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Sir Thomas More by William Shakespeare [Apocrypha]

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Away with him.

[Exeunt all except Randall.]

[Enter Surrey, Erasmus, and Attendants.]

Now, great Erasmus, you approach the presence
Of a most worthy learned gentleman:
This little isle holds not a truer friend
Unto the arts; nor doth his greatness add
A feigned flourish to his worthy parts;
He's great in study; that's the statist's grace,
That gains more reverence than the outward place.

Report, my lord, hath crossed the narrow seas,
And to the several parts of Christendom,
Hath borne the fame of your Lord Chancellor:
I long to see him, whom with loving thoughts
I in my study oft have visited.
Is that Sir Thomas More?

It is, Erasmus:
Now shall you view the honorablest scholar,
The most religious politician,
The worthiest counsellor that tends our state.
That study is the general watch of England;
In it the prince's safety, and the peace
That shines upon our commonwealth, are forged
By loyal industry.

I doubt him not
To be as near the life of excellence
As you proclaim him, when his meanest servants
Are of some weight: you saw, my lord, his porter
Give entertainment to us at the gate
In Latin good phrase; what's the master, then,
When such good parts shine in his meanest men?

His Lordship hath some weighty business;
For, see, yet he takes no notice of us.

I think twere best I did my duty to him
In a short Latin speech.--
Qui in celiberima patria natus est ett gloriosa, plus habet negotii ut
in lucem veniat quam qui--

I prithee, good Erasmus, be covered. I have forsworn speaking of
Latin, else, as I am true counsellor, I'd tickle you with a speech.
Nay, sit, Erasmus;--sit, good my Lord of Surrey. I'll make my lady
come to you anon, if she will, and give you entertainment.

Is this Sir Thomas More?

Oh good Erasmus, you must conceive his vain:
He's ever furnished with these conceits.

Yes, faith, my learned poet doth not lie for that matter: I am
neither more nor less than merry Sir Thomas always. Wilt sup
with me? by God, I love a parlous wise fellow that smells of a
politician better than a long progress.

[Enter Sir Thomas More.]

We are deluded; this is not his lordship.

I pray you, Erasmus, how long will the Holland cheese in your
country keep without maggots?

Fool, painted barbarism, retire thyself
Into thy first creation!

[Exit Randall.]

Thus you see,
My loving learned friends, how far respect
Waits often on the ceremonious train
Of base illiterate wealth, whilst men of schools,
Shrouded in poverty, are counted fools.
Pardon, thou reverent German, I have mixed
So slight a jest to the fair entertainment
Of thy most worthy self; for know, Erasmus,
Mirth wrinkles up my face, and I still crave,
When that forsakes me I may hug my grave.

Your honor's merry humor is best physic
Unto your able body; for we learn
Where melancholy chokes the passages
Of blood and breath, the erected spirit still
Lengthens our days with sportful exercise:
Study should be the saddest time of life.
The rest a sport exempt from thought of strife.

Erasmus preacheth gospel against physic,
My noble poet.

Oh, my Lord, you tax me
In that word poet of much idleness:
It is a study that makes poor our fate;
Poets were ever thought unfit for state.

O, give not up fair poesy, sweet lord,
To such contempt! That I may speak my heart,
It is the sweetest heraldry of art,
That sets a difference 'tween the tough sharp holly
And tender bay tree.

Yet, my lord,
It is become the very logic number
To all mechanic sciences.

Why, I'll show the reason:
This is no age for poets; they should sing
To the loud canon heroica facta;
Qui faciunt reges heroica carmina laudant:
And, as great subjects of their pen decay,
Even so unphysicked they do melt away.

[Enter Master Morris.]

Come, will your lordship in?--My dear Erasmus--
I'll hear you, Master Morris, presently.--
My lord, I make you master of my house:
We'll banquet here with fresh and staid delights,
The Muses music here shall cheer our sprites;
The cates must be but mean where scholars sit,
For they're made all with courses of neat wit.

[Exeunt Surrey, Erasmus, and Attendants.]

How now, Master Morris?

I am a suitor to your lordship in behalf of a servant of mine.

The fellow with long hair? good Master Morris,
Come to me three years hence, and then I'll hear you.

I understand your honor: but the foolish knave has submitted
himself to the mercy of a barber, and is without, ready to make a
new vow before your lordship, hereafter to leave cavil.

Nay, then, let's talk with him; pray, call him in.

[Enter Faulkner and Officers.]

Bless your honor! a new man, my lord

Why, sure, this is not he.

And your lordship will, the barber shall give you a sample of my
head: I am he in faith, my lord; I am ipse.

Why, now thy face is like an honest man's:
Thou hast played well at this new cut, and won.

No, my lord; lost all that ever God sent me.

God sent thee into the world as thou art now,
With a short hair. How quickly are three years
Run out of Newgate!

I think so, my lord; for there was but a hair's length between my
going thither and so long time.

Because I see some grace in thee, go free.--
Discharge him, fellows.--Farewell, Master Morris.--
Thy head is for thy shoulders now more fit;
Thou hast less hair upon it, but more wit.


Did not I tell thee always of these locks?

And the locks were on again, all the goldsmiths in Cheapside
should not pick them open. 'Sheart, if my hair stand not on end
when I look for my face in a glass, I am a polecat. Here's a lousy
jest! but, if I notch not that rogue Tom barber, that makes me look
thus like a Brownist, hang me! I'll be worse to the nitticall knave
than ten tooth drawings. Here's a head, with a pox!

What ails thou? art thou mad now?

Mad now! nails, if loss of hair cannot mad a man, what can? I am
deposed, my crown is taken from me. More had been better a
scoured Moreditch than a notched me thus: does he begin
sheepshearing with Jack Faulkner?

Nay, and you feed this vein, sir, fare you well.

Why, farewell, frost. I'll go hang myself out for the Poll Head.
Make a Saracen of Jack?

Thou desperate knave! for that I see the devil
Wholly gets hold of thee--

The devil's a damned rascal.

