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Kemp's nine days' wonder.
London to Norwich.
Wherein every day's journey is pleasantly set down, to satisfy his friends (as to]
the truth; against all lying ballad.
The First Day's journey, being the first Monday
the Lord Mayor's, of London.
He first Monday in Lent (Feb. II, 1600), the close morning promising a clear day; attended on by Thomas Slye, my Tabourer; WILLIAM Bee, my servant; and George SPRAT appointed for my Overseer, that I should take no other ease, but my prescribed order: myself, that's I (otherwise
called Cavaliero KEMP, Head Master of Morrice dancers, High Headborough of heighs, and only tricker of your Trill-lilles, and best bell-shangles, Sion, near. between Sion and Mount Surrey) began frolicly to and Mount foot it, from the Right Honourable the Lord Surrey, near Mayor's, of London, towards the Right Worshipful and truly bountiful Master Mayor's at Norwich.
My setting forward was somewhat before seven in the morning, my Tabourer struck up merrily, and as fast as kind people thronging together would give me leave, through London, I leapt !
20 THROUGH WHITECHAPEL AND STRATFORD. W. Kemp
By the way, many good old people, and divers others of younger years, of mere kindness, give me bowed (bent) sixpences and groats; blessing me with their hearty prayers and “God speeds !"
Being past Whitechapel, and having left fair London, with all that north-east suburb before named, multitudes of Londoners left not me! but either to keep a custom that many hold, that “ Mile End is no walk, without a recreation at Stratford [at] Bow, with cream and cakes," or else for love they bear towards me, or perhaps to make themselves merry if I should chance, as many thought, to give over my Morrice within a mile of Mile End.
However, many a thousand brought me to Bow; where I rested a while from dancing : but had small rest with those, that would have urged me to drinking. But, I warrant you ! Will. KEMP was wise enough! To their full cups, " kind thanks !” was my return; with gentlemanlike protestations, as "Truly, Sir, I dare not! It stands not with the congruity of my health !!!
" Čongruity,” said I! but how came that strange language in my mouth ? I think scarcely that it is any Christian word and yet it may be a good word, for ought I know; though I never made it, nor do very well understand it ! Yet I am sure, I have bought it at the wordmongers, at as dear a' rate as I could have had a whole hundred of bavins (logs from the woodmongers.
Farewell " Congruity !” for I mean now to be more concise, and stand upon evener bases ! but I must neither stand nor sit, the Tabourer strikes alarum.“ Tickle it, good Tom ! I'll follow thee! Farewell Bow! Have over the Bridge, where, I heard say, “Honest Conscience was once drowned.' It is pity if it were so ! but that is no matter belonging to our Morrice ; let us now along to Stratford Langton !”
Many good fellows being there met, and knowing how well I loved the sport, had prepared a Bear baiting : but so unreasonable were the multitudes of people, that I could cnly hear the bear roar and the dogs howl. A great spoon Therefore forward I went, with my hey de gaies (heyWilling'above degives] to Ilford, where I again rested; and was by
the people of the town and country thereabouts, very well welcomed : being offered carouses in the great spoon,
W. Kemp. 1 THROUGH ROMFORD TO BURNT Woon.
one whole draught [of it] being able at that time to have drawn my little wit dry; but being afraid of the old proverb, He had need of a long spoon that eats with the Devil, I soberly gave my boon companions the slip.
From Ilford, by moonshine, I set forward, dancing within a quarter of a mile of Romford : where in the highway, two strong jades, having belike some quarrel to me unknown, were beating and biting of each other; and such, through GOD's help, was my good hap that I escaped their hoofs, both being raised with their forefeet above my head, like two smiths over one anvil.
There, being an end of my First Day's Morrice, a kind gentleman of London [a]lighting from his horse, would have no “ Nay !” but I should leap into his saddle. To be plain with ye! I was not proud; but took kindly his kindlier offer, chiefly thereto urged by my weariness. So I rode to my inn at Romford.
In that town, to give rest to my well laboured limbs, I continued two days : being much beholden to the townsmen for their love; but more to the Londoners, that came hourly thither in great numbers, to visit me, offering much more kindness than I was willing to accept.
