A ruefull Lamentation
A rueful Lamentation written by Mr. Thomas More in his youth, of the death of queen Elizabeth, mother to king Henry VIII, wife to king Henry VII, and eldest daughter to king Edward IV; which queen Elizabeth died in childbed, in February in the year of our Lord 1503, and in the 18th year of the reign of king Henry VII
O ye that put your trust
In worldly joy and frail prosperity,
That so live here as ye should never hence,
Remember death and look here upon me;
Ensample I think there may no better be.1
Yourself wot well that in this realm was I
Your queen but late, and lo now here I lie.
Was I not born of old
Was not my mother queen my, father king,
Was I not a king's fare in marriage,2
Had I not plenty of every pleasant thing?
Merciful God, this is a strange reckoning;
Riches, honour, wealth, and ancestry,
Hath me forsaken, and lo now here I lie.
If worship might have
kept me, I had not gone,
If wit might have me saved, I needed not fear,
If money might have holpe, I lacked none,3
But O! good God, what vaileth all this gear?4
When Death is come thy mighty messenger,
Obey we must, there is no remedy,
Me hath he summoned, and lo now here I lie.
Yet was I late promised
This year to live in wealth and delice;5
Lo whereto cometh thy blandishing promise,
O! false astrology and devinatrice,6
Of God's secrets making thyself so wise;
How true is for this year thy prophecy,
The year yet lasteth, and lo now here I lie.
O brittle wealth, aye
full of bitterness,
Thy single pleasure doubled is with pain;
Account my sorrow first and my distress
In sundrywise, and reckon thereagain
The joy that I have had, and I dare sayne,7
For all my honour, endured yet have I
More woe than wealth, and lo now here I lie.
Where are our castles
now, where are our towers?
Goodly Richmond soon art thou gone from me;
At Westminster, that costly work of yours,
Mine own dear lord, now shall I never see.
Almighty God vouchsafe to grant that ye,
For you and your children well may edify!
My palace builded is, and lo now here I lie.
Adieu mine own dear
spouse, my worthy lord,
The faithful love that did us both combine,
In marriage and peaceable concord
Into your handes here I clean resign,
To be bestowed upon your children and mine.
Erst were you father, and now must you supply8
The mother's part also, for lo now here I lie.
Farewell my daughter,
God wot full oft it grieved hath my mind,9
That ye should go where we should seldom meet,10
Now am I gone and have left you behind.
O mortal folk that we be, very blind!
That we least fear, full oft it is most nigh,
From you depart I first, and lo now here I lie.
Farewell Madam, my
lord's worthy mother,11
Comfort your son and be you of good cheer,
Take all a worth, for it will be none other.
Farewell my daughter Catharine, late the fare 12
To prince Arthur, mine own child so dear.
It booteth not for me to weep or cry,
Pray for my soul, for lo now here I lie.
Adieu Lord Henry, my
loving son adieu,13
Our Lord increase your honour and estate.
Adieu my daughter Mary, bright of hue,14
God make you virtuous, wise and fortunate.
Adieu sweet heart, my little daughter Kate,15
Thou shalt, sweet babe, such is thy destiny,
Thy mother never know, for lo now here I lie.
Lady Cicyly, Anne, and
Farewell my well-beloved sisters three.
O! Lady Bridget, other sister mine,
Lo here the end of worldly vanity!
Now well are ye that earthly folly flee,
And heavenly thinges love and magnify.
Farewell and pray for me, for lo now here I lie.
Adieu my lords, adieu my
Adieu my faithful servants every chone, 16
Adieu my commons, whom I never shall
See in this world; wherefore to the alone,17
Immortal God, verily three and one,
I me commend; thy infinite mercy
Shew to thy servant, for lo now here I lie.
2. fare, wife.
3. have holpe, have helped.
4. vaileth, availeth (is of use); gear, worldly goods.
5. delice, delight, joy.
6. devinatrice, divination.
7. sayne, say.
8. erst, before now.
9. God wot, God knows.
10. Margaret Tudor, her eldest daughter, was promised in marriage to James IV, king of Scotland.
11. Queen Elizabeth's mother-in-law, Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby.
12. Her daughter-in-law Catherine of Aragon, who had married Prince Arthur.
13. Prince Henry, afterwards King Henry VIII.
14. Her daughter Mary Tudor, afterwards Queen of France.
15. Katherine, whose birth had been the cause of the Queen's death, followed her mother soon after.
16. every chone, everyone (ever each one).
