John Skelton - WHY COME YE NOT TO COURT?

WHY COME YE NOT TO COURT?

[From the ed. by Kele, n.d.,collated with that by Wyght, n.d., with that by Kytson, n.d., and with Marshe's ed. of Skelton's Works, 1568.]

<1>

HEREAFTER FOLLOWETH A LITTLE BOOK, WHICH HATH TO NAME
WHY COME YE NOT TO COURT?
COMPILED BY MASTER SKELTON, POET LAUREATE

The relucent mirror for all Prelates and Presidents, as well spiritual as temporal, sadly to look upon, devised in English by Skelton.

ALL noble men of this take heed,<2>
And believe it as your Creed.

Too hasty of sentence,
Too fierce for none offence,
Too scarce of your expense,
Too large in negligence,
Too slack in recompense,
Too haut in excellence,
Too light [in] intelligence,
And too light in credence; 10
Where these keep residence,
Reason is banished thence,
And also Dame Prudence,
With sober Sapience.
All noble men, of this take heed,
And believe it as your Creed.

Then without collusion,
Mark well this conclusion,
Thorough such
abusion,
And by such illusion, 20
Unto great confusion
A nobleman may fall,
And his honour
appal;
And if ye think this shall
Not rub you on the gall
Then the devil take all!

Haec vates ille,
De quo loquuntur mille
.<3> 30

WHY COME YE NOT TO COURT?

For age is a page
For the court full unmeet,
For age cannot rage,
Nor buss her sweet sweet:

But when age seeth that rage
Doth assuage and refrain,
Then will age have a courage
To come to court again.

But
Helas, sage overage,<4>
So madly decays 40
That age for dotage
Is reckoned nowadays:
Thus age (a grande dommage<
5>)
Is nothing set by,
And rage in arrearage
Doth run lamentably.

So
That rage must make pillage,
To catch that catch may,
And with such forage
Hunt the boscage, 50
That harts will run away;
Both hartes and hinds,
With all good mindes:
Farewell, then, have good-day!

Then, have good-day, adeieu!
For default of rescue,
Some men may haply rue,
And some their heads
mew;
The time doth fast ensue,
That bales begin to brew: 60
I dread, by sweet Jesu,
This tale will be too true;
In faith, deacon, thou crew,
In faith, deacon, thou crew, &c.<
6>

Deacon, thou crew doubtless;
For, truly to express,
There hath been much excess,
With banqueting brainless,
With rioting reckless,
With gambading thriftless, 70
With spend and waste witless,
Treating of truce restless,
Prating of peace peaceless.
The countering at Cales<
7>
Wrung us on the males:
Chief Counsellor was careless,
Groaning, grouching, graceless;
And, to none intent,
Our talwood all is brent,
Our faggots are all spent, 80
We may blow at the coal:<
8>
Our mare hath lost her foal,
And Mock hath lost her shoe;<9>
What may she do thereto?
An end of an old song,
Do right and do no wrong,
As right as a ram's horn;<10>
For thrift is threadbare worn,
Our sheep are shrewdly shorn,
And truth is all to-torn;<11> 90
Wisdom is laughed to scorn,
Favell<
12> is false forsworn,
Javell<13> is nobly born,
Havell<14> and Harvy Hafter,<15>
Jack Travell<16> and Cole Crafter,
We shall hear more hereafter;
With polling and shaving,
With borrowing and craving,
With reaving and raving,
With swearing and staring, 100
There vaileth no reasoning,
For will doth rule all thing,
Will, will, will, will, will,
He ruleth alway still.
Good reason and good skill,<
17>
They may garlic pill,
Carry sacks to the mill,
Or peascods they may shill,
Or else go roast a stone:<18>
There is no man but one<19> 110
That hath the strokes alone;
Be it black or white,
All that he doth is right,
As right as a
cammock crooked.
This bill well over-looked,<20>
Clearly perceive we may
There went the hare away,<21>
The hare, the fox, the grey,
The hart, the hind, the buck:<22>
God send us better luck! 120
God send us better luck &c.

