Fifteenth Century Prose and Verse
Author: Various
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Edinburgh: Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE.


Of the contents of the present volume about a half now appears in the ENGLISH GARNER for the first time. Professor Arber (whose ready acquiescence in my meddlings I wish cordially to acknowledge) had gathered his good corn wherever he could find it without concerning himself with the claims of the different centuries; and his specimens of Lydgate and Hoccleve, Robin Hood Ballads, and trials for Lollardy, needed as much more added to them to make up a homogeneous volume in the arrangement now adopted. My additions consist of some Christmas Carols, a Miracle Play, a Morality, and a number of the interesting prologues and epilogues of William Caxton; also two extracts on the art of translation and the need for its exercise, and some depositions in a theatrical lawsuit. The extracts are of the end of the fourteenth century, but are germane to our period as heralding the numerous translations by which it was distinguished; the lawsuit is of the sixteenth century, but throws light on the transition from municipal to private enterprise in theatrical matters which had then been for some time in progress. As these pieces are included for their matter, not for their style, I hope they will not be considered intrusions in a volume essentially devoted to the fifteenth century, though the extracts on translation have led me in my Introduction to an excursus on the authorship of the Wycliffite translations of the Bible, which can only be excused on the pleas that Purvey and Trevisa both lived on into the fifteenth century, and that it was in the early years of that century that the Bibles were most in circulation.

In editing my texts I have availed myself of the help of the edition of the play of the Coventry Shearmen and Tailors in Professor Manly's Specimens of the Pre-Shaksperean Drama (Ginn, 1897), of Dr. Henri Logeman's Elckerlijk and Everyman (Librairie Clemm, Gand, 1892), of Professor Ewald Fluegel's transcript of the Balliol College Carols published in the Festschrift presented to Professor Hildebrand in 1894, of the Caxton Prefaces printed in Blades's Life of Caxton, of Mr. Henry Plomer's transcript of the pleadings in Rastell v. Walton in vol. iv. of the Transactions of the Bibliographical Society, and of Forshall and Madden's Wyclif Bible. In Professor Arber's text of the Robin Hood Ballads I have ventured to make a few corrections by the light of the excellent edition (based on the work of Professor Child), printed by Professor Gummere in his Old English Ballads (Ginn, 1894). That of Hoccleve's Letter of Cupid, originally printed from Urry's text, has been revised with the aid of the collations published by Professor Skeat in his Chaucerian and Other Pieces. Professor Arber's other texts are reprinted substantially as they stood.

In accordance with the plan adopted throughout the English Garner, the extracts in this volume are given in modern spelling. I should have preferred myself to re-write them in the educated spelling of their own period, which would offer no obstacle of any kind to a modern reader. Not only, however, for the sake of uniformity, but because I am so convinced that this is the right method of dealing with badly spelt texts that I wish the experiment to be made for the first time by a better philologist than myself, I have fallen back on modern spelling. Whatever its disadvantages, they seem to me as nothing compared with the absurdity of preserving in texts printed for the second, third, and fourth time the vagaries of grossly ignorant scribes. In the play of the Shearmen holiness is spelt whollenes, merry myrre, voice woise, signification syngnefocacion, celestial seylesteall, and so on. These spellings are as demonstrably wrong as those of consepeet (concipiet) and Gloria in exselsis, with which the scribe favours us. It is ungracious to find fault with Professor Manly after appropriating some of his stage directions and his identifications of some French words, but I cannot think an editor is right in reprinting a text of which he is obliged to confess 'in general, the sound will be a better guide to the meaning than the spelling.' In any case I am sure that this is not the way to win new readers for our earlier literature.

As a matter of literary honesty, as well as for my own comfort, I may be permitted to state that this is the only volume of the new edition of the Garner for which I am responsible or can take credit. I have eaten at least one dinner intended for my friend Mr. A.F. Pollard; my wastepaper basket has received applications for subscriptions which prove his reputation for generosity; I have even received a cheque, which the fact that it is reckoned forgery under some circumstances for a man to sign his own name forbade my cashing; and I have recently been more congratulated as the author of his Henry VIII. than I have ever been on any book of my own. So far from being identical, I regret to say that we are not even related; but as we seem to be as much mistaken as the two Dromios, I hope that our appearance side by side in this new edition of the Garner may help to distinguish rather than further confound us.






John Lydgate (?). The Siege of Harfleur and the Battle of Agincourt, 1

Thomas Occleve. The Letter of Cupid, 14

A Little Geste of Robin Hood and his Meiny and of the proud Sheriff of Nottingham, 35

English Carols. From a Manuscript at Balliol College, Oxford, 83

The Examination of Master William Thorpe, priest, of heresy, before Thomas Arundell, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1407, 90

The Examination of Sir John Oldcastle, 175

On Translating the Bible. Chapter XV. of the Prologue to the second recension of the Wycliffite version, 193

John Trevisa. Dialogue between a Lord and a Clerk upon Translation, 203

William Caxton. Prefaces and Epilogues:— The Recuyell of the Histories of Troy, 213 Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, 218 Boethius de Consolatione Philosophiae, 222 Golden Legend, 225 Caton 227 AEsop, 230 Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, second edition, 232 Malory's King Arthur, 234 Eneydos, 239

A Miracle Play of the Nativity. The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors, from the Coventry Corpus Christi Plays, 245

Everyman: A Moral Play, 277

Pleadings in Rastell v. Walton, a Theatrical Lawsuit, temp. Henry VIII., 307



In the world of politics and statecraft a nation which has once begun to decline seldom, perhaps never, recovers itself. There are too many other dogs about for the bone which has once been relinquished to be resumed later on. It is luck, indeed, if there are any decent scraps to be found on the platter when it is revisited. In the world of literature and thought the dogs are better bred, showing each other new hunting-grounds, and by example and precept often helping to restore a famished comrade to sleekness and vigour. Political conditions may not be gainsaid. A nation which has once lost its ideals cannot again produce a fresh, strong, and manly literature. But the possibilities of literature remain immense, and we cannot foretell in what country it may not revive and win fresh triumphs. Hence it is that while the political fortunes of a nation seem to move mainly along the three straight lines of ascent, enjoyment, and fall, its literary fortunes express themselves, when we try to generalise, in a series of curves, alternate rises and declines, which may be repeated again and again. In English literature out of the unknown past rose the Anglo-Saxon lyric and epic, Deor's Complaint, Beowulf, and the poems of Caedmon and Cynewulf. From the death-like sleep of our language which followed the Norman Conquest rose the heights of thirteenth-century romance. From the dull poetic pedantries of the age which succeeded Chaucer rose the glittering pinnacles of Shakespeare and his fellows. From the coldness and shallowness of the eighteenth century rose the rich and varied tableland of whose occupants Burns was one of the first and Tennyson and Browning perhaps the last. No other literature has shown such recuperative power, a thought full of hope and consolation in these days, for those who can take pleasure in the anticipated joys of their great-grandchildren.

If this philosophising be thought dull, we have only repaid popular estimates in their own coin; for these sweeping generalisations, which condemn whole centuries as periods of depression, have been largely made for us by popular opinion, and like all generalisations, they have to be very considerably whittled down as soon as we descend to particulars. On a nearer view we find that the curves of literary progress have not been rolled smooth by any steamroller, but that the great chain of hills is connected by numberless ridges, some of which are already rising, long ere others have touched the plain. A pleasant book by an American professor (the History of Romanticism in the Eighteenth Century, by Henry A. Beers) has helped to draw attention to many of these rising ridges of romance in the century which most people connect only with the name of Pope; and I hope in these few pages to show that the fifteenth century, of which we are so contemptuous, was at least not all flat country.

For the poor esteem into which this period has fallen we must lay some of the blame at the door of the literary historians who have, until recent days, placed the English Mandeville nearly half a century too early, postponed the consideration of the dramatic productions till they reached the middle of the sixteenth century, when they gave a meagre summary of 'earlier attempts,' and chronicled the industry of translators, which had been in full swing ever since about 1380, as a special feature of the sixteenth century, helping thus to account for the great Elizabethan outburst of original work. No poor period of literature was ever more mercilessly or wantonly plundered to enrich its prosperous neighbours on either side; and having thus credited to other generations all its little claims to distinction, our literary historians fixed their glance sternly on the court poetry, which is its weakest feature, and made the case of Hoccleve and Lydgate more pitiful than it need be by cruelly comparing them with Chaucer. To be inconvenient to historians is not perhaps of itself a mark of greatness, but Chaucer's professed lovers may take pleasure in observing how largely he shares this characteristic with Shakespeare himself. To give each of them a separate chapter is but a respectful subterfuge, thinly concealing how unconscionably these two sudden elevations interfere with that orderly progression which the historian loves. It would be much easier to tell the story of the Elizabethan-Jacobean drama from rise to fall if Shakespeare could be left out of it; and if there had been no Chaucer, how gentle, how almost mathematical, would have been the progression from the Cursor Mundi and the Handlyng Synne to Gower's Confessio Amantis, from Gower to Lydgate and Hoccleve, and from Lydgate and Hoccleve to Stephen Hawes! The Italian influence would have come in for the first time with Surrey and Wyatt, and the whole sequence would have been just what a plain man would expect. Not only by his inconvenient possession of genius, but also by his great, if fitful industry, and by what we can hardly call by any name but good luck, Chaucer shoots up suddenly between Gower and his natural successors, and thus revolutionises the standard of poetry by which the next century is inevitably judged. The effect of his sudden uprising is almost as confusing to our judgments of his own poetry as of that of his unhappy 'successors.' Brought up, as most of us poor middle-aged critics have been, on textbooks which grudgingly devoted a scanty thirty or forty pages to all that happened ere Surrey and Wyatt began to write an English which literary historians could read without taking any trouble, we inevitably got it into our heads that with Chaucer we were at the very beginning; that he was really, as he was called, the Father of English Poetry, and represented the first blossoming of its spring. The spring had come and was fast fading when Chaucer began to write. It had come with the first blossoming of the romances, and with such lyrics as

'Lenten[1] is come with love to town, With blossoms and with birdes rown';[2]

or as

'Blow, northern wind, Send thou me my sweeting';

of which the lightness and spontaneity are represented in only a few snatches in Chaucer. Other touches of the spring he has, for no man better loved the merry month of May, and he has sung it until he has become for ever identified with it in our minds. All the same, he represents also a reaction which sees the humorous side of the lover's springtide longings, and views all things very much as they are, without illusion. Fortunately, in Chaucer's case this prosaic mood was raised and transfigured by the revelation of Italian poetry, which enabled him to give us in Troilus and Cressida, and the knight's tale of Palamon and Arcite, the most perfect harmony of humour and romance English narrative poetry has produced. No other poet of his time came under the same influences, and to this fact, as well as to his possession of genius, he owes his unique position.

