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

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Interlude of the Four Elements
Calisto and Melibaea
Everyman: a Moral Play
The Pardoner and the Friar
The World and the Child (Mundus and Infans) God’s Promises
The Four P.P.
A New Interlude, called Thersites


After the lapse of about half a century since the issue of the last edition of _Dodsley’s Select Collection of Old Plays_,[1] and the admittance of that work into the honourable rank of scarce and dear books, it seemed a desirable thing to attempt, with such additional improvements as might be practicable or expedient, a revival of a publication which has been a favourite with the lovers of our early drama since its first publication more than a hundred years ago. Between 1744, the date of its original appearance, and 1825, it passed through three editions; and it may be remarked that the tendency in each successive edition has been to remodel the undertaking on the principle of rejecting plays which from time to time have been lifted up (so to speak) into the collected works of their respective authors, and to substitute for them plays which have either suffered unmerited obscurity in original and rare editions, or have lain so far scattered about in various other collections; and in the present instance that principle has been strictly adhered to.[2]

It is desirable that it should be seen precisely in what manner, and to what extent, the edition now offered differs from its predecessors as regards the contents. The points of variation are three: 1. Omissions; 2. Additions of pieces not included in the former editions; 3. Additional plays now first reprinted from the originals. The first division comprises the following productions which, since the last republication of Dodsley, have been taken up into the collected editions of their respective authors:–

Ferrex and Porrex _Sackville, &c_. Alexander and Campaspe _Lyly_.
Jew of Malta _Marlowe_.
Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay _Greene_. Edward the First _Peele_
Edward the Second _Marlowe_.
Pinner of Wakefield _Greene_.
Four Prentices of London _Heywood_. Mayor of Quinborough _Middleton_.
Malcontent _Marston, &c_. All Fools _Chapman_.
Woman Killed with Kindness _Heywood_. Honest Whore (two parts) _Decker and Middleton_. The White Devil _Webster_.
Eastward Hoe _Marston, &c_. A Mad World, my Masters _Middleton_.
The Roaring Girl _Middleton_. The Widow’s Tears _Chapman_.
The Widow _Jonson, &c_.
The Wits _Davenant_.
The Jovial Crew _Brome_.

The second and third characteristics of our book are the ADDITIONS, which, as we have stated, are of two kinds. In the first place, we may enumerate the dramas new to Dodsley’s collection, though previously edited in a variety of forms:

Interlude of the Four Elements _Anon_. Disobedient Child _Ingelend_. Trial of Treasure _Anon_.
Youth _Anon_.
Lusty Juventus _Wever_. Hickscorner, An Interlude _Anon_. Everyman, An Interlude _Anon_. Pardoner and Friar, An Interlude _Heywood_. Jack Juggler | _Anon_.
Thersites | Interludes _Anon_. Ralph Roister Doister _Udall_. Cambyses _Preston_.
Conflict of Conscience _Woodes_. Three Ladies of London _Wilmot_. Three Lords and Three Ladies of London _Wilmot_. Rare Triumphs of Love and Fortune _Anon_. Knack to Know a Knave _Anon_. Jeronimo (Part the First) _Anon_. Two Angry Women of Abingdon _Porter_. Spanish Tragedy _Kyd_.
Solyman and Perseda _Anon_. How a Man may choose a Good Wife from a Bad _Anon_. Englishmen for my Money _Haughton_. Second Maiden’s Tragedy _Anon_. Wily Beguiled _Anon_.
Return from Parnassus _Anon_. New Wonder _Rowley_.
Rebellion _Rawlins_. Lust’s Dominion _Anon_.

“The Lost Lady,” by Sir William Berkley or Barkley; “The Marriage Night,” by Lord Falkland; “The Shepherd’s Holiday,” by Joseph Butter; “Andromana,” by J.S., and “All Mistaken, or the Mad Couple,” which were given by Dodsley in 1744, but were omitted in the second and third impressions, have been restored to their places.

The remaining feature, recommending the undertaking to indulgent notice, is perhaps the most important and interesting. Subjoined is a list of the dramatic compositions which have never hitherto appeared in any series of Old English Plays, and of which the originals are of the utmost rarity:–

1. The Tragi-Comedy of Calisto and Melibaea, 1520. 2. Nice Wanton, An Interlude, 1560.
3. An Interlude, called Like Will to Like, by Ulpian Fulwell, 1568.
4. The History of Jacob and Esau, 1568. 5. The Marriage of Wit and Science, 1570.

A strictly chronological arrangement has been adopted. Such a plan appeared to be the most desirable and the most obvious, as it facilitates our appreciation of the gradual and progressive development of dramatic composition. If it may be thought to labour under any disadvantage, it is perhaps that it has the effect of throwing into a single consecutive series, without discrimination, pieces which are mere interludes, and others which are characterised by higher qualities, and aspire to belong to the regular drama. But the evil will be found not to be of a very serious kind, and it will disappear after the earlier volumes of the collection.

In fixing the order of sequence, the place of a production in the series has been occasionally determined by the date at which it is believed to have been written or presented, rather than by the date at which it left the printer’s hands. Such is the case with Heywood’s “Pardoner and Friar,” and the anonymous interlude of “New Custom;” as well as with “Ralph Roister Doister,” and “Gammer Gurton’s Needle,” all of which may be taken to belong to a period some time anterior to their publication.

A leading characteristic of the collection as now reconstructed is the great preponderance of pieces, of which the authors are not known, or by authors who have not left more than one or two dramatic productions. It was judged expedient, in the interest of purchasers, to give a preference to these single or anonymous plays, as it will probably not be long before the works of every voluminous writer are collected. Those of Jonson, Shirley, Peele, Greene, Ford, Massinger, Middleton, and Chapman, have already been edited, and Brome’s, Deckers, Heywood’s, and Glapthorne’s will follow in due course. To all these the new DODSLEY will serve as a supplement and companion.

The editor felt himself in a position of somewhat special difficulty and delicacy, when it became necessary to consider the question of retaining or excluding the prefatory matter attached to the impressions of this work in 1744 and 1780. A careful and impartial perusal of that matter made it evident that the prudent course, on the whole, was to reject these prolegomena. There was no alternative but their entire preservation or their entire suppression; for any arbitrary alterations or curtailments would have been liable to objection or censure. In the first place, there was Dodsley’s own preface, chiefly occupied by a sketch of the history of our stage, but based on the most imperfect information, and extremely unsatisfactory, if not misleading. Then there was, like Pelion heaped on Ossa, Isaac Reed’s introduction, more elaborate and copious than Dodsley’s, yet far from complete or systematic, and not improved by the presence of an appendix or sequel. Reed, of course, went over the same ground as Dodsley had already traversed with inferior ability and less ample resources at his command, and there were repetitions, as might be expected, of the same particulars. There seemed to be two forms of weakness–redundancy on the one hand and meagreness on the other. Again, all the information collected by Dodsley and Reed was to be found elsewhere, with innumerable improvements and corrections of mistakes, the subject itself more methodically handled, and the early annals of the English drama and theatre almost presented to the public view under a new aspect, by Mr Collier, in his well-known work printed in 1831, a publication heartily welcomed and appreciated at the time of its appearance and long after, and even now a literary monument, of which it may be said that, with whatever defects it may possess, it reflects as much credit on its author as a far more perfect performance brought to completion at the present day under more favourable auspices could reflect on any one else. It was a long advance on anything which had been attempted so far in the same direction; and to reproduce, in the face of Mr Collier’s volumes, the obsolete and superseded labours of Dodsley and even Reed, seemed to be a waste of space which might be far more beneficially occupied by additional texts.

