From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama

N-Town Cycle, Play 14 - The Trial of Mary and Joseph

1 DEN Avoyd, serys, and lete my lorde þe buschop come
2 And syt in þe courte, þe lawes for to doo.
3 And I xal gon in þis place, them for to somowne,
4 Tho þat ben in my book--þe court 3e must com too!

5 I warnd 3ow here all abowte
6 þat I somown 3ow, all þe rowte!
7 Loke 3e fayl for no dowte
8 At þe court to pere.
9 Both Johan Jurdon and Geffrey Gyle,
10 Malkyn Mylkedoke and fayr Mabyle,
11 Stevyn Sturdy and Jak-at-þe-Style,
12 And Sawdyr Sadelere.

13 Thom Tynkere and Betrys Belle,
14 Peyrs Pottere and Whatt-at-þe-Welle,
15 Symme Srnalfeyth and Kate Kelle,
16 And Bertylmew þe bochere.
17 Kytt Cakelere and Colett Crane,
18 Gylle Fetyse and fayr Jane,
19 Powle Pewterere and Pernel Prane,
20 And Phelypp þe good flecchere.

21 Cok Crane and Davy Drydust,
22 Luce Lyere and Letyce Lytyltrust,
23 Miles þe myllere and Colle Crakecrust,
24 Bothe Bette þe bakere and Robyn Rede.
25 And loke 3e rynge wele in 3oure purs,
26 For ellys 3oure cawse may spede þe wurs,
27 þow þat 3e slynge Goddys curs
28 Evyn at myn hede!

29 Fast com away,
30 Bothe Boutyng þe browstere and Sybyly Slynge,
31 Megge Merywedyr and Sabyn Sprynge,
32 Tyffany Twynkelere, fayle for nothynge,
33 The courte xal be þis day!

Hic intrabit page [n] turn do Purgacione Marie et Joseph. Hic dicit Prirnus Detractor:

34 [PRIMUS DETRACTOR] A, a, serys, God saue 3ow all!
35 Here is a fayr pepyl, in good fay.
36 Good serys, telle me what men me calle;
37 I trowe 3e kannot be þis day.
38 3itt I walke wyde and many Way,
39 But 3et fer I come I do no good:
40 To reyse slaw[n]dyr is al my lay.
41 Bakbytere is my brother of blood.

42 Dede he ought come hedyr in al þis day?
43 Now wolde God þat he wore here.
44 And be my trewth I dare wel say
45 þat yf we tweyn togedyr apere,
46 More slawndyr we to xal arere
47 Within an howre thorweouth this town
48 Than evyr þer was þis thowsand 3ere,
49 And ellys I shrewe 3ow bothe vp and down!

50 Now be my trewth I haue a syght
51 Euyn of my brother, lo! where he is.
52 Welcom, dere brother, my trowth I plyght!
53 3owre jentyl mowth let me now kys.
54 SECUNDUS DETRACTOR Gramercy, brother, so haue I blys!
55 I am ful glad we met þis day.
56 PRIMUS DETRACTOR Ryght so am I, brothyr, iwys,
57 Mech gladdere than I kan say.

58 But 3itt, good brother, I 3ow pray,
59 Telle all þese pepyl what is 3oure name;
60 For yf þei knew it, my lyf I lay,
61 They wole 3ow wurchep and speke gret fame.
62 SECUNDUS DETRACTOR I am Bakbytere, þat spyllyth all game,
63 Bothe kyd and knowyn in many a place!
64 PRIMUS DETRACTOR Be my trowth, I seyd þe same,
65 And 3et sum seyden þu xulde haue evyl grace.

66 SECUNDUS DETRACT[OR] Herk, Reysesclaundyr, canst þu owth telle
67 Of any newe thynge þat wrought was late?
68 PRIMUS DETRACT[OR] Within a shorte whyle a thynge befelle,
69 I trowe þu wylt lawh3 ryght wel þerate;
70 For, be trowth, ryght mekyl hate,
71 If it be wyst, þerof wyl growe.
72 SECUNDUS DETRACTOR If I may reyse þerwith debate,
73 I xal not spare þe seyd to sowe.

74 PRIMUS DETRACTOR Syr, in þe tempyl a mayd þer was
75 Calde Mayd Mary, þe trewth to tell.
76 Sche semyd so holy withinne þat plas,
77 Men seyd sche was fedde with holy aungell.
78 Sche made a vow with man nevyr to melle,
79 But to leve chast and clene virgine.
80 Howevyr it be, here wombe doth swelle
81 And is as gret as þinne or myne!

