The debate betweene Pride and Lowlines

F. T

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Men talken diuersly concernyng dreames,
Some say they come of causes naturall:
Of cholers, melancholies, blood, and steames,
And been such as their cause materiall.

Some say they come of superfluitie,
That any wight hath take of meate or drinke:
Engendring in the head fumositie,
Whyle thyther fro the stomake they doo swynk.

And therefore doo distinguishe of the time,
When they appeare, yf in the latter sleepe:
The more remarkable they them define,
If in the fyrst they take the lesser keepe.

Some holden that they come of loue or feare,
Which any wight by day time hath icaught:
To thing or place, and wisheth to be there,
And this is deepe imprinted in the thought.

And so sayth Cato in his litle booke,
And therewith dooth their credit ellenate:
As thing whereof, but small regard he tooke,
All for the cause ye heard me tell of late.

Others them holden significatife,
Of trueth not to be vily pended:
As messages to men of death or life,
How things begoon are likely to be ended.

Now whether this come of perfection,
Which God hath geuen to the soule of man:
Such prouidence and such direction,
By proper kynde when he him first began.

Me thinke to iudgen so were arrogance,
As from the deitie to derogate:
And man aboue his qualitie aduaunce,
So making him forgetten his estate.

And as it were a man to deifie,
And to such marters him to intromit:
Whereof our God alone hath propertie,
But as him pleaseth to reuealen it.

And shewe to man by reuelation,
Some matter straunge that he hath purposed:
It were great wrong and vsurpation,
To say that mans wit had it for warned.

For proofe dooth shew that it is otherwyse,
Namely for that we can not reade aryght:
Theffect of them, ne in our hart comprise,
Except that God haue put it in our might.

And that by gyft and grace especiall,
Such as he hath but geuen vnto fewe:
Who grew in princes fauours therewithal,
For they such secrete matters coulde shewe.

As Ioseph did to Pharao as we reade,
And Daniel to Nabuchodonosor:
Whose dreames were frightful & of myckel dreade,
Therefore I thinke as I haue sayd before.

That such been rare and very speciall,
And vnto such as God before dooth warne:
Of his intent, and things that wyl befall,
Concerning dearth or cheape, goodnesse or harme.

This gather I by Saul in holy booke,
Now fallen into miseries extreame:
He deemed that of God he was forsooke,
For he appeared not to him in dreame,

Ne other vision as saith the storie,
Wherefore he thought his life in distresse:
But yet for to relieue his hart full sorie,
He asked counsel at the Phitonesse.

As in that booke is to be read at length,
And many a matter after and before:
Concerning dreames, their vertue & their strength
Thereof as nowe ye get of me no more.

But thus much I haue said for this respect
That dreames though some be vaine & of no force
Yet are there some that bringen their effect,
And would of men be waied any remors.

Now hauing oft spoken of their efficacie,
And of their cause as much as I can tell:
From thence to other matters I wyll passe,
To shewe not long agoe what me befell.

And namely in this moneth of May,
The time I doo remember very well:
For it was iust vpon the sixteenth day,
And eyght a clock had rong S. Pulchres bell.

Mee thought the weather was not very calme,
For it had raigned al the day beforn:
Wherefore I tooke my booke and red a Psalme,
And bad my host good night vntil the morne

So when I had mee shrowded in my bed,
And thanked God for graces manifold:
Full soone had sleepe icaught mee by the head,
And Straightly with his armes he can me fold.

This pleasaunt sleepe, this gentle creature,
Nurs of disgestion to man and beast:
Withouten whom none of both can endure,
Of no degree from greatest to the least.

But now to tellen thee my cheefe purpose,
That hath mee caused all this thing to write:
And orderly the same for to disclose,
And all the circumstances to endite.

By that time I had slept an houre or lesse,
I gan to dreame so woonderfull and straunge:
As but a fewe haue done before I gesse,
Ne yet in sleepe so farre dyd euer raunge.

Mee thought that I was walking in a Parke,
Amyd the wooddes among the pleasaunt leaues:
Where many was the bird did sweetly carpe,
Emong the thornes, the bushes, and the greues.

Whiche in my hart dyd kindle such desyre,
To heare their songes, their myrth, and melodie:
So chaungeable as no hart could require,
That sodenly mee thought, Lord where am I.

Besides the stately trees which to behold,
With bodyes straight vpryght and of such length:
As skant ye would beleeue mee yf I told,
Ne of their bulke for timber and their strength.

By that time I had walked there a whyle,
About a quarter of an houre foorth right:
I thinke a litle more then halfe a mile,
Of pleasaunt feeldes I gan to haue a sight.

So paynted and so coloured I weene,
As by her leaue, and with her pacience:
Nas Floras land, that fresh & lusty queene,
Ne with such verdure, and such redolence.

This (may ye thinke) me seemed very straunge,
And so it dyd, I put you out of doubt:
I could not satisfie mee selfe to raunge,
These pleasaunt feelds, & medowes round about.

Till at the last I came into a dale,
Amid two mighty hils on eyther side:
From whence a sweete streame downe dyd auale,
And cleare as Christal through the same did slide.

Whiche to behold I had such great pleasure,
That power had I none from thence to goe:
Consydered also that I had leasure,
And in such place had neuer been or thoe.

Till at the last as I stood by this brooke,
And on these matters mused in my minde:
I chaunced vp the hil to cast my looke,
If happyly some people I might finde.

And sodenly mee thought I had espied,
A thing come downe the hilward toward me:
But not on foote, ne yet on horse dyd ryde,
Which mee thought very strange there for to see.

And it beheld with full and whole intent,
Howe downeward al at ease it helld the way:
I mused not a litle what it ment,
When of the hill it passed had the sway.

I did perceyue then what it was in deede,
That is to weete a goodly veluet breech:
Which in it furniture dyd so exceede,
As hardly shal ye finde yf that ye seech.

For it was all of veluet very fine,
The neather stockes of pure Granado silke:
Such as came neuer vpon legges of myne,
Their cooller cleane contrary vnto mylke.

This breech was paned in the fayrest wyse,
And with right satten very costly lyned:
Embrodered according to the guise,
With golden lace ful craftely engined.

So when they were come downe beneath the hill,
Into the valley whereas I dyd stand:
I them beheld and looked on my fill,
But nold so much as touche them with my hand.

For strange mee thought fro whence they shoulde be
Some body wyl come after them anone:
Wherefore I wyl attende (thought I) to see,
For woonder is if such things been alone.

Then to that other hill I cast myne eye,
Whyle I was musing as I haue ye told:
And sodenly (mee thought) I dyd espie,
That euen as the veluet breeches rold.

There came another paire, but softer pase,
And neuer ceased rolling tyll they came:
Into the dale, and there had taken place,
Now listen, for me thought this litle game.

These breeches I did bound on eyther side,
As one that was in middle them betweene:
These last were but of cloth withouten pride,
And stitche ne gard vpon them was to seene.

Of cloth (I say) both vpper stocke and neather,
Paned and single lyned next to the thie:
Light for thee were, meete for al sort of weather,
Nowe paraduenture ye wyl thinke I lye.

Then veluet breeches dyd begyn to say,
To them of cloth, as ye shall after here:
But lest ye maruayle how and by what way,
These things dyd speake, that neuer speaken ere.

Ye wot it is a dreame that I you tell,
Whose demonstrations are very darke:
And yet vnto the trueth accorden well,
Admitted as they must be, therefore harke.

