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SIR THOMAS MORE (1478-1535) and eche of them lese1 but theyr part: yet I



The messenger rehearseth some causes which he hath herd laid by some of the clergie wherfore the Scripture should not be suffred in Englishe. And the author sheweth his mind, that it wer convenient to have the Byble in Englishe.

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"Syr," quod your frende, "yet for al this, can I see no cause why the cleargie shoulde kepe the Byble out of ley mennes handes, that can no more but theyr mother tong.' "I had went," quod I, "that I had proved you playnely that they kepe it not from them. For I have shewed you that they kepe none from them, but such translacion as be either not yet approved for good, or such as be alredi reproved for naught, as Wikliffes was and Tindals. For as for other olde ones, that wer before Wickliffes daies, remain lawful, and be in some folkes handes had and read." "Ye saye well," quod he. "But yet as weomen saye, 'somewhat it was alway that the cat winked whan her eye was oute.' Surelye so is it not for nought that the English Byble is in so few mens handes, whan so many woulde so fayne have it." "That is very trouth," quod I; "for I think that though the favourers of a secte of heretikes be so fervent in the setting furth of their secte, that they let not to lay their money together and make a purse among them, for the printyng of an evil made, or evil translated booke: which though it happe to be forboden and burned, yet some be sold ere they be spyed,

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thinke ther will no printer lightly be so hote to put anye Byble in prynte at hys own charge, whereof the losse shoulde lye hole in his owne necke, and than hang upon a doutful tryal, whether the first copy of hys translacion was made before Wickliffes dayes or since. For if it were made synce, it must be approved before the prynting.

"And surelye howe it hathe happed that in all this whyle God hath eyther not suffered, or not provided that any good verteous man hath hadde the mynde in faithful wise to translate it, and therupon ether the clergie or, at the least wise, some one bishop to approve it, thys can I nothing tell. But howesoever it be, I have hearde and heare so muche spoken in the matter, and so muche doute made therin, that peradventure it would let and withdrawe any one bishop from the admitting therof, without the assent of the remenant. And whereas many thinges be laid against it: yet is ther in my mind not one thynge that more putteth good men of the clergie in doubte to suffer it, than thys: that they see sometime much of the worse sort more fervent in the calling for it, than them whom we find farre better. Which maketh them to feare lest such men desyre it for no good, and lest if it wer hadde in every mannes hand, there would great peril arise, and that sedicious people should doe more harme therwith than good and honest folke should take fruite thereby. Whiche feare I promise you nothyng feareth me, but that whosoever woulde of theyr malice or folye take harme of that thing that is of it selfe ordeyned to doe al men good, I would never for the avoyding of their harme, take from other the profit, which they might take, and nothing deserve to lese. For elles" if the abuse of a good thing should cause the taking away thereof from other that would use it well, Christ should hymself never have been borne, nor brought hys fayth into the easily 3 hot, ready 4 then else

1 lose


world, nor God should never have made it neither, if he should, for the losse of those that would be damned wretches, have kept away the occasion of reward from them that would with helpe of his grace endevor them to deserve it."

"I am sure," quod your frend, "ye doubte not but that I am full and hole of youre mynde in this matter, that the Byble shoulde be in oure Englishe tong. But yet that the clergie is of the contrary, and would not have it so, that appeareth well, in that they suffer it not to be so. And over that, I heare in everye place almost where I find any learned man of them, their mindes all set theron to kepe the Scripture from us. And they seke out for that parte every rotten reason that they can find, and set them furth solemnely to the shew, though fyve of those reasons bee not woorth a figge. For they begynne as farre as our first father Adam, and shew us that his wyfe and he fell out of paradise with desyre of knowledge and cunning. Nowe if thys woulde serve, it must from the knowledge and studie of Scripture dryve every man, priest and other, lest it drive all out of paradise. Than2 saye they that God taught his disciples many thynges apart, because the people should not heare it. And therefore they woulde the people should not now be suffered to reade all. Yet they say further that it is hard to translate the Scripture out of one tong into an other, and specially they say into ours, which they call a tong vulgare and barbarous. But of all thing specially they say that Scripture is the foode of the soule. And that the comen people be as infantes that must be fedde but with milke and pappe. And if we have anye stronger meate, it must be chammed afore by the nurse, and so putte into the babes mouthe. But me-think though they make us al infantes, they shall fynde many a shrewde brayn among us, that can perceive chalke fro chese well ynough, and if they woulde once take us our meate in our own hand, we be not so evil-tothed but that within a while they shall see us cham it our self as well as they. For let them call us yong babes and they wil, yet, by God, they shal for al that well fynde in some of us that an olde knave is no chylde."

