Imagens das páginas

and live in right much worship and great heart's rest and ease. And I will be to you as good lord and father as my heart can think. And last of all, as heartily and as lovingly as ever father blessed his child on earth, I give you the blessing of our Lord and of me, which of His infinite mercy increase you in all virtue and good living. And that your blood may by His grace from kindred to kindred multiply in this earth to His service, in such wise as after the departing from this wretched world here, ye and they may glorify Him eternally amongst the angels in Heaven.

Written of my hand,

The day of my departing from this land.
Your true and loving father,


The Scrope who made suit for Elizabeth Paston was Philip, son. of Sir John Fastolfs wife by a former husband. Fastolf, whose name was borrowed for Shakespeare's Falstaff, was among the friends of the PastonSj and here is a letter from him, written in February, 1455.


To my right trusty and well beloved cousin, John Paston, in goodly haste.

Eight trusty and well beloved cousin, I commend me to you. And please you to wit that I am advertised that at a dinner in Norwich, whereas ye and other gentlemen were present, that there were certain persons, gentlemen, which uttered scornful language of me, as in this wise, with more, saying, "Ware thee, gosunc,1 ware, and go we to dinner; go we where? To Sir John Fastolf, and there we shall well pay therefore." What their meaning was I know well, to no-good intent to meward: wherefore, cousin, I pray you, as my trust is in you, that ye give me knowledge by writing what gentlemen they be that had this report with more, and what mo! gentlemen were present, as ye would I should and were my duty to do for you in semblable wise. And I shall keep your information in this matter secret, and in God's grace so purvey for them as they shall not be all well pleased. At such a time a man may know his friends and his foes asunder &c. Jesu preserve and keep you.

Written at Caister the vii. day of February, anno xx.xiii. R. H. Vlth.

John Fastolf, Knight.

Sir John Fastolf dated from Caister, near Yarmouth, where he had, at much cost of money and time, just completed the turning of his house into a strong castle that covered six acres of ground. He was akin to John Paston's wife Margaret, and when he died, in 1459, John Paston was his executor. A servant of his own, speaking of him in one of these letters, says "cruel and vengeable he hath been ever, and for the most part without pity and mercy." His steward also complains of stingy usage. There must have been small cheer in a dinner with the real historical Jack Fastolf. He sold the wardship of his stepson, Stephen Scrope, and bought it back again for his own advantage; as the stepson himself said, "He bought me and sold me as a beast, against all right and law, to mine hurt more than 1,000

1 Goran* may be goteone, godson; but more probably is of the origin ascribed to the Irish gossoon, garcon, boy; the phrase meaning, "Be on your guard, my boy."

1 elo, First English " ma," more.

marks." His stepfather's stinginess obliged Scrope to sell part of his inheritance and take service with the Duke of Gloucester in France. When he came back Fastolf required him to pay for his meat and drink. Need of money drove him to hasty marriage, and Fastolf then brought an action that deprived his stepson of what property the wife brought him. The wife died, leaving Scrope with a little daughter, and afterwards he says, " For very need I was fain to sell a little daughter I have for much less than I should have done by possibility." Elizabeth Paston did not become the second wife of Stephen Scrope. She married about New Year's Day, 1459, Robert Poynings, who had been an ally of jack Cade's in 1450.

Fastolfs friend, John Paston, died in 1466, and left a large family. His two eldest sons were both named John, and each became a knight. A motherly letter from Margaret Paston to one of these sons, who, in November, 1463, had left home clandestinely, and gone, apparently, to wait upon King Edward IV., at Pomfret, will enable us to part kindly from the Paston family. The original spelling shall be left.


To my wellbelovyd son, Sir John Paston, be this delivcryd in hast.

