A SELECT COLLECTION OF OLD ENGLISH PLAYS, VOL. II
Originally published by Robert Dodsley in the Year 1744.
FOURTH EDITION, NOW FIRST CHRONOLOGICALLY ARRANGED, REVISED AND ENLARGED WITH THE NOTES OF ALL THE COMMENTATORS, AND NEW NOTES
W. CAREW HAZLITT
The Interlude of Youth Lusty Juventus Jack Juggler A Pretty Interlude, called Nice Wanton The History of Jacob and Esau The Disobedient Child The Marriage of Wit and Science.
THE INTERLUDE OF YOUTH.
See Hazlitt's "Handbook," 1867, p. 464, and Remarks.
MR. HALLIWELL'S PREFACE TO THE FORMER EDITION.
The "Interlude of Youth" is probably the most interesting early-printed moral play that has descended to our times, and it may therefore be considered somewhat singular that it has hitherto escaped the notice of the publication societies. Its great rarity may, however, account for this circumstance, only two or three copies of any edition being known to exist. Waley's edition appeared probably about the year 1554, and has a woodcut on the title-page of two figures, representing Charity and Youth, two of the characters in the interlude. Another edition was printed by Copland, and has also a woodcut on the title-page, representing Youth between Charity, and another figure which has no name over its head. The colophon is: "Imprented at London, in Lothbury, over against Sainct Margarytes church, by me, Wyllyam Copland." See Collier's "History of Dramatic Poetry," vol. ii., p. 313. "The 'Interlude of Youth,'" observes Mr Collier, "is decidedly a Roman Catholic production, and I have therefore little doubt that it made its appearance during the reign of Mary;" and he adds, p. 315, "on the whole, this piece is one of the most amusing and most humorous of the class to which it belongs." A fragment of a black-letter copy of the interlude is preserved at Lambeth Palace, and is described by Mr Maitland in his "List of Early Printed Books," p. 311.
INTERLUDE OF YOUTH.
CHARITY. Jesu that his arms did spread, And on a tree was done to dead, From all perils he you defend! I desire audience till I have made an end, For I am come from God above To occupy his laws to your behove, And am named Charity; There may no man saved be Without the help of me, For he that Charity doth refuse, Other virtues though he do use, Without Charity it will not be, For it is written in the faith: Qui manet in charitate in Deo manet. I am the gate, I tell thee, Of heaven, that joyful city; There may no man thither come, But of charity he must have some, Or ye may not come, i-wis, Unto heaven, the city of bliss; Therefore Charity, who will him take, A pure soul it will him make Before the face of God: In the ABC, of books the least, It is written Deus charitas est. Lo! charity is a great thing, Of all virtues it is the king: When God in earth was here living, Of charity he found none ending. I was planted in his heart; We two might not depart. Out of his heart I did spring, Through the might of the heaven-king: And all priests that be, May sing no mass without charity: And charity to them they do not take, They may not receive him, that did them make And all this world of nought.
YOUTH. Aback, fellows, and give me room, Or I shall make you to avoid soon! I am goodly of person; I am peerless, wherever I come. My name is Youth, I tell thee, I flourish as the vine-tree: Who may be likened unto me, In my youth and jollity? My hair is royal and bushed thick; My body pliant as a hazel-stick; Mine arms be both big and strong, My fingers be both fair and long; My chest big as a tun, My legs be full light for to run, To hop and dance, and make merry. By the mass, I reck not a cherry, Whatsoever I do! I am the heir of all my father's land, And it is come into my hand: I care for no more.
CHARITY. Are you so disposed to do, To follow vice, and let virtue go!
YOUTH. Yea, sir, even so: For now-a-days he is not set by, Without he be unthrifty.
CHARITY. You had need to ask God mercy; Why did you so praise your body?
YOUTH. Why, knave, what is that to thee? Wilt thou let me to praise my body? Why should I not praise it, and it be goodly? I will not let for thee.
CHARITY. What shall it be, when thou shalt flit Fro thy wealth into the pit? Therefore of it be not too bold, Lest thou forethink it, when thou art old: Ye may be likened to a tree, In youth flourishing with royalty, And in age it is cut down, And to the fire is thrown: So shalt thou, but thou amend, Be burned in hell without end!
YOUTH. Ye whoreson, trowest thou so? Beware, lest thou thither go! Hence, caitiff, go thy way, Or with my dagger I shall thee slay! Hence, knave, out of this place, Or I shall lay thee on the face! Sayest thou that I shall go to hell, For evermore there to dwell? I had liever thou had evil fare.
CHARITY. Ah, yet, sir, do by my reed, And ask mercy for thy misdeed, And thou shalt be an heritor of bliss, Where all joy and mirth is; Where thou shalt see a glorious sight Of angels singing, with saints bright, Before the face of God.
YOUTH. What, sirs, above the sky? I had need of a ladder to climb so high! But what, and the ladder slip? Then I am deceived yet, And if I fall, I catch a queck; I may fortune to break my neck, And that joint is ill to set: Nay, nay, not so.
CHARITY. Oh, yet remember, and call to thy mind, The mercy of God passeth all thing. For it is written by noble clerks, The mercy of God passeth all works; That witnesseth Holy Scripture, saying thus: Miseratio domini super omnia opera ejus: Therefore doubt not God's grace; Thereof is plenty in every place.
YOUTH. What, methink ye be clerkish, For ye speak good gibb'rish! Sir, I pray you, and you have any store, Soil me a question, ere ye cast any more, Lest when your cunning is all done, My question have no solution. Sir, and it please you this, Why do men eat mustard with salt fish? Sir, I pray you soil me this question That I have put to your discretion.
CHARITY. This question is but a vanity; It longeth not to me Such questions to assoil.
YOUTH. Sir, by God, that me dear bought, I see your cunning is little or nought; And I should follow your school, Soon ye would make me a fool! Therefore crake no longer here, Lest I take you on the ear, And make your head to ache!
CHARITY. Sir, it falleth not for me to fight, Neither by day, ne by night; Therefore do by my counsel, I say, Then to heaven thou shalt have thy way.
YOUTH. No, sir, I think ye will not fight; But to take a man's purse in the night Ye will not say nay; For such holy caitiffs Were wont to be thieves, And such would be hanged as high As a man may see with his eye: In faith, this same is true.
CHARITY. God save every Christian body From such evil destiny, And send us of his grace In heaven to have a place!
YOUTH. Nay, nay, I warrant thee, He hath no place for thee; Weenest thou he will have such fools To sit on his gay stools? Nay, I warrant thee, nay!
HUMILITY. Well, sir, I put me in God's will, Whether he will me save or spill; And, sir, I pray you do so, And trust in God, whatsoever ye do.
YOUTH. Sir, I pray thee hold thy peace, And talk to me of no goodness; And soon look thou go thy way, Lest with my dagger I thee slay! In faith, if thou move my heart, Thou shalt be weary of thy part, Ere thou and I have done.
CHARITY. Think what God suffered for thee, His arms to be spread upon a tree; A knight with a spear opened his side, In his heart appeared a wound wide, That bought both you and me!
YOUTH. God's fast! what is that to me? Thou daw, wilt thou reed me In my youth to lose my jollity? Hence, knave, and go thy way, Or with my dagger I shall thee slay!
CHARITY. O sir, hear what I you tell, And be ruled after my counsel, That ye might sit in heaven high With God and his company.
YOUTH. Ah, yet of God thou wilt not cease Till I fight in good earnest; On my faith I tell thee true, If I fight, it will thee rue All the days of thy life.
CHARITY. Since I see it will none otherwise be; I will go to my brother Humility, And take good counsel of him, How it is best to be do therein.
YOUTH. Yea, marry, sir, I pray you of that; Methink it were a good sight of your back; I would see your heels hither, And your brother and you together Fettered fine fast! I-wis, and I had the key, Ye should sing well-away, Ere I let you loose!
CHARITY. Farewell, my masters everychone! I will come again anon, And tell you how I have done.
YOUTH. And thou come hither again, I shall send thee hence in the devil's name. What! now I may have my space To jet here in this place; Before I might not stir, When that churl Charity was here; But now, among all this cheer, I would I had some company here; I wish my brother Riot would help me, For to beat Charity And his brother too.
RIOT. Huffa! huffa! who calleth after me? I am Riot, full of jollity. My heart as light as the wind, And all on riot is my mind, Wheresoever I go. But wot ye what I do here? To seek Youth my compeer: Fain of him I would have a sight, But my lips hang in my light. God speed, master Youth, by my fay.
YOUTH. Welcome, Riot, in the devil's way! Who brought thee hitherto?
RIOT. That did my legs, I tell thee: Methought thou did me call, And I am come now here To make royal cheer, And tell thee how I have done.
YOUTH. What! I weened thou hadst been hanged, But I see thou art escaped, For it was told me here You took a man on the ear, That his purse in your bosom did fly, And so in Newgate you did lie.
RIOT. So it was, I beshrew your heart: I come lately from Newgate, But I am as ready to make good cheer, As he that never came there; For, and I have spending, I will make as merry as a king, And care not what I do; For I will not lie long in prison, But will get forth soon, For I have learned a policy That will loose me lightly, And soon let me go.
YOUTH. I love well thy discretion, For thou art all of one condition; Thou art stable and steadfast of mind, And not changeable as the wind. But, sir, I pray you at the least, Tell me more of that jest, That thou told me right now.
RIOT. Moreover, I shall tell thee, The Mayor of London sent for me Forth of Newgate for to come, For to preach at Tyburn.
YOUTH. By our Lady! he did promote thee, To make thee preach at the gallow-tree! But, sir, how didst thou 'scape?
RIOT. Verily, sir, the rope brake, And so I fell to the ground, And ran away, safe and sound: By the way I met with a courtier's lad, And twenty nobles of gold in his purse he had: I took the lad on the ear, Beside his horse I felled him there: I took his purse in my hand, And twenty nobles therein I fand. Lord, how I was merry!
