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THE

COMICAL HISTORY

OF THE

COURTIER AND TINKER


Chapter I.

The Courtier finds the Tinker asleep; he has him carried in
that posture to his house; lays him on a Bed in a
stately Room with rich Clothes by him; feasts and
entertains him with fine Music; makes him
drunk, and then conveys him
back again.

A Courtier one day riding along with his retinue espied a Tinker who had been taking a very early draught to quench the spark in his throat, lying fast asleep, and snoring under a sunny bank, having made his budget into his pillow, to rest his drowsy head upon; and the Courtier's country house not being far off, he immediately caused his servants to take him up very softly, and carry him thither, then to put him in a stately bed in the next chamber, pull off his foul shirt, and put on him a clean one, then convey away his old clothes, and lay rich ones by him. This was punctually observed. The Tinker being thus laid, slept soundly till evening; when rousing up between sleeping and waking, and being dry, as drunkards usually are, he began to call for some drink, but was greatly frighted to find himself in such a palace, furnished with lights and attendants about him, that bowed to him, and harmonious music, accompanied with most charming voices, but none of them to be seen. Whereupon looking for his old clothes and budget, he found a muff and rich attire glistening with gold by him, which made him fancy himself metamorphosed from a Tinker to a Prince. He asked many questions, but in vain, yet being willing to rise, the attendants arrayed him in the richest attire; so then he looked on all sides admiring the sudden change of fortune, and as proud as a peacock when he spreads his tail against the glittering beams of the sun. And being arrayed, they had him into another room, where was a costly banquet prepared, and placed him in a chair, under a fine canopy, fringed with gold, being attended with wine in gilded cups. At first he strained courtesy, but being entreated to sit down, the banquet being solely at his disposal, he fell to most heartily. Then after supper they plied him with so much wine, as to make him dead drunk, then stripped him, and put on his old clothes; they carried him as they had brought him, and laid him in the same posture they found him, being all this time asleep; and when he awoke he took all that had happened before for a vision, telling it wherever he came, that he had really and verily dreamed he had been a prince, telling them as well as he could all that had happened, but plainly he saw now again his fortune would raise him no higher than to mend old kettles; yet he made the following song for the fraternity to sing at their leisure:—

All you that jovial Tinkers are, Come listen unto me: I dreamed a dream that was so rare, That none to it I can compare, No Tinker such did see.
I thought I was a King indeed, Attired gay and fine; In a stately palace I did tread, Was to a princely banquet led, And had good cheer of wine.
But soon I found me in a ditch, That did no comfort lend; This shows a Tinker, though he itch To be a Prince, or to grow rich, Must still old kettles mend.


Chapter II.

The Courtier's Trick upon the Tinker for complaining that he
could get no drink at his house.

The Tinker I have before mentioned, not knowing the house where he had been so nobly entertained, and which he only took for a vision, and often walking that road and crying old brass to mend, had been called in to work, and was often asked various questions by the servants, and as often told them his imaginary vision; but they giving him no strong liquor, he often complained of it in the town, saying, "Though some had praised Sir John's liberality, and how free he was of his liquor, yet for his own part, he could say no such thing, as having ever found him so stingy and niggardly, that not so much as one sup of his famed March or October beer could he get." This being babbled about came to the Courtier's ears, who was resolved to punish his sauciness, though in a comical way. So one day as he was passing by, he ordered him to be called in to do some work; and after he had done it to come to him (as having laid all his schemes with his servants beforehand). "Come, old fellow," said he, "you look as if you were as dry as Vulcan. What say you if I should order you where you may have your fill of good drink? Would not you be glad of it?" "Ay, master," said he, making a nod and a scrape, "God's blessing on your heart for it, and I thank you too."

