Part 1 out of 3
SIR THOMAS MORE
An anonymous play of the sixteen century ascribed in part to
William Shakespeare. First printed in 1844 and here
re-edited from the Harleian MS. 7368 in the British Museum.
Earl of SHREWSBURY.
Earl of SURREY.
Sir THOMAS PALMER.
Sir ROGER CHOMLEY.
Sir THOMAS MORE.
SURESBY, a Justice.
Sergeant at Arms.
Clerk of the Council.
Bishop of Rochester.
ROPER, son-in-law to MORE.
JOHN LINCOLN, a broker.
His brother (the 'Clown').
WILLIAMSON, a carpenter.
SHERWIN, a goldsmith.
FRANCIS DE BARDE, Lombard.
LIFTER, a cut-purse.
SMART, plaintiff against him.
HARRY, ROBIN, KIT, and others, Prentices.
FAULKNER, his servant.
Lieutenant of the Tower.
Warders of the Tower.
Gentleman Porter of the Tower.
Lords, Gentlemen, Officers, Messengers, Guard, Attendants.
Mistress ROPER, daughter to MORE.
Another daughter to MORE.
DOLL, wife to WILLIAMSON.
A Poor Woman.
SCENE I. London. A Street.
[Enter, at one end, John Lincoln, with the two Bettses together; at
the other end, enters Francis de Barde and Doll a lusty woman, he
haling her by the arm.]
Whether wilt thou hale me?
Whether I please; thou art my prize, and I plead purchase of thee.
Purchase of me! away, ye rascal! I am an honest plain carpenters
wife, and though I have no beauty to like a husband, yet
whatsoever is mine scorns to stoop to a stranger: hand off, then,
when I bid thee!
Go with me quietly, or I'll compel thee.
Compel me, ye dog's face! thou thinkst thou hast the goldsmith's
wife in hand, whom thou enticedst from her husband with all his
plate, and when thou turndst her home to him again, madst him,
like an ass, pay for his wife's board.
So will I make thy husband too, if please me.
[Enter Caveler with a pair of doves; Williamson the carpenter, and
Sherwin following him.]
Here he comes himself; tell him so, if thou darst.
Follow me no further; I say thou shalt not have them.
I bought them in Cheapside, and paid my money for them.
He did, sir, indeed; and you offer him wrong, both to take them
from him, and not restore him his money neither.
If he paid for them, let it suffice that I possess them: beefs and
brews may serve such hinds; are pigeons meat for a coarse
It is hard when Englishmen's patience must be thus jetted on by
strangers, and they not dare to revenge their own wrongs.
Lincoln, let's beat them down, and bear no more of these abuses.
We may not, Betts: be patient, and hear more.
How now, husband! what, one stranger take they food from thee,
and another thy wife! by our Lady, flesh and blood, I think, can
hardly brook that.
Will this gear never be otherwise? must these wrongs be thus
Let us step in, and help to revenge their injury.
What art thou that talkest of revenge? my lord ambassador shall
once more make your Major have a check, if he punish thee for this
Indeed, my lord Mayor, on the ambassador's complaint, sent me to
Newgate one day, because (against my will) I took the wall of a
stranger: you may do any thing; the goldsmith's wife and mine
now must be at your commandment.
The more patient fools are ye both, to suffer it.
Suffer it! mend it thou or he, if ye can or dare. I tell thee, fellows,
and she were the Mayor of London's wife, had I her once in my
possession, I would keep her in spite of him that durst say nay.
I tell thee, Lombard, these words should cost thy best cape, were I
not curbed by duty and obedience: the Mayor of London's wife!
Oh God, shall it be thus?
Why, Betts, am not I as dear t m husband as my lord Mayor's wife
to him? and wilt thou so neglectly suffer thine own shame?--Hands
off, proud stranger! or, by him that bought me, if men's milky
hearts dare not strike a stranger, yet women beat them down, ere
they bear these abuses.
Mistress, I say you shall along with me.
Touch not Doll Williamson, least she lay thee along on God's dear
earth.--And you, sir [To Caveler], that allow such coarse cates to
carpenters, whilst pigeons, which they pay for, must serve your
dainty appetite, deliver them back to my husband again, or I'll call
so many women to mine assistance as will not leave one inch
untorn of thee: if our husbands must be bridled by law, and forced
to bear your wrongs, their wives will be a little lawless, and
soundly beat ye.
Come away, De Barde, and let us go complain to my lord
Aye, go, and send him among us, and we'll give him his welcome
too.--I am ashamed that freeborn Englishmen, having beaten
strangers within their own homes, should thus be braved and
abused by them at home.
It is not our lack of courage in the cause, but the strict obedience
that we are bound to. I am the goldsmith whose wrongs you talked
of; but how to redress yours or mine own is a matter beyond our
Not so, not so, my good friends: I, though a mean man, a broker
by profession, and named John Lincoln, have long time winked at
these wild enormities with mighty impatience, and, as these two
brethren here (Betts by name) can witness, with loss of mine own
life would gladly remedy them.
And he is in a good forwardness, I tell ye, if all hit right.
As how, I prithee? tell it to Doll Williamson.
You know the Spittle sermons begin the next week: I have drawn a
bill of our wrongs and the strangers' insolences.
Which he means the preachers shall there openly publish in the
Oh, but that they would! yfaith, it would tickle our strangers
Aye, and if you men durst not undertake it, before God, we women
would. Take an honest woman from her husband! why, it is
But how find ye the preachers affected to our proceeding?
Master Doctor Standish hath answered that it becomes not him to
move any such thing in his sermon, and tells us we must move the
Mayor and aldermen to reform it, and doubts not but happy success
will ensue on statement of our wrongs. You shall perceive there's
no hurt in the bill: here's a couple of it; I pray ye, hear it.
With all our hearts; for God's sake, read it.