17. to the alone, to thee alone.
& & &
The words of Fortune to the people
Mine high estate, power,
If ye ne know, ensearch and ye shall spy1
That riches, worship, wealth, and dignity
Joy, rest, and peace, and all things finally
That any pleasure or profit may come by
To man his comfort, aid, and sustenance,
Is all at my devise and ordinance.
Without my favour there
is nothing won,
Many a matter have I brought at last
To good conclude that fondly was begun,2
And many a purpose, bounden sure and fast
With wise provision, I have overcast.
Without good hap there may no wit suffice,3
Better 'tis to be fortunate than wise!
And therefore have there
some men been ere this
My deadly foes, and written many a book
To my dispraise. And other cause there n'is4
But for me list not friendly on them look.5
Thus like the fox they fare, that once forsook
The pleasant grapes, and 'gan for to defy them
Because he lept and yet could not come by them.6
But let them write,
their labour is in vain;
For well ye wot, mirth, honour, and riches7
Much better is than penury and pain.
The needy wretch that ling'reth in distress
Without my help, is ever comfortless,
A very burden, odious and loath
To all the world, and eke to himself both.8
But he that by my favour
To mighty pow'r and excellent degree,
A commonweal to govern and defend,
O! in how bless'd condition standeth he,
Himself in honour and felicity,
And over that, may farther and encrease
A region whole in joyful rest and peace.
Now in this point there
is no more to say,
Each man hath of himself the governance;
Let every wight then follow his own way.9
And he that out of poverty and mischance
List for to live, and will himself enhance
In wealth and riches, come-forth and wait on me;
And he that will be a beggar, let him be.
1. If ye
ne know, if you know not.
2. conclude, conclusion; fondly, foolishly.
3. good hap, good luck.
4. n'is, (ne is) = isn't.
5. list, want.
6. See Aesop's fable of the fox and the grapes.
7. wot, know.
8. eke, also.
9. wight, fellow; person.
& & &
Mr. Thomas More in his youth devised in his father's house in London, a goodly hanging of fine painted cloth with nine pageants, and verses over every of those pageants, which verses expressed and declared what the images in those pageants represented. And also in those pageants were painted the things that the verses over them did in effect declare
I am called Childhood,
in play is all my mind,
To cast a quoit, a cokstele and a ball,
A top can I set and drive it in his kind;
But would to God these hateful bookes all
Were in a fire burnt to powder small;
Then might I lead my life always in play,
Which life God send me to mine ending day!
In the second pageant was painted a goodly fresh young man, riding upon a goodly horse, having a hawk on his fist and a brace of greyhounds following him. And under the horse's feet was painted the same boy that in the first pageant was playing at the top and scourge. And over this second pageant the writing was this
Manhood I am, therefore
I me delight
To hunt and hawk, to nourish-up and feed,
The greyhound to the course, the hawk to the flight,
And to bestride a good and lusty steed—
These things become a very man indeed.
Yet thinketh this boy his peevish game sweeter,
But what, no force, his reason is no better.
In the third pageant was painted the goodly young man (in the second pageant) lying on the ground. And upon him stood Lady Venus, goddess of love, and by her upon this man stood the little God Cupid. And over this third pageant this was the writing that followeth
VENUS AND CUPID
Whoso na knoweth the
strength, power, and might,
Of Venus and me her little son Cupid;
Thou Manhood shalt a mirrour been aright,
By us subdued for all thy great pride,
My fiery dart pierceth thy tender side.
Now thou who erst dispisedst children small
Shall wax a child again and be my thrall.
In the fourth pageant was painted an old sage father, sitting in a chair. And lying under his feet was painted the image of Venus & Cupid that were in the third pageant. And over this fourth pageant the scripture was this
Old age am I, with
lockes thin and hoar,
Of our short life the last and best part,
Wise and discreet; the public weal therefore
I help to rule, to my labour and smart.
Therefore Cupid withdraw thy fiery dart.
Chargeable matters shall of love oppress
Thy childish game and idle business.
