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A merry Ieste of a shrewde and curst Wyfe


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Note on the e-text: this Renascence Editions text is based on the edition of circa 1580, by the kind permission of the Henry E. Huntington Library. It was transcribed by Risa.S. Bear, September 2001.  Content unique to this presentation is copyright © 2001 The University of Oregon. For nonprofit and educational uses only. Send comments and corrections to the publisher.

Publication of this edition honors the visit of Willard McCarty to the University of Oregon, October 6-7, 2001.


begynneth a merry Ieste of 

a shrewde and curst Wyfe, lap-
ped in Morrelles Skin,
for her good beha-


London in Fleetestreete, beneath
the Conduite, at the signe of Saint Iohn
Euangelist, by H. Iackson.

Woodcut of man and wife

LYsten friendes, and holde you still,
Abide a while and dwell:
A mery Iest tell you I will,
And how that it befell.
As I went walking vpon a day,
Among my friendes to sporte:
To an houre I tooke the way,
To rest me for my comforte.

Paragraph mark A greate feast was kepte there than,
And many one, was thereat:
With wyues and maydens and many a good man,
That made good game and chat.
It befell then at that tyde,
An honest man was there:
A cursed Dame sate by his syde,
That often did him dere.

Paragraph mark His wife she was I tell you playne,
This dame ye may me trowe:
To play the maister she would not layne,
And make her husband bowe.
At euery word that she did speake,
To be peace he was full fayne:
Or else she would take him on the cheeke,
Or put him to other payne.

Paragraph mark When she did winke, he durst not stere,
Nor play where euer he wente:
With friend or neighbour to make good chere,
Whan she her browes bent.
These folke had two maydens fayre and free,
Which were their Daughters dere:
This is true, belieue you me,
Of condicions, was none their pere.

Paragraph mark The yongest was meeke and gentle ywys,
Her fathers condicion she had:
The eldest her mothers withouten misse,
Some time franticke and sometime mad.
The father had his pleasure in the one alway.
And glad he was her to behold:
The mother in the other this is no nay,
For in all her custnesse she made her bolde.

Paragraph mark And at the last she was in fay,
As curste as her mother in word and deede:
Her mischieuous pageauntes sometime to play,
Which caused her fathers heart to bleede.
For he was woe and nothing glad,
And of her would fayne be rid:
He wished to God that some man her had,
But yet to maryage he durst her not bid.

Paragraph mark Full many there came the yongest to haue,
But her father was loth her to forgoe:
None there came the eldest to craue,
For feare it should turne them to woe.
The father was loth any man to beguile,
For he was true and nist withall:
Yet there came one within a while,
That her demaunded in the Hall.

Paragraph mark Another there came right soone also,
The yongest to haue he would be fayne:
Which made the fathers heart full woe,
That he and the yongest should parte in twayne.
But the mother was fell, and might her not see,
Wherefore of her she would haue bene rid:
The yong man full soone she graunted pardy,
Greate Golde and syluer, with her she bid.

Paragraph mark Saying full soone, he would her haue,
And wedded they were shorte tale to make:
The Father sayd so god me sa[u]e,
For heauinesse and sorowe, I tremble and quake.
Also his heart was in great care,
How he should bestowe the eldest ywys:
Which should make his purse full bare,
Of her he would be rid by heauens blisse.

Paragraph mark As hap was that this yong man should,
Desyre the eldest withouten fayle:
To maryage he sayd full fayne he would,
That he might her haue for his auayle.
The Father sayd with wordes anon,
Golde and syluer I would thee giue:
If thou her marry by sweete saynt Iohn,
But thou shouldest repent it all thy liue.

Paragraph mark She is conditioned I tell thee playne,
Moste like a fiend, this is no nay:
Her Mother doth teach her, withouten layne,
To be mayster of her husband another day.
If thou shouldest her marry, and with her not gree,
Her mother thou shouldest haue alway in thy top:
By night and day, that shouldest vex thee,
Which sore would sticke, then in thy crop.

mark And I could not amend it by God of might,
For I dare not speake my selfe for my life:
Sometime among be it wrong or right,
I let her haue all for feare of strife.
If I ought say, she doth me treate,
Except I let her haue her will:
As a childe that should be beate,
She will me charme the Deuill her kill.

Paragraph mark Another thing thou must vnderstande,
Her mothers good will thou must haue also:
If she be thy friend, by sea or by lande,
Amisse with thee, then can it not go.
For she doth her loue with all her minde,
And would not see her fare amisse:
If thou to her dareling could be kinde,
Thou couldest not want by heauens blisse.

Paragraph mark If thou to the mother, now wilt thou seeke,
Behaue thy selfe then like a man:
And shew thy selfe both humble and meeke,
But when thou haste her do what thou can.
Thou wotest what I sayd to thee before,
I counsayle thee marke my wordes well:
It were greate pitty, thou werte forlorne,
With such a deuillishe fende of hell.

Paragraph mark I care not for that the yong man sayd,
If I can get her mothers good will:
I would be glad to haue that mayde,
Me thinketh she is withouten euell.
Alas good man I am sory for thee,
That thou wilt cast thy selfe away,
Thou arte so gentle and so free.
Thou shalt neuer tame her I dare well say.

But I haue done I will say no more,
Therefore farewell and goe thy way:
Remember what I sayd to thee before,
And beware of repentaunce another day.

Now the yong man departed from the father, and
sought to the Mother, for to haue the
Mayde to mariage.