I charge thee, wait on me no more; no more
Call me thy master.

Why, then, a word, Master Morris.

I'll hear no words, sir; fare you well.

'Sblood, farewell.

Why dost thou follow me?

Because I'm an ass. Do you set your shavers upon me, and then
cast me off? must I condole? have the Fates played the fools? am I
their cut? now the poor sconce is taken, must Jack march with bag
and baggage?


You coxcomb!

Nay, you ha' poached me; you ha' given me a hair; it's here, hear.

Away, you kind ass! come, sir, dry your eyes:
Keep you old place, and mend these fooleries.

I care not to be turned off, and 'twere a ladder, so it be in my
humor, or the Fates beckon to me. Nay, pray, sir, if the Destinies
spin me a fine thread, Faulkner flies another pitch; and to avoid the
headache hereafter, before I'll be a hairmonger, I'll be a


SCENE III. Chelsea. Ante-chamber in More's House.

[Enter a Messenger to More.]

My honorable lord, the Mayor of London,
Accompanied with his lady and her train,
Are coming hither, and are hard at hand,
To feast with you: a servant's come before,
To tell your lordship of there near approach.

Why, this is cheerful news: friends go and come:
Reverend Erasmus, who delicious words
Express the very soul and life of wit,
Newly took sad leave of me, and with tears
Troubled the silver channel of the Thames,
Which, glad of such a burden, proudly swelled
And on her bosom bore him toward the sea:
He's gone to Rotterdam; peace go with him!
He left me heavy when he went from hence;
But this recomforts me; the kind Lord Mayor,
His brethren aldermen, with their fair wives,
Will feast this night with us: why, so it should be;
More's merry heart lives by good company.--
Good gentlemen, be careful; give great charge
Our diet be made dainty for the taste;
For, of all people that the earth affords,
The Londoners fare richest at their boards.



SCENE I. Chelsea. A Room in More's House.

[Enter Sir Thomas More, Master Roper, and Servingmen setting

Come, my good fellows, stir, be diligent;
Sloth is an idle fellow, leave him now;
The time requires your expeditious service.
Place me here stools, to set the ladies on.--
Son Roper, you have given order for the banquet?

I have, my lord, and every thing is ready.

[Enter his Lady.]

Oh, welcome, wife! give you direction
How women should be placed; you know it best.
For my Lord Mayor, his brethren, and the rest,
Let me alone; men best can order men.

I warrant ye, my lord, all shall be well.
There's one without that stays to speak with ye,
And bade me tell ye that he is a player.

A player, wife!--One of ye bid him come in.

[Exit one.]

Nay, stir there, fellows; fie, ye are too slow!
See that your lights be in a readiness:
The banquet shall be here.--Gods me, madame,
Leave my Lady Mayoress! both of us from the board!
And my son Roper too! what may our guests think?

My lord, they are risen, and sitting by the fire.

Why, yet go you and keep them company;
It is not meet we should be absent both.

[Exit Lady.]

[Enter Player.]

Welcome, good friend; what is you will with me?

My lord, my fellows and myself
Are come to tender ye our willing service,
So please you to command us.

What, for a play, you mean?
Whom do ye serve?

My Lord Cardinal's grace.

My Lord Cardinal's players! now, trust me, welcome;
You happen hither in a lucky time,
To pleasure me, and benefit yourselves.
The Mayor of London and some aldermen,
His lady and their wives, are my kind guests
This night at supper: now, to have a play
Before the banquet, will be excellent.--
How think you, son Roper?

'Twill do well, my lord,
And be right pleasing pastime to your guests.

I prithee, tell me, what plays have ye?

Diverse, my lord: The Cradle of Security,
His nail o' the head, Impatient Poverty,
The play of Four Peas, Dives and Lazarus,
Lusty Juventus, and The Marriage of Wit and Wisdom.

The Marriage of Wit and Wisdom! that, my lads;
I'll none but that; the theme is very good,
And may maintain a liberal argument:
To marry wit to wisdom, asks some cunning;
Many have wit, that may come short of wisdom.
We'll see how Master poet plays his part,
And whether wit or wisdom grace his art.--
Go, make him drink, and all his fellows too.--
How many are ye?

Four men and a boy, sir.

But one boy? then I see,
There's but few women in the play.

Three, my lord; Dame Science, Lady Vanity,
And Wisdom she herself.

And one boy play them all? by our Lady, he's laden.
Well, my good fellow, get ye straight together,
And make ye ready with what haste ye may.--
Proud their supper gainst the play be done,
Else shall we stay our guests here over long.--
Make haste, I pray ye.

We will, my lord.

[Exit Servant and Player.]

Where are the waits? go, big them play,
To spend the time a while.

[Enter Lady.]

How now, madame?

My lord, th' are coming hither.

Th' are welcome. Wife, I'll tell ye one thing;
One sport is somewhat mended; we shall have
A play tonight, The Marriage of Wit and Wisdom,
And acted by my good Lord Cardinal's players;
How like ye that, wife?

My lord, I like it well.
See, they are coming.

[The waits plays; enter Lord Mayor, so many Aldermen as may,
the Lady Mayoress in scarlet, with other Ladies and Sir Thomas
More's Daughters; Servants carrying lighted torches by them.]

Once again, welcome, welcome, my good Lord Mayor,
And brethren all, for once I was your brother,
And so I am still in heart: it is not state
That can our love from London separate.
True, upstart fools, by sudden fortune tried,
Regard their former mates with naught but pride.
But they that cast an eye still whence they came,
Know how they rose, and how to use the same.

My lord, you set a gloss on London's fame,
And make it happy ever by your name.
Needs must we say, when we remember More,
'Twas he that drove rebellion from our door
With grave discretions mild and gentle breath,
Oh, how our city is by you renowned,
And with your virtues our endeavors crowned!

No more, my good Lord Mayor: but thanks to all,
That on so short a summons you would come
To visit him that holds your kindness dear.--
Madame, you are not merry with my Lady Mayoress
And these fair ladies; pray ye, seat them all:--
And here, my lord, let me appoint your place;--
The rest to seat themselves:--nay, I'll weary ye;
You will not long in haste to visit me.

