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The Story of the Scots Stage
Introductory


WHETHER as Picts or Saxons or by any other racial cognomen, one thing is certain, that Scotland was inhabited by men of the Norse race. The Norse Joel or Yule-tide formed the chief public event in the lives of this people and, taking place as it did in mid-winter, furnished the occasion for that tangible expression of the joy which was the common heritage of both gods and men.

Between those early manifestations of a drama, which followed out an evolutionary, process similar to the Grecian and Roman product, whose mimetic dances were regarded as part of their religious ceremonies, and the development of such, there is little, historically, speaking, which may help us to breach the hiatus which necessarily exists. But although the gulf cannot be directly bridged by historical aid, the institution of the drama as a real entity may be considered as commencing with the use of poetry as a medium for the exploitation of the heroic feats, mythological and otherwise, which the first rhapsodists employed in singing the praises of their heroes. Indeed, in those primeval days poetry occupied a higher national position than it can ever hope to do in the present days of philistinism. Its early potency is well illustrated in Sir Walter Scott's Essay on Romance.

"Poets are the historians and often the priests of the tribe. Their command of language, then in its infancy, excites not merely pleasure, but enthusiasm and admiration. When separated into a distinct class—as was the case with the Celtic bards—they rank high in the scale of society, and we not only find kings and nobles listening to them with admiration, but emulous of their art and desirous to be enrolled amongst their numbers. Several of the most renowned northern kings and champions valued themselves as much upon their powers of poetry, as upon their martial exploits, and of the Welsh princes, the Irish kings, and the Highland chiefs of Scotland, very many practised the arts of poetry and music. Llywarch Hen was a prince of the Cymraig, Brian Boromhe a harper and musician--and without resorting to the questionable authenticity of Ossian several instances of the kind might be produced in the Highlands."

The Scottish minstrels are mentioned in the same Essay. The French language was still being spoken at the English court, and latterly, this common tongue formed itself into that mixed dialect known as Anglo-Norman.

Thomas the Rhymer of Erceldoune (1226-1297 A.D.), borrowing his subject-matter from the Welsh traditions and the events connected with King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, became the author of the first classical English romance, and is commemorated as such by his great English contemporary, Robert de Brunne. This did not imply the non-existence of any English literature, but is due to the fact that his predecessors and contemporaries had contented themselves by assuming the easier task of translating the French romances, such as Sir Thopas, Sir Isenbras, and Golagros and Gawarne, all of which have been traced to this source. Regarded as a prophet, the popular belief was that Thomas had been spirited away by the fairies and had remained in their land the space of seven years. Upon his death he returned to that sweet Elysium, and it is said now "drees his weird" until the hour when he is permitted to re-visit the earth. All of which is circumstantially set forth in the Border Ballad.

"True Thomas lay on Hunt lie bank,
A ferlie he spied wi' his e'e,
And there he saw a lady bright
Come riding down by the Eildon Tree.

* * * * *

"'Now, ye maun go wi' me,' she said,
'True Thomas, ye maun go wi' me;
And ye maun serve me seven years,
Thro' weal or woe, as may chance to be.

* * * * *

"But Thomas, ye maun hold your tongue,
Whatever ye may hear or see,
For if you speak word in Elflyn land
Ye'Il never get back to your ain countrie.'

* * * * *

It was mirk, mirk nicht, and there was nae stern light,
And they waded thro' red blude to the knee;
For a' the blude that's shed on earth
Runs thro' the springs o' that countrie.

* * * * *

"He has gotten a coat of the even cloth
And a pair of shoes of velvet green,
And till seven years were gane and past
True Thomas on earth was never seen."

According to Walter Bower, a zealous chronicler of the first half of the fifteenth century, the royal youth, Alexander III. was crowned at Scone, in the year 1249 A.D., with every circumstance of pomp and magnificence. Clad in his regal mantle, crowned and sceptred, they placed him upon. the Stone of Destiny. Then there stood forward out of the stately throng a venerable, hoary-headed Highlander, attired in scarlet cloak, who proceeded to recite in the Gaelic tongue the genealogy of the young king, tracing his descent from the fabulous Gathelus. This was one of the prominent events which served to shew the dignity with which the office of the Bard was regarded.

