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Forty Copies Printed.

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S  A  C  K  F  U  L  L   O  F   N  E  W  E  S












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THE excessively rare, if not unique, old jest-book, reprinted in the following pages, is believed to be the only known copy of the old merriment, mentioned in Laneham's letter from Kenilworth, 1575,-- "But aware, keep bak, make room now, heer they cum, & fyrst Captin Cox, an od man, I promiz yoo; by profession a mason, & that right skilfull, very cunning in fens, & hardy az Gawin, for hiz tonsword hangs at his tablz eend: great oversight hath he in matters of storie, for az for King / p.6 / Arthurz book, Huon of Burdeaus, the foour suns of Aymon, Bevys of Hampton, the Squyre of Lo Degree, the Knight of Courtesy and the Lady Faguell, Frederik of Gene, Syr Eglamoour, Syr Tryamoor, Syr Lamwell, Syr Isenbras, Syr Gawyn, Olyver of the Castl, Lucres & Eurialus, Virgils life, the Castle of Ladiez, the Wido Edyth, the King & the Tanner, Frier Rous, Howleglas, Gargantua, Robin Hood, Adam Bel, Clim of the Clough & William of Cloudesley, the Churl & the Burd, the Seaven Wise Masters, the Wife Lapt in a Morels Skin, the sak full of nuez, the seargeaunt that became a Fryar, Skogan, Collyn Cloout, the Fryar & the Boy, Elynor Rumming, & the Nutbrooun Maid, with many moe then I rehearz heere, I beleeve hee have them all at hiz fingers endz."

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        The Sack Full of news is entered several times on the registers of the Stationers' Company in the sixteenth century; but as there was a play under the same title, it is not always certain that the jest-book is referred to. In 1582, however, it is entered to John Charlwood with other pieces of popular literature, such as Sir Eglamour, A Proud Wives Paternoster, &c., and in this instance it seems all but certain that the merriment, not the play, is the tract intended. I have very little doubt but that the penny history now reprinted is a copy, in an abridged form perhaps but still a copy, of the original Sack Full of News mentioned by Laneham.

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London, Printed by Andrew Clark, and are to be sold by Thomas Passenger, at the Three Bibles upon London Bridge, 1673.

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IN the country of Almaine, in a certain village, there was on a time a parson of a Church which preached unto his parishioners, and thereby shewed them the joys of Heaven and the pains of Hell, and many other things. And as he thus preached in the Pulpit, among the people, there was a Miller which knew well that the Priest had a concubine, and spake so loud that everybody did hear him. What foolish Priest, said he, thou makest much babling in the Pulpit and all thy wit is not worth a straw: for I have an asse that is far wiser than thou art, and thou makest here much ado of Heaven and Hell, and I may if I will / p.12 / have both Heaven and Hell, at mine own house, winde and weather at my own will, and as it pleaseth me. Wherewith the Priest was greatly displeased, because he disturbed him in his sermon, and said he would complain thereof to the Bishop. Well, said the Miller, if thou dost complain I will abide by that which I have said. But as soon as the Priest had done his sermon, he went to the Bishop, and complained unto him of all that which the Miller had formerly spoken, whereupon the Bishop incontinently sent for the Miller, and when the miller came, the Bishop demanded if he could reasonably answer the complaint made against him bythe Priest; Yea my Lord qd the Miller, that I can. Well, said the Bishop, thou saidst that thou mightest have thy choice both of heaven and Hell at home in thine own house when it pleaseth thee; and moreover thou saidst, thou hadst both wind and weather at thine own pleasure. And also thou saidst, thou hast an Ass that is far wiser than the Parish Priest, / p.13 / If thou canst prove thy saying true, thou shalt go quit without danger.
        Indeed, qd the Miller, I said, that I had the choice of heaven and hell at mine own house if I would, and so I have, for I have a Mother of mine at home, that is so old she can neither go nor stand, and I trust as long as I keep her well and do her good, I shall by the grace of God, have heaven at will, and if I do not that I deserve perpetual damnation; and likewise I said, that I had both wind and weather at will, and that is true; for if it be the Lord's will that I have good wind and weather, it is my will also, and I am very well contented therewith; and if it be his will to send me otherwise, it is my will also, and I am pleased therewith; and whereas I said, that I had an ass that was wiser than our Priest, that is most true; for mine ass sometime when she stumbleth in a hole as she goeth she will beware that she come no more that way, but looketh well before her, and will take heed that she do fall no more / p.14 / therein; but this Priest hath had a maid this seven years and more, which he lyeth withall, and falleth oft in her hole, and yet he cannot beware of it. And thus I hope I have sufficiently answered to this complaint.
        Well (said the Bishop) thou has answered, and wisely, and therefore go thy ways. And so he departed without any blame: but the Priest was deprived of his benefice and so another was set in his place, to his great rebuke and shame.