82 SECUNDUS DETRACTOR 3a, þat old shrewe Joseph, my trowth I plyght,
83 Was so anameryd upon þat mayd
84 þat of hyre bewté whan he had syght,
85 He sesyd nat tyll [he] had here asayd!
86 PRIMUS DETRACTOR A, nay, nay, wel wers she hath hym payd:
87 Sum fresch 3onge galaunt she lovyth wel more
88 þat his leggys to here hath leyd!
89 And þat doth greve þe old man sore.

90 SECUNDUS DETRACTOR Be my trewth, al may wel be,
91 For fresch and fayr she is to syght.
92 And such a mursel, as semyth me,
93 Wolde cause a 3onge man to haue delyght.
94 PRIMUS DETRACTOR Such a 3onge damesel of bewté bryght,
95 And of schap so comely also,
96 Of hire tayle ofte-tyme be lyght
97 And rygh tekyl vndyr þe too.

98 SECUNDUS DETRACTOR That olde cokolde was evyl begylyd
99 To þat fresche wench whan he was wedde.
100 Now muste he faderyn anothyr mannys chylde,
101 And with his swynke he xal be fedde.
102 PRIMUS DETRACTOR A 3onge man may do more chere in bedde
103 To a 3onge wench þan may an olde.
104 þat is þe cawse such lawe is ledde,
105 þat many a man is a kokewolde.

Hic sedet Episcopus Abizachar inter duos legis doctores et, audientes hanc defam[a]cionem, vocat ad se detractores dicens:

106 EPISCOPUS Herke, 3e felawys, why speke 3e such schame
107 Of þat good virgyn, fayr Mayd Mary?
108 3e be acursyd so hire for to defame,
109 She þat is of lyff so good and holy.
110 Of hire to speke suche velany
111 3e make myn hert ful hevy of mood.
112 I charge 3ow sese of 3oure fals cry,
113 For sche is sybbe of myn owyn blood.

114 SECUNDUS DETRACTOR Syb of þi kyn þow þat she be,
115 All gret with chylde hire wombe doth swelle!
116 Do calle here hedyr, þiself xal se
117 þat it is trewthe þat I þe telle.
118 PRIMUS DETRACTOR Sere, for 3oure sake I xal kepe cowncelle;
119 3ow for to greve I am ryght loth.
120 But lest, serys, lyst what seyth þe belle:
121 Oure fayr mayd now gret with childe goth!

122 PRIMUS DOCTOR Take good heed, serys, what 3e doth say,
123 Avyse 3ow wele what 3e present.
124 3yf þis be fownd fals anothyr day,
125 Ful sore 3e xal 3oure tale repent!
126 SECUNDUS DETRACTOR Sere, þe mayd forsothe is good and gent,
127 Bothe comely and gay and a fayr wench;
128 And feetly with help sche can consent
129 To set a cokewolde on þe hye benche!

130 SECUNDUS DOCTOR 3e be to besy of 3oure langage!
131 I hope to God 3ow fals to preve.
132 LEGIS It were gret rewthe she xulde so outrage,
133 Or with such synne to myscheve.
134 EPISCOPUS This evy talys my hert doth greve,
135 Of hire to here such fowle dalyawnce.
136 If she be fowndyn in suche repreve,
137 She xal sore rewe here governawns!

138 Sym Somnore, in hast wend þu þi way;
139 Byd Joseph and his wyff be name
140 At þe coorte to appere þis day,
141 Here hem to pourge of here defame.
142 Sey þat I here of hem grett schame
143 And þat doth me gret hevynes.
144 If þei be clene withowtyn blame,
145 Byd hem come hedyr and shew wyttnes.

146 DEN All redy, sere, I xal hem calle
147 Here at 3oure courte for to appere.
148 And yf I may hem mete withall,
149 I hope ryght sone þei xal ben here.
150 Awey, serys, lete me com nere!
151 A man of wurchep here comyth to place.
152 Of curtesy, mesemyth, 3e be to lere;
153 Do of 3oure hodys, with an evyl grace.

154 Do me sum wurchep befor my face,
155 Or be my trowth I xal 3ow make!
156 If þat I rolle 3ow up in my race,
157 For fere I xal do 3oure ars qwake!
158 But 3it sum mede and 3e me take,
159 I wyl withdrawe my gret rough toth.
160 Gold or sylvyr I wyl not forsake,
161 But [do] evyn as all somnorys doth.