As regards the orthography, it has to be pointed out that, in consonance with the system adopted by Dyce and others, it has been reduced to our modern standard; but at the same time it should be understood that the _language_ of the writers has in every case been held sacred. Than the spelling which occurs in early plays and tracts, more especially perhaps those of a popular character, nothing can well be more capricious and uncouth; but the phraseology and terms are on all accounts of value. Not a word, therefore, nor even part of a word, has suffered alteration; and wherever there was a doubt, as there might be in preparing for the press once more such an extensive collection of pieces, it was thought better to err on the side of caution. Weever, the author of “Funeral Monuments,” retained with scrupulous exactitude the ancient spelling _ipsissimis verbis_; and such a plan might be advisable and convenient with sepulchral inscriptions or records; but in the matter before us what an editor had principally, if not almost exclusively, to consider, was the preservation in their fullest integrity of the language of the time and the sense of the playwright.

The first and second editions of Dodsley’s collection appear, notwithstanding what is asserted to the contrary in Reed’s preface, to have been superintended with no very high degree of care, and the late Mr Dyce, indeed, used to observe that the same criticism was applicable to the edition of 1825. But the latter, with the fullest admission of its defects, is certainly marked by great improvements on its predecessors in more than one way. The labours of Hawkins[3] and Dilke[4] reflect considerable honour upon those gentlemen.

It is almost superfluous to observe that the preceding editions, the last and best not excepted, present a very large number of statements, opinions, and readings, which more recent and more exact information has shown to be erroneous. All these mistakes have been carefully rectified, wherever the knowledge and experience of the editor enabled him to detect them.[5]

A certain number of corruptions and obscurities remain, which it passed the editor’s ingenuity to eradicate or clear away. The printed remains of our early drama have come down to us, for the most part, in a sadly mutilated state, and the attempt to amend and restore the text to its original purity will, it may be safely affirmed, never succeed more than to a very imperfect extent. Even the late Mr Dyce’s revised edition of Shakespeare, 1868, abounds with misprints and other distortions of the writer’s sense; and we must abandon in some cases the hope of ever arriving at the true readings. So it is with the miscellaneous assemblage of dramatic productions here brought together. A great deal has been done by a succession of editors to reduce the errors of the printer or copyist to a minimum; but, after all, there are places where it would require the assistance of the Sphinx to supply a chasm, or rectify a palpable mistake.

The work, in its present state, should assuredly have some degree of interest and worth; for it offers in one collected body the best specimens of dramatic literature which the English language affords, castigated and enriched by some of our best commentators and critics.

In these volumes, as now rearranged, it is trusted that very few uncollected plays of real importance will be found wanting; but as an enterprise of this kind can never amount to more than a _selection_, as it purports to be, it appeared judicious, in making the choice, to give the preference to such pieces as either illustrated the manners of the period, or marked the gradual development of the dramatic art.

The only basis on which the present editor can rest, so far as he is aware, the slightest claim to credit is the attention which he has bestowed on the rearrangement of the collection as it now stands; the conscientious and vigilant supervision of the whole matter here brought together–prefaces, texts, and notes–and the correction of errors on the part of his predecessors, occasioned by a variety of causes. In carrying out even this unambitious programme, there was a fair share of labour and difficulty, and, of course, it has involved the addition of a new crop of notes scattered up and down the series, as well as the occasional displacement of certain illustrative remarks founded on wrong _data_.

The Notes without any initial attached to them in the following pages, may be presumed to be from the pen of Isaac Reed, with the exception of a limited number, which were written by Dodsley himself, and which are not easily mistakable. The matter signed _S_. appears to have been communicated to Reed by George Steevens. The _C_. notes are Mr Collier’s, and _O.G_. stands for Octavius Gilchrist. For the notes which remain, and which have been enclosed between brackets, the present editor alone is answerable.

It is proposed to introduce in the concluding volume two indexes, one of names and another of subjects, as the want of a ready means of reference to passages, phrases, and characters in these old plays, is one which the editor himself has so strongly felt as to make him desirous of removing it, so far as possible, for his own sake and that of the public.

The long table of _errata_ to the former edition has, of course, been attended to, and the _additional notes_ there placed at the end have been arranged under their respective heads.

_1st November_ 1873.



Sir,–If there be anything in this collection worthy of being preserved, it is to you the public is indebted for the benefit. Your obliging readiness to communicate the stores of which you were possessed, encouraged me to undertake the design, which otherwise I should have despaired of prosecuting with success. Under the sanction of your name, therefore, I beg leave to shelter the remains of these old dramatic writers, which, but for your generosity had fallen with their authors into utter oblivion. To your candour I submit the pains I have taken to give a tolerably correct edition of them, and am with great respect, Sir, your most obliged and obedient humble servant,



_A new interlude and a merry of the nature of the Four Elements, declaring many proper points of philosophy natural, and of divers strange lands, and of divers strange effects and causes; which interlude, if the whole matter be played, will contain the space of an hour and a half; but, if ye list, ye may leave out much of the sad matter, as the Messenger’s part, and some of Nature’s part, and some of Experience’s part, and yet the matter will depend conveniently, and then it will not be past three-quarters of an hour of length. London: John Rastell_.

1519. 8vo, black letter.


The curious interlude reprinted in the following pages is one of the earliest moral plays in the English language known to exist, and it possesses an interest beyond its connection with the history of the stage, as being the only dramatic piece extant in which science is attempted to be made popular through the medium of theatrical representation. Only one copy of it is known to exist, but that is unfortunately imperfect, a sheet in the middle and concluding leaves being lost, so that we are left without the means of giving the reader much information respecting it. On the other hand, while this circumstance must excuse the brevity of these preliminary observations, its singularity and extreme rarity offered additional inducements for selecting it for republication.

An allusion to the discovery of the West Indies and America, “within this twenty year,” would appear to ascertain the date of the composition of the play; but I suspect from internal evidence, the form and manner of its dialogue, that it was not written so early as some authors have supposed, Dr Dibdin assigning 1510 to the period of its appearance.[8] The same writer considers it to be a production of Rastell’s press; and it has been stated, on somewhat doubtful authority, that the printer was also the author; a combination that has seldom effected much service, and has too frequently deteriorated the efforts of both. Be this as it may, no great talent is displayed in the construction of the following piece, the value of which must be allowed to consist in the curious illustration it affords of the phraseology and popular scientific knowledge of the day, and its curiosity as a link in the history of the drama, rather than in any intrinsic merits of its own.

It is only necessary to add that the play was rather carelessly printed, and a few very obvious errors have been corrected. With these exceptions, the following pages present a faithful copy of the original, a very small octavo volume in black letter.[9]



_Here follow the names of the players_.

The Messenger, Nature Natura[t]e, Humanity, Studious Desire, Sensual Appetite, the Taverner, Experience, Ignorance; also, if ye list, ye may bring in a Disguising.

_Here follow divers matters which be in this interlude contained_.

Of the situation of the four elements, that is to say, the earth, the water, the air, and fire, and of their qualities and properties, and of the generation and corruption of things made of the commixtion of them.

Of certain conclusions proving that the earth must needs be round, and that it hangeth in the midst of the firmament, and that it is in circumference above 21,000 miles.

Of certain conclusions proving that the sea lieth round upon the earth.

Of certain points of cosmography, as how and where the sea covereth the earth, and of divers strange regions and lands, and which way they lie; and of the new-found lands, and the manner of the people.

Of the generation and cause of stone and metal, and of plants and herbs.

Of the generation and cause of well-springs and rivers; and of the cause of hot fumes that come out of the earth; and of the cause of the baths of water in the earth, which be perpetually hot.

Of the cause of the ebb and flood of the sea.

Of the cause of rain, snow, and hail.

Of the cause of the winds and thunder.

Of the cause of the lightning, of blazing stars, and flames flying in the air.


