G. G. (George Gordon) Coulton.

A medieval garner; human documents from the four centuries preceding the reformation online

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J. P.

290.— Ci)e ^ame.

(Dame Elizabeth Brews to John Paston, Feb. U77 ; vol. Ill, p. 169).

To my worshipful cousin, John Paston, he this billet
delivered, etc.

OUSIN, I recommend me unto you, thank-
ing you heartily for the great cheer that ye
made me and all my folks, the last time
that I was at Norwich ; and ye promised
me, that ye would never break the matter
to Margery until such time as ye and I were at a
point. But ye have made her such advocate for
you, that I may never have rest night nor day, for
calling and crying upon [me] to bring the said matter
to effect, etc. And, cousin upon Friday is St. Valen-
tine's Day, and every bird chooseth him a mate ; and
if it like you to come on Thursday at night, and so
purvey you, that ye may abide there till Monday, I
trust to God that ye shall so speak to mine husband ;
and I shall pray that we shall bring the matter to a
conclusion, etc. For, cousin.

It is but a simple oak,

That [is] cut down at the first stroke.

For ye will be reasonable, I trust to God, Which have
you ever in His merciful keeping, etc.

By your cousin. Dame ELIZABETH BREWS,
otherwise shall be called by God's grace.

Love and Business. 6}^

291.— Cfje ^ame.

(Margery Brews to John Paston, Feb. 1477 ; vol. Ill, p. 170).

Unto my right ivell-beloved Valentine^ John Paston,
Squire, he this billet delivered, etc.

IGHT reverend and worshipful, and my right

well-beloved Valentine, I recommend me

unto you, full heartily desiring to hear of

your welfare, which I beseech Almighty God

long for to preserve unto His pleasure, and

your heart's desire. And if it please you to hear of

my welfare, I am not in good heal of body nor of

heart, nor shall be till I hear from you ;

For there wotteth no creature what pain that I endure,
And for to be dead, I dare it not discure. [discover

And my lady my mother hath laboured the matter
to my father full diligently, but she can no more get
[of do\^Ty] than ye know of, for the which God knoweth
I am full sorry. But if that ye love me, as I trust
verily that ye do, ye will not leave me therefore ; for
if that ye had not half the livelihood that ye have,
for to do the greatest labour that any woman on live
might, I would not forsake you.

And if ye command me to keep me true wherever I go,
I wis I will do all my might you to love and never no mo.

And if my friends say, that I do amiss.

They shall not let me so for to do.
Mine heart me bids ever more to love you

Truly over all earthly thing.
And if they be never so wroth,
I trust it shall be better in time coming.

No more to you at this time, but the Holy Trinity
have j^ou in keeping. And I beseech you that this
billet be not seen of none earthly creature save only
yourself, etc.

And this letter was indited at Topcroft, with full
heavy heart, etc.

By your o\vn,


(i2>^ A Medieval Garner.

292.— ct)e ^amc.

(Sir John Paston to his brother, John Paston, March 9, 1477 ; vol. Ill, p. 177).

To John Paston, Esquire, in haste.

HAVE received your letter, and your man,
J. Bykerton, by whom I know all the
matter of Mistress Brews, which if it be
as he saith, I pray God bring it to a good

Item, as for this matter of Mistress Barly, I hold it
but a bare thing. I feel well that it passeth not
[blank^ mark.* I saw her for your sake. She is a
little one ; she may be a woman hereafter, if she be
not old now ; her person seemeth xiij year of age ;
her years, men say, be full xviij. She knoweth not
of the matter, I suppose ; nevertheless she desired to
see me as glad as I was to see her.

I pray you send me some writiag to Calais of your
speed with Mistress Brews. Bykerton telleth me that
she loveth you well. If I died, I had liever ye had
her than the Lady Wargrave ; nevertheless she singeth
well with an harp.

Clopton is afeard of Sir T. Grey, for he is a widower
now late, and men say that he is acquainted with her
of old.

No more. Written on Sunday, the ix. day of March,
anno E. iiijti xvij to Calais- ward.

If ye have Mistress Brews, and E. Paston Mistress
Bylyngford, ye be like to be brethren.


* i.e., there is no more to be got out of it but this (unintentionallr
omitted) sum of money.

The Young Bride. 637

293.— Cbe ^ame.

(Margery Faston, [nee Brews] to her husband, John Paaton, Dec. IS, 1477 ;
vol. Ill, p. -214).

To my right reverend and worshipful husband,
John Paston.