162 A, Joseph, good day, with þi fayr spowse!
163 My lorde þe buschop hath for 3ow sent.
164 It is hym tolde þat in þin house
165 A cockoldeis bowe is ech nyght bent.
166 He þat shett þe bolt is lyke to be schent.
167 Fayre mayde, þat tale 3e kan best telle.
168 Now be 3oure trowth, telle 3oure entent:
169 Dede not þe archere plese 3ow ryght well?

170 MARIA Of God in hevyn I take wyttnes,
171 þat synful werk was nevyr my thought.
172 I am a mayd 3it of pure clennes,
173 Lyke as I was into þis werd brought.
174 DEN Othyr wyttnes xal non be sought.
175 þu art with childe cche man may se.
176 I charge 3ow bothe 3e tary nought,
177 But to þe buschop com forth with me.

178 JOSEPH To þe buschop with 3ow we wende--
179 Of oure purgacyon hawe we no dowth.
180 MARIA Almyghty God xal be oure frende
181 Whan þe trewthe is tryed owth.
182 DEN 3a, on þis wyse excusyth here every scowte
183 Whan here owyn synne hem doth defame!
184 But lowly þan þei gyn to lowth
185 Whan þei be gylty and fowndyn in blame.

186 Therfore, com forth, Cokewolde be name!
187 þe busschop xal 3oure lyff appose.
188 Com forth also, 3e goodly dame,
189 A clene huswyff, as I suppose!
190 I xal 3ow tellyn withowtyn glose,
191 And 3e were myn, withowtyn lak,
192 I wolde ech day beschrewe 3oure nose
193 And 3e dede brynge me such a pak!

194 My lord þe buschop, here haue I brought
195 þis goodly copyl at 3oure byddyng;
196 And as mesemyth as be here fraught,
197 'Fayr chylde, lullay' sone must she syng.
198 PRIMUS DETRACTOR To here a credyl and 3e wolde brynge,
199 3e myght saue mony in here purse.
200 Becawse she is 3oure cosyn 3ynge,
201 I pray 3ow, sere, lete here nevyr fare þe wers.

202 EPISCOPUS Alas, Mary, what hast þu wrought?
203 I am aschamyd evyn for þi sake.
204 How hast þu chaungyd þin holy thought?
205 Dude old Joseph with strenght þe take?
206 Or hast þu chosyn another make
207 By whom þu art þus brought in schame?
208 Telle me who hath wrought þis wrake.
209 How has þu lost þin holy name?

210 MARIA My name, I hope, is saff and sownde.
211 God to wyttnes, I am a mayd.
212 Of fleschby lust and gostly wownde
213 In dede nere thought I nevyr asayd.
214 PRIMUS DOCTOR How xulde þi wombe þus be arayd,
215 So grettly swollyn as þat it is?
216 LEGIS But if sum man þe had ovyrlayd,
217 þi wombe xulde never be so gret, iwys!

218 SECUNDUS DOCTOR Herke þu, Joseph, I am afrayd
219 þat þu hast wrought þis opyn synne.
220 þis woman þu hast þus betrayd
221 With gret flaterynge or sum fals gynne.
222 SECUNDUS DETRACTOR Now, be myn trowth, 3e hytte þe pynne!
223 With þat purpose, in feyth, I holde.
224 Telle now how þu þus hire dudyst wynne,
225 Ore knowlych þiself for a cockewold.

226 JOSEPH Sche is for me a trewe clene mayde,
227 And I for hire am clene also.
228 Of fleschly synne I nevyr asayde
229 Sythyn þat sch[e] was weddyd me to.
230 EPISCOPUS Thu xalt not schape from vs 3itt so;
231 Fyrst þu xalte tellyn us another lay.
232 Streyt to þe awter þu xalt go,
233 þe drynge of vengeawns fer to asay.

234 Here is þe botel of Goddys vengeauns.
235 This drynk xal be now þi purgacyon.
236 þis [hath] suche vertu by Goddys ordenauns
237 þat what man drynk of þis potacyon
238 And goth serteyn in processyon
239 Here in þis place þis awtere abowth,
240 If he be gylty, sum maculacion
241 Pleyn in his face xal shewe it owth.

242 Iff þu be gylty, telle us, lete se.
243 Ouyr Godys myght be not to bolde!
244 If þu presume and gylty be,
245 God þu dost greve many a folde.
246 JOSEPH I am not gylty, as I fyrst tolde,
247 Allmyghty God I take wytnes.
248 EPISCOPUS Than þis drynke in hast þu holde,
249 And on processyon anon þe dresse.

