Sir Thomas More – Rejected scenes

The preceding represents the play as agreed upon by most modern editors.  However, there are several other passages found in the orginal manuscript that needed to be cut out in order to achieve it.  Most are simply the originalversion of scenes later replaced by the Additions.

1.  Hand S – Originally in II.i. and replaced by Hand B to introduce the Clown speeches.

and other armed, DOLL in a shirt of mail, a headpiece, sword and
Buckler, a crew attending.

Peace there, I say, hear Captain Lincoln speak,
Keep silence till we know his mind at large.

Agreed, agreed, speak then brave Captain Lincoln.

Come, gallant bloods, you whose free souls do scorn
To bear the enforced wrongs of aliens
Add rage to resolution, fire the houses
Of these audacious strangers.  This is St. Martin’s,
And yonder dwells Mewtas, a wealthy Picard,
At the Green Gate,
De Bard, Peter van Hollock, Adrian Martin,
With many more outlandish fugitives.
Shall these enjoy more privilege than we
In our own country?  Let’s then become their slaves.
Since justice keeps not them in greater awe
We’ll be ourselves rough ministers of law.

Fire the houses, fire the houses!

Ay, for we may as well make bonfires on May Day as at Midsummer; we’ll alter the day in the calendar, and set it down in flaming letters.

Stay no, that would much endanger the whole city
Whereto I would not the least prejudice.

No, nor I neither, so may mine own house be burned for company.  I’ll tell ye what:  we’ll drag the strangers out into Moorfields, and there bombast them till they stink again.

Let some of us enter the strangers’ houses
And if we find them there, then bring them forth. [Exeunt some and SHERWIN.

If ye bring them forth ere ye find them, I’ll never allow of that.

Now, lads, how shall we labour in our safety?
I hear the mayor hat gathered men in arms
And that Sheriff More an hour ago received
Some of the Privy Council in at Ludgate.
Force now must make our peace or else we fall;
‘Twill soon be known we are the principal.

And what of that?  If thou beest afraid, husband, go home again and hide thy head, for, by the lord, I’ll have a little sport now I am at it!

Let’s stand upon our guard, and if they come
Reassure them as they were our enemies.

Enter SHERWIN and the rest.

How now?  Have ye found any?

Not one, th’are fled.

Then fire the houses, that the mayor, being busy
About the quenching of them, we may scape.
Burn down their kennels, let us, straight away,
Lest that this prove to us an ill May Day.                                    [Exeunt.


2. This scene originally followed II.i.  It was later deleted, apparently in order to cut down on the number of speaking roles.

Enter three or four Prentices of trades, with a pair of cudgels.

Come, lay down the cudgels.  Ho, Robin, you met us well at Bunhill, to have you with us a-maying this morning.

Faith, Harry, the head-drawer at the Mitre by the Great Conduit called me up, and we went to breakfast into Saint Anne’s Lane.  But come, who begins?  In good faith, I am clean out of practice.  When wast at Garrett’s school, Harry?

Not this great while, never since I brake his usher’s head, when he played his scholar’s prize at the Star in Bread Street; I use all to George Philpot’s at Dowgate, he’s the best backsword man in England.

Bate me an ace of that, quoth Bolton.

I’ll not bate ye a pin on’t, sir, for by this cudgel ‘tis true.

I will cudgel that opinion out of ye.  Did you break an usher’s head, sir?

Ay, marry, did I, sir.

I am very glad on’t, you shall break mine too, and ye can.

Sirrah, I prithee, what art thou?

Why, I am a prentice as thou art, seest thou now; I’ll play with thee at blunt here in Cheapside, and when thou hast done, if thou beest angry, I’ll fight thee at {sharp} in Moorfields; I have a sword to serve my turn in a favour {              } come July to serve {               }.

The end of the scene is lost due to damage to the edge of the page.


3. The following scene, in Hand C was also made redundant by later additions, apparently to dispose of the extra role of Sir John Munday.

