How Sir Simon Eyer being at first a Shoomaker, became 30 in the end Maior of London, through the counsell of his wife: and how he broke his fast euery day on a Table that he said he would not sell for a thousand pounds: and how he huilded Leadon HalL
Ur English Chronicles do make mention that sometime
O there was in the honourable City of London a worthy Major,
known by the name of Sir Simon Eyer, whose fame liueth in the
mouths of many men to this day, who, albeit he descended from
mean parentage, yet, by Gods blessing, in the end he came to be
a most worthy man in the commonwealth. 40 This man, being brought young out of the North countrey, was
bound prentise to a Shooniaker, bearing then the name of the Gentle Craft (as still it doth) his Master being a man of reason-
The pleasant History
able wealth, set many iourney-men and prentises to work, who followed their businesse with great delight, which quite excludeth all wearinesse; for when seruants do sit at their worke like Dromedaries, then their minds are neuer lightly vpon their businesse; for it is an old prouerbe.
They proue seruants kind and good,
That sing at their businesse like birds in the wood.
Such fellows had this young Lad, who was not behind with many Northern Iigs to answer their Southern Songs. This youth
10 being the youngest prentise in the house, as occasion serued, was often sent to the Conduit for water, where in short time he fell acquainted with many other prentises coming thither for the same intent.
Now their custome was so, that euery Sunday morning diuers of these prentises did vse to go to a place neer the Conduit to break their fast with pudding-pies, and often they would take Simon along with them: but vpon a time it so fell out, that when he should draw money to pay the shot with the rest, that he had none, whereupon he merrily said vnto them: My faithfull friends,
20 and Conduit companions, treasurers of the water tankard, and main pillers of the pudding house, I may now compare my purse to a barren Doe, that yields the Keeper no more good than an empty carkasse: or to a bad nut, which, being opened, hath neuer a kernell: therefore, if it will please you to pardon me at this time, and excuse me for my part of the shot, I do here vow vnto you, that, if euer I come to be Lord Maior of this City, I will giue a breakfast vnto all the printises in London.
We do take your word (quoth they) and so they departed.
It came to passe, that Simon hauing at length worn out his 30 yeers of Apprentiship, that he fell in loue with a maiden that was
neer neighbour vnto him, vnto whom at length he was married and got him a shop, and labored hard daily, and his young wife was neuer idle, but straight when she had nothing to do, she sat in the shop and spun: and hauing hued thus alone a yeer or thereabout, and hauing gathered something together, at length he got him some printises, and a Iourney-man or two, and he could not make his ware so fast as he could haue sold it, so that he stood in great need of a Tourney-man or two more.
At the last, one of his seruants spying one go along the street 40 with a fardell at his back, called to his Master, saying, Sir, yonder
goes Saint Zlughs bones, twenty pounds to a penney. Run presently (quoth he) and bring him hither.
The boy running forth, called to the man, saying, Good fellow, come hither, here is one would speak with you.
The fellow, being a Frenchman that had not long been in England, turning about, said, Hea? what you sea? Will you
ao. treasurers 567; &~c.: treasures 1648
of the Gentle Craft.
speak wed me: Hea? What you haue? tell me, what you haue, Hea? And with that coming to the stall, the good-man askt him if he lackt work, We par ma foy (quoth the French-man).
Hereupon Simon took him in, and to worke he went merrily. where he behaued himselfe so well, that his Master made good account of him, thinking he had been a Bachelor, but in the end it was found otherwise.
This man was the first that wrought vpon the low cut shooe, with the square toe, and the latchet ouerthwart the instep, before
which time in England they did weare a high shooe that reached ~o aboue the ankles, right after the manner of our husbandmens
shooes at this day, saue onely that it was made very sharp at the toe turning vp like the tail of an Island dog: or as you see a cock carry his hinder feathers.
Now it is to be remembred, that while John Deneuale dwelt with Simon Eyer, it chanced that a ship of the lie of Candy was driuen vpon our Coast, laden with all kind of Lawns and Cam- bricks, and other linnen cloth: which commodities at that time were in London very scant, and exceeding dear: and by reason
of a great leak the ship had got at Sea, being vnable to sail any 20 further, he would make what profit he could of his goods here.
And being come to London, it was John Deneuales chance to meet him in the streets, to whom the Merchant (in the Greek tongue) demanded where he might haue lodging: for he was one that had neuer been in England before, and being vnacquainted, wist not whither to go: but while he spake Greek, John Deneua/e answered him still in French, which tongue the merchant vnderstood well: and therefore, being glad that he had met with one that could talk to him, he declared vnto him what tempests he endured at Sea, and also how his ship lay vpon the coast with such 30 commodities as he would sell.
