _Knights'
Conjuring_, 1607, ed. Rimbault, p. 54. Webster's Works, by Hazlitt, i.
94. and Taylor's Works, 1630, Sign. Ggg4. The _Swan_ Inn has
disappeared, but whether it has merged in the _Barley Mow_, or the _Old
Red Cow_, I do not know.

[321] Nearest.

[322] The original reading is, _so while they were doying_.

[323] Innkeeper. This form of the word continued to be used by English
writers even in the later half of the seventeenth century.

¶ _How a mery man deuised to cal people to a playe._ cxxxiii.

¶ A Mery man, called Qualitees,[324] on a tyme sette vp billes vpon
postes aboute London, that who so euer woulde come to Northumberlande
Place[325] should here suche an antycke plaie[326] that, both for the
mattier and handelyng, the lyke was neuer heard before. For all they
that shoulde playe therin were gentilmen.

Those bylles moued the people (whan the daye came) to come thyther
thycke and threfolde. Now he had hyred two men to stande at the gate
with a boxe (as the facion is), who toke of euery persone that came in a
peny, or an halfe peny at the least. So whan he thought the market was
at the best, he came to the gate, and toke from the men[327] the boxe
with money, and geuynge theym their duitie, bade them go into the hall,
and see the rome kepte: for hee shoulde gooe and fetche in the plaiers.
They went in, and he went out, and lockt the gate faste, and toke the
key with hym: and gat hym on hys geldynge, whiche stode ready saddilled
without Aldryshegate[328] at an In,[329] and towarde Barnet he roade
apace. The people taryed from twoo a clocke tyll three, from three to
foure, styll askyng and criyng: Whan shall the plaie begyn? How long
shall we tarye? Whan the clocke stroke foure, all the people murmured
and sayed: Wherefore tarye we any longer? Here shall be no playe. Where
is the knaue, that hath beguyled vs hyther? It were almes to[330]
thruste a dagger throughe hys chekes, sayeth one. It were well done to
cutte of hys eares, sayeth an other. Haue hym to Newgat! sayeth one:
nay, haue hym to Tyburne! sayed an other. Shall wee loose our money
thus, saieth he? Shall wee bee thus beguiled, sayeth this man? shulde
this be suffered, saieth that man? And so muttrynge and chydyng, they
came to the gate to goe oute; but they coulde not. For it was faste
lockt, and Qualitees had the key away with him. Now begynne they a
freshe to fret and fume: nowe they swere and stare: now they stampe and
threaten: for the locking in greeued them more than all the losse and
mockery before: but all auayle not. For there muste they abide, till
wayes may be founde to open the gate, that they maye goe out. The
maidens that shoulde haue dressed theyr maisters suppers, they wepe and
crye; boyes and prentises sorow and lament; they wote not what to say,
whan thei come home.

  For al this foule araye,
  For al this great frai,
  Qualites is mery ridyng on his waie.[331]


[324] Perhaps this, like Makeshift, was merely intended as a phrase to
disguise the real name of the person intended.

[325] Northumberland _Alley_ was in Fenchurch Street, and was notorious
for bowling-greens, gaming-houses, &c. Probably this is the locality
intended. See Cunningham's _Handbook to London_. 596 edit. 1848.

[326] _i.e._ a burlesque play.

[327] Orig. and Singer read _man_.

[328] Aldersgate. In the _Ordinary_, by W. Cartwright, Moth the
Antiquary says:--

"Yclose by _Aldersgate_ there dwelleth one Wights clypen _Robert Moth_;
now _Aldersgate_ Is hotten so from one that _Aldrich_ hight; Or else of
Elders, that is, ancient men; Or else of Aldern trees which growden
there; Or else, as Heralds say, from _Aluredus_."

[329] Inns were not so plentiful at this time as they afterward became.
Perhaps the establishment here referred to was the celebrated _Bell_
Inn, which was still standing in the time of James the First, and which
is mentioned by Taylor the Water-Poet in his _Penniless Pilgrimage_,
1618 (_Works_, 1630, i. 122):--

"At last I took my latest leave, thus late At the Bell Inn, that's
_extra_ Aldersgate."