1 besides 2 then 3 masticated 4 deliver toothed 6 if





When he sawe the people, he went up into a mountaine, and wen he was sett, hys disciples cam unto him, and he opened his mouth, and taught them sayinge: "Blessed are the poure in sprete: for thers is the kyngdom of heven. Blessed are they that mourne: for they shalbe comforted. Blessed are the meke: for they shall inheret the erthe. Blessed are they which hunger and thurst for rightewesnes: for they shalbe fylled. Blessed are the mercyfull for they shall obteyne mercy. Blessed are the pure in hert: for they shall se God. Blessed are the maynteyners of peace: for they shalbe called the chyldren of God. Blessed are they which suffre persecucion for rightewesnes sake: for thers is the kyngdom of heven. Blessed are ye when men shall revyle you, and persecute you, and shal falsly saye all manner of evle sayinges agaynst you for my sake. Rejoyce and be gladde, for greate is youre rewarde in heven. For so persecuted they the prophettes which were before youre dayes.

"Ye are the salt of the erthe, but ah! yf the salte be once unsavery, what can be salted there-with? it is thence-forthe good for nothynge, but to be cast out at the dores, and that men treade it under fete. Ye are the light of the worlde. A cite that is sett on an hill cannot be hyd, nether do men light a candle and put it under a busshell, but on a candelstycke, and it lighteth all those which are in the housse. Se that youre light so schyne before men, that they maye se youre good werkes, and gloryfie youre Father, which is in heven.

"Ye shall not thynke, that y am come to disanull the lawe other 1 the prophettes: no, y am not come to dysanull them, but to fulfyll them. For truely y say unto you, tyll heven and erthe perysshe, one jott, or one tytle of the lawe shall not scape, tyll all be fulfylled.

"Whosoever breaketh one of these leest commaundmentes, and shall teche men so, he shalbe called the leest in the kyngdom of heven. But whosoever shall observe and teache them, that persone shalbe called greate in the kyngdom of heven.

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"For I say unto you, except youre rightewesnes excede the rightewesnes of the scrybes and pharyses, ye cannot entre into the kyngdom of heven.

"Ye have herde howe it was sayd unto them of the olde tyme. Thou shalt not kyll. Whosoever shall kyll, shalbe in daunger of judgement. But I say unto you, whosoever ys angre with hys brother, shalbe in daunger of judgement. Whosoever shall say unto his brother, Racha! shalbe in daunger of a counseill. But whosoever shall say unto his brother, Thou fole! shalbe in daunger of hell fyre. Therfore when thou offerest thy gyfte att the altre, and there remembrest that thy brother hath eny thynge agaynst the: leve there thyne offrynge before the altre, and go thy waye fyrst and reconcyle thy silff to thy brother, and then come and offre thy gyfte.

"Agre with thine adversary at once, whyles thou arte in the waye with hym, lest thine adversary delivre the to the judge, and the judge delyvre the to the minister, and then thou be cast into preson. I say unto the verely thou shalt not come out thence tyll thou have payed the utmoost forthynge.2

"Ye have herde howe yt was sayde to them of olde tyme, thou shalt not commytt advoutrie. But I say unto you, that whosoever eyeth a wyfe, lustynge after her, hathe commytted advoutrie with her alredy in his hert.

"Wherfore yf thy right eye offende the, plucke hym out and caste him from the, Better hit is for the, that one of thy membres perysshe then that thy whole body shuld be caste in to hell. Also yf thy right honde offend the, cutt hym of and caste hym from the. Better hit is that one of thy membres perisshe, then that all thy body shulde be caste in to hell.



"Hit ys sayd, whosoever put awaye his wyfe, let hym geve her a testymonyall of her divorcement. But I say unto you: whosoever put awaye hys wyfe (except hit be for fornicacion) causeth her to breake matrimony, And who soever maryeth her that is divorsed, breaketh wedlocke.

"Agayne ye have herde, howe it was said to them of olde tyme, thou shalt not forswere thysilfe, but shalt performe thine othe to God. But I saye unto you swere not at all: nether by heven, for hit ys Goddes seate: nor yet by

1 officer 2 farthing 3 adultery 4 puts

the erth, For it is hys fote stole: Nether by Jerusalem, for it is the cite of the greate kynge: Nether shalt thou swere by thy heed, because thou canst not make one heer whyte, or blacke: But youre communicacion shalbe, ye, ye: nay, nay. For whatsoever is more then that, commeth of evle.