That the worthy Lydgate and Hoccleve, without any of Chaucer's good luck, failed to tread in his footsteps, is thus hardly surprising. They took from him as much of his machinery as they could carry, wrote in his metres with the aid of ears sadly confused by the rapidly weakening pronunciation of final -e and -es, and began the attempt, pursued all through the century, to make up by magniloquence what they lacked in poetry. This attempt was not confined to England. In France also there was the same invasion of long words, and it took our fair neighbour much longer to get rid of them. As the fifteenth century progressed and its successor began, it became more and more the object of the poetaster to end his lines with sounding polysyllables, and verse not written in this style was regarded as uncourtly and undignified. When we once realise that this particular experiment in language was one which had to be made, and that our fifteenth-century poets made it with all their might, we can understand how Hawes could hail Lydgate as 'the most dulcet spring of famous rhetoric' (this new poetry being essentially rhetorical); how Skelton, after condescendingly praising Chaucer for the 'pleasant, easy and plain' terms in which he wrote, hastened to explain that Lydgate's efforts were 'after a higher rate'; and how the same Skelton thought it necessary in his Phylyp Sparowe to make his 'young maid' excuse herself for her ignorance of 'polished terms' and 'English words elect.' Every one in these days was searching anxiously for the right word, which is indeed the most proper object of every versifier's search. Unluckily, they only looked for it among polysyllables.

It will be gathered by this time that I hold no brief for what we must call the court poetry of the fifteenth century, that is to say, the compositions by which poets from Lydgate to Skelton sought to ingratiate themselves with noble patrons and to prove their title to immortality. When they were off their guard they wrote much better. The reminiscences of the gay days of his youth stirred Hoccleve's muse to unwonted vivacity. In the London Lick-penny Lydgate, if Lydgate's it be, wrote humorous satire with success. Skelton himself, though in his (much too respectfully spoken of) play Magnificence he could flounder with the worst of his predecessors, in his light and railing rhymes was nimble enough, and ranged easily from vigorous invective of Wolsey to pretty panegyrics of fair ladies. Now and again also these good souls ceased their search for polysyllables, looked at some fair face or pleasant landscape, and came near to a natural description. Now and again, too, when they were on their knees (it is only in prayers intended for other people that long words seem appropriate), they got down to a phrase of simple beauty. And meanwhile in the country in general, we may be sure, many simple rhymesters were keeping up old traditions; and if some diligent student would begin gleaning from the earlier miscellanies with the industry and insight by which Mr. A.H. Bullen extracted so rich a harvest from the Elizabethan song-books, surely he also would not go unrewarded. That the touch which we find in the religious poems of an earlier date in the Vernon MS. had not been wholly lost is witnessed by some favourite lines of mine from a book called Speculum Christiani, printed by Machlinia about 1485, and sometimes attributed to John Wotton—

'Mary mother, well thou be! Mary mother, think on me; Maiden and mother was never none Together, Lady, save thee alone. Sweet Lady, maiden clean, Shield me from ill, shame and teen; Out of sin, Lady, shield thou me. And out of debt for charity. Lady, for thy joyes five, Get me grace in this live, To know and keep over all thing, Christian faith and God's bidding. And truely win all that I need To me and mine clothe and feed. Help me, Lady, and all mine; Shield me, Lady, from hell pine; Shield me, Lady, from villainy And from all wicked company.'

By the side of this religious verse is there any need to quote more than a stanza from the Nut Brown Maid just to remind us what the secular poets could do?

'Be it right or wrong, these men among, on women do complain, Affirming this, how that it is a labour spent in vain To love them well; for never a del they love a man again; For let a man do what he can their favour to attain, Yet if a new to them pursue their first true lover than Laboureth for nought and from her thought he is a banished man.'

To say that English poetry was dead when verse like this was being written is absurd. It was not dead, but banished from court.

We may well grumble at the mischance which has preserved to us such quantities of the verse of men like Lydgate and Hawes, with which, despite all the blandishments of their editors, a not unwise world refuses to concern itself, and on the other hand has permitted to perish, or scattered seemingly beyond retrieving, the humbler poetry which has much greater worth. In the Robin Hood Ballads which Professor Arber has printed from an edition by Wynkyn de Worde we have at least one piece of salvage. It must be owned, indeed, that to claim a ballad as the product of any one century is rather rash, and that in some form or another this cycle was probably in existence before Chaucer died. The 'Ballad of Otterburn,' again, is founded on an incident of border war which took place in 1388 when Chaucer had just begun work on the Canterbury Tales, and this also belongs to fourteenth-century tradition. But both the one and the other, and still more certainly 'Chevy Chace,' must be reckoned in their present form to the credit of our period, and form a notable reinforcement to it, though we must regret that the early transcribers and printers took so little trouble to preserve a correct text.

Christmas carols again, as likely to be handed down from mouth to mouth in the same way as ballads, can be assigned neither to any single author nor to any precise year or even decade of composition. But the charming examples which I have picked out from a number transcribed by Professor Fluegel from a Balliol College manuscript of the middle of the sixteenth century, may all safely be attributed to a date earlier than 1500, though perhaps not very much earlier, and in their simple tenderness and mirth they are in strong contrast to the pretentious poetry of the court.[3]

As with the ballads and carols, so with miracle-plays: the fact that they were handed down from one generation to another, and in each generation revised, altered, and added to, makes assignment of dates almost impossible. The play of the Shearmen and Tailors from the Coventry Gilds cycle,[4] here printed, survived in a transcript dated 1534, and it is probable that it was then copied out for the sake of combining what must originally have been four or five different plays into one. Some of these plays in their separate form may have been first written in the fourteenth century; they appear to have been added to in the fifteenth, and (as we have seen) assumed their final form in the sixteenth. The whole of the pseudo-Coventry cycle,[5] in like manner, seems to have been revised and largely written when it was last transcribed in 1468. But the supreme example of fifteenth-century addition to an older cycle is that of the Wakefield Plays, which early in the century were taken in hand by a dramatist of extraordinary ability, whose traceable contributions amount to over three thousand lines, distributed among at least six, or quite probably as many as nine different plays, of which five are homogeneous and entirely from his hand. Among these five are the well-known Prima and Secunda Pastorum, the two Shepherds' Plays with which the history of English comedy begins. The humours of the two shepherds who meet on the moor and come to blows over the grazing of an imaginary flock of sheep are good; the humours of the Secunda Pastorum, of Mak the sheep-stealer, his clever wife Gyll, the sheep that was passed off as a baby, and Mak's well-deserved blanketing,—these surely are not only good, but as good, of their kind, as they well can be. That I have not printed this second Shepherds' Play here is due partly to its being easily accessible in the Early English Text Society's edition, but chiefly to the serious obstacles its northern dialect presents to any attempt at transcribing it in modern English. The play of the Shearmen and Tailors of Coventry, on the other hand, as I have noted in my preface, cries aloud for such transcription. The fact, moreover, that in its present conglomerate condition, it gives the whole history of the Divine Infancy from the Annunciation to the Flight into Egypt makes it very representative, even the humour of the Miracle Plays being exemplified, though poorly and incongruously, in the attack of the mothers of the Innocents on Herod's knights. The different sections of the play, the work no doubt of different authors, have varying values, that of the Prophets, never very successfully handled, being much the weakest. On the other hand, in the simple gifts of the shepherds to the Holy Child we have a very fair representation of one of the stock incidents of a Nativity Play in which free scope was given to whatever tender and playful fancy the dramatist possessed. It should be said that during the fifteenth century the popularity of these plays increased enormously, records of their performance being found in all parts of England, including Cornwall and Wales, where they were acted in the vernacular.