The dreame of seuen blasted eares of corne,
Which Pharao the kyng sawe whyle he slept:
Deuoure the seuen good eares them beforn,
Were straunge as this, & yet their promise kept.

And eke the seuen kine that were so leane
And euyl fauoured as they might bee:
The seuen fat kyne dyd eate vp cleane,
What likely hood of trueth was there to see.

And many other thinges that seeme vntrue,
In figures, and in vncooth termes of speache:
Haue been and wyl, this matter is not newe,
For diners been the wayes and meanes to teache.

Wherefore to turne agayne where I dyd leaue.
And of my dreame the whole effect to tell:
In naked woordes and easie to perceiue,
And euery thing and matter as they fell.

Up stoode this veluet breeche of which I sayde,
And spake to them of cloth in great disdayne:
Thou breeche of cloth, how art thou not afrayde,
Of our displeasure to incurre the payne.

That hast presumed here to take thy place,
Without regard of vs or reuerence:
But as it were to berd vs and to face,
I hold it best for thee to get thee hence.

The other at these woordes was not afeard,
Ne chaunged collour ne yet countenaunce:
And at the last to this effect answeard.
Great were thy pride, yf thou had suffisaunce.

I see betweene vs litle difference.
Or none at all, saue only woorkmanship:
Whereto yf there belong preeminence,
Make thou no claime to thy mistres woorship.

I meane the woorkman which thee garnished,
With silke and golde, and with imbroderie:
By meane whereof Pride hath thee rauished,
To bost in things belonging not to thee.

This mooued not the veluet breech a lit,
Thou beggers weede (quoth he) base and villayn:
Ill can I take at thy hand such despit,
And that to dooe thee force I mee refryan.

How dare thou speake such language vnto mee,
Thy better, and thy selfe with me compare:
So farre inferiour in eche degree,
As they that neere vs both, witnesses are.

Besides that, I was borne in Italy,
Sometime the mistres of the world so wide:
Famous in learning and chiualry,
As in this world there hath been none beside.

Besides all that, my foote is woorth thy yard,
So am I iolif fayre and precious:
Where I am present, who dooth thee regard,
Or thee vouchsafe to dwellen in his house.

I let him in, for thee might stand without,
Am bidde speake, when thou must hold thy peace:
And many a matter dayly bring about,
To hard for thee, therefore I redd thee cease.

Nowe sure this gere is passing strange thought I,
What (trow I) wil become betweene these twayn
With that the breech of cloth gan to replie,
And thus began his sentence for to saien.

Whereas thou sayest I am inferiour,
And vnto thee am nothing comparable:
For thou doest serue the riche, and I the poore,
That reason is both fals and deceauable.

For yf that vertue and humanitie,
Were tyed to riches or appropriate:
As Pride and vices are most commonly,
Then I nold in this case with thee debate.

But sith apparell dooth not him amend,
That weareth it according to the cost:
But only helpeth to consume and spend,
The more is layd on thee, the more is lost.

And where thou sayest thou art of Italy,
Borne and bred in that noble region:
Why liuest thou not at home in thy country,
Woe woorth him brought thee fyrst to Albion.

Which nowe of vs is called England,
Where sometime I haue couered the best:
And such as then were thought to vnderstand,
Whose lyfe and maners vices did detest.

For in thy countrey were thou not alone,
He hast been euer sithe thy dwellyng here:
But art with many a vice wayted vpon,
Which doo and haue done this land mickle deere.

As for the learning and the chiualrie,
Wherein thy countrey thou doost so commend:
About thy comming into that country,
Of both their dwelling there they made an end.

And lost the diademe imperiall,
He can it hold as their forefathers dyd:
Loe what thou hast to bosten thee withall,
They lost the landes their fathers conquerid.

Whereas thou sayest thy foote is woorth my yard,
That is vntrue, saue that for argument:
Thinges are to man as he dooth them regard,
And other reason none to myne intent.

Whereas thou sayest that in thy presence,
I am of no regarde ne countenaunce:
That is a lye sauing your reuerence,
Though with the fooles it often so doo chaunce.

With that the veluet breeches as mee thought,
Began toward the other fast to roll:
And surely but for mee they would haue fought,
So I was faine the matter to controll.

And spake vnto them both as ye shall heere,
At least as I my selfe imagined:
Nay freend (quoth I) ye shall doo him no deere,
But eche of them sware other should be dead.

Not so (quoth I) I know a better way,
And more indifferent vnto you bothe:
For when ye haue done eyther what ye may,
Ye must be ruled be ye leefe or lothe.

For here ye dwellen in a lande of peace,
And vnder lawes, and vnder Magistrate:
God graunt them in his graces to encrease,
That enden wyll full iustly your debate.

And I my selfe for better was in place,
Though for my learnyng farre vnwoorthy:
Towards the lawe these long xv. yeeres space,
And thereof sworne to be an atturney.

If I may pleaser you with my seruice,
I am yours to commaund right as ye list:
For doubt in lawe ye shall haue myne aduise,
Till better come that wyl herein assist.

For that I see the matter is not small,
Ne yet no trifle wherefore ye contend:
One would fayne haue his owne, the other all,
And herevpon the matter dooth depend.

The one him bosteth of his woorthynesse,
And of his natiue soyle where he was borne:
And how that he hath rowm in throng and presse,
Because that of the wealthy he is worne.

The other sayth he is this countreyman,
Here hath he dwelt and here led all his lyfe:
And here wyll dwell say thother what he can,
Nowe for to end all this debate and strife.

And both your mindes therein to satisfy,
The best is all your quarell and complaint:
To haue heard and debated orderly,
And eche man tell his tall without restraint.

But howe so ye your selues doo esteeme,
Ye are not Iudges thereof nor shalbe:
But twelue, or foure & twentie shal it deeme,
And this is reasonable thynketh me.

To tell your price and vertues ye haue leaue,
And your effectes, your causes and your end:
Which their well vnderstood wyl not deceaue,
Nor suffer vs to erre as I entend.

And for you veluet breeches finde ye greeued,
And of this clothen breech to haue had wrong:
Ye may seeke orderly to be relieued,
So wyll I doo (quoth he) or it be long.

And make him yeeld to myne obeysaunce,
And to confesse that he hath nothing here:
But only at my wyll and sufferaunce,
As I doubt not it plainely shall appere.

The other saide, as for obeysaunce,
He ought him none homage ne fealtie:
All were his lookes bigge and his countenaunce,
And freendshyp great, all that ne doubted hee.

His cause was good, his title auncestrell,
For in this Countrey was he borne and bred:
And but yf lawe sayd nay, here would he dwel,
So then vnto them both I answeared.

Sith eche of you dooth thinke he hath a right,
And for to trye the same ye are so bent:
Declare and bring your title into light,
Trespasse or disseison of franke tenement.

And shewe your title and whence ye deriue it.
And yf ye thinke this good ye veluet breeche:
The clothe shall pleade ye non dissesimit,
And thus without long circumstaunce of speeche.

Upon this issue ye haue libertie,
For proofe that he hath done ye disseason:
To alledge what so ye can bethinke ye,
And therein at our handes to aske for reason.

He answerd, to be plentiffe in thassise,
He thought not good, ne ment not so to be:
And that it was not good I dyd aduise,
A Iury may be perciall (quoth he.)