Th’ abundant grace of the power divine, Which doth illumine the world environ,
Preserve this audience, and cause them to incline To charity, this is my petition;
For by your patience and supportation A little interlude, late made and prepared, Before your presence here shall be declared, Which of a few conclusions is contrived, And points of philosophy natural.
But though the matter be not so well declared, As a great clerk could do, nor so substantial, Yet the author hereof requireth you all, Though he be ignorant, and can little skill, To regard his only intent and good-will; Which in his mind hath ofttimes pondered, What number of books in our tongue maternal Of toys and trifles be made and imprinted, And few of them of matter substantial;
For though many make books, yet unneth ye shall In our English tongue find any works
Of cunning, that is regarded by clerks. The Greeks, the Romans, with many other mo, In their mother tongue wrote warks excellent. Then if clerks in this realm would take pain so, Considering that our tongue is now sufficient To expound any hard sentence evident,
They might, if they would, in our English tongue Write works of gravity sometime among;
For divers pregnant wits be in this land, As well of noble men as of mean estate,
Which nothing but English can understand. Then if cunning Latin books were translate Into English, well correct and approbate, All subtle science in English might be learned, As well as other people in their own tongues did. But now so it is, that in our English tongue Many one there is, that can but read and write, For his pleasure will oft presume among
New books to compile and ballads to indite, Some of love or other matter not worth a mite; Some to obtain favour will flatter and glose, Some write curious terms nothing to purpose. Thus every man after his fantasy
Will write his conceit, be it never so rude, Be it virtuous, vicious, wisdom or folly; Wherefore to my purpose thus I conclude, Why should not then the author of this interlude Utter his own fantasy and conceit also,
As well as divers other nowadays do? For wisdom and folly is as it is taken,
For that the one calleth wisdom, another calleth folly, Yet among most folk that man is holden
Most wise, which to be rich studieth only; But he that for a commonwealth busily
Studieth and laboureth, and liveth by God’s law, Except he wax rich, men count him but a daw![10] So he that is rich is ever honoured,
Although he have got it never so falsely. The poor, being never so wise, is reproved. This is the opinion most commonly
Thoroughout the world, and yet no reason why; Therefore in my mind, when that all such daws Have babbled what they can, no force of two straws! For every man in reason thus ought to do, To labour for his own necessary living,
And then for the wealth of his neighbour also; But what devilish mind have they which, musing And labouring all their lives, do no other thing But bring riches to their own possession, Nothing regarding their neighbour’s destruction; Yet all the riches in the world that is
Riseth of the ground by God’s sending, And by the labour of poor men’s hands;
And though thou, rich man, have thereof the keeping, Yet is not this riches of thy getting,
Nor oughtest not in reason to be praised the more, For by other men’s labour it is got before. A great-witted man may soon be enriched, That laboureth and studieth for riches only; But how shall his conscience then be discharged? For all clerks affirm that that man precisely, Which studieth for his own wealth principally, Of God shall deserve but little reward,
Except he the commonwealth somewhat regard; So they say that that man occupied is
For a commonwealth, which is ever labouring To relieve poor people with temporal goods, And that it is a common good act to bring People from vice, and to use good living. Likewise for a commonwealth occupied is he, That bringeth them to knowledge that ignorant be; But man to know God is a difficulty,
Except by a mean he himself inure,
Which is to know God’s creatures that be: As first them that be of the grossest nature, And then to know them that be more pure; And so, by little and little ascending,
To know God’s creatures and marvellous working. And this wise man at the last shall come to The knowledge of God and His high majesty, And so to learn to do his duty, and also To deserve of His goodness partner to be. Wherefore in this work declared shall ye see, First of the elements the situation,
And of their effects the cause and generation; And though some men think this matter too high, And not meet for an audience unlearned,
Methink for man nothing more necessary Than this to know, though it be not used, Nor a matter more low cannot be argued;
For though the elements God’s creatures be, Yet they be most gross and lowest in degree. How dare men presume to be called clerks, Disputing of high creatures celestial,
As things invisible and God’s high warks, And know not these visible things inferial? So they would know high things, and know nothing at all: Of the earth here whereon they daily be, Neither the nature, form, nor quantity.
Wherefore it seemeth nothing convenient A man to study, and his time to bestow,
First for the knowledge of high things excellent, And of light matters beneath nothing to know, As of these four elements here below,
Whose effects daily appear here at eye, Such things to know first were most meet study; Which matter before your presence shortly In this interlude here shall be declared Without great eloquence in rhyme rudely, Because the compiler is but small learned. This work with rhetoric is not adorned,
For perhaps in this matter much eloquence Should make it tedious or hurt the sentence. But because some folk be little disposed To sadness, but more to mirth and sport, This philosophical work is mixed
With merry conceits, to give men comfort, And occasion to cause them to resort
To hear this matter, whereto if they take heed, Some learning to them thereof may proceed. But they that shall now this matter declare Openly here unto this audience,
Behold, I pray you, see where they are. The players begin to appear in presence; I see well it is time for me go hence,
And so I will do; therefore now shortly To God I commit all this whole company.

_Hic intrat_ NATURA NATURATA, HUMANITY, _and_ STUDIOUS DESIRE, _portans figuram_.


The high, mighty, most excellent of all, The Fountain of goodness, virtue, and cunning, Which is eterne[11] of power most potential, The Perfection and First Cause of everything, I mean that only high Nature naturing.
Lo, He by His goodness hath ordained and created Me here His minister, called Nature Naturate. Wherefore I am the very naturate nature, The immediate minister for the preservation Of everything in His kind to endure,
And cause of generation and corruption Of that thing that is brought to destruction. Another thing still I bring forth again, Thus wondersly I work, and never in vain. The great world behold, lo, divided wondersly Into two regions, whereof one I call
The ethereal region with the heavens high, Containing the planets, stars, and spheres all; The lower region, called the elemental,
Containing these four elements below, The fire, the air, the water, and earth also. But yet the elements and other bodies all Beneath take their effects and operations Of the bodies in the region ethereal.
By their influence and constellations, They cause here corruptions and generations; For if the movings above should once cease, Beneath should be neither increase nor decrease. These elements of themselves so single be Unto divers forms cannot be divided,
Yet they commix together daily, you see, Whereof divers kinds of things be engendered, Which things eftsones, when they be corrupted, Each element I reduce to his first estate, So that nothing can be utterly annihilate; For though the form and fashion of anything That is a corporal body be destroyed,
Yet every matter remaineth in his being, Whereof it was first made and formed;
For corruption of a body commixed
Is but the resolution by time and space Of every element to his own place.
For who that will take any body corporal, And do what he can it to destroy,
To break it or grind it into powder small, To wash, to drown, to bren it, or to dry, Yet the air and fire thereof naturally
To their own proper places will ascend, The water to the water, the earth to the earth tend; For if heat or moisture of anything certain By fire or by water be consumed,
Yet earth or ashes on earth will remain, So the elements can never be destroyed.
For essentially there is now at this tide As much fire, air, water, earth, as was
Ever before this time, neither more nor less; Wherefore thou, man–now I speak to thee– Remember that thou art compound and create Of these elements, as other creatures be, Yet they have not all like noble estate, For plants and herbs grow and be insensate. Brute beasts have memory and their wits five, But thou hast all those and soul intellective; So by reason of thine understanding,
Thou hast dominion of other beasts all, And naturally thou shouldst desire cunning To know strange effects and causes natural; For he that studieth for the life bestial,[12] As voluptuous pleasure and bodily rest,
I account him never better than a beast.


O excellent prince, and great lord Nature, I am thine own child and formed instrument! I beseech thy grace, take me to thy cure, And teach me such science thou thinkest expedient.


