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Sir Thomas More Scenes

Scene 3

London. A state apartment.

(Earl of Shrewsbury; Earl of Surrey; Sir Thomas Palmer; Sir Roger Cholmley; First Messenger)

Shrewsbury, Surrey and Palmer discuss the current situation, which is worrying: something is clearly brewing among the citizens of London against the foreigners. They make it clear that they are aware that the foreigners are to blame. Cholmley suggests that they are to blame for not letting the King know of these matters. A messenger enters with the news that their worst fears are true: the citizens are rioting, even threatening the Lord Mayor’s house. The noblemen decide to ride to his rescue, and Surrey suggests that they ask Sheriff More to talk to the rioters, as the people respect him. (94 lines)

Enter the Earls of Shrewsbury and Surrey, Sir Thomas Palmer, and Sir Roger Cholmley.


My lord of Surrey, and Sir Thomas Palmer

Might I with patience tempt your grave advice,

I tell ye true, that in these dangerous times

I do not like this frowning vulgar brow:

My searching eye did never entertain

A more distracted countenance of grief

Than I have late observed

In the displeased commons of the city.


’Tis strange that from his princely clemency,

So well a tempered mercy and a grace,

To all the aliens in this fruitful land,

That this high-crested insolence should spring

From them that breathe from his majestic bounty,

That, fattened with the traffic of our country,

Already leaps into his subjects’ face.


Yet Sherwin, hindered to commence his suit

Against de Barde by the ambassador,

By supplication made unto the king,

Who, having first enticed away his wife

And got his plate, near worth four hundred pound,

To grieve some wronged citizens that found

This vile disgrace oft cast into their teeth,

Of late sues Sherwin, and arrested him

For money for the boarding of his wife.


The more knave Barde, that, using Sherwin’s goods,

Doth ask him interest for the occupation.

I like not that, my lord of Shrewsbury:

He’s ill bested that lends a well-paced horse

Unto a man that will not find him meet.


My lord of Surrey will be pleasant still.


Aye, being then employed by your honors

To stay the broil that fell about the same,

Where by persuasion I enforced the wrongs,

And urged the grief of the displeased city,

He answered me, and with a solemn oath,

That, if he had the Mayor of London’s wife,

He would keep her in despite of any English.


’Tis good, Sir Thomas, then, for you and me;

Your wife is dead, and I a bachelor:

If no man can possess his wife alone,

I am glad, Sir Thomas Palmer, I have none.


If a take a wife, ’a shall find her meet.


And reason good, Sir Roger Cholmley, too.

If these hot Frenchmen needsly will have sport,

They should in kindness yet defray the charge:

’Tis hard when men possess our wives in quiet,

And yet leave us in, to discharge their diet.


My lord, our caters shall not use the market

For our provision, but some stranger now

Will take the vittailes from him he hath bought:

A carpenter, as I was late informed,

Who having bought a pair of doves in Cheap,

Immediately a Frenchman took them from him,

And beat the poor man for resisting him;

And when the fellow did complain his wrongs,

He was severely punished for his labor.


But if the English blood be once but up,

As I perceive their hearts already full,

I fear me much, before their spleens be cold,

Some of these saucy aliens for their pride

Will pay for ’t soundly, wheresoe’er it lights:

This tide of rage that with the eddy strives,

I fear me much, will drown too many lives.


Now, afore God, your honors, pardon me:

Men of your place and greatness are to blame.

I tell ye true, my lords, in that his majesty

Is not informed of this base abuse

And daily wrongs are offered to his subjects;

For, if he were, I know his gracious wisdom

Would soon redress it.

Enter First Messenger.


Sirrah, what news?


None good, I fear.

1. MESS.

My lord, ill news; and worse, I fear, will follow,

If speedily it be not looked unto:

The city is in an uproar, and the Mayor

Is threatened, if he come out of his house.

A number poor artificers are up

In arms and threaten to avenge their wrongs.


We feared what this would come unto:

This follows on the doctor’s publishing

The bill of wrongs in public at the Spittle.


That Doctor Beale may chance beshrew himself

For reading of the bill.


Let us go gather forces to the Mayor,

For quick suppressing this rebellious route.


Now I bethink myself of Master More,

One of the sheriffs, a wise and learned gentleman,

And in especial favor with the people:

He, backed with other grave and sober men,

May by his gentle and persuasive speech

Perhaps prevail more than we can with power.


Believe me, but your honor well advises:

Let us make haste; for I do greatly fear

Some of their graves this morning’s work will bear.



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