Good madame, sit; in sooth, you shall sit here.

Good madame, pardon me; it may not be.

In troth, I'll have it so: I'll sit here by ye.--
Good ladies, sit.--More stools here, ho!

It is your favour, madame, makes me thus
Presume above my merit.

When we come to you,
Then shall you rule us as we rule you here.
Now must I tell ye, madame, we have a play,
To welcome ye withal; how good so ere,
That know not I; my lord will have it so.

Wife, hope the best; I am sure they'll do their best:
They that would better, comes not at their feast.
My good Lord Cardinal's players, I thank them for it,
Play us a play, to lengthen out your welcome:
They say it is The Marriage of Wit and Wisdom,
A theme of some import, how ere it prove;
But, if art fail, we'll inch it out with love.--

[Enter a Servant.]

What, are they ready?

My lord, one of the players craves to speak with you.

With me! where is he?

[Enter Inclination, the Vice, ready.]

Here, my lord.

How now! what's the matter?

We would desire your honor but to stay a little; one of my fellows
is but run to Oagles for a long beard for young Wit, and he'll be
here presently.

A long beard for young Wit! why, man, he may be without a beard
till he come to marriage, for wit goes not all by the hair. When
comes Wit in?

In the second scene, next to the Prologue, my lord.

Why, play on till that scene come, and by that time Wit's beard will
be grown, or else the fellow returned with it. And what part
playest thou?

Inclination the Vice, my lord.

Gramercies, now I may take the vice if I list: and wherefore hast
thou that bridle in thy hand?

I must be bridled anon, my lord.

And thou beest not saddled too, it makes no matter, for then Wit's
inclination may gallop so fast, that he will outstrip Wisdom, and
fall to folly.

Indeed, so he does to Lady Vanity; but we have no folly in our

Then there's no wit in 't, I'll be sworn: folly waits on wit, as the
shadow on the body, and where wit is ripest there folly still is
readiest. But begin, I prithee: we'll rather allow a beardless Wit
than Wit all beard to have no brain.

Nay, he has his apparel on too, my lord, and therefore he is the
readier to enter.

Then, good Inclination, begin at a venter.--

[Exit Inclination.]

My Lord Mayor,
Wit lacks a beard, or else they would begin:
I'd lend him mine, but that it is too thin.
Silence, they come.

[The trumpet sounds; enter the Prologue.]

Now, for as much as in these latter days,
Throughout the whole world in every land,
Vice doth increase, and virtue decays,
Iniquity having the upper hand;
We therefore intend, good gentle audience,
A pretty short interlude to play at this present,
Desiring your leave and quiet silence,
To show the same, as is meet and expedient,
It is called The Marriage of Wit and Wisdom,
A matter right pithy and pleasing to hear,
Whereof in brief we will show the whole sum;
But I must be gone, for Wit doth appear.

[Exit. Enter Wit ruffling, and Inclination the Vice.]

In an arbor green, asleep whereas I lay,
The birds sang sweetly in the midst of the day,
I dreamed fast of mirth and play,--
In youth is pleasure, in youth is pleasure,
Methought I walked still to and fro,
And from her company I could not go;
But when I waked, it was not so,--
In youth is pleasure, in youth is pleasure.
Therefore my heart is surely plight,
Of her alone to have a sight,
Which is my joy and heart's delight,--
In youth is pleasure, in youth is pleasure.

Mark ye, my lord, this is Wit without a beard: what will he be by
that time he comes to the commodity of a beard?

Oh, sir, the ground is the better on which she doth go;
For she will make better cheer with a little she can get,
Than many a one can with a great banquet of meat.

And is her name Wisdom?

I, sir, a wife most fit
For you, my good master, my dainty sweet Wit.

To be in her company my heart it is set:
Therefore I prithee to let us begone;
For unto Wisdom Wit hath inclination.

Oh, sir, she will come her self even anon;
For I told her before where we would stand.
And then she said she would beck us with her hand.--
Back with these boys and saucy great knaves!

[Flourishing a dagger.]

What, stand ye here so big in your braves?
My dagger about your coxcombs shall walk,
If I may but so much as hear ye chat or talk.

But will she take pains to come for us hither?

I warrant ye; therefore you must be familiar with her;
When she commeth in place,
You must her embrace
Somewhat handsomely,
Least she think it danger,
Because you are a stranger,
To come in your company.

I warrant thee, Inclination, I will be busy:
Oh, how Wit longs to be in Wisdom's company!

[Enter Lady Vanity singing, and beckoning with her hand.]

Come hither, come hither, come hither, come:
Such cheer as I have, thou shalt have some.

This is Lady Vanity, I'll hold my life:--
Beware, good Wit, you take not her to wife.

What, unknown honesty? a word in your ear.

[She offers to depart.]

You shall not be gone as yet, I swear:
Here's none but friends, you need not to fray;
This young gentleman loves ye, therefore you must stay.

I trust in me she will think no danger,
For I love well the company of fair women;
And though to you I am a stranger,
Yet Wit may pleasure you now and then.

Who, you? nay, you are such a holy man,
That to touch on you dare not be bold;
I think you would not kiss a young woman,
If one would give ye twenty pound in gold.

Yes, in good sadness, lady, that I would:
I could find in my heart to kiss you in your smock.

My back is broad enough to bear that mock;
For it hath been told me many a time
That you would be seen in no such company as mine.

Not Wit in the company of Lady Wisdom?
Oh Jove, for what do I hither come?

Sir, she did this nothing else but to prove
Whether a little thing would you move
To be angry and fret:
What, and if one said so?
Let such trifling matters go
And with a kind kiss come out of her debt.--

Is Luggins come yet with the beard?

[Enter another Player.]

No, faith, he is not come: alas, what shall we do?

Forsooth, we can go no further till our fellow Luggins come; for he
plays Good Council, and now he should enter, to admonish Wit
that this is Lady Vanity, and not Lady Wisdom.

