The Text      

The Supplication of Souls
Made by Sir Thomas More, knight, councilor
to our sovereign lord the king and
chancellor of his duchy
of Lancaster.
Against The Supplication of Beggars.


To all good Christian people:
In most piteous wise continually calleth and crieth upon your
devout charity and most tender pity for help, comfort, and relief,
your late acquaintance, kindred, spouses, companions,
playfellows, and friends -- and now your humble and unacquainted and
half forgotten suppliants, poor prisoners of God, the silly
souls in purgatory -- here abiding and enduring the grievous
pains and hot cleansing fire that fretteth and burneth out the
rusty and filthy spots of our sin, till the mercy of Almighty
God, the rather by your good and charitable means, vouchsafe
to deliver us hence.
From whence if ye marvel why we more now molest and trouble
you with our writing than ever we were wont before,
it may like you to wit and understand that hitherto, though
we have been with many folk much forgotten of negligence,
yet hath always good folk remembered us; and we have been
recommended unto God and eased, helped, and relieved both
by the private prayers of good virtuous people, and especially
by the daily Masses and other ghostly suffrages of priests, religious,
and folk of holy church. But now since that of late
there are sprung up certain seditious persons, which not
only travail and labor to destroy them by whom we be much
helped, but also to sow and set forth such a pestilent opinion
against ourselves as, once received and believed among the
people, must needs take from us the relief and comfort that
ever should come to us by the charitable alms, prayer, and
good works of the world: ye may take it for no wonder though
we silly souls, that have long lain and cried so far from you

that we seldom broke your sleep, do now in this our great fear
of our utter loss forever of your loving remembrance and
relief, not yet importunately bereave you of your rest with
crying at your ears at unseasonable time when ye would (as we
do never) repose yourself and take ease, but only procure to
be presented unto you this poor book, this humble supplication
of ours, which it may please you parcelmeal at your leisure
to look over for all silly souls' sake, that it may be as a wholesome
treacle at your heart against the deadly poison of their
pestilent persuasion that would bring you in that error to
ween there were no purgatory. Of all which cruel persons so
procuring, not the diminishment of your mercy towards us, but
the utter spoil and robbery of our whole help and comfort that
should come from you, the very worst and thereby the most
deadly deviser of our pains and heaviness (God forgive him!)
is that despiteous and despiteful person which of late, under
pretext of pity, made and put forth among you a book
that he named The Supplication for the Beggars, a book indeed
nothing less intending than the pity that it pretendeth;
nothing minding the weal of any man but, as we shall
hereafter show you, much harm and mischief to all men;
and among other great sorrow, discomfort, and heaviness unto us,
your even-Christians and nigh kin, your late neighbors and
pleasant companions upon earth, and now poor prisoners
And albeit that his unhappy book doth for our own part
touch us very near, yet we be much more moved to give the
world warning of his venomous writing for the dear love and
charity that we bear to you, than for the respect of our own
relief. For as for us, albeit that the gracious help of your
prayer, almsdeed, and other good works for us may be
the means of relieving and releasing of our present pains,
yet such is the merciful goodness of God, that though the whole
world would clean forget us, yet would his mercy so remember us,

that after temporal punishment and purging here he will
not finally forget to take us hence; and wiping all the tears out
of our eyes, translate us at sundry times, as his high wisdom
seeth convenient, into that eternal heavenly bliss to which
his holy, blessed blood hath bought us. But surely to you worldly
people living there upon earth -- not only for this present
time but also for as long as this world shall endure -- the
wretched maker of that ungracious book (whom God give once
the grace to repent and amend!), if folk were so fond to follow
him, should not fail to work as well much worldly trouble
to every kind of people, as over that (which most loss were of
all) to bring many a good simple soul, for lack of belief of
purgatory, the very straight way to hell.
And the case so standing, there would, we think, no man
doubt but though the man that made the book were well
known among you, and in hold also, whereby, his heinous
treason to God and the world disclosed and declared by us,
he might be in peril of exquisite painful punishment, yet
we both might and ought rather to put him in the danger of
his own demeanor, than for the sparing of his just correction
to suffer him abuse the people with his pestilent writing,
to the inestimable harm of the whole world in goods,
body, and soul. And since we so might of reason and so should of
charity, though the man were known and taken, how much
may we now more frankly tell you all, and nothing shall need
to spare him, since his book is nameless, and so himself among
you unknown and thereby out of the peril of any punishment
for his unhappy deed?
But for that both ye and he shall well perceive that we desire
but your weal and ours by giving you warning of his malice,
and nothing intend to procure his punishment --
which we rather beseech our Lord of his mercy to remit -- ye
shall understand that neither is his name nor person
unknown among us, and therefore we might well discover him
if we were so minded. For there is not only some of his acquaintance

and counsel, whom God gave at their death the
grace to repent, come hither to purgatory, nothing more
now lamenting among us than their cruel unkindness toward
us in giving counsel against us to the making of that
ungracious book, with infidelity and lack of belief of the
purging fire which they now find and feel; but he is also
named and boasted among his by that evil angel of his, our
and your ghostly enemy, the devil. Which as soon as he had set
him a work with that pernicious book, ceased not to come
hither and boast it among us; but with his enemious and envious
laughter, gnashing the teeth and grinning, he told
us that his people had by the advice and counsel of him and
of some heretics almost as evil as he, made such a book for
beggars that it should make us beg long ere we get aught.
Whereby he trusted that some of us should not so soon creep out of
our pain as we had hoped.
Wit ye well, these words were heavy tidings to us. But yet
because the devil is wont to lie, we took some comfort in that we
could not believe him, especially telling a thing so far incredible.
For who could ever have thought that any Christian man
could for very pity have found in his heart to seek and study
the means whereby a Christian man should think it labor lost
to pray for all Christian souls? But alack the while, we found
soon after that the falsehood and malice of the man proved the
devil true. For by some that died soon after the book put forth,
we have heard and perceived the wretched contents thereof, well
and plainly declaring what evil spirit inspired him
while it was in making. For albeit that it is so contrived and
the words so couched, that by the secret inward working of
the devil that helped to devise it, a simple reader might by
delight in the reading be deadly corrupted and venomed; yet if a
wise man well warned advisedly will weigh the sentence, he
shall find the whole book nothing else but falsehood under pretext
of plainness, cruelty under the cloak of pity, sedition

under the color of counsel, proud arrogance under the name
of supplication, and under the pretense of favor unto poor folk,
a devilish desire of noyance both to poor and rich, priest,
religious, and layman, prince, lord, and people, as well quick as
He deviseth a piteous bill of complaint and supplication,
feigned to be by the poor, sick, and sore beggars, put up to the
king, lamenting therein their number so sore increased, that
good folk's alms not half sufficing to find them meat,
they be constrained heavily to die for hunger. Then layeth he the
cause of all these poor beggars; both their increase in number and
their default in finding, all this he layeth to the only fault of the
clergy; naming them in his bead-roll bishops, abbots, priors,
deacons, archdeacons, suffragans, priests, monks,
canons, freres, pardoners, and summoners. All these he calleth
mighty sturdy beggars, and idle holy thieves, which he saith hath
begged so importunately that they have gotten into their
hands the third part of all the realm of England, besides tithes,
privy tithes, probates of testaments and offerings, with mass-pennies
and mortuaries, blessing and cursing, citing, suspending, and
assoiling. Then cometh he particularly to freres, to whom he
maketh, as he thinketh, a plain and open reckoning, that they
receive by begging through the realm yearly 43,333 L,
6 s, 8 d sterling. Then showeth he that all
this cast together amounteth yearly far above the half of the
whole substance of the realm. After this, presupposing as
though he had proved it that the clergy hath the half, he then, to
prove the two-hundredth part of that they have were more than
sufficient for them, taketh for his ground that if the number of
them be compared with the number of laymen, the clergy be
not the hundredth part, and that if they be compared with the lay
men, women, and children, the clergy is not then the four-hundredth
person of that number. And then intendeth he thereby to
prove and conclude that since they have, as he saith, more than the

half of all together, and be themselves not fully the four-hundredth
part, therefore if that better half that they have were divided
into two hundred parts, then were yet one part of those two
hundred parts, as he thinketh, too much for them, especially
because they labor not. After this he gathereth a great heap of
evils wherewith he belieth the clergy to bring them in displeasure
of the king and hatred of the people. And lest men
should anything esteem the clergy for the suffrages of their
prayer in relief of us silly Christian souls in purgatory, to take
away that good mind out of good Christian men's hearts, he
laboreth to make the world ween that there were no purgatory
at all. Wherein when he hath done what he can, then laboreth
he to the king for a license to rail upon the clergy,
saying that there is none other effectual remedy against
them but that it might please the king to give him and
such other free license and liberty to defame the clergy at
their pleasure among the people. For he saith that if any of
them be punished anything by the temporal laws, then they
sore trouble the laborers thereof by the spiritual law, and then
the heads of the clergy do so highly more than recompense the
loss of their fellows that they may be bold to do the like
offense again at their pleasure. And for to prove that it is
always so, he layeth that it hath been so thrice and, as it
shall after be showed, he lieth in all three. The first, he layeth that
the bishop of London was in a great rage for indicting of
certain curates of extortion and incontinency the last year in
the wardmote quests. And for the second, he layeth that Doctor
Aleyn, after that he was punished by praemunire for his contempt
committed against the king's temporal law, was therefore by
the bishops highly recompensed in benefices. And for the
third, he layeth that Richard Hunne, because he had sued a praemunire
against a priest for suing him in the spiritual court in a
matter determinable in the king's court, was accused of heresy

and committed to bishop's prison; where he saith that all the
world knoweth that he was murdered by Doctor Horsey with
his accomplices, then the bishop's chancellor. And that the
same Doctor Horsey, he saith upon other men's mouths,
paid six hundred pounds for him and his accomplices, and after
obtained the king's most gracious pardon. Whereupon he
saith the captains of the spiritualty, because he had fought so
manfully against the king's crown and dignity, promoted
him forthwith, benefice upon benefice, to the value of four
times as much. And by these examples he concludeth there
will no such punishment serve against the spiritualty; and also
who that justly punish a priest by the temporal law is unjustly
troubled again in the spiritual law. Whereof he would conclude that
of necessity for a special remedy the king must needs grant a
license to such lewd fellows to rail upon them. Then cometh he
at last unto the device of some remedy for the poor beggars.
Wherein he would in no wise have none hospitals made, because
he saith that therein the profit goeth to the priests. What remedy
then for the poor beggars? He deviseth nor desireth
nothing to be given them, nor none other alms or help
requireth for them: but only that the King's Highness would
first take from the whole clergy all their whole living, and
then set them abroad in the world to get them wives and
to get their living with the labor of their hands and in the
sweat of their faces, as he saith it is the commandment of
God in the first chapter of Genesis, and finally to tie them to
the carts to be whipped naked about every market town till
they fall to labor. And then if these petitions were once
granted and performed, he showeth many great commodities
that would, as he saith, ensue thereupon, both to the king and the
people and to the poor beggars. Which things we shall, ere we
leave, in such wise repeat and ponder that your wisdoms may
consider and perceive in yourself what good fruit would follow
the speed of his goodly supplication, whereof we have rehearsed
you the whole sum and effect.

Truth it is that many things wherewith he flourisheth his
matters to make them seem gay to the readers at a sudden
show, we leave out for the while, because we would, ere we come
thereto, that ye should first have the matter self in short set forth
before your eyes. And then shall we peruse his proofs and in
such wise consider everything apart, that we nothing doubt
but whoso shall read his worshipful writing after, shall soon
perceive therein flourishing without fruit, subtlety without
substance, rhetoric without reason, bold babbling without
learning, and wiliness without wit. And finally, for the foundation
and ground of all his proofs, ye shall find in his book not half
so many leaves as lies, but almost as many lies as lines.
And albeit we lie here in that case, that about the examination
and answering of such a mad malicious book we have neither
lust nor leisure to bestow the time, whereof misspent in our life
we give now a hard and a heavy reckoning; yet not only the
necessity of our cause driveth us to declare unto you the
feebleness of his reasons wherewith he would bring you in the
case to care nothing for us, believing that there were no purgatory,
but also most especially doth our charity toward you stir us
to show you the mischief that he mindeth to yourself, as well in
that point of infidelity as in all the remnant of his seditious
book. In answering whereof, we would gladly let his folly and lack of
learning pass, if it were not more than necessary that all folk
should perceive his little learning and less wit, lest simple folk,
weening him wise and well-learned, might unto their harm
esteem his evil writing the better for their wrong opinion of
his wit and learning. As for his malicious mind and untruth,
there can no man look that we should leave untouched but he that
would rather the man were believed than answered, and would
wish his bill sped were it never so malicious and false.
For where he so deviseth his introduction as all his purpose
should have a great face of charity, by that he speaketh all in
the name of the poor beggars, this is nothing else but the devil's
drift, always covering his poison under some taste of sugar. As

for us, we trust there will no wise man doubt what favor we
bear to beggars, as folk of their own fellowship and faculty, and of
all whom there be nowhere in the world neither so needy, nor so
sore and so sick, nor so impotent and so sore in pains as we.
And that so far forth that if ye might see them all on the one side
and but one of us on the other side, we be very sure that the
world would pity one of us more than them all. But although we
be more beggars than your beggars be, as folk daily begging
our alms of you and them both, yet envy we not them as one of
them doth another, but we pray and require you to give them
for our sakes, whereby your gift greatly comforteth us both. And
they be also our proctors and beg in our name, and in our
name receive your money, whereof we receive both your
devotion and their prayers. So that ye may be well assured
there could be put no bill nor supplication forth for their
advantage which we would in any wise hinder, but very
gladly further in all that ever we might. But in good faith, as our
poor brethren the beggars be for many causes greatly to be
pitied for their disease and sickness, sorrow, pain, and poverty, so
do we much in this case sorrow their mishap that they have
not had at the leastwise so much fortune as to fall upon a
wiser scrivener to make their supplication, but upon such a
one as under his great wiliness showeth so little wit that, beginning
with a cloak of charity, doth by and by no less disclose
his hatred and malice than if he nothing else had intended
but to cast off the cloak and set out his malice naked to
the show. Wherein, like a beggar's proctor he goeth forth so
nakedly that no beggar is there so bare of cloth or money as he
showeth himself bare of faith, learning, truth, wit, or
charity. Which thing, as it already well appeareth to wise men, so
will we make it evident to all men, taking our beginning at
the declaration of his untruth, which one thing well perceived
will be sufficient to answer and overturn all his whole
enterprise. Howbeit we neither shall need nor do purpose to
cumber you with rehearsal and reproof of all his lies, for that

were too long a work, whereof we fear ye should be weary to abide
the hearing. But of so many, we shall pray you take patience
while we show you some, and such as for the matter be requisite
to be known, forasmuch as all his proofs be especially
grounded upon them.
And first, to begin where he beginneth, when he saith that
the number of such beggars as he pretendeth to speak for -- that
is, as himself calleth them, "the wretched, hideous monsters
on whom," he saith, "scarcely any eye dare look, the foul, unhappy
sort of lepers and other sore people, needy, impotent, blind,
lame, and sick, living only of alms" -- have their number
now so sore increased that all the alms of all the well
disposed people of the realm is not half enough to sustain
them, but that for very constraint they die for hunger: unto
all those words of his, were it not that, though we well wist ourselves
he said untrue, yet would we be loath so to lay as a lie to his
charge anything whereof the untruth were not so plainly
perceived, but that he might find some favorers which
might say he said true, else would we peradventure not let to tell
him that for a beginning in these few words he had written
two lies at once. If we should tell you what number there was of
poor sick folk in days past, long before your time, ye were at
liberty not to believe us. Howbeit he cannot yet on the other side,
for his part neither, bring you forth a bead-roll of their names;
wherefore we must for both our parts be fain to remit you
to your own time, and yet not from your childhood (whereof
many things men forget when they come to far greater age)
but unto the days of your good remembrance. And so doing,
we suppose if the sorry sights that men have seen had left as great
impression still remaining in their hearts as the sight maketh
of the present sorrow that they see, men should think and say that they
have in days past seen as many sick beggars as they see now.
For as for other sickness, they reign not, God be thanked, but after
such rate as they have done in times past. And then of the
French pocks, thirty year ago went there about sick five

