Eulenspiegel and the Merchant (Anonymous: about 1500)
The earliest known version of Eulenspiegel dates from 1515, though an edition is said to have been printed in 1483. Nothing at all is known about the author. The merry pranks of Eulenspiegel, like the adventures of Reynard and his companions, formed the basis of several collections of adventures in the late Sixteenth and early Seventeenth Centuries. They were utilized in the Nineteenth Century by the Belgian Charles de Coster. The original book, in the words of Roscoe, is “a national storehouse of amusement from which each successive generation has largely drawn.” Like most of the books of its kind, it was derived from fables and popular traditions.
The present version, translated by Thomas Roscoe, is reprinted from Roscoe’s German Novelists, London, no date. It is one of the separate adventures and has only a descriptive note by way of title.
Eulenspiegel and the Merchant
From Eulertspiegel, the Merry Jester
In the town of Herdellem there resided a rich merchant, who, happening one day to be walking in one of his own fields, a short way out of the city, saw Howleglass lying on the green. He inquired who he was. To this Howleglass replied, “I am a cook without a master, and I have been a cook’s servant, otherwise a scullion; but that is now not a place for me.” The merchant said, “If you like to become my servant, I will give you good board and wages, besides your clothes; you shall have a trial, for my wife is continually bickering one after another with all her cooks.” Howleglass promised to do his best to please him; and his new master asked his name, to which our hero replied that it was Bartholomew.
“The name,” said the merchant, “is too long; you shall be called Dol.” “Sir,” said Howleglass, “just as you like best, it pleases me well.” “Then come,” added his master, ‘‘you are the sort of man I want; let us go directly into my garden to gather herbs for the young boiled chickens, as tomorrow I have a party coming, and we must make merry with the best cheer.” So they went to the house, and when the merchant’s wife saw them come in, she said, “Heyday, master mine, what kind of a servant have you brought us here? Are you afraid lest the bread should be left to grow moldy? What is he for?” “Oh, you shall see that, my dear, tomorrow. Here, Dol, take this pannier, and follow me to the shambles.”