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

Part 7 out of 9

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'POTHECARY. And unto that I do agree,
For both you twain shall wait on me.[444]

PARDONER. What chance is this, that such an elf
Command two knaves beside himself?
Nay, nay, my friend, that will not be;
I am too good to wait on thee.

PALMER. By our lady, and I would be loth
To wait on the better of you both.

PEDLAR. Yet be ye sure for all this doubt,
This waiting must be brought about.
Men cannot prosper, wilfufly led;
All things decay,[445] where is no head.
Wherefore, doubtless, mark what I say,
To one of you three twain must obey.
And since ye cannot agree in voice,
Who shall be head, there is no choice
But to devise some manner thing,
Wherein ye all be like conning;
And in the same who can do best,
The other twain do make them prest,
In every thing of his intent,
Wholly[446] to be at commandment.
And now have I found one mastery,[447]
That ye can do indifferently;
And is nother selling nor buying,
But even on very lying.
And all ye three can lie as well,
As can the falsest devil in hell.
And though afore ye heard me grudge
In greater matters to be your judge,
Yet in lying I can some skill,[448]
And if I shall be judge, I will
And be you sure, without flattery,
Where my conscience findeth the mastery,
There shall my judgment straight be found,
Though I might win a thousand pound.

PALMER. Sir, for lying, though I can do it:
Yet am I both for to go to it.

PEDLAR. Ye have no[449] cause for fear, be bold,[450]
For ye may here[451] lie uncontrolled.
And ye in this have good advantage,
For lying is your common usage.
And you in lying be well sped,
For all your craft doth stand in falsehood.
Ye need not care who shall begin;
For each of you may hope to win.
Now speak all three even as ye find:
Be ye agreed to follow my mind?

PALMER. Yea, by my troth, I am content.

PARDONER. Now, in good faith, and I assent.

'POTHECARY. If I denied, I were a noddy;
For all is mine, by God's body,
[_Here the 'Pothecary hoppeth_.

PALMER. Here were a hopper to hop for the ring!
But, sir,[452] this gear goeth not by hopping.

'POTHECARY. Sir, in this hopping I will hop so well,
That my tongue shall hop better[453] than my heel:
Upon which hopping I hope, and not doubt it,
To hop[454] so, that ye shall hop[455] without it.[456]

PALMER. Sir, I will neither boast ne brawl.
But take such fortune as may fall:
And if ye win this mastery,
I will obey you quietly:
And sure I think that quietness
In any man is great riches
In any manner company,
To rule or be ruled[457] indifferently.

PARDONER. By that boast thou seemest a beggar indeed,
What can thy quietness help us at need?
If we should starve, thou hast not, I think,
One penny to buy us one pot of drink.
Nay, if riches might rule the roost,
Behold what cause I have to boast!
Lo, here be[458] pardons half a dozen,
For ghostly riches they have no cousin.
And moreover to me they bring
Sufficient succour for my living.
And here be[459] relics of such a kind,
As in this world no man can[460] find,
Kneel down all three, and when ye leave kissing,
Who list to offer shall have my blessing.
Friends, here shall ye see even anon
Of All-Hallows the blessed jaw-bone,[461]
Kiss it hardily with good devotion.

'POTHECARY. This kiss shall bring us much promotion.
Foh, by St Saviour, I never kissed a worse;
Ye were as good kiss All-Hallows' arse;
For, by All-Hallows, yet me-thinketh,
That All-Hallows' breath stinketh.

PALMER. Ye judge All-Hallows' breath unknown:
If any breath stink, it is your own.

'POTHECARY. I know mine own breath from All-Hallows,
Or else it were time to kiss the gallows.

PARDONER. Nay, sirs, behold, here may ye see
The great toe of the Trinity:
Who to this toe any money voweth,
And once may roll it in his mouth,
All his life after, I undertake,
He shall never be vexed with the toothache.[462]

'POTHECARY. I pray you turn that relic about:
Either[463] the Trinity had the gout,
Or else, because it is three toes in one,
God made it as much[464] as three toes alone.

PARDONER. Well, let that pass, and look upon this.
Here is a relic that doth not miss
To help the least as well as the most:
This is a buttock-bone of Pentecost.

'POTHECARY. By Christ, and yet for all your boast,
This relic hath beshitten the roast.

PARDONER. Mark well this relic: here is a whipper,
My friends[465] unfeigned: here[466] is a slipper
Of one of the Seven Sleepers, be sure.[467]
Doubtless this kiss shall do you great pleasure;
For all these two days it shall so ease you,
That none other savours shall displease you.

'POTHECARY. All these two days! nay, all these[468] two years;
For all the savours that may come here
Can be no worse; for at a word
One of the seven sleepers trod in a turd.

PEDLAR. Sir, me-thinketh your devotion is but small.

PARDONER. Small! marry me-thinketh he hath none at all.

'POTHECARY. What the devil care I what ye think?
Shall I praise relics, when they stink?

PARDONER. Here is an eye-tooth of the Great Turk.
Whose eyes be once set on this piece of work,
May happily lese part of his eyesight,
But not till he be blind outright.

'POTHECARY. Whatsoever any other man seeth,
I have no devotion unto[469] Turks' teeth:
For although I never saw a greater,
Yet me-thinketh I have seen many better.

PARDONER. Here is a box full of humble bees,
That stang Eve as she sat on her knees,
Tasting the fruit to her forbidden.
Who kisseth the bees within this hidden,
Shall have as much pardon of right,
As for any relic he kissed this night.

PALMER. Sir, I will kiss them with all my heart.

'POTHECARY. Kiss them again, and take my part,
For I am not worthy: nay, let be:
Those bees that stung Eve shall not sting me.

PARDONER. Good friends, I have yet here[470] in this glass,
Which on the drink at the wedding was
Of Adam and Eve undoubtedly.
If ye honour this relic devoutly,
Although ye thirst no whit the less,
Yet shall ye drink the more, doubtless:
After which drinking ye shall be as meet
To stand on your head as on your feet.

'POTHECARY. Yea, marry, now I can[471] you thank;[472]
In presence of this--the rest be blank.
Would God this relic had come rather:[473]
Kiss that relic well, good father.
Such is the pain that ye palmers take
To kiss the pardon-bowl for the drink sake.
O holy yeast, that looketh full sour and stale,
For God's body, help me to a cup of ale.
The more I behold[474] thee, the more I thirst:
The oftener I kiss thee, the more like to burst.
But since I kiss thee so devoutly,
Hire me,[475] and help me with drink, till I die.
What, so much praying and so little speed?

PARDONER. Yea, for God knoweth when it is need
To send folks drink; but, by St Anthony,
I ween he hath sent you too much already.

'POTHECARY. If I have never the more for thee,
Then be thy relics no riches to me;
Nor to thyself, except they be
More beneficial than I can see.
Richer is one box of this triacle,[476]
Than all thy relics, that do no miracle.
If thou hadst prayed but half so much to me,
As I have prayed to thy relics and thee,
Nothing concerning mine occupation,
But straight should have wrought one[477] operation:
And as in value I pass you an ace,
So here lieth much richness in little space.
I have a box of rhubarb here,
Which is as dainty as it is dear.
So[478] help me God and halidom,
Of this I would not give a dram
To the best friend I have in England's ground,
Though he would give me twenty pound.
For though the stomach do it abhor,
It purgeth you clean from the choler;
And maketh your stomach sore to walter,
That ye shall never come to the halter.

PEDLAR. Then is that medicine a sovereign thing
To preserve a man from hanging.

