Roister Doister - Written, probably also represented, before 1553. Carefully - edited from the unique copy, now at Eton College
by Nicholas Udall
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[Transcriber's Note:

This e-text is for users whose text readers cannot use the "real" (utf-8, unicode) version of the file. The [oe] ligature has been "unpacked" into two letters, and the single Greek word in the advertising section is shown in marks. In the ascii version, [ae] has been similarly unpacked, and a few other characters replaced or modified.

Words shown between marks were printed in black-letter ("gothic") type; lines represent italics. Letters printed as superscripts are shown in {braces}.

Except for footnote and illustration markers, all brackets [ ] are in the original. The symbol shown as "(,',)"— low 9, high 6, low 6, the whole in parentheses— has not been identified.

Punctuation and capitalization in the play itself are unchanged. Note that the character descriptor "Harpax"— a word, not a name— is generally given in italics, not in blackletter, as is the word "Omnes".]

English Reprints.

NICHOLAS UDALL, M.A. Master, in succession, of Eton College and Westminster School.

ROISTER DOISTER. Written, probably also represented, before 1553.

Carefully Edited from the Unique Copy, Now at Eton College,

by EDWARD ARBER, Associate, King's College, London, F.R.G.S., &c.

London: 5 Queen Square, Bloomsbury, W.C. Ent. Stat. Hall.] 24 July, 1869. [All Rights reserved.

Dramatis Person.

Ralph Roister Doister. Mathew Merygreeke. Gawyn Goodluck, affianced to Dame Custance. Tristram Trustie, his friend. Dobinet Doughtie, 'boy' to Roister Doister. Tom Trupenie, seruant to Dame Custance. Sym Suresby, seruant to Goodluck. Scriuener. Harpax.

Dame Christian Custance, a widow. Margerie Mumblecrust, her nurse. Tibet Talk apace, } her maidens. Annot Alyface, }

Time. About Two days. Scene. Not indicated: ? London.

A brief Note of the LIFE, WORKS, and TIMES



Teacher, Dramatist, Translator, Preacher.

In succession Master of Eton College, Rector of Braintree, Prebend of Windsor, Rector of Calborne, and Master of Westminster School.

* Probable or approximate dates.

There are materials extant for a good Life of Udall. Meanwhile there is Mr. Cooper's excellent Memoir in the Shakespeare Society's reprint of Ralph Roister Doister [see No. 5 on p. 8]; and Anthony -Wood's account of him, Ath. Oxon. i. 211. Ed. 1813.

1485. Aug. 22. Henry VII. becomes king.


Nicholas Udall ... was born in Hampshire, and descended from those of his name, living sometimes at Wykeham in the same county.—Wood.

1509. April 22. Henry VIII. begins to reign.

1520. June 18. t. 14.

Admitted scholar of Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

1524. May 30. t. 18.

Takes his B.A. [Wood, Fasti Oxon., i. 65, Ed. 1815.]

——. Sept. 3.

Elected Probationer Fellow of his College.

1533. May. Whitsun Eve. t. 27.

Royal MS. 18 A. lxiv. p. 275, has two titles. (1.) Versis and dities made at the coronation of queen Anne. (2.) Hereafter ensuethe a copie of diuers and sundry verses aswell in latin as in Englishe deuised and made partely by Iohn leland and partely by Nicholas Vuedale whereof sum were sette vp and sum were spoken and pronounced vnto the most high and excellente Quene the ladie Anne, wif vnto our sourain lorde King Henry the eight in many goodly and costely pageauntes exhibited and shewed by the mayre and citizens of the famous citie of london at first tyme as hir grace rode from the Towre of London through the said citie to hir most glorious coronation at the monasterie of Westminster on Whitson yeue in th xxv{th} yere of the raigne of our said soueraigne lorde.

The Rev. Dr. Goodford, the present Provost of Eton, has most kindly afforded me interesting information obtained by him from the MS. records of the College; viz., the Audit Rolls and the Bursar's Books, respecting Udall's connection with Eton.

The salary of the Master at Eton was then 10 a year, or fifty shillings for each of the four terms. In addition, he received 20s. for his 'livery,' and other small sums, as for obits (i.e. attending masses for the dead) [e.g. Udall received for obits, 14s. 8d. in 1535, and the same in 1536]; and for candles and ink for the boys [e.g. Udall received for these purposes, 23s. 4d. in 1537, and the same in 1538.] If the assumed multiple of 13 truly express the relatively greater purchasing power of gold and silver more then than now: the salary and emoluments cannot be considered excessive.

1534. June 19.

Udall takes his M.A. [Wood, Fasti., i. 98.]

1534-1543. t.

Udall's name occurs in the Records spelt indifferently Woddall, Woodall or Udall. His name first appears in 26 Henry VIII., 1534, when his predecessor Dr. Richard Coxe was paid salary for three terms, and Udall received 50s. for the fourth, his first term. The payments continue on regularly so far as the books are extant, up to 1541. The Records for 1542 are missing. It was in March 1543 that occurred the robbery of silver images and other plate by two Eton scholars, J. Hoorde and T. Cheney, connived at by Udall's servant Gregory, which resulted in Udall's losing his place.

'Thomas Tusser, gentleman,' in The Author's Life added to his Fiue hundreth points of good husbandrie, 1573, 4to, thus writes, but without giving any date, of Udall's use of the rod:

[Sidenote: Nicholas Vdal schole master at Eton.]

From Powles I went, to Aeton sent, To learne straight wayes, the Latin phraise, Where fiftie three stripes giuen to mee, at once I had: For faut but small or none at all, It came to passe, thus beat I was, See Udall see, the mercy of thee, to mee poore lad.

1537. Sept. 27.

Is made Vicar of Braintree. Newcourt, Rep. ii. 89.


Udall publishes a translation of the 3rd and 4th books of Erasmus' Apophthegms.


Cott. MS. Titus, B. viii. p. 371, is a long letter, undated and unaddressed, to some one, as to 'my restitution to the roume of Scholemaister in Eton.'

1544. Dec. 14.

Resigns the Vicarship of Braintree. Newcourt, idem.

1542-1545. He is engaged with the Princess, afterwards Queen Mary and others in translating Erasmus' Paraphrase of the New Testament into English.

'1545, Sept. 30, at London,' date of his Preface to Lake.

In his Pref. to John, partly translated by Princess Mary, partly by Rev. F. Malet, D.D.; Udall gives us the following account of female education in his day: which can only, however, apply to a few women, like Elizabeth, Mary, and Lady Jane Grey. 'But nowe in this gracious and blisseful tyme of knowledge, in whiche it hath pleased almightye God to reuele and shewe abrode the lyght of his moste holye ghospell: what a noumbre is there of noble women (especially here in this realme of Englande,) yea and howe many in the yeares of tender vyrginitiee, not only aswel seen and as familiarly trade in the Latine and Greke tounges, as in theyr owne mother language: but also both in all kindes of prophane litterature, and liberall artes, exactely studied and exercised, and in the holy Scriptures and Theologie so ripe, that they are able aptely cunnyngly, and with much grace eyther to indicte or translate into the vulgare tongue, for the publique instruccion and edifying of the vnlearned multitude.... It is nowe no newes in Englande to see young damisels in nobles houses and in the Courtes of Princes, in stede of cardes and other instrumentes of idle trifleyng, to haue continually in her handes, eyther Psalmes, Omelies, and other deuoute meditacions, or elles Paules Epistles, or some booke of holye Scripture matiers: and as familiarlye both to reade or reason thereof in Greke, Latine, Frenche, or Italian, as in Englishe.'

1547. Jan. 28. Edward VI. ascends the throne.

'1552. July 20. At Windsor.' The date of Udall's preface to the translation by himself and others, of T. Gemini's Anatomy.

1553. July 6. Mary succeeds to the crown.

1554. Dec. 3.

Date of a warrant dormer from the Queen to the Master of her Revels. [Reprinted in The Loseley MSS. Ed. by A. J. Kempe, F.S.A. London. 1836.] The warrant runs thus— 'Whereas our wellbeloued Nicholas Udall hath at soondrie seasons convenient heretofore shewed and myndeth hereafter to shewe his diligence in setting foorth of Dialogues and Enterludes before us fo' ou' regell disporte and recreacion.' ... And then goes on to authorize the loan of apparel for those purposes. Did the popularity of the Dramatist, and her personal acquaintance with him, since they had worked together on Erasmus' Paraphrase, lead the Queen to condone the intense Protestantism of the Preacher, even to the continuing of him in favour? Udall and Ascham, two noted Protestants, are both favoured by Mary.


1556. Nov.

Udall is appointed Master of Westminster School, and so continues until Mary re-establishes the Monastery at Westminster.

1556. Dec.

Udall dies.

——. —— 23.

He is buried in St. Margaret's, Westminster. Cooper, as above.



The author and early date of the present Comedy are ascertained by a quotation in Sir Thomas Wilson's Rule of Reason of Roister Doister's letter to Dame Custance.

The first edition of the Rule of Reason, 1550-1, is a very scarce work; of which I have been unable to see a copy. The second edition, 1552, 8vo, 'newely corrected by Thomas Wilson,' has not the quotation: which apparently first appears in the third edition of 1553, 4to, the title of which runs, "The Rule of Reason, conteinyng the Arte of Logique. Sette furthe in Englishe, and newly corrected by Thomas Wilson. Anno Domini. M.D.LIII. Mense Ianuarij."

At folio 66 of this edition, Wilson, in treating of The Ambiguitie, adds to his previous examples, Roister Doister's letter, with the following heading:

An example of soche doubtful writing, whiche by reason of poincting maie haue double sense, and contrarie meaning, taken out of an entrelude made by Nicolas Vdal.

The present comedy was therefore undoubtedly written before the close of the reign of Edward VI., who died 6 July 1553.

If it was then printed, that entire edition has perished. The prayer for the Queen at p. 86, can be for no other than Queen Elizabeth: and therefore, although the title-page is wanting and there is no conclusive allusion in the play, it may confidently be believed that the extant text was printed in Elizabeth's reign: and that it had possibly in some respects been modified.

There now comes the evidence of the Stationers Co.'s Register, as quoted by Mr. Collier, Extracts, i. 154, Ed. 1848:

Rd of Thomas Hackett, for hys lycense for pryntinge of a play intituled auf Ruyster Duster, &c. iiijd

The missing title-page and the absence of any colophon in the Eton copy, here reprinted, preclude demonstrative proof that it is one of Hackett's edition. It is however morally certain that it does represent that text.

On the whole, therefore, though that text was posthumous—Udall having died in Dec. 1556—: and though its authorship rests entirely on the above heading of Wilson's quotation: it may be safely accepted that Udall is the author of this comedy, and that he wrote it before 1553. Conclusions both of them consonant with the known facts of Udall's life.