NOw is the yong man come to the Dame,
With countenaunce glad and manners demure:
Saying to her God keep you from blame,
With your dere daughter so fayre and pure.
She welcommeth agayne the fayre yong man,
And bid him come neare gentle friende:
Full curteously he thanked the good dame than
And thought her wordes full good and kinde.

Paragraph mark Then he began I shall you tell,
Unto the Mother thus to say,
With wordes fayre that become him well
For here deare daughter thus to pray.
Saying good Dame now by your leaue,
Take it for none euell though I come here:
If you to me good leaue would giue,
With you right fayne would I make good chere.

Paragraph mark The dame sayd syt downe a while abyde,
Good chere anon then will we make:
My daughter shall sit downe by thy syde,
I know well thou commest for her sake.
You say full true forsooth sayd he,
My minde is stedfastly on her set:
To haue that mayden fayre and free,
I would be fayne if I coulde her get[.]

Paragraph mark The mother thanked him for his good will,
That he her daughter so did desyre:
Saying I hope you came for none euell.
But in good honesty her to requyre.
For if ye did, I will be playne,
Right soone it should turne you vnto griefe:
And also your comming I would disdayne,
And bid you walke with a wylde mischiefe.

Paragraph mark But surely I take you for none of those,
Your conditions shew it in no wise:
Wherefore me thinke you doe not glose,
Nor I will not counsell you, by mine aduise.
For I loue my Daughter as my harte,
And loth I were, I will be playne:
To see her suffer payne and smarte,
For if I did my harte were slayne.

Paragraph mark If that thou shouldest another day,
My daughter haue and her good will:
Order her then vnto her pay,
As reason requireth it is good skill.
In women sometime great wisdome is,
And in men full little it is often seene:
But she is wise withouten mis,
From a yong child vp she hath so beene.

Paragraph mark Therefore to her thou must audience giue,
For thine owne profite when she doth speake:
And than shalt thou in quiet liue,
And much strife, thus shalte thou breake.
Howe sayest thou yong man what is thy minde,
Wouldest thou her haue my doughter dere,
Than to her thou must be kinde,
And alway ready to make her good chere.

Paragraph mark For an. C.li. of money have thou shalte,
Of Syluer and eke of Golde so round:
With an. C. quarters of Corne and malte,
And. xl. acres of good ground.
If thou wilt liue with her like a man,
Thou shalte her haue, and this will I giue:
And euer after while I can,
Be thy good Mother as long as I liue.

Paragraph mark And I will speake to my daughter for thee,
To know if it be her will also:
If she be content, my daughter free,
Then together may ye go.
The mother demaunded, her daughter than,
If that she could fynde in her minde:
With all her harte to loue that yong man,
So that he to her would be kinde.

Paragraph mark She sayd yea mother as you wyll,
So will I doe in worde and deede:
I trust he commeth for none yll,
Therefore the better may we speede.
But I would haue one that hath some good,
As well as I good reason is:
Me thinke he is a lusty blood,
But gooddes there must be withouten misse.

Paragraph mark The yong man was glad these wordes to here,
And thanked the mother of her good will:
Beholding the Mayden with right mild cheare,
And prayed her hertely to be still.
Saying to her then in this wise,
Mine heart, my loue, my dearling dere:
Take no displeasure of my enter pris,
That I desyre to be your peare.

Paragraph mark I am not riche of Gold nor fee,
Nor of greate marchandise ye shall vnderstand:
But a good Crafte I haue pardee,
To get one liuing in any land.
And in my heart I can well fynde,
You for to loue aboue all other:
For euermore to you to be kynde,
And neuer forsake you for none other.

Paragraph mark Lyke a woman I will you vse,
And doe you honour, as ye should doe mee:
And for your sake all other refuse,
As good reason is, it should so be.
By my trouth, but well you say,
And me thinke by your countenaunce ywis:
That ye should not another day,
For no cause deale with me amis.

Paragraph mark And in you I hope pleasure to take,
If ye woulde by gentle as ye should:
And neuer none other for your sake.
To marry for a. M. pound of gold.
But sometime ye must me a little forbeare,
For I am hasty but it is soone done:
In my home I doe nothing feare,
Whatsoever thereof to me become.

Paragraph mark And I cannot refrayne me in no wise,
For I haue it by nature a parte ywis:
It was wont to be my mothers guise,
Sometime to be mayster withouten misse.
And so must I by God now and than,
Or else I would thinke it should not be well,
For though ye were neuer so good a man,
Sometime among I will beare the bell.

Paragraph mark And therefore tell me with wordes playne,
If ye can be pacient what time it is:
To suffer with me a little payne,
Though that you thinke I doe amisse.
Or else say nay, and make a shorte ende,
And soone we shall sonder departe:
Then at your liberty you may hence wend,
Yet I doe loue you with all my harte.

Paragraph mark The yongman was glad of her loue in fay,
But loth he was master her for to make:
And bethought him what her father before did saye,
When he on wooing his iorney did take.
And so consented to all her will,
When he aduised him what he should doe:
He sayd ye may me saue or spill,
For ye haue my loue sweete heart and no moe.

The mother hearing this, for the father sente,
Shewing to him what was befall:
Wherewith he was right well content,
Of all their promises in generall.
Upon this greement they departed then,
To prepare all thinges for the feast:
Glad was the bride and her spouse then,
That they were come to this beheast.

Paragraph mark Howe the Bryde was maryed with
Her Father and Mothers[ ]
good wyll.

