The ravens Almanacke
Foretelling of a Plague, Famine, and Civill Warre.
That shall happen this present yeare
1609. not only within this Kingdome of great
Britaine, but also in France Germany, Spaine, and
other parts of Christendome.
With certaine remedies, rules, and receipts,
how to prevent or at least to abate the edge of these
Printed by E. A. for Thomas Archer, and arto bee solde at
his Shop in the Popes-head-Pallace nere the Roy-
all Exchange. 1609.
PUBLISHED BY E. A.
PUBLISHED FOR Thomas Archer
NOw if I fought under the coulors of vulgar Astronomers should I strike up my drumme, and leade into the field the 12. moneths, marching in single File one after another, everie moneth wearing in his Cap, insteede of a Feather, foure unhansome rymes, teaching men when to eate hot meates, [Page] and when to drinke new wines with every gull (that has mony in his purse, and hunts out any Taverne) can do without a Kalender.
Then shold every moneth have his followers, some of them being thirtie in number, some 1. onely one (by failing into decay, or else because he keepes but a colde house, keeping but 28. And amongst these Servingmen or retainers, should I give you the names of the Gentlemen who goe in red, and weare Dominicall Letters on their winter and Sommerliveries, as badges to distinguish their moneth from the rest: but scorning to have a hand in grinding such base callours, suffer me to cary up your thoughts uppon nimbler winges, where (as if you sat in the most perspicuous place of the two-penny Gallery, in a play-house) you shall cleerely, and with an open eye beholde all the partes, which I (your new Astrologer) act amongst the Startes, and those are these:
The worky-daies of everie month this yeare, shall not bee kept as they have bene in yeares before: for by meanes of certaine diseases that are likely to raigne amo[n]gst trades-men, as the lazie evill, the Lethargie, which is a forget fulnesse of our owne estate: dizines of the head, (caused by the fumes of good drinke) and such like: Men of occupations shall in spite of order or the rules of Almanacke-writers, turne worky-dayes into holly-daies: yea, and women shall this yere holde holy-daies in such base contempt, that though their husbands doe then shut up shoppe, and utter not their wares, yet shall the wives fall to worke in their secret Chambers.
Amongst Gentlemen that have full pursses, and those that crie trillil, let the world slide, the weeke shall run out so quickly and so merrily, that on the Satterday morning it shall be hard for them to tell whether the day that went before were friday.
The same losse of memorie will fall upon many that shal goe drunke to bed: but to those who shut themselves up in Counters and other places of deere reckning, because they hate the vanities of the world, And to those that shal be whipped either with French birch, or be strucke with any English disease, the [Page] shortest day in winter shall seeme more teadious, yea, and indeede shahllave more hours thyn Saint Barnabies day, which is the longest in the yeare: The sundaies, (as if it were Leape years) shall be a number be leaped over, so that a blindenes falling into their eyes they shal not for foure or five, or sixe moneths together, be able (by the help of those that make the best waters to recover sight, or to cure sore eyes) to see a Church, but shall be strucke with such Megrims and turnings of the braine, that insteed of going to Church, they will (if my Arte falle me not) stumble into Truerne. The Dog daies will all this yeare raigne thrice, or twice everie week at least, & that verie hotly, but their soarest rage will be about the Beare-garden.
As touching the rising and setting of the Sunne, it will bee more strange this yeare then ever it was: for albeit hee shine never so brightly in our Horizon yet there are certaine persons (& those no small fooles neither) that shall not have power at high noone to beholde it. The Moone (like a Bowle) will kéep her olde byas, onely she will be verie various in her influence: for as well men as women shall bee more madde in the other quarters then in that wherein are playd such trickes by the Midsommer Moone.
I have a moneths minde to travell thus through the whole yeare, but the glasse which time bestowes upo[n] me, beeing not sed with many houres, I must heere hoyst up new Sailes, & discover (as it were foure severall cou[n]tries) the foure Seasons of the yeare.