'POTHECARY. If ye will taste but this crumb that ye see,
If ever ye be hanged, never trust me.
Here have I _diapompholicus_,
A special ointment, as doctors discuss,
For a fistula or for a canker:
This ointment is even shot-anchor;[479]
For this medicine[480] helpeth one and other,
Or bringeth them in case that they need no other.
Here is a _syrapus de Byzansis_,
A little thing is enough of this;
For even the weight of one scruple
Shall[481] make you as strong as a cripple.
Here are others, as _diosfialios,
Diagalanga_ and _sticados,
Blanka, manna, diospoliticon_,
Mercury sublime and _metridaticon_,
Pellitory and arsefetita;
Cassy and _colloquintita_.
These be[482] the things that break all strife
Between man's sickness and his life.
From all pain these shall you deliver,
And set you even at rest for ever.
Here is a medicine no mo like the same,
Which commonly is called thus by name
_Alikakabus_ or _Alkakengy_,
A goodly thing for dogs that be[483] mangy.
Such be these medicines, that I can
Help a dog as well as a man.
Not one thing here particularly,
But worketh universally;
For it doth me as much good, when I sell it,
As all the buyers that taste it or smell it.
Now since my medicines be so special,
And in one operation so general,
And ready to work whensoever they shall,
So that in riches I am principal;
If any reward may entreat ye,
I beseech your maship be good to[484] me,
And ye shall have a box of marmalade,
So fine that you may dig it with a spade.

PEDLAR. Sir, I thank you; but your reward
Is not the thing that I regard:
I must and will be indifferent;
Wherefore proceed in your intent.

'POTHECARY. Now if I wist this wish no sin,
I would to God I might begin.

'PARDONER. I am content that thou lie first.

PALMER. Even so am I; now[485] say thy worst.
Now let us hear, of all thy lies,
The greatest lie thou mayst devise.
And in the fewest words thou can.

'POTHECARY. Forsooth, ye be[486] an honest man.

PEDLAR. There said ye much, but yet no lie.

PARDONER. Now lie ye both, by Our Lady.
Thou liest in boast of his honesty,
And he hath lied in affirming thee.

'POTHECARY. If we both he, and ye say true,
Then of these lies your part adieu!
And if ye win, make none avaunt,
For you are sure of one ill servant.
You may perceive by the words he gave,
He taketh your maship[487] but for knave.
But who told truth[488] or lied indeed,
That will I know, ere[489] we proceed.
Sir, after that I first began
To praise you for an honest man,
When ye affirmed it for no lie:[490]
Now, by your[491] faith, speak even truly;
Thought ye your affirmation true?

PALMER. Yea, marry, for I would ye knew,
I think myself an honest man.

'POTHECARY. What thought ye in the contrary then?

PARDONER. In that I said the contrary,
I think from truth I did not vary.

'POTHECARY. And what of my words?

PARDONER. I thought ye lied.

'POTHECARY. And so thought I, by God that died.
Now have you twain each for himself laid,
That none[492] hath lied, but both true said:
And of us twain none hath denied,
But both affirmed that I have lied.
Now since both ye[493] the truth confess,
How that I lied, do bear witness,
That twain of us may soon agree,[494]
And that the lier the winner must be,
Who could provide such evidence,
As I have done in this pretence?
Me-thinketh this matter sufficient
To cause you to give judgment;
And to give me the mastery,
For ye perceive these knaves cannot lie.

PALMER. Though nother[495] of us yet had lied,
Yet what we can do is untried;
For as yet we have devised nothing,
But answered you and given you hearing.

PEDLAR. Therefore I have devised one way,
Whereby all three your minds may say,
For each of you one tale shall tell,
And which of you telleth most marvel,
And most unlikest[496] to be true,
Shall most prevail, whatever ensue.

'POTHECARY. If ye be set on marvelling,
Then shall ye hear a marvellous thing.
And though, indeed, all be not true,
Yet sure the most part shall be new.
I did a cure no longer ago,
But in _anno domini millesimo_,
On a woman young and so fair,
That never have I seen a gayer.
God save all women of[497] that likeness.
This wanton had the falling sickness,
Which by descent came lineally,
For her mother had it naturally:
Wherefore this woman to recure,
It was more hard, ye may be sure.
But though I boast my craft is such,
That in such things I can do much:
How oft she fell were much to report;
But her head so giddy, and her belly so short,
That, with the twinkling of an eye,
Down would she fall even by and by.
But ere[498] she would arise again,
I showed much practice much to my pain.
For the tallest man within this town
Could[499] not with ease have broken her swoon.
Although for life I did not doubt her,
Yet I did take more pains[500] about her,
Than I would take with my own sister.
Sir, at the last I gave her a glister:
I thrust a tampion in her tewell,[501]
And bade her keep it for a jewel;
But I knew there[502] it was too heavy to carry,
That I sure was it would not tarry:
For where gunpowder is once fired,
The tampion will no lenger be hired:
Which was well seen in time of this chance,
For when I had charged this ordnance,
Suddenly, as it had thundered,
Even at a clap loosed her bombard.[503]
Now mark, for here beginneth the revel:
This tampion flew ten long mile level,
To a fair castle of lime and stone,
For strength I know not such a one,
Which stood upon a hill full high,
At foot whereof a river ran by,
So deep, till chance had it forbidden,
Well might the Regent[504] there have ridden.
But when this tampion at this[505] castle did light,
It put the castle so fair to flight,
That down they came each upon other,
No stone left standing, by God's mother!
But rolled down so fast the hill
In such a number, and so did fill
From bottom to brim, from shore to shore,
This foresaid river so deep before,
That who list now to walk thereto,
May wade it over and wet no shoe.
So was this castle laid wide open,
That every man might see the token.
But in a good hour may these[506] words be spoken
After the tampion on the walls was wroken,
And piece by piece in pieces broken.
And she delivered with such violence
Of all her inconvenience,
I left her in good health and lust;
And so she doth continue, I trust.

PEDLAR. Sir, in your cure I can nothing tell;
But to your[507] purpose ye have said well.