The second poet with whom we have to deal is Archdeacon John Barbour (1316-1395). He was clerk of audit to the household of the English King Richard II. In the year 1375, at the request of King David, he commenced his epic poem, The Acts and Life of that most Victorious Conqueror, Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, wherein are contained the Martail Deeds of those Valient Princes, Edward Bruce, Syr James Douglas, Erie Thomas Randal, Walter Stewart and sundrie others. Of this poem Dr. David Irving says: "Barbour seems to have been acquainted with those finer springs of the human heart which elude vulgar observation: he catches the shades of character with a delicate eye, and sometimes presents us with instances of nice discrimination. His work is not a mere narrative of events: it contains specimens of that minute and skilful delineation which marks the hand of a poet." The poem is written in octo-syllabic lines forming rhymed couplets, of which there are seven thousand.

The first printed edition was published about 1570. The lines quoted are taken from King Robert's address to the Scots on the eve of Bannockburn.

For we hae thre great awantageis
The fyrst is that we haf the rycht,
And for the rycht ay God will fycht;
The tothyr is, that thai cummyn ar
For lyppnnyng off thair gret powar,
To sek us in our owne land:
And has brought her, rycht till our hand
Ryches in to sa gret quantite
That the powrest of you sail be
Both rych, and mychty thar with all,
Gift that we wyne, as weill may fall.
The third is, that we for our lyvis,
And for our childre, and for our wywis,
And for our fredome, and for our land
Ar strenyeit into bataill for to stand."

Barbour has also been credited on somewhat uncertain grounds with a poem entitled The Brut, in which is related the history of the Stuarts, beginning with their descent from the fabulous King Brut; and another entitled The Slewarts Oryginalle, in which he derives the house of Stewart from Ninus, the founder of Nineveh. His undoubted poem on Bruce secured to him £10 Scots to be derived from the revenues of the city of Aberdeen, and a pension of 20s. from the Burgh mail, a fact which brings Scotland into the early records of poet-laureateship.

The name of Andrew Wyntoun (1350-1420) brings us to the third of the Scots poets. Canon-regular of St. Andrews, about the year 1395 he was elected Prior of the Monastery of St. Serf in Lochleven. His contribution to Scots literature consisted of the great historical poem, An Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland, which illustrates many of the leading events in the history of the country. It begins by describing the return of King David II. from captivity.

"Yet in prison was King Davy,
And when a lang time was Bane bye
Frae prison and perplexitie
To Berwick Castle brought was he,
With the Earl of Northamptoun,
For to treat there of his ransoun."

No history of the period would be complete without the inclusion of the name of Henry the Minstrel, or, to give him his more familiar title, Blind Harry. He was living and working during the last quarter of the fifteenth century, but for the most part his personal history

is shrouded in darkness. Supposed to be blind from birth, he eked out a living by reciting " gestes " before the nobility. His claim to record is based upon the epic poem, Ye Arts and Deidis of ye Muster and Vailzeand Campioun Schir William Wallace, Knicht of Ellerslie. It is written in decasyllabic lines, a style of verse which became more common at a later date. The only MS. of the poem appears in the Advocates' Library, and is dated 1488. The lines depicting "The Death of Wallace" are worthy of quotation in the modernised version.

"On Wednesday the false Southron forth him brought
To martyr him, as they before had wrought,
Of men in arms led him a full great rout,
With a bold sprite good Wallace blink'd about,
A priest he asked for God that died on tree.
King Edward then commanded his clergy
And said, `I charge you upon loss of life,
None be so bold yon tyrant for to shrive,
He has reigned long in contrare my highness.'
A blithe bishop soon, present in that place,
Of Canterbury he then was righteous lord,
Against the King he made this right record,
And said, ' Myself shall hear his confessioun
If I have might, in contrare of thy crown
Anst thou through force will stop me of this thing
I vow to God who is my righteous King
That all England I shall her interdict,
And make it known thou art a heretic."

The name of the unfortunate King James I. (1394 - 1437) forms another link in the list of Scotland's representative poets. A student of Chaucer, Gower, and Lydgate, the sweet spell of their muse had quite captivated his mind. At Windsor Castle he fell in love with the daughter of the Duke of Somerset, and niece to Henry IV., Jane Beaufort, who was the "begetter" of the celebrated Kingis Quhair (quire or book), in which is told the story of his love.

"Kest I doun myn eye ageyne
Quhare as I saw walkyng under the Toure
Full secretely, new camyn hir to pleyne
The fairest or the freschest young floure
That ever I saw, mcthoucht, before that houre,
For quhich sodayne abate, anone astert
The blude of all my body to my hert."