2.1. Of Winter.
WInter, the sworne enemie to Summer, the friend to none but Colliers and W [...]monzers: the frost-bitten churie yt hangs his nose stil over the dog that bites [Page] fruites, and the devill that cuts downe trees, the unconscionable binder up of Vintners Faggots and the onely consumer of burnt Sacke and Suger: This Cousen to death, further to sicknes, and brother to olde age, shall not shew his hoarie baldpate in this climate of ours according to our usuall computation, upon the 12. day of December, at the first entring of the Sunne into the first minute of the signe Capricorn, when the said Sunne shall be at his greatest South Declination from the Equinoctiall line, and so foorth, with much more such stuffe then any meere Englishman can understand: no my countriemen, never beate the bush so long to finde out Winter, where he lies like a begger shivering with colde, but take these from me as certaine, and most infallible rules, know when Winter-plomes are ripe & ready to be gathered.
When Charity blowes her nailes, & is ready to starve, yet not so much as a Watchman will lend her a flap of his freeze Gowne to keepe her warm: when trades-men shut up shops, by reason their frozen-hearted Creditors goe about to nip them with beggerie: when the price of Sea-cole riseth, and the price of mens labours falleth: when everie Chimney castes out smoak, but scarce any dore opens to cast so much as a maribone to a Dog to gnaw: when beastes vie for want of fodder in the field; and men are ready to famish for want of foode in the Citie: when ye first word that a Wench speaks at your comming into her Chamber in a morning is, Prethee send for some fagots, and the best comfort a Lawyer heates you withall is, to say, what will you give me? when olde men and their wives devide the holy bed of marriage; When gluttons blowe their Pottage coole them: and Prentices blow their their nailes to heate them: and lastly when the Thames is covered over with yce, & mens hearts caked over and crusted with crueltie: Then maist thou or any man be bolde to sweare tis winter.
Now because I finde in the Ephemerides of heaven, certain unlucky Criticall, and dangerous daies set down, whose foreheads are full of plagues, and under whose wings are hid other dismall miseries, that threaten this Region: It shall not [Page] be amisse if first I open the bosome of Winter, and shew unto you what diseases hang upon him.
I finde therefore that 12. great and gréevous plagues, shal especially fall uppon the heads of this our English nation: and those are these, viz.
- Saint Paulus plague is the first, yea, and one of the heaviest, & that is, when a man hath never a penny in his pursse, credit with his Neighbors, nor a hole to hide his head in: alack, how many poore people will lye languishing of this disease? how many that have bowling Alleys, nay, how many that walke in the middle Ile of Paules in reasonable good cloathes, will bee strucke with this plague? it is harder to reckon them, then to reckon up the Vertúes of a woman which are without end.
- Saint Chads plague is next, and that is, when a man that travels hath a long journey, a tyred horse, and little money: this plague threatens many poore Yorkeshire Clyents, and, unlesse they keepe it off with their hooks, some welchmen.
- Saints Benets plague is the third, & that is, colde-cheare, hot words, and a Scoulding wife: many Coblers wil be subject to this disease, but not lye long for it, but everie day be of the mending hand, marry it is thought their wives will proove worse and worse.
- Saint Magnus plague is next, but not altogether so dangerous as the former, and that is, when a man is rich, enjoyes it but a while, and leaves a foole behinde him to spend it: It is doubted that some rich Cittizens and others cannot escape this plague.
- Saint Tronions plague steps into the fift place, and that is when a man is olde in yeares, yet a childe in discretion: when his wife is a drunkard, and his daughter a Wanton, and his Servant a pilferer, this plague is expected to fall upon brokers, their bodies being subject to much infection, and their consciences to corruption, So that tis thought Lord have Mercy upon us will stand on most of the doores in Hounsvitch and Longlane, and that people who love themselves, will shun those places and those persons, as being able to poison a whole Citie.
