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A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Volume I. by R. Dodsley

Part 3 out of 9

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All my life I have loved riches;
If that my Good now help me might,
It would make my heart full light:
I will speak to him in this distress:
Where art thou, my Goods and Riches?

GOODS.

Who calleth me? Everyman? what, hast thou haste?
I lie here in corners trussed and piled so high,
And in chests I am locked so fast,
Also sacked in bags, thou mayest see with thine eye,
I cannot stir; in packs, lo, where I lie!
What would ye have, lightly me say.

EVERYMAN.

Come hither, Good, in all the haste thou may;
For of counsel I must desire thee.

GOODS.

Sir, and ye in the world have sorrow or adversity,
That can I help you to remedy shortly.

EVERYMAN.

It is another disease that grieveth me;
In this world it is not, I tell thee so,
I am sent for another way to go,
To give a strait account general
Before the highest Jupiter of all:
And all my life I have had my pleasure in thee,
Therefore I pray thee now go with me;
For, peraventure, thou mayest before God Almighty
My reckoning help to clean and purify,
For it is said ever among,
That money maketh all right that is wrong.

GOODS.

Nay, nay, Everyman, I sing another song;
I follow no man in such voyages,
For, and I went with thee,
Thou shouldest fare much the worse for me:
For because on me thou diddest set thy mind,
Thy reckoning I have made blotted and blind,
That thine account thou cannot make truly;
And that hast thou for the love of me.

EVERYMAN.

That would grieve me full sore,
When I should come to that fearful answer:
Up, and let us go thither together.

GOODS.

Nay, not so; I am too brittle, I may not endure:
I will follow no man one foot, be ye sure.

EVERYMAN.

Alas! I have thee loved, and had great pleasure
All my life-days on my good and treasure.

GOODS.

That is to thy damnation without lesing,
For my love is contrary to the love everlasting;
But if thou had me loved moderately during,
As to the poor give part for the love of me,
Then shouldest thou not in this dolour have be,
Nor in this great sorrow and care.

EVERYMAN.

Lo, now was I deceived, ere I was ware,
And all, I may wete, mis-spending of time.

GOODS.

What, wenest thou that I am thine?

EVERYMAN.

I had went[88] so.

GOODS.

Nay, Everyman, I say no:
As for a while I was lent thee;
A season thou hast had me in prosperity;
My condition is man's soul to kill,
If I save one, a thousand I do spill:
Weenest thou that I will follow thee?
Nay, not fro this world, verily.

EVERYMAN.

I had weened otherwise.

GOODS.

Therefore to thy soul Good is a thief,
For when thou art dead, this is my guise,
Another to deceive in the same wise,
As I have do thee, and all to his soul's reprefe.

EVERYMAN.

O false Good, cursed may thou be,
Thou traitor to God, thou hast deceived me,
And caught me in thy snare.

GOODS.

Marry, thou brought thyself in care,
Whereof I am right glad:
I must needs laugh, I cannot be sad.

EVERYMAN.

Ah, Good, thou hast had long my hearty love;
I gave thee that which should be the Lord's above:
But wilt thou not go with me indeed?
I pray thee truth to say.

GOODS.

No, so God me speed;
Therefore farewell, and have good day.

EVERYMAN.

Oh, to whom shall I make my moan,
For to go with me in that heavy journey?
First Fellowship he said he would with me gone;
His words were very pleasant and gay,
But afterward he left me alone.
Then spake I to my kinsmen all in despair,
And also they gave me words fair,
They lacked no fair speaking;
But all forsake me in the ending.
Then went I to my Goods that I loved best,
In hope to have found comfort; but there had I least:
For my Goods sharply did me tell,
That he bringeth many in hell.
Then of myself I was ashamed,
And so I am worthy to be blamed:
Thus may I well myself hate.
Of whom shall I now counsel take?
I think that I shall never speed,
Till that I go to my Good Deed;
But, alas! she is so weak,
That she can nother go nor speak:
Yet will I venter on her now.
My Good Deeds, where be you?

GOOD DEEDS.

Here I lie cold in the ground;
Thy sins have me so sore bound,
That I cannot stir.

EVERYMAN.

O Good Deeds, I stand in great fear;
I must you pray of counsel,
For help now should come right well.

GOOD DEEDS.

Everyman, I have understanding,
That thou art summoned account to make
Before Messias of Jerusalem King;
And you do by me, that journey with[89] you will I take.

EVERYMAN.

Therefore I come to you my moan to make:
I pray you, that ye will go with me.

GOOD DEEDS.

I would full fain, but I cannot stand verily.

EVERYMAN.

Why, is there anything on you fall?

GOOD DEEDS.

Yea, sir, I may thank you of all;
If ye had perfectly cheered me,
Your book of account full ready now had be.
Look, the books of your works and deeds eke!
Behold how they lie under the feet,
To your soul's heaviness.

EVERYMAN.

Our Lord Jesus help me,
For one letter herein can I not see.

GOOD DEEDS.

Here is a blind reckoning in time of distress!

EVERYMAN.

Good Deeds, I pray you, help me in this need,
Or else I am for ever damned indeed;
Therefore help me to make my reckoning
Before the Redeemer of all thing,
That king is, and was, and ever shall.

GOOD DEEDS.

Everyman, I am sorry of your fall,
And fain would I help you, and I were able.

EVERYMAN.

Good Deeds, your counsel, I pray you, give me.

GOOD DEEDS.

That shall I do verily:
Though that on my feet I may not go,
I have a sister that shall with you also,
Called Knowledge, which shall with you abide,
To help you to make that dreadful reckoning.
[_Enter Knowledge_.

KNOWLEDGE.