At another door SIR JOHN MUNDAY, hurt.

What, Sir John Munday, are you hurt?

A little known, my lord; here there was even now,
A sort of prentices playing at cudgels;
I did command them to their masters’ houses,
But one of them, backed by the other crew
Wounded me in the forehead with his cudgel,
And now I fear me they are gone to join
With Lincoln, Sherwin, and their dangerous train.


4. This scene originally came at the beginning of III. i. It was replaced by an addition in Hand C.  The exchange between More and Randall is almost identical to the later version, except for a change in tense that moves the time of Erasmus’ feast to the previous night.  The first meeting of More with the “long-haired ruffian” Falkner was moved to the middle of this passage by the Addition.

A table being covered with a green carpet, a state cushion on it, and the purse and mace lying thereon; enter SIR THOMAS MORE and his man RANDALL attired like him.

Come on, sir, are you ready?

Yes, my lord, I stand but on a few points.  I shall have done presently.  Is it your honour’s pleasure I should grow proud now?

Ay, I must have thee proud, or else thou’lt ne’er
Be near allied to greatness.  Observe me, sir.
The learned clerk Erasmus is arrived
Within our English court.  This day I hear
He feasteth with our honoured English poet
The Earl of Surrey, and I know this night
The famous clerk of Rotterdam will visit
Sir Thomas More.  Therefore, sir, act my part
There, take my place furnished with purse and mace.
I’ll se if great Erasmus can distinguish
Merit and outward ceremony.  Observe me,
Sirrah, I’ll be thy glass, dress thy behaviour
Accordign to my carriage, but beware
Thou talk not overmuch, for ‘twill betray thee.
Who prates not oft, seems wise, his wit few scan,
Whilst the tongue blabs tales of th’imperfect man.

I conceive your lordship, and have learnt your shift so well, that I must needs be apprehensive.

[The waits plays within.

This music tell us that the earl is come
With learned Erasmus.  Now, my lord chancellor,
Act like a formal player our grave part.

I pray ye, my lord, let me command ye to leave me; if I do it not in cue, let your lordship banish me from the wearing of a gold chain for ever.

They come now, set thy countenance, act thy part
With a firm boldness, and thou winst my heart.                               [Exit.

Music, enter SURREY, ERASMUS, and Attendants.

Now, great Erasmus, you approach the presence
Of a most worthy learned gentleman.
This little isle holds not a truer friend
Unto the arts, nor doth his greatness add
A feigned flourish to his worthy parts.
He’s great in study, that’s the statist’s grace
That gains more reverence then the outward place.

Report, my lord, hath crossed the narrow seas
And to the several parts of Christendom
Hath borne the fame of your lord chancellor.
I long to see him whom with loving thoughts
I in my study oft have visited.
Is that Sir Thomas More?

It is, Erasmus.
Now shall you view the honourablest scholar,
The most religious politician,
The worthiest counselor that tends our state.
That study is the general watch of England;
In it, the prince’s safety and the peace
That shines upon our commonwealth are forged
Upon the golden anvil of his brain.
Who cures the realm, such care attends the great,
That mind and body must together sweat.

His lordship hath some weighty business sure,
For see, as yet he takes no notice of us.
I think ‘twere best I do my duty to him
In a short Latin speech.

It will do well,
He’s the best linguist that we have in England.

Cum tua virtus, amplissime doctissimeque vir.

The remainder of the scene is lost.


5. This is the original version of More’s encounter with the “long-haird ruffian” Falkner, which was replaced by Hand C.  The first portion was later placed between More’s instructions to Randall and Randall’s encounter with Erasmus (see above).  The latter portion, concerning More’s meeting with the now short-haired Falkner was later placed after the Erasmus scene, lengthened by the combined efforts of Hand C and Hand E, apparently in order to make more time for actors doubling roles to get ready for the following scene.