In the fifth pageant was painted an image of Death, and under his feet lay the old man in the fourth pageant. And, above this fifth pageant, this was the saying
Though I be foul, ugly,
lean, and mishape,
Yet there is none in all this world wide,
That may my power withstand or escape;
Therefore sage father, greatly magnified,
Descend from your chair, set apart your pride,
Vouchsafe to lend, tho' it be to your pain,
To me, a fool, some of your wise brain.
In the sixth pageant was painted Lady Fame, and under her feet was the picture of Death that was in the fifth pageant. And over this sixth pageant the writing was as followeth
Fame I am called, marvel
Though with tongues am compassed all round,
For in voice of people is my chief living,
O cruel Death, thy power I confound.
When thou a noble man hast brought to ground,
Maugre thy teeth, to live cause him shall I
Of people in perpetual memory.
In the seventh pageant was painted the image of Time, and under his feet was lying the picture of Fame that was in the sixth pageant. And this was the scripture over this seventh pageant
I whom thou sees with
horologe in hand,
Am named Time, the lord of every hour,
I shall in space destroy both sea and land.
O simple Fame, how darest thou man honour,
Promising of his name an endless flower;
Who may in the world have a name eternal
When I shall in process destroy the world and all.
In the eighth pageant was pictured the image of Lady Eternity, sitting in a chair, under a sumptuous cloth of state, crowned with an imperial crown. And under her feet lay the picture of Time, that was in the seventh pageant, and above this eighth pageant was it written as followeth
He needeth not to boast,
I am Eternity,
The very name signifieth well,
And mine empire infinite shall be.
Thou, mortal Time, every man can tell,
Art nothing else but the mobility
Of sun and moon, changing in every degree;
When they shall leave their course, thou shalt be brought,
For all thy pride and boasting, into nought.
In the ninth pageant was painted a poet sitting in a chair; and over this pageant were there written, these verses in Latin following
Has fictas quemcunque
juvat spectare figuras;
Sed mira veros qui putat arte homines,
Ille potest veris animum sic pascere rebus,
Ut pictis oculos pascit imaginibus.
Namque videbit uti fragilis bona lubrica mundi,
Tam cito non veniunt, quam cito pretereunt.
Gaudia, laus et honor, celeri pede omma cedunt,
Quid manet excepto semper amore Dei?
Ergo homines, levibus jam jam diffidite rebus,
Nulla recessuro spes adhibenda bono.
Qui dabit æternam nobis pro munere vitam
In permansuro ponite vota Deo.
& & &
A merry Jest
How a Serjeant would learn to play the Friar
Wise men alway,
Affirm and say,
That best 'tis for a man,
For to apply
The business that he can;
And in no wise
For he that will
And can no skill
Is never like to theeh.
He that hath left
The hosier's craft,
And falleth to making shone,
The smith that shall
To painting fall,
His thrift is well-nigh done.
A black draper
With white paper,
To go to writing school,
An old butler
Become a cutler,
I ween shall prove a fool.
And an old trot,
That can God wot
Nothing but kiss the cup,
With her physic,
Will keep one sick,
Till she have soused him up.
A man of law,
That never saw
The ways to buy and sell,
Weening to rise
I pray God speed him well.
A merchant eke
That will go seek,
By all the means he may,
To fall in suit
Till he dispute
His money clean away;
Pleading the law
For every straw,
Shall prove a thrifty man
With 'bate and strife,
But by my life
I cannot tell you whan.
When an hatter
Will go smatter
Or a pedlar
Were a meddler
All that ensue
Such craftes new,
They drive so far a cast,
They do therefore
Beshrew themselves at last.
This thing was tried
Here by a serjeant late
That thriftly was,
Or he could pass,
Rapped about the pate,
While that he would
See how he could
In God's name play the frere;
Now if you will
Know how it fell
Take heed and ye shall hear.
It happed so
Not long ago
A thrifty man there died,
An hundred pound
Of nobles round,
That had he laid aside.
His son he would
Should have this gold
For to begin withal;
But to suffice
This child, well thrice
That money was too small.
Yet ere this day
I have heard say,
That many a man certes
Hath with good cast
Be rich at last,
That hath begun with less.
But this young man
So well began
His money to employ,
To see it was a joy.
For lest some blast
His ship, or by mischance,
Men with some wile
Might him beguile
And 'minish his substance,
For to put out
All manner doubt,
He made a good purvey
For ev'ry whit
By his own wit
And took another way.
