From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama

N-Town Cycle, Play 24 - The Woman Taken in Adultery

Hic de muliere in adulterio deprehensa.

1 JESUS Nolo mortem peccatoris.
2 Man, for þi synne take repentaunce.
3 If þu amende þat is amys,
4 Than hevyn xal be þin herytaunce.
5 Thow þu haue don a3ens God grevauns,
6 3ett mercy to haske loke þu be bolde.
7 His mercy doth passe in trewe balauns
8 All cruel jugement be many folde.

9 Thow þat 3oure synnys be nevyr so grett,
10 For hem be sad and aske mercy.
11 Sone of my fadyr grace 3e may gett
12 With þe leste teer wepynge owte of 3oure ey.
13 My fadyr me sent the, man, to bye;
14 All þi raunsom mysylfe must pay;
15 For loue of þe mysylfe wyl dye.
16 Iff þu aske mercy, I sey nevyr nay.

17 Into þe erth from hevyn above
18 þi sorwe to sese and joy to restore,
19 Man, I cam down all for þi loue.
20 Loue me ageyn--I aske no more.
21 þow þu myshappe and synne ful sore,
22 3it turne a3en and mercy craue.
23 It is þi fawte and þu be lore;
24 Haske þu mercy and þu xalt haue.

25 Vppon þi neybore be not vengabyl,
26 Ageyn þe lawe if he offende.
27 Lyke as he is, þu art vnstabyl--
28 Thyn owyn frelté evyr þu attende.
29 Euyrmore þi neybore helpe to amende,
30 Evyn as þu woldyst he xulde þe.
31 Ageyn hym wrath if þu accende,
32 The same in happ wyll falle on the.

33 Eche man to othyr be mercyable,
34 And mercy he xal haue at nede.
35 What man of mercy is not tretable,
36 Whan he askyth mercy, he xal not spede.
37 Mercy to graunt I com, indede.
38 Whoso aske mercy, he xal haue grace.
39 Lett no man dowte for his mysdede,
40 But evyr aske mercy whyl he hath space.

41 SCRIBA Alas, alas, oure lawe is lorn!
42 A fals ypocryte, Jesu be name,
43 þat of a sheppherdis dowtyr was born,
44 Wyl breke oure lawe and make it lame!
45 He wyl us werke ryght mekyl shame,
46 His fals purpos if he upholde.
47 All oure lawys he doth defame--
48 þat stynkynge beggere is woundyr bolde!

49 PHARISEUS Sere scrybe, in feyth þat ypocryte
50 Wyl turne his londe al to his lore.
51 þerfore I councell hym to indyte,
52 And chastyse hym ryght web þerfore.
53 SCRIBA On hym beleve many a score,
54 In his prechynge he is so gay.
55 Ech man hym folwygh evyr more and more--
56 A3ens þat he seyth no man seyth nay.

57 PHARISEUS A fals qwarel if we cowde feyne,
58 þat ypocrite to puttyn in blame,
59 All his prechynge xulde sone disteyne,
60 And than his wurchepp xuld turne to shame.
61 With sum falshede to spyllyn his name
62 Left us assay his lore to spylle.
63 þe pepyl with hym yff we cowde grame,
64 Than xulde we sone haue al oure wyll.

65 ACCUSATOR Herke, Sere Pharysew and Sere Scrybe,
66 A ryght good sporte I kan 3ow telle.
67 I vndyrtake þat ryght a good brybe
68 We all xul haue to kepe councell.
69 A fayre 3onge qwene hereby doth dwelle,
70 Both fresch and gay upon to loke.
71 And a tall man with here doth melle;
72 The wey into hyre chawmere ryght evyn he toke.

73 Left us thre now go streyte thedyr,
74 The wey ful evyn I xall 3ow lede.
75 And we xul take them both togedyr
76 Whyll þat þei do þat synful dede.
77 SCRIBA Art þu sekyr þat we xal spede?
78 Shall we hym fynde whan we cum there?
79 ACCUSATOR Be my trowth, I haue no drede,
80 þe hare fro þe forme we xal arere!