YOUTH. God's fate! thou didst enough there For to be made knight of the collar.
RIOT. Yea, sir, I trust to God Allmight At the next sessions to be dubbed a knight.
YOUTH. Now, sir, by this light! That would I fain see, And I plight thee, so God me save, That a sure collar thou shalt have; And because gold collars be so good cheap, Unto the roper I shall speak To make thee one of a good price, And that shall be of warrantise.
RIOT. Youth, I pray thee have ado, And to the tavern let us go, And we will drink divers wine, And the cost shall be mine; Thou shalt not pay one penny, i-wis, Yet thou shalt have a wench to kiss, Whensoever thou wilt.
YOUTH. Marry, Riot, I thank thee, That thou wilt bestow it on me, And for thy pleasure so be it; I would not Charity should us meet, And turn us again, For right now he was with me, And said he would go to Humility, And come to me again.
RIOT. Let him come, if he will; He were better to bide still; And he give thee crooked language, I will lay him on the visage, And that thou shalt see soon, How lightly it shall be done; And he will not be ruled with knocks, We shall set him in the stocks, To heal his sore shins!
YOUTH. I shall help thee, if I can, To drive away that hangman; Hark, Riot, thou shalt understand I am heir of my father's land, And now they be come to my hand, Methink it were best therefore, That I had one man more To wait me upon.
RIOT. I can speed thee of a servant of price, That will do thee good service; I see him go here beside; Some men call him Master Pride; I swear by God in Trinity I will go fetch him unto thee, And that even anon.
YOUTH. Hie thee apace and come again, And bring with thee that noble swain.
RIOT. Lo, Master Youth, here he is, A pretty man and a wise; He will be glad to do you good service In all that ever he may.
YOUTH. Welcome to me, good fellow, I pray thee, whence comest thou? And thou wilt my servant be, I shall give thee gold and fee.
PRIDE. Sir, I am content, i-wis, To do you any service That ever I can do.
YOUTH. By likelihood thou should do well enou'; Thou art a likely fellow.
PRIDE. Yes, sir, I warrant you, If ye will be ruled by me, I shall you bring to high degree.
YOUTH. What shall I do, tell me, And I will be ruled by thee.
PRIDE. Marry, I shall tell you: Consider ye have good enou' And think ye come of noble kind; Above all men exalt thy mind; Put down the poor, and set nought by them; Be in company with gentlemen; Get up and down in the way, And your clothes look they be gay; The pretty wenches will say then, Yonder goeth a gentleman; And every poor fellow that goeth you by, Will do off his cap, and make you courtesy: In faith, this is true.
YOUTH. Sir, I thank thee, by the rood, For thy counsel that is so good; And I commit me even now Under the teaching of Riot and you.
RIOT. Lo, Youth, I told you That he was a lusty fellow.
YOUTH. Marry, sir, I thank thee That you would bring him unto me.
PRIDE. Sir, it were expedient that ye had a wife, To live with her all your life.
RIOT. A wife? nay, nay, for God avow, He shall have flesh enou', For, by God that me dear bought, Over-much of one thing is nought; The devil said he had liever burn all his life Than once for to take a wife; Therefore I say, so God me save, He shall no wife have: Thou hast a sister fair and free, I know well his leman she will be; Therefore I would she were here, That we might go and make good cheer At the wine somewhere.
YOUTH. I pray you hither thou her do bring, For she is to my liking.
PRIDE. Sir, I shall do my diligence To bring her to your presence.
YOUTH. Hie thee apace, and come again; To have a sight I would be fain Of that lady free.
RIOT. Sir, in faith I shall tell you true, She is fresh and fair of hue, And very proper of body; Men call her Lady Lechery.
YOUTH. My heart burneth, by God of might, Till of that lady I have a sight.
(Intret Superbia cum Luxuria et dicat Superbia.)
PRIDE. Sir, I have fulfilled your intent, And have brought you in this present, That you have sent me for.
YOUTH. Thou art a ready messenger; Come hither to me, my heart so dear, Ye be welcome to me as the heart in my body.
LECHERY. Sir, I thank you, and at your pleasure I am; Ye be the same unto me.
YOUTH. Masters, will ye to tavern walk? A word with you here will I talk, And give you the wine.
LECHERY. Gentleman, I thank you verily, And I am all ready To wait you upon.
RIOT. What, sister Lechery? Ye be welcome to our company.
LECHERY. Well, wanton, well, fie for shame! So soon ye do express my name: What! if no man should have known, I-wis I shall you beat! well, wanton, well!
RIOT. A little pretty niset, Ye be well nice, God wot! Ye be a little pretty pye! i-wis, ye go full gingerly.
LECHERY. Well, I see your false eye Winketh on me full wantonly; Ye be full wanton, i-wis.
YOUTH. Pride, I thank you of your labour That you had to fetch this fair flow'r.
PRIDE. Lo, youth, I told thee That I would bring her with me. Sir, I pray you tell me now, How she doth like you?
YOUTH. Verily, well she pleaseth me, For she is courteous, gentle, and free. How do you, fair lady? How fare you, tell me.
LECHERY. Sir, if it please you, I do well enou', And the better that you will wit.
YOUTH. Riot, I would be at the tavern fain, Lest Charity us meet and turn us again: Then would I be sorry, because of this fair lady.
RIOT. Let us go again betime, That we may be at the wine, Ere ever that he come.
PRIDE. Hie thee apace, and go we hence; We will let for none expense.
YOUTH. Now we will fill the cup and make good cheer; I trust I have a noble here. Hark, sirs, for God Almighty, Hearest thou not how they fight? In faith we shall them part. If there be any wine to sell, They shall no longer together dwell; No, then I beshrew my heart.
RIOT. No, sir, so mot I the, Let not thy servants fight within thee; For it is a careful life Evermore to live in strife; Therefore, if ye will be ruled by my tale, We will go to the ale, And see how we can do; I trust to God that sitteth on high, To lese that little company Within an hour or two.
PRIDE. Now let us go, for God's sake, And see how merry we can make.
RIOT. Now let us go apace; And I be last there, I beshrew my face!
YOUTH. Now let us go: that we were there To make this lady some cheer.
LECHERY. Verily, sir, I thank thee, That ye will bestow it on me, And when it please you on me to call, My heart is yours, body and all.
YOUTH. Fair lady, I thank thee; On the same wise ye shall have me, Whatsoever you please.
PRIDE. Riot, we tarry very long.
RIOT. We will go even now with a lusty song.
PRIDE. In faith, I will be rector of the choir.
YOUTH. Go to it then hardily, and let us be agate.
CHARITY. Abide, fellow; a word with thee: Whither go ye, tell me? Abide, and hear what I shall you tell, And be ruled by my counsel.
PRIDE. Nay, no fellow ne yet mate, I trow thy fellow be in Newgate; Shall we tell thee whither we go? Nay, i-wis, good John-a-Peepo! Who learned thee, thou mistaught man, To speak so to a gentleman? Though his clothes be never so thin, Yet he is come of noble kin; Though thou give him such a mock, Yet he is come of a noble stock, I let thee well to wit.
RIOT. What! Sir John, what say ye! Would you be fettered now? Think not too long, I pray ye; If misfortune come soon enou', Ye shall think it a little [too] soon.
YOUTH. Yet, sirs, let this cease, And let us talk of goodness.
RIOT. He turneth his tail, he is afeard; But, faith, he shall be scared; He weeneth by flattering to please us again, But he laboureth all in vain.
CHARITY. Sir, I pray you me not spare, For nothing I do care That ye can do to me.
RIOT. No, whoreson? sayest thou so? Hold him, Pride, and let me go; I shall set a pair of rings, That shall set to his shins, And that even anon.
PRIDE. Hie thee apace and come again, And bring with thee a good chain, And hold him here still.
CHARITY. Jesus, that was born of Mary mild, From all evil he us shield, And send you grace to amend, Ere our life be at an end; For I tell you truly, That ye live full wickedly; I pray God it amend!
RIOT. Lo, sirs, look what I bring. Is not this a jolly ringing? By my troth, I trow it be: I will go with Charity. How say'st thou, Master Charity? Doth this gear please thee?
CHARITY. They please me well indeed! The more sorrow, the more meed! For God said, while he was a man, Beati qui persecutionem patiuntur propter justitiam; Unto his apostles he said so, To teach them how they should do.
PRIDE. We shall see how they can please; Sit down, sir, and take your ease; Methink these same were full meet To go about your fair feet.
YOUTH. By my truth, I you tell They would become him very well; Therefore hie that they were on, Unto the tavern that we were gone.
RIOT. That shall ye see anon, How soon they shall be on; And after we will not tarry long, But go hence with a merry song.
PRIDE. Let us begin all at once.
YOUTH. Now have at thee, by Cock's bones, And soon let us go!
[Exeunt Pride, Youth, Riot, and Lechery.]
CHARITY. Lo, masters, here you may see beforne, That the weed overgroweth the corn: Now may ye see all in this tide, How vice is taken, and virtue set aside. Yonder ye may see youth is unstable, But evermore changeable; And the nature of men is frail, That he wotteth not what may avail Virtue for to make. O good Lord, it is a pitiful case, Sith God hath lent man wit and grace To choose of good and evil, That man should voluntarily To such things himself apply, That his soul should spill.
HUMILITY. Christ that was crucified, and crowned with thorn, And of a virgin for man was born, Some knowledge send to me Of my brother Charity.
CHARITY. Dear brother Humility, Ye be welcome unto me; Where have ye be so long?
HUMILITY. I shall do you to understand, That I have said mine evensong; But, sir, I pray you tell me now, How this case happened to you?
