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Captain John Stevens

LONDON: 1707

( Reprinted \%%<).)


[Edition liinited to 2CX) copies.]

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The Countjry Jilt, called in Spanish, La Picara
Justina, is not a translation, but rather an extract of
all that is diverting and good in the original, which is
swelled up with so much cant and reflection, as really
renders it tedious and unpleasant ; for which reason
all that unsavory part is omitted, and only so much
rendered into English as may be diverting and in-
structing. Her pranks may, perhaps, to some, seem
too vulgar, or mean, but they will do well to consider
she is but a country girl, and acts as such. It was
written by the licentiate Francisco de Ubeda, a native
of Toledo.




She gives an Account of her Pedigree.

MY Father was born in a town they call Castillo de
Luna, in the Earldom of Luna \ and my Mother
at Zea ; but in case you know not where Zea is, I will inform
you. Zea is near Sabagun, a town where there is a most
magnificent Tun, not unlike that famous one of Heidelburg.
This Tun being always empty, is very loud and noisy, and
seems to cry for wheat and rye : for ever since it grew leaky
it has never held any liquor, but those two sorts of grain.
That last unfortunate year it was filled with new wine, and
held as much as drove a mill, when it was let out ; a glorious
sight. But if you do not know Zea by the neighbourhood
of this curious vessel ; it is a place that resembles a wallet ;
for at both ends of it there are several houses crowded to-
gether, and in the middle a bridge that join them together.
But that I may not lose any part of my genealogy, I will


begin with my ancestors, both male and female, and then
descend to my parents. The truth is, my father might as
well have called me Mag, or Poll, for all my predecessors
were of talkative, prating professings, but he thought fit to
give me the name of Justina, because I was to support the
justice of the Jilting-trade, and from him I took the worship-
ful surname of Diez.

My father was son to one that cried Wafers about the
streets, and kept boys under him to ply in all parts ; all of
them carrying packs of cards about them for the mob to play
for Wafers ; and because he was the first that set this project
on foot, they called him the . Packer. He brought up the
crying of Turn ouby for a Farthing ; but in his days the wafers
were rolled up, and had several folds one within another, so
that they had some substance ; whereas now they are but a
single hollow shell. Thus we see there are cheats in all
trades ; the more is the pity. This grandfather of mine
allowed his emissaries to play with any gamesters at All-
fours, but no other game, because the cards were marked
and fitted for that sport, but would not so well serve at others.
A bhnd man would have gone a mile to see him shuffle and
pack the cards. He died at Barcelona, a watery death,
though he never delighted in that element ; but the fault
was in his tongue, for he happened to give a red haired fellow
some uncourteous words, who, in return, tipped him over a
narrow bridge, and the water he had so naturally abhorred
whilst living, took revenge on him at his death. My father
did not follow that trade, because he was too heavy and



pot-bellied, which made him live retired at home, sewing
caps, and mending panniers for the Asturian carriers. -

My great grand-father kept a puppet-show in Sevil, and
it was reckoned the curiousest that ever had been seen in
that city. He was so little, that the only difference between
him and his puppets was, that they spoke through a trunk,
and he without one. He made such speeches before his
shows, that the audience could wish he had never done ;
for he had a tongue like a parrot, and a mouth like a
sparrow, so big, that some fancied he could draw his whole
body through it. All the apple-women, hawkers, and fish-
women, were so charmed with his wit among his puppets,
that they would run to hear him, without leaving any guard
upon their goods but their straw-hats. Unfortunate man,
being so like a cock-sparrow, he took to so many hens, that
when they had devoured his money, clothes, mules, and
puppets, they consumed his health, and left him like a naked
baby in an hospital. When he thought to have died soberly
he fell into a frenzy, to such a degree that one day he faa
cied he was a bull in the puppet-show ; and was to encountc
a -Stone cross that stood at the hospital door; and after
several essays in his shirt he made at the same cross, crying,
Now I have you. This said, he run his head so furiously
against the cross, that he dropped down and said no more.
The good hospital nurse, who was one of the family of the
Innocents, seeing him die in that manner, cried, O the
precious soul, he died at the foot of the cross, and directing
his discourse to it.