PARDONER. Well, sir, then mark what I can say.
I have been a pardoner many a day,
And done greater[508] cures ghostly
Than ever he did bodily.
Namely this one, which ye shall hear,
Of one departed within this seven year,
A friend of mine, and likewise I
To her again was as friendly:
Who fell so sick so suddenly,
That dead she was even by and by,
And never spake with priest nor clerk,
Nor had no whit of this holy work;
For I was thence, it could not be,
Yet heard I say she asked for me.
But when I bethought me how this chanced,
And that I have to heaven avanced
So many souls to me but strangers,
And could not keep my friend from dangers,
But she to die so dangerously,
For her soul-health especially;
That was the thing that grieved me so,
That nothing could release my woe,
Till I had tried even out of hand,
In what estate her soul did stand.
For which trial, short tale to make,
I took this journey for her sake.[509]
Give ear, for here beginneth the story:
From hence I went to Purgatory,
And took with me this gear in my fist,
Whereby I may do there what I list.
I knocked and was let in quickly:
But, Lord, how low the souls made curtesy;
And I to every soul again
Did give a beck[510] them to retain,
And asked them this question then,
If that the soul of such a woman
Did late among them there appear?
Whereto they said, she came not here.
Then feared I much it was not well;
Alas, thought I, she is in hell;
For with her life I was so acquainted,
That sure I thought she was not sainted.
With this it chanced me to sneeze;
Christ help, quoth a soul that lay for his fees.
Those words, quoth I, thou shalt not lese;
Then with these pardons of all degrees
I paid his toll and set him so quit,
That straight to heaven he took his flight,
And I from thence to hell that night,
To help this woman, if I might;
Not as who saith by authority,
But by the way of entreaty.
And first to the devil that kept the gate
I came, and spake after this rate:
All hail, sir devil, and made low curtesy:
Welcome, quoth he thus smilingly.[511]
He knew me well, and I at last
Remembered him since long time past:
For, as good hap would have it chance,
This devil and I were of old acquaintance;
For oft, in the play of Corpus Christi,[512]
He hath played the devil at Coventry.
By his acquaintance and my behaviour,
He showed to me right friendly favour,
And to make my return the shorter,
I said to this devil: Good master porter,
For all old love, if it lie in your power,
Help me to speak with my lord and your.
Be sure, quoth he, no tongue can tell,
What time thou couldst have come so well:
For as on[513] this day Lucifer fell,
Which is our festival in hell.
Nothing unreasonable craved this day,
That shall in hell have any nay.
But yet beware thou come not in,
Till time thou may[514] thy passport win.
Wherefore stand still, and I will wit,[515]
If I can get thy safe-conduit.
He tarried not, but shortly got it
Under seal, and the Devil's hand at it,
In ample wise, as ye shall hear;
Thus it began: Lucifer,
By the power of God, chief devil of hell,
To all the devils that there do dwell
And every of them, we send greeting,
Under strait charge and commanding,
That they aiding and assistant be
To such a Pardoner, and named me,
So that he may at liberty
Pass safe without any[516] jeopardy,
Till that he be from us extinct,
And clearly out of hell's precinct.
And his pardon to keep in safeguard,
We will they lie in the porter's ward.
Given in the furnace of our palace,
In our high court of matters of malice,
Such a day and year of our reign.
God save the devil, quoth I, amain.[517]
I trust this writing to be sure:
Then put thy trust, quod he, in ure[518],
Since thou art sure to take no harm.
This devil and I walked arm in arm
So far, till he had brought me thither,
Where all the devils of hell together
Stood in array in such apparel,
As for that day there meetly fell.
Their horns well-gilt, their claws full clean,
Their tails well-kempt, and, as I ween,
With sothery[519] butter their bodies annointed;
I never saw devils so well appointed.[520]
The master-devil sat in his jacket,
And all the souls were playing at racket.
None other rackets they had in hand,
Save every soul a good firebrand:
Wherewith they played so prettily,
That Lucifer laughed merrily;
And all the residue of the fiends[521]
Did laugh thereat full well like friends.[522]
But of my friend I saw no whit,
Nor durst not ask for her as yet.
Anon all this rout was brought in silence,
And I by an usher brought in presence
Of Lucifer; then low, as well I could,[523]
I kneeled, which he so well allowed,
That thus he becked, and, by St Anthony,
He smiled on me well-favouredly,
Bending his brows as broad as barn-doors,
Shaking his ears as rugged as burrs;
Rolling his eyes as round as two bushels;
Flashing the fire out of his nosthrils;
Gnashing his teeth so vaingloriously,
That me-thought time to fall to flattery,
Wherewith I told, as I shall tell:
O pleasant picture! O prince of hell!
Feutred[524] in fashion abhominable,
And since that is inestimable
For me to praise thee worthily.
I leave of praise, as unworthy
To give thee praise, beseeching thee
To hear my suit, and then to be
So good to grant the thing I crave;
And, to be short, this would I have:
The soul of one which hither is flitted,
Delivered[525] hence, and to me remitted.
And in this doing, though all be not quit,
Yet in some part I shall[526] deserve it,
As thus: I am a pardoner,
And over souls as controller,
Thorough out the earth my power doth stand,
Where many a soul lieth on my hand,
That speed in matters as I use them,
As I receive them or refuse them.
Whereby what time thy pleasure is,
I[527] shall requite any part of this,
The least devil here that can come thither,
Shall choose a soul and bring him hither.
Ho,[528] ho! quoth the devil, we are well pleased;
What is his name thou wouldst have eased?
Nay, quoth I, be it good or evil,
My coming is for a she devil.
What callst her, quoth he, thou whoreson?[529]
Forsooth, quoth I, Margery Corson.
Now, by our honour, said Lucifer,
No devil in hell shall withhold her;
And if thou wouldest have twenty mo,
Wert not for justice, they should go.
For all we[530] devils within this den
Have more to do with two women,
Than with all the charge we have beside;
Wherefore, if thou our friend will be tried,
Apply thy pardons to women so,
That unto us there come no mo.
To do my best I promised by oath;
Which I have kept, for, as the faith goeth,
At this day[531] to heaven I do procure
Ten women to one man, be sure.
Then of Lucifer my leave I took,
And straight unto the master-cook
I was had into the kitchen,
For Margery's office was therein.
All things handled there discreetly,
For every soul beareth office meetly:
Which might be seen to see her sit
So busily turning of the spit.
For many a spit here hath she turned,
And many a good spit hath she burned:
And many a spitful hot hath roasted,
Before the meat could be half roasted,
And ere the meat were half-roasted indeed,
I took her then fro the spit with speed.
But when she saw this brought to pass,
To tell the joy wherein she was!
And of all the devils, for joy how they
Did roar at her delivery!
And how the chains in hell did ring.
And how all the souls therein did sing;
And how we were brought to the gate,
And how we took our leave thereat,
Be sure lack of time suffereth not
To rehearse the twentieth part of that,
Wherefore, this tale to conclude briefly,
This woman thanked me chiefly,
That she was rid of this endless death,
And so we departed on Newmarket-heath.
And if that any man do mind her,
Who lists to seek her, there shall he find her.

PEDLAR. Sir, ye have sought her wonders[532] well,
And where ye found her as ye tell,
To hear the chance ye had[533] in hell,
I find ye were in great peril.[534]

PALMER. His tale is all much perilous;[535]
But part is much more marvellous:
As where he said the devils complain,
That women put them to such pain.
Be their conditions so crooked and crabbed,
Frowardly fashioned, so wayward and wrabbed. [536]
So far in division, and stirring such strife,
That all the devils be weary of their life.
This[537] in effect he told for[538] truth.
Whereby much marvel to me ensueth,
That women in hell such shrews can be,
And here so gentle, as far as I see.
Yet have I seen many a mile,
And many a woman in the while.
Not one good city, town, or borough
In Christendom, but I have been thorough,
And this I would ye should understand,
I have seen women five hundred thousand:
And oft with them have long time tarried.[539]
Yet in all places where I have been,
Of all the women that I have seen,
I never saw nor knew in my conscience
Any one woman out of patience.

'POTHECARY. By the mass, there is a great lie.

PARDONER. I never heard a greater, by our Lady.

PEDLAR. A greater! nay, know ye any so great?

PALMER. Sir, whether that I lose or get,
For my part judgment shall be prayed.

PARDONER. And I desire, as he hath said.

'POTHECARY. Proceed, and ye shall be obeyed.

PEDLAR. Then shall not judgment be delayed,
Of all these three, if each man's tale
In Paul's Churchyard were set on sale,
In some man's hand that hath the sleight,
He should sure sell these tales by weight;
For as they weigh, so be they worth,
But which weigheth best, to that now forth.
Sir, all the tale that ye did tell
I bear in mind, and yours as well:
And as ye saw the matter meetly,
So lied ye both well and discreetly;
Yet were your lies with the least, trust me;
For if ye had said ye had made flee
Ten tampions out of ten women's tails,
Ten times ten mile to ten castles or jails,
And filled ten rivers ten times so deep,
As ten of that which your castle-stones did keep;
Or if ye ten times had bodily
Fet[540] ten souls out of purgatory;
And ten times so many out of hell:
Yet, by these ten bones, I could right well,
Ten times sooner all that believed,
Than the tenth part of that he hath meved.

