|There's nothing I like more on a cold Thursday evening in December than to pour a large sherry, stoke up the fire, pluck down my copy of Pasquil's Jests (1604), and settle in for the evening. Pasquil's Jests is, as you might imagine, a jestbook: a gathering of prose comedy gems, in black letter. It's a book, the title-page declares, 'Pretty and pleasant, to driue away the tediousnesse of a Winters Euening.' As an early seasonal gift, I thought I'd share a sample with you. It's called '‘Of a Citizen of London, that rid out of the City fiue myles.' It's not very funny. But here goes.|
'A Citizen riding to Edmonton, had his man following him on foote, who came so neere, that the horse strake him a great blowe on the thigh. The fellow thinking to be reuenged, tooke up a great stone to throw at the horse, and hit his master on the raynes of the backe. Within a while his master looked backe. And seeing his man come halting so farre behind, chid him. Sir, your horse hath giuen me such a blow, quoth his man, on the thigh, that I can go no faster. Truely, sayd his master, the horse is a great kicker, for likewise with his heele right now, hee gaue me a great stroke on the reynes of my backe: when it was his man that threw the stone.'