Truly Sir (quoth John) I am my selfe but a stranger in this Country and vtterly vnacquainted with Merchants, but I dwell with one in this City that is a very honest man, and it may be that he can help you to some that will deal with you for it, and if you think it good, I will moue him in it, and in the mean space, lie bring you where you may haue a very good lodging; tomorrow morning I will come to you again.
Sir (said the Merchant) if you please to do me that fauour, lie
not oneiy be thankfull vnto you for the same, but also in most 40 honest sort will content you for your pains: and with that they
Now as soon as John the Frenchman came home, he moued that matter vnto his Master, desiring him that he would do what he could for the Merchant. When his Master had heard each circumstance, noting therewith the want of such commodities in the Land, cast in his mind as he stood cutting vp his work, what were best to be done in this case, saying to his man John, I will
The pleasant History
think vpon it betwixt this and the morning, and then I will tell you my mind: and therewithall casting down his cutting Knife, he went out of his shop into his Chamber, and therein walked vp and down alone very sadly, ruminating hereon: he was so far in his muse, that, his wife sending for him to supper two or three times, he nothing regarded the maids call, hammering this matter in his head:
At last his wife came to him, saying, Husband, what mean you that you do not come to supper? why speak you not man? Hear
10 you? good husband; come away, your meat will be cold: but for all her words he stayed walking vp and down still, like a man that had sent his wits a woll-gathering, which his wife seeing, puled him by the sleeue, saying, why, husband in the name of God, why conie you not? wil you not come to supper to night? 1 called you a good while ago.
Body of me, wife (said he) I promise thee I did not hear thee. No faith, it seemeth so (quoth she) I maruel whereupon your
Beleeue me wife (quoth he) I was studying how to make m~ 20 selfe Lord Maior and thee a Lady.
Now God help you (quoth she) I pray God make vs able to pay euery man his own, that we may hue out of debt and danger, and driue the Woolf from the doore, and I desire no more.
But wife (said he) I pray thee now tell me, Doest thou not think that thou couldest make shift to bear the name of a Lady, if it should be put vpon thee.
In truth Husband (quoth she) lie not dissemble with you, if your wealth were able to beare it, my mind would beare it well enough.
30 Well wife (replyed he) I tell thee now in sadnesse, that, if I had money, there is a commodity now to be bought the gains, wherof would be able to make me a Gentleman foreuer.
Alas husband, that dignitie your Trade allows you already, being a squire of the Gentle Craft, then how can you be lesse than a Gentleman, seeing your sonne is a Prince borne?
Tush wife (quoth he) those titles do oneiy rest in name, but not in nature: but of that sort had I rather be, whose lands are answerable to their vertues, and whose rents can maintain the greatnesse of their minde:
40 Then sweet husband, tell me (said his wife) tell me, what commodity is that which you might get so much by? I am sure your self bath some money, and it shall go very hard but lie procure friends to borrow one forty shillings, and beside that, rather then you should lose so good a bargain, I haue a couple of crowns that saw no Sun since we were first married, and them also shall you haue.
Alasse wife (said Simon) all this comes not neere that matter:
Iconfesse it would do some good in buying some backs of leather,
of the Gentle Craft.
but in this thing it is nothing, for this is nierchandize that is precious at this time, and rare to be had; and I hear that whosoeuer will haue it must lay down 3,000 pounds ready money. Yea wife, and yet thereby he might get three and three thousand pounds profit.
His wife hearing him say so was inflamed with the desire thereof, as women are (for the most part) very couetous: that matter running still in her mind, she could scant finde in her heart to spare him time to go to supper, for very eagernesse to animate him on, to take that bargain vpon him. Wherefore so soon as they had supt, and giuen God thanks, she called her husband, saying, io I pray you come hither, I would speake a word with you: that man is not alwayes to be blamed that sometimes takes counsell of his wife; though womens wits are not able to comprehend the greatest things, yet in doubtful matters they oft help on a sudden.
~Vell wife, what mean you by this (said her husband?)
In truth (quoth she) I would haue you to pluck vp a mans heart, and speedily chop vp a bargain for these goods you speak of.
Who I? (quoth he), which way should I do it, that am not able for 3 thousand pounds, to lay down three thousand pence? 20
Tush man (quoth she) what of that? euery man that beholds
a man in the face, knows not what he hath in his purse, and
whatsoeuer he be that owes the goods, he will no doubt be content
to stay a moneth for his money, or three weeks at the least: And,
I promise you, to pay a thousand pounds a week is a pretty round
payment, and, I may say to you, not much to be mishiked of. Now husband, I would haue you in the morning with Iohn the
Frenchman to the Grecian Merchant, and with good discretion driue a sound bargain with him for the whole fraught of the ship, and thereupon giue him halfe a dozen Angels in earnest, and 30 eight and twenty dayes after the deliuery of the goods, condition to deliuer him the rest of his money.