THERE was a fryer in London, which did use to go often to the house of an old woman, but ever when he came to her house, she hid all the meat she had. On a time this fryer came to her house (bringing certain company with him) and demanded of the wife if she had any meat. And she said, Nay. Well, quoth the fryer, / p.15 / have you not a whetstone? Yea, (qd the woman) what will you do with it? Marry qd he I would make meat thereof. Then she brought a whetstone. He asked her likewise if she had not a frying-pan. Yea, said she, but what the divil will ye do therewith? Marry (said the fryer) you shall see by and by what I will do with it: and when he had the pan, he set it on the fire, and put the whetstone therein. Cocks body, said the woman, you will burn the pan. No, no qd the fryer, if you will give me some eggs, it will not burn at all. But she would have had the pan from him, when that she saw it was in danger; yet he would not let her, but still urged her to fetch him some eggs, which she did. Tush said the fryer, here are not enow, go fetch ten or twelve. So the good wife was constrayned to fetch more for feare lest the pan should burn; and when he had them, he put them in the pan. Now, qd he, if you have no butter, the pan will burn and the eggs too. So the good wife being very loth / p.16 / to have her pan burnt, and her eggs lost, she fetcht him a dish of butter, the which he put into the pan and made good meat thereof, and brought it to the table, saying much good may it do you my Masters, now may you say, you have eaten of a buttered whetstone. Whereat all the company laughed, but the woman was exceeding angry because the fryer had subtilly beguiled her of her meat.


THERE was an old man that could not well see, who had a fair young wife, and with them dwelt a young man, which had long wooed his mistress to have his pleasure of her; who at the last consented to him, but they knew not how to bring it to pass, for she did never go abroad but in her husband's company, and led him always. At last she devised a very fine shift, and bad her servant that he should that night, about mid- / p.17 / night come into her chamber, where her husband and she lay, and she would find some device for him. Night came, and the old man and wife went to bed, but she slept not a wink, but thought still upon her pretended purpose, but a little before the time prefixed she awakned [lit.] her husband and said thus unto him, Sir, I will tell you a thing in secret, which your servant was purposed to do; when I am alone. I can never be at quiet for him, but he is always enticeing me to have me at his will, and so at the last to be quiet with him, I consented to meet him in the garden, but for mine honesties sake I will not. Wherefore I pray you put on my cloathes and go meet him: so when he comes to you, beat him well, and chide him, for I know well he will not strike you because you are his Master, and then he may amend himself and prove a good servant: and the man was well pleased therewith. So the good man put on his wive's cloaths, and took a good cudgel in his hand, and went into the / p.18 / garden. At length there came the servant to his mistress, where she lay in bed, and did what he would with her, and she was content, and then she told him how she had sent her husband into the garden in her apparel, and wherefore, and to what purpose. So her servant arose, and (as she bad him) took a good staff with him, and went into the garden, as though he knew not it was his Master, and said unto him, Nay you whore, I did this but only to prove thee, whether thou wouldest be false to my good master, and not that I would do such a vile thing with thee. Whereupon he fell upon his Master giving him many sore stripes, and beating him most cruelly, still calling him nothing but, Out you whore, will you offer this abuse to my good Master? Alas, (qd his Master) good John I am thy Master, strike me no more I pray thee. Nay whore (qd he) I know who thou art well enough and so he struck him again, beating him most grievously. Good John (said his Master) feel I have a beard. / p.19 / Then the servant felt (knowing well who it was) who presently kneeled down, and cryed his Master mercy. Now thanks be to God, (qd his master) I have as good a servant of thee as a man can have, and I have as good a wife as the world affords. Afterwards the Master went to bed and his servant also. When the old man came to bed to his wife she demanded of him how he sped. He answered and said, By my troth wife, I have the trustiest servant in the world and as faithful a wife; for my servant came thither with a great staff, and did beat me right sore, thinking it had been you; Whereupon I was well pleased therewith. But ever after the servant was well beloved of his Master, but better of his Mistress: for his Master had no mistrust of him, though he had made him a Cuckold. So the poore man was cruelly beaten, and made a Summers Bird nevertheless.