Twit, Andrew, twit, Scot,
Gae hame, gae scour thy pot;
For we have spent our shot:
We shall have a tot quot<23>
From the Pope of Rome,
To weave all in one loom
A web of linsey-woolsey,<24>
Opus male dulce:<25>
The devil kiss his cule! 130
For, whilst he doth rule
All is
warse and warse;
The devil kiss his arse!
For whether he bless or curse
It cannot be much worse.
From Bamborough to Bothombar<26>
We have cast up our war,
And made a worthy truce,
With Gup, level suse!<27>
Our money madly lent,
And more madly spent:
From Croydon to Kent, 140
Wot ye whither they went?
From Winchelsea to Rye,
And all not worth a fly;<
28>
From Wentbridge to Hull
Our army waxeth dull,
With turn all home again,
And never a Scot slain.
Yet the good Earl of Surrey, 150
The Frenchmen he doth fray,<
29>
And vexeth them day by day
With all the power he may;
The Frenchmen he hath fainted,
And made their hearts attainted:
Of chivalry he is the flower;
Our Lord be his succour!
The Frenchmen he hath so mated,<30>
And their courage abated,
That they are but half men; 160
Like foxes in their den,
Like cankered cowards all,
Like
urchins in a stone wall,
They keep them in their holds,
Like hen-hearted cuckolds.

But yet they over-shoot us
With crowns and with scutus;<31>
With scutes and crowns of gold.
I dread we are bought and sold;
It is a wondrous wark: 170
They shoot all at one mark,
At the Cardinal's hat,
They shoot all at that;
Out of their strong towns
They shoot at him with crowns;<
32>

With crowns of gold emblazed
They make him so amazed,
And his eyen so dazed,<33>
That he ne see can<34>
To know God nor man. 180
He is set so high
In his hierarchy
Of frantic frenzy
And foolish fantasy,
That in the Chamber of Stars<
35>
All matters there he mars;
Clapping his rod on the board,
No man dare speak a word,
For he hath all the saying,
Without any renaying; 190
He rolleth in his records,
He sayeth How say ye, my lords?
Is not my reason good?
Good even, good Robin Hood!<
36>
Some say Yes! and some
Sit still as they were dumb:
Thus thwarting over them,<37>
He ruleth all the roost
With bragging and with boast;
Borne up on every side 200
With pomp and with pride,
With Trump up, Alleluia!<
38>
For dame Philargyria<39>
Hath so his heart in hold
He loveth nothing but gold;
And Asmodeus of hell<40<
Maketh his members swell
With Dalyda<41> to mell,
That wanton damosel.
Adieu, Philosophia, 210
Adieu, Theologia!
Welcome, dame
Simonia,
With dame Castrimergia,<42>
To drink and for to eat
Sweet hippocras and sweet meat!
To keep his flesh chaste,
In Lent, for a repast<43>
He eateth capons stewed,
Pheasant and partridge mewed,<44>
Hens, chickens, and pigs: 220
He
foins and he frigs,
Spareth neither maid ne wife:
This is a postle's life!

Helas! my heart is sorry
To tell of vain glory:
But now upon this story
I will no further rime
Till another time,
Till another time &c.

What news, what news? 230
Small news that true is,
That be worth ii.
Cues;
But at the naked stews,
I understand how that
The Sign of the Cardinal Hat,<45>
That inn is now shut up,
With Gup, whore, gup, now, gup,
Gup, Guilliam Travillian,
With jaist you, I say, Julian!
Will ye bear no coals?<46> 240
A
meiny of mare-foals,<47>
That occupy their holes,
Full of pocky moles.

What hear ye of Lancashire?
They were not paid their hire;
They are fell as any fire.

What hear ye of Cheshire?

They have laid all in the mire;
They grudged, and said
Their wages were not paid; 250
Some said they were afraid
Of the Scottish host,
For all their
crake and boast,
Wild fire and thunder;
For all this worldly wonder,
A hundred mile asunder
They were when they were next;
That is a true text.

What hear ye of the Scots?
They make us all sots, 260
Popping foolish
daws;
They make us to pill straws;
They play their old pranks,
After Huntley banks:<48>
At the stream of Bannockburn
They did us a shrewd turn,
When Edward of Carnarvon
Lost all that his father won.

What hear ye of the Lord Dacres?<49>
He maketh us Jack Rakers;<50> 270
He says we are but
crakers;
He calleth us England men
Strong-hearted like an hen;
For the Scots and he
Too well they do agree,
With, do thou for me,
And I shall do for thee.
Whiles the red hat<51> doth endure,
He maketh himself cocksure;
The red hat with his lure 280
Bringeth all things under
cure.