The comedy was probably first written for the Eton boys to act. Mr. W. D. Cooper thus writes:—

Certain, however, it is that it was the custom of Eton, about the feast of St. Andrew, for the Master to choose some Latin stage-play for the boys to act in the following Christmas holidays, and that he might sometimes order smart and witty English plays. "Among the writings of Udall about the year 1540," says Warton, "are recited Plures Comedi, and a tragedy De Papatu, on the Papacy, written probably to be acted by his scholars;" and it is equally probable that the English comedy was written with a like object; for it is admirably adapted to be a good acting play, and the author avows in the prologue that his models were Plautus and Terence, with whose writings his scholars were familiar.

Of the few dramatic pieces of that early period that have survived, Roister Doister is regarded as the transition-play from the Mysteries and Enterludes of the Middle Ages to the Comedies of modern times. A critical examination of its position in our Literature has been made by Mr. Collier. Hist. of Dram. Poetry. ii. 445-460 Ed. 1830. A full consideration of the play would exceed our present limits: we may however call attention to the peculiar rhyme in which Udall wrote it.

In the present reprint, the text appears according to modern usage: but in the original it stands in lines of unvarying length. Where the speech is continuous, these lines rhyme like our ordinary poetry: but when the dialogue is short; one, two, three or more speeches are thrown into one line, and the last syllables of that line—whether they occur in words in the middle or at the end of a sentence, as dictated simply by the length of line of type—are made to rough rhyme in couplets. Thus an irregular assonance jingles through the play.

On the opposite page are a few lines set up as in the original, to illustrate this peculiarity; and also to show the mode used of marking the actor's names. May this peculiar rhyme be accepted as any evidence that Udall composed this play as much for the press as the stage?

There being no description of the representation and the stage directions being scanty: Roister Doister should be read a first time to learn the plot; a second time to imagine the action: and a third to combine and enjoy the two.

[Transcriber's Note:

The word "Nay" is the catchword at the bottom of its page. The line beginning "He was with me" and ending "T. Trustie" was printed on a single line.]

ACTUS. iiij. SCNA. v.

Bottom of the second, even-numbered page of folio 24, in the original edition.

C. Custance. Trupenie get thee in, thou shalt among them knowe, How to vse thy selfe, like a propre man I trowe.

Trupeny. I go. Ex. C. C. Now Tristram Trusty I thank you right much. For at my first sending to come ye neuer grutch.

T. Trusty. Dame Custance God ye saue, and while my life shall last, For my friende Goodlucks sake ye shall not sende in wast.

C. Custance. He shal giue you thanks. T. Trusty. I wil do much for his sake

C. Custance. But alack, I feare, great displeasure shall be take.

T. Trusty. Wherfore? C. C. For a foolish matter. T. T. What is your cause

C. Custance. I am yll accombred with a couple of dawes.


Top of the first, odd-numbered page of folio 25.

Roister Doister.

Nay weepe not woman; but tell me what your cause is T. Trusty. As concerning my friende is any thing amisse?

No not on my part: but here was Sym Suresby. C. Custance.

He was with me and tolde me so. C. C. And he stoode by T. Trustie. While Ralph Roister Doister with helpe of Merygreeke, For promise of mariage dyd vnto me seeke.


Roister Doister.

The whole of Udall's plays were supposed to have perished [see Wood. Ath. Oxon. i. 213, Ed. 1813]. The Rev. T. Briggs, an old Etonian, in 1818, became the possessor of the now famous unique copy: which he presented to the Library of Eton College, in December of that year.

1. [?1566.] Lond. 1 vol. 4to.

? First edition of a revised text. The copy, now at Eton College, consists of 33 folios. The title-page is wanting.

2. 1818. Lond. 1 vol. 8vo.

'Ralph Royster Doyster, A Comedy. London. Reprinted in the year 1818.' [Ed. and privately printed by Rev. T. Briggs. 30 copies only struck off. The printer was James Compton, Middle St., Cloth Fair, London.] At the beginning is the following Advertisement:—

'It appears from the Biographia Dramatica, that a Play called Rauf Ruster Duster was entered on the books of the Stationers' Company in the year 1566, but that it was supposed never to have been printed: this, however, is now proved to be a mistake, a copy having been found contained in a collection of plays which was lately upon sale in London. It is true that the name is spelt somewhat differently, but it is presumed there can be no doubt of its being the piece in question. The book unfortunately wants the title-page, and the author's name is not known. It is now in the Library of Eton College, and is here reprinted for the amusement of the reader.'

3. 1821. Lond. 1 vol. 8vo.

'Ralph Royster Doyster, a Comedy, entered on the books of the Stationers' Company, 1566. London: Printed by F. Marshall, Kenton St., Brunswick Sq., 1821.' [Editor not known.]

R. Southey's copy, with his autograph, and dated 1 Feb. 1837, is in the British Museum. Press-mark, 1344-k.

Neither of the above knew that Udall was the author. The editor of 1821 reprint writes, 'The author, whoever he was,' p. iv. It was Mr. Collier who connected Wilson's quotation with Roister Doister, and so proved Udall to be its author. Writing on 14th April 1865; he thus begins the Preface of his Bibl. Account of Ear. Eng. Lit. Ed. 1865.

'During my whole life, now rapidly approaching fourscore, I have been a diligent reader, and, as far as my means would allow, a greedy purchaser of all works connected with early English literature. It is nearly sixty years since I became possessed of my first really valuable old book of this kind—Wilson's "Art of Logic," printed by Richard Grafton 1551—from which I ascertained the not unimportant facts that "Ralph Roister Doister" was an older play than "Gammer Gurton's Needle," and that it had been written by Nicholas Udall, Master of Eton School: I thus learned who was the author of the earliest comedy, properly so called, in our language. This was my first literary discovery, made several years anterior, although I had not occasion to render it public, until I printed my Notes upon "Dodsley's Old Plays," soon after 1820.'*

[Footnote *: See vol. ii. p. 3. Ed. 1825.]

4. 1830. Lond. 3 vols. 18mo.

The Old English Drama, A series of Plays, at 6d each, printed and published by Thomas White. Ralph Royster Doyster is the first.

5. 1847. Lond. 1 vol. 8vo.

Shakespeare Society. Ralph Roister Doister, &c., and The Tragedie of Gorboduc. Edited, with Introductory Memoirs, by W. D. Cooper, F.S.A. The text collated with the original by J. P. Collier, F.S.A.

6. 24 July 1869. Lond. 1 vol. 8vo. English Reprints: see title at p. 1.

.. All the previous reprints have been and now are unobtainable to most persons. It is to the most courteous and generous kindness of the present Provost and Fellows of Eton College that I am enabled to place what I hope may prove an exact text into the hands of every one. I trust also to keep it perpetually on sale: that the student of the History of our Literature may no longer lack one of the most important illustrations of the growth of English Dramatic Poesy.

The Prologue.

What Creature is in health, eyther yong or olde, But som mirth with modestie wil be glad to vse As we in thys Enterlude shall now vnfolde, Wherin all scurilitie we vtterly refuse, Auoiding such mirth wherin is abuse: Knowing nothing more comendable for a mans recreation Than Mirth which is vsed in an honest fashion: For Myrth prolongeth lyfe, and causeth health. Mirth recreates our spirites and voydeth pensiuenesse, Mirth increaseth amitie, not hindring our wealth, Mirth is to be vsed both of more and lesse, Being mixed with vertue in decent comlynesse. As we trust no good nature can gainsay the same: Which mirth we intende to vse, auoidyng all blame. The wyse Poets long time heretofore, Vnder merrie Comedies secretes did declare, Wherein was contained very vertuous lore, With mysteries and forewarnings very rare. Suche to write neither Plautus nor Terence dyd spare, Whiche among the learned at this day beares the bell: These with such other therein dyd excell. Our Comedie or Enterlude which we intende to play. Is named Royster Doyster in deede. Which against the vayne glorious doth inuey, Whose humour the roysting sort continually doth feede. Thus by your pacience we intende to proceede In this our Enterlude by Gods leaue and grace, And here I take my leaue for a certaine space.


Roister Doister.

Actus. j. Scna. j.

Mathewe Merygreeke. He entreth singing.

As long lyueth the mery man (they say) As doth the sory man, and longer by a day. Yet the Grassehopper for all his Sommer pipyng, Sterueth in Winter wyth hungrie gripyng, Therefore an other sayd sawe doth men aduise, That they be together both mery and wise. Thys Lesson must I practise, or else ere long, Wyth mee Mathew Merygreeke it will be wrong. In deede men so call me, for by him that vs bought, What euer chaunce betide, I can take no thought, Yet wisedome woulde that I did my selfe bethinke Where to be prouided this day of meate and drinke: For know ye, that for all this merie note of mine, He might appose me now that should aske where I dine. My lyuing lieth heere and there, of Gods grace, Sometime wyth this good man, sometyme in that place, Sometime Lewis Loytrer biddeth me come neere, Somewhyles Watkin Waster maketh vs good cheere, Sometime Dauy Diceplayer when he hath well cast Keepeth reuell route as long as it will last. Sometime Tom Titiuile maketh vs a feast, Sometime with sir Hugh Pye I am a bidden gueast, Sometime at Nichol Neuerthriues I get a soppe, Sometime I am feasted with Bryan Blinkinsoppe, Sometime I hang on Hankin Hoddydodies sleeue, But thys day on Ralph Royster Doysters by hys leeue. For truely of all men he is my chiefe banker Both for meate and money, and my chiefe shootanker. For, sooth Roister Doister in that he doth say, And require what ye will ye shall haue no nay. But now of Roister Doister somewhat to expresse, That ye may esteeme him after hys worthinesse, In these twentie townes and seke them throughout, Is not the like stocke, whereon to graffe a loute. All the day long is he facing and craking Of his great actes in fighting and fraymaking: But when Roister Doister is put to his proofe, To keepe the Queenes peace is more for his behoofe. If any woman smyle or cast on hym an eye, Vp is he to the harde eares in loue by and by, And in all the hotte haste must she be hys wife. Else farewell hys good days, and farewell his life, Maister Raufe Royster Doister is but dead and gon Excepte she on hym take some compassion, Then chiefe of counsell, must be Mathew Merygreeke, What if I for mariage to suche an one seeke? Then must I sooth it, what euer it is: For what he sayth or doth can not be amisse, Holde vp his yea and nay, be his nowne white sonne, Prayse and rouse him well, and ye haue his heart wonne, For so well liketh he his owne fonde fashions That he taketh pride of false commendations. But such sporte haue I with him as I would not leese, Though I should be bounde to lyue with bread and cheese. For exalt hym, and haue hym as ye lust in deede: Yea to hold his finger in a hole for a neede. I can with a worde make him fayne or loth, I can with as much make him pleased or wroth, I can when I will make him mery and glad, I can when me lust make him sory and sad, I can set him in hope and eke in dispaire, I can make him speake rough, and make him speake faire. But I maruell I see hym not all thys same day, I wyll seeke him out: But loe he commeth thys way, I haue yond espied hym sadly comming, And in loue for twentie pounde, by hys glommyng.