[330] _i.e._ it were a charity to thruste, &c. The original and Singer
have, "it were almes _it_ thruste."

[331] In the original this is printed as prose, perhaps to economize
space. _Array_, or _araye_, as it is here spelled, signifies obviously
disturbance or clamour. So in the _History of King Arthur_, 1634, Part
iii. cap. 134:--"So in this rumour came in Sir Launcelot, and found them
all at a great aray;" and the next chapter commences with, "Aha! what
aray is this? said Sir Launcelot."

¶ _How the image of the dyuell was lost and sought._ cxxxiiii.

¶ In the Goldesmithes hall, amonge theyr other plate, they had a fair
standyng cuppe, with an image of S. Dunstane on the couer, whiche image
hadde an image of the dyuell at his foote.[332] So it chaunced at a
banket that the sayed image of the dyuell was lost and gone. On the
morow after, the bedyll of the company was sent about to serche amonge
the goldesmythes, if any suche came to be sold. And lyke as of
other[333] he enquired of one, if any man had brought to hym to be solde
the foole that sate at sainct Dunstanes foote vpon the couer of the
cuppe? What foole meane you? quoth he. Mary, the diuell, sayde the
bedill. Why, quoth the other, call ye the diuell a foole; ye shal find
him a shrewd foole, if ye haue ought to do with hym? And why seke you
for him here amonge vs? Where shoulde I els seke for hym? (sayde the
bedill). Mary in hell, quoth he, for there ye shall be sure to fynde the


[332] Probably the cup bequeathed by Sir Martin Bowes to the Goldsmiths'
Company, and still preserved, is here meant. See Cunningham's _Handbook
of London_, art. _Goldsmiths' Hall_, and for some account of the Bowes
family, which intermarried with that of D'Ewes, see _Autobiography and
Correspondence of Sir Simonds D'Ewes_, ii. 17, 18. It seems to have been
a rather common practice formerly to engrave figures of Saints,
representations of the Passion, &c. on the bottom of drinking cups.--See
Rowlands' _Knave of Clubbs_, 1600. (Percy Soc. repr. p. 64.)

[333] In the same manner that he inquired of others, &c.

¶ _Of Tachas, kyng of Aegypt, and Agesilaus._ cxxxv.

¶ What tyme Agesilaus, king of the Lacedemonians, was come to Tachas the
kyng of Egipt, to aide him in his wars: Tachas beholdyng Agesilaus to
bee a man of so litel stature and smal personage tauntyng hym with this
scoffe, sayde: The mountayne hath trauayled, Iupiter forbode, but yet
hee hathe broughte forth a mouse.[334] Agesilaus beynge offended wyth
hys saying, answered: and yet the tyme wyl come, that I shall seeme to
the a Lyon. And not longe after, it chaunced through a sedycion that
arose amonge the Aegypcyans, whan Agesilaus was gone from him, the king
was constreyned to flee to the Persians.


[334] This is related differently in Plutarch. "Now _Agesilaus_ being
arrived in ÆGYPT, all the chiefe Captaines and Governors of King
_Tachos_ came to the seashore, and honourably received him: and not they
onely, but infinite numbers of Ægyptians of all sorts ... came thither
from all parts to see what manner of man he was. But when they saw no
stately traine about him, but an olde gray-beard layed on the grasse by
the sea side, a litle man that looked simply of the matter, and but
meanely apparelled in an ill-favored thread-bare gowne: they fell
a-laughing at him, remembring the merry tale, that a mountaine,"
&c.--North's _Plutarch_, edit 1603, fol. 629-30.

¶ _Of Corar the Rhetorician, and Tisias hys scoler._ cxxxvi.