For I am woorthyer by muche then he,
For many causes that I can alledge:
But yf they wyll seeme suche to the Countrie,
I doubt, or of them yf they wyl take knowledge.

For I am here a straunger in this lande,
And saue of late yeeres of small acquayntaunce:
The common people dooth not vnderstand,
My woorthynesse, estate, ne countenaunce.

My aduersarie is their countrey man,
And is not so chargeable vnto them:
Therefore wyll they doo for him what they can,
But yf they were of Towne and Citizen.

For of the hyndes or of the paysauntie,
I feare I should not haue indifferents:
For I know they beare no good wyll to me,
Because my freendes their purses often rents.

This doubt is vaine thereof assure yee,
(Quoth I) for whom ye thinke not indifferent:
Ye may may him chalenge from your Iury,
And shewe your cause why from him ye dissent.

And as that cause shall seeme allowable,
By proofe or reason that ye for it make:
It shalbe holden acceptable,
Thereafter to receyue or to forsake.

Goe foorth therefore as ye began in order,
Untill ye come to matter issuable:
Of all the which I shalbe the recorder,
And howe so it shalbe determinable.

To wit by Iury or by iudgement,
I shall direct you by my skill:
And to you both shalbe indifferent,
Nowe haue I sayd, truste me yf ye wyll.

Your woordes (quoth he) dooth sound to reason,
So I may haue my cause heard all at large:
Let him pleade me null ne tort null disseison,
Enter my pleas where with I wyll him charge.

For I am sure they wylbe sumwhat long,
And so the Iury gladly wyl mee take:
Or leaue some of my plea to doo me wrong,
The other partie would it not forsake.

But pleaded him the issue generall.
And prayed as the other prayed before:
To enter his matter especiall,
One thing the veluet breeches moued more.

For who shall iudge our chalenges (quoth he)
I answeard, yf it fall in learning, I:
If not, ye shall haue triers two or three,
That shall iudge of their indifferencie,

I am content (quoth he) my chalenge saued,
My matter shalbe tryed by thassise:
It is but right (quoth I) that ye haue craued,
And foorth they went, as I shall you deuise.

I meane the breeche of cloth in his replie,
And tooke his holde agayne whereas he left:
Whereas thou sayest thou canst doo more then I,
I knowe great is thy subteltie and craft.

To let one in, where I can not doo so,
And speake where I am bidden hold my peace:
Full many a wight that woorketh mikell wo,
When of their farme expired is their lease.

In penall statute and concealed land,
For so thou tearmest it for thyne encreas:
Full hardly can the poore escape thy hand.
That they ne finde thy lampe both oyle & greas.

Thus haue I answered (quoth he) thine argumet,
From point to point, that hast thou not (qd. he
With that I looked vp and had a glent,
Of one that came toward vs leasurely.

Soft then (quoth I) ye be at a good point,
Your pleas and answears I haue fully hard,
Perchaunce an issue hereon may be ioynt,
Whereon thassise foorthwith we may award.

And here me thinke dooth come a gentleman,
Whom if ye thinke as I haue thought it best:
We wyll entreate by all the meanes we can,
That he wyll be the foreman of the quest.

Gladly quoth one, with good wyl quoth the other,
By then he was come neere, and bad god speede,
And we againe sayd, welcome gentle brother,
Piked he was and handsome in his weede.

A faire blacke coate of cloth withouten sleue,
And buttoned the shoulder round about:
Of .xx.s. a yard as I beleeue,
And layd vpon with parchment lace without.

His dublet was of Sattin very fine,
And it was cut and stitched very thick:
Of silke it had a costly enterlyne.
His shirt had bands and ruffe of pure Cambrick.

His vpper stockes of sylken Grogerane,
And to his hippes they sate full close and trym,
And laced very costly euery pane,
Their lyning was of Satten as I wyn.

His neather stockes of silke accordingly,
A veluet gyrdle rounde about his wast:
This knight or squyre what so he be (quoth I,)
We wyll empannell, let him not goe past,

He condiscended soone to our request,
Then I beholding him aduisedly:
Sawe where a needle sticked on his brest,
And at the same a blacke threed hanging by.

So then I asked him of his estate,
He said he was a Taylour by his art:
All in good time (quoth I) here is debate,
Which to appease I pray you doo your part.

Here is a matter pleaded to enquest,
Wherein it may please you to take some paine:
Your wysedome may directen all the rest,
I shall ye read it, euident and plaine.

I challenge him then saith the clothen breeche,
Why so (quoth I) dooth he not make you both?
What then, his gayne by vs is not aleeche,
Quoth he, and therewithal he swore an oath.

He gayneth more by byeng silke and lase,
Of golde and siluer and such trumperie:
To welt, to edge, to garde, to stitche and face,
By one of these, then .xv. payre of mee.

In making mee, there is no gaine but one,
Which is, for labour and for woorkmanship:
Except sometime a peece of cloth come home,
As yf that by mischaunce the shere did slip.

Nowe is that trade become a marchandice,
Wherein sith pride in peoples harts dooth raigne:
So great hath been and is his exercise,
That only God dooth knowe what is his gaine.

And howe, though he thereof doo little reck,
So that to setten downe a bill of charge:
There is no Auditor, ne Clarke of Check,
Can penne it bett then he, no more at large.

So that I doubt of his indifference,
As in that tryall here betweene vs twayne:
Lest for him he would straine his conscience,
I see this worlde is set to folowe gayne.

I sayd, all this might come of good intent,
And for to punishe pride as he was able:
Then were no reason for it he were shent,
For he nys Officer, ne Constable.

Nor otherwyse set in aucthoritie,
To execute the statute of aurai:
Then how to punishe them supposeth he,
The best meane for their pride to make them pay.

And aske for silke, for lase, and other stuffe,
To face and lyne without side and within:
Twyse as much at the least as were inoffe,
And keepe the third part, and the rest put in.

And reache them with a bill of reckening,
Shal make them scrat wheras it itcheth nought:
If this may be a necessarie thing,
Then of this chalenge well aduise we ought.

For although som through pride thus down are cast
And waste their liuing that their freends the last:
Yet others by their meanes aryse as fast,
Som by their cunning, & some by their craft,

Wherefore the cause shalben examined,
By tryors whom we wyll choose for that end:
To try them or they been empanelled,
They were content both, and did condiscend.

Wherefore I prayed hym to stand a side,
And watche yf any other cam that way:
Lest of vs they escaped vnespied,
He was contented with all that I dyd say.

With that the veluet breeches bad me staien,
Our issue is not perfect yet (quoth he
I haue much other matter for to saien,
Say on (quoth I) you haue good libertie.

With that he gan to stretchen and to stare,
And sayd that he dyd suffer villany:
That such a Caytiue should with him compare,
A Carters weede, and meete for husbandry.

For who would set his sonne to schoole quoth he,
To studie scripture, phisicke, or the lawe:
But that he beareth good wyll vnto me,
If otherwyse I hold him but a dawe.

Sayeth not the prouerbe, honors norishe artes,
Why trotten men so farre for marchandise:
Who hath the credite at the faires and martes,
Not he that commeth in a coate of fryse.

What man or ladde is he that were not loth.
In youth to trauell, and to faren harde:
If he ne purposed to weare but cloth,
In time to come, nor further dyd regarde.

Hence rysen learned men in eche estate,
Coonnyng in handy craft and facultie:
And getten dignities of doctorate,
Who is their marke, what shoot they at but me.

