I remember by the way a merry jest performed by a fool, yet wittily hit home at hazard, as blind men shoot the crow.
King Henry the Eighth of famous memory, walking one day in his privy garden with Will Sommers his fool, it fortuned that two lawyers had a suit unto his Majesty for one piece of ground that was almost out of lease and in the King's gift, and at time put up their supplication to his Highness, and at that instant one of the Pantry<67> that had been a long serviture, had spied out the same land and exhibited his petition for the same gift, so that in one hour all the three supplications were given to the King, which his Highness noting, and being as then pleasantly disposed, he revealed it to them that were by him, how there were three fishes at one bait, and all gaped for a benefice, and he stood in doubt on whom to bestow it, and so showed them the supplications: the courtiers spoke for their fellow, except two that were feed by the lawyers, and they particularly pleaded for their friends, yielding many reasons to the King on both sides. At last his Majesty said he would refer the matter to Will Sommers, which of them his fool thought most worthy of it should have the land. Will was glad of this, and loved him of the Pantry well, and resolved he should have the ground, but the fool brought it about with this pretty jest: Marry quoth he, what are these? two lawyers? Aye, Will, said the King. Then, quoth the fool, I will use them as they use their poor clients. Look here, quoth he, I have a walnut in my hand, and I will divide it among the three, so Will cracked it, and gave to one lawyer one shell, and to another the other shell, and to him of the Pantry the meat, so shall thy gift be, Harry, quoth he, this lawyer shall have good books, and this, fair promises, but my fellow of the Pantry shall have the land. For thus deal they with their clients; two men go to two, and spend all they have upon the law, and at last have nothing but bare shells for their labour. At this the King and his noblemen laughed, the Yeoman of the Pantry had the gift, and the lawyers went home with fleas in their ears by a fool's verdict. I rehearsed this act to show how men-of-law feed on poor men's purses and make their country clients oftentimes simple conies. But leaving their common courses and trivial examples, I will show you, Master R.G., of a kind of cony-catchers that as yet passeth all these.