'POTHECARY. Two knaves before one lacketh two knaves of five:[541]
Then one, and then one, and both knaves alive.
Then two, and then two, and three at a cast,
Thou knave, and thou knave, and thou knave at last.
Nay knave, if ye try me by number,
I will as knavishly you accumber[542]
Your mind is all on your privy tithe,
For all in ten me-thinketh your wit li'th.
Now ten times I beseech him that high sits,
Thy wife's ten commandments may search thy five wits.
Then ten of my turds in ten of thy teeth,
And ten on thy nose, which every man seeth;
And twenty times ten this wish I would
That thou hadst been hanged at ten year old:
For thou goest about to make me a slave.
I will thou know that I am a gentle[543] knave.
And here is another shall take my part.

PARDONER. Nay, first I beshrew your knave's heart,
Ere I take part in your knavery:
I will speak fair, by our[544] lady.
Sir, I beseech your maship to be
As good as ye can[545] be unto me.

PEDLAR. I would be glad to do you good,
And him also, be he ever so wood;[546]
But doubt you not I will now do
The thing my conscience leadeth me to.
Both your tales I take for impossible,
Yet take I his farther incredible.
Not only the thing itself alloweth it,
But also the boldness thereof avoweth it.
I know not where your tale to try;
Nor yours, but in hell or purgatory.
But his boldness hath faced a lie,
That may be tried even in this company.
As if ye list to take this order,
Among the women in this border,
Take three of the youngest, and three of the oldest,
Three of the hottest, and three of the coldest,
Three of the wisest, and three of the shrewdest,
Three of the chastest, and three of the lewdest,[547]
Three of the lowest, and three of the highest,
Three of the farthest, and three of the nighest,
Three of the fairest, and three of the maddest,
Three of the foulest, and three of the saddest,
And when all these threes be had asunder
Of each three, two justly by number
Shall be found shrews, except this fall,
That ye hap to find them shrews all.
Himself for truth all this doth know,
And oft hath tried some of this row;
And yet he sweareth by his conscience,
He never saw woman break patience.
Wherefore, considered with true intent,
His lie to be so evident,
And to appear so evidently,
That both you affirmed it a lie;
And that my conscience so deeply
So deep hath sought this thing to try,
And tried it with mind indifferent;
Thus I award by way of judgment:
Of all the lies ye all have spent,
His lie to be most excellent.

PALMER. Sir, though ye were bound of equity
To do as ye have done to me,
Yet do I thank you of your pain,
And will requite some part again.

PARDONER. Marry, sir, ye can no less do,
But thank him as much as it cometh to;
And so will I do for my part.
Now a vengeance on thy knave's heart,
I never knew a pedlar a judge before,
Nor never will trust pedling knave more.
What doest thou there, thou whoreson noddy?

'POTHECARY. By the mass, learn to make courtesy:
Courtesy before, and courtesy behind him,
And then on each side, the devil blind him!
Nay, when ye[548] have it perfitly,
Ye shall have the devil and all of courtesy:
But it is not soon learned, gentle[549] brother,
One knave to make courtesy to another.
Yet when I am angry, that is the worst,
I shall call my master knave at the first.

PALMER. Then would some master perhaps clout ye,
But, as for me, ye need not doubt ye;
For I had liever[550] be without ye,
Than have such business about ye.

'POTHECARY. So help me God, so were ye better;
What, should a beggar be a jetter?[551]
It were no whit your honesty
To have us twain jet after ye.

PARDONER. Sir, be your sure he telleth you true,
If we should wait, this would ensue:
It would be said, trust me at a word,
Two knaves made[552] courtesy to the third.

PEDLAR. Now, by my troth, to speak my mind,
Since they be so both to be assigned,[553]
To let them lose I think it best.
And so shall ye live the better[554] in rest.

PALMER. Sir, I am not on them so fond,
To compel them to keep their bond;
And since ye list not to wait on me,
I clearly of waiting do discharge ye.

PARDONER. Marry, sir, I heartily thank you.

'POTHECARY. And likewise I, to God I vow.[555]

PEDLAR. Now be ye all even as ye began;
No man hath lost, nor no man hath wan.
Yet in the debate wherewith ye began,
By way of advice I will speak as I can.
I do perceive that pilgrimage
Is chief[556] the thing ye have in usage;
Whereto in effect, for the love of Christ,
Ye have, or should have been enticed:
And who so doth with such intent,
Doth well declare his time well-spent.
And so do ye in your pretence,
If ye procure thus[557] indulgence
Unto your neighbours charitably,
For love of them in God only.
All this may be right well applied
To show[558] you both well occupied:
For though ye walk not both one way,
Yet walking thus, this dare I say,
That both your walks come to one[559] end;
And so for all that do pretend
By aid of God's grace to ensue
Any manner kind of virtue;
As some great alms for to give:
Some, in wilful poverty to live:
Some, to make highways and such like[560] works,
And some to maintain priests and clerks
To sing and pray for soul departed:
These, with all other virtues well marked,
Although they be of sundry kinds,
Yet be they not used with sundry minds.
But as God only doth all those move,
So every man only for his love,
With love and dread obediently
Worketh in these virtues uniformly.
Thus every virtue, if we list to scan,
Is pleasant to God and thankful to man.
And who that, by grace of the Holy Ghost,
To any one virtue is moved most,
That man by that grace that one apply,
And therein serve God most plentifully,[561]
Yet not that one so far wide to wrest:
So liking the same, to mislike the rest.
For who so wresteth, his work is in vain;
And even in that case I perceive you twain:
Liking your virtue in such wise,
That each other's virtue ye do despise.
Who walketh this way for God, would find him,
The farther they seek him, the farther behind him.
One kind of virtue to despise another,
Is like as the sister might hang the brother.

'POTHECARY. For fear lest such perils[562] to me might fall,
I thank God I use no virtue at all.

PEDLAR. That is of all the very worst way;
For more hard it is, as I have heard say,
To begin virtue where none is pretended,
Than where it is begun, th' abuse to be mended.
How be it, ye be[563] not all to begin,
One sign of virtue ye are entered in:
As this, I suppose ye did say true,
In that ye said ye use no virtue.
In the which words I dare well report,
You are well beloved of all this sort,
By your railing here openly
At pardons and relics so lewdly.

'POTHECARY. In that I think my fault not great;
For all that he hath I know counterfeit.

PEDLAR. For his and all other that ye know feigned,
You be not[564] counselled nor constrained
To any such thing in any such case,
To give any reverence in any such place.
But where ye doubt, the truth not knowing.
Believing the best, good may be growing,
In judging the best, no harm at the least;
In judging the worst, no good at the best.
But best in these things it seemeth to me,
To make[565] no judgment upon ye;
But as the church doth judge or take them,
So do ye receive or forsake them.
And so be you sure ye cannot err,
But may be a fruitful follower.

'POTHECARY. Go ye before, and as I am true man,
I will follow as fast as I can.

PARDONER. And so will I, for he hath said so well,
Reason would we should follow his counsel.

PALMER. Then to our reason God give us his grace,
That we may follow with faith so firmly
His commandments, that we may purchase
His love, and so consequently
To believe his church fast and faithfully;
So that we may, according to his promise,
Be kept out of error in any wise.
And all that hath scaped[566] us here by negligence,
We clearly revoke and forsake it;
To pass the time in this without offence,
Was the cause why the Maker did make it;
And so we humbly beseech you to take it,
Beseeching our Lord to prosper you all
In the faith of his Church Universal.[567]

A NEW INTERLUDE, CALLED THERSITES.

EDITION

_A new Enterlude called Thersytes. This Enterlude followynge dothe
declare howe that the greatest boesters are not the greatest doers_.