I am the roote, thoriginal of lawes,
Whose learned mastes holden are in price:
Unto the simple folke I am the cause.
That many a foole and dolt is holden wyse.

Who dooth so sharpen correction as I,
Upon all such as doone the lawes offend:
If thereto be annexed penalty,
Of money that to mee thence may descend.

That this is true and may not be denyed,
I wyll auerte, and yf he it gayne say,
I am content by verdict it be tryed.
Then spake the breech of cloth without delay.

Protesting alwayes that he dyd not iudge,
Man, maide, ne wyfe by their array:
Ne yet much lesse that euer he dyd grudge.
Obseruing comelinesse yf they were gay.

Namely, the circumstaunces obserued.
The birth, the time, the place, or dignitie:
Who hath of Prince or common wealth deserued,
His weede of right may answear his degree.

Which matters although they been to allow,
With comelinesse for good and tollerable:
Yet who (sayth Christ) him selfe dooth meeke & bow,
Exalted shal he be and acceptable.

Example he did make him selfe herein,
Who thinking it no wrong ne robberie:
With God the father equall for to byn,
Was here in earth in all simplicitie.

But for to followe him it were to muche,
Or Iohn the Baptist with his coate of here:
Yet may we shewe our selues to be suche,
As more esteeme our bodyes then our gere.

Namely our soules whiche are celestiall,
Whose braue apparell and whose ornament:
Whose diademe and crowne imperiall,
Is hart that seeketh God with whole intent.

But to the point, and for plea to the matter.
Alledged for thy commendation,
As they arysen this is myne answer,
And fyrst thy vayne imagination.

That thou art cause, that thou art finall end,
Of learning, I ne thinke thee to be so:
And that thou were, the liuing God defend,
For sure thou were not in principio.

Nor art among the godly at this day,
Though with a number, I thinke it be true:
No litle vnto vertues ruine and decay,
Where it is so, the godly doon it rue.

For where thou sayest, honor dooth norishe art,
True honour I suppose thou neuer knewe:
That iudgest it in arrogance of hart,
In silke and veluet, and in outward shewe.

The very baightes and lures of Satanas,
Who for thy sake was throwen out of heauen:
For the Nabuchodonosor eat grasse,
And fed with Oxen well nigh yeeres seuen.

Which is the honor man hath for thy sake,
Hath been and is and euermore shalbe:
Who Idols of their carcasses dooe make,
Through foule presumption and vanitie.

For he that thorow learning seeketh port,
Ne maketh other purpose of the same:
His learning puffeth him in such a sort,
That oft in sted of honor he hath shame.

Nowe for the marchaunt and his marchaundise,
His credite in his mart and cheuisaunce:
Thou geuest him to seeme both riche and wyse,
Where through he bringeth many to mischance,

Of this me needeth litle for to speake,
Sith I could know a peny from a grote:
I knewe not many forced for to breake,
If Pride ne made him or his wyfe a coate.

And where thou sayest that man or boy were loth,
In youth to trauell and to faren hard:
Yes sure & God, there are that haue done both,
And onely heauen hoped for reward.

As for this world and her fickle glory.
They haue esteemed it a thyng of nought:
And for their neighbour, freend, and territory,
Imployed haue their studie, care, and thought.

I could reherse the stories many a one,
Of Greekes and Romanes that are memorable:
Though wormes some eat, their flesh so long agon,
Yet are their names accompted venerable.

But I nyl stay to recken them as nowe.
How some arosen vnto counselshyp:
And thereto weren called from the plow,
Whe they thought nothing lesse then mastership.

So that of woorship I dooe distinguishe,
Some seeken it, and some of it are sought:
And those are such as nothing lesse doo wishe,
Some thinke with golde and siluer it is bought.

Which maketh offices beare such a price,
And that so greedely they been icaught:
Before thy time men were not halfe so wyse,
As sythen in thy schoole they haue been taught.

To bye and sellen offices for gaine,
No question made of his woorthynesse:
That shall them haue, but yf he may not paien,
How so he powle and pill for his redresse.

Then which of these three (for there is but one)
Woorshyp in deede, and of right venerable:
To vertue freend, to vice a deadly sone,
I shall you tell as neere as I am able.

The one dooth begge an office, to what end,
For there are two as it is euident:
Theffect wyll shewe whereto he dooth it bend.
His chaunge of cheere, and eke his gouernment,

The other byeth, payeth deere therefore,
His meaning may be good, possible it is:
But (by your leaue) twise as vnlike and more,
And yet no rule so sure but it may misse.

The thirde is called vtterly vnwitting,
For whom spake neither siluer, golde, ne freend:
Thrise happy countrey where suche are sitting,
Whom grace and vertue only doon commend.

For there are trueth and mercie met togeather,
And thither looketh ryghteousnesse from heauen:
All were they cloth or veluet choose them whether,
For pride ne shal their wits from them bereuen.

That thou art cause of art and faculty.
Of handy craft which may not be forgon:
Pride found them not fyrst but necessity,
In deede thou hast corrupted them eche one.

And caused them to been adulterate,
And chaunged cleane into another guise:
Deceipt a Iorneyman with eche estate,
Through whom they waren riche, & seemen wyse,

Which whyle I was in fauour might not be,
The father was contented that his sonne:
Should leade a lyfe such as before did he,
And end in such estate as he begoon.

Unto the which small thing is requisite,
I meane a godly minde to satisfie:
Whereas to vanitie and foule delite,
And Pride I dare affirme the contrary.

To wyt, he wasteth much vnorderly,
And of his cost and charge so small purpose:
That of the good fewe faren bett thereby,
For it is spent on vertues vtter foes.

As dayly is to see who lyst to looke,
The Usurer and eke Thextorcioner:
Full sure they are, his name is in their booke,
Untill his house and land be come to their.

Then come deuises, many a shamefull shift,
To begge, to borowe, and to deceiue their freend:
And many another lewde and preuie lyft,
Tyll lastly foule and shamefull is the end:

And where thou sayest thou art a punisher,
Of sinne, it is full true I doo confesse:
As thou hast sayd, and in such foorme order,
Which is to robbe, to rauishe, and oppresse.

And so farre from all collour to doo good,
And further I dare safely vndertake:
Then deuils to cast out through Beelzebub,
No truer glose of that text can I make.

Here are thy fruites by whiche (as Christ doth say)
The tree is knowen for good or ill therefore:
Of all these presence, iudgement I doo pray,
And that I may haue right I aske no more.

Nought seeke I for, superioritie,
Ne thing of thyne, ne of none other man:
To hold myne owne if I haue libertie,
Though it be small right well content I am.

With that I gan to speake vnto them both,
Is this theffect of all ye haue to say?
Ye here is all then answeared he of cloth,
The other held his peace, & sayd not nay.

Your matters are iregestred quoth I,
Euery plea and euery argument:
Here is a paper witnesse wyll not lye,
Nowe hearken if it pleas you myne intent.

Ye are nowe come to master issuable,
On eyther side as dooth appeare at large.
And many poyntes therein are inquirable,
Whereof the Iurie taken shall thee charge.

As I shall reade it to them orderly,
Wherfore vnto your chalenges be sure:
Ye take good heede, that blamelesse I may be,
Which must recorden here your procedure.

They answered me both, they were content,
With that mee thought I heard a company:
That downe the hill vnto vsward hem bent,
And comming neere they dyd vs curtesy.