¶ A certayne man called Corar, determyned hym selfe for mede[335] to
teache the arte of Rhetorycke, with whom a yong man, named Tisias,
couenanted on this wyse, that he wold pay him his wages, whan he had
perfectly learned the scyence. So whan he had lerned the art, he made no
haste to paye his teacher, wherfore hys mayster sued hym. Whan they came
before the iudges, the yonge man demaunded of hys mayster, what was the
effecte of the scyence? He aunswered: In reasonyng to perswade.[336]
Than go to, if I perswade these honourable iudges that I owe you
nothing, I wil pay you nothyng: for you are cast in your action. And yf
I can not perswade them, than wil I pay you nothing, because I haue not
yet perfectly learned the art. Corar wrestyng[337] the yonge mans owne
argumente agaynst hym selfe, said: If thou perswade them, that thou
oughteste[338] me nothynge, than (accordynge to the couenaunt) thou must
nedes pay mee my wages: for thou haste the art perfectly. Now yf thou
canst not perswade them: yet shalt thou pay mee my wages, because thou
arte condemned by the Iudges' sentence to be my detour.


[335] Remuneration.

[336] To persuade by reasoning.

[337] Turning by force of ingenuity.

[338] Owed.

¶ _Of Augustus and Athenodorus the Phylosopher._ cxxxvii.

¶ What tyme Athenodorus the Phylosopher had (by reason of hys greate
age) obteyned lycence of Auguste to depart home, he admonysshed him,
that beyng angry, he should neyth saye nor dooe any thyng, before he had
by hym selfe rehearsed ouer the xxiiii Greeke letters. Whych saying whan
the prince heard, he sayed: he had yet nede of him to teache hym the
arte to keepe sylence, by coloure whereof he retayned the olde man about
hym a whole yere longer.

By this tale we maie perceyue, that of al things a prince, a ruler, a
iudge ought specyally to eschewe wrathe. For the morall booke sayeth:
Anger troubleth the mynde, that it can not discerne the truth. And
Seneca wryteth, that slowe tarryinge doeth profite in nothyng but in

¶ _Of the frenche kyng and the brome seller._[339] cxxxviii.

¶ As a Frenche kyng on a tyme was in huntyng, he hapned to lose his
companie, and comyng through a brome heath, he herde a poore man and his
wife piteously complayne on fortune. The kyng, after he had wel heard
the long lamentacion of theyr poore and miserable state, came vnto them,
and after a few words he questioned with them howe they liued. They
shewed him, how they came daily to that heath, and all the brome, that
thei and their asse coud cary home, was lyttell enough to finde theim
and their poor children meat. Well (quoth the kyng), loke that you bryng
to morow early to the court gate as many bromes as you and your asse can
carye, and see that you sell them well. For I warrant you thei shalbe
bought apase. They thanked hym, and so he departed from them. Anon came
the lordes, knightes, and gentilmen to the kinge, and home they rode.
After supper the kyng called them all before hym, and gaue them in
commaundement that neither lord, knyght, nor gentilman, should on the
morow come into the courte wythout a new brome in his hande. For he had
a thyng to doe, whiche they shoulde know afterwarde. So on the morowe,
whan they come to the court gate, there found they the poore man, his
wife and the asse, loded with bromes, whiche hee solde to the galauntes
of the court, euen as he wolde him selfe. Wherby the sayd poore man was
made riche for euer and they lyttell the woorse. Thus whan the kynge
sawe the states and gentilmen of his court come in so wel furnished with
grene bromes, and consydring the cause wherfore it was, he laughed


[339] See Lane's _Arabian Tales and Anecdotes_, 1845, p. 73, for a story
similar to this.

¶ _An other tale of the same frenche kyng._[340] cxxxix.