The Second Day's journey, being Thursday of the First week.
HURSDAY (Feb. 14, 1600], being market day at Burnt Wood, Tom Slye was earlier up than the lark, and sounded Morrice. I
returned from Romford to the place where I took horse the first night; dancing that quarter of a mile back again, through Romford, and so merrily to Burnt Wood.
Yet now I remember it well, I had no great cause of mirth! For at Romford town's end, I strained my hip; and, for a time, endured exceeding pain : but being loth to trouble a surgeon, I held on, finding remedy by labour that had hurt me. For it came in a turn; and so, in my dance, i turned it out of my service again.
The multitudes were so great, at my coming to Burnt Wood, that I had much ado (though I made many entreaties and stays) to get passage to my inn.
THROUGH INGERSTONE TO CHELMSFORD. (Works on
In this town, two cut-purses (pickpockets) were taken, that with other two of their companions followed me from London; as many better disposed people did. But these two dy-doppers gave out, when they were apprehended, that “they had laid wagers, and betted about my journey."
Whereupon the Officers bringing them to my inn, I justly denied their acquaintance; saving that “I remembered one of them to be a noted cut-purse:" such a one as we tie to a post on our Stage, for all people to wonder at; when at a Play, they are taken pilfering.
This fellow and his half-brother being found with the decd, were sent to gaol : their other two consorts had the charity of the town! and, after a dance of Trenchmore at the whipping cross, they were sent back to London; where, I am afraid, there are too many of their occupation. To be short, I thought myself well rid of four such followers; and I wish: heartily, that the whole world were clear of such companions !
Having rested well at Burnt Wood, the moon shining clearly and the weather being calm, in the evening, I tripped it to Ingerstone; stealing away from those numbers of people that followed me : yet, do what I could, I had above fifty in the company, some of London, the others of the country thereabouts; that would needs, when they heard my taber, trudge after.me through thick and thin.
The Third Day's journey, being Friday of the First week.
N FRIDAY morning [Feb. 15, 1600), I set forward
towards Chelmsford, not having past two hundred; being the least company that I had in the day time
between London and that place. Onward I went, thus easily followed, till I came to Witford Bridge : where a number of country (county) gentlemen and gentlewomen were gathered together to see me. Sir THOMAS MILDMAY standing at his park pale (palings), received gently a pair of garters of me: gloves, points, and garters being my ordinary merchandise, that I put to venture for performance of my merry voyage.
So much ado I had to pass by the people at Chelmsford, that it was more than an hour cre I could recover my inn
W. Kemp.] THE STATE OF ELIZABETHAN HIGHWAYS.
gate; where I was fain to lock myself in my chamber, and pacify them with words out of a window instead of deeds. To deal plainly, I was so weary that I could dance no more.
The next morning, I footed it three miles of my way towards Braintree: but returned back again to Chelmsford; where I lay that Saturday and the next Sunday.
The good cheer and kind welcome I had at Chelmsford was much more than I was willing to entertain : for my only desire was to refrain from drink, and (to] be temperate in my diet.
At Chelmsford, a maid not passing fourteen years of age, dwelling with one Sudley my kind friend, made request to her Master and Dame, that she might dance the Morrice with me, in a great large room. They being intreated, I was soon won to fit her with bells; besides (which), she would have the old fashion, with napkin on (each of} her arms: and to our jumps, we fell !
A whole hour, she held out! but then, being ready to lie down, I left her off: but thus much in her praise, I would have challenged the strongest man in Chelmsford ; and amongst many, I think few would have done so much.
The Tourth Day's journey, being Monday of the Second weck.
IN MONDAY morning (Feb. 18), very early, I rode the
three miles I danced the Saturday before; where, alighting, my Tabourer struck up, and lightly I
tripped forward : but I had the heaviest way (road) that ever mad Morrice dancer trod : yet
With hey and ho! through thick and thin;
The hobby horse quite forgotten,
Although the way were rotten. This foul way I could find no ease in, thick woods being on either side the lane; the lane likewise being full of deep holes, sometimes I skipped up to the waist! But it is an old proverb, that it is a little comfort to the miserable, to have companions: and amidst this miry way, I had some mirth, by an unlooked for accident.