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Jocular Preachers
by [?]

He is violent against the apothecaries for their cheats. “They mix ginger with cinnamon, which they sell for real spices: they put their bags of ginger, pepper, saffron, cinnamon, and other drugs in damp cellars, that they may weigh heavier; they mix oil with saffron, to give it a colour, and to make it weightier.” He does not forget those tradesmen who put water in their wool, and moisten their cloth that it may stretch; tavern-keepers, who sophisticate and mingle wines; the butchers, who blow up their meat, and who mix hog’s lard with the fat of their meat. He terribly declaims against those who buy with a great allowance of measure and weight, and then sell with a small measure and weight; and curses those who, when they weigh, press the scales down with their finger. But it is time to conclude with Master Oliver! His catalogue is, however, by no means exhausted; and it may not be amiss to observe, that the present age has retained every one of the sins.

The following extracts are from Menot’s sermons, which are written, like Maillard’s, in a barbarous Latin, mixed with old French.

Michael Menot died in 1518. I think he has more wit than Maillard, and occasionally displays a brilliant imagination; with the same singular mixture of grave declamation and farcical absurdities. He is called in the title-page the golden-tongued. It runs thus, Predicatoris qui lingua aurea, sua tempestate nuncupatus est, Sermones quadragesimales, ab ipso olim Turonis declamati. Paris, 1525, 8vo.

When he compares the church with a vine, he says, “There were once some Britons and Englishmen who would have carried away all France into their country, because they found our wine better than their beer; but as they well knew that they could not always remain in France, nor carry away France into their country, they would at least carry with them several stocks of vines; they planted some in England; but these stocks soon degenerated, because the soil was not adapted to them.” Notwithstanding what Menot said in 1500, and that we have tried so often, we have often flattered ourselves that if we plant vineyards, we may have English wine.

The following beautiful figure describes those who live neglectful of their aged parents, who had cherished them into prosperity. “See the trees flourish and recover their leaves; it is their root that has produced all; but when the branches are loaded with flowers and with fruits, they yield nothing to the root. This is an image of those children who prefer their own amusements, and to game away their fortunes, than to give to their old parents that which they want.”

He acquaints us with the following circumstances of the immorality of that age: “Who has not got a mistress besides his wife? The poor wife eats the fruits of bitterness, and even makes the bed for the mistress.” Oaths were not unfashionable in his day. “Since the world has been world, this crime was never greater. There were once pillories for these swearers; but now this crime is so common, that the child of five years can swear; and even the old dotard of eighty, who has only two teeth remaining, can fling out an oath.”

On the power of the fair sex of his day, he observes–“A father says, my son studies; he must have a bishopric, or an abbey of 500 livres. Then he will have dogs, horses, and mistresses, like others. Another says, I will have my son placed at court, and have many honourable dignities. To succeed well, both employ the mediation of women; unhappily the church and the law are entirely at their disposal. We have artful Dalilahs who shear us close. For twelve crowns and an ell of velvet given to a woman, you gain the worst lawsuit, and the best living.”

In his last sermon, Menot recapitulates the various topics he had touched on during Lent. This extract presents a curious picture, and a just notion of the versatile talents of these preachers.