I gret you welle, and send yow Godds blissyng and myn latyng yow wet8 that I have receyved a letter from you, the wyche ye deliveryd to Master Roger at Lynne, wherby I conseyvo thar ye thynke ye ded not well that ye departyd hens withowt my knowlage. Wherfor I late you wett I was ryght evyll payed with you. Your fader thowght, and thynkyth yet, that I was asentyd to your departyng, and that hathe causyd me to have gret hevinesse. I hope he wolle bo your good fader hereafter, if yo demene you 4 well and do as ye owe to do to hym; and I charge you upon my blyssyng that in any thyng towebyng your fader that shuld be hys worehep, profyto, or avayle, that ye do your devoyr and dyligent labor to the fortherans therin, as ye wulle have my good wille, and that shall cause your fader to be better fader to you.

It was told me ye sent hym a letter to London. What tho entent therof was I wot not, but thowge he take it but lyghtly, I wold ye shuld not spar to write to hym agcyn as lowly as ye cane, besechyng hym to be your good fader; and send hym suche tydings as be in the contre thir ye bethe in, and that ye war • of your expence bettyr and ye havo be befor thys tyme, and bo your owne purse berer, I trowe yo shall fynd yt most profytable to you.

I wold ye shuld send me word howghe ye doo, and howghe ye havo schevyfte6 for yourself syn ye departyd hens, be7 some trosty man, and that your fader have no knowlage therof. I durste not late hym knowe of the laste letter that ye wrot to me, because he was so sor dyspleasyd with me at that tyme.

Item. I wold ye shuld speke with Wekis 8 and knowc his dysposysion to Jane Walsham. She hathe sayd, syn he departyd hens, but she myght have hym she wold never

'Latyng yow wet, letting yon know. From First English "witan," to know.

* If ye demene you. Observe throughout the original use, also retained in the modernised letters, of ye (ge) as a nominative and you (eow) as a dative or accusative.

War, be on guard. • Schecyfte, shifted. » Be, by.

* Wekis. John Wykea, usher of the king's chamber.

maryd, hjr hert ys sor set on hym; she told me that he seyd to hyr that ther was no woman in the world he lovyd so welle. I wold not that he shuld jape hyr, for she menythe good foythe; and yf he wolle not have hyr, late me wete in hast, and I shall purvey for hyr in othyr wysso.

As for your harneys' and ger that ye left here, it ys in Daubeneys kepyng; it was never remevyd svn your departyng, be cause that he had not the keyes. I trowe it shall apoyer5 but if it be take hed hate * be tymys. Your fader knowythe not wher it is.

I Bent your grey hors to Ruston to the ferror,4 and he seythe he sliull never bo nowght to rood, nowthyr ryght good to plowe nor to carto; he seyth he was splayyd, and hys shulder rent from the body. I wot not what to do with hym.

Your grandam wold fayne here sum tydyngs from you. It wer welle do that ye sent a letter to her howe ye do, as astely as yo may. And God have you in Hys kepyng, and mako you a good man, and 3if yow grace to do as well as I would ye should do.

Wretyn at Caster, yo Towisday next befor Seynt Edmund the Kynge.

Your Moder,

M. Paston.

I wold ye shuld make mech of the parson Fylby, the borer herof, and mako hym good cher yf ye may.

There is, in decayed MS., an inventory—made in the reign of Edward IV., but not otherwise dated—of books belonging to one of the John Pastons. His library consisted of twelve manuscripts, with one piece of print, Caxton's earliest: "Item, a booke in preente off the Pleye off the [Chess]." , The books representing the library of a gentleman at the close of the fifteenth century—one MS. volume containing several works—consisted of some romances, some poems of Chaucer, Occleve's "De Regimine Principum," a few religious and moral pieces, three pieces of Cicero, a "Book of Blazonings of Arms," and a "Book of Knighthood."


From William Caxton To Roger Ascham.— A.D. 1474 TO A.D. 1558.

