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

Part 4 out of 9

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IMAGINATION.

Nay, i-wis, whoreson, I will bite thee, ere I go.

FREEWILL.

Alas! good sir, what have I do?

IMAGINATION.

Ware, make room, he shall have a stripe, I trow.

PITY.

Peace, peace, sirs, I command you.

IMAGINATION.

Avaunt, old churl; whence comest thou?
And thou make too much, I shall break thy brow,
And send thee home again.

PITY.

Ah, good sir, the peace I would have kept fain;
Mine office is to see no man slain;
And where they do amiss, to give them good counsel,
Sin to forsake, and God's law them tell.

IMAGINATION.

Ah, sir, I ween'd thou hadst been drowned and gone:
But I have spied, that there scaped one.

HICKSCORNER.

Imagination, do by the counsel of me,
Be agreed with Freewill, and let us good fellows be;
And then, as for this churl Pity,
Shall curse the time that ever he came to land.

IMAGINATION.

Brother Freewill, give me your hand,
And all mine ill will I forgive thee.

FREEWILL.

Sir, I thank you heartily;
But what shall we do with this churl Pity?

IMAGINATION.

I will go to him, and pick a quarrel,
And make him a thief, and say he did steal
Of mine forty pound in a bag.

FREEWILL.

By God, that tidings will make him sad;
And I will go fetch a pair of gyves,
For in good faith he shall be set fast by the heels.

HICKSCORNER.

Have ado lightly, and be gone,
And let us twain with him alone.

FREEWILL.

Now, farewell, I beshrew you everychone.

HICKSCORNER.

Ho, ho, Freewill you threw, and no mo.

IMAGINATION.

Thou lewd fellow, say'st thou that thy name is Pity?
Who sent thee hither to control me?

PITY.

Good sir, it is my property
For to despise sinful living,
And unto virtue men to bring,
If that they will do after me.

IMAGINATION.

What, sir, art thou so pure holy?
Ah, see, this caitiff would be praised, I trow;
And you thrive this year, I will lose a penny.
Lo, sirs, outward he beareth a fair face;
But, and he meet with a wench in a privy place,
I trow he would show her but little grace:
By God, ye may trust me.

HICKSCORNER.

Lo, will ye not see this caitiff's meaning?
He would destroy us all, and all our kin,
Yet had I liever see him hanged by the chin,
Rather than that should be brought about;
And with this dagger thou shalt have a clout,
Without thou wilt be lightly be gone.

IMAGINATION.

Nay, brother, lay hand on him soon;
For he japed my wife, and made me cuckold,
And yet the traitor was so bold,
That he stale forty pound of mine in money.

HICKSCORNER.

By Saint Mary, then he shall not scape;
We will lead him straight to Newgate,
For ever there shall he lie.

FREEWILL.

Ah, see, ah, see, sirs, what I have brought,
A medicine for a pair of sore shins;
At the King's Bench, sirs, I have you sought,
But I pray you, who shall wear these?

HICKSCORNER.

By God, this fellow that may not go hence,
I will go give him these hose rings;
Now, i-faith, they be worth forty pence,
But to his hands I lack two bonds.

IMAGINATION.

Hold, whoreson, here is an halter;
Bind him fast, and make him sure.

PITY.

O men, let truth, that is the true man,
Be your guider, or else ye be forlorn;
Lay no false witness, as nigh as ye can,
On none; for afterward ye will repent it full sore.

FREEWILL.

Nay, nay, I care not therefore.

HICKSCORNER.

Yea, when my soul hangeth on the hedge-cast stones,
For I tell thee plainly by Cock's bones,
Thou shalt be guided, and laid in irons,
They fared even so.

PITY.

Well-a-way,[136] sir, what have I do?

IMAGINATION.

Well, well, that thou shalt know, ere thou go.

PITY.

O sirs, I see it cannot be amended,
You do me wrong, for I have not offended:
Remember God that is our heaven king,
For he will reward you after your deserving;
When death with his mace doth you arrest;
We all to him owe fea'ty and service,
From the ladder of life down he will thee thrust,
Then mastership may not help, nor great office.

FREEWILL.

What, death, and he were here, he should sit by thee;
Trowest thou, that he be able to strive with us three?
Nay, nay, nay.

IMAGINATION.

Well, fellows, now let us go our way;
For at Shooter's Hill we have a game to play.

HICKSCORNER.

In good faith, I will tarry no lenger space.

FREEWILL.

Beshrew him for me, that is last out of this place.

PITY.