Stopford Brooke speaks of this poem thus: "In six cantos, sweeter, tenderer, and purer than any verse till we come to Spenser, he describes the beginning of his love till its happy end. 'I must write so much because I have come so from Hell to Heaven.'" By the irony of fate, the murder of James I. at the Carthusian Monastery forms the subject matter of another poem—Rossetti's The King's Tragedy. Amongst minor works that have been attributed to the royal poet may be mentioned Christis Kirk on the Green and Peblis to the Play. The authorship of both of these has been disputed, and while Professor Veitch makes out a fairly strong case for James I., Professor Skeat holds, that the poem is an imitation of one by the King, and that when its language, style, and metre are considered, it is at least half a century older than 1437.

We must content ourselves with the bare mention of the names of Robert Henryson, or Henderson (1430-1506), the Dunfermline schoolmaster, whose Testament of Fair Cresside forms the sequel to Chaucer's story of Troilus; of William Dunbar (1460-1517), who wrote that celebrated prothalamion, The Thrissil and the Rois, in honour of the Princess Margaret, sister of Henry VIII. and the affianced bride of James IV.

Quhen Merche was with variand windis past
And Apperyl had with her silver shouris
Tane lief of Nature with due Orient blast,
And lusty May, that rnuciciir is of Flouris
IIad maid the hirdis to begyn chair houris,
Amang the tender ocionris reid & quhyt,
Quhois harmony to heir it was delyt."

And last, though not the least, of that sweet, singer, Gavin Douglas (1474-1522).

Laying aside for the moment the question of literary interest, our purpose will best be served by a rapid survey of the habits of the people and the special regard with which they cherished the pleasures of life. For the Scots have always suffered from a neighbour's too easy acceptance of the dictum that the Northerner is too serious-minded readily to accept the pleasures that lie nearest to him. The history of these times conveys quite a different impression. Warton, in his Scottish Poetry, regards the historical guisards as being "composed of moral personifications"; they formed part of the festivities of Christmas time, and were performed by itinerant maskers. When Church service had ended,- the Sabbath was not looked upon as being particularly sacred. It was the fashion to hold markets and fairs on that day, and after the rustic had attended Mass, he adjourned to the alehouse to sell his meal or dispose of his live stock. Sometimes the priest himself followed his parishioners to the kirk-yard to witness their skill in archery, and join in the merry sports and frolics of Robin Hood and Little John. The purpose of those archery. bouts was patriotic, as well as pleasurable. The Act of James I., Parl. I., cap. i8, provided:—.

"That all men busk them to be archers from 10 years (sic) of age and upwards, and that in each i o pounds of land there be made bow marks, especially near to parish churches, whereon upon holy days men come and at least shoot three about."

To the playgoer, the inclusion in this history of such sports may be regarded as totally irrelevant, as bearing upon the subject in hand; but the story of those rustic games is so inseparably interwoven with the very root principles of Scottish drama that it becomes an essential factor in helping us to trace out its later developments.

Mention should here be made of what was really the forerunner of the present music-hall artist, the wandering player of the thirteenth and succeeding century. The strolling player might easily be found jogging along the open road in company with the pedlar. That generic term used by historians to denote the wayfarers, minstrels or jongleurs, included musicians, singers, jugglers, dancers, tumblers, and buffoons. While the genuine bard or troubadour recited or chanted his versified romances and confined his performances to the "big Nooses," the strolling player was ever ready to accept what accommodation the gods gave, inn or market, wayside house, all was one. Consequently, he was a man of the people, satirising the political follies of the day or eulogising for paltry pelf the feats of any local hero. The licensed jester of the day, with a free entry anywhere, he performed his share in the evolution of social life by disseminating the sentiments of revolt in many a revolutionary lay. Sometimes, indeed, these minstrels were employed to instigate political revolutions, and often they were the carriers of private information. They were made free of hall, inn, tavern, or fair: no gathering was complete without its band of strolling players.

The first drama of which we have any, satisfactory evidence was a Mystery-play called The Haly Blude, which was acted at Aberdeen m 1445, an account of which will be given in the chapter relating to that city. These Mysteries were promulgated, as was the case in all European countries, by the Roman Catholic priesthood for educational purposes, and they enjoyed a goodly vogue until the dawn of the Reformation. The theme was taken from the Scriptures and was reproduced in the more assimilative form of a play. The Scottish Mystery-play, following out the same course as elsewhere, gradually fell to the indignity of parody. Equally with the French fetes-des-foux, the occasion lent the opportunity for a, burlesque of Church ceremonies. One of the most popular forms of it was The Feast of Asses. The chief actor was Balaam's ass, or that which stood beside the manger, or the one upon which the Saviour rode. A donkey, garbed in grotesque canonicals, was brought into the most sacred part of the church, where the mob made high sport with the beast, and indulged in all manner of profanity. The Feast dedicated to the Innocents provided an excuse for the children to exercise their talent for mischief amongst the vestments, ornaments, and shrines of the church.