"Ye have herde howe it is sayd, an eye for an eye: a tothe for a tothe. But I say unto you, that ye withstond1 not wronge: But yf a man geve the a blowe on thy right cheke, turne to hym the othre. And yf eny man wyll sue the at the lawe, and take thi coote from the, lett hym have thi clooke also. And whosoever wyll compell the to goo a myle, goo wyth him twayne. Geve to him that axeth and from him that wolde borrowe turne not away.

"Ye have herde howe it is saide: thou shalt love thyne neghbour, and hate thyne enemy. But y saye unto you, love youre enemies. Blesse them that cursse you. Doo good to them that hate you, Praye for them which doo you wronge, and persecute you, that ye maye be the chyldren of youre hevenly Father: for he maketh his sunne to aryse on the evle and on the good, and sendeth his reyne on the juste and on the onjuste. For if ye shall love them, which love you: what rewarde shall ye have? Doo not the publicans even so? And if ye be frendly to youre brethren only: what singuler thynge doo ye? Doo nott the publicans lyke wyse? Ye shall therfore be perfecte, even as youre hevenly Father is perfecte."

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My lute, awake, perform the last Labour that thou and I shall waste,3 And end that I have now begun. And when this song is sung and past, My lute, be still, for I have done.

As to be heard where ear is none,
As lead to grave 4 in marble stone,
My song may pierce her heart as soon.
Should we then sigh, or sing, or moan?
No, no, my lute, for I have done.

The rocks do not so cruelly
Repulse the waves continually,
As she my suit and affection;
So that I am past remedy,
Whereby my lute and I have done.

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1 grow, adhere, to others 2 of nature, natural 4 spend engrave 5 unpunished 6 complain

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"My sister," quoth she, "hath a living good,

And hence from me she dwelleth not a mile.
In cold and storm she lieth warm and dry 20
In bed of down, the dirt doth not defile
Her tender foot, she laboureth not as I.
Richly she feedeth and at the richman's cost,
And for her meat she needs not crave nor cry.
By sea, by land, of the delicates, the most
Her cater1 seeks and spareth for no peril,
She feedeth on boiled bacon, meat and roast,
And hath thereof neither charge nor travail;
And when she list, the liquor of the grape
Doth glad her heart till that her belly swell.”
And at this journey she maketh but a
jape; 2

So forth she goeth, trusting of all this wealth
With her sister her part so for to shape,
That if she might keep herself in health,
To live a lady while her life doth last.

And to the door now is she come by stealth, And with her foot anon she scrapeth full fast. Th' other for fear durst not well scarce appear,


Of every noise so was the wretch aghast. At last she asked softly who was there, And in her language as well as she could. "Peep!" quoth the other sister, "I am here."

"Peace," quoth the town mouse, “why speakest thou so loud?"

And by the hand she took her fair and well. "Welcome," quoth she, "my sister, by the Rood!"

She feasted her, that joy it was to tell The fare they had; they drank the wine so clear,

And as to purpose now and then it fell, She cheered her with "Ho, sister, what cheer!"

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Feard of her life. At home she wished her tho,1

And to the door, alas! as she did skip,
The Heaven it would, lo! and eke her chance
was so,

At the threshold her silly foot did trip;
And ere she might recover it again,
The traitor cat had caught her by the hip,
And made her there against her will remain,
That had forgotten her poor surety and rest
For seeming wealth wherein she thought to

Alas, my Poines, how men do seek the best 70
And find the worst by error as they stray!
And no marvel; when sight is so oppressed,
And blind the guide, anon out of the way
Goeth guide and all in seeking quiet life.
O wretched minds, there is no gold that may
Grant that ye seek; no war; no peace; no

No, no, although thy head were hooped with gold,

Sergeant with mace, halberd, sword nor knife,
Cannot repulse the care that follow should.
Each kind of life hath with him his disease.
Live in delight even as thy lust would,2
And thou shalt find, when lust doth most
thee please,



It irketh straight, and by itself doth fade.
A small thing it is that may thy mind appease.
None of ye all there is that is so mad
To seek grapes upon brambles or briars;
Nor none, I trow, that hath his wit so bad
To set his hay 3 for conies over rivers,
Nor ye set not a drag net for an hare;
And yet the thing that most is your desire 90
Ye do mistake with more travail and care.
Make plain thine heart, that it be not knotted
With hope or dread, and see thy will be bare
From all effects whom vice hath ever spotted.
Thyself content with that is thee assigned,
And use it well that is to thee allotted.
Then seek no more out of thyself to find
The thing that thou hast sought so long be-

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