IGHT reverend and worshipful husband, 1
recommend me to you, desiring heartily to
hear of your welfare, thanking you for the
token that ye sent me by Edmund Perys,
praying jow to wit that my mother sent to
my father to London for a gown-cloth of musterdevillers
to make of a gown for me ; and he told my mother and
me when he was come home that he charged you to buy
it, after that he were come out of London. I pray you,
if it be not bought, that ye wdll vouchsafe to buy it, and
send it home as soon as ye may, for I have no gown to
wear this winter but my black and my green a Tyer,*
and that is so cumbrous that I am w^eary to wear it. As
for the girdle that my father behested me, I spake to
him thereof a little before he went to London last, and
he said to me that the fault w^as in you, that ye w^ould
not think thereupon to do make it ; but I suppose
that is not so ; he said it but for a 'sensation. I pray
you, if ye dare take upon you, that ye will vouchsafe
to do make it against ye come hom.e, for I had never
more need thereof than I have now, for I am waxed
so shapely that I may not be girt in no bar of no girdle
that I have, but of one. Elizabeth Peverel hath lain
sick XV. or xvj. weeks of the sciatica, but she sent my
mother word by Kate that she should come hither
when God sent time, though she should be w'heeled in
a barrow. John of Damm was here, and my mother
discovered me to him, and he said, by his troth that
he was not gladder of nothing that he heard this twelve-
month than he w^as thereof. I may no longer live by
my craft, I am discovered of all men that see me. Of

* This word has baffled both editors of the letters. It may be
simply attire.

6 3^ A Medieval Garner.

all other things that ye desu*ed that I should send you
word of, I have sent you word of in a letter that I did
write on Our Lady's Day last was. The Holy Trinity
have you in His keeping. Written at Oxnead in right
great haste, on the Thursday next before St. Thomas's

I pray you that ye will wear the ring with the image
of St. Margaret, that I sent you for a remembrance,
till ye come home ; ye have left me such a remembrance
that maketh me to think upon you both day and night
when I would sleep.


M. P.

294.— an OBtonian's Eomance.

(William Paston, junr., [aged 19], to John Paston, Feb. 23, 1479 ;
vol. Ill, p. 240).

To his worshipful brother, John Paston, be this
delivered in haste.

iJlGHT reverend and worshipful brother, after
all duties of recommendation, I recommend
me to you, desiring to hear of your prosperity
and welfare, which I pray God long to con-
tinue to His pleasure, and to your heart's
desire ; letting you wit that I received a letter from you,
in the which letter was viijd. with the which I should
buy a pair of slippers. Furthermore certifying you, as
for the xiijs. iiijd. which ye sent by a gentleman's man,
for my board, called Thomas Newton, was delivered
to mine hostess, and so to my creditor Mr. Thomas
Stevenson ; and he heartily recommended him to
3'^ou. Also he sent me word in the letter of xij.lb. figs
and viij.lb. raisins. I have them not delivered, but I
doubt not I shall have, for Alwether told me of them,
and he said that they came after in another barge.
And as for the young gentlewoman, I will certify you
how I first fell in acquaintance with her. Her father
is dead ; there be ij. sisters of them ; the elder is just

An Etonian's Romance. 639

wedded ; at the which wedding I was with mine hostess,
and also desired by the gentleman himself, called
William Swan, whose dwelling is in Eton. So it
fortuned that mine hostess reported on me otherwise
than I was worthy ; so that her mother commanded
her to make me good cheer, and so in good faith she
did. She is not abiding there she is now ; her dwelling
is in London ; but her mother and she came to a place
of hers v. miles from Eton, where the wedding was,
for because it was nigh to the gentleman which wedded
her daughter. And on Monday next coming, that is
to say, the first Monday of Clean Lent, her mother and
she will go to the pardon at Sheen, and so forth to
London, and there to abide in a place of hers in Bow
Churchyard ; and if it please you to inquire of her,
her mother's name is Mistress Alborow, the age of her
is by all likelihood xviij. or xix. year at the furthest.
And as for the money and plate, it is ready whensoever
she were wedded ; but as for the livelihood, I trow
not till after her mother's decease ; but I cannot tell
you for very certain, but you may know by inquiring.
And as for her beauty, judge you that when ye see
her, if so be that ye take the labour ; and specially
behold her hands, for an if it be as it is told me, she
is disposed to be thick.*

And as for my coming from Eton, I lack nothing
but versifying, which I trust to have with a little

Quare, Quomodo non valet bora, valet mora,

Unde di' [dictum, vel deductum ?]
Arbore jam videas exemplum. Non die possunt,

Omnia suppleri ; sed tamen ilia mora.

