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

Part 5 out of 9


And one thing I had almost left behind--


And though that he had all his kindred slain--


Which before came not to my mind--


This pardon shall rid them from everlasting pain--


And doubtless, it is none other thing--


There is no sin so abhominable--


But when ye will give your alms and offering--


Which to remit this pardon is not able--


Look that ye distribute it wisely--


As well declareth the sentence of this letter--


Not to every man that for it will cry--


Ye cannot, therefore, bestow your money better--


For if ye give your alms in that wise--


Let us not here stand idle all the day--


It shall not both to them and us suffice--


Give us some money, ere that we go our way--


But I say, thou lewd fellow thou,
Haddest none other time to show thy bulls but now?
Canst not tarry and abide till soon,
And read them then, when preaching is done?


I will read them now, what sayest thou thereto?
Hast thou anything therewith to do?
Thinkest that I will stand and tarry for thy leisure?
Am I bound to do so much for thy pleasure?


For my pleasure? nay I would thou knowest it well:
It becometh the knave never a deal
To prate thus boldly in my presence,
And let the Word of God of audience.


Let the Word of God, quod a? nay let a whoreson drivel
Prate here all day, with a foul evil,
And all thy sermon goeth on covetise,
And biddest men beware of avarice;
And yet in thy sermon dost thou none other thing,
But for alms stand all the day begging!


Leave thy railing, I would thee advise--


Nay, leave thou thy babbling, if thou be wise--


I would thou knowest it, knave, I will not leave a whit--


No more will I, I do thee well to wit--


It is not thou shall make me hold my peace--


Then speak on hardly, if thou thinkest it for thy ease--


For I will speak, whither thou wilt or no--


In faith, I care not, for I will speak also--


Wherefore hardly let us both go to--


See which shall be better heard of us two--


What, should ye give ought to parting pardoners--


What, should ye spend on these flattering liars--


What, should ye give ought to these bold beggars--


As be these babbling monks and these friars--


Let them hardly labour for their living--


Which do nought daily but babble and lie--


It much hurteth them good men's giving--


And tell you fables dear enough at a fly--


For that maketh them idle and slothful to wark--


As doth this babbling friar here to-day--


That for none other thing they will cark--


Drive him hence, therefore, in the twenty-devil way!


Hardly they would go both to plough and cart--


On us pardoners hardly do your cost--


And if of necessity once they felt the smart--


For why your money never can be lost--


But we friars be not in like estate--


For why there is in our fraternity--


For our hands with such things we may not maculate--


For all brethren and sistren that thereof be--


We friars be not in like condition--


Devoutly song every year--


We may have no prebends ne exhibition--


As he shall know well that cometh there--


Of all temporal service are we forbode--


At every of the five solemn feasts--


And only bound to the service of God--


A mass and dirge to pray for the good rest--


And therewith to pray for every Christian nation--


Of the souls of the brethren and sistren all--


That God witsafe to save them fro damnation--


Of our fraternity in general--


But some of you so hard be of heart--


With a hearse there standing well arrayed and dight--


Ye cannot weep, though ye full sore smart--


And torches and tapers about it brenning bright--


Wherefore some man must ye hire needs--


And with the bells eke solemnly ringing--


Which must intreat God for your misdeeds--


And priests and clerks devoutly singing--


Ye can hire no better, in mine opinion--


And furthermore, every night in the year--


Than us God's servants, men of religion--


Twelve poor people are received there--


And specially God heareth us poor friars--


And there have both harborow and food--


And is attentive unto our desires--


That for them is convenient and good--


For the more of religion the more heard of our Lord--


And furthermore, if there be any other--


And that it so should, good reason doth accord--


That of our fraternity be sister or brother--


Therefore, doubt not, masters, I am even he--


Which hereafter happen to fall in decay--


To whom ye should part with your charity--


And if ye then chance to come that way--


We friars be they that should your alms take--


Nigh unto our foresaid holy place--


Which for your soul's health do both watch and wake--


Ye shall there tarry for a month's space--


We friars pray, God wot, when ye do sleep--


And be there found of the place's cost--[175]


We for your sins do both sob and weep--


Wherefore now, in the name of the Holy Ghost--


To pray to God for mercy and for grace--


I advise you all, that now here be--


And thus do we daily with all our whole place--


For to be of our fraternity--


Wherefore distribute of your temporal wealth--


Fie on covetise! stick not for a penny:--


By which ye may preserve your souls' health--


For which ye may have benefits so many--


I say, wilt thou not yet stint thy clap?
Pull me down the Pardoner with an evil hap!


Master Friar, I hold it best
To keep your tongue, while ye be in rest--


I say, one pull the knave off his stool!


Nay, one pull the friar down like a fool!


Leave thy railing and babbling of friars,
Or, by Jis, I'sh lug thee by the sweet ears![176]


By God, I would thou durst presume to it!--


By God, a little thing might make me to do it--


And I shrew thy heart, and thou spare--


By God, I will not miss thee much, thou slouch;
And if thou play me such another touch,
I'sh knock thee on the costard, I would thou it knew--


"Marry that I would see, quod blind Hew." [177]


Well, I will begin, and then let me see,
Whether thou darest again interrupt me,
And what thou would once to it say--


Begin and prove, whether I will, yea or nay--


And to go forth, whereas I left right now--


Because some percase will think amiss of me--


Our Lord in the gospel showeth the way how--


Ye shall now hear the Pope's authority.


By Gog's soul, knave, I suffer thee no lenger--


I say some good body lend me his hanger,
And I shall him teach by God Almighty,
How he shall another time learn for to fight!
I shall make that bald crown of his to look red;
I shall leave him but one ear on his head!


But I shall leave thee never an ear, ere I go:


Yea, whoreson friar, wilt thou soe--

[_Then they fight_.


Loose thy hands away from mine ears--


Then take thou thy hands away from my hairs;
Nay, abide, thou whoreson, I am not down yet;
I trust first to lay thee at my feet.