Everyman, I will go with thee, and be thy guide,
In thy most need to go by thy side.

EVERYMAN.

In good condition I am now in every thing,
And am wholly content with this good thing,
Thanked be God my Creature.[90]

GOOD DEEDS.

And when he hath brought thee there,
Where thou shalt heal thee of thy smart,
Then go thou with thy reckoning and thy good deeds together.
For to make thee joyful at the heart
Before the blessed Trinity.

EVERYMAN.

My Good Deeds, I thank thee heartfully:
I am well content certainly
With your words sweet.

KNOWLEDGE.

Now go we together lovingly
To Confession, that cleansing river.

EVERYMAN.

For joy I weep: I would we there were;
But I pray you to instruct me by intellection,[91]
Where dwelleth that holy virtue Confession?

KNOWLEDGE.

In the house of salvation;
We shall find him in that place,
That shall us comfort by God's grace.
Lo, this is Confession: kneel down, and ask mercy;
For he is in good conceit with God Almighty.

EVERYMAN.

O glorious fountain that all uncleanness doth clarify,
Wash from me the spots of vices unclean,
That on me no sin may be seen;
I come with Knowledge for my redemption,
Redempt with heart and full contrition,
For I am commanded a pilgrimage to take,
And great accounts before God to make.
Now I pray you, Shrift, mother of salvation,
Help hither my good deeds for my piteous exclamation.

CONFESSION.

I know your sorrow well, Everyman:
Because with Knowledge ye come to me,
I will you comfort as well as I can;
And a precious jewel I will give thee,
Called penance, voider[92] of adversity:
Therewith shall your body chastised be
With abstinence and perseverance in God's service;
Here shall you receive that scourge of me,
Which is penance strong that ye must endure,
Remember thy Saviour was scourged for thee
With sharp scourges, and suffered it patiently:
So must thou, ere thou pass thy pilgrimage.
Knowledge, keep him in this voyage,
And by that time Good Deeds will be with thee;
But in anywise be sure of mercy,
For your time draweth fast; and ye will saved be,
Ask God mercy, and he will grant truly:
When with the scourge of penance man doth him bind,
The oil of forgiveness then shall he find.

EVERYMAN.

Thanked be God for his gracious work;
For now I will my penance begin:
This hath rejoiced and lighted my heart,
Though the knots be painful and hard within.

KNOWLEDGE.

Everyman, look your penance that ye fulfil,
What pain that ever it to you be;
And I shall give you counsel at will,
How your account ye shall make clearly.

EVERYMAN.

O eternal God, O heavenly figure,
O way of rightwiseness, O goodly vision,
Which descended down in a virgin pure,
Because he would Everyman redeem,
Which Adam forfeited by his disobedience,
O blessed Godhead, elect and high Divine,
Forgive me my grievous offence;
Here I cry thee mercy in this presence:
O ghostly treasure, O ransomer and redeemer!
Of all the world hope and conduyter,
Mirror of joy, foundation of mercy,
Which enlumineth heaven and earth thereby,
Hear my clamorous complaint, though it late be,
Receive my prayers of thy benignity,
Though I be a sinner most abominable,
Yet let my name be written in Moses' table.
O Mary, pray to the Maker of all thing
Me for to help at my ending,
And save me from the power of my enemy;
For Death assaileth me strongly:
And, Lady, that I may by mean of thy prayer
Of your son's glory to be partiner.
By the mean of his passion I it crave;
I beseek you help me my soul to save.
Knowledge, give me the scourge of penance,
My flesh therewith shall give acquittance;
I will now begin, if God give me grace.

KNOWLEDGE.

Everyman, God give you time and space!
Thus I bequeath you in the hands of our Saviour;
Now may you make your reckoning sure.

EVERYMAN.

In the name of all the Holy Trinity,
My body punished sore shall be,
Take this body for the sin of the flesh;
Also thou delightest to go gay and fresh;
And in the way of damnation thou did me bring,
Therefore suffer now strokes and punishing:
Now of penance I will wade the water clear,
To save me from purgatory, that sharp fire.[93]

GOOD DEEDS.

I thank God, now I can walk and go,
And am delivered of my sickness and woe;
Therefore with Everyman I will go, and not spare,
His good works I will help him to declare.

KNOWLEDGE.

Now, Everyman, be merry and glad;
Your Good Deeds cometh now, ye may not be sad:
Now is your Good Deeds whole and sound,
Going upright upon the ground.

EVERYMAN.

My heart is light, and shall be evermore;
Now will I smite faster than I did before.

GOOD DEEDS.

Everyman pilgrim, my special friend,
Blessed be thou without end;
For thee is prepared the eternal glory:
Ye have me made whole and sound,
Therefore I will bide by thee in every stound.

EVERYMAN.

Welcome, my Good Deeds, now I hear thy voice,
I weep for very sweetness of love.

KNOWLEDGE.

Be no more sad, but evermore rejoice,
God seeth thy living in His throne above;
Put on this garment to thy behove,
Which with your tears is now all wet,
Lest before God it be unsweet,
When ye to your journey's end come shall.

EVERYMAN.

Gentle Knowledge, what do ye it call?

KNOWLEDGE.

It is the garment of sorrow,
From pain it will you borrow;
Contrition it is,
That getteth forgiveness,
It pleaseth God passing-well.

GOOD DEEDS.

Everyman, will you wear it for your hele?[94]

EVERYMAN.

Now blessed be Jesu, Mary's son;
For now have I on true contrition:
And let us go now without tarrying.
Good Deeds, have we clear our reckoning?

GOOD DEEDS.

Yea, indeed, I have here.

EVERYMAN.

Then I trust we need not to fear;
Now, friends, let us not depart in twain.