But, as the world now goes,
What hear ye of the Lord Rose?<52>
Nothing to purpose,
Not worth a cockly fose:<53>
Their hearts be in their hose.<54>

The Earl of Northumberland<55>
Dare take nothing on hand:
Our barons be so bold,
Into a mousehole they wold 290
Run away and creep;
Like a
meiny of sheep,
Dare not look out at door
For dread of the mastiff cur,
For dread of the butcher's dog<56>
Would worry them like an hog.

For an this cur do gnar,

They must stand all afar,
To hold up their hand at the bar.
For all their noble blood 300
He plucks them by the hood,
And shakes them by the ear,
And brings them in such fear;
He baiteth them like a bear,
Like an ox or a bull:
Their wits, he sayeth, are dull;
He sayeth they have no brain
Their estate to maintain;
And maketh them to bow their knee
Before his majesty.
310
Judges of the king's laws,
He counts them fools and
daws;
Serjeants of the coife eke,<57>
He sayeth they are to seek
In pleading of their case
At the Common Pleas,
Or at the King's Bench;
He wringeth them such a wrench,
That all our learned men
Dare not set their pen 320
To plead a true trial
Within Westminster Hall;
In the Chancery, where he sits,
But such as he admits
None so hardy to speak;
He sayeth, Thou
hoddypeak,
Thy learning is too lewd,
Thy tongue is not well thewed,<58>
To seek before our grace;
And openly in that place 330
He rages and he raves,
And calls them cankered knaves;
Thus royally he doth deal
Under the king's broad seal;
And in the Chequer he them checks;
In the Star Chamber he nods and becks,
And beareth him there so stout,
That no man dare
rout,
Duke, earl, baron, nor lord,
But to his sentence must accord; 340
Whether he be knight or squire,
All men must follow his desire.

What say ye of the Scottish king?<59>
That is another thing.
He is but a youngling,
A stalworthy spripling:
There is a whispering and a whipling,
He should be hither brought;
But, an were well sought,
I trow all will be nought, 350
Not worth a shuttle-cock,
Nor worth a sour
calstock.
There goeth many a lie
Of the Duke of Albany,<60>
That off should go his head,
And brought in quick or dead,
And all Scotland ours
The mountenance of two hours.<61>
But, as some men sayne,
I dread of some false train 360
Subtly wrought shall be
Under a feigned treaty;
But, within months three
Men may haply see
The treachery and the pranks
Of the Scottish
banks.

What hear ye of Burgonions,
And the Spaniards onions?
They have slain our Englishmen,
Above threescore and ten: 370
For all your amity,
No better they agree.

God save my Lord Admiral!
What hear ye of Mutrell?<
62>
Therewith I dare not mell.

Yet what hear ye tell
Of our Grand Council?
I could say somewhat,
But speak ye no more of that,
For dread the Red Hat 380
Take pepper in the nose;<
63>
For then thine head off goes,
Off by the hard arse.<64>
But there is some travarse
Between some and some,
That makes our sire to glum;<65>
It is somewhat wrong,
That his beard is so long;
He mourneth in black clothing.
I pray God save the king! 390
Wherever he go or ride,<
66>
I pray God be his guide!
Thus will I conclude my style,
And fall to rest a while,
And so to rest a while, &c.

Once yet again
Of you I would frain,
Why come ye not to court?
To which court?
To the king's court, 400
Or to Hampton Court?<
67>
Nay, to the king's court:
The king's court
Should have the excellence;
But Hampton Court
Hath the preeminence,
And York's Place,<68>
With my lord's grace,
To whose magnificence
Is all the confluence, 410
Suits and supplications,
Embassades of all nations.<69>
Straw for law canon,
Or for the law common,
Or for law civil!
It shall be as he will:
Stop at law tancrete,
An abstract or a concrete;
Be it sour, be it sweet,
His wisdom is so discreet, 420
That, in a fume or an heat,
Warden of the Fleet,
Set him fast by the feet!
And of his royal power
When him
list to lower,
Then, Have him to the Tower,
Saunz aulter remedy,<70>
Have him forth, by and by
To the Marshalsea,
Or to the King's Bench! 430
He diggeth so in the trench
Of the court royal
That he ruleth them all.
So he doth undermine,
And such sleights doth find,
That the king's mind
By him is subverted,
And so
straitly coarcted
In credencing his tales,
That all is but nut-shells 440
That any other sayeth;
He hath in him such faith.

