Armin’s ‘Nest of Ninnies’ – Jemmy Camber

   The World, wanton sick, as one surfetting on sinne (in morning pleasures, noone banquets, after riots, night moriscoes, midnights modicoms, and abundance of trash trickt up to all turbulent reuellings) is now leaning on her elbow, deuising what doctour may deliver her, what phisicke may free her, and what antidotes may antissipate so dangerous a dolemma: shee now begins to grow bucksome as a lightning before death;1 and, gad, she will – riches, her chamberlaine, could not keepe her in; beauty, her bed-fellow, was bold to perswade her; and sleepy securitie, mother of all mischiefe – tut, her prayers was but meere prattle: out she would, tucks up her trinkets, like a Dutch tannikin sliding to market on the ise, and away she flings – and whither thinck you? – 

Not to the Law, that was too loud – 
Nott to the Church, that was too proud. 
Not to the Court, that was too stately – 
Nor to the Cittie, she was there lately. 
Nor to the Campe, that was to keene – 
No, nor to the Country, where seldom seene2 – 

she daines her a friendly eye; but, of all, into a philosophers cell, who, because he was alwayes poking at Fortune with his forefinger, the wise wittely namde him Sotto, as one besotted – a grumbling sir; one that was wise enough, and fond enough,3 and solde all for a glasse prospective,4 because he would wisely see into all men but himself, a fault generall in most; but such was his, who thus busied, was tooke napping by the weale publicke, who smiles upon him with a wapper eye, a iealous countenance, and bids him all haile! Mistresse (sayes Sotto) I will not say welcome, because you come ill to him that would bee alone; but, since you are come, looke for such entertainement as my folly fits you with, that is, sharp sauce with bitter dyet;5 no swetnes at al, for that were to mingle your pils with sugar: no, I am all one, winter in the head, and frost in the foot; no summer in me but my smiles, and that as soone gone as smiles. The bauble I play with is mens estates, which I so tumble from hand to hand, that, weary with it, I see (gluttingly and grieuedly, yet mingled with smiles too) in my glasse prospectiue what shall become of it. The World, curling her locks with her fingers, and anone scratching her braine with her itching pin, as one little regarding, answeres, What then? Marry, sayes Hodge, ile show thee. See, World, in whose bosome euer hath abundance beene poured, what thy imps of impiety bee; for as they (I) all for the most part,6 as these which I will present to thee in my glasse prospectiue: mark them well, and see what thou breedest in thy wantonnesse, sixe children like thee, not the father that begat them – Where were they nursed? in folly: fed with the flottin milke of nicetie and wantonnesse, curdled in thy wombe of water and bloud, vnseasoned, because thy mother bearing temper was euer vntrue, farre from the rellish of right breede; and it is hard that the taste of one apple should distatte the whole lumpe of this difused chaios. But marke me and my glass: see into some (and in them thy selfe) whom I haue descride, or describde, these sixe parts of folly in thee; thou shalt see them as cleare as day, how mistic thy clouds be, and what rancknesse raines from them.

– pp.5-6. 

   Now our philosophical poker pokte on, and pynted to a strange shew; the fat foole, not so tall, but this fat foole as low, whose description runs in meeter thus:- 

This fat foole was a Scot borne, brought vp 
In Sterlin, twenty miles from Edinborough, 
Who, being buut young, was for the king caught vp; 
Ser’ud this king’s father all his life time through. 
A yard high and a nayle, no more, his stature; 
Smooth fact, fayre spoken, yet vnkinde by nature. 
Two yards in compasse and a nayle, I reade,7
Was he at forty yeerres, since when I heard not 
Nor of his life or death, and further heede, 
Since I neuer read, I looke not, nor regard not. 
But what at that time Iemy Camber was,8
As I haue heard Ile write, and so let passe. 
His head was small, his hayre long on the same: 
One eare was bigger then the other farre; 
His fore-head full, and his beard small, yet grew square; 
His lips but little, and his wit was lesse, 
But wide of mouth, few teeth, I must confesse. 
His middle thicke, as I haue said before; 
Indifferent thighs and knees, but very short; 
His legs be square, a foot long and no more; 
Whose very presence made the king much sport. 
And a pearle spoone he still wore in his cap, 
To eate his meate he loued, and got by hap. 
A pretty little foote, but a big hand, 
On which he ever wore rings rich and good. 
Backward well made as any in that land, 
Though thicke; and he did come of gentle bloud: 
But of his wisdome ye shall quickly heare 
How this fat foole was made on every where. 