My father's great grandfather lived in happy days, and
was one of those that first brought the Art of Juggling and
Legerdemain into Spain. He married a tumbler and
vaulter, a woman excellently skilled in all sorts of vaulting,
and would play her part with any man. She, though above
fifty years of age, and troubled with the ptysick, died in the
air : her husband would not marry again, to avoid seeing
other women fly as she had done. He got so much money
by his trade, that men of honour and preferment took notice
of him ; for a certain person, who had at least two handfuls
of honour growing out above his head, and was afterwards
preferred to the gallows, grew so very familiar with him one
day that it might have cost him his life, and was thus : this
my Great Grandfather being one day showing his sleight of
hand, by way of jest, which he much delighted in, cried as
the gipsies do, Ware pockets, and at the same time levelled
at a purse, and the man, who was honourable by his wife,
hearing him, thought there had been a real plot against the
pence, and gave my juggler such a curious back stroke, that
he beat out two grinders, which were all he had left of that
sort, oversetting his hat, in which, at that time, half his im-
plements were lodged. My poor predecessor was unfortun-
ate in quarrels, for not long after, forgetting the past disaster,
he would still be exercising his wit, at which a hasty stander-
by was so displeased, that he showed him his fist in such an
undecent manner, as made the fore teeth he had left drop
out with fright, and so his gums were left quite destitute of
company. The unhappy artist, perceiving that after the loss


of his teeth he mumbled his words so wretchedly, that no
man understood him any more than if he had spoke Arabick,
retired for mere shame to a country house near Guadalupe,
where he took to drying of figs, and the sun finding him
round and withered, mistook him for an overgrown fig, so
parched him up, that his soul left him for want of moisture,
and he lay three days after he was dead in the orchard, with
the black birds about him singing his funeral dirges, for
want of better chaplains.

I can give no farther account of my ancestors by my
father's side, but that I suppose they were descended from
Mount Thabor : because their name was Taborda ; but those
who desire to know of them may search the Heralds Office,
where they will find them with the ancient families of the
Clodbeaters, who are lineally descended from Adam. My
kindred on my mother's side, are so well known, that the
very boys bear witness they are of the ancient race of Arabs,
who lorded it in Spain above seven hundred years, and still
speak broken Spanish after the manner of their relations in
Barbary. Thus far have I gone in the talkating pedigree of
Prateapace Justina, but I exceed them all, for they prated
when their profession required it, whereas my clack is the
perpetual motion, and never lies still.

But to come to my mother's genealogy, her father was a
barber, who had spent many royals in scurvy cuts of mon-
keys and cats, old scutcheons, and painted paper, to paste
about his shop, for want of hangings. His head was not
overwell furnished, but for other necessaries as basons, blood-


ing dishes, and such utensils he did not want. He never
trimned a man but he had a story ready at his finger's ends.
His morning exercise was a lesson on a guitar, and he would
sometimes put by a good beard to trim his dapple. All his
delight was in plays, and it cost him his life ; for going to
Malaga to act a scurvy part, a tile fell from the top of a house
which put an end to his representations.

My Great Grandfather was by trade a Vizor-maker, and
lived at Plasencia, where he got considerably by hiring out
of masks, morrice-bells, and such like trumpery for Fairs and
country Sports. But he made the most of his morrice-bells,
which he lent out to country dancers, for the poor simple
Clod-pates, being always in haste to carry away their clothes
to make themselves fine, were apt to misreckon, and when
they came back, being at leisure, they paid for all. His wife,
at spare times, sold mead, which she happening to give him
to drink too cold, when he was in a heat, his soul took pet
to be so used, and withdrew into the other world.