First fair and well
Thereof much deal
He digg'd it in a pot,
But then he thought
That way was nought
And there he left it not.
So was he fain
From thence again
To put it in a cup;
And by and by
He supped it fairly-up.
In his own breast
He thought it best
His money to inclose,
Then wist he well
He could it never lose.
He borrow'd then
Of other men
Money and merchandise,
Never paid it,
Up he laid it
In like manner wise.
Yet on the gear
That he would wear
He rought not what he spent,
So it were nice,
As for the price
Could him not miscontent.
With lusty sport
And with resort
Of joly company
In mirth and play
Full many a day
He lived merrily.
And men had sworn
Some man is born
To have a lucky hour,
And so was he,
For such degree
He gat and such honour,
That without doubt
When he went out,
A serjeant well and fair
Was ready strait
On him to wait
As soon as on the may'r;
But he doubtless
Of his meekness
Hated such pomp and pride
And would not go
But drew himself aside.
To Saint Cath'rine
Strait as a line
He gat him at a tide,
There would he needs abide.
There spent he fast
Till all was past
And to him came there many
To ask their debt
But none could get
The value of a penny.
With visage stout
He bare it out
Even unto the hard hedge,
A month or twain,
Till he was fain
To lay his gown to pledge.
Then was he there
In greater fear
Than ere that he came thither,
And would as fain
But that he wist not whither.
Then after this
To a friend of his
He went, and there abode,
Whereas he lay
So sick alway
He might not come abroad.
It happed than
A merchant man
That he ow'd money to
Of an officer
Then 'gan enquire
What him was best to do.
And he ans'red,
" Be not afraid
Take an action therefore
I you behest,
I shall him 'rest
And then care for no more."
I fear quoth he
It will not be
For he will not come out.
The sergeant said
" Be not afraid
It shall be brought about.
In many a game
Like to the same
Have I been well in ure,
And for your sake
Let me be bake
But if I do this cure."
Thus part they both,
And forth then go'th
Apace this officer
And for a day
All his array
He changed with a frere.
So was he dight
That no man might
Him for a frere deny
He dopp'd and dook'd
He spake and look'd
Yet in a glass
Ere he would pass
He toted and he peer'd
His heart for pride
Leapt in his side
To see how well he frer'd.
Then forth apace
Unto the place
He goeth in God's name
To do this deed;
But now take heed,
For here begins the game.
He drew him nigh
Straight at the door he knock'd
And a damsel
That heard him well
There came and it unlock'd.
The friar said
God speed fair maid
Here lodgeth such a man
It is told me;
Well Sir, quoth she,
And if he do what than?
Quoth he, mistress
No harm doubtless,
It 'longeth for our order
To hurt no man,
But as we can
Every wight to farther.
With him truly
Fain speak would I.
Sir, quoth she, by my fai
He is so sick
Ye be not like
To speak with him to-day.
Quoth he, fair mai
Yet I you pray
This much at my desire
Vouchsafe to do,
As go him to
And say an Austin friar
Would with him speak
And matters break
For his avail certain.
Quoth she, I will
Stand you here still
Till I come down again.
Up did she go
And told him so
As she was bid to say.
No manner thing
Said, maiden go thy way
And fetch him hither
That we together
May talk. Adown she go'th.
Up she him brought
No harm she thought
But it made some folk wroth.
This feigned frere
When he was come aloft
He dopped than
And greet this man
Religiously and oft.
And he again
Right glad and fain
Took him there by the hand,
The friar then said
You be dismay'd
With trouble I understand.
Indeed, quoth he,
It hath with me
Been better than it is.
Sir, quoth the frere,
Be of good cheer,
Yet shall it after this.
For Christ his sake
Look that you take
No thought within your breast;
God may turn all,
And so he shall
I trust, unto the best.
But I would now
Commune with you,
In counsel if you please,
Or elles not,
Of matters that
Shall set your heart at ease.
Down went the maid,
The merchant said
Now say-on gentle frere,
Of this tiding
That you me bring
I long full sore to hear.
When there was none
But they alone
The friar with evil grace
Said, I 'rest thee,
Come on with me,
And out he took his mace.
Thou shalt obey
Come on thy way
I have thee in my clutch
Thou go'st not hence
For all the pence
The may'r hath in his pouch.