Nay, and it be no more but so, ye shall not tarry at a stand for that;
we'll not have our play marred for lack of a little good council: till
your fellow come, I'll give him the best council that I can.--Pardon
me, my Lord Mayor; I love to be merry.--

Oh...Wit, thou art now on the bow hand,
And blindly in thine own opinion dost stand.
I tell thee, this naughty lewd Inclination
Does lead thee amiss in a very strange fashion:
This is not Wisdom, but Lady Vanity;
Therefore list to Good Council, and be ruled by me.

In troth, my lord, it is as right to Lugginses part as can be.--Speak,

Nay, we will not have our audience disappointed, if I can help it.

Art thou Good Council, and will tell me so?
Wouldst thou have Wit from Lady Wisdom to go?
Thou art some deceiver, I tell thee verily,
In saying that this is Lady Vanity.

Wit, judge not things by the outward show;
The eye oft mistakes, right well you do know:
Good Council assures thee upon his honesty,
That this is not Wisdom, but Lady Vanity.

[Enter Luggins with the beard.]

Oh, my lord, he is come; now we shall go forward.

Art thou come? well, fellow, I have hoped to save thine honesty a
little. Now, if thou canst give Wit any better council than I have
done, spare not: there I leave him to they mercy.
But by this time, I am sure, our banquet's ready:
My lord and ladies, we will taste that first,
And then they shall begin the play again,
Which through the fellow's absence, and by me,
Instead of helping, hath been hindered.--
Prepare against we come.--Lights there, I say!--
Thus fools oft times do help to mar the play.

[Exeunt all but players.]

Fie, fellow Luggins, you serve us handsomely; do ye not, think ye?

Why, Oagle was not within, and his wife would not let me have the
beard; and, by my troth, I ran so fast that I sweat again.

Do ye hear, fellows? would not my lord make a rare player? oh, he
would uphold a company beyond all hope, better than Mason
among the king's players! Did ye mark how extemprically he fell
to the matter, and spake Lugginses part almost as it is in the very
book set down?

Peace; do ye know what ye say? my lord a player! let us not
meddle with any such matters: yet I may be a little proud that my
lord hath answered me in my part. But come, let us go, and be
ready to begin the play again.

I, that's the best, for now we lack nothing.

[Enter a Servingman.]

Where be these players?

Here, sir.

My lord is sent for to the court,
And all the guests do after supper part;
And, for he will not trouble you again,
By me for your reward a sends 8 angels,
With many thanks. But sup before you go:
It is his will you should be fairly entreated:
Follow, I pray ye.

This, Luggins, is your negligence;
Wanting Wit's beard brought things into dislike;
For otherwise the play had been all seen,
Where now some curious citizen disgraced it,
And discommending it, all is dismissed.

Fore God, a says true. But hear ye, sirs: 8 angels, ha! my lord
would never give 8 angels more or less for 12d; other it should be
3l, 5l, or ten li.; there's 20s wanting, sure.

Twenty to one, tis so. I have a trick: my lord comes; stand aside.

[Enter More, with Attendants with Purse and Mace.]

In haste to counsel! what's the business now,
That all so late his highness sends for me?--
What seekst thou, fellow?

Nay, nothing: your lordship sent 8 angels by your man, and I have
lost two of them in the rishes.

Wit, look to that:--8 angels! I did send them ten.--Who gave it

I, my lord; I had no more about me;
But by and by they shall rescue the rest.

Well, Wit, twas wisely done; thou playest Wit well indeed,
Not to be thus deceived of thy right.--
Am I a man, by office truly ordained
Equally to decide true right his own,
And shall I have deceivers in my house?
Then what avails my bounty, when such servants
Deceive the poor of what the Master gives?
Go on, and pull his coat over his ears:
There are too many such.--Give them their right.--
Wit, let thy fellows thank thee: twas well done;
Thou now deservest to match with Lady Wisdom.

[Exit More with Attendants.]

God a mercy, Wit!--Sir, you had a master Sir Thomas More more;
but now we shall have more.

God bless him! I would there were more of his mind! a loves our
quality; and yet he's a learned man, and knows what the world is.

Well, a kind man, and more loving than many other: but I think
we ha' met with the first....

First served his man that had our angels; and he may chance dine
with Duke Humphrey tomorrow, being turned away today. Come,
let's go.

And many such rewards would make us all ride, and horse us with
the best nags in Smithfield.


SCENE II. Whitehall. The Council chamber.

[Enter the Earls of Shrewsbury, Surrey, Bishop of Rochester, and
other Lords; severally, doing courtesy to each other; Clerk of the
Council waiting bareheaded.]

Good morrow to my Lord of Shrewsbury.

The like unto the honoured Earl of Surrey.
Yond comes my Lord of Rochester.

Good morrow, my good lords.

Clerk of the Council, what time is't of day?

Past eight of clock, my lord.

I wonder that my good Lord Chancellor
Doth stay so long, considering there's matters
Of high importance to be scanned upon.

Clerk of the Council, certify his lordship
The lords expect him here.

It shall not need;
Yond comes his lordship.

[Enter Sir Thomas More, with Purse and Mace borne before him.]

Good morrow to this fair assembly.
Come, my good lords, let's sit. Oh serious square!

[They sit.]

Upon this little board is daily scanned
The health and preservation of the land;
We the physicians that effect this good,
Now by choice diet, anon by letting blood;
Our toil and careful watching brings the king
In league with slumbers, to which peace doth sing.--
Avoid the room there!--
What business, lords, today?

This, my good lord;
About the entertainment of the emperor
Gainst the perfidious French into our pay.

My lords, as tis the custom in this place
The youngest should speak first, so, if I chance
In this case to speak youngly, pardon me.
I will agree, France now hath her full strength,
As having new recovered the pale blood
Which war sluiced forth; and I consent to this,
That the conjunction of our English forces
With arms of Germany may soon bring
This prize of conquest in. But, then, my lords,
As in the moral hunting twixt the lion
And other beasts, force joined with greed
Frighted the weaker sharers from their parts;
So, if the empire's sovereign chance to put
His plea of partnership into war's court,
Swords should decide the difference, and our blood
In private tears lament his entertainment.