THE NAMES OF THE PLAYERS.

THERSITES, _a boster_. MATER, _a mother_.
MULCIBER, _a smyth_. MILES, _a knyght_.
TELEMACHUS, _a childe_.

[Col.] Imprinted at London, by John Tysdale and are to be solde at hys
shop in the vpper ende of Lvmbard streete, in Alhallowes Churche yarde
neare vntoo grace church. 4 deg.. Black letter.

HASLEWOOD'S PREFACE.[568]

In the comic movements of life, the chief dependence of society will ever
be upon the drama; still the history of the English stage remains very
imperfect, obscure, and unsatisfactory. Perhaps of no period are fewer
particulars known than that in, which a struggle for precedence arose
between "the moral new interlude" and "the merry new interlude;" or when
common sense, being partially relieved from bigotry and cold
superstition, gave licence to the infant votaries of the drama to drive
from thespian scaffolds old _Vice_, the prosing, loquacious hero of
"Mysteries and Moralities." Somewhere near that period, the two following
pieces, written for "buskined boys," were performed, and being
undoubtedly esteemed popular, both printed, but without dates. An entry
was made of the first as "Jack Juggeler and Mrs Boundgrace," in the
stationers' book, by William Copland, in 1562-63. In "Thersites," the
author, by the epilogue, has noted the precise time of its being written,
in mentioning the birth of Prince Edward (afterwards King Edward VI.),
which happened the 12th of August 1537, and invoking the Almighty to save
the "Queen, lovely Lady Jane," who is supposed to have died the second
day after that event. If then acted, it was probably revived on the
accession of Queen Elizabeth, and printed by Tysdale, whose typographical
labours did not commence in All-Hallows' Churchyard until 1561. So rare
were both interludes, that their existence had long been doubted, when,
in 1810, they were discovered in a private collection of ancient
plays.[569] That collection was so large, and contained specimens of the
early drama so little known, as to induce a spirited bibliopolist to
purchase the whole, projecting a republication of "Old English Mysteries,
Moralities, Interludes, Pageants, and Plays." It was to have extended to
twenty octavo volumes. Unfortunately, an announcement of a similar
nature, although upon a smaller scale (and afterwards meagrely executed),
deterred the intended proprietors from the venture of the large capital
necessary to complete so extensive an undertaking. Hence the whole
collection was promiscuously dispersed, and so widely, as to prevent a
reference to these interludes, when needed, to ascertain the character
and size of the black letter type used. That circumstance has occasioned
a deviation from the strict rule of a facsimile, followed in all other
respects, except adding, for convenience, a pagination. By the use of
modern type, however, another specimen is secured from the valuable
private press of an absent member. At the same time, convinced such a
deviation can seldom be tolerated, there can only be pleaded the
opportunity of extending some knowledge of two unique copies: the now
almost "olden" venial transgression of him who will, probably, continue
sinning, until the forced guest to banquet with the doctor and his
associate.

_May_ 29, 1820.

Mr Child observes:[570] "The play does not require particular notice. Its
lively absurdity could not have failed to be entertaining to an easy
audience, and is not tiresome now. _Thersites_ indulges plentifully in
one of the privileges of the old _Vice_--that of talking incoherent
nonsense. There is a vigour in some parts quite unusual in these things,
and many of the lines in Skelton's metre have some of his power, together
with all his coarseness. The passage, pp. 84-86, may remind the reader
of that remarkable poem, 'Elynour Rummyng.'"

THERSITES.

_Thersites cometh in, first having a club upon his neck_.[571]

Have in a ruffler forth of the Greek land,
Called Thersites, if ye will me know:
Aback, give me room, in my way do ye not stand;
For if ye do, I will soon lay you low.
In Homer of my acts ye have read, I trow:
Neither Agamemnon nor Ulysses I spared to check:
They could not bring me to be at their beck.
Of late from the Siege of Troy I returned,
Where all my harness except this club I lost.
In an old house there it was quite burned,
While I was preparing victuals for the host.
I must needs get me new, whatsoever it cost;
I will go seek adventures, for I can not be idle;
I will hamper some of the knaves in a bridle.
It grieveth me to hear how the knaves do brag;
But by supreme Jupiter, when I am harnessed well,
I shall make the dasters[572] to renne[573] into a bag,
To hide them fro me as fro the devil of hell,
I doubt not but hereafter of me ye shall hear tell:
How I have made the knaves for to play couch-quail.
But now to the shop of Mulciber to go I will not fail.

[_Mulciber must have a shop made in the place, and Thersites cometh
before it saying aloud_:

Mulciber, whom the poets doth call the god of fire,
Smith unto Jupiter, king over all:
Come forth of thy office, I thee desire,
And grant me my petition, I ask a thing but small.
I will none of thy lightning, that thou art wont to make
For the gods supernal, for ire when they do shake;
With which they thrust the giants down to hell
That were at a convention heaven to buy and sell.
But I would have some help of Lemnos and Ithalia,[574]
That of their steel by thy craft _condatur mihi galea_.

MULCIBER.

What, fellow Thersites, do ye speak Latin now?
Nay then, farewell, I make God a vow,
I do not you understand, no Latin is in my pallet.
[_And then he must do, as he would go away_.

THERSITES.

I say, abide, good Mulciber, I pray thee make me
a sallet.[575]

MULCIBER.

Why, Thersites, hast thou any wit in thy head?
Wouldst thou have a sallet now? all the herbs are dead!
Beside that it is not meet for a smith
To gather herbs and sallets to meddle with.
Go get thee to my lover Venus,
She hath sallets enough for all us:
I eat none such sallets, for now I wax old,
And for my stomach they are very cold.

THERSITES.

Now I pray to Jupiter, that thou die a cuckold!
I mean a sallet, with which men do fight.

MULCIBER.

It is a small tasting of a man's might,
That he should for any matter
Fight with a few herbs in a platter:
No great laud should follow that victory.

THERSITES.

God's passion, Mulciber, where is thy wit and memory?
I would have a sallet made of steel.

MULCIBER.

Why, sir, in your stomach long you shall it feel,
For steel is hard for to digest.

THERSITES.

Man's bones and sides, he is worse than a beast!
I would have a sallet to wear on my head,
Which under my chin with a thong red
Buckled shall be:
Dost thou yet perceive me?

MULCIBER.

Your mind now I see:
Why, thou peevish lad,
Art thou almost mad,
Or well in thy wit?
Get thee a wallet:
Would thou have a sallet?
What wouldst thou do with it?

THERSITES.

I pray thee, good Mulciber, make no mo bones,
But let me have a sallet made at once.

MULCIBER.

I must do somewhat for this knave; [_Aside_.
What manner of sallet, sir, would ye have?

THERSITES.

I would have such a one, that nother might nor main
Should pierce it through, or part it in twain;
Which nother gunstone nor sharp spear
Should be able other to hurt or tear.
I would have it also for to save my head,
If Jupiter himself would have me dead;
And if he in a fume would cast at me his fire,
This sallet I would have to keep me from his ire.

MULCIBER.

I perceive your mind.
Ye shall find me kind;
I will for you prepare:--

[_And then he goeth into his shop, and maketh a sallet for him; at the
last he saith_:

Here, Thersites, do this sallet wear,
And on thy head it bear;
And none shall work thee care.

[_Then Mulciber goeth into his shop, until he is called again_.

THERSITES.

