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figure, to prove them both “ false knaves.” It is he, he says, who sends most souls to heaven, and who ought, therefore, to have the credit of it.
“ No soul, ye know, entereth heaven-gate,
'Till from the body he be separate:
The Pardoner here interrupts him captiously
“ If ye kill'd a thousand in an hour's space,
When come they to heaven, dying out of grace ?"
But the Poticary not so baffled, retorts
“ If a thousand pardons about your necks were tied ;
When come they to heaven, if they never died?
But when ye feel your conscience ready, ,
The Pedlar finds out the weak side of his new companions, and tells them very bluntly, on their referring their dispute to him, a piece of his
« Now have I found one mastery,
That ye can do indifferently;
At this game of imposture, the cunning dealer in pins and laces undertakes to judge their merits; and they accordingly set to work like regular graduates. The Pardoner takes the lead, with an account of the virtues of his relics; and here we may find a plentiful mixture of Popish superstition and indecency. The bigotry of any age is by no means a test of its piety, or even sincerity. Men seemed to make themselves amends for the enormity of their faith by levity of feeling, as well as by laxity of principle; and in the indifference or ridicule with which they treated the wilful absurdities and extravagances to which they hood-winked their understandings, almost resembled children playing at blindman's buff, who
in the dark, and make blunders on purpose to laugh at their own idleness and folly. The sort of mummery at which Popish bigotry used to play at the time when this old comedy was written, was not quite so harmless as blind-man's buff: what was sport to her, was death to others. She laughed at her own mockeries of common sense and true religion, and murdered while she laughed. The tragic farce was no longer to be borne, and it was partly put
an end to. At present, though her eyes are blindfolded, her hands are tied fast behind her, like the false Duessa’s. The sturdy genius of modern philosophy has got her in much the same situation that Count Fathom has the old woman that he lashes before him from the robbers' cave in the forest. In the following dialogue of this lively satire, the most sacred mysteries of the Catholic faith are mixed up with its idlest legends by old Heywood, who was a martyr to his religious zeal, without the slightest sense of impropriety. The Pardoner cries out in one place (like a lusty Friar John, or a trusty Friar Onion)
“ Lo, here be pardons, half a dozen,
For ghostly riches they have no cousin ;
eyes be once set on this piece of work, May happily lose part of his eye-sight,
But not all till he be blind outright.
Pot. This kiss shall bring us much promotion :
For by All-Hallows, yet methinketh,
Palm. Ye judge All-Hallows' breath unknown: If any breath stink, it is
your Pot. I know mine own breath from All-Hallows, Or else it were time to kiss the gallows.
Pard. Nay, Sirs, here may ye see
Pot. I pray you turn that relic about;
this : Here is a relic that doth not miss To help the least as well as the most: This is a buttock-bonę of Penticost.
pass, and look
Here is a box full of humble bees,
Of Adam and Eve undoubtedly:
drink the more, doubtless. After which drinking, ye shall be as meet To stand on your head as on your feet.”
The same sort of significant irony runs through the Apothecary's knavish enumeration of miraculous cures in his possession.
“ For this medicine helpeth one and other,
And bringeth them in case that they need no other.
After these quaint but pointed examples of it,