against one that beggeth with them now. Whereof whoso list to say
that he seeth it otherwise, we will hold no great dispicions
with him thereupon, because we lack the names of both the
sides to make the trial with. But surely whoso shall say the
contrary, shall, as we suppose, either say so for his pleasure, or
else shall it fare by his sight as folks fare with their feeling, which
what they feel they whine at, but what they have felt they have
more than half forgotten, though they felt it right late. Which
maketh one that hath but a poor boil upon his finger think
the grief more great than was the pain of a great botch that
grieved his whole hand little more than a month before. So that
in this point of the number of sick beggars so sore increased so
late, albeit we will forbear so to say to him as we might well say,
yet will we be so bold to deny it him till he bring in some better
thing than his bare word for the proof.
And in good faith, if he be put to the proof of the other point
also -- that is to wit, that for very constraint those poor sick folk
die for hunger -- we verily trust and think he shall seek far and
find very few, if he find any at all; for albeit that poor householders
have these dear years made right hard shift for corn,
yet, our Lord be thanked, men have not been so far from all
pity as to suffer poor, impotent persons die at their doors for
Now whereas he saith that the alms of all well-disposed people
of this realm is not half enough to sustain them -- and the well
disposed people he calleth in this matter all them that giveth
them alms -- and he speaketh not of one year or twain but of
these many years now past, for neither be the number of the
clergy, nor their possessions, nor the freres' alms, in which
things he layeth the cause why the alms of good people is not
half sufficient to keep and sustain the poor and sick beggars from
famishing, any great thing increased in these ten or twelve
or twenty years last past; and therefore if that he said were true,
then by all these ten years at the least, the alms of good people
hath not been half able to sustain the poor and sick beggars from
famishing. And surely if that were so that in four or five years in
which was plenty of corn, the poor and sick beggars for lack of
men's alms died so fast for hunger, though many should

fall sick never so fast again, yet had they in the last two dear years
died up of likelihood almost everyone. And whether this be
true or not we purpose not to dispute, but to refer and report
ourselves to every man's eyes and ears, whether any man hear
of so many dead or see so many the fewer.
When he hath laid these sure stones to begin the ground and
foundation of his building with -- that sore and sick beggars be so
sore increased that the alms of all the good people of this
realm is not half enough to sustain them, and that therefore by
very constraint they daily die for hunger -- upon them he
layeth another stone, that the cause of all this evil is the great
possessions of the spiritualty, and the great alms given to the
freres. But herein first he layeth that besides tithes and all such
other profits as rise unto the church by reason of the
spiritual law or of men's devotion, that they have the third
part of all the temporal lands of the realm. Which whoso
can tell as much of the revenues of the realm as he can tell little
that made the book, doth well know that though they have
much, yet is the third part of all far another thing, and that he
saith in this point untrue. Then goeth he to the poor freres.
And there, as we told you, he showeth that the alms given them
of certainty amounteth yearly unto 43,333 L,
6 s, 8 d sterling; peradventure men would ween the man
were some apostate and that he never could be so privy to the
freres' reckoning but if he had been long their limiter and
seen some general view of all their whole accounts. But surely
since the man is bad enough besides, we would be loath folk should
reckon him for apostate, for surely he was never frere for aught
that we know, for we never wist that ever in his life he was half
so well-disposed. And also, when ye hear the ground of his
reckoning, ye will yourself think that he neither knoweth much
of their matters, and of all the realm besides make as though he
knew many things for true which many men know for false.
For first he putteth for the ground of his reckoning that
there are in the realm two and fifty thousand parish

churches, which is one plain lie to begin with. Then he
putteth that every parish, one with another, hath ten households
in it, meaning besides such poor houses as rather ask
alms than give, for of such ye wot well the freres get no quarterage.
And that point, albeit the ground be not sure, yet because
it may to many men seem likely, therefore we let it pass. But
then he showeth further for a sure truth a thing that all men
know surely for a great lie: that is to say, that of every
household in every parish, every of the five orders of freres
hath every quarter a penny. For we know full well and so do many
of you too, first, that common people speak but of four orders -- the
white, the black, the Augustinian, and the grey -- and which
is the fifth, in many parts of the realm few folk can tell you.
For if the question were asked about, there would be peradventure
found many more, the more pity it is, that could name
you the green freres than the crouched. Ye know right well also
that in many a parish in England, of forty households ye
shall not find four pay neither five pence a quarter nor four
neither, and many a parish never a penny. And as for the five pence
quarterly, we dare boldly say that ye shall find it paid in
very few parishes through the realm, if ye find it paid in
any. And yet this thing being such a stark lie, as many men
already knoweth and every man shortly may find it, he putteth
as a plain, well-known truth for a special post to bear
up his reckoning. For upon these grounds now maketh he a
clear reckoning in this manner ensuing, which is good also to
be known for folk that will learn to cast account. "There be fifty-two thousand
parishes, and in each of them ten households. So have ye the
whole sum of the households, five hundred thousand and twenty
thousand." Even just. Go now to the money then. Every order
of the five orders of freres hath of every of these households a
penny a quarter. Summa, for every house among all the five orders
every quarter, five pence, and hereby may ye learn that five times

one maketh five. Now this is, he showeth you, among the five orders
of every house for the whole year twenty pence, and so learn ye there
that four times five maketh twenty. Summa, saith he, five hundred
thousand and twenty thousand quarters of angels. Here we
would not that because the realm hath no coin called the
quarter angel, ye should therefore so far mistake the man as
to ween that he meant so many quarter sacks of angels. For indeed
(as we take him) by the naming and counting of so many
quarters of angels, he meaneth nothing else but to teach you a
point of reckoning and to make you perceive and know that
twenty pence is the fourth part of 6 s, 8 d. For after that rate it
seemeth that he valueth the angel noble. Then goeth he forth
with his reckoning and showeth you that "five hundred thousand
and twenty thousand quarters of angels maketh two hundred
threescore thousand half angels." And by this, lo, ye may
perceive clearly that he meant not quarter sacks of angels, for
then they would have held, ye wot well, many more pieces of
forty pence than forty times this whole sum cometh to.
Then he showeth you further that 260,000 half
angels amount just unto 130,000 angels,
wherein every man may learn that the half of sixty is thirty, and
the half of twain is one. Finally then he casteth it all together
and bringeth it into pounds. "Summa totalis, 43,000 L,
333 L, 6 s, 8 d." But
here to continue the plainness of his reckoning, he forgot to
tell you that three nobles make twenty shillings, and that twenty shillings make a pound.
But who can now doubt of this reckoning, when it cometh
so round that of so great a sum he leaveth not out the odd
noble? But now since all this reckoning is grounded upon two
false grounds, one upon fifty-two thousand parish churches,
the other that every of the five orders hath every quarter of
every household a penny; this reckoning of 43,333 L,
6 s, 8 d seemeth to come much like to pass as if he

would make a reckoning with you that every ass hath eight ears.
And for to prove it with, bear you first in hand that every
ass hath four heads, and then make, summa, four heads.
Then might he boldly tell you further that every ass head
hath two ears, for that is commonly true except any be cut
off. Summa then, two ears, and so, summa totalis, eight ears. At
this account of eight ears of one ass, ye make a lip and
think it so mad that no man would make no such. Surely it
were a mad count indeed, and yet as mad as it were, it were
not so mad by half as is his sad and earnest count that he
maketh you now so solemnly of the freres' quarterage. For
this should he ground but upon one lie, where he groundeth the
other upon twain as open lies as this and as great. Now might
we (and we would) say that all his reckoning were naught because
he reckoneth twenty pence for the quarter of the angel, and all
the remnant of his reckoning followeth forth upon the same
rate. But we would be loath to put him in the fault that he
deserve not. For surely it might be that he was not aware of the
new valuation, for he ran away before the valuation
changed. But now upon this great sum of 43,333 L,
6 s, 8 d, upon these good grounds
heaped up together he bringeth in his ragman's roll of his rude
rhetoric against the poor freres, beginning with such a great
exclamation that we heard him hither and suddenly were all
afraid when we heard him cry out so loud, "Oh, grievous and
painful exactions thus yearly to be paid, from the which
the people of your noble progenitors, ancient Britons, ever
stood free!" And so goeth he forth against the poor freres with
Danes and Saxons and noble King Arthur and Lucius the
emperor, the Romans, the Greeks, and the great Turk,
showing that all these had been utterly marred and never had been
able to do nothing in the war, if their people had given
their alms to freres.

After his railing rhetoric ended against the freres, then
this sum of 43,333 L, 6 s, 8 d he
addeth unto all the other that he said before that all the clergy
hath besides, which he summeth not, but saith that this and that
together amount unto more between them than half of the
whole substance of the realm. And this he affirmeth as boldly
as though he could reckon the whole revenues and substance of
all England as readily as make the reckoning of his beggar's
Then showeth he that this better half of the whole substance
is shifted among fewer than the four-hundredth part of the
people. Which he proveth by that he saith that all "the clergy
compared unto the remnant of the men only, be not the
hundredth person. And if they be compared unto the remnant
of men, women, and children, so are they not," he saith,
"the four-hundredth person." But now some folk that have not
very long ago upon great occasions taken the reckoning of
priests and religious places in every diocese, and on the other
side the reckoning and the number of the temporal men in
every county, know well that this man's mad reckoning
goeth very far wide, and seemeth that he hath heard these wise
reckonings at some congregation of beggars. And yet, as
though because he hath said it he had therefore proved it, he
runneth forth in his railing rhetoric against the whole clergy
and that in such a sort and fashion that very hard it were to
discern whether it be more false or more foolish. For first, all
the faults that any lewd priest or frere doth, all that layeth he
to the whole clergy, as well and as wisely as though he would lay
the faults of some lewd lay people to the default and blame of all
the whole temporalty. But this way liketh him so well that thus
laying to the whole clergy the faults of such as be simple and faulty
therein, and yet not only laying to their charge the breach of
chastity and abuse in fleshly living of such as be naught, but
also madly, like a fond fellow, laying much more to their charge

and much more earnestly reproving the good and honest living of
those that be good, whom he rebuketh and abhorreth because
they keep their vows and persevere in chastity -- for
he saith that they be the marrers and destroyers of the realm,
bringing the land into wilderness for lack of generation by
their abstaining from wedding -- then aggrieveth he his great
crimes with heinous words, gay repetitions, and grievous exclamations,
calling them blood-suppers and drunken in the blood
of holy martyrs and saints, which he meaneth for the condemning
of holy heretics. Greedy golofers he calleth them, and
insatiable whirlpools, because the temporalty hath given
them possessions and give to the freres their alms. And all
virtuous, good priests and religious folk he calleth idle holy
thieves, because they spend their time in preaching and
prayer. And then saith he, "These be they that make so many
sick and sore beggars. These be they that make these whores and
bawds. These be they that make these thieves. These be they
that make so many idle persons; these be they that corrupt the
generations. And these be they that with the abstaining from
wedding, hinder so the generation of the people that the realm
shall at length fall in wilderness but if they wed the sooner." And
now upon these heinous crimes laid unto the whole clergy,
and laid, as every wise man seeth, some very falsely and some
very foolishly: after his goodly repetitions he falleth to his great
and grievous exclamations, crying out upon the great, broad,
bottomless ocean sea of evils and upon the grievous shipwreck
of the commonwealth, the translating of the king's
kingdom, and the ruin of the king's crown. And therewith
rolling in his rhetoric from figure to figure, he falleth to a
vehement invocation of the king and giveth him warning of
his great loss, asking him fervently: "Where is your sword,
power, crown, and dignity become?" as though the King's
Grace had clean lost his realm specially for lack of people to
reign upon, because that priests have no wives. And surely

the man cannot fail of such eloquence, for he hath gathered
these goodly flowers out of Luther's garden almost word for
word, without any more labor but only the translating
out of the Latin into the English tongue.
But to inflame the King's Highness against the church, he
saith that the clergy laboreth nothing else but to make the
king's subjects fall into disobedience and rebellion against
His Grace.
This tale is a very likely thing, as though the clergy knew
not that there is nothing earthly that so much keepeth themselves in
quiet rest and surety as doth the due obedience of the people
to the virtuous mind of the prince. Whose high goodness
must needs have much more difficulty to defend the clergy
and keep the church in peace if the people fell to disobedience
and rebellion against their prince. And therefore every child
may see that the clergy would never be so mad as to be glad to
bring the people to disobedience and rebellion against the
prince, by whose goodness they be preserved in peace, and
were in such rebellion of the people likely to be the first that
should fall in peril. But neither is there desired by the clergy,
nor never shall by God's grace happen, any such rebellion as
the beggars' proctor and his fellows, whatsoever they say, long
full sore to see.
But this man against the clergy fetcheth forth old fern years
and runneth up to King John's days, spending much labor about
the praise and commendation of that good, gracious king, and crying
out upon the pope that then was and the clergy of England, and
all the lords and all the commons of the realm, because King
John, as he saith, made the realm tributary to the pope, wherein
he meaneth, peradventure, the Peter's pence. But surely therein is
all his hot accusation a very cold tale when the truth is
known. For so is it indeed, that albeit there be writers that say the
Peter's pence were granted by King John for the release of the
interdiction, yet were they paid indeed ere ever King
John's great grandfather was born, and thereof is there proof
enough. Now if he say, as indeed some writers say, that King

