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[From the ed. By Kyng and Marche of Certain Books Compiled by Master Skelton, n.d., collated with the same work, ed. Day, n.d., and ed. Lant, n.d., with Marshe's ed. Of Skelton's Works, 1568, and occasionally with the comparatively modern ed. of Elynour Rumming by Rand, 1624.]



TELL you Ich'ill,<3>
If that ye will
Awhile be still,
Of a comely gill<4>
That dwelt on a hill:
But she is not grill,
For she is somewhat sage
And well worn in age.
For her visage
It would assuage                                                                  10
A man's

Her loathly leer
Is nothing clear,
But ugly of cheer,
Droopy and drowsy,
Scurvy and lowsy;
Her face all bowsy,
Comely crinkled,
Wondrously wrinkled,
Like a roast pig's ear,                                                           20
Bristled with hair.

Her lewd lips twain,
They slaver, men sayne,
Like a ropy rain,
A gummy glair;
She is ugly fair;
Her nose somedeal hooked,
And camously crooked,<5>
Never stopping,
But ever dropping;                                                               30
Her skin, loose and slack,
Grained like a sack;
With a crooked back.

Her eyen goundy<6>
Are full unsoundy,
For they are bleared;
And she gray-haired;
Jawed like a jetty;
A man would have pity
To see how she is gummed,                                                 40
Fingered and thumbed,
Gently jointed,
Greased and annointed
Up to the knuckles;
The bones of her
Like as they were with buckles
Together made fast:
Her youth is far past:
Footed like a plane,
Legged like a crane;                                                             50
And yet she will
Like a jolly fet,
In her furred flocket,
And gray russet rocket,
With simper-the-cocket.<7>
Her huke of Lincoln green,<8>
It had been hers, I ween,
More than forty year;
And so doth it appear,
For the green bare threads                                                   60
Look like
sere weeds,
Withered like hay,
The wool worn away;
And yet, I dare say,
She thinketh herself gay
Upon the holy day
When she doth her array
And girdeth in her gites
Stitched and pranked with pleats;
Her kirtle Bristow-red,<9>                                                  70
With clothes upon her head
That weigh a
sow of lead,
Writhen in wonder wise,
After the Saracen's guise,
With a whim-wham,<10>
Knit with a trim-tram,<11>
Upon her brain-pan;
Like an Egyptian
Capped about:<12>
When she goeth out                                                             80
Herself for to show,
She driveth down the dew
With a pair of heels
As broad as two wheels;
She hobbles as a goose
With her blanket hose
Over the fallow;
shoon smeared with tallow,
Greased upon dirt
That bawdeth her skirt.<13>                                               90

Primus Passus

And this comely dame,
I understand, her name
Is Elynour Rumming,
At home in her
And as men say
She dwelt in Surrey<14>
In a certain stead
Beside Leatherhead.
She is a tunnish gib;<15>
The devil and she be sib.                                                      100

But to make up my tale,
She breweth
nappy ale,
And maketh thereof port-sale<16>
To travellers, to tinkers,
To sweaters, to swinkers,<17>
And all good ale-drinkers,
That will nothing spare,
But drink till they stare
And bring themselves bare,
With, Now away the mare!<18>                                         110
And let us slay care,
As wise as an hare!

Come whoso will
To Elynour on the hill,
With Fill the cup, fill,<
And sit there by still,
Early and late:
Thither cometh Kate,
Cicely and Sarah,
With their legs bare,                                                             120
And also their feet
Hardly full unsweet;
With their heels
Their kirtles all to-jagged,
Their smocks all to-ragged,
With titters and tatters,
Bring dishes and platters,
With all their might running
To Elynour Rumming
To have of her tunning:                                                        130
She lendeth them on the same,
And thus beginneth the game.

Some wenches come unlaced,
Some housewives come unbraced,
With their naked paps,
That flips and flaps,
It wigs and it wags<
Like tawny saffron bags;
A sort of foul drabs
All scurvy with scabs:                                                          140
Some be flybitten,
skewed as a kitten;
Some with a shoe-clout
Bind their heads about;
Some have no hair-lace,
Their locks about their face,
Their tresses untrussed
All full of unlust;
Some look strawry,
Some caury-maury;<21>                                                      150
Full untidy
Like rotten eggs.<23>
Such a lewd sort
To Elynour resort
From tide to tide:
Abide, abide,
And to you shall be told
How her ale is sold
To Maud and to Mold.