THe day approched, the time drue neare,
That they should be wedded withouten misse:
The Bryde was glad and made good cheare,
For she thought to make greate ioye and blisse.
As that day to tryumphe with games and sporte,
Amonge her friendes a rule to beare:
And eake with his friendes that thither should resorte.
Thinking that no body might be her peare.

Paragraph mark The Bridegrome was glad also in fay,
As man might be vpon the molde:
And to himselfe thus gan he say,
Now shall I receyue an heape of golde.
Of poundes many one, and much goods besyde,
To reioyce my sorrowes, and also my smarte:
I know not her peare in this country so wyde,
But yet I feare alway her proude harte.

Paragraph mark She is so syb to the mother withouten fayle,
Which hath no peare that I know:
In all mischiefe she dare assayle,
The boldest Archer that shooteth in a bow.
But no force I care not, I wote what I thinke,
When we be wed and keepe house alone,
For a small storme I may not shrinke,
To run to my neighbour, to make my mone.

Paragraph mark Soone to the church now were they brought
With all their friends them about:
There to be maryed as they ought,
And after them followed a full great rout.
With them to offer as custome is,
Among good neighboures it is alway seene:
Full richly deckte withouten mis,
And she thought her selfe, most likest a Queene.

mark Incontinent when the Masse was done,
Homeward forsooth they tooke the way:
There followeth after them right soone,
Many a tall man and woman full gay.
The fathers and mothers next of all,
Vnto the Bridgrome and Bryde also:
As to them then, it did befall,
With them that tyde, so for to go.

Paragraph mark Now the Bryde and her friendes came from the
Church, and were of the Brydegroome at
their feast honestly serued.

WHen they came home the bordes were spread,
The Bride was set at the hye dysse:
Euery one sayd, she had well sped,
Of such a fayre husband as serued her mysse.
The friendes sate about her, on euery syde,
Each in their order, a good syght to see,
The Bryde in the middest, with much pryde,
Full richely beseene, she was pardye.

mark The mother was right glad of this sight,
And fast she did her daughter behold:
Thinking it was a pleasaunt wight,
But alway her Fathers heart was cold.
When he remembred what might befall,
Of this yong Daughter, that was so bold:
He could nothing be merry at all,
But moned the yong man full many a fold.

Paragraph mark Beholde how often with countenaunce sad,
Saying to himselfe alas this day:
This yong man proueth much worse then mad,
That he hath marryed this cursed may.
Where I haue cousayled him by heauens blisse
That he should not meddle in no wise:
Least he repented withouten misse,
That euer he made this enterprise.

Paragraph mark But seeing it is thus, selfe doe selfe haue,
He is worse then mad that will him mone:
For I will no more so God me saue,
But God send him ioy, with my daughter Ione.
She is as curste I dare well swere,
And as angry ywis as euer was waspe:
If he her anger she will him tere,
And with her nayles also him claspe.

Paragraph mark What auayleth it to say ought now,
The deede is done, no remedy there is:
Good cheare to make I make God auowe,
Is now the best withouten misse.
For now is the time it should so be,
To make good game and sporte in fay:
In comforting all this company,
That be assembled here this day.

Paragraph mark The father and mother, were dilligent still,
To welcome the friendes both more and lesse:
The yongman did also his good will,
To serue them well at euery messe.
Wherein the mother great pleasure tooke,
And so did the father eake truely,
The Bride gaue a friendly looke,
Casting on him a wanton eye.

Paragraph mark Then was the Brydegrome reioyced sore,
Alway our Lord thanking of his great grace:
Hauing in minde times many a score,
That his Bryde shewed him such a fayre place.
The mynstrelles played at euery bord,
The people therewith reioyced right well:
Geuing the Bridegrome their good word,
And the bryde also that in bewty did excell.

Paragraph mark The time past forth the dinner was done,
The tables were taken vp all:
The Brydegroome welcommed them euery echone,
That were there in the hall.
They thanked him then and the Bryde also,
Of their greate cheare they had:
And sware great othes so mote I go,
They were neuer at feast so glad.

Paragraph mark Nowe we will remember you or we depart,
As vse and custome doth requyre:
He thanked them with all his harte,
So did both dame and syre.
The Bryde to the Table agayne was set,
To keepe countenaunce than in deede:
The friendes that were together met,
Be gyfted them richely with right good speede.

Paragraph mark The father and the mother fyrst began,
To order them in this wise:
The Brydegrome was set by the Brydes syde than,
After the countrey guise.
Then the father the fyrst present brought,
And presented them there richly in fay,
With deedes of his land in a boxe well wrought,
And made them his heyres for aye.

Paragraph mark He gaue them also malte and corne,
An hundred quarters and more:
With sheepe and oxen, that bare large horne,
To keepe for household store.
And then came the mother as quick as a bee,
To the Brydegrome with wordes sma[r]t:
Saying sonne so mote I thee,
I must open to thee my harte.

Paragraph mark She gaue them also both carte and plow,
And bid them alway to doe well:
And God should send them good ynow,
If they did marke, what she did tell.
Before the people in this hall,
I will say and to thee rehearse:
An hundred pound now geue thee I shall,
But harken fyrst vnto my vearse.

Paragraph mark Thou haste here my daughter deare,
A pleasaunt thing it is:
In all the countrey I know not her peare,
So haue I parte of blisse.
For she is wyse and fayre with all,
And will nothing cast away:
I trow there be now none in this hall,
That better can saue all thing in fay.