81 PHARISEUS We xal haue game and his be trewe!
82 Lete vs thre werke by on assent.
83 We wyl here brynge evyn beforn Jesu
84 And of here lyff þe truth present,
85 How in advowtrye hyre lyff is lent.
86 Than hym beforn whan she is browth,
87 We xul hym aske þe trew jugement,
88 What lawfull deth to here is wrouth.

89 Of grace and mercy hevyr he doth preche,
90 And þat no man xulde be vengeable.
91 Ageyn þe woman if he sey wrech,
92 Than of his prechynge he is vnstable.
93 And if we fynde hym varyable
94 Of his prechynge þat he hath tawth,
95 Than haue we cawse bothe juste and able
96 For a fals man þat he be cawth.

97 SCRIBA Now be grete God, 3e sey ful well!
98 If we hym fyndyn in varyaunce,
99 We haue good reson, as 3e do tell,
100 Hym for to brynge to foule myschauns.
101 If he holde stylle his dalyauns,
102 And preche of mercy, hire for to saue,
103 Than haue we mater of gret substauns
104 Hym for to kylle and putt in graue.

105 Grett reson why I xal 3ow telle:
106 For Moyses doth bydde in oure lawe
107 That euery advowterere we xuld qwelle,
108 And 3itt with stonys thei xulde be slawe.
109 Ageyn Moyses if þat he drawe,
110 þat synful woman with grace to helpe,
111 He xal nevyr skape out of oure awe,
112 But he xal dye lyke a dogge whelpe!

113 ACCUSATOR 3e tary ovyrlonge, serys, I sey 3ow;
114 They wyl sone parte, as þat I gesse.
115 þerfore, if 3e wyl haue 3oure pray now,
116 Lete us go take them in here whantownnesse.
117 PHARISEUS Goo þu beforn, be wey to dresse;
118 We xal be folwe within short whyle.
119 Iff þat we may þat quene dystresse,
120 I hope we xal Jesu begyle.

121 SCRIBA Breke up be dore and go we inne!
122 Sett to be shuldyr with all þi myght.
123 We xal hem take evyn in here synne--
124 Here owyn trespas shal hem indite.

Hic juuenis quidam extra currit in deploydo, calligis non ligatis et braccas in manu tenens; et dicit accusator:

125 ACCUSATOR Stow þat harlot, sum erthely wyght,
126 That in advowtrye here is fownde!
127 JUUENIS 3iff any man stow me þis nyth,
128 I xal hym 3eve a dedly wownde!

129 I[f] any man my wey doth stoppe,
130 Or we departe, ded xal [he] be.
131 I xal his daggare put in his croppe--
132 I xal hem kylle or he xal me.
133 PHARISEUS Grett Goddys curse mut go with the!
134 With suche a shrewe wyll I not melle.
135 JUUEN[I]S That same blyssynge I 3yff 3ow thre
136 And qwheth 3ow alle to þe devyl of helle!

137 In feyth, I was so sore affrayd
138 Of 3one thre shrewys, þe sothe to say,
139 My breche be nott 3ett well upteyd,
140 I had such hast to renne away.
141 Thei xal nevyr cacche me in such affray.
142 I am full glad þat I am gon!
143 Adewe, adewe, a xxti devyl way,
144 And Goddys curse haue 3e everychon!

145 SCRIBA Come forth, þu stotte, com forth, þu scowte!
146 Com forth, þu bysmare and brothel bolde!
147 Com forth, þu hore and stynkynge bych clowte!
148 How longe hast þu such harlotry holde?
149 PHARISEUS Com forth, þu quene, com forth, þu scolde!
150 Com forth, þu sloveyn, com forth, þu slutte!
151 We xal the teche with carys colde
152 A lytyl bettyr to kepe þi kutte.

