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From The World’s Wit and Humor, Vol. X, French, The Review of Reviews Company; New York; 1906; pp. 30-33.


Unknown Author (15th Century)

The Usurer’s Paternoster

THE usurer betimes arose,
And did the bolts and bars unclose
To see if any sought his door
To borrow money from his store;
Then in his shoes and clothes arrayed,
He woke from sleep his wife and maid.
“Now quickly rise, my orders heed:
Should any hither come who need
To borrow, and their pledge pull forth,
That I lose not, mark well its worth;
Then haste to me, but quietly;
I in the little church shall be;
For no long time I there shall wait,
In short time will the loss be great.”
This said, no longer he delayed,
But gained the church, and thus he prayed:


“Oh, gracious Lord,
To make me such thy help afford,
That I may by my wits obtain
The special glory and the gain
Of winning, gathering such a heap,
That I shall pass and overleap
The richest Usurers of yore,
Who e’er for profit lent their store.



“I’m afraid
That ever ready is my maid
To steal my money, and to cheat;
But all in vain shall she entreat —
A mess of peas one month entire
Is all she’ll cook upon the fire.
I spend too much, it makes me wroth;
Better by far to live on broth
Than thus to run my money through,
As all those fools are wont to do
Who will have venison in the dish,
And salted meats, and dainty fish.

Fiat voluntas tua —


That knight who paid me yesterday,
The one who owed me fifty pound,
Not yet has liberation found;
Nearly one-half he owes me yet —
He need not think that I forget.
What can I lose? His faith I have,
And urged, his word of honor gave
That in a month, without delay.
The whole remainder he would pay.
Yet in that case I scarce was wise:
These pledges are of little price.

Sicut in Cœlo

“To the Jews

These times enormous gain produce,
32 For universally they lend;
To them alone all people wend.
No blame their doings ever met —
Indeed, I mightily regret
My practise cannot be as theirs;
I would greatly better my affairs.

Et ne nos inducas

“Last night

Much money that I took was light,
And even false coins were among.
To take by night is greatly wrong,
Money or pledge from any one
Unless a man of honor known.

In tentationem


I’m sure will higher price attain;
My garners I should fill, ’tis clear;
I know that living will be dear
After the feast of John is past,
This year far more than was the last.

Sed libera nos a malo

“No worthy neighbor do I know;
Of none of them I profit make;
All hate me for my money’s sake.
In God’s name, is it their concern
What I by lending money earn?



“I turn my house to reach:
Our priest is going now to preach.
Money from out our purse to whisk;
But I believe there’s little risk
That he’ll catch mine in such a net —
His music is too falsely set.”


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