Now, yet all this might be
Suffered and taken in
gree,
If that that he wrought
To any good end were brought;
But all he bringeth to nought,
By God, that me dear bought!
He beareth the king on hand,<71>

That he must pill his land, 450
To make his coffers rich;
But he layeth all in the ditch,
And useth such
abusion,
That in the conclusion
All cometh to confusion.
Perceive the cause why,
To tell the truth plainly,
He is so ambitious,
So shameless, and so vicious,
And so superstitious, 460
And so much oblivious
From whence that he came
That he falleth into a caeciam,<
72>

Which, truly to express,
Is a forgetfulness,
Or wilful blindness,
Wherewith the Sodomites
Lost their inward sights,
The Gomorrhians also
Were brought to deadly woe, 470
As Scripture records:
A caecitate cordis,
In the Latin sing we
Libera nos, Domine! <
73>

But this mad Amaleck,
Like to a Mamelek,<74>
He regardeth lords
No more than potsherds;
He is in such elation
Of his exaltation, 480
And the supportation
Of our sovereign lord,
That, God to record,<
75>
He ruleth all at will,
Without reason or skill:
Howbeit the primordial
Of his wretched original,<76>
And his base progeny,
And his greasy genealogy,
He came of the sank royal<77> 490
That was cast out of a butcher's stall.

But however he was born,
Men would have the less scorn,
If he could consider
His birth and room together,
And call to his mind
How noble and how kind
To him he hath found
Our sovereign lord, chief ground
Of all this prelacy,
500
That set him nobly
In great authority,
Out from a low degree,
Which he cannot see:
For he was,
pardie,
No doctor of divinity,
Nor doctor of the law,
Nor of none other saw;
But a poor master of art,
God wot, had little part 510
Of the quatrivials,
Nor yet of trivials,<
78>
Nor of philosophy,
Nor of philology,
Nor of good policy,
Nor of astronomy,
Nor acquainted worth a fly
With honourable Haly,
Nor with royal Ptolemy,
Nor with Albumasar,<79> 520
To treat of any star
Fixed or else mobile;
His Latin tongue doth hobble,
He doth but
clout and cobble

In Tully's faculty,
Called humanity;
Yet proudly he dare pretend
How no man can him amend:
But have ye not heard this,
How a one-eyed man is 530
Well-sighted when
He is among blind men?

Then, our process for to stable,
This man was full unable
To reach to such degree,
Had not our Prince be
Royal Henry the Eight,
Take him in such conceit,<80>
That he set him on height,
In exemplifying<81> 540

Great Alexander the king,
In writing as we find;
Which of his royal mind,
And of his noble pleasure,
Transcending out of measure,
Thought to do a thing
That pertaineth to a king,
To make up one of nought,
And made to him be brought
A wretched poor man,<
82> 550
Which his living
wan
With planting of leeks
By the days and by the weeks,
And of this poor vassal
He made a king royal,
And gave him a realm to rule
That occupied a showell,<83>
A mattock, and a spade,
Before that he was made
A king, as I have told, 560
And ruled as he
wold.
Such is a king's power,
To make within an hour,
And work such a miracle,
That shall be a spectacle
Of renown and worldly fame:
In likewise now the same
Cardinal is promoted,
Yet with lewd conditions quoted,<84>
As hereafter ben noted, 570
Presumption and vainglory,
Envy, wrath, and lechery,
Covetise and gluttony,
Slothful to do good,
Now frantic, now stark wood.

Should this man of such mode
Rule the sword of might,
How can he do right?
For he will as soon smite
His friend as his foe; 580
A proverb long ago.

Set up a wretch on high
In a throne triumphantly,
Make him a great estate,<
85>
And he will play checkmate<86>
With royal majesty,
Count himself as good as he;
A prelate potential,
To rule under Belial,
As fierce and as cruel 590
As the Fiend of hell.
His servants menial
He doth revile, and brawl,
Like Mahound in a play;<
87>
No man dare him withsay:
He hath despite and scorn
At them that be well-born;
He rebukes them and rails:
Ye whoresons, ye vassails,
Ye knaves, ye churl's sons, 600
Ye ribalds, not worth two plumes,
Ye rain-beaten beggars
rejagged,
Ye recrayed ruffians all ragged,
With Stoop, thou havel,<88>
Run, thou javel!
Thou peevish pie pecked,<89>
Thou losel long-necked!
Thus, daily, they be decked,
Taunted and checked,
That they are so woe, 610
They wot not whither to go.