Yea, whoreson, wilt thou scrat and bite?


Yea, marry, will I, as long as thou dost smite.--

[_Enter the Curate_.


Hold your hands, a vengeance on ye both two,
That ever ye came hither to make this a-do!
To pollute my church, a mischief on you light!
I swear to you, by God Almight,
Ye shall both repent, every vein of your heart,
As sore as ye did ever thing, ere ye depart.


Master Parson, I marvel ye will give licence
To this false knave in this audience,
To publish his ragman-rolls[178] with lies
I desired him, i-wis, more than once or twice
To hold his peace, till that I had done;
But he would hear no more than the man in the moon--


Why should I suffer thee more than thou me?
Master Parson gave me licence before thee;
And I would thou knowest it, I have relics here
Other manner stuff than thou dost bear.
I will edify more with the sight of it,
Than will all the prating of holy writ;
For that except that the preacher himself live well,
His predication will help never a dell,
And I know well that thy living is nought:
Thou art an apostate, if it were well sought.
An homicide thou art, I know well enough,
For myself knew where that thou slough
A wench with thy dagger in a couch:
And yet, as thou say'st in thy sermon, that no man shall touch.


No more of this wrangling in my church!
I shrew your hearts both for this lurch:
Is there any blood shed here between these knaves?
Thanked be God they had no staves
Nor edge-tools;[179] for then it had been wrong.
Well, ye shall sing another song!
Neighbour Prat, come hither, I you pray--


Why, what is this nice fray?


I cannot tell you; one knave disdains another;
Wherefore take ye the one, and I shall take the other.
We shall bestow them there as is most convenient;
For such a couple, I trow, they shall repent
That ever they met in this church here.
Neighbour, ye be constable; stand ye near,
Take ye that lay knave, and let me alone
With this gentleman; by God and by Saint John,
I shall borrow upon priesthood somewhat;
For I may say to thee, neighbour Prat,
It is a good deed to punish such, to the ensample
Of such other, how that they shall mell
In like fashion, as these caitiffs do.


In good faith, Master Parson, if ye do so,
Ye do but well to teach them to beware.


Master Prat, I pray ye me to spare;
For I am sorry for that that is done;
Wherefore I pray ye forgive me soon,
For that I have offended within your liberty;
And by my troth, sir, ye may trust me
I will never come hither more,
While I live, and God before.


Nay, I am once charged with thee,
Wherefore, by Saint John, thou shalt not escape me,
Till thou hast scoured a pair of stocks.


Tut, he weeneth all is but mocks!
Lay hand on him; and come ye on, sir friar,
Ye shall of me hardly have your hire;
Ye had none such this seven year,
I swear by God and by our lady dear.


Nay, Master Parson, for God's passion,
Intreat[180] not me after that fashion;
For, if ye do, it will not be for your honesty.


Honesty or not, but thou shall see,
What I shall do by and by:
Make no struggling, come forth soberly:
For it shall not avail thee, I say.


Marry, that shall we try even straightway.
I defy the churl priest, and there be no more than thou.
I will not go with thee, I make God a vow.
We shall see first which is the stronger:
God hath sent me bones; I do thee not fear.


Yea, by thy faith, wilt thou be there?
Neighbour Prat, bring forth that knave,
And thou, sir friar, if thou wilt algates[181] rave.


Nay, churl, I thee defy!
I shall trouble thee first;
Thou shalt go to prison by and by;
Let me see, now do thy worst!

[_Prat with the Pardoner and the Parson with the Friar_.


Help, help, neighbour Prat, neighbour Prat,
In the worship of God, help me somewhat!


Nay, deal as thou canst with that elf,
For why I have enough to do myself.
Alas! for pain I am almost dead;
The red blood so runneth down about my head.
Nay, and thou canst, I pray thee help me.


Nay, by the mass, fellow, it will not be;
I have more tow on my distaff than I can well spin;
The cursed Friar doth the upper hand win.


Will ye leave then, and let us in peace depart?


Yea, by our lady, even with all our heart.


Then adieu to the devil, till we come again.


And a mischief go with you both twain![182]



When the Rev. T.F. Dibdin asserted ("Typographical Antiquities," ii. 9.)
that "in the Drama there is no single work yet found, which bears the
name of Winken de Worde as the printer of it," he committed one of those
singular over-sights of which very learned men have before been sometimes
guilty. "Hickscorner," perhaps the most ancient printed dramatic piece in
our language, and well-known to those who are at all acquainted with the
history of our stage, was from his press, and his colophon is at its
conclusion: "Enprynted by me Wynkyn de Worde." Mr Dibdin, in opposition
to his own statement, inserts it among the works of that early professor
of the typographic art.

The subsequent dramatic production is also from the types of Wynkyn de
Worde, but it was not discovered in the Library of Trinity College,
Dublin, until after the appearance of the second volume of Mr Dibdin's
new edition of Ames.[183]

[Yet a copy was in the "Bibliotheca Anglo-Poetica," 1815, and in 1817 the
piece was reprinted for the Roxburghe Club].

"Hickscorner" is without date, but "The World and the Child" was printed
in July 1522. Only one other copy of it is known, and it is here
republished from a faithful transcript of the original.[184] As a
specimen of our ancient moralities, it is of an earlier date, and in
several respects more curious, than almost any other piece in the present
collection. From a line in the epilogue, it might be inferred that it was
performed before the king and his Court.