Starting not very much later than the Miracle Plays, since we hear of them at York in the middle of the fourteenth century, the Moralities also increased greatly in popularity during our period, offering ample opportunity for the allegorising and personifying tendency which was one of its most prominent, and in many respects most baneful, characteristics. Several plays of this kind of undoubted English origin have come down to us from the fifteenth century itself, and are well worth study. Chiefly because of the interest which has been aroused by its recent performance, I have preferred to give that of The Summoning of Everyman, which, while presenting much less variety than such plays as The Castle of Perseverance, or Mind, Will, and Understanding, has the merit of being in very easy English, short, impressive, and homogeneous. It is these latter merits, quite as much as the evidence which can be obtained by comparing the two texts, that offer the best reason for acquiescing in the verdict that the Dutch play of Elckerlijk, attributed to Petrus Dorlandus, a theological writer of Diest, who died in 1507, has a better claim than our English version to be considered the original. Strict adherence to propriety of form was not a characteristic of the dramatic literature of this period, and had the play been of native origin its uniform seriousness of tone would almost assuredly have been broken by some humorous, or semi-humorous, episodes. While the two plays, with the exception of the Prologue, which is not found in the Dutch, agree speech by speech from beginning to end, the English version is not a slavish translation; indeed, the ease and happiness of the diction, and the freedom with which it moves, give it, until the Dutch text is examined, the tone of an original work, and the translator must have been a man of no small ability to achieve such a success. It should be said that the oldest Dutch edition now extant appears to have been printed about 1495; but the play may have been written some years before this, though hardly as early as 'about 1477,' the date Professor Logeman proposes, if the author was only born in 1454, for it does not read like the work of a very young man. Professor Logeman was, perhaps, influenced in proposing this date by a desire to get in front of the critics of English literature (including ten Brink), who have assigned the English play to the reign of Edward IV., i.e. not later than 1483. As in the Miracle Plays, so in the Moralities, an original purely didactic purpose was gradually influenced by a desire to render the didacticism more palatable to a popular audience by the introduction of humorous incidents. The complete absence of these from Everyman naturally caused critics to assign it the earliest possible date, so long as it was regarded as an original work. But there is nothing in the language which precludes it from having been written immediately after 1495, when we know that a Dutch edition was in print, and in judging it as a translation we may be content to assign it to the end of the fifteenth century. It is worth noting that at that date there must already have been considerable literary intercourse between England and Holland, and that several popular English books had already been printed at Antwerp for the English market.

It would have been pleasant to me, as a lover of these forerunners of the Elizabethan drama, to have advanced from the Miracle Play and Morality, and have given examples of the Moral-Interlude and Farce; but these belong emphatically to the sixteenth century, and come too near the drama itself for inclusion in a non-dramatic 'Garner.' But as a counterpart to Professor Arber's Trial of William Thorpe for Heresy, I have ventured to reprint here from the Transactions of the Bibliographical Society some pleadings in a theatrical lawsuit of the reign of Henry VIII., one of the many interesting discoveries published by Mr. Henry Plomer. Mr. Plomer's own interest in the pleadings, and the reason which made them suitable for publication by a Society in no wise concerned with the history of the drama, arose from the fact that the plaintiff in the case, John Rastell, besides being a lawyer and (it is believed) a writer of interludes, was also a printer, details of any kind that can be gleaned about the lives of early printers being always welcome to bookish antiquaries. But these particular details about Rastell's stage in his garden, the classes from which actors were drawn, the value of the dresses they wore, the practice of hiring the dresses out, and the rather puzzling distinction made between stage-plays and interludes,[6] are all of considerable interest for our period of the drama, and it seemed a good deed to give them wider publicity.

We pass now from a survey of its poetry, both non-dramatic and dramatic, to the work done in the fifteenth century for the development of English prose. Until quite towards the close of the fourteenth century England can hardly be said to have possessed any prose literature not avowedly or practically of a didactic character. To save some one's soul or to improve some one's morals were seemingly the only motives which could suffice to persuade an Englishman to write his native language except in verse. The impulse towards prose-writing may perhaps be dated from about 1380, the date of the first Wyclifite translation of the Bible. Of this the books of the Old Testament, as far as Daniel, are stated on contemporary authority to have been rendered by Nicholas Hereford; while historians, after salving their conscience by confessing that there is substantially no evidence for attributing the rest of the work to Wyclif, wherever they have afterwards to mention it, invariably connect it with his name. A revised edition, usually assigned to Wyclif's friend, John Purvey, was completed a few years later. It was about 1380 that Chaucer was engaged in translating Boethius's De Consolatione Philosophiae, and not long afterwards Usk wrote his Testament of Love. The first really secular English book of any importance, the translation of Mandeville's Travels, which has come down to us in a Cotton manuscript, was probably made about the end of the century, and was quickly succeeded by two variant versions. John of Trevisa, an Oxford scholar, was the first to English an important historical work, and a book of popular science, the Polychronicon of Higden and the De Proprietatibus Rerum of Bartholomew.

It was necessarily by the free use of translation that an English secular prose literature had to be built up. All the standard works hitherto had been written in Latin, or in a few cases in French; and now that English had been recognised, alike at court, in the law-courts, and in the schools, as the natural language of the inhabitants of England, the first thing which had to be done was to provide Englishmen with the ordinary sources of information in their own language. The need for translation directed attention to its principles and canons, and two interesting little essays on the subject are here printed—the one from the preface, said to be by Purvey, to the second Wyclifite Bible, and the other from that prefixed by Trevisa to his translation of Higden's Polychronicon. I have particular pleasure in placing these two prefaces side by side, because, as far as I know, the really striking resemblances between them, in their grammatical remarks, in their survey of previous attempts at an English translation of the Bible, and in their attitude to such a translation, have never been pointed out. Without wishing to intrude myself into controversial matters on which no one is entitled to speak who has not made a special study of the subject, I would fain again draw attention to the fact that whereas we have a definite statement by Caxton[7] that the Polychronicon 'was englisshed by one Trevisa, vicarye of barkley, which atte request of one Sir Thomas lord barkley translated the sayd book [which we have], the byble, and bartylmew de proprietatibus rerum [which we have] out of latyn into englysshe,' in the case of Purvey his name was first mentioned in connection with Bible translation in 1729 by Daniel Waterton, who 'guessed' and 'pitched upon' him (Waterton's Works, vol. x. p. 361) as the author of the second version, partly on the ground of his general prominence as a Wyclifite, and also because of his ownership of a Bible in Trinity College, Dublin, which Waterland hoped would prove to be of that version. As it happens, the text, which is only that of the New Testament, is, apparently throughout, that of the earlier version, with some of the Prologues of the later version to separate books inserted. Inasmuch also as the manuscript was not completed till 1427 or later, its bearing on the question of the authorship of a translation, which had then been in circulation for some thirty years, does not appear to be very great. It was open to any one to combine the different parts of the two versions in any way he pleased, and that Purvey seems to have preferred the text of the earlier version and the prologues of the later hardly proves that the later version is due to him. If we must drag him in at all, it would be much more reasonable to assign to him the completion of Nicholas of Hereford's unfinished work.

Lightly arrived at as it was, Waterland's 'guess' was adopted by Forshall and Madden in their fine edition of the two versions published in 1850, and as buttressed up by them with what seems to me a very weak additional argument, has ever since been repeated as an established fact.[8] The readiness with which the conjecture was accepted can only be accounted for by the desire to make the work of translation centre at Lutterworth instead of, as I believe to have been the case, at Oxford. It seems to be considered that we shall be robbing Wyclif of his due unless the translations are connected with him as closely as possible. Burdened as he was in his last years with age and infirmities, it is surely enough if he inspired others to work at this great task; we need not insist that he must have written at least part of the first translation with his own hands, and that the second must have begun under his immediate eye. I would submit, indeed, that the tone of the second translator's reference to 'the English Bible late translated' (p. 195) is quite incompatible with any such theory. We know from the manuscript note in the Bodleian MS. that Nicholas of Hereford began the translation of the Old Testament; and when his work was interrupted by the necessity for flight, it is far more likely that it was taken up by some other of Wyclif's numerous disciples at Oxford rather than by the master himself, while the fact that it was the work of his disciples, urged no doubt by his wish, would amply account for such references as may be found to it under Wyclif's name. For the second translation, it seems to me that the tone of the reference already quoted, and the detailed account (see p. 194) which the translator gives of the method in which he went to work, compel us to seek an independent origin, and to look for some other translator less immediately under Wyclif's influence. The freedom with which the Bible admittedly circulated for many years, and the well-known allusion by Sir Thomas More to an English translation untouched by any taint of heresy, point also in the same direction. That the second version is really only a revision of the first can hardly be adduced as a strong argument on the other side. The ethics of literary acknowledgment were not appreciated in Trevisa's days, and I believe that a very similar relation can be found on comparison of what is known as the 'Vulgate' text of Mandeville with that of the Cotton manuscript, which the second translator appears to have used freely, though in this case without improving on it. At any rate, William Caxton seems a better authority than an eighteenth-century divine as to the authorship of a translation made only a few years before he was born. We know that Trevisa was what we may call a professional translator, well equipped for his task; and we find him in the preface to the Polychronicon discussing the translation of the Bible in a strikingly similar spirit to that in which it is discussed in the Prologue to one of the translations which have come down to us. It is to be hoped that the subject may receive further investigation, and that without the importation of theological bias.

We meet with the name of John Purvey once more in one of the longest and most interesting of the pieces here printed, the Examination of William Thorpe before Archbishop Arundel, held at Saltwood Castle in Kent in 1407. 'I know none more covetous shrews,' said the Archbishop to Thorpe in his railing way, 'than ye are when that ye have a benefice. For, lo! I gave to John Purvey a benefice (that of West Hythe, which Purvey held for fourteen months from August 1401) but a mile out of this castle, and I heard more complaints about his covetousness for tithes and other misdoings than I did of all men that were advanced within my diocese.' 'Sir,' replied Thorpe, 'Sir, Purvey is neither with you now for the benefice ye gave him, nor holdeth he faithfully with the learning that he taught and writ beforetime; and thus he sheweth himself neither to be hot nor cold; and therefore he and his fellows may sore dread that if they turn not hastily to the way that they have forsaken, peradventure they be put out of the number of Christ's chosen people.'

