The ravens almanacke foretelling of a [brace] plague, famine, and ciuill warre, that shall happen this present yeare 1609, not only within this kingdome of Great Britaine, but also in France, Germany, Spaine, and other parts of Christendome : with certaine remedies, rules, and receipts, how to preuent or at least to abate the edge of these vniuersall calamities.
Dekker, Thomas, ca. 1572-1632.
A Medicine to cure the Plague of a womans tongue, ex∣perimented on a Coblers wife.

A M••y Cobler there was, (dwelling at Ware) who for ioy that he mended mens broken & corrupted soles, did continually sing, so that his shop seemed a verrie bird cage, & he sitting there in his foule linnen and greasie Apron, shewed like a black bird. It was this poore Sowters destiny not to be hang'd, but (worse then that) to be marryed: & to what crea∣ture thinke you? to a faire, to a young to a neate delicate coū∣trie Lasse, that for her good partes was able to put downe all War: but with all this honny that flowed in her, did there drop such aboundance of gal and poison from her Scorpiō-like tongue, that monsieur Shoo-mender wished his life were set vpon the shortest last, and a thousand times a day was ready to dye Caesars death: O valiant Cordwaynerland to stab him∣selfe not with a bodkin, but with his furious Awle, because hée knew that would goe through stitch: hee neuer tooke vp the Page  [unnumbered] endes of his threed, but he wished those to bee the endes of his threed of life: he neuer parde his patches, but hee wished his knife to be the sheeres of the fatall Sisters three, hee neuer handled his Ball of waxe but he compared them to this wife, & sighe to think that he that touches pitch, must be de••led.

Now did his songs as heauily come from him as musick does from a Fidler, when in a Tauerne he plaies for nothing. Now did sigeur Cobler stand no more on his pantofles, but at his shutting in of shop, could haue bene content to haue had all his neighbours haue throwne his olde shoes after him when hee went home, in signe of good lucke.

But alas, hee durst not doe that neither, for shee that plaide the Deuill in womans apparell (his wife I meane) made her Caualero Cobler, to giue her account euerie night of euerie patch that went through his fingers. In this purgatorie did our graduate in the Gentle craft liue a long time, but at lenght he was thrust into hell, for his wife (not following the steps of her husband, who was euer on the mending hand, but grow∣ing from bad into worse) cast asde her Wedding stockings, & drew on a paire of yellow hose: then was my miserable Cob∣ler more narrowly watched thē a Mouse by a Cat, or a debter by a Catch-pole: he durst not vnlock his lippes afte a Wēch, but his teeth were ready to flie out of his head wt her eating: to haue touched any Petticoate but his wife was more dan∣gerous then for a Cat to eate fire: if any maide brought but her shooes to mending, his wife swore presently that hee had the length of her foote, and that he sowed loue-••itches into e∣uerie peece, though it were no bigger then a Chandlers token.

Wearied therefore with this (worse then a beare-baiting) and being almost worne to the are-bones, his heart fretting out euen to the elbowes by rubbing vp and downe in this miserie, At the length my braue boote-haler sifted his wits to the verie bran, for some hooke to fasten into his wiues ost∣rils, and the pill which he founde either to choake her or prge her, was this:

A Doctor of whome all Ware was affraid, because the Ui∣car Page  [unnumbered] of the towne suck'd more sweetnesse out of his Pati∣ents whome he sent to him (by reason all that came vnder his hands, went the way of al flesh (then out of all his tithe-Pigs) haned to dwell close by this distressed Cobler: to him (hauing saued his water ouer night) repaires my reformer of decayed Shoo-leather, betimes in the morning. The Bonjour being giuen and returned, the Coblers water was looked into, much tossing and tumbling of it there was for a prettie while, and at last it was demaunded whose the Urine should bee? Mine (quoth the Cobler) So it may be replyed our Galenist, for I spie neither any disease swimming about thy body in this wa∣ter, and thy verry lookes shew that thou art sound: Sound, (cries out the infected Cobler) alas sir I see now that some di∣seases haue power to make dunces of Doctors themselues, Sound (quoth a) why sir I am sicke at heart, I am struck with the Plague, I haue a Plague sore vppon mee (your Doctors Capis not able to couer it, tis so broade) it eates and spreds more and more into my flesh, and if you apply not some presēt remedie, Ware must & shall trudge to some other, whē their olde shooes want mending, for the Cobler's but a deade man.