2.2. Of the Spring.
SPring, the Bride of the Sun, the Nose-gay giver to weddings, the onely and richest Hearbe-wife in the world: the rarest Gardner, sweetest perfumer, cunningst Weaver, noblest Musition, for all sorts of Birdes are her Schollers, this mother of health, phisition to the sicke, Surgeon to the wounded: this daughter of plenty, and Sister to Summer, comes not in attired in her greene roabes, as tis published in print, upon the 10 day of March, as it were in Maies tryumph after the sun (with an Herculean Vigor) hath co[n]quered his twelve labours, and (like a skilfull Charioteere) hath driven his golden [Page] wagon through the twelve signes, ready on that tenth day (as some give out) to begin his race againe, by making his entrance upon the first minute of the Equinoctiali signe of the Ram whose hornes stand in such an even proportion a sunder that the day and night take them for their measure, and are contented to be of an equall length.
But shall I tel you at what signe the Spring dwelleth? cast up your eies and behold, for by these marks shal you know her whe[n] she comes. When the nightingale sits singing with a brier at her brest, & the adulterer (that ravished Philomell) sits singing at the Thornes which pricke his conscience: When young teares put on new liveries, and old whoremongers pul off vizards of their vices: when the earth beares all kindes of flowers, and the Courts of Princes bring foorth all sorts of vertue: when Gardens begin to be dressed, and the Church to be mended: when beastes waxe wanton by nature, (without violating her lawes,) onely to multiply their kinde for the good of man: & when men no longer put themselves into the shapes of beastes. Then and onely then doe the vernall gates flye wide open, then maist thou be sure to sweare it is the Spring.
But as your fairest faces hath often times the sowlest bodies, so this beautifull daughter of old Janus (who is Maister Porter to the twelve moneths) is by dealing with some few unwholsome Planets, thought not to be free from diseases. A spice therefore of one plague or other, will lye in her tender bones, by wt meanes the spring to some people (especially the French, and as it is thought the English cannot goe scot-free) prove as fatall and as busie in privie Searches, as the fall of the Leafe.
The brests of this delicate young bed-fellow to the Sunne will so flowe with the Milke of profitte and plentye, that (of all other men) players, by reaso[n] they shal have a hard winter, and must travell on the hoofe, will lye sucking there for pence and two pences, like young Pigges at a Sow newly farrowed.
It is likewise thought that in this time of copulation betweene the planets & the earth, [...] yeres wil grow up so thick that they will scarce live one by another, & most of them shall be to their Clients as tares are to a field of Corne, they shall prosper best when they choake those by whome they are nourished: yet on the co[n]trary side shall maiden-heads be so scant, that if five hundred be to bee had over night, foure hundred & nine teens of those will be strucke of before the next morning.
The disposition of this season is to be hot and moist: by which meanes those moist-handed creatures, whose blouds begin to feele warmth, when the spring of desire boyles; within them, shall have the other qualitie likewise, they shall be hot in their tongues: But if any woman happen to fall into that pestilent infirmitie, let the poore man upo[n] whose handes any such light commodities lyes, apply this medicine, for it is a present cure.
A M [...]y Cobler there was, (dwelling at Ware) who for joy that he mended mens broken & corrupted soles, did continually sing, so that his shop seemed a verrie bird cage, & he sitting there in his foule linnen and greasie Apron, shewed like a black bird. It was this poore Sowters destiny not to be hang'd, but (worse then that) to be marryed: & to what creature thinke you? to a faire, to a young to a neate delicate cou[n]trie Lasse, that for her good partes was able to put downe all War: but with all this honny that flowed in her, did there drop such aboundance of gal and poison from her Scorpio[n]-like tongue, that monsieur Shoo-mender wished his life were set upon the shortest last, and a thousand times a day was ready to dye Caesars death: O valiant Cordwaynerland to stab himselfe not with a bodkin, but with his furious Awle, because hée knew that would goe through stitch: hee never tooke up the [Page] endes of his threed, but he wished those to bee the endes of his threed of life: he never parde his patches, but hee wished his knife to be the sheeres of the fatall Sisters three, hee never handled his Ball of waxe but he compared them to this wife, & sighed to think that he that touches pitch, must be de [...]led.