John made England and Ireland tributary to the pope and
the See Apostolic by the grant of a thousand marks, we
dare surely say again that it is untrue, and that all Rome
neither can show such a grant nor never could, and if they
could, it were right naught worth. For never could any king
of England give away the realm to the pope or make the land
tributary though he would, nor no such money is there paid
nor never was. And as for Peter's pence, if he mean them,
neither was the realm tributary by them, nor King John never
granted them. For they were paid before the Conquest to
the Apostolic See toward the maintenance thereof, but only by
way of gratitude and alms. Now as for the archbishop Stephen
whom, he saith, being a traitor to the king, the pope made
archbishop of Canterbury against the king's will, therein be
there, as we suppose, two lies at once. For neither was that Stephen
ever traitor against the king as far as ever we have heard,
nor the pope none otherwise made him archbishop than he
made all other at that time; but the same Stephen was well and
canonically chosen archbishop of Canterbury by the convent of
the monks at Christ's Church in Canterbury, to whom, as the king
well knew and denied it not, the election of the archbishop at that
time belonged. Nor the king resisted not his election because
of any treason that was laid against him, but was discontented
therewith, and after his election was passed and confirmed by the
pope, he would not of long season suffer him to enjoy the bishopric,
because himself had recommended another unto
the monks, whom they rejected, and preferred Stephen. And that
this is as we tell you, and not as the beggars' proctor writeth for
a false foundation of his railing, ye shall may perceive not
only by divers chronicles but also by divers monuments yet
remaining as well of the election and confirmation of the
said archbishop, as of the long suit and process that after
followed thereupon.
Now showeth he himself very wroth with the spiritual

jurisdiction, which he would in any wise were clean taken
away, saying that it must needs destroy the jurisdiction
temporal; whereas the good princes past have granted,
and the nobles in their times and the people too have by
plain parliaments confirmed them, and yet hitherto, blessed
be God, they agree better together than to fall at variance for
the wild words of such a malicious makebate, which for
to bring the spiritualty into hatred, saith that they call
their jurisdiction a kingdom. In which word he may say his
pleasure, but of truth he seldom seeth any spiritual man at
this day that so calleth any spiritual jurisdiction that he useth.
Now where this man useth as a proof thereof that the
spiritualty nameth themselves always before the temporalty,
this manner of naming cometh not of them but of the good
mind and devotion of the temporalty; so far forth
that at the Parliament when that any acts be conceived, the
words be commonly so couched that the bill saith it is enacted
first by our sovereign lord the king, and by the lords spiritual
and temporal, and the commons in that present parliament assembled.
And these bills be often drawn, put forth, and passed
first in the Commons House where there is not one spiritual
man present.
But such truth as the man useth in this point, such useth
he where he calleth the poor freres' alms an exaction, surmising
that it is exacted by force and the people compelled to
pay it, where every man well wotteth that they have, poor men,
no way to compel no man to give them aught, not though they
should die for default. But this good, honest, true man saith that
whoso will not pay the freres their quarterage, they will make
him be taken as a heretic. We be well content that ye take
this for no lie, as many as ever have known it true. But who
heard ever yet that any man taken for a heretic did so
much as once say that he thought it conveyed by the malice of

any frere for refusing to pay the freres' quarterage? This lie, lo, is
a little too loud for any man that were not waxen shameless.
Like truth is there in this that he saith: if any man trouble
a priest for any temporal suit, the clergy forthwith will
make him a heretic and burn him, but if he be content to
bear a faggot for their pleasure. The falsehood of this cannot
be unknown. For men know well in many a shire how often that
many folk indict priests of rape at the sessions. And as there
is sometimes a rape committed in deed, so is there ever a rape
surmised, were the women never so willing, and oftentime
where there was nothing done at all. And yet of any such that
so procured priests to be indicted, how many have men
heard taken and accused for heretics? Ye see not very many
sessions pass but in one shire or other this pageant is played,
whereas through the realm such as be put to penance for
heresy be not so many in many years as there be priests indicted
in few years. And yet of all such so taken for heresy, he
shall not find four this fourscore year, peradventure not
this four hundred year, that ever pretended themselves so
troubled for indicting of a priest. So that his lie is herein too
large to get any cloak to cover it.
Now where he saith that "the captains of Doctor Aleyn's
kingdom have heaped him up benefice upon benefice, and
have rewarded him ten times as much as the five hundred pounds
which he paid for a fine by the praemunire, and that thus hath
the spiritualty rewarded him because he fought so manfully
against the king's crown and his dignity": all that know the
matter do well perceive that the man doth in this matter as he
doth in other, either lieth for his pleasure or else little
wotteth how that the matter stood. For it is well-known that
Doctor Aleyn was in the praemunire pursued only by spiritual
men and had much less favor and much more rigor showed
him therein by the greatest of the clergy than by any temporal

He saith also to the King's Highness, "Your Grace may see what
a work there is in London, how the bishop rageth for indicting
of certain curates of extortion and incontinency
the last year in the wardmote quest." Would not upon these
words every stranger ween that there had been in London
many curates indicted of extortion and rape, and that the
bishop would labor sore to defend their faults, and that there
were about that matter a great commotion in all the city? How
shameless is he that can tell this tale in writing to the King's
Highness for a truth, whereof neither bishop nor curate nor
mayor nor alderman nor any man else ever heard word
spoken? It were hard to say whether we should take it for
wiliness or lack of wit that he saith all this work was in the city
the last year, and then his book neither was put up to the king
nor beareth any date. So that a man would ween he were a fool that so
writeth of the last year that the reader cannot wit which year it
was. But yet ween we he doth it for a wiliness. For since he knoweth
his tale false, it is wisdom to leave the time unknown, that
his lie may be uncontrolled. For he would that men should ween
always that it was in one year or other.
But finally for a special point he bringeth in Richard
Hunne, and saith that if he had not commenced an action of
praemunire against a priest, he had been yet alive and none
heretic at all. Now is it of truth well-known that he was
detected of heresy before the praemunire sued or thought upon.
And he began that suit to help to stop the other withal,
as indeed it did for the while. For albeit that he that was sued
in the praemunire was nothing belonging to the bishop of
London, before whom Richard Hunne was detected of
heresy; yet, lest such as would be glad sinisterly to misconstrue
everything toward the blame of the clergy might have
occasion to say that the matter were hotly handled against
him to force him to forbear his suit of the praemunire, the
bishop therefore did the more forbear till it appeared clearly
to the temporal judges and all that were anything learned in the

temporal law that his suit of the praemunire was nothing
worth in the king's law, forasmuch as by plain statute the
matter was out of question that the plea to be held upon mortuaries
belongs unto the spiritual court. After which
thing well appearing, the matter went forth before the bishop,
and he there well proved naught and his books after brought
forth, such and so noted with his own hand in the margins
as every wise man well saw what he was, and was full sorry
to see that he was such as they there saw him proved.
Now goeth he further and asketh the king, "Did not Doctor
Horsey and his accomplices most heinously, as all the world
knoweth, murder in prison that honest merchant Richard
Hunne, for that he sued your writ of praemunire against a
priest that wrongfully held him in plea in a spiritual court, for
a matter whereof the knowledge belonged unto your high
courts? And what punishment hath he for it? After that he
had paid, as it is said, six hundred pounds for him and his
accomplices, as soon as he had obtained your most gracious
pardon he was immediately promoted by the captains of his
kingdom with benefice upon benefice to the value of four
times as much. Who is he of their kingdom that will not
rather take courage to commit like offense, seeing the promotions
that fell to such men for their so offending: so weak and
blunt is your sword to strike at one of the offenders of this
crooked and perverse generation." We have here somewhat cumbered
you with a piece of his own words, because ye should have
a show of his vehement eloquence, with which the bold beggars'
proctor so arrogantly presumeth in his bill to ask the
king a question, and to bind His Highness to answer as his
mastership appointed him. For if His Grace say nay, then he
telleth him before that all the world wotteth yes. But surely if
he call all the world all that ever God made, then is there three
parts that knoweth the contrary. For we dare be bold to warrant
you that in heaven, hell, and here among us in purgatory,

of all that this man so boldly affirmeth, the contrary is well
and clearly known. And if he call the world but only men
among you there living upon middle earth, yet so shall he peradventure
find in some part of the world, if he seek it well,
more than four or five good, honest men that never heard speak of
the matter. And of such as have heard of the matter and known it
well, he shall find enough, and especially we think the King's
Grace himself (whose Highness he is so homely to ask the question
and appoint him his answer himself), that of all five
things which he hath here in so few lines affirmed, there is
not one true, but lies every one. For first, to begin where he
leaveth, when he saith that the clergy have, since the death of
Richard Hunne, promoted Doctor Horsey with benefice upon
benefice, four times as much as six hundred pounds, the plain
untruth of this point may every man soon know that will soon
inquire. For he liveth yet at Exeter, and there liveth upon
such as he had before, without that new heap of benefice
given him by the captains of his kingdom for killing of
Richard Hunne -- or thanks either, save only of God, for his long
patience in his undeserved trouble. But to the end that ye may see
how little this man forceth how loud he lie, consider that he
saith that the clergy gave unto Doctor Horsey after he came out
of prison benefice upon benefice to the value of four times as
much as six hundred pounds. Now if this be true, then hath Doctor
Horsey had in benefices, besides all such as he had before
his trouble, the value of two thousand four hundred pounds. We trust
that the man, his substance, and his livelihood is so well-known
that we need not to tell that the beggars' proctor in this point
hath made one loud lie. Another is that he saith that Hunne
was kept in plea in the spiritual law for a matter determinable in
the king's court; for the matter was for a mortuary, which by
plain statute is declared to pertain to the spiritual law. The
third is that Hunne was honest, except heresy be honesty. The
fourth is that Doctor Horsey and his accomplices murdered him

in prison; for thereof is the contrary well-known, and that the
man hanged himself for despair, despite, and for lack of
grace. We might and we would lay for the fifth, the payment
which he speaketh of, the six hundred pounds with which money he
would men should ween that he bought his pardon. Wherein he
layeth a good great sum, to the end that folk, well witting that
Doctor Horsey was not like to have so much money of his own,
should ween therewith that the clergy laid out the money among
them, and then gave him benefices whereof he might pay them
again. But this layeth he from himself and showeth not to
whom, for he saith, "It is said so." And yet were it no wrong that
it were accounted his own, till he put it better from him, and
prove of whom he heard it. Howbeit since there is other store
enough, we shall leave this lie in question between him and we
wot ne'er whom else, and we shall for the fifth lay you that lie
that he layeth forth himself: that is to wit, where he saith
that the chancellor purchased the king's most gracious
pardon for the murdering of Hunne. For this is the truth,
that he never sued any pardon therefor. But after that the matter
had been by long time and great diligence so far forth
examined that the King's Highness at length (as time always
trieth out the truth) well perceived his innocence and theirs
also that were accused and indicted with him, his noble Grace,
when they were arraigned upon that indictment and thereto
pleaded that they were not guilty, commanded his attorney
general to confess their plea to be true, which is the thing
that His Highness as a most virtuous prince useth for to do
when the matter is not only just but also known for just
upon the part of the party defendant. Because that like as
where the matter appeareth doubtful, he doth, as reason is, suffer
it to go forth and letteth the truth be tried; so where he seeth
and perceiveth the right to be on the other side, His Highness
will in no wise have the wrong set forth or maintained in his

name. Now when it was then thus indeed that neither
the chancellor nor any man else ever sued any charter of
pardon for the matter, this is then the fifth lie that this man hath
made in so few lines. Which things whoso well consider cannot
but marvel of the sore, pithy point wherewith he knitteth
up all his heavy matter, saying to the king: "Who is there
of their kingdom that will not take courage to commit like offense,
seeing the promotions that fall to such men for their
offending: so weak and so blunt is your sword to strike at one
of the offenders of this crooked and perverse generation." Lo,
how this great zelator of the commonwealth crieth out upon
the king that his sword is not strong and sharp to strike off
innocents' heads! He hath of likelihood ransacked up all Dame
Rhetoric's rolls to find out this goodly figure to call upon
the king and ask His Highness, "Where is your sword?" and tell
him his sword is too dull -- as though he would bid him bear it to
the cutler's to grind, that he might strike off Doctor Horsey's
head whom His Grace had found faultless, and testified him
himself for an innocent. If this man were here matched with
some such as he is himself, that hath the eloquence that he
hath, that could find out such comely figures of rhetoric
as he findeth, set forth and furnished with such vehement
words as he thundereth out like thunder blasts, that hath no
less matters in his mouth than the great, broad, bottomless
ocean sea full of evils, the weakness and the dullness of the king's
sword, the translation of the king's kingdom, the ruin of
the king's crown, with great exclamations, "O grievous
and painful exactions! O case most horrible! O grievous
shipwreck of the commonwealth!" -- what might one that had such
like eloquence say here to him? Surely so much and in such
wise as we silly poor puling souls neither can devise nor
utter. But verily two or three things we see and may well say:
that neither be these great matters meet for the mouth of the

beggars' proctor; nor such preaching of reformation and
amendment of the world meet matters for him to meddle with,
which with open heresies and plain pestilent errors busily
goeth about to poison and infect the world; nor very convenient
for him to take upon him to give counsel to a king,
when he showeth himself to have so much presumption and
so little wit as to ask the king a question and appoint him
his answer, and therein to tell him that all the world knoweth that
thing to be true which the king hath himself already by
his attorney and his judges in open judgment and in his high
court of record testified and confessed for false. If that man
were not for malice as mad, not as March hare, but as a mad
dog that runneth forth and snatcheth he seeth not at whom,
the fellow could never else with such open folly so suddenly
oversee himself. But it were wrong with the world if
malice had as much wit, circumspection, and providence in
the pursuit of an ungracious purpose, as it hath haste, evil
will, and wiliness in the first enterprising. For as an ape hath
some similitude of a man, and as a fox hath a certain wiliness
somewhat resembling an imperfect wit, so fareth
this fellow that beginneth, as one would ween, at good zeal and
charity borne toward the poor beggars. But forthwith he
showeth himself that he nothing else intendeth but openly
to destroy the clergy first, and after that covertly as many as
have aught above the state of beggars. And whereas he would in
the beginning, by the touching of great matters, fain seem very
wise, within a while in the progress he proveth himself a very
stark fool. And where he would seem to show many notable
things which no man had marked but he, he provideth wisely
that no man may believe him, he maketh so many lies, and all
that ever he doth further, he buildeth upon the same.
He layeth that the living which the clergy hath is the
only cause that there be so many beggars that be sick and sore.
Very well and wisely, as though the clergy by their substance
made men blind and lame! The clergy also is the

cause, he saith, why they die for hunger, as though every layman
gave to beggars all that ever he could, and the clergy
give them never a groat; and as though there would not more beggars
walk abroad if the clergy left, of such laymen as they
But he privet you that the clergy must needs be the cause
why there be so many poor men and beggars. For he saith that
before the clergy came in there were but few poor people, and
yet they begged not neither, but men, he saith, gave them
enough unasked. But now where sat he when he saw the people
give poor folk so fast their alms, unasked, that no man needed to
beg before the clergy began? This man of likelihood is of great
age, and or e'er the clergy began, was wont to sit at Saint Savior's
with a sore leg; but he begged not, men gave him so much
unasked. For whereas he allegeth the Bible for him in the Acts
of the Apostles, verily we marvel much what the man meaneth.
For there he may see that the apostles and the deacons, which
were then the clergy, had all together in their own hands and
distributed to every man as themselves thought good. And therefore
we wonder what he meaneth, to speak of that book. For we
think that he meaneth not to hurt the clergy so now as to put all
into their hands. And surely but if he mean so, else is this
place nothing for his purpose.
Now herein he showeth also a high point of his wit, where
he saith that the great living that the clergy hath, which he
layeth and lieth to be more than half of the whole revenues and
substance of the realm, is shifted among fewer than the
four-hundredth part of the people. As though that of the clergy's
part there had no lay people their living, no servant any
wages, no artificer any money for working, no carpenter, no
mason any money for building; but all the money that ever cometh
in their hands, they put it by and by in their own bellies,
and no layman hath any relief thereof. And therefore this point
was wisely written, ye see as well as we. Now for the truth thereof,
if it were true that he saith, that the clergy compared to the

residue of the men only be not one to a hundred, then shall ye not
need to fear the great Turk and he came tomorrow -- except ye
suffer among you to grow in great number these Lutherans that
favor him. For we dare make you the warrantise that if his lie
be true, there be more men a great many in London and within
four shires next adjoining, than the great Turk bringeth into
Hungary. But in this ye must hold him excused, for he meddleth
not much with algorism to see to what sum the number of men
ariseth that is multiplied by a hundred. All his practice in
multiplication meddleth with nothing but lies, and therein
match him with whom ye will, he will give you a hundred for one.
Whereof, if ye lack, let this be the example: that he saith, if the abbot of
Westminster should sing every day as many Masses for his
founders as he is bound to do by his foundation, a thousand
monks were too few. Ye doubt not, we think, but he can tell you who
hath bound them, to how many, and so can make ye the plain
reckoning that the abbot is bound in the year to no fewer Masses
than 365,000. He knoweth what is every man's duty save
his own. He is meet to be a beggars' proctor, that can so prowl
about and can tell allthing.
But now were all his painted process, ye wot well, nothing worth
but if he devised against all these mischiefs some good and
wholesome help. It is therefore a world to see what politic devices
he findeth against the great, broad, bottomless ocean sea of
evils; what remedies to repair the ruin of the king's crown,
to restore and uphold his honor and dignity, to make his
sword sharp and strong, and finally to save all the shipwreck of the
commonwealth! Ye would peradventure ween that the man would
now devise some good, wholesome laws for help of all these matters.
Nay, he will none thereof. For he saith he doubteth that the
king is not able to make any law against them. For he saith that
the clergy is stronger in the Parliament than the king himself.
For in the higher house he reckoneth that the spiritualty is
more in number and stronger than the temporalty. And in the