Actus. j. Scna. ij.

Rafe Roister Doister. Mathew Merygreeke.

R. Royster. Come death when thou wilt, I am weary of my life.

M. Mery. I tolde you I, we should wowe another wife.

R. Royster. Why did God make me suche a goodly person?

M. Mery. He is in by the weke, we shall haue sport anon.

R. Royster. And where is my trustie friende Mathew Merygreeke?

M. Mery. I wyll make as I sawe him not, he doth me seeke.

R. Royster. I haue hym espyed me thinketh, yond is hee, Hough Mathew Merygreeke my friend, a worde with thee.

M. Mery. I wyll not heare him, but make as I had haste, Farewell all my good friendes, the tyme away dothe waste, And the tide they say, tarieth for no man.

R. Royster. Thou must with thy good counsell helpe me if thou can.

M. Mery. God keepe thee worshypfull Maister Roister Doister, And fare well the lustie Maister Roister Doister.

R. Royster. I muste needes speake with thee a worde or twaine.

M. Mery. Within a month or two I will be here againe, Negligence in greate affaires ye knowe may marre all.

R. Royster. Attende vpon me now, and well rewarde thee I shall.

M. Mery. I haue take my leaue, and the tide is well spent.

R. Royster. I die except thou helpe, I pray thee be content, Doe thy parte wel nowe, and aske what thou wilt, For without thy aide my matter is all spilt.

M. Mery. Then to serue your turne I will some paines take, And let all myne owne affaires alone for your sake.

R. Royster. My whole hope and trust resteth onely in thee.

M. Mery. Then can ye not doe amisse what euer it bee.

R. Royster. Gramercies Merygreeke, most bounde to thee I am.

M. Mery. But vp with that heart, and speake out like a ramme, Ye speake like a Capon that had the cough now: Bee of good cheere, anon ye shall doe well ynow.

R. Royster. Vpon thy comforte, I will all things well handle.

M. Mery. So loe, that is a breast to blowe out a candle. But what is this great matter I woulde faine knowe, We shall fynde remedie therefore I trowe. Doe ye lacke money? ye knowe myne olde offers, Ye haue always a key to my purse and coffers.

R. Royster. I thanke thee: had euer man suche a frende?

M. Mery. Ye gyue vnto me: I must needes to you lende.

R. Royster. Nay I haue money plentie all things to discharge.

M. Mery. That knewe I ryght well when I made offer so large.

[Handwritten note in margin of following line: R. Royster]

But it is no suche matter.

M. Mery. What is it than? Are ye in daunger of debte to any man? If ye be, take no thought nor be not afraide, Let them hardly take thought how they shall be paide.

R. Royster. Tut I owe nought.

M. Mery. What then? fear ye imprisonment?

R. Royster. No.

M. Mery. No I wist ye offende, not so to be shent. But if he had, the Toure coulde not you so holde, But to breake out at all times ye would be bolde. What is it? hath any man threatned you to beate?

R. Royster. What is he that durst haue put me in that heate? He that beateth me by his armes shall well fynde, That I will not be farre from him nor runne behinde.

M. Mery. That thing knowe all men euer since ye ouerthrewe, The fellow of the Lion which Hercules slewe. But what is it than?

R. Royster. Of loue I make my mone.

M. Mery. Ah this foolishe a loue, wilt neare let vs alone? But bicause ye were refused the last day, Ye sayd ye woulde nere more be intangled that way. I woulde medle no more, since I fynde all so vnkinde.

R. Royster. Yea, but I can not so put loue out of my minde.

Math. Mer. But is your loue tell me first, in any wise, In the way of Mariage, or of Merchandise? If it may otherwise than lawfull be founde, Ye get none of my helpe for an hundred pounde.

R. Royster. No by my trouth I woulde haue hir to my Wife.

M. Mery. Then are ye a good man, and God saue your life, And what or who is she, with whome ye are in loue?

R. Royster. A woman whome I knowe not by what meanes to moue.

M. Mery. Who is it?

R. Royster. A woman yond.

M. Mery. What is hir name?

R. Royster. Hir yonder.

M. Mery. Whom.

R. Royster. Mistresse ah.

M. Mery. Fy fy for shame Loue ye, and know not whome? but hir yonde, a Woman, We shall then get you a Wyfe, I can not tell whan.

R. Royster. The faire Woman, that supped wyth vs yesternyght, And I hearde hir name twice or thrice, and had it ryght.

M. Mery. Yea, ye may see ye nere take me to good cheere with you, If ye had, I coulde haue tolde you hir name now.

R. Royster. I was to blame in deede, but the nexte tyme perchaunce: And she dwelleth in this house.

M. Mery. What Christian Custance.

R. Royster. Except I haue hir to my Wife, I shall runne madde.

M. Mery. Nay vnwise perhaps, but I warrant you for madde.

R. Royster. I am vtterly dead vnlesse I haue my desire.

M. Mery. Where be the bellowes that blewe this sodeine fire?

R. Royster. I heare she is worthe a thousande pounde and more.

M. Mery. Yea, but learne this one lesson of me afore, An hundred pounde of Marriage money doubtlesse, Is euer thirtie pounde sterlyng, or somewhat lesse, So that hir Thousande pounde yf she be thriftie, Is muche neere about two hundred and fiftie, Howebeit wowers and Widowes are neuer poore.

R. Royster. Is she a Widowe? I loue hir better therefore.

M. Mery. But I heare she hath made promise to another.

R. Royster. He shall goe without hir, and he were my brother.

M. Mery. I haue hearde say, I am right well aduised, That she hath to Gawyn Goodlucke promised.

R. Royster. What is that Gawyn Goodlucke?

M. Mery. a Merchant man.

R. Royster. Shall he speede afore me? nay sir by sweete Sainct Anne. Ah sir, Backare quod Mortimer to his sowe, I wyll haue hir myne owne selfe I make God a vow. For I tell thee, she is worthe a thousande pounde.

M. Mery. Yet a fitter wife for your maship might be founde: Suche a goodly man as you, might get one wyth lande, Besides poundes of golde a thousande and a thousande, And a thousande, and a thousande, and a thousande, And so to the summe of twentie hundred thousande, Your most goodly personage is worthie of no lesse.

R. Royster. I am sorie God made me so comely doubtlesse. For that maketh me eche where so highly fauoured, And all women on me so enamoured.

M. Mery. Enamoured quod you? haue ye spied out that? Ah sir, mary nowe I see you know what is what. Enamoured ka? mary sir say that againe, But I thought not ye had marked it so plaine.

R. Royster. Yes, eche where they gaze all vpon me and stare.

M. Mery. Yea malkyn, I warrant you as muche as they dare. And ye will not beleue what they say in the streete, When your mashyp passeth by all such as I meete, That sometimes I can scarce finde what aunswere to make. Who is this (sayth one) sir Launcelot du lake? Who is this, greate Guy of Warwike, sayth an other? No (say I) it is the thirtenth Hercules brother. Who is this? noble Hector of Troy, sayth the thirde? No, but of the same nest (say I) it is a birde. Who is this? greate Goliah, Sampson, or Colbrande? No (say I) but it is a brute of the Alie lande. Who is this? greate Alexander? or Charle le Maigne? No, it is the tenth Worthie, say I to them agayne: I knowe not if I sayd well.

R. Royster. Yes for so I am.

M. Mery. Yea, for there were but nine worthies before ye came. To some others, the thirde Cato I doe you call. And so as well as I can I aunswere them all. Sir I pray you, what lorde or great gentleman is this? Maister Ralph Roister Doister dame say I, ywis. O Lorde (sayth she than) what a goodly man it is, Woulde Christ I had such a husbande as he is. O Lorde (say some) that the sight of his face we lacke: It is inough for you (say I) to see his backe. His face is for ladies of high and noble parages. With whome he hardly scapeth great mariages. With muche more than this, and much otherwise.

R. Royster. I can thee thanke that thou canst suche answeres deuise: But I perceyue thou doste me throughly knowe.

M. Mery. I marke your maners for myne owne learnyng I trowe, But suche is your beautie, and suche are your actes, Suche is your personage, and suche are your factes, That all women faire and fowle, more and lesse, That eye you, they lubbe you, they talke of you doubtlesse, Your p[l]easant looke maketh them all merie, Ye passe not by, but they laugh till they be werie, Yea and money coulde I haue the truthe to tell, Of many, to bryng you that way where they dwell.

R. Royster. Merygreeke for this thy reporting well of mee:

M. Mery. What shoulde I else sir, it is my duetie pardee:

R. Royster. I promise thou shalt not lacke, while I haue a grote.

M. Mery. Faith sir, and I nere had more nede of a newe cote.

R. Royster. Thou shalte haue one to morowe, and golde for to spende.

M. Mery. Then I trust to bring the day to a good ende. For as for mine owne parte hauing money inowe, I could lyue onely with the remembrance of you. But nowe to your Widowe whome you loue so hotte.

R. Royster. By cocke thou sayest truthe, I had almost forgotte.

M. Mery. What if Christian Custance will not haue you what?

R. Royster. Haue me? yes I warrant you, neuer doubt of that, I knowe she loueth me, but she dare not speake.

M. Mery. In deede meete it were some body should it breake.

R. Royster. She looked on me twentie tymes yesternight, And laughed so.

M. Mery. That she coulde not sitte vpright,

R. Royster. No faith coulde she not.

M. Mery. No euen such a thing I cast.

R. Royster. But for wowyng thou knowest women are shamefast. But and she knewe my minde, I knowe she would be glad, And thinke it the best chaunce that euer she had.

M. Mery. Too hir then like a man, and be bolde forth to starte, Wowers neuer speede well, that haue a false harte.

R. Royster. What may I best doe?

M. Mery. Sir remaine ye a while, Ere long one or other of hir house will appere. Ye knowe my minde.

R. Royster. Yea now hardly lette me alone.

M. Mery. In the meane time sir, if you please, I wyll home, And call your Musitians, for in this your case It would sette you forth, and all your wowyng grace, Ye may not lacke your instrumentes to play and sing.

R. Royster. Thou knowest I can doe that.

M. Mery. As well as any thing. Shall I go call your folkes, that ye may shewe a cast?

R. Royster. Yea runne I beseeche thee in all possible haste.

M. Mery. I goe. Exeat.

R. Royster. Yea for I loue singyng out of measure, It comforteth my spirites and doth me great pleasure. But who commeth forth yond from my swete hearte Custance? My matter frameth well, thys is a luckie chaunce.

Actus. j. Scna. iij.

Mage Mumble crust, spinning on the distaffe. Tibet Talk apace, sowyng. Annot Alyface knittyng. R. Roister.

M. Mumbl. If thys distaffe were spoonne Margerie Mumblecrust.

Tib Talk. Where good stale ale is will drinke no water I trust.

