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THE

MERRY CONCEITS

OF

TOM LONG

THE CARRIER

Being many Pleasant Passages and Mad Pranks which he observed in his Travels.

Full of Honest Mirth and Delight.


Of all the Toms that ever yet was named,
Was ever any Tom like Tom Long framed?
Tom Tram, who now as many mad pranks shows,
Unto Tom Long will prove a mere goose.

Tom Thumb is dumb, until the pudding creep,
In which he was entomb'd, then out doth peep;
Tom Fool may go to school, but ne'er be taught,
Such rare conceits with which Tom Long is fraught.
 

Tom Ass may pass, but only for his ears,
No such rich jewels as our Tom Long he wears;
Tom Tell-truth is but froth, but truth to tell,
From all these Toms, Tom Long doth bear the bell.

Chapter I.

How Tom Long at first set up the trade of being a Carrier,
and where he took up his Lodging.

Tom Long, the subject of this discourse, having spent some few years like a wandering Jew, oft visiting the coasts of Essex and Kent, where he did many notable exploits, sometimes cheating the calves-heads of their money, by the virtue of hocus pocus, having learned the art of legerdemain. Other times he used, as opportunity served, to rob the hen-roost. At last, his cheating tricks were so well known, that the country kicked him out like a knave as he was, and he was willing to be gone as they to be rid of him, soon gave them three slips for a teaster, and travelled towards Gotham, where he, well knowing what wit those wise men had in their noddles, took up his abode near the place where the men made a hedge to keep in the cuckoo all the year. Not long after, he set up his trade of being a carrier; under pretence of which he with ease played his pranks, and the wisdom of these men was such, that he cheated them of all, and yet the fools had no mistrust of him. And having set him up, he found great store of small doings, and above all others, the men of Gotham and Dunstable would employ him; who, being more knave than fool, ever advised some cheating trick or other to gull those idiots; for let him go out ever so full, he would be sure to come home empty, telling them one mischance or other had befallen him. He took up his lodging at the sign of the Whip and Egg-Shell in Thieving Lane, not far from Charing Cross, where Dunstable men are sure to find him; if not, they may go into Turn-again Lane, and come back again as wise as they went in.

Chapter II.

How Tom Long the Carrier met with a Young Man upon
the way, with what happened to them,
and how they were entertained by an Hostess.

Tom Long being newly set up a carrier, as he was travelling he happened to take up a young lad, who had straggled from his parents to play the truant, which Tom perceiving, entertained him into his service; but they had not gone far before their stomachs were up, so they resolved at the next place to take a bit, where, as soon as they came, they demanded what was for to eat. The hostess, being one of Seldom Cleanly's daughters, said there was nothing but eggs, of which, she said, she would make them a froize; and seeing them to come in, in a full breast and an empty stomach, she (like a slut as she was) resolved to give them their bellies full before they went; and so, with some three or four good eggs, she mixed as many bad ones, some addle and rotten, and others ready for to hatch; and having set them down at a certain wash block, which served instead of a table, she set before them as good a froize as any woman possibly could make of coarse materials, making her sauce alike suitable, being nothing else but kitchen stuff melted a little—oil as good as ever was burned. Tom and the young man fell presently to it, with stomachs as greedy as hogs, swallowing down all by wholesale, tag-rag and long-tail, without any chewing, although they conceited something cracking in their teeth like young bones. Yet hunger, which is the best sauce, made every morsel sweet, although it had but an ill going down with it, and worse troubled their patience afterwards, for they had no sooner eaten of it, but like squeezy stomachs they began to cast backwards and forwards; and being in this pitiful pickle, they called for their hostess, who, thinking to receive her reckoning, was paid in her own coin; for, having some of their froize left, Tom furiously cast it on her face, which stuck as fast as a plaister to the wall, insomuch that for a while she lost her eyesight; which being done, Tom departed without paying anything for his dinner.

Chapter III.