The Archbishop's answer was to mutter threats against Purvey as a 'false harlot'; and so the Bible-translator, if such he were, was abused on both sides. The dialogue about him is a fair instance of the vividness with which Thorpe's account of his trial illustrates the fortunes of Wyclif's followers when they scattered before their persecutors without any leader to rally them. Thorpe was accused of holding all the chief tenets of Wyclif's which were condemned as contrary to the Church's order and teaching, and his answers, according to the account he gives of them, were at once bold and prudent. He seems, moreover, to have had a real gift as a reporter, and to have exercised it impartially enough, for not every Lollard would have put into his examiner's mouth that remarkably happy defence of taking a bagpipe on pilgrimage, which will be found on page 141. Thorpe, though he was sent back to prison, lived to write this account of his trial three-and-fifty years after it took place, but Sir John Oldcastle was burnt alive, despite all Prince Hal's efforts to win him to recant and save himself, and the short account of his trial, which follows that of Thorpe, has thus a more tragic interest.

The persecution of the Lollards was but an incident in the fifteenth century, little affecting its literature, though the burning of Oldcastle called forth a bad poem by Hoccleve. The wasteful wars in France, and the turmoil of the Roses, on the other hand, had a great and most disastrous influence. After Lydgate's death about 1447, Capgrave was our leading man of letters, and on his death in 1464 the post was left vacant, unless Master Bennet Burgh can be considered as having held it. The Paston Letters, which begin in 1422 and cover the rest of the century (till 1507), offer some consolation for the lack of more formal literature, but the lack is undeniable. Moreover, not only literature, but the bookish arts suffered terribly from this depression. The fine English illuminated manuscripts which at the beginning of the century had vied with those of France, ceased to be produced after about 1430 (the siege of Orleans was raised by Jeanne Darc in 1429, and the synchronism may be significant), and with the illuminations, the simpler art of penmanship declined also. It was thus small wonder that the art of printing was introduced but tardily to our country, more than twenty years after the first printed Bible had appeared at Mainz, and that, typographically, William Caxton, with no fine models in contemporary English manuscripts to guide him, produced no single book that can stand comparison with the best work of foreign printers. But if he was a poor printer, he was a most enterprising and skilful publisher, and in his homely way a genuine and most prolific journeyman of letters. As the word journeyman is written, shame bids us strike out the first half of it, lest we seem to cast a slight upon one who did so excellent a work for English literature, whose enthusiasm was so genuine and whose industry so great. But Caxton was always modest for himself, and we shall serve him best by not putting his claims too high. When he commenced author there is an ingenuity in the way he mixes his constructions, which, though it may delight his lovers, compels some little caution in introducing him, haply, to new readers, whom such a paragraph as that which begins 'When I remember' on page 213 might easily affront. But he certainly improved his style by constant practice, and the handful of his prefaces and epilogues here printed do not lack literary charm, while the information they give of the man, his character, his enthusiasms, and his business can hardly fail to please any reasonably sympathetic reader. Take, for instance, these delightful confidences as to the fears and hopes attendant on his translation and publication of that bulky work, the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine, which might well daunt even an enterprising publisher:—

'And forasmuch as this said work was great and over chargeable to me to accomplish, I feared me in the beginning of the translation to have continued it, because of the long time of the translation and also in the imprinting of the same, and in manner half desperate to have accomplished it, was in purpose to have left it, after that I had begun to translate it, and to have laid it apart, ne had it been at the instance and request of the puissant, noble and virtuous Earl, my Lord William Earl of Arundel, which desired me to proceed and continue the said work, and promised me to take a reasonable quantity of them when they were achieved and accomplished, and sent to me a worshipful gentleman, a servant of his named John Stanney, which solicited me in my lord's name that I should in no wise leave it, but accomplish it, promising that my said lord should during his life give and grant to me a yearly fee, that is to wit a buck in summer and a doe in winter, with which fee I hold me well content. Then at the contemplation and reverence of my said lord I have endeavoured me to make an end and finish this said translation and also have imprinted it in the most best wise that I have, could or might, and present this said book to his good and noble lordship, as chief causer of the achieving of it, praying him to take it in gree of me William Caxton, his poor servant, and that it like him to remember my fee, and I shall pray unto Almighty God for his long life and welfare, and after this short and transitory life to come into everlasting joy in heaven, the which he send to him and to me and unto all them that shall read and hear this said book, that for the love and faith of whom all these holy saints hath suffered death and passion. Amen.'

Few publishers since Caxton's days have let us so far into their secrets, and we can but hope that his patron really took 'a reasonable quantity' of the edition (another was published in a few years, so he probably did), and that the bucks and the does furnished many jolly dinners. Elsewhere in these prefaces Caxton tells us how he was induced to take up the art of printing, narrates the trouble, in which he has had successors, in getting a good text of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, pokes fun at English ladies and at another of his patrons, the Earl of Rivers, and sets down what is still one of the best criticisms ever penned of Malory's King Arthur. With the mention of that noble work it is well to finish this brief sketch of our fifteenth-century literature. It is too well known, too easily accessible, for any snippets to be quoted from it here. But with the English version of Mandeville at the beginning of our period, and Malory's Arthur completed in 1469 and published in 1483, it is evident that we can lay claim to two masterpieces which have not yet lost their hold on modern readers. The simplicity and feeling of Everyman has lately obtained recognition. I hope that, when boys and girls are taught a little more of their own language, the play of Max the Sheepstealer may win even greater popularity, for it is an ideal play for children to act. If we throw in 'Chevy Chace' and the 'Nut Brown Maid' and the 'Robin Hood Ballads,' we shall not be lacking for poetry. For the interest which we now seek in a realistic novel we might well go to the Paston Letters. There are not a few nations of Europe which might be well pleased if they could show, century by century, as good a record as this. It is only in fact the ill-fortune which placed it midway between Chaucer and Shakespeare, and our own perversity which persists in associating it mainly with Lydgate and Hoccleve, that causes us to contemn this particular century as dull.


[1] Spring.

[2] Whispering.

[3] Printed by him in 1894 in a 'Festschrift' in honour of Professor Hildebrand.

[4] To be carefully distinguished from the so-called Coventry Plays of Cotton MS., Vespasian, D. viii., whose highly doubtful connection with Coventry rests solely on a note of Cotton's librarian.

[5] It would be convenient if they could be called the Cotton Plays, as the Wakefield cycle has been called after the Towneley family.

[6] See p. 316. Stage-plays were acted in the summer, interludes in the winter, the cost of hiring dresses being apparently from three to five times as great for a stage-play as for an interlude. My own interpretation is that the distinction has nothing to do with the plays acted, but solely to the place of performance, interludes being acted indoors and stage-plays in the open air, where the dresses were exposed to greater damage.

[7] Prohemye to Polychronicon, ad fin.

[8] The argument as I understand it runs as follows:—

(i) The author of the Prologue is the author of the Translation of the Bible (which may be granted, though not without the reservation that the helpers to whom allusion is made may have written sections of the Prologue, which would confuse any deductions).

(ii) The Prologue has verbal resemblances to the treatise designated Ecclesiae Regimen (the instances quoted seem to me resemblances merely of topics, and these not uncommon ones).

(iii) The Ecclesiae Regimen resembles Purvey's confession at his recantation in 1400 (the previous criticism applies here much more strongly).

Therefore the translation of the Bible is by the author of the Ecclesiae Regimen, and the author of this is Purvey. I must repeat that the chain seems to me lamentably weak, and that the resemblances which may be found between Section xv. of the Prologue and Trevisa's Dialogue and Letter to Lord Berkeley are stronger, because not arising out of quite such common topics. That they are only to a slight extent verbal resemblances is no drawback. We do not expect a man to repeat his own words exactly. What is interesting is to find two translators both interested in their own methods, and these methods similar.


The Siege of Harfleur and the Battle of Agincourt


Hereafter followeth the Battle of Agincourt and the great Siege of Rouen, by King HENRY of Monmouth, the Fifth of the name; that won Gascony, and Guienne, and Normandy.

[See Sir HARRIS NICOLAS'S History of the Battle of Agincourt, p. 301, 2nd Ed. 1832, 8vo.]

J. Lydgate. Printed c. 1530.


God, that all this world did make And died for us upon a tree, Save England, for MARY thy Mother's sake! As Thou art steadfast GOD in Trinity. And save King HENRY'S soul, I beseech thee! That was full gracious and good withal; A courteous Knight and King royal. Of HENRY the Fifth, noble man of war, Thy deeds may never forgotten be! Of Knighthood thou wert the very Loadstar! In thy time England flowered in prosperity, Thou mortal Mirror of all Chivalry! Though thou be not set among the Worthies Nine; Yet wast thou a Conqueror in thy time!

Our King sent into France full rath, His Herald that was good and sure. He desired his heritage for to have: That is Gascony and Guienne and Normandy. He bade the Dolphin [Dauphin] deliver. It should be his: All that belonged to the first EDWARD "And if he say me, Nay!; iwis I will get it with dint of sword!" But then answered the Dolphin bold, By our ambassadors sending again, "Methinks that your King is not so old, Wars great for to maintain. Greet well," he said, "your comely King That is both gentle and small; A ton full of tennis balls I will him send, For to play him therewithal."

Then bethought our Lords all, In France they would no longer abide: They took their leave both great and small, And home to England gan they ride. To our King they told their tale to the end; What that the Dolphin did to them say. "I will him thank," then said the King, "By the grace of GOD, if I may!" Yet, by his own mind, this Dolphin bold, To our King he sent again hastily; And prayed him truce for to hold, For JESUS' love that died on a tree.


"Nay," then said our comely King, "For into France will I wind! The Dolphin anger I trust I shall: And such a tennis ball I shall him send, That shall bear down the high roof of his hall."

