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Jocular Preachers
by [?]

“I have told ecclesiastics how they should conduct themselves; not that they are ignorant of their duties; but I must ever repeat to girls, not to suffer themselves to be duped by them. I have told these ecclesiastics that they should imitate the lark; if she has a grain she does not remain idle, but feels her pleasure in singing, and in singing always is ascending towards heaven. So they should not amass; but elevate the hearts of all to God; and not do as the frogs who are crying out day and night, and think they have a fine throat, but always remain fixed in the mud.

“I have told the men of the law that they should have the qualities of the eagle. The first is, that this bird when it flies fixes its eye on the sun; so all judges, counsellors, and attorneys, in judging, writing, and signing, should always have God before their eyes. And secondly, this bird is never greedy; it willingly shares its prey with others; so all lawyers, who are rich in crowns after having had their bills paid, should distribute some to the poor, particularly when they are conscious that their money arises from their prey.

“I have spoken of the marriage state, but all that I have said has been disregarded. See those wretches who break the hymeneal chains, and abandon their wives! they pass their holidays out of their parishes, because if they remained at home they must have joined their wives at church; they liked their prostitutes better; and it will be so every day in the year! I would as well dine with a Jew or a heretic, as with them. What an infected place is this! Mistress Lubricity has taken possession of the whole city; look in every corner, and you’ll be convinced.

“For you married women! If you have heard the nightingale’s song, you must know that she sings during three months, and that she is silent when she has young ones. So there is a time in which you may sing and take your pleasures in the marriage state, and another to watch your children. Don’t damn yourselves for them; and remember it would be better to see them drowned than damned.

“As to widows, I observe, that the turtle withdraws and sighs in the woods, whenever she has lost her companion; so must they retire into the wood of the cross, and having lost their temporal husband, take no other but Jesus Christ.

“And, to close all I have told girls that they must fly from the company of men, and not permit them to embrace, nor even touch them. Look on the rose; it has a delightful odour; it embalms the place in which it is placed; but if you grasp it underneath, it will prick you till the blood issues. The beauty of the rose is the beauty of the girl. The beauty and perfume of the first invite to smell and to handle it, but when it is touched underneath it pricks sharply; the beauty of a girl likewise invites the hand; but you, my young ladies, you must never suffer this, for I tell you that every man who does this designs to make you harlots.”

These ample extracts may convey the same pleasure to the reader which I have received by collecting them from their scarce originals, little known even to the curious. Menot, it cannot be denied, displays a poetic imagination, and a fertility of conception which distinguishes him among his rivals. The same taste and popular manner came into our country, and were suited to the simplicity of the age. In 1527, our Bishop Latimer preached a sermon,[1] in which he expresses himself thus:–“Now, ye have heard what is meant by this first card, and how ye ought to play. I purpose again to deal unto you another card of the same suit; for they be so nigh affinity, that one cannot be well played without the other.”[2] It is curious to observe about a century afterwards, as Fuller informs us, that when a country clergyman imitated these familiar allusions, the taste of the congregation had so changed that he was interrupted by peals of laughter!