   The World, smiling at this rime, describing so unseemly a portackt, gaue leave to the rest, and desired greatly to be satisfied with something done, as one longing to know what so round a trust lump could performe. The poking art’s maister tels his doing thus. 

   When the kings and nobles of Scotland had welcomed Jemy Camber to the court, (who was their countryman, borne in Sterlin, but twenty miles from Edinborough, this kings birth-towne, as Greenvich was our late queenes) they reasoned with him to understand his wit, which indeed was just none at all, yet merry and pleasing, whereat the king rejoiced: and, seeing he was so fat, caused his doctors and phisitians to minister to him; but phisick could not alter nature, and he would neuer be but a S. Vincent’s turnip, thicke and round. Wherefore the doctors persuaded his grace that the purging of the sea was good for him. Well, nothing was undone that might be done to make Jemy Camber a tall, little, slender man, when yet he lookt like a Norfolke dumpling, thicke and short: well, to Leith was he sent, which is the narbour towne of such ships as arrive at Edinborough; neerer they cannot come, which is some mile from the cittie. To sea they put in a ship, at whose departure they discharged ordinance, as one that departed from the land with the kings fauour: the Earle Huntly was sent with him to sea to accompany him, so high he was esteemed with the king, who, hearing the ordinance goe off, would aske what doe they now?9 Marry, says the Earle, they shoot at our enemies. O, saies hee, hit, I pray God! Againe they discharge. What doe they now? quoth hee. Marry, now the enimie shoots at us. O, misse, I pray God!  (sayes Jemy Camber). So euer after it was a jest in the Scottish court. Hit or misse, quoth Jemy Camber; that if a maide had a barne,10 and did penance at the crosse, in the high towne of Edinborough, What hath shee done? did she hit or misse? She hath hit, sayes the other: better she had mist, sayes the first; and so long time after this jest was in memory – yea, I have heard it myselfe, and some will talke of it at this day. Well, to sea they put, on a faire, sunshine day, where Jemy stood fearful of every calme billow, where it was no boote to bid him tell what the ship was made of, for he did it dououtly. But see the chance: a sodaine flaw or dust rose;11 the winds held strong east and by west, and the ship was in great danger, insomuch as the Earle, maister and all, began to feare the weather. By and by a stronger gale blew, and split their maine-maste, and gaue their ship a mighty leake, insomuch as the crack made them all screeck out: which Jemy, hearing, was almost dead with feare. Some fell to pumping, others on their knees to praying; but the fat foole, seeing themselves in this daunger, thought there was no way but one with them, and was half dead with feare: in the end the winde turned, and the raging of the sea began to cease. I warrant thee now (quoth the maister) Jemy, wee shall not bee drowned. I, will ye warrant us? sayes the foole. I, sayes the maister, Ile giue thee my ship for thy chaine, if we bee drowned: beare witnesse, my lord, sayes hee, a plaine bargaine; and with that threw the maister his chaine, who would have given it to the Earle, but joy of their escape made him delight in the jest, and therefore the maister enjoyed hgis bargaine. With much adoe they attained thether againe, where the king, feareful before, awayted their landing now; and, seeing Jemy not a jot lesse of body then hee was (onely lightened of his chaine) How now? quoth hee; how dost thou, man? O! saes Jemy, well now, king; but till had not the maister beene, who warranted our liues for my chaine, the best bargaine that euer I made, for no way could I haue been a looser.12 How? sayes the king? Marry, Ile tell thee king, quoth hee: say we had beene drowned, his ship was forfeit to me for my chaine: Earle Huntly was a witness to the bargaine; and now we are not drowned, for my chaine did warrant our liues of the maister. Nay, says the earle, not our liues; none but yours, Jemy: our liues was as safe warranted without a chaine. With this the foole had some feeling of sence, and on a sodaine cryed out mainly for his chaine, which was restored to him by the maister; but hee lost nothing by that, for he attayned to a suit, as the story sayes, that he had beene three yeeres about. Thus the king and nobles went to Edinborough, merrily talking of their feare and welfare. 