Then sith thou art so humble and benevolent, That thing that is meet for thy capacity And good for thy knowledge I shall instruct thee. First of all, thou must consider and see These elements, which do each other penetrate, And by continual alteration they be
Of themselves daily corrupted and generate. The earth as a point or centre is situate In the midst of the world, with the water joined, With the air and fire round, and whole environed. The earth of itself is ponderous and heavy, Cold and dry of his own nature proper;
Some part lieth dry continually,
And part thereof covered over with water, Some with the salt sea, some with fresh river, Which earth and the water together withal So joined make a round figure spherical; So the water which is cold and moist is found In and upon the earth filling the hollowness, In divers parts, lying with the earth round, Yet the hills and mountains of the earth excess Take nothing of it away the roundness,
In comparison because they be so small, No more than the pricks do that be on a gall. The air which is hot and moist also,
And the fire which is ever hot and dry, About the earth and water jointly they go, And compass them everywhere orbicularly, As the white about the yoke of an egg doth lie. But the air in the lower part most remaineth; The fire naturally to the higher tendeth. The ethereal region which containeth
The stars and planets, and every sphere, About the elements daily moveth,
And covereth them round about everywhere. Every star and sphere in strange manner
Upon his own poles moveth diversely, Which now to declare were too long to tarry. The fire and the air of their natures be light, Therefore they move by natural providence; The water, because it is ponderous in weight, Moveth not naturally, but by violence
Of the stars and planets, by whose influence The sea is compelled to ebb and flow daily, And fresh waters to spring continually.
And though that the water be gross and heavy, Yet nothing so gross as the earth, I wiss; Therefore by heat it is vapoured up lightly, And in the air maketh clouds and mists;
But as soon as ever that it grossly is Gathered together, it descendeth again,
And causeth upon the earth hail, snow, and rain. The earth, because of his ponderosity,
Avoideth equally the movings great
Of all extremities and spheres that be, And tendeth to the place that is most quiet; So in the midst of all the spheres is set Foremost object from all manner moving,
Where naturally he resteth and moveth nothing. Mark well now, how I have thee showed and told Of every element the very situation
And quality, wherefore this figure behold For a more manifest demonstration.
And because thou shouldst not put to oblivion My doctrine, this man, called Studious Desire, With thee shall have continual habitation, Thee still to exhort more science to acquire. For the more that thou desirest to know anything, Therein thou seemest the more a man to be; For that man that desireth no manner cunning, All that while no better than a beast is he. Why been the eyes made, but only to see, The legs, to bear the body of a creature? So everything is made to do his nature;
So likewise reason, wit, and understanding, Is given to thee, man, for that thou shouldst indeed Know thy Maker and cause of thine own being, And what the world is, and whereof thou dost proceed; Wherefore, it behoveth thee of very need The cause of things first for to learn,
And then to know and laud the high God eterne.


O glorious Lord and Prince most pleasant! Greatly am I now holden unto thee,
So to illumine my mind, that was ignorant, With such noble doctrine as thou hast here shown me; Wherefore I promise, upon my fidelity,
My diligence to do to keep in memory, And thee for to honour still perpetually.


And sith it hath pleased thy grace to admit Me upon this man to give attendance,
With thy doctrine here shown I shall quicken his wit, And daily put him in remembrance;
His courage and desire I shall also enhance, So that his felicity shall be most of all To study and to search for causes natural.


Well, then, for a season I will depart, Leaving you together here both twain;
What I have shown, man, print well in thine heart,[13] And mark well this figure that here shall remain, Whereby thou mayest perceive many things more plain Concerning the matter I spoke of before; And when that I shall resort here again, Of high points of cunning I shall show thee more.


Now, Humanity, call to your memory
The cunning points that Nature hath declared; And though he has shown divers points and many Of the elements so wondersly[14] formed
Yet many other causes there are would be learned, As to know the generation of things all
Here in the earth, how they be engendered, As herbs, plants, well-springs, stone, and metal.


Those things to know for me be full expedient, But yet in those points which Nature late showed me, My mind in them as yet is not content,
For I can no manner wise perceive nor see, Nor prove by reason why the earth should be In the middes of the firmament hanging so small, And the earth with the water to be round withal.


Me thinketh myself, as to some of those points I could give a sufficient solution;
For, first of all, thou must needs grant this, That the earth is so deep, and bottom hath none, Or else there is some gross thing it standeth upon, Or else that it hangeth, thou must needs consent, Even in the middes of the firmament.


What then? go forth with thine argument.


Then mark well, in the day or in a winter’s night, The sun and moon, and stars celestial,
In the east first they do appear to thy sight, And after in the west they do down fall, And again in the morrow next of all,
Within twenty-four hours they be come just To the east point again, where thou sawest them first. Then if the earth should be of endless deepness, Or should stand upon any other gross thing, It should be an impediment, doubtless,
To the sun, moon, and stars in their moving; Therefore, in reason, it seemeth most convenient The earth to hang in the middes of the firmament.


Thine argument in that point doth me confound, That thou hast made, but yet it proveth not right That the earth by reason should be round; For though the firmament, with his stars bright, Compass about the earth each day and night, Yet the earth may be plane, peradventure, Quadrant, triangle, or some other figure.


That it cannot be plane I shall well prove thee: Because the stars, that arise in the orient, Appear more sooner to them that there be, Than to the other dwelling in the Occident. The eclipse is thereof a plain experiment Of the sun or moon which, when it doth fall, Is never one time of the day in places all; Yet the eclipse generally is alway
In the whole world as one time being; But when we, that dwell here, see it in the midday, They in the west parts see it in the morning, And they in the east behold it in the evening; And why that should so be, no cause can be found, But only by reason that the earth is round.


That reason proveth the earth at the least, One ways to be round, I cannot gainsay,
As for to account from the east to the west; But yet, notwithstanding all that, it may Lese his roundness by some other way.


Nay, no doubt it is round everywhere, Which I could prove, thou shouldst not say nay, If I had thereto any time and leisure;
But I know a man called Experience, Of divers instruments is never without,
Could prove all these points, and yet by his science Can tell how many mile the earth is about, And many other strange conclusions, no doubt. His instruments could show thee so certain, That every rude carter should them perceive plain.