This merchant there,
For wrath and fear
He waxing-well nigh wood,
Said, whoreson thief,
With a mischief,
Who hath taught thee thy good.
And with his fist
Upon the list
He gave him such a blow
That backward down
Almost in swoon
The friar did overthrow.
Yet was this man
Well fearder than
Lest he the fri'r had slain
Till with good raps
And heavy claps
He dawde him up again.
The friar took heart
And up he start
And well he laid about
And so there go'th
Between them both
Many a lusty clout.
They rent and tear
Each others hair
And clave together fast
Till with lugging
And with tugging
They fell down both at last.
Then on the ground
With many a sad stroke
They roll and rumble,
They turn and tumble
As pigs do in a poke.
So long above
They heave and shove
Together, that at last
The maid and wife
To break the strife
Hied them upward fast.
And when they spy
The captain's lie
Both weltring on the place
The friar's hood
They pull'd agood
Adown about his face.
While he was blind
The wench behind
Lent him laid on the floor
Many a joll
About the noul
With a great battledoor.
The wife came yet
And with her feet
She holpe to keep him down
And with her rock
Many a knock
She gave him on the crown.
They laid his mace
About his face
That he was wood for pain
The friar frap
Gat many a swap,
Till he was full nigh slain.
Up they him lift
And with ill thrift
Headlong along the stair
Down they him threw
And said adieu,
Commend us to the may'r.
The friar arose
But I suppose
Amazed was his head
He shook his ears
And from great fears
He thought him well afled.
Quoth he, now lost
Is all this cost
We be never the near,
Ill must he theeh
That caused me
To make myself a frere.
Now masters all
Here now I shall
End there as I began,
I would advise
And counsel ev'ry man,
His own craft use
All new refuse
And lightly let them gone
Play not the frere;
Now make good cheer,
And welcome ev'ry chone.
& & &
Thou that art proud of
honour, shape, or kin,
That heapest-up this wretched world its treasure,
Thy fingers shrin'd with gold, thy tawny skin
With fresh apparel garnish'd out of measure,
And weenest1 to have Fortune at thy pleasure;
Cast-up thine eye, and look how slipp'ry chance
Illudeth2 her men with change and variance.
Sometime she look'th as
lovely, fair, and bright
As goodly Venus, mother of Cupid,
She becketh and she smil'th on every wight;3
But this chear4 feigned may not long abide,
There com'th a cloud, and farewell all our pride.
Like any serpent she beginn'th to swell
And look'th as fierce as any fury of hell.
Yet for all that, we
brittle men are fain,5
So wretched is our nature and so blind,
As soon as fortune list6 to laugh again
With fair countenance and deceitful mind,
To crouch and kneel and gape after the wind;
Not one or twain,7 but thousands in a rout,
Like swarming bees, come flickering her about.
Then as a bait she
bringeth forth her ware,
Silver and gold, rich pearl and precious stone,
On which the amazed people gaze and stare
And gape therefore as dogs do for a bone.
Fortune at them laugheth, and in her throne
Amid her treasure and wavering riches
Proudly she heaveth as lady and empress.
Fast by her side doth
weary Labour stand
Pale Fear also, and sorrow all bewept,
Disdain and Hatred on that other hand
Eke8 restless watch, from sleep with travail kept,
His eyes drowsy and looking as he slept.
Before her standeth Danger and Envy,
Flatt'ry, Deceit, Mischief, and Tyranny.
About her cometh all the
world to beg;
He asketh land; and He to pass would bring
This toy and that, and all not worth an egg;
He would in love prosper above all thing;
He kneeleth down and would be made a king;
He forceth not so he may money have,
Tho' all the world account him for a knave.
Lo thus ye see, divers
heads divers wits,
Fortune, alone as divers as they all,
Unstable, here and there among them flits,
And at a venture down her gifts they fall;
Catch whoso may, she throweth great and small,
Not to all men as cometh sun or dew,
But for the most part, all among a few.
And yet, her brittle
gifts long may not last.
He that she gave them looketh proud and high,
She whirl'th about and pluck'th away as fast
And giv'th them to another by and by.
And thus from man to man continually
She us'th to give and take, and slily toss
One man to winning of another's loss.
And when she robbeth one,
down go'th his pride,
He weep'th and wail'th and curseth her full sore.