And these two verses aforesaid be of mine own
making. No more to you at this time, but God have
you in His keeping. Written at Eton the Even of
St. Matthias the Apostle in haste, with the hand of
your brother.

William Paston, Junr.

Is likely to grow stout.


A Medieval Garner.

295.— ($n toit!) the l^eto.

(Edmund Paston to William Paston, about 14S1 : vol. Ill, p. 278).

To my brother, William Pastoriy he this delivered.

HEARTILY recommend me to you. Here is
lately fallen a widow in Worsted, which was
wife to one Bolt, a worsted-merchant, and
worth a thousand pounds, and gave to his
wife a hundred marks in money, stuff of
household, and plate to the value of an hundred marks,
and ten pounds by year in land. She is called a fair
gentlewoman. I wUl for your sake see her. She is
right sister, of father and mother, to Harry Ynglows.
I purpose to speak with him to get his good will. This
gentlewoman is about xxx. years, and has but ij.
children, which shall be at the dead's charge ; she
was his wife but v. years. If she be any better than
I write for, take it in woothe [sic] I shew the least.
Thus let me have knowledge of your mind as shortly
as ye can, and when ye shall moun [sic] be in this
country. And thus God send you good health and
good aventure.

From Norwich, the Saturday after xij*^^ day.



296.— a ^aD inning.

(The Earl of Oxford to Sir John Paston, some time after 1495 ; vol. Ill, p. 391).

To the right worshipful and m^y right entirely
well-beloved Sir John Paston, Knight.

IGHT worshipful and right entirely beloved, I
commend me heartily to you. And whereas
your brother William, my servant, is so
troubled with sickness and crazed in his
mind, that I may not keep him about me,
wherefore I am right sorry, and at this time send him
to you ; praying especially that he may be kept surely

Busch's Conversion. 641

and tenderly with you, to such time as God fortune him
to be better assured of himself and his mind more sadly
disposed, which I pray God may be in short time, and
preserve you long in good prosperity.

Written at my place in London, the xxvj. day of


Johann Busch was born at Zwolle in 1399. He showed brilliant
scholarship as a boy ; but as a youth he chose to join the same congrega-
tion of Austin Canons to wliich his contemporary Thomas a Kempis
belonged. In 1440 he became Subprior of Wittenburg, and began his long
and arduous career as reformer of monasteries under a commission from
the Pope and the Council of Bale. In this work he attained more
success than any of his contemporaries except the distinguished Cardinal
Nicolaus von Cusa. His chief writings were (i) a charming chronicle of
the monastery of Windeshiem, and (ii) the Liber de Reformatione Monas-
teriorum, a minute and often very humorous record of his life's work.
The edition here used is that of K. Grube. (Halle, 1887). A transla-
tion of it was begun, but never completed, in the British Magazine for
April, 1841, etc. ; and the reader may there find some strange things
for which there is no place here. Miss Eckenstein's account of these
visitations in her Woman under Monasticism is quite worthless ; she
takes it at second-hand from a not always trustworthy monograph by
Karl Grube.

297.— a ^tuDent's Contjersion,

{LibBff. I, 1, pp. 394 ff).

O my parents would fain have sent me to the
University of Erfurt, that I might be chief
of all our friends and kinsfolk. But I began
to think within myself : "If thou wert
already Doctor, clad in thy many-coloured
well-furred gowns, and enjoying the title of thy degree
while all men cried. " Good morrow, Sir Doctor, good
day ! " and if after this life thou must needs go down
to hell, there to burn for everlasting, what profit
shouldst thou then have ? So I thought the more
frequently on the eternity of hell-pains and the infinity
of the heavenly glory, earnestly considering whether
my mind could grasp and foresee any end to eternity.
When therefore, after many weary rounds of thought,

642 A Medieval Garner.

this was still impossible, then after good deliberation
I determined firmly in mine own mind that I would
desert the whole world with all its delights, and serve
God alone for ever in some good reformed monastery.
For these words ewelike ende ommermeer [" for ever and
evermore"] compelled me to do thus and to leave my
parents and my friends, whereof I had many, for God's
sake and the life everlasting. Hearing this, my parents
and kinsfolk strove to turn me aside, and my mother
above all ; for she said, " Dear son, when thou wert
young, thou wouldst fain have eaten in thy bed. Thou
canst not fast' ; wilt thou slay thyself ? Moreover,
they will not leave thee in one monastery, but will
oftentimes send thee to others. Thou shouldst have
been the head of us all ; wilt thou now desert us ? "
and much more to the same purpose. I made soft
answer to my mother, but in my heart I thought
" These are women's words ; none will care to go to
hell for me ; if I will go to heaven, I must earn that for
myself ! " So I gave no heed to my father's and
mother's tears, but purposed to enter the order of
Canons Regular, whereof the reform had lately begun
in our parts. . . .