Commons House he saith that all the learned men of the realm,
except the king's learned Council, be feed with the church to
speak against the king's crown and dignity in the Parliament
for them, and therefore he thinketh the king unable to make
any law against the faults of the clergy.
This beggar's proctor would fain show himself a man of great
experience and one that had great knowledge of the manner and
order used in the king's parliaments. But then he speaketh so
savorly thereof that it well appeareth of his wise words he
neither conneth any skill thereof, nor never came in the house.
For as for the higher house, first, the king's own royal person alone
more than counterpoiseth all the lords spiritual present with
him and the temporal too. And over this, the spiritual lords
can never in number exceed the lords temporal, but must
needs be far underneath them if it please the king. For His
Highness may call thither by his writ many more temporal lords
at his own pleasure. And being as they be, there was never yet
seen that the spiritual lords bended themselves there as a
party against the temporal lords. But it hath been seen that
the thing which the spiritual lords have moved and thought
reasonable, the temporal lords have denied and refused; as
appeareth upon the motion made for the legitimation of the
children born before the marriage of their parents. Wherein,
albeit that the reformation which the lords spiritual moved
was a thing that nothing pertained to their own commodity,
and albeit that they laid also for their part the constitution
and ordinance of the church and the laws of other Christian
countries, yet could they not obtain against the lords temporal,
that nothing alleged to the contrary but their own
wills. And therefore in the higher house the spiritual part
never appeared yet so strong that they might overmatch the
temporal lords. And then how much are they too feeble for them
and the king too, whose Highness alone is over strong for them
both, and may by his writ call to his Parliament more temporal
lords when he will? Now where he saith that in the Commons House

all the learned men of the realm are feed to speak for the clergy
except the king's learned Council, there be two follies at once. For
neither be all the learned men of the realm knights or burgesses
in the Commons House, and the king's learned Council is
not there at all. And therefore it seemeth that he hath heard somewhat
of some men that had seen as little as himself. And surely if
he had been in the Commons House as some of us have been, he
should have seen the spiritualty not gladly spoken for. And we
little doubt but that ye remember acts and statutes passed at
sundry parliaments, such and in such wise and some of them so
late, as yourself may see that either the clergy is not the stronger
part in the king's Parliament, or else have no mind to strive.
And for the further proof that the King's Highness is not so weak
and unable in his own Parliament as this beggars' proctor so
presumptuously telleth him, His Grace well knoweth, and all his
people too, that in their own convocations His Grace never devised
nor desired anything in his life that ever was denied
him. And therefore this gay invention of this beggars' proctor,
that he feigneth the King's Highness to be in his high
court of Parliament more weak and feeble than the clergy, is a
very feeble device.
But now, since he will have no law devised for the remedy of
his great complaints, what help hath he devised else? The
help of all this gear is, he saith, none other thing but to let
him and such royal railers rail and jest upon the church and
tell the people the priests' faults, and for the lewdness of part,
bring the whole clergy in contempt and hatred among all the
temporal folk. Which thing, he saith, the king must needs suffer,
if he will eschew the ruin of his crown and dignity. And
this thing, he saith, shall be more speedful and effectual in the
matter than all the laws that ever can be made, be they never so
strong. Lo, good lords and masters, then shall ye need no more
parliaments. For here is, God be thanked, an easy way wisely
found to remedy with railing the great, broad, bottomless

ocean sea of evils, and to save the commonweal from
shipwreck and the king's crown from ruin.
But now to the poor beggars. What remedy findeth their
proctor for them? To make hospitals? Nay, ware of that, thereof he
will none in no wise. For thereof, he saith, the more the worse,
because they be profitable to priests. What remedy then? Give
them any money? Nay, nay, not a groat. What other thing then?
Nothing in the world will serve but this: that if the King's Grace
will build a sure hospital that never shall fail to relieve all the
sick beggars forever, let him give nothing to them, but
look what the clergy hath and take all that from them. Is not here
a goodly mischief for a remedy? Is not this a royal feast to leave
these beggars meatless, and then send more to dinner to them? Oh,
the wise! Here want we voice and eloquence to set out an exclamation
in the praise and commendation of this special
high provision. This bill putteth he forth in the poor beggars'
name. But we verily think if themselves have as much wit as
their proctor lacketh, they had liefer see their bill-maker
burned than their supplication sped. For they may soon perceive
that he mindeth not their alms, but only the spoil
of the clergy. For so that the clergy lose it, he neither deviseth
further nor further forceth who have it.
But it is easy to see whereof springeth all his displeasure. He is
angry and fretteth at the spiritual jurisdiction for the punishment
of heretics and burning of their erroneous books, for
ever upon that string he harpeth, very angry with the burning
of Tyndale's testament. For these matters he calleth them
blood-suppers, drunken in the blood of holy saints and martyrs.
Ye marvel, peradventure, which holy saints and martyrs he
meaneth. Surely, by his holy saints and martyrs he meaneth
their holy schismatics and heretics, for whose just punishment
these folk that are of the same sect fume, fret, froth,
and foam, as fierce and as angrily as a new hunted sow. And for
the rancor conceived upon this displeasure cometh up all his
complaint of the possessions of the clergy. Wherein he spareth
and forbeareth the nuns yet, because they have no jurisdiction

upon heretics; for else he would have cried out upon their
possessions too. But this is now no new thing, nor the first time
that heretics have been in hand with the matter. For first was
there in the eleventh year of King Henry the Fourth one John
Badby burned for heresy. And forthwith thereupon was there
at the next parliament held the same year, a bill put in
declaring how much temporal land was in the church, which
reckoning the maker thereof guessed at by the number of knight's
fees, of which he had weened he had made a very just account.
And in this bill was it devised to take their possessions out
again. Howbeit, by the bill it appeared well unto them which
well understood the matter, that the maker of the bill neither wist
what land there was nor how many knights' fees there was in the
church, nor well what thing a knight's fee is; but the bill
devised of rancor and evil will by some such as favored Badby
that was burned, and would have his heresies fain go
And so that bill, such as it was, such was it esteemed and set aside
for naught. So happed it then soon after that in the first year
of the king's most noble progenitor King Henry the Fifth,
those heresies secretly creeping on still among the people, a
great number of them had first covertly conspired and after
openly gathered and assembled themselves, purposing by open
war and battle to destroy the king and his nobles and subvert
the realm. Whose traitorous malice that good Catholic
king prevented, withstood, overthrew, and punished
by many of them taken in the field, and after, for their
traitorous heresies, both hanged and burned. Whereupon
forthwith at the parliament held the same year, likewise as that
royal prince, his virtuous nobles, and his good Christian commons
devised good laws against heretics, so did some of such as
favored them eftsoons put in the bill against the spiritualty.
Which, eftsoons considered for such as it was and coming
of such malicious purpose as it came, was again
rejected and set aside for naught. Then was there long after

that, one Richard Howndon burned for heresy. And then
forthwith were there a rabble of heretics gathered themselves
together at Abingdon, which not intended to lose any more
labor by putting up of bills in the parliaments, but to make
an open insurrection and subvert all the realm, and then to
kill up the clergy and sell priests' heads as good cheap as
sheep's heads, three for a penny, buy who would. But God saved the
church and the realm both, and turned their malice upon their
own heads. And yet after their punishment, then were
there some that renewed that bill again. And yet long after this
was there one John Goose roasted at the Tower Hill. And thereupon
forthwith some other John Goose began to bear that bill abroad
again, and made some gaggling a while, but it availed him
not. And now because some heretics have been of late
abjured, this gosling therefore hath made this beggars' bill,
and gaggleth again upon the same matter, and that, as he
thinketh, by a proper invention likely to speed now, because he
maketh his bill in the name of the beggars, and his bill couched
as full of lies as any beggar swarmeth full of lice.
We neither will nor shall need to make much business about
this matter. We trust much better in the goodness of good
men than that we should need for this thing to reason against
an unreasonable body. We be sure enough that good men were
they that gave this gear into the church, and therefore naught
should they be of likelihood that would pull it out thence again. To
which ravin and sacrilege, our Lord, we trust, shall never suffer
this realm to fall.
Holy Saint Augustine in his days when he perceived that
some evil people murmured at the possessions that then were
given into his church, did in an open sermon among all the
people offer them their lands again, and that his church
and he would forsake them, and bade them take them who
would. And yet was there not found in all the town -- albeit
that the people were (as these Africans be) very barbarous,
fierce, and boisterous -- yet was there none, as we say, found anyone

so bad that his heart would serve him to enter into one
When Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, bought up in the dear years
all the lands that were in every man's hand, so that all the
people were fain to sell their inheritance for hunger; yet,
idolater as he was, he would never suffer for any need the possessions
of the priests to be sold, but made provision for them
besides, and suffered them to keep their lands still, as the
Bible beareth witness. And we verily trust that the good
Christian princes of the Christian realm of England shall never
fail of more favor toward the clergy of Christ than had
that prince idolater to the priests of his idols. Yet is it not
enough to the cruel mind of this man to take from the whole
clergy all that ever they have, but that he would further have
them bound unto carts and whipped to drive them to
Of all thieves is this one of the worst and most cruel kind.
For of all thieves, men most abhor them that, when they have
taken a man's money from him, then take and bind him
and beat him too. But yet is this wretch much worse. For he
fareth as a cruel thief that would, without respect of his own
commodity, take a man's money from him and cast it
he care not where, and then bind the man to a tree and beat
him for his pleasure. Oh, the charity!
But he saith he would have them whipped to compel them
to labor and get their living in the sweat of their faces.
And this would he not, good man, but for fulfilling of God's
commandment. For he saith that it is commanded them in
the first chapter of Genesis. And therefore is he therein so indifferent
that he excepteth none, but calleth the best but idle holy
thieves, and so would have them all robbed and spoiled, bound
and beaten, to compel them to work with their hands, to
get their living in the sweat of their faces for the fulfilling
of God's commandment. Among this company that he
would suddenly send forth new robbed, with right naught
left them, is there many a good man that hath lived full godly

many a fair day and duly served God and prayed for us, which
we have well found; many an old man, many a sore sick man,
and many blind and many lame too. All which, as soon as they
be driven out of their own doors, this charitable man would
be very well content to see them bound and beaten too, because
they be of the clergy. For exception maketh he none in this
He layeth unto the charge of the clergy that they live idle all,
and that they be all bound to labor and get their living in the
sweat of their faces, by the precept that God gave to Adam in the
first chapter of Genesis. Here this man showeth his cunning!
For if this be so, then were the priests in the Old Law bound
thereto as well as is the clergy now. And then how happed it
that of this point there was no mention made by Moses?
How happed it that God in that law provided them much
larger living than he did for the lay people? And that such kind of
living as declared that his pleasure was that they should live
out of labor and upon the labor of other men's hands? The
holy apostle Saint Paul, although himself in some places
forbore to take his living freely, but rather chose to live of his
own labor than to be in their danger which would haply
have said that he preached because he would live at ease thereby --
and this did he specially to put such false apostles to
silence as, for such desire of idle living, fell somewhere to
false preaching -- yet neither did he so in every place, and also
confessed and said that he might well and lawfully have done
the contrary, affirming it for good reason that he that serveth
the altar should live of the altar, and saying also: "If we sow unto
you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we reap your carnal
things?" Now Christ's own mouth said unto the people that
they should not leave their duties unpaid unto the priests. And
this good Christian man would have them all clean taken from
them, and yet the priests well beaten too.
He reckoneth all the clergy idle because they labor not with
their hands till their faces sweat. But our Savior Christ

reckoned far otherwise in blessed Mary Magdalene. Whose
idle sitting at her ease and hearkening he accounted and declared
for better business than the busy stirring and walking about
of his good hostess Martha, which was yet of all worldly business
occupied about the best, for she was busy about alms
and hospitality, and the guesting of the best poor man
and most gracious guest that ever was guested in this world.
Now if this cannot yet content this good man because of
God's commandment given unto Adam that he should eat
his bread in the sweat of his face, then would we fain wit whether
himself never go to meat till he have wrought so sore with his
hands that his face sweateth. Surely we believe he laboreth not
so sore before every meal. But yet it were not good to trust his
answer, for he will haply say yes, and not let for one lie
among so many. Howbeit he thinketh it, peradventure,
enough for him that he sitteth and studieth till he sweat in
seeking out old heresies and devising new. And verily if he
look that such business should serve him for a discharge of hand labor,
much better may we think discharged thereof many
good men whom he would have beaten thereto, living their lives
in fasting, prayer and preaching, and studying about the truth.
But it is good to look betimes what this beggars' proctor
meaneth by this commandment of hand labor that he
speaketh of. For if he confess that it bindeth not every man,
then is it laid to no purpose against the clergy. For there
was a small clergy when that word was said to our first father
Adam. But now if he call it a precept, as he doth, and then will
that it extend unto all the whole kind of man, as a thing by God
commanded unto Adam and all his offspring, then though he
say little now, he meaneth to go further hereafter than he speaketh
of yet. For if he might first have the clergy put out of their
living and all that they have clean taken from them, and
might have them joined to these beggars that be now, and

over that added unto them and sent a begging too all those that the
clergy find now full honestly: this pageant once played and
his beggars' bill so well sped, then when the beggars should
have so much less living and be so many more in multitude,
surely likewise as for the beggars he now maketh his bill to the
King's Highness against bishops, abbots, priors, prelates,
and priests, so would he then within a while after make another
bill to the people against merchants, gentlemen,
kings, lords, and princes, and complain that they have
all, and say that they do nothing for it but live idle, and that
they be commanded in Genesis to live by the labor of their
hands in the sweat of their faces, as he saith by the
clergy now. Wherein if they ween that they shall stand in
other case than the clergy doth now, they may peradventure
sore deceive themselves. For if they will think that their case
shall not be called all one because they have lands and goods to
live upon, they must consider so hath the clergy too. But that is
the thing that this beggars' proctor complaineth upon and would
have them taken away. Now if the landed men suppose that
their case shall not seem one with the case of the clergy
because they shall haply think that the church hath their
possessions given them for causes which they fulfill not, and
that if their possessions happen to be taken from them, it
shall be done upon that ground, and so the lay landed men
out of that fear because they think that suchlike occasion
and ground and consideration faileth and cannot be found
in them and their inheritance: surely if any man, clerk or lay,
have lands in the gift whereof hath been any condition adjoined
which he fulfilleth not, the giver may well with reason use
therein such advantage as the law giveth him. But on the other
side, whoso will advise princes or lay people to take from the
clergy their possessions, alleging matters at large, as laying to
their charge that they live not as they should, nor use not well
their possessions, and that therefore it were well done to take
them from them by force and dispose them better, we dare
boldly say, whoso giveth this device as now doth this beggars'

proctor, we would give you counsel to look well what will
follow. For he shall not fail, as we said before, if this bill of his
were sped, to find you soon after, in a new supplication, new
bald reasons enough that should please the people's ears, wherewith
he would labor to have lords' lands and all honest men's
goods to be pulled from them by force and distributed among
beggars. Of which, there should in this wise that he deviseth, increase
and grow so many, that they should be able for a sudden
shift to make a strong party. And surely as the fire ever creepeth
forward and laboreth to turn all into fire, so will such bold
beggars as this is never cease to solicit and procure all that
they can -- the spoil and robbery of all that aught have -- and to
make all beggars as they be themselves.
We be content that ye believe us not but if it have so proved already
by those uplandish Lutherans that rose up in Almaine.
Which being once raised by such seditious books as is this
beggars' supplication and such seditious heretics as is he
that made it, set first upon spiritual prelates. But shortly
thereupon they so stretched unto the temporal princes that
they were fain to join in aid of themselves with those whom
they laughed at first to see them put in the peril, hoping to
have had the profit of their loss, till they saw that they were
likely to lose their own with them. And for all the punishment
that they pursued upon those rebellious persons, of
whom there were in one summer slain above sixty thousand, yet is that fire
rather covered than quenched, because they suffered it creep
forth so far at first, that dissension grew thereby among the
lords themselves, as there can never lack some needy, ravenous
landed men that shall be ready to be captains in all such rebellions;
as was the Lord Cobham, called Oldcastle, sometime a
captain of heretics in England in the days of King Henry
the Fifth. And surely there would soon follow some sore change
in the temporalty if this beggars' proctor have his malicious
supplication sped against the spiritualty.