The formost weren three that went togeather,
And eke in clokes they weren homely clad.
Both plaine and light accordyng to the weather,
And in their gesture sober, wyse, and sad.

And Seruing men there wayted them vpon,
Comely arayed, and in number eleuen:
Fiue of the whiche were seruantes all to one,
A knight as after I dyd apperceyuen.

And namely, for they ware for cognisaunce,
A Pecock (as mee thought) without a tayle:
Not newe, ne yesterdayes remembraunce,
What ware the rest my memory dooth faile.

I could haue told ye euen at that tyme,
For foure of them to one dyd apparteyne:
A squire of an auncient race and lyne,
And to thirde a gentleman, but twayne,

So when I sawe them doon vs curtesy,
And bidden vs with gentle woordes god speede:
I answeard them agayne accordingly.
And forward in this cause I dyd proceede.

And tolde them what was fallen in debate,
Atwixt these paires of cloth and veluet breeches:
Concerning maintenance of their estate,
Their matters, allegations, and speeches.

And prayed them of their humanitie,
If they were such as veryly they seemed:
To wyt, of knighthood and gentle progeny,
By whom of right, such causes shoulde be deemed.

As which concerned very gentillesse,
Wherein in it stant what is thereof the roote:
Ye shall doo God high seruice as I gesse,
And to your countrey men no litle boote,

The knight as he that gentle was of cheere,
He answeared his learning was but small:
But els herein his good wyll should appeere,
Then afterward I vp and tolde him all.

Howe that he should not been alone him selue,
Ne should aboue his learning haue in charge:
For he should be the foreman of the twelue,
And of their matter should enquire at large.

And of such thinges as are in their knowledge,
And of which no man can be ignoraunt:
That liueth on this earth, I dare alledge,
They were content all three, and didden graunt,

Then came there other company a pase,
By two and two togeather, three and three:
I sought to knowe some of them by their face,
But I ne might, ne gesse what they should be.

The fyrst three seemed for to beene of Towne,
For they were handsomely apparelled:
Eche of them in a very seemely gowne,
The one a white knit cappe vpon his hed.

His coate was faced with graie Coonie skinne,
I iudged him a baker by his trade:
As he confessed when I asked him,
For of his language nothing straunge he made.

Another was a Bruer by his art,
The third a Uitayler, and did retaile:
Bought by the barell, & sold by pinte & quart,
And had his liuing by that trauayle.

And were clothed after Citizen,
Neither in slouenrie ne yet in pride:
Ne had they terme of inkhorne ne of penne,
But plaine in speache which gladly I espied.

And after them there came all in a rowt,
Sixteene or seuenteene as I dyd gesse:
All likely men, and neither knaue ne lowt,
But cheefely two that came before the presse.

One of them had a fiddle in his hand,
And pleasaunt songes he played therevpon:
To queynt and hard for me to vnderstand,
If he were braue I make no question.

Or yf his furniture were for the daunce,
His breeches great, full of ventositie:
Deuised in the castle of playsaunce,
And master of a daunsing schoole was he.

The other was by trade a Uintener,
That had full many a hoggeshed looked in.
Trauayled he had and was a languager,
His face was redd as any Cherubyn.

A Spanishe cloke he ware fine with a cape.
A fine Frenche cappe on his head accordyng:
Both which vpon him faire and seemely sate,
And one his finger ware a mightie ring.

When they came neere, I asked what they were,
For nought said they so much as once god speede:
But to my question said the Tauerner,
Answear they might, but therto lay no neede.

But told me at the last of their degree,
As ye haue heard before then I them prayed:
If they were suche as they would seeme to be,
That in this matter we might haue their ayde.

Yet was there one whom I had nigh forgat,
And he was master of a dysing house:
No woord had he, but pay the boxe and pot,
So braue he was, that mee thought marueylous.

The rest were people of the comman sort,
Of whom I tooke no heede especiall:
Ne made enquirie of their liues or port,
Saue seuen of the whiche tell you I shall,

One of them ware a ierken made of buffe,
A mightie pouche of canuas at his belt:
Wherein me thought there seemed to be stuffe,
A faire cloke on his backe, & on his head a felt.

Upon his shoulder he bare a forrest Byll,
I asked what he was, wherfore (quod he)
Aske ye: Friend (quod I) for none yll,
And told him as I told the rest perdye.

But he made aunswere farre from my purpose,
And asked me if I could tell of lease:
Of pasture that was to be set or close,
Now to beginne, or by some mans decease.

Or office if I wyst any to sell,
He had a sonne or twaine he would aduaunce:
And sayd they should take paines vntyll it fell,
He that wyll thriue (quod he) must tary chaunce.

And marchaunt tarye for the market daye,
On Gods name syr (quod I) yee saye full well:
Then what he was, he tolde without delaye,
To wytte a grasier, also where he dyd dwell.

Another was there much of his entaile,
Both for his gesture and his habilement:
His handes were stained, both the skyn and naile,
Full many peece of barke they hadden rent.

He was in very deede a ritche Tanner,
And asked where I thought he might purchase:
Som great domayn, som Lordship, or som maner,
But I rehersed to them both our case.

And tolde them that of Lordships I ne knewe,
Nor in such matters was inquisitiue:
Who bought, who sould, syr Richard, or syr Hew,
And from those purposes I dyd them driue.

Besides all these a Bricklayer there was,
A man right cunning in his facultie:
He had hope build full many a statelye place,
A trewell at his gyrdle weared hee.

And in his hand he had a flat measure,
Ywrought with figures of Arithmetick,
Whereby his length and bredth he tooke full sure,
And wisely couched both his stone and brick.

Then was there yet another in a gowne,
Of fine blacke cloth, and faced faire with budge:
A blacke bagge from his girdle hung a downe,
And full it was, wherewith I could not iudge.

He gaue no worde, so much as once God speede,
I prayed him to tell vs what he was:
Why so (quod he) therein lyeth no neede,
I told him yes as thinges might come to passe.

I am then an infourmer answered he,
All in good time sir, and welcome quoth I:
For we haue neede of suche men as are ye,
We haue to fewe here of your facultie.

That could infourme vs of the right vppon,
A matter here before vs come to controuersed:
Here is none learned but if I be one,
And somwhat of the matter him rehersed.

He aunswered that his experience,
Was better then his learning a great deale:
Namely in the Statutes of penitence,
For in these and none others doth he deale.

Then was there yet another whom I see,
Which stoode one of the hindmost of the route:
For soft and no whit forth putting was hee,
Full sunbrunt was his forehead and his snoute.

A man about a fiftie yeeres of age,
Of Kendall very course his coate was made:
My thought of truth his face was an Image,
Upon his gyrdle hong a rustye blade.

Full simple was thereof both haft and sheath,
A strawen hatte he had vpon his head:
The which his Chinne was fastened vnderneath,
His cheekes dyd shew he earned well his bread.

A payre of startvppes had he on his feete,
That lased were vp to the small of the legge:
Homelie they were, and easier then meete,
And in their soles full many a woodden pegge.

He had a shyrt of Canuas hard and tough,
Of which the band and ruffes were both of one:
So fyne that I might see his skinne them through,
Which is as much to say as he had none.

This was a husbandman, a simple hinde,
Whome when I called had, and bad come neere:
And of the matter told him all my minde,
He aunswered with milde and gentle cheere.