153 MULYER A, mercy, mercy, serys, I 3ow pray!
154 For Goddys love haue mercy on me.
155 Of my myslevynge me not bewray;
156 Haue mercy on me, for charyté!
157 ACCUSATOR Aske us no mercy; it xal not be.
158 We xul so ordeyn for þi lott
159 þat þu xalt dye for þin advowtrye!
160 þerfore, com forth, þu stynkynge stott!

161 MULIER Serys, my wurchepp if 3e wyl saue
162 And helpe I haue non opyn shame,
163 Bothe gold and sylvyr 3e xul haue,
164 So þat in clennes 3e kepe my name.
165 SCRIBA Mede for to take, we were to blame
166 To save suche stottys. It xal not be!
167 We xal brynge the to suche a game
168 þat all advowtererys xul lern be the.

169 MULIER Stondynge 3e wyl not graunt me grace,
170 But for my synne þat I xal dye,
171 I pray 3ow kylle me here in his place
172 And lete not be pepyl upon me crye.
173 If I be sclaundryd opynly,
174 To all my frendys it xul be shame.
175 I pray 3ow, kylle me here in his place
176 Lete not þe pepyl know my defame.

177 PHARISEUS Fy on þe, scowte, be devyl þe qwelle!
178 Ageyn þe lawe xul we þe kyll?
179 Fyrst xal hange þe þe devyl of helle
180 Or we such folyes xulde fulfyll.
181 Thow it lyke þe nevyr so ill,
182 Befforn be prophete þu xalt haue lawe.
183 Lyke as Moyses doth charge u[s] tyll,
184 With grett stonys þu xalt be slawe.

185 ACCUSATOR Com forth apase, þu stynkynge scowte,
186 Before þe prophete þu were þis day,
187 Or I xal 3eve þe such a clowte
188 þat þu xalt fall down evyn in þe way.
189 SCRIBA Now, be grett God, and I þe pay,
190 Such a buffett I xal þe take
191 þat all be teth, I dare wel say,
192 Withinne þin heed for who xul shake.

193 PHARISEUS Herke, sere prophete, we all 3ow pray
194 To gyff trewe dom and just sentence
195 Vpon his woman, which þis same day
196 In synfull advowtery hath don offense.

Hic Jesus, dum isti accusant mulierem, continue debet digito suo scribere in terra.

197 ACCUSATOR Se, we haue brought here to 3oure presens
198 Becawse 3e ben a wyse prophete,
199 þat 3e xal telle be consyens
200 What deth to hyre 3e thynke most mete.

201 SCRIBA In Moyses lawe ryght þus we fynde,
202 þat such fals louers xul be slayn;
203 Streyte to a stake we xul hem bynde
204 And with grett stonys brest out þer brayn.
205 Of 3oure concyens telle us þe playn,
206 With þis woman what xal be wrought?
207 Shall we lete here go qwyte agayn,
208 Or to hire deth xal she be brought?

Jesus nichil respondit, sed semper scrybyt in terra.

209 [MULIER] Now, holy prophete, be mercyable!
210 Vpon me, wrecch, take no vengeaunce.
211 For my synnys abhomynable
212 In hert I haue grett repentaunce.
213 I am wel wurthy to haue myschaunce,
214 Both bodyly deth and werdly shame.
215 But, gracyous prophete, of socurraunce
216 þis tyme pray 3ow, for Goddys name.

217 PHARISEUS Ageyn be lawe þu dedyst offens;
218 þerfore of grace speke þu no more.
219 As Moyses gevyth in lawe sentens,
220 þu xalt be stonyd to deth þerfore.
221 ACCUSATOR Ha don, sere prophete, telle us 3oure lore.
222 Xul we his woman with stonys kyll,
223 Or to hire hous hire home restore?
224 In þis mater tell us 3oure wyll.

