William Dugdale, 1658, A comparison

Here is a comparison of the text that William Dugdale published in 1658, with the one that Richard Tottel had printed 104 years earlier i 1554.

The two texts are quite similar. This may not be evident from the below comparison, but that's because Tottel's text has been edited by Henry Bergen in 1923-27, and Bergen has collated Tottel's book with two manuscripts.

In most cases where the comparison shows a difference, there will be a pair of square brackets indicating that Bergen has added text, or an asterisk indicating that Bergen has removed / changed / transposed text. This is particularly evident for the three lines of the lawyer's stanza and the four very last lines, where Bergen has put the lines in the correct sequence, while Dugdale prints them in Tottel's sequence.

There are a number of changes in the spelling, but real differences are few and small. An example is when the Carthusian monk asks God for protection, Fro Fiendes myght and fro damnacion, i.e. from the Devil's might, while Dugdale writes: Fro friends might and fro damnation. But this doesn't even have to an error, for the Vespasian manuscript has a similar wording: From frendes might and from damnacyon.

There's an interesting error in the last verse: fronm Paris. Dugdale has presumably wished to change Tottel's "from" into "froum", but as often happens, the printer has confounded "u" with "n". The revealing part is that later editions, 1673, 1718 and Douce also write "fronm". In the 1818-edition the word has been corrected to "froum".

In this comparison we ignore punctuation, accents, capitalization, double letters, final e's (and e before final s) and differences caused by interchange of aun/an and cion/cyon/tion. The verses are presented in the same sequence as Tottel and Dugdale used, which is a bit different from La Danse Macabre of Paris and from the Ellesmere manuscript.

Deletions are marked in red and insertions in green: In other words, the red words are from Tottel (as edited by Bergen).


The Prologe
O YE folkes hard hearted as a stone,
Whiche to this the worlde geue* have al your aduertence,
Lyke as it should euer lasten in one,
Where is your wit, where is your prouidence
To seen aforne the sodayn violence
Of cruel death, that be so wyse and sage,
Which slayeth, alas, by stroke or pestilence
Both yong young & olde of lowe and high parage?

Death spareth nought low ne high degre,
Popes, kynges, ne worthye Emperours;
Whan When they shine most in felicite. felicity,
He can abate the freshnes of her flours,
Her bright[e] sunne clipsen with his shours,
Make them plunge fro her sees lowe;
Mauger the might of al these conquerours,
Fortune hath them from her whele ythrow.

Considereth this, ye folkes that been wyse,
And it emprinteth imprinteth in your memoriall,
Like thensample which that at Parise
I fonde depict ones vppon* in a wal
Full notably, as I rehearse shall.
Of a Frenche clarke Clerke takyng acquaintaunce,
I toke on me to translaten all
Out of the Frenche Machabrees daunce.

By whose aduise and counsayle at the lest, last,
Through her stieryng and her mocion,
I obeyed vnto her request,
Therof Thereof to make a playn translacion
In English tonge, of entencion
That proud[e] folkes that bene stout and bolde,
As in a mirrour toforne in her reason
Her vgly fine there clearely clearly may beholde.

By [this] ensample, that thei in her ententes
Amend her life in euery maner age.
The which[e] daunce at Sainct Saint Innocentes
Portrayed is, with all the surplusage,
Youen vnto vs our liues to correct
And to declare the fine of our passage,
Right anone my stile I wil direct
To shewe this worlde is but a pilgrimage.
The ende of the Prologe.

The authority

The Wordes of the Translatour. Translator.
O CREATURES ye that bene reasonable,
The life desiring which is eternall,
Ye may sen here doctrine ful notable
Your life to lead[e], which that is mortall,
Thereby to learne in especiall, special
How ye shal trace the daunce of Machabree,
To man and woman ylike naturall;
For death ne spareth high ne lowe degree.

In this myrour euery wight may fynde,
That him behoueth to gone vpon this daunce.
Who goeth toforne or who shall go behynde,
All dependeth in Goddes ordinaunce.
Wherfore eche Wherefore lowly every man lowly take* his chaunce;
Death spareth nouther not poore ne* bloud yet blood royall:
Eche* Every man therfore therefore haue this in remembraunce.
Of oo matter God hath yforged all.

Death to the pope

The Daunce of Machabree.
Death fyrst speaketh vnto the Pope, and after to euery degree as foloweth.
YE that been set most in high in* dignitie
Of al estates in earth spirituall,
And like to* as Peter hath the soueraintee
Ouer the church and states temporall,
Vpon this daunce ye first begin[ne] shall,
As most worthy lord and gouernour;
For al the worship of your estate papall.
And of [al] lordship to God is the honour.