KINDRED.

Nay, Everyman, that will we not certain.

GOOD DEEDS.

Yet must thou lead with thee
Three persons of great might.

EVERYMAN.

Who should they be?

GOOD DEEDS.

Discretion and Strength they hyght,[95]
And thy Beauty may not abide behind.

KNOWLEDGE.

Also ye must call to mind
Your Five Wits[96] as for your councillors.

GOOD DEEDS.

You must have them ready at all hours.

EVERYMAN.

How shall I get them hither?

KINDRED.

You must call them all together,
And they will hear you incontinent.

EVERYMAN.

My friends, come hither, and be present,
Discretion, Strength, my Five Wits and Beauty.

BEAUTY.

Here at your will we be all ready;
What will ye that we should do?

GOOD DEEDS.

That ye would with Everyman go,
And help him in his pilgrimage:
Advise you, will ye go with him or not in that voyage?

STRENGTH.

We will bring him all thither
To help and comfort him, ye may believe me.

DISCRETION.

So will we go with him altogether.

EVERYMAN.

Almighty God, loved may Thou be;
I give Thee laud[97] that I have hither brought
Strength, Discretion, Beauty, Five Wits: lack I nought:
And my Good Deeds, with Knowledge clear,
All be in my company at my will here;
I desire no more to my business.[98]

STRENGTH.

And I Strength will by you stand in distress,
Though thou wouldest in battle fight on the ground.

FIVE WITS.

And though it were thorow the world round,
We will not depart for sweet ne for sour.

BEAUTY.

No more will I unto death's hour,
Whatsoever thereof befall.

DISCRETION.

Everyman, advise you first of all,
Go with a good advisement and deliberation;
We all give you virtuous monition
That all shall be well.

EVERYMAN.

My friends, hark what I will you tell;
I pray God reward you in His heavenly sphere:
Now hearken all that be here;
For I will make my testament
Here before you all present:
In alms half my good I will give with my hands twain
In the way of charity with good intent,
And the other half still shall remain:
I it bequeath to be returned there it ought to be.
This I do in despite of the fiend of hell,
To go quit[99] out of his peril[100]
Ever after this day.

KNOWLEDGE.

Everyman, hearken what I will say;
Go to priesthood, I you advise,
And receive of him in any wise
The holy sacrament and ointment[101] together,
Then shortly see ye turn again hither,
We will all abide you here.

FIVE WITS.

Yea, Everyman, hie you that ye ready were:
There is no emperor, king, duke, ne baron,
That of God hath commission,
As hath the least priest in the world being;
For of the blessed sacraments pure and benign
He beareth the keys, and thereof hath cure
For man's redemption, it is ever sure,
Which God for our soul's medicine
Gave us out of his heart with great pain,
Here in this transitory life for thee and me:
The blessed sacraments seven there be,
Baptism, confirmation, with priesthood good,
And the sacrament of God's precious flesh and blood,
Marriage, the holy extreme unction, and penance;
These seven be good to have in remembrance,
Gracious sacraments of high divinity.

EVERYMAN.

Fain would I receive that holy body,
And meekly to my ghostly father I will go.

FIVE WITS.

Everyman, that is the best that ye can do;
God will you to salvation bring,
For good priesthood exceedeth all other thing;
To us holy scripture they do teach,
And converteth man fro sin heaven to reach;
God hath to them more power given
Than to any angel that is in heaven:
With five words he may consecrate
God's body in flesh and blood to take,
And handleth his Maker between his hands,[102]
The priest bindeth and unbindeth all bands
Both in earth and in heaven;
He[103] ministers all the sacraments seven:
Though we kiss thy feet, thou wert worthy:
Thou art the surgeon that cureth sin deadly,
No remedy may we find under God,
But all only priesthood.
Everyman, God gave priest[s] that dignity,
And setteth them in His stead among us to be;
Thus be they above angels in degree.

KNOWLEDGE.

If priests be good, it is so surely,
But when Jesu heng on the cross with great smart,
There he gave us out of his blessed heart
The same sacrament in great torment.
He sold them not to us, that Lord omnipotent;
Therefore Saint Peter the Apostle doth say,
That Jesus' curse hath all they,
Which God their Saviour do buy or sell,
Or they for any money do take or tell,
Sinful priests giveth the sinners example bad,
Their children sitteth by other men's fires, I have heard,
And some haunteth women's company,
With unclean life, as lusts of lechery;
These be with sin made blind.

FIVE WITS.

I trust to God, no such may we find:
Therefore let us priesthood honour,
And follow their doctrine for our soul's succour;
We be their sheep, and they [our] shepherds be,
By whom we all be kept in surety.
Peace! for yonder I see Everyman come,
Which hath made true satisfaction.

GOOD DEEDS.

Methink it is he indeed.

EVERYMAN.

Now Jesu Christ be your alder[104] speed!
I have received the sacrament for my redemption,
And then mine extreme unction;
Blessed be all they that counselled me to take it:
And now, friends, let us go without longer respite;
I thank God that ye have tarried so long.
Now set each of you on this rod your hand,
And shortly follow me;
I go before, there I would be:
God be our guide.

STRENGTH.

Everyman, we will not fro you go,
Till ye have gone this voyage long.

DISCRETION.

I Discretion will bide by you also.

KNOWLEDGE.

And though this pilgrimage be never so strong,
I will never part you fro:
Everyman, I will be as sure by thee,
As ever I was by Judas Maccabee.

EVERYMAN.

Alas! I am so faint I may not stand,
My limbs under me do fold:
Friends, let us not turn again to this land,
Not for all the world's gold;
For into this cave must I creep,

BEAUTY.

And turn to the earth, and there to sleep.