M. Mumbl. Dame Custance hath promised vs good ale and white bread.

Tib Talk. If she kepe not promise, I will beshrewe her head: But it will be starke nyght before I shall haue done.

R. Royster. I will stande here a while, and talke with them anon, I heare them speake of Custance, which doth my heart good, To heare hir name spoken doth euen comfort my blood.

M. Mumbl. Sit downe to your worke Tibet like a good girle.

Tib. Talk. Nourse medle you with your spyndle and your whirle, No haste but good, Madge Mumblecrust, for whip and whurre The olde prouerbe doth say, neuer made good furre.

M. Mumbl. Well, ye wyll sitte downe to your worke anon, I trust.

Tib. Talk. Soft fire maketh sweete malte, good Madge Mumblecrust.

M. Mumbl. And sweete malte maketh ioly good ale for the nones.

Tib. Talk. Whiche will slide downe the lane without any bones. Cantet. Olde browne bread crustes must haue much good mumblyng, But good ale downe your throte hath good easie tumbling.

R. Royster. The iolyest wenche that ere I hearde, little mouse, May I not reioyce that she shall dwell in my house?

Tib. Talk. So sirrha, nowe this geare beginneth for to frame.

M. Mumbl. Thanks to God, though your work stand stil, your tong is not lame

Tib. Talk. And though your teeth be gone, both so sharpe and so fine Yet your tongue can renne on patins as well as mine.

M. Mumbl. Ye were not for nought named Tyb Talke apace.

Tib. Talk. Doth my talke grieue you? Alack, God saue your grace.

M. Mumbl. I holde a grote ye will drinke anon for this geare.

Tib. Talk. And I wyll pray you the stripes for me to beare.

M. Mumbl. I holde a penny, ye will drink without a cup.

Tib. Talk. Wherein so ere ye drinke, I wote ye drinke all vp.

An. Alyface. By Cock and well sowed, my good Tibet Talke apace.

Tib. Talk. And een as well knitte my nowne Annot Alyface.

R. Royster. See what a sort she kepeth that must be my wife. Shall not I when I haue hir, leade a merrie life?

Tib. Talk. Welcome my good wenche, and sitte here by me iust.

An. Alyface. And howe doth our old beldame here, Mage Mumblecrust?

Tib. Talk. Chyde, and finde faultes, and threaten to complaine.

An. Alyface. To make vs poore girles shent to hir is small gaine.

M. Mumbl. I dyd neyther chyde, nor complaine, nor threaten.

R. Royster. It woulde grieue my heart to see one of them beaten.

M. Mumbl. I dyd nothyng but byd hir worke and holde hir peace.

Tib. Talk. So would I, if you coulde your clattering ceasse: But the deuill can not make olde trotte holde hir tong.

An. Alyface. Let all these matters passe, and we three sing a song, So shall we pleasantly bothe the tyme beguile now, And eke dispatche all our workes ere we can tell how.

Tib. Talk. I shrew them that say nay, and that shall not be I.

M. Mumbl. And I am well content.

Tib. Talk. Sing on then by and by.

R. Royster. And I will not away, but listen to their song, Yet Merygreeke and my folkes tary very long.

Tib, An, and Margerie, doe singe here.

Pipe mery Annot. etc. Trilla, Trilla. Trillarie. Worke Tibet, worke Annot, worke Margerie. Sewe Tibet, knitte Annot, spinne Margerie. Let vs see who shall winne the victorie.

Tib. Talk. This sleue is not willyng to be sewed I trowe, A small thing might make me all in the grounde to throwe.

Then they sing agayne.

Pipe merrie Annot. etc. Trilla. Trilla. Trillarie. What Tibet, what Annot, what Margerie. Ye sleepe, but we doe not, that shall we trie. Your fingers be nombde, our worke will not lie.

Tib. Talk. If ye doe so againe, well I would aduise you nay. In good sooth one stoppe more, and I make holy day.

They singe the thirde tyme.

Pipe Mery Annot. etc. Trilla. Trilla. Trillarie. Nowe Tibbet, now Annot, nowe Margerie. Nowe whippet apace for the maystrie, But it will not be, our mouth is so drie.

Tib. Talk. Ah, eche finger is a thombe to day me thinke, I care not to let all alone, choose it swimme or sinke.

They sing the fourth tyme.

Pipe Mery Annot. etc. Trilla. Trilla. Trillarie. When Tibet, when Annot, when Margerie. I will not, I can not, no more can I. Lette hir caste downe hir vvorke. Then giue we all ouer, and there let it lye.

Tib. Talk. There it lieth, the worste is but a curried cote, Tut I am vsed therto, I care not a grote.

An. Alyface. Haue we done singyng since? then will I in againe, Here I founde you, and here I leaue both twaine. Exeat.

M. Mumbl. And I will not be long after: Tib Talke apace.

Tib. Talk. What is ye matter?

M. Mumb. Yond stode a man al this space And hath hearde all that euer we spake togyther.

Tib. Talk. Mary the more loute he for his comming hither. And the lesse good he can to listen maidens talke. I care not and I go byd him hence for to walke: It were well done to knowe what he maketh here away.

R. Royster. Nowe myght I speake to them, if I wist what to say.

M. Mumbl. Nay we will go both off, and see what he is.

R. Royster. One that hath hearde all your talke and singyng ywis.

Tib. Talk. The more to blame you, a good thriftie husbande Woulde elsewhere haue had some better matters in hande.

R. Royster. I dyd it for no harme, but for good loue I beare, To your dame mistresse Custance, I did your talke heare. And Mistresse nource I will kisse you for acquaintance.

M. Mumbl. I come anon sir.

Tib. Talk. Faith I would our dame Custance Sawe this geare.

M. Mumbl. I must first wipe al cleane, yea I must.

Tib. Talk. Ill chieue it dotyng foole, but it must be cust.

M. Mumbl. God yelde you sir, chad not so much ichotte not whan, Nere since chwas bore chwine, of such a gay gentleman.

R. Royster. I will kisse you too mayden for the good will I beare you.

Tib. Talk. No forsoth, by your leaue ye shall not kisse me.

R. Royster. Yes be not afearde, I doe not disdayne you a whit.

Tib. Talk. Why shoulde I feare you? I haue not so little wit, Ye are but a man I knowe very well.

R. Royster. Why then?

Tib. Talk. Forsooth for I wyll not, I vse not to kisse men.

R. Royster. I would faine kisse you too good maiden, if I myght.

Tib. Talk. What shold that neede?

R. Royster. But to honor you by this light. I vse to kisse all them that I loue to God I vowe.

Tib. Talk. Yea sir? I pray you when dyd ye last kisse your cowe.

R. Royster. Ye might be proude to kisse me, if ye were wise.

Tib. Talk. What promotion were therein?

R. Royster. Nourse is not so nice.

Tib. Talk. Well I haue not bene taught to kissing and licking.

R. Royster. Yet I thanke you mistresse Nourse, ye made no sticking.

M. Mumbl. I will not sticke for a kosse with such a man as you.

Tib. Talk. They that lust: I will againe to my sewyng now.

An. Alyfac[e]. Tidings hough, tidings, dame Custance greeteth you well.

R. Royster. Whome me?

An. Alyface. You sir? no sir? I do no suche tale tell.

R. Royster. But and she knewe me here.

An. Alyface. Tybet Talke apace, Your mistresse Custance and mine, must speake with your grace.

Tib. Talk. With me?

An. Alyface. Ye muste come in to hir out of all doutes.

Tib. Talk. And my work not half done? A mischief on all loutes. Ex. am.

R. Royster. Ah good sweet nourse.

M. Mumb. A good sweete gentleman.

R. Royster. What?

M. Mumbl. Nay I can not tel sir, but what thing would you?

R. Royster. Howe dothe sweete Custance, my heart of gold, tell me how?

M. Mumbl. She dothe very well sir, and commaunde me to you.

R. Royster. To me?

M. Mumbl. Yea to you sir.

R. Royster. To me? nurse tel me plain To me?

M. Mumb. Ye.

R. Royster. That word maketh me aliue again.

M. Mumbl. She commaunde me to one last day who ere it was.

R. Royster. That was een to me and none other by the Masse.

M. Mumb. I can not tell you surely, but one it was.

R. Royster. It was I and none other: this commeth to good passe. I promise thee nourse I fauour hir.

M. Mumb. Een so sir.

R. Royster. Bid hir sue to me for mariage.

M. Mumbl. Een so sir.

R. Royster. And surely for thy sake she shall speede.

M. Mumb. Een so sir.

R. Royster. I shall be contented to take hir.

M. Mumb. Een so sir.

R. Royster. But at thy request and for thy sake.

M. Mumb. Een so sir.

R. Royster. And come hearke in thine eare what to say.

M. Mumb. Een so sir. Here lette him tell hir a great long tale in hir eare.

Actus. j. Scna. iiij.

Mathew Merygreeke. Dobinet Doughtie. Harpax. Ralph Royster. Margerie Mumblecrust.

M. Mery. Come on sirs apace, and quite your selues like men, Your pains shalbe rewarded.

D. Dou. But I wot not when.

M. Mery. Do your maister worship as ye haue done in time past.

D. Dough. Speake to them: of mine office he shall haue a cast.

M. Mery. Harpax, looke that thou doe well too, and thy fellow.

Harpax. I warrant, if he will myne example folowe.

M. Mery. Curtsie whooresons, douke you and crouche at euery worde,

D. Dough. Yes whether our maister speake earnest or borde.

M. Mery. For this lieth vpon his preferment in deede.

D. Dough. Oft is hee a wower, but neuer doth he speede.

M. Mery. But with whome is he nowe so sadly roundyng yond?

D. Dough. With Nobs nicebecetur miserere sonde.

Ṃ Mery. God be at your wedding, be ye spedde alredie? I did not suppose that your loue was so greedie, I perceiue nowe ye haue chose of deuotion, And ioy haue ye ladie of your promotion.

R. Royster. Tushe foole, thou art deceiued, this is not she.

M. Mery. Well mocke muche of hir, and keepe hir well I vise ye. I will take no charge of such a faire piece keeping.

M. Mumbl. What ayleth thys fellowe? he driueth me to weeping.

M. Mery. What weepe on the weddyng day? be merrie woman, Though I say it, ye haue chose a good gentleman.

R. Royster. Kocks nownes what meanest thou man, tut a whistle.

[M. Mery.] Ah sir, be good to hir, she is but a gristle, Ah sweete lambe and coney.