Curiously enough, these unseemly exhibitions were at first tolerated by the clergy, but in the year 1547 a macer of the Primate of St. Andrews appeared at Borthwick with letters of excommunication against the Lord of Misrule, which the curate was enjoined to publish at High Mass in the Parish Church. The inhabitants of the Castle happened at that moment to be engaged in the sport of acting the Abbot of Unreason. With this mock dignitary heading the procession, they laid violent hands upon the macer, ducked him repeatedly in the nearest mill-dam, and then compelled him to eat up his parchment letters, which by a merciful whim were made palatable through steeping in wine. Sometimes the lord of the revels was called the Boy Bishop, or the President of Fools. Under his leadership the people entered the church, gave a mock imitation of the sacred rites and sung indecent parodies of the Church hymnal.

The next step in the evolutionary process from the Mystery-play was that of the Morality,

in which the characters of Holy Writ were changed into persons representing the Virtues. These latter often assumed a satirical form. One record at least tells how James Wedderburn of Dundee, in 1540, converted the histories of John the Baptist and Dionysius the Tyrant into plays which were acted at that town, and in which he "carped roughlie the abuses and corruptions of the Papists, counterfeiting their lying impostures and miracles." But this was a dangerous practice, as he found to his intense personal inconvenience. He was denounced as a heretic, and had to flee to France for safety, where eventually he died.

Amongst the most celebrated of those satirical plays stands Sir David Lyndsay's Satire of the Thrie Estatis, which was performed before the King at Linlithgow on the first day after Epiphany, 1540. The best account we get of the play is that upon its performance at Cupar on 7th June, 1552. Some time before the performance, it was advertised in the market place by means of two or three actors who strolled into the market and played an interlude to excite curiosity. A messenger appeared and, addressing the crowd, said: —

"Richt famous Pepill, ye sail understand
How that an Prince richt wyiss and vigilant
Is shortly for to cum into this land;
And purposis to hold ane Parliament,
His Three Estaitis thereto hes done consent
In Cowpar Toun, in to thair best array
With support of the Lord Omnipotent,
And thairto hes afixt ane certane day."

An old cottar next came upon the scene and declared his wish to be present: --

"And drink a quart at Cowpar Toun
Wi' my gossip, John Williamson,"

but fears his "devil of a wife" will prevent him. That worthy arrives and justifies his description by soundly rating her husband, whom she orders to stay at home, and watch the kye while she attends the play. They are still squabbling when Fyndlaw of the Foolband, an arrant coward who had fled from Pinkie Cleuch, appears and boasts of his exploits, ending with the prayer that "the great God of his grace" may

"Send us weir and never peace
That I may fecht my fill."

After this braggadocio speech, according to the stage direction, the character lies down and falls asleep. A fool then plays a trick on the old man at the suggestion of his wife, and puts Fyndlaw's courage to the proof by presenting a sheep's head on a staff. Before this formidable weapon the "fighting" captain flees in terror. The messenger ends the interlude by again announcing the date of the play: —

"As for this day I haf nae mair to say you
On Whitsone Tysday cum see our play I pray you;
That samise day is the sevinth of June,
Thairfor get up right airly and disjune. (breakfast.)

On the appointed day, accordingly, at the hour of 7 A.M., every man, woman, and child who could get there, gathered at the Castle Hill, and the "Satire" began. It consisted of seven parts or interludes loosely strung together. Lyndsay acted upon the stage maxim adopted by Goethe—that the manager who brings much upon the scene brings something for everybody. The first part is the tale of the temptation of King Humanity by Dame Sensuality: the second is the cheating of a poor man by a Roman pardon-monger; the third a sermon by Folly: in the fourth, King Humanity again appears, and is misled by Flattery, Deceit, and Falsehood, who in the fifth part overcomes Verity and Chastity: the sixth is the Parliament of Correction, from which the drama takes its name of The Satire of the Thrie Estatis, whose acts were drawn with a view to reform the abuses then prevalent both in Church and State: and the whole matter ends with the punishment of the Vices. It took nine hours to perform, which certainly speaks volumes for the patience of the audience. Two meal hours were included in this time, and if the auditors followed out the advice of the messenger who announced the play,

"With gude stark wynne your flaconnis see ye fill,"

they probably did not limit this part of their refreshment to the stated intervals.