Syr (quod he) gladlye would I doon ye prowe,
If in this matter I had halfe the skyll:
That I haue in my harrow and my plowe,
I pray ye of my wordes, to thinke none yll.

I bad him not doubt therof, and told him more,
He should haue fellowship and assistence:
Lyke as ye had, ne tell the knight before:
And of the matter certen euidence.

Then was he well contented therewithall,
Looke what is in my knowledge & my might:
Helpe you (quod he) with all my hart I shall,
Then on my matter further I gan me dight.

To make them full, then found I other mo,
A Shoemaker, a Weauer, and a Smith:
A Haberdasher of smale wares also,
I now me thought to trie our matter with.

For I remember not the certaintie,
Of all the residue that weren there:
Their names, their science, and their facultie,
For haste also I nould of them enquere.

But these vnto my pannell dyd I wryte
And read their names, that euery man might here
And not full fowre and twentie names recite,
For sure I was twelue of them would appere.

Then spake the parties vnto me and sayd,
Them thought that som of these were chalegable:
Whereof aduantage either of them praid,
If any vpon cause they could disable.

Reason (quod I) that was agreed vpon before,
But who shall iudge and trye your challenges:
Your selfe (quod they) no sure (quod I) therfore
Appoint some other to that busines.

Yea twoo or three thereto wyll scant suffice,
To iudge of them and theyr indifference:
For secreete cause of fauour maye arise.
Which must be searched which great aduertence.

By such as haue experience therein,
And of aduersitye haue had theyr part:
For who so beaten in the world hath bene,
No further neede he take degree of art,

With that they were content and dyd agree.
To chose them tryers as I had thought meet:
I asked them how many, they sayde three,
In the name of God (quod I) so be it.

Nowe did there in the place alreadie stand
A woman well nigh fiftye yeres of age:
A young boye and a young wench at her hand,
Thinne was their weede and light their cariage.

The woman and the wenche were clad in rosset,
Both course and olde, and worne so very neere:
That ye might see cleane through both sleeue & gusset
The naked skinne whereas it dyd appeere.

Their hosen and their shooes were all of one,
I meane both for the woorkmanshyp and leather:
To wyt their skinnes, for other had they none,
And chapped were they sore with wind & weather.

With homely clouts I knitt vpon their head,
Simple, yet white as thing so course might be:
The boy much like them was apparelled,
For hose ne shoe vpon his foote had he,

With that I called them, and they came nere,
And bad god speede and saue the company:
Then I did aske them, who and whence they were,
They answeared me of the North country,

In Comberland, as farre hence as Kendall,
And Copie holders were of tenant right:
I wotte not howe the Lorship they dyd call
But hold they dyd by seruice of a knight.

To serue the Prince at an howres warning,
And asken neither wages, fee, ne hyre:
Ne choise of time at midnight, or at morning,
All were it raine or shine, in durt and myre.

Nowe hath a churle (quod they) take it in leace,
To wytte the Lordshyp with the perquisite:
And for I we mought not pay our terme doth cease,
So our inheritaunce haue losten quite.

The company thought pitie this to heere,
Alas, quod I, this is great crueltye:
All gate I bad them all be of good cheere,
And praye to God to send you remedye.

And sith ye ben come hether at this time,
I wyll not let you stand in ydelnesse:
For ye shall haue the charge should haue ben mine,
And meete are ye that haue ben in distresse.

Which teacheth man to know the good from yll,
And eke to trye a true friend from a shrow:
Which vnto them that haue all thinges at wyll,
And liue in welth is verye hard to know.

With that I vp and told them all the case,
Whereof before they hadden hard the chiefe:
And that of no small credite was the place,
Of truth and vertue for to maken pryef.

They all alledged theyr simplicitie,
So dyd the veluet breches them disable:
And of their choyse misliked vtterlye,
As them that were too vyle and miserable.

To iudge in causes of such importaunce,
For howe can it be possible (quod he)
But they ben lewd and df great ignoraunce,
And would in no case that it should so be.

The breche of clothe sayd, that it was not so.
They were right meete the challenges to trye:
As symple folke were chosen long agoe,
To greater charge, but if the byble lye.

And is referred to the multitude,
Who aunswered, they were not to refuse:
So there vppon we dydden all conclude,
Theyr seruice in this busines to vse.

Well then widow, quod I, and fatherlesse,
Which both by god vnto vs are commended:
Haue good regard vnto this businesse,
Untyll that with your helpe we haue it ended.

For you can speake of your experience,
That ye haue seene, felte, hard, and vnderstood:
And of the passed gather consequence,
And iudge betweene the euill and the good.

And if it fall in reason to decide,
Morall decree or constitution:
My helpe and knowledge shall not be denide,
Untill we haue them tried one by one.

And sithe we be come this farre in the case,
As ye haue hard from present haue ye been:
And loked both the parties in the face,
That sharpe are set, as ye haue hard and seene.

And specially the playntiue whom ye here,
his estymation how he doth hold:
And of him self how he accompteth deere.
So is his aduersarie partie bold,

And other wayes accompteth woorthynesse,
Besides alledgeth his antiquitie:
And that nought but his owne he would possesse,
Discended to him from his auncestrie.

And for this cause we are assembled here,
My selfe, and all these others whom ye see:
To make this matter that is doubtfull cleere,
If God wyll therein, wyl graunt vs facultie.

Therefore as I shal reade their names eche one,
If eyther party chalenge any man:
And shew cause: ye are iudges there vpon,
Unto that cause to speaken what ye can.

And it alowe for good or otherwyse,
To disalow it in your iudgement:
Wherin I redd you that ye be precise,
And for the trueth to doo your good intent.

They answeared with all their harts they would,
Protesting their vnablenes of skil:
I had them doo no more but what they could,
For God requireth of a man but wyl.

With that I read their names for to appere,
And fyrst the knight, the squire, and gentleman,
Who at the first made answear & sayd here,
Then to the rest to passen I began.

Fyrst, of the Taylours challeng made rehearsal,
And asked yf he were indifferent:
The tryors thought him not, and so dyd al
The rest, and therfore from vs we him sent.

Then gan I for to call the vitayler,
He answeared and ready was at hand:
The Baker, Bruer, and the Uintener,
Come nere (quoth I) & with your felowes stand.

Then to the Tanner and the Grasier,
Who answeared me both without delay:
The daunsing master and the Bricklayer,
I bad thinformer also come away.

The maister of the dysing house also,
The Smith, the Weauer, and the Husbandman:
And there I ceassed, and dyd call no mo.
But for to count their number I began.

And found the number of them iust sixteene,
Nowe masters (to the parties then saide I
Here is a Iury complet as I weene,
Looke to your chalenges aduisedly.

And fyrst the knight I called to the booke,
Who had no sooner answeared thereto:
Then veluet breeches to him chalenge tooke,
And said he would shew cause, I bad hym doo.

This knight was neuer freend of mine (quoth he,)
So plaine in his apparel and his port:
The godly he dooth more esteeme then me.
And spend his liuing on the poorer sort.

He lyueth very well content at home,
Nor to the Citie hath desyre to goe:
Ne vp and downe there in the streetes to rome,
And for him selfe enquire at placebo.

His Tenaunts and his Fermars lyue at ease,
To whom he rayseth not a peny rent:
Which thyng dooth not a litle me displease,
As vnto pride a thing impertinent.

And I thinke to speake plainely at a woord,
He had a great deale rather for to see:
Then silke on backe, good vitayles on his boord,
And spend his rent his hospitalitee.