¶ There chaunced, in a certaine part of the realme, an offyce to fal
into the kings handes by the deth of a man which was worth a cccc
crounes by the yere. An honest witty gentilman, dwelling therby,
trustyng to obteyne the sayde offyce, made as good speede to the courte
as hee could, and as soone as he might come to the kynges presence, he
kneled downe, and in most humble wise desired his grace to geue vnto hym
that offyce, declaring what it was. The king perceiuing how good an
office it was, and thinking therwith to rewarde some suche one of hys
seruauntes, that had well deserued it, answered quickely, and sayd: My
frend, be content; you get it not. The gentilman, heryng those wordes,
sayd: I most hertely thancke your grace; both I and myne are mooste
bounden to praye for your hyghnesse;--and so, makynge lowe obeysaunce,
wente his waye. Whan he had gone a lyttell waye, the kyng commaunded to
call hym againe. Whan he was come backe, the kyng asked him if he dyd
well vnderstand, what answere he gaue hym. Yes, truely, sayd the
gentilman. What sayd I, quoth the kynge? Marye, your grace bad me bee
contente, for I shoulde not haue the offyce. Why dyd you than (quoth the
kyng) geue me so great thankes? Because, sayde the gentylman, your grace
gaue me so sone an answere without longer suite and losse of tyme,
whiche would haue bene to me a very muche hyndraunce. For I haue at home
a great householde, vnto the which it behoueth me to loke dylygently, or
els it wyl be wrong wyth me. The kynge, markynge well the wysedom and
dexterytee of the gentylman, and conceyuyng a fauoure towarde hym, sayd:
Wel, nowe shal you thanke me twyse: for you shall haue the offyce that
you sewe for: and than, castynge hys eyes vpon hys Chauncelloure,
commaunded hym, that all suche wrytynges as concerned [t]hys sayd
offyce, shoulde wyth al speede bee made oute, that he were at home
agayne to ouerloke hys famyly.


[340] This story is applied by Richard Johnson, editor of the _Pleasant
Conceits of Old Hobson the Merry Londoner_, 1607, 4to, to his own
purposes. Johnson was an unscrupulous appropriator.

¶ _What an Italyan fryer dyd in his preachyng._ cxl.

¶ Robert Lyciense, a fryer of Italye (of whome we spake before),
preachyng on a tyme with great vehemencye of wordes and gesture,
exhorted the prynces and people to make warre agaynste the Turkes and
other the enemies of chrystendome: and whan he came to the very effect,
and [was] moste hotte and earnest in his tale, he began to wepe, that
there were none, that wold to so godly a purpose offer them selfe to be
capitains. If this be the let[341] of the mattier, beholde me here,
whiche will be nothynge abasshed to cast aside this grey friers coate,
and to take vpon mee to be a souldiour, or your capitaine. And euen with
that woorde he caste of his vpper coate; and vnderneth he was a playne
souldiour, arraied in a skarlet cloke, and a long rapier hangeyng by his
side. And in this warlyke apparell, in the personage of a Capitan, he
stode and preached halfe an houre. Being sente for of the Cardinals
with whom he was familiar, hee was asked what was the pretence of that
new example. He answered, that he did it for his wenches pleasure, who
familiarly confessed that nothynge in the sayd Robert displeased hir,
saue his friers coate. Then saide he to hir:

  In what apparell shal I best plese you? In a
  man of warres, quoth shee? Than se
  that you be at my sermon to
  morow, quoth he.[342]


[341] The obstacle to the matter.

[342] This tale is followed by the colophon, which is: Imprinted at
London in Fletestrete, by Henry Wykes. Cum priuilegio ad imprimendum



P. 16. _Of him that preched on Saynt Christophers day._

In _A Booke of Meery Riddles_, 1617 (repr. of ed. 1629, p. 73 of Mr.
Halliwell's _Literature of the xvith and xviith centuries Illustrated,
&c._ 1851), we have the following:--

The xvii Riddle.

  "Who bare the best burthen that ever was borne
  At any time since, or at any time befor[n]e.

_Solution._--It was the asse that bare both Our Lady and her Sonne out
of Egypt."