Now would I not fear with any bull to fight,
Or with a ramping lion, nother by day nor night.
Oh, what great strength is in my body so lusty,
Which for lack of exercise is now almost rusty.
Hercules in comparison to me was but a boy,
When the bandog Cerberus from hell he bare away:
When he killed the lion, hydra, and the boar[576] so wild.
Compare him to me, and he was but a child!
Why, Samson, I say, hast thou no more wit?
Wouldst thou be as strong as I? come, suck thy mother's teat!
Ween you that David, that little elfish boy,
Should with his sling have take my life away?
Nay, i-wis, Goliath, for all his five stones,
I would have quashed his little boyish bones.
Oh, how it would do my heart much good
To see some of the giants before Noe's flood!
I would make the knaves to cry crik,[577]
Or else with my club their brains I will break
But, Mulciber, yet I have not with thee do:
My head is armed, my neck I would have too;
And also my shoulders with some good habergin,
That the devil, if he shot at me, could not enter in.
For I am determined great battle to make,
Except my fumishness by some means may aslake.

MULCIBER.

Buckle on this habergin, as fast as thou can,
And fear for the meeting of nother beast nor man.
If it were possible for one to shoot an oak,
This habergin will defend thee from the stroke.
Let them throw milestones at thee as thick as hail,
Yet thee to kill they shall [of] their purpose fail.
If Malvern Hills should on thy shoulders light,
They shall not hurt them, nor suppress thy might.
If Bevis of Hampton, Colburn, and Guy,
Will thee assay, set not by them a fly!
To be brief, this habergin shall thee save
Both by land and water; now play the lusty knave.
[_Then he goeth into his shop again_.

THERSITES.

When I consider my shoulders, that so broad be,
When the other parts of my body I do behold,
I verily think that none in Christian'ty
With me to meddle dare be so bold.
Now have at the lions on Cots'old![578]
I will neither spare for heat nor for cold.
Where art thou, King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table?
Come, bring forth your horses out of the stable!
Lo, with me to meet they be not able:
By the mass, they had rather wear a bable.
Where art thou, Gawain the courteous and Kay the crabbed?
Here be a couple of knights cowardish and scabbed!
Appear in thy likeness, Sir Libeus Disconius,[579]
If thou wilt have my club light on thy _headibus_.
Lo, ye may see he beareth not the face
With me to try a blow in this place.
How, sirrah, approach, Sir Launcelot de Lake,
What, renne ye away, and for fear quake?
Now he that did thee a knight make
Thought never that thou any battle shouldst take.
If thou wilt not come thyself, some other of thy fellows send:
To battle I provoke them; themselves let them defend.
Lo, for all the good that ever they see,
They will not once set hand to fight with me.
O good Lord, how broad is my breast
And strong withal, for whole is my chest.
He that should meddle with me should have shrewd rest.
Behold you my hands, my legs, and my feet;
Every part is strong, proportionable, and meet.
Think you that I am not fear'd in field and street?
Yes, yes, God wot, they give me the wall,
Or else with my club I make them to fall.
Back, knaves, I say to them, then for fear they quake;
And take me then to the tavern, and good cheer me make.
The proctor and his men I made to renne their ways,
And some went to hide them in broken hays.[580]
I tell you at a word,
I set not a turd
By none of them all:
Early and late I will walk,
And London streets stalk,
Spite of them great and small:
For I think verily,
That none in heaven so high,
Nor yet in hell so low,
While I have this club in my hand,
Can he able me to withstand,
Or me to overthrow.
But, Mulciber, yet I must thee desire
To make me briggen[581] irons for mine arms,
And then I will love thee as mine own sire;
For without them I cannot be safe from all harms.
Those once had, I will not set a straw
By all the world, for then I will by awe
Have all my mind, or else, by the holy rood,
I will make them think the devil carrieth them to the wood.[582]
If no man will with me battle take,
A voyage to hell quickly I will make,
And there I will beat the devil and his dame,
And bring the souls away: I fully intend the same.
After that in hell I have ruffled so,
Straight to old Purgatory will I go.
I will clean that, [and] so purge [it] round about,
That we shall need no pardons to help them out.
If I have not fight enough this ways,
I will climb to heaven and fet away Peter's keys;
I will keep them myself and let in a great rout;
What, should such a fisher keep good fellows out?

MULCIBER.

Have here, Thersites, briggen irons bright,
And fear thou no man manly to fight;
Though he be stronger than Hercules or Samson,
Be thou prest and bold to set him upon.
Nother Amazon nor Xerxes with their whole rabble
Thee to assail shall find it profitable.
I warrant thee they will flee from thy face,
As doth an hare from the dogs in a chace.
Would not thy black and rusty grim beard,
Now thou art so armed, make any man afeard?
Surely, if Jupiter did see thee in this gear,
He would renne away, and hide him for fear!
He would think that Typhaeus the giant were alive,
And his brother Enceladus, again with him to strive.
If that Mars, of battle the god stout and bold,
In this array should chance thee to behold,
He would yield up his sword unto thee,
And god of battle (he would say) thou shouldst be.
Now fare thou well, go the world through,
And seek adventures, thou art man good enou'.

THERSITES.

Mulciber, while the stars shall shine in the sky,
And Phaeton's horses with the sun's chariot shall fly;
While the morning shall go before noon,
And cause the darkness to vanish away soon:
While that the cat shall love well milk,
And while that women shall love to go in silk:
While beggars have lice,
And cockneys are nice:
While pardoners can lie,
Merchants can buy,
And children cry:
While all these last, and more,
Which I keep in store,
I do me faithfully bind
Thy kindness to bear in mind.
But yet, Mulciber, one thing I ask more:
Hast thou ever a sword now in store?
I would have such a one that would cut stones,
And pare a great oak down at once.
That were a sword, lo, even for the nonce.

MULCIBER.

Truly I have such a one in my shop,
That will pare iron, as it were a rope.
Have, here it is, gird it to thy side:
Now fare thou well, Jupiter be thy guide!

THERSITES.

Gramercy, Mulciber, with my whole heart
Give me thy hand, and let us depart.[583]

[_Mulciber goeth into his shop again, and Thersites saith forth_:

Now I go hence, and put myself in prease:[584]
I will seek adventures; yea, and that I will not cease.
If there be any present here this night,
That will take upon them with me to fight,
Let them come quickly, and the battle shall be pight.
Where is Cacus, that knave not worth a groat,
That was wont to blow clouds out of his throat;
Which stole Hercules kine, and hid them in his cave?
Come hither, Cacus, thou lubber and false knave:
I will teach all wretches by thee to beware!
If thou come hither, I trap thee in a snare;
Thou shalt have knocked bread and ill-fare.
How say you, good godfather, that look so stale,
Ye seem a man to be born in the vale?
Dare ye adventure with me a stripe or two?
Go, coward, go, hide thee as thou wast wont to do!
What a sort of dastards have we here!
None of you to battle with me dare appear.
What say you, heart of gold, of countenance so demure?
Will you fight with me? no, I am right sure.
Fye, blush not, woman, I will do you no harm,
Except I had you sooner to keep my back warm.
Alas, little pums, why are ye so sore afraid?
I pray you show how long it is, since ye were a maid?
Tell me in mine ear; sirs, she hath me told
That gone was her maidenhead at thrusteen[585] year old!
By lady, she was loth to keep it too long:
_And I were a maid again_[586] now may be here song.[587]
Do after my counsel of maidens the whole bevy,
Quickly rid your maidenheads, for they are vengeance heavy,
Well, let all go: why, will none come in
With me to fight, that I may pare his skin?

[_The Mater cometh in_.

MATER

What say you, my son, will ye fight? God it defend!
For what cause to war do you now pretend?
Will ye commit to battles dangerous
Your life that is to me so precious?

THERSITES.