MUNDUS. Sirs, cease of your saws what so befall,
And look ye bow bonerly[185] to my bidding,
For I am ruler of realms, I warn you all,
And over all fodes[186] I am king:
For I am king, and well known in these realms round,
I have also palaces i-pight:
I have steeds in stable stalwart and strong,
Also streets and strands full strongly i-dight:
For all the world[187] wide I wot well is my name,
All riches readily it renneth in me,
All pleasure worldly, both mirth and game.
Myself seemly in sale[188] I send with you to be,
For I am the world, I warn you all,
Prince of power and of plenty:
He that cometh not, when I do him call,
I shall him smite with poverty,
For poverty I part[189] in many a place
To them that will not obedient be.
I am a king in every case:
Methinketh I am a God of grace,
The flower of virtue followeth me!
Lo, here I sit seemly in se,[190]
I command you all obedient be,
And with free will ye follow me.

INFANS. Christ our king, grant you clearly to know the case.
To meve[191] of this matter that is in my mind,
[And] clearly declare it, Christ grant me grace.
Now, seemly sirs, behold on me,
How mankind doth begin:
I am a child, as you may see,
Gotten in game and in great sin.
Forty weeks my mother me found,[192]
Flesh and blood my food was tho:
When I was ripe from her to sound,
In peril of death we stood both two.
Now to seek death I must begin,
For to pass that strait passage
For body and soul, that shall then twin,[193]
And make a parting of that marriage.
Forty weeks I was freely fed
Within my mother's possession:
Full oft of death she was a-dread,
When that I should part her from:
Now into the world she hath me sent,
Poor and naked, as ye may see,
I am not worthily wrapped nor went,
But poorly pricked in poverty.
Now into the world will I wend,
Some comfort of him for to crave.
All hail! comely crowned king,
God that all made you see and save!

MUNDUS. Welcome, fair child, what is thy name?

INFANS. I wot not, sir, withouten blame;
But oftime my mother in her game
Called me Dalliance.

MUNDUS. Dalliance, my sweet child,
It is a name that is right wild,[194]
For when thou waxest old,
It is a name of no substance,
But, my fair child, what wouldst thou have?

INFANS. Sir, of some comfort I you crave:
Meat and clothes my life to save,
And I your true servant shall be.

MUNDUS. Now, fair child, I grant thee thine asking:
I will thee find while thou art ying,[195]
So thou wilt be obedient to my bidding.
These garments gay I give to thee,
And also I give to thee a name,
And clepe thee Wanton in every game,
Till fourteen year be come and gone,
And then come again to me.

WANTON. Gramercy, world, for mine array;
For now I purpose me to play.

MUNDUS. Farewell, fair child, and have good day:
All recklessness is kind for thee.

WANTON. Ha, ha, Wanton is my name:
I can many a quaint game.
Lo, my top I drive in same,
See, it turneth round!
I can with my scourge-stick
My fellow upon the head hit,
And lightly[196] from him make a skip,
And blear on him my tongue.
If brother or sister do me chide,
I will scratch and also bite:
I can cry, and also kick,
And mock them all berew.[197]
If father or mother will me smite,
I will ring with my lip,
And lightly from him make a skip,
And call my dame shrew.
Aha, a new game have I found:
See this gin, it renneth round!
And here another have I found,
And yet mo can I find.
I can mow[198] on a man,
And make a lesing[199] well I can,
And maintain it right well then.
This cunning came me of kind,
Yea, sirs, I can well geld a snail,
And catch a cow by the tail:
This is a fair cunning,
I can dance and also skip,
I can play at the cherry-pit,[200]
And I can whistle you a fit,[201]
Sires, in a willow rine:
Yea, sirs, and every day,
When I to school shall take the way
Some good man's garden I will essay,
Pears and plums to pluck.
I can spy a sparrow's nest,
I will not go to school but when me lest,[202]
For there beginneth a sorry feast,
When the master should lift my dock.
But, sirs, when I was seven year of age,
I was sent to the world to take wage,[203]
And this seven year I have been his page,
And kept his commandment.
Now I will wend to the world the worthy emperor.
Hail! Lord of great honour,
This seven year I have served you in hall and in bow'r
With all my true intent.[204]

MUNDUS. Now welcome, Wanton, my darling dear.
A new name I shall give thee here:
Love-Lust, Liking, in fere;
These thy names they shall be,
All game and glee, and gladness,
All love-longing in lewdness.
This seven year forsake all sadness,
And then come again to me.

LUST AND LIKING. Ha, ha, now Lust and Liking is my name.
I am as fresh as flowers in May,
I am seemly-shapen in same,
And proudly apparelled in garments gay:
My looks been full lovely to a lady's eye,
And in love-longing my heart is sore set:
Might I find a fode[205] that were fair and free,
To lie in hell till doomsday for love I would not let.
My love for to win
All game and glee,
All mirth and melody,
All revel and riot,
And of boast will I never blin.
But, sirs, now I am nineteen winter old,
I-wis, I wax wonder bold:
Now I will go to the world
A higher science to assay:
For the World will me avance,
I will keep his governance,
His pleasing will I pray,
For he is a king in all substance.
All hail! master, full of might,
I have you served both day and night:
Now I comen, as I you benight.[206]
One and twenty winter is comen and gone.

MUNDUS. Now welcome, Love-Lust and Liking,
For thou hast been obedient to my bidding.
I increase thee in all thing,
And mightly[207] I make thee a man:
Manhood Mighty shall be thy name.
Bear thee prest[208] in every game,
And wait[209] well that thou suffer no shame,
Neither for land nor for rent:
If any man would wait thee with blame,
Withstand him with thy whole intent,
Full sharply thou beat him to shame
With doughtiness of deed:
For of one thing, Manhood, I warn thee,
I am most of bounty,
For seven kings sewen[210] me
Both by day and night.
One of them is the king of pride,
The king of envy doughty in deed,
The king of wrath that boldly will abide,
For mickle is his might:
The king of covetise is the fourth:
The fifth king he hight sloth,
The king of gluttony hath no jollity,
There[21l] poverty is pight:[212]
Lechery is the seventh king,
All men in him have great delighting,
Therefore worship him above all thing,
Manhood, with all thy might.

MANHOOD. Yea, sir king, without lesing
It shall be wrought.[213]
Had I knowing of the first king, without lesing
Well joyen I mought.