Methinks this strange and ruffianlike disguise
Fits not the follower of a secretary.

My lord, I wear my hair upon a vow.

But for no penance of your sins, I fear.

No, he’s no haircloth man, though he wear hair.

Falkner, how long is’t since you cut your locks?

Three years, my lord.

How long will’t be before your vow expire?

As man years as since my hair was cut.

Sure, vows are holy things, if they be made
To good intent, and, sir, you shall not say
You were compelled by me to break your vow.
But till the expiration of the same,
Because I will not have ye walk the streets
For every man to stand and wonder at,
I will commit ye prisoner unto Newgate,
Except meantime your conscience give you leave
To dispense with the long vow that you have made.
Away with him.

A cell most meet for such a votary.

Well, sir, and I may perhaps be bailed ere’t be long, and yet wear my hair.

 [They lead him out.   

And master sheriff of London,
Here in his highness’ name we give you charge
Continual watch be kept throughout the city
For the suppressing of these mutinies.
And if hereafter any that belong
Either to my lord of Winchester or Ely
Do come into your city with a weapon,
Or above two of either faction
Shall be seen walking in the streets together,
Or meet in tavern or in ordinary,
They be committed presently to prison.

And cause to be proclaimed about the city
That no man whatsoever that belongs
Either to my lord of Winchester of Ely
Do walk without the livery of his lord,
Either in cloak or any other garment,
That notice may be taken of th’offenders.

Enter MASTER MORRIS and exeunt Sheriff and the rest.

God save your honour, my lord chancellor.

Welcome, Master Morris, what news, sir?

I come most humbly to entreat your honour
In the behalf of a poor man of mine.

What, the votary, that will not cut his hair
Until the expiration of his vow?

My lord, being sorry for his rude behaviour,
He hath cut his hair, and doen conform himself
To honest decency in his attire.

Where is the fellow?  I am glad to hear it.

Here, my good lord.

FALKNER is brought.

You mock me, surely; this is not the man.

Yes, indeed, my lord, I am he.

Thou art not, sure.
The other was an ugly filthy knave,
Thou a good featured and well-favoured man.
Why, see what monsters you will make yourselves
By cherishing a loathsome excrement
T’abuse the goodly image of a man,
Whom God did frame so excellent a creature.
Well, be a peaceable and civil man,
I do discharge thee.

I humbly thank your honour.

And myself
Shall rest most thankful for this gracious favour.

Will’t please your honours now to keep you way?
I fear the lords are hindered by our stay.           [Exeunt MORE and Lords.

See, sir, what your ruffian tricks come to.
You think the eye of wisdom does not see
Into the brainsick follies of vain heads,
But with your swaggering you can bear’t away.

Sir, I confess I have been must misgoverned,
And led by idle spleens, which now I see
Are like themselves, mere sottish vanity.
When in the gaol, I better called to mind
The grave rebukes of my lord chancellor,
And looked into myself with more respect
Than my rash heat before would let me see.
I caused a barber presently be sent for,
And moved your worship then to speak for me.
But when I fall into {like folly again,}
Cashier me {         }

The end of the scene is lost due to damage to the page


6. This is a portion of Act Three, Scene One written in Hand B, but marked for omission.  There are no speech prefixes for this segment in the manuscript.  Those now used were first inserted by Alexander Dyce in his 1844 edition.

Lord Mayor and ladies and the rest, be patient;
The state hath sent and I must needs be gone,
{But frolic on.} Lead on there.  What seekst thou, fellow?

Your lordship send us eight angels by your man
And I have lost one here among the rushes.

Eight angels?  Who delivered it?  I sent them ten.

I, my lord, delivered it.  Anon they shall have two more.

That’s more than we heard before, my lord.

Am I a man of right and equity,
Equally to divide true right his own,
And shall I have deceivers in my house?
Go, pull the coat over the varlet’s ears.
There are too many such; I’ll make them fewer by one.
Give them their due.  Lead on, away.