My mother's great grandfather played upon a Tabor and
Pipe at Malpartida, a town near Plasencia, and yet no more
like that city than if it stood in China. Upon great festivals
they thought themselves happy who could secure him ; for
he would make a tabor speak, though not all he knew, for
that might have cost him dear. All the wenches strove to be
in his favour, because under the colour of piping, he was an
excellent match-maker. No part of him was idle, for whilst
he played with his mouth, his eyes promoted matrimony,
and in the turn of a hand he would spit out half a score


brides and bridegrooms. "The truth is, there was not so
much disturbance about weddings in those days as there is
at present, when there is such abundance of impertinence
requisite to marry to the purpose. To give him his due,
this ancestor of mine might better have been called the
beadle to weddings, than a taborer. This the good man
did to get a living, and provide for his children, as he did ;
for he left them a tabor full of farthings and half-pence, which
in those days, was a considerable treasure ; and to secure it
against all attacks, he hung it on a high pole, like an honour-
able trophy, telling everybody he did not take it down, be-
cause it was intailed on the family by his father, who had
followed the same trade, and therefore he honoured it, and
though old and patched would not take a hundred new ones
for it. This good man died unfortunately ; for as he was
walking in state on a great festival, at the head of above a
hundred pipers, that then used to meet at Plasencia, playing
on his tabor and pipe, an upstart gentleman, whom he had
disappointed of an intrigue with a girl of about eighteen, in
revenge, gave him such a blow on the end of his pipe, that
he struck it into his throat, where it stuck till a vintner drew
it out with all his might and main, but so that the poor ta-
borer never piped more, but he died in his calling, which
was much impaired by his loss, for there never was the fellow
of him since in all that country.


Her Father and Mother's Excellent Qualities, and the In-
structions they gave her.

My father and mother did not think fit to follow such
stirring employments as their ancestors had done, because
they were both tun-bellied, and therefore judged it better
to get their living in a sedentary way. Accordingly they set
up an inn at Mansilla, a town in the kingdom of Leon, on
the road to, and near the city of that name. My father
would not open his inn till his daughters were grown up
lusty wenches, and fit for service, considering that the busi-
ness of an inn is enough to break a woman's back, unless
she has some to assist her. When he opened we were three
sisters, like the three graces, clever girls, that understood
business, well agreed in publick^ but among ourselves every
one drew her own way. They were no fools, and yet I was
sharper than both of them. I saw into all their contrivan-
ces, but my tricks were mere legerdemain to them. My
brothers went abroad to seek their fortunes, and took to the
army ; only little Nicky stayed at home, an ingenuous lad,
who knew how to get sixpence clear when they sent him but
for a groat's worth of wine ; the case was, he would sell the


pitcher for twopence, and pretend he had broke it and spilt
the wine. He was kept at home to water guest's horses and
mules, and to run on errands at night, which we girls were
net allowed to do, by reason there were country gallants in
the town, who chiefly haunted the streets where the inns are,
because the choice women belonged to them. I remember,
I took a fancy one night to fetch wine from a tavern that
was near the church-yard, and for my diligence my father
measured my back with the pitcher I carried, and because I
pleaded I had commission so to do from my mother, he took
the length and breadth of her ribs with the same pot, leaving
us both in such a condition, that we smelt strong of plaisters
and searcloths for half a year after. However my good fa-
ther made amends for all this severity, with his wholesome
advice. I shall never forget the speech he made us the day
he opened ; the Lord bless him, wheresoever he is, for his
ingenuity, I could almost weep to think of it, but that I am
not now at leisure to shed tears, but I will give you his
harrangue, which was as follows. Children, take heed that
the License* for keeping an inn, and the rate set upon pro-
vender, be always hung up very high and fast ; let no chest,
bench, chair, or joint-stool be near it, or any other thing to
climb or rest on, lest any scoundrel presume to reckon with-
out his host, and to examine by the set rate whether I exact
for my goods, for by Jove, I did not get my money by roar-

* None can keep an inn in Spain without a license. All Provender is
rated by the magistrates.