Which sith it is a thyng agaynst my kind,
It must needes folowe that he hateth me:
And to my aduersarie is enclinde,
Therfore of this enquest ought not to be.

Then spake the wydow and the fatherlesse,
And sayd a meeter man then he was one:
Whose chalenge was his zeale to godlynesse,
If he be drawen (quoth they) we shal haue none.

Of all the chalenges that haue been taken,
In all the dayes and place where we haue ben:
Ne hard wee man for vertue yet forsaken,
Such fauour hath she with the sonnes of men.

Or at the least she ought to haue of ryght,
That whom so both the parties would admit,
A man that in her had his whole delight,
There should no priuate chalenge to him syt.

To wyt, of kynred or affinitie.
Indusing fauour as the Lawyers say:
And true, but yet among the vngodly,
Who, for their freendes sake from the trueth wyl stray.

But of the godly other is thintent,
For they remember what their maister bad:
Thou shalt know no mans face in iudgement,
This earth to winne, from trueth they nyl be lad.

For brotherhood ne yet for coossinage,
For hope nor feare, loue, ne alliaunce:
For faire or foule countenaunce or language.
Unto them all for trueth they bid defiaunce.

As they that to no person bearen hate,
Ne wyshen euil vnto any wyght:
Or would him hinder for their freend his sake,
Such loue haue they to God, such zeale to ryght.

Yet are they often iudged of thunwyse,
To hate some persons, for they doon hem blame:
Which is, for they loue them and hate their vice,
And gladly would them bring to better frame.

Wherefore this knight as we haue sayd beforne,
We thinke right meete to leaden this enquest:
And our assent he shall haue to be sworne,
So passed we from him, and vnto the rest.

Yea for the loue of God then answeared I,
And bad him lay his hand vpon the booke,
And as he was a knight of auncestry.
Bad him regard his trueth and oath he tooke.

Which is (quoth I) that ye shall say the trueth,
If that the breeches of cloth haue doon disseison:
To him of veluet that here as plaintife sueth,
Or from hym hath bereaft his right or reason.

Throughout this land in any place or coast,
Namely in London, and parties there about:
Where he him selfe complayneth wronged most,
And from fee and franke tenement put out.

And him shall repossesse yf ye it finde,
And cost and domage geue him for the wrong:
And this to doo your oth here dooth ye binde,
If not say so, and therein be not long.

That doon I called next vnto the squyre,
To whom like chalenge as vnto the knight:
The veluet breeches tooke, but dyd retyre,
The gentleman also he let goe quite.

So three we had our Iury to begyn,
Now wyll we to the meaner sort quoth I:
And had the Baker and Uitayler come in,
Also the Bruer who came as readely.

The veluet breeche then chalenged all three,
And that he sayde his cause was principall:
I am in debt vnto them all (quoth he)
And by my good wyll pay them nere shall.

And fourtie pound it is to whom is least,
Wherefore to tell you trueth I doo them hate:
And as myne enimies I them detest,
Ne shall they in that cause of myne debate.

The breeche of cloth made answeare and defence,
And saide, with pride this chalenge rightly stood:
To yeeld dispite and hate for recompence,
To such as in his neede had doon hym good.

And this is not of late, ne yesterday.
For Iesus that was the sonne of Syrack:
Reade, yf the very same he dooth not say,
Which of such matter and of others spake.

Wherefore he thought this chalenge could be none,
Though on his side were parcialitie:
That proued neither of them such an one,
As therefore beare to him inimitie.

We asked then the triours what they thought,
I meane the wydowe and the fatherlesse:
They answeared the chalenge seemed nought,
Yet asked myne aduise neuerthelesse.

For that the veluet breeches further sayd,
That he had been arrested at their sute:
Desiring that the matter might be wayd,
And further of the cause they would dispute.

And yf the common lawe dyd it alowe,
As he dyd thinke in reason well it ought:
Those three he vtterly would disauowe,
With that I answeared, and sayd I thought

The lawe would not, ne could intend so ill,
If him that sueth for to haue his debt:
That he of malice or of euyll wyll,
Would seeke to be his hinderaunce or let.

Which were they ware his debtor to disable,
And bring him selfe to losse and hinderaunce:
Which is not to be thought nor intendable,
So thought the rest in finall concordaunce.

Wherefore they were itaken euery one,
So seuen of our Iury sworen were:
Then called I the Bricklayer alone,
Who answeared, but or he were come neere.

The breeche of cloth to him this chalenge toke,
Of fourtie Chimneys that by him were built:
In one house there are scantly fiue that smoke,
So was there much good bricke and morter spilt.

So held he him vnfaithful in his hart,
That taketh wage and woorketh all in vaine:
Ne for his hyre dooth wyllyngly his part,
But only seeketh howe to rayse his gaine.

And so thereof he drew this consequent,
He that dooth faile in one, wyll fayle in all:
For profyt or for freendshyp wyll relent.
And thought this chalenge was materiall.

The veluet breeches hereunto replyed,
The chalenge was both false and slaunderous:
And want of smoke to be his fault denyed.
But rather of the dweller in the house.

Which was no fault in houses where he dwelt,
I built for pleasure cheefely and for shewe:
Where rost ne sodde is very seeldome smelt,
Saue for our selfe and others very fewe.

The fyre then being small or none within.
It must needes folowe of necessitie:
The smoke that commeth thence for to be thyne,
I am the cause thereof my selfe, not he.

So this was thought by all the multitude,
A good excuse and fully answeared:
And him a lawfull man they dyd conclude,
For proofe whereof was further alledged,

Howe greatlie was the science to commend,
Which maketh houses wherein men may dwell:
In him is not to symytte other end,
To witte if men them vsen yll or well.

Or feeden there the poore or els the riche,
Ne in what part their bellies or theyr eyes,
For hospitalyties are not all aliche:
With them that now adaies are holden wyse.

But as I sayde before it was agreed,
The craftes man could not dooe there with all:
That truelie dyd employ his worke in deede,
As well vpon the kytchin as the hall.

Wherefore he was admitted to the rest,
And numbred vnto them they weren eyght:
Thence to thinformer forthwith I me drest,
And called him, and he appeared straight.

The breche of clothe him forthwith challenged,
I asked him the cause he would shew none:
But that the name it selfe was detested,
What neede he shew cause vnto such a one.

Whose very name, and whose profession,
Throughout this land is foule and sclaunderous,
Ye speake (quod I) without discression.
And in your iudgement are preposterous.

That for an euill member twoo or three,
Or more or lesse that be degenerate:
And fallen from their office and degree,
Condemneth all the bodies whole estate.

And geueth priuate faulte, a blame publicke,
I meane the office for his Officer:
Alas yet the common sort so wicke
Of Innocence to make a trespasser.

This wickednesse is not of yesterday,
That priuate faulte doth geue publick offence
For one yll man of thousandes to myssay,
Of callinges and Estates of reuerence.

That in a common welth ben seruisable,
And of the same the preseruation:
Degrees and Lawes so highe venerable.
That who can saye theyr commendation.

That for theyr worthines they ought to haue,
Yet these I saye dooe suffer euyll name:
And sclaunder for naught els, but that a knaue,
Hath of them made a cloake for deede of shame.

What wickednesse can greater be then this,
Of honest trade, so euyll for to speaken:
For one or twoo that vsen it amis,
On whom it hath not might it selfe to wreken.