R. Royster. Tut thou art deceiued.

M. Mery. Weepe no more lady, ye shall be well receiued. Vp wyth some mery noyse sirs, to bring home the bride.

R. Royster. Gogs armes knaue, art thou madde? I tel thee thou art wide.

M. Mery. Then ye entende by nyght to haue hir home brought.

R. Royster. I tel thee no.

M. Mery. How then?

R. Royster. Tis neither ment ne thought.

M. Mery. What shall we then doe with hir?

R. Royster. Ah foolish harebraine, This is not she.

M. Mery. No is? why then vnsayde againe, And what yong girle is this with your mashyp so bolde?

R. Royster. A girle?

M. Mery. Yea. I dare say, scarse yet three score yere old.

R. Royster. This same is the faire widowes nourse of whome ye wotte.

M. Mery. Is she but a nourse of a house? hence home olde trotte, Hence at once.

R. Royster. No, no.

M. Mery. What an please your maship A nourse talke so homely with one of your worship?

R. Royster. I will haue it so: it is my pleasure and will.

M. Mery. Then I am content. Nourse come againe, tarry still.

R. Royster. What, she will helpe forward this my sute for hir part.

M. Mery. Then ist mine owne pygs nie, and blessing on my hart.

R. Royster. This is our best friend man.

M. Mery. Then teach hir what to say

M. Mumbl. I am taught alreadie.

M. Mery. Then go, make no delay.

R. Royster. Yet hark one word in thine eare.

M. Mery. Back sirs from his taile.

R. Royster. Backe vilaynes, will ye be priuie of my counsaile?

M. Mery. Backe sirs, so: I tolde you afore ye woulde be shent.

R. Royster. She shall haue the first day a whole pecke of argent.

M. Mumbl. A pecke? Nomine patris, haue ye so much spare?

R. Royster. Yea and a carte lode therto, or else were it bare, Besides other mouables, housholde stuffe and lande.

M. Mumbl. Haue ye lands too.

R. Royster. An hundred marks.

M. Mery. Yea a thousand

M. Mumbl. And haue ye cattell too? and sheepe too?

R. Royster. Yea a fewe.

M. Mery. He is ashamed the numbre of them to shewe. Een rounde about him, as many thousande sheepe goes, As he and thou and I too, haue fingers and toes.

M. Mumbl. And how many yeares olde be you?

R. Royster. Fortie at lest.

M. Mery. Yea and thrice fortie to them.

R. Royster. Nay now thou dost iest. I am not so olde, thou misreckonest my yeares.

M. Mery. I know that: but my minde was on bullockes and steeres.

M. Mumbl. And what shall I shewe hir your masterships name is?

R. Royster. Nay she shall make sute ere she know that ywis.

M. Mumbl. Yet let me somewhat knowe.

M. Mery. This is hee vnderstand, That killed the blewe Spider in Blanchepouder lande.

M. Mumbl. Yea Iesus, William zee law, dyd he zo law?

M. Mery. Yea and the last Elephant that euer he sawe, As the beast passed by, he start out of a buske, And een with pure strength of armes pluckt out his great tuske.

M. Mumbl. Iesus, nomine patris, what a thing was that?

R. Royster. Yea but Merygreke one thing thou hast forgot.

M. Mery. What?

R. Royster. Of thother Elephant.

M. Mery. Oh hym that fledde away.

R. Royster. Yea.

M. Mery. Yea he knew that his match was in place that day Tut, he bet the king of Crickets on Christmasse day, That he crept in a hole, and not a worde to say.

M. Mumbl. A sore man by zembletee.

M. Mery. Why, he wrong a club Once in a fray out of the hande of Belzebub.

R. Roister. And how when Mumfision?

M. Mery. Oh your coustrelyng Bore the lanterne a fielde so before the gozelyng. Nay that is to long a matter now to be tolde: Neuer aske his name Nurse, I warrant thee, be bolde, He conquered in one day from Rome, to Naples, And woonne Townes nourse as fast as thou canst make Apples.

M. Mumbl. O Lorde, my heart quaketh for feare: he is to sore.

R. Roister. Thou makest hir to much afearde, Merygreeke no more. This tale woulde feare my sweete heart Custance right euill.

M. Mery. Nay let hir take him Nurse, and feare not the deuill. But thus is our song dasht. Sirs ye may home againe.

R. Roister. No shall they not. I charge you all here to remaine: The villaine slaues a whole day ere they can be founde.

M. Mery. Couche on your marybones whooresons, down to the ground. Was it meete he should tarie so long in one place Without harmonie of Musike, or some solace? Who so hath suche bees as your maister in hys head, Had neede to haue his spirites with Musike to be fed. By your maisterships licence.

R. Roister. What is that? a moate?

M. Mery. No it was a fooles feather had light on your coate.

R. Roister. I was nigh no feathers since I came from my bed.

M. Mery. No sir, it was a haire that was fall from your hed.

R. Roister. My men com when it plese them.

M. Mery. By your leue.

R. Roister. What is that?

M. Mery. Your gown was foule spotted with the foot of a gnat.

R. Roister. Their maister to offende they are nothing afearde. What now?

M. Mery. A lousy haire from your masterships beard. Omnes famul. And sir for Nurses sake pardon this one offence. We shall not after this shew the like negligence.

R. Royster. I pardon you this once, and come sing nere the wurse.

M. Mery. How like you the goodnesse of this gentleman nurse?

M. Mumbl. God saue his maistership that so can his men forgeue, And I wyll heare them sing ere I go, by his leaue.

R. Royster. Mary and thou shalt wenche, come we two will daunce.

M. Mumbl. Nay I will by myne owne selfe foote the song perchaunce.

R. Royster. Go to it sirs lustily.

M. Mumbl. Pipe vp a mery note, Let me heare it playde, I will foote it for a grote.


R. Royster. Now nurse take thys same letter here to thy mistresse. And as my trust is in thee plie my businesse.

M. Mumbl. It shalbe done?

M. Mery. Who made it?

R. Royster. I wrote it ech whit.

M. Mery. Then nedes it no mending.

R. Royster. No, no.

M. Mery. No I know your wit. I warrant it wel.

M. Mumbl. It shal be deliuered. But if ye speede, shall I be considered?

M. Mery. Whough, dost thou doubt of that?

Madge. What shal I haue?

M. Mery. An hundred times more than thou canst deuise to craue.

M. Mumbl. Shall I haue some newe geare? for my olde is all spent.

M. Mery. The worst kitchen wench shall goe in ladies rayment.

M. Mumbl. Yea?

M. Mery. And the worst drudge in the house shal go better Than your mistresse doth now.

Mar. Then I trudge with your letter.

R. Royster. Now may I repose me: Custance is mine owne. Let vs sing and play homeward that it may be knowne.

M. Mery. But are you sure, that your letter is well enough?

R. Royster. I wrote it my selfe.

M. Mery. Then sing we to dinner.

Here they sing, and go out singing.

Actus. j. Scna. v.

Christian Custance. Margerie Mumblecrust.

C. Custance. Who tooke thee thys letter Margerie Mumblecrust?

M. Mumbl. A lustie gay bacheler tooke it me of trust, And if ye seeke to him he will lowe your doing.

C. Custance. Yea, but where learned he that manner of wowing?

M. Mumbl. If to sue to hym, you will any paines take, He will haue you to his wife (he sayth) for my sake.

C. Custance. Some wise gentleman belike. I am bespoken: And I thought verily thys had bene some token From my dere spouse Gawin Goodluck, whom when him please God luckily sende home to both our heartes ease.

M. Mumbl. A ioyly man it is I wote well by report, And would haue you to him for marriage resort: Best open the writing, and see what it doth speake.

C. Custance. At thys time nourse I will neither reade ne breake.

M. Mumbl. He promised to giue you a whole pecke of golde.

C. Custance. Perchaunce lacke of a pynte when it shall be all tolde.

M. Mumbl. I would take a gay riche husbande, and I were you.

C. Custance. In good sooth Madge, een so would I, if I were thou. But no more of this fond talke now, let vs go in, And see thou no more moue me folly to begin. Nor bring mee no mo letters for no mans pleasure, But thou know from whom.

M. Mumbl. I warrant ye shall be sure.

Actus. ij. Scna. j.

Dobinet Doughtie.

D. Dough. Where is the house I goe to, before or behinde? I know not where nor when nor how I shal it finde. If I had ten mens bodies and legs and strength, This trotting that I haue must needes lame me at length. And nowe that my maister is new set on wowyng, I trust there shall none of vs finde lacke of doyng: Two paire of shoes a day will nowe be too litle To serue me, I must trotte to and fro so mickle. Go beare me thys token, carrie me this letter, Nowe this is the best way, nowe that way is better. Vp before day sirs, I charge you, an houre or twaine, Trudge, do me thys message, and bring worde quicke againe, If one misse but a minute, then his armes and woundes, I woulde not haue slacked for ten thousand poundes. Nay see I befeeche you, if my most trustie page, Goe not nowe aboute to hinder my mariage, So feruent hotte wowyng, and so farre from wiuing, I trowe neuer was any creature liuyng, With euery woman is he in some loues pang, Then vp to our lute at midnight, twangledome twang, Then twang with our sonets, and twang with our dumps, And heyhough from our heart, as heauie as lead lumpess: Then to our recorder with toodleloodle poope As the howlet out of an yuie bushe should hoope. Anon to our gitterne, thrumpledum, thrumpledum thrum, Thrumpledum, thrumpledum, thrumpledum, thrumpledum thrum. Of Songs and Balades also he is a maker, And that can he as finely doe as Iacke Raker, Yea and extempore will he dities compose, Foolishe Marsias nere made the like I suppose, Yet must we sing them, as good stuffe I vndertake, As for such a pen man is well fittyng to make. Ah for these long nights, heyhow, when will it be day? I feare ere I come she will be wowed away. Then when aunswere is made that it may not bee, O death why commest thou not? by and by (sayth he) But then, from his heart to put away sorowe, He is as farre in with some newe loue next morowe. But in the meane season we trudge and we trot, From dayspring to midnyght, I sit not, nor rest not. And now am I sent to dame Christian Custance: But I feare it will ende with a mocke for pastance. I bring hir a ring, with a token in a cloute, And by all gesse, this same is hir house out of doute. I knowe it nowe perfect, I am in my right way. And loe yond the olde nourse that was wyth vs last day.

Actus. ij. Scna. ij.

Mage Mumblecrust. Dobinet Doughtie.

M. Mumbl. I was nere so shoke vp afore since I was borne, That our mistresse coulde not haue chid I wold haue sworne: And I pray God I die if I ment any harme, But for my life time this shall be to me a charme.

D. Dough. God you saue and see nurse, and howe is it with you?

M. Mumbl. Mary a great deale the worse it is for suche as thou.

D. Dough. For me? Why so?

M. Mumb. Why wer not thou one of them, say, That song and playde here with the gentleman last day?

D. Dough. Yes, and he would know if you haue for him spoken. And prayes you to deliuer this ring and token.

M. Mumbl. Nowe by the token that God tokened brother, I will deliuer no token one nor other. I haue once ben so shent for your maisters pleasure, As I will not be agayne for all hys treasure.