CHARITY. I shall tell you anon; The fellows that I told you on, Have me thus arrayed.
HUMILITY. Sir, I shall undo the bands From your feet and your hands. Sir, I pray you tell me anon Whither they be gone, And when they come again.
CHARITY. Sir, to the tavern they be gone, And they will come again anon, And that shall you see.
HUMILITY. Then will we them exhort Unto virtue to resort, And to forsake sin.
CHARITY. I will help you that I can To convert that wicked man.
YOUTH. Aback! gallants, and look unto me, And take me for your special, For I am promoted to high degree, By right I am king eternal; Neither duke ne lord, baron ne knight, That may be likened unto me, They be subdued to me by right, As servants to their masters should be.
HUMILITY. Ye be welcome to this place here; We think ye labour all in vain; Wherefore your brains we will stir, And keel you a little again.
YOUTH. Sayest thou my brains thou wilt stir, I shall lay thee on the ear, Were thou born in Trumpington, And brought up at Hogsnorton? By my faith it seemeth so; Well, go, knave, go!
CHARITY. Do by our counsel and our reed, And ask mercy for thy misdeed; And endeavour thee, for God's sake, For thy sins amends to make Ere ever that thou die.
RIOT. Hark, Youth, for God avow, He would have thee a saint now; But, Youth, I shall you tell A young saint an old devil; Therefore I hold thee a fool, And thou follow his school.
YOUTH. I warrant thee I will not do so; I will be ruled by you two.
PRIDE. Then shall ye do well, If ye be ruled by our counsel; We will bring you to high degree, And promote you to dignity.
HUMILITY. Sir, it is a pitiful case, That ye would forsake grace, And to vice apply.
YOUTH. Why, knave, doth it grieve thee! Thou shalt not answer for me. When my soul hangeth on the hedge once, Then take thou, and cast stones, As fast as thou wilt!
CHARITY. Sir, if it please you to do thus, Forsake them and do after us, The better shall you do.
RIOT. Sir, he shall do well enou', Though he be ruled by neither of you; Therefore crake no longer here, Lest you have on the ear, And that a good knock.
PRIDE. Lightly see thou avoid the place, Or I shall give thee on the face. Youth, I trow that he would Make you holy, ere ye be old; And, I swear by the rood, It is time enough to be good, When that ye be old.
YOUTH. Sir, by my truth, I thee say I will make merry, whiles I may, I cannot tell you how long.
PRIDE. Yea, sir, so mot I thrive, Thou art not certain of thy life; Therefore thou wert a stark fool To leave mirth and follow their school.
HUMILITY. Sir, I shall him exhort Unto us to resort, And you to forsake.
PRIDE. Ask him if he will do so, To forsake us and follow you two; Nay, I warrant you, nay!
HUMILITY. That shall you see even anon; I will unto him gone, And see what he will say.
RIOT. Hardily go on thy way; I know well he will say nay.
YOUTH. Yea, sir, by God that me dear bought, Methink ye labour all for nought; Weenest thou that I will for thee Or thy brother Charity Forsake this good company? Nay, I warrant you.
PRIDE. No, master, I pray you of that, For anything forsake us not, And all our counsel rule you by; Ye may be emperor, ere ye die.
YOUTH. While I have life in my body, Shall I be ruled by Riot and thee.
RIOT. Sir, then, shall ye do well, For we be true as steel; Sir, I can teach you to play at the dice, At the queen's game and at the Irish; The treygobet and the hazard also, And many other games mo; Also at the cards I can teach you to play, At the triump and one-and-thirty, Post, pinion, and also aums-ace, And at another they call dewce-ace; Yet I can tell you more, and ye will con me thank, Pink and drink, and also at the blank, And many sports mo.
YOUTH. I thank thee, Riot, so mot I the, For the counsel thou hast given me; I will follow thy mind in every thing, And guide me after thy learning.
CHARITY. Youth, leave that counsel, for it is nought, And amend that thou hast miswrought, That thou may'st save that God hath bought.
YOUTH. What say ye, Master Charity? What hath God bought? By my troth, I know not Whether he goeth in white or black; He came never at the stews, Nor in no place, where I do use; I-wis he bought not my cap, Nor yet my jolly hat; I wot not what he hath bought for me; And he bought anything of mine, I will give him a quart of wine, The next time I him meet.
CHARITY. Sir, this he did for thee; When thou wast bond, he made thee free, And bought thee with his blood.
YOUTH. Sir, I pray you tell me, How may this be: That I know, I was never bond Unto none in England.
CHARITY. Sir, I shall tell you— When Adam had done great trespass, And out of Paradise exiled was; Then all the souls, as I can you tell, Were in the bondage of the devil of hell, Till the Father of heaven, of his great mercy, Sent the Second Person in Trinity Us for to redeem, And so with his precious blood He bought us on the rood, And our souls did save.
YOUTH. How should I save it, tell me now, And I will be ruled after you My soul to save.
RIOT. What, youth; will ye forsake me? I will not forsake thee.
HUMILITY. I shall tell you shortly; Kneel down and ask God mercy, For that you have offended.
PRIDE. Youth, wilt thou do so? Follow them, and let us go? Marry, I trow, nay.
YOUTH. Here all sin I forsake, And to God I me betake; Good Lord, I pray thee have no indignation, That I, a sinner, should ask salvation.
CHARITY. Now thou must forsake Pride, And all Riot set aside.
PRIDE. I will not him forsake, Neither early ne late; I ween'd he would not forsake me; But if it will none otherwise be, I will go my way.
YOUTH. Sir, I pray God be your speed, And help you at your need.
RIOT. I am sure thou wilt not forsake me, Nor I will not forsake thee.
YOUTH. I forsake you also, And will not have with you to do.
RIOT. And I forsake thee utterly: Fie on thee, caitiff, fie! Once a promise thou did me make, That thou would me never forsake, But now I see it is hard For to trust the wretched world; Farewell, masters, everychone.
HUMILITY. For your sin look ye mourn, And evil creatures look ye turn; For your name, who maketh inquisition, Say it is Good Contrition That for sin doth mourn.
CHARITY. Here is a new array, For to walk by the way, Your prayer for to say.
HUMILITY. Here be beads for your devotion, And keep you from all temptation; Let not vice devour. When you see misdoing men, Good counsel give them, And teach them to amend.
YOUTH. For my sin I will mourn, All creatures I will turn; And when I see misdoing men, Good counsel I shall give them, And exhort them to amend.
CHARITY. Then shall ye be an heritor of bliss, Where all joy and mirth is.
YOUTH. To the which eternal God bring the persons all Here being, amen!
HUMILITY. Thus have we brought our matter to an end Before the persons here present; Would every man be content, Lest another day we be shent.
CHARITY. We thank all this presence Of their meek audience.
HUMILITY. Jesu that sitteth in heaven so high, Save all this fair company: Men and women that here be, Amen, amen, for Charity.
_An Enterlude called Lusty Juuentus, lyuely describing the frailtie of youth: of natur prone to vyce: by grace and good counsayll traynable to vertue.
The parsonages that speake.
Messenger, Lusty Juuentus, Good Counsaill, Knowledge, Sathan the deuyll, Hypocrisie, Felowship, Abhominable Lyuyng, Gods mercifull promises.
Foure maye playe it easely, takyng such partes as they thinke best: so that any one take of those partes that be not in place at once.
[Col.] Imprynted at London, in Lothbury, ouer agaynst Sainct Margarits Church, by Wyllyam Copland. 4 deg., black-letter_.
The editor has been favoured with two copies of this moral interlude; one of which is preserved in the library belonging to Lincoln Cathedral, the other is in the possession of Mr. Garrick. It was written in the reign of Edward the Sixth by one R. Wever, of whom the editor can give the reader no further information. The former was printed at London by Abraham Vele. The latter is a very different copy from the other. A more obsolete spelling runs through the whole, and it contains great variations besides, which the reader will find at the bottom of each page. The conclusion being imperfect, the printer's colophon is wanting, so that it cannot be known where this edition was printed. According to Dr Percy's tables, it was printed by Richard Pinson.
The design of this interlude was to expose the superstitions of the Romish Church, and to promote the Reformation. The stage (as the learned Dr Percy observes) in those days literally was what wise men have always wished it—a supplement to the pulpit: chapter and verse are as formally quoted as in a sermon. See "Prologue of the Messenger," &c. From this play we learn that most of the young people were new gospellers, or friends to the Reformation; and that the old were tenacious of the doctrines imbibed in their youth, for thus the Devil is introduced lamenting the downfall of superstition—
The old people would believe still in my laws, But the younger sort lead them a contrary way; They will not believe, they plainly say, In old traditions and made by men, But they will live as the scripture teacheth them, &c.
And in another place Hypocrisy urges—
The world was never merry, Since children were so bold; Now every boy will be a teacher, The father a fool, and the child a preacher.
[This is certainly a piece of rather heavy and tedious morality, replete with good instruction, but didactic to a fault. It is deficient in the curious allusions, which abound in other productions of the same kind; and even that mysterious character, Abominable Living, whose introduction promises some amusement and illustration, moves off the scene almost immediately after her first appearance, while Little Bess, whose entrance might have been a vehicle for some diverting or sentimental situation, does not "come on" at all.]
THE PROLOGUE OF THE MESSENGER.
For as much as man is naturally prone To evil from his youth, as Scripture doth recite, It is necessary that he be speedily withdrawn From concupiscence of sin, his natural appetite: An order to bring up youth Ecclesiasticus doth write,— An untamed horse will be hard, saith he, And a wanton child wilful will be.
Give him no liberty in youth, nor his folly excuse, Bow down his neck, and keep him in good awe, Lest he be stubborn: no labour refuse To train him to wisdom and teach him God's law, For youth is frail and easy to draw By grace to goodness, by nature to ill: That nature hath ingrafted, is hard to kill.