   Jemy, this fat foole, used every day to goe from the abbey, in the low towne by the hill, into the citie of Edinborough; and one euening, above the rest, he met with a broken virgin, one that had a barne (as there they are known by their attire) wearing a loose kerchiefe, hanging downe backward:13 she, I saye, cried sallets, as thus – Buy any cibus salletea? Jemy, desirous of sallets, calles her to him. Lasse, sayes he, what shall I giue thee for a good sallet? Faire sire, sayes the wench (for shee knew him for the kings foole, and she could not please him better then to call him faire sir) you giue me an atchison.14 Now he, hauing nothing but sixe French crownes about him, Canst thou change mee a crowne? sayes he. Yea, sire, sayes shee. He gives her a crowne, and shee gives him a sallet for it, and shee went her way. 

   Jemy thinks it was much to give a crowne for that, for which shee did demand but an atchison, which in our money is but three farthings: he runnes after and sayes, she had his fayrest crowne; but, sayes hee, giue me that, and take your choice of these, thinking by that deuise to get the first crowne againe. Will ye chaunge? sayes the lasse: I, sayes the foole; so she takes all the fiue, and giues him one again, and so laughing at his folly goes her way. It was in vaine to exclayme, for they will hold fast what they get; but my fat foole goes home to eate his sallet, and inuites the king to a deare dish, and made him laugh heartily at the jest. The king calls for winiger to his sallet, because his sweet meate shoulde haue sower sauce, and perswaded him it was well bought: otherwise, if the foole had repented his bargaine, it was his manner to try for his money againe; yet with it all, the ocurt could not quiet him. 

   Betwixt Edinborough Abbey, the king’s place, and Leith there stands an euen plaine greene meddow, in which the king used most of his sports: amongst which he rode thether one day to run at the glove, or the ring, as his grace should please. With him rides Jemy Camber on a trotting mule: it was then a maruailous hot day. O! saies Jemy, how cold the wether is (so wise was hee that he scarce knew hot from colde). No, sayes the king, it is hot; looke how I sweat. No, sayes Jemy, the sunne blowes very colde. No, sayes the king, the winde shines very hot. The foole was almost angry to be crossed, and said hee would be hanged at night, if hee did sweat that day. With this merry talke they rode on; but one of the king’s footmen hearing this, told the king at their return hee would make his grace laugh heartily. So the king very gallantly ranne that time, and neuer missed the glove, and so did the lords; which Jemy seeing, said it was nothing to doe. The king bade him runne; he did so, but the gloue lay still,15 and Jemy could not doe it. The king’s footman (that matcht to doe him a good turne) said Jemy could doe it better blindfold. What, can he? quoth the king: I will neuer beleeue it. You shall see else, quote hee; whereat Jemy maruelled much that without sight he could doe that, which with all his might and sight he could not doe, was desirous to make tryall; so was blinded with a scarfe, while another tooke up the gloue, and was ready for the jest. Jemy runs: Now for my maisters, saies hee. They all shout aloud and cry rarely well done, and one unblindes him, while another puts the glove on the speare. 