Paragraph mark Nor better doth know what doth behoue,
Vnto an house or huswiuery:
Then she doth, which causeth me to moue,
This matter to thee so busily.
She can carde she can spin,
She can thresh, and she can fan:
She can help thee good to win,
For to keep thee like a man.
Paragraph mark And here is an hundred pound in Golde,
To set thee vp, thy crafte to vse:
Wherefore I am playne I would thou should,
In no maner of wise thy selfe abuse.
To striue with my daughter or her to intreate,
For any thing that she shall doe:
Here after my child, therefore to beate,
It should turne playnely, to thy great woe.

Paragraph mark O my deare mother take no displeasure,
Till you haue cause what so befall,
But vse your selfe alwaye by measure,
For other cause none haue you shall.
My wyfe and I full well shall gree,
I trust to God in throne:
She is my loue and euer shall be,
And none but she alone.

Paragraph mark O my deare sonne thou makest me glad,
Which before was full of sorrowe:
For my deare daughter, I was full sad,
But now I say our Lord to borrow.
Thou geuest me good comfort now fare wel care
Here is thy hundred pound,
I pray God geue thee well to fare,
And kepe thee whole and sound.

I thanke you dere mother the yong man sayd
Of your good gifte and daughter deare:
Me thinkes she is the worthiest mayde,
In all this Lande withouten peare.
I hoape to liue with her alway,
So gentelly that she shall fynde:
And you her mother I dare well say,
In euery season gentle and kynde.

Paragraph mark The people standing them to behold,
Regarded the wordes of the Brydegrome than,
And sayd he aunswered with wordes cold,
Which become full well the good yong man.
And then they prest forth ech af[t]er other,
With golde and syuer, and riche giftes eake:
And many a scorne they gaue the mother,
But euer they praysed the yong man meeke.

Paragraph mark To whome he gaue thankes with all his might,
As honesty requyreth him to doe:
He ordred himselfe alway aright,
Yet they thought all he should haue woe.
For he was matched so ywys,
That he could not wante for sorrow in fay,
But alway hampred withouten misse,
Of mother and daughter, for euer and aye.

Paragraph mark When all was done they gan depart,
And tooke their leaue full friendly thoe:
Thanking ech other with all their harte,
And on their way home they gan go.
The Father and mother thanked them all,
The Bryde and Brydegrome, also without mis,
Did thanke the company in generall,
Departing from them with ioy and blisse.

Paragraph mark Then they went home while it was day,
And left the Bryde and Brydegrome there,
And they that did abide there in good fay,
They made at euen agayne good cheare.
And after supper they did make good sporte,
With dauncing and springing as was the vse:
Yong people by other there did resorte,
To no mans hynder nor confuse.

Paragraph mark After that all sportes were ended and done,
And that the bryde should goe to bed:
Aboute the hall they daunced soone.
And suddaynly away the bryde was led.
To take her rest with her dere spouse,
As reason would it should so be:
Euen as the cat, was wonte with the mouse,
To play forsoth euen so did he.

Paragraph mark The next morning if that ye will heare,
The mother did come to their bedsyde:
Demaunding them what was their cheare,
And the Bryde began her head to hyde.
Saying to her as one ashamed,
Iwys deare mother I would ye were gone:
Or ye came heare I was not blamed,
For being in his armes heare all alone.

Paragraph mark Myne own deare daughter, be not displeased
Though I doe let you of your desport:
I would be loath ye were diseased,
But you shall haue a Cawdell for your comforte.
A while I will goe and let you alone,
Till ye be ready for to ryse:
And sodaynely the mother was from them gone
To make the Cawdell after the best wise.

Paragraph mark When that the mother departed was,
They dallyed togither and had good game,
He hit her awry, she cryed alas,
What doe ye man, hold vp for shame.
I will sweete wife then gan he say,
Fulfill your mynde, both loud and shrill:
But ye be able I sweare in fay,
In all sportes to abide my will.

mark And they wrestled, so long beforne,
That this they had, for their greate meade:
Both shyrt and smock was all to torne,
That their vprysing had no speede.
But yet the mother came agayne,
And sayd to her daughter how doest thou nowe,
Mary mother betweene vs twayne,
Our shyrtes be torne, I make God auowe.

Paragraph mark By Gods dere mother, she sware than,
This order with vs may not continue:
I will no more lye by this man,
For he doth me brast both vayne and sinew.
Nay nay deare mother this world goeth on wheeles,
By sweete saynt George ye may me trowe:
He lyeth kicking with his heeles,
That he is like to beare me a blow.

Paragraph mark My owne deare daughter if thy smock be asonder,
Another thou shalte haue then by this light:
I pray thee hartely doe thou not wonder,
For so was I dealt with the fyrst night.
That I by thy father lay by the roode,
And I doe thee, with wordes playne:
Me thought neuer night to me so good,
As that same was, when I tooke such payne.

Paragraph mark Why mother were ye then glad,
To be thus delt with as I am now:
Me thinke my husband worse then mad,
For he doth exceede I make God auow,
O could not lye still nor no rest take,
Of all this night beleue ye me:
Sometime on my syde, and sometime on my backe,
He rolde and layd me so mote I thee.

Paragraph mark And from the beds head vnto the beds feete,
A cloth we had not vs for to decke,
Neyther our couerlet nor yet our sheete,
That I pray God the deuell him checke.
For I am ashamed my mother deare,
Of this nightes rest by God in throne:
Before our friendes I dare not appeare,
Would to Gods passion, I had layne alone.

Paragraph mark Nay nay deare daughter be not ashamed,
For here is nothing done amis:
They be more worthy to be blamed,
That hereof thinketh shame ywys.
For this is honesty for thee and vs all,
And a new smock I will thee fet:
And eke for thee my sonne I shall,
For thy true laboure, a new shyrte get.