HU. Now would to God I had that man now here For the contemplation of my mind!
STU. If ye will, I shall for him inquire, And bring him hither, if I can him find. HU. Then might I say ye were to me right kind. STU. I shall assay, by God that me dear bought, For cunning is the thing that would be sought. SEN. Well hit, quoth Hykman, when that he smote His wife on the buttocks with a beer-pot. Aha! now good even, fool, good even!
It is even thee, knave, that I mean. Hast thou done thy babbling?
STU. Yea, peradventure, what then?
SEN. Then hold down thy head like a pretty man, and take my blessing. Benedicite! I grant to thee this pardon, And give thee absolution
For thy sooth saws; stand up, Jackdaw! I beshrew thy father’s son,
Make room, sirs, and let us be merry, With huffa gallant, sing tirl on the berry, And let the wide world wind![15]
Sing, frisky jolly, with hey troly lolly, For I see well it is but a folly
For to have a sad mind:
For rather than I would use such folly, To pray, to study, or be pope holy,
I had as lief be dead.
By Gog’s body, I tell you true!
I speak as I think now, else I beshrew Even my next fellow’s head!
Master Humanity, sir, by your leave, I were right loth you to grieve,
Though I do him despise;
For if ye knew him as well as I, Ye would not use his company,
Nor love him in no wise.
HU. Sir, he looketh like an honest man, Therefore I marvel that ye can
This wise him deprave.
SEN. Though he look never so well,
I promise you he hath a shrewd smell. HU. Why so? I pray you tell.
SEN. For he savoureth like a knave. STU. Hold your peace, sir, ye mistake me! What, I trow, that ye would make me
Like to one of your kin.
SEN. Hark, sirs, hear ye not how boldly He calleth me knave again by policy?
The devil pull off his skin!
I would he were hanged by the throat, For by the mass I love him not:
We two can never agree;
I am content, sir, with you to tarry, And I am for you so necessary,
Ye cannot live without me.
HU. Why, sir, I say, what man be ye? SEN. I am called Sensual Appetite,
All creatures in me delight;
I comfort the wits five,
The tasting, smelling, and hearing; I refresh the sight and feeling
To all creatures alive.
For when the body waxeth hungry
For lack of food, or else thirsty, Then with drinks pleasant
I restore him out of pain,
And oft refresh nature again
With delicate viand.
With pleasant sound of harmony
The hearing alway I satisfy,
I dare this well report;
The smelling with sweet odour,
And the sight with pleasant figure And colours, I comfort;
The feeling, that is so pleasant, Of every member, foot, or hand,
What pleasure therein can be
By the touching of soft and hard, Of hot or cold, nought in regard,
Except it come by me.
HU. Then I cannot see the contrary, But ye are for me full necessary,
And right convenient.
STU. Yea, sir, beware yet what ye do, For if you forsake my company so,
Lord Nature will not be content. Of him ye shall never learn good thing, Nother virtue nor no other cunning,
This dare I well say.
SEN. Marry, avaunt, knave! I thee defy! Did Nature forbid him my company?
What sayest thou thereto? Speak openly. HU. As for that I know well nay.
SEN. No, by God! I am right sure;
For he knoweth well no creature
Without me can live one day.
HU. Sir, I pray you be content,
It is not utterly mine intent
Your company to exile;
But only to have communication,
And a pastime of recreation
With this man for a while.
STU. Well, for your pleasure I will depart. HU. Now go, knave, go! I beshrew thy heart! The devil send thee forward!
SEN. Now, by my troth, I marvel greatly, That ever ye would use the company
So mich of such a knave;
For if ye do no nother thing,
But ever study and to be musing, As he would have you, it will you bring At the last unto your grave!
Ye should ever study principal
For to comfort your life natural, With meats and drinks delicate
And other pastimes and pleasures among, Dancing, laughing, or pleasant song;
This is meet for your estate.
HU. Because ye say so, I you promise, That I have mused and studied such wise, Me thinketh my wits weary;
My nature desireth some refreshing, And also I have been so long fasting, That I am somewhat hungry.
SEN. Well, then, will ye go with me To a tavern, where ye shall see
Good pastance, and at your liberty Have whatsoever you will?
HU. I am content so for to do,
If that ye will not fro me go,
But keep me company still.
SEN. Company, quotha? then that I shall point-device, And also do you good and true service, And thereto I plight my troth!
And if that I ever forsake you,
I pray God the devil take you!
HU. Marry, I thank you for that oath! SEN. A mischief on it! my tongue, lo!
Will trip sometime, whatsoever I do; But ye wot that I mean well.
HU. Yea, no force! let this matter pass; But saidst even now thou knewest, where was A good tavern to make solace?
Where is that? I pray thee tell. SEN. Marry, at the door even hereby;
If we call anything on high,
The taverner will answer.
HU. I pray thee, then, call for him now. SEN. Marry, I will! How, taverner, how!
Why dost thou not appear?


Who is that calleth so hastily?
I shrew thine heart, speak softly; I tell thee I am not here.

SEN. Then I beshrew thee, page, of thine age! Come hither, knave, for thine advantage; Why makest thou it so tow?
TA. For mine advantage, marry, then I come. Beware, sirs, ho! let me have room!
Lo, here I am! what sayest thou? SEN. Marry, thus: here is a gentleman, I say, That neither ate nor drank this day;
Therefore tell me, I thee pray,
If thou have any good wine.
TA. Ye shall have Spanish wine and Gascon, Rose colour, white, claret, rampion,
Tyre, Capric, and Malvoisin,
Sack, raspice, Alicant, rumney,
Greek, ipocras, new-made clary,
Such as ye never had;
For if ye drink a draught or two, It will make you, ere ye thence go,
By Gog’s body, stark mad!
SEN. I wot thou art not without good wine; But here is a gentleman hath list to dine, Canst thou get him any good meat?
TA. What meat, master, would ye have? HU. I care not, so God me save,
So that it be wholesome to eat:
I would we had a good stewed capon. SEN. As for capons ye can get none,
The king’s taker took up each one; I wot well there is none to get.
TA. Though all capons be gone, what then? Yet I can get you a stewed hen,
That is ready dight.
HU. If she be fat, it will do well. TA. Fat or lean, I cannot tell,
But as for this I wot well
She lay at the stews all night.
HU. Thou art a mad guest, by this light! SEN. Yea, sir, it is a fellow that never fails: But canst get my master a dish of quails, Small birds, swallows, or wagtails,
They be light of digestion?
TA. Light of digestion! for what reason? SEN. For physic putteth this reason thereto, Because those birds fly to and fro,
And be continual moving.
TA. Then know I a lighter meat than that. HU. I pray thee, tell me what?
TA. If ye will needs know at short and long, It is even a woman’s tongue,
For that is ever stirring![16]
HU. Sir, I pray thee, let such fantasies be, And come hither near, and hark to me, And do after my bidding.
Go, purvey us a dinner even of the most Of all manner of dishes both sod and roast, That thou canst get: spare for no cost, If thou make three course.
TA. Then ye get neither goose nor swan, But a dish of dregs, a dish of bran,
A dish of draff, and I trow then Ye cannot get three worse!
HU. What, whoreson! wouldst thou purvey Bran, draff, and stinking dregs, I say; I hold thee mad, I trow.
TA. Gog’s passion! said ye not thus, That I should purvey you three coarse dishes, And these be coarse enou’!
HU. Three coarse dishes, quotha?
What, mad fool! thou mistakest me clean! I see well thou wott’st not what I mean, And understandest amiss;
I mean this wise, I would have thee To purvey meat so great plenty,
That thou shouldst of necessity
Serve them at three courses.
That is to understand, at one word, Thou shouldst bring them unto the board At three several times.
TA. What then, I see well ye will make a feast. HU. Yea, by the rood! even with the greatest. SEN. By my troth, then do your best
Even after my mind;
But ye must have more company.
HU. That is true, and so would I gladly, If I knew any to find.
SEN. Why, will ye follow my counsel? HU. Yea.
SEN. Then we will have little Nell, A proper wench, she danceth well,
And Jane with the black lace;
We will have bouncing Bess also, And two or three proper wenches mo.
Right fair and smoother of face. HU. Now be it so! thou art _sans_ peer.
TA. Then I perceive ye will make good cheer. HU. Why, what should I else do?
TA. If ye think so best, then will I Go before, and make all things ready
Again ye come thereto.
HU. Marry, I pray thee, do so.
TA. Then, farewell, sirs; for I am gone. HU. And we shall follow thee anon
Without any tarrying.
SEN. Then it is best, sir, ye make haste, For ye shall spend here but time in waste, And do no nother thing.
HU. If ye will, let us go by and by. SEN. I pray you be it, for I am ready,
No man better willing.

_Exeat Sen. et Hu. Intrat Experiens et Stu_.