But woman (quoth he) dost thou imagine that he would take my word for so weighty a masse of money, and to deliuer his goods vpon no better security?
Good Lord (quoth she) haue you no wit in such a case to make shift? lie tell you what you shall do: Be not known that you bargain for your own selfe, but tell him that you do it in the behalf of one of the cheif Aldermen in the City; but beware in any case, that you leaue with him your own name in writing; he being 40 a Grecian cannot read English: and you haue no need at all to shew John the Frenchman, or if you should, it were no great matter, for you can tell well enough that he can neither write nor read.
Iperceiue wife (quoth he) thou wouldest fain be a Lady, and worthy thou art to be one, that dost thus imploy thy wits to bring thy husband profit: but tell me, if he should be desirous to see the Alderman to confer with him, how shall we do then?
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Iesus haue mercy vpon vs (quoth she) you say women are fools, but me seemeth men haue need to be taught sometimes. Before you come away in the morning, let John the Frenchman tell him that the Alderman himselfe shall come to his lodging in the afternoon: and, receiuirg a note of all the goods that be in the ship, he shall dehiuer vnto him a bill of his hand for the payment of his money, according to that time. Now sweetheart (quoth she) this Alderman shall be thine own selfe, and Ile go borrow for thee all things that shall be necessary against that time.
io Tush (quoth her husband) canst thou imagine that he, seeing me in the morning, will not know me again in the afternoon?
0 husband (quoth she) he will not know thee, I warrant thee:
for in the morning thou shalt go to him in thy doublet of sheeps skins, with a smuched face, and thy apron before thee, thy thumb- leather and hand-leather buckled close to thy wrist, with a foule band about thy neck, and a greasie cap on thy head.
Why woman (quoth he) to go in this sort will be a discredit to me, and make the Merchant doubtfull of my dealing: for men of simple attire are (God wot) slenderly esteemed.
~o Hold your peace good husband (quoth she) it shall not be so with you, for John the Frenchman shall giue such good report to the Merchant for your honest dealing (as I praise God he can do no lesse) that the Grecian will rather conceiue the better of you than otherwise: iudging you a prudent discreet man, that will not make a shew of that you are not, but go in your attire agreeable to your trade. And because none of our folks shall he priuy to our intent, to-morrow weel dine at my cousin John Barbers in Saint Clements Lane, which is not far from the George in Lumbard-street, where the merchant strangers lie. Now Ile be sure that all things
30 shall be ready at my cousin Johns that you shall put on in the afternoon. And there he shall first of all with his scissers snap off all the superfluous hairs, and fashion thy bushy beard after the Aldermans graue cut: then shall he wash thee with a sweet Camphire Ball, and besprinkle thine head and face with the purest rose-water; then shalt thou scoure thy pitchy fingers in a bason of hot water, with an ordinary washing Ball; and all this being done, strip thee from these common weeds, and lie put thee on a very fair doublet of tawny sattin, ouer the which thou shalt haue a cassock of branched damask, furred round about the skirts with
40 the finest foynes, thy breeches of black Veluet, and shooes and stockings fit for such array: a band about thy neck as white as the driuen snow, and for thy wrists a pretty pair of cuffs, and on thy head a cap of the finest black, then shalt thou put on a fair gown, welted about with Veluet, and ouerthwart the back thwart it shall be with rich foyne, with a pair of sweet gioues on thy hands, and on thy forefinger a great seale-ring of gold.
Thou being thus attired, lie intreat my cousin John Barber, because he is a very handsome young man, neat and fine in his
of the Gentle Craft.
apparel] (as indeed all Barbers are) that he would take the pains to wait vpon you vnto the Merchants, as if he were your man, which he will do at the first, because one of you cannot vnderstand the other, so that it will be sufficient with outward curtesie one to greet another, and he to dehiuer vnto you his notes, and you to giue him your Bill, and so come home.
It doth my heart good, to see how trimly this apparell doth become you, in good faith, husband, me seems in my mind, I see you in it already, and how like an Alderman you will look, when you
are in this costly array. At your return from the Merchant, you 10 shall put off all these clothes at my Cousins again, and come
home as you did go forth. Then tell John the Frenchman, that the alderman was with the Merchant this afternoon, you may send him to him in the morning, and bid him to command that his Ship may be brought down the Riuer: while she is coming about, you may giue notice to the Linnen Drapers, of the commodities you haue coming.
Enough wife (quoth he) thou hast said enough; and, by the grace of God, lie follow thy counsel], and I doubt not but to
haue good fortune. 20