[Reads.] To you all, the worshipful lords and masters of this city,
that will take compassion over the poor people your neighbors, and
also of the great importable hurts, losses, and hinderances, whereof
proceedeth extreme poverty to all the king's subjects that inhabit
within this city and suburbs of the same: for so it is that aliens and
strangers eat the bread from the fatherless children, and take the
living from all the artificers and the intercourse from all the
merchants, whereby poverty is so much increased, that every man
bewaileth the misery of other; for craftsmen be brought to beggary,
and merchants to neediness: wherefore, the premises considered,
the redress must be of the common knit and united to one part: and
as the hurt and damage grieveth all men, so must all men see to
their willing power for remedy, and not suffer the said aliens in
their wealth, and the natural born men of this region to come to
Before God, tis excellent; and I'll maintain the suit to be honest.
Well, say tis read, what is your further meaning in the matter?
What! marry, list to me. No doubt but this will store us with
friends enow, whose names we will closely keep in writing; and on
May day next in the morning we'll go forth a Maying, but make it
the worst May day for the strangers that ever they saw. How say
ye? do ye subscribe, or are ye faint-hearted revolters?
Hold thee, George Betts, there's my hand and my heart: by the
Lord, I'll make a captain among ye, and do somewhat to be talk of
for ever after.
My masters, ere we part, let's friendly go and drink together, and
swear true secrecy upon our lives.
There spake an angel. Come, let us along, then.
SCENE II. London. The Sessions House.
[An arras is drawn, and behind it as in sessions sit the Lord Mayor,
Justice Suresby, and other Justices; Sheriff More and the other
Sheriff sitting by. Smart is the plaintiff, Lifter the prisoner at the
bar. Recorder, Officers.]
Having dispatched our weightier businesses,
We may give ear to petty felonies.
Master Sheriff More, what is this fellow?
My lord, he stands indicted for a purse;
He hath been tried, the jury is together.
Who sent him in?
That did I, my lord:
Had he had right, he had been hanged ere this;
The only captain of the cutpurse crew.
What is his name?
As his profession is, Lifter, my lord,
One that can lift a purse right cunningly.
And is that he accuses him?
The same, my lord, whom, by your honors leave,
I must say somewhat too, because I find
In some respects he is well worthy blame.
Good Master Justice Suresby, speak your mind;
We are well pleased to give you audience.
Hear me, Smart; thou art a foolish fellow:
If Lifter be convicted by the law,
As I see not how the jury can acquit him,
I'll stand too 't thou art guilty of his death.
My lord, that's worthy the hearing.
Listen, then, good Master More.
I tell thee plain, it is a shame for thee,
With such a sum to tempt necessity;
No less than ten pounds, sir, will serve your turn,
To carry in your purse about with ye,
To crake and brag in taverns of your money:
I promise ye, a man that goes abroad
With an intent of truth, meeting such a booty,
May be provoked to that he never meant.
What makes so many pilferers and felons,
But such fond baits that foolish people lay
To tempt the needy miserable wretch?
Ten pounds, odd money; this is a pretty sum
To bear about, which were more safe at home.
Fore God, twere well to fine ye as much more
[Lord Mayor and More whisper.]
To the relief of the poor prisoners,
To teach ye be more careful of your own,
In sooth, I say ye were but rightly served,
If ye had lost as much as twice ten pounds.
Good my lord, sooth a point or two for once,
Only to try conclusions in this case.
Content, good Master More: we'll rise awhile,
And, till the jury can return their verdict,
Walk in the garden.--How say ye, Justices?
We like it well, my lord; we'll follow ye.
[Exeunt Lord Mayor and Justices.]
Nay, plaintiff, go you too;--and officers,
Stand you aside, and leave the prisoner
To me awhile.--Lifter, come hither.
What is your worship's pleasure?
Sirrah, you know that you are known to me,
And I have often saved ye from this place,
Since first I came in office: thou seest beside,
That Justice Suresby is thy heavy friend,
By all the blame that he pretends to Smart,
For tempting thee with such a sum of money.
I tell thee what; devise me but a means
To pick or cut his purse, and, on my credit,
And as I am a Christian and a man,
I will procure they pardon for that jest.
Good Master Shrieve, seek not my overthrow:
You know, sir, I have many heavy friends,
And more indictments like to come upon me.
You are too deep for me to deal withal;
You are known to be one of the wisest men
That is in England: I pray ye, Master Sheriff,
Go not about to undermine my life.
Lifter, I am true subject to my king;
Thou much mistake me: and, for thou shall not think
I mean by this to hurt thy life at all,
I will maintain the act when thou hast done it.
Thou knowest there are such matters in my hands,
As if I pleased to give them to the jury,
I should not need this way to circumvent thee.
All that I aim at is a merry jest:
Perform it, Lifter, and expect my best.
I thank your worship: God preserve your life!
But Master Justice Suresby is gone in;
I know not how to come near where he is.
Let me alone for that; I'll be thy setter;
I'll send him hither to thee presently,
Under the colour of thine own request,
Of private matters to acquaint him with.
If ye do so, sir, then let me alone;
Forty to one but then his purse is gone.
Well said: but see that thou diminish not
One penny of the money, but give it me;
It is the cunning act that credits thee.
I will, good Master Sheriff, I assure ye.
I see the purpose of this gentleman
Is but to check the folly of the Justice,
For blaming others in a desperate case,
Wherein himself may fall as soon as any.
To save my life, it is a good adventure:
Silence there, ho! now doth the Justice enter.
[Enter Justice Suresby.]
Now, sirrah, now, what is your will with me?
Wilt thou discharge thy conscience like an honest man?
What sayest to me, sirrah? be brief, be brief.
As brief, sir, as I can.--
[Aside.] If ye stand fair, I will be brief anon.
Speak out, and mumble not; what sayest thou, sirrah?
Sir, I am charged, as God shall be my comfort,
With more than's true.
Sir, sir, ye are indeed, with more than's true,
For you are flatly charged with felony;
You're charged with more than truth, and that is theft;
More than a true man should be charged withal;
Thou art a varlet, that's no more than true.
