Among a small collection of witty and wise proverbs and precepts that fill the end of a quire in the Boke of St Albans (1486; RSTC, no. 3308) are these verses:
Who that mannyth hym with his kynne And closith his croofte wyth cheritrees Shall haue many hegges brokynne And also full lytyll good seruyes.
Found amid the treatises on hunting, hawking, and heraldry in the miscellany produced by the so-called Schoolmaster Printer of St Albans, these verses are item 4106.5 in the Supplement to the Index of Middle English Verse (IMEVS). Apart from this notice and others in standard bibliographical reference tools,(1) these verses have received little attention, presumably because while they are amusing, they are unremarkable and invite no serious critical response.
Apart from their publication in the original Boke of St Albans, the verses appear in the second edition of that work by Wynkyn de Worde (Westminster 1496, RSTC 3309) and one other printed work, Here be Certayne Questyons of Kynge Bocthus (London c. 1550, RSTC 3188). Hitherto, the only manuscript form was that written by an early sixteenth-century hand on blank leaves in a British Library copy (IB 49408) of a 1480? print of Alliaco Petrus's Meditationes (Bruges, Colard Mansion). C. F. Buhler, who found the copy of these verses and other short items from the Boke of St Albans, observed, 'It seems difficult, if not impossible to determine with certainty whether these maxims ... were copied from the Boke of St Albans or go back to an earlier manuscript tradition'.(2)
Though no earlier manuscript tradition was known when Buhler wrote those words, a manuscript copy of these verses has now turned up, in British Library, MS Additional 30338, a medical miscellany copied, probably, in Herefordshire:
He that hygh hym wygh hys kyn And setteth hys gardyn wt chery tren And maketh hys fuyre wyth spones And setteth hys loue on gromes And feccheth hys ale in tankardes Al thys is awaywardes …