Paragraph mark And soone of these, they were both sped,
The daughter and eake the sonne also:
Full quickly they rose out of their bed,
And with their mother, they gan go.
Abroade among their friendes all,
Which bid them good lucke, and eake good grace,
The cawdell was ready there in the Hall,
With myrth and glee for their solace.

Paragraph mark Thus ended the feast with sporte and play,
And all their friendes each with other:
Did take their leaue and went their way,
From bryde, and Brydegrome, with father and mother:
Which right hartely did thanke them tho,
So did the Bryde, and Brydegrome eke:
Yet when the friendes were all ago,
This yong folke abode with the mother all the weeke.

Paragraph mark The father was glad to see them agree,
So was the mother by heauen queene:
And sayd eche to other so mote I thee,
I thought not so well it should haue beene.
Betweene them twayne as it is now,
And therefore alone here shall they bide:
We will leaue them all I make God auowe,
And go to dwell in our house harde beside.

Paragraph mark At shorte conclusyon they went their way.
Leuing their children all that was there:
And come not agayne of many a day,
For their deare daughter to inquere.
Thus they bode together than,
He set vp his shop with haberdash ware:
As one that would be a thriuing man,
To get great goods for his welfare.

Paragraph mark And after that he tooke greate payne,
To order his plowes and cattell also:
He kepte both boye and also swayne,
That to the carte and plow did goe.
And some kepte neate, and some kept sheepe,
Some did one thing, some did another,
But when they came home to haue their meate,
The wife played the deuell then, like her mother.

Paragraph mark With countenaunce grim and wordes smart,
She gaue them meate and bad them brast:
The pore folke that come from plow and carte,
Of her lewde wordes they were agast.
Saying eche to other what dame is this,
The deuill I trow hath brought vs here:
Our mayster shall know it by heauens blisse,
That we will not serue him another yeare.

Paragraph mark The good man was fourth in the towne abroade,
About other thinges I you say,
When he came homeward he met with a goade,
One of his carters was going away.
To whome he sayde Lob whether goest thou,
The carter spyde his mayster than:
And sayd to him I make God auow,
No longer with thy wife abide I can.

Paragraph mark Mayster he sayd by Gods bliss,
Our dame is the deuell thou mayst me beleeue:
If thou haue sought her thou haste not miste,
Of one that full often thee shall greeue.
By God a man, thou canst not haue,
To go to carte, ne yet to plow:
Neyther boy, nor yet knaue,
By Gods deare mother I make God auow.

Paragraph mark That will bide with thee day or night,
Our Dame is not for vs for she doth curse:
When we shall eate or drinke with right,
She bannes and frownes, that we be all the worse.
We be not vsed where euer we wende,
To be sorely looked on, for eating of our meate,
The deuell I trow vs to thee send,
God helpe vs a better maystres to get.

Paragraph mark Come on thy way Lob, and turne agayne,
Go home with me and all shall be well:
An Oxe for my meyny shall be slayne,
And the hyde at the market I will sell.
Vpon this together, home they went,
The good man was angry in his minde:
But yet to his wife with good intent,
He sayd sweete heart you be vnkinde.

Paragraph mark Entrate our meyny well alway,
And geue them meate and drinke ynough:
For they get our liuing euery day,
And theirs also, at carte and plough.
Therefore I would that they should haue,
Meate and drinke to their behoue:
For my sweete wife, so god me saue,
Ye will doe so, if ye me loue.

Paragraph mark Gyue them what thou wilt I doe not care,
By day nor night man beleeue thou me:
What euer they haue of how they fare,
I pray God euell mote they thee.
And specially that horeson that doth complayne,
I will quite him once if euer I liue.
I will dash the knaue vpon the brayne,
That euer after it shall him greeue.

Paragraph mark What my deare wife for shame be still,
This is a payne such wordes to heare:
We can not alwayes haue our will,
Though that we were a kinges pere.
For to shame a knaue what can they get,
Thou art as lewde for God as they:
And therefore shalt thou serue them of meate,
And drinke also, from hence alway.

Paragraph mark What wife ye be to blame,
To speake to me thus in this wise:
If we should striue folke woud speake shame,
Therefore be still in mine aduise.
I am loth with you to striue,
For ought that you shall doe or say:
I sweare to Christ wife by my liue,
I had rather take Morell and ryde my way.

To seeke mine aduenture till your moode be past
I say to you these manners be not good:
Therefore I pray you that this be the last,
Of your furious anger that semeth so wood.
What can it auayle you me for to greeue,
That loueth you so well as I doe mine harte:
By my trouth wife you may me beleeue,
Such toyes as these be, would make vs both smarte

mark Smarte in the twenty fayning Deuelles name,
That liste me once well for to see:
I pray God geue the euell shame,
What shouldest thou be werte not for me.
A ragge on thine arse thou shouldest not haue,
Excepte my frendes had geue[n] it thee:
Therefore I tell thee well thou drunken knaue,
Thou art not he that shall rule me.

Paragraph mark O good wife cease and let this ouerpasse,
For all your great anger and hye wordes eake:
I am mine owne selfe euen as I was,
And to you will be louing, and also meeke.
But if ye should doe thus as ye do begin,
It may not continue no time ywys:
I would not let for kyth nor kin,
To make you mend, all thinges that is amys.