MUNDUS. The first king hight pride.

MANHOOD. Ah, Lord, with him fain would I bide.

MUNDUS. Yea, but wouldst thou serve him truly in every tide?[214]

MANHOOD. Yea, sir, and thereto my troth I plight:
That I shall truly pride present
I swear by Saint Thomas of Kent.[215]
To serve him truly is mine intent,
With main and all my might.

MUNDUS. Now, Manhood, I will array thee new
In robes royal of right[216] good hue,
And I pray thee principally be true,
And here I dub thee a knight,
And haunt alway to chivalry.
I give thee grace and also beauty:
Gold and silver great plenty,
Of the wrong to make thee right.

MANHOOD. Gramercy, World and Emperor,
Gramercy, World and Governor,
Gramercy, comfort in all colour,
And now I take my leave. Farewell!

MUNDUS. Farewell, Manhood, my gentle knight:
Farewell, my son, seemly in sight.
I give thee a sword, and also strength and might
In battle boldly to bear thee well.

MANHOOD. Now I am dubbed a knight bend,[217]
Wonder wide shall wax my fame:
To seek adventures now will I wend,
To please the world in glee and game.

MUNDUS. Lo, sirs, I am a prince perilous y-proved,
I-proved full perilous and pithily y-pight:
As a lord in each land I am beloved,
Mine eyen do shine as lantern bright.
I am a creature comely out of care,
Emperors and kings they kneel to my knee:
Every man is afeard, when I do on him stare,
For all merry middle earth maketh mention of me.
Yet all is at my hand-work, both by down and by dale,
Both the sea and the land, and the fowls that fly:
And I were once moved, I tell you in tale,
There durst no[218] star stir that standeth in the sky,
For I am Lord and leader, so that in land
All boweth to my bidding bonnerly about.
Who that stirreth with any strife or waiteth me with wrong,
I shall mightly make him to stammer and stoop:
For I am richest in mine array,
I have knights and towers,
I have brightest[219] ladies in bowers.
Now will I fare on these flowers:
Lordings, have good day.

MANHOOD. Peace, now peace, ye fellows all about:
Peace now, and harken to my saws,
For I am Lord both stalworthy and stout,
All lands are led by my laws.
Baron was there never born that so well him bare,
A better ne a bolde[r] nor a brighter of ble,[220]
For I have might and main over countries far,
And Manhood Mighty am I named in every country.
For Salerno and Samers,[221] and Andaluse:[222]
Calais, Kent, and Cornwall have I conquered clean,
Picardy and Pontoise, and gentle Artois,
Florence, Flanders, and France, and also Gascoigne.
All I have conquered as a knight:
There is no emperor so keen,
That dare me lightly tene,[223]
For lives and limbs I lene,
So mickle is my might.
For I have boldly blood full piteously dispilled:
There many hath left fingers and feet, both head and face.
I have done harm on heads, and knights have I killed;
And many a lady for my love hath said alas.
Brigand harness[224] I have beaten to back and to bones,
And beaten also many a groom[225] to ground:
Breastplates I have beaten, as Stephen was with stones,
So fell a fighter in a field was there never y-found.
To me no man is maked,[226]
For Manhood Mighty that is my name.
Many a lord have I do lame:[227]
Wonder wide walketh my fame,
And many a king's crown have I cracked.
I am worthy and wight, witty and wise:
I am royal arrayed to reven under the ris,[228]
I am proudly apparelled in purpur and bis,
As gold I glister in gear:
I am stiff, strong, stalwart, and stout,
I am the royallest readily that renneth in this rout,
There is no knight so grisly that I dread nor doubt,
For I am so doughtly dight there may no dint me dere,
And the king of pride full prest with all his proud presence,
And the king of lechery lovely his letters hath me sent,
And the king of wrath full wordily with all his intent,
They will me maintain with main and all their might:
The king of covetise, and the king of gluttony,
The king of sloth, and the king of envy,
All those send me their livery.
Where is now so worthy a wight?
Yea, as a wight witty,
Here in this seat sit I,
For no loves let I
Here for to sit.

CONSCIENCE. Christ, as he is crowned king,
Save all this comely company,
And grant you all his dear blessing,
That bonnerly bought you on the rood-tree.
Now pray you prestly on every side
To God omnipotent,
To set our enemy sharply on side,
That is the devil and his covent:
And all men to have a clear knowing
Of heaven bliss, that high tower,
Methink it is a nessary[229] thing
For young and old, both rich and poor,
Poor Conscience for to know,
For Conscience clear it is my name.
Conscience counselleth both high and low,
And Conscience commonly beareth great blame,
Yea, and oftentimes set in shame:
Wherefore I reed you men, both in earnest and in game,
Conscience that ye know,
For I know all the mysteries of man.
They be as simple as they can,
And in every company where I come
Conscience is out-cast:
All the world doth Conscience hate,
Mankind and Conscience been at debate,
For if mankind might Conscience take
My body would they brast:
Brast, yea, and wark me much woe.

MANHOOD. Say how, fellow, who gave thee leave this way to go?
What! weenest thou I dare not come thee to?
Say, thou harlot,[230] whither in haste?

CONSCIENCE. What! let me go, sir; I know you nought.

MANHOOD. No, bitched brothel, thou shalt be taught,
For I am a knight, and I were sought;
The world hath avanced me.

CONSCIENCE. Why, good sir knight, what is your name?

MANHOOD. Manhood, mighty in mirth and in game,
All power of pride have I tane:[231]
I am as gentle as jay on tree.

CONSCIENCE. Sir, though the world have you to manhood brought,
To maintain manner ye were never taught;
No, Conscience clear, ye know right nought,
And this longeth[232] to a knight.

MANHOOD. Conscience! what the devil man is he?

CONSCIENCE! Sir, a teacher of the spirituality.