Trifle not with me; do not, do not, sirrah;
Confess but what thou knowest, I ask no more.
There be, sir, there be, if't shall please your worship--
There be, varlet! what be there? tell me what there be.
Come off or on: there be! what be there, knave?
There be, sir, diverse very cunning fellows,
That, while you stand and look them in the face,
Will have your purse.
Th'art an honest knave:
Tell me what are they? where they may be caught?
Aye, those are they I look for.
You talk of me, sir;
Alas, I am a puny! there's one indeed
Goes by my name, he puts down all for purses;
He'll steal your worship's purse under your nose.
Ha, ha! Art thou so sure, varlet?
Be as familiar as thou wilt, my knave;
Tis this I long to know.
And you shall have your longing ere ye go.--
This fellow, sir, perhaps will meet ye thus,
Or thus, or thus, and in kind complement
Pretend acquaintance, somewhat doubtfully;
And these embraces serve--
Aye, marry, Lifter, wherefor serve they?
Only to feel
Whether you go full under sail or no,
Or that your lading be aboard your bark.
In plainer English, Lifter, if my purse
Be stored or no?
Ye have it, sir.
Then, sir, you cannot but for manner's sake
Walk on with him; for he will walk your way,
Alleging either you have much forgot him,
Or he mistakes you.
But in this time has he my purse or no?
Not yet, sir, fie!--
[Aside.} No, nor I have not yours.--
[Enter Lord Mayor, &c.]
But now we must forbear; my lords return.
A murren on't!--Lifter, we'll more anon:
Aye, thou sayest true, there are shrewd knaves indeed:
[He sits down.]
But let them gull me, widgen me, rook me, fop me!
Yfaith, yfaith, they are too short for me.
Knaves and fools meet when purses go:
Wise men look to their purses well enough.
[Aside.] Lifter, is it done?
[Aside.] Done, Master Shreeve; and there it is.
[Aside.] Then build upon my word. I'll save thy life.
Lifter, stand to the bar:
The jury have returned the guilty; thou must die,
According to the custom.--Look to it, Master Shreeve.
Then, gentlemen, as you are wont to do,
Because as yet we have no burial place,
What charity your meaning's to bestow
Toward burial of the prisoners now condemned,
Let it be given. There is first for me.
And there for me.
Body of me, my purse is gone!
Gone, sir! what, here! how can that be?
Against all reason, sitting on the bench.
Lifter, I talked with you; you have not lifted me? ha!
Suspect ye me, sir? Oh, what a world is this!
But hear ye, master Suresby; are ye sure
Ye had a purse about ye?
Sure, Master Shrieve! as sure as you are there,
And in it seven pounds, odd money, on my faith.
Seven pounds, odd money! what, were you so mad,
Being a wise man and a magistrate,
To trust your purse with such a liberal sum?
Seven pounds, odd money! fore God, it is a shame,
With such a sum to tempt necessity:
I promise ye, a man that goes abroad
With an intent of truth, meeting such a booty,
May be wrought to that he never thought.
What makes so many pilferers and felons,
But these fond baits that foolish people lay
To tempt the needy miserable wretch?
Should he be taken now that has your purse,
I'd stand to't, you are guilty of his death;
For, questionless, he would be cast by law.
Twere a good deed to fine ye as much more,
To the relief of the poor prisoners,
To teach ye lock your money up at home.
Well, Master More, you are a merry man;
I find ye, sir, I find ye well enough.
Nay, ye shall see, sir, trusting thus your money,
And Lifter here in trial for like case,
But that the poor man is a prisoner,
It would be now suspected that he had it.
Thus may ye see what mischief often comes
By the fond carriage of such needless sums.
Believe me, Master Suresby, this is strange,
You, being a man so settled in assurance,
Will fall in that which you condemned in other.
Well, Master Suresby, there's your purse again,
And all your money: fear nothing of More;
Wisdom still keeps the mean and locks the door.
SCENE III. London. A state apartment.
[Enter the Earls of Shrewsbury and Surrey, Sir Thomas Palmer,
and Sir Roger Cholmley.]
My lord of Surrey, and Sir Thomas Palmer
Might I with patience tempt your grave advise,
I tell ye true, that in these dangerous times
I do not like this frowning vulgar brow:
My searching eye did never entertain
A more distracted countenance of grief
Than I have late observed
In the displeased commons of the city.
Tis strange that from his princely clemency,
So well a tempered mercy and a grace,
To all the aliens in this fruitful land,
That this high-crested insolence should spring
From them that breathe from his majestic bounty,
That, fattened with the traffic of our country,
Already leaps into his subject's face.
Yet Sherwin, hindered to commence his suit
Against De Barde by the ambassador,
By supplication made unto the king,
Who having first enticed away his wife,
And got his plate, near worth four hundred pound,
To grieve some wronged citizens that found
This vile disgrace oft cast into their teeth,
Of late sues Sherwin, and arrested him
For money for the boarding of his wife.
The more knave Barde, that, using Sherwin's goods,
Doth ask him interest for the occupation.
I like not that, my lord of Shrewsbury:
He's ill bested that lends a well paced horse
Unto a man that will not find him meet.
My lord of Surrey will be pleasant still.
Aye, being then employed by your honors
To stay the broil that fell about the same,
Where by persuasion I enforced the wrongs,
And urged the grief of the displeased city,
He answered me, and with a solemn oath,
That, if he had the Mayor of London's wife,
He would keep her in despite of any English.
Tis good, Sir Thomas, then, for you and me;
Your wife is dead, and I a bachelor:
If no man can possess his wife alone,
I am glad, Sir Thomas Palmer, I have none.
If a take a wife, a shall find her meet.
And reason good, Sir Roger Cholmley, too.
If these hot Frenchmen needsly will have sport,
They should in kindness yet defray the charge:
Tis hard when men possess our wives in quiet,
And yet leave us in, to discharge their diet.