To doubt the worst is still the wise man's shield,
That arms him safely: but the world knows this,
The emperor is a man of royal faith;
His love unto our sovereign brings him down
From his imperial seat, to march in pay
Under our English flag, and wear the cross,
Like some high order, on his manly breast;
Thus serving, he's not master of himself,
But, like a colonel commanding other,
Is by the general over-awed himself.

Yet, my good lord--

Let me conclude my speech.
As subjects share no portion in the conquest
Of their true sovereign, other than the merit
That from the sovereign guerdons the true subject;
So the good emperor, in a friendly league
Of amity with England, will not soil
His honor with the theft of English spoil.

There is no question but this entertainment
Will be most honorable, most commodious.
I have oft heard good captains wish to have
Rich soldiers to attend them, such as would fight
Both for their lives and livings; such a one
Is the good emperor: I would to God,
We had ten thousand of such able men!
Hah, then there would appear no court, no city,
But, where the wars were, they would pay themselves.
Then, to prevent in French wars England's loss,
Let German flags wave with our English cross.

[Enter Sir Thomas Palmer.]

My lords, his majesty hath sent by me
These articles enclosed, first to be viewed,
And then to be subscribed to: I tender them
In that due reverence which befits this place.

[With great reverence.]

Subscribe these articles! stay, let us pause;
Our conscience first shall parley with our laws.--
My Lord of Rochester, view you the paper.

Subscribe to these! now, good Sir Thomas Palmer,
Beseech the king that he will pardon me:
My heart will check my hand whilst I do write;
Subscribing so, I were an hypocrite.

Do you refuse it, then, my lord?

I do, Sir Thomas.

Then here I summon you forthwith t' appear
Before his majesty, to answer there
This capital contempt.

I rise and part,
In lieu of this to tender him my heart.

[He riseth.]

Wilt please your honor to subscribe, my lord?

Sir, tell his highness, I entreat
Some time for to bethink me of this task:
In the meanwhile I do resign mine office
Into my sovereign's hands.

Then, my lord,
Hear the prepared order from the king:
On your refusal, you shall straight depart
Unto your house at Chelsea, till you know
Our sovereign's further pleasure.

Most willingly I go.--
My lords, if you will visit me at Chelsea,
We'll go a fishing, and with a cunning net,
Not like weak film, we'll catch none but the great:
Farewell, my noble lords. Why, this is right:
Good morrow to the sun, to state good night!

[Exit More.]

Will you subscribe, my lords?

Instantly, good Sir Thomas,
We'll bring the writing unto our sovereign.

[They write.]

My Lord of Rochester,
You must with me, to answer this contempt.

This is the worst,
Who's freed from life is from all care exempt.

[Exit Rochester and Palmer.]

Now let us hasten to our sovereign.
Tis strange that my Lord Chancellor should refuse
The duty that the law of God bequeaths
Unto the king.

Come, let us in. No doubt
His mind will alter, and the bishop's too:
Error in learned heads hath much to do.


SCENE III. Chelsea.

[Enter the Lady More, her two Daughters, and Master Roper, as

Madame, what ails ye for to look so sad?

Troth, son, I know not what; I am not sick,
And yet I am not well. I would be merry;
But somewhat lies so heavy on heart,
I cannot choose but sigh. You are a scholar;
I pray ye, tell me, may one credit dreams?

Why ask you that, dear madame?

Because tonight I had the strangest dream
That ere my sleep was troubled with. Me thought twas night,
And that the king and queen went on the Thames
In barges to hear music: my lord and I
Were in a little boat me thought,--Lord, Lord,
What strange things live in slumbers!--and, being near,
We grappled to the barge that bare the king.
But after many pleasing voices spent
In that still moving music house, me though
The violence of the stream did sever us
Quite from the golden fleet, and hurried us
Unto the bridge, which with unused horror
We entered at full tide: thence some slight shoot
Being carried by the waves, our boat stood still
Just opposite the Tower, and there it turned
And turned about, as when a whirl-pool sucks
The circled waters: me thought that we both cried,
Till that we sunk: where arm in arm we died.

Give no respect, dear madame, to fond dreams:
They are but slight illusions of the blood.

Tell me not all are so; for often dreams
Are true diviners, either of good or ill:
I cannot be in quiet till I hear
How my lord fares.

[aside.] No it.--Come hither, wife:
I will not fright thy mother, to interpret
The nature of a dream; but trust me, sweet,
This night I have been troubled with thy father
Beyond all thought.

Truly, and so have I:
Methought I saw him here in Chelsea Church,
Standing upon the roodloft, now defac'd;
And whilst he kneeled and prayed before the image,
It fell with him into the upper-choir,
Where my poor father lay all stained in blood.

Our dreams all meet in one conclusion,
Fatal, I fear.

What's that you talk? I pray ye, let me know it.

Nothing, good mother.

This is your fashion still; I must know nothing.
Call Master Catesby; he shall straight to court,
And see how my lord does: I shall not rest,
Until my heart leave panting on his breast.

[Enter Sir Thomas More merrily, Servants attending.]

See where my father comes, joyful and merry.

As seamen, having passed a troubled storm,
Dance on the pleasant shore; so I--oh, I could speak
Now like a poet! now, afore God, I am passing light!--
Wife, give me kind welcome: thou wast wont to blame
My kissing when my beard was in the stubble;
But I have been trimmed of late; I have had
A smooth court shaving, in good faith, I have.--

[Daughters kneel.]

God bless ye!--Son Roper, give me your hand.

Your honor's welcome home.

Honor! ha ha!--And how dost, wife?

He bears himself most strangely.

Will your lordship in?

Lordship! no, wife, that's gone:
The ground was slight that we did lean upon.

Lord, that your honor ne'er will leave these jests!
In faith, it ill becomes ye.

