Page images
PDF
EPUB

mentes,

Cardinall
Morton.

in any thing a better ordre might have ben taken, then by them was, there we take fast hold, findyng therin many faultes. Manye tymes have I chaunced upon such proude, leude, overthwarte and waywarde Parcial judgejudgementes, yea, and once in England :

5 I prai you Syr (quod I) have you ben in our countrey ?

Yea forsoth (quod he) and there I taried for the space of iiii, or v. monethes together, not longe after the insurrection, that the westerne English men made agaynst their 10 kyng, which by their owne miserable and pitiful slaughter was suppressed and ended. In the meane season I was muche bounde and beholdynge to the righte reverende father, Jhon Morton, Archebishop and Cardinal of Canterbury, and at that time also lorde

15 Chauncelloure of Englande : a man, Mayster Peter, (for Mayster More knoweth already that I wyll saye) not more honorable for his authoritie, then for his prudence and vertue. He was of a meane stature, and though stricken in age, yet bare he his bodye upright. In his face 20 did shine such an amiable reverence, as was pleasaunte to beholde, gentill in communication, yet earnest, and sage. He had great delite manye times with roughe speache to his sewters, to prove, but withoute harme, what prompte witte and what bolde spirite were in every man. In the 25 which, as in a vertue much agreinge with his nature, so that therewith were not joyned impudency, he toke greate delectatyon. And the same person, as apte and mete to have an administratyon in the weale publique, he dyd lovingly embrace. In his speche he was fyne, eloquent and pytthye. 30 In the lawe he had profounde knowledge, in witte he was incomparable, and in memory wonderful excellente. These qualityes, which in hym were by nature singular, he by

youre realme.

learnynge and use had made perfecte. The kynge put muche truste in his counsel, the weale publyque also in a maner leaned unto hym, when I was there. For even in

the chiefe of his youth he was taken from schole into the 5 courte, and there passed all his tyme in much trouble and

busines, beyng continually tumbled and tossed in the waves of dyvers mysfortunes and adversities. And so by many and greate daungers he lerned the experience of the worlde,

whiche so beinge learned can not easely be forgotten. It 10 chaunced on a certayne daye, when I sate at his table, there was also a certayne laye man cunnynge in the lawes of

Who, I can not tell wherof takynge occasion, began diligently and earnestly to prayse that strayte

and rygorous justice, which at that tyme was there executed 15 upon fellones, who, as he sayde, were for the moste parte xx.

hanged together upon one gallowes. And, seyng so fewe escaped punyshement, he sayde he coulde not chuse, but greatly wonder and marvel, howe and by what evil lucke it shold so come to passe, that theves nevertheles were in

every place so ryffe and so rancke. Naye, Syr, made accord- quod I (for I durst boldely speake my minde ing to equitie. before the Cardinal) marvel nothinge hereat : for this punyshment of theves passeth the limites of justice,

and is also very hurtefull to the weale publique. For it is to 25 extreame and cruel a punishment for thefte, and yet not

sufficient to refrayne and withhold men from thefte. For simple thefte is not so great an offense, that it owght to be punished with death. Neither ther is any punishment so

horrible, that it can kepe them from stealynge, which have 30 no other craft, wherby to get their living. Therfore in this

poynte, not you onlye, but also the most part of the world, be like evyll scholemaisters, which be readyer to beate, then to teache their scholers. For great and horrible punish

20

Of lawes not

fewer theves
and robbers.

mentes be appointed for theves, whereas much rather provision should have ben made, that Bywhat meanes

ther might be there were some meanes, whereby they myght get their livyng, so that no man shoulde be dryven to this extreme necessitie, firste to steale, and then to 5 dye. Yes (quod he) this matter is wel ynough provided for already. There be handy craftes, there is husbandrye to gette their livynge by, if they would not willingly be nought. Nay, quod I, you shall not skape so: for first of all, I wyll speake nothynge of them, that come home oute of the 10 warres, maymed and lame, as not longe ago, oute of Blackeheath fielde, and a litell before that, out of the warres in Fraunce : suche, I saye, as put their lives in jeoperdye for the weale publiques or the kynges sake, and by reason of weakenesse and lamenesse be not hable to occupye their 15 olde craftes, and be to aged to lerne new : of them I wyll speake nothing, forasmuch as warres have their ordinarie

But let us considre those thinges that chaunce daily before our eyes.