William Caxton, born about 1422, was bred to commerce, and loved literature in the days when the art of printing by movable types was introduced into Europe. He saw the commercial as well as the intellectual gain to be secured by learning the art and bringing it to England. In 1468, Caxton was in the service of Edward IV.'s sister Margaret at Bruges. At that time, Caxton was translating from Raoul le Fevre a "Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye," and afterwards he says that he learnt the art of printing. His first printed book was "The Game and Play of the Chess," of which there were two editions, the first of them finished in March, 1474. It is supposed to have been the first book printed in England, though the clear statement,

1 Harneys, armour ; ger, gear.

* Apeyer, become worse, suffer damage.

3 Take hed hate, token heed at, looked to.

* Ferror, {arrior.

[merged small][graphic][subsumed][merged small]


The first chapter of the first tractate sheweth under tchat king the play of the Chess was foiinden and made. Capitulo primo.

Among all the evil conditions and signs that may be in a man, the first and greatest is, when he feareth not ne drcadeth to displease and make wroth God by sin, and the people by living disordinately; when he reteheth' not nor taketh heed unto them that reprevc him and his vices, but sleeth them, in such wise as did the Emperor Nero, which did do slee6 his master Seneque, for as much as he might not suffer to be repreved and taught of him. In like wise was sometime a king in Babylon that was named Evilmerodach, a jolly man without justice, and so cruel that he did do hew his father's body in three hundred pieces, and gave it to eat and devour to three hundred birds that men call vultures, and was of such condition as was Nero, and right well resembled and was like undo his father Nabugodonosor, which on a time would do slee all the sage and wise men of Babylon, for as much as they could not tell him his dream that he had dreamed

* Reteheth, recketh, from " recall," to reck, care for. One spelling represents pronunciation with a soft c, the other with a hard c. Between the two weak vowels, e e, there was n natural tendency to softening of the c; so from " feccan" fetcheth.

• Do elee, cause to be slain; do hew, cause to be hewed.

on a night, and had forgotten it, like as it is written in the Bible, in the hook of Daniel. Under this king then, Evilmcrodach, was this game and play of the chess founden. True it is that some men ween that this play was founden in the time of the battles and siege of Troy; but that is not Bo, for this play came to the plays of the Chaldces, as Diomedcs the Greek saith and rehearsoth, that was tho most renomed' play among all other plays, and after that, came this play in the time of Alexander the Great into Egypt, and so unto all the parties toward the South. And the cause wherefore this play was so renomed, shall be said in the iij chapter.

Thit chapter of the fir»t tractate thewcth who found first the play of the Chctt. Capitulo ij.

The play found a philosopher of the Orient which was named in Chaldee Exerses, or in Greek Thilematos, which is

for as much as they daro not say to thee the truth, for to do justice righteously; of myself I make no force 3 whether I die on the land or on the water or otherwise. As who Baid he retched not to die for justice. In like wise as Democreon, the philosopher, put out his own eyen by cause he would not see that no good might come to the evil and vicious people without right. And also Defortes tho philosopher as ho went towards his death, his wifo that followed after him said that he was damned to death wrongfully, then he answered and said to her, Hold thy peace and be still, it is better and more meretorye to die by a wrong and unrightful judgment than that I had deserved to die."

The third chapter of the firtt tractate treateth wherefore the play wat founded and made. Capitulo iij.

The causes wherefore this play was founden, ben iij. The

[graphic][ocr errors]

as much to say in English as he that lovcth justice and measure. And this philosopher was renomed greatly among the Greeks and them of Athens which were good clerks and philosophers also renomed of their cunning. This philosopher was so just and true that he had liever die than to live long and be a false flatterer wtih tho said king. For when he beheld the sinful life of the king, and that no man durst blame him, for by his great cruelty he put them all to death that displeased him, he put himself in peril of death and loved and chose rather to die than longer to live. The evil life and disfamed of a king is the life of a cruel beast, and ought not long to be sustained, for he destroyeth him that displeaseth him. And therefore rehearseth Valerius that there was a wise man named Theodore Cereni* whom his king did do hang on tho cross for as much as he repreved him of his evil and foul life, «nd alway as he was in the torment he said to the king, "Upon thy councillors and them that ben clad in thy clothing and robes were more reason that this torment should come.