My lord, our catours shall not use the market
For our provision, but some stranger now
Will take the vittailes from him he hath bought:
A carpenter, as I was late informed,
Who having bought a pair of doves in Cheap,
Immediately a Frenchman took them from him,
And beat the poor man for resisting him;
And when the fellow did complain his wrongs,
He was severely punished for his labor.
But if the English blood be once but up,
As I perceive their hearts already full,
I fear me much, before their spleens be cold,
Some of these saucy aliens for their pride
Will pay for 't soundly, wheresoere it lights:
This tide of rage that with the eddy strives,
I fear me much, will drown too many lives.
Now, afore God, your honors, pardon me:
Men of your place and greatness are to blame.
I tell ye true, my lords, in that his majesty
Is not informed of this base abuse
And daily wrongs are offered to his subjects;
For, if he were, I know his gracious wisdom
Would soon redress it.
[Enter a Messenger.]
Sirrah, what news?
None good, I fear.
My lord, ill news; and worse, I fear, will follow,
If speedily it be not looked unto:
The city is in an uproar, and the Mayor
Is threatened, if he come out of his house.
A number poor artificers are up
In arms and threaten to avenge their wrongs.
We feared what this would come unto:
This follows on the doctors publishing
The bill of wrongs in public at the Spittle.
That Doctor Beale may chance beshrew himself
For reading of the bill.
Let us go gather forces to the Mayor,
For quick suppressing this rebellious route.
Now I bethink myself of Master More,
One of the sheriffs, a wise and learned gentleman,
And in especial favour with the people:
He, backed with other grave and sober men,
May by his gentle and persuasive speech
Perhaps prevail more than we can with power.
Believe me, but your honor well advises:
Let us make haste; for I do greatly fear
Some of their graves this morning's work will bear.
SCENE I. Cheapside.
[Enter three or four Apprentices of trades, with a pair of cudgels.]
Come, lay down the cudgels. Ho, Robin, you met us well at
Bunhill, to have you with us a Maying this morning.
Faith, Harry, the head drawer at the Miter by the great Conduit
called me up, and we went to breakfast into St. Anne lane. But
come, who begins? in good faith, I am clean out of practise. When
wast at Garrets school, Harry?
Not this great while, never since I brake his ushers head, when he
played his scholars prize at the Star in Bread-street. I use all to
George Philpots at Dowgate; he's the best backswordman in
Bate me an ace of that, quoth Bolton.
I'll not bate ye a pin on 't, sir; for, by this cudgel, tis true.
I will cudgel that opinion out of ye: did you break an ushers head,
Aye, marry, did I, sir.
I am very glad on 't: you shall break mine too, and ye can.
Sirrah, I prithee, what art thou?
Why, I am a prentice as thou art; seest thou now? I'll play with
thee at blunt here in Cheapside, and when thou hast done, if thou
beest angry, I'll fight with thee at sharp in Moore fields. I have a
sword to serve my turn in a favor. . . . come Julie, to serve . . . .
SCENE II. Saint Martins-le-Grand.
[Enter Lincoln, two Bettses, Williamson, Sherwin, and other,
armed; Doll in a shirt of mail, a headpiece, sword, and buckler; a
Come, come; we'll tickle their turnips, we'll butter their boxes.
Shall strangers rule the roost? yes; but we'll baste the roost. Come,
come; a flaunt, a flaunt!
Brother, give place, and hear John Lincoln speak.
Aye, Lincoln my leader,
And Doll my true breeder,
With the rest of our crew,
Shall ran tan tarra ran;
Do all they what they can.
Shall we be bobbed, braved? no:
Shall we be held under? no;
We are freeborne,
And do take scorn
To be used so.
Peace there, I say! hear Captain Lincoln speak; keep silence, till we
know his mind at large.
Then largely deliver; speak, bully: and he that presumes to
interrupt thee in thy oration, this for him.
Then, gallant bloods, you whose free souls do scorn
To bear the inforced wrongs of aliens,
Add rage to resolution, fire the houses
Of these audacious strangers. This is St. Martins,
And yonder dwells Mutas, a wealthy Piccardy,
At the Green Gate,
De Barde, Peter Van Hollocke, Adrian Martine,
With many more outlandish fugitives.
Shall these enjoy more privilege than we
In our own country? let's, then, become their slaves.
Since justice keeps not them in greater awe,
We be ourselves rough ministers at law.
Use no more swords, nor no more words, but fire the houses; brave
captain courageous, fire me their houses.
Aye, for we may as well make bonfires on May day as at
midsummer: we'll alter the day in the calendar, and set it down in
No, that would much endanger the whole city,
Whereto I would not the least prejudice.
No, nor I neither; so may mine own house be burned for company.
I'll tell ye what: we'll drag the strangers into More fields, and there
bombast them till they stink again.
And that's soon done; for they smell for fear already.
Let some of us enter the strangers' houses,
And, if we find them there, then bring them forth.
But if ye bring them forth ere ye find them, I'll ne'er allow of that.
Now, Mars, for thy honor,
Dutch or French,
So it be a wench,
I'll upon her.
[Exeunt some and Sherwin.]
Now, lads, sure shall we labor in our safety.
I hear the Mayor hath gathered men in arms,
And that Shreeve More an hour ago rised
Some of the Privy Counsel in at Ludgate:
Force now must make our peace, or else we fall;
'Twill soon be known we are the principal.
And what of that? if thou beest afraid, husband, go home again,
and hide they head; for, by the Lord, I'll have a little sport, now we
are at it.
Let's stand upon our swords, and, if they come,
Receive them as they were our enemies.
[Enter Sherwin and the rest.]
A purchase, a purchase! we have found, we ha found--
Nothing; not a French Fleming nor a Fleming French to be found;
but all fled, in plain English.
How now! have you found any?
No, not one; they're all fled.
Then fire the houses, that, the Mayor being busy
About the quenching of them, we may escape;
Burn down their kennels: let us straight away,
Least this day prove to us an ill May day.
Fire, fire! I'll be the first:
If hanging come, tis welcome; that's the worst.
SCENE III. The Guildhall.