Secundus Passus

Some have no money                                                           160
That thither come-y,
For their ale to pay,
That is a shrewd array;
Elynour sweared, Nay,
Ye shall not bear away
My ale for nought,
By Him that me bought!<

With Hey, dog, hey,
Have these hogs away!
With Get me a staff,                                                            170
The swine eat my
Strike the hogs with a club,
They have drunk up my swilling-tub!
For, be there never so much press,
These swine go to the high dais,<25>
The sow with her pigs,
The boar his tail wrigs,
His rump also he frigs
Against the high bench!
With, Fo, there is a stench!                                                  180
Gather up, thou wench;
Seest thou not what is fall?
Take up dirt and all,
And bear out of the hall:
God give it ill-
Cleanly as evil chieving!<26>

But let us turn plain,
There we left again.
For, as ill a patch<27> as that,
The hens run in the mash-vat;                                              190
For they go to roost
Straight over the ale-
And dung, when it comes,
In the ale-tuns.
Then Elynour taketh
The mash-bowl, and shaketh
The hens dung away,
And skimmeth it into a tray
Whereas the yeast is,
With her mangy fists:                                                           200
And sometime she blends
The dung of her hens
And the ale together;
And sayeth, Gossip, come hither,
This ale shall be thicker,
And flower the more quicker;
For I may tell you
I learned it of a Jew,
When I began to brew,
And I have found it true;                                                    
Drink now while it is new;
An ye may it brook,
It shall make you look
Younger than ye be
Years two or three,
For ye may prove it by me;
Behold, she said, and see
How bright I am of blee!
Ich am not cast away,
That can my husband say,                                                    220
When we kiss and play
In lust and in liking;<
He calleth me his whiting,<29>
His mulling and his miting,<30>
His nobs and his coney,<31>
His sweeting and his honey,
With Bass, my pretty bonny,
Thou art worth goods and money.
Thus make I my fellow fonny,<32>
Till that he dream and drony;                                              230
For, after all our sport,
Then will he
rout and snort;
Then sweetly together we lie
As two pigs in a sty.

To cease meseemeth best,
And of this tale to rest,
And for to leave this letter,
Because it is no better,
And because it is no sweeter;
We will no further rhyme                                                     240
Of it at this time;
But we will turn plain
Where we left again.

Tertius Passus

Instead of coin and money<33>
Some bring her a coney,
And some a pot with honey,
Some a salt, and some a spoon,
Some their hose, some their shoon;
Some run a good trot
With a skillet or a pot;                                                          250
Some fill their pot full
Of good Lemster wool:
An housewife of trust,
When she is athirst,
Such a web can spin,
Her thrift is full thin.

Some go straight thither,
Be it slaty or slither:<
They hold the highway,
They care not what men say,                                               260
Be that as be may;
Some, loth to be espied,
Start in at the back-side
Over the hedge and pale,
And all for the good ale.

Some runne till they sweat,
Bring with them malt or wheat,
And Dame Elynour entreat
birle them of the best.<35>

Then cometh another guest;                                                 270
She sweareth by the rood of rest,<
Her lips are so dry,
Without drink she must die;
Therefore fill it by and by,
And have here a peck of rye.

Anon cometh another,
As dry as the other,
And with her doth bring
Meal, salt, or other thing,
Her harvest girdle, her wedding ring,                                  280
To pay for her
As cometh to her lot.
One bringeth her husband's hood
Because the ale is good;
Another brought her his cap
To offer to the ale-tap,<37>
With flax and with tow;
And some brought sour dough
With, Hey, and with, Ho!
Sit we down a row,                                                              290
And drink till we blow,
And pipe Tirly Tirlow!<

Some laid to pledge
Their hatchet and their wedge,
Their heckle and their reel,
Their rock, their spinning-wheel;<39>
And some went so narrow
They laid to pledge their wharrow,
Their ribskin <40> and their spindle,
Their needle and their thimble:                                            300
Here was scant thrift
When they made such shift.

Their thirst was so great
They asked never for meat,
But Drink, still drink,
And let the cat wink,<
Let us wash our gums
From the dry crumbs!

Quartus Passus

Some for very need
Laid down a skein of thread,                                               310
And some a skein of yarn;
Some brought from the barn
Both beans and peas;
chaffer doth ease
Sometime, now and then:
Another there was that ran
With a good brass-pan;
Her colour was full wan;
She ran in all the haste,<42>
Unbraced and unlaced;                                                        320
Tawny, swart, and sallow
Like a cake of tallow;
I swear by all hallow<
It was a stale to take
The devil in a brake.<44>

And then came halting Joan,
And brought a gammon
Of bacon that was reasty:
But, Lord, as she was testy,
Angry as a waspy!<45>                                                       330
She began to
gane and gaspy,
And bade Elynour go bet,<46>
And fill in good met;
It was dear that was far-fet.