Hic Joseph bibit et sepcies circuiuit altare dicens:

250 JOSEPH This drynk I take with meke entent.
251 As I am gyltles, to God I pray:
252 Lord, as þu art omnypotente,
253 On me þu shewe þe trowth þis day.

Modo bibit

254 About þis awtere I take þe Way,
255 O gracyous God, help þi servaunt!
256 As I am gyltles a3en 3on may,
257 þin hand of mercy þis tyme me graunt.

258 DEN This olde shrewe may not wele gon!
259 Longe he taryeth to go abowth.
260 Lyfte up þi feet, sett forth þi ton,
261 Or be my trowth þu getyst a clowte!
262 SECUNDUS DETRACTOR Now, sere, evyl thedom com to þi snowte!
263 What heylyght þi leggys now to be lame?
264 þu dedyst hem put ryght freschly owte
265 Whan þu dedyst pley with 3on 3onge dame!

266 PRIMUS DETRACTOR I pray to God gyf hym myschawns!
267 Hese leggys here do folde for age.
268 But with þis damysel whan he dede dawns,
269 þe olde charle had ryght gret corage!
270 DEN The shrewe was þan sett in a dotage
271 And had good lust þat tyme to pleyn.
272 3aff sche not 3ow cawdel to potage
273 Whan 3e had don, to comforte 3oure brayn?

274 JOSEPH A, gracyous God, help me þis tyde
275 Ageyn þis pepyl þat me doth fame.
276 As I nevyrmore dede towch here syde,
277 þis day help me fro werdly scharne.
278 Abowte þis awtere to kepe my fame,
279 Vij tymes 1 haue gon round abowte.
280 If I be wurthy to suffyr blame,
281 O ryghtful God, my synne shewe owughte.

282 EPISCOPUS Joseph, with hert thank God þi Lorde
283 Whos hey3 mercy doth the excuse.
284 For þi purgacyon we xal recorde
285 With hyre of synne þu dedyst nevyr muse.
286 But, Mary, þiself mayst not refuse:
287 All grett with chylde we se þe stonde.
288 What mystyr man dede be mysvse?
289 Why hast þu synnyd ageyn þin husbonde?

290 MARIA I trespacyd nevyr with erthely wyght.
291 þerof I hope þurowe Goddys sonde
292 Here to be purgyd before 3oure syght
293 From all synne clene, lyke as myn husbonde.
294 Take me þe botel out of 3oure honde,
295 Here xal I drynke beforn 3oure face.
296 Abowth þis awtere than xal I fonde
297 Vij tyrnes to go, by Godys grace.

298 PRIMUS DOCTOR Se, þis bolde bysmare wolde presume
299 Ageyn God to preve his myght!
300 þow Goddys vengeauns hyre xuld consume,
301 Sche wyl not telle hyre fals delyght.
302 þu art with chylde we se in syght;
303 To us þi wombe þe doth accuse!
304 þer was nevyr woman 3itt in such plyght
305 þat from mankynde hyre kowde excuse.

306 PRIMUS DETRACTOR In feyth, I suppose þat þis woman slepte
307 Withowtyn all coverte whyll þat it dede snowe;
308 And a flake þerof into hyre mowthe crepte,
309 And þerof þe chylde in hyre wombe doth growe.
310 SECUNDUS DETRACTOR Than beware, dame, for this is wel iknowe:
311 Whan it is born, yf þat þe sunne shyne,
312 It wyl turne to watyr ageyn, as I trowe;
313 For snow onto watyr doth evyrmore reclyne.

314 SECUNDUS DOCTOR With Goddys hy3 myght loke þu not jape!
315 Of þi purgacyon wel þe avyse.
316 Yf þu be gylty þu mayst not schape;
317 Beware evyr of God, þat ryghtful justyce!
318 If God with vengeauns set on þe his syse,
319 Not only þu but all þi kyn is schamyd.
320 Bettyr it is to telle þe trewth, devyse,
321 Than God for to greve and of hym be gramyd.

322 I trostyn in his grace, I xal hym nevyr greve;
323 His servaunt I am in worde, dede, and thought.
324 A mayd vndefyled I hope he xal me preve.
325 I pray 3ow, lett me nought.
326 EPISCOPUS Now, be þat good Lord þat all þis werd hath wrought,
327 If God on þe shewe ony manyr tokyn,
328 Purgacyon, I trowe, was nevyr so dere bowth,
329 If I may on the in any wyse be wrokyn.