P. 21. _Of the yonge woman that sorowed so greatly her husbondes deth._

"There was a poor young Woman who had brought herself even to Death's
Door with grief for her sick Husband, but the good Man her Father did
all he could to comfort her. _Come, Child_, said he, _we are all mortal.
Pluck up a good heart, my Child: for let the worst come to the worst, I
have a better Husband in store for thee. Alas, Sir_, says she, _what
d'ye talk of another Husband for? Why, you had as good have stuck a
Dagger to my Heart. No, no; if ever I think of another Husband, may--!_
Without any more ado, the Man dies, and the Woman, immediately breaks
into such Transports of tearing her Hair, and beating her Breast, that
everybody thought she'd have run stark-mad upon it. But, upon second
Thoughts, she wipes her Eyes, lifts them up, and cries, _Heaven's will
be done!_ and turning to her Father, _Pray Sir_, says she, _about t'
other Husband you were speaking of, is he here in the
House_?"--_Complete London Jester_, 1771, p. 49.

This story was appropriated by the editor of _Pasquil's Jests, mixed
with Mother Bunch's Merriments_, of which there were several editions,
the first appearing in 1604. In Pasquil's Jests, the tale is told of a
"young woman of Barnet."

_She rowned her father in the eare._

Gower (_Confessio Amantis_, ed. Pauli, Vol. 1. p. 161) has a precisely
similar expression:--

  "But whan they rounenin her ere,
  Than groweth all my moste fere."

P. 21. _Of him that kissed the mayde with the longe nose._

"'Good Sir William, let it rest' quoth shee, 'I know you will not
beleeue it when I haue reuealed it, neither is it a thing that you can
helpe: and yet such is my foolishnesse, had it not beene for that, I
thinke, verily I had granted your suite ere now. But seeing you vrge me
so much to know what it is, I will tell you: it is, sir, your
ill-fauoured great nose, that hangs sagging so lothsomely to your lips,
_that I cannot finde in my heart so much as to kisse you_.'"--_Pleasant
History of Thomas of Reading_, by T. D. circa 1597, p. 73 (ed. Thoms).

P. 26. _Of the Marchaunt that lost his bodgetie betwene Ware and

In _Pasquil's Jests_, 1604 occurs an account substantially similar to
the present, of "how a merchant lost his purse between
_Waltam_ and London."

P. 28. _Of the fatte woman that solde frute._

  "Being thus dispatcht he layes downe Jacke
  A peny for the shot:
  'Sir, what shall this doe?' said the boy.
  'Why, rogue, discharge my pot!
  So much I cald for, but the rest
  By me shall nere be paid:
  For victualls thou didst offer me;
  _Doe and thou woot_, I said.'"

_The Knave of Clubbs_, by S. Rowlands, 1600 (Percy Soc. ed. p. 20).

P. 31.--Wilson introduces the "notable historie" of Papirius Pretextatus
into his _Rule of Reason_, 1551, 80, and it had previously been related
in Caxton's _Game and Playe of the Chesse_, 1474.

P. 33. _Of the corrupte man of law._

"An arch Barber at a certain Borough in the West, where there are but
few Electors, had Art enough to suspend his Promise till the Voters, by
means of _Bribery_, the _old Balsam_, were so divided, that the casting
vote lay in himself. One of the Candidates, who was sensible of it,
cameinto his little dirty Shop to be shaved, and when the operation was
finish'd, threw into the Bason _Twenty Guineas_. The next Day came the
other Candidate, who was shaved also, and left _Thirty_. Some Days after
this, the first return'd to solicit the Barber's Vote, who told him very
coldly, _That he could not promise. Not promise!_ says the Gentleman;
why I thought I had been shaved here! 'Tis true, says the Barber, _you
was, but another Gentleman has been trimm'd_ since that; however, if you
please, I'll trim you again, and then tell you my mind."--_Complete
London Jester_, ed. 1771, p. 99.

P. 35. _Conon peaked into the court._--So in Skelton's _Colin Clout_
(Works by Dyce, I. 312), we have:--

  "He cryeth and he creketh,
  He pryeth and he peketh,
  He chides and he chatters," &c.

