Sir Thomas More – Act 1, Scene 1

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A reminder as to my color coding of the text:

Hand S – Anthony Munday, the original manuscript
Hand A – Henry Chettle
Hand B – Thomas Heywood
Hand C – Anonymous theater scribe
Hand D – William Shakespeare
Hand E – Thomas Dekker
Master of the Revels, Edmund Tilney

Act 1, Scene 1

Enter at one end JOHN LINCOLN with {the two brethren BETTSES}. Together, at the other end enters FRANCES {DE BARD and DOLL WILLIAMSON} a lusty woman, he hailing her by the arm.

Leave out the insurrection wholly & the cause thereof & begin with Sir Thomas More at the Mayor’s sessions, with a report afterwards of his good service done being Sheriff of London upon a mutiny against the Lombards only by a short report & not otherwise at your own perils.—E. Tyllney.

DOLL
Whither wilt thou hale me?

DE BARD
Whither I please; thou art my prize and I plead purchase of thee.

DOLL
Purchase of me?  Away, ye rascal!  I am an honest plain carpenter’s wife and though I have no beauty to like a husband, yet whatsoever is mine scorns to stoop to a stranger.  Hand off then when I bid thee.

DE BARD
Go with me quietly, or I’ll compel thee.

DOLL
Compel me, ye dog’s face?  Thou thinkst thou hast the goldsmith’s wife in hand whom thou enticedst from her husband with all his plate, and when thou turnedst her home to him again, mad’st him, like an ass, pay for his wife’s board?

DE BARD
So I will make thy husband too, if please me.

Enter CAVELER with a pair of doves, WILLIAMSON the carpenter,
and SHERWIN following him.

DOLL
Here he comes himself.  Tell him so if thou if thou darest.

CAVELER
Follow me no further; I say thou shalt not have them.

WILLIAMSON
I bought them in Cheapside, and paid my money for them.

SHERWIN
He did, sir, indeed, and you offer him wrong, both to take them from him, and not restore him his money neither.

CAVELER
If he paid for them, let it suffice that I possess them, beef and brews may serve such hinds.  Are pigeons meat for a coarse carpenter?

<Begin cut by Tilney
LINCOLN
It is hard when Englishmen’s patience must be thus jetted on by strangers, andthey not dare to revenge their own wrongs.
 End cut by Tilney>

GEORGE
Lincoln, let’s beat them down and bear no more of these abuses.

LINCOLN
We may not, Betts, be patient and hear more.

<Begin cut
DOLL
How now, husband?  What, one stranger take thy food from thee, and another thy wife?  By’r lady, flesh and blood I think can hardly brook that.

LINCOLN
Will this gear never be otherwise?  Must these wrongs by thus endured?

GEORGE
Let us step in and help to revenge their injuries.

DE BARD
What art thou that talkst of revenge?  My lord ambassador shall once more make you mayor have a check if he punish thee not for this saucy presumption.

WILLIAMSON
Indeed my lord mayor, on the ambassador’s complaint, sent me to Newgate one day because, against my will, I took the wall of a stranger.  You may do anything, the goldsmith’s wife and mine now must be at your commandment.

GEORGE
The more patient fools are ye both to suffer it.

DE BARD
Suffer it?  Mend it, thou, or he if ye can or dare; I tell thee, fellow, and she were the mayor of London’s wife, had I her one in my possession, I would keep her in spite of him that durst say nay.
End cut>

GEORGE
I tell thee, Lombard, these words should cost thy best cap were I not curbed by duty and obedience.  The mayor of London’s wife!  Oh, God, shall it be thus?

DOLL
Why, Betts, am I not as dear to my husband as my lord mayor’s wife to him, [to WILLIAMSON] and wilt thou so neglectly suffer thine own shame?  <Begin cut  [to DE BARD] Hands off, proud stranger, or by Him that brought me, if men’s milky hearts dare not strike a stranger, yet women will beat them down ere they bear these abuses.