I will go, I will go; stop not my way!
Hold me not, good mother, I heartily you pray.
If there be any lions or other wild beast,
That will not suffer the husbandman in rest,
I will go seech them, and bid them to a feast:
They shall aby bitterly the coming of such a guest.
I will search for them both in bush and shrub,
And lay on a load with this lusty club.

MATER.

O my sweet son, I am thy mother;
Wilt thou kill me, and thou hast none other?

THERSITES.

No, mother, no, I am not of such iniquity,
That I will defile my hands upon thee.
But be content, mother, for I will not rest
Till I have fought with some man or wild beast.

MATER.

Truly, my son, if that ye take this way,
This shall be the conclusion, mark what I shall say.
Other I will drown myself for sorrow,
And feed fishes with my body before to-morrow,
Or with a sharp sword surely I will me kill:
Now thou mayst save me, if it be thy will.
I will also cut my paps away,
That gave thee suck so many a day;
And so in all the world it shall be known,
That by my own son I was overthrown.
Therefore, if my life be to thee pleasant,
That which I desire, good son, do me grant.

THERSITES.

Mother, thou spendest thy wind but in waste;
The goddess of battle her fury on me hath cast.
I am fully fixed battle for to taste:
Oh, how many to death I shall drive in haste!
I will ruffle this club about my head,
Or else I pray God I never die in my bed.
There shall never a stroke be stroken with my hand,
But they shall think that Jupiter doth thunder in the land.

MATER.

My own sweet son, I, kneeling on my knee,
And both my hands holding up to thee,
Desire thee to cease, and no battle make:
Call to thee patience, and better ways take.

THERSITES.

Tush, mother, I am deaf; I will thee not hear.
No, no, if Jupiter here himself now were,
And all the gods, and Juno his wife,
And loving Minerva that abhorreth all strife:
If all these, I say, would desire me to be content,
They did their wind but in vain spent;[588]
I will have battle in Wales or in Kent,
And some of the knaves I will all-to rent.[589]
Where is the valiant knight, Sir Isenbras?
Appear, sir, I pray you, dare ye not show your face?
Where is Robin John and Little Hood?[590]
Approach hither quickly, if ye think it good;
I will teach such outlaws with Christ's curses,
How they take hereafter away abbots' purses.
Why, will no adventure appear in this place?
Where is Hercules with his great mace?
Where is Busiris, that fed his horses
Full like a tyrant with dead men's corses?[591]
Come, any of you both,
And I make an oath,
That ere I eat any bread,
I will drive a wain,
Yea, for need twain,
Between your body and your head.
This[592] passeth my brains;
Will none take the pains
To try with me a blow?
Oh, what a fellow am I,
Whom every man doth fly,
That doth me but once know!

MATER.

Son, all do you fear,
That be present here;
They will not with you fight.
You, as you be worthy,
Have now the victory
Without tasting of your might.
Here is none, I trow,
That proffereth you a blow:
Man, woman, nor child.
Do not set your mind
To fight with the wind:
Be not so mad nor wild.

THERSITES.

I say, arise, whosoever will fight:
I am to battle here ready-dight.
Come hither, other swain or knight;
Let me see who dare present him to my sight!
Here with my club ready I stand,
If any will come to take them in hand.

MATER.

There is no hope left in my breast
To bring my son into better rest:
He will do nothing at my request;
He regardeth me no more than a beast.
I see no remedy; but still I will pray
To God my son to guide in his way;
That he may have a prosperous journeying,
And to be safe at his returning.
Son, God above grant this my oration
That, when in battle thou shalt have concertation
With your enemies, other far or near,
No wound in them nor in you may appear,
So that ye nother kill nor be killed.

THERSITES.

Mother, thy petition, I pray God, be fulfilled,
For then no knaves' blood shall be spilled.
Fellows, keep my counsel; by the mass, I do but crake:[593]
I will be gentle enough, and no business make.
But yet I will make her believe that I am a man--
Think you that I will fight? no, no, but with the can.
Except I find my enemy on this wise,
That he be asleep, or else cannot arise.
If his arms and his feet be not fast bound,
I will not proffer a stripe for a thousand pound.
Farewell, mother, and tarry here no longer,
For after prowess of chivalry I do both thirst and hunger:
I will beat the knaves as flat as a conger.

[_Then the mother goeth in the place which is prepared for her_.

What, how long shall I tarry; be your hearts in your hose?
Will there none of you in battle me oppose?
Come, prove me, why stand you so in doubt?
Have you any wild blood that ye would have let out?
Alack, that a man's strength cannot be knowen,
Because that he lacketh enemies to be overthrowen!

[_Here a snail must appear unto him, and he must look fearfully upon the
snail, saying_:

But what a monster do I see now,[594]
Coming hitherward with an armed brow!
What is it? ah, it is a sow!
No, by God's body, it is but a gristle,
And on the back it hath never a bristle.
It is not a cow--ah, there I fail:
For then it should have a long tail.
What the devil, I was blind! it is but a snail:
I was never so afraid in east nor in south;
My heart at the first sight was at my mouth.
Marry, sir, fy, fy, fy, I do sweat for fear:
I thought I had craked but too timely here.
Hence, thou beast, and pluck in thy horns,
Or I swear by him that crowned was with thorns,
I will make thee drink worse than good ale in the corns.
Hast thou nothing else to do,
But come with horns and face me so?
How, how, my servants, get you shield and spear,
And let us worry and kill this monster here.
[_Here Miles cometh in_.

MILES.

Is not this a worthy knight,
That with a snail dareth not fight,
Except he have his servants' aid?
Is this the champion that maketh all men afraid?
I am a poor soldier come of late from Calais,
I trust, ere I go, to debate some of his malice.
I will tarry my time, till I do see
Betwixt him and the snail what the end will be.

THERSITES.

Why, ye whoreson knaves, regard ye not my calling?
Why do ye not come, and with you weapons bring?
Why shall this monster so escape killing?
No, that he shall not, and God be willing.

MILES.

I promise you this is as worthy a knight,
As ever shall bread out of a bottle bite.
I think he be Dares, of whom Virgil doth write,
That would not let Entellus alone,
But ever provoked and ever called on,
But yet at the last he took a fall,
And so within a while I trow I make thee[595] shall.

THERSITES.

By God's passion, knaves, if I come, I will you fetter:
Regard ye my calling and crying no better?
Why, whoresons, I say, will ye not come?
By the mass, the knaves be all from home:
They had better have fet me an errand at Rome.

MILES.

By my troth, I think that very scant
This lubber dare adventure to fight with an ant.

THERSITES.

Well, seeing my servants come to me will not,
I must take heed that this monster me spill not;
I will jeopard with it a joint,
And other with my club or my sword's point
I will reach it such wounds,
As I would not have for forty thousand pounds.
Pluck in thy horns, thou unhappy beast;
What, facest thou me? wilt not thou be in rest?
Why, will not thou thy horns in hold?
Thinkest thou that I am a cuckold?
God's arms, the monster cometh toward me still,
Except I fight manfully, it will me surely kill!

[_Then he must fight against the snail with his club_.

MILES.

O Jupiter Lord, dost thou not see and hear,
How he feareth the snail, as it were a bear!

THERSITES.

Well, with my club I have had good luck;
Now with my sword have at thee a pluck!

[_And he must cast his club away_.

I will make thee, ere I go, for to duck,
And thou were as tall a man as Friar Tuck.
I say yet again, thy horns in draw,
Or else I will make thee to have wounds raw.
Art thou not afeard
To have thy beard
Pared with my sword?

[_Here he must fight then with his sword against the snail, and the snail
draweth her horns in_.