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THERE was a man in the Country, who had not been any far traveller, and dwelt far from any church, except a church that was seven or eight miles from his house, and there they never sung mass nor Even song, but did ever say it. And on a time he came to London, having never been here before, and being in London, he went to Paul's church, and went into the chappel, where they sung Mass with organs, and when he heard the melody of the Organs and the singing together, that he never heard before, he thought he should have gone to Heaven by and by, and looked and said aloud that every one heard, O Lord, shall I go to Heaven presently? I would thou wouldest let me alone till I might go home and fetch my white stick and black hood, and then I would go gladly with thee. Whereat all the people laughed heartily.

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THERE was an Essex man came to London, who had a pair of shooes full of nails, and as he went along Cheapside he passed by a merchants house where many young men were at the door, and among the rest one of them perceived that the man had nails in his shooes,whereupon he said to him, Thou churle, why comest thou hither with thy nailed shooes, and breakest the stones of our streets? indeed I will shew my Lord Mayor of it: when the Countryman heard him he put off his shooes, and carried them in his hand, and went in his hose till he came to Pauls: Whereat everybody laughed. And when he perceived that the people laughed at him, he put on his shooes again.

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THERE was a priest in the country which had christned [lit.] a child; and when he had christned it, he and the clark were bidden to the drinking that should be there, and thither they went with other people, and being there, the priest drunk and made so merry, that he was quite foxed and thought to go home before he laid him down to sleep; but having gone a little way, he grew so drousie, that he could go no further but laid him down by a ditch side, so that his feet did hang in the water, and lying on his back, the Moon shined in his face: thus he lay till the rest of the company came from drinking, who as they came home found the priest lying as aforesaid, and they thought to get him away but do what they could he would not rise, but said, Do not meddle with me, for I lie very well, and will not stir hence / p.23 / before morning, but I pray lay some more cloathes on my feet and blow out the candle, and let me lie and take my rest.


THERE was once a country-man, which came to London, where he had never been before, and as he went over London bridge, he saw certain ships sayling, being the first time he had seen any, and perceiving the sails made of cloth, he thought to assay if his plough would go so, and when he came home, he caused his wife to give him a large new sheet, and went and set it on the plow like a sail, thinking the plow would go with the wind, but it removed not, which when he saw, he said, What the devil, have I spoiled my sheet about nothing? So he set his horses to the plough again.

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A CERTAIN butcher was flaying a calf at night, and had stuck a lighted candle upon his head, because he would be the quicker about his business, and when he had done, he thought to take the same candle to light him to bed, but he had forgot where he had set it, and sought about the house for it, and all the while it stuck in his cap upon his head, and lighted him in seeking it. At the last one of his fellowes came and asked him what he sought for? Marry (quoth he) I look for the candle which I did flay the calf withal. Why thou-fool qd he, thou hast a candle in thy cap: and then he felt towards his cap and took away the candle burning, where at there was a great laughing, and he mocked for his labour, as he was well worthy.

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THERE was a man that had been drinking so hard that he could scarse stand upon his feet, yet at night he would go home, and as he went through a green meadow, neer a hedge side the bryers held him by the cloaths and the legs and he had thought that one had holden him, and would have had him to drink more, and he said, Goodfellow let me go, by my troth I can drink no more, I have drank so much already, that I cannot go home; And there he abode all the same night, and on the morrow went his ways.


IT happened not long since, that upon Easter day, two young fellows that had been at the plow, all the days of their lives, came into the Church to hear mass, both said and sung, as then it was / p.26 / accustomed to be, and there they saw the priest go censing with frankincense, and when they were both out of the church again, and going home, one of them cryed out to his fellow with a loud voice, saying, Lob I praythee what was that the priest went so whinging whanging withal? Why Hob (qd the other) dost thou not know? It is frankincense. Is it frankincense? I am sure it stunk as if the devil had been in the church.