Paragraph mark Make me, mary out vpon the deuill,
Sayest thou that, wilt thou beginne:
I pray God and our Lady that a foule euill,
Lyghten vpon thee and all thy kinne.
By gods deare blest vex me no more,
For if thou doe thou shalte repente:
I gaue yet so near yet for thee in store,
And with that a staffe in her hand she bent.

Paragraph mark At him full soone then she let flee,
And wholled about her as it had bene a man:
Her husband then was fayne perdy,
To voyde her stroake and goe his way then.
By Gods deare mother then gan she sweare,
From henceforth I will make thee bow:
For I will trim thee in thy geare,
Or else I would I were cald a Sow.

Paragraph mark Fye on all wretches that be like thee,
In word or worke both lowde and still,
I sweare by him that made man free,
Of me thou shalte not haue thy will.
Now nor neuer I tell thee playne,
For I will haue Gold and riches ynow:
When thou shalte goe iagged as a simple swain
With whip in hande at carte and plough.

Paragraph mark Of that my deare wife I take no scorne,
For many a good man with minde and harte:
Hath gone to plough and carte beforne,
By time ywys with payne and smarte.
Which now be rich and haue good at will,
Being at home and make good cheare:
And there they intend to leade their life still,
Till our Lord doe sende for them heare.

Paragraph mark But now I must ryde a little way,
Peace wife I will come right soone agayne:
Appoynt our dinner I you pray,
For I doe take on me great payne.
I doe my best I sweare by my life,
To order you like a woman ywys:
And yet it cannot be withouten strife,
Through your lewde tongue by heauens blisse.

Paragraph mark Ryde to the Deuell and to his dame,
I would I should thee neuer see:
I pray God sende thee mickle shame,
In any place, where euer thou be.
Thou wouldest fayne, the mayster play,
But thou shalte not by God I make thee sure:
I sweare I will thy Peticote pay,
That long with me thou shalte not endure.

mark How the good man rode his way till he thoughte
her anger was past, and then he
retourned home a-

THe good man was sorry and wente his way,
About his busines, as he was vsed:
And to himselfe thus gan he say,
Lord God, how was I thus abused.
When I tooke this wife I was worse then mad
And yet can I blame my selfe and none other,
Which maketh me sigh and often be sad,
Repenting full sore by Gods deare Mother.

mark Fye vpon goods withouten pleasure,
Betweene man and wife that cannot agree:
It is a payne far passing measure,
Such stryfe to see where as loue should be.
For there was neuer man ywys,
So hampred with one wife as I am now,
Wherefore I thinke withouten misse,
She shall repent it I make God avow.

Paragraph mark Except she turne and change her minde,
And eake her conditions euerichone:
She shall fynde me to her so vnkinde,
That I shall her coyle both backe and bone.
And make her blew and also blacke,
That she shall grone agayne for woe:
I will make her bones all to cracke,
Without that she her condicions forgoe.

Paragraph mark I was neuer so vexte this time beforne,
As I am now of this wife alone:
A vengeaunce on her that euer she was borne,
for she maketh me often full woe begon.
And I cannot tell, where me to tourne
For me to wende, by God in faye
Which cause me often for to mourne
Or yet to know what for to say.

Paragraph mark I am worse, then mad or wood,
And yet I am loth with her to begin,
I feare me I shall neuer make her good
Except I do wrap her in black Morels skin,
That can no more drawe at plough ne carte,
It shall be to late to call for her kinne,
When she beginneth once for to smarte,
For little ease thereby she shall winne.

Paragraph mark Morell is olde, he can labour no more,
And doe no good but alway eate,
I trowe I haue kept him thus long in store,
To worke a charme that shall be feate.
The horeson is blynde and faine also
Behynde and before, he cannot stere,
When he from the stable to the streete should go,
He falleth downe, ryght than in the myre.

Paragraph mark Yet I am loth him for to kyll
For he hath done me good seruice by nowe,
But if my wyfe fulfyll not my wyll
I must him flea by God I trowe
But at thys poynt nowe will I be,
I wyll be mayster as it is reason,
And make her subiect vnto me
For she must learne a newe lesson.

Paragraph mark Her father did warne me of this beforne,
How I should it finde in euery degree:
But i did take it for halfe a scorne,
And would not beleeue him then perdee.
But now I perceaue it very well,
He did it for good will ywis:
Wherefore I thinke that Morels fell,
Must mend all thing that is amis.

Paragraph mark Thus he that will not beleeue his friend,
As her deare father was vnto me:
He is worthy for to fynde,
Alway greate payne and misery.
But I may not choose him to beleeue,
For the deede doth proue himselfe in fay:
Euer she is redy me for to greeue,
And thinkes to continue so alway.

Paragraph mark But now I will home to proue her minde,
And see what welcome I shall haue:
She may be so to me, vnkinde,
That she shall repent it, so God me saue.
For if I should of her complayne,
Folke would me mock, and giue me scorne:
And say I were worthy of this payne,
Because it was she wed me so well beforne.

Paragraph mark How the goodman was welcommed, when
he retourned home agayne.

THe good man came ryding to the gate,
And knocked as he had bene wode:
His seruaunt right soone did meete him thereat,
And bid him welcome with right milde moode.
The mayster sayd what doth my dame now,
Is she as frantick yet as she was:
Than will I tame her I make God auow,
And make her sing full loude alas.

Paragraph mark Where art thou wife shall I haue any meate,
Or am I not so welcome vnto thee:
That at my commaundement I shall ought get,
I pray thee hartely soone tell thou me.
If thou doe not serue me and that anon,
I shall thee shew mine anger ywis:
I sweare by God and by saynt Iohn,
Thy bones will I swaddle so haue I blisse.