Another brought a spick
Of a bacon flick;
Her tongue was very quick,
But she spake somewhat thick.
Her fellow did stammer and stut,
But she was a foul slut,                                                        340
For her mouth foamed
And her belly groaned:
sayn she had eaten a fiest.<47>
By Christ, said she, thou liest,
I have as sweet a breath
As thou, with shameful death!<48>

Then Elynour said, Ye callets,
I shall break your pallets,
Without ye now cease!
And so was made the peace.<49>                                       350
Then thither came drunken Alice;
And she was full of tales,
Of tidings in Wales,
And of Saint James in Gales,<
And of the Portingales;
With Lo, gossip, ywis,
Thus and thus it is:
There hath been great war
Between Temple Bar
And the Cross in Cheap,<51>                                             360
And there came an heap
Of mill-stones in a rout:
She speaketh thus in her snout,
Snivelling in her nose
As though she had the
Lo, here is an old tippet,
An ye will give me a sippet
Of your stale ale,
God send you good sale!
And as she was drinking                                                      370
She fell in a winking
With a
She pissed where she stood;
Then began she to weep,
And forthwith fell on sleep.
Elynour took her up,
And blessed her with a cup
Of new ale in corns;<53>
Alice found therein no thorns,
But supped it up at once,                                                     380
She found therein no bones.

Quintus Passus

Now in cometh another rabble;
First one with a ladle,
Another with a cradle,
And with a side-saddle:
And there began a
A clattering and a babble
Of a foolish filly
That had a foal with Willy,
With jaist you! and gup gilly!                                              390
She could not lie stilly.

Then came in a jennet,
And swore, By Saint Bennet,
I drank not this sennight
A draught to my pay;
Elynour, I thee pray,
Of thine ale let us essay,
And have here a pilch of gray
I wear skins of coney,
That causeth I look so donny.<54>                                     400

Another then did hitch her,
And brought a pottle pitcher,
tunnel and a bottle,
But she had lost the stopple;
She cut off her shoe-sole,
And stopped therewith the hole.
Among all the blommer
Another brought a skommer,
A frying-pan, and a slice;
Elynour made the price                                                        410
For good ale each whit.

Then start in mad Kit
That had little wit;
She seemed somedeal sick,
And brought a penny chick
To Dame Elynour,
For a draught of liquor.

Then Margery Milkduck<55>
Her kirtle she did uptuck
An inch above her knee<56>,                                              420
Her legs that ye might see;
But they were sturdy and stubbed,
Mighty pestles<
57> and clubbed,
As fair and as white
As the foot of a kite:
She was somewhat foul,
Crook-necked like an owl;
And yet she brought her fees,
A cantle of Essex cheese,
Was well a foot thick                                                           430
Full of maggots
It was huge and great,
And mighty strong meat
For the devil to eat;
It was tart and punyete.

Another sort of sluts,
Some brought walnuts,
Some apples, some pears,
Some brought their clipping shears,
Some brought this and that,                                                 440
Some brought I wot ne'er what;
Some brought their husband's hat,
Some puddings and
Some tripes that stinks.

But of all this throng
One came them among,
She seemed half a leech,
And began to preach
Of the Tuesday in the week
When the mare doth kick;                                                    450
Of the virtue of an unset leek,<
Of her husband's breek;
With the feathers of a quail
She could to Bordeaux sail;
And with good ale barm
She could make a charm
To help withal a stitch.
She seemed to be a witch.

Another brought two goslings
That were noughty frostlings;<59>                                     460
She brought them in a wallet,
She was a comely
The goslings were untied;
Elynour began to chide,
They be wretchocks<60> thou hast brought,
They are sheer shaking nought!<61>

Sextus Passus

Maud Ruggy thither skipped:
She was ugly hipped,
And ugly thick lipped,
Like an onion sided,                                                            470
Like tan leather hided:
She had her so guided
Between the cup and the wall,
That she was there withal
Into a palsy fall;
With that her head shaked,
And her hands quaked:
One's head would have ached
To see her naked:
She drank so of the dregs,                                                  
The dropsy was in her legs;
Her face glistering like glass;
All foggy fat she was;
She had also the gout
In all her joints about;
Her breath was sour and stale,
And smelled all of ale:
Such a bedfellow
Would make one cast his craw;
But yet for all that                                                              
She drank on the mash-vat.