Lo, Lords, they may curse the time they were born,
For the weeds that overgroweth the corn,
They troubled me guiltless, and wote not why,
For God's love yet will I suffer patiently:
We all may say well-a-way, for sin that is now-a-day.
Lo, virtue is vanished for ever and aye;
Worse was it never.[137]
We have plenty of great oaths,
And cloth enough in our clothes,
But charity many men loathes,
Worse was it never.
Alas, now is lechery called love indeed,
And murder named manhood in every need,
Extortion is called law, so God me speed;
Worse was it never.
Youth walketh by night with swords and knives,
And ever among true men leseth their lives,
Like heretics we occupy other men's wives,
Now-a-days in England:
Bawds be the destroyers of many young women,
And full lewd counsel they give unto them;
How you do marry, beware, you young men,
The wise never tarrieth too long;
There be many great scorners,
But for sin there be few mourners;
We have but few true lovers
In no place now-a-days;
There be many goodly-gilt knaves,
And I know, as many apparelled wives,
Yet many of them be unthrifty of their lives,
And all set in pride to go gay.
Mayors on sin doeth no correction,
While[138] gentle men beareth truth adown;
Avoutry[139] is suffered in every town,
Amendment is there none,
And God's commandments we break them all ten.
Devotion is gone many days sin.[140]
Let us amend us we true Christian men,
Ere death make you groan.
Courtiers go gay, and take little wages,
And many with harlots at the tavern haunts,
They be yeomen of the wreath that be shackled in gyves;
On themselves they have no pity:
God punisheth full sore with great sickness,
As pox, pestilence, purple, and axes,
Some dieth suddenly that death full perilous,
Yet was there never so great poverty.
There be some sermons made by noble doctors;
But truly the fiend doth stop men's ears,
For God nor good man some people not fears;
Worse was it never.
All truth is not best said,
And our preachers now-a-days be half afraid:
When we do amend, God would be well apaid;
Worse was it never.

CONTEMPLATION.

What, Master Pity, how is it with you?

PERSEVERANCE.

Sir, we be sorry to see you in this case now.

PITY.

Brethren, here were three perilous men,
Freewill, Hickscorner, and Imagination;
They said, I was a thief, and laid felony upon me,
And bound me in irons, as ye may see.

CONTEMPLATION.

Where be the traitors become now?

PITY.

In good faith, I cannot show you.

PERSEVERANCE.

Brother, let us unbind him of his bonds.

CONTEMPLATION.

Unloose the feet and the hands.

PITY.

I thank you for your great kindness,
That you two show in this distress;
For they were men without any mercy,
That delighteth all in mischief and tyranny.

PERSEVERANCE.

I think, they will come hither again,
Freewill and Imagination, both twain:
Them will I exhort to virtuous living,
And unto virtue them to bring,
By the help of you, Contemplation.

CONTEMPLATION.

Do my counsel, brother Pity;
Go you, and seek them through the country,
In village, town, borough, and city,
Throughout all the realm of England:
When you them meet, lightly them arrest,
And in prison put them fast,
Bind them sure in irons strong;
For they be so fast and subtle;
That they will you beguile,
And do true men wrong.

PERSEVERANCE.

Brother Pity, do as he hath said,
In every quarter look you espy,
And let good watch for them be laid,
In all the haste that thou can, and that privily;
For, and they come hither, they shall not scape,
For all the craft that they can make.

PITY.

Well, then will I hie me as fast as I may,
And travel through every country;
Good watch shall be laid in every way,
That they steal not into sanctuary.
Now farewell, brethren, and pray for me;
For I must go hence in deed.

PERSEVERANCE.

Now God be your good speed.

CONTEMPLATION.

And ever you defend, when you have need.

PITY.

Now, brethren both, I thank you.

FREEWILL.

Make you room for a gentleman, sirs, and peace;
"Dieu garde, seigneurs, tout le preasse,"[141]
And of your jangling if ye will cease,
I will tell you where I have been:
Sirs, I was at the tavern, and drank wine,
Methought I saw a piece that was like mine,
And, sir, all my fingers were arrayed[142] with lime,
So I conveyed a cup mannerly:
And yet, i-wis, I played all the fool,
For there was a scholar of mine own school;
And, sir, the whoreson espied me.
Then was I 'rested, and brought in prison;
For woe then I wist not what to have done,
And all because I lacked money,
But a friend in court is worth a penny in purse:[143]
For Imagination, mine own fellow, i-wis,
He did help me out full craftily.
Sirs, he walked through Holborn,
Three hours after the sun was down,
And walked up towards Saint Giles-in-the-Field:
He hoved still, and there beheld,
But there he could not speed of his prey,
And straight to Ludgate he took the way;
Ye wot well, that pothecaries walk very late,
He came to a door and privily spake
To a prentice for a penny-worth of euphorbium,[144]
And also for a halfpenny-worth of alum plumb;
This good servant served him shortly,
And said, is there ought else that you would buy?
Then he asked for a mouthful of quick brimstone;[145]
And down into the cellar, when the servant was gone,
Aside as he kest[146] his eye,
A great bag of money did he spy,
Therein was an hundred pound:
He trussed him to his feet, and yede his way round,
He was lodged at Newgate at the Swan,
And every man took him for a gentleman;
So on the morrow he delivered me
Out of Newgate by this policy:
And now will I dance and make royal cheer.
But I would Imagination were here,
For he is peerless at need;
Labour to him, sirs, if ye will your matters speed.
Now will I sing, and lustily spring;
But when my fetters on my legs did ring,
I was not glad, perde; but now _Hey, troly, loly_,
Let us see who can descant on this same;
To laugh and get money, it were a good game,
What, whom have we here?
A priest, a doctor, or else a frere.
What, Master Doctor Dotypoll?
Cannot you preach well in a black boll,
Or dispute any divinity?
If ye be cunning, I will put it in a prefe:[147]
Good sir, why do men eat mustard with beef?
By question can you assoil me?

PERSEVERANCE.

Peace, man, thou talkest lewdly,
And of thy living, I reed,[148] amend thee.

FREEWILL.