   So simple hee was, that hee thought it was strange, and bragged all that day not a little. The king did alight, and went to drink wine at the Lord Hume’s huose, and Jemy went with him, while the footeman had time to worke his will, and mingling a conceit with butter (which I will not name, least some one should practide the like) clapt it under the saddle; and, as they rode to Edinborough, sayes the king, what say you to the weather now, Jemy? Mee thinks it is hotter than it was. Nay, it is colder, sayes he, for I begin to sweat. 

   The trotting of this mule made the mingled confection lather so, that it got into his breeches, and wroght up to the crowne of his head, and to the sole of his foote, and so he sweat profoundly. Still he whipt and he whipt, sweating more and more: they laught a good to see him in that taking. Now you must be hanged, says the king, as your bargaine was, for you sweat very much. What remedie? sayes hee. I am content to be hanged, but while I live after Ile never beleeue cold weather will make one sweat. No more will I, sayes the king, but hot weather will. Hot or colde, sayes Jemy, I am warme now, I am sure: I would I were ouer head and reares in some riuer too coole mee. So simple hee was that he knew not wether it was the sunne or the winde made him sweat. At night the king caused him to be washed and perfumed, yet he was scarce sweet twenty days after. Thus this fat foole chaft, but not in his own grease. 

   Jemy, who was, as you have heard, a tall low man,16 and was swift of foote, on a time challenged the king’s best footman, for a wager, to run with him from the abbey, up the hill, to Cannegate (which stood entering to Edenborough, as Ludgate doth to London, and the King’s place about Temple-barre.) The king being told of this challenge thought it would be good sport to see it performed, still perswaded Jemy to dare his footeman, who before denyed him, and knew fooles would talk any thing, though far unfit to perform any thing. Still the king would say he was made nimble to runne, and askt euery nobleman’s judgement, who likewise soothed the king: it was so that they made him beleeue himself swift of foote, that I think in the end Jemy perswaded himselfe that none but fat men could run well, and nimble men, being light, would fall soonest; considering that light things, being of small substance, not feeling themselves, would surely fall. But here is the sport – the footeman, seeing it was the king’s pleasure to see the wager tryed, dared him, which made Jemy mad, that he would run with him from Edinborough to Barwicke (which was forty miles) in one day; a thing as unpossible as to pull down a church in one houre, and to build it againe in another: for Jemy was lost in the king’s company once of purpose, but fiue miles from the citty, at the Earle Morton’s castle at da Keth,17 and they thought hee would neuer haue come home againe: when the king heard euery houre hee was comming, and still as hee entreated euery passenger to let him ride, by the king’s watch in the high-way they had warning giuen to the contrary, for he was seauen days going the fiue myle: then, judge how long hee would be a running fortie. You will muse how hee did for meate all the time. Ile tell you how: he fasted all day, and went supperlesse to bed; but being in his first sound sleepe, meate was brought and laide by him, and a choppin of wine (for so they call it there) which made him at his coming to court tell the king that heauen was gentler than earthly men [who] would shew him no favour, neyther to ride nor feede him, when he was euery night cast into a sound sleepe; then when he wakt hee was sure of meate from heauen to feede on, when the meate came from the king’s kitchen at Edenborough Abbey. 