The pope

The Pope maketh aunswere.
FYRST me behoueth this daunce for to lede,
Which sat in earth[e] highest in my see.
The state ful perilous, whoso who so taketh hede.
To occupie Seynt Petris* dignitee; Peters dignity,
But for al that [fro] Death I may not flee,
Vpon* On this daunce with other for to trace;
For which al honor, honour who prudently can see.
Is litle worth that doth so soone passe.

Death to the emperor

Death speaketh to the Emperour.
SYR Emperour, lord of al the grounde,
[Most] souereine prince, surmountyng* and highest of noblesse,
Ye mot forsake of gold your apple round.
Scepter and swerde, & al your high prowesse;
Behind you leue* letten your treasour and* your riches,
And with other to my daunce obey:
Against my might is worth none hardines,
Adams children al they must[e] deye.

The emperor

The Emperour maketh aunswer.
I NOTE to whom that I may [me] appeale
Touching death, which doth me so constrein;
There is no gin to helpen my querel,
But spade and pickoys my graue to atteyne,
A simple shete, there is nomore no more to seyn,
To wrappen in my body and visage:
And therupon Whereupon sore I may me sore* compleyne,
That great lordes great haue litle auauntage.

Death to the cardinal

Death speaketh to the Cardinal.
YE been abashed, it semeth, and in drede,
Syr Cardinal, it sheweth by your chere;
But yet for thy forthy ye folowe shall in dede,
With other folke my daunce for to lere.
Your great aray, al shal [ye] leauen here,
Your hat of red, your vesture of great coste;
All these thynges reckoned well in fere,* fear.
In great[e] honour good auyse is loste.

The cardinal

The Cardinall maketh aunswere.
I HAUE great cause, certes this is no faile
To be abashed and greatly dread[e] me,
Sith Death is come me sodainly tassaile,* to assaile
That I shall neuer hereafter clothed be
In grise nor ermine like vnto my degree,
Mine hat of red leuen eke in distresse,
By which I haue conceyued* learned wel and see
How That worldly* all ioye endeth in heauines.

Death to the king

Death speaketh to the Kyng.
O NOBLE Kyng, most worthy of renoun,
Come foorth anone, for al your worthines
That whylom had about you enuiron
Great royaltie and passing hye noblesse.
But right anon [for] al your great highnes,
Sole from your men in hast ye shall it lete,
Who most aboundeth here in great riches,
Shall beare with hym but a [single] shete.

The king

The Kyng maketh aunswere.
I HAUE nought learned learnd here toforn to daunce
No daunce in sooth insooth of footyng so sauage,
Where through I se by clere demonstraunce,
What pride is worth or force of high linage!
Death all fordo[e]th, fordoth this is his vsage,
Great and smal that in this world soiourne:
Who is most meke, I hold[e] hym most sage;
For we shall all to dede* the dead ashes tourne.

Death to the patriarch

Death speaketh to the Patriarche.
SYR Patriarche, al your humble chere
Ne quiteth you nought nor your humilitie;
Your double crosse of gold and stones clere,
Your power whole and al your dignitie
Some other shall of very equitie
Possede anon, as I rehearse can:
Trusteth neuer that ye shall Pope be;
For foly* holy hope deceiueth many a man!

The patriarch

The Patriarche maketh aunswere.
WORLDLY honour, gret treasour tresour & riches
Haue me deceiued soothfastly in dede; indeed,
Mine old[e] ioyes been turned to* into tristesse!
What auayleth such treasours treasures to possede?
Hie clymbyng* It climbeth vp a fall hath for his its mede.
Great estates folke wasten out of number;
Who mounteth high, it is sure and no drede,
Great[e] burden burthen doth hym oft encomber. encumber.

Death to the constable

Death speaketh to the Cunstable. Constable.
IT is my ryght to arest you and constreyne
With vs to daunce, my mayster master Sir Cunstable! Constable,
For more stronger than euer was Charlemain,
Death hath afforced, and more worshipable;
For hardines hadines ne knighthode, this is no* fable.
Nor strong armure of plates ne* nother of maile,
What gayneth armes of folkes folke most notable,
Whan When cruell death list hem* him to assayle?

The constable

The Cunstable Constable maketh aunswere.
MY purpose was and whole entencion intencion
To assail castel[le]s Castles & mighty fortresses.
And bryng[e] folke vnto subieccion.
To seke honour, fame, and great richesses;
But I see that al worldly prowesse
Death can abate, which is a great despite;
To him alone, sorow and eke swetenes: sweetnesse,
For agaynst death is found[e] no respite.

