Volltext: A history of caricature and grotesque in literature and art

and Art. 
jeiters of former ages. Two of the earlier Englilh collections have 
gained a greater celebrity than the reit, chiefly through adventitious 
circumfiances. One of thefe, entitled "A Hundred Merry Tales," 
has gained cliftinction among Shakespearian critics as the one efpecially 
alluded to by the great poet in " Much Ado about Nothingff (Act ii., 
Sc. 1), where Beatrice complains that fomebody had faid "that I had 
my good wit out of the Hundred Merry Tales." The other collection 
alluded to was entitled "Mery Tales, lVittie Queitions, and Quicke 
Anfweres, very pleafant to be readde," and was printed in I567. Its 
modern fame appears to have arifen chiefly From the circumftance that, 
until the accidental difcovery of the unique and imperfect copy of the 
" Hundred Merry Tales," it was fuppofed to be the book alluded to by 
Shakefpeare. Both thefe collections are mere compilations from the 
" Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles," Poggio," " Straparola," and other foreign 
works." The Words put into the mouth of Beatrice are correctly defcrip- 
tive of the ufe made of thefe jeii:-books. It had become fafhionable to 
learn out of them jeits and ftories, in order to introduce them into 
polite converfation, and efpecially at table ; and this practice continued to 
prevail until a very recent period. The number of fuch jeft-books pub- 
lilhed during the Gxteenth, feventeeth, and eighteenth centuries, was 
quite extraordinary. Many of thefe were given anonymoufly 5 but many 
alfo were put forth under names which poiTeH'ed temporary celebrity, fuch 
as Hobfon the carrier, Killigrew the jetter, the friend of Charles II., Ben 
Jonfon, Garrick, and a multitude of others. It is, perhaps, unnecetiary 
to remind the reader that the great modern reprefentative of this clafs of 
literature is the illuitrious Joe Miller. 
3" A neat and useful edition of these two jest-books, with the other most curious 
books of the same class, published during the Elizabethan period, has recently been 
Pllbllbhfid in two volumes, by Mr. W. C. Hazlitt.


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