No man dare come to the speech
Of this gentle Jack-breech,<
90>
Of what estate he be,
Of spiritual dignity,
Nor duke of high degree,
Nor marquis, earl nor lord;
Which shrewdly doth accord,
Thus he born so base
All noblemen should out-face, 620
His countenance like a
kaiser.
My Lord is not at leisure;
Sir, ye must tarry a stound,<91>
Till better leisure be found;
And, sir, ye must dance attendance,
And take patient sufferance,
For my lords Grace
Hath now no time nor space
To speak with you as yet.
And thus they shall sit 630
Chose them sit or flit,
Stand, walk, or ride,
And at his leisure abide
Perchance, half a year,
And yet never the near.<
92>

This dangerous dowsypere,<93>
Like a king's peer;
And within this xvi. year
He would have been right fain
To have been a chaplain, 640
And have taken right great pain
With a poor knight,<
94>
Whatsoever he hight.
The chief of his own council,
They cannot well tell
When they with him should mell,
He is so fierce and fell;
He rails and he rates,
He calleth them doddy-pates;
He grins and he gapes, 650
As it were jackanapes.
Such a mad bedlam<
95>
For to rule this realm,
It is a wondrous case:
That the king's grace
Is toward him so minded,
And so far blinded,
That he cannot perceive
How he doth him deceive,
I doubt lest by sorcery, 660
Or such other
loselry,
As witchcraft, or charming;
For he is the king's darling,
And his sweet heart-root,
And is governed by this mad coot:
For what is a man the better
For the king's letter?
For he will tear it asunder;<96>
Whereat much I wonder,
How such a hoddipole 670
So boldly dare control,
And so malapertly withstand
The king's own hand,
And sets not by it a mite;<
97>
He sayeth the king doth write
And writeth he wotteth not what;
And yet, for all that,
The king his clemency
Dispenseth with his demency.

But what His Grace doth think 680
I have no pen nor ink
That therewith can
mell;
But well I can tell
How Francis Petrarch,<98>
That much noble clerk,
Writeth how Charlemagne
Could not himself refrain,
But was ravished with a rage
Of a like dotage:
But how that came about 690
Read ye the story out,
And ye shall find surely
It was by necromancy,
By
carects and conjuration
Under a certain constellation,
And a certain fumigation,
Under a stone on a gold ring,
Wrought to Charlemagne the king,
Which constrained him forcibly
For to love a certain body 700
Above all other inordinately.
This is no fable nor no lie;
At
Acon it was brought to pass,<99>
As by mine author tried it was.
But let my masters mathematical
Tell you the rest! For me, they shall;
They have the full intelligence,
And dare use the experience,
In their absolute conscience
To practise such obsolete science; 710
For I abhor to smatter
Of one so devilish a matter.

But I will make further relation
Of this
isagogical collation,<100>
How Master Gaguine, the chronicler<101>

Of the feats of war
That were done in France,
Maketh remembrance,
How King Lewis of late
Made up a great estate<102> 720
Of a poor wretched man,
Whereof much care began.
Iohannes Balua was his name,
Mine author writeth the same;
Promoted was he
To a cardinal's dignity
By Lewis the king aforesaid,
With him so well apayed
That he made him his chancellor
To make all or to mar,
730
And to rule as him list,<
103>
Till he checked at the fist,<104>
And, again all reason,
Committed open treason
And against his lord sovereign;<105>
Wherefore he suffered pain,
Was headed, drawn, and quartered,
And died stinkingly martyred.
Lo, yet for all that
He wore a cardinal's hat, 740
In him was small faith,
As mine author sayeth:
Not for that I mean
Such a casualty should be seen,
Or such chance should fall
Unto our cardinal.