First there is a mother of great numbre of gentlemen, which can not be content to live idle themselves, lyke dorres, of that whiche other have laboured for: their tenauntes I meane, whom they polle and shave to the quicke, by reisyng their rentes (for this onlye poynte of frugalitie Landlordes by do they use, men els through their lavasse and ed for rent

25 prodigall spendynge, hable to brynge theymselfes to verye beggerye) these gentlemen, I say, do not only live in idlenesse themselves, but also carrye about with them at their tailes a great flocke or traine of idle and loyterynge servyngmen, which never yng men come 30 learned any craft wherby to gette their livynges. These men as sone as their mayster is dead, or be sicke themselfes, be incontinent thrust out of dores. For gentle

recourse.

Idlenesse the

theves.

20

raisyng.

of idle serve

theves.

[ocr errors]

men hadde rather keepe idle persones,

then sicke men, and many times the dead mans heyre is not hable to mainteine so great a house, and kepe so many serving men as his

father dyd. Then in the meane season they that be thus 5 destitute of service, either starve for honger, or manfullye playe the theves.

For what would you have them to do? When they have wandred abrode so longe, untyl they have worne thredebare their apparell, and also appaired their

helth, then gentlemen because of their pale and sickely 10 faces, and patched cotes, will not take them into service.

And husbandmen dare not set them a worke, knowynge wel ynoughe that he is nothing mete to doe trewe and faythful service to a poore man wyth a spade and a mattoke

for small wages and hard fare, whyche beynge deyntely 15 and tenderly pampered up in ydilnes and pleasure, was

wont with å sworde and a buckler by hys syde to jette through the strete with a bragginge loke, and to thynke hym selfe to good to be anye mans mate. Naye, by saynt Mary,

sir (quod the lawier) not so. For this kinde of men muste 20 we make moste of. For in them as men of stowter sto

mackes, bolder spirites, and manlyer courages then handycraftes men and plowemen be, doth consiste the whole powre, strength and puissaunce of oure army, when we

muste fight in battayle. Forsothe, sir, as well you myghte saye 25 (quod I) that for warres sake you muste cheryshe theves. For suerly you shall never lacke theves, whyles you have

them. No, nor theves be not the most false and diers and theves faynt harted soldiers, nor souldiours be not the

cowardleste theves : so wel thees ii. craftes 30 agree together. But this faulte, though it be much used

amonge you, yet is it not peculiar to you only, but commen also almoste to all nations. Yet Fraunce besides this is troubled and infected with a much sorer plage. The whole

Betwene sol

sinal diversitie.

royalme is fylled and besieged with hiered souldiours in peace tyme (yf that bee peace) whyche be brought in under the same colour and pretense, that hath persuaded you to kepe these ydell servynge men. For thies wyse fooles and verye archedoltes thought the wealthe of the whole countrey 5 herin to consist, if there were ever in a redinesse a stronge and sure garrison, specially of old practised souldiours, for they put no trust at all in men unexercised. And therfore they must be forced to seke for warre, to the ende thei may ever have practised souldiours and cunnyng mansleiers, lest 10 that (as it is pretely sayde of Salust) their handes and their mindes through idlenes or lacke of exercise, should waxe dul. But howe pernitious and pestilenet a thyng it is to maintayne suche beastes, the Frenche men, by their owne harmes have learned, and the examples of the Romaynes, 15 Carthaginiens, Syriens and of manye other countreyes doo manifestly declare. For not onlye the empire, but also the fieldes and cities of all these, by What incondivers occasions have been overrunned and eth by conti

nuall garisons destroyed of their owne armies before hande of souldiours. had in a redinesse. Now how unnecessary a thinge this is, hereby it maye appeare: that the Frenche souldiours, which from their youth have ben practised and inured in feates of armes, do not cracke nor advaunce themselfes to have very often gotte the upper hand and maistry 25 of your new made and unpractised souldiours. But in this poynte I wyll not use many woordes, leste perchaunce I maye seeme to flatter you. No, nor those same handy crafte men of yours in cities, nor yet the rude and uplandish plowmen of the countreye, are not supposed to be greatly 30 affrayde of your gentlemens idle servyngmen, unlesse it be suche as be not of body or stature correspondent to thcir strength and courage, or els whose bolde stomakes be dis

veniences com

20

« PreviousContinue »