Nevertheless, in youth men may be best Trained to virtue by godly mean; Vice may be so mortified and so supprest, That it shall not break forth, yet the root will remain; As in this interlude by youth you shall see plain, From his lust by Good Counsel brought to godly conversation, And shortly after to frail nature's inclination. The enemy of mankind, Satan, through Hypocrisy Feigned or chosen holiness of man's blind intent, Forsaking God's word, that leadeth right way, Is brought to Fellowship and ungracious company, To Abhominable Living till he be wholly bent, And so to desperation, if good counsel were not sent From God, that in trouble doth no man forsake That doth call, and trust in him for Christ's sake.
Finally, youth by God's special grace Doth earnestly repent his abhominable living By the doctrine of good counsel, and to his solace God's mercy entereth to him reciting God's merciful promises, as they be in writing: He believeth and followeth, to his great consolation. And these parts ye shall see briefly played in their fashion.
Here entereth LUSTY JUVENTUS, or YOUTH, singing as followeth:
In a herber green, asleep where as I lay, The birds sang sweet in the middes of the day; I dreamed fast of mirth and play: In youth is pleasure, in youth is pleasure.
Methought I walked still to and fro, And from her company I could not go; But when I waked, it was not so: In youth is pleasure, in youth is pleasure.
Therefore my heart is surely pight Of her alone to have a sight, Which is my joy and heart's delight: In youth is pleasure, in youth is pleasure.
LUSTY JUVENTUS, or YOUTH, speaketh.
What, ho? Are they not here? I am disappointed, by the blessed mass! I had thought to have found them making good cheer; But now they are gone to some secret place. Well, seeing they are gone, I do not greatly pass; Another time I will hold them as much, Seeing they break promise, and keep not the tweche.
What shall I do now to pass away the day? Is there any man here that will go to game? At whatsoever he will play, To make one I am ready to the same: Youth full of pleasure is my proper name. To be alone is not my appetite, For of all things in the world I love merry company.
Who knoweth where is e'er a minstrel? By the mass, I would fain go dance a fit My companions are at it, I know right well; They do not all this while in a corner sit: Against another time they have taught me wit: I beshrew their hearts for serving me this, I will go seek them, whether I hit or miss.
Here entereth GOOD COUNSEL, to whom YOUTH yet speaketh.
Well i-met, father, well i-met: Did you hear any minstrels play, As you came hitherward upon your way? And if you did, I pray you wish me thither, For I am going to seek them, and, in faith, I know not whither.
GOOD COUNSEL. Sir, I will ask you a question by your favour: What would you with the minstrel do?
JUVENTUS. Nothing but have a dance or two, To pass the time away in pleasure.
GOOD COUNSEL. If that be the matter, I promise you sure, I am the more sorrier that it should so be; For there is no such passing the time appointed in the Scripture, Nor yet thereunto it doth not agree! I wish that ye would so use your liberty, To walk as you are bound to do, According to the vocation which God hath called you to.
JUVENTUS. Why, sir, are you angry, because I have spoken so? By the mass, it is alone for my appetite.
GOOD COUNSEL. Show me your name, I pray you heartily, And then I will my mind express.
JUVENTUS. My name is called Juventus, doubtless: Say what you will, I will give you the hearing.
GOOD COUNSEL. For as much as God hath created you of nothing, Unto his own likeness by spiritual illumination, It is unmeet that ye should lead your living Contrary to his godly determination. Saint Paul unto the Ephesians giveth good exhortation, Saying, walk circumspectly, redeeming the time; That is, to spend it well, and not to wickedness incline.
JUVENTUS. No, no, hardily none of mine; If I would live so strait, you might count me a fool; Let them keep those rules, which are doctors divine, And have be brought up all their days in school.
GOOD COUNSEL. Moses in the law exhorteth his people, As in the book of Deuteronomy he doth plainly write, That they should live obedient and thankful; For in effect these words he doth recite: All ye this day stand before the Lord's sight, Both princes, rulers, elders, and parents, Children, wives, young, and old; therefore obey his commandments.
JUVENTUS. I am too young to understand his documents; Wherefore did all they stand before his presence?
GOOD COUNSEL. To enter with God peace and alliance, Promising that they would him honour, fear, and serve: All kind of people were bound in those covenants, That from his law they should never swerve; For God useth no partiality.
JUVENTUS. What, am I bound, as well as the clergy, To learn and follow his precepts and law?
GOOD COUNSEL. Yea, surely, or else God will withdraw His mercy from you, promised in his covenant; For, except you live under his obedience and awe, How can you receive the benefits of his Testament? For he that submitteth himself to be a servant, And his master's commandment will not fulfil nor regard, According as he hath done, is worthy his reward.
JUVENTUS. It is as true a saying as ever I heard; Therefore your name, I pray you now tell, For, by my truth, your communication I like wonders well.
GOOD COUNSEL. My name is called Good Counsel.
JUVENTUS. Good Counsel? Now, in faith, I cry you mercy: I am sorry that I have you thus offended; But, I pray you, bear with me patiently, And my misbehaviour shall be amended: I know my time I have rudely spended, Following my own lust, being led by ignorance; But now I hope of better knowledge through your acquaintance.
GOOD COUNSEL. I pray God guide you with his gracious assistance Unto the knowledge of his truth, your ignorance to undo, That you may be one of those numbered Christians, Which followeth the lamb whither he doth go: The lamb Jesus Christ my meaning is so, By sure faith and confidence in his bitter death and passion, The only price of our health and salvation.
JUVENTUS. Sir, I thank you for your hearty oration: And now, I pray you, show me your advisement, How I may live in this my vocation, According to God's will and commandment.
GOOD COUNSEL. First of all, it is most expedient, That you exercise yourself in continual prayer, That it might please the Lord omnipotent To send unto you his holy spirit and comforter, Which will lead you every day and hour Unto the knowledge of his word and verity, Wherein you may learn to live most christianly.
JUVENTUS. O Lord, grant me of thy infinite mercy [He kneeleth. The true knowledge of thy law and will, And illumine my heart with spirit continually, That I may be apt thy holy precepts to fulfil; Strengthen me, that I may persever still Thy commandments to obey: And then shall I never slip nor fall away. [He riseth.
GOOD COUNSEL. Full true be these words, which Christ himself did say, He that seeketh shall surely find.
KNOWLEDGE entereth. Behold, Youth, now rejoice we may, For I see Knowledge of Godś Verity stand here behind: He is come now to satisfy your mind In those things which you will desire; Therefore together let us approach him near.
JUVENTUS. Ah, Good Counsel, now it doth appear, That God never rejecteth the humbles[t] petition.
KNOWLEDGE. Now the Lord bless you all with his heavenly benediction, And with his fiery love your hearts inflame, That of his merciful promises you may have the fruition, The subtlety of the devil utterly to defame. Now, good Christian audience, I will express my name, The True Knowledge of God's Verity, this my name doth hight, Whom God hath appointed to give the blind their sight.
GOOD COUNSEL. All praise be given to that Lord of might, Which hath appointed you hither at this present hour; For I trust you will so instruct youth aright, That he shall live according to God's pleasure.
JUVENTUS. And I thank Jesus Christ my Saviour, That he is come to my company.
I thank you, my friends, most heartily For your gentle salutation.
JUVENTUS. Sir, I will be so bold, by your deliberation, To open my mind unto you now, Trusting that, by your good exhortation, I shall learn those things which I never knew: This one thing chiefly I would learn of you, How I may my life in this my vocation lead, According as God hath ordained and decreed.
KNOWLEDGE. The prophet David saith, that the man is blessed, Which doth exercise himself in the law of the Lord, And doth not follow the way of the wicked; As the first psalm doth plainly record: The fourscore and thirteenth psalm thereunto doth accord; Blessed is the man whom thou teachest, O Lord, saith he, To learn thy law, precepts, word, or verity. And Christ in the gospel saith manifestly: Blessed is he which heareth the Word of God and keepeth it; That is, to believe his word and live accordingly, Declaring the faith by the fruits of the spirit, Whose fruits are these, as St. Paul to the Galathi doth write, Love, joy, peace, long suffering, and faithfulness, Meekness, goodness, temperance, and gentleness.
GOOD COUNSEL. By these words, which unto you he doth express, He teacheth that you ought to have a steadfast faith; Without the which it is impossible doubtless To please God, as Saint Paul saith: Where faith is not, godly living decayeth; For whatsoever is not of faith, saith St. Paul, is sin, But where a perfect faith is, there is good working.
JUVENTUS. It seemeth to me, that this is your meaning, That, when I observe God's commandments and the works of charity, They shall prevail unto me nothing, Except I believe to be saved thereby.
KNOWLEDGE. No, no, you are deceived very blindly; For faith in Christ's merits doth only justify, And make us righteous in God's sight.
JUVENTUS. Why should I then in good works delight, Seeing I shall not be saved by them?
GOOD COUNSEL. Because they are required of all Christian men, As the necessary fruits of true repentance.
KNOWLEDGE. But the reward of the heavenly inheritance Is given us through faith, for Christ's deservings; As St. Paul declareth in the fourth chapter to the Romans, Therefore we ought not to work as hirelings: Seeing Christ hath purged us once from all our wicked living, Let us no more wallow therein, But persever, like good branches, bearing fruit in Him.
JUVENTUS. Now I know where about you have been: My elders never taught me so before.
GOOD COUNSEL. Though your elders were blind, doubt not you therefore; For Saint Peter saith, vain is the conversations Which ye receive by your elders' traditions.
JUVENTUS. I will gladly receive your godly admonitions: But yet, I pray you, show me the cause That they, being men of great discretions, Did not instruct me in God's laws, According to His will and ordinance.
KNOWLEDGE. Because they themselves were wrapped in ignorance, Being deceived by false preachers.
