An Arthurian Miscellany at sacred-texts.com
His Life and Death:
Wherein is declared many Maruailous
Acts of Manhood, full of wonder,
and strange merriments:
Which little Knight liued in King Arthurs time, and
famous in the Court of Great Brittaine .
The Life and Death of
Tom Thumbe .
Of the Birth, Name, and bringing vp of Tom
Thumbe , with the meery prankes that hee
did in his Childehood.
In Arthurs Court Tom Thumbe did liue
a man of mickle might,
The best of all the Table round,
and eke a doughty knight:
His stature but an inch in height,
or quarter of a span,
Then thinke you not this little knight
was prov'd a valiant man:
His Father was a Plow-man plaine
his Mother milkt the Cow,
But yet the way to get a sonne
these couple knew not how,
Untill such time this good old man
to learned Merlin goes,
And there to him his deepe disires
in secret manner showes
How in his heart he wisht to haue
a Childe in time to come,
To be his heire, though it might be
no bigger than his Thumbe:
Of which old Merlin thus foretold,
that he his wish should haue,
And to this Sonne of Nature small
the Charmer to him gaue.
No blood nor bones in him should be,
in shape and being such,
That men should heare him speake, but not
his wandring shadow touch:
But so unseene to goe or come
whereas it pleasd him Nill,
Begot and borne in halfe and houre,
to fit his Fathers will:
And in foure minutes grew so fast,
that he became so tall
As was the Plowmans thumbe in height,
and so they did him call,
Tom Thumbe, the which Fayry-Queene,
there gaue to him his name,
Who with her traine of Goblins grim,
unto his Christning came.
Whereas she cloath'd him richly braue,
in garments fine and faire,
Which lasted him for many yeares,
in seemely sort to weare:
His hat made of an Oaken leafe,
his shirt a spiders web,
Both light and soft, for those his limbes
that were so smally bred.
His hose and doublet Thistle downe,
togeather weau'd full fine,
His stocking of an apple greene,
made of the outward rine;
His garters were two little haires,
pull'd from his mothers eye,
His bootes and shoes a mouses skin,
There tand most curiously.
Thus like a lustie gallant, he
adventured forth to goe,
With other Children in the streets
his pretty trickes to show,
Where he for counters, pinus, and points,
and cherry stones did play,
Till he amonst those gamesters young
had lost his stocke away:
Yet could he soone renue the same,
when as most nimbly he
Would diue into the Cherry-baggs,
and there a taker be,
Unseene or felt by any one,
untill a Scholler shut
This nimble youth into a bore,
wherein his pins be put,
Of whom to be reueng'd, he tooke
(in mirth and pleasant game)
Black pots, and glasses, which he hung
upon a bright Sunne-beame:
The other Boyes to doe the like,
in pieces broke them quite,
For which they were most soundly whipt,
whereat he laught outright.
And so Tom Thumbe restrained was
from these his sports and play,
And by his Mother after that
compel'd at home to stay:
Whereas about a Christmas time,
his father a Hog had kil'd,
And Tom to see the puddings made,
fear'd that they should be spil'd.
How Tom Thumbe fell into the Pudding-
Boule: and of his escape out of the
HE sate upon the Pudding-boule,
the Candle for to hold:
Of which there is unto this day,
a pretty pastime told:
For Tom fell in and could not be
that euer after found,
For in the blood and batter he
was strangely lost and drownd.
Where searching long but all in vaine,
his Mother after that,
Into a Pudding thrust her Sonne,
in stead of minced fat:
Which pudding of the largest size
into the Kettle throwne,
Made all the rest to fly thereout,
as with a whirle-wine blowne.
For so it tumbled up and downe,
within the liquor there,
As if the Devill had there been boyld,
such was his Mothers feare,
That up she tooke the pudding strait,
and gaue it at her doore,
Unto a Tinker, which from thence
in his blacke Budget bore
But as the Tinker climb'd a stile,
by chance he let a cracke:
Now gip old knaue, out cride Tom Thumbe,
there hanging at his backe:
At which the Tinker gan to run,
and would no longer stay,
But cast both bag and Pudding downe,
and thence hyed fast away.
From which Tom Thumbe got loose at last,
and home return'd againe,
Where he from following dangers long
in safety did remaine:
Untill such time his mother went
a milking at her Kine,
Where Tom unto a Thistle fast
she linked with a twine.
How Tom Thumbe was tyed to a Thistle,
and how his Mothers Cow eate him vp:
with his strange deliverance out of the Cowes belly.
A Thread that helde him to the same,
for feare the blustring winde
Should blow him thence, that so she might,
her Sonne in safety finde:
But marke the hap a Cow came by,
and up that Thistle eate.
Poore Tom withall (that as a docke)
was made the red Cowes meate:
Who being mist, his Mother went
him calling euery where,
Where art thou Tom, where art thou Tom,
quoth he, Here Mother, here;
Within the red Cowes belly here:
your Sonne is swallowed by,
The which into her fearefull heart,
most carefull dolours put.
Meane while the Cow was troubled much,
in this her tumbling wombe,
And could not rest untill that she
had backward cast Tom Thumbe:
Who all besmeared as he was,
his mother tooke him vp,
To beare him thence, the which poore Lad,
she in her pocket put.
Now after this, in sowing time,
his Father would him haue
Into the field to drive his plow,
and thereupon him gaue
A whip made of a Early straw,
to drive the Cattle on:
Where in a furrow'd land new sowne,
poore Tom was lost and gon.
How Tom Thumbe was carried away by a Ra-
uen; and how he was swallowed by a Giant,
with other strange accidents that befell him.