But yet lest folk should abhor his hard heart and cruelty, the
man tempereth his matter with a goodly visage of the sore inward
sorrow that he taketh for the diminishment of mankind, and
with the great zeal that he beareth to generation for the good
increase of Christian people in the land. For he would for that cause
in any wise that all the clergy should have wives. For he asketh the
King's Highness (as the man hath caught a great pleasure to
appose the king, wherein he useth a figure of rhetoric that men
call sauce malapert), "What an infinite number of people might
have been increased to have peopled your realm, if this sort
of folk had been married like other men!" This matter that priests
must needs have wives he bringeth in diversely in three or four
places. And among other he hath one wherein he showeth, in
railing against the clergy, a principal part of his excellent
eloquence. For there he useth his royal figure of rhetoric
called repetition, repeating often, by the whole clergy, "These be
they," in the beginning of his clause: "These be they that have made
a hundred thousand idle whores in your realm. These be they that corrupt the
generation of mankind in your realm. These be they that draw
men's wives into incontinency in your realm." And after
divers of such "these be they's" he concludeth and knitteth up the
matter with his accustomed vehemence fetched out of Luther's volumes,
asking who is able to number the great, broad, bottomless
ocean sea full of evils that this mischievous and sinful
generation bringeth up upon us. As though all the whole clergy
were of this condition and no man else but they. But among all
his "these be they's," this is one which as the sorest and the most
vehement he setteth in the forefront of them all: "These be
they that by their abstaining from marriage do let the generation
of the people, whereby all the realm at length, if it should be
continued, shall be made desert and inhabitable."
Lo, the deep insight that this beggars' proctor hath in the
broad, bottomless ocean sea full of evils, to save the grievous

shipwreck of the commonwealth! He seeth far farther than ever
Christ was aware of, or any of his blessed apostles, or any of the old
holy fathers of Christ's faith and religion since his holy Ascension
hitherto, till now that Luther came of late, and Tyndale after
him, and spied out this great secret mystery that neither God
nor good man could espy. If their abstaining from marriage
should make all the land desert and inhabitable, how happeneth it
that habitation endureth therein so long, for the land hath
lasted since the beginning of their abstaining from marriage,
ye wot well, many a fair day? And now if, their abstaining
from marriage notwithstanding, the land hath been upheld
with the generation of you that are the temporalty so long, ye shall
likewise hereafter by God's grace and the help of good
prayers for keeping the land from wilderness, be able to beget
children still yourselves and shall not need to call neither
monks nor freres to help you.
Now if it be so that the clergy be, as he saith, but the hundredth
part of men, and yet not so much neither, there is not then so
great peril of the land to fall to wilderness, but that the ninety-nine
parts may maintain it populous though the hundredth part
abstain. But he, for to show that he hath not left his anxious
favor toward his native country, though he be run away from
it for heresy, feareth sore lest the hundredth part forbearing marriage,
all the ninety-nine parts shall not be able so to preserve it
with generation, but that it shall wax not only desert but also
(whereof we most wonder) inhabitable -- that is to say, such as of itself
shall not be able for man's habitation. But he peradventure
taketh "inhabitable" for desert, desolate, and not inhabited,
because men should see that he can so roll in his rhetoric that he
wotteth not what his own words mean.
And somewhat yet is it to be considered, that in such part of
his book that he would have it appear that their living is too
much, there he would make it seem that they were very few. And
where he would have them take wives, he would have them seem
so many that their abstaining from marriage were able to
bring all the land into desolation and wilderness. And thus he

handleth either part so wisely that there lacketh him nothing
earthly therein but even a pennyweight of wit. For fault whereof
his wily folly foreseeth not that one part of his process ever
impugneth another. For they that were right now so small a
part of people that a little would suffice for their living, be
now suddenly so many that if they were married, infinite
number of people, he saith to the king, would increase to people his
realm with. Now if that be true that of them alone, if they were
married, so infinite number of people would increase that it
would make the realm populous: then either are they, contrary to
his count, more than the hundredth part (for one out of a hundred is no
very perceivable miss, nor one added to a hundred no very perceivable
increase); or else if they be but the hundredth part, as he
made his reckoning right now, yet if it be then true that he
saith since, that of the hundredth part married, so infinite
number of people might increase to people the realm, then
can he not deny but that of the ninety-nine parts there may grow
ninety-nine times infinite number of people. And then that being
so, though the clergy -- being, as he saith, but the hundredth part --
never marry, yet shall the poor fool not need to wake and wax lean
for fear of the realm falling to wilderness. In which he seeth that
there may of the ninety-nine parts residue grow and increase
ninety-nine times infinite number of people to make the land
Yet marvel we much of one thing, that in all his fear that generation
should fail because the clergy marrieth not, he seeth
no man unmarried in all the realm but them. How many
servants? How many tall serving men are there in the
realm that might, if men saw such a sudden necessity, rather
marry than the clergy that have vowed to God the contrary? But he
forceth not so much for the matter that he maketh his pretext,
as he doth indeed to have all vows void, that he might get
Luther some lewd companions in England.

But now what if this good man had the rule of this matter,
and would put out all the clergy and bid them go wed? He should
peradventure find some that would not much stick thereat, but
they should be of the worst sort and such as now be slander of
their order, and whom it were most need to keep from generation,
lest evil crows bring you forth evil birds. But as for
the good priests and good religious whose children were like
to be best and to be best brought up, they would not marry, for
breach of their vows. And thus should ye have the naughty
generations increase, whereof there be too many already, and of
the better, never the more.
What would this good man do now with good folk of the clergy
that would not marry? He would of likelihood bind them to carts and
beat them, and make them wed in the waniand. But now what
if women will not wed them, namely since he sendeth them out
with right naught, saving slander, shame, and villainy? What
remedy will he find therefor? He will of likelihood compel the
women to wed them; and if the wench be nice, and play the
wanton, and make the matter strange, then will he beat her to
bed too.
Surely we cannot but here confess the truth: these nice and
wanton words do not very well with us; but we must pray God
and you to pardon us. For, in good faith, his matter of monks'
marriages is so merry and so mad that it were able to make one
laugh that lieth in the fire; and so much the more, in how much he
more earnestly preacheth upon the king in this point, to have in
any wise the clergy robbed, spoiled, bound, beaten, and
wedded. Whereby what opinion he hath of wedding ye may
soon perceive, for ye see well that if he thought it good, he
would not wish it them.
Many that read his words ween that he were some merry
mad jest, but he seemeth us far otherwise. For except he
were a wondrous sad man of himself, he could never speak
so earnestly in so mad a matter.

Yet one thing would we very fain wit of him. When he had
robbed, spoiled, bound, beaten, and wedded all the clergy,
what would he then? Should any of them be curates of men's
souls and preach and minister the sacraments to the people
or not?
If they should, it were a very strange fashion to rob him,
bind him, and beat him on the one day, and then kneel to
him and confess to him, and receive the Sacrament of his
hand on the other day; reverently hear him preach in the
pulpit, and then bid him go get him home and clout
shoes. Either he must mean to have it thus, which none
honest man could endure to see, or else (of which twain we
wot ne'er well whether is the worse) he intendeth to have all
holy orders accounted as nothing and to have no more sacraments
ministered at all; but whereas, soon after Christ's Ascension,
his church buried the ceremonies of the Jewish synagogue
with honor and reverence, so would he now that Christian people
should kill and cast out on a dunghill the blessed sacraments of
Christ with villainy, rebuke, and shame. And surely, to tell you the
truth, this is his very final intent and purpose and the very
mark that he shooteth at, as a special point and foundation of
all Luther's heresies, whereof this man is one of the banner-bearers.
And therefore here would his own high, sore words have good
place against himself. For this mischievous device of his is
indeed a great, broad, bottomless ocean sea full of evils,
wherein would not fail the grievous shipwreck of the commonwealth,
which God would soon forsake if the people once forsook his
faith and contemned his holy sacraments as this beggars'
proctor laboreth to bring about. Which thing his device
and conveyance well declareth, although he forbear
expressly to say so far, because of the good and gracious
Catholic mind that he well knoweth and by His Grace's excellent
writing perceiveth to be borne by the King's Highness to
the Catholic faith. For which he covereth his malicious intent

and purpose toward the faith under the cloak of many
temporal benefits that he saith should succeed and follow to
the King's Highness and his realm, if these his high politic
devices were once by His Grace agreed.
For in the end of all his bill, he gathereth his high commodities
together, saying that if the king take all from the
clergy, set them abroad at the wide world with right naught
to wed and take wives, and make them labor for their living
till they sweat, bind them to carts and beat them well, he
saith to the king in the beggars' names: "Then shall as well the
number of our aforesaid monstrous sort, as of the bawds,
whores, thieves, and idle people, decrease. Then shall these great
yearly exactions cease. Then shall not your sword, power,
crown, dignity, and obedience of your people be translated
from you. Then shall you have full obedience of your people.
Then shall the idle people be set a work. Then shall matrimony
be much better kept. Then shall the generation of your people
be increased. Then shall your commons increase in riches.
Then shall none take our alms from us. Then shall the
Gospel be preached. Then shall we have enough and more.
Then shall be the best hospital that ever was founded for
us. Then shall we pray to God for your noble estate long to endure."
Lo, here hear ye heaped up many great commodities, if they
were all true. But we showed you before and have also proved
you that his bill is much grounded upon many great lies,
whereof he by and by began with some, and after went forth
with more. And now to the intent that the end should be somewhat
suitly to the remnant, as he began with lies and went forth
with lies, so will he with lies likewise make an end, saving
that in the beginning he gave them out by tale, and in the
end he bringeth them in by heaps. For first he saith that then
shall the number of sore and sick beggars decrease. How so?
Shall there by the robbing, wedding, binding and beating
of the clergy, blind beggars get their sight again or lame

beggars their legs? Is there no man in all the clergy sick and
sore that shall be by this way sent unto them? Should there not
many that now be in good health wax shortly sick and sore
and sit and beg with them? Were this a diminishment of
sick and sore beggars, to make more and send to them?
"Then shall," he saith, "bawds and whores, thieves and idle people
decrease." This man weeneth he were cousin to God, and could do as
he did: "Dixit et facta sunt." For as soon as he hath devised it,
now weeneth he that if they were all put out and so served by and by,
then were all forthwith in good order. As soon as he saith, "Let
them wed," now he weeneth that forthwith every priest,
monk, and frere hath a wife. As soon as he hath said, "Bind them
and beat them to work," forthwith he weeneth every man is at his
work. And all this he reckoneth sure ere ever he provide work
for them, or where they shall dwell, or who shall take so many
to work at once that never were wont to work before, and this
where he seeth many walk idle already that either no beating
can drive to work or else no man will take to work. First,
we trust that among the clergy there be many men of that
goodness and virtue that scant a devil could find in his
heart to handle them in such dispiteous and despiteful
manner. But go to, let their honest living and virtue lie still in
question, yet at the leastwise he will grant they be good
or naught. Now then, if they be good, he is too very a villain that
would serve good men so. And on the other side, if they be all as
he would have them all seem, unthrifty, lewd, and naught,
how can it be that by that reason of so many so naughty so
suddenly set out at large, ye should have bawds, harlots,
thieves, and idle people decrease? Except he think that those
whom he calleth naught already, being as they now be kept
in and in honest fashion refrained and many kept up in
cloisters, will be better ruled abroad running at the wild world as
bucks broken out of a park. Over this, how can there by the
marriages of priests, monks, and friars be fewer whores and
bawds, when by the very marriage itself, being as it were

incestuous and abominable, all were stark harlots that married
them, and all stark bawds that should help to bring them together.
"Then shall," he saith, "these great yearly exactions cease." How
can such things cease as never yet began? Ye remember what
things he called exactions, the freres' quarterage, which he
said that they exact of every household and compel them to
pay it upon pain of heresy, bearing of a faggot, or burning.
Can he among so many as payeth it not, lay you one example that
ever any said he was so served this seven year, this seven score
year, this seven hundred year? Can he say that ever it was exacted of himself?
We know where he dwelled, and that if he had had none
other cause to run away, surely for any fear of freres that ever
exacted of him quarterage, he would not have been afraid to
dwell by the best of their beards.
"Then shall idle folk," he saith, "be set a work." By what
means? Whom hath he devised more to set idle men a work?
But if he look that idle men shall be set a work by them
whom he sendeth out of their own houses without money
or ware, neither he nor they wot whither.
"Then shall matrimony be much better kept." Why so? Because
there be more men unmarried sent out abroad to break it?
Who (if they be such as he calleth them) were, if they went all
abroad, well likely to break many another man's marriage ere
they made all their own.
"Then shall the generation of your people be increased." Is
that the greatest fault he findeth, the lack of generation? If he
saw as far as he would seem to see, then should he spy it were
first more need to provide houses to dwell in, with land laid
thereto for tillage; or else experience teacheth that there is generation
enough for the corn that the ground beareth. And that
thing once well provided for, there will enough be found to
multiply more generation, of such as may lawfully wed and
would wed, if they wist where, after wedding, their
wife and their children should dwell.