Now, cousin Experience, as I may say, Ye are right welcome to this country
Without any feigning.
EX. Sir, I thank you thereof heartily, And I am as glad of your company
As any man living.
STU. Sir, I understand that ye have been In many a strange country,
And have had great facility
Strange causes to seek and find. EX. Right far, sir, I have ridden and gone, And seen strange things many one,
In Africa, Europe, and India;
Both east and west I have been far, North also, and seen the south star
Both by sea and land,
And been in sundry nations,
With people of divers conditions, Marvellous to understand.
STU. Sir, if a man have such courage, Or devotion in pilgrimage,
Jerusalem unto
For to account the next way,
How many miles is it, I you pray, From hence thither to go?
EX. Sir, as for all such questions, Of towns to know the situation,
How far they be asunder,
And other points of cosmography, Ye shall never learn them more surely Than by that figure yonder;
For who that figure did first devise, It seemeth well he was wise,
And perfect in this science;
For both the sea and land also
Lie true and just as they should do, I know by experience.
STU. Who, think you, brought here this figure? EX. I wot not.
STU. Certes, Lord Nature,
Himself not long agone,
Which was here personally
Declaring high philosophy,
And laft this figure purposely
For Humanity’s instruction.
EX. Doubtless, right nobly done.
STU. Sir, this realm you know is called England, Sometimes Britain, I understand;
Therefore, I pray you, point with your hand In what place it should lie.
EX. Sir, this is England lying here, And that is Scotland that joineth him near, Compassed about everywhere
With the ocean sea around;
And next from them westwardly,
Here by himself alone, doth lie
Ireland, that wholesome ground.
Here then is the narrow sea,
To Calais and Boulogne the next way, And Flanders in this part;
Here lieth France next him joining, And Spain southward from them standing, And Portugal in this quarter.
This country is called Italy,
Behold where Rome in the midst doth lie, And Naples here beyond;
And this little sea that here is Is called the Gulf of Venice,
And here Venice doth stand.
As for Almaine lieth this way;
Here lieth Denmark and Norway;
And northward on this side
There lieth Iceland where men doth fish, But beyond that so cold it is,
No man may there abide.
This sea is called the Great Ocean, So great it is that never man
Could tell it, since the world began, Till now, within this twenty years,
Westward be found new lands,
That we never heard tell of before this By writing nor other means,
Yet many now have been there;
And that country is so large of room, Much lenger than all Christendom,
Without fable or guile;
For divers mariners had it tried, And sailed straight by the coast side Above five thousand mile!
But what commodities be within,
No man can tell nor well imagine; But yet not long ago
Some men of this country went,
By the king’s noble consent,
It for to search to that intent, And could not be brought thereto;
But they that were th’ adventurers[17] Have cause to curse their mariners,
False of promise and dissemblers, That falsely them betrayed,
Which would take no pains to sail farther Than their own list and pleasure;
Wherefore that voyage and divers other Such caitiffs have destroyed.
Oh, what a thing had be then,
If that they that be Englishmen
Might have been the first of all That there should have take possession, And made first building and habitation, A memory perpetual!
And also what an honourable thing, Both to the realm and to the king,
To have had his dominion extending There into so far a ground,
Which the noble king of late memory, The most wise prince the seventh Herry, Caused first for to be found.
And what a great meritorious deed It were to have the people instructed To live more virtuously,
And to learn to know of men the manner, And also to know God their Maker,
Which as yet live all beastly;
For they nother know God nor the devil, Nor never heard tell of heaven nor hell, Writing nor other scripture;
But yet, in the stead of God Almighty, They honour the sun for his great light, For that doth them great pleasure;
Building nor house they have none at all, But woods, cots, and caves small,
No marvel though it be so,
For they use no manner of iron,
Neither in tool nor other weapon, That should help them thereto:
Copper they have, which is found In divers places above the ground,
Yet they dig not therefore;
For, as I said, they have none iron, Whereby they should in the earth mine, To search for any wore:
Great abundance of woods there be, Most part fir and pine-apple tree,
Great riches might come thereby, Both pitch and tar, and soap ashes,
As they make in the east lands,
By brenning thereof only.
Fish they have so great plenty,
That in havens take and slain they be With staves, withouten fail.
Now Frenchmen and other have found the trade, That yearly of fish there they lade
Above a hundred sail;
But in the south part of that country The people there go naked alway,
The land is of so great heat:
And in the north part all the clothes That they wear is but beasts’ skins,
They have no nother fete;
But how the people first began
In that country, or whence they came, For clerks it is a question.
Other things mo I have in store, That I could tell thereof, but now no more Till another season.
STU. Then at your pleasure show some other thing; It liketh me so well your communing,
Ye cannot talk amiss.
EX. Then will I turn again to my matter Of cosmography, where I was ere:
Behold, take heed to this;
Lo, eastward, beyond the great ocean, Here entereth the sea called Mediterranean, Of two thousand miles of length:
The Soldan’s country lieth hereby, The great Turk on the north side doth lie, A man of marvellous strength.
This said north part is called Europa, And this south part called Africa,
This east part is called India;
But this new lands found lately
Been called America, because only Americus did first them find.
Lo, Jerusalem lieth in this country, And this beyond is the Red Sea,
That Moses maketh of mention;
This quarter is India Minor,
And this quarter India Major,
The land of Prester John:
But northward this way, as ye see, Many other strange regions there be,
And people that we not know.
But eastward on the sea side
A prince there is that ruleth wide, Called the Can of Catowe.
And this is called the great east sea, Which goeth all along this way
Towards the new lands again;
But whether that sea go thither directly, Or if any wilderness between them do lie, No man knoweth for certain:
But these new lands, by all cosmography, From the Can of Catowe’s land cannot lie Little past a thousand miles:
But from those new lands men may sail plain Eastward, and come to England again,
Where we began erewhile.
Lo, all this part of the earth, which I Have here descrived openly,
The north part we do it call;
But the south part on the other side Is as large as this full, and as wide, Which we know nothing at all,
Nor whether the most part be land or sea, Nor whether the people that there be
Be bestial or cunning;
Nor whether they know God or no, Nor how they believe, nor what they do, Of this we know nothing.
Lo, is not this a thing wonderful? How that– [_Et subito Studious Desire dicat_. STU. Peace, sir, no more of this matter! Behold where Humanity cometh here.
SEN. How say you, Master Humanity?
I pray you have ye not be merry, And had good recreation?
HU. Yes, I thank thee thereof every deal, For we have fared marvellously well,
And had good communication.
TA. What, how, master! where be ye now? SEN. What! I shrew thee! what haste hast thou, That thou speakest so high?
TA. So high, quotha? I trow ye be mad, by St Gile! For did ye not erewhile
Make pointment openly.
To come again all to supper,
There as ye were to-day at dinner? And yet ye pointed not plain,
What meat that ye will have dressed, Nor what delicacies ye love best.
Methink you far oversayne.
HU. As for mine own part I care not; Dress what meat thou lovest, spare not Whatsoever thou dost best think.