Paragraph mark Forth she came, as brym a bore
And like a dog she rated him than:
Saying thus I set no store,
By thee thou wretch thou art no man,
Get thee hence out of my sight,
For meate nor drinke thou gettest none heare:
I sweare to thee by Mary bright,
Of me thou gettest here no good cheare.

mark Well wyfe he sayd thou doste me compell,
To doe that thing, that I were loath:
If I bereaue Morell of his old fell:
Thou shalte repente it by the fayth now goath.
For I see well that it will no better be,
But in it thou must, after the new guyse:
It had bene better so mote I thee,
That thou haddest not begon this enterpryse.

mark How the good man caused Morell to be flayn
and the hide salted, to lay his wife
therein to sleepe

NOw will I begin, my wife to tame,
That all the world shall it know,
I would be loth her for to shame,
Though she do not care, ye may me trow.
Yet will I her honestly regard,
And it preserue where euer ye may,
But Morell that is in yonder yarde,
His hyde therefore he must leese in fay.

Paragraph mark And so he commaunded anon,
To flea old Morell his great horse:
And flea him then, the skin from the bone,
To wrap it about his wiues white coarse.
Also he commaunded of a byrchen tree,
Roddes to be made of a good great heape:
And sware by deare God in Trinity,
His wife in his seller should skip and leape.

Paragraph mark The hyde must be salted then he sayd eake,
Bycause I would not haue it stinke:
I hope herewith she will be meeke,
For this I trow will make her shrinke.
And bow at my pleasure, when I her bed,
And obay my commaundementes both lowde and still,
Or else I will make her body bleede,
And with sharp roddes beate her my fill.

Paragraph mark Anon with that to her gan to call,
She bid abide in the diuelles name:
I will not come what so befall,
Sit still with sorrow and mickle shame.
Thou shalt not rule me as pleaseth thee,
I will well thou know by Gods deare Mother,
But thou shalt be ruled alway by me,
And I will be mayster and none other.

Paragraph mark Wilte thou be mayster deare wife in fay,
Then must we wrestle for the best game:
If thou win then may I say,
That I haue done my selfe greate shame.
But fyrst I will make thee sweate good Ione,
Redde blood euen to the heeles adowne,
And lappe thee in Morels skin alone,
That the blood shall be seene euen from the crowne.

Paragraph mark Sayest thou me that thou wretched knaue,
It were better thou haddest me neuer seene:
I sweare to thee so God me saue,
With my nayles I will scratch out both thine eyen,
And therefore thinke not to touch me once,
For by the masse if thou begin that,
Thou shalte be handled for the nonce,
That all thy braynes on the ground shall squat.

Paragraph mark Why then there is no remedy I see,
But needes I must doe euen as I thought:
Seeing it will none other wise be,
I will thee not spare by God that me bought.
For now I am set for to charme,
And make thee meeke by Gods might,
Or else with roddes while thou art warme,
I shall thee scourge with reason and right.

Now good Morels skin,
Receiue my curst wife in.

Paragraph mark Now the curst wife in Morels skin lay,
Because she would not her husband obay.

NOw will I my sweete wife trim,
According as she deserueth to me:
I sweare by God and by saynt Sim,
With Byrchen roddes well beate shall she be.
And after that in Morels salte skin,
I will her lay and full fast binde,
That all her friendes, and eake her kyn,
Shall her long seeke or they her fynde.

Paragraph mark Then he her met, and to her gan say,
How sayest thou wife wilte thou be mayster yet:
She sware by Gods body, and by that day,
And sodaynly with her fyst she did him hit.
And defyed him deuill at euery worde,
Saying pretious horsesone what doest thou thinke
I set not by thee a stinking torde
Thou shalt not get of me neyther meate nor drinke.

Paragraph mark Sayest thou me that wyfe quoth he than
With that in his armes he gan her catche
Streyght to the seller with her he ran
And fastned the dore with locke and latche
And threwe the key downe him besyde,
Askyng her than if she would obay
Than she sayde nay for all thy pryde
But she was mayster and would abyde alway.

Paragraph mark Then quoth he we must make afraye
And with that her cloths he gan to teare
Out vpon thee horesone than she did saye
Wylte thou robbe me of all my geare
It cost thee naught thou arrant theefe
And quickly she gat him by the heade
With that she sayde God giue thee a mischiefe
And them that fed thee fyrst with breade.

Paragraph mark They wrestled together thus they two
So long that the clothes asunder went
And to the grounde he threwe her tho
That cleane from the backe her smock he rent.
In euery hand a rod he gate,
And layd vpon her a right good pace:
Asking of her what game was that,
And she cryed out horson, alas, alas.

Paragraph mark What wilt thou doe, wilte thou kill me,
I haue made thee a man of nought:
Thou shalte repente it, by Gods pitty,
That euer this deede thou hast ywrought.
I care not for that dame he did say,
Thou shalt giue ouer or we departe
The maystership all, or all this day
I will not cease to make thee smarte.

Paragraph mark Euer he layde on, and euer she did crye,
Alas, alas, that euer I was borne
Out vpon thee murderer I thee defye
Thou hast my white skin, and my body all to torne
Leaue of betyme I counsayle thee,
Nay by God dame I saye not so yet,
I sweare to thee, by Mary so free
We begyn but nowe, this is the first fyt.