Avaunt, caitiff, dost thou _thou_ me!
I am come of good kin, I tell thee!
My mother was a lady of the stews' blood born,
And (knight of the halter) my father ware an horn;
Therefore I take it in full great scorn,
That thou shouldest thus check me.

CONTEMPLATION.

Abide, fellow, thou hast little courtesy,
Thou shalt be charmed, ere thou hence pass,
For thou troubled Pity, and laid on him felony:
Where is Imagination, thy fellow that was?

FREEWILL.

I defy you both; will you arrest me?

PERSEVERANCE.

Nay, nay; thy great words may not help thee,
Fro us thou shalt not escape.

FREEWILL.

Make room, sirs, that I may break his pate;
I will not be taken for them both.

CONTEMPLATION.

Thou shalt abide, whether thou be lief or loth;
Therefore, good son, listen unto me,
And mark these words that I do tell thee:
Thou hast followed thine own will many a day,
And lived in sin without amendment;
Therefore in thy conceit essay
To axe God mercy, and keep His commandment,
Then on thee He wilt have pity,
And bring thee to heaven that joyful city.

FREEWILL.

What, whoreson? Will ye have me now a fool?
Nay, yet had I liever be captain of Calais;
For, and I should do after your school,
To learn to patter to make me peevish,
Yet had I liever look with a face full thievish:
And therefore, prate no lenger here,
Lest my knave's fist hit you under the ear.
What, ye daws, would ye reed me
For to lese my pleasure in youth and jollity,
To bass and kiss my sweet _trully mully_,
As Jane, Kate, Bess, and Sybil?
I would that hell were full of such prims,
Then would I renne thither on my pins,
As fast as I might go.

PERSEVERANCE.

Why, sir, wilt thou not love virtue,
And forsake thy sin for the love of God Almighty?

FREEWILL.

What God Almighty, by God's fast at Salisbury,
And I trow Easter-day fell on Whitsunday that year,
There were five score save an hundred in my company,
And at petty Judas we made royal cheer,
There had we good ale of Michaelmas brewing;
There heaven-high leaping and springing,
And thus did I
Leap out of Bordeaux unto Canterbury,
Almost ten mile between.

CONTEMPLATION.

Freewill, forsake all this world wilfully here,
And change by time; thou oughtest to stand in fear;
For fortune will turn her wheel so swift,
That clean fro thy wealth she will thee lift.

FREEWILL.

What, lift me, who? and Imagination were here now,
I-wis with his fist he would all-to clout you:
Hence, whoreson, tarry no lenger here;
For by Saint Pintle the apostle I swear,
That I will drive you both home,
And yet I was never wont to fight alone:
Alas, that I had not one to bold[149] me,
Then you should see me play the man shamefully;
Alas, it would do me good to fight;
How say you, lords, shall I smite?
Have among you, by this light:
Hence, whoresons, and home at once,
Or with my weapon I shall break your bones.
Avaunt, you knave: walk, by my counsel.

PERSEVERANCE.

Son, remember the great pains of hell,
They are so horrible that no tongue can tell;
Beware, lest thou thither do go.

FREEWILL.

Nay, by Saint Mary, I hope not so;
I will not go to the devil, while I have my liberty,
He shall take the labour to fet me, and he will have me;
For he that will go to hell by his will voluntarily,
The devil and the whirlwind go with him:
I will you never fro thence tidings bring;
Go you before, and show me the way,
And as to follow you I will not say nay:
For, by God's body, and you be in once,
By the mass, I will shit[150] the door at once,
And then ye be take in a pitfall.

CONTEMPLATION.

Now, Jesus, soon defend us from that hole,
For, "Qui est in inferno nulla est redemptio:"
Holy Job spake these words full long ago.

FREEWILL.

Nay, I have done; and you laid out Latin with scope,
But therewith can you clout me a pair of boots?[151]
By our lady, ye should have some work of me,
I would have them well underlaid and easily,
For I use alway to go on the one side;
And trow ye how? by God, in the stocks I sat till,
I trow a three weeks, and more a little stound,
And there I laboured sore day by day,
And so I tread my shone inward in good fay;
Lo, therefore methink you must sole them round.
If you have any new boots, a pair I would buy,
But I think your price be too high.
Sir, once at Newgate I bought a pair of stirrups,[152]
A mighty pair and a strong,
A whole year I ware them so long,
But they came not fully to my knee,
And to clout them it cost not me a penny:
Even now, and ye go thither, ye shall find a great heap,
And you speak in my name, ye shall have good cheap.

PERSEVERANCE.

Sir, we came never there, ne never shall do.

FREEWILL.

Marry, I was taken in a trap there, and tied by the toe,
That I halted a great while, and might not go.
I would ye both sat as fast there;
Then should ye dance as a bear,
And all by gangling of your chains.

CONTEMPLATION.

Why, sir, were ye there?

FREEWILL.