Now did his songs as heavily come from him as musick does from a Fidler, when in a Taverne he plaies for nothing. Now did signieur Cobler stand no more on his pantofles, but at his shutting in of shop, could have bene content to have had all his neighbours have throwne his olde shooes after him when hee went home, in signe of good lucke.
But alas, hee durst not doe that neither, for shee that plaide the Devill in womans apparell (his wife I meane) made her Cavalero Cobler, to give her account everie night of everie patch that went through his fingers. In this purgatorie did our graduate in the Gentle craft live a long time, but at lenght he was thrust into hell, for his wife (not following the steps of her husband, who was ever on the mending hand, but growing from bad into worse) cast aside her Wedding stockings, & drew on a paire of yellow hose: then was my miserable Cobler more narrowly watched the[n] a Mouse by a Cat, or a debter by a Catch-pole: he durst not unlock his lippes afte a We[n]ch, but his teeth were ready to flie out of his head wt her eating: to have touched any Petticoate but his wife was more dangerous then for a Cat to eate fire: if any maide brought but her shooes to mending, his wife swore presently that hee had the length of her foote, and that he sowed love stitches into everie peece, though it were no bigger then a Chandlers token.
SUmmer the Minion of the yeare, and mistris of the earth: daughter and heyre to the spring, and empresse over manye kingdomes: whose robes are fieldes of standing Corne, and [Page] whose crowne is a garland of all sorts of fruits: Summer, the reléever of the poore, and Landlady to the rich: the Ploughmans Goddesse, to whom hée prayes, the Husband mans Quéene whom he worships: the filler up of barnes, the féeder of Birds, the fatner of men and beastes, the treasurer of the world: the nurse of plentie, the enimie to dearths and famine: Summer, that is the Saint, to whom Bowyers and Fletchers knéele, in whose praise Archers send forth showts, and Hay-makers merry songs. This high coloured red lip'd, lively fac'd creature, comes not by turn to her coronation, (to take her rule over the fourth part of the divided yeare, upon the eleventh day of June (according to common Astronomical computation, when the Sunne (the Coachman of the light) hath fetcht a carrier up as hie as the utmost and loftiest place of his eare, namely, to the first degrée of the Estival Solstice (Cancer) which is his greatest declination to the North, from the Equinoctiall, &c. But the Buckles of the Girdle (with 12. Studs) which he weares, being this yeare 1609) turned behinde him, & the celestiall houses, at which he uses to lie (in his summer progresse) being now remooved and builded in other places, I find yt he shal enter at other gates, & that these shall be the harbingers to make way before his comming, or the Heralds to proclaime the time when he is come.
When therefore our aged grandam (the earth) shall (albeit in her latter dayes) be great with childe with Corne, flowers & fruites, & be joyfully delivered of them, yet other creatures (indued with reason) shall be barren of all goodnesse: When the heat of the Sunne beames, begets golde in the veines of the earth, yet gold when tis brought forth shall worke a coldnesse in mens hearts: when Riners shall swel with Spring-tides, and the fountaines of Art and learning be drawne dry: when shéep flie to broad trées, to defend themselves from the wrath of heaven under their shades, and when innocencie is guarded under the wings of greatnes from the rage of oppression, when cuckows sing merrily, and cuckolds laugh at their owne hornes: when Courtiers ride the Wilde goose Chase, [Page] whilst farmers stand by and praise their horsemanship: when harvesters come singing from the field, because the corne lies in sheafes: and when Citizens wives walk to their Gardens, yet bring from thence to their husbands no Nose-gaies stuck with Rue. These and no other but these are the badges that Summer weares, and never comes in but when she puts on these liveries.