[Enter at one door Sir Thomas More and Lord Mayor; at another
door Sir John Munday hurt.]
What, Sir John Munday, are you hurt?
A little knock, my lord. There was even now
A sort of prentices playing at cudgels;
I did command them to their masters' houses;
But now, I fear me, they are gone to join
With Lincoln, Sherwin, and their dangerous train.
The captains of this insurrection
Have taken themselves to arms, and came but now
To both the Counters, where they have released
Sundry indebted prisoners, and from thence
I hear that they are gone into St. Martins,
Where they intend to offer violence
To the amazed Lombards: therefore, my lord,
If we expect the safety of the city,
Tis time that force or parley do encounter
With these displeased men.
[Enter a Messenger.]
How now! what news?
My lord, the rebels have broke open Newgate,
From whence they have delivered many prisoners,
Both felons and notorious murderers,
That desperately cleave to their lawless train.
Up with the drawbridge, gather some forces
To Cornhill and Cheapside:--and, gentlemen,
If diligence be weighed on every side,
A quiet ebb will follow this rough tide.
[Enter Shrewsbury, Surrey, Palmer, and Cholmley.]
Lord Mayor, his majesty, receiving notice
Of this most dangerous insurrection,
Hath sent my lord of Surrey and myself,
Sir Thomas Palmer and our followers,
To add unto your forces our best means
For pacifying of this mutiny.
In God's name, then, set on with happy speed!
The king laments, if one true subject bleed.
I hear they mean to fire the Lombards' houses:
Oh power, what art thou in a madman's eyes!
Thou makest the plodding idiot bloody-wise.
My lords, I doubt not but we shall appease
With a calm breath this flux of discontent:
To call them to a parley, questionless--
May fall out good: tis well said, Master More.
Let's to these simple men; for many sweat
Under this act, that knows not the law's debt
Which hangs upon their lives; for silly men
Plod on they know not how, like a fool's pen,
That, ending, shows not any sentence writ,
Linked but to common reason or slightest wit:
These follow for no harm; but yet incur
Self penalty with those that raised this stir.
A God's name, on, to calm our private foes
With breath of gravity, not dangerous blows!
SCENE IV. St. Martin's Gate.
[Enter Lincoln, Doll, Clown, George Betts, Williamson, others;
and a Sergeant at Arms.]
Peace, hear me: he that will not see a red herring at a Harry groat,
butter at elevenpence a pound, meal at nine shillings a bushel, and
beef at four nobles a stone, list to me.
It will come to that pass, if strangers be suffered. Mark him.
Our country is a great eating country; ergo, they eat more in our
country than they do in their own.
By a halfpenny loaf, a day, troy weight.
They bring in strange roots, which is merely to the undoing of poor
prentices; for what's a sorry parsnip to a good heart?
Trash, trash; they breed sore eyes, and tis enough to infect the city
with the palsey.
Nay, it has infected it with the palsey; for these bastards of dung,
as you know they grow in dung, have infected us, and it is our
infection will make the city shake, which partly comes through the
eating of parsnips.
True; and pumpkins together.
What say ye to the mercy of the king?
Do ye refuse it?
You would have us upon this, would you? no, marry, do we not;
we accept of the king's mercy, but we will show no mercy upon the
You are the simplest things that ever stood
In such a question.
How say ye now, prentices? prentices simple! down with him!
Prentices simple! prentices simple!
[Enter the Lord Mayor, Surrey, Shrewsbury, More.]
Hold! in the king's name, hold!
Friends, masters, countrymen--
Peace, how, peace! I charge you, keep the peace!
My masters, countrymen--
The noble earl of Shrewsbury, let's hear him.
We'll hear the earl of Surrey.
The earl of Shrewsbury.
We'll hear both.
Both, both, both, both!
Peace, I say, peace! are you men of wisdom, or what are you?
What you will have them; but not men of wisdom.
We'll not hear my lord of Surrey; no, no, no, no, no! Shrewsbury,
Whiles they are o'er the bank of their obedience,
Thus will they bear down all things.
Sheriff More speaks; shall we hear Sheriff More speak?
Let's hear him: a keeps a plentyful shrievaltry, and a made my
brother Arthur Watchins Seriant Safes yeoman: let's hear Shrieve
Shrieve More, More, More, Shrieve More!
Even by the rule you have among yourselves,
Command still audience.
Surrey, Surrey! More, More!
Peace, peace, silence, peace.
Peace, peace, silence, peace.
You that have voice and credit with the number
Command them to a stillness.
A plague on them, they will not hold their peace; the dual cannot
Then what a rough and riotous charge have you,
To lead those that the dual cannot rule?--
Good masters, hear me speak.
Aye, by th' mass, will we, More: th' art a good housekeeper, and I
thank thy good worship for my brother Arthur Watchins.
Look, what you do offend you cry upon,
That is, the peace: not one of you here present,
Had there such fellows lived when you were babes,
That could have topped the peace, as now you would,
The peace wherein you have till now grown up
Had been ta'en from you, and the bloody times
Could not have brought you to the state of men.
Alas, poor things, what is it you have got,
Although we grant you get the thing you seek?
Marry, the removing of the strangers, which cannot choose but
much advantage the poor handicrafts of the city.
Grant them removed, and grant that this your noise
Hath chid down all the majesty of England;
Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,
Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,
Plodding tooth ports and costs for transportation,
And that you sit as kings in your desires,
Authority quite silent by your brawl,
And you in ruff of your opinions clothed;
What had you got? I'll tell you: you had taught
How insolence and strong hand should prevail,
How order should be quelled; and by this pattern
Not one of you should live an aged man,
For other ruffians, as their fancies wrought,
With self same hand, self reasons, and self right,
Would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes
Would feed on one another.
Before God, that's as true as the Gospel.
Nay, this is a sound fellow, I tell you: let's mark him.
Let me set up before your thoughts, good friends,
On supposition; which if you will mark,
You shall perceive how horrible a shape
Your innovation bears: first, tis a sin
Which oft the apostle did forewarn us of,
Urging obedience to authority;
And twere no error, if I told you all,
You were in arms against your God himself.