330 Holde here þe botel and take a large draught,
331 And abowth the awtere go þi processyon.
332 MARYA To God in þis case my cawse I haue betaught;
333 Lord, thorwe þin helpe I drynke of þis potacyon.

Hic Beata Uirgo bibit de potacione et postea circuiuit altare dicens:

334 MARIA God, as I nevyr knew of mannys maculacion,
335 But evyr haue lyued in trew virginité,
336 Send me þis day þi holy consolacyon
337 þat all þis fayr peple my clennes may se.

338 O, gracyous God, as þu hast chose me
339 For to be þi modyr, of me to be born,
340 Saue þi tabernacle, þat clene is kepte for þe,
341 Which now am put at repref and skorn.
342 Gabryel me tolde with wordys he[re] beforn
343 þat 3e of 3oure goodnes wold become my chylde.
344 Help now of 3oure hy3ness my wurchep be not lorn;
345 A, dere son, I pray 3ow, help 3oure modyr mylde.

346 EPISCOPUS Almyghty God, what may þis mene?
347 For all þe drynke of Goddys potacyon,
348 þis woman with chylde is fayr and clene,
349 Withowtyn fowle spotte or maculacion!
350 I cannat, be non ymagynacyon,
351 Preve hyre gylty and synful of lyff.
352 It shewyth opynly by here purgacyon
353 Sche is clene mayde, bothe modyr and wyff!

354 PRIMUS DETRACTO[R]Be my fadyr sowle, here is gret gyle!
355 Because sche is syb of 3oure kynreed,
356 þe drynk is chaungyd by sum fals wyle
357 þat sche no shame xulde haue þis steed!
358 EPISCOPUS Becawse þu dernyst þat we do falshede,
359 And for þu dedyst hem fyrst defame,
360 þu xalt ryght here, magré þin heed,
361 Beforn all þis pepyl drynk of þe same.

362 PRIMUS DETRACTOR Syr, in good feyth oo draught I pulle,
363 If these to drynkerys haue not all spent.

Hic bibit, et scenciens dolorem in capite cadit, et dicit:

364 Out, out! Alas, what heylith my soulle?
365 A, myn heed with fyre methynkyht is brent!
366 Mercy, good Mary, I do me repent
367 Of my cursyd and fals langage!
368 MARIA Now god Lord in hevyn omnypotent,
369 Of his grett mercy 3oure seknes aswage.

370 EPISCOPUS We all on knes fall here on grownd,
371 þu, Goddys handemayd, prayng for grace.
372 All cursyd langage and schame onsownd,
373 Good Mary, for3eve us here in þis place.
374 MARIA Now God for3eve 3ow all 3owre trespace,
375 And also for3eve 3ow all defamacyon
376 þat 3e haue sayd, both more and lesse,
377 To myn hynderawnce and maculacion.

378 EPISCOPUS Now, blyssyd virgyne, we thank 3ow alle
379 Of 3oure good hert and gret pacyens.
380 We wyl go with 3ow hom to 3oure halle
381 To do 3ow servys with hy3 reverens.
382 MARIA I thank 3ow hertyly of 3oure benevolens.
383 Onto 3oure owyn hous I pray 3ow 3e goo,
384 And take þis pepyl hom with 3ow hens;
385 I am not dysposyd to passyn hens froo.

386 EPISCOPUS Than farewel, mayden and pure virgyne,
387 Farewel, trewe handmayd of God in blys!
388 We all to 3ow lowly inclyne
389 And take oure leve of 3ow as wurthy is.
390 MARIA Allmyghty God 3oure weys wysse,
391 For þat hy3 Lord is most of myght.
392 He mote 3ow spede þat 3e not mys
393 In hevyn of hym to haue a syght.

394 JOSEPH Honouryd in hevyn be þat hy3 Lorde
395 Whos endles grace is so habundaunt
396 þat he doth shewe þe trewe recorde
397 Of iche wyhgt þat is his trewe servaunt.
398 That Lord to wurchepe with hert plesaunt
399 We bothe be bownd ryght on þis place,
400 Which oure purgacyon us dyde graunt
401 And prevyd us pure by hie3 grace.

402 MARIA Forsothe, good spowse, I thank hym hy3ly
403 Of his good grace for oure purgacyon.
404 Oure clennesse is knowyn ful opynly
405 Be vertu of his grett consolacyon.

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Proper Citation: NeCastro, Gerard. N-Town Cycle, Play 14 - The Trial of Mary and Joseph. From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama. Date Visited.