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O noble wyves, ful of heigh prudence,
Folwith ecco, that holdith no silence,
Ye archewyves, stondith at defens,
Ne drede hem not, do hem no reverence,
If thou be fair, ther folk ben in presence Schew thou thy visage and thin apparaile; If thou be foul, be fre of thy despense, To gete the frendes do ay thy travayle; Be ay of chier as light as lef on lynde, And let hem care and wepe, and wryng and wayle.
1 The allusion is to the subject of an old ballad. It is a kind of Pageant, in which two beasts are introduced, called Bycorne and Chichevache. The former is supposed to feed upon obedient husbands, and the latter upon patient wives; and the humour of the piece consists in representing Bycorne as pampered with a superfiuity of food, and Chichevache as half-starved. The name Chichevache is French, vacca parca, T.
“The only writer deserving the name of a poet in the reign of Henry the Seventh is Stephen Hawes. He flourished about the close of the fifteenth century and was a native of Suffolk. ... His capital performance is a Poem entitled 'The Passetyme of Plesure or the History of Grande Amoure and la Bel Pucel, contayning the knowledge of the seven Sciences, and the course of man's lyfe in this worlde. It is dedicated to the King Henry VII
Neither the year of his birth nor of his death is known."
WARTON “History of English Poetry."
THE PASTIME OF PLESURE.
TO THE READER
SIThE that all menne for the most part by a naturall inclination, desire rather to spend their dayes in plesure and delectable pastimes, then in paineful studyes and tedious labours. And yet nevertheles by the secrete inspiracion of Almighty God (all men in general) so insaciately thirsteth for the knowledge of wisdome and learnyng, that some for very earnest desire thero (thoughe nature grudgeth) cease not to spend their dayes and houres, with suche cotinuall and importunate travayle in sekynge the same, that havyng no regarde to the over pressyng of Nature, in searchynge with all diligence for the true vaine of knowledge, do sodainely bryng forth their owne confusion. Some contrariwise (whom nature to muche ruleth) beyng discomforted wyth painefull and tedious study, rather chose to be drowned in the stinkyng floude of ignoraunce, the wyth so muche sweate and paynes, to sayle (wyth a by wynde) into the plesaunt hande of wisdome and science, which thing considered (most gentle reader) I offer here unto the for thy better instruction this little volume, contey nynge and treatyng upon
the liberall sciences, and the whole course of man's life, firste compiled and
devised by Stephen Hawes gentleman, grome of the chamber to the famous Prynce and seconde Salomon, kynge Henrye the seventh. A man (as by his worckes appeareth) of a plesaunte wytte, and singuler learnynge, wherin thou shalt finde at one tyme, wisdome and learnyng, with myrthe and solace. So that herein thou mayest easelye fynde (as it were in pastyme) wythout offence of nature that thyng, and in short space, whiche many great clarkes wythout great paynes and travayle, and long continuaunce of time heretofore coulde never obteyne nor get, which as it was firste entituled by the Avcthoure, to be the Pastime of Plesure, and under the same title so dedicated to the sayed worthye Prynce, by the Aucthoure therof: so shalt thou good reader wyth deliberate readyng therof, fynde it not onely the Pastyme of Plesure, but also of profite.
TO THE HIGH AND MIGHTY
HENRY THE SEVENTH,
BY THE GRACE OF GOD,
LORDE OF IRELANDE, &c.
Right mighty prince, and redoubted soverayn