Marry, God forbid that!
Nay, certainly you are;
For to the king God hath his office lent
Of dread, of justice, power and command,
Hath bid him rule, and willed you to obey;
And, to add ampler majesty to this,
He hath not only lent the king his figure,
His throne and sword, but given him his own name,
Calls him a god on earth. What do you, then,
Rising gainst him that God himself installs,
But rise against God? what do you to your souls
In doing this? O, desperate as you are,
Wash your foul minds with tears, and those same hands,
That you like rebels lift against the peace,
Lift up for peace, and your unreverent knees,
Make them your feet to kneel to be forgiven!
Tell me but this: what rebel captain,
As mutinies are incident, by his name
Can still the rout? who will obey a traitor?
Or how can well that proclamation sound,
When there is no addition but a rebel
To qualify a rebel? You'll put down strangers,
Kill them, cut their throats, possess their houses,
And lead the majesty of law in line,
To slip him like a hound. Say now the king
(As he is clement, if th' offender mourn)
Should so much come to short of your great trespass
As but to banish you, whether would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbor? go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,
Nay, any where that not adheres to England,--
Why, you must needs be strangers: would you be pleased
To find a nation of such barbarous temper,
That, breaking out in hideous violence,
Would not afford you an abode on earth,
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, nor that the claimants
Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But chartered unto them, what would you think
To be thus used? this is the strangers case;
And this your mountanish inhumanity.
Faith, a says true: let's do as we may be done to.
We'll be ruled by you, Master More, if you'll stand our friend to
procure our pardon.
Submit you to these noble gentlemen,
Entreat their mediation to the king,
Give up yourself to form, obey the magistrate,
And there's no doubt but mercy may be found,
If you so seek.
To persist in it is present death: but, if you
Yield yourselves, no doubt what punishment
You in simplicity have incurred, his highness
In mercy will most graciously pardon.
We yield, and desire his highness' mercy.
[They lay by their weapons.]
No doubt his majesty will grant it you:
But you must yield to go to several prisons,
Till that his highness' will be further known.
Most willingly; whether you will have us.
Lord Mayor, let them be sent to several prisons,
And there, in any case, be well intreated.--
My lord of Surrey, please you to take horse,
And ride to Cheapside, where the aldermen
Are with their several companies in arms;
Will them to go unto their several wards,
Both for the stay of furth mutiny,
And for the apprehending of such persons
As shall contend.
I go, my noble lord.
We'll straight go tell his highness these good news;
Withal, Shrieve More, I'll tell him how your breath
Hath ransomed many a subject from sad death.
[Exit Shrewsbury and Cholmley.]
Lincoln and Sherwin, you shall both to Newgate;
The rest unto the Counters.
Go guard them hence: a little breath well spent
Cheats expectation in his fairest event.
Well, Sheriff More, thou hast done more with thy good words than
all they could with their weapons: give me thy hand, keep thy
promise now for the king's pardon, or, by the Lord, I'll call thee a
Farewell, Shrieve More; and as we yield by thee,
So make our peace; then thou dealst honestly.
Aye, and save us from the gallows, else a devil's double honestly!
[They are led away.]
Master Shrieve More, you have preserved the city
From a most dangerous fierce commotion;
For, if this limb of riot here in St. Martins
Had joined with other branches of the city
That did begin to kindle, twould have bred
Great rage; that rage much murder would have fed.
Not steel, but eloquence hath wrought this good:
You have redeemed us from much threatened blood.
My lord and brethren, what I here have spoke,
My country's love, and next the city's care,
Enjoined me to; which since it thus prevails,
Think, God hath made weak More his instrument
To thwart sedition's violent intent.
I think twere best, my lord, some two hours hence
We meet at the Guildhall, and there determine
That thorough every ward the watch be clad
In armor, but especially proud
That at the city gates selected men,
Substantial citizens, do ward tonight,
For fear of further mischief.
It shall be so:
But yond me thinks my lord of Shrewsbury.
My lord, his majesty sends loving thanks
To you, your brethren, and his faithful subjects,
Your careful citizens.--But, Master More, to you
A rougher, yet as kind, a salutation:
A knights creation is this knightly steel.
Rise up, Sir Thomas More.
I thank his highness for thus honoring me.
This is but first taste of his princely favor:
For it hath pleased his high majesty
(Noting your wisdom and deserving merit)
To put this staff of honor in your hand,
For he hath chose you of his Privy Council.
My lord, for to deny my sovereign's bounty
Were to drop precious stones into the heaps
Whence they first came;
To urge my imperfections in excuse,
Were all as stale as custom: no, my lord,
My service is my kings; good reason why,--
Since life or death hangs on our sovereign's eye.
His majesty hath honored much the city
In this his princely choice.
My lord and brethren,
Though I depart for court my love shall rest
With you, as heretofore, a faithful guest.
I now must sleep in court, sound sleeps forbear;
The chamberlain to state is public care:
Yet, in this rising of my private blood,
My studious thoughts shall tend the city's good.
How now, Crofts! what news?
My lord, his highness sends express command
That a record be entered of this riot,
And that the chief and capital offenders
Be thereon straight arraigned, for himself intends
To sit in person on the rest tomorrow
Lord Mayor, you hear your charge.--
Come, good Sir Thomas More, to court let's hie;
You are th' appeaser of this mutiny.
My lord, farewell: new days begets new tides;
Life whirls bout fate, then to a grave it slides.
SCENE I. Cheapside.
[Enter Master Sheriff, and meet a Messenger.]
Messenger, what news?
Is execution yet performed?
Not yet; the carts stand ready at the stairs,
And they shall presently away to Tibourne.
Stay, Master Shrieve; it is the council's pleasure,
For more example in so bad a case,
A gibbet be erected in Cheapside,
Hard by the Standard; whether you must bring
Lincoln and those that were the chief with him,
To suffer death, and that immediately.
