A PEPYSIAN GARLAND - online book

Black-letter Broadside Ballads Of The years 1595-1639

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
and fourteene yeares since, euen iust as many as there are daies in the yeare. All which, after they were baptized by one Guido Suffragan of Vtrecht, the males by the names of Iohns, and the females by the names of Elizabeths, died that very day that they came into the world: and were buried all together in one monument in the Church of the foresaid Monastery of Laudun, which is to this day shewed (as I haue heard many worthy trauellers report that were the eie witnesses of the matter) with a most memorable Latine inscription vpon it, together with two brasen basons wherin all those infants were baptized. This strange history will seeme incredible (I suppose) to al readers. But it is so abso­lutely and vndoubtedly true as nothing in the world more. The occasion of which miraculous and stupendious accident I will here set downe (seeing I haue proceeded thus farre in the narration of a thing I haue not seene) because it may confirme the stronger belief in the reader. It hapned that a poore woman came a begging to the foresaid Countesse Margarite, bearing a twinne of young babes in her armes. But the Countesse was so farre from hauing any commiseration vpon her, that she rather scornefully reiected her, affirming that it was not possible shee should haue those two children by one man. The poore soule being much vexed in spirit through these iniurious words of the Lady, pronounced such a bitter imprecation vpon her, that she wished that God would shew a miracle vpon the Lady, as well for a due reuenge vpon her that had so slandered her, as for the testifying of her vnspotted honesty and chastity; she wished, I say, that God would shew this miracle, that the Lady might bring forth as many children at one burden, as there are daies in the yeere; which indeed came to passe, according as I haue before mentioned. For the Ladie in the fortieth yeare of her age was deliuered of iust so many vpon a Saturday, about nine of the clocke in the morning, in the yeare of our Lord 1276. The truth of this most portentous miracle is confirmed not so much by that inscription written in a certaine table vpon her tombe, as by sundry ancient Chronicles of infallible certainty, both manuscript and printed.
The story is also referred to in A certaine Relation of the Hog-faced Gentlewoman (cf. No. 79), 1640, sig. A 3V (E. W. Ashbee's Occasional Fac-Simile Reprints, vol. 11):
In the Bishopricke of Colen a woman, some thinke a Witches Curse, some otherwise, brought forth into the World at one birth one [sic] hundred three­score and five children: all which though they were of wondrous small stature, yet they were borne with life, and christned, and a monument remaynes for them to this day, her prayer or curse being, that shee might have as many children at one birth, as there were dayes in the yeere.
A similar situation, so far as concerns an insult offered to a mother of twins, occurs in Marie de France's Le Fraisne {Lais, ed. R. Kohler, p. lxiv ff.). Professor Kittredge has given me these additional references: Chevalier Assigne, ed. Gibbs, verses 29—31, 41-42; Helyas, in W. J. Thoms's Early English Prose Romances, 2nd ed., ill, 33, 41; Harris's Voyages, 1764, 11, 1019; Elphinstone Dayrell, Folk Stories from Southern Nigeria, 191 o, p. 133; Journal of the Anthropological Institute, xxvn, 480; Mary H. Kingsley's Travels in West Africa, 1897, p. 473; Baldwin Spencer and F. J. Gillen's Native Tribes of Central Australia, p. 52; Report on the Work of the Horn Scientific Expedition, ed. Baldwin Spencer, 1896, Pt. IV, p. 129. A curiously decayed form of the story, Professor
Previous Contents Next