How Master Eyr was called vpon to be Sheriffe of London, and how he held his place with worship.


IN this space master Eyer following his businesse, had sold so much of his Merchandize as paid the Grecian his whole money:

and yet had resting to himselfe three times as much as he had sold, whereof he trusted some to one Alderman, and some to another, and a great deal amongst substantiall Merchants; and for some had much ready money, which he imployed in diuers merchandizes:

and became Aduenturer at Sea, hauing (by Gods blessing) many a prosperous voiage, whereby his riches dailie increased.

It chanced vpon a time, that being in his study, casting vp his

accounts, he found himselfe to be clearely worth twelue or thirteen 30 thousand pounds, which he finding to be so, he called his wife to

him, and said:

The last day I did cast vp my accounts, and I finde that Almighty God of his goodnesse bath lent me thirteen thousand pounds to maintain vs in our old age, for which his gracious goodnesse towards vs, let vs with our whole hearts giue his glorious Maiesty eternall praise, and therewithall pray vnto him, that we may so dispose thereof as may be to his honour, and the comfort of his poore members on earth, and aboue our neighbours may not be puffed vp with pride, that, while we think on our wealth, we 40 forget God that sent it to vs, for it bath been an old saying of a

wise man, that abundance groweth from riches, and disdain out of abundance: of which God giue vs grace to take heed, and grant vs a contented mind.

I 22 The pleasant History

So soon as he had spoken this, they heard one knocking hastily at doore, whereupon he sent Florence to see who it was, the Maiden, coming again, told her Master it was one of my Lord Maiors Officers that would speake with him. The Officer being permitted to come in, after due reuerence, he said, Sir, it hath pleased my Lord Maior with the worshipfull Aldermen his brethren, with the counsell of the whole communaltie of the honourable City, to chuse your worship Sheriffe of London this day, and haue sent me to desire you to come and certifie your minde therein,

to whether you be contented to hold the place or no.

Master Eyer hearing this, answered he would come to his Honor and their worships incontinent, and resolue them what he was minded to do; and so the Officer departed.

His wife, which all this while listned to their talk, hearing how the case stood, with a ioyfull countenance meeting her husband, taking him about the neck with a louing kisse, said, Master Sheriffe, God giue thee ioy of thy name and place!

0wife (quoth he) my person is far vnworthy of that place, and the name far exceeds my degree.

20 What, content your selfe, good husband (quoth she) and disable not your selfe in such sort, but be thankfull vnto God for that you haue, and do not spurn at such promotion as God sendeth vnto you: the Lord be praised for it, you haue enough to discharge the place whereunto you are called with credit: and wherefore sendeth God goods, but therewithall to do him and your Countrey seruice?

~Voman (quoth he) Soft fire makes sweet mault: For such as take things in hand rashly, repent as suddenly: to be Sheriffe of London is no little cost. Consider first (quoth he) what house I ought to haue, and what costly ornaments belong thereunto, as:

30 hanging of Tapistry cloth of Arras, and other such like, what store of Plate and Goblets of Gold, what costly attire, and what a chargeable train, and that which is most of all, how greatly I stand charged beside, to our Soueraigne Lord, the King, for the answer­ing of such prisoners as shall be committed to my custody, with an hundred matters of such importance, which are to such an Office belonging.

Good Lord husband (quoth she) what need all these repetitions? You need not tell me it is a matter of great charge: notwithstand­ing, I verily think many heretofore haue with great credit

40 discharged the place, whose wealth bath not in any sort been answerable to your riches, and whose wits haue been as mean as your own: truly Sir shall I be plain? I know not anything that is to be spoken of, that you want to performe it, but only your good will: and io lack good will to do your King and Countrey good were a signe of an vnworthy Subiect, which I hope you will neuer be.

Well wife (said her husband) thou dost hold me here with prittle prattle, while the time passeth on, tis high time I were

of the Gentle Craft. 1 23

gone to Guild-Hall, I doubt I shall appear too vnmannerly in causing my Lord Maior and the rest to stay my leisure.

And he hauing made himselfe ready, meet to go before such an assembly as he went vnto, he went out of doores, at what time his wife called after him, saying: and holding vp her finger. Husband, remember, you know what 1 haue said: take heed you dissemble not with God and the world, look to it Husband.

Go too, go too, get you in (quoth he) about your businesse, and so away he went.

So soon as he was gone (iUt of sight, his wife sent one of his men to after him to Guild Hall, to hearken and hear, whether her

husband held his place or no: and if he do, bring me word with all possible speed.

Iwill, rnistresse (quoth her titan).

Now, when Master Eyer came to Guild-Rail, the Lord Maior and his brethren bade him heartily welcome, saying Sir, the communaltie of the City, hauing a good opinion of you, haue chosen you for one of our Sheriffes for this yeer, not doubting but to find you a fit man for the place.