JUVENTUS. O Lord, deliver me from wicked teachers, That I be not deceived with their false doctrine.
GOOD COUNSEL. To God's word you must only incline; All other doctrine clean set apart.
JUVENTUS. Surely that I will from the bottom of my heart; And I thank the living God which hath given me the knowledge To know His doctrine from the false and pervart, I being yet young and full tender of age; And that He hath made me partaker of the heavenly inheritage, Of his own mercy, and not of my deserving, For hell I have deserved by my sinful working. I know right well, my elders and parents Have of a long time deceived be With blind hypocrisy and superstitious intents, Trusting in their own works, which is nothing but vanity; Their steps shall not be followed for me: Therefore, I pray you, show me a brief conclusion, How I ought to live in Christian religion.
KNOWLEDGE. The first beginning of wisdom, as saith the wise Solomon, Is to fear God with all thy heart and power; And then thou must believe all his promises without any exception, And that He will perform them both constant and sure: And then, because He is thy only Saviour, Thou must love Him with all thy soul and mind, And thy neighbour as thyself, because he hath so assigned.
JUVENTUS. To love my neighbour as myself? I cannot be so kind: I pray you tell me, what mean you?
KNOWLEDGE. My meaning is, as Christ saith in the sixth chapter of Matthew, To do to Him as you would be done to.
JUVENTUS. I pray God give me grace so for to do, That unto His will I may be obedient.
GOOD COUNSEL. Here you shall receive Christ's testament To comfort your conscience, when need shall require, To learn the contents thereof, see that you be diligent; The which all Christian men ought to desire, For it is the well or fountain most clear, Out of the which doth spring sweet consolation To all those that thirst after eternal salvation.
KNOWLEDGE. Therein shall you find most wholesome preservation Both in troubles, persecutions, sickness, and adversity, And a sure defence in the time of temptation, Against whom the devil cannot prevail with all his army: And, if you persever therein unfeignedly, It will set your heart at such quietness and rest, Which cannot never be turned with storms nor tempest.
GOOD COUNSEL. With this thing you must neither flatter nor jest, But stedfastly believe it every day and hour, And let your conversation openly protest, That of your heart it is the most precious treasure: And then your godly example shall other men procure To learn and exercise the same also: I pray God strengthen you so for to do.
JUVENTUS. Now for this godly knowledge which you have brought me to, I beseech the living God reward you again: From your company I will never depart nor go, So long as in this life I do remain; For in this book I see manifest and plain, That he that followeth his own lusts and imagination, Keepeth the ready path to everlasting damnation: And he that leadeth a godly conversation Shall be brought to such quietness, joy, and peace, Which in comparison passeth all worldly gloriation, Which cannot endure, but shortly cease. Both the time and hour I may now bless, That I met with you, father Good Counsel, To bring me to the knowledge of this heavenly gospel.
KNOWLEDGE. This your profession I like very well, So that you intend to live according; I pray God, your living do not rebel, But ever agree unto your saying, That, when ye shall make accounts or reckoning, Of this talent which you have received, You may be one of those, with whom the Lord shall be pleased.
GOOD COUNSEL. For this conversation of Youth the Lord's name be praised: Let us now depart for a season. [Exit.]
KNOWLEDGE. To give God the glory it is convenient and reason: If you will depart, I will not tarry. [Exit.]
JUVENTUS. And I will never forsake your company, While I live in this world. [Exit.
Here entereth the DEVIL.
O, O, all too late! I trow this gear will come to naught; For I perceive my power doth abate, For all the policy that ever I have wrought: Many and sundry ways I have fought, To have the Word of God deluded utterly; O for sorrow! yet it will not be. I have done the best that I can, And my mistress also in every place, To root it clean from the heart of man; And yet for all that it flourisheth apace; I am sore in dread to show my face, My auctority and works are so greatly despised, My inventions, and all that ever I have devised. O, O, full well I know the cause, That my estimation doth thus decay; The old people would believe still in my laws, But the younger sort lead them a contrary way; They will not believe, they plainly say, In old traditions and made by men, But they will live, as the Scripture teacheth them. Out, I cry, upon them, they do me open wrong, To bring up their children thus in knowledge; For, if they will not follow my ways, when, they are young, It is hard turning them when they come to age: I must needs find some means this matter to 'suage; I mean, to turn their hearts from the Scripture quite, That in carnal pleasures they may have more delight. Well, I will go haste to infect this youth Through the enticement of my son Hypocrisy, And work some proper feat to stop his mouth, That he may lead his life carnally: I had never more need my matters to apply. O my child Hypocrisy, where art thou? I charge thee of my blessing appear before me now.
[Here entereth HYPOCRISY.
HYPOCRISY. O, O, quoth he, keep again the sow; I come as fast as I can, I warrant you: Where is he that hath the sow to sell? I will give him money, if I like her well; Whether it be sow or hog, I do not greatly care, For by my occupation I am a butcher.
DEVIL. O my child, how dost thou fare?
HYPOCRISY. Sancti amen, who have we there? By the mass, I will buy none of thy ware; Thou art a chapman for the devil.
DEVIL. What, my son, canst thou not tell, Who is here, and what I am? I am thine own father Satan.
HYPOCRISY. Be you so, sir? I cry you mercy then; You may say I am homely, and lack learning, To liken my father's voice unto a sow's groaning: But, I pray you, show me the cause and why, That you called me hither so hastily?
DEVIL. Ah, Hypocrisy, I am undone utterly.
HYPOCRISY. Utterly undone! nay, stop there hardily; For I myself do know the contrary By daily experience: Do not I yet reign abroad? And as long as I am in the world, You have some treasure and substance. I suppose I have been the flower In setting forth thy laws and power Without any delay: By the mass, if I had not been, Thou haddest not been worth a Flander's pin At this present day. The time were too long now to declare, How many and great the number are, Which have deceived be; And brought clean from God's law Unto thy yoke and awe, Through the enticement of me. I have been busied since the world began, To graff thy laws in the heart of man, Where they ought to be refused: And I have so mingled God's commandments With vain zeals and blind intents, That they be greatly abused. I set up great idolatry With all kind of filthy sodometry, To give mankind a fall: And I [have] brought up such superstition, Under the name of holiness and religion. That deceived almost all. As holy cardinals, holy popes, Holy vestments, holy copes, Holy hermits and friars, Holy priests, holy bishops, Holy monks, holy abbots, Yea, and all obstinate liars: Holy pardons, holy beads, Holy saints, holy images, With holy, holy blood, Holy stocks, holy stones, Holy clouts, holy bones; Yea, and holy holy wood. Holy skins, holy bulls, Holy rochets and cowls, Holy crouches and staves, Holy hoods, holy caps, Holy mitres, holy hats; Ah good holy holy knaves. Holy days, holy fastings, Holy twitching, holy tastings, Holy visions and sights, Holy wax, holy lead, Holy water, holy bread, To drive away spirits. Holy fire, holy palm, Holy oil, holy cream, And holy ashes also; Holy brooches, holy rings, Holy kneeling, holy censings, And a hundred trim-trams mo. Holy crosses, holy bells, Holy relics, holy jewels, Of mine own invention; Holy candles, holy tapers, Holy parchments, holy papers: Had not you a holy son?
DEVIL. All these things, which thou hast done, My honour and laws hath maintained; But now, O alas! one thing is begun, By the which my kingdom is greatly decayed; I shall lese all, I am sore afraid: Except thy help, I know right plain, I shall never be able to recover it again. God's Word is so greatly sprung up in youth, That he little regardeth my laws or me; He telleth his parents that is very truth, That they of long time have deceived be: He saith according to Christ's verity All his doings he will order and frame, Mortifying the flesh with the lusts of the same.
HYPOCRISY. Ah, sirrah, there beginneth the game: What, is Juventus become so tame, To be a New Gospeller?
DEVIL. As fast as I do make, he doth mar; He hath followed so long the steps of Good Counsel, That Knowledge and he together doth dwell; For who is so busy in every place as youth, To read and declare the manifest truth? But, O Hypocrisy, if thou could stop his mouth, Thou shouldst win my heart for ever.
HYPOCRISY. What would you have me to do in the matter? Show me therein your advisement.
DEVIL. I would have thee go incontinent, And work some crafty feat or policy, To set Knowledge and him at controversy; And his company thyself greatly use, That God's Word he may clean abuse.
HYPOCRISY. At your request I will not refuse To do that thing, which in me doth lie: Doubt ye not, but I will excuse Those things, which he doth plainly deny; And I will handle my matters so craftily, That, ere he cometh to man's state, God's Word and his living shall be clean at the bate.
DEVIL. Thou shalt have my blessing both early and late; And, because thou shalt all my counsel keep, Thou shalt call thy name Friendship.
HYPOCRISY. By the mass, it is a name full meet For my proper and amiable person.
DEVIL. O, farewell, farewell, my son; Speed thy business, for I must be gone. [Exit.
HYPOCRISY. I warrant you, let me alone. I will be with Juventus anon, And that, ere he be ware; And, i-wis, if he walk not straight, I will use such a sleight, That shall trap him in a snare. How shall I bring this gear to pass? I can tell now, by the mass, Without any more advisement: I will infect him with wicked company, Whose conversation shall be so fleshly, Yea, able to overcome an innocent. This wicked Fellowship Shall him company keep For a while: And then I will bring in Abhominable Living, Him to beguile. With words fair I will him 'tice, Telling him of a girl nice, Which shall him somewhat move; Abhominable Living though she be, Yet he shall no other ways see, But she is for to love. She shall him procure To live in pleasure, After his own phantasy; And my matter to frame, I will call her name Unknowen Honesty. This will I convey My matter, I say, Somewhat handsomely; That, through wicked Fellowship And false pretended Friendship, Youth shall live carnally. Trudge, Hypocrisy, trudge! Thou art a good drudge, To serve the devil: If thou shouldest lie and lurk, And not intend thy work, Thy master should do full evil.