Come, fellows, go with me.


7. Though listed as “Addition I” the following segment seems to come late in the play, in IV.iv. as suggested by the phrase “More in melancholy” which appears in both versions.  It is the only portion of the entire manuscript written in Hand A, and some modern editors include it in the final version of the play.  I have followed the lead of the Revels Edition edited by Vittorio Gabrieli and Giorgio Melchiori, who feel that the original is the better version.

Now will I speak like More in melancholy,
For if grief’s power could with her sharpest darts
Pierce my firm bosom, here’s sufficient cause
To take my farewell of mirth’s hurtless laws.
Marked for cut>
Poor humbled lady, thou that wert of late
Placed with the noblest women of the land,
Invited to their angel companies,
Seeming a bright star in the courtly sphere,
Why shouldst thou like a widow sit thus low,
And all thy fair consorts move from the clouds
That overdreep thy beauty and thy worth?
I’ll tell thee the true cause:  the court, like heaven
Examines not the anger of the prince,
And being more frail, composed of guilded earth
Shines upon them on whom the king doth shine,
Smiles if he smile, declines if he decline.
Yet seeing both are mortal, court and king,
Shed not one tear for any earthly thing,
<end cut
For so God pardon me in my saddest hour,
Thou has no more occasion to lament
Nor these, nor those, my exile from the court,
No, nor this body’s torture, were’t imposed,
As commonly disgraces of great men
Are the forewarnings of a hasty death,
Than to behold me after many a toil
Honoured with endless rest.  Perchance the king,
Seeing the court is full of vanity
Has pity lest our souls should be misled,
And sends us to a life contemplative.
O happy banishment from worldly pride,
When souls by private life are sanctified!

O, but I fear some plot against your life.

Why then ‘tis thus:  the king, of his high grace,
Seeing my faithful service to his state,
Intends to send me to the king of heaven
For a rich present; where my should shall prove
A true remembrer of his majesty.
Come, prithee, mourn not; the worst chance is death,
And that brings endless joy for fickle breath.

Ah, but your children—

                                      Tush, let them alone,
Say they be stripped from this poor painted cloth,
This outside of the earth, left houseless, bare;
They have minds instructed how to gather more;
There’s no man that’s ingenuous can be poor.
And therefore do not weep, my little ones,
Though you lose all the earth; keep your souls even
And you shall find inheritance in heaven.
But for my servants:  there’s my chiefest care.
Come hither, faithful steward, be not grieved
That in thy person I discharge both thee
And all thy other fellow officers,
For my great master hath discharged me.

Marked for cut>

So for the rest, my gentlemen and ye,
If thou by serving me hast suffered losss
Then benefit thyself by leaving me.
I hope thou has not, for such times as these
Bring gain to officers, whoever leese.
Great lords have only name; but in their fall
Lord Spend-all’s steward’s Master Gather-all.
But I suspect not thee.  Admit thou hast:
It’s good the servants save when master waste.
<end cut
But you, poor gentleman, that had no place
T’enrich yourselves but by loathed bribery,
Which I abhorred and never found you loved,
Think when an oak falls, underwood shrinks down
And yet may live though bruised; I pray ye strive
To shun my ruin, for the axe is set
Even at my root, to fell me to the ground.
The best I can do to prefer you all
With my mean store, expect; for heaven can tell
That More loves all his followers more than well.


8. This last brief scene, written by Hand S (Munday) is an alternate ending to the play which was crossed out and replaced by the accepted ending.

Come let’s to the block.

My lord, I pray ye put off your doublet.

No, my good friend, I have a great cold already, and I would be loth to take more.  Point me to meet the block, for I was ne’er here before.

To the east side, my lord.

                                        Then to the East,
We go to sigh, that o’er to sleep in rest.
No eye salute my trunk with a sad tear;
Our birth to heaven should be thus:  void of fear.                         [Exit

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