Pedigree: “Sackful of News” appears in a Stationers’ Register entry, licensed for printing to John Kynge, in 1557-58, and subsequently in 1581-82 and 1586, but none of those printings survived in the known collections in Furnivall’s day. William Carew Hazlitt stated in his collection that “There cannot be much doubt” that Kynge’s 1557 printing was the same book as the earliest surviving printing, one from 1673. Scholars and re-enactors may differ in opinion as to whether this work qualifies as a pre-1600 source. Some jestbooks have varied from one printing to another (later printings may add or subtract individual tales), but other jestbooks are virtually identical in terms of stories collected.
Synopsis: “Sackful of News” contains some jokes / stories which have shown up in other collections like “A Hundred Merry Tales” or “Merry Tales and Quick Answers”. Others, I have not seen anywhere else, including a pair of “dumb guy” stories: in the first, a man’s son is sent to the cellar to fetch a “sallat” of herbs, lay it on a platter with oil and vinegar and “serve it forth”. The son had never seen a sallat before. Unfortunately, this cellar also had an old rusty “sallet” helm hanging on the wall (do I need to spell it out?). In the second, a gentlewoman going from church bade her (French) manservant to “pull the door after me”. Which he does. On his back. Lifted from its hinges.
Availability: Internet Archive has copies of W.C. Hazlitt’s “Shakespeare’s Jest Books”. “Sackfull of News” is collected in Volume 2 (of 3):