Almighty God, I trust,
Hath for him
discussed
That of force he must
Be faithful, true, and just 750
To our most royal king,
Chief root of his making;
Yet it is a wily mouse
That can build his dwelling house
Within the cat's ear,<
106>
Without dread or fear.
It is a nice reckoning,
To put all the governing,
All the rule of this land
Into one man's hand: 760
One wise man's head
May stand somewhat in stead:
But the wits of many wise
Much better can devise,
By their circumspection,
And their
sad direction,
To cause the common weal
Long to endure in heal.
Christ keep King Henry the Eight
From treachery and deceit, 770
And grant him grace to know
The falcon from the crow,
The wolfe from the lamb,
From whence that mastiff came!
Let him never confound
The gentle greyhound:<
107>
Of this matter the ground
Is easy to expound,
And soon may be perceived,
How the world is conveyed. 780

But hark, my friend, one word
In earnest or in
bourd:
Tell me now, in this stead,
Is Master Meautis<108> dead,
The king's French secretary,
And his untrue adversary?
For he sent in writing
To Francis, the French king,
Of our master's counsel in every thing:
That was a perilous reckoning! 790
Nay, nay, he is not dead;
But he was so pained in the head,
That he shall never eat more bread.
Now he is gone to another stead
With a bull under lead,<
109>
By way of commission,
To a strange jurisdiction
Called Dimmings Dale,<110>
Farre beyond Portingale,
And hath his passport to pass 800
Ultra Sauromatas,<
111>
To the devil, Sir Satanas,
To Pluto, and Sir Belial,
The Devil's vicar general,
And to his college conventual,
As well calodemonial,
As to cacodemonial,
To purvey for our cardinal
A palace pontificial,
To keep his court provincial, 810
Upon articles judicial,
To contend and to strive
For his prerogative,
Within that consistory
To make summons peremptory
Before some
protonotary
Imperial or papal.
Upon this matter mystical
I have told you part, but not all:
Hereafter perchance I shall 820
Make a larger memorial,
And a further rehearsal,
And more paper I think to blot,
To the court why I came not;
Desiring you above all thing
To keep you from laughing
When ye fall to reading
Of this wanton scroll,
And pray for Meautis' soul,
For he is well past and gone;
830
That would God
everichon
Of his affinity
Were gone as well as he!
Amen, amen, say ye,
Of your inward charity;
Amen,
Of your inward charity.

It were great ruth,
For writing of truth,
Any man should be 840
In perplexity
Of displeasure;
For I make you sure,
Where truth is abhorred
It is a plain record
That there wanteth grace;
In whose place
Doth occupy,
Full ungraciously,
False flattery,
850
False treachery,
False
bribery,
Subtle Sim Sly,
With mad folly;
For who can best lie
He is best set by.
Then farewell to thee,
Wealthful felicity!
For prosperity
Away then will flee. 860
Then must we agree
With poverty;
For misery,
With penury,
Miserably
And wretchedly
Hath made
ascry
And outcry,
Following the chase
To drive away grace. 870
Yet sayest thou
percase,
We can lack no grace,
For my lord's grace,
And my lady's grace,
With trey, deuce, ace,
And ace in the face,
Some haut and some base,
Some dance the trace
Ever in one case:
Mark me that chase 880
In the tennis play,<
112>
For cinque quater trey<113>
Is a tall man:
He rode, but we ran!
Hey the gye and the gan!<114>
The grey goose is no swan;
The waters wax wan,<115>
And beggars they ban,
And they cursed Datan,
De tribu Dan,<116> 890
That this work began,
Palam et clam,<
117>
With Balak and Balam,
The golden ram
Of Fleming dam,
Shem, Japhet, or Ham.

But how come to pass
Your cupboard<118> that was
Is turned to glass,
From silver to brass, 900
From gold to pewter,
Or else to a neuter,
To copper, to tin,
To lead, or
alcumin?
A goldsmith your mayor;<119>
But the chief of your fair
Might stand now by potters,
And such as sell trotters:
Pitchers, potsherds,
This shrewdly accords 910
To be a cupboard for lords.

My lord now, and sir knight,
Good even and good night!
For now, Sir Tristram,<
120>
You must wear buckram,
Or canvas of Caen,
For silks are wane.
Our royals that shone,
Our nobles are gone
Among the Burgunians, 920
And Spaniards onions,
And the Flanderkins.
Gill sweats, and Kate spins,
They are happy that wins;
But England may well say,
Fie on this winning all way!
Now nothing but pay, pay!
With, laugh and lay down,<
121>
Borough, city, and town.