Yea, and that is seen by my brains;
For, ere I came there, I was as wise as a woodcock,
And, I thank God, as witty as a haddock.
Yet I trust to recover, as other does,
For, and I had once as much wit as a goose,
I should be merchant of the bank;
Of gold then I should have many a frank,
For if I might make three good voyages to Shooter's Hill,[153]
And have wind and weather at my will,
Then would I never travel the sea more:
But it is hard to keep the ship fro the shore,
And if it hap to rise a storm,
Then thrown in a raft, and so about borne
On rocks or brachs[154] for to run,
Else to strike aground at Tyburn,
That were a mischievous case,
For that rock of Tyburn is so perilous a place,
Young gallants dare not venture into Kent;
But when their money is gone and spent,
With their long boots they row on the bay,[155]
And any man of war[156] lie by the way,
They must take a boat and throw the helm ale;[157]
And full hard it is to scape that great jeopardy,
For, at Saint Thomas of Watering and they strike a sail,
Then must they ride in the haven of hemp without fail;
And were not these two jeopardous places indeed,
There is many a merchant that thither would speed:
But yet we have a sure channel at Westminster,
A thousand ships of thieves therein may ride sure;
For if they may have anchor-hold and great spending,
They may live as merry as any king.

PERSEVERANCE.

God wot, sir, there is a piteous living,
Then ye dread not the great Master above:
Son, forsake thy miss[158] for His love,
And then mayst thou come to the bliss also.

FREEWILL.

Why, what would you that I should do?

CONTEMPLATION.

For to go toward heaven.

FREEWILL.

Marry, and you will me thither bring,
I would do after you.[159]

PERSEVERANCE.

I pray you, remember my words now:
Freewill, bethink thee that thou shalt die,
And of the hour thou are uncertain,
Yet by thy life thou mayest find a remedy;
For, and thou die in sin, all labour is in vain,
Then shall thy soul be still in pain.
Lost and damned for evermore;
Help is past, though thou would fain,
Then thou wilt curse the time that thou were bore.

FREEWILL.

Sir, if ye will undertake that I saved shall be,
I will do all the penance that you will set me.

CONTEMPLATION.

If that thou for thy sins he sorry,
Our Lord will forgive thee them.

FREEWILL.

Now of all my sins I axe God mercy;
Here I forsake sin, and trust to amend:
I beseech Jesu that is most mighty
To forgive all that I have offend.

PERSEVERANCE.

Our Lord now will show thee His mercy,
A new name thou need none have;
For all that will to heaven high,
By his own freewill he must forsake folly,
Then is he sure and safe.

CONTEMPLATION.

Hold here a new garment,
And hereafter live devoutly,
And for thy sins do ever repent:
Sorrow for thy sins is very remedy:
And, Freewill, ever to virtue apply,
Also to sadness[160] give ye attendance,
Let him never out of remembrance.

FREEWILL.

I will never from you, sir Perseverance;
With you will I abide both day and night,
Of mind never to be variable,
And God's commandments to keep them right,
In deed and word, and ever full stable.

PERSEVERANCE.

Then heaven thou shalt have without fable,
But look that thou be steadfast,
And let thy mind with good will last.

IMAGINATION.

Huff, huff, huff! who sent after me?
I am Imagination, full of jollity,
Lord, that my heart is light,[161]
When shall I perish? I trow, never;
By Christ, I reck not a feather:
Even now I was dubbed a knight,
Where at Tyburn of the collar,
And of the stews I am made controller--
Of all the houses of lechery;
There shall no man play doccy[162] there,
At the Bell, Hartshorn, ne elsewhere,
Without they have leave of me.
But, sirs, wot ye why I am come hither?
By our lady, to gather good company together:
Saw ye not of my fellow Freewill?
I am afraid lest he be searching on a hill;
By God, then one of us is beguiled.
What fellow is this that in this coat is filed?
Cock's death, whom have we here?
What, Freewill, mine own fere?[163]
Art thou out of thy mind?

FREEWILL.

God grant the way to heaven that I may find;
For I forsake thy company.

IMAGINATION.

God's arms, my company? and why?

FREEWILL.

For thou livest too sinfully.

IMAGINATION.

Alas, tell me how it is with thee.

FREEWILL.

Forsake thy sin for the love of me.

IMAGINATION.

Cock's heart, art thou waxed mad?

FREEWILL.

When I think on my sin, it makes me full sad.

IMAGINATION.

God's wounds, who gave thee that counsel?

FREEWILL.

Perseverance and Contemplation, I thee tell.

IMAGINATION.

A vengeance on them, I would they were in hell.

FREEWILL.

Amend, Imagination, and mercy cry.

IMAGINATION.

By God's sides, I had liever be hanged on high;
Nay, that would I not do: I had liever die.
By God's passion, and I had a long knife,
I would bereave these two whoresons of their life:
How, how? twenty pounds for a dagger!

CONTEMPLATION.

Peace, peace, good son, and speak softer,
And amend, ere death draw his draught;
For on thee he will steal full soft,
He giveth never no man warning,
And ever to thee he is coming:
Therefore remember thee well.

IMAGINATION.

Ah, whoreson, if I were jailer of hell,
I-wis, some sorrow should thou feel;
For to the devil I would thee sell,
Then should ye have many a sorry meal,
I would never give you meat ne drink,
Ye should fast, whoresons, till ye did stink,
Even as a rotten dog; yea, by Saint Tyburn of Kent.

PERSEVERANCE.

Imagination, think what God did for thee;
On Good Friday He hanged on a tree,
And spent all His precious blood,
A spear did rive His heart asunder,
The gates He brake up with a clap of thunder,
And Adam and Eve there delivered He.

IMAGINATION.

What devil! what is that to me?
By God's fast, I was ten year in Newgate,
And many more fellows with me sat,
Yet he never came there to help me ne my company.

CONTEMPLATION.