MANHOOD. Spirituality! what the devil may that be?

CONSCIENCE. Sir, all that be leaders into light.

MANHOOD. Light! yea, but hark, fellow, yet light fain would I see.

CONSCIENCE! Will ye so, sir knight, then do after me.

MANHOOD. Yea, and it to pride's pleasing be;
I will take thy teaching.

CONSCIENCE. Nay, sir, beware of pride, and you do well.
For pride Lucifer fell into hell:
Till doomsday there shall he dwell,
Withouten any outcoming;
For pride, sir, is but a vain glory.

MANHOOD. Peace, thou brothel, and let those words be,
For the world and pride hath avanced me
To me men lewt[233] full low.

CONSCIENCE. And to beware of pride, sir, I would counsel you;
And think on King Robert of Sicile,[234]
How he for pride in great poverty fell,
For he would not Conscience know.

MANHOOD. Yea, Conscience, go forth thy way,
For I love pride, and will go gay:
All thy teaching is not worth a stra',[235]
For pride clepe I my king.

CONSCIENCE. Sir, there is no king but God alone,
That bodily bought us with pain and passion,
Because of man's soul's redemption:
In Scripture thus we find.

MANHOOD. Say, Conscience, sith thou wouldst have pride from me,
What sayest thou by the king of lechery?
With all mankind he must be,
And with him I love to ling.

CONSCIENCE. Nay, Manhood, that may not be:
From lechery fast you flee.
For incumbrance it will bring thee,
And all that to him will lind.[236]

MANHOOD. Say, Conscience, of the king of sloth.
He hath behight me mickle troth,
And I may not forsake him for ruth.
For with him I think to rest.

CONSCIENCE. Manhood, in Scripture thus we find,
That sloth is a traitor to heaven king:
Sir knight, if you will keep your king[237]
From sloth clean you cast.

MANHOOD. Say, Conscience, the king of gluttony:
He sayeth he will not forsake me,
And I purpose his servant to be
With main and all my might.

CONSCIENCE. Think, Manhood, on substance,
And put out gluttony for cumbrance,
And keep you with good governance,
For this longeth to a knight.

MANHOOD. What, Conscience, from all my masters thou wouldst have me:
But I will never forsake envy,
For he is king of company,
Both with more and lass.[238]

CONSCIENCE. Nay, Manhood, that may not be.
And[239] ye will cherish envy;
God will not well pleased be
To comfort you in that case.

MANHOOD. Ay, ay, from five kings thou hast counselled me,
But from the king of wrath I will never flee,
For he is in every deed doughty,
For him dare no man rowt.

CONSCIENCE. Nay, Manhood, beware of wrath;
For it is but superfluity that cometh and goeth:
Yea, and all men his company hateth,
For oft they stand in doubt.[240]

MANHOOD. Fie on thee, false flattering frere:[241]
Thou shalt rue the time that thou came here.
The devil mot set thee on a fire,
That ever I with thee meet,
For thou counsellest me from all gladness,
And would me set into all sadness;
But ere thou bring me in this madness,
The devil break thy neck!
But, sir frere, evil mot thou the,[242]
From six kings thou hast counselled me,
But that day shall thou never see
To counsel me from covetise.

CONSCIENCE. No, sir, I will not you from covetise bring,
For covetise I clepe a king.
Sir, covetise in good doing
Is good in all wise:
But, sir knight, will ye do after me,
And covetise your king shall be?

MANHOOD. Ye, sir, my troth I plight to thee.
That I will wark at thy will.

CONSCIENCE. Manhood, will ye by this word stand?

MANHOOD. Yea, Conscience, here my hand.
I will never from it fong,[243]
Neither loud ne still.

CONSCIENCE. Manhood, ye must love God above all thing.
His name in idleness ye may not ming:
Keep your holy-day from worldly doing:
Your father and mother worship aye:
Covet ye to sle no man,
Ne do no lechery with no woman:
Your neighbour's good take not by no way,
And all false witness ye must denay:
Neither ye must not covet no man's wife,
Nor no good that him be-lith.
This covetise shall keep you out of strife.
These been the commandments ten:
Mankind, and ye these commandments keep,
Heaven bliss I you behete,[244]
For Christ's commandments are[245] full sweet,
And full necessary to all men.

MANHOOD. What, Conscience, is this thy covetise?

CONSCIENCE. Yea, manhood, in all wise:
And covet to Christ's service,
Both to matins and to mass.
Ye must, Manhood, with all your might,
Maintain holy church's right,
For this longeth to a knight
Plainly in every place.

MANHOOD. What, Conscience, should I leave all game and glee?

CONSCIENCE. Nay, Manhood, so mot I the,
All mirth in measure is good for thee:
But, sir, measure is in all thing.

MANHOOD. Measure, Conscience? what thing may measure be?

CONSCIENCE. Sir, keep you in charity,
And from all evil company,
For doubt of folly doing.

MANHOOD. Folly! what thing callest thou folly!

CONSCIENCE. Sir, it is pride, wrath, and envy,
Sloth, covetise, and gluttony,
Lechery the seventh is:
These seven sins I call folly.

MANHOOD. What, thou liest! to this seven
The world delivered me,
And said they were kings of great beauty,
And most of main and mights.
But yet I pray thee, sir, tell me,
May I not go arrayed honestly?

CONSCIENCE. Yes, Manhood, hardily
In all manner of degree.

MANHOOD. But I must have sporting of play.

CONSCIENCE. Sickerly,[246] Manhood, I say not nay:
But good governance keep both night and day,
And maintain meekness and all mercy.

MANHOOD. All mercy, Conscience: what may that be?

CONSCIENCE. Sir, all discretion that God gave thee.

MANHOOD. Discretion I know not, so mot I the.

CONSCIENCE. Sir, it is all the wits that God hath you send.

MANHOOD. Ah, Conscience! Conscience! now I know and see
Thy cunning is much more than mine:
But yet I pray thee, sir, tell me,
What is most necessary for man in every time?