The King at Westminster lay that time, And all his Lords everych one; And they did set them down to dine: "Lordings," he saith, "by St. John! To France I think to take my way: Of good counsel I you pray, What is your will that I shall do? Shew me shortly without delay!" The Duke of CLARENCE answered soon, And said, "My Liege, I counsel you so!" And other Lords said, "We think it for the best With you to be ready for to go; Whiles that our lives may endure and last."

"Grammercy, Sirs!" the King gan say, "Our right, I trust, then shall be won, And I will 'quite you if I may: Therefore I warn you, both old and young, To make you ready without delay To Southampton to take your way At St. Peter's tide at Lammas;[9] For by the grace of GOD, and if I may, Over the salt sea I think to pass!"

Great ordnance of guns the King let make, And shipped them at London all at once; Bows and arrows in chests were take, Spears and bills with iron gunstones, And arming daggers made for the nonce: With swords and bucklers that were full sure. And harness bright that strokes would endure.


The King to Southampton then did ride With his Lords; for no longer would he dwell. Fifteen hundred fair ships there did him abide, With good sails and top-castle. Lords of France our King they sold For a million of gold as I heard say. By England little price they told, Therefore their song was "Well a way!"

Between Hampton and the Isle of Wight, These goodly ships lay there at road, With mastyards across, full seemly of sight, Over the haven spread abroad: On every pavis [target] a cross red; The waists decked with serpentines [cannon] strong. St George's streamers spread overhead, With the Arms of England hanging all along.

Our King fully hastily to his ship yede, And all other Lords of every degree: Every ship weighed his anchor in deed, With the tide to haste them to the sea. They hoisted their sails, sailed aloft: A goodly sight it was to see. The wind was good, and blew but soft: And forth they went in the name of the Trinity.[10]

Their course they took toward Normandy, And passed over in a day and a night. So in the second morning early, Of that country they had a sight: And ever [as] they drew near the coast, Of the day glad were they all; And when they were at the shore almost, Every ship his anchor let fall, With their tackles they launched many a long boat And over ha[t]ch threw them into the stream; A thousand shortly they saw afloat. With men of arms that light did leme.


Our king landed at Cottaunses [Coutances] without delay,[11] On our Lady's Even [of] the Assumption;[12] And to Harflete [Harfleur] they took the way And mustered fair before the town. Our King his banner there did 'splay, With standards bright and many [a] pennon: And there he pitched his tent adown; Full well broidered with armory gay. First our comely King's tent with the crown, And all other Lords in good array.

"My brother CLARENCE," the King did say, "The towers of the town will I keep With her daughters and her maidens gay, To wake the Frenchmen of their sleep." "'London'," he said, "shall with him meet; And my guns that lieth fair upon the green; For they shall play with Harflete A game of tennis as I ween. Go we to game, for God's grace! My children be ready everych one."

For every great gun that there was, In his mouth he had a stone. The Captain of Harflete soon anon Unto our King he sent hastily To know what his will was to be done, For to come thither with such a meiny? "Deliver me the town!" the King said. "Nay!" said the Captain, "by God and St DENIS!" "Then shall I win it," said our King, "By the grace of GOD and his goodness, Some hard tennis balls I have hither brought Of marble and iron made full round. I swear, by JESU that me dear bought, They shall beat the walls to the ground."


Then said the great gun, "Hold fellows, we go to game!" Thanked be MARY and JESU her son, They did the Frenchmen much shame. "Fifteen afore," said "London" then; Her balls full fair she gan outthrow. "Thirty" said the second gun, "I will win and I may." There as the wall was most sure, They bare it down without nay. The "King's Daughter" said "Hearken this play! Hearken Maidens now this tide! Five and forty we have, it is no nay." They beat down the walls on every side.

The Normands said, "Let us not abide! But go we in haste, by one assent! Wheresoever the gunstones do glide, Our houses in Harfleet are all to rent: The Englishmen our bulwarks have brent" And women cried, "Alas that ever they were born!" The Frenchmen said, "Now be we shent! By us now the town is forlorn: It is best now therefore That we beseech this English King of grace, For to assail us no more; Lest he destroy us in this place. Then will we bid the Dolphin make him ready, Or else this town delivered must be."

Messengers went forth by and bye,[13] And to our King came they: The Lord CORGRAUNT certainly,[14] For he was Captain of the place, And GELAM BOWSER with him did hie, With other Lords more and less. And when they to our King come where, Full lowly set them on their knee: "Hail, comely King!" gan they say "CHRIST save thee from adversity! Of truce we will beseech thee Until that it be Sunday noon:[15] And if we may not recovered be, We will deliver the town."


Then said our King full soon, "I grant you grace in this tide; One of you shall forth anon, And the remnant shall with me abide!" Their Captain took his next way, And to Rouen fast gan he ride. The Dolphin he had thought there to find But he was gone; he durst not abide.

For help the Captain besought that tide "Harflete is lost for ever and aye; The walls be beaten down on every side, That we no longer keep it may." Of counsel all he did them pray. "What is your will that I may do? We must ordain the King battle by Sunday, Or else deliver him the town!" The Lords of Rouen together did rown; And bade the town should openly yield. The King of England fareth as a lion: We will not meet with him in the field! The Captain would then no longer abide, And towards Harflete came he right; For so fast did he ride That he was there the same night.

And when he to our King did come,[16] Lowly he set him on his knee: "Hail, comely Prince!" then did he say, "The grace of GOD is with thee! Here have I brought the keys all Of Harflete that is so royal a city. All is yours, both chamber and hall; And at your will for to be."


"Thanked be JESU!" said our King, "And MARY his mother truly! My uncle DORSET, without letting, Captain of Harflete shall he be. And all that is within the city Awhile yet they shall abide, To amend the walls in every degree That are beaten down on every side: And after that, they shall out ride To other towns over all. Wife nor child shall not there abide: But have them forth, both great and small!" One and twenty thousand, men might see, When they went out, full sore did weep.

The great guns and ordnance truly Were brought into Harflete.

Great sickness among our host was, in good fay, Which killed many of our Englishmen: There died beyond seven score upon a day; Alive there was left but thousands ten.

Our King himself into the Castle yede, And rest him there as long as his will was: At the last he said, "Lords, so God me speed! Towards Calais I think to pass."

After that Harflete was gotten, that royal city, Through the grace of GOD omnipotent; Our comely King made him ready soon, And towards Calais forth he went. "My brother GLOUCESTER veramente Here will we no longer abide! And Cousin of YORK, this is our intent: With us forth ye shall, this tide! My Cousin HUNTINGDON with us shall ride; And the Earl of OXENFORD with you three! The Duke of SOUTHFOLK [SUFFOLK] by our side He shall come forth with his meiny! And the Earl of DEVONSHIRE sikerly! Sir THOMAS HARPING[17] that never did fail; The Lord BROKE that came heartily And Sir JOHN of CORNWALL: Sir GILBERT UMFREY[18] that would us avail; And the Lord CLIFFORD, so GOD me speed! Sir WILLIAM BOWSER[19], that will not fail; For all they will help, if it be need."


Our King rode forth, blessed might he be![20] He spared neither dale nor down; By waters great fast rode he, Till he came to the water of Seine.[21]

The Frenchmen threw the bridge adown That over the water they might not pass. Our King made him ready then; And to the town of Turreyn went more and less. The Frenchmen, our King about becast With Battles strong on every side; The Duke of ORLEANS said in haste "The King of England shall abide. Who gave him leave this way to pass? I trust that I shall him beguile Full long ere he come to Calais." The Duke of BOURBON answered soon And swore by God and by St. DENIS "We will play them every each one, These Lords of England at the tennis; Their gentlemen, I swear by St. JOHN! And archers we will sell them great plenty: And so will we rid [of] them soon, Six for a penny of our money." Then answered the Duke of BAR, Words that were of great pride: "By God!" he said, "I will not spare Over all the Englishmen for to ride, If that they dare us abide: We will overthrow them in fere [company], And take them prisoners in this tide: Then come home again to our dinner!"


HENRY our King that was so good; He prepared there full royally: Stakes he let [caused to] hew in a wood, And then set them before his archers verily. The Frenchmen our ordnance gan espy. They that we ordained for to ride Lighted adown, with sorrow truly; So on their feet fast gan abide.

Our King went up upon a hill high And looked down to the valleys low: He saw where the Frenchmen came hastily As thick as ever did hail or snow. Then kneeled our King down, in that stound, And all his men on every side: Every man made a cross and kissed the ground, And on their feet fast gan abide. Our King said, "Sirs, what time of the day?" "My Liege," they said, "it is nigh Prime [9 a.m.]" "Then go we to our journey, By the grace of JESU, it is good time: For saints that lie in their shrine, To GOD for us be praying. All the Religious of England, in this time, Ora pro nobis for us they sing."

St. GEORGE was seen over the host: Of very truth this sight men did see. Down was he sent by the HOLY GHOST, To give our King the victory.

Then blew the trumpets merrily,[22] These two Battles [Armies] together yede. Our archers stood up full heartily, And made the Frenchmen fast to bleed. Their arrows went fast, without any let, And many shot they throughout; Through habergeon, breastplate, and bassinet. An eleven thousand were slain in that rout.


Our gracious King, as I well know, That day he fought with his own hand. He spared neither high ne low. There was never King in no land, That ever did better on a day. Wherefore England may sing a song: Laus DEO! may we say; And other prayers ever among. The Duke of ORLEANS, without nay, That day was taken prisoner. The Duke of BOURBON also in fere: And also the Duke of BAR truly. Sir BERGYGAUNTE he gan him yield; And other Lords of France many.