Death to the archbishop

Death speaketh to the Archebishop,
SYR Archebishop, why do ye you withdrawe
So frowardly, as it wer by disdayne?
Ye must approche [vn] approach to my mortall lawe;
It to contrary contrare it wer nought but* in vayne:
For day by day there is none other gayne.
Death at the hand pursueth euery coast;
Prest and debte mot bee yelde againe,
And at a daye men counten with her host.

The archbishop

The Archebishop maketh aunswere.
ALAS, I wote not to what* partie for to flee,
For drede dread of death I haue so gret distres!
Tescape* To escape his might I can no refute see;
That who so knew his constreint constraint and duresse,
He would[e] take reason to maistresse.
Adue my treasour, my pompe & pride also,
My painted chambers, my port & my freshnes,
Thyng that behoueth nedes mot be do.

Death to the baron/knight

Death speaketh to the Barone.
YE that among[es] among Lordes and Barons
Haue had so long[e] worship and renoun, renowne,
Foryet For yet your trumpetes and your clarions;
This is no dreame nor simulacion.
Whylom your custom and entencion
Was with ladies to daunsen in the shade;
But oft it happeth, in conclusion,
One man breaketh that another made.

The baron/knight

The Baron maketh aunswere.
FULL oft[e] sith I haue been auctorised
To high emprises enprises & thinges of gret fame.
Of high & low my thanke also deuised.
Cherished Cherishd with ladies & women high of name;
Ne neuer on me was put no defame,
In lordes of courte,* which that was notable;
But deathes stroke hath made me [so] lame:
Under heauen in earth is nothyng stable.

Death to the princess

Death speaketh to the Princesse.
COME forth anon, my Lady good Princesse,
Ye must also gon vpon this daunce.
Nought may auayle your great straungenesse,
Nether Neither your beauty nor your gret pleasaunce,
Your riche aray, nother your daliaunce,
That whylom couth so many holde in hond
In loue, for al your double variaunce.
Ye mot as nowe this footyng vnderstonde.

The princess

The Princesse maketh aunswere.
ALAS, I see there is none other boote,
Deth Death hath in earth no lady nor maistres, mastres,
And* on this daunce yet mot I nedes fote:
For there nis quene, countesse ne dutchesse,
Flouring in bountie nor in her fayrenes, fayrness
That shode shooe of Death mot passe the passage.
When our beautie and counterfeit fairnes
Dieth, adue then our rimpled age!

Death to the bishop

Death speaketh to the Bishop.
MY Lord Sir Bishop, with miter & crosse.
For al your riches, soothlye I ensure.
For all your treasour [so longe] treasure kept in closse,
Your worldly goodes and goodes of nature,
[And] of your shepe the dreadfull ghostly dredeful* cure,
With charge committed to your prelacie.
For to accoumpt accompt ye shal be brought to lure,
No wight is sure that climbeth ouer hye.

The bishop

The Bishop maketh aunswere.
MINE heart truely truly is nother glad ne mery.
Of sodein tidinges which that ye [me] bring;
My feast is turned vnto a into simple ferye,*
That for discomfort me list nothyng [to] syng.
The world contrarie contraries to me now to my* werking. in working
Which That al estates* folks can so disherite;
He al with halt, alas, at our partyng,
And al* thing shall passe saue onely only our merite.

Death to the nobleman

Death speaketh to the Squyer. Squire.
COMMETH COme forth Syr Squyer, Squire right fresh of your araye,
That conne of daunces al the new[e] guise,
Thoghe If ye bare armes, fresshe harnes freshly horsed yesterday,*
With spere & shielde at your vncouth deuise,
And toke on you so many high emprise,
Daunseth with vs; it wyl no better be;
There is no succour in no maner wyse:
For no man may fro Deathes stroke flee.

The nobleman

The Squyer Squire maketh aunswere.
SITHENS SIthence that Death holdeth me holdeth in his lase,
Yet shal I speake oo worde or that* ere I passe:
Adue al myrth, adue now al solace,
Adue my ladies whilom so freshe of face,
Adue beautie, pleasaunce, and al solace!
Of Deathes chaunge euery day is prime,
Thinke on your soules or* that ere the Death manace;
For all shal rot, and no man wot what time.

