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Works of Sir Thomas More


Lady Fortune and her Wheel.
Lydgate, Troy Book, etc.. British Library.



Thomas More to them who seek Fortune.


Whoso delighteth to proven and assay
        Of wavering Fortune the uncertain lot,
If that the answer please you not alway
        Blame you not me, for I command you not
        Fortune to trust; and eke1 full well you wot2
I have of her no bridle in my fist,
She runneth loose and turneth where she list.3

The rolling dice in which your luck doth stand,
        With whose unhappy chance you be so wroth,
You know yourself came never in my hand.
        Lo in this pond be fish and frogs they both,
        Cast in your net, but be you lief or loath,4
Hold you content as Fortune list assign
For it is your own fishing and not mine.

And though in one chance Fortune you offend,
        Grudge not thereat but bear a merry face,
In many another she shall it amend.
        There is no man so far out of her grace
        But he sometime hath comfort and solace;
Nor none again so farforth in her favour
That is full satisfied with her behaviour.

Fortune is stately, solemn, proud, and high,
        And riches giv'th to have service therefore.
The needy beggar catch'th an halfpenny,
        Some man a thousand pounds, some less, some more.
        But for all that she keepeth ever in store,
From ev'ry man some parcel of his will,
That he may pray therefore and serve her still.

Some man hath good but children hath he none,
        Some man hath both but he can get none health,
Some hath all three, but up to honour's throne
        Can he not creep by no manner of stealth.
        To some she sendeth children, riches, wealth,
Honour, worship, and rev'rence all his life,
But yet she pincheth him with a shrew'd5 wife.

Then forasmuch as it is Fortune's guise
        To grant no man all things that he will aks,6
But, as herself list order and devise,
        Doth ev'ry man his part divide and tax;
        I counsel ye, each one truss-up your packs
And take nothing at all, or be content
With such reward as Fortune hath you sent.

All things which in this book that you shall read,
        Do as you list, there shall no man you bind
Them to believe as surely as your creed,
        But notwithstanding certes7 in my mind
        I durst8 well swear, 's true you shall them find
In every point each answer by and by
As are the judgments of astronomy.



[AJ Notes:

1. eke, also.
2. wot, know.
3. list, wants.
4. be you lief or loath, whether you love it or hate it.
5. shrew'd, shrewish; scolding, peevish.
6. aks, ask.
7. certes, certainly; truly.
8. durst, dare.]




        Cayley, Arthur, the Younger. Memoirs of sir Thomas More. Vol I.
        London: Cadell and Davis, 1808. 56-58.




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Persons of Interest
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Images of London:
London in the time of Henry VII. MS. Roy. 16 F. ii.
London, 1510, earliest view in print
Map of England from Saxton's Descriptio Angliae, 1579
Location Map of Elizabethan London
Plan of the Bankside, Southwark, in Shakespeare's time
Detail of Norden's Map of the Bankside, 1593
Bull and Bear Baiting Rings from the Agas Map (1569-1590, pub. 1631)
Sketch of the Swan Theatre, c. 1596
Westminster in the Seventeenth Century, by Hollar
Visscher's Panoramic View of London, 1616. COLOR



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