And albeit this Lady of the yeare, be (like her couzen the Spring) of a swéet and delicate complection, and that her body is by nature so fruitfull, that still and anon she is in labour to bring forth, yet that cursse which at first was laid upon the earth, shall now this yeare 1609. fall upon her, insomuch that her lusty and strong limbes shall grow weake by want, and her entrailes be ready to dry and shrinke up to nothing, by reason of a strange famine, that most assuredly will féed upon her.
Many deare yeares are set downe in our abridgements of Chronicles, but the face of this shall looke more leane then ever did any: I reade that in Edward the 2. time, there was such a famine, that Horseflesh was eaten and held as good or better meate then some mutton now: and that fat dogs, were then catched up as fat pigs at Bartholmew tide: yea, that in many places, they had the dead bodyes of their owne children to devoure them, and that théeves in prison made roast-meat one of another. In other Kings raignes likewise have I noted other effects of hunger, as that shéepe have béene sold at this price: Hogs, Chickens, Pigs, Géese, Ducks, with all other broodes of poultry-ware, at such & such excessive rates, which have béene lamentable to endure, and tragicall now to remember. But in this yeare 1609. beasts shall not bée sold déere, but men, yea men shall be bought and sold like Oxen and Calves in Smithfield, and young Gentlemen shal be eaten up (for daintie meat) as if they were pickled Géese, or baked Woodcocks.
Neither shall the téeth of this famine teare out the guts of she poore Farmer alone, nor shall the Country village cry out [Page] upon this misery, but it shall even step into Lords, Earles, & Gentlemens houses: Insomuch yt Courtiers shall this dismal yéere féed upon citizens, & citize[n]s on the co[n]trary side lay about them like tall trencher-men to devoure the Courtiers. The Clergie in this gréedy-gutted time shal have thin chéeks, for every body shall fléece or rather unfléece them, and count it heavenly purchase, to pull feathers from their backs.
If any complaint this yéer be made for the scarcity of bread, let none be blamed for it but Tailors, for by al the consent of the Planets, it is set downe that they will be mighty bread-eaters, insomuch that half a score half-peny loaves wil make no shew upon one of their stals. But least we make you hungry that shall read of this misery, by discoursing thus of so terrible a famine, let us make hast to get out of the heart of this dry and mortall Summer, and trye what wages the yeare will bestow upon us the next quarter.
AUtumne, the Barber of the yeare, that shaves bushes, hedges and trees the ragged prodigall that consumes al and leaves himself nothing, the arrantest begger amongst all the foure quarters, and the most diseased, as being alwayes troubled with the falling sicknesse, and (like a french man) not suffring a hair to stay on his head: this murderer of the spring this théef to summer, and bad companion of Winter, scornes to come in according to his old custome, when the Sunne sits like Justice with a pair of scales in his hand, weying no more hours to the day then he does to the night, as he did before in his Vernal progresse, when he rode on a Ram. But this baldpate Autumnus, wil be séen walking up & down groves, medowes, fields, woods, parks and pastures, blasting of fruites, and beating leaves from their trées, when common highwayes shall be strewed with boughes in mockery of Summer, & in triumph of her death, & when the doores of usurers [Page] shall bée strewed with gréene hearbes, to doe honour to poore brides that have no dowrie (but their honestie) to their marriage: when the world lookes like the old Chaos, and that plenty is turned into penurie, and beautie into uglinesse: when Men ride (the second time) to Bathe, and carry another Cornelius Tub with them, and when unth [...]ifts flye amongst hen sparrowes, yet bring home all the feathers they carryed out, Then say that Autumne raignes, then is the true fall of the lease, because the world and the yéere turne over a new leafe.
You have heard before of certaine plagues, and of a Famine that hang over our heads in the cloudes: misfortunes are not borne alone, but like marryed fooles they come in couples, A Civill warre must march at the héeles of the former miseries, and in this quarter will he strike up his drum.