In the _Posthums Poems of Richard Lovelace, Esq._ 1659, 80, p. 60, the
word is employed in a different sense:--

  "Have you not marked their C[oe]lestial play,
  And no more peek'd the gayties of day?"

_To peak_, however, in the sense in which it is used by Skelton, and in
the _Merie Tales_, &c. is of rather frequent occurrence in _Scoggin's
Jests_, 1626 (but first printed before 1565); and Gascoigne employs the
word in the same manner in the _Steel Glas_, n. d. (1576) 40. The
passage in Gascoigne, which I perused long ago, was brought back to my
recollection by a note by the Rev. A. Dyce to Skelton's _Colin Clout_.

P. 38.--See Diogenes Laertius, transl. by Yonge, p. 226. Diogenes the
Cynic evidently had Thales in his mind when he said "that mathematicians
kept their eyes fixed on the sun and moon, and overlooked what was under
their feet."

P. 40. _Of him that dreamed he fonde golde._

In _Pasquil's Jests_, we are told "how drunken Mullins of Stratford
dreamed he found golde." It is the same story.

P. 52. _Gelidus facet anguis in herba._--Whoever edited this collection
of stories seems to have had a great fancy for quotations. Throughout
the _C. Mery Talys_, on the contrary, there is not a single instance of
this passion for extracts. Sir Thomas Overbury, in his _Characters_ (if
at least they were written by him), ed. 1632, sign. K4, describes "An
Innes of Court man" as taking "_ends of Latine_, though it be false,
with as great confidence as ever _Cicero_ could pronounce an oration." I
suspect that the _Mery Tales and Quicke Answeres_ were collected by some
person more or less versed in the classics and in foreign authors, which
was probably not the case with the _C. Mery Talys_, which do not smell
so much of the inkhorn, as Gascoigne would have said.

P. 54. _Breble-brable._

In _Twelfth Night_, act iv. sc. 2, Shakespeare makes the Clown use
_bibble-babble_ in a similar sense; but afterwards in the same drama,
act v. sc.1, _brabble_ is put for "a brawl."

This word is no doubt the same as the "pribbles and prabbles" which Sir
Hugh uses more than once in the _Merry Wives of Windsor_. See act v. sc.

P. 60. _Of hym that payde his dette with crienge bea._--Compare the
story of "the subtility of Kindlewall the lawyer repayed with the like
craft," printed in _Pasquil's Jests_, ed. Gilbertson, n. d. 40.

P. 65. _All to._--I fear that I too hastily adopted the self-suggested
notion that the former words might be read more properly as one word,
and in the sense which I indicated. Perhaps as _all to_ or _al to_ is
not uncommonly used by early writers in this way, though the meaning in
the present case is not particularly clear, it may be better to restore
the original reading.

P. 67. _Of the Inholders wyfe and her ii lovers._--See Rowlands' _Knave
of Clubbs_, 1600, ed. Rimbault, p. 25.

P. 67. _Daungerous of her tayle._ So in the _Schole-house of Women_,
1542, the author says:--

  "Plant them round with many a pin,
  Ringed for routing of pure golde,
  Faire without, and foule within,
  And of their tailes have slipper holde."

P. 70. _Of Mayster Vavasour and Turpin his man._

"A Lawyer and his Clerk riding on the Road, the Clerk desired to know
what was the chief Point of the Law. His Master said, if he would
promise to pay for their Suppers that Night, he would tell him; which
was agreed to. Why then, said the Master, good Witnesses are the chief
Point in the Law. When they came to the Inn, the Master bespoke a couple
of Fowls for Supper; and when they had Supped, told the Clerk to pay for
them according to Agreement. O _Sir_, says he, where's your
witness."--_Complete London Jester_, ed. 1771, p. 102.

P. 72. One of _Pasquil's Jests_ is "how mad Coomes, when his wife was
drowned, sought her against the stream." It is merely a new application
of the present anecdote.