"Then shall not your sword, power, crown and dignity,
and obedience of your people be taken from you." Who hath
taken it away now? Who hath his sword borne but His Highness
himself or such his deputies as he appointeth it unto? His
crown no man weareth but himself, as far as ever any of us
heard. And yet if His Highness have any crowned kings under
him, his sword, power, crown, and dignity is nothing defaced
nor diminished, but honored and enhanced by that. But all the
mischief is that the spiritual court hath examination of heretics,
this is all the grief. For as for obedience of the king's
people, His Highness findeth none taken from him. Was there
ever king in this realm better obeyed than he? Hath His Highness
of any part of his realm been better obeyed or more humbly
served than of his clergy? Was there ever any king in the realm
that had his crown translated from him because the clergy
had lands given them, or because men gave alms to the
poor freres? In good faith, ye may trust us we never knew none
such. When the beggars' proctor privet any such, ye may then
believe him, and in the meantime ye may well believe he lieth.
"Then shall ye have obedience of your people." Yet again? Till
he find in the king's realm some that dare disobey him, it
were not much against reason that harping so much upon
that string that every man's ear perceiveth so false and so
far out of tune, he should confess himself a fool.
"Then shall your people increase in riches." Wherefore the
rather? Not one half penny, for aught that he hath spoken yet,
except he mean when he taketh the land from the clergy,
then to divide it among the people and make a dole of the
freres' alms too. And if he mean so, when he saith it out
plainly, then will we tell you what he meaneth more. But in the
mean season, to prove him both false and foolish it is
enough to tell him that the people cannot wax rich by their
coming to them that are sent out naked and bring naught
with them.
"Then shall none beg our alms from us." No, pardie, none
but all they that ye will have sent out naked to you, which

would be more than ye would be glad to see sit and beg with
you, and see them ask your alms from you that were wont to
give alms to you.
"Then shall the Gospel be preached." Yea, marry that, that. There is
the great matter that all this gaping is for. For undoubtedly all the
gaping is for a new gospel. Men have been wont this many
years to preach the Gospel of Christ in such wise as Saint
Matthew, Saint Mark, Saint Luke, and Saint John hath written
it, and in such wise as the old holy doctors Saint Jerome, Saint
Augustine, Saint Ambrose, Saint Gregory, Saint Chrysostom,
Saint Basil, Saint Cyprian, Saint Bernard, Saint Thomas,
and all the old holy fathers since Christ's days until your own
days have understood it. This Gospel hath been, as we say,
always thus preached. Why saith he now that if the clergy were
cast out for naught, that then the Gospel should be preached?
Who should then be these preachers? He meaneth not that the clergy
shall, ye may see that well. Who then? Who but some lay Lutherans?
And what gospel shall they preach? Not your old Gospel
of Christ, for that is it which was wont to be preached unto you.
And he would ye should now think that the Gospel shall begin to
be preached, and yet not begin to be preached among you till the
clergy be cast out. What gospel shall that be, then, that shall then
be preached? What gospel but Luther's gospel and Tyndale's gospel?
Telling you that only faith sufficeth you for salvation; and
that there needeth no good works, but that it were sacrilege and
abomination to go about to please God with any good works;
and that there is no purgatory, nor that the sacraments be
nothing worth, nor that no law can be made by man to bind you;
but that by your only faith ye may do what ye will; and that if ye
obey any law or governor, all is of your own courtesy and not of
any duty at all, faith hath set you in such a lewd liberty.
This and many a mad frantic folly shall be the gospel that then
shall be preached, whereof he boasteth now as of one of the most
special commodities that shall succeed upon his goodly and
godly devices.

Will ye plainly perceive that he meaneth thus? After all his
mischiefs rehearsed against the church, he hath another matter
in his mind, which he dare not yet speak of, but he
maketh thereof a secret overture, leaving it in such wise at large,
as he would that men should guess what he meant, and yet he reserveth
himself some refuge to flit therefrom when he list. For
if he should see that men should mislike it, he would in such case
say that he meant some other thing. And therefore he purposeth
it under these words: "Here leave we out the greatest matter of
all, lest we declaring such a horrible carrion of evil against
the ministers of iniquity should seem to declare the one only
fault, or rather the ignorance of our best beloved minister of
righteousness. Which is to be hid till he may be learned by these
small enormities that we have spoken of, to know it plainly himself."
This thing put forth like a riddle, hard to read what it
should signify, we have had since, by such as we before
showed you that died and came hither, plainly declared unto us.
And surely whoso well adviseth his words and well pondereth
his whole purpose and the summary effect of his book,
shall may soon perceive what he meaneth in that place. For
what should that thing be that he leaveth out that should be the
greatest of all, and that should be laid against the ministers
of iniquity (which he meaneth and calleth the whole clergy),
and that should be such a horrible carrion of evil that it should
pass and exceed any mischievous matter that he had already
spoken against before? What manner of mischievous matter
should this be? This horrible carrion of evil that he leaveth out,
since it is as he saith the greatest matter of all, must needs, ye wot
well, be greater against the clergy than all that great, broad,
bottomless ocean sea of evils; more than all his "these be
they's"; more than the making of such great number of beggars,
of idle men, bawds, whores, and thieves; more than the

hindering of matrimony, corrupting of generation; more than
translating the king's kingdom; more than bringing the
king's crown to ruin; more than bringing the commonweal to
shipwreck and all the realm to wilderness. What thing can this
horrible carrion be that the clergy doth, that he leaveth out for
the while, that so far exceedeth these mischievous matters
before remembered, that in comparison of it he calleth them all
small enormities, and, as a man would say, little pretty peccadilians?
Verily, by this thing meaneth he none other but the preaching
of the very whole corps and body of the blessed faith of Christ,
and the ministering of the blessed sacraments of our Savior
Christ, and of all those, in especial the consecrating of the
sacred Body, the flesh and blood of our Savior Christ. For the
teaching and preaching of all which things, this beggars' proctor,
or rather the devil's proctor, with other beggars that lack
grace and neither beg nor look for none, bear all this their
malice and wrath to the church of Christ. And seeing there is
no way for attaining their intent but one of the twain: that is to
wit, either plainly to write against the faith and the sacraments
(wherein if they got them credence and obtained, they
then see well the church must needs fall therewith), or else to labor
against the church alone and get the clergy destroyed, whereupon
they perceive well that the faith and sacraments would not
fail to decay; they perceiving this have therefore first assayed
the first way already, sending forth Tyndale's translation
of the New Testament, in such wise handled as it should have been
the fountain and wellspring of all their whole heresies. For he
had corrupted and purposely changed in many places the text
with such words as he might make it seem to the unlearned
people that the scripture affirmed their heresies itself.
Then came soon after out in print the dialogue of Frere Roy and
Frere Jerome, between the father and the son against the Sacrament
of the Altar, and the blasphemous book entitled The
Burying of the Mass. Then came forth after, Tyndale's wicked

book of Mammona, and after that his more wicked book of obedience.
In which books fore-specified they go forth plainly
against the faith and holy sacraments of Christ's church, and
most especially against the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar,
with as villainous words as the wretches could devise. But when
they have perceived by experience that good people abhorred
their abominable books, then they being thereby learned that the
first way was not the best for the furtherance of their purpose,
have now determined themselves to assay the second way, that
is to wit, that forbearing to write so openly and directly
against all the faith and the sacraments as good Christian men
could not abide the reading, they would with little touching
of their other heresies make one book specially against the
church and look how that would prove. Which if it succeed after
their appetites that they might with false crimes laid unto
some, or with the very faults of some, bring the whole church
in hatred and have the clergy destroyed, then should they more
easily win their purpose that way. For when the preachers
of the faith and very Gospel were destroyed or far out of
credence with the people, then should they have their own
false gospels preached, as ye may perceive that this man
meaneth where he saith that "then shall the Gospel be preached."
And therefore this is the thing which this man as yet leaveth
out against them, that is to wit, the preaching of the right
faith and the sacraments, which thing he reckoneth in the
clergy a more horrible carrion than all the crimes wherein he
hath belied them before. And therefore saith he that he leaveth it
out, lest he should seem to declare the one and only fault of
the King's Highness. Which one only fault he meaneth His
Grace's most famous and most gracious book, that His
Highness as a prince of excellent erudition, virtue, and devotion
toward the Catholic faith of Christ made of The Assertion of
the Sacraments against the furious book of Martin Luther.
This godly deed done by His Highness, with the acceptation of
his godly, well-deserved title of Defensor of the Faith given

His Grace by the See Apostolic, this calleth this beggars' proctor
the king's one and only fault, and ignorance of their
false faith, in estimation of these heretics, which this beggars'
proctor saith that he will for the while hide and cover
under his cloak of silence, till the king may, by these enormities
wherewith he belieth the church in his beggars' bill
(which enormities he calleth small enormities in comparison
of the preaching of the Catholic faith and the sacraments), be
learned. What lesson, trow ye? None other, surely, but that they
hope that as well His Highness as his people may by such beggars'
bills be first allured and brought in to contemn, hate,
and destroy the church, and then thereby learn the other lesson
which he now leaveth out for the while; that is to wit, to set
at naught the Catholic faith and all the blessed sacraments
after the teaching of Luther's and Tyndale's gospel. And therefore
saith he, as we told you before, that "then shall the
Gospel be preached."
And in the meantime the man useth, as he weeneth himself,
toward the King's Grace a very wise fashion of flattery, calling
him their best beloved minister of righteousness; yet be they
not only run away for fear of the righteousness of their best
beloved minister of righteousness, but also would it should seem
that His Highness were such a minister of righteousness as either
set so little by righteousness that he would wittingly suffer, or else
had so little insight in righteousness that he could not perceive,
so great a matter and such a horrible carrion of evil committed
by the church, as were so heinous, so huge, and so great
that in comparison thereof the translating of his kingdom,
the ruin of his crown, the shipwreck of his commonweal, the
dispeopling of his realm, and bringing all his land into desolation
and wilderness, were but slight matters and small enormities.
And that His Highness should toward this great, horrible,
and intolerable mischievous demeanor of the church be
aiding and assistant, either of evil mind or of ignorance,
till that by their beggarly bill being turned into the hatred and the
destruction of the church, he might thereby be illumined to
learn and perceive that the faith which His Grace had before

both learned and taught, and whereof himself is the defensor, is
false and feigned; and that the sacraments be but men's inventions,
and that thereupon he should be content to learn the
gospel of Luther and the testament of Tyndale. And thus ye may
see what the beggars' proctor meant by his proper invented riddle,
by which, as ye see, under a fond face of flattery, he useth toward
his prince and sovereign lord (whose Majesty both by the law of
God and the duty of his allegiance he were highly bound to
reverence) an open plain despite and contumely.
Now to the intent that ye may yet further perceive and see that they
by the destruction of the clergy mean the clear abolition of
Christ's faith, it may like you to confer and compare together
two places of his beggars' bill. In one place, after that he hath
heaped up together all his lies against the whole clergy, and thereto
adjoined his grievous exclamation, "Oh, the grievous shipwreck
of the commonweal!", he saith that in ancient time before the
coming of the clergy there were but few poor people and yet they
did not beg, but there was given them enough unasked, because
at that time, he saith, there was no clergy (whom he calleth always
ravenous wolves) to ask it from them. And this, saith he, appeareth
in the book of the Acts of the Apostles. In this place we let pass his
threefold folly. One, that he would, by that there were no beggars in
one place, prove thereby that there were none in all the world
besides. For as he for lack of wit and understanding mistaketh
the book, he weeneth that there were none that begged in
Jerusalem. Which if it were true, yet might there be
enough in other places. Another of his follies is in that he allegeth
a book for him that nothing privet his purpose. For in all that
whole book shall he neither find that there was at that time few
poor people, nor that poor people at that time begged not. For of
truth there were poor people and beggars, idle people and
thieves too, good plenty both then and always before, since
almost as long as Noah's flood, and yet peradventure seven
year before that, too. And so were there indeed in Jerusalem also

among them all, till Christendom came in, and yet remained
then among such people there as turned not to the faith of
Christ. The third folly is, he layeth that book for him which indeed
privet plain against him. For where he saith it appeareth
there that the clergy was not then come, we cannot in the
world devise of what people he speaketh, paynims, Jews, or
Christian men. If he mean among paynims, his folly and his
falsehood both is too evident. For who knoweth not that among
the paynims they had always their priests, whose living was
well and plenteously provided for, as ye may perceive not
only by many other stories but also by many places in the
Bible, and especially in the forty-seventh chapter of Genesis. If he
speak of the Jews, every man wotteth well that they had a clergy
thousands of years before the book that he allegeth, and their
living far more largely provided for than any part of the
people besides, and that by God's own ordinance. Now if he
speak of the Christian people that was at that time in Jerusalem,
where the faith began, his book maketh sore against him.
For there was a clergy as soon as there was any Christian people.
For the clergy began then. And that clergy had not a part of
the Christian people's substance, but had it altogether, and did
distribute it as they saw need, which no man doubteth but that
the parties showed them, or else in some needs they must
needs have lacked. So that here were many poor men, if they be
poor that have naught left, and all they beggars, if they be
beggars that be fain to show their need and ask, and the clergy
had all together. And yet layeth this wise man this book for him,
being such as if he should have sat and studied therefor,
he could not have found a book that made more against him.
But as we said before, we shall let his false folly pass and
pray you to consider what he would have you believe. He saith
and would ye should ween that there were few poor folk and no
beggars nowhere before the clergy of Christendom came in, but
that all the poverty and beggary came into the world with the Christian
clergy. Now knoweth every man that the Christian clergy and the

Christian faith came into the Christian people together, so that in
effect his words weigh to this, that all poverty and beggary came into
the world with the Christian faith.
Set now to this place the other place of his in the end and
conclusion of his book, where he saith that after the clergy
spoiled once and cast out, then shall the gospel be preached,
and then shall we beggars have enough and more; lo, like as in the
one place he showeth that all beggary came in with the clergy that
brought in the faith, so showeth he in the other that there should
with the clergy all beggary go forth again, if they were so clean
cast out that, Christ's Gospel being cast out with them and the
faith which came in with them, they might have that gospel
preached, as they say they should -- and as indeed they should -- which
they call the gospel, that is to wit, Luther's gospel and Tyndale's
testament, preaching the destruction of Christ's very faith and
his holy sacraments, advancing and setting forth all boldness of
sin and wretchedness, and under the false name of Christian freedom,
spurring forward the devilish unbridled appetite of
lewd, seditious, and rebellious liberty that slew in one
summer, as we showed you before, above sixty thousand of the poor uplandish
Lutherans in Almaine. And this is all that these heretics
look for as the fruit of their seditious books and beggars'
bills, trusting by some such ways to be eased of their beggary,
which they now sustain, being run out of the realm for
heresy. For if they might (as they fain would) have the clergy cast
out and Christ's Gospel cast off, and their own gospel
preached, then hope they to find that word true where he saith:
"Then shall we have enough and more."
For of all that ever he hath said, he hath not almost said one
true word save this. And surely this word would, after their gospel
once preached and received, be found over true. For then
should the beggars, not such beggars as he seemeth to speak for
that be sick, sore, and lame, but such bold presumptuous beggars
as he is indeed, whole and strong in body but weak and sick in
soul, that have their bodies clean from scabs and their souls

foul infected with ugly great pox and leprosy; these beggars would
hope to have (and except good men take good heed would not fail
to have) enough and a great deal more. For after that they
might (the clergy first destroyed) bring in once after that the
preaching of Luther's gospel and Tyndale's testament, and might
with their heresies and false faith infect and corrupt the people,
causing them to set the blessed sacraments aside, to set
holy days and fasting days at naught, to contemn all good
works, to jest and rail against holy, vowed chastity, to blaspheme
the old holy fathers and doctors of Christ's church, to
mock and scorn the blessed saints and martyrs that died for
Christ's faith, to reject and refuse the faith that those holy martyrs
lived and died for, and in the stead of the true faith of
Christ continued this fifteen hundred years, to take now the false faith of
a fond frere, of old condemned and of new reforged within so
few days with contempt of God and all good men, and
obstinate rebellious mind against all laws, rule, and governance,
with arrogant presumption to meddle with every
man's substance, with every man's land, and every man's
matter nothing pertaining to them: it is, we say, no doubt
but that such bold presumptuous beggars will, if ye look not
well to their hands, not fail to have, as he writeth, enough
and more too. For they shall gather together at last and assemble
themselves in plumps and in great routs, and from
asking fall to the taking of their alms themselves, and
under pretext of reformation (bearing every man that aught
hath in hand that he hath too much ) shall assay to make new
division of every man's land and substance; never
ceasing if ye suffer them till they make all beggars as they be
themselves, and at last bring all the realm to ruin, and this
not without butchery and foul bloody hands.
And therefore this beggars' proctor, or rather the proctor of
hell, should have concluded his supplication not under the
manner that he hath done, that after the clergy cast out, then

shall the Gospel be preached, then shall beggars and bawds
decrease, then shall idle folk and thieves be fewer, then shall the
realm increase in riches, and so forth. But he should have
said: After that the clergy is thus destroyed and cast out,
then shall Luther's gospel come in, then shall Tyndale's testament
be taken up; then shall false heresies be preached; then
shall the sacraments be set at naught; then shall fasting and
prayer be neglected; then shall holy saints be blasphemed;
then shall Almighty God be displeased; then shall he withdraw
his grace and let all run to ruin; then shall all
virtue be had in derision; then shall all vice reign and
run forth unbridled; then shall youth leave labor and
all occupation; then shall folk wax idle and fall to unthriftiness;
then shall whores and thieves, beggars and bawds increase;
then shall unthrifts flock together and swarm about,
and each bear him bold of other; then shall all laws be
laughed to scorn; then shall the servants set naught by
their masters, and unruly people rebel against their rulers;
then will rise up rifling and robbery, murder and mischief
and plain insurrection, whereof what would be the end or when you
should see it, only God knoweth. All which mischief may yet be
withstood easily, and with God's grace so shall it, if ye
suffer no such bold beggars to seduce you with seditious
bills. But well perceiving that their malicious purpose is to
bring you to destruction, ye, like good Christian people,
avoiding their false trains and grins, give none ear to
their heinous heresies nor walk their seditious ways.
But persevering in your old faith of Christ and observing
his laws with good and godly works and obedience
of your most gracious king and governor, go forth
in goodness and virtue, whereby ye cannot fail to flower and
prosper in riches and worldly substance, which, well employed
with help of God's grace about charitable deeds to
the needy, and the rather in remembrance and relief of us

whose need is relieved by your charity showed for our sake to
your neighbor, be able to purchase you much pardon of the
bitter pain of this painful place, and bring you to the joyful
bliss to which God hath with his blessed blood bought you,
and with his holy sacraments ensigned you. And thus will we
leave the man's malicious folly, tending to the destruction
first of the clergy and after of yourself, wherein his mad
reckoning hath constrained us to trouble you with many trifles,
God wot, full unmeet for us; and now will we turn us to the
treating of that one point which, though it specially pertaineth
to ourselves, yet much more specially pertaineth it unto
you; that is to wit, the impugnation of that uncharitable heresy
wherewith he would make you, to our great harm and much
more your own, believe that we need none help and that there
were no purgatory.
The end of the
first book