In connection with the Moralities, a quaint item exists in the records of the Town Council of Edinburgh of I54, where the Treasurer is ordered to pay:

"to Walter Bynning five lib for making of the playground, painting the hand scenes and the players faces, and for preserving so as to be forthcoming to the town when required, 8 play hats, a king's crown, a mitre, a fool's' head, a foxis, a pair of angel's wings, two angels' hair and a chaplet of triumph."

Surely here is an outfit comprehensive enough to satisfy the most celestially-minded mortal!

That farces did exist about this period can only remain matter for conjecture. In Sir David Lyndsay's Coinplaynt of the Papyngo, a record of the most distinguished poets of Scotland, he speaks of Sir James Inglis:-

"Quho can say more than schir James Inglis sayis
In ballates, farsis and in plesand playis."

Upon this Warton writes: -----

"I know nothing of Sir James Inglis or of his ballads, farces, and pleasant plays. But one John Inglis was master of a company of players, as we have before seen at the marriage of James IV. Here is a proof, however, that theatrical representations were now in high repute in the court of Scotland."

Returning to the Robin Hood plays, they gradually became a very popular institution. It was the custom on the first Sabbath of May for the public to assemble together under the patronage of their magistrates to assist at the frolics of the famous outlaw. In this month, too, the young maidens and children had their May Queen celebration, the occasion of much singing and dancing. Against these the Parliament of 1555 issued a summary objection by which they declared (Mary, VI., cap. 61) that if any provost, bailies, council, or community chose personages such as Robin Hood, Little John, Abbot of Unreason or Queen of May, they should lose their freedom for five years, and that if any women, by singing about summer trees made perturbation to the queen's lieges, they should be put upon the cuk-stool of the burgh or town.

The thirty years that followed upon this eventful one were fruitful in change. Mystery-plays fell into disrepute, and the Moralities became the common form of entertainment. The General Assembly of 1575, in an endeavour to stamp out what they considered godless entertainments, enjoined that no clerk-plays or comedies based upon the canonical Scriptures should be acted either upon Sabbath or work-days, and that profane plays should be examined before they were exhibited, and in no case on Sabbath. The Bailie of Dunfermline (1576) craved leave from the Assembly, to perform a play on Sunday, but permission was refused (vide Book of Universal Kirk). If one may conclude from authoritative evidence, the moral condition of the people was then at the lowest ebb. "Universally," says the Assembly, "throughout the realm there is neither religion nor discipline with the poor, but the most part live in filthy adultery, incest, fornication; their children are unbaptised, and they themselves never resort to the church nor participate in the Sacrament." As an offset against this, we must remember that the peasantry of that period were miserably poor, and, as a natural result, their poverty coloured their morality, or rather the hygienic and sanitary quality of their environment was not conducive to that morality which is the high prerogative of the comfortably-housed and clad.

A pretty side-light is thrown upon the amusements of the worthy Knox by an entry which appears in the Diary of James Melville, under date 1571.

"This yeir in the monthe of July Mr. Jhone Davidsone one of our Regents maid a play at the marriage of John Colvin quhilk I saw playit in Mr. Knox presence, wherein according to Mr. Knox doctrine the castell of Edinbruche was beseiged and takin and the Captain with an or twa with him hangit in effigie."

The Davidson referred to was Regent in St. Leonard's College, Aberdeen, and had written a few plays of a similar character. His last satire had an unfortunate result. Having directed it against the Regent Morton, this dignitary took summary vengeance upon him by ordering his banishment from the realm.