■I I Bw^ii r ■ '


ing. Let no man examine my conscience and put me into
a sweat. Never measure the barley* in sight, but be sure to
keep the bin in a close dark room, and she that measures
the corn must always turn her back upon him that asks for
it. Let the measures always lie in the bin, that you may have
done measuring before they can turn them about : you need
not keep the streek to strike the peck within the bin, for if
you understand business, your hand will do the work. If
you should happen to be in haste, or that the barley is dear,
or else, through zeal for your father's profit, you shall think
fit to measure at will, or to strike by the eye, you may freely
do so, for your hands are better than a half peck, and your
eyes worth a thousand streeks. Therefore I charge you
always to keep the barley in an obscure place, and never to
hold up the top of the bin with anything but your heads,
that they may not have the opportunity of peeping into it;
for it is not fit than when an honest girl has the measure in
her hand, any man should pry into her dimensions. Besides,
that a half peck is not bound to be infallible, or ever to
stand upright, for it will He as well on its side as on the bot-
tom. When barley happens to be dear, you know a little
soaking makes it swell, and 'tis ne'er the worse, but rather
the better for cattle that are troubled with the lampas ; and
still the inn keeper thrives, if it passes, and he is not taken
in the fact. When it is dear, or whether it be dear or cheap,

* The cattle there eal bailey instead of oates.


is all one, do not fail to have some chaff at hand to mix with
the barley ; for if they believe it, that is the flower, if not 'tis
the husk of the barley, let them e'en blow and fan it as old
women do on the threshing floors ; besides, if the beasts
are good they eat all, and if they are bad the worst is too
good for them. When a guest asks you, Landlady, what
have you to eat ? I charge you on the duty of your employ-
ment, that you never say you have anything they ask for,
though it be in the house, but make a difficulty of getting it>
for every man sets a rate upon what he finds in the house.
When you bring what they ask for, tell them you were forc'd
to beg and pray for it at a neighbour's ; that the neighbour
may be paid for the meat, and you for the sauce and kind-
ness. Be witty with the guests, but do not use multiplicity
of words ; I will not prescribe impossibilities, but whoever
you talk with, keep your distance, for a woman is best afar
off, being like a wax image, a picture not dry, a tinsel gar-
ment, puff paste, a dead body that has lain many ages, which
as soon as you touch them are put out of shape, spoiled and
fall to nothing. Show your wit and diligence, and break your
jests before eating, for travellers draw all their bills upon the
meal, and when the table is taken away, you may reckon
the bank is broke. You must observe the first or second
dish that is brought up, whether they send your mother any
thing ; for it they do not, you may plead she is with child,
and longs ; for any man, though never so hard of belief, see-
ing her belly, will believe it, and none will be so uncharit-
able as to refuse her, for fear of destroying an infant : do


not you fear they will question it, for everybody credits a
likely girl ; nay, they will believe you, though you should tell
them I am with child. But lest you should complain that
all the advice I give is for my own ends, mind me, when
you wait at table pull a hard crust out of your pocket and
fall a mumbling of it, which will move them to invite you to
something better ; yet if this trick should fail, because there
are some at table only mind their knitting, call in a female
neighbour, on pretence of selling something, that may move
them to make you a present, whether you need it or not ;
always, provided you and she are to go snacks, and every
dog to have his day. When you have tried all your wiles,
and nothing more is to be got, let the poor come in, but
first those that do any service about the house, and if these
do not succeed, you are allowed to plead for them. When
anything is given you, do not wait for more, for it is looked
upon as a small miracle to see liberality repeated. As soon
as ever you have fleeced them withdraw, and do as the cat
does, who, when she has catched a mouse, looks not imme-
diately for another, till she has aired herself a while. Vanish
that moment, do no let them think you are mercenary, or
that you pay rent for what is given gratis. As soon as one
is gone, let the next come in and use the same slights till all
is over. She that uncovers the table must look very demure,
lest they take her as an hostage for the other that fled. By
my advice she that has received least must take away, and
look very peevish and out of humour, which some will be-


lieve to proceed from jealousie, others from envy ; and if any
thing of httle value be given her,she must not take it,but say,
pray, sir, leave it on the table, quickly, for I am in haste to
be gone about my business, and will give it to some poor
body; then let her wrap it up in the cloth, for all that is in it
is her due. Snatch up all you find upon the cloth, lest some
servant come and prevent you. For the better managing of
this point, you must contrive to keep the servants employed
in something that may please them, whilst you gather in
your harvest, for whatever you convey out of sight is all
your dwn.