Death to the abbot

Death speaketh to the Abbot.
COMMETH COme forth Syr Abbot, with your brode hatte,
Beeth nought abashed thogh* abasht, if ye hauen ryght;
Great is your head, your belly rounde* large and fat,
Ye mot come daunce, thogh* if ye be nothyng light.
Leaueth your abbey to some other wight.
Your heyre is of age your state to occupie;
Who that is fattest, I haue hym behyght,
[Shall] in his graue* shall soonest putrifie.

The abbot

The Abbot maketh aunswere.
OF thy manace these threts have I hauen o gret* none enuy,
That I shall now leaue al* the gouernaunce.
But that I shal as a cloystrer cloysterer dye;
This Death is to me passing great greuaunce. gret grievaunce,
My libertie nor my great habundaunce,
What may they vayle* availe in any maner wyse?
Yet aske I mercy with devoute* heartely repentaunce,
Thogh* If in dying to late men them auise.

Death to the abbess

Death speaketh to the Abbesse.
AND ye my lady, gentle dame Abbesse,
With your mantel[le]s mantles furred large and wyde,
Your veile, your wimple, your ryng* passing of gret riches,
And bedes, sister, ye you mot now not leyn a on syde;*
For to this daunce I must shall be* your guide,
Thogh* If ye be tender borne of gentle bloode,
While Whiles that ye* you liue for your selfe prouide;
For after death[e] no man hath no good.

The abbess

The Abbesse maketh aunswere.
ALAS that Death hath thus for me ordeined, ordaind,
That in no wise I maye it nought declyne.
If it be so be ful oft I am* constreined, have constrained,
Brest and throte my notes out to twyne,
My chekes round vernyshed* garnished for to shine,
Ungird ful oft to walken at the large,
Thus cruel Death with al estates fine,
Who hath no shippe must* rowe in bote or barge.

Death to the bailiff

Death speaketh to the Bayly.
COME forth. Sir Bayly, that knowen know all the guise,
By your office of trouth & rightwisnes, rightwiseness,
Ye must come to a newe assyse,
Extorcions and wronges to redresse;
Ye be somned, as lawe biddeth expresse,
To yeue accomptes the* Iudge wil you charge,
Which hath ordeined ordained to excluden al falsnes,
That euery man shal beare his own[e] charge.

The bailiff

The Bayly maketh aunswere.
O THOU Lord God this is a hard iourney,
To which aforne I toke but litle hede;
My chaunce is turned, & that forthinketh forethinketh me,
Whilom with iudges what me list to spede
Lay in my might, by labour oft for mede.
But sith there is no rescus by battayle,
I hold him wise that couth wel seen in dede,
Again[es] Again Death that none apel may vayle.

Death to the astrologer

Death speaketh to the Astronomer.
COME foorth, Maister, master that lookest vp so farre, high
With instrumentes of Astronomie
To take the grees and hyght height of euery starre;
What may auaile all your astrologie?
Sith of Adam all the genealogie.
Made first of God to walke vpon the ground,
Death aresteth;* with arest thus sayth theologie:
And all shall dye for an apple rounde.

The astrologer

The Astronomer maketh aunswere.
FOR all my craft, cunnyng and* or science,
I can nought find[e] no prouision,
Ne* Nother in the starres seke* search out no difference
By domifying nor or calculacion,
Saue finally, in conclusion,
For to descriue describe our cunnyng euery dele:
There is no more by sentence of reason,
Who liueth aryght mot nedes dye well.

Death to the citizen

Death speaketh to the Burgis.
SYR Burgis, what doe ye lenger* you long tarye?
For all your auoyre avoyry and youre great gret riches,
Thoghe* If ye be strong, deinous and contrary.
Toward Towards this daunce ye mot you nedes dresse;
For your* treasour, of all tresour, plentie and largesse.
From other it came and shall vnto strangers.
He is a foole that in such busines,
Wot nought for whom he stuffeth his garners!

The citizen

The Burgis maketh aunswere.
CERTES to me it is great displeasaunce,
To leaue al this & mai it nought assure:
Howses,* How these rentes, treasor treasour, & substaunce,
Death al fordoth, suche is his nature.
Therfore wise is no creature.
That set his heart on good that moste* may disseuer;
The world it lent, the worlde wil it recure;
And who most hath, lothest dyeth euer.

Death to the canon

Death speaketh to the Chanon Seculer. Canon Secular.
AND ye, Syr Chanon, with many great gret prebende,
Ye may no lenger haue distribucion
Of golde [and] siluer, largelye to dispende;
For there is nowe no consolacion
But daunce with vs, for al your high renoun. renowne,
For ye of if death[e] stonde* stode vpon the brinke,
Ye may therof thereof haue no delacion;
Death commeth ay when men least on him thinke.