Upon this he ordered his butler to have him down, and be sure not to stint him, and let him have his full swill. They instantly went, and the Tinker followed them very joyfully. But they had no sooner gotten him down, but shutting to the door close, they ordered him to strip immediately; at the which he much wondered, and began to make excuses on account of the blackness of his hide, which would be very undecent and unseemly. But they pretended it was the way of the cellar, when a new comer was to be made free of it, but never after, how oft soever he came. He being willing to comply, that he might have his skin full of good liquor, that might prove both as meat and cloth to him, off went his leathern doublet, breeches, shoes, stockings, and hat; as for shirt he had none, having pawned it to his hostess that morning for three noggins of brandy. Then taking a frisk or two in a merry vein, they surprisingly whipped him up by the heels, and put him into a full butt of strong beer, the upper head being taken up for that purpose. So he dipped over head and ears like a duck that dives. Yet after he had recovered his legs, it was but just shoulder deep, for when upon winding of the horn, whilst he would have been scrambling out, down came Sir John, demanding what was the matter. They told him "the Tinker was not content to drink full horns at the cock, but would needs go in to drink all at a draught." "Aye," said he, "this is a thirsty soul indeed; but since he undertakes to drink it, he shall do it, for none of my servants shall drink it now, he has washed his dirty hide in it;" crying to him with an angry voice, "Sirrah, you rogue, drink it as you proposed, or it shall be worse for you," and while he stood shivering up to his neck, and was endeavouring to lay the blame upon others, the Courtier seemed impatient to be dallied with, drew a broad sword that was two-edged, protesting his head should go off for abusing his good liquor, was there no more Tinkers in the world, and with that, making a full blow at him, as the Tinker believed. And seeing him in such a passion, he to avoid the coming stroke dropped down over head and ears, staying under as long as he could, and peeping up, and seeing the threatening danger, he dropped down again for six or seven times. Till fearing to carry the jest too far, he gave him a short respite, telling him, "Now he could not report abroad he was so very niggardly of his drink, for he had or might have enough of it." Then bidding his servants to take him out, and ordered him to depart, or drink it up, which he thought fit. And thus he went away laughing. The Tinker, who was at first very angry, but being cheered up with a cordial dram, and so made sensible that all this was but a frolic, and that for the future their master would be his good friend if he behaved civilly, he was pacified, and so putting on his clothes, he beat the road for a gang of merry fellows of his acquaintance, informing them, there was a hogshead of March beer at Sir John's, which they all might be partakers of if they choosed; they came joyfully, and had it brought into the court-yard, in black jacks. After they had drunk it, the Tinker told them the cause of its being given away, was because there was a swine that had unexpectedly fallen into it; but on further inquiry he told them all the circumstances, which set them a-laughing till their sides were almost cracked. Afterwards they had plenty of victuals sent them, and the Tinker being thus made free of the cellar, was ordered to call at the house, and have victuals and drink as often as he came that way. And so they departed, spreading the fame of Sir John in every place they came, as a bountiful benefactor; singing as they went, the following song:—

Good house-keeping, they say, is fled, Or hawks or hounds, and whores have rid her; But we say she's not fled nor dead, Who have so plentiful beheld her.
Long may he flourish in this nation, And get it praised as of old, That we by following the French fashion,

May not make charity grow cold.

Chapter III.

A Comical Trick he made the Tinker serve an old Farmer, who used to ride sleeping, making him think that his horse was the Devil.

The Tinker being better pleased with his treatment, often frequented the house, making the Knight merry with his pleasant songs, etc., so that he was much pleased with his conversation, and often gave him money, and one day put him upon a frolic, seeing him an apt fellow. He had seen an old curmudgeon farmer, sleeping and nodding on his horse, as he came from market, and giving the Tinker directions what to do, when he should come by, knowing his hour, and delivering him a parcel of crackers and other fireworks, he caused him to be dressed in a raw hide with horns, when the Tinker, according to order, with the help of a servant, having stopped the farmer's horse, while the rider was sleeping, pitched four stakes, one at each corner of the pannel, and ungirting, he drew the horse from under, when taking off the bridle, he put his own head into the headstal; so then after he placed the fireworks under the pannel, he put a fuse lighted to them, and so kept motion as the horse used to do with the nodding farmer, who having the reins about his wrist, by his kicking he awaked, and seeing himself on a frightful beast, which he took for Beelzebub, he cried out, when the fire-work taking, blew up him and the pannel, and made him to fall quash to the ground, so that the Tinker made off with the stakes and pannel. The old man no sooner got up, but he fell to running, crying out, "The Devil, the Devil," and never durst come that way again but in company, rather choosing to go five miles about.

Chapter IV.

The Tinker complains to the Courtier of a Butcher's Dog that often assaulted him. The Courtier, in the Tinker's habit, fights and kills him; and of his Examination before a Justice.

