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Tom Thumbe, His Life and Death


Tom Thumbe, 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 Tinkers Budget.

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 Rauen; 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 other 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.