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meddle in, I refused utterly" to undertake it, except I might have the helpey of such, as in wit were apte, in learnyng allowed, and in judgemente and esty macyon able to wield and furnysh so weighty an enterpryse, thinkyng even * so to shift my handes. But he earnest and diligent in his affayres, procured y Athlas to set under his shoulder:for shortly after divers learned men, whose manye giftes nede fewe prayses, consented to take upon them part of the travayle. And when certaine of them to the number of seven, were through a general assent at an appoynted time and place gathered together to devise thereupon, I resorted unto them, a bearing with me the booke of Bochas, translated by Dan Lidgate, for the better observation of his order: which although we liked wel, yet would it not cumlye serve, seeing that both Bochas and Lidgate were dead, neither were there any alive that meddled with like argument, to whom the unfortunate might make their mone.
To make therfore a state mete for the matter, they all agreed that I should usurpe Bochas rowme, and the wretched princes complayne unto me: and toke
upon themselves, every man for his part, to be sundry personages, and in their behalfes to bewail unto me their grevous d chaunces, heavye destinies, and wofull mis, fortunes.
u Add “ alone." v Without the help, Discharge the weight of sutch a burden. * Omit "even."
y Add “ me an." * Laye the burden upon my shoulders, which I would not have undertaken but that. *Bringing.
Did not myslike. c Conveniently.
This done, we opened such bookęs of Cronicles as. we had there present, and Maister Ferrers, after he had found where Bochas left, which was about the ende of King Edward the Thirdes raigne, to begin the matter, sayd thus :
I marvayle what Bochas meaneth to forget, among his miserable princes, such as wer of our nacyon, whos numbre is as great, as their adventures wonderfull : for to let passe all, both Britons, Danes, and Saxons, and to cum to the last conquest, what a sorte are they, and sum even in his owne time?" As for example, King Rychard the fyrst, slayne with a quarle, in his chyefe prosperitie; also King John his brother, as sum saye poysoned : are not their histories rufull and of rare example? But as it should appeare, he being an Italien, minded most the Roman and Italicke story, or els perhaps he s wanted our countrey chronicles. It wer therfore a goodly and a notable matter to search and discourse our whole story from the first beginning of the inhabiting of the yle. But seeing the printers minde is to have us folowe i where Lydgate left, we wil leave that great labour to other that may intend it, and (as blinde bayard is alway boldest) * I will begyn at the time of Richard the second, a time as unfortunate as the ruler therein. And forasmuch, frend
• Add “ quoth he.” f Add « also in the time of Bochas himselfe, or not much before. As for example William Rufus the seconde Kinge of Englande after the Coni quest, eyther by malice or misadventure, slayne hunting in the New Forest, by Walter Tirrell with the shot of an arrow. Robert Duke of Normandy, eldest sonne to William Conquerour deprived'of his inheritaunce of England, by Henry his youngest brother, having both his eyes put out, and after myserably imprisoned in Cardiffe Castel, whereas hee died. The most lamentable case of Williarn, Rychard and Mary, children of the sayde Henry the first called Beauclerke, drowned upon the sea by the negligence of drunken mariners, and Kinge Rychardi the fyrst slaine with a quare] in his chief prosperitie. The most unnaturall murther of Artur Duke of Britayne, right heyre of Englande, by King Jhon his uncle, with the death of Isabell his sister by famyne. The myserable ende of the sayd King Jhon their uncle by surfet, or, as some write, poysoned by a Monke of the Abbey of Sviested in Lyncolnshire.” & Bochas. to The knowlege of ours.
discourse I reign.
n Baldwyn, as it shall be your charge to note and pen orderlye the whole proces, I wil so far as my memorye and judgemente serveth, sumwhat furthur you in the truth of the storye. And therefore omittinge the ruffle made by Jacke Strawe and hiso meyney, andp the murder of manye notable men which thereby happened, for Jacke (as ye knowe) was but a poor prynce, I will begin with a notable example which within a while after ensued. And although he be no great prynce, \ yet sythens he had a princely office, I wil take upon me the miserable person of Syr Robert Tresilian chiefe Justyce of England, and of other which suffered wyth him :' therby to warne all of his authoritye' and profession, to take hedet of wrong judgementes, misconstruynge of lawes, or wresting the same to serve the prince's turnes, which rightfully brought theym to a miserable ende, which they may justly lament in maner ensuing.
k (As one being bold fyrst to break the Ise.)
This is printed at length by Warton, Hist. Po. III. 217, because he says it is not easily to be found; but I find it also in the edition of 1578.
[Here follows Sir Robert Tresilian's Legend, but
before I enter upon that, I will copy the Table of Contents of this edition.]
The Contentes and Table of the first parte of this
Booke. A prose to the Reader, continued betwene the tragedies from the beginning of th booke to the ende,
IIII. VIII. XII. XVI. XIX.
Tresilian and his felowes hanged
banyshed and beheaded Jacke Cade, calling himselfe Mortimer,
slayne and beheaded Richard Plantagenet, Duke of Yorke,
LIX. Lorde LXII. LXIIII.
Lorde Clifforde slayne
The Contentes of the Seconde Parte. A prose to the Reader continued through the
Complayntes beginning. Syr Anthony Wudvill Lorde Rivers cruellye murdered
Fol. LXXXVIII. The Lorde Hastynges trayterousle beheaded in the Tower
C. Henry Duke of Buckingham beheaded CXXV. Collingbourne executed for makyng a foolyshe ryme
CXXXVIII. . Rychard the thyrd slayne at Bosworth fyeld
CXLVII. Shore's Wyfe*
CLV. Edmund Duke of Sommerset slayne at Saynct Albones
CLVI. The Blacke Smyth, and Lord Audleye,
executed for traytrous rebellion CLXIX.
See it inserted at length in Vol. II. of CENSUR. LIT. p. 99, with ad. ditional stanzas from a copy printed in Churchyard's Challenge, p. 312.