1 Renamed, "renommi!," renowned.

'Theodoras Crrenseus, in Valerias Minimus' "Dictcrramqae Factonunqae Memorabilinm," lib. vi., cap. 2.

first was for to correct and rcpreve the king, for when this king Evilmerodach saw this play, and the barons, knights and gentlemen of his court play with the philosopher, ho marvelled greatly of tho beauty and novelty of the play, and desired to play against tho philosopher. The philosopher answered and said to him that it might not bo done but if * ho first learned the play. The king said it was reason, and that he would put him to the pain to learn it. Then the philosopher began to teach him and to shew him the manner of the table of the chess board and the Chess men. And also tho manners and tho conditions of a king, of tho nobles, and of the common people, and of their offices, and how they should be touched and drawn : and how he should amend himself and become virtuous. When this king heard that he repreved him, he demanded him upon pain of death to tell him wherefore he had founden and made this play, and he answered," My right dear lord and king, tho greatest and most thing that I desire is that thou have in thyself a glorious and virtuous life. And that may I not see but if thou bo endoctrined and well mannered, and that had, so mayst thou be beloved of thy

[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small]

is so, or thou art a God, or a man, or nought. If thou be God, do thou well and good to the people as God doth, and take not from them that they ought to have and is theirs; if thou be a man think that thou shalt die, and then thou shall do none evil if thou by nought forget thyself. There is nothing so strong and firm but that sometime a'feeble thing casteth down and overthrow it. How well that the lion be the strongest beast, yet some time a little bird eateth him up."

The second cause wherefore this play was founden and made, was for to keep him from idleness, whereof Seneque saith unto Lucille, Idleness without any occupation is sepulture of a man living, and Cato saith in his sentences that in like wise as men go, not for to go, the same wise the life is not not given for to live, but for to do well and good, and therefore, secondly, the Philosopher found this play for to keep the people from idleness; for there is much people, when so is that they be fortunate in worldly goods that they draw them to ease and idleness, whereof cometh oft times many evils and great sins; and by this idleness the heart is quenched, whereof cometh good desperation.

The third cause is that every man naturally desireth to know and hear novelties and tidings: for this cause they of Athens studied, as we read, and for as the corporal or bodily sight empeasheth' and letteth otherwhile the knowledges of subtle things. Therefore we read that Democrite the philosopher put out his own eyen for as much as he might have the better entendement and understanding. Many have been made blind that were great clerks in like wise as was Didymus bishop of Alexandria, that how well that he saw not yet he was so great a clerk, that Gregory Xazaz ' and saint Jerome that were clerks and masters to other, came for to be his scholars and learned of him; and saint Anthony, the great hermit, came for to see him on a time, and among all other things he demanded him if he were not greatly displeased that he was blind and saw not, and he answered that he was greatly abashed for that he supposed not that he was not displeased in that he had lost his sight, and saint Anthony answered to him, I marvel much that it displeaseth thee that thou has lost that thing which is common between thee and beasts, and thou knowest well that thou hast not lost that thing which is common between thee and the angels. And for these causes foresaid, the Philosopher entended to put away all pensiveness and thoughts, and to think only on this play as shall be said and appear in this book after.

Here ended the first tractate. The second tractate then indicated the constitution of a state in its rulers, in five chapters upon the superior chessmen, king, queen, alphyn (judge), knight and rook (vicar or legate of the king); the third tractate set forth the places of the other members of the commonwealth in eight chapters on the pawns, each pawn standing for a class, one for the labourers, one for the smiths, one for the merchants and changers, &c. A fourth tractate moralised the chess-board and the moves of the several pieces, and all ended with an "Epilogation and Recapitulation," giving a summary of the whole book in its three last pages.