Good Spring of Langham<122> 930
Must count what became
Of his cloth-making:
He is at such taking,
Though his purse wax dull,
He must tax for his wool<
123>
By nature of a new writ;
My lord's Grace nameth it
A quia non satisfacit:<124>
In the spite of his teeth
He must pay again 940
A thousand or twain
Of his gold in store;
And yet he paid before
An hundred pound and more,
Which pincheth him sore.
My lord's Grace will bring
Down this high spring,
And bring it so low
It shall not ever flow.

Such a prelate, I trow, 950
Were worthy to row
Through the straits of Marock<
125>
To the gibbet of Baldock:<126>
He would dry up the streams
Of ix. kings' reams,
All rivers and wells,
All waters that swells;
For with us he so mells
That within England dwells,
I would he were somewhere else; 960
For else by and by
He will drink us so dry,
And suck us so nigh,
That men shall scantly
Have penny or halfpenny.
God save his noble Grace,
And grant him a place
Endless to dwell
With the Devil of hell!
For,
an he were there, 970
We need never fear
Of the fiends black:
For I undertake
He would so brag and
crake,
That he would then make
The devils to quake,<127>
To shudder and to shake,
Like a fire-drake,
And with a coal-rake
Bruise them on a brake,<128> 980
And bind them to a stake,
And set hell on fire,
At his own desire.
He is such a grim sire,<
129>
He is such a potestolate,
And such a potestate,
That he would break the brains
Of Lucifer in his chains,
And rule them each one
In Lucifer's throne. 990
I would he were gone;
For among us is none
That ruleth but he alone,
Without all good reason,
And all out of season.
For Fulham
peason
With him be not geason;
They grow very rank
Upon every bank
Of his arbours green, 1000
With my lady bright and sheen;<
130>
On their game it is seen
They play not all clean,
An it be as I ween.

But as touching discretion,
With sober direction,
He keepeth them in subjection:
They can have no protection
To rule nor to guide,
But all must be tried, 1010
And abide the correction
Of his wilful affection.
For as for wit,
The Devil speed whit!<
131>
But brainsick and brainless,
Witless and reckless,
Careless and shameless,
Thriftless and graceless,
Together are bended,
And so condescended, 1020
That the commonwealth
Shall never have good health,
But tattered and tugged,
Ragged and rugged,
Shaven and shorn,
And all threadbare worn.
Such greediness,
Such neediness,
Miserableness,
With wretchedness,
1030
Hath brought in distress
And much heaviness
And great dolour
England, the flower
Of
relucent honour,
In old commemoration
Most royal English nation.
Now all is out of fashion,
Almost in desolation;
I speak by protestation: 1040
God of his miseration
Send better reformation!

Lo, for to do shamefully
He judgeth it no folly!
But to write of his shame
He sayeth we are to blame.
What a frenzy is this,
No shame to do amiss,
And yet he is ashamed
To be shamefully named!
1050
And oft preachers be blamed
Because they have proclaimed
His madness by writing,
His simpleness reciting,
Remording and biting,
With chiding and with flyting,
Showing him God's laws:
He calleth the preachers daws,
And of holy scripture's saws
He counteth them for gee-gaws, 1060
And putteth them to silence
And with words of violence,<
132>
Like Pharaoh, void of grace,
Did Moses sore menace,
And Aaron sore he threat,
The word of God to let;
This maumet in like wise
Against the Church doth rise;
The preacher he doth despise,
With craking in such wise, 1070
So bragging all with boast,
That no preacher almost
Dare speake for his life
Of my lord's Grace, nor his wife,
For he hath such a bull,
He may take whom he
wull,
And as many as him likes;
May eat pigs in Lent for pikes,
After the sects of heretics,
For in Lent he will eat 1080
All manner of flesh meat
That he can anywhere get;
With other
abusions great,
Whereof for to treat
It would make the Devil to sweat,
For all privileged places<133>
He breaks and defaces,
All places of religion
He hath them in derision,
And maketh such provision 1090
To drive them at division,
And finally in conclusion
To bring them to confusion;
Saint Alban's to record<
134>
Whereof this ungracious lord
Hath made himself abbot,
Against their wills, God wot.
All this he doth deal
Under strength of the great seal,
And by his legacy,<135> 1100
Which madly he doth apply
Unto an extravagancy
Picked out of all good law,
With reasons that
ben raw.
Yet, when he took first his hat,
He said he knew what was what;
All justice he pretended,
All things should be amended,
All wrongs he would redress,
All injuries he would repress, 1110
All perjuries he would oppress;
And yet this graceless elf,
He is perjured himself,<
136>
As plainly it doth appear
Who list to inquire
In the registry
Of my Lord of Canterbury,
To whom he was professed
In three points expressed;
The first, to do him reverence, 1120
The second, to owe him obedience,
The third, with whole affection
To be under his subjection:
But now he maketh objection,
Under the protection
Of the king's great seal,
That he setteth never a deal
By his former oath,<
137>
Whether God be pleased or wroth.
He maketh so proud pretence, 1130
That in his
equipollence
He judgeth him equivalent:
To God omnipotent:
But yet beware the rod,
And the stroke of God!