The canon

The Chanon maketh aunswere.
MY benefice with mony personage,
God wot ful lite may me now comfort.
Death hath of me so great gret auauntage,
That al my riches may me nought disport,
Amisse of gris, they wyl ayein resorte,
Vnto the world a surples and prebende.
Al is vainglory, truely to reporte,
To dyen well eche each man should entende.

Death to the merchant

Death speaketh to the Marchaunte.
YE rich Marchant, ye mot looke hitherwarde,
That passed haue ful many diuers lond
On horse, on and foote, hauing most regard
To lucre & winnyng, as I vnderstond.
But now to daunce ye you mot geue give me your hond;
For al your labour ful litle auayleth nowe.
Adue vaynglory, both of free and bonde,
None more coueit covet then thei that haue ynow. ynough.

The merchant

The Marchaunt maketh aunswere.
BY many an a hyll and many a strong[e] vale
I haue trauailed with many marchandise;
Ouer the sea downe cary many a bale
To sondrye Iles, more than then I can deuyse,
Mine heart inward ay fret* fretteth with couetise,
But al for nought, now Deth death doth me doth* constrein:
For which I se, by record of the wyse.
Who al embraceth litle shall restrayne.* constreine.

Death to the Carthusian

Death speaketh to the Chartreux.
YEUE me your honde, with chekes cheke dead and pale,
Caused of watche & long abstinence.
Sir Chart[e]reux, Chartreux and your self auale availe,
Vnto this daunce with humble pacience. patience.
To striue ayein may be no resistence, resistance,
Lenger to liue set nought your memorye;
Thogh* If I be lothsome as in apparence, appearance,
Aboue[n] Above al men Death [hath] the victorie.

The Carthusian monk

The Chartreux maketh aunswere.
VNTO this* the world I was dead long agon
By mine order and my profession;
And eueryman, every man be he neuer so strong,
Dreadeth to dye by kindly mocion
After his fleshly inclinacion.
But please to God my soule [for] to borowe
Fro Fiendes friends myght and fro damnacion:
Some arne to day that shal nought be to morow.

Death to the sergeant

Death speaketh to the Sargeaunte.
COME foorth Sir Sargeaunt, with your stately mase.
Make no defence nor rebellion.
It may Nought may* auaile to grutchen in this case,
Thogh* If ye be deyners of condicion:
For neyther [ap]pele pele nor proteccion
May you fraunchise to doe nature wrong;
For there is none so sturdy chaumpion, champion,
Thogh* If he be mightie, another is also strong.

The sergeant

The Sargeaunt Sergeant maketh aunswere.
HOWE durste thou* dare this Death set on me arest,
That am the kynges chosen officer,
Which yesterday, both[en] both east and west,
Mine office dyd, ful surquedous of chere;
But now this day I am arested here,
And can nought flee, thoh* if I had it sworne.
Eche* Every man is loth to die, both farre & nere.
That hath nought learned for to dye* be ded aforne.

Death to the monk

Death speaketh to the Monke.
SYR Monke, also with your blacke habite,
Ye may no lenger hold[e] here soioure;
There is nothyng that may you here respite
Agein my might you for to doe succour;
Ye mot accompt[e] touchyng your labour,
How ye haue spend it, in dede, word & thought.
To earth and ashes turneth euery floure;
The life of man is but a thyng of nought.

The monk

The Monke maketh aunswere.
I HAD leauer in the cloyster be.
At my booke and study my seruice,
Which is a place contemplatife to see;
But I haue spent my life in mony wyse,
Like as a foole dissolute and nice.
God of his mercy graunt me repentaunce.
By chere outward hard is to deuise,
Al be not merye which that men seen see daunce.

Death to the usurer

Death speaketh to the Usurer.
THOU Vsurer, looke vp and beholde,
Unto thy wynnyng that thou settest al* aye thy payne,
Whose couetise never waxeth neuer colde,
Thy gredy thrust so sore doth the doth constraine. constrein.
But thou shalt neuer to thy desyre attayne,
Suche an etike thyne Etick thy heart[e] freten shall.
But that of pitie God his honde refraine,
One perilous stroke shal will make thee losen al.

The usurer

The Usurer maketh aunswere.
NOW [me] behoueth sodeinly to dye,
Which is to me great paine & eke greuance.
Succour to fynde I see no maner way
Of golde nor siluer by none cheuisance;
Death through his hast abideth no purueiance
Of folkes blynde that can nought loke wel:
Full oft happeth by kynde of fatall chaunce,
Some haue fayre eyen that seen see neuer adel.