TA. Now, if ye put it to my liberty, Of all meats in the world that be,
By this light, I love best drink.[18] SEN. It seemeth by thy face so to do,
But my master will have meat also, Whatsoever it cost.
TA. By God, sir, then ye must tell what. HU. At thy discretion: I force not,
Whether it be sodden or roast.
TA. Well, sir, then care not! let me alone; Ye shall see that all things shall be done, And ordained well and fine.
HU. So I require thee heartily,
And in any wise specially,
Let us have a cup of new wine.
TA. Ye shall have wine as new as can be, For I may tell you in privity,
It was brewed but yesternight.
HU. But that is nothing for my delight. TA. But then I have for your appetite
A cup of wine of old claret;
There is no better, by this light! HU. Well, I trust thee well enou’.
TA. But one thing, if it please you now– Ye see well I take much pain for you, I trust ye will see to me.
HU. Yea, I promise thee, get thee hence, And in this matter do thy diligence,
And I shall well reward thee.
SEN. Because thou lookest for a reward, One thing for thee I have prepared,
That here I shall thee give.
Thou shalt have a knave’s skin,
For to put thy body therein,
For term of thy life!
TA. Now, gramercy, my gentle brother; And therefore thou shalt have another, For voiding of strife.
SEN. Now, farewell, gentle John!
TA. Then farewell, fool, for I am gone! SEN. Abide, turn once again! hark what I say! Yet there is another thing
Would do well at our master’s washing. HU. What thing is that, I thee pray?
SEN. Marry thus, canst thou tell us yet, Where is any rose water to get?
TA. Yea, that I can well purvey,
As good as ever you put to your nose, For there is a false wench called Rose Distilleth a quart every day.
SEN. By God! I would a pint of that Were poured even upon thy pate
Before all this presence.
TA. Yet I had liever she and I
Were both together secretly
In some corner in the spence;
For, by God, it is a pretty girl! It is a world[19] to see her whirl,
Dancing in a round;
O Lord God! how she will trip!
She will bounce it, she will whip, Yea, clean above the ground!
HU. Well, let all such matters pass, I say, And get thee hence, and go thy way
About this other matter.
TA. Then I go straight; lo! fare ye well. SEN. But look yet thou remember every deal That I spake of full ere.
TA. Yes, I warrant you, do not fear. [_Exit Taverner_.
HU. God’s Lord! seest not who is here now? What, Studious Desire! what news with you? STU. Ye shall know, sir, ere I go.
SEN. What, art thou here? I see well, I, The mo knaves the worse company.
STU. Thy lewd conditions thou dost still occupy, As thou art wont to do.
HU. But, I say, who is this here in presence? STU. Sir, this is the man called Experience, That I spake of before.
HU. Experience! why, is this he?
Sir, ye are right welcome unto me And shall be evermore!
EX. Sir, I thank you thereof heartily, But I assure you faithfully
I have small courage here to tarry, As long as this man is here.
SEN. Why, whoreson! what ailest at me? EX. For thou hast ever so lewd a property, Science to despise, and yet thou art he That nought canst nor nought wilt learn. SEN. Marry, avaunt, knave! I make God avow, I think myself as cunning as thou,
And that shall I prove shortly!
I shall put thee a question now; come near, Let me see how well thou canst answer: How spellest this word Tom Couper
In true orthography?
EX. Tom Couper, quotha? a wise question hardly! SEN. Yea, I tell thee again yet–Tom Couper, how spellest it? Lo! he hath forgotten, ye may see,
The first word of his _a b c_.
Hark, fool, hark, I will teach thee, P.a–pa.–t.e.r–ter–do together Tom Couper. Is not this a sore matter?
Lo! here you see him proved a fool! He had more need to go to school,
Than to come hither to clatter.
STU. Certain, this is a solution
Meet for such a boy’s question.
HU. Sensual Appetite, I pray thee
Let pass all trifles and vanity
For a while, it shall not long be, And depart, I thee require;
For I would talk a word or two
With this man here, ere he hence go, For to satisfy my desire.
SEN. Why, Gog’s soul! will ye so shortly Break pointment with yonder company,
Where you should come to supper? I trust you will not break promise so. HU. I care not greatly, if I do;
It is but a tavern matter.
SEN. Then will I go show them what you say. HU. Spare not, if thou wilt go thy way,
For I will here tarry.
SEN. Then adieu for a while, I tell you plain, But I promise you, when I come again, I shall make yonder knaves twain
To repent and be sorry!
EX. Now I am full glad that he is gone! STU. So am I, for good will he do none
To no man living.
But this is the man with whom ye shall, I trust, be well content withal,
And glad of his coming;
For he hath expound cunningly
Divers points of cosmography,
In few words and short clause.
HU. So I understand he hath good science, And that he hath by plain experience
Learned many a strange cause.
STU. Yea, sir, and I say for my part, He is the cunningest man in that art
That ever I could find;
For ask what question ye will do, How the earth is round, or other mo,
He will satisfy your mind.
EX. Why, what doubt have ye therein found? Think ye the earth should not be round? Or else how suppose ye?
HU. One way it is round, I must consent, For this man proved it evident;
Toward the east and occident
It must needs round be.
EX. And likewise from the south to north. HU. That point to prove were some thank worth. EX. Yes, that I can well prove,[20]
For this ye know as well as I,
Ye see the North Star in the sky, Mark well, ye shall unneth it spy,
That ever it doth remove.
But this I assure you, if you go Northward an hundredth mile or two,
Ye shall think it riseth,
And how that it is near approached The point over the top of your head,
Which is called your zenith.
Yet if ye go the other way,
Southward ten or twelve days’ journey, Ye shall then think anon
It descended, and come more nigh The circle parting the earth and sky, As ye look straight with your eye,
Which is called your horizon;
But ye may go southward so far,
That at the last that same star
Will seem so far down right,
Clear underneath your horizon,
That sight thereof can you have none, The earth will stop your sight.
This proveth of necessity
That the earth must needs round be: This conclusion doth it try.
HU. Now that is the properest conclusion That ever I heard, for by reason
No man may it deny.
But, sir, if that a man sail far Upon the sea, will then that star
Do there as on the ground?
EX. Yea, doubtless, sail northward, rise it will, And sail southward, it falleth still, And that proveth the sea round.
STU. So doth it in mine opinion;
But know you any other conclusion To prove it round, save that alone?
EX. Yea, that I know right well,
As thus: mark well when the sea is clear, That no storm nor wave thereon doth ‘ppear, This mariners can tell;
Then if a fire be made on night
Upon the shore, that giveth great light, And a ship in the sea far,
They in the top the fire see shall, And they on hatch nothing at all,
Yet they on hatches be near;
Also on the sea, where men be sailing Far from land, they see nothing
But the water and the sky;
Yet when they draw the land more near, Then the hill-tops begin to appear,
Still they near more high and high, As though they were still growing fast Out of the sea till, at last,
When they come the shore to,
They see the hill, top, foot, and all; Which thing so could not befal,
But the sea lay round also.
HU. Methinketh your argument somewhat hard. EX. Then ye shall have it more plainly declared, If ye have great desire;
For here, lo, by mine instruments, I can show the plain experiments.
HU. Thereto I you require.
EX. With all my heart it shall be done; But for the first conclusion,
That I speak of the fire,
Be this the sea that is so round, And this the fire upon the ground,
And this the ship that is here;
You know well that a man’s sight Can never be but in a line right.
HU. Just you say; that is clear.
EX. Mark well then; may not that man’s eye.