Lo, thus our comely King conquered the field, By the grace of God omnipotent, He took his prisoners, both old and young, And towards Calais forth he went.

He shipped there with good intent:[23] To Canterbury full fair he passed, And offered to St. THOMAS's shrine. And through Kent he rode in haste; To Eltham he came all in good time.[24] And over Blackheath, as he was riding,[25] Of the city of London he was ware. "Hail, royal city!" said our King, "CHRIST keep thee ever from sorrow and care!" And then he gave that noble city his blessing He prayed JESU it might well fare! To Westminster did he ride, And the French prisoners with him also: He ransomed them in that tide, And again to their country he let them go.


Thus of this matter I make an end, To th'effect of the Battle have I gone: For in this book I cannot comprehend The greatest battle of all, called the Siege of Rouen. For that Siege lasted three years and more, And there a rat was at forty pence For in the city the people hungered sore. Women and children, for fault of meat, were lore; And some for pain bare bones were gnawing, That at their breasts had two children sucking.

Of the Siege of Rouen it to write were pity, It is a thing so lamentable: Yet every High Feast, our King, of his charity, Gave them meat to their bodies comfortable; And at the last the town won, without fable.

Thus of all as now I make an end: To the bliss of heaven, GOD our souls send!

Thus endeth the Battle of Agincourt.

Imprinted at London in Foster lane, in Saint Leonard's parish, by me JOHN SKOT.



[9] 1st August 1415.

[10] 7th August 1415.

[11] It should be Clef de caus.

[12] 14th August 1415.

[13] 10th September 1415.

[14] It should be Sir LIONEL BRAQUEMONT.

[15] 22nd September 1415.

[16] 22nd September 1415.

[17] It should be Sir THOMAS ERPINGHAM.

[18] It should be Sir GILBERT UMFREVILLE.

[19] It should be Sir WILLIAM BOURCHIER.

[20] ?8th October 1415.

[21] It should be Somme.

[22] 25th October 1415.

[23] 16th November 1415.

[24] 22nd November 1415.

[25] 23rd November 1415.


Clerk in the Office of the Privy Seal.

The Letter of CUPID.


Clerk in the Office of the Privy Seal.]

The Letter of CUPID.

[Old forms like serven, serve; wollen, will; tellen, tell; doin, done; and the Imperatives bethe, be; telleth, tell; occur in this Poem.]

T. Occleve. 1402.

CUPIDO, (unto whose commandement The gentle kindred of goddis on high And people infernal be obedient; And mortal folk all serven busily), Of the goddess son CYTHERA only; Unto all those that to our deity Be subjects, heartly greeting, sende we!

In general, we wollen that ye know That Ladies of honour and reverence, And other Gentlewomen havin sow Such seed of complaint in our audience, Of men that do them outrage and offence; That it our earis grieveth for to hear, So piteous is the effect of this matere.

Passing all landis, on the little isle That cleped is Albion, they most complain, They say that there is crop and root of guile: So can those men dissimulen and feign, With standing dropis in their eyen twain; When that their heartis feeleth no distress, To blinden women with their doubleness.

Their wordis, spoken be so sighingly, With so piteous a cheer and countenance That every wight that meaneth truely Deemeth that they in heart have such grievance. They say, "So importable is their penance, That but their lady lust to shew them grace They, right anon, must starven in the place."

"Ah, Lady mine!" they say, "I you ensure As doth me grace! and I shall ever be, While that my life may laste and endure To you as humble and low in each degree As possible is, and keep all things secree Right as yourselven liste that I do! And elles must mine hearte burst in two."

Full hard it is, to know a manis heart For outward may no man the truthe deem, When word out of his mouth may none astert But it by reason seemed a wight to queme, So it is said of heart, as it would seem. O faithful woman! full of innocence! Thou art deceived by false appearance!

By process moveth oft woman's pity. Weening all things were as these men ysay, They grant them grace, of their benignity, For that men shoulden not, for their sake die, And with good hearte, set them in the way Of blissful love: keep it, if they con! Thus, otherwhile, women beth ywon.

And when this man the pan hath by the steel And fully is in his possession; With that woman keepeth he no more to deal After, if he may finden in the town Any woman, his blind affection On to bestow. But evil mote he preve! A man, for all his oaths, is hard to believe!

And for that every false Man hath a Make, (As unto every wight is light to know) When this traitor, this woman hath forsake, He fast him speedeth unto his fellow. Till he be there, his heart is on a low; His false deceit ne may him not suffice, But of his treason telleth all the wise.

Is this a fair avaunt? Is this honour? A man himself accuse thus and defame! Is it good to confess himself a traitor? And bring a woman into slanderous name And tell how he her body hath do shame? No worship may he thus, to him conquer, But great dislander unto him and her!

To her! Nay! Yet ywas it no reprefe; For all for virtue was, that she ywrought! But he that brewed hath all this mischief, That spake so fair, and falsely inward thought; His be the slander! as it by reason ought And unto her be thank perpetual That, in such a neede helpen can so well.

Although through manis sleight and subtilty, A silly simple and innocent woman Betrayed is: no wonder! since the city Of Troy, as that the story tellen can, Betrayed was, through the deceit of man, And set on fire, and all down overthrow; And finally destroyed, as men know.

Betrayen not men cities great and kings? What wight is it that can shape remedy Against these falsely proposed things? Who can the craft such craftes to espy But man? whose wit is e'er ready to apply To thing that sowning is into falshede? Woman! beth'ware of false men! I thee rede.

And, furthermore, have these men in usage That where they not likely been to sped, Such as they been with a double visage, They procuren, for to pursue their need; He prayeth him, in his cause to proceed, And largely guerdoneth he his travail. Little wot women, how men them assail!

Another wretch, unto his fellow saith, "Thou fishest fair! She which that thee hath fired Is false, inconstant, and she hath no faith. She for the road of folk is so desired; And, as an horse, from day to day she is hired! That when thou twinnest from her company, Cometh another; and bleared is thine eye!

Now prick on faste! and ride thy journey While thou art there! For she, behind thy back, So liberal is, she will nothing withsay, But smartly of another take a smack. And thus faren these women all the pack Whoso them trusteth, hanged mote he be! Ever they desire change and novelty."

Whereof proceedeth this, but of envy? For that he himselve her ne winnen may. He speaketh her reprefe and villainy; As manis blabbing tongue is wont alway. Thus divers men full often make assay. For to disturben folk in sundry wise, For they may not acheven their emprise.

Many one eke would speaken for no good, That hath in love his time spent and used. Men wist, his Lady his asking withstood; Ere that he were of her, plainly refused. Or waste and vain were all that he had mused: Wherefore he can none other remedy, But on his Lady shapeth him to lie.

"Every woman," he saith, "is light to get, Can none say, 'Nay!' if she be well ysought; Whoso may leisure have with her to treat Of his purpose ne shall be failen ought But he on madness be so deep ybrought That he shende all with open homeliness; That loven women not, as that I guess."

To slaunder women thus, what may profit To gentles? namely, that them armen should, And in defence of women them delight As that the Order of Gentilesse would? If that a man list gentle to be held He must all flee that thereto is contrary. A slanderous tongue is his great adversary!

A foul vice is of tongue to be light. For whoso mochil clappeth, gabbeth oft. The Tongue of Man so swift is, and so wight That when it is yraised up on loft, Reason it sueth so slowly and soft, That it him never overtaken may. Lord! so these men been trusty in assay!

Albeit that men find one woman nice, Inconstant, recheless, and variable, Deignous and proud, full filled of malice, Withouten faith or love, and deceivable, Sly, quaint, false, in all untrust culpable, Wicked or fierce, or full of cruelty: Yet followeth not that such all women be!

When the high God angellis formed had, Among them alle formed were there none That founden were malicious and bad? Yes! all men wot that there were many one That for their pride fell from heaven anon. Should we, forthy, give all angels proud name? Nay, he that that sustaineth, is to blame!

Of twelve Apostles, one a traitor was; The remenant yet good weren and true. So if it happen men finden, percase, A woman false; such good is to eschew: And deeme not that they be all untrue. I see well, that men's owne falseness Them causeth woman for to trust the less.

O, every man ought have a hearte tender Unto woman, and deem her honourable; Whether her shape be thick, or else slender, Or she be good or bad! It is no fable. Every wight wot, that wit hath reasonable, That of a woman, he descended is: Then is it shame of her to speak amiss!

A wicked tree good fruit may none forth bring; For such the fruit is aye as is the tree. Take heed of whom thou took thy beginning! Let thy mother be mirror unto thee! Honour her, if thou wilt honoured be! Despiseth her then not, in no manere! Lest that thereby thy wickedness appear.

An old proverb there said is, in English, That bird or fowl, soothly, is dishonest What that he be, and holden full churlish That useth to defoulen his own nest. Men to say well of women, it is the best: And naught for to despise them, ne deprave; If that they will their honour keep or save.

The Ladies ever complainen them on Clerks That they have made bookis of their defame; In which they despise women and their works, And speaken of them great reproof and shame: And causeless give them a wicked name. Thus they despised be, on every side, Dislandered and blown upon full wide.

Those sorry bookes maken mention How women betrayed in especial ADAM, DAVID, SAMPSON, and SOLOMON, And many one more; who may rehearse them all, The treasons that they have done, and shall? The world their malice may not comprehend (As Clerkis feign), for it ne hath none end.

OVID, in his book called Remedy Of Love, great reproof of woman writeth, Wherein, I know that he did great folly; And every wight who, in such case, him delighteth. A Clerkis custom is, when he enditeth Of women (be it prose, or rhyme, or verse) Say, "They be wicked!" all know he the reverse.