The poor man

The Poore Man boroweth of the Usurer.
VSURER to God is full great offence,
And in his syght a great abusion;
The poore boroweth percase for indigence.
The riche lent by false collusion,
Onely for lucre in his entencion. intencion.
Death shal both[e] to accoumptes accompts fette.
To make reconing reckoning by computacion:
No, No man is quit that is behynd of dette.

Death to the physician

Death speaketh to the Phisicien.
MAISTER MAster of Phisike, which on your vryne
So looke and gase and stare agaynst the sunne,
For al your craft and study of medicine,
[And] all the practike and science that ye cunne,
Your lyues* life course so farre forth is yrunne,
Ayein my might your craft may not endure,
For al the gold that ye thereby* you haue wunne:
Good leche is he that himself can himself* recure.

The physician

The Phisicien maketh aunswer.
FULL long agon that I vnto Phisike
Set my wit and eke my diligence.
In speculatife and also in practike,*
To geat a name through mine excellence,
To fynd out agaynes* against pestilence
Preseruatifes Preservatives to staunche it and to fine:
But I dare [say] shortly in sentence,
Againes* Say that against Death is worth no medicine.

Death to the suitor

Death speaketh to the Amerous Squyre.
YE that be gentle, so fresh & amerous.
Of yeres yong young flouring in your grene age.
Lusty [and] fre, of hert & eke* desirous,
Ful of deuises & chaunge in your courage,
Pleasaunt of port, of loke and of visage:
But al shal turne into ashes dead;
For al beautie is but a faynt ymage,
Which stealeth away or folkes can take hede.

The suitor

The Squyer Squire maketh aunswer.
ALAS, alas, I can nowe no succour
Agaynes* Against Death[e] for myselfe my selfe prouide!
A due Adue of youth the lusty fresh[e] flower,
Adue vainglory of beautie and of pride,* the provide,
Adue all seruice of the god Cupide,
Adue my Ladies, so fresh so wel beseyn:
For agayn[s] agayn Death nothyng may abyde,
And windes great gon doun with litle rein.

Death to the gentlewoman

Death speaketh to the Gentlewoman.
COME forth Maistresse, mistress of yeres yonge and grene,
Which hold your selfe of beautie souereyn, sovereign
As fayre as ye was whilom Pollixene,
Penelope and the quene Helein.
Yet on this daunce thei went[e] both[e] tweyne,
And so shall ye, for al your straungenesse;
Thogh* If daunger long in loue hath lad your you rein,
Arested is your chaunge of doublenes.

The gentlewoman

The Gentlewoman maketh aunswer.
O CRUEL Death, that spareth none estate,
To old and yong thou art indifferent;
To my beautie thou hast said checkmate, check mate,
So hasty is thy mortail mortal iudgement.
For in my mine youth[e] this was mine my entent,
To my seruice many man to haue lured;
But she is a foole, shortly in sent[e]ment. sentment,
That in her beautie is to muche assured.

Death to the lawyer

Death speaketh to the Man of Law.
SYR Aduocate, short proces for to make.
Ye mot come plete afore the* high[e] iudge.
Many a quarel* quarels ye haue vndertake
And for lucre done to folke refuge;
But my fraunchise is so large and huge
That counsayle none auaile may but trouth:
He scapeth wisely of death the great deluge,
Tofore the dome who is nought teint with slouth.

The lawyer

The Man of Law maketh aunswer.
OF right & reason by Natures law,
I can nought putte putten against Deth death no defence,
Ne by For all my* sleight me kepen or withdraw, wit nor for all my gret prudence,
For al my wit and al* my gret prudence,* To appeal from his dreadfull sentence
To [make] appeale from his dredful sentence; Nother by no sleight me kepen or withdraw
Nor nothyng in earth may a man preserue,
Agayn his might to make resistence: resistance.
God quiteth all men like as they deserue.

Death to the conjuror

Death speaketh to Maister Mr. John Rikil Tregetour.
MASTER John Rikil, whilom Tregetour
Of noble Henry king of Eng[e]lond, England,
And of Fraunce the mightie conquerour,
For al the sleightes and turning of thine hond,
Thou must come nere my daunce to vnderstond.
Nought may auayle al thy conclusions;
For Death, shortly, nother on sea ne lond.
Is not deceiued by none illusions.