But he who receiv'th it on t'other side
Is glad and bless'th her oftentimes therefore.
But in a while, when she lov'th him no more,
She glideth from him, and her gifts they too,
And he her curseth as other fools do.
Alas! the foolish people
Nor 'void9 her train10 till they the harm do feel,
About her alway busily they press;
But Lord! how he doth think himself full well
That may set once his hand upon her wheel.
He holdeth fast; but upward as he sty'th,
She whipp'th her wheel about, and there he li'th.
Thus fell Julius from
his mighty power,11
Thus fell Darius, the worthy king of Perse,12
Thus fell Alexander, the great conqueror,13
Thus many more than I may well rehearse.14
Thus double15 Fortune, when she list reverse
Her slipp'ry favour from them that in her trust,
She fli'th her way and li'th them in the dust.
She suddenly enhanceth
And suddenly mischieveth all the flock,
The head that late lay easily and full soft
Instead of pillows li'th after on the block,
And yet, alas the most cruel proud mock
The dainty mouth that ladies kissed have
She bringeth in the case to kiss a knave.
In changing of her
course the change shew'th this,
Up start'th a knave and down there fall'th a knight,
The beggar rich and the rich man poor is,
Hatred is turned to love, love to despight;16
This is her sport, thus proveth she her might.
Great boast she mak'th if one be by her pow'r
Wealthy and wretched both within an hour.
Poverty, that of her
gifts will nothing take,
With merry cheer looketh upon the press
And seeth how Fortune's household go'th to wreck.
Fast by her standeth the wise Socrates,
Aristippus, Pythagoras, and many a leash
Of old philosophers. And eke against the sun
Baketh him poor Diogenes in his tun.17
With her is Bias,18
whose country lack'd defence
And whilom of their foes stood so in doubt
That each man hastily 'gan to carry thence19
And asked him, why he nought carried out?
I bear, quoth he, all mine with me about.
Wisdom he meant, not Fortune's brittle fees,
For nought he counted his which he might leese.20
Heraclitus eke list
fellowship to keep
With glad poverty. Democritus also.
Of which the first can never cease but weep
To see how thick21 the blinded people go,
With labour great, to purchase care and woe.
That other laugh'th to see the foolish apes
How earnestly they walk about their japes.22
Of this poor sect it is
Only to take that23 nature may sustain,
Banishing clean all other surplusage
They be content and of nothing complain.
No niggard24 eke is of his good so fain25
But they more pleasure have a thousand fold
The secret draughts of nature to behold.
Set Fortune's servants
by them an ye wull,26
That one is free, that other ever thrall,27
That one content, that other never full,
That one in surety, t'other like to fall.
Who list to advise them both, perceive he shall
As great diffrence between them, as we see
Betwixt wretchedness and felicity.
Now have I shew'd ye
both, choose which ye list,
Stately Fortune or humble poverty;
That is to say, now li'th it in your fist
To take here bondage or free liberty.
But in this point an28 ye do after me,
Draw ye to Fortune, labour her to please
If that ye think yourselves too well at ease.
And first upon thee
lovely shall she smile
And friendly on thee cast her wandering eyes,
Embrace thee in her arms, and for a while
Put thee and keep thee in fool's paradise;
And forthwith all, whatso thou list devise,
She will thee grant it liberally perhaps,
But for all that, beware of afterclaps.29
Reckon you never of her
You may in clouds as eas'ly trace an hare,
Or in dry land cause fishes to endure,
And make the burning fire his heat to spare,
And all this world in compass to forfare,30
As her to make by craft or engine stable
That of her nature is ever variable.
Serve her day and night,
Upon thy knees as any servant may,
And in conclusion, that31 thou shalt win thereby
Shall not be worth thy service I dare say.
And look yet, what she giveth thee to-day
With labour won, she shall haply to-morrow
Pluck it again out of thine hand with sorrow.
Wherefore, if thou in
surety list to stand,
Take Pov'rty's part and let proud Fortune go,
Receive no thing that cometh from her hand.
Love manner and virtue, they be only tho'
Which double Fortune may not take thee fro.
Then mayst thou boldly defy her turning chance,
She can thee neither hinder nor advance.
But an thou wilt needs
meddle with her treasure,
Trust not therein and spend it lib'rally,
Bear thee not proud, nor take not out of measure,
Build not thine house on high up in the sky.