And the book Scholars learned in their childhead For they of women beware should in age, And for to love them ever be in dread. Sith to deceive is set all their courage, They say peril to cast is advantage, Namely, of such as men have in been wrapped: For many a man, by woman hath mishapped.

No charge is what so that these Clerkis sain Of all their writing I ne do no cure All their labour and travail is in vain For between me and my Lady Nature Shall not be suffred, while the world may 'dure. Thus these Clerkis, by their cruel tyranny, On silly women kithen their mastery.

Whilom full many of them were in my chain Ytied; and now, what for unwieldy age And unlust, they may not to love attain: And sain that "Love is but very dotage!" Thus, for that they themself lacken courage, They folk exciten by their wicked saws For to rebell against me, and my laws!

But, maugre them that blamen women most, Such is the force of mine impression That, suddenly, I can fell all their boast, And all their wrong imagination. It shall not be in their election The foulest slut in all the town to refuse; If that me list, for all that they can muse:

But her in heart as brenningly desire As though she were a Duchess, or a Queen; So can I folkis heartis set on fire And, as me list, them senden joy or teen. They that to women ben ywhet so keen, My sharpe piercing strokis, how they smite, Shall feel and know, and how they kerve and bite!

Pardie! this Clerk, this subtle sly OVID And many another have deceived be Of women, as it knowen is full wide. What! no men more! and that is great dainty So excellent a Clerk as was he! And other more, that coulde full well preach Betrapped were, for aught that they could teach!

And trusteth well, that it is no marvail! For women knowen plainly their intent. They wist how softily they could assail Them; and what falsehood they in hearte meant: And thus they Clerkis in their danger hent, With one venom, another is destroyed! And thus these Clerkis often were annoyed.

These Ladies, ne these gentles ne'ertheless, Where none of those that wroughten in this wise; But such women as weren vertueless They quittin thus these old Clerkis wise. To Clerkis muchil less ought to suffice Than to dispraven women generally; For worship shall they geten noon thereby.

If that these men, that lovers them pretend, To women weren faithful, good, and true, And dread them to deceive, or to offend; Women, to love them woulde not eschew. But, every day hath man an harte new! It upon one abiden can no while. What force is it, such a wight to beguile?

Men bearen, eke, the women upon hand That lightly, and withouten any pain They wonnen be; they can no wight withstand That his disease list to them to complain! They be so frail, they may them not refrain! But whoso liketh them may lightly have; So be their heartis easy in to grave.

To Master JEAN DE MEUN, as I suppose, Then, it is a lewd occupation, In making of the Romance of the Rose, So many a sly imagination, And perils for to rollen up and down, So long process, so many a sly cautel For to deceive a silly damosel!

Nought can I see, ne my wit comprehend, That art, and pain, and subtilty should fail For to conquer, and soon to make an end; When men a feeble place shall assail: And soon, also, to vanquish a battle Of which no wight shall maken resistance; Ne heart hath none to stonden at defence.

Then mote it follow, of necessity, Sith art asketh so great engine and pain A woman to deceive, what so she be? Of constancy be they not so barren As that some of these subtle Clerkis feign; But they be, as that women oughten be, Sad, constant, and fulfilled of pity.

How friendly was MEDEA to JASON In his Conquering of the Fleece of Gold! How falsely quit he her true affection, By whom victory he gat as he would! How may this man, for shame, be so bold To falsen her, that, from his death and shame Him kept, and gat him so great a prize and name?

Of Troy also, the traitor AENEAS, The faithless wretch! how he himself forswor To DIDO, which that Queen of Carthage was That him relieved of his smartis sore! What gentilesse might she have doon more Than she, with heart unfeigned, to him kidde? And what mischief to her thereof betid!

In my Legend of Martyrs may men find (Whoso that liketh therein for to read) That oathis ne behest may man not bind Of reprovable shame have they no dread In manis hearte truth ne hath no stead. The soil is naught; there may be no trothe grow! To women, namely, it is not unknown.

Clerkis feign also there is no malice Like unto woman's wicked crabbedness. O Woman! how shalt thou thyself chevice; Sith men of thee so mochil harm witness? Beth ware! O Woman! of their fickleness. Kepeth thine owne! what men clap or crake! And some of them shall smart, I undertake!

Malice of women! What is it to dread? They slay no man, destroyen no cities, Ne oppress people, ne them overlead, Betray Empires, Realmes, or Duchies, Nor bereaven men their landis, ne their mees, Empoison folk, ne houses set on fire, Ne false contractis maken for no hire.

Trust, Perfect Love, and Entire Charity, Fervent Will, and Entalented Courage, All thewis good, as sitteth well to be, Have women ay, of custom and usage. And well they can a manis ire assuage, With softe wordis, discreet and benign. What they be inward, they show outward by sign.

Womanis heart unto no cruelty Inclined is; but they be Charitable, Piteous, Devout, Full of Humility, Shamefaste, Debonaire, and Amiable, Dread full, and of their wordis measurable: What women, these have not, peradventure; Followeth not the way of her nature.

Men sayen that our First Mother na'theless Made all mankinde lose his liberty, And nakid it of joye, doubteless, For Godis hestes disobeyed she, When she presumed to taste of the tree, That God forbade that she eat thereof should. And ne had the Devil be, no more she would!

The envious swelling, that the Fiend our foe Had unto man in hearte, for his wealth, Sent a serpent, and made her for to go To deceive EVE; and thus was manis health Bereft him by the Fiend, right in a stealth, The woman not knowing of the deceit, God wot! Full far was it from her conceit!

Wherefore I say, that this good woman EVE Our father ADAM, ne deceived nought. There may no man for a deceit it preve Properly, but if that she, in heart and thought, Had it compassed first, ere she it wrought. And for such was not her impression, Men may it call no Deceit, by reason.

Ne no wight deceiveth, but he purpose! The fiend this deceit cast, and nothing she. Then it is wrong to deemen or suppose That of this harm she should the cause be. Wytith the Fiend, and his be the maugree! And all excused have her innocence, Save only, that she brake obedience!

And touching this, full fewe men there be, Unnethis any, dare I safely say! From day to day, as men may all day see, But that the hest of God they disobey. Have this in minde, siris! I you pray. If that ye be discreet and reasonable; Ye will her holde the more excusable!

And where men say, "In man is stedfastness; And woman is of her courage unstable." Who may of ADAM bear such a witness? Tellith me this! Was he not changeable? They bothe werin in one case semblable. Save that willing the Fiend deceived EVE; And so did she not ADAM, by your leave!

Yet was this sinne happy to mankind, The Fiend deceived was, for all his sleight; For aught he could him in his sleightis wind, God, to discharge man of the heavy weight Of his trespass, came down from heaven on height And flesh and blood he took of a Virgine, And suffered death, him to deliver of pine.

And God, to whom there may nothing hid be, If He in woman knowen had such malice, As men record of them in generalty; Of our Lady, of Life Reparatrice Nold have been born: but for that she of vice Was void, and full of virtue, well He wist, Endowid! of her to be born Him list.

Her heaped virtue hath such excellence That all too lean is manis faculty To declare it; and therefore in suspense Her due praising put must needis be. But this we witen, verily, that she, Next God, the best friend is that to Man 'longeth. The Key of Mercy by her girdle hangeth!

And of mercy hath every man such need, That razing that, farewel the joy of man! And of her power, now takith right good heed! She mercy may well and purchasen can. Depleasith her not! Honoureth that woman! And other women honour for her sake! And but ye do, your sorrow shall awake!

In any book also, where can ye find That of the workis, or the death or life, Of JESU spelleth or maketh any mind, That women Him forsook, for woe or strife? Where was there any wight so ententife Abouten Him as woman? Proved none! The Apostles him forsooken everichone.

Woman forsook him not! For all the faith Of holy church in woman left only! These are no lies, for Holy Writ thus saith, Look! and ye shall so find it hardily! And therefore I may well proven thereby That in woman reigneth stable constancy; And in men is change and variancy.

Thou Precious Gem of martyrs, Margarite! That of thy blood dreadest none effusion! Thou Lover true! Thou Maiden mansuete! Thou, constant Woman! in thy passion Overcame the Fiendis temptation! And many a wight convertid thy doctrine, Unto the faith of God, holy Virgin!

But, understandeth this! I commend her nought, By encheson of her virginity. Trusteth, it came never into thought! For ever werry against Chastity. And ever shall. But, lo, this moveth me, Her loving heart and constant to her lay Drove out of my remembrance I ne may.

Now holdith this for firm, and for no lie! That this true and just commendation Of women tell I for no flattery; Nor because of pride or elation: But only, lo! for this intention To give them courage of perseverance In virtue, and their honour to advance.

The more the virtue, the less is the pride. Virtue so digne is, and so noble in kind, That Vice and he will not in fere abide. He putteth vices clean out of his mind, He flyeth from them, he leaveth them behind. O, Woman! that of Virtue, art hostess; Great is thy honour, and thy worthiness!

Then will I thus concluden and define. We, you command! our ministers each one That ready ye be our hestes to incline! That of these false men, our rebell foon, Ye do punishement! and that, anon! Void them our Court! and banish them for ever! So that therein more comen may they never!

Fulfilled be it! Ceasing all delay, Look that there be none excusation! Written in the air, the lusty month of May, In our Palace, where many a million Of lovers true, have habitation; In the year of grace, joyful and jocond, A thousand and four hundred and second.

_Thus endeth

The letter of CUPID._

The Ballad of ROBIN HOOD. The first printed edition by WYNKYN DE WORDE, about 1510.

