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faith, I have been of that mind always: write, boy, that, to shew he is a grammarian.
Rec. What university are you of?
Sir Rad. He tells truth: to tell truth is an excellent virtue: boy, make two heads, one for his learning, another for his virtues, and refer this to the head of his virtues, not of his learning. Now, Master Recorder, if it please you, I will examine him in an author, that will sound him to the depth; a book of astronomy, otherwise called an almanack.
Rec. Very good, Sir Roderick: it were to be wished there were no other book of humanity; then there would not be such busy state-prying fellows as are now a-days. Proceed, good Sir.
Sir Rad. What is the dominical letter?
the very answer of the book. Write down that, and refer it to his skill in philosophy. How many days hath September?
Im. Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November, February hath twenty-eight alone, and all the rest hath thirty and one.
Sir Rad. Very learnedly, in good faith : he hath also a smack in poetry. Write down that, boy, to shew his learning in poetry. How many miles from Waltham to London?
Im. Twelve, Sir.
Sir Rad. Write down that answer of his, to shew his learning in arithmetic.
Page. He must needs be a good arithmetician that counted [out] money so lately.
Sir Rad. When is the new moon ?
Im. The last quarter, the 5th day, at two of the clock, and thirty-eight minutes in the morning.
Sir Rad. How call you him that is weather-wise ?
Sir Rad. Sirrah, boy, write him down for a good astronomer. What day of the month lights the queen's day on?
Im. The 17th of November.
Sir Rad. Boy, refer this to his virtues, and write him down a good subject.
Page. Faith, he were an excellent subject for two or three good wits; he would make a fine ass for an ape to ride upon.
Sir Rad. And these shall suffice for the parts of his learning. Now it remains to try, whether you be a man of a good utterance, that is, whether you can ask for the strayed heifer with the white face, as also chide the boys in the belfry, and bid the sexton whip out the dogs: let me hear your
Im. If any man or woman can tell any tidings of a horse with four feet, two ears, that did stray about the seventh hour, three minutes in the forenoon, the fifth day
Sir Rad. Boy, write him dowu for a good utterance. Master Recorder, I think he hath been examined sufficiently.
Rec. Aye, Sir Roderick, 'tis so: we have tried him very thoroughly.
Page. Aye, we have taken an inventory of his good parts, and prized them accordingly.
Sir Rad. Signior Immerito, forasmuch as we have made a double trial of thee, the one of your learning, the other of your erudition ; it is expedient, also, in the next place, to give you a few exhortations, considering the greatest clerks are not the wisest men : this is therefore first to exhort you to abstain from controversies; secondly, not to gird at men of worship, such as myself, but to use yourself discreetly; thirdly, not to speak when any man or woman coughs: do so, and in
so doing, I will persevere to be your worshipful friend and loving patron. Lead Immerito in to my son, and let him dispatch hin, and remember my tythes to be reserved, paying twelve-pence a-year."
Gammer Gurton's Needle* is a still older and more curious relic; and is a regular comedy in five acts, built on the circumstance of an old woman having lost her needle, which throws the whole village into confusion, till it is at last providentially found sticking in an unlucky part of Hodge's dress. This must evidently have happened at a time when the manufactures of Sheffield and Birmingham had not reached the height of perfection which they have at present done. Suppose that there is only one sewingneedle in a parish, that the owner, a diligent notable old dame, loses it, that a mischiefmaking wag sets it about that another old woman has stolen this valuable instrument of household industry, that strict search is made every where in-doors for it in vain, and that then the incensed parties sally forth to scold it out in the open air, till words end in blows, and the affair is referred over to the higher authorities, and we shall have an exact idea (though perhaps not so lively a one) of what passes in this authentic document between Gammer Gurton and her Gossip Dame Chat, Dickon the
• The name of Still has been assigned as the author of this singular production, with the date of 1566.
Bedlam (the causer of these harms), Hodge, Gammer Gurton's servant, Tyb her maid, Cocke, her’prentice boy, Doll, Scapethrift, Master Baillie his master, Doctor Rat, the Curate, and Gib the Cat, who may be fairly reckoned one of the dramatis persone, and performs no mean part.
Gog's crosse, Gammer” (says Cocke the boy), “ if ye
will laugh, look in but at the door, And see how Hodge lieth tumbling and tossing amidst the
floor, Raking there, some fire to find among the ashes dead"
[That is, to light a candle to look for the lost veedle], “ Where there is not a spark so big as a pin's head : At last in a dark corner two sparks he thought he sees, Which were indeed nought else but Gib our cat's two eyes. Puff, quoth Hodge; thinking thereby to have fire without
doubt; With that Gib shut her two eyes, and so the fire was out ; And by and by them open’d, even as they were before, With that the sparks appeared, even as they had done of yore: And even as Hodge blew the fire, as he did think, Gib, as he felt the blast, strait way began to wink; Till Hodge fell of swearing, as came best to his turn; The fire was sure bewitch'd, and therefore would not burn. At last Gib up the stairs, among old posts and pins, And Hodge he hied him after, till broke were both his shins; Cursing and swearing oaths, were never of his making, That Gib would fire the house, if that she were not taken.”
Diccon, the strolling beggar (or Bedlam, as he is called) steals a piece of bacon from behind Gammer Gurton's door, and in answer to Hodge's
complaint of being dreadfully pinched for hunger, asks
Why Hodge, was there none at home thy dinner for to set ? Hodge. Gog's bread, Diccon, I came too late, was no
thing there to get: Gib (a foul fiend might on her light) lick'd the milk-pan so
clean : See Diccon, 'twas not so well wash'd this seven year, I ween. A pestilence light on all ill luck, I had thought yet for all
this, Of a morsel of bacon behind the door, at worst I should not
miss : But when I sought a slip to cut, as I was wont to do, Goy's souls, Diccon, Gib our cat had eat the bacon too."
Hodge's difficulty in making Diccon understand what the needle is which his dame has lost, shews his superior acquaintance with the conveniences and modes of abridging labour in more civilised life, of which the other had no idea.
Hodge. Has she not gone, trowest now thou, and lost her
neele ?" [So it is called here.] “ Dic. (says staring). Her eel, Hodge! Who fished of
late? That was a dainty dish. Hodge. Tush, tush, her neele, her neele, her neele, man,
'tis neither flesh nor fish : A little thing with a hole in the end, as bright as any siller
[silver), Small, long, sharp at the point, and strait as any pillar. Dic. I know not what a devil thou meanest, thou bring'st
me more in doubt.