There came an old ribibe;<62>
She halted of a kibe,<63>

And had broken her shin
At the threshold coming in,
And fell so wide open
That one might see her token,
The devil thereon be wroken!
What need all this be spoken?
She yelled like a calf:                                                           500
Rise up, on God's half,<
Said Elynour Rumming,
I beshrew thee for thy coming!
And as she at her did pluck,
Quack, quack, said the duck
In that lampatram's<65> lap;
With Fie, cover thy shap
With some flip flap!
God give it ill hap,
Said Elynour for shame,                                                      510
Like an honest dame.
Up she start, half lame,
And scantly could go
For pain and for woe.

In came another dant,
With a goose and a gant:
She had a wide weasand;
She was nothing pleasant;
Necked like an elephant;
It was a bullyfant,<66>                                                       520
A greedy cormorant.

Another brought her garlic heads;
Another brought her beads
Of jet or of coal,
To offer to the
ale pole;
Some brought a wimble,
Some brought a thimble,
Some brought a silk lace,
Some brought a pincase,
Some her husband's gown,                                                  530
Some a pillow of down,
Some of the napery;
. . . . <

And all this shift they make
For the good ale sake.

A straw, said Belle, stand utter,<68>
For we have eggs and butter,
And of pigeons a pair.

. . . . <67>

Then start forth a fizgig,<69>
And she brought a boar pig;
The flesh thereof was rank,                                                  540
And her breath strongly stank;
Yet, ere she went, she drank,
And got her great thank
Of Elynour for her ware,
That she thither bare
To pay for her share.
Now truly, to my thinking,
This is a solemn drinking.

Septimus Passus

Soft! quod one hight Sybil,
And let me with you bibble.                                                550
She sat down in the place,
With a sorry face
Whey-wormed about;
Garnished was her snout
With here and there a pustule,
Like a scabbed mussel.
This ale, said she, is noppy;
Let us sup and soppy
And not spill a droppy,
For, so mote I hoppy,                                                           560
It cooleth well my croppy.

Dame Elynour, said she,
Have here is for me
A clout of London pins;
And with that she begins
The pot to her pluck
And drank a good-luck;
She swinged up a quart
At once for her part;
Her paunch was so puffed,                                                 
And so with ale stuffed,
Had she not hied apace,
She had defiled the place.

Then began the sport
Among that drunken sort:
Dame Elynour, said they,
Lend here a
cock of hay,
To make all thing clean;
Ye wot well what we mean.

But, sir, among all                                                                580
That sat in that hall
There was a
Sat like a sainty,
And began to painty
As though she would fainty:<70>
She made it as coy
As a lege de moy;<71>
She was not half so wise
As she was peevish nice.

She said never a word,                                                         590
But rose from the board
And called for our dame,
Elynour by name.
We supposed,
That she rose to piss;
But the very ground
Was for to compound
With Elynour in the spence,
To pay for her expense:
I have no penny nor groat                                                    600
To pay, she said, God
For washing of my throat,
But my beads of amber
Bear them to your chamber.
Then Elynour did them hide
Within her bed's side.

But some then sat right sad
That nothing had,
There of their own,
Neither gelt nor pawn:                                                         610
Such were there many
That had not a penny,
But, when they should walk,
Were fain with a chalk
To score on the
Or score on the tail:
God give it ill hail!<72>
For my fingers itch;
I have written too much
Of this mad mumming                                                         620
Of Elynour Rumming.
Thus endeth the
Of this worthy feast.

Quod Skelton, Laureate.


A couplet by Skelton the Laureate, in despite of the evil-minded.

Quamvis insanis, marcescis quamvis inanis,
Invide, cantamus: haec loca plena jocis.

Bien m'en souvient.<75.>.

Omnes foeminas, quae nimis bibulae sunt, vel quae sordida labe squaloris, aut qua spurca foeditatis macula, aut verbosa loquacitate notantur, poeta invitat ad audiendum hunc libellum, &c..<76>

Ebria, squalida, sordida foemina, prodiga verbis,
Huc currat, properet, veniat! Sua gesta libellus
Iste volutabit: Paean sua plectra sonando
Materiam risus cantabit carmine rauco.


Quod Skelton, Laureate.

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