How Tom and his Young Man discoursed of their Dinner,
and how they resolved to mend the matter at night,
but met with as bad Entertainment.

Tom and his man being now on their way, began to discourse of their dinner, and how prettily they served their hostess; but still conceited that they heard these young chickens which they had eaten in their froize cry, "Peep, peep, peep," and having cast up all again, their bellies began to cry "Cupboard," whereupon Tom, to comfort his young man, told him they would be sure to have a good host at night, and good fare to. But "like to like," quoth the devil to the collier, out of the frying-pan into the fire; for their new host proved not only a knave, but a thief, and instead of dainty veal, provided for them part of a young colt, which, being foaled before its time, ate very tenderly; and going to supper, the host, like a flattering knave, told them he would feast them bravely; and they, not mistrusting anything, fed most courageously, having for to please their pallets several kinds of dishes made thereof, the host still crying, "You are welcome, gentlemen,"—all which they swallowed down as greedily as the lawyer his fee. And having filled their ungodly guts with this supposed good cheer, they hastened to bed, where the fleas fed as fast on their corpse as they had done upon this new found veal, insomuch that they looked as if they had the smallpox. In the morning (thinking to have breakfast of the same) they missed their coats and other things, which their host had thievishly deprived them of. So, searching the house about, they found hanging in a corner some pieces of flesh, which they supposed to be part of the veal they had eaten of; but by the ears of the skin which hanged by, they saw plainly it was an ass, and that they were once more made fools of; whereupon Tom caused his host to be apprehended, who was committed to prison about their goods, where Tom left him and departed.

Chapter IV.

Tom relates how a certain counterfeit Merchant cheated
divers Gentlemen of very great sums of Money.

In the North of England arrived a pretended merchant, but, indeed, a very cheating knave, who, residing there a while, came to be greatly acquainted with divers gentlemen, who, looking on him as one of great account, at last he received several great sums of money which he was to pay at London, upon the receipt of which he gave every man a bill of exchange, receiving of some twenty pounds, some thirty, some forty, fifty, some a hundred pounds; and, having pretty well feathered his nest, leaving those gentlemen to receive their money where they could get it, he departed beyond sea; and when the gentlemen came to receive their money, they could neither find nor hear of their merchant: whereat they were very much vexed, as well as they might be, to see how they were cheated of their money. But their hopes are that they shall have it brought them again by Tom Long the Carrier.

Chapter V.

Of the great request that Tom Long was in, and how the
wise Mayor of Huntingdon seized on Tom's
ragged Colt for a Sturgeon.

Tom Long having been a carrier for many years, grew in great request, and though he was not very well beloved, yet he was sure to have many customers that he got carriage of, especially the country farmers, who often used to send tokens by him to their friends, as gammons of bacon, collars of brawn, pies, and other good things, and now and then small pieces of silver from Dunstable men: all which Tom ever made use of himself, though they perceived it not; for by reason they sent by Tom Long the Carrier, they could never receive any answer about what he brought. Also, all the broken shopkeepers and decayed gentlemen sent their creditors' debts by Tom Long the Carrier.

But it happened that, as Tom was going to London, he chanced to be at Huntingdon, where, putting his horses to grass, amongst which he had a young ragged colt,—this colt having straggled down into the river, certain wise men of the town coming by, that had been at Gotham, thought it had been a sturgeon, and thereupon acquainted the Right Wisdom-Fool the Mayor of it, who assembled together his wise brethren, made a very wise speech to them, and acquainted them therewith, who very unanimously accompanied his foolship; and, after a deep consultation, they all agreed to seize the poor colt for a sturgeon; but carrying it with great triumph into the town, the inhabitants, who were wiser than the rest, exceedingly laughed them to scorn for their great folly. And so Tom, promising the Mayor to bring him a piece of sturgeon at his return, he had his colt again.

Chapter VI.

A Story of the Seven Sleepers, who slept above three
hundred years, and not yet awakened.