Yes, he holp thee, or thou haddest not been here now.

IMAGINATION.

By the mass, I cannot show you,
For he and I never drank together,
Yet I know many an ale stake;[164]
Neither at the stews, i-wis, he never came thither:
Goeth he arrayed in white or in black?
For, and he out of prison had holp me,
I know well once I should him see,
What gown weareth he, I pray you?

PERSEVERANCE.

Sir, he halp you out by his might.

IMAGINATION.

I cannot tell you, by this light;
But methought that I lay there too long,
And the whoreson fetters were so strong,
That had almost brought my neck out of joint.

PERSEVERANCE.

Amend, son, and thou shall know him,
That delivered thee out of prison;
And if thou wilt forsake thy miss,
Surely thou shalt come to the bliss,
And be inheritor of heaven.

IMAGINATION.

What, sir, above the moon?
Nay, by the mass, then should I fall soon;
Yet I keep not to climb so high;
But to climb for a bird's nest,
There is none between east and west,
That dare thereto venter better than I:
But to venter to heaven--what, and my feet slip?
I know well then I should break my neck,
And, by God, then had I the worse side;
Yet had I liever be by the nose tied
In a wench's arse somewhere,
Rather than I would stand in that great fear,
For to go up to heaven--nay, I pray you, let be.

FREEWILL.

Imagination, wilt thou do by the counsel of me?

IMAGINATION.

Yea, sir, by my troth, whatsomever it be.

FREEWILL.

Amend yet for my sake,
It is better betime than too late;
How say you? will you God's hests fulfil?

IMAGINATION.

I will do, sir, even as you will;
But, I pray you, let me have a new coat,
When I have need, and in my purse a groat,
Then will I dwell with you still.

FREEWILL.

Beware, for when thou art buried in the ground,
Few friends for thee will be found,
Remember this still.

IMAGINATION.

No thing dread I so sore as death,
Therefore to amend I think it be time;
Sin have I used all the days of my breath,
With pleasure, lechery, and misusing,[165]
And spent amiss my five wits; therefore I am sorry:
Here of all my sins I axe God mercy.

PERSEVERANCE.

Hold, here is a better clothing for thee,
And look that thou forsake thy folly;
Be steadfast, look that thou fall never.

IMAGINATION.

Now here I forsake my sin for ever.

FREEWILL.

Sir, wait thou now on Perseverance,
For thy name shall be called Good Remembrance;
And I will dwell with Contemplation,
And follow him wherever he become.

CONTEMPLATION.

Well, are ye so both agreed?

IMAGINATION.

Yea, sir, so God me speed.

PERSEVERANCE.

Sir, ye shall wait on me soon,
And be God's servant day and night,
And in every place where ye become,
Give good counsel to every wight:
And men axe your name, tell you Remembrance,
That God's law keepeth truly every day;
And look that ye forget not repentance,
Then to heaven ye shall go the next[166] way,
Where ye shall see in the heavenly quere
The blessed company of saints so holy,
That lived devoutly while they were here:
Unto the which bliss I beseech God Almighty
To bring there your souls that here be present,
And unto virtuous living that ye may apply,
Truly for to keep His commandments;
Of all our mirths here we make an end,
Unto the bliss of heaven Jesus your souls bring.[167]

AMEN.

THE PARDONER AND THE FRIAR.

_ A mery Play between the Pardoner and the frere, the curate and neybour
Pratte. [Col.] Imprynted by Wyllyam Rastell, the v. day of Apryll, the
yere of our lorde m.ccccc.xxxiii. Small folio_.

This piece by John Heywood differs from those which have preceded it. It
is destitute of the allegorical element, and like some other productions
which are to follow, is a mere dramatic interlocution, lightly and
inartificially constructed, with little or no plot. A former editor[168]
remarks: "It was printed in 1533, but must have been written before 1521,
because Leo X. is spoken of in it as living."

THE PARDONER AND THE FRIAR.

THE FRIAR.

Deus hic, the Holy Trinity,
Preserve all that now here be!
Dear brethren, if ye will consider
The cause, why I am come hither,
Ye would be glad to know my intent:
For I come not hither for money nor for rent,
I come not hither for meat nor for meal,
But I come hither for your soul's heal:
I come not hither to poll nor to shave,
I come not hither to beg nor to crave,
I come not hither to gloss nor to flatter,
I come not hither to babble nor to clatter,
I come not hither to fable nor to lie,
But I come hither your souls to edify.
For we friars are bound the people to teach,
The gospel of Christ openly to preach,
As did the apostles by Christ their master sent,
To turn the people and make them to repent.
But since the apostles from heaven would not come,
We friars now must occupy their room.
We friars are bound to search men's conscience,
We may not care for groats nor for pence,
We friars have professed wilful poverty,
No penny in our purse have may we;
Knife nor staff may we none carry,
Except we should from the gospel vary.
For worldly adversity may we be in no sorrow,
We may not care to-day for our meat to-morrow,
Barefoot and barelegged must we go also:
We may not care for frost nor snow;
We may have no manner care, ne think
Nother for our meat nor for our drink;
But let our thoughts fro such things be as free
As be the birds that in the air flee.
For why our Lord, cleped sweet Jesus,
In the gospel speaketh to us thus:
Through all the world go ye, saith He,
And to every creature speak ye of me;
And show of my doctrine and cunning,
And that they may be glad of your coming.
If that you enter in any house anywhere,
Look that ye salute them, and bid my peace be there;
And if that house be worthy and elect,
Th'ilk peace there then shall take effect;
And if that house be cursed or pervert,
Th'ilk peace then shall to yourself revert.
And furthermore, if any such there be,
Which do deny for to receive ye,
And do despise your doctrine and your lore,
At such a house tarry ye no more;
And from your shoes scrape away the dust
To their reprefe; and I, both true and just,
Shall vengeance take of their sinful deed.
Wherefore, my friends, to this text take ye heed:
Beware how ye despise the poor freres,
Which are in this world Christ's ministers;
But do them with an hearty cheer receive,
Lest they happen your houses for to leave;
And then God will take vengeance in His ire.
Wherefore I now, that am a poor friar,
Did inquire where any people were
Which were disposed the Word of God to hear;
And as I came hither, one did me tell
That in this town right good folk did dwell,
Which to hear the Word of God would be glad;
And as soon as I thereof knowledge had,
I hither hied me as fast as I might,
Intended by the grace of God Almighty,
And by your patience and supportation,
Here to make a simple collation;
Wherefore I require all ye in this prese[nce]
For to abide and give due audience.
But, first of all,
Now here I shall
To God my prayer make,
To give ye grace
All in this place
His doctrine for to take.