None falleth far but he who climbeth high.
Remember nature sent thee hither bare,
The gifts of Fortune, count them borrowed ware.
2. Illudeth, eludeth.
3. wight, fellow.
4. chear, cheer, i.e. mood.
5. fain, foolish.
6. list, wishes.
7. twain, two.
8. eke, also; as well.
9. 'void, avoid.
10. train, entourage; following.
11. i.e., Julius Caesar.
12. i.e., Darius The Great, King of Persia.
13. i.e., Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia.
14. rehearse, recount.
15. double, duplicitous, deceitful; two-faced.
16. despight, spite; hatred.
17. tun, cask; barrel. The Green philosopher Diogenes Laertius was said to have taken an empty cask from the Temple of Cybele and used it as his house.
18. Greek philosopher Bias of Priene, considered the wisest of the Seven Sages of Greece. 19. carry thence, i.e., to carry their riches away with them, away from the impending attack.
20. leese, lose.
21. thick, stupidly.
22. japes, jests; i.e., how earnestly they work for something that is but trickery, a joke.
23. that, that which.
24. niggard, miser; stingy person.
25. fain, fond; enamored.
26. an ye wull, if ye will.
27. thrall, slave.
28. an, if.
29. afterclaps, unexpected, unpleasant consequences; as, after a thunderclap, another.
30. in compass to forfare, 31. that, that which.
& & &
Whoso delighteth to
proven and assay
Of wavering Fortune the uncertain lot,
If that the answer please you not alway
Blame you not me, for I command you not
Fortune to trust; and eke1 full well you wot2
I have of her no bridle in my fist,
She runneth loose and turneth where she list.3
The rolling dice in
which your luck doth stand,
With whose unhappy chance you be so wroth,
You know yourself came never in my hand.
Lo in this pond be fish and frogs they both,
Cast in your net, but be you lief or loath,4
Hold you content as Fortune list assign
For it is your own fishing and not mine.
And though in one chance
Fortune you offend,
Grudge not thereat but bear a merry face,
In many another she shall it amend.
There is no man so far out of her grace
But he sometime hath comfort and solace;
Nor none again so farforth in her favour
That is full satisfied with her behaviour.
Fortune is stately,
solemn, proud, and high,
And riches giv'th to have service therefore.
The needy beggar catch'th an halfpenny,
Some man a thousand pounds, some less, some more.
But for all that she keepeth ever in store,
From ev'ry man some parcel of his will,
That he may pray therefore and serve her still.
Some man hath good but
children hath he none,
Some man hath both but he can get none health,
Some hath all three, but up to honour's throne
Can he not creep by no manner of stealth.
To some she sendeth children, riches, wealth,
Honour, worship, and rev'rence all his life,
But yet she pincheth him with a shrew'd5 wife.
Then forasmuch as it is
To grant no man all things that he will aks,6
But, as herself list order and devise,
Doth ev'ry man his part divide and tax;
I counsel ye, each one truss-up your packs
And take nothing at all, or be content
With such reward as Fortune hath you sent.
All things which in this
book that you shall read,
Do as you list, there shall no man you bind
Them to believe as surely as your creed,
But notwithstanding certes7 in my mind
I durst8 well swear, 's true you shall them find
In every point each answer by and by
As are the judgments of astronomy.
2. wot, know.
3. list, wants.
4. be you lief or loath, whether you love it or hate it.
5. shrew'd, shrewish; scolding, peevish.
6. aks, ask.
7. certes, certainly; truly.
8. durst, dare.
& & &
Two short Ballads, which Sir Thomas made for his pastime, while he was prisoner in the Tower, preserved in Rastell's edition of his works
to the tune of "Lewis the lost lover"
look thou ne'er so fair,
Or ne'er so pleasantly begin to smile,
As though thou wouldst my ruin all repair,
During my life thou shalt not me beguile;
Trust shall I God to enter in erewhile,
His haven of havens sure and uniform:—
After a calm I still expect the storm.*
to the tune of "Davy the Dicer"
Long was I, Lady Luck,
And now have lost again all that I gat;
When, therefore, I think of you now and then,
And in my mind remember this and that,
Ye may not blame me, though I shrew your cat;
In faith I bless you, and a thousand times,
For lending me some leisure to make rhymes.