THE TWENTY-FIFTH NOUELL.
Of the bookes of Sybilla.
In auncient Chronicles, these things appere in memorie, touchinge the bookes of Sybilla. A straunge and vnknown old woman, repaired to the Romaine kyng Tarquinius Superbus, bearing in her armes nine bookes, which she sayde were deuine Oracles, and offered them to be solde. Tarquinius demaunded the price. The woman asked a wonderfull somme. The king making semblaunce as though the olde woman doted, began to laughe. Then shee gotte fyre in a chafing dishe, and burned three bookes of the nyne. She asked the kyng again, if he would haue the fixe for that prise, wherat the king laughed in more ample sorte, saying: "that the olde woman no doubt did dote in deede." By and by she burned other three, humbly demaunding the king the like question, if he would buye the reste for that price. Wherevpon the kyng more earnestlye gaue hede to her requeste, thinking the constante demaundes of the woman not to be in vain, bought the three bookes that remained for no lesse price, then was required for the whole. Therewithall the woman departed from Tarquinius, and was neuer seene after. These bookes were kept in the Capitole at Rome, whereunto the Romaines resorted, when they purposed to aske counsayle of the Goddes. A good example for wyse men to beware, howe they despyse or neglecte auncient bookes and monumentes. Many the like in this Realme haue bene defaced, founde in Religious houses, whiche no doubte woulde haue conduced great vtilitie and profite both to the common wealth and countrie, if they had bene reserued and kepte, whiche bookes by the ignoraunt, haue ben torne and raised, to the great griefe of those that be learned, and of them that aspire to learning and vertue.