Ah well, now no more:
Thou mightest have done so before.
I laid at it so sore,
That it thought it should have be lore[596]
And it had not drawn in his horns again,
Surely I would the monster have slain.
But now, farewell, I will work thee no more pain.
Now my fume is past,
And doth no longer last,
That I did to the monster cast.
Now in other countries both far and near
Mo deeds of chivalry I will go inquire.

MILES.

Thou needst not seek any further, for ready I am here:
I will debate anon, I trow, thy bragging cheer.

THERSITES. [_Not hearing him_.
Now where is any mo that will me assail?
I will turn him and toss him, both top and tail;
If he be stronger than Samson was,
Who with his bare hands killed lions apace.

MILES.

What needeth this boast? I am here at hand,
That with thee will fight; keep thy head, and stand!
Surely for all thy high words I will not fear
To assay thee a touch, till some blood appear;
I will give thee somewhat for the gift of a new year.

[_And he beginneth to fight with him, but Thersites must run away, and
hide him behind his mother's back, saying_:

THERSITES.

O mother, mother, I pray thee me hide:
Throw something over me, and cover me every side.

MATER.

O my son, what thing eldeth[597] thee?

THERSITES.

Mother, a thousand horsemen do persecute me.

MATER.

Marry, son, then it was time to fly;
I blame thee not, then, though afraid thou be.
A deadly wound thou mightst there soon catch:
One against so many is no indifferent[598] match.

THERSITES.

No, mother, but if they had been but ten to one,
I would not have avoided, but set them upon;
But seeing they be so many, I ran away.
Hide me, mother, hide me, I heartily thee pray.
For if they come hither, and here me find,
To their horses' tails they will be bind,
And after that fashion hale me, and kill me;
And though I were never so bold and stout,
To fight against so many I should stand in doubt.

MILES.

Thou that dost seek giants to conquer,
Come forth, if thou dare, and in this place appear.
Fie for shame, dost thou so soon take flight!
Come forth, and show somewhat of thy might.

THERSITES.

Hide me, mother, hide me, and never word say--

MILES.

Thou old trot, seest thou any man come this way,
Well-armed and weaponed, and ready to fight?

MATER.

No, forsooth, master, there came none in my sight.

MILES.

He did avoid in time, for without doubts
I would have set on his back some clouts;
If I may take him, I will make all slouches
To beware by him, that they come not in my clutches.

[_Then he goeth out, and the mother saith_:

MATER.

Come forth, my son, your enemy is gone:
Be not afraid, for hurt thou canst have none.

[_Then he looketh about, if he be gone or not; at the last he saith_:

THERSITES.

I-wis, thou didst wisely, whosoever thou be,
To tarry no longer to fight with me;
For with my club I would have broken thy skull,
If thou were as big as Hercules' bull.
Why, thou cowardly knave, no stronger than a duck,
Barest thou try masteries with me a-pluck.
Which fear nother giants nor Jupiter's fire-bolt,
Nor Belzebub the master-devil, as ragged as a colt?
I would thou wouldst come hither once again:
I think thou hadst rather alive to be flayn.
Come again, and I swear by my mother's womb,
I will pull thee in pieces no more than my thumb;
And thy brains abroad I will so scatter,
That all knaves shall fear against me to clatter.

[_Then cometh in Telemachus, bringing a letter from his father Ulysses,
and Thersites saith_:

What, little Telemachus!
What makest thou here among us?

TELEMACHUS.

Sir, my father Ulysses doth him commend
To you most heartily, and here he hath you send
Of his mind a letter,
Which show you better
Everything shall,
Than I can make rehearsal.
[_Here he must deliver him the letter_.

THERSITES.

Lo, friends, ye may see
What great men write to me.
[_Here he must read the letter_.
As entirely as heart can think,
Or scrivener can write with ink,
I send you loving greeting,
Thersites, my own sweeting!
I am very sorry,
When I cast in memory
The great unkindness
And also the blindness,
That hath be in my breast
Against you ever prest:
I have be prompt and diligent
Ever to make you shent,
To appal your good name,
And to 'minish your fame:
In that I was to blame;
But well all this is gone,
And remedy there is none,
But only repentance
Of all my old grievance,
With which I did you molest,
And gave you sorry rest:
The cause was thereof truly
Nothing but very envy;
Wherefore now, gentle esquire,
Forgive me, I you desire,
And help, I you beseech,
Telemachus to a leech,
That him may wisely charm
From the worms that do him harm;
In that ye may do me pleasure,
For he is my chief treasure.
I have heard men say,
That come by the way,
That better charmer is no other,
Than is your own dear mother.
I pray you of her obtain
To charm away his pain.
Fare ye well, and come to my house
To drink wine and eat a piece of souse;
And we will have minstrelsy,
That shall pipe _Hankin boby_.
My wife Penelope
Doth greet you well by me.
Writing at my house on Candlemas-day,
Midsummer month, the Calends of May,
By me, Ulysses, being very glad
That the victory of late of the monster ye had.
Ah, sirrah, quoth he? how say you, friends all,
Ulysses is glad for my favour to call.
Well, though we oft have swerved,
And he small love deserved,
Yet I am well content,
Seeing he doth repent,
To let old matters go,
And to take him no more so,
As I have done hitherto,
For my mortal foe.
Come go with me, Telemachus; I will thee bring
Unto my mother to have her charming.
I doubt not, but by that time that she hath done,
Thou shalt be the better seven years agone.
[_Then Thersites goeth to his mother, saying_:
Mother, Christ thee save and see,
Ulysses hath send his son to thee,
That thou shouldst him charm
From the worms that him harm.

MATER.

Son, ye be wise, keep ye warm!
Why should I for Ulysses do,
That never was kind us to?
He was ready in war
Ever thee, son, to mar;
Then had been all my joy
Exiled clean away.

THERSITES.

Well, mother, all that is past;
Wrath may not always last,
And seeing we be mortal all,
Let not our wrath be immortal.

MATER.

Charm that charm will, he shall not be charmed of me.

THERSITES.

Charm, or, by the mass, with my club I will charm thee.

MATER.

Why, son, art thou so wicked to beat thy mother?

THERSITES.

Yea, that I will, by God's dear brother!
Charm, old witch, in the devil's name,
Or I will send thee to him to be his dame.

MATER.

Alas! what a son have I,
That thus doth order me spitefully!
Cursed be the time that ever I him fed!
I would in my belly he had be dead!

THERSITES.

Cursest thou, old whore? bless me again,
Or I will bless thee, that shall be to thy pain.

[_Then he must take her by the arms, and she crieth out as followeth_:

MATER.

He will kill me,
He will spill me,
He will bruise me,
He will lose me,
He will prick me,
He will stick me.

THERSITES.

The devil stick thee, old withered witch,
For I will stick nother thee nor none such.
But come off, give me thy blessing again:
I say, let me have it, or else certain
With my club I will lay thee on the brain.

MATER.

Well, seeing thou threatenest to me affliction,
Spite of my heart, have now my benediction.
Now Christ's sweet blessing and mine
Light above and beneath the body of thine,
And I beseech with all my devotion,
That thou mayst come to a man's promotion!
He that forgave Mary Magdalen her sin,
Make thee highest of all thy kin!

THERSITES.

In this word is double intelliment[599]:
Wouldst thou have me hanged, mother, verament?

MATER.

No, son, no; but to have you high
In promotion is my mind, verily.

THERSITES.

Well then, mother, let all this go,
And charm this child that you is send to.
And look hereafter to curse ye be not greedy:
Curse me no more, I am cursed enough already.

MATER

Well, son, I will curse you no more,
Except ye provoke me too-too sore;
But I marvel why ye do me move
To do for Ulysses, that doth not us love.

THERSITES.

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