Paragraph mark Once agayne, we must daunce about
And then thou shalt reast in Morels skyn,
He gaue her than so many a greate cloute
That on the grounde the bloud was seene.
Within a whyle, he cryed newe roddes newe
With that she cryed full lowde alas,
Daunce yet about dame, thou came not where it greiue,
And sodainely with that in a sowne she was.

Paragraph mark He spyed that and vp he her hente,
And wrang her harde then by the nose:
With her to Morels skin, straighte he wente,
And therein full fast he did her close.
Within a while, she did reuiue,
Through the grose salte that did her smarte:
She thought she should neuer haue gone on liue,
Out of Morels skin so sore is her harte.

When she did spy that therein she lay,
Out of her wit she was full nye:
And to her husband then did she say,
How canst thou doe this vilany.
Nay how sayest thou, thou cursed wife,
In this foule skin I will thee keepe,
During the time of all thy life,
Therein for euer to wayle and weepe.

Paragraph mark With that her moode began to sinke,
And sayd deare husband for grace I call:
For I shall neuer sleepe nor winke,
Till I get your loue whatso befall.
And I will neuer to you offend,
In no maner of wise, of all my lyue:
Nor to doe nothing that may pretend,
To displease you with my wittes fyue.

Paragraph mark For Father nor Mother whatsoeuer they say
I will not anger you by God in throne:
But glad will your commaundementes obay,
In presence of people and eake alone.
Well on that condicion thou shalt haue,
Grace and fayne bed to rest thy body in:
But if thou rage more so God me saue,
I will wrap thee agayne in Morels skin.

Paragraph mark Then he tooke her out in his armes twayne,
And beheld her so pitteously with blood arayed,
How thinkest thou wife, shall we arrayne
Haue such businesse more to her he sayd,
She aunswered nay my husband deare,
While I you know, and you know me,
Your commaundementes I will both far and neare,
Fulfill alway in euery degree.

Paragraph mark Well then I promise thee by God euen now,
Betweene thee and me shall neuer be strife,
If thou to my commaundementes quickly bow
I will the cherish all the dayes of my life.
In bed she was layde and healed full soone,
As fayne and cleare as she was beforne,
What he her bid was quickly done,
To be dilligent ywys she tooke no scorne.

Paragraph mark Then was he glad, and thought in his minde
Now haue I done, my selfe great good,
And her also, we shall it finde,
Though I haue shed parte of her blood.
For as me thinke, she will be meeke:
Therefore I will her father and Mother,
Byd to guest, now the next weeke,
And of our neighboures, many other.

Paragraph mark Howe the good man did byd her Father and Mo-
ther to guest, and many of his neighbours
that they might see his wiues

GReat payne he made his wife to take,
Agaynst the day they they should come:
Of them was none that there did lack,
I dare wel say vnto my doome.
Ye Father and mother and neighbours all.
Dyd thether come to make good cheare,
Soone they were set in generall,
The wyfe was dilligent as did appeare.

Paragraph markFather and mother was welcome then,
And so were they all in good fay:
The husband sate there like a man,
The wyfe did serue them all that day.
The good man commaunded what he would haue,
The wyfe was quick at hand,
What now thought the mother, this arrant knaue,
Is mayster as I vnderstand.

Paragraph mark What may this meane then she gan thinke,
That my daughter so dilligent is:
Now can I nother eate nor drinke,
Till I it know by heauens blisse.
When her daughter came agayne,
To serue at the borde as her husband bad,
The Mother stared with her eyen twayne,
Euen as one that had ben mad.

Paragraph mark All the folke, that at the boord sate,
Did her behold then euerichone:
The mother from the boord her gate,
Following her daughter and that anone,
And in the kitching she her fand,
Saying vnto her in this wise:
Daughter thou shalt well vnderstand,
I did not teach thee after this guyse.

Paragraph mark A good mother ye say full well,
All thinges with me is not as ye weene:
If ye had bene in Morels fell,
As well as I it should be seene.
In Morels fell what deuill is that,
Mary mother I will it you show:
But beware that you come not thereat,
Lest you your selfe then doe beshrew.

Paragraph mark Come downe now in this seller so deepe,
And Morels skin there you shall see:
With many a rod that hath made me to weepe,
When the blood ranne downe fast by my knee.
The Mother this beheld and cryed out alas.
And ran out of the Seller as she had bene wood,
She came to the table where the company was,
And sayd out horeson I will see thy harte blood.

Paragraph mark Peace good Mother, or so haue I bliss,
Ye must daunce else as did my wyfe:
And in Morels skin lye, that well salted is,
Which you should repent all the dayes of your lyfe.
All they that were there, held with the yong man,
And sayd he dyd well in euery maner degree,
Whan dynner was done, they departed all than,
The mother no lenger durst there be.

Paragraph mark The Father abode last and was full glad,
And gaue his children his blessyng ywys,
Saying the yong man full well done had,
And merely departed wythouten mys,
This yong man was glad ye may be sure,
That he had brought his wyfe to this,
God gyue vs grace in rest to indure,
And hereafter to come vnto his blisse.

Paragraph mark Thus was Morell slayne out of his skin.
To charme a shrew so haue I blisse:
Forgeue the yongman if he did sin,
But I thinke he did nothing amisse.
He did all thing euen for the best.
As it well prooued then,
God saue our wiues from Morels nest,
I pray you say all amen.

Paragraph markThus endeth the iest of Morels skin,
Where the curst wife was lapped in,
Because she was of a shrewde leere.
Thus was she serued in this maner.

Finis. quoth Mayster Charme her.

don in Fleetestreate, beneath the
Conduite, at the signe of S. Iohn Euangelist,
by Hugh Iackson.

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