Whatever obstacles may have been placed in the way of public enterprise in this direction, no opposition was offered to private amusements, provided the individuals interested were aristocratic enough. To cross over the Border for a moment, we are reminded of the entertainment which was given at Kenilworth Castle in honour of Queen Elizabeth, an interesting account of which is given by Scott in Kenilworth. Robert Laneham in one of his letters describes it thus:

"The pageant of 'The Lady of the Floating Island ' was performed; the raft on which she came landed at Mortimer's Tower, where accompanied by her attendants she presented herself to the Queen, delivering an address of homage, duty, and welcome to the peerless Elizabeth. Next appears Arion on his dolphin from amongst the other maritime deities. The facetious Lambourne, who had taken up the part in the absence of Wayland, being chilled through remaining immersed for such a long time and having forgotten his speech, tore off his vizard and swore 'Cogs bones! he was none of Arion or Orion either, but honest Mike Lamborne, that had been drinking her Majesty's health till midnight, and was come to bid her heartily welcome to Kenilworth Castle.' The Queen laughed heartily, and swore in her turn that he had made the best speech she had heard that day. Lamborne, who instantly saw his jest had saved his bones, jumped on shore, gave his dolphin a kick, and declared that he would never meddle with fish again, except at dinner."

That the censorship created by Act of Assembly, 1575, did not lie dormant is evinced by an application which was made for a licence by a company of comedians at the Perth Kirk Sessions. This was granted by a decree of date 3rd June, 1589, provisionally that "nae swearing nor nae scurrility shall be spoken," and that nothing should be added to the register of the play itself.

Amidst the obvious laxity of the people in the matter of morals, as understood by the General Assembly, royalty was not altogether devoid of its lapses from the conventions so decreed. An extract from Sir Anthony Weldon's Secret History relating to the court of James IV. states:-

"After the king supped, he would come forth to see pastimes and fooleries in which Sir Edward Zouch, Sir George Goring and Sir John Flint were the chief and master fools —and surely the fooling got them more than any others' wisdom—sometimes presenting David Droman and Archie Armstrong, the king's fool, on the back of other fools, to tilt one another till they fell together by the ears. Sometimes they performed antick dances. But Sir John Millicent, who was never known before, was commended for notable fooling and was indeed the best extempore fool of them all."

With the regal countenance given to theatrical displays and pageantries, it became a very difficult matter for the Church to repress such practices. For more than thirty years after the Reformation, the General Assembly had vainly appealed to the Civil Authorities to interfere. The chief obstacle to the successful enforcement of such enactments lay in their midst, and consisted in the fact that the elders and deacons of the Kirk generally presided over them. Pageants, too, were very popular in those days, Royalty being received with pompous displays in the principal towns. When James V. was married to Mary of Lorraine (or Guise) in the Cathedral of St. Andrews, by David Beaton, a triumphal arch was erected at the entrance of the Abbey, and at the New Gate a Masque was designed by Sir David Lyndsay. It represented a fair Lady descending from a cloud and handing the keys of the city to the bride, in token that all hearts in Scotland were open to her. The Queen made a pretty speech to her husband on the morrow in which she said "she never saw in France so many good faces in so little room, as she saw that day in Scotland."

Pageants of this character did not always boast of perfect stage management. An interesting critique of one of those functions exists in Nugae Antigae, I. (349-51). Of this, Sir John Harrington writes:-

"I have much marvelled at these stage pageantries, and they do bring to my remembrance what passed of this sort in our queen's days, of which I was some time an humble presenter and assistant, but I did never see such lack of good order, discretion and sobriety as I have now done."

Then follows his comment upon the reception of the Royal Danes, the friends of James VI., whose wife was Anne of Denmark.

"One day a great feast was held, and after dinner the representation of Solomon, his temple, and the coming of the Queen of Sheba was made. The lady who did play the Queen's part did carry most precious gifts to both their majesties, but, forgetting the steps arising to the canopy, overset her caskets into his Danish majesty's lap, and fell at his feet although I rather think it was on his face. Much was the hurry and confusion: cloths and napkins were at hand to make all clean. His majesty then got up and would dance with the Queen of Sheba, but he fell down and humbled himself before her, and was carried to an inner chamber and laid on a bed of state. Now did appear in rich dress Hope, Faith and Charity. Hope did essay; to speak, but wine rendered her endeavours so feeble that she withdrew, and hoped the king would excuse her brevity. Faith was then alone, for I am certain she was not joined with good works, and left the Court in a staggering condition. Charity came to the king's feet, and seemed to cover the multitude of sins her sisters had committed; in some sort, she made obeisance and brought gifts, but said she would return home again, as there was no gift which heaven had not already given to His Majesty. She then returned to Hope and Faith, who were both sick."

The letter ends somewhat caustically.

"Now did Peace make entry and strive to get foremost to the king; but I grieve to tell how great wrath she did discover unto those of her attendants: and how, much contrary to her semblance, most rudely made war with her olive branch, and laid on the pates of those who opposed her coming."


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