My good Lord (quoth he) I humbly thank the City for their 20 courtesie and kindnesse, and would to God my wealth were

answereable to my good will, and my ability were able to bear it. But I find my selfe insufficient; I most humbly desire a yeers respite more, and pardon for this present.

At these words, a graue Commoner of the City standing vp, with due reuerence spoke thus vnto the Maior: my good Lord, this is but a slender excuse for master Eyer to make; for I haue often heard him say, and SO haue diuers others also, that he bath a Table in his house whereon he breaks his fast euery day, that

he will not giue for a thousand pounds: Wherefore (vnder your 30 Lordships correction) in my simple iudgement, I think he that is

able to spare a thousand pounds in such a dead commodity is very sufficient to be Sheriff of London.

See you now (quoth my Lord) I muse, Master ]Zyer, that you will haue so lame an excuse before vs, as to take exceptions, at your own wealth, which is apparantly proued sufficient; you must know, Master Eyer, that the Commons of London haue searching eyes, and seldome are they deceiued in their opinion, and, there­fore looke what is done, you must stand to it.

Ibeseech you, my Lord (quoth Master Eyer) giue me leaue to 40 speak one word. Let it be granted, that I will not giue my Table

whereon I breake my fast for a thousand pounds, that is no con­sequence to proue it is worth so much, my fancy to the thing is all: for doubtlesse no man here would giue me a thousand shillings for it when they see it.

All is one, for that (quoth my Lord Maior) yet dare I giue you as much wine as you will spend this yeer in your Shriualrie to let me haue it.

124 The pleasant History

My good Lord (quoth he) on that condition I will hold my place, and rest no longer troublesome to this company.

You must hold (said my Lord) without any condition or excep­tions at all in this matter; and so they ended.

The Assembly being then broken vp, the voice went Master Eyer is Sheriffe, Master Eyer is Sheriffe. Whereupon the fellow that Mistresse Eyer sent to obserue how things framed, ran home in all haste, and with leaping and reioycing said: Mistresse, God giue you ioy, for you are now a Gentlewoman.

to What (quoth she) tell me sir sawce, is thy Master Sheriffe, or no? and doth he hold his place?

Yes Mistresse, he holds it now as fast as the stirrop doth the shooes while we sow it.

Why then (quoth she) I haue my hearts desire, and that I so long looked for, and so away she went.

Within a while after came her husband, and with him one of the Aldermen, and a couple of wealthy Commoners, one of them was he that gaue such great commendations of his Table, and corn­ming to his doore, he said, You are welcome home good Master

20 Sheriffe.

Nay, I pray you, come in and drink with me before you go. Then said he, Wife bring me forth the pasty of Venison, and set me here my little Table, that these Gentlemen may eat a bit with me before they go.

His wife which had been oft vsed to this terme, excused the matter, saying ; The little Table! Good Lord husband, I do wonder what you will do with the little Table now, knowing that it is vsed already? I pray you good Husband, content your selfe, and sit at this great Table this once. Then she whispered him in the eare,

30 saying; What man, shall we shame ourselues?

What shame? (quoth he) tell not me of shame, but do thou as thou art bidden; for we are three or foure of vs, then what do we troubling the great table?

Truly (answered she) the little table is not ready now good husband, let it alone.

Trust me we are troublesome guests (said the Aldermen), but yet we would fain see your little Table, because it is said to be of such prize.

Yea, and it is my mind you shall (quoth Master Eyer), therefore 40 he called his wife again, saying, good wife, dispatch and prepare

the little Table: for these Gentlemen would fain haue a view of it.

Whereupon his wife, seeing him so earnest, according to her wonted manner, came in: and setting her selfe down on a low stool, laid a fair Napkin ouer her knees, and set the platter with the pasty of Venison thereupon, and presently a chear was brought for Master Alderman, and a couple of stools for the two com­moners, which they beholding, with a sudden and hearty laughter, said : Why Master Sheriffe, is this the table you held so deare?

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Yes truly (quoth he).

Now verily (quoth they), you herein haue vtterly deceiued our expectation.

Euen so did you mine (quoth he) in making me Sheriffe: but you are all right welcome, and I will tell you true, had 1 not thought wondrous well of you, you had not seen my table now. And I think, did my Lord Maior see it as you do, he would repent his bargain so hastily made. Notwithstanding I account of my table neuer the worse.

Nor haue you any cause (quoth they) and so after much pleasant ~o talk, they departed, spreading the fame of master Sheriffes little

Table over the whole City.

But you must now imagine, that a thousand cares combred the Sheriffe, in prouiding all things necessary for his office: at what time he put off his Shoomakers shop to one of his men, and set vp at the same time the signe of the black Swan swiming vpon the sea, in remembrance of that ship, that first did bring him his wealth, and before that time, the sign of the black swan was neuer seen or known in any place in or about the City of London.