Ed. 3. Anno. Reg. 29. The dissention that hapned once at Oxford, betwéene a Scholler and a Vintner, about a quart of paltry wine, was but a drie-beating, nay rather a flea-biting to this, for Uprore and noise will fill all Countries, insurrections or risings up will be within the cittie, and much open villany will be without the walles.
The hottest and heaviest Warre the blackest and bitterest day of battaile that is prognosticated to happen, shall bée betwéene Lawyers and their clyants, and Westminster-hall is the field where it shall be fought: What thundring, what threatning, what mustring, what marching, what braving & outbraving, with summoning to parlé [...]s, and what defiance will there be on both sides? dismall will be these conflicts to some, deadly to others, and joyfull to a third sort: It is not yet doomb'd by the celestiall arbiters, on whose side the victory shall flye, but by all Astrologicall likelihoods it is thought that the Lawyers will carry it away (be it but with wrangling) and they that goe armed with buckram bagges, and pen and Inkhornes instéede of flaske and touch boxe, by the trée sides, you shoote nothing but paper-bullets, will have those that march with black boxes at their girdles, and billes [Page] in their hands, in sudden and terrible execution.
Another civill war doe I finde will fall betwéene players, who albeit at the beginning of this fatal yéere, they salute one another like sworne brothers, yet before the middle of it, shall they wish one anothers throat cut for two pence. The contention of the two houses, (the gods bée thanked) was appeased long agoe, but a deadly warre betwéene the thrée houses will I feare burst out like thunder and lightning. For it is thought that Flag will bée advanced (as it were in mortall defiance against Flag) numbers of people will also be mustred and fall to one side or other, the drums and trumpets must be sounded, parts will then (even by the chiefest players) bée taken: words will passe too and fro, spéeches cannot so be put up, hands will walke, an Alarum be given, fortune must favour some, or else they are never able to stand: the whole world must stick to others, or els all the water in the theames will not serve to carry those away that will be put to flight, and a third faction must fight like wilde buls against Lions, or else it will be in vaine to march up into the field.
Yea, and this civill mutinie in the Suburbs, and this sitting upon the skirts of the Citie, will I doubt kindle flames in the heart of it: for all Astronomers conclude, and all the bookes of the Constellations being turned over, speake thus: that upon the very next day after Simon and Jude, the war-like drum and fife shall be heard in the very midst of Cheapside, at the noyse whereof people (like mad-men) shall throng together, and run up & downe, striving by all meanes to get into Merces, Silkemens and Goldsmithes houses, and to such height shal this land-water swell, that the 12 Conduits themselves are like to be set one against another, and not only the Lord Maior, Sheriffes and officers, but also many of the Nobilitie of the land shall have much a doe with their troopes of horse, to breake through the disordered heapes of Tradesmen, and others that will on that fearful day be assembled together. In vaine shall it be for any man for to Cry peace, nothing will be heard but noyse, and the faster that fire-workes [Page] are throwne amongst these perditious children, the lowder will grow their rage, and more hard to bée appeased. Other discentions, mutinies, rebellions, battailes, combats, and combinations could I héere discover to you my countrimen, but doubting that I put your hearts out of their right places already with too much horrour and affrightment, héere doe I sound a Retreate, intreating all men (with mée) to draw supplications, and to exhibit them to the whole body of the celestiall Counsell, who sit in twelve houses of heaven, beséeching them, that their influences may be more milde, that men may not bée so mad, and that women may turne from their evill doing.
I have (if you remember) applyed certaine salves to some of those plagues set downe before, which I thought curable, It shall not be amisse, if now likewise I beate out a plaine and levell path, in which you may walke safely, as well to avoide the famine threatned, as to escape perishing in the civill war.