CONSCIENCE. Sir, in every time beware of folly:
Folly is full of false flattering;
In what occupation that ever ye be,
Alway, ere ye begin, think on the ending for blame.
Now farewell, Manhood, I must wend.

MANHOOD. Now farewell, Conscience, mine own friend.

CONSCIENCE. I pray you, Manhood, have God in mind,
And beware of folly and shame.

MANHOOD. Yes, yes: yea, come wind and rain,
God let him never come here again.
Now he is forward, I am right fain,
For in faith, sir, he had near counselled me all amiss.
Ah, ah! now I have bethought me, if I shall heaven win,
Conscience teaching I must begin,
And clean forsake the kings of sin,
That the world me taught;
And Conscience' servant will I be,
And believe, as he hath taught me,
Upon one God and persons three,
That made all things of nought:
For Conscience clear I clepe my king,
And his knight in good doing:
For right of reason, as I find,
Conscience teaching is true:
The world is full of boast,
And saith he is of might most:
All his teaching is not worth a cost;
For Conscience he doth refuse.
But yet will I him not forsake,
For mankind he doth merry make:
Though the world and Conscience be at debate,
Yet the world will I not despise,
For both in church and in cheaping,[247]
And in other places being,
The world findeth me all thing,
And doth me great service.
Now here full prest
I think to rest,
Now mirth is best.

FOLLY. What, heigho! care away!
My name is Folly, I am not gay.
Is here any man that will say nay
That renneth in this rout?
Ah, sir, God give you good eve.

MANHOOD. Stand utter,[248] fellow, where dost thou thy courtesy preve?

FOLLY. What, I do but claw mine arse, sir, by your leave.
I pray you, sir, rive me this clout.

MANHOOD. What, stand out, thou sained[249] shrew!

FOLLY. By faith, sir, there the cock crew;
For I take record of this rew
My thedom[250] is near past.

MANHOOD. Now, truly, it may well be so.

FOLLY. By God, sir, yet have I fellows mo,
For in every country, where I go,
Some man his thrift hath lost.

MANHOOD. But hark, fellow, art thou any crafts-man?

FOLLY. Yea, sir, I can bind a sieve and tink a pan,
And thereto a curious buckler-player I am.
Arise, fellow, will thou assay?

MANHOOD. Now truly, sir, I trow thou canst but little skill of play.

FOLLY. Yes, by Cock's bones, that I can.
I will never flee for no man,
That walketh by the way.

MANHOOD. Fellow, though thou have cunning,
I counsel thee leave thy boasting,
For here thou may thy fellow find,
Whether thou wilt, at long or short.

FOLLY. Come, look and thou darest, arise and assay.

MANHOOD. Yea, sir, but yet Conscience biddeth me nay.

FOLLY. No, sir, thou darest not in good fay,
For truly thou failest no[w], false heart.

MANHOOD. What sayest thou? have I a false heart?

FOLLY. Yea, sir, in good fay.

MANHOOD. Manhood will not that I say nay.
Defend thee, Folly, if that you may,
For in faith I purpose to wete what thou art.
How sayest thou now, Folly, hast thou not a touch?

FOLLY. No, i-wis, but a little on my pouch.
On all this meyne[251] will me vouch
That standeth here about.

MANHOOD. And I take record on all this rew,
Thou hast two touches, though I say but few.

FOLLY. Yea, this place is not without a shrew:
I do you all out of due.

MANHOOD. But hark, fellow, by thy faith, where was thou bore?

FOLLY. By my faith, in England have I dwelled yore,
And all mine ancestors me before.
But, sir, in London is my chief dwelling.

MANHOOD. In London? where, if a man thee sought?

FOLLY. Sir, in Holborn I was forth brought,
And with the courtiers, I am betaught,
To Westminster I used to wend.

MANHOOD. Hark, fellow, why dost thou to Westminster draw?

FOLLY. For I am a servant of the law.
Covetise is mine own fellow:
We twain plete[252] for the king,
And poor men that come from upland,
We will take their matter in hand,
Be it right or be it wrong,
Their thrift with us shall wend.

MANHOOD. Now hear, fellow, I pray thee, whither wendest thou than?

FOLLY. By my faith, sir, into London I ran,
To the taverns to drink the wine:
And then to the inns I took the way,
And there I was not welcome to the ostler,
But I was welcome to the fair tapester,
And to all the household I was right dear,
For I have dwelled with her many a day.

MANHOOD. Now I pray thee, whither took thou then the way?

FOLLY. In faith, sir, over London bridge I ran,
And the straight way to the Stews I came,
And took lodging for a night:
And there I found my brother lechery.
There men and women did Folly,
And every man made of me as worthy,
As though I had been a knight.

MANHOOD. I pray thee yet tell me mo of thine adventures.

FOLLY. In faith, even straight to all the freres,
And with them I dwelled many years,
And they crowned Folly a king.

MANHOOD. I pray thee, fellow, whither wendest thou tho?

FOLLY. Sir, all England to and fro:
Into abbeys and into nunneries also,
And alway Folly doth fellows find.

MANHOOD. Now hark, fellow, I pray thee tell me thy name.

FOLLY. I-wis, I hight both Folly and Shame.

MANHOOD. Ah, ah! thou art he that Conscience did blame,
When he me taught.
I pray thee, Folly, go hence, and follow not me.

FOLLY. Yes, good sir, let me your servant be.

MANHOOD. Nay, so mot I the,
For then a shrew had I caught.

FOLLY. Why, good sir, what is your name?

MANHOOD. Manhood Mighty, that beareth no blame.

FOLLY. By the rood, and Manhood mistereth[253] in every game
Some deal to cherish Folly:
For Folly is fellow with the world,
And greatly beloved by many a lord,
And if ye put me out of your ward,
The world right wrath will be.