Here entereth YOUTH, to whom HYPOCRISY yet speaketh.
What, Master Youth? Well i-met, by my truth; And whither away? You are the last man, Which I talked on, I swear, by this day. Methought by your face, Ere you came in place, It should be you: Therefore I did abide Here in this tide For your coming, this is true.
JUVENTUS. For your gentleness, sir, most heartily I thank you, But yet you must hold me somewhat excused; For to my simple knowledge I never knew, That you and I together were acquainted: But nevertheless, if you do it renew, Old acquaintance will soon be remembered.
HYPOCRISY. Ah, now I see well, Youth is feathered, And his crumbs he hath well gathered, Since I spake with him last; A poor man's tale cannot now be heard, As in times past. I cry you mercy, I was somewhat bold, Thinking that you mastership would Not have been so strange; But now I perceive, that promotion Causeth both man, manners, and fashion Greatly for to change.
JUVENTUS. You are to blame this me to challenge; For I think I am not he, which you take me for.
HYPOCRISY. Yes, I have known you ever since you were bore; Your age is yet under a score, Which I can well remember: I-wis, i-wis, you and I Many a time have been full merry, When you were young and tender.
JUVENTUS. Then, I pray you, let us reason no lenger; But first show your nomination.
HYPOCRISY. Of my name to make declaration Without any dissimulation, I am called Friendship: Although I be simple and rude of fashion, Yet by lineage and generation I am nigh kin to your mastership.
JUVENTUS. What, Friendship? I am glad to see that you be merry; By my truth, I had almost you forgot, By long absence brought out of memory.
HYPOCRISY. By the mass, I love you so heartily, That there is none so welcome to my company: I pray you, tell me whither are you going?
JUVENTUS. My intention is, to go hear a preaching.
HYPOCRISY. A preaching, quod-a? ah, good little one! By Christ, she will make you cry out of the winning, If you follow her instruction so early in the morning.
JUVENTUS. Full great I do abhor this your wicked saying; For, no doubt, they increase much sin and vice: Therefore I pray you, show not your meaning, For I delight not in such foolish fantasies.
HYPOCRISY. Surely, then you are the more unwise: You may have a spurt amongst them now and then; Why should not you, as well as other men?
JUVENTUS. As for those filthy doings I utterly detest them; I will hear no more of your wicked communication.
HYPOCRISY. If I may be so bold by your deliberation, What will you do at a preaching?
JUVENTUS. Learn some wholesome and godly teaching Of the true minister of Christ's gospel.
HYPOCRISY. Tush, what he will say, I know right well; He will say that God is a good man, He can make him no better, and say the best he can.
JUVENTUS. I know that, but what then? The more that God's Word is preached and taught, The greater the occasion is to all Christian men To forsake their sinful livings, both wicked, vile and naught: And to repent their former evils, which they have wrought, Trusting by Christ's death to be redeemed: And he that this doth shall never be deceived.
HYPOCRISY. Well said, master doctor, well said! By the mass, we must have you into the pulpit: I pray you be remembered, and cover your head; For indeed you have need to keep in your wit: Ah, sirrah, who would have thought it, That youth had been such a well-learned man! Let me see your portous, gentle Sir John!
JUVENTUS. No, it is not a book for you to look on, You ought not to jest with God's Testament.
HYPOCRISY. What, man? I pray you be content; For I do nothing else, but say my phantasy: But yet, if you would do after my advisement, In that matter you should not be so busy; Was not your father as well-learned as ye? And if he had said then as you have now done, I-wis he had been like to make a burn.
JUVENTUS. It were much better for me than to return From my faith in Christ and the profession of his word.
HYPOCRISY. Whether is better a halter or a cord, I cannot tell, I swear by God's mother: But I think you will have the one or the other: Will you lose all your friends' good will, To continue in that opinion still? Was there not as well-learned men before as now? Yea, and better too, I may say to you? And they taught the younger sort of people By the elders to take an example: And if I did not love you, as nature doth me bind, You should not know so much of my mind.
JUVENTUS. Whether were I better to be ignorant and blind, And to be damned in hell for infidelity; Or to learn godly knowledge, wherein I shall find The right path-way to eternal felicity?
HYPOCRISY. Can you deny, but it is your duty Unto your elders to be obedient?
JUVENTUS. I grant I am bound to obey my parents In all things honest and lawful.
HYPOCRISY. Lawful, quod-a? ah, fool, fool! Wilt thou set men to school, When they be old? I may say to you secretly, The world was never merry, Since children were so bold: Now every boy will be a teacher, The father a fool, and the child a preacher; This is pretty gear: The foul presumption of youth Will turn shortly to great ruth, I fear, I fear, I fear.
JUVENTUS. The sermon will be done, ere I can come there: I care not greatly whether I go or no; And yet for my promise, by God I swear, There is no remedy but I must needs go: Of my companions there will be mo, And I promised them, by God's grace, To meet them there as the sermon was.
HYPOCRISY. For once breaking promise do not you pass; Make some excuse the matter to cease, What have they to do? And you and I were, I wot where, We would be as merry as there, Yea, and merrier too.
JUVENTUS. I would gladly in your company go; But, if my companions should chance to see, They would report full evil by me: And peradventure, if I should it use, My company they would clean refuse.
HYPOCRISY. What, are those fellows so curious, That yourself you cannot excuse? I will teach you the matter to convey; Do what your own lust, and say as they say; And if you be reproved with your own affinity, Bid them pluck the beam out of their own eye: The old popish priests mock and despise, And the ignorant people, that believe their lies, Call them papists, hypocrites, and joining of the plough; Face out the matter, and then good enough! Let your book at your girdle be tied, Or else in your bosom that he may be spied; And then it will be said both with youth and age, Yonder fellow hath an excellent knowledge. Tush, tush! I could so beat the bush, That all should be flush, That ever I did.
JUVENTUS. Now, by my truth, you are merrily disposed; Let us go thither as you think best.
HYPOCRISY. How say you? shall we go to breakfast? Will you go to the pie-feast? Or, by the mass, if thou wilt be my guest, It shall cost thee nothing; I have a furny card in a place, That will bear a turn besides the ace, She purveys now apace For my coming: And if thou wilt sibber as well as I, We shall have merry company: And I warrant thee, if we have not a pie, We shall have a pudding.
JUVENTUS. By the mass, that meat I love above all thing; You may draw me about the town with a pudding.
HYPOCRISY. Then you shall see my cunning: A poor shift for a living Amongest poor men used is; The kind heart of hers Hath eased my purse, Many a time ere this.
[Here entereth FELLOWSHIP.
FELLOWSHIP. I marvel greatly where Friendship is; He promised to meet me here ere this time: I beshrew his heart, that his promise doth miss; And then be ye sure, it shall not be mine.
HYPOCRISY. Yes, Fellowship, that it shall be thine, For I have tarried here this hour or twain; And this honest gentleman in my company hath been, To abide your coming, this thing is plain.
FELLOWSHIP. By the mass, if you chide, I will be gone again; For in faith, Friendship, I may say to thee, I love not to be there, where chiders be.
HYPOCRISY. No, God it knoweth, you are so full of honesty, As a mary-bone is full of honey: But, sirrah, I pray you, bid this gentleman welcome, For he is desirous in your company to come: I tell you he is a man of the right making; And one that hath excellent learning; At his girdle he hath such a book, That the Popish priests dare not in him look: This is a fellow for the nonce.
FELLOWSHIP. I love him the better, by God's precious bones: You are heartily welcome, as I may say, I shall desire you of better acquaintance; That of your company be bold I may, You may be sure, if in me it lie To do you pleasure, you should it find: For, by the mass, I love you both with heart and mind.
JUVENTUS. To say the same to you your gentleness doth me bind; And I thank you heartily for your kindness.
HYPOCRISY. Well you see this gentleman fines Your gentleness and your kindness, I thank him, and I thank you; And I think, if the truth were sought, The one bad and the other naught, Never a good, I make God a vow! But yet, Fellowship, tell me one thing, Did you see little Bess this morning? We should have our breakfast yesternight, she said, But she hath forgotten it now, I am afraid.
FELLOWSHIP. Her promise shall be performed and paid; For I spake with her, since the time I rose, And then she told me how the matter goeth: We must be with her between eight and nine, And then her master and mistress will be at the preaching.
JUVENTUS. I purposed myself there to have been; But this man provoked me to the contrary, And told me that we should have merry company.
FELLOWSHIP. Merry, quod-a? we cannot choose but be merry; For there is such a girl where as we go, Which will make us to be merry, whether we will or no.
HYPOCRISY. The ground is the better on the which she doth go; For she will make better cheer with that little, which she can get, Than many a one can with a great banket of meat.
JUVENTUS. To be in her company my heart is set; Therefore, I pray you, let us be gone.
FELLOWSHIP. She will come for us herself anon; For I told her before, where we would stand, And then, she said, she would beck us with her hand.
JUVENTUS. Now, by the mass, I perceive that she is a gallant: What, will she take pains to come for us hither?
HYPOCRISY. Yea, I warrant you; therefore you must be familiar with her: When she cometh in place, You must her embrace Somewhat handsomely; Lest she think it danger, Because you are a stranger, To come in your company.
JUVENTUS. Yea, by God's foot, that I will be busy, And I may say to you, I can play the knave secretly.
[Here entereth ABHOMINABLE LIVING.
ABHOMINABLE LIVING. Hem! come away quickly, The back door is open; I dare not tarry: Come, Fellowship, come on away!
HYPOCRISY. What, Unknown Honesty? a word! [Draws A. L. aside. You shall not go yet, by God I swear; Here is none but your friends, you need not to fray, Although, this strange young gentleman be here.