The conjuror

The Tregetour maketh aunswer.
WHAT may auayle magike naturall
Or any craft shewed by apparence, appearance,
Or course of starres aboue celestiall.
Or of the heauens al the influence
Ageynes* Against Death to stonde at defence?
Legerdmain Legerdemain now helpeth me right nought.
Fare wel Farewell my craft and [al] such sapience;
For Death hath mo maistries than hath I haue wrought.*

Death to the priest

Death speaketh to the Person.
O SIR Curate, that been now here present,
That had your worldly inclinacion.
Your heart entere, your study & entent,
Most of your tithes and* your oblacion,
Which should haue be of conuersacion
Mirrour to other, light and examplarie, exemplary
Like your desert[e] shalbe shall be your guerdon,
And to eche* every labour due is the salarye.

The parish priest

The Person maketh aunswere.
MAUGER Maugre my wil I must[e] condescende; condiscend,
For death assaileth euery liuely thing
Here in this world[e], who can comprehend
His sodein stroke and his vnware commyng.* unwary turning,
Fare wel [my] Farewel tithes, and fare wel farewel mine offring, offering,
I mot go coumpten in* by order by and by.
And for my shepe make a iust reckonyng:
Whom he acquiteth* And who that so him quiteth I hold he is happye.

Death to the juror

Death speaketh to the Iurrour.
MAISTER MAster Iurrour, which that at assises
And at sheres questes dydst embrace,
Departist* Deper didst lond like to thy deuises,
And who most gaue most stode in thy grace:
The poore man lost both[e] land lond and place;
For golde thou couldest folke disherite.
But now let se, with thy teynt[e] taint face
Tofore the Iudge how [thou] canst thee quite!

The juror

The Iurrour maketh aunswere.
WHILOM I was cleped in my countrey
The belweather, and that was not alite.
Nought loued but drad of high & low degree;
For whom me list by craft I could endite,
Hongen the true and the thefe respite:
Al the countrey by my worde was lad.
But I dare sein, shortly for to write,
Of my death many a man is glad.

Death to the minstrel

Death speaketh to the Minstral.
O THOU Minstrall, that can so note and pipe
Unto folke[s] folke for to done pleasaunce,
By thi* the ryght honde anone I shall anon the gripe,
With these other to gone vpon my daunce;
There is no scape nother auoydaunce,
On no syde to contraire* contune my sentence:
For in musike by my craft and accordaunce
Who maister is [shal] shewen his science.* sentence.

The minstrel

The Minstrall maketh aunswere.
THIS new[e] daunce is to me so straunge,
Wonder diuers and passingly contrarye;
The dredefull footyng doth so oft[e] chaunge
And the measures so oft[e] tymes* sith varye,
Which now to unto me is now nothyng* necessarye.
If it wer so that I might asterte! assert
But many a man, if I shal nought tary.
Oft [tyme] daunseth, but nothyng of hert.

Death to the peasant

Death speaketh to the Labourer.
THOU Labourer, which in sorowe and peyn
Hast lad thy life in [ful] great trauayle.
Ye must eke daunce and therfore therefore nought disdein;
For if thou you do, it may the nought auayle.
And cause why that I thee assayle
Is As onely this: from fro thee to disceuer
The false world that can so folkes fayle;
He is a foole that weneth to liuen euer.

The peasant / labourer

The Labourer maketh aunswere.
I HAUE wished after Death ful oft,
Albe that I would haue fled him nowe.
I had leauer lever to haue lyen vnsoft,
In wind & rain to haue gon at the plowe,
With spade & pikoys labored laboured for my prowe,
Doluen and ditched and at the cart[e] gone:
For I may say and tell[e] platlye howe,
In this worlde there is rest[e] none.

Death to the Franciscan

Death speaketh to the Frere Menour. menor.
SYR Cordelere, to you mine hande is raught.
You To* this daunce [you] to conuay convey & leade.
Which in your preaching han ful oft ytaught
How that I am most gastful for to drede,
Albe that folke take thereto therto none hede.
Yet is there none so strong ne so hardye,
But Death dare hym rest and let for no mede;
For Death yche* every houre is present and ready.

The Franciscan monk

The Frere maketh aunswere.
WHAT may this be, that in this world no man
Here to abide may haue no suretie?
Strength, riches, nor what so that he can
Of worldly wisedom; all is but vanitie!
In great estate nor in pouertie
Is nothing founde that may from* his death defend;
For which I saye to high and low degree,
Wise is the* that sinner that doth his lyfe amend.