The comfort men have in a time when victuals grow déere or scant, is either to be well furnished, or else to have the gift of abstinence, and to be content with little: Now because flesh is a great preserver of mans life, I will shew you one Stratagem how you may get much into your owne hands, how to use it when you have it, and how to refraine from taking of it, albeit your hunger be never so great: then will I set downe other rare medicinable and polliticke receipts, or rather Warlike engines, by which in time of such civill insurrections as are this yéer like to happen, A man or woman may inforce themselves from the shot of all danger. For I would account that surgeon or that phisition, a mad-man or a foole, that comming to me when I am hurt or diseased, and should onely tell me where my sicknes lyes, or how déep and dangerous my wounds are, but should not minister phisicke, or balmes, to recover me therfore I have discovered unto you, where and how, and with what weapons you shall bée smitten, So doe I prepare medicinable compositions to restore you when you are strucke. And héere they follow.
IN the Cittie of Caliz (being an Iland bordering & belonging to the kingdome of Spaine) ther was built a Colledge of Fryers, amongst whom there was one lusty Church-man above the rest, who was better limmed then learned, & could better skill in composing an amorous sonnet then in soing solemne dirges. This Fryer notwithstanding bare such a holy shew, was so demure in his manners, and so covertly cloaked his holinesse, that he was supposed the holiest fryer of all the fraternity, and therfore was appointed a confessor to a nunry, that was famous in this Iland, for women of most severe forme of life & godly conversation. Under the jurisdiction of the Abbesse, there were some twenty Nuns, all young, lusty, and full of favour: very devout, and yet not such recluses, but they had eies as other seculer women had, to judge of beauty, and hearts to wish wanton thoughts, which after grew to light (as time is the discoverer of most hidden secrets:) for it so fel out, amo[n]gst these holy she saints, that one was either more wise or more wanton then the rest, called Madona barbadora, issued of good parentage, and only daughter, though not only child to Signieur Peagnes Bontolus, a man of great reputation in the Citie of Caliz. This Barbadora comming oftentimes to be confessed of this fryer, whose name was Father Pedro Ragazoni, noted that he was a man of comely personage, & so began somwhat favourably to conceit of him: til at length frier Pedro marking her glances, perceived the[m] to be amorous, & with that hearing her sigh sundry times (ere he had confest her) did straight imagin that either she was a great sinner, & déeply repentant, or else sore over laden wt ye maidens plague, (which is over large chastitie) and therfore so full of outward sorrow & contrition: the frier taking her one day by the hand as she was alone with him in a pew, wisht her to uncover her face. Barbadora obeying her' ghostly fathers command, threw off her vaile & blusht, which Fryer Pedro espying, kissing her chéeke, began to salute her in this manner.
fayre Nun, and fayre maid, as I am your confessor, and have power to absolve, so if you conceile any sinne from me, it will crave the greater punishment: therfore briefelly and faithfully answere me to my question. There be many sinnes that trouble maids which may be easde, if they be prevented by some friend, or faithfull counsellor: as unchast wishes, wanto[n] glances, amorous thoughts, and such veniall scapes which are ingrafted by nature, and therefore crave pardon by course, and yet all deserving pennance, but séeing they are but sins of the minde, they are but motions. What say you Barbadora, are you troubled with any of these trifling follies? The Nun holding downe her head, onely answered, she was a woman, and her mothers daughter.
Fryer Pedro smelling a pad in the straw, prosecuted thus plesantly. And is it swéetmaiden (qd. he) for those sins you sigh? oh no holy father (quoth she) for they bée déeper pasions that make me so sorrowful. Why (saies ye Fryer) is it pride, covetousnesse, gluttony, enuy, wrath, sloath, or any such deadly sinnes that drive you into those dumps? I would said Barbadora) I were as frée from all other as from these: Then said the Fryer, my life for yours, it is some womans plague you are troubled with al, and if it be so, take héed, it is dangerous, the sinne is more easie then the sicknesse.