EVERYMAN.

What, into this grave? Alas!

BEAUTY.

Yea, there shall ye consume more and less.

EVERYMAN.

And what, should I smother here?
Yea, by my faith, and never more appear;
In this world live no more we shall,
But in heaven before the highest Lord of all.

BEAUTY.

I cross out all this: adieu, by Saint John;
I take my cap in my lap, and am gone.

EVERYMAN.

What, Beauty? whither will ye?

BEAUTY.

Peace! I am deaf, I look not behind me,
Not, and thou wouldst give me--all the gold in thy chest.

EVERYMAN.

Alas! whereto may I now trust?
Beauty doth fast away hie:
She promised with me to live and die.

STRENGTH.

Everyman, I will thee also forsake and deny,
The game liketh me not at all.

EVERYMAN.

Why then ye will forsake me all:
Strength, tarry, I pray you, a little space.

STRENGTH.

Nay, sir, by the rood of grace,
I will hie me from thee fast,
Though thou weep till thy heart brast.

EVERYMAN.

Ye would ever bide by me, ye said.

STRENGTH.

Yea, I have you far enough conveyed:
Ye be old enough, I understand,
Your pilgrimage to take on hand;
I repent me, that I hither came.

EVERYMAN.

Strength, you to displease I am to blame;
Yet promise is debt;[105] this ye well wot.

STRENGTH.

In faith, as for that I care not:
Thou art but a fool to complain;
Thou spendest thy speech and wasteth thy brain:
Go, thrist[106] thee into the ground.

EVERYMAN.

I had ween'd surer I should you have found:
But I see well, he that trusteth in his Strength,
Is greatly deceived at the length;
Both Strength and Beauty hath forsaken me,
Yet they promised me steadfast to be.

DISCRETION.

Everyman, I will after Strength be gone;
As for me, I will leave you alone.

EVERYMAN.

Why, Discretion, will ye forsake me?

DISCRETION.

Yea, in faith, I will go fro thee;
For when Strength is gone before,
Then I follow after evermore.

EVERYMAN.

Yet, I pray thee, for love of the Trinity,
Look in my grave once piteously.

DISCRETION.

Nay, so nigh will I not come.
Now farewell, fellows everichone.[107]

EVERYMAN.

Oh, all thing faileth, save God alone,
Beauty, Strength, and Discretion;
For, when Death bloweth his blast,
They all run fro me full fast.

FIVE WITS.

Everyman, of thee now my leave I take;
I will follow the other, for here I thee forsake.

EVERYMAN.

Alas! then may I both wail and weep;
For I took you for my best friend.

FIVE WITS.

I will no lenger thee keep:
Now farewell, and here an end.

EVERYMAN.

Now, Jesu, help! all hath forsaken me.

GOOD DEEDS.

Nay, Everyman, I will abide with thee,
I will not forsake thee indeed;
Thou shalt find me a good friend at need.

EVERYMAN.

Gramercy, Good Deeds, now may I true friends see
They have forsaken me everychone;
I loved them better than my good deeds alone:
Knowledge, will ye forsake me also?

KNOWLEDGE.

Yea, Everyman, when ye to death shall go;
But not yet for no manner of danger.

EVERYMAN.

Gramercy, Knowledge, with all my heart.

KNOWLEDGE.

Nay, yet I will not from hence depart,
Till I see where ye shall be come.

EVERYMAN.

Methinketh, alas! that I must be gone
To make my reckoning, and my debts pay;
For I see my time is nigh spent away.
Take ensample, all ye that this do hear or see,
How they that I loved best now forsake me;
Except my Good Deeds, that bideth truly.

GOOD DEEDS.

All earthly things is but vanity,
Beauty, Strength, and Discretion do man forsake,
Foolish friends and kinsmen, that fair spake;
All fleeth save Good Deeds, and that am I.

EVERYMAN.

Have mercy on me, God most mighty,
And stand by me, thou mother and maid Mary.

GOOD DEEDS.

Fear not, I will speak for thee.

EVERYMAN.

Here I cry, God mercy!

GOOD DEEDS.

Short our end and minish our pain:
Let us go, and never come again.

EVERYMAN.

Into thy hands, Lord, my soul I commend,
Receive it, Lord, that it be not lost;
As thou me boughtest, so me defend,
And save me fro the fiend's boast,
That I may appear with that blessed host
That shall be saved at the day of doom:
_In manus tuas_, of might most,
For ever _commendo spiritum meum_.
[_Everyman dies_.

KNOWLEDGE.

Now hath he suffered that we all shall endure:
The Good Deeds shall make all sure;
Now hath he made ending,
Methinketh that I hear angels sing,
And make great joy and melody,
Where Everyman's soul shall received be.

THE ANGEL.

Come, excellent elect spouse to Jesu,
Here above thou shalt go.
Because of thy singular virtue:
Now thy soul is taken thy body fro,
Thy reckoning is crystal clear;
Now shalt thou into the heavenly sphere,
Unto the which all ye shall come
That liveth well, after the day of doom.

DOCTOR.

This memory all men may have in mind;
Ye hearers, take it of worth, old and young,
And forsake pride, for he deceiveth you in the end,
And remember Beauty, Five Wits, Strength, and Discretion,
They all at last do Everyman forsake,
Save his Good Deeds; [them he] there doth take:
But beware, for, and they be small,
Before God he hath no help at all;
None excuse may be there for Everyman:
Alas, how shall he do then?
For after death amends may no man make,
For then mercy and pity doth him forsake;
If his reckoning be not clear, when he doth come,
God will say, _Ite, maledicti, in ignem aeternum_;
And he that hath his account whole and sound,
High in heaven he shall be crowned;
Unto which place God bring us all thither,
That we may live body and soul together;
Thereto help the Trinity:
Amen, say ye, for Saint Charity.[108]

FINIS.