JUVENTUS. I trust, in me she will think no danger; For I love well the company of fair women.
ABHOMINABLE LIVING. Who, you? nay, ye are such a holy man, That to touch one ye dare not be bold; I think, you would not kiss a young woman, If one would give you twenty pound in gold.
JUVENTUS. Yes, by the mass, that I would; I could find in my heart to kiss you in your smock.
ABHOMINABLE LIVING. My back is broad enough to bear away that mock For one hath told me many a time, That you have said you would use no such wanton company as mine.
JUVENTUS. By dog's precious wounds, that was some whoreson villain; I will never eat meat that shall do me good, Till I have cut his flesh, by God's precious blood: Tell me, I pray you, who it was, And I will trim the knave, by the blessed mass.
ABHOMINABLE LIVING. Tush! as for that, do not you pass; That which I told you was but for love.
HYPOCRISY. She did nothing else but prove, Whether a little thing would you move To be angry and fret; What, and if one had said so? Let such trifling matters go, And be good to men's flesh for all that.
JUVENTUS [He kisseth ABHOMINABLE LIVING.] To kiss her since she came, I had clean forgot: You are welcome to my company.
ABHOMINABLE LIVING. Sir, I thank you most heartily; By your kindness it doth appear.
HYPOCRISY. What a hurly-burly is here! Smick smack, and all this gear! You will to tick-tack, I fear, If you had time: Well, wanton, well; I-wis, I can tell, That such smock-smell Will set your nose out of tune.
ABHOMINABLE LIVING. What, man? you need not to fume, Seeing he is come into my company now; He is as well welcome as the best of you: And if it lie in me to do him pleasure, He shall have it, you may ye sure.
FELLOWSHIP. Then old acquaintance is clean out of favour: Lo, Friendship, this gear goeth with a sleight; He hath driven us twain out of conceit.
HYPOCRISY. Out of conceit, quod-a? no, no; I dare well say, she thinketh not so: How say you, Unknown Honesty? Do not you love Fellowship and me?
ABHOMINABLE LIVING. Yea, by the mass, I love you all three; But yet indeed, if I should say the truth, Amongst all other, welcome Master Youth.
JUVENTUS. Full greatly I do delight to kiss your pleasant mouth. [He kisseth ABHOMINABLE LIVING. I am not able your kindness to recompence; I long to talk with you secretly, therefore let us go hence.
ABHOMINABLE LIVING. I agree to that; for I would not for twenty pence, That it were known where I have been.
HYPOCRISY. What, and it were known? it is no deadly sin: As for my part, I do not greatly care, So that they find not your proper buttocks bare.
ABHOMINABLE LIVING. Now much fie upon you! how bawdy you are! I-wis, Friendship, it mought have been spoken at twice: What think you, for your saying that the people will surmise?
JUVENTUS. Who dare be so bold us to despise? And if I may hear a knave speak one word, I will run thorough his cheeks with my sword.
FELLOWSHIP. This is an earnest fellow, of God's Word! See, I pray you, how he is disposed to fight!
JUVENTUS. Why should I not, and if my cause be right? What, and if a knave do me beguile, Shall I stand crouching like an owl? No, no; then you might count me a very cow; I know what belongeth to God's law as well as you.
ABHOMINABLE LIVING. Your wit therein greatly I do allow; For, and if I were a man, as you are, I would not stick to give a blow, To teach other knaves to beware, I beshrew you twice, and if you do spare, But lay load on the flesh, whatsoever befall, You have strength enough to do it with all.
FELLOWSHIP. Let us depart, and if that we shall; Come on, masters, we twain will go before.
JUVENTUS. Nay, nay, my friend, stop there; It is not you, that shall have her away, She shall go with me, and if she go to-day—
HYPOCRISY. She shall go with none of you, I dare well say;
ABHOMINABLE LIVING. To forsake any of your company I would be very loth; Therefore I will follow you all three.
HYPOCRISY. Now I beshrew his heart, that to that will not agree; But yet because the time shall not seem very long, Ere we depart, let us have a merry song.
They sing as followeth:
Why should not youth fulfil his own mind, As the course of nature doth him bind? Is not everything ordained to do his kind? Report me to you, report me to you.
Do not the flowers spring fresh and gay, Pleasant and sweet in the month of May? And when their time cometh, they fade away. Report me to you, report me to you.
Be not the trees in winter bare? Like unto their kind, such they are; And when they spring, their fruits declare. Report me to you, report me to you.
What should youth do with the fruits of age, But live in pleasure in his passage? For when age cometh, his lusts will suage. Report me to you, report me to you.
Why should not youth fulfil his own mind, As the course of nature doth him bind? &c. [They go forth.
Here entereth GOOD COUNSEL.
O merciful Lord, who can cease to lament, Or keep his heart from continual mourning, To see how Youth is fallen from thy word and testament, And wholly inclined to Abhominable Living? He liveth nothing according to his professing; But, alas! his life is to thy wordś abusion, Except thy great mercy, to his utter confusion. O, where is now the godly conversation, Which should be among the professors of thy word! O, where may a man find now one faithful congregation, That is not infected with dissension or discord? Or amongst whom are all vices utterly abhorred! O, where is the brotherly love between man and man! We may lament the time our vice began. O, where is the peace and meekness, long suffering and temperance, Which are the fruits of God's holy spirit? With whom is the flesh brought under obedience, Or who readeth the scripture with intent to follow it? Who useth not now covetousness and deceit? Who giveth unto the poor that which is due? I think, in this world few that live now. O, where is the godly example, that parents should give Unto their young family by godly and virtuous living? Alas! how wickedly do they themselves live, Without any fear of God or his righteous threatening! They have no respect unto the dreadful reckoning, Which shall be required of us, when the Lord shall come, As a rightful judge at the day of doom. O, what a joyful sight was it for to see, When Youth began God's word to embrace? Then he promised Godly Knowledge and me, That from our instruction he would never turn his face; But now he walketh, alas! in the ungodly's chase! Heaping sin upon sin, vice upon vice: [Here entereth JUVENTUS. He that liveth most ungodly is counted most wise—
JUVENTUS. Who is here playing at the dice? I heard one speak of cinque and sice; His words did me entice Hither to come.
GOOD COUNSEL. Ah, Youth, Youth, whither dost thou run? Greatly I do bewail thy miserable estate; The terrible plagues, which in God's law are written, Hang over thy head both early and late: O fleshly Capernite, stubborn and obstinate, Thou hadst liever forsake Christ, thy Saviour and King, Than thy fleshly swinish lusts and abhominable living.
JUVENTUS. What, old whoreson, art thou a-chiding? I will play a spurt, why should I not? I set not a mite by thy checking: What hast thou to do, and if I lose my coat? I will trill the bones, while I have one groat; And, when there is no more ink in the pen, I will make a shift, as well as other men.
GOOD COUNSEL. Then I perceive you have forgotten clean The promise, that you made unto Knowledge and me: You said such fleshly fruits should not be seen; But to God's word your life should agree. Full true be the words of the prophet Hose, No verity nor knowledge of God is now in the land, But abhominable vices hath gotten the upper hand.
JUVENTUS. Your mind therein I do well understand: You go about my living to despise, But you will not see the beams in your own eyes.
GOOD COUNSEL. The devil hath you deceived, which is the author of lies, And trapped you in his snare of wicked Hypocrisy; Therefore all that ever you do devise, Is to maintain your fleshly liberty.
JUVENTUS. I marvel, why you do this reprove me; Wherein do I my life abuse?
GOOD COUNSEL. Your whole conversation I may well accuse, As in my conscience just occasion I find; Therefore be not offended, although I express my mind.
JUVENTUS. By the mass, if thou tell not truth, I will not be behind To touch you as well again.
GOOD COUNSEL. For this thing most chiefly I do complain: Have you not professed the knowledge of Christ's gospel? And yet, I think, no more ungodliness doth reign In any wicked heathen, Turk, or infidel; Who can devise that sin or evil, That you practise not from day to day? Yea, and count it nothing but a jest or a play. Alas! what wantonness remaineth in your flesh! How desirous are you to accomplish your own will! What pleasure and delight have you in wickedness! How diligent are you your lusts to fulfil! St Paul saith, that you ought your fleshly lusts to kill: But unto his teaching your life ye will not frame; Therefore in vain you bear a Christian name. Read the Five to the Galatians, and there you shall see, That the flesh rebelleth against the spirit, And that your own flesh is your most utter enemy, If in your soul's health you do delight: The time were too long now to recite, What whoredom, uncleanness, and filthy communication Is dispersed with youth in every congregation. To speak of pride, envy, and abhominable oaths, They are the common practices of youth, To avance your flesh, you cut and jag your clothes, And yet ye are a great gospeller in the mouth: What shall I say for this blaspheming the truth? I will show you what St Paul doth declare In his Epistle to the Hebrews and the tenth chapter. For him, saith he, which doth willingly sin or consent, After he hath received the knowledge of the verity, Remaineth no more sacrifice, but a fearful looking for judgment, And a terrible fire, which shall consume the adversary; And Christ saith that this blasphemy Shall never be pardoned nor forgiven In this world, nor in the world to come.
JUVENTUS [He lieth down]. Alas, alas! what have I wrought and done! Here in this place I will fall down desperate; To ask for mercy now, I know, it is too late. Alas, alas! that ever I was begat! I would to God I had never been born! All faithful men, that behold this wretched state, May very justly laugh me to scorn; They may say, my time I have evil-spent and worn, Thus in my first age to work my own destruction: In the eternal pains is my part and portion.
GOOD COUNSEL. Why, Youth, art thou fallen into desperation? What, man, pluck up thine heart, and rise, Although thou see nothing now but thy condemnation, Yet it may please God again to open thy eyes: Ah, wretched creature, what doest thou surmise? Thinkest not that God's mercy doth exceed thy sin? Remember his Merciful Promises, and comfort thyself in him.