It shall be done, sir.
--Officers, be speedy;
Call for a gibbet, see it be erected;
Others make haste to Newgate, bid them bring
The prisoners hither, for they here must die:
Away, I say, and see no time be slacked.
We go, sir.
[Exit some severally; others set up the gibbet.]
That's well said, fellow; now you do your duty.--
God for his pity help these troublous times!
The streets stopped up with gazing multitudes:
Command our armed officers with halberds
Make way for entrance of the prisoners;
Let proclamation once again be made.
That every householder, on pain of death,
Keep in his prentices, and every man
Stand with a weapon ready at his door,
As he will answer to the contrary.
I'll see it done, sir.
[Enter another Officer.]
Bring them away to execution:
The writ is come above two hours since:
The city will be fined for this neglect.
There's such a press and multitude at Newgate,
They cannot bring the carts onto the stairs,
To take the prisoners in.
Then let them come on foot;
We may not dally time with great command.
Some of the bench, sir, think it very fit
That stay be made, and give it out abroad
The execution is deferred till morning,
And, when the streets shall be a little cleared,
To chain them up, and suddenly dispatch it.
Stay; in mean time me thinks they come along:
See, they are coming. So, tis very well:
[The prisoners are brought in, well guarded.]
Bring Lincoln there the first unto the tree.
I, for I cry lug, sir.
I knew the first, sir, did belong to me:
This the old proverb now complete doth make,
That Lincoln should be hanged for London's sake.
[He goes up.]
A God's name, let us to work. Fellow, dispatch:
I was the foremost man in this rebellion,
And I the foremost that must die for it.
Bravely, John Lincoln, let thy death express,
That, as thou liv'dst a man, thou diest no less.
Doll Williamson, thine eyes shall witness it.--
Then to all you that come to view mine end
I must confess, I had no ill intent,
But against such as wronged us over much:
And now I can perceive it was not fit
That private men should carve out their redress,
Which way they list; no, learn it now by me,--
Obedience is the best in each degree:
And asking mercy meekly of my king,
I patiently submit me to the law;
But God forgive them that were cause of it!
And, as a Christian, truly from my heart
I likewise crave they would forgive me too
(As freely as I do forgive their wrong)
That others by example of the same
Henceforth be warned to attempt the like
Gainst any alien that repaireth hither.
Fare ye well, all: the next time that we meet,
I trust in heaven we shall each other greet.
[He leaps off.]
Farewell, John Lincoln: say all what they can,
Thou liv'dst a good fellow, and diedst an honest man.
Would I wear so fair on my journey! the first stretch is the worst,
Bring Williamson there forward.
Good Master Shrieve, I have an earnest suit,
And, as you are a man, deny't me not.
Woman, what is it? be it in my power,
Thou shalt obtain it.
Let me die next, sir; that is all I crave:
You know not what a comfort you shall bring
To my poor heart, to die before my husband.
Bring her to death; she shall have her desire.
Sir, and I have a suit for you too.
What is it?
That, as you have hanged Lincoln first, and will hang her next, so
you will not hang me at all.
Nay, you set ope' the Counter gates, and you must hang for the
Well, then, so much for it!
Sir, your free bounty much contents my mind.
Commend me to that good shrieve Master More,
And tell him, had't not been for his persuasion,
John Lincoln had not hung here as he does:
We would first have locked us up in Leadenhall,
And there been burnt to ashes with the roof.
Woman, what Master More did was a subject's duty,
And hath so pleased our gracious lord the king,
That he is hence removed to higher place,
And made of council to his majesty.
Well is he worthy of it, by my troth,
An honest, wise, well spoken gentleman;
Yet would I praise his honesty much more,
If he had kept his word, and saved our lives:
But let that pass; men are but men, and so
Words are but words, and pays not what men owe.--
You, husband, since perhaps the world may say
That through my means thou comest thus to thy end,
Here I begin this cup of death to thee,
Because thou shalt be sure to taste no worse
Than I have taken that must go before thee.
What though I be a woman? that's no matter;
I do owe God a death, and I must pay him.
Husband, give me thy hand; be not dismayed;
This chair being chaired, then all our debt is paid.
Only two little babes we leave behind us,
And all I can bequeath them at this time
Is but the love of some good honest friend,
To bring them up in charitable sort:
What, masters! he goes upright that never halts,
And they may live to mend their parents' faults.
Why, well said, wife; yfaith, thou cheerest my heart:
Give me thy hand; let's kiss, and so let's part.
[He kisses her on the ladder.]
The next kiss, Williamson, shall be in heaven.--
Now cheerily, lads! George Betts, a hand with thee;
And thine too, Rafe, and thine, good honest Sherwin.
Now let me tell the women of this town,
No stranger yet brought Doll to lying down:
So long as I an Englishman can see,
Nor French nor Dutch shall get a kiss of me;
And when that I am dead, for me yet say,
I died in scorn to be a stranger's prey.
[A great shout and noise, cry within 'Pardon, pardon, pardon,
pardon! Room for the Earl of Surrey, room there, room!'.]
Save the man's life, if it be possible.
It is too late, my lord; he's dead already.
I tell ye, Master Sheriff, you are too forward,
To make such haste with men unto their death;
I think your pains will merit little thanks,
Since that his highness is so merciful
As not to spill the blood of any subject.
My noble lord, would we so much had known!
The Councils' warrant hastened our dispatch;
It had not else been done so suddenly.
Sir Thomas More humbly upon his knee
Did beg the lives of all, since on his word
They did so gently yield: the king hath granted it,
And made him Lord High Chancellor of England.
According as he worthily deserves.
Since Lincoln's life cannot be had again,
Then for the rest, from my dread sovereign's lips,
I here pronounce free pardon for them all.
God save the king, God save the king!
My good Lord Chancellor, and the Earl of Surrey!
[Flinging up caps.]