   But to goe forward with our challenge. The king said the first word should stand, and on Jemie’s head he laid a thousand marks: the Lady Carmichell, that laught to heare all this, wagered as much on the footeman’s head. The day was appointed the next morning, being Thursday, to begin at fiue a’clock in the afternoone, in the coole of the euening, and eury one to his race must make him ready. Jemy, as he had seene the king’s footeman doe, washt his feet with beere, and soakt them in butter; so all that night and the next day there was nothing but Jemy and his prouision to that great journey. The time came – Jemy was stript into his shirt, trust round for the purpose: the footeman and hee begins to runne; the footeman makes shew of great labour, and the foole made the substance, for he was quickly in a sweat. They puft and they blowede; they ran as swifte as a pudding would creepe. Jemy thought himselfe no smal foole to outrun the footeman, and did in his minde assure himselfe to win. The king laughs to see the toyle he made, and the footeman made great shew and little paines. By and by, Jemy calls for drinck; and the king, loath hee should haue any harme with labour, caused him to haue a mixed drincke to cast him into a sleepe; who, when he had drunck, as hee ran on his wager, he dropt downe in the streete, as heauy as if a leaden plummet, that makes a jack turne a spit, had fallen on the earth dab. There hee slept, and was carryed by commaund to the top of the hill, and laid downe againe: there hee slept halfe an houre, and when he wakt he remembered his journey. Seeing people still about him, up hee gets, away he jogs, and neuer lookes behinde him; and seeing Cannegate so neare him, had not the wit to wonder how hee came there, but laid hold on the ring of the gate, and staid to bee seene. 

   By and by the footeman comes sweating, with water poured on his face and head. O, my heart! sayes hee. O, my legs! sayes Jemy: I will not doe so much for all Scotland againe. 

   Well, Jemy cries Victory! victory! and there was the king’s coach at hand to carry him home, for himselfe he neuer could haue gone, had his life lain on it. But when hee came home, the bragge hee made, the glory hee got, how hee outran the footman (and ran so easily as if he had been a sleepe) was wonderfull. I, it was sport enough for the king, a month after, to heare him tell it. Well, the king wonne the wager, he thought, and that was honour sufficient for him. Not three days after hee bad the king put away all his footemen, and hee would serue his turne to any place. The king thanked him for his good will, and said, when his neede was great, hee would make bold to use him. So Jemy, this fat foole, euer bragged of this wager. 

   There was a laundres of the towne, whose daughter used often to the court to bring home shirts and bands, which Jemy had long time loued and solicited, but to no end: she would not yeeld him an inch of her maidenhead. Now Jemy vowed he would haue it all: well, she consented at last; and, to be short, soone at night, at nine a’clocke, being in the winter, when shee knew her mother to bee gone to watch with a sick body, he should come, and all that night lye with her. Jemy, though witlesse, wanted no knavish meaning, thought long till it was night. But in the afternoone, this mayd goes up to the castle and gathers a great basket of nettles, and comming home strawes them under the bed. Night comes, nine a’clock strikes; Jemy on his horse comes riding forward, sets him up, and knockes at the doore: she lets him in, and bids him welcome, bonny man. To bed he goes; and Jemy euer used to lye naked, as is the use of a number, amongst which number she knew Jemy was one; who no sooner was in bed, but shee herself knocked at the doore, and herself askt who was there? – which, Jemy hearing, was afraid of her mother. Alas! sir (sayes shee) my mother comes, creepe under the bed. Jemy bustled not a little – under hee creepes, stark naked, where hee was stung with nettles. Judge, you that haue feeling of such matters: there hee lay, turning this way and that way; here hee stung his leg, there his shoulder, there his buttockes: but the mayde hauing lockt the doore to him, went to bed, and there lay he in durance (as they say) till morning. When the day broke, up gets the maide, to court she goes, and tels the king’s chamberlaine of the matter, and hee told the king, who laughed thereat right heartily. 

   The chamberlaine was sent to see him there, who, when hee came, found him fast a sleepe under the bed, starke naked, bathing in nettles; whose skinne, when he wakened him, was all blistered grievously. The king’s chamberlaine bid him arise and come to the king. I will not, quoth hee: I will go make my graue. See how things chanced! he shape truer than he was awar; for the chamberlaine going home without him tolde the king his answere. Jemy rose, made him ready,18 takes his horse and rides to the church-yard in the high towne, where he found the sexton (as the custom is there) making nine graues, three for men, three for women, and three for children; and whoso dyes next, first comes, first serued. Lend mee thy spade, sayes Jemy; and with that digs a hole, which hole hee bids him make for his graue, and doth giue him a French crowne. The man, willing to please him (more for his gold than his pleasure) did so; and the foole gets on his horse, and rides to a gentleman of the towne, and on the sodaine within two hours after dyed; of whom the sexton telling, hee was buried there indeed. Thus you see fooles have a guess at wit sometime, and the wisest could haue done no more – not so much. But this fat foole fills a leane graue with his carkasse, upon which graue the king caused a stone of marble to bee put, on which the poets writ these lines in remembrance of him – 

