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An Octavo, containing 606 Jests & curious Stories, carefully numbered;[...]
ca.
1650
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Harleian MS 6395, folio 2 recto

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Harleian MS 6395, folio 2 recto
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Institution Rights and Document Citation

From the collections of: THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Terms of use
The British Library has graciously contributed the above images to Shakespeare Documented under a Creative Commons Public Domain Mark.

Copyright status of the manuscript and unpublished Materials: The 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (as amended) states that unpublished literary and artistic works remain in copyright in the UK until at least 31 December 2039. Therefore important parts of the library’s collection remain in copyright, including very old manuscripts. However for unpublished material created many centuries ago and in the public domain in most other countries, the Library believes this material to be very unlikely to offend anyone. As an institution whose role it is to support access to knowledge, we have therefore taken the decision to release certain digitised images technically still in copyright in the UK under the Public Domain Mark.

Document-specific information
Creator: Sir Nicholas L'Estrange
Title: An Octavo, containing 606 Jests & curious Stories, carefully numbered; with a few, in a different hand, that are not numbered. To the former there is a complete Index, assigning in each Instance the Person from whom the Collector received the Tale, and as he mentions most of his near relations by name, it would not be difficult, were it wished, to ascertain who he was. 
Date: ca. 1650
Repository: The British Library, London, UK
Call number and opening: Harley MS 6395, fol. 2r

Item Creator
Sir Nicholas L'Estrange
Item Title
An Octavo, containing 606 Jests & curious Stories, carefully numbered; with a few, in a different hand, that are not numbered. To the former there is a complete Index, assigning in each Instance the Person from whom the Collector received the Tale,[...]
Item Date
ca. 1650
Repository
The British Library, London, UK
Call Number
Harleian MS 6395, fol. 2r

Institution Rights and Document Citation

From the collections of: THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Terms of use
The British Library has graciously contributed the above images to Shakespeare Documented under a Creative Commons Public Domain Mark.

Copyright status of the manuscript and unpublished Materials: The 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (as amended) states that unpublished literary and artistic works remain in copyright in the UK until at least 31 December 2039. Therefore important parts of the library’s collection remain in copyright, including very old manuscripts. However for unpublished material created many centuries ago and in the public domain in most other countries, the Library believes this material to be very unlikely to offend anyone. As an institution whose role it is to support access to knowledge, we have therefore taken the decision to release certain digitised images technically still in copyright in the UK under the Public Domain Mark.

Document-specific information
Creator: Sir Nicholas L'Estrange
Title: An Octavo, containing 606 Jests & curious Stories, carefully numbered; with a few, in a different hand, that are not numbered. To the former there is a complete Index, assigning in each Instance the Person from whom the Collector received the Tale, and as he mentions most of his near relations by name, it would not be difficult, were it wished, to ascertain who he was. 
Date: ca. 1650
Repository: The British Library, London, UK
Call number and opening: Harley MS 6395, fol. 2r

Sir Nicholas L’Estrange (1604-1655) recorded over 600 jokes and anecdotes from his Norfolk friends and family in this manuscript, noting the source for each one in a separate section. All of the jests on this page were told by his mother, except for one by Lady Hobart and one by a “Mr. Dun,” about Shakespeare giving a gift of 12 "Latin" spoons to his godchild, Ben Jonson’s child, so that Jonson could "translate" them. The story relies on puns on “latten,” which was a generic term for brass or another copper alloy, and “translate,” the alchemical process of changing a cheaper metal into silver. Silver spoons were a typical gift at a christening. In his verses on Shakespeare in the First Folio, Ben Jonson notes Shakespeare's "small Latin and less Greek."

 

Modernized/Translated transcriptions

Shakespeare was Godfather to one of Ben: Jonson’s children, and after the christening, being in a deep study, Jonson came to cheer him up, and asked him why he was so Melancholy? No, faith Ben: (says he) not I, but I have been considering a great while what should be the fittest gift for me to bestow upon my Godchild, and I have resolved at last; I prithee what, says he? I faith Ben: I'll e'en give him a dozen good Latin spoons, and thou shalt translate them.

Semi-diplomatic transcription

[This transcription is pending final vetting]

[fol. 2r]

11
Shake=speare was Godfather
to one of Ben: Johnson’s children,
and after the christning, being in a
deepe study, Johnson came to cheere him vp,
and askt him why he was so Melancholy? no
faith Ben: (sayes he) not I, but I haue beene
considering a great while what should be the fittest
gift for me to bestow vpon my God=child, and I
haue resolu’d at last; I pr’ythe what, sayes he? I
faith Ben: I'le e'en giue him a douzen good Lattin
spoones, and thou shalt translate them.

12
There was one preacht in Summer, and stood two
houres; and one sayd at Dinner that twas a
very good Sermon, but halfe on’t would haue done
well Cold.

13
Doctor Peame [for Perne] preaching a funerall sermon for
a Townsmans wife in Cambridge (that had beene a
very curst wench) told his Auditorie, that none
could iudge of the losse of a wife till they had had
one; but beleeue me brethren, whosoeuer looseth
such a wife ^as this was, will find it a shrewd
losse, a very Shrewd losse.

14
Wiggett the foole at a Norwich Assises, the Judges
being at Dinner, and he sett at the lower end of
the Table, some Gentlemen making a report to
to the Judges of some serious businesse, after they
had spoke; he rose vp very soberly, and beseecht
their Lordshipps they would ^but heare him; they expecting
he could haue answerd som thing to the point in
hand, bad the foole speake, who presently lett
a great Fart, and fall downe againe to his meat.

Last updated February 16, 2017