THERE were once two men that were both masterless and moneyless, and one said to the other, what remedy canst thou now find out that we may either get some meat or money? By my troth qd the other (I do know a very fine shift,) and being very early in the morning they espyed a man coming with hogs, and I will tell him that they be sheep, and I will cause him to / p.27 / lay a wager with me, whether they be sheep or hogs: and I will cause the matter to be judged by the next man that cometh, but then thou must go another way and meet with us; when we demand of thee whether they be sheep or hogs, thou must say that they be sheep. Then they separated themselves the one from the other, and the one went to meet the man that had the swine, bidding him good morrow; the man doing the like to him again. Then he said to the old man, father, where had you your fair sheep; What sheep qd the man; These sheep that you drive before you: Why (qd) the old man, they are Swine. What (qd the other) will you make me a fool? think you I know not sheep from swine? Marry (qd the old man) I will lay one of my swine against what thou wilt, that they be no sheep. I hold thee my coat against one of my sheep, qd the other. i am content, qd the old man, by whom shall we be tryed? By the next man that meets us. Content, said the old / p.28 / man. An then they perceived the man cominq being the fellow of the young man. And when he came to them, the old man requested him to tel them what beasts those were? Why (qd he) they be sheep, do you not know sheep? I told him so (qd the other young man) but he would not believe me, and so I laid my coat upon a wager that they were sheep, and he laid one of his sheep against my coat that they were swine: and I won it, have I not? Yea, (qd the old man) but God help me, I bought them for swine. And then the young man took one of the fattest hogs he could find amongst them all, and carryed him away, and his fellow went another way, as though he had not known him, and the poore man returned again to the place where he had bought them. What became of him afterward I cannot tell: Only this much I know, that he was deceived by those two crafty fellows of one of his hogs. But they immediately met one the other again, and sold the hog for money, and re- / p.29 / joyced that they fared so well, (not knowing how to have otherwise sustained their wants.)


THERE was a man born in Essex that had been brought up in Norfolk from a child, and on a time he was purposely minded to see his father and mother in Essex; and as he went he heard a cow cry. Thanked be God, said he, that once before I die, I hear my mothers tongue.


A MAN there was that had a child born in the North Countrey and upon a time this man had certain guests, and he prepared sallets and other meat for them, and bid his boy go into the cellar and take the sallet there (meaning the / p. 30 / herbs) and lay them in a platter, and put vinegar and oil thereto. Now the boy had never seen a sallet eaten in his Country, but he went and looking about the cellar, at last he espyed a rusty sallet of steel sticking on a wall, and said to himself, What will my Master do with this in a platter? So down he took it, and put it into a platter and put Oil and vinegar unto it, and brought it to the table. Why thou knave (qd his Master) I bad thee bring the herbs which we call a Sallet. Now by my Sires sale Master (said the boy) I did never see such in my Country. Whereat the guests laughed heartily.


THERE was a Gentlewoman that had a French boy dwelling with her, and on a time she gave the boy a pennie to fetch her some graines for to eat (supposing that he would go to the apothecaries for / p.31 / them) but having the money he went into the kitchen, to the Maid requiring her to give him a basket : and then he went unto a brewhouse, and fetcht a pennie worth of grains: but the gentlewoman did greatly marvell where he tarryed so long (supposing that he had been at the apothecaries) but at last he came home with the basket upon his shoulders full of graines. Then the gentlewoman asked him if he had brought her the graines. Yes Mistresse (qd he,) I have brought you a penny worth of grains for your horse. Why knave (qd she) I meant thou shouldest go to the apothecaries for them. By cock Mistresse (qd he) I knew not that, but I have brought such as I could get. Whereupon the gentlewoman laughed heartily, to see how he had served her, through meer simplicity.

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THERE was a widow in London that had a Dutchman to her servant, before whom she set a rotten cheese and butter for his dinner: and he eate of the butter because he liked it, and his mistresse bad him eat of the cheese. No Mistresse qd he, the butter is good enough. She perceiving he would eat none of the bad cheese said, Thou knave, thou art not to dwell with honest folkes. By my troth Mistresse, said he, had I taken heed ere I came hither, I had never come here. Well knave, qd she, thou shalt go from on whore to another. Then will I go qd he, from you to your sister, and so departed.