[_And then kneeleth down the friar saying his prayers, and in the
meanwhile entereth the pardoner with all his relics, to declare what each
of them been, and the whole power and virtue thereof_.

THE PARDONER.

God and Saint Leonard send ye all his grace,
As many as been assembled in this place!
Good devout people that here do assemble,
I pray God that ye may all well resemble
The image after which you are wrought,
And that ye save that Christ in you bought.
Devout Christian people, ye shall all wit,
That I am comen hither ye to visit;
Wherefore let us pray thus, ere I begin:
Our Saviour preserve ye all from sin,
And enable ye to receive this blessed pardon,
Which is the greatest under the sun:
Granted by the Pope in his bulls under lead,
Which pardon ye shall find, when ye are dead;
That offereth outher groats or else pence,
To these holy relics which, ere I go hence,
I shall here show in open audience,
Exhorting ye all to do to them reverence.
But first ye shall know well that I come from Rome;
Lo, here my bulls, all and some:
Our liege Lord seal here on my patent
I bear with me my body to warrant;
That no man be so bold, be he priest or clerk,
Me to disturb of Christ's holy wark;
Nor have no disdain nor yet scorn
Of these holy relics which saints have worn.
First here I show ye of a holy Jew's hip[169]
A bone--I pray you, take good keep
To my words and mark them well:
If any of your beasts' bellies do swell,
Dip this bone in the water that he doth take
Into his body, and the swelling shall slake;
And if any worm have your beasts stung,
Take of this water, and wash his tongue,
And it will be whole anon; and furthermore
Of pox and scabs, and every sore,
He shall be quite whole that drinketh of the well
That this bone is dipped in: it is truth that I tell
And if any man, that any beast oweth,[170]
Once in the week, ere that the cock croweth,
Fasting will drink of this well a draught,
As that holy Jew hath us taught,
His beasts and his stores shall multiply.
And, masters all, it helpeth well,
Though a man be foul in jealous rage,
Let a man with this water make his pottage,
And never more shall he his wife mistrist,[171]
Though he in sooth the fault by her wist,
Or had she been taken with friars two or three.
Here is a mitten eke, as ye may see:
He that his hand will put in this mitten,
He shall have increase of his grain,
That he hath sown, be it wheat or oats,
So that he offer pence or else groats,
And another holy relic eke here see ye may:
The blessed arm of sweet Saint Sunday;
And whosoever is blessed with this right hand,
Cannot speed amiss by sea nor by land.
And if he offereth eke with good devotion,
He shall not fail to come to high promotion,
And another holy relic here may ye see:
The great toe of the Holy Trinity;
And whosoever once doth it in his mouth take,
He shall never be diseased with the toothache;
Cancer nor pox shall there none breed:
This that I show ye is matter indeed.
And here is of our lady a relic full good:
Her bongrace which she ware, with her French hood,
When she went out always for sun-burning:
Women with child which be in mourning
By virtue thereof shall be soon eased,
And of their travail full soon also released,
And if this bongrace they do devoutly kiss,
And offer thereto, as their devotion is.
Here is another relic eke, a precious one,
Of All-Hallows the blessed jaw bone,
Which relic without any fail
Against poison chiefly doth prevail;
For whomsoever it toucheth without doubt,
All manner venom from him shall issue out;
So that it shall hurt no manner wight.
Lo, of this relic the great power and might,
Which preserveth from poison every man!
Lo, of Saint Michael eke the brain-pan,
Which for the headache is a preservative
To every man or beast that beareth life;
And further it shall stand him in better stead,
For his head shall never ache, when that he is dead,
Nor he shall feel no manner grief nor pain,
Though with a sword one cleave it then a-twain;
But be as one that lay in a dead sleep.
Wherefore to these relics now come crouch and creep,
But look that ye offering to them make,
Or else can ye no manner profit take.
But one thing, ye women all, I warrant you:
If any wight be in this place now,
That hath done sin so horrible, that she
Dare not for shame thereof shriven be,
Or any woman, be she young or old,
That hath made her husband cuckold:
Such folk shall have no power nor no grace
To offer to my relics in this place;
And whoso findeth herself out of such blame,
Come hither to me, on Christ's holy name.
And because ye
Shall unto me
Give credence at the full
Mine auctority
Now shall ye see
Lo, here the Pope's bull!