P. 75. _Of the foole that thought hym selfe deed._--A story of a similar
character occurs in _The Meeting of Gallants at an Ordinarie, or, the
Walkes in Powles_, 1604, (repr. 1841, p. 19), where "mine Host" gives an
account of "how a yong fellow was even bespoke and jested to death by

P. 93. _He fell to a nyce laughyng._

_Nice_, in the sense of _foolish_, is also used by Gower, who likewise
employs the substantive _nicete_ in a similar way:--

  "But than it were a _nicete_
  To telle you, how that I fare!"

  _Confessio Amantis_, lib. vi.

Chaucer employs the word in a similar sense very frequently. In the
_Cuckoo and the Nightingale_, is the following passage:--

  "To telle his might my wit may not suffice,
  For he can make of wise folks ful nice."

P. 103. Crakers.--See the last edition of Nares, voce _Crake and
Craker_. But an earlier example of the use of the word than any given in
the Glossary occurs in Lupset's _Works_, 1546, 12mo
(_A Compendious Treatise teachying the waie of dying well_, fol. 34
_verso_; this treatise was first printed separately in 1541). In a
reprint of the _C. Mery Talys_, which appeared in 1845, the Editor, not
knowing what to make of _crake_ and _craker_, altered them, wherever
they occurred, to _crack_ and _cracker_ respectively!

P. 113. Ch' adde.--In _Wits Interpreter, The English Parnassus_, by J.
Cotgrave. 1655, ed. 1662, p. 247, is "the Devonshire Ditty," from which
the following is an extract:--

  "Cockbodikins, chil work no more,
  Dost think chi labour to be poor?
  No, no, ich chave a do--" &c.

But this phraseology is not peculiar to Devonshire.

P. 113, note 2.--Some additional particulars of interest, relative to
ancient wines, may be found in _Morte Arthure_, ed. 1847, pp. 18, 20;
and in the _Squyer of Low Degre_ (Ritson's _Ancient Engl. Met.
Renancees_, iii).

P. 121. _Of the Courtear that ete the hot costerde._

"An arch Boy being at Table where there was a piping hot Applepye,
putting a Bit into his Mouth, burnt it so that the Tears ran down his
Cheeks. A Gentleman that sate by, ask'd him, Why he wept? Only said he,
because it is just come into my Remembrance that my poor Grandmother
died this Day Twelvemonth. Phoo! says the other, is that all? So
whipping a large Piece into his Mouth, he quickly sympathized with the
Boy; who seeing his Eyes brim-full, with a malicious Sneer Ask'd him,
Why he wept? A Pox on you, said he, because you were not hanged, you
young Dog, the same Day your Grandmother died."--_Complete London
Jester_, ed. 1771, p. 53.

P. 140.--_Of the Canon and his man. Note._

"When King James came into England, coming to Boughton, hee was feasted
by Sir Edward Montague, and his six sonnes brought upp the six first
dishes; three of them after were lords, and three more knights, Sir
Walter Montague, Sir Sydney, and Sir Charles, whose daughter Lady Hatton
is."--_Ward's Diary_, ed. Severn, p. 170-1.

P. 143. _For at this foul araye._--So, in the _Child of Bristow_, an
early metrical legend, we read:--

  "When the burges the child gan se,
  He seid then, benedicite,
  Sone, what _araye_ is this?"

Some later writers thought it necessary to use this word with a
qualifying adjective, as _shrewd array_, &c. thus, in fact, reducing it
to something like its ordinary and modern signification.

P. 148, _note_. 1. See Pepys' _Diary_, 6th ed. I. 29. "They brought me a
draft of their drink in a brown bowl, tipt with silver, which I drank
off, and at the bottom was a picture of the Virgin with the child in her
arms, done in silver."--27th Feb. 1659-60. See also Brydges' _British
Bibliographer_, vol. ii. p. 109.


Transcriber's note:

Spelling, and hyphenation are as in the original.

[=m] - represents an 'm' with an overstrike.

^ - represents a superscript.

Italic markup has been placed exactly as in the original.

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