In a great city there lived several men who for their religion were forced to fly for their lives, and not far from the city was an ancient cave under a hill, in which these men entered to secure and refresh themselves; but their persecutors, hearing where they were, stopped up the mouth of the cave, intending to famish them therein; and they, not knowing what was done, so soon as they had refreshed their bodies with victuals, laid themselves down to sleep, and so continued sleeping very sound a long season, until such time as in after ages a shepherd, intending to make himself a harbour, set divers masons to work to dig in this cave, who, with the noise, awakened the men who had been asleep so long therein. The cave being opened, they, thinking it to be day, and had slept but one night, sent one of their company privately into the city for food, for in all this time they had eaten nothing, and well they might be hungry; so, coming to the town; he found all things altered, the inhabitants being other kind of people, as he supposed, than he left the night before. So going to buy some bread, the people refused to take his money, saying they knew not the coin, at which he greatly marvelled. But inquiring further, he found that since their being there three generations had been dead and gone, and a fourth in being; and by computation of time, it appeared they had slept above three hundred years, and lay all this time in their clothes, which were no whit decayed, whereat the people all wondered; and Tom Long the Carrier, staying all the time they slept to see when they would awake, at last brought the news with him.

Chapter VII.

How Tom Long the Carrier sold his Horse for the Skin,
supposing him to be dead; and how a crafty
fellow coming by knew what the Horse ailed, and so
bought him.

Tom Long the Carrier, travelling on the road, chances to put his horse in a field that was overgrown with hemlock, which Tom's horse, having had no meat all day, ate so greedily on, that it cast him into so sound a sleep that Tom thought he had been dead. Being thus sorely crossed, as he supposed, he began to flay his skin off to sell, whereupon a crafty fellow coming by that way, well knew what the horse ailed, bought him for the price of the skin, and paid Tom the money. He departed, appointing to fetch the horse the very next morning. And when he came on the morrow, the horse was awakened out of his sleep, and got upon his legs again; which, when Tom perceived, he was sorely vexed at his foolish bargain; but his chapman laughed him to scorn for his folly, and so departed with his horse.

Chapter VIII.

How Tom, Long the Carrier converted all his Carriage to
his own use, and thereby recruited himself with another
Horse, and of a sad mischance that befel his Horse.

Tom Long the Carrier, seeing himself thus fooled out of his horse, resolved not to bear all the loss himself, and so converted all his carriage into money, and returning home, pretended he had been robbed of his horse and all his carriage. Not long after, Tom being willing to set up again, purchased with his money a new horse; but ill-gotten goods seldom thrive. So Tom, having a horse again, received divers things to carry from divers places, especially from the wise men of Gotham, who were the best customers Tom Long the Carrier had. But being on his way not far from his inn, he chanced to spy a fine plot of grass under a hedge in a corn field, under which Tom, to save charges, secretly conveyed his mare, tying her to the hedge with a cord, and so left her. But the mare, like an unruly jade, not being willing to be confined in so narrow a compass, was minded to see what fare was on the other side of the hedge, and foolishly venturing to leap over, very unfortunately hanged herself, whose untimely death had then nigh broke the heart of poor Tom Long; and his grief was the more by reason she died without any visitation.

Tom nine ways looks, and needs must vexed be;
Now bought wit's best, Tom Long doth plainly see.
Tom tells he's robbed, and counteth all his losses,
And is in hopes he shall have no more crosses.
"Come, lads, all's gone," Tom takes his comfort then;
He will be repaid by other men.
Now many men do Tom Long dispraise,
Saying, "He has small conscience in his ways,
But sure I'll lay no such fault to his charge;
I rather think his conscience was too large."
 

Chapter IX.

How Tom Long the Carrier was assaulted by a Dog, and
how valiantly he defended himself, and killed him.