D. Dough. He will thank you woman.

M. Mumbl. I will none of his thanke. Ex.

D. Dough. I weene I am a prophete, this geare will proue blanke: But what should I home againe without answere go? It were better go to Rome on my head than so. I will tary here this moneth, but some of the house Shall take it of me, and then I care not a louse. But yonder commeth forth a wenche or a ladde, If he haue not one Lumbardes touche, my lucke is bad.

Actus. ij. Scna. iij.

Truepenie. D. Dough. Tibet T. Anot Al.

Trupeny. I am cleane lost for lacke of mery companie, We gree not halfe well within, our wenches and I, They will commaunde like mistresses, they will forbyd, If they be not serued, Trupeny must be chyd. Let them be as mery nowe as ye can desire, With turnyng of a hande, our mirth lieth in the mire, I can not skill of such chaungeable mettle, There is nothing with them but in docke out nettle.

D. Dough. Whether is it better that speake to him furst, Or he first to me, it is good to cast the wurst. If I beginne first, he will smell all my purpose, Otherwise I shall not neede any thing to disclose.

Trupeny. What boy haue we yonder? I will see what he is.

D. Dough. He commeth to me. It is hereabout ywis.

Trupeny. Wouldest thou ought friende, that thou lookest so about?

D. Dough. Yea, but whether ye can helpe me or no, I dout. I seeke to one mistresse Custance house here dwellyng.

Trupenie. It is my mistresse ye seeke too by your telling.

D. Dough. Is there any of that name heere but shee?

Trupenie. Not one in all the whole towne that I knowe pardee.

D. Dough. A Widowe she is I trow.

Trupenie. And what and she be?

D. Dough. But ensured to an husbande.

Trupenie. Yea, so thinke we.

D. Dough. And I dwell with hir husbande that trusteth to be.

Trupenie. In faith then, must thou needes be welcome to me, Let vs for acquaintance shake handes togither, And what ere thou be, heartily welcome hither.

Tib. Talk. Well Trupenie neuer but flinging.

An. Alyface. And frisking?

Trupenie. Well Tibet and Annot, still swingyng and whiskyng?

Tib. Talk. But ye roile abroade.

An. Alyface. In the streete euere where.

Trupenie. Where are ye twaine, in chambers when ye mete me there? But come hither fooles, I haue one nowe by the hande, Seruant to hym that must be our mistresse husbande, Byd him welcome.

An. Alyface. To me truly is he welcome.

Tib. Talk. Forsooth and as I may say, heartily welcome.

D. Dough. I thank you mistresse maides

An. Alyface. I hope we shal better know

Tib. Talk. And when wil our new master come.

D. Dough. Shortly I trow.

Tib. Talk. I would it were to morow: for till he resorte Our mistresse being a Widow hath small comforte, And I hearde our nourse speake of an husbande to day Ready for our mistresse, a riche man and a gay, And we shall go in our frenche hoodes euery day, In our silke cassocks (I warrant you) freshe and gay, In our tricke serdegews and billiments of golde, Braue in our sutes of chaunge seuen double folde, Then shall ye see Tibet sirs, treade the mosse so trimme, Nay, why sayd I treade? ye shall see hir glide and swimme, Not lumperdee clumperdee like our spaniell Rig.

Trupeny. Mary then prickmedaintie come toste me a fig, Who shall then know our Tib Talke apace trow ye?

An. Alyface. And why not Annot Alyface as fyne as she?

Trupeny. And what had Tom Trupeny, a father or none?

An. Alyface. Then our prety newe come man will looke to be one.

Trupeny. We foure I trust shall be a ioily mery knot. Shall we sing a fitte to welcome our friende, Annot?

An. Alyface. Perchaunce he can not sing.

D. Dough. I am at all assayes.

Tib. Talk. By cocke and the better welcome to vs alwayes.

Here they sing.

A thing very fitte For them that haue witte, And are felowes knitte Seruants in one house to bee, Is fast fast for to sitte, And not oft to flitte, Nor varie a whitte, But louingly to agree.

No man complainyng, Nor other disdayning, For losse or for gainyng, But felowes or friends to bee. No grudge remainyng, No worke refrainyng, Nor helpe restrainyng, But louingly to agree.

No man for despite, By worde or by write His felowe to twite, But further in honestie, No good turnes entwite, Nor olde sores recite, But let all goe quite, And louingly to agree.

After drudgerie, When they be werie, Then to be merie, To laugh and sing they be free With chip and cherie Heigh derie derie, Trill on the berie, And louingly to agree.


Tib. Talk. Wyll you now in with vs vnto our mistresse go?

D. Dough. I haue first for my maister an errand or two. But I haue here from him a token and a ring, They shall haue moste thanke of hir that first doth it bring.

Tib. Talk. Mary that will I.

Trupeny. See and Tibet snatch not now.

Tib. Talk. And why may not I sir, get thanks as well as you? Exeat.

An. Alyface. Yet get ye not all, we will go with you both. And haue part of your thanks be ye neuer so loth. [Exeant omnes.

D. Dough. So my handes are ridde of it: I care for no more. I may now return home: so durst I not afore. Exeat.

Actus. ij. Scna. iiij.

C. Custance. Tibet. Annot Alyface. Trupeny.

C. Custance. Nay come forth all three: and come hither pretie mayde: Will not so many forewarnings make you afrayde?

Tib. Talk. Yes forsoth.

C. Custance. But stil be a runner vp and downe Still be a bringer of tidings and tokens to towne.

Tib. Talk. No forsoth mistresse.

C. Custance. Is all your delite and ioy In whiskyng and ramping abroade like a Tom boy.

Tib. Talk. Forsoth these were there too, Annot and Trupenie.

Trupenie. Yea but ye alone tooke it, ye can not denie.

Annot Aly. Yea that ye did.

Tibet. But if I had not, ye twaine would.

C. Custance. You great calfe ye should haue more witte, so ye should: But why shoulde any of you take such things in hande?

Tibet. Because it came from him that must be your husbande.

C. Custance. How do ye know that?

Tibet. Forsoth the boy did say so.

C. Custance. What was his name?

An. Alyface. We asked not.

C. Custance. No did?

An. Aliface. He is not farre gone of likelyhod.

Trupeny. I will see.

C. Custance. If thou canst finde him in the streete bring him to me.

Trupenie. Yes.


C. Custance. Well ye naughty girles, if euer I perceiue That henceforth you do letters or tokens receiue, To bring vnto me from any person or place, Except ye first shewe me the partie face to face, Eyther thou or thou, full truly abye thou shalt.

Tibet. Pardon this, and the next tyme pouder me in falt.

C. Custance. I shall make all girles by you twaine to beware.

Tibet. If euer I offende againe do not me spare. But if euer I see that false boy any more By your mistreshyps licence I tell you afore I will rather haue my cote twentie times swinged, Than on the naughtie wag not to be auenged.

C. Custance. Good wenches would not so rampe abrode ydelly, But keepe within doores, and plie their work earnestly, If one would speake with me that is a man likely, Ye shall haue right good thanke to bring me worde quickly. But otherwyse with messages to come in post From henceforth I promise you, shall be to your cost. Get you in to your work.

Tib. An. Yes forsoth.

C. Custance. Hence both twaine. And let me see you play me such a part againe.

Trupeny. Maistresse, I haue runne past the farre ende of the streete, Yet can I not yonder craftie boy see nor meete.

C. Custance. No?

Trupeny. Yet I looked as farre beyonde the people. As one may see out of the toppe of Paules steeple.

C. Custance. Hence in at doores, and let me no more be vext.

Trupeny. Forgeue me this one fault, and lay on for the next.

C. Custance. Now will I in too, for I thinke so God me mende, This will proue some foolishe matter in the ende.


Actus. [i]ij. Scna. j.

Mathewe Merygreeke.

M. Mery. Nowe say thys againe: he hath somewhat to dooing Which followeth the trace of one that is wowing, Specially that hath no more wit in his hedde, Than my cousin Roister Doister withall is ledde. I am sent in all haste to espie and to marke How our letters and tokens are likely to warke. Maister Roister Doister must haue aunswere in haste For he loueth not to spende much labour in waste. Nowe as for Christian Custance by this light, Though she had not hir trouth to Gawin Goodluck plight, Yet rather than with such a loutishe dolte to marie, I dare say woulde lyue a poore lyfe solitarie, But fayne would I speake with Custance if I wist how To laugh at the matter, yond commeth one forth now.

Actus. iij. Scna. ij.

Tibet. M. Merygreeke. Christian Custance.

Tib. Talk. Ah that I might but once in my life haue a sight Of him that made vs all so yll shent by this light, He should neuer escape if I had him by the eare, But euen from his head, I would it bite or teare. Yea and if one of them were not inowe, I would bite them both off, I make God auow.

M. Mery. What is he, whome this little mouse doth so threaten?

Tib. Talk. I woulde teache him I trow, to make girles shent or beaten.

M. Mery. I will call hir: Maide with whome are ye so hastie?

Tib. Talk. Not with you sir, but with a little wag-pastie, A deceiuer of folkes, by subtill craft and guile.

M. Mery. I knowe where she is: Dobinet hath wrought some wile.

Tib. Talk. He brought a ring and token which he sayd was sent From our dames husbande, but I wot well I was shent: For it liked hir as well to tell you no lies, As water in hir shyppe, or salt cast in hir eies: And yet whence it came neyther we nor she can tell.

M. Mery. We shall haue sport anone: I like this very well. And dwell ye here with mistresse Custance faire maide?

Tib. Talk. Yea mary doe I sir: what would ye haue sayd?

M. Mery. A little message vnto hir by worde of mouth.

Tib. Talk. No messages by your leaue, nor tokens forsoth.

M. Mery. Then help me to speke with hir.

Tibet. With a good wil that. Here she commeth forth. Now speake ye know best what.

C. Custance. None other life with you maide, but abrode to skip?

Tib. Talk. Forsoth here is one would speake with your mistresship.

C. Custance. Ah, haue ye ben learning of mo messages now?

Tib. Talk. I would not heare his minde, but bad him shewe it to you.

C. Custance. In at dores.

Tib. Talk. I am gon. Ex.

M. Mery. Dame Custance god ye saue.

C. Custance. Welcome friend Merygreeke: and what thing wold ye haue?

M. Mery. I am come to you a little matter to breake.

C. Custance. But see it be honest, else better not to speake.

M. Mery. Howe feele ye your selfe affected here of late?

C. Custance. I feele no maner chaunge but after the olde rate. But wherby do ye meane?

M. Mery. Concerning mariage. Doth not loue lade you?

C. Custance. I feele no such cariage.

M. Mery. Doe ye feele no pangues of dotage? aunswere me right.

C. Custance. I dote so, that I make but one sleepe all the night But what neede all these wordes?

M. Mery. Oh Iesus, will ye see What dissemblyng creatures these same women be? The gentleman ye wote of, whome ye doe so loue, That ye woulde fayne marrie him, yf ye durst it moue, Emong other riche widowes, which are of him glad, Lest ye for lesing of him perchaunce might runne mad, Is nowe contented that vpon your sute making, Ye be as one in election of taking.