MANHOOD. Yea, sir, yet had I liever the world be wrath,
Than lese the cunning that Conscience me gave.

FOLLY. A cuckoo for Conscience[254]; he is but a daw:
He cannot else but preach.

MANHOOD. Yea, I pray thee, leave thy lewd clattering,
For Conscience is a councillor for a king.

FOLLY. I would not give a straw for his teaching:
He doth but make men wrath.
But wottest thou what I say, man?
By that ilk[255] truth that God me gave,
Had I that bitched Conscience in this place,
I should so beat him with my staff,
That all his stones should stink.

MANHOOD. I pray thee, Folly, go hence and follow not me.

FOLLY. Yes, sir, so mot I the,
Your servant will I be.
I axe but meat and drink.

MANHOOD. Peace, man: I may not have thee for thy name,
For thou sayest thy name is both Folly and Shame.

FOLLY. Sir, here in this clout I knit Shame,
And clepe me but proper Folly.

MANHOOD. Yea, Folly, will thou be my true servant?

FOLLY. Yea, Sir Manhood, here my hand.

MANHOOD. Now let us drink at this comnant,[256]
For that is courtesy.

FOLLY. Marry, master, ye shall have in haste.
Ah, ah, sirs, let the cat wink,[257]
For all ye wot not what I think,
I shall draw him such a draught of drink,
That Conscience he shall away cast.
Have, master, and drink well
And let us make revel, revel,
For I swear by the church of Saint Michael,
I would we were at stews:
For there is nothing but revel rout.
And we were there, I had no doubt
I should be knowen all about,
Where Conscience they would refuse.

MANHOOD. Peace, Folly, my fair friend,
For, by Christ, I would not that Conscience should me here find.

FOLLY. Tush, master, thereof speak no thing,
For Conscience cometh no time here.

MANHOOD. Peace, Folly, there is no man that knoweth me.

FOLLY. Sir, here my troth I plight to thee,
And thou wilt go thither with me,
For Knowledge have thou no care.

MANHOOD. Peace, but it is hence a great way.

FOLLY. Parde, sir, we may be there on a day.
Yea, and we shall be right welcome, I dare well say,
In Eastcheap for to dine:
And then we will with lombards[258] at passage[259] play,
And at the Pope's-Head sweet wine assay,
We shall be lodged well a-fine.

MANHOOD. What sayest thou, Folly, is this the best?

FOLLY. Sir, all this is Manhood, well thou knowest.

MANHOOD. Now, Folly, go we hence in haste.
But fain would I change my name:
For well I wot, if Conscience meet me in this tide,
Right well I wot, he would me chide.

FOLLY. Sir, for fear of you his face he shall hide:
I shall clepe you Shame.

MANHOOD. Now gramercy, Folly, my fellow infere,[260]
Go we hence, tarry no lenger here.
Till we be gone, methink it seven year:
I have gold and good to spend.

FOLLY. Ah, ah! master, that is good cheer,
And ere it be passed half a year,
I shall thee shear right a lewd frere,
And hither again thee send. [_Aside_.

MANHOOD. Folly, go before, and teach me the way.

FOLLY. Come after, Shame, I thee pray,
And Conscience clear ye cast away.
Lo, sirs, this Folly teacheth aye:
For where Conscience cometh with his cunning,
Vet Folly full featly shall make him blind.
Folly before, and Shame behind.
Lo, sirs, thus fareth the world alway.

MANHOOD. Now, I will follow Folly, for Folly is my man:
Yea, Folly is my fellow, and hath given me a name:
Conscience called me Manhood, Folly calleth me Shame.
Folly will me lead to London to learn revel;
Yea, and Conscience is but a flattering brothel;
For ever he is carping of care:
The world and Folly counselleth me to all gladness,
Yea, and Conscience counselleth me to all sadness;
Yea, too much sadness might bring me into madness.
And now have good day, sirs,
To London to seek Folly will I fare.

CONSCIENCE. Say, Manhood, friend, whither will ye go?

MANHOOD. Nay, sir, in faith my name is not so.
Why, frere, what the devil hast thou to do,
Whether I go or abide?

CONSCIENCE. Yes, sir, I will counsel you for the best

MANHOOD. I will none of thy counsel, so have I rest:
I will go whither me lest,[261]
For thou canst nought else but chide.

CONSCIENCE. Lo, sirs, a great ensample you may see,
The frailness of mankind,
How oft he falleth in folly
Through temptation of the fiend:
For when the fiend and the flesh be at one assent,
Then Conscience clear is clean outcast.
Men think not on the great judgment,
That the seely soul shall have at the last,
But would God all men would have in mind
Of the great day of doom,
How he shall give a great reckoning
Of evil deeds that he hath done:
But [it is] needless, sith it is so,
That Manhood is forth with Folly wende,
To seech[262] Perseverance now will I go,
With the grace of God omnipotent.
His counsels been in fere:
Perseverance' counsel is most dear,
Next to him is Conscience, clear
From sinning.
Now into this presence to Christ, I pray,
To speed me well in my journey:
Farewell, lordings, and have good day:
To seek Perseverance will I wend.

PERSEVERANCE. Now, Christ, our comely creator,[263] clearer than crystal
That craftly made every creature by good recreation,
Save all this company that is gathered here bi-dene,[264]
And set all your souls into good salvation.
Now, good God, that is most wisest and welde of wits,
This company counsel, and comfort, and glad,
And save all this simplitude that seemly here sits.
Now, good God, for his mercy, that all men made:
Now, Mary mother, meekest that I mean,
Shield all this company from evil inversation,
And save you from our enemy, as she is bright and clean,
And at the last day of doom deliver you from everlasting damnation,
Sirs, Perseverance is my name,
Conscience born brother [that] is,
He sent me hither mankind to indoctrine,
That they should to no vices incline:
For oft mankind is governed amiss,
And through Folly mankind is set in shame,
Therefore in this presence to Christ I pray,
Ere that I hence wend away,
Some good word that I may say
To borrow[265] man's soul from blame.