225 SCRIBA In a colde stodye methynkyth 3e sytt.
226 Good sere, awake! Telle us 3oure thought.
227 Xal she be stonyd--telle us 3oure wytt--
228 Or in what rewle xal sche be brought?
229 JESUS Loke which of 3ow þat nevyr synne wrought,
230 But is of lyff clennere þan she,
231 Cast at here stonys and spare here nowght,
232 Clene out of synne if þat 3e be.

Hic Jesus, iterum se inclinans, scribet in terra; et omnes accusatores, quasi confusi, separatim in tribus locis se desiungent.

233 PHARISEUS Alas, alas, I am ashamyd!
234 I am afferde þat I xal deye!
235 All myn synnys evyn propyrly namyd
236 3on prophyte dede wryte befor myn eye.
237 Iff þat my felawys þat dude aspye,
238 They wyll telle it bothe fer and wyde.
239 My synfull levynge if þei outcrye,
240 I wot nevyr wher myn heed to hyde.

241 ACCUSATOR Alas, for sorwe myn herte doth blede!
242 All my synnys 3on man dude wryte.
243 If þat my felawys to them toke hede,
244 I kannot me from deth acquyte.
245 I wolde I wore hyd sumwhere out of syght
246 þat men xuld me nowhere se ne knowe.
247 Iff I be take, I am afflyght
248 In mekyl shame I xal be throwe.

249 SCRIBA Alas þe tyme þat his betyd!
250 Ryght byttyr care doth me enbrace.
251 All my synnys be now vnhyd,
252 3on man befor me hem all doth trace.
253 If I were onys out of his place,
254 To suffyr deth gret and vengeauns able,
255 I wyl nevyr come befor his face,
256 þow I xuld dye in a stable.

257 MULIER Thow I be wurthy for my trespas
258 To suffyr deth abhomynable,
259 3itt, holy prophete, of 3oure hy3 grace,
260 In 3oure jugement be mercyable!
261 I wyl nevyrmore be so vnstable.
262 O holy prophete, graunt me mercy.
263 Of myn synnys vnresonable
264 With all myn hert I am sory.

265 JESUS Where be þi fomen þat dude þe accuse?
266 Why haue thei lefte us to alone?
267 MULIER. Bycawse they cowde flat hemself excuse,
268 With shame they fled hens euyrychone.
269 But, gracyous prophete, lyst to my mone;
270 Of my sorwe take compassyon.
271 Now all myn enmyes hens be gone,
272 Sey me sum wurde of consolacyon.

273 JESUS For þe synnys þat þu hast wrought
274 Hath any man condempnyd the?
275 MULIER Nay, forsoth, þat hath þer nought,
276 But in 3oure grace I putt me.
277 JESUS For me þu xalt nat condempnyd be;
278 Go hom ageyn and walk at large.
279 Loke þat þu leve in honesté,
280 And wyl no more to synne, I þe charge.

281 MULIER I thanke 3ow hy3ly, holy prophete,
282 Of his grett grace 3e haue me graunt.
283 All my lewde lyff I xal doun lete
284 And fonde to be Goddys trewe servaunt.
285 JESUS What man of synne be repentaunt,
286 Of God if he wyl mercy craue,
287 God of mercy is so habundawnt,
288 þat, what man haske it, he xal it haue.

289 Whan man is contrite and hath wonne grace,
290 God wele not kepe olde wreth in mynde;
291 But bettyr loue to hem he has,
292 Very contryte whan he them fynde.
293 Now God þat dyed for all mankende
294 Saue all þese pepyl both nyght and day.
295 And of oure synnys he us vnbynde,
296 Hy3e Lorde of Hevyn þat best may.

297 Amen

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Proper Citation: NeCastro, Gerard. N-Town Cycle, Play 24 - The Woman Taken in Adultery. From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama. http://www.umm.maine.edu/faculty/necastro/drama. Date Visited.