C. Custance. What a tale is this? that I wote of? whome I loue?

M. Mery. Yea and he is as louing a worme againe as a doue. Een of very pitie he is willyng you to take, Bicause ye shall not destroy your selfe for his sake.

C. Custance. Mary God yelde his mashyp what euer he be, It is gentmanly spoken.

M. Mery. Is it not trowe ye? If ye haue the grace now to offer your self, ye speede.

C. Custance. As muche as though I did, this time it shall not neede, But what gentman is it, I pray you tell me plaine, That woweth so finely?

M. Mery. Lo where ye be againe, As though ye knewe him not.

C. Custance. Tush ye speake in iest.

M. Mery. Nay sure, the partie is in good knacking earnest, And haue you he will (he sayth) and haue you he must.

C. Custance. I am promised duryng my life, that is iust.

M. Mery. Mary so thinketh he, vnto him alone.

C. Custance. No creature hath my faith and trouth but one, That is Gawin Goodlucke: and if it be not hee, He hath no title this way what euer he be, Nor I know none to whome I haue such worde spoken.

M. Mery. Ye knowe him not you by his letter and token.

C. Custance. In dede true it is, that a letter I haue, But I neuer reade it yet as God me saue.

M. Mery. Ye a woman? and your letter so long vnredde.

C. Custance. Ye may therby know what hast I haue to wedde. But now who it is, for my hande I knowe by gesse.

M. Mery. Ah well I say.

C. Custance. It is Roister Doister doubtlesse.

M. Mery. Will ye neuer leaue this dissimulation? Ye know hym not.

C. Custance. But by imagination, For no man there is but a very dolt and loute That to wowe a Widowe woulde so go about. He shall neuer haue me hys wife while he doe liue.

M. Mery. Then will he haue you if he may, so mote I thriue, And he biddeth you sende him worde by me, That ye humbly beseech him, ye may his wife be, And that there shall be no let in you nor mistrust, But to be wedded on sunday next if he lust, And biddeth you to looke for him.

C. Custance. Doth he byd so?

M. Mery. When he commeth, aske hym whether he did or no?

C. Custance. Goe say, that I bid him keepe him warme at home For if he come abroade, he shall cough me a mome. My mynde was vexed, I shrew his head sottish dolt.

M. Mery. He hath in his head.

C. Custance. As much braine as a burbolt.

M. Mery. Well dame Custance, if he heare you thus play choploge.

C. Custance. What will he?

M. Mery. Play the deuill in the horologe.

C. Custance. I defye him loute.

M. Mery. Shall I tell hym what ye say?

C. Custance. Yea and adde what so euer thou canst, I thee pray, And I will auouche it what so euer it bee.

M. Mery. Then let me alone we will laugh well ye shall see, It will not be long ere he will hither resorte.

C. Custance. Let hym come when hym lust, I wishe no better sport. Fare ye well, I will in, and read my great letter. I shall to my wower make answere the better. Exeat.

Actus. iij. Scna. iij.

Mathew Merygreeke. Roister Doister.

M. Mery. Nowe that the whole answere in my deuise doth rest, I shall paint out our wower in colours of the best. And all that I say shall be on Custances mouth, She is author of all that I shall speake forsoth. But yond commeth Roister Doister nowe in a traunce.

R. Royster. Iuno sende me this day good lucke and good chaunce. I can not but come see how Merygreeke doth speede.

M. Mery. I will not see him, but giue him a iutte in deede. I crie your mastershyp mercie.

R. Royster. And whither now?

M. Mery. As fast as I could runne sir in poste against you. But why speake ye so faintly, or why are ye so sad?

R. Royster. Thou knowest the prouerbe, bycause I can not be had. Hast thou spoken with this woman?

M. Mery. Yea that I haue.

R. Royster. And what will this geare be?

M. Mery. No so God me saue.

R. Royster. Hast thou a flat answer?

M. Mery. Nay a sharp answer.

R. Royster. What

M. Mery. Ye shall not (she sayth) by hir will marry hir cat. Ye are such a calfe, such an asse, such a blocke, Such a lilburne, such a hoball, such a lobcocke, And bicause ye shoulde come to hir at no season, She despised your maship out of all reason. Bawawe what ye say (ko I) of such a ientman, Nay I feare him not (ko she) doe the best he can. He vaunteth him selfe for a man of prowesse greate, Where as a good gander I dare say may him beate. And where he is louted and laughed to skorne, For the veriest dolte that euer was borne, And veriest lubber, slouen and beast, Liuing in this worlde from the west to the east: Yet of himselfe hath he suche opinion, That in all the worlde is not the like minion. He thinketh eche woman to be brought in dotage With the onely sight of his goodly personage: Yet none that will haue hym: we do hym loute and flocke, And make him among vs, our common sporting stocke, And so would I now (ko she) saue onely bicause, Better nay (ko I) I lust not medle with dawes. Ye are happy (ko I) that ye are a woman, This would cost you your life in case ye were a man.

R. Royster. Yea an hundred thousand pound should not saue hir life.

M. Mery. No but that ye wowe hir to haue hir to your wife, But I coulde not stoppe hir mouth.

R. Royster. Heigh how alas,

M. Mery. Be of good cheere man, and let the worlde passe.

R. Royster. What shall I doe or say nowe that it will not bee.

M. Mery. Ye shall haue choise of a thousande as good as shee, And ye must pardon hir, it is for lacke of witte.

R. Royster. Yea, for were not I an husbande for hir fitte? Well what should I now doe?

M. Mery. In faith I can not tell.

R. Royster. I will go home and die.

M. Mery. Then shall I bidde toll the bell?

R. Royster. No.

M. Mery. God haue mercie on your soule, ah good gentleman, That er ye shuld th[u]s dye for an vnkinde woman. Will ye drinke once ere ye goe.

R. Royster. No, no, I will none.

M. Mery. How feele your soule to God.

R. Royster. I am nigh gone.

M. Mery. And shall we hence streight?

R. Royster. Yea.

M. Mery. Placebo dilexi. Maister Doister Doister will streight go home and die. vt infra.*

[Footnote *: See pp. 87, 88.]

[Transcriber's Note: "Ut infra" directions refer to "Certaine Songs" printed separately at the end of the play. The text "Maister Doister Doister" is unchanged.]

R. Royster. Heigh how, alas, the pangs of death my hearte do breake.

M. Mery. Holde your peace for shame sir, a dead man may not speake. Nequando: What mourners and what torches shall we haue?

R. Royster. None.

M. Mery. Dirige. He will go darklyng to his graue, Neque, lux, neque crux, neque mourners, neque clinke, He will steale to heauen, vnknowing to God I thinke. A porta inferi, who shall your goodes possesse?

R. Royster. Thou shalt be my sectour, and haue all more and lesse.

M. Mery. Requiem ternam. Now God reward your mastershyp. And I will crie halfepenie doale for your worshyp. [Sidenote: Euocat seruos militis.] Come forth sirs, heare the dolefull newes I shall you tell. Our good maister here will no longer with vs dwell, But in spite of Custance, which hath hym weried, Let vs see his mashyp solemnely buried. And while some piece of his soule is yet hym within, Some part of his funeralls let vs here begin. Audiui vocem, All men take heede by this one gentleman, Howe you sette your loue vpon an vnkinde woman. For these women be all such madde pieuishe elues, They will not be wonne except it please them selues. But in fayth Custance if euer ye come in hell, Maister Roister Doister shall serue you as well. And will ye needes go from vs thus in very deede?

R. Royster. Yea in good sadnesse?

M. Mery. Now Iesus Christ be your speede. Good night Roger olde knaue, farewell Roger olde knaue, Good night Roger olde knaue, knaue knap. vt infra.** Pray for the late maister Roister Doisters soule, And come forth parish Clarke, let the passing bell toll. [Sidenote: Ad seruos militis.] Pray for your mayster sirs, and for hym ring a peale. He was your right good maister while he was in heale. Qui Lazarum.

[Footnote **: See p. 88.]

R. Royster. Heigh how.

M. Mery. Dead men go not so fast In Paradisum.

R. Royster. Heihow.

M. Mery. Soft, heare what I haue cast

R. Royster. I will heare nothing, I am past.

M. Mery. Whough, wellaway. Ye may tarie one houre, and heare what I shall say, Ye were best sir for a while to reuiue againe, And quite them er ye go.

R. Royster. Trowest thou so?

M. Mery. Ye plain.

R. Royster. How may I reuiue being nowe so farre past?

M. Mery. I will rubbe your temples, and fette you againe at last.

R. Royster. It will not be possible.

M. Mery. Yes for twentie pounde.

R. Royster. Armes what dost thou?

M. Mery. Fet you again out of your sound By this crosse ye were nigh gone in deede, I might feele Your soule departing within an inche of your heele. Now folow my counsell.

R. Royster. What is it?

M. Mery. If I wer you, Custance should eft seeke to me, ere I woulde bowe.

R. Royster. Well, as thou wilt haue me, euen so will I doe.

M. Mery. Then shall ye reuiue againe for an houre or two.

R. Royster. As thou wilt I am content for a little space.

M. Mery. Good happe is not hastie: yet in space com[e]th grace, To speake with Custance your selfe shoulde be very well, What good therof may come, nor I, nor you can tell. But now the matter standeth vpon your mariage, Ye must now take vnto you a lustie courage. Ye may not speake with a faint heart to Custance, But with a lusty breast and countenance, That she may knowe she hath to answere to a man.

R. Royster. Yes I can do that as well as any can.

M. Mery. Then bicause ye must Custance face to face wowe, Let vs see how to behaue your selfe ye can doe. Ye must haue a portely bragge after your estate.

R. Royster. Tushe, I can handle that after the best rate.

M. Mery. Well done, so loe, vp man with your head and chin, Vp with that snoute man: so loe, nowe ye begin, So, that is somewhat like, but prankie cote, nay whan, That is a lustie brute, handes vnder your side man: So loe, now is it euen as it should bee, That is somewhat like, for a man of your degree. Then must ye stately goe, ietting vp and downe, Tut, can ye no better shake the taile of your gowne? There loe, suche a lustie bragge it is ye must make.

R. Royster. To come behind, and make curtsie, thou must som pains take.

M. Mery. Else were I much to blame, I thanke your mastershyp. The lorde one day all to begrime you with worshyp, Backe sir sauce, let gentlefolkes haue elbowe roome, Voyde sirs, see ye not maister Roister Doister come? Make place my maisters.

R. Royster. Thou iustlest nowe to nigh.

M. Mery. Back al rude loutes.

R. Royster. Tush.

M. Mery. I crie your maship mercy Hoighdagh, if faire fine mistresse Custance sawe you now, Ralph Royster Doister were hir owne I warrant you.