What temptations I suffered as a novice, especially
in the Catholic faith, God alone knoweth, from Whom
nothing is hid. For God Himself was so great and
glorious in my heart, that I could not conceive Him to
have put on flesh and walked upon earth so poor and
so despised. And when the Gospels were read in
refectory, I thought that the Evangelists desired to
praise that man, and then my heart cried within me,
" Thou knowest, it is not true that this Jesus is God ! "
Yet I said within my heart, " I will die for it, that He
is so." Then my heart cried within me, " Thou wilt
die for it, yet shalt thou see that it shall be naught ! "
But when I found how our father St. Augustine and
the other Doctors, who lived in the world for almost
400 years after Christ, said and wrote and preached
that this Jesus was God, then I thought : " It is strange
that those wise men were so foolish as to dare to call
that man God, Whom they never saw." And, albeit

Busch^s Conversion. 643

I was thus tempted, yet was I a good and true Catholic ;
but God Almighty suffered me thus to be tempted,
because in later years, taught by experience, I liberated
many who were buffeted with the same temptation.
How I was liberated from this trial, is contained in the
letter which I wrote to one Brother Bernard, of the
Order of St. Benedict at Erfurt. I had also tempta-
tions of the flesh in my noviciate. . . . My temptations
of vainglory, pride, and impatience could easily be
driven out, for then I fought one against one ; but in
those of the flesh two fought against one, for my flesh
and the devil were matched against my struggling soul.
When during my noviciate I sang in the service a verse
or responsory or versicle, then I thought within myself :
" Our layfolk in the nave, prostrate on their knees,
are thinking with admiration, ' how good and pure a
voice hath our Brother John ! ' " When another
novice sang any part, then I murmured within myself :
" Now the laj^olk are thinking, ' That sounds like a
rasp ! ' " Rarely did one of our Brethren leave the
choir or do anything, but that I had various suspicions
of him, thinking within myself : "He cannot stay
longer in the choir, he goeth forth because he would go
hither, or thither." One was wont to spit frequently
in choir ; and I thought that he had many tempta-
tions v/hich he drove forth by this continual voiding of
his rheum. Thus too I had most frequent suspicions
of many others ; for a novice is as full of suspicions as
an egg is full of meat.

Yet will I sing for ever the mercies of the Lord, Who
not only liberated me from many temptations, but
through those same temptations rooted me fast in good,
giving me a practised tongue that I might sustain the
fallen by word and deed. When therefore my profes-
sion had been performed, at Epiphany, on the very
year-day of mine entrance, by reason of my parents'
presence, who brought wine and flesh and white bread
for the convent, I was not altogether freed from the
temptations aforesaid, wherein I was immersed even to
the roof of my cell throughout wellnigh all the time of
my noviciate. But on St. Agnes' day (for then again

644 A Medieval Garner.

we communicated) all my past temptation departed
utterly from my heart and senses, and then my Lord
Jesus answered : " Now art thou Mine, and I am
thine." And from that time until this present it hath
ever been well with me, so far as in Him stood ; and I
began to converse with Him and oftentimes to hear His
answering voice, as it may be heard in the heart within.
. . . Whensoever after this I felt inclinations or move-
ments to fault or sin, or when I was offended by others,
I conceived certain remedies thereunto which I had
found by experience of myself or by study from the
Holy Scriptures, which I collected into a certain little
book that I might have them at hand ; whereby I
brought myself back little by little to peace of mind,
and withstood such evil inclinations.

298.— T5ooli=Eeeping: ftp Double OBntrp.

(Lib Ref. IV, 3, p. 730. The summary of this in Grube's monograph, p. 163,
is very incorrect).