+ Here beginneth a little geste of Robin Hood and his meiny: and of the proud Sheriff of Nottingham.+


Printed by W. de Worde, about 1510.

Lithe and listen, Gentlemen That be of free-born blood! I shall you tell of a good yeoman: His name was ROBIN HOOD. ROBIN was a proud outlaw, Whiles he walked on ground, So courteous an outlaw as he was one, Was never none yfound. ROBIN stood in Bernysdale, And leaned him to a tree; And by him stood Little JOHN, A good yeoman was he: And also did good SCATHELOCK, And MUCH the miller's son, There was no inch of his body But it was worth a groom. Then bespake him Little JOHN, All unto ROBIN HOOD, "Master, if ye would dine betime, It would do you much good!" Then bespake good ROBIN, "To dine I have no lust, Till I have some bold Baron, Or some unketh guest, That may pay for the best, Or some Knight or some Squire That dwelleth here by West." A good manner then had ROBIN, In land where that he were, Every day or he would dine, Three Masses would he hear. The one in the worship of the Father The other of the Holy Ghost, The third was of our dear Lady That he loved, aldermost. ROBIN loved our dear Lady; For doubt of deadly sin, Would he never do company harm That any woman was in. "Master!" then said Little JOHN, "And we our board shall spread, Tell us, Whither we shall gone, And what life we shall lead? Where we shall take? Where we shall leave? Where we shall abide behind? Where shall we rob? where shall we 'reave? Where we shall beat and bind?" "Thereof no force!" said ROBIN, "We shall do well enough! But look, ye do no husband harm, That tilleth with his plough! No more ye shall no good yeoman That walketh by green-wood shaw! Ne no Knight, ne no Squire That would be a good fellaw! These Bishops and these Archbishops, Ye shall them beat and bind! The High Sheriff of NOTTINGHAM, Him hold ye in your mind!" "This word shall be held," saith Little JOHN, "And this lesson shall we lere! It is far day, God send us a guest, That we were at our dinner!" "Take thy good bow in thy hand," said ROBIN, "Let MUCH wend with thee! And so shall WILLIAM SCATHELOCK! And no man abide with me. And walk up to the Sayles, And so to Watling street, And wait after some unketh guest, Upchance, ye may them meet: Be he Earl or any Baron, Abbot or any Knight, Bring him to lodge to me! His dinner shall be dight!" They went unto the Sayles, These yeomen all three; They looked East, they looked West, They might no man see. But as they looked in Bernysdale, By a derne street, Then came there a Knight riding: Full soon they 'gan him meet. All dreary then was his semblante, And little was his pride, His one foot in the stirrup stood, That other waved beside. His hood hanged in his eyen two, He rode in simple array; A sorrier man than he was one, Rode never in summer's day. Little JOHN was full curteys, And set him on his knee, "Welcome be ye, gentle Knight! Welcome are ye to me! Welcome be thou to green wood, Hende Knight and free! My master hath abiden you fasting, Sir! all these hours three!" "Who is your master?" said the Knight. JOHN said, "ROBIN HOOD!" "He is a good yeoman," said the Knight; "Of him I have heard much good! I grant," he said, "with you to wend, My brethren all in-fere: My purpose was to have dined to-day At Blyth or Doncaster." Forth then went that gentle Knight, With a careful cheer; The tears out of his eyen ran, And fell down by his leer. They brought him unto the lodge door: When ROBIN 'gan him see, Full courteously did off his hood, And set him on his knee. "Welcome, Sir Knight!" then said ROBIN, "Welcome thou art to me; I have abide you fasting, Sir, All these hours three!" Then answered the gentle Knight With words fair and free, "God thee save, good ROBIN! And all thy fair meiny!" They washed together, and wiped both; And set till their dinner: Bread and wine they had enough, And nombles of the deer; Swans and pheasants they had full good, And fowls of the river. There failed never so little a bird That ever was bred on brere. "Do gladly, Sir Knight!" said ROBIN. "Grammercy, Sir!" said he, "Such a dinner had I not Of all these weekes three: If I come again, ROBIN, Here by this country, As good a dinner, I shall thee make As thou hast made to me!" "Grammercy, Knight!" said ROBIN, "My dinner when I have I was never so greedy, by dear-worthy God! My dinner for to crave: But pay ere ye wend!" said ROBIN; "Methinketh it is good right, It was never the manner, by dear-worthy God! A yeoman pay for a Knight!" "I have nought in my coffers," said the Knight, "That I may proffer, for shame!" "Little JOHN! go look!" said ROBIN HOOD, "Ne let not, for no blame, Tell me truth!" said ROBIN, "So God have part of thee!" "I have no more but ten shillings," said the Knight, "So God have part of me!" "If thou have no more," said ROBIN, "I will not one penny! And if thou have need of any more; More shall I lend thee! Go now forth, Little JOHN, The truth, tell thou me! If there be no more but ten shillings, Not one penny that I see!" Little JOHN spread down his mantle Full fair upon the ground; And there he found, in the Knight's coffer, But even half a pound. Little JOHN let it lie full still, And went to his master full low. "What tidings, JOHN?" said ROBIN. "Sir, the Knight is true enow!" "Fill of the best wine!" said ROBIN, "The Knight shall begin! Much wonder thinketh me Thy clothing is so thin! Tell me one word," said ROBIN, "And counsel shall it be: I trow thou wert made a Knight, of force, Or else of yeomanry! Or else thou hast been a sorry husband And lived in stroke and strife, And okerer or else a lecher," said ROBIN, "With wrong hast thou led thy life!" "I am none of them," said the Knight, "By God that made me! A hundred winters herebefore, My ancestors Knights have be But oft it hath befallen, ROBIN! A man hath been disgrate, But God that sitteth in heaven above, May amend his state! Within this two year, ROBIN!" he said, "(My neighbours well it know!) Four hundred pounds of good money Full well then might I spend. Now, have I no goods," said the Knight; "God hath shapen such an end,— But my children and my wife, Till God it may amend!" "In what manner," said ROBIN, "Hast thou lost thy riches?" "For my great folly," he said, "And for my kindness! I had a son, forsooth, ROBIN! That should have been my heir: When he was twenty winters old, In field would joust full fair. He slew a Knight of Lancashire And a Squire bold. For to save him in his right My goods be set and sold, My lands be set to wed, ROBIN! Until a certain day To a rich Abbot here besides, Of Saint MARY'S Abbey." "What is the sum?" said ROBIN; "Truth then tell thou me!" "Sir," he said, "four hundred pounds, The Abbot told it to me!" "Now, and thou lose thy land!" said ROBIN, "What shall 'fall of thee?" "Hastily I will me busk," said the Knight, "Over the salt sea, And see where CHRIST was quick and dead On the Mount of Calvary! Farewell, friend! and have good day! It may not better be!" Tears fell out of his eyen two, He would have gone his way. "Farewell, friends, and have good day! I ne have more to pay!" "Where be thy friends?" said ROBIN. "Sir! never one will know me! While I was rich enough at home Great boast then would they blow; And now they run away from me As beasts in a row, They take no more heed of me Than they me never saw!" For ruth then wept Little JOHN, SCATHELOCK and MUCH also. "Fill of the best wine!" said ROBIN, "For here is a simple cheer. Hast thou any friends," said ROBIN, "The borrows that will be?" "I have none!" then said the Knight, "But God that died on the tree!" "Do way thy japes!" said ROBIN, "Thereof will I right none! Weenest thou I will have God to borrow, PETER, PAUL, or JOHN? Nay, by Him that me made, And shaped both sun and moon! Find a better borrow," said ROBIN, "Or money gettest thou none!" "I have none other!" said the Knight, "The sooth for to say, But if it be Our dear Lady She failed me never or this day!" "By dear worthy God!" said ROBIN, "To seek all England through, Yet found I never to my pay A much better borrow! Come now forth, Little JOHN! And go to my treasure! And bring me four hundred pound, And look that it well told be!" Forth then went Little JOHN And SCATHELOCK went before, He told out four hundred pound By eighteen [? eight and twenty] score. "Is this well told?" say Little MUCH." JOHN said, "What grieveth thee? It is alms to help a gentle Knight That is fallen in poverty!" "Master!" then said Little JOHN, "His clothing is full thin! Ye must give the Knight a livery To lap his body therein: For ye have scarlet and green, Master! And many a rich array; There is no merchant in merry England So rich, I dare well say." "Take him three yards of every colour, And look it well meeted be!" Little JOHN took none other measure But his bow tree; And of every handful that he met He leaped over feet three. "What devilkins draper!" said Little MUCH, "Thinkst thou to be?" SCATHELOCK stood full still, and laughed, And said "By God Almight! JOHN may give him the better measure, For it cost him but light!" "Master!" said Little JOHN, All unto ROBIN HOOD, "Ye must give the Knight an horse To lead home all this good." "Take him a grey courser!" said ROBIN, "And a saddle new! He is Our Lady's Messenger; God leve that he be true!" "And a good palfrey," said Little MUCH, "To maintain him in his right!" "And a pair of boots," said SCATHELOCK, "For he is a gentle Knight!" "What shalt thou give him, Little JOHN?" said ROBIN, "Sir; a pair of gilt spurs clean, To pray for all this company; God bring him out of teen!" "When shall my day be," said the Knight, "Sir! and your will be?" "This day twelvemonth!" said ROBIN, "Under this green-wood tree. It were great shame," said ROBIN, "A Knight alone to ride; Without Squire, yeoman, or page, To walk by his side! I shall thee lend, Little JOHN, my man; For he shall be thy knave! In a yeoman's stead, he may thee stand, If thou great need have!"

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