R. Royster. Neare an M by your girdle?

M. Mery. Your good mastershyps Maistershyp, were hir owne Mistreshyps mistreshyps, Ye were take vp for haukes, ye were gone, ye were gone, But now one other thing more yet I thinke vpon.

R. Royster. Shewe what it is.

M. Mery. A wower be he neuer so poore Must play and sing before his bestbeloues doore, How much more than you?

R. Royster. Thou speakest wel out of dout.

M. Mery. And perchaunce that woulde make hir the sooner come out.

R. Royster. Goe call my Musitians, bydde them high apace.

M. Mery. I wyll be here with them ere ye can say trey ace. Exeat.

R. Royster. This was well sayde of Merygreeke, I lowe hys wit, Before my sweete hearts dore we will haue a fit, That if my loue come forth, that I may with hir talke, I doubt not but this geare shall on my side walke. But lo, how well Merygreeke is returned sence.

M. Mery. There hath grown no grasse on my heele since I went hence, Lo here haue I brought that shall make you pastance.

R. Royster. Come sirs let vs sing to winne my deare loue Custance.


M. Mery. Lo where she commeth, some countenaunce to hir make And ye shall heare me be plaine with hir for your sake.

Actus. iij. Scna. iiij.

Custance. Merygreeke. Roister Doister.

C. Custance. What gaudyng and foolyng is this afore my doore?

M. Mery. May not folks be honest, pray you, though they be pore?

C. Custance. As that thing may be true, so rich folks may be fooles,

R. Royster. Hir talke is as fine as she had learned in schooles.

M. Mery. Looke partly towarde hir, and drawe a little nere.

C. Custance. Get ye home idle folkes.

M. Mery. Why may not we be here? Nay and ye will haze, haze: otherwise I tell you plaine, And ye will not haze, then giue vs our geare againe.

C. Custance. In deede I haue of yours much gay things God saue all.

R. Royster. Speake gently vnto hir, and let hir take all.

M. Mery. Ye are to tender hearted: shall she make vs dawes? Nay dame, I will be plaine with you in my friends cause.

R. Royster. Let all this passe sweete heart and accept my seruice.

C. Custance. I will not be serued with a foole in no wise, When I choose an husbande I hope to take a man.

M. Mery. And where will ye finde one which can doe that he can? Now thys man towarde you being so kinde, You not to make him an answere somewhat to his minde.

C. Custance. I sent him a full answere by you dyd I not?

M. Mery. And I reported it.

C. Custance. Nay I must speake it againe.

R. Royster. No no, he tolde it all.

M. Mery. Was I not metely plaine?

R. Royster. Yes.

M. Mery. But I would not tell all, for faith if I had With you dame Custance ere this houre it had been bad, And not without cause: for this goodly personage, Ment no lesse than to ioyne with you in mariage.

C. Custance. Let him wast no more labour nor sute about me.

M. Mery. Ye know not where your preferment lieth I see, He sending you such a token, ring and letter.

C. Custance. Mary here it is, ye neuer sawe a better.

M. Mery. Let vs see your letter.

C. Custance. Holde, reade it if ye can. And see what letter it is to winne a woman.

M. Mery. To mine owne deare coney birde, swete heart, and pigsny Good Mistresse Custance present these by and by, Of this superscription do ye blame the stile?

C. Custance. With the rest as good stuffe as ye redde a great while.

M. Mery. Sweete mistresse where as I loue you nothing at all, Regarding your substance and richesse chiefe of all, For your personage, beautie, demeanour and wit, I commende me vnto you neuer a whit. Sorie to heare report of your good welfare. For (as I heare say) suche your conditions are, That ye be worthie fauour of no liuing man, To be abhorred of euery honest man. To be taken for a woman enclined to vice. Nothing at all to Vertue gyuing hir due price. Whersore concerning mariage, ye are thought Suche a fine Paragon, as nere honest man bought. And nowe by these presentes I do you aduertise That I am minded to marrie you in no wise. For your goodes and substance, I coulde bee content To take you as ye are. If ye mynde to bee my wyfe, Ye shall be assured for the tyme of my lyfe, I will keepe ye ryght well, from good rayment and fare, Ye shall not be kepte but in sorowe and care. Ye shall in no wyse lyue at your owne libertie, Doe and say what ye lust, ye shall neuer please me, But when ye are mery, I will be all sadde, When ye are sory, I will be very gladde. When ye seeke your heartes ease, I will be vnkinde, At no tyme, in me shall ye muche gentlenesse finde. But all things contrary to your will and minde, Shall be done: otherwise I wyll not be behinde To speake. And as for all them that woulde do you wrong I will so helpe and mainteyne, ye shall not lyue long. Nor any foolishe dolte, shall cumbre you but I. Thus good mistresse Custance, the lorde you saue and kepe, From me Roister Doister, whether I wake or slepe. Who fauoureth you no lesse, (ye may be bolde) Than this letter purporteth, which ye haue vnfolde.

C. Custance. Howe by this letter of loue? is it not fine?

R. Royster. By the armes of Caleys it is none of myne.

M. Mery. Fie you are fowle to blame this is your owne hand.

C. Custance. Might not a woman be proude of such an husbande?

M. Mery. Ah that ye would in a letter shew such despite.

R. Royster. Oh I would I had hym here, the which did it endite.

M. Mery. Why ye made it your selfe ye tolde me by this light.

R. Royster. Yea I ment I wrote it myne owne selfe yesternight.

C. Custance. Ywis sir, I would not haue sent you such a mocke.

R. Royster. Ye may so take it, but I ment it not so by cocke.

M. Mery. Who can blame this woman to fume and frette and rage? Tut, tut, your selfe nowe haue marde your owne marriage. Well, yet mistresse Custance, if ye can this remitte, This gentleman other wise may your loue requitte.

C. Custance. No God be with you both, and seeke no more to me. Exeat.

R. Royster. Wough, she is gone for euer, I shall hir no more see.

M. Mery. What weepe? fye for shame, and blubber? for manhods sake, Neuer lette your foe so muche pleasure of you take. Rather play the mans parte, and doe loue refraine. If she despise you een despise ye hir againe.

R. Royster. By gosse and for thy sake I defye hir in deede.

M. Mery. Yea and perchaunce that way ye shall much sooner speede, For one madde propretie these women haue in fey, When ye will, they will not: Will not ye, then will they. Ah foolishe woman, ah moste vnluckie Custance, Ah vnfortunate woman, ah pieuishe Custance, Art thou to thine harmes so obstinately bent, That thou canst not see where lieth thine high preferment? Canst thou not lub dis man, which coulde lub dee so well? Art thou so much thine own foe.

R. Royster. Thou dost the truth tell.

M. Mery. Wel I lament.

R. Royster. So do I.

M. Mery. Wherfor?

R. Royster. For this thing Bicause she is gone.

M. Mery. I mourne for an other thing.

R. Royster. What is it Merygreeke, wherfore thou dost griefe take?

M. Mery. That I am not a woman myselfe for your sake, I would haue you my selfe, and a strawe for yond Gill, And mocke much of you though it were against my will. I would not I warrant you, fall in such a rage, As so to refuse suche a goodly personage.

R. Royster. In faith I heartily thanke thee Merygreeke.

M. Mery. And I were a woman.

R. Royster. Thou wouldest to me seeke.

M. Mery. For though I say it, a goodly person ye bee.

R. Royster. No, no.

M. Mery. Yes a goodly man as ere I dyd see.

R. Royster. No, I am a poore homely man as God made mee.

M. Mery. By the faith that I owe to God sir, but ye bee. Woulde I might for your sake, spende a thousande pound land.

R. Royster. I dare say thou wouldest haue me to thy husbande.

M. Mery. Yea: And I were the fairest lady in the shiere, And knewe you as I know you, and see you nowe here. Well I say no more.

R. Royster. Gramercies with all my hart.

M. Mery. But since that can not be, will ye play a wise parte?

R. Royster. How should I?

M. Mery. Refraine from Custance a while now. And I warrant hir soone right glad to seeke to you, Ye shall see hir anon come on hir knees creeping, And pray you to be good to hir salte teares weeping.

R. Royster. But what and she come not?

M. Mery. In faith then farewel she. Or else if ye be wroth, ye may auenged be.

R. Royster. By cocks precious potsticke, and een so I shall. I wyll vtterly destroy hir, and house and all, But I woulde be auenged in the meane space, On that vile scribler, that did my wowyng disgrace.

M. Mery. Scribler (ko you) in deede he is worthy no lesse. I will call hym to you, and ye bidde me doubtlesse.

R. Royster. Yes, for although he had as many liues, As a thousande widowes, and a thousande wiues, As a thousande lyons, and a thousand rattes, A thousande wolues, and a thousande cattes, A thousande bulles, and a thousande calues, And a thousande legions diuided in halues, He shall neuer scape death on my swordes point, Though I shoulde be torne therfore ioynt by ioynt.

M. Mery. Nay, if ye will kyll him, I will not fette him, I will not in so muche extremitie sette him, He may yet amende sir, and be an honest man, Therfore pardon him good soule, as muche as ye can.

R. Royster. Well, for thy sake, this once with his lyfe he shall passe, But I wyll hewe hym all to pieces by the Masse.

M. Mery. Nay fayth ye shall promise that he shall no harme haue, Else I will not fet him.

R. Royster. I shall so God me saue. But I may chide him a good.

M. Mery. Yea that do hardely.

R. Royster. Go then.

M. Mery. I returne, and bring him to you by and by. Ex.

Actus. iij. Scna. v.

Roister Doister. Mathewe Merygreeke. Scriuener.

R. Royster. What is a gentleman but his worde and his promise? I must nowe saue this vilaines lyfe in any wise, And yet at hym already my handes doe tickle, I shall vneth holde them, they wyll be so fickle. But lo and Merygreeke haue not brought him sens?

M. Mery. Nay I woulde I had of my purse payde fortie pens.

Scriuener. So woulde I too: but it needed not that stounde,

M. Mery. But the ientman had rather spent fiue thousande pounde, For it disgraced him at least fiue tymes so muche.

Scriuener. He disgraced hym selfe, his loutishnesse is suche.

R. Royster. Howe long they stande prating? Why comst thou not away?

M. Mery. Come nowe to hymselfe, and hearke what he will say.

Scriuener. I am not afrayde in his presence to appeere.

R. Royster. Arte thou come felow?

Scriuener. How thinke you? am I not here?

R. Royster. What hindrance hast thou done me, and what villanie?

Scriuener. It hath come of thy selfe, if thou hast had any.

R. Royster. All the stocke thou comest of later or rather, From thy fyrst fathers grandfathers fathers father, Nor all that shall come of thee to the worldes ende, Though to three score generations they descende, Can be able to make me a iust recompense, For this trespasse of thine and this one offense.

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