One of Hobson’s porters

Rather late to be of any use to the book, but here’s a great scene from Middleton’s A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, which links Hobson, Cambridge’s carrier, to a Bell Inn, and suggests a system of porters carrying letters through London.

Enter Porter.

Yellowhammer. How now?

Porter. A letter from a gentleman in Cambridge. [He gives a letter.]

Yellowhammer. Oh, one of Hobson’s porters. Thou art welcome! — I told thee, Maud, we should hear from Tim. [He reads.] Amantissimis carissimisque ambobus parentibus patri et matri.

Maudlin. What’s the matter?

Yellowhammer. Nay, by my troth, I know not. Ask not me. He’s grown too verbal; this learning is a great witch.

Maudlin. Pray, let me see it; I was wont to understand him. [She takes the letter and translates ignorantly.] Amantissimus charissimus: he has sent the carrier’s man, he says; ambobus parentibus: for a pair of boots; patri et matri: pay the porter or it makes no matter.

Porter. Yes, by my faith, mistress. There’s no true construciton in that. I have took a great deal of pains and come from the Bell sweating. Let me come to ‘t, for I was a scholar forty years ago. [He takes the letter.] ‘Tis thus, I warrant you. [He construes.] Matri: it makes no matter; ambobus parentibus: for a pair of boots; patri: pay the porter; amantissimis carissimis: he’s the carrier’s man, and his name is Sims. — And there he says true, forsooth; my name is Sims indeed. I have not forgot all my learning. A money matter; I thought I should hit on ‘t.

Yellowhammer. Go, thou art an old fox! [Giving money] There’s a tester for thee.

 

A tester is a sixpenny piece.

 

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