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Symon's Lesson of Udtysedone for all
[From MS. Bodl. 832, leaf 174.]
You'd be better unborn than
your own way
[The Rev. J. R. Lumby has kindly sent me the following amusing lesson of wysedome' to 'all maner chyldryn', signed Symon, which he found in the Bodleian. Mr G. Parker has read the proof with the MS. Lydgate sinned against most of its precepts. It makes the rod the great persuader to learning and gentleness.] All maner chyldryn, ye lysten & lere
A chyld were beter to be vnbore
You mustn't have 8 Shal thryve late, y thei? wel say,
Lerne wel this leffon for fertayn, 12 That thou
may be pe beter man.
Tell the truth,
don't be froward, 16 But hold vp by hedde & fpeke a-lowde;
head, And when eny man spekyth to the,
take off your hood
when you're Do of þy hode and bow thy kne,
spoken to. And waysch thy handes & þy face,
Wash your hands 20 And be curteys yn euery place.
Compare “Better vnfedde then vntaughte" in Seager's Schoole of Vertue, above, p. 348, 1. 725.
hold up your
Don't throw stones at dogs and hogs.
Mock at no one.
Eat what's given you,
and don't ask for this and that.
Honour your father and mother:
kncel and ask their blossing.
And where pou comyst, with gode chere
Loke pou cast to no mannes dogge,
Loke þat pou not fcorne ne iape
Lete no man of þee make playnt;
Loke pou be curteys stondyng at mete;
And loke that pou nother crye ne crave,
But stond pou ftylle be-fore borde,
And, chyld, wyrshep thy fader and thy moder,
But euer among pou shalt knele adowne,
And, chyld, kepe thy clopes fayre & clene,
Chyld, clem pou not ouer hows ne walle
And, chyld, caft no ftonys ouer men hows,
Ne make no crying, yapis, ne playes,
And, chyld, y warne þee of anoper thynge,
And, chyld, whan pou gost to play,
And, chyld, I warne the of a-noper mater,
And be ware and wyse how þat þou lokys
Keep your clothes clean.
Don't go bird's-
or throw stones
or play in church.
Get home by daylight.
Kcep clear of tire and water,
and the edges of wells and brooks.
· Cp. Lydgate's Tricks at School, Forewords, p. xliv.
or make faces at any man.
When you meet
And when þou stondyst at any fchate',
For meny chyld with-out drede
(leaf 175.) Chyld, kepe thy boke, cappe, and glouys, Take care of your 60 And al thyng þat þee behouys;
book, cap, and
gloves, And but pou do, pou fhat fare the wors,
or you'll be
birched on your And þer-to be bete on pe bare ers.
bare bottom. Chyld, be pou lyer noßer no theffe ;
Don't be a liar or
thief, 64 Be pou no mecher? for myfcheffe.
Chyld, make pou no mowys ne knakkes
But be of fayre femelaunt and contenaunce, 68 For by fayre manerys men may bee a-vaunce. Chyld whan pou gost yn eny strete,
lower your hood
and wish 'em 72 And bydde, “ god fpede dame or sere !” "god speed."
And be they smalle or grete,
For hyt is femely to euery mannys chylde,76 And namely to clerkes to be meke & mylde. And, chyld, ryse by tyme and go to scole,
go to school,
and learn fast 80 For owre byschop is an old man,
And þer-for pou most lerne fast
these things, ? ? meaning. Skathie, a fence. Jamieson. Skaith, hurt, harm. Halliwell.
• A mychare seoms to denote properly a sneaking thief. Way. Prompt., p. 336. Mychare, a covetous, sordid fellow. Jamieson. Fr. pleure-pain : m. A niggardlie wretch; a puling micher or miser. Cotgrave.
Be mcek to
Attend to all
for a good child needs learning.
Leaf 175 D.) and he who hatcs the child spares the 101.
As a spur makes a horse go, 80 a rod makes a chill learn and be mild.
For po best þu shalt hyt fynde;
For, as þe wyfe man fayth and preuyth,
And as men sayth þat ben leryd,
And as þe wyse man fayth yn his boke
“As a sharppe fpore makyth an hors to renne
Ryzt fo a zerde may make a chyld
Lo, chyldryn, here may ze al here and fe
And perfor, chyldere, loke pat ye do well,
May God keep you good!
The Birched School-Boy
OF ABOUT 1500 A.D.
(From the Balliol MS. 354, fl. ij C xxx.)
[As old Symon talks of the rod (p. 400, 11. 90, 62), as Caxton in his Book of Curtesye promises his ‘lytyl John'a breechless feast, or as the Oriel MS. reads it, a 'byrchely’one,' & as the Forewords have shown that young people did get floggings in olden time, it may be as well to give here the sketch of a boy, flea-bitten no doubt, with little bobs of hazel twigs, that Richard Hill has preserved for us. Boys of the present generation happily don't know the sensation of unwelcome warmth that a sound flogging produced, and how after it one had to sit on the bottom of one's spine on the edge of the hard form, in the position recommended at College for getting well forward in rowing. But they may rest assured that if their lot had fallen on a birching school, they'd have heartily joined the school-boy of 1500 in wishing his and their masters at the devil, even though they as truant boys had been ‘milking ducks, as their mothers bade them.')
hay! hay ! by this day !
Learning is strange work;
I wold ffayñ be a clarke ;
what avaylith it me thowgh I say nay?
the birch twigs are so sharp.
r'a sooner go 20 miles than go to school on Mondays.
TOn monday in the mornyng whañ I shall rise
at vj. of the clok,3 hyt is the gise
See Caxton's Book of Curtesye, in the Society's Extra Series, 1868.
2 Compare the very curious song on the difficulty of learning singing, in Reliquiæ Antique, i. 291, from Arundel MS. 292, leaf 71, back.
See Rhodes, p. 72, 1. 61; and Seager, p. 338, 1. 110.