Oh, good wife,
Honor and jests are both together fled;
The merriest councillor of England's dead.

Who's that, my lord?

Still lord! the Lord Chancellor, wife.

That's you.

Certain; but I have changed my life.
Am I not leaner than I was before?
The fat is gone; my title's only More.
Contented with one style, I'll live at rest:
They that have many names are not still best.
I have resigned mine office: count'st me not wise?

Oh God!

Come, breed not female children in your eyes:
The king will have it so.

What's the offense?

Tush, let that pass; we'll talk of that anon.
The king seems a physician to my fate;
His princely mind would train me back to state.

Then be his patient, my most honored father.

Oh, son Roper,
Ubi turpis est medicine, sanari piget!--
No, wife, be merry;--and be merry, all:
You smiled at rising, weep not at my fall.
Let's in, and hear joy like to private friends,
Since days of pleasure have repentant ends:
The light of greatness is with triumph born;
It sets at midday oft with public scorn.

SCENE IV. The Tower.

[Enter the Bishop of Rochester, Surrey, Shrewsbury, Lieutenant of
the Tower, and Warders with weapons.]

Your kind persuasions, honorable lords,
I can but thank ye for; but in this breast
There lives a soul that aims at higher things
Than temporary pleasing earthly kings.
God bless his highness even with all my heart!--
We shall meet one day, though that now we part.

We not misdoubt, your wisdom can discern
What best befits it; yet in love and zeal
We could entreat, it might be otherwise.

No doubt, your fatherhood will by yourself
Consider better of the present case,
And grow as great in favor as before.

For that, as pleaseth God. In my restraint
From wordly causes, I shall better see
Into myself than at proud liberty:
The Tower and I will privately confer
Of things, wherein at freedom I may err.
But I am troublesome unto your honors,
And hold ye longer than becomes my duty.--
Master Lieutenant, I am now your charge;
And though you keep my body, yet my love
Waits on my king and you, while Fisher lives.

Farewell, my Lord of Rochester; we'll pray
For your release, and labour't as we may.

Thereof assure yourself; so do we leave ye,
And to your happy private thoughts bequeath ye.

[Exeunt Lords.]

Now, Master Lieutenant, on; a God's name, go!
And with as glad a mind go I with you
As ever truant bade the school adieu.


SCENE V. Chelsea. A Room in More's House.

[Enter Sir Thomas More, his Lady, Daughters, Master Roper,
Gentlemen, and Servants, as in his house at Chelsea.]

Good morrow, good son Roper.--
Sit, good madame,

[Low stools.]

Upon an humble seat; the time so craves;
Rest your good heart on earth, the roof of graves:
You see the floor of greatness is uneven;
The cricket and high throne alike near heaven.--
Now, daughters, you that like to branches spread,
And give best shadow to a private house,
Be comforted, my girls; your hopes stand fair:
Virtue breeds gentry, she makes the best heir.

Good morrow to your honor.

Nay, good night rather;
Your honor's crest-fain with your happy father.

Oh, what formality, what square observance,
Lives in a little room! here public care
Gags not the eyes of slumber; here fierce riot
Ruffles not proudly in a coat of trust,
Whilst, like a pawn at chess, he keeps in rank
With kings and mighty fellows; yet indeed
Those men that stand on tiptoe smile to see
Him pawn his fortunes.

True, son,....
Nor does the wanton tongue here screw itself
Into the ear, that like a vise drinks up
The iron instrument.

We are here at peace.

Then peace, good wife.

For, keeping still in compass, a strange point
In times new navigation we have sailed
Beyond our course.

Have done.

We are exiled the court.

Still thou harpest on that:
Tis sin for to deserve that banishment;
But he that ne'er knew court, courts sweet content.

Oh, but, dear husband--

I will not hear thee, wife;
The winding labyrinth of thy strange discourse
Will ne'er have end. Sit still; and, my good wife,
Entreat thy tongue be still; or, credit me,
Thou shalt not understand a word we speak;
We'll talk in Latin.
Humida vallis raros patitur fulminis ictus,
More rest enjoys the subject meanly bred
Than he that bears the kingdom in his head.
Great men are still musicians, else the world lies;
They learn low strains after the notes that rise.

Good sir, be still yourself, and but remember
How in this general court of short-lived pleasure,
The world, creation is the ample food
That is digested in the maw of time:
If man himself be subject to such ruin,
How shall his garment, then, or the loose points
That tie respect unto his awful place,
Avoid destruction? Most honored father-in-law,
The blood you have bequeathed these several hearts
To nourish your posterity, stands firm;
And, as with joy you led us first to rise,
So with like hearts we'll lock preferment's eyes.

Close them not, then, with tears: for that ostent
Gives a wet signal of your discontent.
If you will share my fortunes, comfort then;
An hundred smiles for one sigh: what! we are men:
Resign wet passion to these weaker eyes,
Which proves their sex, but grants it ne'er more wise.
Let's now survey our state. Here sits my wife,
And dear esteemed issue; yonder stand
My loving servants: now the difference
Twixt those and these. Now you shall hear my speak
Like More in melancholy. I conceive that nature
Hath sundry metals, out of which she frames
Us mortals, each in valuation
Outprizing other: of the finest stuff
The finest features come: the rest of earth,
Receive base fortune even before their birth;
Hence slaves have their creation; and I think
Nature provides content for the base mind;
Under the whip, the burden, and the toil,
Their low-wrought bodies drudge in patience;
As for the prince in all his sweet-gorged maw,
And his rank flesh, that sinfully renews
The noon's excess in the night's dangerous surfeits.
What means or misery from our birth doth flow
Nature entitles to us; that we owe:
But we, being subject to the rack of hate,
Falling from happy life to bondage state,
Having seen better days, now know the lack
Of glory that once reared each high-fed back.
But you, that in your age did ne'er view better,
Challenged not fortune for your thriftless debter.

Sir, we have seen far better days than these.