As Tom Long the Carrier was travelling between Dover and Westchester, he fortuned to pass something near a house, where was kept a great mastiff dog, who, as soon as he had espied Tom, came running open mouthed at him, and so furiously assaulted him, as if he meant to devour him at a bite. But Tom, having in his hand a good pikestaff, most valiantly defended himself like a man, and to withstand the danger, he thrust the pike-end of his staff into his throat, and so killed him. Whereupon the owner thereof, seeing his dog lost, comes earnestly unto Tom, and between threatening and chiding, asking him why he struck him not with the great end of the staff? "Marry," quoth he, "because your dog runs not at me with his tail."

Chapter X.

Of a merry conceited Jest brought to Town by Tom.

A certain king kept a fool to be his jester, whose manner was to set down in a note-book, which he kept for that purpose, all the follies that he saw committed in or about the court, or at least write so many as he discovered. So, upon a time, a certain Italian horse-courser arrived at the court who professed great skill in horsemanship, and it being declared unto the king, he presently sent him with three thousand pounds to buy horses in a far country, which this fool hearing of, put down in his note-book among the rest. When the king heard that, he was much offended, and would needs know of Jack Lackwit why he had set him down in his note. "Because," quoth the fool, "I think he will come no more to you." "But what if he does come again?" said the king. "Why, then," said the fool, "I will take you out and put him in."

Chapter XI.

Of the Hard Lodging which Tom Long the Carrier found on
the Ground, having under him but one Poor Feather.

Tom Long, by reason of the great loss of his horses, became very poor, and so turned foot-post; and being in a wearisome condition, he was forced, having not coin to pay for better, to take up his lodging on the ground, where, tumbling and tossing, he could hardly rest all night; and stirring himself betimes in the morning, he espied under him one feather. "Now," quoth Tom, "I see what was the cause of my trouble that I could not sleep all the night. I wonder, seeing I found such hard lodging upon one feather, how they do that lie upon thousands."

Chapter XII.

How Tom Long cozened two Shoemakers out of a
pair of Shoes.

Tom Long being now a foot-post, with hard travelling had worn his shoes so very thin that he was in great danger to lose soles and all; whereupon Tom came to refresh himself, after which he sent for a shoemaker to bring him a pair of shoes.

Now Tom, having no coin left, resolved to try his wits; so drawing on one of the shoes, he said it fitted well; but drawing on the other, he complained that it pinched his foot and was too low in the instep; whereupon he desired the shoemaker to take that shoe home and let it stand in the last for an hour or two, and he would stay so long. As soon as he was gone Tom pulled off the other shoe, and sent for another shoemaker to bring him a pair of shoes, which he did; so, drawing on one of them on the other foot, he said it pinched him likewise, and so wished him also to take that shoe home, and let it stand for an hour on the last, and then come again. But the shoemakers saw the last of their shoes, for when they came again Tom Long was gone, leaving these verses behind them:—

"Whom seek ye, sirs—Tom Long? Oh, fie upon
Your tediousness, he's long since gone;
He went a good while since, no question store
Are glad, who vex'd he did not go before;
And some are griev'd he went so soon away,
The reason was, he could no longer stay;
Nor is it a wonder that he thus is gone,
Since all men know he long was drawing on."

Chapter XIII.

Witty Conceits of Tom Long the Carrier.

Tom Long the Carrier, upon a time, asked a merry conceited fellow which was the best husband for a young wench to marry. "Marry," quoth the fellow, "an old man, for then he shall be sure to be proud of her." Another standing by asked Tom Long the Carrier what trade he thought to be best? "Marry," quoth Tom, "a cut-purse; for he hath no sooner done his work but he hath his money in his hand."

Chapter XIV.

The Conclusion of the Merry Conceits of Tom Long
the Carrier.

Tom Long the Carrier coming to an inn,
Asked the maid what meat there was within?
"Cow-heels," said she, "and a fine breast of mutton."
"Then," said Tom, "since that I am no glutton,
Either or both shall serve—to-night the breast,
The heels in the morning, when light meat is best."
At night he took the breast, and did not pay,
And in the morning took his heels and ran away.
When the worst is past, all things begin to mend,
And here the brave story of Tom Long doth end.