HICKSCORNER.

_EDITIONS_.

_Hyckescorner. [At the end:] Enprynted by me Wynkyn de Worde. 4 deg., Black
letter.

Hycke scorner. [At the end:] Thus endeth the enterlude of Hycke scorner.
Imprinted at London in foster laene by John Waley. 4 deg., Black letter_.

HICKSCORNER.

This piece is printed from a black letter copy in Mr Garrick's
collection,[109] of which the following is a very accurate analysis,
extracted from Dr Percy's "Relics of Ancient English Poetry," vol. i. p.
130:--

"Hickscorner bears no distant resemblance to comedy: its chief aim seems
to be to exhibit characters and manners, its plot being much less regular
than the foregoing. The prologue is spoken by Pity, represented under the
character of an aged pilgrim; he is joined by Contemplation and
Perseverance, two holy men who, after lamenting the degeneracy of the
age, declare their resolution of stemming the torrent. Pity then is left
upon the stage, and presently found by Freewill, representing a lewd
debauchee who, with his dissolute companion, Imagination, relate their
manner of life, and not without humour describe the stews and other
places of base resort. They are presently joined by Hickscorner, who is
drawn as a libertine returned from travel, and agreeably to his name
scoffs at religion. These three are described as extremely vicious, who
glory in every act of wickedness. At length two of them quarrel, and Pity
endeavours to part the fray; on this they fall upon him, and put him into
the stocks, and then leave him. Pity then descants in a kind of lyric
measure on the profligacy of the age, and in this situation is found by
Perseverance and Contemplation, who set him at liberty, and advise him to
go in search of the delinquents. As soon as he is gone, Freewill appears
again, and after relating in a very comic manner some of his rogueries
and escapes from justice, is rebuked by the two holy men who, after a
long altercation, at length convert him and his libertine companion,
Imagination, from their vicious course of life, and then the play ends
with a few verses from Perseverance, by way of epilogue.

"It would be needless to point out the absurdities in the plan and
conduct of the foregoing play: they are evidently great. It is sufficient
to observe that, bating the moral and religious reflections of Pity, &c.,
the piece is of a comic caste, and contains a humorous display of some of
the vices of the age. Indeed, the author has generally been so little
attentive to the allegory, that we need only substitute other names to
his personages, and we have real characters and living manners."

The woodcuts prefixed to this and the foregoing play were very minutely
traced and executed by a masterly hand; and there being something
singular in giving the portraits of the _dramatis personae_, it is
presumed the following will be particularly pleasing to the reader.[110]

[It appears to have been from this drama or interlude, that the saying
arose of "Hickscorner's jests." (See Mr J.P. Collier's Diary, part iii.
p. 13.)]

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

HICKSCORNER.

PITY.

Now Jesu the gentle, that brought Adam fro hell,
Save you all, sovereigns, and solace you send:
And, of this matter that I begin to tell,
I pray you of audience, till I have made an end;
For I say to you, my name is Pity,
That ever yet hath been man's friend.
In the bosom of the second person in Trinity
I sprang as a plant, man's miss to amend;
You for to help I put to my hand:
Record I take of Mary that wept tears of blood;
I Pity within her heart did stand;
When she saw her son on the rood,
The sword of sorrow gave that lady wound;
When a spear clave her son's heart asunder,
She cried out, and fell to the ground;
Though she was woe, it was little wonder,
This delicate colour [had] that goodly lady,
Full pale and wan, she saw her son all dead,
Splayed on a cross with the five wells of pity,
Of purple velvet powdered with roses red.
Lo, I Pity thus made your errand to be sped,
Or else man for ever should have been forlore.
A maiden so laid his life to wed,
Crowned as a king the thorns pricked him sore.
Charity and I of true love leads the double rein;
Whoso me loveth damned never shall be.
Of some virtuous company I would be fain;
For all that will to heaven needs must come by me,
Chief porter I am in that heavenly city,
And now here will I rest me a little space,
Till it please Jesu of his grace
Some virtuous fellowship for to send.

CONTEMPLATION.

Christ that was christened, crucified, and crowned,
In his bosom true love was gaged with a spear,
His veins brast and bruised, and to a pillar bound,
With scourges he was lashed, the knots the skin tare,
On his neck to Calvary the great cross he bare,
His blood ran to the ground, as Scripture doth tell:
His burden was so heavy, that down under it he fell,
Lo, I am kin to the Lord, which is God's son;
My name is written foremost in the book of life,
For I am perfect Contemplation,
And brother to holy church that is our Lord's wife.
John Baptist, Anthony, and Jerome, with many mo,
Followed me here in holt,[111] heath, and in wilderness;
I ever with them went where they did go,
Night and day toward the way of rightwiseness:
I am the chief lantern of all holiness,
Of prelates and priests I am their patron;
No armour so strong in no distress,
Habergeon, helm, ne yet no Jeltron,
To fight with Satan am I the champion,
That dare abide, and manfully stand:
Fiends flee away, where they see me come;
But I will show you why I came to this land
For to preach and teach of God's sooth saws,
Ayenst vice that doth rebel ayenst him and his laws.

PITY.

God speed, good brother; fro whence came you now?

CONTEMPLATION.

Sir, I came from Perseverance to seek you.

PITY.

Why, sir, know you me?

CONTEMPLATION.

Yea, sir, and have done long; your name is Pity.

PITY.

Your name fain would I know.

CONTEMPLATION.