I was the patron of those days, and know
Those were but painted days, only for show.
Then grieve not you to fall with him that gave them:
Generosis servis gloriosum mori.
Dear Gough, thou art my learned secretary;
You, Master Catesby, steward of my house;
The rest like you have had fair time to grow
In sun-shine of my fortunes. But I must tell ye,
Corruption is fled hence with each man's office;
Bribes, that make open traffic twixt the soul
And netherland of hell, deliver up
Their guilty homage to the second lords.
Then, living thus untainted, you are well:
Truth is no pilot for the land of hell.

[Enter a Servant.]

My lord, there are new lighted at the gate
The Earls of Surrey and of Shrewsbury,
And they expect you in the inner court.

Entreat their lordships come into the hall.

[Exit Servant.]

Oh, God, what news with them?

Why, how now, wife!
They are but come to visit their old friend.

Oh, God, I fear, I fear!

What shouldst thou fear, fond woman?
Justum, si fractus illabatur orbis, inpavidum ferient ruinae.
Here let me live estranged from great men's looks;
They are like golden flies on leaden hooks.

[Enter the Earls, Downs with his mace, and Attendants.]

Good morrow, good Sir Thomas.

[Kind salutations.]

Good day, good madame.

Welcome, my good lords.
What ails your lordships look so melancholy?
Oh, I know; you live in court, and the court diet
Is only friend to physic.

Oh, Sir Thomas,
Our words are now the kings, and our sad looks
The interest of your love! We are sent to you
From our mild sovereign, once more to demand
If you'll subscribe unto those articles
He sent ye th' other day: be well advised;
For, on mine honor, lord, grave Doctor Fisher
Bishop of Rochester, at the self same instant
Attached with you, is sent unto the Tower
For the like obstinacy: his majesty
Hath only sent you prisoner to your house;
But, if you now refuse for to subscribe,
A stricter course will follow.

Oh, dear husband!

[Kneeling and weeping.]

Dear father!

See, my lords,
This partner and these subjects to my flesh
Prove rebels to my conscience! But, my good lords,
If I refuse, must I unto the Tower?

You must, my lord; here is an officer
Ready for to arrest you of high treason.

Oh, God, oh, God!

Be patient, good madam.

Aye, Downs, ist thou? I once did save thy life,
When else by cruel riotous assault
Thou hadst been torn in pieces: thou art reserved
To be my summoner to yond spiritual court.
Give me thy hand; good fellow, smooth thy face:
The diet that thou drinkst is spic'd with mace,
And I could ne'er abide it; 'twill not disgest,
Twill lie too heavily, man, on my weak breast.

Be brief, my lord, for we are limited
Unto an hour.

Unto an hour! tis well:
The bell soon shall toll my knell.

Dear loving husband, if you respect not me,
Yet think upon your daughters.


Wife, stand up; I have bethought me,
And I'll now satisfy the king's good pleasure.

[Pointing to himself.]

Oh, happy alteration!

Come, then, subscribe, my lord.

I am right glad of this your fair conversion.

Oh, pardon me!
I will subscribe to go unto the Tower
With all submissive willingness, and thereto add
My bones to strengthen the foundation
Of Julius Caesar's palace. Now, my lord,
I'll satisfy the king, even with my blood;
Now will I wrong your patience.--Friend, do thine office.

Sir thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England, I arrest you in the
king's name of high treason.

Gramercies, friend.
To a great prison, to discharge the strife
Commenc'd twixt conscience and my frailer life,
More now must march. Chelsea, adieu, adieu!
Strange farewell! thou shalt ne'er more see More true,
For I shall ne'er see thee more.--Servants, farewell.--
Wife, mar not thine indifferent face; be wise:
More's widow's husband, he must make thee rise.--
Daughters....: --what's here, what's here?
Mine eye had almost parted with a tear.--
Dear son, possess my virtue, that I ne'er gave.--
Grave More thus lightly walks to a quick grave.

Curae leves loquuntur, ingentes stupent.

You that way in; mind you my course in prayer:
By water I to prison, to heaven through air.



SCENE I. The Tower Gate.

[Enter the Warders of the Tower, with halbards.]

Ho, make a guard there!

Master Lieutenant gives a straight command,
The people be avoided from the bridge.

From whence is he committed, who can tell?

From Durham House, I hear.

The guard were waiting there are hour ago.

If he stay long, he'll not get near the wharf,
There's such a crowd of boats upon the Thames.

Well, be it spoken without offence to any,
A wiser or more virtuous gentleman
Was never bred in England.

I think, the poor will bury him in tears:
I never heard a man, since I was born,
So generally bewailed of every one.

[Enter a Poor Woman.]

What means this woman?--Whether doost thou press?

This woman will be trod to death anon.

What makest thou here?

To speak with that good man, Sir Thomas More.

To speak with him! he's not Lord Chancellor.

The more's the pity, sir, if it pleased God.

Therefore, if thou hast a petition to deliver,
Thou mayst keep it now, for any thing I know.

I am a poor woman, and have had (God knows)
A suit this two year in the Chancery;
And he hath all the evidence I have
Which should I lose, I am utterly undone.

Faith, and I fear thoult hardly come by am now;
I am sorry for thee, even with all my heart.

[Enter the Lords with Sir Thomas More, and Attendants, and enter
Lieutenant and Gentleman Porter.]

Woman, stand back, you must avoid this place;
The lords must pass this way into the Tower.

I thank your lordships for your pains thus far
To my strong house.

Now, good Sir Thomas More, for Christ's dear sake,
Deliver me my writings back again
That do concern my title.

What, my old client, are thou got hither too?
Poor silly wretch, I must confess indeed,
I had such writings as concern thee near;
But the king has ta'en the matter into his own hand;
He has all I had: then, woman, sue to him;
I cannot help thee; thou must bear with me.

Ah, gentle heart, my soul for thee is sad!
Farewell the best friend that the poor e'er had.

[Exit Woman.]

Before you enter through the Towergate,
Your upper garment, sir, belongs to me.

Sir, you shall have it; there it is.

[He gives him his cap.]

