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ingham, sitting in the council; and after, to have taken upon them to rule the king and the realm at their pleasure. and thereby to pill and spoil whom they list uncontrouled.
And much matter was there in the proclamation devised, to the slander of the lord-chamberlain. As, that he was an evil counsellor to the king's father, enticing him to many things highly redounding to the minishing of his honour, and to the universal hurt of his realm, by his evil company, sinister procuring and ungracious example; as well in many other things, as in the vicious living and inordinate abuse of his body, both with many others, and also specially with Shore's wife, who was one also of his most secret counsel of this heinous treason, with whom he lay nightly, and namely the night last past, next before his death. So that it was the less marvel, if ungracious living brought him to an unhappy ending. Which he was now put unto, by the most dread commandment of the king's highness and of his honourable and faithful council; both for his demerits, being so openly taken in his falsely-conceived treason; and also, lest the delaying of his execution might have encouraged other mischievous persons, partners of his conspiracy, to gather and assemble themselves together in making some great commotion for his deliverance. Whose hope now being by his well deserved death politicly repressed, all the realm should, by God's grace rest in good quiet and peace.
Now was this proclamation made within two hours after Vol. II.
that he was beheaded. And it was so curiously indited, and so fair written on parchment, in so well a set hand, and therewith of itself so long a process, that every child might well perceive that it was prepared before. For all the time between his death and the proclaiming, could scant have sufficed unto the bare writing alone, all had it been but on paper and scribbled-forth in haste at adventure. So that upon the proclaiming thereof, one who was schoolmaster of Pauls, of chance standing by and comparing the shortness of the time with the length of the matter, said unto them who stood about him, here is a gay goodly cast, foul cast away for haste. And a merchant answered him, that it was written by prophecy.
Now then by and by, as it were for anger, not for courtesy, the protector sent unto the house of Shore's wife (for her husband dwelled not with her) and spoiled her of all that ever she had above the value of two or three marks, and sent her body to prison. And when he had awhile laid unto her, for the manner sake, that she went about to bewitch him, and that she was of counsel with the lord-chamberlain to destroy him, in conclusion, when that no colour could fasten upon these matters, then he laid heinously to her charge, the thing that herself could not deny, that all the world wist was true, and that nevertheless every man laughed-at to hear it then so suddenly so highly taken, that she was nought of her body.
And for this cause, as a goodly continent prince, clean and faultless of himself, sent out of heaven into this vicious world for the amendment of men's manners, he caused the bishop of London to put her to open penance, going before the cross in procession upon a Sunday, with a taper in her hand. In which she went in countenance and pace demure so womanly, and albeit she were out of all array save her kirtle only, yet went she so fair and lovely, namely while the wondering of the people cast a comely rud in her cheeks (of which she before had most miss), that her great shame wan her much praise, among those who were more amorous of her body than curious of her soul. And many good folk also, who hated her living, and glad were to see sin corrected, yet pitied they more her penance than rejoiced therein, when they considered, that the protector procured it, more of a corrupt intent than any virtuous affection.
This woman was born in London, worshipfully friended, honestly brought-up, and very well married, saving somewhat too soon; her husband an honest citizen, young and goodly and of good substance. But, forasmuch as they were coupled ere she was well ripe, she not very fervently loved for whom she never longed. Which was haply the thing that the more easily made her incline unto the king's appetite, when he required her. How beit the respect of his royalty, the hope of gay apparel, ease, pleasure, and other wanton wealth, were able soon to pierce a soft tender heart. But when the king had abused her, anon her husband, as he was an honest man, and one who could his
good, not presuming to touch a king's concubine, left her up to him all together. When the king died, the lordchamberlain took her; who, in the king's days, albeit he was sore enamoured upon her, yet he forbare her, either for reverence or for a certain friendly faithfulness.
Proper she was and fair; nothing in her body that you would have changed, but if you would have wished her somewhat higher. Thus say they who knew, her in her youth ; albeit some who now see her (for yet she liveth) deem her never to have been well visaged. Whose judgment seemeth me somewhat like, as though men should guess the beauty of one long before departed, by her scalp taken out of the charnel house. For now is she old, lean, withered, and dried up, nothing left but shrivelled skin and hard bone. And yet, being even such, whoso well advise her visage, might guess and devise, which parts, how filled, would make it a fair face.
Yet delighted not men so much in her beauty, as in her pleasant behaviour. For a proper wit had she, and could both read well and write"; merry in company, ready and quick of answer, neither mute nor full of babble, sometimes taunting without displeasure and not without disport. The king would say that he had three concubines, who, in three divers properties, diversly excelled. One the mer. riest, another the wiliest, the third the holiest harlot in his realm, as one whom no man could get out of the church lightly to any place, but it were to his bed. The other two were somewhat greater personages, and nevertheless, of their humility, content to be nameless, and to forbear the praise of those properties. But the merriest, was this Shore's wife, in whom the king therefore took special pleasure, for many he had, but her he loved.
Whose favour, to say the truth, (for sin it were to belie the devil) she never abused to any man's hurt, but to many a man's comfort and relief. Where the king took displeasure, she would mitigate, and appease his mind. Where men were out of favour, she would bring them in his grace. For many who had highly offended, she obtained pardon. Of great forfeitures she gat men remission. And finally, in many weighty suits, she stood many men in great stead, either for none or very small rewards, and those rather gay than rich ; either for that she was content with the deed itself well done, or for that she delighted to be sued unto and to shew what she was able to do with the king, or for that wanton women and wealthy be not alway covetous.
I doubt not, some shall think this woman too slight a thing, to be written of and set among the remembrances of great matters. Which they shall specially think, who haply shall esteem her only by that they now see her. But meseemeth the chance so much the more worthy to be remembered, in how much she is now in the more beggarly condition, unfriended and worn-out of acquaintance, after good substance, after as great favour with the prince, after as great suit and seeking-to with all those who those days