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THERE was an Italian which loved Coleworts well, and on a time he bad his boy go fetch him some coleworts and set them over the fire against he came home: and the boy knew not the coleworts, but imagined thereby his master had meant coales, and carried them into his masters chamber: But then he thought with himself that it would not be good for him to set the basket on the fire, and let them burn. Now when his Master came home, he went into the kitchan[lit.], and demanded of the maid if the Coleworts were ready, she said she saw none. Then he said no more, but went to his chamber and meeting the boy by the way, he asked him for his Coleworts which he had him make ready. Marry sir said he they be almost enough for they have lien rosting in the fire almost this hour. Where are they, said the Master? In your chamber sir, qd / p.34 / the boy. So he went into his chamber and there he saw a great fire, and then he asked the boy again where the coleworts were. Why Master qd the boy I understood you that you bad me fetch coales and hang them over the fire in the basket, and if I should have done so the basket would have burned: wherefore I took the basket and powred the coals on the fire. O whorson qd his Master, I bad thee to fetch some coleworts and hang them in a kettle over the fire: and he was angry with the boy, but the boy stil said he did as he was bidden.


THERE was on a time a priest in the countrey that preached upon a holiday in his parish church and as he stood in the pulpit he perceived through a hole in the glasse window, that other mens swine were in his corn. What the mischief said he stand I / p.35 / here fading the time to the devil, and see yonder swine are spoyling my corn. And then he leapt out of the pulpit and ran as if he had been mad and left all the people to stand there like a company of fools.


THERE was three young men going to Lambeth along by the water side, and the one plaid with the other, and they cast each others cap into the water, in such sort as they could not get their caps again: but over the place where their caps were, did grow a great old tree, the which did cover a great deale of the water. One of them said to the rest, Sirs, I have found a notable way to come by them. First I will make myself fast by the middle, with one of your girdles unto the tree, and he that is with you shall hang fast upon my girdle, and he that is last shall take hold on him that / p.36 / holds fast on my girdle, and so with one of his hands he may take up all our caps and cast them on the sand and so they did; but when they thought that they had been most secure and fast, he that was above felt his girdle slack, and said, soft sirs, my girdle slacketh; make it fast quickly said they: but as he was untying it to make it faster they fell all three into the water, and were well washed for their pains.


ON a time there was a priest in the country that was not very well learned, and had but a small living and he devised with himself how he might get some money, and at last he bethought him that making of baskets was a good trade, and so he fell to it and took a servant and so his servant and he made six baskets every week, and when they had made / p.37 / six baskets, then he knew it to be Sunday. And on a time he had made six baskets, and knew it not, and on the morrow began to make the seventh: but he had overlabored himself and forgot to ring to Masse, then the people resorting to church caused the bell to be rung. When the priest heard it he bad his servant go up to his chamber, and look how many baskets were made: and the servant went up, and found six baskets: Cocks body, Master, qd he,we have made six baskets already. What the devill, said the priest, have we made six baskets already; Then do I know it is Sunday. Go therefore presently and help them ring to Masse, for by my troth I had forgot myselfe.


THERE was a man and his wife lying in bed together, and the good man laid his buttocks on his wives knees, and so they lay sleeping, and the man dreamed / p.38 / that he was dead, and as he thought was carried into heaven, and being there he dreamed that he did shite through the moon into the world, but he did shite into his wives lap: And when he awaked, he told his wife his dreame, and as she would have turned on the other side, she felt that she was all to be shitten? Cocks body, qd she, you have dreamed fair, for you have all to be shitten my knees; and so they were booth faine to rise to make themselves clean.


THERE was a Lady dwelt in the Countrey which had a foole that did use to go with her to church: and on a time as his lady sat in the church she let a great fart escape so that all the people heard it, and they looked on the foole that stood by her, thinking that it was he: Which when the fool perceived, he said truely it was not / p.39 / I that let the fart, it was my Lady. Whereat she was ashamed, and went out of the church, and chid the foole because he said it was not himselfe. Then the foole ran into the church againe and said aloud, masters, the fart which my Lady let I will take it upon me for she commanded me to say so. Whereat all the people laughed more then they did before, and the Lady was much more ashamed.


IN the countrey dwelt a Gentlewoman who had a French man dwelling with her, and he did ever use to go to Church with her, and upon a time he and his mistresse were going to church, and she bad him pull the doore after him and follow her to the church, and so he took the doore betweene his armes, and lifted it from the hooks, and followed his mistresse with it. But when she looked behinde her and saw / p.40 / him bring the doore upon his back, Why thou foolish knave, qd she, what wilt thou do with the door? Mary mistresse, qd he, you bad me pull the doore after me. Why whorson qd she, I did command thee that thou shouldest make fast the doore after thee, and not to bring it upon thy back after me. But after this, there was much good sport and laughing at his simplicity and foolishnesse therein.