The upmost on your back, sir; you mistake me.

Sir, now I understand ye very well:
But that you name my back,
Sure else my cap had been the uppermost.

Farewell, kind lord; God send us merry meeting!

Amen, my lord.

Farewell, dear friend; I hope your safe return.

My lord, and my dear fellow in the Muses,
Farewell; farewell, most noble poet.

Adieu, most honored lords.

[Exeunt Lords.]

Fair prison, welcome; yet, methinks,
For thy fair building tis too foul a name.
Many a guilty soul, and many an innocent,
Have breathed their farewell to thy hollow rooms.
I oft have entered into thee this way;
Yet, I thank God, ne'er with a clear conscience
Than at this hour:
This is my comfort yet, how hard sore
My lodging prove, the cry of the poor suitor,
Fatherless orphan, or distressed widow,
Shall not disturb me in my quiet sleep.
On, then, a God's name, to our close abode!
God is as strong here as he is abroad.


SCENE II. More's House.

[Enter Butler, Porter, and Horsekeeper several ways.]

Robin brewer, how now, man! what cheer, what cheer?

Faith, Ned butler, sick of thy disease; and these our other fellows
here, Rafe horsekeeper and Giles porter, sad, sad; they say my lord
goes to his trial today.

To it, man! why, he is now at it, God send him well to speed!

Amen; even as i wish to mine own soul, so speed it with my
honorable lord and master, Sir Thomas More.

I cannot tell, I have nothing to do with matters above my capacity;
but, as God judge me, if I might speak my mind, I think there lives
not a more harmless gentleman in the universal world.

Nor a wiser, nor a merrier, nor an honester; go to, I'll put that in
upon mine own knowledge.

Nay, and ye bait him his due of his housekeeping, hang ye all! ye
have many Lord Chancellor's comes in debt at the year's end, and
for very housekeeping.

Well, he was too good a lord for us, and therefore, I fear, God
himself will take him: but I'll be hanged, if ever I have such an
other service.

Soft, man, we are not discharged yet: my lord may come home
again, and all will be well.

I much mistrust it; when they go to raining once, there's ever foul
weather for a great while after. But soft; here comes Master
Gough and Master Catesby: now we shall hear more.

[Enter Gough and Catesby with a paper.]

Before God, they are very sad; I doubt my lord is condemned.

God bless his soul! and a fig then for all wordly condemnation.

Well said, Giles porter, I commend thee for it;
Twas spoken like a well affected servant
Of him that was a kind lord to us all.

Which now no more he shall be; for, dear fellows,
Now we are masterless, though he may live
So long as please the king: but law hath made him
A dead man to the world, and given the axe his head,
But his sweet soul to live among the saints.

Let us entreat ye to go call together
The rest of your sad fellows (by the rule
Y'are just seven score), and tell them what we hear
A virtuous honorable lord hath done
Even for the meanest follower that he had.
This writing found my lady in his study,
This instant morning, wherein is set down
Each servant's name, according to his place
And office in the house: on every man
He frankly hath bestown twenty nobles,
The best and worst together, all alike,
Which Master Catesby here forth will pay ye.

Take it as it is meant, a kind remembrance
Of a fair kinder lord, with whose sad fall
He gives up house and farewell to us all:
Thus the fair spreading oak falls not alone,
But all the neighbor plants and under-trees
Are crushed down with his weight. No more of this:
Come, and receive your due, and after go
Fellow-like hence, copartners of one woe.


SCENE III. The Tower.

[Enter Sir Thomas More, the Lieutenant, and a Servant attending,
as in his chamber in the Tower.]

Master Lieutenant, is the warrant come?
If it be so, a God's name, let us know it.

My lord, it is.

Tis welcome, sir, to me with all my heart;
His blessed will be done!

Your wisdom, sir, hath been so well approved,
And your fair patience in imprisonment
Hath ever shewn such constancy of mind
And Christian resolution in all troubles,
As warrant us you are not unprepared.

No, Master Lieutenant;
I thank my God, I have peace of conscience,
Though the world and I are at a little odds:
But we'll be even now, I hope, ere long.
When is the execution of your warrant?

Tomorrow morning.

So, sir, I thank ye;
I have not lived so ill, I fear to die.
Master Lieutenant, I have had a sore fit of the stone tonight; but the
king hath sent me such a rare receipt, I thank him, as I shall not
need to fear it much.

In life and death still merry Sir Thomas More.

Sirrah fellow, reach me the urinal:

[He gives it him.]

Ha! let me see (there's) gravel in the water;
(And yet I see no grave danger in that)
The man were likely to live long enough,
So pleased the king.--Here, fellow, take it.

Shall I go with it to the doctor, sir?

No, save thy labour; we'll cossen him of a fee:
Thou shalt see me take a dram tomorrow morning,
Shall cure the stone, I warrant; doubt it not.--
Master Lieutenant, what news of my Lord of Rochester?

Yesterday morning was he put to death.

The peace of soul sleep with him!
He was a learned and a reverend prelate,
And a rich man, believe me.

If he were rich, what is Sir Thomas More,
That all this while hath been Lord Chancellor?

Say ye so, Master Lieutenant? what do ye think
A man, that with my time had held my place,
Might purchase?

Perhaps, my lord, two thousand pound a year.

Master Lieutenant, I protest to you,
I never had the means in all my life
To purchase one poor hundred pound a year:
I think I am the poorest Chancellor
That ever was in England, though I could wish,
For credit of the place, that my estate were better.

It's very strange.

It will be found as true.
I think, sir, that with most part of my coin
I have purchased as strange commodities
As ever you heard tell of in your life.

Commodities, my lord!
Might I (without offence) enquire of them?

Croutches, Master Lieutenant, and bare cloaks;
For halting soldiers and poor needy scholars
Have had my gettings in the Chancery:
To think but what a cheat the crown shall have
By my attainder! I prithee, if thou beest a gentleman,
Get but a copy of my inventory.
That part of poet that was given me
Made me a very unthrift;
For this is the disease attends us all,

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