He that gard all men till jeare,19
Jemy a Camber he ligges here;
Pray for his sall, for he is geane,
And here a ligges beneath this steane.

   Is this possible, sayes the World, that I should bee so serued? Nay, thou art worse serued heareafter, sayes hee, for thou knowest not the following sceane; but attend it. By the foole is meant all fatnesse; by the king, Nature that nurst him; by the nobles, such as sooth him; and by the ship, thee, in which many dangers are floating, through the sense of sinne:20 and so, if life were awarranted fooles, fat ones, rich ones, would give the chaine of their soules, that is linked to saluaion, onely to inherit this earth in thy company; when earth though it bee heauen to hell, by reason of the paines, yet the comparison auerts; it is hell to heauen in respect of pleasures. 

– pp.16-26.

 

1  Page 5, line 7. She now begins to grow bucksome as a lightning before death.] The old meaning of “buxom” is obedient In “Henry V.,” act iii, sc. 6, Pistol talks of “buxom valour,” meaning valour that was controllable, and under good command; but it does not seem very clear in what way Armin means to apply the word. 
2  Page 5, line 19. No, nor to the Country where seldom seene.] This and the five preceding lines are printed as prose in the original; perhaps for the purpose of saving room. 
3  Page 5, line 23. One that was wise enough and fond enough.] The most common sense of “fond,” of old, was foolish; and hence we may perhaps infer that our ancestors thought it foolish to be fond. 
4  Page 5, line 20. And sold all for a glass prospective.] i.e. Such a glass as conjurors were in the habit of using. 
5  Page 6, line 6. That is sharp sauce with bitter dyet.] For sauce, the original has lance, an obvious misprint. 
6  Page 6, line 18. For as they (I) all for the most part.] Ay was almost invariably printed with a capital I at the period when this tract was published. 
7  Page 16, line 18. Two yards in compasse & a nayle I reade.] It may be doubtful whether we are to take “I read” literally, and that Armin bad read this description of the uncouth dwarf, James Camber, in some work of the time; or whether we are to understand “I read” only in that sense in which our older authors sometimes employ I rede, i.e. I advise or inform. Probably, from what follows, the former was the case. 
8  Page 16, line 22. But what that time Jemy a Camber was.] The custom of keeping a fool appears to have prevailed in the Scotch as generally as in any other of the European courts, and it may be presumed was retained for a long time among the nobility; since, among the curiosities shown at Glammis Castle, was, within these few years, the dress worn by the domestic fool belonging to the family. Among the Scotch wearers of Motley, the name of John Lowe, the king of Scotland’s fool, holds a prominent place; while Archee and Muckle John figure among the professed jesters of the English court. The late Mr Octavius Gilchrist published an interesting account of Archibald Armstrong, and his jests, in the London Magazine for Sept. 1824. – W. J. T. 
9  Page 17, line 31. Who hearing the ordinance goe off, would aske what doe they now?] Jemmy Camber would ask; not the king, the last antecedent. Sufficient has been seen to show us that we must not be very critical, either as to Armin’s grammar or style of composition. 
10  Page 18, line 3. That if a maide had a barne.] A word still used in the north for a child
11  Page 18, line 12. A sodaine flaw or gust rose.] This passage forms a brief but decisive explanation of the line in “Hamlet,” Act v., sc. 1. 
“Should patch a wall to expel the winter’s flaw,”
and other passages in Shakespeare, where the word “flaw” occurs. A “flaw” is a gust of wind. Boswell informs us that Dryden uses it generally for a storm, but such is not the case in the quotation he makes to support his position. 
