Daily (?) Captain Cox — “The Booke of Fortune”

Pedigree– Mr. Furnivall refers first to a tract printed by Robert Wyer (The colophon in the museum copy contained no date), attributed to Sir Thomas More.       However, he refers to this tract as a prologue, meant to accompany and precede a longer work called  “The Book Of Fortune”, and not to BE the Book of Fortune itself, possibly printed after More’s death in 1535.       As to this other named work,   “What that was I can’t say;  but no doubt an edition of the book licensed to William Powell on Feb. 6, 1559-60  (transcript of an entry from “The Stationers’ Register A” follows).”


Synopsis–Furnivall printed portions of what scholars of More’s works refer to as “The Fortune Verses”, which Wyer printed in his booklet.     These are a Prologue, a pair of French stanzas, a pair of English stanzas,  a poem titled “The Words of Fortune To The People”, one called “To them that trusteth in Fortune”, and lastly a poem titled “Tp Them That Seeketh Fortune”.      More’s theme in all of these works is basically that the vicissitudes of Fortune are not to be trusted.    Furnivall also printed an extract from “the earliest fortune-telling book…in the British Museum catalogue”,  a book titled “A Merry-conceited Fortune-teller” from 1662.    The “fortunes” related to various professions, and read more like punning opportunities than actual prognostications.


Availability– There is a copy of “the Fortune Verses”   at thomasmorestudies.org, follow the link to find the verses without scrolling:



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