[_Eight leaves are here wanting_.]

IGNORANCE. With arguing here their foolish [saws] That is not worth three straws.
I love not this whoreson ‘losophers, Nor this great cunning extromers,
That tell how far it is to the stars; I hate all manner cunning!
I would ye knew it, I am Ignorance! A lord I am of greater puissance
Than the king of England or France, Yea, the greatest lord living!
I have servants at my retinue,
That long to me, I assure you,
Herewith in England,
That with me, Ignorance, dwell still, And term of life continue will,
Above five hundred thousand.
SEN. Gog’s nails, I have paid some of them, I trow. IGN. Why, man, what aileth thee so to blow? SEN. For I was at a shrewd fray.
IGN. Hast thou any of them slain, then? SEN. Yea, I have slain them every man,
Save them that ran away.
IGN. Why, is any of them scaped and gone? SEN. Yea, by Gog’s body, every one,
All that ever were there.
IGN. Why, then, they be not all slain. SEN. No, but I have put some to pain,
For one whoreson there was, that turned again, And straight I cut off his ear.
IGN. Then thou hast made him a cutpurse. SEN. Yea, but yet I served another worse! I smote off his leg by the hard arse, As soon as I met him there.
IGN. By my troth, that was a mad deed! Thou shouldst have smit off his head, Then he should never have troubled thee more. SEN. Tush! then I had been but mad,
For there was another man that had Smit off his head before!
IGN. Then thou hast quit thee like a tall knight! SEN. Yea, that I have, by this light!
But, I say, can you tell me right Where became my master?
IGN. What, he that you call Humanity? SEN. Yea.
IGN. I wot never, except he be
Hid here in some corner.
SEN. Gog’s body! and true ye say,
For yonder, lo! behold, ye may
See where the mad fool doth lie. IGN. Now, on my faith and truth,
It were even great alms
To smite his head from his body! SEN. Nay, God forbid ye should do so,
For he is but an innocent, lo!
In manner of a fool.
For as soon as I speak to him again, I shall turn his mind clean,
And make him follow my school.
IGN. Then bid him rise, let us hear him speak. SEN. Now, rise up, Master Huddypeke,
Your tail toteth out behind!
Fear not, man, stand up by and by; I warrant you rise up boldly!
Here is none but is your friend. HU. I cry you mercy, master dear!
IGN. Why, what is cause thou hidest thee here? HU. For I was almost for fear,
Even clean out of my mind.
SEN. Nay, it is the study that ye have had In this foolish losophy hath made you mad, And no other thing, i-wis.
IGN. That is as true as the gospel! Therefore I have great marvel,
That ever thou wilt follow the counsel Of yonder two knaves.
HU. O sir, ye know right well this, That when any man is
In other men’s company,
He must needs follow the appetite Of such things as they delight
Some time among, perdy!
IGN. But such knaves would alway have thee To put all thy mind and felicity
In this foolish cunning to study; Which, if thou do, will make thee mad, And alway to be pensive and sad;
Thou shalt never be merry.
SEN. Merry, quotha? no, I make God avow! But I pray thee, master, hark! one word now, And answer this thing:
Whether thought you it better cheer At the tavern, where we were ere,
Or else to clatter with these knaves here Of their foolish cunning?
HU. Nay, I cannot say the contrary
But that I had mich merrier company At the tavern than in this place.
SEN. Then if ye have any wit or brain, Let us go to the tavern again,
And make some merry solace.
IGN. If he will do so, then doth he wisely. HU. By my troth, I care not greatly,
For I am indifferent to all company, Whether it be here or there.
SEN. Then I shall tell you what we will do; Master Ignorance, you and he also
Shall tarry both still here,
And I will go fet hither a company, That ye shall hear them sing as sweetly As they were angels clear;
And yet I shall bring hither another sort Of lusty bloods to make disport;
That shall both dance and spring, And turn clean above the ground
With friskas and with gambawds round, That all the hall shall ring.
And that done, within an hour or twain, I shall at the town again
Prepare for you a banket
Of meats that be most delicate,
And most pleasant drinks and wines thereat, That is possible to get,
Which shall be in a chamber fair, Prepared point-device[21]
With damask water made so well,
That all the house thereof shall smell, As it were paradise.
And after that, if ye will touch A fair wench naked[22] in a couch[23] Of a soft bed of down,
For to satisfy your wanton lust, I shall appoint you a trull of trust, Not a fairer in this town!
And when ye have taken your delight, And thus satisfied the appetite
Of your wits five,
Ye may say then I am a servant
For you so necessary and pleasant, I trow none such alive!
HU. Now, by the way that God did walk, It comforteth mine heart to hear thee talk, Thy match was never seen!
IGN. Then go thy way by and by,
And bring in this company,
And he and I will here tarry,
Till thou come again.
HU. And I pray thee heartily also.
SEN. At your request so shall I do. Lo! I am gone, now farewell!
I shall bring them into this hall, And come myself foremost of all,
And of these revels be chief marshal, And order all things well.
IGN. Now, set thy heart on a merry pin, Against these lusty bloods come in,
And drive fantasies away.
HU. And so I will, by heaven’s King! If they either dance or sing,
Have among them, by this day!
IGN. Then thou takest good and wise ways, And so shalt thou best please
All this whole company;
For the foolish arguing that thou hast had With that knave Experience, that hath made All these folk thereof weary;
For all that they be now in this hall, They be the most part my servants all, And love principally
Disports, as dancing, singing,
Toys, trifles, laughing, jesting; For cunning they set not by.
HU. I see well such company evermore, As Sensual Appetite is gone for,
Will please well this audience.
IGN. Yea, that I suppose they will; But peace, hark! I pray thee be still, I ween they be not far hence.

[_Then the dancers without the hall sing this wise, and they within answer, or else they may say it for need_.[24]]


Peace, sirs, peace now! peace, sirs, all!


Why, who is that so high doth call?


Silence, I say, be you among,
For we be disposed to sing a song.


Come in, then, boldly among this presence, For here ye shall have good audience.
Time to pass with goodly sport,
Our sprites to revive and comfort, To pipe, to sing,
To dance, to spring,
With pleasure and delight,
Following Sensual Appetite,
To pipe, &c.

IGN. I can you thank; that is done well; It is pity ye had not a minstrel
For to augment your solace.
SEN. As for minstrel, it maketh no force, Ye shall see me dance a course
Without a minstrel, be it better or worse; Follow all: I will lead a trace.
HU. Now have among you, by this light! IGN. That is well said, by God Almight!
Make room, sirs, and give them place.

[_Then he singeth this song and danceth withal, and evermore maketh countenance according to the matter; and all the others answer likewise_.]

Dance we, dance we, prance we, prance we, So merrily let us dance ey, so merrily, &c. And I can dance it gingerly, and I, &c. And I can foot it by and by, and I, &c. And I can prank it properly,
And I can countenance comely,[25] And I can croak it courtesly,
And I can leap it lustily,
And I can turn it trimly,
And I can frisk it freshly,
And I can look it lordly.
IGN. I can thee thank, Sensual Appetite! That is the best dance without a pipe, That I saw this seven year.[26]
HU. This dance would do mich better yet, If we had a kit or taberet,
But alas! there is none here.
SEN. Then let us go to the tavern again, There shall we be sure of one or twain Of minstrels, that can well play.
IGN. Then go, I pray ye, by and by, And purvey some minstrel ready,
And he and I will follow shortly, As fast as ever we may.
HU. Therewith I am right well content. SEN. Then will I go incontinent,
And prepare every thing
That is metely to be done;
And for lack of minstrels, the mean season, Now will we begin to sing.
Now we will here begin to sing,
For dance can we no more,
For minstrels here be all lacking; To the tavern we will therefore.

[_Et exeunt cantando, &c_.

HU. Now if that Sensual Appetite can find Any good minstrels after his mind,
Doubt not we shall have good sport. IGN. And so shall we have for a surety;
But what shall we do now, tell me, The meanwhile for our comfort?
HU. Then let us some lusty ballad sing. IGN. Nay, sir, by the Heaven King!
For methinketh it serveth for nothing, All such peevish prick-eared song!
HU. Peace, man, prick-song may not be despised, For therewith God is well pleased,
Honoured, praised, and served,
In the church ofttimes among.
IGN. Is God well pleased, trow’st thou, thereby? Nay, nay, for there is no reason why, For is it not as good to say plainly, Give me a spade,
As give me a spa, ve, va, ve, va, ve, vade? But if thou wilt have a song that is good, I have one of Robin Hood,
The best that ever was made.
HU. Then, a’ fellowship, let us hear it. IGN. But there is a burden, thou must bear it, Or else it will not be.
HU. Then begin and care not to …
Down, down, down, &c.
IGN. Robin Hood in Barnsdale stood,[27] And leant him till a maple thistle;
Then came our lady and sweet Saint Andrew. Sleepest thou, wakest thou, Geffrey Coke? A hundred winter the water was deep,
I can not tell you how broad.
He took a goose neck in his hand, And over the water he went.
He start up to a thistle top,
And cut him down a hollen club.
He stroke the wren between the horns, That fire sprang out of the pig’s tail. Jack boy, is thy bow i-broke?
Or hath any man done the wriguldy wrag? He plucked muscles out of a willow,
And put them into his satchel!
Wilkin was an archer good,
And well could handle a spade;
He took his bent bow in his hand, And set him down by the fire.
He took with him sixty bows and ten, A piece of beef, another of bacon.
Of all the birds in merry England So merrily pipes the merry bottle![28]


Well, Humanity, now I see plainly
That thou hast used much folly,
The while I have been absent.

HU. Sir, I trust I have done nothing
That should be contrary to your pleasing, Nor never was mine intent;
For I have followed the counsel clear, As ye me bade, of Studious Desire,
And for necessity among
Sometime Sensual Appetite’s counsel, For without him, ye know right well,
My life cannot endure long.


Though it be for thee full necessary For thy comfort sometime to satisfy
Thy sensual appetite,
Yet it is not convenient for thee To put therein thy felicity
And all thy whole delight;
For if thou wilt learn no science, Nother by study nor experience,
I shall thee never advance;
But in the world thou shalt dure then, Despised of every wise man,
Like this-rude beast Ignorance.

[_The original here ends imperfectly_.]


_A new comedy in English in manner of an interlude right elegant and full of craft of rhetoric: wherein is shewed and described as well the beauty and good properties of women, as their vices and evil conditions, with a