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The following Song, intitled, THE COMPLAINT OF CONSCIENCE, is printed from the Editor's folio Manuscript: Some corruptions in the old copy are here corrected; but with notice to the Reader wherever it was judged necessary, by inclosing the corrections between inverted commas.”
$ I walked of late by an’ wood side,
To God for to meditate was my entent;
Where under a hawthorne I suddenlye (pyed
A filly poore creature ragged and rent,
With bloody teares his face was besprent,
5 His fleshe and his color consumed away, Ånd his garments they were all mire, mucke, and clay.
This made me muse, and much to desire
To know what kind of man hee shold bee;
I ftept to him straight, and did him require
His name and his fecretts to shew unto mee.
His head he cast up, and wooful was hee,
My name, quoth he; is the cause of my care,
And makes me scorned, and left here fo bare.
Then straightway he turnd him, and prayd 'me' sit downe, And I will, faithe he, declare my whole greefe ; 16 My name is called CONSCIENCE:--wheratt he did
frowne, He pined to repeate it, and grinded his teethe, • Thoughe now, filly wretche, I'm denyed all releef,"
Ver. 1. one. MS. 1.15. him. MS. V. 19. not in MS. VOL. II.
• Yet while I was young, and tender of yeeres, I was entertained with kinges, and with peeres.
There was none in the court that lived in such fame,
For with the kings councell l' fate in commiffion;
Dukes, earles, and barrons csteem'd of my name ;
And how that I liv'd there needs no repetition : 25
I was ever holder in honest condition,
For howsoever the lawes went in Westminster-hall,
When sentence was given, for me they wold call,
No incomes at all the landlords wold take,
But one pore peny, that was their fine;
And that they acknowledged to be for my fake.
The poore wold doe nothing without councell mine :
I ruled the world with the right line :
· For nothing was pafled betweene foe and friend,
But Conscience was called to bee at the end.
Noe bargaines, nor merchandize merchants wold make
But I was called a witteneffe therto:
No use for noe money, nor forfett wold take,
But I wold controule them, if that they did foe:
• And that makes me live now in great woe,
For then came in Pride, Sathan's disciple,
That is now entertained with all kind of people.
He brought with him three, whose names thus they call'
That is Covetousnes, Lecherye, Usury, beside :
Ver, 23. he fate. MS. V. 35. an end. MS. V.43. they be these. MS.
They never prevail'd, till they had wrought my downe-fall;
Soe Pride was entertained, but Conscience decried, 46
And now ever since' abroad have I tryed
To have had entertainment with some one or other;
But I am rejected, and scorned of my brother.
Then went I to the Court the gallants to winn, 50
But the porter kept me out of the gate :
To Bartlemew Spittle to pray for my anne,
They bade me goe packe, it was fitt for my state;
Goe, goe, threed-bare Conscience, and seeke thee a mate.
Good Lord, long preserve my king, prince, and queene,
With whom evermore I efteemed have been. 56
Then went I to London, where once I did dwell':
with me, when they knew my name;
For he will undoe us to bye and to tell!
They bade me goe packe me, and hye me for shame; 60
They lought at my raggs, and there had good game;
This is old threed-bare Conscience, that dwelt with
But they wold not admitt me to be a chimney-sweeper.
Not one wold receive me, the Lord 'he' doth know;
I having but one poor pennye in my purse,
On an awle and some patches I did it bestow;
• For' I thought better cobble shooes than doe worse.
Straight then all the coblers began for to curse,
1.46. was decided. MS. 1.53. packe me. MS. V. 57. wonne. MS.
And by itatute wold prove me a rogue, and forlorne, And whipp me out of towne to .feeke' where I was
Then did I remember, and call to my minde,
The Court of Conscience where once I did fit :
Not doubting but there I fome favor shold find,
For my name and the place agreed soe fit;
But there of my purpose I fayled a whit,
75 For thoughe' the judge us'd my name in everye
commission, The lawyers with their quillets wold get my'dismislion.
Then Westminster-hall was noe place for me ;
Good lord! how the Lawyers began to assemble,
And fearfull they were, left there I sold bee!
80 The filly poore clarkes began for to tremble ; I showed them my cause, and did not diffemble;
Soe they gave me some money my charges to heareg But swore me on a booke I must never come there.
Next the Merchants said, Counterfeite, get thee away, 8;
Dost thou remember how wee thee fond?
We banisht thee the country beyond the salt fea,
And fert thee on shore in the New-found land;
Ånd there thou and wee most friendly shook hand,
And we were right glad when thou didft refuse us; go'
For when we wold reape profitt here thou woldft
accuse us. 1.70. fee. MS. 1.76; condicion. MS. 1.77: get a. MS.
Then had I noe way, but for to goe on
To Gentlemens houses of an ancyent name;
Declaring my greeffes, and there I made moane,
Telling' how their forefathers held me in fame: 95
And at letting their farmes “how always I came'.
They sayd, Fye upon thee! we may thee curse:
• Theire' leases continue, and we fare the worse.
And then I was forced a begging to goe
To husband mens houses, who greeved right fore,
And sware that their landlords had plagued them so,
That they were not able to keepe open doore,
Nor nothing had left to give to the poore;
Therefore to this wood I doe me l'epayre,
Where hepps and hawes, that is my best fare: 105
Yet within this same desert some comfort I have
Of Mercy, of Pittye, and of Almes-deeds ;
Who have vowed to company me to my grave.
Wee are all' put to silence, and live upon weeds,
And hence such cold house-keeping proceeds': IIO
Our banilh ment is its utter decay,
The which the riche glutton will answer one day.
Why then, I said to him, me-thinks it were beft
To goe to the Clergie; for dailye they preach
Eche man to love you above all the reit;
Of Mercye, and Pittie, and Almes deeds', they teach,
O, said he, noe matter of a pin what they preach,
V.95. And how, MS,
V.191. fo fore. MS.
109. ill. MS,
V. 110. not in MS.