Indeed I am called Contemplation,
That useth to live solitarily;
In woods and in wildness[112] I walk alone,
Because I would say my prayers devoutly;
I love not with me to have much company:
But Perseverance oft with me doth meet,
When I think on thoughts that is full heavenly;
Thus he and I together full sweetly doth sleep.

PITY.

I thank God that we be met together.

CONTEMPLATION.

Sir, I trust that Perseverance shortly will come hither.

PITY.

Then I think to hear some good tiding.

CONTEMPLATION.

I warrant you, brother, that he is coming.

PERSEVERANCE.

The eternal God, that named was Messias,
He give you grace to come to his glory,
Wherever is joy in the celestial place,
When you of Satan winneth the victory,
Everyman ought to be glad to have in company,
For I am named good Perseverance,
That ever is guided by virtuous governance;
I am never variable, but doth continue,
Still going upward the ladder of grace,
And lode in me planted is so true,
And from the poor man I will never turn my face:
When I go by myself oft I do remember
The great kindness that God showed unto man,
For to be born in the month of December,
When the day waxeth short, and the night long,
Of his goodness that champion strong
Descended down fro the Father of rightwiseness,
And rested in Mary the flower of meekness.
Now to this place hither come I am
To seek Contemplation my kinsman.

CONTEMPLATION.

What, brother Perseverance? ye be welcome.

PERSEVERANCE.

And so be you also, Contemplation.

CONTEMPLATION.

Lo, here is our master Pity.

PERSEVERANCE.

Now truly ye be welcome into this country.

PITY.

I thank ye heartily, sir Perseverance.

PERSEVERANCE.

Master Pity, one thing is come to my remembrance;
What tithings hear you now?

PITY.

Sir, such as I can I shall show you:
I have heard many men complain piteously;
They say they be smitten with the swerd of poverty.
In every place where I do go:
Few friends poverty doth find,
And these rich men been unkind;
For their neighbours they will nought do,
Widows doth curse lords and gentle men,
For they constrain them to marry with their men,
Yea, whether they will or no:
Men marry for good,[113] and that is damnable,
Yea, with old women that is fifty and beyond:
The peril now no man dread will;
All is not God's law that is used in land;
Beware will they not, till death in his hand
Taketh his sword, and smiteth asunder the life vein,
And with his mortal stroke cleaveth the heart atwain:
They trust so in mercy, the lantern of brightness,
That no thing do they dread God's rightwiseness.

PERSEVERANCE.

O Jesu, sir, here is a heavy tiding.

PITY.

Sir, this is true, that I do bring.

CONTEMPLATION.

How am I beloved, master Pity, where ye come?

PITY.

In good faith, people have now small devotion;
And as for with you, brother Contemplation,
There meddleth few or none.

CONTEMPLATION.

Yet, I trust, that priests love me well?

PITY.

But a few, i-wis, and some never a deal.

CONTEMPLATION.

Why, sir, without me they may not live clean.

PITY.

Nay, that is the least thought that they have of fifteen;
And that maketh me full heavy.

CONTEMPLATION.

How, trow you that there be no remedy?

PITY.

Full hard, for sin is now so grievous and ill,
That I think that it be growen to an impossible,
And yet one thing maketh me ever mourning:
That priests lack utterance to show their cunning;
And all the while that clerks do use so great sin,
Among the lay people look never for no mending.

PERSEVERANCE.

Alas, that is a heavy case,
That so great sin is used in every place;
I pray God it amend.

CONTEMPLATION.

Now God, that ever hath been man's friend,
Some better tidings soon us send!
For now I must be gone.
Farewell, good brethren here;
A great errand I have elsewhere,
That must needs be done:
I trust I will not long tarry;
Thither will I hie me shortly,
And come again, when I have done.

PERSEVERANCE.

Hither again, I trust, you will come;
Therefore God be with you.

CONTEMPLATION.

Sir, needs I must depart now;
Jesu me speed this day.

PERSEVERANCE.

Now, brother Contemplation, let us go our way.

FREEWILL.

Aware, fellows, and stand a-room:
How say you? am not I a goodly person?
I trow, you know not such a guest:
What, sirs, I tell you, my name is Freewill,
I may choose whether I do good or ill;
But for all that I will do, as me list:
My conditions ye know not, perde,
I can fight, chide, and be merry;
Full soon of my company ye would be weary,
And ye knew all.
What, fill the cup, and make good cheer!
I trow I have a noble here:
Who lent it me? By Christ, a frere;
And I gave him a fall.
Where be ye, sir? be ye at home?
Cock's passion, my noble is turned to a stone.
Where lay I last? Beshrew your heart, John;
Now, by these bones, she hath beguiled me:
Let see; a penny my supper, a piece of flesh ten-pence;
My bed right nought: let all this expense--
Now, by these bones, I have lost a halfpenny.
Who lay there? my fellow Imagination;
He and I had good communication
Of Sir John and Sybil,
How they were spied in bed together;
And he prayed her oft to come hither,
For to sing _lo, le, lo, lowe_.
They twain together had good sport;
But at the stews' side I lost a groat:
I trow I shall never i-the.[114]
My fellow promised me here to meet,
But I trow the whoreson be asleep
With a wench somewhere.
How, Imagination, come hither,
And you thrive, I lose a feather;
Beshrew your heart, appear.

IMAGINATION.

What, how, how, who called after me?

FREEWILL.

Come near, ye shall never i-the,
Where have ye be so long?

IMAGINATION.

By God, with me it is all wrong,
I have a pair of sore buttocks,
All in irons was my song,
Even now I sat gyved in a pair of stocks.

FREEWILL.

Cock's passion, and how so?

IMAGINATION.