The Second Book
When we consider in ourselves, dear brethren and sisters in
our Savior Christ, the present painful pangs that we feel, and
therewith ponder, upon the other part, the perilous estate of
you that are our friends there living in the wretched world, wit you
very surely that this pestilent opinion begun against purgatory
not so much grieveth us for the lack that we should find thereby in
the relief of our own intolerable torments, as doth, for the love
that we bear you, the fear and heaviness that we take for that peril and
jeopardy that should everlastingly fall to your own souls thereby.
Nor of all the heavy tidings that ever we heard here was there
never none so sore smote us to the heart as to hear the world wax
so faint in the faith of Christ that any man should need
now to prove purgatory to Christian men, or that any man could
be found which would, in so great a thing, so fully and fastly
believed for an undoubted article this fifteen hundred year, begin now
to stagger and stand in doubt for the unwise words of any such
malicious person as he that made the beggars' supplication.
For whose answer and full confutation it seemeth us sufficient
that ye may clear perceive his words to be of little weight,
while ye see that the man hath neither learning, wisdom, nor
good intent; but all his bill utterly grounded upon error,
evil will, and untruth. And surely this were to us great wonder
if Christian men should need any other proof in this world to
reprove such seditious folk withal, than the only token of
the devil's badge which themselves bear ever about them -- the
badge, we mean, of malice and of a very deadly devilish hate.
For whereas our Savior Christ hath so left love and charity
for the badge of his Christian people that he commandeth
every man so largely to love other that his love should extend

and stretch unto his enemy, nor there is no natural man, neither
paynim, Jew, Turk, nor Saracen, but he will rather spare his
foe than hurt his friend, this kind of folk is so far fallen not
only from all Christian charity but also from all humanity and
feeling of any good affection natural, and so changed into a
wild, fierce, cruel appetite more than brutish and bestial,
that they first without ground or cause take their friends
for their foes, hating the church deadly because it willeth
their weal and laboreth to amend them; and after, to do the
church hurt whom they take for their enemies, they labor to do
us much more hurt whom they call still for their friends. For
they, to get pulled from the clergy the frail commodities of a
little worldly living, labor to have us -- their fathers, their
mothers, their friends, and all their kin -- left lying in the fire
here helpless and forgotten, they little force how long. And in
this they show their affection much more unnatural and
abominable than he that would with his sword thrust his friend
through the whole body to the hard haft, to give his enemy behind
him a little prick with the point. This way of theirs were very
naught and detestable, although they truly meant indeed as much
good as they falsely pretend. For whereas they cloak their cruel
purpose and intent under color of a great zeal toward the commonwealth,
which they lay to be sore impaired by great pomp and
inordinate living used in the church, we be so far from the
mind of defending any such spiritual vice, carnal uncleanness,
or worldly pomp and vanity used in the clergy that we would to
God it were much less than it is, not in them only but also in the
temporalty. And there is none of neither sort but if he were here
with us but one half hour, he would set little by all such worldly
vanities all his life after, and little would he force or reck whether he
wore silk or sackcloth.
But surely this man, if he meant well, the faults of evil folk he
would lay to themselves and not unto the whole clergy. He would also
labor for amendment and bettering, not for destruction and

undoing finally. He would hold himself within his bounds,
only devising against men's vices, and not start out therewith
into plain and open heresies. But surely so hath it ever hitherto
proved, that never was there any that showed himself an enemy
to the church, but though he covered it never so close for the
while, yet at the last always he proved himself in some part of
his works so very an enemy to the Catholic faith of Christ that
men might well perceive that his malice toward the clergy
grew first and sprang of infidelity and lack of right belief. And of
this point was there never a clearer example than this beggars'
proctor, which was so far forth farced, stuffed, and swollen with
such venomous heresies that, albeit he longed sore to keep
them in for the season and only to rail against the clergy and
hide his enemious intent toward the faith, yet was he not able
to contain and hold but was fain for bursting to puff out one
blast of his poisoned sect against us silly souls; the goodness of
God driving him to the disclosing and discovering of his malicious
heresy, to the intent ye should thereby perceive out of
what ungracious ground his enmity sprang that he bore
against the church. Which things, once perceived and considered,
must needs diminish and bereave him his credence
among all such as are not affectionate toward his errors and
infected and venomed with his mortal heresies; and of such
folk we trust he shall find very few.
For surely not only among Christian people and Jews, of
whom the one hath, the other hath had, the perceiving and
light of faith, but also among the very miscreant and
idolaters -- Turks, Saracens, and paynims -- except only
such as have so far fallen from the nature of man into a
brutish, beastly persuasion as to believe that soul and body die
both at once, else hath always the remnant commonly thought and
believed that after the bodies dead and deceased, the souls of
such as were neither deadly damned wretches forever, nor on
the other side, so good but that their offenses done in this

world hath deserved more punishment than they had suffered
and sustained there, were punished and purged by pain after
the death ere ever they were admitted unto their wealth and rest.
This faith hath always not only faithful people had, but also,
as we say, very miscreants and idolaters have ever had a
certain opinion and persuasion of the same: whether that of
the first light and revelation given of such things to our
former fathers there hath always remained a glimmering that
hath gone forth from man to man, from one generation to another,
and so continued and kept among all people, or else
that nature and reason have taught men everywhere to perceive
it. For surely that they have such belief, not only by such
as have been traveled in many countries among sundry sects,
but also by the old and ancient writers that have been among
them, we may well and evidently perceive. And in good faith,
if never had there been revelation given thereof, nor other
light than reason, yet presupposed the immortality of man's
soul, which no reasonable man distrusted, and thereto agreed
the righteousness of God and his goodness, which scant the devil
himself denieth: purgatory must needs appear; for since that
God of his righteousness will not leave sin unpunished,
nor his goodness will perpetually punish the fault after the man's
conversion, it followeth that the punishment shall be temporal.
And now since the man often dieth before such
punishment had, either at God's hand by some affliction
sent him, or at his own by due penance done -- which the most
part of people wantonly doth forsloth -- a very child almost
may see the consequent: that the punishment at the death remaining
due and undone is to be endured and sustained after. Which, since
His Majesty is so excellent whom we have offended, cannot of
right and justice be but heavy and sore.
Now if they would, peradventure, as in magnifying of
God's high goodness say that after a man's conversion
once to God again, not only all his sin is forgiven but all the

whole pain also; or that they will, under color of enhancing the
merit and goodness of Christ's Passion, tell us that his pain suffered
for us standeth in stead of all our pain and penance, so that
neither purgatory can have place nor any penance need to be
done by ourselves for our own sin: these folk that so shall say
shall under pretext of magnifying his mercy not only sore
diminish his virtue of justice, but also much hinder the opinion
and persuasion that men have of his goodness. Or albeit that
God of his great mercy may forthwith forgive some folk freely
their sin and pain both, without prejudice of his righteousness --
either of his liberal bounty or for some respect had unto
the fervent, sorrowful heart that fear and love with help of
special grace have brought unto the penitent at the time of his
return to God, and also that the bitter Passion of our Savior
besides the remission of the perpetuity of our pain do also
lessen our purgatory and stand us here in marvelous high
stead -- yet if he should use this point for a general rule, that at
every conversion from sin with purpose of amendment and
recourse to confession, he shall forthwith fully forgive without
the party's pain of any other recompense for the sins
committed, save only Christ's Passion paid for them all: then
should he give great occasion of lightness and bold courage to
For when men were once persuaded that be their sins never
so sore, never so many, never so mischievous, never
so long continued, yet they shall never bear pain therefor, but
by their only faith and their baptism with a short return
again to God shall have all their sin and pain also clean
forgiven and forgotten, nothing else but only to cry him mercy,
as one woman would that treadeth on another's train: this way
would, as we said, give the world great occasion and courage not
only to fall boldly to sin and wretchedness, but also careless
to continue therein, presuming upon that thing that such
heretics have persuaded unto some men already, that three
or four words ere they die shall sufficiently serve them to
bring them straight to heaven. Whereas, besides the fear that

they should have lest they shall lack at last the grace to turn at
all, and so for fault of those three or four words fall to the fire of
hell, if they believe therewith the thing that truth is besides -- that
is to wit, that though they hap to have the grace to repent and be
forgiven the sin and so to be delivered of the endless pain of
hell, yet they shall not so freely be delivered of purgatory, but
that besides the general relief of Christ's Holy Passion (extended
unto every man not after the value thereof but after the
stint and rate appointed by God's wisdom) great and long
pain abideth them here among us; whereof their willingly
taken penance in the world and affliction there put unto them
by God and there patiently borne and suffered, with other good
deeds there in their life done by them, and finally the merits
and prayers of other good folks for them, may diminish and
abridge the pain which will else hold them here with us in
fire and torments intolerable, only God knoweth how long --
this thing we say, as it is true indeed, so if the world well and
firmly for a sure truth believe it, cannot fail to be to many
folk a good bridle and a sharp bit to refrain them from
sin. And on the other side the contrary belief would send
many folk forward to sin, and thereby instead of purgatory into
everlasting pain.
And therefore is this place of our temporal pain of purgatory
not only consonant unto his righteous justice but also
the thing that highly declareth his great mercy and goodness,
not only for that the pain thereof, huge and sore is it, is yet
less than our sin deserveth, but also most especially in that
by the fear of pain to be suffered and sustained here, his goodness
refraineth men from the boldness of sin and negligence
of penance, and thereby keepeth and preserveth them from
pain everlasting; whereas the light forgiveness of all together
would give occasion by boldness of sin and presumption
of easy remission, much people to run down headlong
thither. And therefore were, as we said, that way very far contrary

not only to God's justice and righteousness, but also to
his goodness and mercy. Whereupon, as we said before, it must
needs follow that since the pain is always due to sin and
is not always clean forgiven without convenient penance
done or other recompense made, nor pain is not always done
nor any recompense made in the man's life, and yet the man
discharged of hell by his conversion: all the pain that remaineth
must needs be sustained here with us in purgatory.
But now if these heretics, as they be very self-willed and
willful, will set at naught the common opinion and belief
and persuasion of almost all the world; and as they be very
unreasonable, make little force of reason and ever ask for scripture
as though they believed holy scripture, and yet when it
maketh against them, they then with false and fond glosses of
their own making do but mock and shift over in such a
trifling manner that it may well appear they believe not scripture
neither -- yet, since they make as they believed scripture and
nothing else, let us therefore see whether that purgatory do not
appear opened and revealed unto Christian people in holy scripture
And first, it seemeth very probable and likely that the good
King Ezechias for none other cause wept at the warning of his
death given him by the prophet, but only for the fear of
purgatory. For albeit that divers doctors allege divers
causes of his heaviness and loathness at that time to depart and
die, yet seemeth there none so likely as the cause that ancient
doctors allege: that is to wit, that he was loath to die for the fear
of his estate after his death, forasmuch as he had offended God
by overmuch liking of himself, wherewith he wist that God was
displeased with him and gave him warning by the prophet that
he should live no longer. Now considered he so the weight of his
offense that he thought and esteemed the only loss of this
present life far under the just and condign punishment thereof,
and therefore fell in great dread of far sorer punishment
after. But being as he was a good faithful king, he could not lack

sure hope through his repentance of such forgiveness as should
preserve him from hell. But since his time should be so short that he
should have no leisure to do penance for his fault, he therefore
feared that the remnant of his righteous punishment should be
performed in purgatory. And therefore wept he tenderly and longed
to live longer, that his satisfaction done there in the world
in prayer and other good virtuous deeds might abolish and wear
out all the pain that else were toward him here among us. To which
his fervent boon and desire, at the contemplation of his penitent
heart, our Lord of his high pity condescended and granted him
the lengthening of his life for fifteen years, making him for his
further comfort sure thereof by the show of a manifest miracle.
But whereto granted our Lord the longer life -- to be bestowed
upon worldly delight and pleasure? Nay, nay, verily. But to the intent
it might appear that it was of God's great mercy
granted for the redeeming of his purgatory by good works for
his satisfaction, he was promised by the prophet not only that
he should within three days be recovered and whole, but also that he
should go into the Temple to pray. So that it may thereby appear
for what end and intent he longed so sore for a longer life.
Now if the beggars' proctor, or Tyndale or Luther either,
list to say that in this point we do but guess at that good king's
mind, and therefore purgatory thereby rather somewhat reasoned
than well and surely proved, thereto may we well answer and say
that, the circumstance of the matter considered, with the virtuous
holiness and cunning of such as so long ago have taken
the scripture thus, that place alone is a far better proof for purgatory
than ever any of them could hitherto lay against it yet.
For albeit this beggars' proctor saith that right wise and cunning
men will say that there is no purgatory at all, by which wise men
he meaneth Luther and Tyndale and himself, yet was there never
any of them all that yet laid any substantial thing, either
reason or authority, for them; but only jest and rail and
say that purgatory is a thing of the pope's own making
and that souls do nothing till Doomsday but lie still and sleep.