AGE. Alas! alas! that me is woe!
My life, my liking, I have forlorn
My rents, my riches, it is all y-go:
Alas the day that I was born!
For I was born Manhood most of might,
Stiff, strong, both stalwart and stout,
The world full worthily hath made me a knight:
All bowed to my bidding bonerly about:
Then Conscience, clear, comely and kind,
Meekly he met me in seat, there I sat,
He learned me a lesson of his teaching,
And the seven deadly sins full loathly he did hate:
Pride, wrath, and envy, and covetise in kind,
The world all these sins delivered me until,[266]
Sloth, covetise, and leechery, that is full of false flattering,
All these Conscience reproved both loud and still.
To-Conscience I held up my hand,[267]
To keep Christ's commandments.
He warned me of Folly, that traitor, and bad me beware,
And thus he went his way:
But I have falsely me forsworn,
Alas the day that I was born!
For body and soul I have forlorn.
I clang, as a clod in clay,
In London many a day;
At the passage I would play,
I thought to borrow and never pay.
Then was I sought and set in stocks,
In Newgate I lay under locks,
If I said aught, I caught many knocks.
Alas where was Manhood tho?
Alas, my lewdness hath me lost.
Where is my body so proud and prest?
I cough and rought,[268] my body will burst,
Age doth follow me so.
I stare and stacker[269] as I stand,
I groan glisly upon the ground.
Alas, death, why lettest thou me live so long?
I wander as a wight in woe and care;
For I have done ill.
Now wend I will
My self to spill,
I care not whither nor where.

PERSEVERANCE. Well y-met, sir, well y-met; and whither away?

AGE. Why, good sir, whereby do ye say?

PERSEVERANCE. Tell me, sir, I you pray,
And I with you will wend.

AGE. Why, good sir, what is your name?

PERSEVERANCE. Forsooth, sir, Perseverance, the same.

AGE. Sir, ye are Conscience' brother, that me did blame,
I may not with you linger.

PERSEVERANCE. Yes, yes, Manhood, my friend in fere.

AGE. Nay, sir, my name is in another manner.
For Folly his own self was here,
And hath cleped me Shame.

Nay, Manhood, let him go:
Folly and his fellows also,
For they would thee bring into care and woe,
And all that will follow his game.

AGE. Yea, game who so game:
Folly hath given me a name,
So, wherever I go,
He cleped me Shame.
Now Manhood is gone,
Folly hath followed me so.
When I first from my mother came,
The world made me a man,
And fast in riches I ran,
Till I was dubbed a knight;
And then I met with Conscience clear,
And he me set in such manner,
Me thought his teaching was full dear,
Both by day and night.
And then Folly met me,
And sharply he beset me,
And from Conscience he fet[270] me:
He would not fro me go,
Many a day he kept me,
And to all folks he cleped me
And unto all sins he set me,
Alas, that me is woe!
For I have falsely me forsworn.
Alas, that I was born!
Body and soul, I am but lorn,
Me liketh neither glee nor game.

PERSEVERANCE. Nay, nay, Manhood, say not so.
Beware of Manhood, for he is a foe.
A new name I shall give you too:
I clepe you Repentance,
For, and you here repent your sin,
Ye are possible heaven to win:
But with great contrition ye must begin,
And take you to abstinence:
For though a man had do alone
The deadly sins everychone,
And he with contrition make his moan
To Christ our heaven king,
God is all so glad of him,
As of the creature that never did sin.

AGE. Now, good sir, how should I contrition begin?

PERSEVERANCE. Sir, in shrift of mouth without varying;
And another ensample I shall show you too.
Think on Peter and Paul, and other mo:
Thomas, James, and John also,
And also Mary Magdalene.
For Paul did Christ's people great villainy,
And Peter at the passion forsook Christ thrice,
And Magdalene lived long in lechery,
And St Thomas believed not in the resurrection:
And yet these to Christ are darlings dear,
And now be saints in heaven clear.
And therefore, though ye have trespassed here,
I hope ye be sorry for your sin.

AGE. Yea, Perseverance, I you plight,
I am sorry for my sin both day and night.
I would fain learn with all my might,
How I should heaven win.

PERSEVERANCE. Sir,[272] to win heaven five necessary things there been,
That must be knowen to all mankind.
The five wits doth begin,
Sir, bodily and spiritually.

AGE. Of the five wits I would have knowing.

PERSEVERANCE. Forsooth, sir, hearing, seeing, and smelling,
The remanant tasting and feeling:
These being the five wits bodily,
And, sir, other five wits there been.

AGE. Sir Perseverance, I know not them.

PERSEVERANCE. Now, Repentance, I shall you ken.
They are the power of the soul:
Clear in mind, there is one,
Imagination and all reason,
Understanding and compassion:
These belong unto Perseverance.

AGE. Gramercy, Perseverance, for your true teaching.
But, good sir, is there any more behind
That is necessary to all mankind,
Freely for to know?

PERSEVERANCE. Yea, Repentance, more there be,
That every man must on believe:
The twelve articles of the faith,
That mankind must on trow.
The first, that God is in one substance,
And also that God is in three persons,
Beginning and ending without variance,
And all this world made of nought.
The second, that the Son of God sickerly
Took flesh and blood of the Virgin Mary,
Without touching of man's flesh-company:
This must be in every man's thought.
The third, that the same God-Son,
Born of that holy virgin,
And she after his birth maiden as she was beforne,
And clearer in all kind.
Also the fourth, that same Christ, God and man,
He suffered pain and passion,
Because of man's soul redemption,
And on a cross did hing.
The fifth article I shall you tell:
Then the spirit of Godhead went to hell,
And bought out the souls that there did dwell
By the power of His own might.
The sixth article I shall you say:
Christ rose upon the third day,


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