Sir, I will tell you what I have do:
I met with a wench, and she was fair,
And of love heartily I did pray her,
And so promised her money:
Sir, she winked on me, and said nought,
But by her look I knew her thought;
Then into love's dance we were brought,
That we played the pyrdewy:
I wot not what we did together,
But a knave catchpole nighed us near,
And so did us aspy;
A stripe he gave me, I fled my touch,
And from my girdle he plucked my pouch:
By your leave he left me never a penny:
Lo, nought have I but a buckle,
And yet I can imagine things subtle
For to get money plenty;
In Westminster Hall every term I am,
To me is kin many a great gentleman,
I am knowen in every country;
And I were dead, the lawyers' thrift were lost:
For this will I do, if men would do cost,
Prove right wrong, and all by reason,
And make men lese both house and land,
For all that they can do in a little season,
Peach men of treason privily I can,
And when me list, to hang a true man.
If they will be money tell,
Thieves I can help out of prison,
And into lords' favours I can get me soon,
And be of their privy council.
But, Freewill, my dear brother,
Saw you nought of Hickscorner?
He promised me to come hither.

FREEWILL.

Why, sir, knowest thou him?

IMAGINATION.

Yea, yea, man; he is full nigh of my kin,
And in Newgate we dwelled together;
For he and I were both shackled in a fetter.

FREEWILL.

Sir, lay you beneath or on high on the seller?[115]

IMAGINATION.

Nay, i-wis, among the thickest of yeomen of the collar.[116]

FREEWILL.

By God, then you were in great fear.

IMAGINATION.

Sir, had I not been, two hundred had been thrust in an halter.

FREEWILL.

And what life have they there, all that great sort?

IMAGINATION.

By God, sir, once a year some taw halts of Burport:[117]
Yea, at Tyburn there standeth the great frame.
And some take a fall that maketh their neck lame.

FREEWILL.

Yea, but can they then go no more?

IMAGINATION.

Oh, no, man; the wrest is twist so sore,
For as soon as they have said _In manus tuas_ once,
By God, their breath is stopped at once.

FREEWILL.

Why, do they pray in that place there?

IMAGINATION.

Yea, sir, they stand in great fear,
And so fast tangled in that snare,
It falleth to their lot to have the same share.

FREEWILL.

That is a knavish sight to see them totter on a beam.

IMAGINATION.

Sir, the whoresons could not convey[118] clean;
For, and they could have carried by craft as I can,
In process of years each of them should be a gentleman.
Yet as for me I was never thief;
If my hands were smitten off, I can steal with my teeth;
For ye know well, there is craft in daubing:[119]
I can look in a man's face and pick his purse,
And tell new tidings that was never true, i-wis,
For my hood is all lined with lesing.[120]

FREEWILL.

Yea, but went ye never to Tyburn a pilgrimage?

IMAGINATION.

No, i-wis; nor none of my lineage,
For we be clerks all, and can our neck verse,
And with an ointment the judge's hand I can grease,
That will heal sores that be incurable.

FREEWILL.

Why, were ye never found reprovable?

IMAGINATION.

Yes, once I stall a horse in the field,
And leapt on him for to have ridden my way:
At the last a baily me met and beheld,
And bad me stand; then was I in a fray:
He asked, whither with that horse I would gone;
And then I told him it was mine own:
He said I had stolen him; and I said nay:
This is, said he, my brother's hackney.
For, and I had not excused me, without fail,
By our lady, he would have lad me straight to jail;
And then I told him the horse was like mine,
A brown bay, a long mane, and did halt behine,
Thus I told him, that such another horse I did lack;
And yet I never saw him, nor came on his back:
So I delivered him the horse again.
And when he was gone, then was I fain:
For and I had not excused me the better,
I know well I should have danced in a fetter.

FREEWILL.

And said he no more to thee but so?

IMAGINATION.

Yea, he pretended me much harm to do;
But I told him that morning was a great mist,
That what horse it was I ne wist:
Also I said, that in my head I had the megrin,
That made me dazzle so in mine eyen,
That I might not well see.
And thus he departed shortly from me.

FREEWILL.

Yea, but where is Hickscorner now?

IMAGINATION.

Some of these young men hath hid him in
Their bosoms, I warrant ye:
Let us make a cry, that he may us hear.

FREEWILL.

How now, Hickscorner, appear;
I trow thou be hid in some corner.

HICKSCORNER.

Ale[121] the helm, ale, veer, shoot off, veer sail, veer-a.

FREEWILL.

Cock's body, hark, he is a ship on the sea.

HICKSCORNER.

God speed, God speed; who called after me?

IMAGINATION.

What, brother, welcome by this precious body;
I am glad that I you see,
It was told me that you were hanged;
But out of what country come ye?

HICKSCORNER.

Sirs, I have been in many a country;
As in France, Ireland, and in Spain,
Portingal, Sevile, also in Almaine;
Friesland, Flanders, and in Burgoine,
Calabria, Pugle,[122] and Erragon,[123]
Britain, Biske, and also in Gascoine,
Naples, Greece, and in middes of Scotland;
At Cape,[124] Saint Vincent, and in the new found island,[125]
I have been in Gene[126] and in Cowe,
Also in the land of Rumbelow,[127]
Three mile out of hell;
At Rhodes, Constantine, and in Babylon[128]
In Cornwall, and in Northumberland,
Where men seethe rushes in gruel;
Yea, sir, in Chaldsea, Tartary, and India,
And in the Land of Women, that few men doth find:
In all these countries have I be.

FREEWILL.

Sir, what tidings hear ye now on the sea?

HICKSCORNER.

We met of ships a great navy,
Full of people that would into Ireland;
And they came out of this country:
They will never more come to England.

IMAGINATION.