12  Page 18, line 35. For no way could I haue been a looser.] There is probably some misprint in the original copy in this sentence; for, as it stands, it is not intelligible.*
13  Page 19, line 18. Wearing a loose kerchiefe, hanging downe backward.]** This is curious, shewing that women of bad character at that time wore some peculiar kind of dress by which they were known. They are now recognised by other indications, quite as decisive. 
14  Page 19, line 23. Giue me an Atchison.] “The meaning of the term ‘Atchison,’ as applied to coins,” writes Mr. Laing, of Edinburgh, “is thus explained. Thomas Atcheson was assay-master of the Mint at Edinburgh during the minority of James VI., and also during the reign of Mary. His name was given in derision to base metal coins which then were in circulation, and which, as Bishop Nicolson mentions (Scottish Hist. Library, p. 326, 8vo edit.), were in the year 1587 ‘cryed down by Proclamation, because counterfeit in England and other foreign parts.’ Nicolson, however, at p. 34, confounds this Atcheson with an Englishman, who wrote a treatise on the Gold Mines in Scotland, which was printed some years ago for the Bannatyne Club; and Gough, correcting the Bishop’s error, only commits a greater mistake.” 
15  Page 20, line 25. He did so, but the glove lay still.] In running at the glove, it was placed upon the ground, and the art was for a horseman, at speed, to take it up on the point of his lance. Running at the ring was different, for there the object to be carried away was suspended. Explanations may be found in Strutt’s “Sports and Pastimes.” 
16  Page 21, line 26. Jemy, who was, as you haue heard, a tall low man.] This reads like a contradiction in terms; but “tall,” in the time of our author, did not usually mean lofty of stature, but courageous and bold. Shakespeare so uses it with reference to Sir Andrew Aguecheek in “Twelfth Night,” act i., sc. 3 (Collier’s edit. iii. 330), “He’s as tall a man as any’s in Illyria.” Instances of the same kind in other authors of the time are innumerable. 
17  Page 22, line 14. The Earle of Morton’s castle at da Keth.] No doubt misprinted for Dalkeith.***
18  Page 25, line 8. Jemy rose, made him ready.] To make ready meant of old merely to dress, and to be ready was to be dressed. It was the commonest form of expression. 
19  Page 25, line 25. He that gard all men till jeare.] i.e. He that made all men to jest. Mr. Holloway, in his Gen. Dict. of Provincialisms, derives the verb to gar, i.e. to compel or make, from the Danish gior. Spenser employs it in his “Shepherd’s Calendar” for April:- 
“Tell me, good Hobbinol, what gars thee greet;” 
and it is still in use in the north of England as well as in Scotland. 
20  Page 25, line 34. Through the sense of sinne.] Perhaps we ought to read, “through the seas of sin.” It seems an error of the press in the original.
*  I had no problem reading this as “I couldn’t have lost” which makes sense in context, i.e., “loser,” instead of “looser,” which is an expected spelling alternative for the time it was written (see the entire rest of the text for other examples of other “misspellings”). All very reminiscent of the text of Balfour’s ‘Historical Works.’
**  I don’t think this meant a woman of loose character necessarily. In MacGeorge’s Old Glasgow, The People and How they Lived, it’s said, “From the poem “Peblis to the Play,” by James I., we learn that in his time the women wore kerchiefs or hoods, and tippets about the neck.” I’m sure I’ve read elsewhere of this dresswear unconnected with impropriety.
***  I would actually hazard Armin to be correct here and for this to have been “da Keth,” or “of Keith,” as Robert da Keth at the start of the 14th century was Robert Keith. 

2 thoughts on “Armin’s ‘Nest of Ninnies’ – Jemmy Camber

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s