[_Now shall the friar begin his sermon, and even at the same time the
pardoner beginneth also to show and speak of his bulls and auctorities
come from, Rome_.

THE FRIAR.

"Date et dabitur vobis:"
Good devout people, this place of Scripture--

PARDONER.

Worshipful masters, ye shall understand--

FRIAR.

Is to you that have no literature--

PARDONER.

That Pope Leo the Tenth hath granted with his hand--

FRIAR.

Is to say in our English tongue--

PARDONER.

And by his bulls confirmed under lead--

FRIAR.

As depart your goods the poor folk among--

PARDONER.

To all manner people both quick and dead--

FRIAR.

And God shall then give unto you again--

PARDONER.

Ten thousand years and as many Lents of pardon--

FRIAR.

This is the gospel, so is written plain--

PARDONER.

When they are dead, their souls for to guardon--[172]

FRIAR.

Therefore give your alms in the largest wise--

PARDONER.

That will with their penny or alms deed--

FRIAR.

Keep not your goods: fye, fye, on covetise!

PARDONER.

Put to their hands to the good speed--

FRIAR.

That sin with God is most abhominable--

PARDONER.

Of the holy chapel of sweet Saint Leonard--

FRIAR.

And is eke the sin that is most damnable--

PARDONER.

Which late by fire was destroyed and marred--

FRIAR.

In Scripture eke but I say, sirs, how--

PARDONER.

Ay, by the mass, one cannot hear--

FRIAR.

What a babbling maketh yonder fellow!

PARDONER.

For the babbling of yonder foolish frere--

FRIAR.

In Scripture eke is there many a place--

PARDONER.

And also, masters, as I was about to tell--

FRIAR.

Which showeth that many a man so far-forth lacketh grace--

PARDONER.

Pope Julius the Sixth hath granted fair and well--

FRIAR.

That when to them God hath abundance sent--

PARDONER.

And doth twelve thousand years of pardon to them send--

FRIAR.

They would distribute none to the indigent--

PARDONER.

That ought to this holy chapel lend--

FRIAR.

Whereat God having great indignation--

PARDONER

Pope Boniface the Ninth also--

FRIAR.

Punished these men after a divers fashion--

PARDONER.

Pope Julius, Pope Innocent, with divers popes mo--

FRIAR.

As the gospel full nobly doth declare--

PARDONER.

Hath granted to the sustaining of the same--

FRIAR.

How dives Epulus reigning in welfare--

PARDONER.

Five thousand years of pardon to every of you by name--

FRIAR.

And on his board dishes delicate--

PARDONER.

And clean remission also of their sin--

FRIAR

Poor Lazarus came begging at his gate--

PARDONER.

As often times as you put in--

FRIAR.

Desiring some food his hunger to relieve--

PARDONER.

Any money into the Pardoner's coffer--

FRIAR.

But the rich man nothing would him give--

PARDONER.

Or any money up unto it offer--

FRIAR.

Not so much as a few crumbs of bread--

PARDONER.

Or he that offereth penny or groat--

FRIAR.

Wherefore poor Lazarus of famine straight was dead--

PARDONER.

Or he that giveth the Pardoner a new coat--

FRIAR

And angels his soul to heaven did carry--

PARDONER.

Or take of me other image or letter--

FRIAR.

But now the rich man, of the contrary--

PARDONER.

Whereby this poor chapel may fare the better--

FRIAR.

When he was dead, went to misery and pain.

PARDONER.

And (God wot) it is a full gracious deed--

FRIAR.

Wherefore evermore he shall remain--

PARDONER.

For which God shall quite you well your mede--

FRIAR.

In brenning fire, which shall never cease--

PARDONER.

Now help our poor chapel, if it be your will--

FRIAR.

But I say, thou Pardoner, I bid thee hold thy peace!--

PARDONER.

And I say, thou friar, hold thy tongue still!--

FRIAR.

What, standest thou there all the day smattering!--

PARDONER.

Marry, what standest thou there all the day clattering!--

FRIAR.

Marry, fellow, I come hither to preach the Word of God,
Which of no man may be forbode;
But heard with silence and good intent,
For why it teacheth them evident
The very way and path that shall them lead
Even to heaven's gates, as straight as any thread.
And he that letteth the Word of God of audience,
Standeth accursed in the great sentence;
And so art thou for interrupting me.

PARDONER.