Another of Caxton's good services was the securing of an original prose history, derived from the chief poems forming the cycle of Arthurian romance, which had been finished by Sir Thomas Malory in the ninth

1 Emptsshfih: French, "emp6che," hindereth. The French original fa followed at times too literally in phrases as well as words. 'Qngory Nauu, Gregory Naiianzen.

year of Edward IV., and was first printed by Caxton at Westminster in 1485. This is, in its original spelling,

Caxton's Preface To La Mokt D'arthur.

After that I had accomplysshed and fynysshed dyvers hystoryes, as well of contemplacyon as of other hystoryal and worldly actes of grete conquerours and prynces, and also certeyn bookes of ensaumples and doctryno, many noble and dyvers gentylmcn of thys royame of Englond camen and demaunded me many and oftymes wherfore that I have not do make and enprynte the noble hystorye of the saynt greal, and of the moost renomed crysten kyng, fyrst and chycf of the thre best crysten and worthy, kyng Arthur, whyche ought moost to be remembred emonge us Englysshe men tofore al other crysten kynges. For it is notoyrly knowen thorugh the unyversal world that there been ix. worthy and the best that ever were, that is to wete, thre paynyms, thre Jewes, and thre crysten men. As for the paynyms, they were tofore the incarnacyon of Cryst, whiche were named, the fyrst Hector of Trove, of whome thystoryo is comen bothe in balade and in prose; the second Alysaunder the grete; and the thyrd Julyus Oezar, emperour of Rome, of whome thystoryes ben wel kno and had. And as for the thre Jewes, whyche also were tofore thyncarnacyon of our Lord, of whome the fyrst was due Josue, whyche brought the chyldren of Israhel into the londe of byheste; the second Davyd kyng of Jherusalem; and the thyrd Judas Machabeus; of these thre the Byble reherceth al theyr noble hystoryes and actes. And sythe the sayd incarnacyon have ben thre noble crysten men stalled and admytted thorugh the unyversal world'into the nombre of the ix. beste and worthy, of whome was fyrst the noble Arthur, whos noble actes I purpose to wryte in thyB present book here folowyng; the second was Charlemayn, or Charles the grete, of whome thystoryo is had in many places bothe in Frensshe and Englysshe; and the thyrd and last was Godefray of Boloyn, of whos actes and lyf I made a book unto thexccllent prynce and kyng of noble memorye kyng Edward the fourth. The said noble jentylmen instantly requyred me temprynte thystorye of the sayd noble kyng and conquerour kyng Arthur, and of his knyghtes, with thystorye of the saynt greal, and of the deth and endyng of the sayd Arthur; affermyng that I ou3t rather tenprynte his actes and noble feates, than of Godefroye of Boloyne, or ony of the other eyght, consyderyng that he was a man borne wythin this royame, and kyng and emperour of the same.

And that there ben in Frensshe dyvers and many noble volumes of his actes, and also of his knyghtes. To whom I answerd, that dyvers men holde oppynyon that there was no Buche Arthur, and that alio suche bookes as been maad of hym, ben but fay nod and fables, bycause that somme cronycles make of hym no mencyon ne remembre hym noo thynge ne of his knyghtes. Wherto they answerd, and one in specyal sayd, that in hym that ahold say or thynke that there was never suche a kyng callyd Arthur, myght wel be aretted grete folye and blyndenesse; for he sayd that there were many evydences of the contrarye. Fyrst ye may see his sepulture in the monasterye of Glastyngburye, and also in Polycronycon,5 in the v book the syxte chappytre, and in the seventh book the xxiii chappytre, where his body was buryed and after founden and translated into the sayd monasterye. Ye shal se also in thystorye of Bochas in his book de cam prineipum, parte of his noblo

s Ralph Higden'g " Polyohronicon."

« AnteriorContinuar »