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Disguising at Hertford   By: (1370?-1451?)

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The Disguising at Hertford

by John Lydgate c.1370 1449

a verse play written circa 1427.

This version is made available with the permission of the Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge, England, the owners of the unique original manuscript.

For the purposes of this multi platform electronic text, the medieval 'thorn' (a character representing 'th') has been changed to 'th'. It was impracticable to reproduce the original punctuation, which mainly consisted of the virgule or slash. Modern commas and full stops have been sparingly imposed. Superscript tildes and mid script tildes have been removed. Mid script dots have been changed to colons as they seem to indicate a deliberate suspension. The last four words of the initial rubric (Brys : slayne at Loviers) appear to have been added to the manuscript at a date slightly later than when it was first written. Section marks occur in the original without consistency; where these clearly indicate a new section, a blank line has been inserted to produce a similar effect.

The endnotes include the original stage directions. Two lacunae in the manuscript have been supplied by reference to John Stow's late 16th century manuscript copy of the text. The other endnotes are glosses of particular words in the text.

The transcription of Lydgate's text has also been published in book form under the title 'Lydgate's Disguising at Hertford Castle', including a modern verse translation of the text, an editor's introduction and notes, and a study of the literary and historical background of the play and of its first performance, which took place at Hertford Castle as part of the royal Christmas festivities of, probably, 1427.

Nowe folowethe here the maner of a bille by wey of supplicacon putte to the kyng holding his noble feest of Cristmasse in the Castel of Hertford as in a disguysing : of the Rude upplandisshe people compleyning on hir wyves with the boystous aunswere of hir wyves devysed by lydegate at the Request of the Countre Roullour Brys : slayne at Loviers

Most noble prynce : With support of your grace, Ther beon entred : in to youre royal place And late coomen in to youre castell, Youre poure lieges, wheche lyke no thing weel. Nowe in the vigyle of this nuwe yeere Certayne sweynes, ful [froward of ther chere], Of entent comen, [fallen on ther kne], For to compleyne vn to yuoure magestee Vpon the mescheef of gret aduersytee, Vpon the trouble and the cruweltee [10] Which that they haue endured in theyre lyves By the felnesse of theyre fierce wyves, Which is a tourment verray importable, A bonde of sorowe, a knott vnremuwable. For whoo is bounde or locked in maryage, Yif he beo olde, he falleth in dotage, And yong folkes, of theyre lymes sklendre, Grene and lusty, and of brawne but tendre, Phylosophres callen in suche aage A Chylde to wyve, a woodnesse or a raage. [20]

For they afferme ther is noon eorthly stryff May beo compared to wedding of a wyff, And who that euer stondethe in the cas He with his Rebecke may sing ful oft ellas, Lyke as theos hynes, here stonding oon by oon, He may with hem vpon the daunce goon. Leorne the traas, boothe at even and morowe Of Karycantowe in tourment and in sorowe.... Weyle the while ellas that he was borne. For Obbe, the Reeve, that goothe heere al to forne, [30] He pleynethe sore, his mariage is not meete, For his wyff, Beautryce Bittersweete, Cast vpon him an hougly cheer ful rowghe Whane he komethe home, ful wery frome the ploughe, With hungry stomake, deed and paale of cheere, In hope to fynde redy his dynier.

Thanne sittethe Beautryce, bolling at the nale, As she that gyvethe of him no maner tale. For she alday with hir iowsy nolle, Hathe for the collyk pouped in the bolle [40] And for heed aache : with pepir and gynger Dronk dolled ale, to make hir throte cleer, And komethe hir hoome, whane hit drawethe to eve... Continue reading book >>

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