The apostle Peter
Had a poor mitre
And a poor cope
When he was create Pope,
First in Antioch; 1140
He did never approach
Of Rome to the See
With such dignity.

Saint Dunstan, what was he?
Nothing, he sayeth, like to me:
There is a diversity
Between him and me;
We pass him in degree,
As
legatus a latere.

Ecce, sacerdos magnus,<138> 1150
That will head us and hang us,
And straitly strangle us
An he may fang us!<139>
Decree and decretal,
Constitution provincial,
Nor no law canonical,
Shall let the priest pontifical
To sit in causa sanguinis.<140>
Now God amend that is amiss!
For I suppose that he is 1160
Of Jeremy the whisking rod,
The flail, the scourge of Almighty God.

This Naman Sirus,<141>
So fell and so irous,
So full of melancholy,
With a flap afore his eye,
Men ween that he is pocky,<142>
Or else his surgeons they lie,
For, as far as they can spy
By the craft of surgery 1170
It is manus Domini.<
143>
And yet this proud Antiochus,
He is so ambitious,
So elate, and so vicious,
And so cruel-hearted,
That he will not be converted;
For he setteth God apart,
He is now so overthwart,
And so pained with pangs,
That all his trust hangs 1180

In Balthasar<144>, which healed
Domingo's nose that was whealed;
That Lombard's nose mean I,
That standeth yet awry;
It was not healed alderbest,
It standeth somewhat on the west;
I mean Domingo Lomelin<145>
That was wont to win
Much money of the king
At the cards and hazarding: 1190
Balthasar, that healed Domingo's nose
From the pustuled
pocky pose,
Now with his gums of Araby
Hath promised to heal our cardinal's eye;
Yet some surgeons put a doubt
Lest he will put it clean out,
And make him lame of his nether limbs.
God send him sorrow for his sins!

Some men might ask a question,
By whose suggestion 1200
I took on hand this
wark,
Thus boldly for to bark?
An men list to hark,
And my words mark,
I will answer like a clerk;
For, truly and unfeigned,
I am forcibly constrained
At Juvenal's request,
To write of this glorious gest,
Of this vainglorious best, 1210
His fame to be increased
At every solemn feast;
Quia difficile est
Satiram non scribere
.<
146>
Now, master doctor, how say ye,
Whatsoever your name be?
What though ye be nameless,
Ye shall not escape blameless,
Nor yet shall 'scape shameless:
Master doctor, in your degree, 1220
Yourself madly ye oversee;
Blame Juvenal, and blame not me.
Master doctor Diricum,
Omne animi vitium, &c.<
147>
As Juvenal doth record,
A small default in a great lord,
A little crime in a great estate,
Is much more inordinate,
And more horrible to behold,
Than any other a thousandfold. 1230
Ye put to blame ye
wot ne'er whom;
Ye may wear a cock's-comb;
Your fond head in your furred hood,
Hold ye your tongue, ye can no good:
And at more convenient time
I may fortune for to rhyme
Somewhat of your madness;
For small is your sadness
To put any man in lack,
And say ill behind his back: 1240
And my words mark truly,
That ye cannot bide thereby,
For smegma non est cinnamonum,<
148>
But de absentibus nil nisi bonum.<149>
Complain, or do what ye will,
Of your complaint it shall not skill:
This is the tenor of my bill,
A dawcock ye be, and so shall be still.

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