Whence were the ships of them? knowest thou none?

HICKSCORNER.

Harken, and I will show you their names each one:
First was the _Regent_, with the _Michael_ of Brikilse;
The _George_, with the _Gabriel_, and the _Anne_ of Fowey;
The _Star_ of Saltash, with the _Jesus_ of Plymouth;
Also the _Hermitage_, with the _Barbara_ of Dartmouth,
The _Nicolas_ and the _Mary Bellouse_ of Bristow,
With the _Ellen_ of London and _James_ also:
Great was the people that was in them,
All true religious and holy women:
There was Truth and his kinsmen,
With Patience, Meekness, and Humility,
And all true maidens with their virginity,
Royal preachers, sadness and charity,
Right conscience and faith, with devotion,
And all true monks that keep their religion,
True buyers and sellers, and alms-deed doers,
Piteous people, that he of sin destroyers,
With just abstinence and good councillors,
Mourners for sin, with lamentation,
And good rich men that helpeth folk out of prison,
True wedlock was there also,
With young men that ever in prayer did go,
The ships were laden with such unhappy company,
But at the last God shope[129] a remedy,
For they all in the sea were drowned,
And on a quicksand they strake to ground;
The sea swallowed them everychone,
I wot well alive there scaped none.

IMAGINATION.

Lo, now my heart is glad and merry;
For joy now let us sing "Derry, derry."

HICKSCORNER.

Fellows, they shall never more us withstand;
For I see them all drowned in the Rase of Ireland.

FREEWILL.

Yea, but yet hark, Hickscorner,
What company was in your ship, that came over?

HICKSCORNER.

Sir, I will aid[130] you to understand,
There were good fellows above five thousand,
And all they been kin to us three:
There was falsehood, favell,[131] and jollity,
Yea, thieves, and whores, with other good company,
Liars, backbiters, and flatterers the while,
Brawlers, liars, jetters, and chiders,
Walkers by night, with great murderers,
Overthwart guile[rs] and jolly carders,
Oppressors of people, with many swearers,
There was false law with horrible vengeance,
Froward obstination with mischievous governance,
Wanton wenches, and also michers,
With many other of the devil's officers;
And hatred, that is so mighty and strong,
Hath made a vow for ever to dwell in England.

IMAGINATION.

But is that true, that thou dost show now?

HICKSCORNER.

Sir, every word as I do tell you.

FREEWILL.

Of whence is your ship? of London?

HICKSCORNER.

Yea, i-wis from thence did she come;
And she is named _The Envy_,
I tell you, a great vessel and a mighty:
The owner of her is called Ill-Will,
Brother to Jack Poller of Shooter's-Hill.

IMAGINATION.

Sir, what office in the ship bare ye?

HICKSCORNER.

Marry, I kept a fair shop of bawdry,
I had three wenches that were full praty,
Jane true and thriftless, and wanton Sybil,
If you ride her a journey, she will make you weary,
For she is trusty at need:
If ye will hire her for your pleasure,
I warrant, tire her shall ye never,
She is so sure in deed;
Ride, and you will, ten times a-day,
I warrant you she will never say nay,
My life I dare lay to wed.[132]

IMAGINATION.

Now pluck up your hearts, and make good cheer;
These tidings liketh me wonder well,
Now virtue shall draw arear arear:
Hark, fellows, a good sport I can you tell,
At the stews we will lie to-night,
And by my troth, if all go right,
I will beguile some praty wench,
To get me money at a pinch.
How say you? shall we go thither?
Let us keep company altogether,
And I would that we had God's curse,
If we somewhere do not get a purse;
Every man bear his dagger naked in his hand,
And if we meet a true man, make him stand,
Or else that he bear a stripe;
If that he struggle, and make any work,
Lightly strike him to the heart,
And throw him into Thames quite.

FREEWILL.

Nay, three knaves in a leash is good at nale:[133]
But thou lubber Imagination,
That cuckold thy father, where is he become?
At Newgate doth he lie still at jail?

IMAGINATION.

Avaunt, whoreson, thou shalt bear me a stripe;
Say'st thou, that my mother was a whore?

FREEWILL.

Nay, sir, but the last night
I saw Sir John and she tumbled on the floor.

IMAGINATION.

Now, by Cock's heart, thou shalt lose an arm.

HICKSCORNER.

Nay, sir, I charge you do him no harm.

IMAGINATION.

And thou make too much, I will break thy head too.

HICKSCORNER.

By Saint Mary, and I wist that, I would be ago.

IMAGINATION.

Aware, aware! the whoreson shall aby,
His priest will I be, by Cock's body.

HICKSCORNER.

Keep peace, lest knaves' blood be shed.

FREEWILL.

By God, if his was nought, mine was as bad.

IMAGINATION.

By Cock's heart, he shall die on this dagger.

HICKSCORNER.

By our Lady, then will ye be strangled in a halter.

IMAGINATION.

The whoreson shall eat him,[134] as far as he shall wade.

HICKSCORNER.

Beshrew your heart, and put up your blade,
Sheathe your whittle, or by Jis,[135] that was never born,
I will rap you on the costard with my horn;
What, will ye play all the knave?

IMAGINATION.

By Cock's heart, and thou a buffet shalt have.

FREEWILL.

Lo, sirs, here is a fair company, God us save;
For if any of us three be mayor of London,
I-wis, i-wis, I will ride to Rome on my thumb:
Alas! ah, see; is not this a great feres?
I would they were in a mill-pool above the ears;
And then I durst warrant, they would depart anon.

HICKSCORNER.

Help, help, for the passion of my soul;
He hath made a great hole in my poll,
That all my wit is set to the ground:
Alas! a leech for to help my wound.

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