Tuesday, August 12, 2014


A Last Will and Testament

Jyl of Breyntfords Testament, by Robert Copland, Boke-Prynter...Edited by Frederick J. Furnivall (London: Printed for Private Circulation, 1871), pp. 11-15 (lines 139-209, 216-218, renumbered by me at every fifth line):
I bequethe a fart to hym that is angry
    With his frend, and wotes not why.        140

To hym that selleth al his herytage,
And all his lyfe lyueth in seruage,
    I bequeth a farte, for hym in his aege.

He that settes by no man, nor none by hym,
And to promocion fayn wold clym,        145
    I bequethe a fart, for to make hym trym.

He that wyll not lerne, and can do nothyng,
And with lewed folk is euer conuersyng,
    I bequethe a fart, toward his lyuyng.

He that boroweth with-out aduantage,        150
And euermore renneth in arrerage,
    I bequeth a fart, for to lye to gage.

He that geueth, and kepeth nought at all,
And by kyndnes to pouerte dooth fall,
    Shall haue a fart, to helpe hym with all.        155

He that is euer way-ward at hart,
And with euery man is ouerwart;
    For to please hym, I bequethe a fart.

He that hath drynke in his hand, and is dry,
Byddyng him drinke fyrst that standeth him by;        160
    I bequeth a fart, his thyrst to satysfy.

He that hath a faire wenche in bed all night,
And kyssyng her not onse or it be day lyght,
    Shall haue a fart to clense his eye syght.

He that lendeth a horse, with all thynges mete,        165
And on his own vyage gooth on his fete,
    Shall haue a fart to kepe hym fro wete.

He that suffreth all maner of offence,
And loseth his goodes throngh neclygence,
    Shall haue a farte for a recompence.        170

He that taketh a wyfe, and haue nothyng,
And boroweth all thyng to them belonging;
    I wyll a fart toward theyr offryng.

He that prepareth not for his houshold
Agaynst wynter, and hym self is olde,        175
    Shall haue a fart to kepe hym fro coulde.

He that gooeth to a feaste to sup or to dyne,
And hath no knyfe with hym, neyther cours nor fyne,
    Shall haue a fart for to drynke with his wyne.

He that boroweth tyll none wyll lend hym,        180
And swereth so moche, tyll non wyll beleue hym,
    Shall haue a fart for to rel[e]ue hym.

He that mourneth for that he cannot haue,
And vnpossyble to get that he dooth craue,
    Shall haue a fart, as a folysh knaue.        185

He that dooth nothyng but shaue and poll,
And taketh no thought for to saue his soll,
    Shall haue a fart, my passyng bel to toll.

A prentyce or seruant that wyll not obay,
And wyll not lerne, but ofte ren a-way;        190
A fart for hys fredom I do pouruay.

He that suffreth his wyfe to do her lust,
And seeth that to foly she is full trust,
    Shall haue a fart, though I sholde burst.

A wydow that ones hath ben in the brake,        195
And careth not whome that she doth take,
    Shall haue a fart, though myn ars ake.

A mayde that marryeth, not caryng whome,
And doeth repent when she cometh home,
    Shall haue a fart, to by her a come.        200

He that dooth drynke euermore,
And wyll not shyfte to paye therfore,
    S[h]all haue a fart for to set to his score.

He that goeth to a fray at the begynny[n]g,
And to a good meale at the latter endyng,        205
    Shall haue a farte for his good attendyng.

He that gooth oft where he is not welcom,
And to his fryndes hous gooth but seldom,
    Shall haue a fart for his good wesdom.


Mary, he that dooth his wepen lend,
And hath nothyng hym selfe to defende,
    Shall haue a fart; and there an end.
Some notes:

140 wotes: knows
142 seruage: servitude
149: lyuyng: living, i.e. livelihood
151 renneth in arrerage: runs into debt
152 to lye to gage: to deposit as a pledge, pawn, or security
154 pouerte: poverty
157 ouerwart: contentious, argumentative
166 vyage: voyage
167 to kepe hym fro wete: to keep him from wet, i.e. to keep him dry; cf. 176 to kepe hym fro coulde: to keep him warm
178 cours: coarse
186 shaue and poll: fleece and cheat
191 pouruay: purvey, i.e. provide
195 brake: bushes
200 to by her a come: to buy her a comb
203 to set to his score: to set against his score, to pay towards his tab


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