Death to the child

Death speaketh to the Chylde.
LITLE Faunte, that were wert but late borne,
Shape in this worlde to haue no pleasaunce, plasaunce,
Ye must with other, that gone here beforne. herebeforne,
Be lad in hast by fatall ordinaunce.
Learne ouer* of new to gone [up]on on my daunce:
There may none age escape in soth insoth therefro.
Let euery wight haue this in remembraunce.
Who lengest liueth most shal suffer woe,

The child

The Yong young Childe maketh aunswer.
A A a, a woorde I cannot speake;
I am so yonge; I was borne yesterday.
Death is so hasty on me to be wreake,
And list no lenger to make no delaie.
I come am but now,* borne and now I go my way;
Of me no more tale* to tele shall [ye] be told.
The wyll of God no man withstonde maye;
As soone dyeth a yong [man] as an olde.

Death to the clerk

Death speaketh to the Yong Clerke.
O YE, Syr Clerke, suppose ye to be free
Fro my daunce or your selfe defende,
That wend haue risen vnto high degree
Of benefice or some great prebende?
Who climbeth highest sometime shal descend. dscend,
Let no man grutche ayeines* against his fortune,
But take at gree what euer whatever God him sende,
Which punisheth al when time is oportune.

The clerk

The Clerke maketh aunswere.
SHALL [I] that am so yong a clerke now die,
Fro* Of my seruice & haue no bet better guerdon?
Is there no gayn[e] ne no better way,
No seurer* better fraunchise nor proteccion?
Death maketh alway a short conclusion;
To late ware, when men been be on the brynke:
The world shall fayle and all possession;
For much faileth of thing that foles* folkes thinke.

Death to the hermit

Death speaketh to the Hermite.
YE that haue liued long in wildernes
And there continued long in abstinence,
At the last[e] yet ye mot you dresse.
Of my daunce to haue experience;
For there against may be* is no resistence. resistance,
Take now leaue of thyne hermitage:
W[h]erfore yche* Werfore every man aduert to this sentence.
That [in] this life here is* no sure heritage.

The hermit

The Hermite maketh aunswere.
TO liue in desert called solitarie
May again Death haue respite none nor space;
At vnset houre his commyng doth not tary,
And for my part welcom by Goddes grace,
Thankyng hym with humble chere & face
Of al his giftes and great haboundaunce,
Finally affirmyng in this place,
No man is riche that lacketh suffraunce. sufferance.


Death speaketh agayn to the Hermite. again.
THAT is wel sayd, and thus should euery wight
Thanken his God & al his wittes dresse
To loue & dread dred him with all his heart & might,
Sith Death to escape maye be no sikernes.
As men deserue, God quiteth of rightwisnes
To riche and poore vpon euery syde:
A better lesson there can no clerke expresse,
Than til to morow is no man sure to abide.

The dead king

The King ligging eaten of Wormes.
YE folke that loke vpon this portrature,
Beholding here all estates daunce,
Seeth what ye have been & what is your nature:
Meat vnto wormes; nought els in substaunce.
And haueth have this mirrour aye in remembraunce,
Howe I lye here whylom crouned [a] crowned kyng,
To al estates a true resemblaunce,
That wormes foode is* the fine of our* your liuyng.

The authority

Machabree the Doctoure.
MANS lyfe* MAn is nought els, platly for to thinke.
But as [a] wind[e] which is transitory,
Passing ay forth, whether he wake or winke.
Toward this daunce, haueth this in memorye,
Remembryng aye there is no better victory
In this life here than fle then fly syn at the least;
Than Then shal ye reygne in paradise with glorye.
Happy is he that maketh in heauen his feast!

Yet been there be folke mo than sixe or seuen,
Recheles of life in many maner wyse.
Like as there were hell[e] none nor heauen.
Such false errour let euery man despise;
For holy saynctes and olde clerkes wyse
Written contrary, her falsenes to deface:* defame,
To liuen wel, take* this for the best emprise,
Is worth much[e] worth when men shall* should hence passe.

The translator

Lenuoye of the Translatoure.
O YE my lordes & maisters masters all in fere,* feare
Of auenture that shal this daunce reade,
Lowely Lowly I pray with all myne my heart entere
To correct[e] where as ye whereas you se nede;
For nought elles I aske for my mede
But goodly support of this translacion,
And with fauour to suppowaile drede,
Bening[e]lye Beninglye in your correccioun. correction.

Out of the French I drough it of entent, intent,
Not word by word but folowing in substaunce,
And from fronm Paris to Eng[e]land England it sent,
Only of purpose you to do plesaunce. pleasance.
Rude of langage, I was not borne in France, Have me excused my name is John Lidgate,
Haue me excused, my name is Iohn Lidgate;* Rude of language, I was not borne in France,
Of ther tong I haue no suffisance, Her curious miters in English to translate,
Her curious miters in Englishe to translate. Of other tong I have no suffisance.

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