DE BARD
Mistress, I say you shall along with me.

DOLL
Touch not Doll Williamson, lest she lay thee along on God’s dear earth.  [to CAVELER.] Any you, sir, that all such coarse cates to carpenters, whilst pigeons which they pay for must serve your dainty appetite, deliver them back to my husband again or I’ll call so many women to mine assistance as we’ll not leave on inch untorn of thee.  If our husbands must be bridled by law, and forced to bear your wrongs, their wives will be a little lawless, and soundly beat ye.

CAVELER
Come away, De Bard, and let us go complain to my lord ambassador. [Exeunt CAVELER and DE BARD.

DOLL
Ay, go, and send him among us, and we’ll give him welcome too.  I am ashamed that freeborn Englishmen, having beaten strangers within their own bounds, should thus be brav’d and abused by them at home.

SHERWIN
It is not our lack of courage in the cause but the strict obedience that we are bound to.  I am the goldsmith whose wrongs you talked of, but how to redress yours or mine own is a matter beyond all our abilities.

LINCOLN
Not so, not so, my good friends.  I, though a mean man, a broker by profession, and named John Lincoln, have long time winked at these vild enormities with mighty impatience, and, as these two brethren here, Betts by name, can witness, with loss of mine own life would gladly remedy them.

GEORGE
And he is in a good forwardness, I tell ye, if all hit right.

DOLL
As how, I prithee?  Tell it to Doll Williamson.

LINCOLN
You know the Spital sermons begin the next week.  I have drawn a bill of our wrongs, and the strangers’ insolencies.

GEORGE
Which he means, the preachers shall there openly publish in the pulpit.

WILLIAMSON
Oh, but that they would!  I’faith, it would tickle our strangers thoroughly.

DOLL
Ay, and if you men durst not undertake it, before God we women {would.  Take} an honest woman from her husband, why it is intolerable!

SHERWIN
But how find you the preachers affected to {it?

LINCOLN
Master Doctor Standish {will not meddle with such matter in his sermon, but Master Doctor Beale promised that he will undertake to} reform it and doubts not but happy success will ensue {upon} our wrongs.  You shall perceive there’s no hurt in the bill; here’s a copy of if, I pray ye hear it.

ALL
With all our hearts, for God’s sake read it!

LINCOLN
[Reads.] To you all the worshipful lord and masters of this city, that will take compassion over the poor people your neighbours, and also of the great importable hurts, losses, and hindrances, whereof proceedeth extreme poverty to all the king’s subjects of the same.  For so it is that aliens and strangers eat the bread from the fatherless children, and take the living from all the artificers, and the intercourse from all merchants, whereby poverty is so much increased, that every man bewaileth the misery of other, for craftsmen be brought to beggary, and merchants to neediness.  Wherefore, the premises considered, the redress must be of the commons, knit and united to one part.  And as the hurt and damage grieveth all men, so must all men set to their willing power for remedy, and no suffer the said aliens in their wealth, and the natural born men of this region to come to confusion.

DOLL
Before God, ‘tis excellent, and I’ll maintain the suit to be honest.

SHERWIN
Well, say ‘tis read, what is your further meaning in the matter?

GEORGE
What?  Marry, list to me.  No doubt but this will store us with friends enow whose names we will closely keep in writing and on May Day next in the morning we’ll go forth a-Maying, but make it the worst May Day for the strangers that ever they saw.  How say ye?  Do ye subscribe, or are ye fainthearted revolters?

DOLL
Hold thee, George Betts, there’s my hand and my heart; by the Lord, I’ll make a captain among ye and do somewhat to be talk of for ever after.

WILLIAMSON
My masters, ere we part, let’s friendly go and drink together, and swear true service upon our lives.

GEORGE
There spake an angel; come, let us along then.                      [Exeunt.
End cut>

 

Proceed to the next scene

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