I pray you sir saith she, what tearm you that plague? marry answers the fryer, that plague is, when a Maiden is fayre, young, of ripe yeares, and hath never a faithfull friend to her love, but must to great distresse dye a Virgin: that, that my reverend Confessor, quoth the Nun is my grief: you have censurd right of my sorrow, I am troubled, with that burning plague, and if your counsell comfort me not, I am like to fall into greater inconvenience: séeing therefore you are privie to my disease, as you are a Ghostly father, and have care of my soule to absolve my sins (for I hold you as a surgeon) therefore yours be the charge to provide for the health of my body. The Fryer hearing the Nunne in so good a minde whisperd in her eare, but what I cannot tel, but I am sure hée applyed [Page] such plaisters to help her, that shée complained no more of the plague a long time after.
Barbadora being thus set frée from her often sighes, could not kéepe her owne counsell, but shée revealed it unto her bedfellow (for the closet of a womans thoughts hangs at her tongues end) in such sort discourst the conceit of her cure unto her, that Julia longed for the confessing day, (for so was the Nuns bedfellow called) which being once come, and shée in secret with Fryer Pedro, after hée had questioned her of many sinnes, and given much devout and holy counsaile, at last shée burst forth into plaine tearmes, and told him shée was troubled with the same sicknesse her bed fellow Barbadora was, and therfore craved the like assistance at his hands. The Frier smiling at this, was content to play the Surgeon to cure this plague, stil under the color of auricular confession, shadowing his villany, till of twenty Nuns, fiftéene were with childe.
At last time began to babble, and the Nuns bellies to grow big, so that before thrée moneths were past, they began to féele yt for the ame[n]ding of their plague, they had a spice of Timpany not long after, the world was quick, that the Nuns grew big, and to be briefe, they feard their fellows should perceive their fault, and so bewray it to the Abbesse, wherupon with a generall consent they all agréed at their next confession to bewray it to the fryer, which was not long before it hapned. So Barbadora cunningly dissembling the matter, being formost of the rest, because she was eldest and of greatest account with the Abbesse, came to confession. And whe[n] fryer Pedro began with many a smiling looke, and holy kisse to gréet her, and question her about her sinnes, fetching a great sigh, made him this answere. Devout father, to make a rehearsall of my sinnes is folly; to tell what particular offences have scapt from me is néedlesse, because in one briefe word, as he that sinnes in one of the ten commandements breakes all, so shée that by a Frier is gotten with Childe, hath blemisht all her other vertues. And sir, therefore I confesse héere that my belly is bigge, and your swéete sugery hath wrought it, so eyther you must [Page] bestirre your wits to helpe now at a pinch, or else your discredit will be as great as my dishonour. The Fryer although this motion had greatly amazed him, yet he would not shew it in countenance, least he might discourage his faire Lemman, but bad her be of good chéere, and not to feare, for he would be charie of her honor and credit, and salve what was a misse to both their contents. I sir (qd. she) were my selfe onely in this perplexities, I would not doubt of your present devise, but there is fourtéene more besides my selfe, all troubled with the like swelling: what sister, quoth the Fryer, & with that hée fetcht a great sigh, and saide, I have made the olde saying true, who sowes shall reape. I quoth, Barbadora, if it be but a whip and a white shéete, and therefore good Fryer, take héede that your pennance be not worse then our punishment, for your ghostly surgery hath brought us to this divellish sicknesse. Feare nothing Darling (quoth he and smild) Friers have wit, as women have willes, and therefore doubt not of any conceit, but tell me what is your greatest care. Marry (quoth shée) that the five that are frée perceive us not, and so discover our faults to the Abbesse. Leave that to me (quoth he) I will take order for that, to your high content, and so with great comfort to his holy sister, be sent her away with a kind confession, and tooke himselfe to the rest, who all sung the same song that Barbadora did, which put the poore Fryer to his shifts, but when hée had confest them all, subtilly hée went to the Abbesse & saluted her, and shée returned him as kindely gréetings, questioning how her twelve Nuns profited in vertue. Truely Madam (sayde Pedro) well, but amonst twelve Disciples, there was one Judas, and when Adam had but two Sonnes, one proved a murderer, in Noahs Arke there was one Cham, and where God hath a Church, the divell hath a Chappell.