When the cloth is taken away, generally guests use to
break their jests, and make themselves merry at a poor
wrenches cost. This is the time of danger, fly girls from all
wit upon a full stomach, as soon as the clacks begin to run
loud take to your heels, and if you find them move hands or
feet, talk loud, which is as good as calling for help; yet if
that will not do, look out and cry Nicky, Nicky, and I shall
be sure to hear, and come in, looking as demure as a whore
at a christening. Fear nothing, for when they see me come
in so grave, all will be hushed. My girls, if only one of you
happens to be at home, she must act all the three parts ; be-
fore eating she must fawn like a lap-dog ; at dinner be as
sharp as a grey-hound ; and when all is done, fly like a

I charge you honour all things that come into the house,
I do not mean the men, for you must dance as they pipe,
and treat them as they deserve ; and everyone of them knows


how to commend and extol himself, but you must honour
those things which cannot talk, and stand up for themselves.
If you have a dead cat, honour it, saying it is a hare ; call
an old cock a capon, a young rook a pigeon, a trout a sal-
mon, and a salmon a sturgeon. Never say the fruit grows
about the town, for that is debasing of it ; but that the trees
came from Japan, and are kept up by art in the King's gar'
den. Never grudge titles of honour, but call the clown
worshipful, and the squire right honourable. When you
make a pie, be sure it be large enough, that what you put
into it may swell, and if it does not, still the shell represents
the bulk of the content. Never say your linen is foul, for
that is scandalous in Spain. Since it is the custom for
guests to feel whether the sheets are stiff, to discover
whether they are clean, as if it were the fashion to starch
them ; do you always take care to sprinkle and put them in
the press, which will make them handle as if they came
fresh from the laundress. I allow you by day to go fetch
wine, and run of other errands to public places; but be not
like a maid I had, who, when I sent her to the next pastry-
cook, went to the farther end of the town, and if I chid her,
answered. This is all the thanks I have for waiting to have
the pasties piping hot out of the oven. I once gave her halt
a piece of eight to bring what she thought fit for dinner, and
she laid out all the money in medlars ; when I found fault,
and asked her, how she could bring such trash for dinner.
She answered, Did you not bid me bring what I thought fit?
and this is what I liked best. Do you contrive better than


that silly wench. When any guest bids you fetch him wine,
ask him aloud, how much he will have, for he will call for
more than he wants, if he sees a great pot, or is afraid of be-
ing thought niggardly ; and they are in the right, for if the
wine is good there is no danger it should be lost, and if bad,
it serves for sallads. They are in the right, I say, and God
bless them for it, because whatever a man saves at home,
serves to honour him abroad, and to content a poor wench
that takes pains to please him. Be sure one of you always
stand at the door very tight and neatly dressed, for a hand-
some maid at the door of an inn is the best call, especially
in the evening by candle light. You must take particular
care to be diligent when the guests talk of playing, for that
is a certain revenue. An inn keeper, who was my friend,
used to say, that cards, dice, and box-money, were the best
friends to an inn. I have a pack by me that has been in
play above forty times, and never came back without half
a piece of eight. Though they be never so poor, who ask
for cards, furnish them ; let it not be said that you despise
the poor. I must confess, I heard an ingenious fellow say,
that the inventor of cards allowed but three coated ones in
a suit, which are king, queen, and knave, to denote that none
but princes, great ladies, and sharpers ought to play at them;
But a stander-by replied, good Mr. Numskull, don't you ob-
serve there are diamonds, hearts, clubs and spades, in the
suits ? Why, those, let me tell you, denote all sorts of peo-
ple, rich and poor, gentlemen and peasants. What do you
think of the answer ? It was I that made it. Do you


therefore deprive no man of his right ; let all men play with
the same cards, till there be a proclamation to command all
great men to pay a crown a pack for them, and the poor two

By this you may guess what a master my father was at his

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Online LibraryJohn StevensThe Spanish jilt → online text (page 1 of 5)