Now by a Rauen of great strength
away he thence was borne,
And carried in the carrions beake,
even like a graine of Corne,
Unto a Giants Castle top,
in which he let him fall,
Where soone the Giant swallowed vp,
his body, cloathes and all.
But in his belly did Tom Thumbe
so great a rumbling make,
That neither day nor night he could
the smallest quiet take,
Untill the Gyant had him spewd
three miles into the Sea,
Whereas a Fish soone tooke him up
and bore him thence away.
Which lusty Fish was afeer caught,
and to King Arthur sent,
Where Tom was found, and made his Dwarfe,
whereas his dayes he spent,
Long time in liuely jollity,
belou'd of all the Court,
And none like Tom was the esteem'd
amongst the noble sort.
Amongst his deedes of Courtship done,
his highnesse did command,
That he should dance a Galliard braue,
upon his Queenes left hand.
The which he did and for the same,
the King his signet gaue,
Whith Tom about about his middle wore,
long time a girdle braue.
Now after this the King would not
abroad for pleasure goe,
But still Tom Thumbe must ride with him,
plac't on his saddle bow:
When on a time when as it rain'd,
Tom Thumbe most nimbly crept
In at a Button hole, where he
within his bosome slept.
And being neere his Highnesse heart,
he crau'd a wealthy boone,
A liberall gift, the which the King
commanded to be done,
For to relieue his Fathers wants,
and Mothers, being old:
Which was so much of silver Coyne,
as well his armes could hold.
And so away goes lusty Tom,
with three pence on his backe,
A heauy burthen, which might make
his wearied limbes to cracke,
So trauelling two dayes and nights,
with labour and great paine,
He came into the house whereas
his parents did remaine,
Which was but half a mile in space,
from good Kings Arthurs Court,
The which in eight and forty houres,
he went in weary sort:
But comming to his Fathers doore,
he there such entrance had,
As made his Parents both rejoice,
and he thereat was glad.
His mother in her apron tooke
her gentle Sonne in haste,
And by the fier side, within
a walnut shell him plac'd:
Whereas they feasted him three dayes
upon a Hazell nut,
Whereon he rioted so long,
he them to charges put.
And there upon grew wonderous sicke,
through eating too much meate,
Which was sufficient for a month
for this great man to eate.
But now his business call'd him foorth,
King Arthurs Court to see,
Whereas no longer from the same
he could a stranger be.
But yet a few small April drops,
which setled in the way,
His long and weary journey forth,
did hinder and so stay,
Untill his carefull Father tooke
a birding trunke in sport,
And with one blast blew this his Sonne
into King Arthurs Court.
Of Tom Thumbs running at Tilt, with diuers o-
ther Knightly exercises by him performed.
Now he with Tilts and Turnaments
was entertained so,
That all the best of Arthurs Knights,
did him much pleasure show,
As good Sir Lancelot of the Lake,
Sir Tristram, and Sir Guy,
Yet none compar'd with braue Tom Thum
for Knightly Chiualry.
In honour of which noble day,
and for his Ladies sake,
A challenge in King Arthurs Court,
Tom Thumbe did brauely make:
Gainst whom these noble Knights did run,
Sir Chinon, and the rest,
Yet still Tom Thumbe with matchles might
did beare away the best.
At last sir Lancelot of the Lake,
in manly sort came in,
And with this stout and hardy knight
a battle did begin.
Which made the Courtiers all agast,
for there that valiant man,
Through Lancelots Steed before them all,
in nimble manner ran.
Yea horse and all, with speare and shield,
as hardly he was seene,
But onely by King Arthurs selfe
and his admired Queene,
Who from her finger tooke a Ring,
though which Tom Thumbe made way,
Not touching it in nimble sort,
as it was done in play.
He likewise cleft the smallest haire
from his faire Ladies head,
Not hurting her, whose even hand
him lasting honors bred:
Such were his heeds and noble acts,
in Arthurs Court there showne,
As like in all the world beside,
was hardly seene or knowne.
How Tom Thumbe did take his sicknesse, and of
his Death and Buriall.
Now at these sports he toyld himselfe,
that he a sicknesse tooke,
Though which all manly exercise,
he carelessly forsooke:
Where lying on his bed sore sicke,
King Arthurs Doctor came,
With cunning skill, by physicks art,
to ease and cure the same,
His body being so slender small
this cuaning Doctor tooke
A fine prospective glasse, with which
he did in secret looke
Into his sickened body downe,
and therein saw that death
Stood ready in his wasted guts,
to cease his vitall breath,
His armes and leggs consum'd as small,
as was a Spiders web,
Though which his dying houre grew on,
for all his limbes grew dead:
His face no bigger than an Ants
which hardly could be seene,
The losse of which renowned Knight
much grieu'd the King and Queene.
And so with peace and quietnesse,
he left this earth below:
And up into the Fayry Land,
his Ghost did fading goe,
Whereas the Fayry Queene receiu'd,
with heauy mourning cheere,
The body of this valiant Knight,
whom she esteem'd so deare.
For with her dancing Nimphes in greene,
she fetcht him from his bed,
With musicke and sweet melody,
so soone as life was fled:
For whom King Arthur and his Knights,
for forty daies did mourne,
And in remembrance of his name
that was so strangely borne.
He built a Tombe of Marble gray,
and yeare by yeare did come
To celebrate that mournefull day,
and buriall of Tom Thum:
Whose fame still liues in England here,
amongst the Countrey sort.
Of whom our Wiues and Children small
tell tales of pleasant sport.
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