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writing of Mr. Douce upon his fragment in the following terms
“There are two editions printed by John Skot, one of which has a colophon, the other not; both without dates."
I happen to have had an opportunity of inspecting both the impressions.put forth by Skot, and I subjoin the title-page of that with a colophon, because I have never yet seen it correctly given.
“Here begynneth a Treatyse how ye hye fader of heuen sendeth Dethe to somon euery creature to come and gyue a counte of theyr lyues in this worlde, and is in maner of a morall playe.” The colophon, at the end of the play, is precisely this—
Imprynted at London, in Poules chyrche yarde, by me, Johñ Skot."
The only copy of this edition I ever saw, is, or was, in the library of Lincoln Cathedral: the only copy I have seen of the other edition, by Skot, without his colophon, was sold in 1833, among Mr. Caldecot's books, for £32 10s. It was a distinct impression, and, among other differences, it may be noticed that there were six wood-cut figures of the Dramatis Personæ at the back of the title-page : on the last leaf was the printer's device, and merely his name, “ John Skot.”
The exact period when “Every Man" came from Pynson's press cannot be ascertained, but his last dated work is 1531; so that there can be no doubt that “Every Man” is one of the very oldest printed dramas in our language: perhaps the only piece of the same kind that has higher claims, on the score of antiquity, is “ The World and the Child,” printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1522; but Pynson may have printed his undated “Every Man” before that year: if so, the moral play of “Every Man” would be the oldest drama in our language that has come down to us in a printed shape. Its value and curiosity in the most ancient impression cannot therefore be disputed, and on this account I send my exact transcript of Mr. Douce's fragment, marking with asterisks the places where the text is deficient. It is part of the last sheet E; so that it was preceded by four sheets, A, B, C, and D, which have probably for ever perished. What I have above said, and what follows, may call attention to it, and some member of the Society may possibly be able, on a future occasion, to furnish information on so interesting a question in reference to our early dramatic poetry—the very foundation of the School of Shakespeare.
Those who go through Shakespeare without a considerable acquaintance with the works of his predecessors, carrying their inquiries back even to the remotest period, are not likely to do him full justice, nor to read him with complete advantage.
DRAMATICUS. 29th March, 1847.
I desyre no more to my besynes.
Strengthe. And I strength wyll by you stande in distres Though thou wold in battayll fyght on the groūde.
o wyttes. And though it were thorowe the world rounde We wyll not departe for swete ne for soure.
Beaute. No more wyll I vnto dethes houre
Dyscrecyon. Every man aduyse you firste of all
euery mà. My frendes, harke what I wyll tell I praye god rewarde you in this heuenly spere Nowe herken all that be here
For I wyll make my testament
knowlege. Euery man herke in what I saye Go to the preesthode I you advyse
That of god hath comyssyon
euery mā. Fayne wolde I receyue that holy body And mekely to my gostely fader I wyll go.
o wyttes. Euery man, that is the best that ye can do God wyll you to saluacion brynge For preesthode exceedeth all other thynge To vs holy scriptue they do teche And conuerteth man fro synne heuen to reche God hath to them more power gyuen Than to ony aungell that is in heuen
With v. wordes he
concecrate Goddes body in flesshe and blode to take.
No remedy may we fynde under god
knowlege. If preestes be good it is so suerly
o wyttes. I truste to god no suche may we fynde
And nowe frēdes let vs go without lenger respyte
Strengthe. Euery man we wyll not fro you go Tyll ye haue gone this vyage longe.
Dyscrecion. I discrecion wyll byde by you also.
knowleg. And though this pilgrimage be never so stroge
Euery mā. Alas I am so faynt I may not stonde
Beautye. And torne to the erthe and there to slepe.
Euery mà. And what sholde I smoder here
Beaute gothe faste awaye and hye
Strength. Euery man I wyll the also forsake and denye Thy game lyketh me not at all.
Euery mā. Why than ye wyll forsake me all
Strength. Nay syr by the rode of grace
Euery mā. Ye wolde euer byde by me ye sayd.
Strength. Ye I haue you ferre ynough conueyd
Euery mà. Srength you to displease I am to blame.