And Doll desires it from her very heart,
More's name may live for this right noble part;
And whensoere we talk of ill May day,
In hope his highness' clemency and mercy,
Which in the arms of mild and meek compassion
Would rather clip you, as the loving nurse
Oft doth the wayward infant, then to leave you
To the sharp rod of justice, so to draw you
To shun such lewd assemblies as beget
Unlawful riots and such traitorous acts,
That, striking with the hand of private hate,
Maim your dear country with a public wound:--
Oh God, that Mercy, whose majestic brow
Should be unwrinkled, and that awful Justice,
Which looketh through a vail of sufferance
Upon the frailty of the multitude,
Should with the clamours of outrageous wrongs
Be stirred and wakened thus to punishment!--
But your deserved death he doth forgive:
Who gives you life, pray all he long may live.
God save the king, God save the king!
My good Lord Chancellor, and the Earl of Surrey!
SCENE II. Chelsea. A Room in More's House.
[A table being covered with a green carpet, a state cushion on it,
and the Purse and Mace lying thereon, enter Sir Thomas More.]
it is in heaven that I am thus and thus;
And that which we profanely term our fortunes
Is the provision of the power above,
Fitted and shaped just to that strength of nature
Which we are borne withal. Good God, good Go,
That I from such an humble bench of birth
Should step as twere up to my country's head,
And give the law out there! I, in my father's life,
To take prerogative and tithe of knees
From elder kinsmen, and him bind by my place
To give the smooth and dexter way to me
That owe it him by nature! Sure, these things,
Not physicked by respect, might turn our blood
To much corruption: but, More, the more thou hast,
Either of honor, office, wealth, and calling,
Which might excite thee to embrace and hub them,
The more doe thou in serpents' natures think them;
Fear their gay skins with thought of their sharp state;
And let this be thy maxim, to be great
Is when the thread of hayday is once 'spon,
A bottom great wound up great undone.--
Come on, sir: are you ready?
[Enter Randall, attired like Sir Thomas More.]
Yes, my lord, I stand but on a few points; I shall have done
presently. Before God, I have practised your lordship's shift so
well, that I think I shall grow proud, my lord.
Tis fit thou shouldst wax proud, or else thou'lt ne'er
Be near allied to greatness. Observe me, sirrah.
The learned clark Erasmus is arrived
Within our English court: last night I hear
He feasted with our honored English poet,
The Earl of Surrey; and I learned today
The famous clark of Rotterdam will visit
Sir Thomas More. Therefore, sir, take my seat;
you are Lord Chancellor: dress your behavior
According to my carriage; but beware
You talk not over much, for twill betray thee:
Who prates not much seems wise; his wit few scan;
While the tongue blabs tales of the imperfect man.
I'll see if great Erasmus can distinguish
Merit and outward ceremony.
If I do not serve a share for playing of your lordship well, let me be
yeoman usher to your sumpter, and be banished from wearing of a
gold chain forever.
Well, sir, I'll hide our motion: act my part
With a firm boldness, and thou winst my heart.
[Enter the Shrieve, with Faulkner a ruffian, and Officers.]
How now! what's the matter?
Tug me not, I'm no bear. 'Sblood, if all the dogs in Paris Garden
hung at my tail, I'd shake 'em off with this, that I'll appear before
no king christened but my good Lord Chancellor.
We'll christen you, sirrah.--Bring him forward.
How now! what tumults make you?
The azured heavens protect my noble Lord Chancellor!
What fellow's this?
A ruffian, my lord, that hath set half the city in an uproar.
There was a fray in Paternoster-row, and because they would not
be parted, the street was choked up with carts.
My noble lord, Paniar Allies throat was open.
Sirrah, hold your peace.
I'll prove the street was not choked, but is as well as ever it was
since it was a street.
This fellow was a principal broacher of the broil.
'Sblood, I broached none; it was broached and half run out, before I
had a lick at it.
And would be brought before no justice but your honor.
I am hailed, my noble lord.
No ear to choose for every trivial noise
but mine, and in so full a time? Away!
You wrong me, Master Shrieve: dispose of him
At your own pleasure; send the knave to Newgate.
To Newgate! 'sblood, Sir Thomas More, I appeal, I appeal from
Newgate to any of the two worshipful Counters.
Fellow, whose man are you, that are thus lusty?
My name's Jack Faulkner; I serve, next under God and my prince,
Master Morris, secretary to my Lord of Winchester.
A fellow of your hair is very fit
To be a secretary's follower!
I hope so, my lord. The fray was between the Bishops' men of Ely
and Winchester; and I could not in honor but part them. I thought
it stood not with my reputation and degree to come to my questions
and answers before a city justice: I knew I should to the pot.
Thou hast been there, it seems, too late already.
I know your honor is wise and so forth; and I desire to be only
cathecized or examined by you, my noble Lord Chancellor.
Sirrah, sirrah, you are a busy dangerous ruffian.
How long have you worn this hair?
I have worn this hair ever since I was born.
You know that's not my question, but how long
Hath this shag fleece hung dangling on they head?
How long, my lord? why, sometimes thus long, sometimes lower,
as the Fates and humors please.
So quick, sir, with me, ha? I see, good fellow,
Thou lovest plain dealing. Sirrah, tell me now,
When were you last at barbers? how long time
Have you upon your head worn this shag hair?
My lord, Jack Faulkner tells no Aesops fables: troth, I was not at
barbers this three years; I have not been cut not will not be cut,
upon a foolish vow, which, as the Destinies shall direct, I am
sworn to keep.
When comes that vow out?
Why, when the humors are purged, not this three years.
Vows are recorded in the court of Heaven,
For they are holy acts. Young man, I charge thee
And do advise thee, start not from that vow:
And, for I will be sure thou shalt not shrieve,
Besides, because it is an odious sight
To see a man thus hairy, thou shalt lie
In Newgate till thy vow and thy three years
Be full expired.--Away with him!
Cut off this fleece, and lie there but a month.
I'll not lose a hair to be Lord Chancellor of Europe.
To Newgate, then. Sirrah, great sins are bred
In all that body where there's a foul head.