Nay, thou art a cursed knave, and that shalt thou see;
And all such that to me make interruption,
The Pope sends them excommunication
By his bulls here ready to be read,
By bishops and his cardinals confirmed;
And eke if thou disturb me any thing,
Thou art also a traitor to the king.
For here hath he granted me under his broad seal,
That no man, if he love his heal,[173]
Should me disturb or let in any wise;
And if thou dost the king's commandment despise,
I shall make thee be set fast by the feet,
And, where thou saidst that thou art more meet
Among the people here for to preach,
Because thou dost them the very way teach,
How to come to heaven above:
Therein thou liest, and that shall I prove,
And by good reason I shall make thee bow,
And know that I am meeter than art thou.
For thou, when thou hast taught them once the way,
Thou carest not whether they come there, yea or nay;
But when that thou hast done altogether,
And taught them the way for to come hither,
Yet all that thou canst imagine
Is but to use virtue, and abstain fro sin.
And if they fall once, then thou canst no more:
Thou canst not give them a salve for their sore.
But these my letters be clean purgation,
Although never so many sins they have done.
But when thou hast taught them the way and all,
Yet, ere they come there, they may have many a fall
In the way, ere that they come thither
For why the way to heaven is very slidder.
But I will teach them after another rate,
For I shall bring them to heaven's gate,
And be their guides, and conduct all things,
And lead them thither by the purse-strings,
So that they shall not fall, though that they would.

FRIAR.

Hold thy peace, knave, thou art very bold:
Thou pratest, in faith, even like a Pardoner.

PARDONER.

Why despisest thou the Pope's minister?
Masters, here I curse him openly,
And therewith warn all this whole company
By the Pope's great auctority,
That ye leave him, and harken unto me;
For, till he be assoiled, his words take none effect,
For out of holy church he is now clean reject.

FRIAR.

My masters, he doth but jest and rave;
It forceth not for the words of a knave;
But to the Word of God do reverence,
And hear me forth with due audience.
Masters, I showed you ere while of alms-deed--

PARDONER.

Masters, this pardon which I showed you before--

FRIAR.

And how ye should give poor folk at their need--

PARDONER.

Is the greatest that ever was, sith God was bore--

FRIAR.

And if of your parts that thing once were done--

PARDONER.

For why without confession or contrition--

FRIAR.

Doubt not but God should give you retribution--

PARDONER.

By this shall ye have clean remission--

FRIAR.

But now further it ought to be declared--

PARDONER.

And forgiven of the sins seven--

FRIAR.

Who be these poor folk, that should have your reward--

PARDONER.

Come to this pardon, if ye will come to heaven--

FRIAR.

Who be those poor folk, of whom I speak and name?--

PARDONER.

Come to this pardon, if ye will be in bliss--

FRIAR.

Certes, we poor friars are the same--

PARDONER.

This is the pardon, which ye cannot miss--

FRIAR.

We friars daily take pain, I say--

PARDONER.

This is the pardon, which shall men's souls win--

FRIAR.

We friars daily do both fast and pray--

PARDONER.

This is the pardon, the ridder of your sin--

FRIAR.

We friars travail and labour every hour--

PARDONER.

This is the pardon that purchaseth all grace--

FRIAR.

We friars take pain for the love of our Saviour--

PARDONER.

This is a pardon for all manner of trespass--

FRIAR.

We friars also go on limitation[174]--

PARDONER.

This is the pardon, of which all mercy doth spring--

FRIAR.

For to preach to every Christian nation--

PARDONER.

This is the pardon, that to heaven shall ye bring--

FRIAR.

But I say, thou Pardoner, thou wilt keep silence soon!--

PARDONER.

Yea, it is like to be, when I have done!--

FRIAR.

Marry, therefore the more knave art thou, I say,
That perturbest the Word of God, I say;
For neither thyself wilt hear God's doctrine,
Ne suffer other their ears to incline,
Wherefore our Saviour, in His holy Scripture,
Giveth thee thy judgment, thou cursed creature,
Speaking to thee after this manner:
"Maledictus qui audit verbum Dei negligenter"--
Woe be that man, saith our Lord, that giveth no audience,
Or heareth the Word of God with negligence.

PARDONER.

Now thou hast spoken all, sir daw,
I care not for thee an old straw;
I had liever thou were hanged up with a rope,
Than I, that am come from the Pope,
And thereby God's minister, while thou standest and prate,
Should be fain to knock without the gate.
Therefore preach hardly thy bellyful,
But I nevertheless will declare the Pope's bull.

FRIAR.

Now, my friends, I have afore showed ye--

PARDONER.

Now, my masters, as I have afore declared--

FRIAR.

That good it is to give your charity--

PARDONER.

That pardoners from you may not be spared--

FRIAR.

And further I have at length to you told--

PARDONER.

Now hereafter shall follow and ensue--

FRIAR.

Who be these people that ye receive should--

PARDONER.

That followeth of pardons the great virtue--

FRIAR.

That is to say us friars poor--

PARDONER.

We pardoners for your souls be as necessary--

FRIAR.

That for our living must beg fro door to door--

PARDONER.

As is the meat for our bodies hungry--

FRIAR.

For of our own proper we have no proper thing--

PARDONER.

For pardons is the thing that bringeth men to heaven--

FRIAR.

But that we get of devout people's giving--

PARDONER.

Pardons delivereth them fro the sins seven--

FRIAR.

And in our place be friars three score and three--

PARDONER.

Pardons for every crime may dispense--

FRIAR.

Which only live on men's charity--

PARDONER.

Pardon purchaseth grace for all offence--

FRIAR.

For we friars wilful charity profess--

PARDONER.

Yea, though ye had slain both father and mother--

FRIAR.

We may have no money nother more nor less--

PARDONER.

And this pardon is chief above all other--

FRIAR.

For worldly treasure we may nought care--

PARDONER.

For who to it offereth groat or penny--

FRIAR.

Our souls must be rich and our bodies bare--

PARDONER.

Though sins he had done never so many--

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