For lawes and statutes, are naught els but words,
And doo not speake them selues, which is worse.
For if they could, or handle kniues and swords,
A number shoulde be leaner in the purse.

Wherefore I wishe no man that feareth God,
To iudgen all after the deede of Sum:
For that by common reason is forbod,
And Christ hath sayd there shalbe scandalum.

Men ought therefore to proue or they allowe,
Or hastilye done any wight despise:
As Christ and Paul I know, but who are you,
To find them out that vse his name for lyes.

And proue if they be such in very deede,
As in their worde, and in their countenaunce.
For falsehood ofte is clad in costly weede,
And yll men com by offices by chaunce.

In whome although there be misgouernaunce,
As som for lacke of wisedome or of skyll:
Others for they make of it cheuisaunce:
And to commaund, and haue the world at wyll.

Wherefore to turne whereas we lefte before.
And of this challenge better to enquire:
For of this trade me neeneth say no more,
As of it selfe pure honest and entyre.

But to the person what ye can obiect,
Or put it to the tryours to defyne:
If ye can him of any vice detect,
Let them vpon the matter determine.

With that the widdowe and the fatherlesse,
Sayd, they knewe not his person what he was:
Yet with our leaue they woulden make a gesse,
And we should see howe it would come to pas.

For we that dwell farre from this town, quod they,
Thought we come not at Innes of Court to lern:
Yet dearely for our learning dooe we pay,
As peraduenture heere ye shall discern.

And for to trye this matter first of all,
(For we must goe quod they by circumstaunce:
His bagge is full, let vs see wherewithall,
Which he was lothe, but dyd at our instaunce.

It was a great bagge like a Fawconere,
And hong vpon his gyrdle by a ring:
And hundreth writtes at least within it were,
Nowe shall ye see, quod they, for your learning.

And bad me readen them as they arose,
Naught but the Labell, and the parties name,
She asked then thinformer who were those,
And where they dwelt, wherin they were to blame

But of an hundreth he ne knew but three,
Ne what they were, ne what towne they dwelt in
Nor what they had offended more then wee,
And so me thought straunge matter dyd begin.

Now that this widowe and this fatherlesse,
Which both were of no learning neither skyll,
Should by such circumstaunce this matter gesse,
To trye a man his inward thought and wyll.

Then they him asked what was his purpose,
He aunswered it was yet longe to term:
And sure he was there were such men as those,
For he had messagers abrode to lern.

So that or terme he could them serue eche one,
And for all those that he thought would appere
He would not want his declaration,
And though he dyd yet were they not the nere.

For I declare (quod he) in the Tam quam,
Now so the matter goe they gette no cost:
For alwaies on the surer syde I am,
To agree with me is best, and so dooe most.

And better then vppon it to appere,
And stand to tryall to their great expence:
And though not guyltie, yet neuer the nere:
They get of me no peny in recompence.

So that the best is alwayes to agree,
Although they haue offended in nothing:
And geue a crowne to saue fourtie,
Yea rather then faile smaller offering.

Somtime I take a Capon, or a Goose,
A peece of Bacon or a peece of Beefe:
Or for a pecke of Corne we let one loose,
A small price to redeeme so great a mischiefe.

With that the company gan on him looke,
Namelye the widow and the fatherlesse:
And bad hym take his hand of from the booke,
For they beleeued all he dyd confesse.

And bad him goe his waye such as he was,
The sclaunder of an honest misterye,
Suborned there vnto by Sathanas,
What is there that abused may not be.

Then to the Master of the daunsing schoole,
And eke the Master of the dysing house:
The worst of them no bowball, ne no foole,
To them the breche of clothe dyd crye rescouse.

As they that in no wise were to admitte,
Professed foes to vertue by theyr trade:
To godlinesse and goodnesse oppositte,
And of all mischiefe verye roote and blade.

So for the Master of the dysing house,
He sayd he would not aunswere to that name,
And thereof he mislyked meruelous,
And for I termed him so he dyd me blame.

Would God it were so sayd the company.
And that men dyd accompt as myckle shame:
In deede to execute iniquitye,
As them were lothe thereof to haue the name.

In deede (quoth he) I keepe an ordinarye,
Eight pence a meale who there, doth sup or dyne;
And dyse and cardes, are but an accessarye.
At aft meales who shall paye for the wine.

These wayten all vppon our principall,
As collourable cause to bring them in,
And then from thence to sheere money they fall,
Tyll some of them be shrieuen of theyr sinne.

But of this game and other harlotrye,
That there is vsed both by daye and night:
Suffiseth me to waren riche thereby.
Thereafter yet in name I wyll not hight.

This challenge was holden peremptorye,
Such as of further tryall had no neede:
A trade maintained though vaine glorye,
And pride, and many a lewde and shamefull deede

The veluet brech sayd that it was not so,
He sayd it was both false and sclaunderous:
To his good name and to a number mo,
By such as were of his welth enuious.

And of his good estate and countenaunce,
Which was not small, ne with the lowest sort:
And praied witnesse of his fowle misparlaunce,
That of a Gentleman gaue such report.

A man that for his welth, his land and fee,
Is taken as I sayd among the best:
For fortye pound a yeere dispend maye hee,
That he hath purchased this is the least.

The breeche of cloth sayd, whereto is this glose,
Of welth, of friendship and possession:
Which serueth not to this present purpose.
But from our matters are dygression.

For welth wee holden no conclusion,
What so it be, of golde or reuenew:
Namelye, gotten by the confusion,
Of youth, and other meanes, lewd and vntrew.

But he remaineth that he was before,
A wicked wretche, yea and a great deale worse:
His craft and lewdnesse cause of his great store,
His house of sinne, a mother and a nurse.

But to the wydowe and the fatherlesse,
Their iudgement and experience:
They answeared, and that with quicke addresse,
And this was all theffect of their sentence.

That his attendaunce here was litle woorth,
Nor yf it were gods wyl in other place:
So thought the rest, and bad him get him foorth,
And forward on our matter gan we pace.

Then came the daunsing master well beseene,
Who somewhat eke misliked of that name:
Master of Musicke termed would haue beene,
A Science liberall of noble fame.

The breeche of cloth to him a chalenge tooke,
And sayde to hym he neuer yet was freend:
For in his schoole his arse be neuer shooke,
The schoole of pride where only it dooth end.

Where well is him that brauest shewe can make,
In bose and doubled leueled by lyne.
Poynted & bottoned as in a brake.
No silke ne veluet there is holden fyne.

And as for me, I am as welcome there,
As yf in Pairis garden ye haue beene:
The dogges are welcome to the Bull or Beare,
Which for to doon them mischiefe are ful keene.

The veluet breeches foorthwith answeared,
And sayd he spake full like such as he was:
A foole that knewe nothing of lustiehed,
But all his liue had liued like an asse.

Ne knew what dyd become a gentleman,
And brought him into fauour and to grace:
And so no small preferment now and than,
If finely with a woman he couth trace.

A thing not inferior to vertue,
And hath prescription for her vsage:
The story of king Dauid is not newe,
What so the foolish breeche of cloth doth rage.

The breech of cloth as touching lustiehead.
Made answeare that he knew not what it was:
But it were youth with wealth yrauished,
To spoyle them selues and their name to deface.

As many he had knowen do thereby,
And as for fauour that it purchaseth:
A wanton minde may cast a fantasie,
But as it lyghtly came it vanish

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