At this the Doctor stood amazed, and wondred that his skil should shoote so wide as not to finde out a greefe so commō, so dangerous and so palpable: wherupon hee bidding the Cobler to open his brest, and not to feare to shew him that Plague∣sore, where of hee so complained: the Cobler presently tolde him hee would but steppe foorth of doores, and at his return he should see it: at length the Cobler comes backe againe with his wife orne on his backe like a Sowe new scalded on the backe of a Butcher, and for all her kicking, rayling, cur∣sing and swearing, yet to the Doctor hee came with her, crying looke you heere Maister Doctor, this is my plague∣sore that so torments mee: in the night it keepes mee from sleepe, in the day it makes me madde: in my bed this ser∣pent stings me, at my boord shee stabs mee, and all with one weapon (her villanous tongue, her damnable tongue) If I Page  [unnumbered] reply she fights: if I say nothing shee raues: if you call not this a plague Maister Doctor, then such a plague light on you Maister Doctor teach me therefore how to cure it, or else if you giue me ouer I shall grow desperate and cut mine owne throate.

The Doctor at this laughed, the Coblers wise rayled, the Cobler himselfe bid her lye still, & held her so long till a num∣ber of his neighbors came about him to beholde this seeane of mith: all of them (knowing how dangerously the Cobler was infected with this mariage-plague, desiring the Doctor to play the right phisitian, and to cure their neighbour. The Doctor heereupon swore hee would doe it, and stepping into his study hee returned immediately with a paper in one hand, & a faire cudgell in the other, deliuering both to the Cobler, protesting that neither Gallen, Auarois, nor Hippocrates can prescribe any other remedie then this, and that if this medicine cure not the womās euill, nothing can The Cobler hauing neither the wrighting nor reading tongue, requested the Doctor to reade the receipt, as for the cudgell he vnderstood that well enough.

The paper therefore after a solemne O yes by all the stan∣ders by was read, & contained thus much:

Take this salue Cobler for thy Plague-sore,
A crabbed cudgell fits a froward Whore,
Beate her well and thrifily:
Whilst she cries out lustily:
Neuer let thy hand giue ore,
Till she sweares to scolde no more.

At the end of this, the Audience gaue a plauditie, in token they liked well of the Doctors phisicke: the Cobler thanked him, and thus insteede of an Epilogue spake to his neighbors, neighbors (qd, he) you know, & I know, nay the deuil himselfe knowes, that my wife hath stucke vppon mee like a Plague thus many yeares, to apply either the sirrop of a Salt Eele, or the oile of holly to her shoulders, I heatherto was affraid, because I had no warrant that a man might lawfullye beate his wife.

Page  [unnumbered]But now sithence Master Dctor, (who wears not a veluet night cap for nothing) hauing turned ouer his bookes, findes that no heare, mineral, salue, nor plaister, no purging nor any other blood-letting will cure or take out that worme vnder a womās tongue, (which makes her mad) but onely a soūd bea∣ting: I will (God willing) giue her the dyet hee sets downe, & if euer I complaine herafter to any Phisition for the griefe of this plague, let all Ware laugh at me or an asse, & swear that my wife-weares the breeches.

Upon this resolution brauely does the Cobler march home, his wife (like a furie) following, railing, reuiling and casting dit and stones, aswell at him as at the youthes of the parish that went showting after her heeles. But being within dores and the lockes made fast by my valiāt Cobler, her tongue ser∣ued as a drum ortrumpet to soūd an allaum, whilst my braue desper view prepared for the onset with a good bastado: the assault was not so furious, but the Coblers wife was as ready to receiue it: to the skirmish fall they pell mell, the Coblers Coecombe, being first broken, but he being no Welchman (to faint at sight of his owne blood) so plide his businesse, and so thrash'd out all the Chaffe in his wife (who was nothing but Rye) that in the end she fell on her knees, cried for the 〈◊〉 of the Coblers mercy, & fed vpon them hūgerly he liuing euer after more quietly for her scolding, then if hee had dwelt in a Steeple full of bels, that had lost their claps.

Thus much for the vniuersall plagues, that threaten our kingdome this present yeare 1609. Now let vs arme our heads to beare of the other miseries that are ready and must (by decree in the vpper house in the heauenly parliament) full vpon mankinde.