JUVENTUS. O sir, this state is so miserable, the which I lie in, That my comfort and hope from me is separated: I would to God I had never been! Woe worth the time, that ever I was created!
GOOD COUNSEL. Ah, frail vessel, unfaithful and faint-hearted, Doest thou think that God is so merciless, That when the sinner doth repent, and is converted, That he will not fulfil his merciful promises?
JUVENTUS. Alas, sir! I am in such heaviness, That his promises I cannot remember.
GOOD COUNSEL. In thy wickedness continue no lenger; But trust in the Lord without any fear, And his Merciful Promises shall shortly appear.
JUVENTUS. I would believe, if I might them hear, With all my heart, power and mind.
GOOD COUNSEL. The living God hath him hither assigned: Lo, where he cometh even here by, Therefore mark his sayings diligently.
[Here entereth GOD'S MERCIFUL PROMISES.
The Lord, by his prophet Ezekiel, saith in this wise plainly, As in the thirty-third chapter it doth appear: Be converted, O ye children, and turn unto me, And I shall remedy the cause of your departure; And also he saith in the eighteenth chapter, I do not delight in a sinner's death, But that he should convert and live: thus the Lord saith.
JUVENTUS. Then must I give neither credit nor faith Unto St Paul's saying, which this man did allege.
GOD'S MERCIFUL PROMISES. Yes, you must credit them, according unto knowledge; For St Paul speaketh of those which resist the truth by violence, And so end their lives without repentance. Thus Saint Augustine doth them define, If unto the Lord's word you do your ears incline, And observe these things which he hath commanded, This sinful state, in the which you have lain, Shall be forgotten and never more remembered: And Christ himself in the gospel hath promised, That he, which in him unfeignedly doth believe, Although he were dead, yet shall he live.
JUVENTUS [He riseth]. These comfortable sayings doth me greatly move To arise from this wretched place.
GOD'S MERCIFUL PROMISES. For me his mercy sake thou shalt obtain his grace, And not for thine own desertes, this must thou know; For my sake alone, ye shall receive solace; For my sake alone, he will thee mercy show: Therefore to him, as it is most due, Give most hearty thanks with heart unfeigned, Whose name for evermore be praised.
GOOD COUNSEL. The prodigal son, as in Luke we read, Which in vicious living his good doth waste, As soon as his living he had remembered, To confess his wretchedness he was not aghast; Wherefore his father lovingly him embrac'd, And was right joyful, the text saith plain, Because his son was returnen again.
JUVENTUS. O sinful flesh, thy pleasures are but vain: Now I find it true, as the scripture doth say, Broad and pleasant is the path which leadeth unto pain, But unto eternal life full narrow is the way. He that is not led by God's spirit surely goeth astray; And all that ever he doth shall be clean abhorred; Although he brag and boast never so much of God's word. O subtle Satan, full deceitful is thy snare; Who is able thy falsehood to disclose? What is the man, that thou doest favour or spare, And doest not tempt him eternal joys to lose? Not one in the world, surely I suppose. Therefore happy is the man, which doth truly wait, Always to refuse thy deceitful and crafty bait. When I had thought to live most christianly, And followed the steps of Knowledge and Good Counsel, Ere I was aware, thou haddest deceived me, And brought me into the path, which leadeth unto hell: And of an earnest professor of Christ's gospel Thou madest me an hypocrite, blind and pervert, And from virtue unto vice thou hadst clean turned my heart. First, by hypocrisy thou didest me move, The mortification of the flesh clean to forsake, And wanton desires to embrace and love; Alas! to think on it my heart doth yet quake: Under the title of Friendship to me ye spake, And so to wicked Fellowship did me bring, Which brought me clean to Abhominable Living. Thus, I say, Satan did me deceive, And wrapped me in sin many a fold; The steps of Good Counsel I did forsake and leave, And forgot the words which before to me he told: The fruits of a true Christian in me waxed cold; I followed mine own lusts, the flesh I did not tame, And had them in derision which would not do the same. Yet it hath pleased God of his endless mercy To give me respite my life to amend; From the bottom of my heart I repent my iniquity, I will walk in his laws unto my life's end: From his holy ordinance I will never descend, But my whole delight shall be to live therein, Utterly abhorring all filthiness and sin. All Christian people which be here present, May learn by me hypocrisy to know, With which the devil, as with a poison most pestilent, Daily seeketh all men to overthrow: Credit not all things unto the outward show, But try them with God's word, that squire and rule most just, Which never deceiveth them, that in him put their trust. Let no flattering friendship, nor yet wicked company, Persuade you in no wise God's word to abuse; But see that you stand steadfastly unto the verity, And according to the rule thereof your doings frame and use, Neither kindred nor fellowship shall you excuse, When you shall appear before the judgment seat, But your own secret conscience shall then give an audit. All you that be young, whom I do now represent, Set your delight both day and night on Christ's Testament: If pleasure you tickle, be not fickle, and suddenly slide, But in God's fear everywhere see that you abide: In your tender age seek for knowledge, and after wisdom run, And in your old age teach your family to do as you have done: Your bodies subdue unto virtue, delight not in vanity; Say not, I am young, I shall live long, lest your days shortened be: Do not incline to spend your time in wanton toys and nice, For idleness doth increase much wickedness and vice: Do not delay the time, and say, my end is not near; For with short warning the Lord coming shall suddenly appear. God give us grace, his word to embrace, and to live thereafter, That by the same his holy name may be praised ever.
GOOD COUNSEL. Now let us make our supplications together For the prosperous estate of our noble and virtuous king, That in his godly proceedings he may still persevere, Which seeketh the glory of God above all other thing: O Lord, endue his heart with true understanding, And give him a prosperous life long over us to reign, To govern and rule his people as a worthy captain.
JUVENTUS. Also let us pray for all the nobility of this realm; And, namely, for those whom his grace hath authorised To maintain the public wealth over us and them, That they may see his gracious acts published; And that they, being truly admonished By the complaint of them which are wrongfully oppressed, May seek reformation, and see it redressed.
GOOD COUNSEL. Then shall this land enjoy great quietness and rest: And give unto God most hearty thanks therefore, To whom be honour, praise, and glory for evermore.
_A new Enterlued for Chyldren to playe named Iacke Iugeler both wytte and very playsent. Newly Imprented.
The Players' Names.
Mayster Boungrace, A Galant. Dame Coye, A Gentlewoman. Iacke Iugeler, The vyce. Ienkin Careway, A Lackey. Ales trype and go, A Mayd.
[Colophon.] Imprinted at London in Lothbury by me Wyllyam Copland. 4to, black letter_.
Beneath the players' names occurs a woodcut, of which we annex a facsimile.
[Some account of this piece may be found in Haslewood's Preface, which precedes our text of "Thersites." It may be added, that whatever shortcomings may be apparent in these productions from a literary and dramatic point of view, they are by no means devoid of a fair share of shrewd humour and pointed vivacity, and are, moreover, not unimportant contributions, especially when their early date is considered, to the illustration of manners. The low-comic view predominates in most of them, and we meet with occasional grossnesses which, so far as "Jack Juggler" itself is concerned, are the more remarkable when it is recollected that the performance was presented by youths. In none of these ruder specimens of the drama is any distribution to be found into acts and scenes; nor is it invariably clear how the entrances and exits were introduced.
As to the groundwork of this interlude, Mr Child observes:—]
"Plautus's tragi-comedy of 'Amphitryon' has been perhaps more popular on the modern stage than any other ancient play. It is the groundwork of one of the best comedies of the great Moliere, and of a once favourite English drama, which Sir Walter Scott, in an introduction not everywhere distinguished by his usual judgment, styles 'one of the happiest effusions of Dryden's comic muse.' It has been several times translated into our tongue, and by Bonnell Thornton, with an elegance, spirit, and correctness that leave nothing to be desired.
"This is not the place to expatiate on the merits of the Latin play; but the assertion may be hazarded without much risk, that both the original and Thornton's version are, taken as wholes, considerably superior to any of the imitations. Indeed, the character of Alcmena, as drawn by Plautus, so truly innocent, simple, and loving, her distress on being suspected by her husband, and his agony at finding her, as he believes, dishonest, immediately suggest, as the accomplished translator has observed, a not discreditable comparison with our 'Othello.' We may add, too, that the conclusion of the fourth act, where Amphitryon, 'perplexed in the extreme,' and defying the gods in the intensity of his despair, rushes to the house to wreak his vengeance on his family, and is struck down by lightning, rises to grandeur, almost to sublimity, and must produce immense dramatic effect in the representation. Very little of this sort of thing appears in the modern play. What Dryden has made of Alcmena will be understood, when we observe that he adapted her to the standard of contemporary taste. Yet Scott has strangely said, that, 'in the scenes of a higher cast, Dryden far outstrips both the French and Roman poet!'
"The reader will not find any such important characters as gods and generals in the drama before him. 'Jack Juggler' can hardly be called an imitation of the comedy of Plautus. It is the play of 'Amphitryon' without the part of Amphitryon, and resembles more than anything else one of those pieces made up of the comic portions of plays, which used to be called 'drolls.' In fact, 'Jack Juggler' is a caricature even of the comic parts. All dignity is stripped from the characters, every ridiculous feature is much exaggerated, and the language and incidents are ingeniously vulgarized to reduce everything to the grotesque, the quaintness of the expressions greatly heightening the effect to a modern reader. The amiable Alcmena becomes a 'verie cursed shrew.' General Amphitryon sinks into Master Boungrace, a commonplace 'gentilman,' somewhat subject, we suspect, to being imposed upon by his wife and servants. Bromia, the insignificant and well-conducted attendant, is changed into the smart and malicious Aulsoon tripe and goo.