The Tinker being awarded with a crown for his dexterity, went away; but one day being in merry talk with our Courtier, he changed his tone sadly, and told him that a butcher, on such a road, kept a lion-like mastiff dog; that he was not so much afraid to encounter him, as that if he would kill him, the butcher as he told him, would send him to jail, and punish him at the next sessions, having one Justice Clodpole on his side, who was his landlord, and whose house he served with meat, and doubted not would hearken to anything he said against him although ever so false and unjust.

Sir John having listened to his complaint, and laughed, bid him be of good cheer, for himself would try the dog adventure. Upon this he ordered some clothes to be brought, which the Tinker stripping, put on, and the Knight put on his, except his shirt, and taking his budget, pike staff, kettle, and hammer, away he went, beating his kettle, and crying, "Work for a Tinker," till he came near the butcher's house. The dog soon heard the tink, tink, and away he runs open-mouthed to meet the Tinker, they laughing to see how he would fright him; but Sir John having now thrown down his budget, was ready to receive him with the pike end of the staff, and after the dog wheeled, he returned and advanced eagerly to fly at his throat, but he thrust the pike of his staff into his breast; upon which he ran away howling, and tracing the ground with his blood, till he came to his master's, where he died. At this he was so much enraged, that he carried a constable, and seized the Knight, who purposely made no resistance. So taking him before a Justice, he made very great complaints against him.

The Justice very gravely demanded what the fellow was brought before him for? The butcher said, "An't please your Worship, fur killing my servant." "Aye," said the Justice, "he looks like a bloody-minded villain, therefore write his mittimus, and see he be well-ironed, lest he make his escape."

"I beseech your good Worship not to be so rash and hasty," said the Knight, "as to pass sentence upon me so hard. Pray ask this butcher what servant of his I killed?" "Ay," said the Justice, "let him speak." "Then in truth," said the Butcher, "I ought in conscience to speak the truth; it was but a dog, but such a dog, as I say I would not have taken the best five guineas in the country for. Do you see me, sir, he had rare qualities over other dogs; he would not only fetch home my sheep out of the field when I wanted them, and save me that trouble, but do you see, Mr. Justice, he would go a sheep-hunting, and drive me home a couple, and sometimes half a dozen of wild sheep, which nobody owned or I did not think fit to inquire after, or they after me; so that he made me a thriving man: besides he was the safeguard of my house, and I believe that he killed him on purpose that he might rob me."

"Ay, ay," said the Justice; "all this is true, and you speak like an honest man, and he looks indeed like a rogue, and I believe you; but, however, we can't, indeed hang men for a dog, but I'll send him to jail, and there he shall lie and rot in his lousy linen, and drink kennel-water, and not one bit of meat, unless now and then a roasted turnip, cooled on a burdock leaf." "This is a very hard sentence, indeed, Mr. Justice," said our counterfeit Tinker. "No, no," replied the Justice, "it is too mild a one for such a villain as you are." But added, "I had like to have forgot a material point in his examination. Tell me, sirrah, how you came to kill this honest man's dog?" "Why, sir," said he, "with the pike end of my staff for running at me to bite me." "Aye, aye," said the Justice, "that was villainous in you; could you not have turned the other end, and given him a rap upon the pate?" "Yes," replied he, "if he had come to me with his tail foremost."

"Prithee, show me," said the Justice, "how he came at thee?"—"I will show your worship; he came open mouthed, as I do to you now, crying, bow, wow, wow." And here running against the Justice, overthrew him in his chair to the ground; so that he most loudly cried out, "Murder!" and being got up he ordered his mittimus to be made, reviling him at a desperate rate. But all on a sudden the tables were turned; for no sooner being asked, but he told his name. When up starts the Justice, and coming unto him with a low reverence, "Oh! Sir John," said he, "Is it you! who could ever have thought it! I am heartily sorry for what I have said." Then turning to the butcher, who stood wondering, said, "Sirrah, you rascal, do you keep dogs to assault gentlemen? but I will teach you better manners; come bind him over to the sessions directly, and if he has no bail, take him to jail. This is a pretty thing indeed, that people cannot pass the road peaceably for such rogues as you keeping dogs." But Sir John interposing, all was pacified, and the butcher went home with a flea in his ear.