CERTAIN Lector of the Dominicans had
publicly preached in the town of Zutphen,
that layfolk should have no books in the
German tongue, and that no sermons should
be preached to the people save only in the
church or churchyard. When therefore I heard this
(for I was then a simple Brother at Windesheim,
and had been sent with Brother Dietrich Willem-
zoon to conclude certain business of our monastery in
Zutphen) then, knowing that there were more than a
hundred congregations of Sisters and Beguines in the
diocese of Utrecht which possessed several books in the
mother tongue, which the Sisters read daily either by
themselves or publicly in refectory, I stoutly gainsaid
this friar, seeing that they read and hear German books
of this sort in Zutphen, Deventer, ZwoUe, Kampen,
and everywhere in the cities and country districts [of
the Netherlands]. Wherefore I went to the Dominican
convent and asked for the Prior, to whom I said : " My

Books and Clergy. 645

lord Prior, I have heard that your Lector hath pubHcly
preaclied that layfolk ought not to have books in the
German tongue. Herein he hath preached ill, and
he must publicly revoke it : for the princes of the land,
the common people, men and women throughout the
whole world have many books written in the vulgar
German tongue, wherein they read and study. More-
over ye and your Brethren preach oftentimes to the
people in the vulgar tongue ; would ye wish also that
they might remember your sermons by heart ? "
*' Yea," said he. Then I made answer, " If they had
them in Avriting, then they would certainly keep them
better in their memory ; wherefore then should they
not have books in German ? " He answered, " The
layfolk have many books in German, namely books of
Sentences and suchlike, which a certain Doctor of our
Order hath translated into German ; and others have
a missal, with the Canon of the Mass, in the vulgar
tongue ; therefore it is not good that they should have
and read books in German." To whom I made answer,
" I do not indeed approve that plain laymen and lay-
women should have in German such lofty and divine
books as that ; nay, I myself burned a Canon-book in
German which was found in the possession of some
nuns. Yet is it most profitable for all men, learned or
unlearned, to possess and daily to read moral books
treating of the vices and the virtues, of the Lord's
incarnation, life, and passion, of the life and holy
conversation and martyrdom of apostles, martyrs,
confessors, and virgins, together with homilies and
sermons of holy men provoking to amendment of life,
moral discipline, fear of hell-fire, and love of the celestial
country. If ye will not allow such books, then will I
show you in writing the sayings of such Doctors of Holy
Church as Austin, Gregory, Ambrose and Jerome, and
other orthodox writers, to the effect that it is lawful
and most profitable to have such books." Then said
he. "If ye produce the Avritten words of Doctors, we
too will produce the contrary sayings of [other]
Doctors." Then said I more plainly : " My lord Prior,
your Lector must revoke publicly from the pulpit that

646 A Medieval Garner.

which he hath publicly preached to the people against
possessing books in the German tongue ; otherwise I
will so order things with the lord David bishop of
Utrecht, and with his High Chapter, that neither you
nor your Lector shall preach again in this diocese."
Then said the Prior : " You seem to have a commission
to this effect from the Bishop of Utrecht. Be at peace ;
I will see to it that our Lector shall revoke this." And
when I would have gone of mine own authority to the
Lector, who was lying on his bed, then said the Prior,
" He is a most learned man." To whom I made
answer, " I am all the more willing to speak with him
since he is learned, for then he will the better understand
his own error." Notwithstanding I desisted at the
petition of the Prior and the Brother who was with me,
and went not to the sick man ; more especially because
his Prior had promised me that he should revoke those

Another day as I journeyed by boat on the Yssel
from Deventer to Zutphen, I questioned the men and
women that voyaged with me, asking what the Preachers
are wont to preach at Zutphen. Whereunto they made
answer, " Our Lector formerly preached that la5rfolk
should have no German books. This he hath revoked
in brief, saying, ' Good folk, when I preach the gospel
to you here, ye repeat it all awry to other men. I
spake to you the other day in my sermon concerning
German books, that the laity should not possess them,
whereby I meant this : Certain women, or even men,
sometimes lay certain writings in the German tongue
under the altar-cloths, that a mass may be read over
them ; after which they take these same writings
away and work therewith many incantations and
divinations or auguries. Those were the writings that
I forbade you to have and read ; but ye may well and
lawfully possess good and moral books in the German
tongue, and read therein." And they who were in the
boat added and said how they had marvelled greatly
that he should so revoke his own words, not knowing
who had compelled him thereunto. I for my part was
well pleased to hear of this his revocation, for in that

A Determined Preacher. 647

same towii were two houses of Sisters that always read
when they sat at meals by the table in the refectory.

On pp. 724, 729, 732, 733, the reader may find other instances, of
influential preachers who taught publicly similar falsehoods : e.g.,
" that all Beguines were in a state of damnation ; " " that whensoever a
mass is celebrated throughout the world, so often one soul is freed from
the pains of purgatory ; " " that it is not usury to lend a man a meadow

Online LibraryG. G. (George Gordon) CoultonA medieval garner; human documents from the four centuries preceding the reformation → online text (page 54 of 61)