And thus telling such wise tales for their own part, and
making mocks and mows at everything that maketh against
their folly for our part, they go forth in their evil will and obstinacy,
and with murmur and grudge of their own conscience,
content themselves with the only feeding of their malicious
minds by the increase of their faction, of such as fall into
their fellowship rather of a light mind and lewd pleasure to
take a part, than of any great credence that they give unto
them or greatly force which way they believe. For surely if
these folk were reasonable and indifferent -- as it is not well
possible for them to be, after that they refuse once to believe the
Catholic Church, and in the understanding of scripture lean only
to their own wits -- but else, as we say, if they could with an
equal and indifferent mind consider and weigh what they hear,
they should soon see their heresy reproved and purgatory
surely confirmed, not only by probable reason taken of the
scripture, as in the place that we rehearsed you of Ezechias, but
also by plain and evident texts.
For have ye not the words of scripture, written in the book of
the Kings: "Dominus deducit ad inferos et reducit" (Our Lord
bringeth folk down into hell and bringeth them thence
again)? But they that be in that hell where the damned souls be,
they be never delivered thence again. Wherefore it appeareth
well that they whom God delivereth and bringeth thence
again be in that part of hell that is called purgatory.
What say they to the words of the prophet Zachary: "Tu
quoque in sanguine testamenti tui eduxisti vinctos tuos de
lacu in quo non erat aqua" (Thou hast in the blood of thy testament
brought out thy bound prisoners out of the pit or lake
in which there was no water)? In that they whom the prophet
there speaketh of were bound, we may well perceive that they
were in a prison of punishment. And in that he calleth them
the prisoners of God, it is easy to perceive that he meaneth not
any that were taken and imprisoned by any other than the

damned spirits, the very jailers of God. And in that he saith
that there is in that lake no water, we may well perceive that he
spoke it in description of that dry pit of fire wherein there
is no refreshing, for as hot are we here as they are in hell. And
what heat is in the pit where lacketh water, our Savior
himself declareth by the words of the rich glutton lying in
such a lake, from whence, at sight of poor Lazarus in Abraham's
bosom, he desired heavily to have him sent unto him with one
drop of water to refresh his tongue, that after all the delicates
that it had tasted in his life, lay there then sore burning,
and never set half so much by twenty tun of wine as he set by
one poor drop of water. So that, as we show you, these words of
the prophet Zachary, "Thou hast brought out thy bound
prisoners out of the lake wherein is no water," do right well
appear to be spoken of these poor imprisoned souls whom
Christ -- after his bitter Passion, by his precious blood wherewith
he consecrated his church in his new testament -- delivered
out of the lake of fire wherein they lay bound for their
sins. But now is there no man that doubteth whether Christ
delivered the damned souls out of hell or not. For in that hell is
there no redemption, and in limbo patrum the souls were in
rest. Wherefore it appeareth clearly that those prisoners whom
he brought out of their pain, he brought only out of
purgatory. And so see these heretics purgatory clearly proved
by the plain words of this holy prophet.
Another place is there also in the Old Testament that putteth
purgatory quite out of question. For what is plainer than the
places which in the book of the Machabees make mention of
the devout remembrance, prayer, alms, and sacrifice
to be done for souls, when the good and holy man Judas Macchabeus
gathered money among the people to buy sacrifice withal
to be offered up for the souls of them that were dead in the
battle? Doth not this place of scripture so openly declare the
need that we souls have in purgatory, and the relief that we

find by the prayer and suffrages of good people upon earth,
that all the heretics that bark so fast against us can find
neither gloss nor color to the contrary?
What shift find they here? Surely a very shameless shift,
and are fain to take them to that tackling that is their sheet-anchor
always, when they find the storm so great that
they see their ship goeth all to wreck. For first they use to set some
false gloss to the text that is laid against them and deny the
right sense.
But now if the text be so plain that they can have no such
color, then when they can have no more hold, but see that
their part goeth all to naught, they fall to a shameless boldness
and let not to deny the scripture and all, and say the holy scripture
which is laid against them is none holy scripture at all, as
Luther playeth with the godly epistle of Christ's blessed apostle
Saint James. And even the same do those heretics with the
authority of this holy book of Machabees: they be not ashamed
to say that it is not scripture. But upon what ground do they
deny it for scripture? Because it is not found and accounted
for holy scripture among the Jews? They neither do nor can
deny but that it is taken for holy scripture by the church of
Christ. For if they would deny that, both the holy church
beareth witness against them at this day, and it also appeareth plainly
by Saint Jerome, Saint Augustine, and other old holy doctors,
that the church so took it also in their days and before; then
would we gladly wit of these new men -- these enemies, we mean, of
ours -- whether the church of Christ be not of as great authority
and as much to be believed in the choice and election of holy
scripture as the Jews. If they will say yes, then answer they
themselves, for then is the book of the Machabees by the choice of
the church proved holy scripture, though the Jews never accounted
it so. Now if they will say no, and will contend that it
cannot be accounted holy scripture though the church of Christ

so take it, but if the Jews so took it too: then go they near to
put out Saint John's Gospel out of scripture too, for the Jews
never took it for none. And surely if they admit for scripture
that book that the Jews admitted, and deny that book to be
scripture which the church of Christ receiveth for scripture,
then do they say that the Spirit of God was more effectually
present and assistant unto the synagogue of the Jews in the law
of his prophet Moses, than unto the church of his own only
begotten Son in the law of Christ's Gospel.
If they consider well the books of the Machabees, they shall
find such thing therein as may give them good occasion to
put little doubt but that it should be of great and undeniable
authority. For they shall find there that the great, good, and
godly valiant captain of God's people did institute and
ordain the great feast of the dedication of the Temple of
Jerusalem, called festum enceniorum, of the annual institution
of which feast we read nowhere else but in the book of
the Machabees. And yet find we that feast ever after continued
and had in honor until Christ's own days, and our
Savior himself went to the celebration of that same feast, as
appeareth in the Gospel of Saint John. So that it may well
appear that the books of that noble history, whereof remaineth so
noble a monument and remembrance continually kept and
reserved so long after and honored by Christ's own precious
person and testified by his holy evangelist in the book
of his Holy Gospel, cannot be but undoubted truth and of
divine authority.
And surely if they deny the book of the Machabees for holy
scripture because the Jews account it not for such, then shall
they by the same reason refuse the authority of the book of
Sapience, and prove themselves insipients. And likewise if

they take all scripture besides the New Testament to be of none
other force and authority than it is accounted in the rule and
canon of the Jews, then shall the whole psalter of David, the very
sum of clear and lightsome prophecies, lose among
them great part of his authority, since it is not taken in like
force and strength among the Jews as it is in Christ's church.
Finally for the book of the Machabees, since the church of
Christ accounteth it for holy scripture, there can no man doubt
thereof but he that will take away all credence and authority
from the holy scripture of God, the very Gospels and all. For if
these heretics deny for holy scripture any book that the
church of Christ accounteth for holy scripture, then deny they
one of the greatest foundations of all Christian faith, and the
thing which their master Martin Luther himself hath already
confessed for true. For he affirmeth himself that God hath
given unto the church of Christ that gift that the church
cannot fail surely and certainly to discern between the words
of God and the words of men, and that it cannot be deceived in the
choice of holy scripture and rejecting of the contrary; so far forth
that he confesseth, as he needs must of necessity, that the
noble doctor and glorious confessor Saint Augustine said
very well when he said that he should not have believed the
Gospel but for the authority of the church. For he had not known
which had been the very book of the Gospels and which not,
among so many as were written, but by the authority of the
church, whom the Spirit of God assisted, as it ever doth and
ever shall, in the choice and receiving of holy scripture and
rejection of the counterfeit and false. Whereby it appeareth
clearly, not only by that holy doctor Saint Augustine but also by
the confession of the arch-heretic Luther himself, that the
church cannot be deceived in the choice of holy scripture and
rejection of the contrary, so far forth that it neither can receive
as holy scripture any book that is none, nor reject for other

than holy scripture any book that is holy scripture indeed. And
surely if the church might so be deceived in the choice of
holy scripture that they might take and approve for holy scripture
any book that were none, then stood all Christendom
in doubt and unsurety whether Saint John's Gospel were holy
scripture or not, and so forth of all the New Testament.
And therefore, since as we have showed you by the heretics'
own confessions, the church of Christ cannot be deceived in
the choice and election of holy scripture -- by which their
confession they must needs abide and not flit therefrom as they
daily do change and vary from their own words in many
other things, except that they will in the falling from that
point refuse the strength and authority of the New Testament
of Christ -- and since, as yourself well perceiveth also, the
church of Christ receiveth and taketh and (as ye see by Saint
Jerome and other old holy doctors this thousand year)
hath approved and firmly believed the holy book of the Machabees
to be one of the volumes of holy scripture; and then in that
book ye see so manifestly purgatory proved that none heretic,
as shameless as they be, can yet for shame say the contrary,
but are by the plain and open words of that holy book so driven
up to the hard wall that they can no further but are fain to
say that the book is no part of scripture, which shift they
must needs forsake again, or else revoke their own words
and therewith also the authority of all Christ's Gospel: there shall, if
either reason or shame can hold, never need any further
thing for the proof of purgatory to stop the mouths of all the
heretics that are or shall be to the world's end.
But yet since they be so shameless and unreasonable that the
thing which they can in no wise defend, they cannot yet
find in their proud heart to give over, but when it is
proved by divers plain texts of the Old Testament, then
having no probable reason for their part, they never the more
give place to truth but stick to their obstinate nay: let us see

whether our purpose be not proved by good and substantial
authority in the New Testament also.
And first let us consider the words of the blessed apostle
and evangelist Saint John, where he saith: "Est peccatum
usque ad mortem; non dico ut pro eo roget quis." ("There is," saith
he, "some sin that is unto the death; I bid not that any man
shall pray for that.") This sin, as the interpreters agree, is
understood of desperation and impenitence, as though Saint
John would say that whoso depart out of this world impenitent
or in despair, any prayer after made can never stand him in
stead. Then appeareth it clearly that Saint John meaneth that
there be other which die not in such case, for whom he would
men should pray because that prayer to such souls may be
profitable. But that profit can no man take, neither being in
heaven where it needeth not, nor being in hell where it booteth
not. Wherefore it appeareth plain that such prayer helpeth only
for purgatory, which they must therefore needs grant
except they deny Saint John.
What say they to the words of Saint John in the fifth
chapter of the Apocalypse: "I have heard," saith he, "every creature
that is in heaven and upon the earth and under the earth
and that be in the sea and all things that be in them; all these
have I heard say: Benediction and honor and glory and
power forever be to him that is sitting in the throne, and unto
the Lamb."
Now wotteth every man well that in hell among damned
souls is there none that giveth glory to Christ for the redemption
of man. For they, for anger that by their own default they
have lost their part thereof and cannot for proud heart take
their fault to themselves, fall to blasphemy as the devil doth himself
and impute their sin to the fault of God's grace and
their damnation to the blame of his creation. So that the
praise and glory that is given by creatures in hell unto the Lamb
for man's redemption is only by the souls in purgatory,
that be and shall be partners of that redemption; as the creatures
walking upon earth or sailing in the sea that give the

honor to Christ for man's redemption be only the Christian
people which look and hope to be partners thereof, and not
infidels that believe it not. But the blessed creatures in heaven
give honor to Christ for man's redemption, for that joy and
pleasure that their charity taketh in the society and fellowship of
saved souls. And in this place it is a world to see the folly of
some heretics, what evasion they seek to avoid from this place
of scripture. They say that it is no more to be understood by
souls here in purgatory nor Christian men living upon earth,
than by fishes in the sea and the devil and damned souls in
hell, because the text saith that every creature in the sea and in
hell spoke that laud and honor to the Lamb. But by this wise way
might they prove that when ye pray for all Christian souls ye
mean to pray for our Lady's soul and for Judas' too; and that
our Savior, when he sent his apostles and bade them preach his
Gospel to every creature, they may bear you in hand that he bade
them preach to oxen and cows and their calves too, because all
they be creatures. But as they were sent to none other creature
than such as he meant of, though he spoke of all, nor ye mean
to pray for no souls but such as have need and may have help,
though ye speak of all: so, though Saint John spoke of every
creature in hell giving honor to Christ for man's redemption,
yet meant he but such as be in that hell in which they
rejoice therein and shall be partners thereof; which be only we
in purgatory, and not the devils and damned souls that blaspheme
him, though their just punishment redound, against
their will, to the glory of God's righteousness.
If all this will not satisfy them, will ye see yet another clear
place and such as none heretic can avoid? Doth not
the blessed apostle Saint Peter, as appeareth in the second chapter
of the Apostles' Acts, say of our Savior Christ in this wise: "Quem
Deus suscitavit solutis doloribus inferni"? In these words he
showeth that pains of hell were loosed. But these pains were
neither pains of that hell in which the damned souls be
pained, which neither were loosed then nor never be loosed, but

be and shall be, as our Savior saith himself, everlasting. Nor
these pains that were then loosed were not the pains in limbo
patrum, for there were none to be loosed, for the good souls
were there, as our Savior showeth himself, in quiet comfort
and rest. And so appeareth it evidently that the pains of hell
that were loosed were only the pains of purgatory, which is
also called hell by occasion of the Latin word and the Greek
word both. For in these tongues (forasmuch as before the Resurrection
of our Savior Christ there was never none that ascended
up into heaven) there was no people that any otherwise spoke of
souls than that they were gone down beneath into the low
place. And therefore in the words of the common Creed is it said
of our Savior Christ after his Passion, "Descendit ad inferna,"
that is to say, "He descended down beneath into the low places."
Instead of which low places the English tongue hath ever used
this word "hell." And certain is it and very sure that Christ
descended not into all these low places, nor into every place of
hell, but only into limbus patrum and purgatory. Which two
places, because they be parts of habitations of souls beneath
(all which habitations beneath have in English been always
called hell), therefore are these two places among other taken
and comprehended under the name of hell. Which word "hell"
nothing else signifieth unto us in its general signification
but the habitations of souls beneath or under us in the low
places under the ground. Albeit because limbus patrum and
purgatory be called in English also by their special names
besides, therefore is most commonly this word hell restrained to
the special signification of that low place beneath in which the
damned souls be punished. This much have we showed you
of this word "hell," because we would not that the common taking
thereof might bring you into any error. So that by this place ye
see proved by the plain words of Saint Peter that Christ at his
Resurrection did loose and unbind pains in hell, which as we
have showed you, could be nowhere there but in purgatory. For
in the special hell of damned souls the pains were not loosed.

And in limbus patrum was no pains to be loosed. And therefore,
except they deny Saint Peter, they cannot deny purgatory.
And yet if they deny Saint Peter, we shall then allege them
Saint Paul, whom they be best content to hear of, because that
of the difficulty of his writing they catch sometimes some
matter of contention for the defense of their false exposition.
This blessed apostle in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, the
third chapter, speaking of our Savior Christ, the very foundation
and the only foundation of all our faith and salvation,
saith: "If any man build upon this foundation gold, silver,
precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, every man's work
shall be made open, for the day of our Lord shall declare it; for
in the fire it shall be showed, and the fire shall prove what manner
of thing every man's work is. If any man's work that he hath
built thereon do abide, he shall have a reward. If any man's
work burn, he shall suffer harm, but he shall be safe, but yet as
by fire." In these words the Apostle showeth that likewise as some
men, abiding upon Christ and his very lively faith, build up
thereupon such good works as are so good and so pure that they be
like fine gold, fine silver, or such fine precious stones, as
when they be cast in the fire it can find no filth to fetch out of
them, and therefore they remain in the fire safe and undiminished,
so are there some on the other side, which though they do
not as many other do, with mortal sins and lack of good works
wound their faith unto the death and fall from Christ, the foundation
that they must build upon, yet do they, abiding upon that foundation,
build up thereupon many such simple and frail and corruptible
works as can never enter heaven. And such be venial
sins, as idle words, vain and wanton mirth, and such other
things like, which be but like wood, hay, or straw. Which
works, when the soul after his departing out of the world
bringeth hither into purgatory, he cannot so get through it as
doth the soul whose works were wrought clean or fully purged
by penance ere he died. For that soul in the fire can feel no
harm, like as fine gold can in the fire nothing lose of its

weight. But this soul that bringeth with him such frail works,
either wrought by themselves or inserted peradventure and mixed
amidst of some good and virtuous work -- as, for example, some
lack peradventure sufficient attention and heed taken by some
sudden wavering of the mind in time of prayer, or some
surreption and creeping in of vainglory and liking of their own
praise in their alms given or other good deed done, not
forthwith resisted and cast out, but kept and fed upon too
long, and yet neither so long, peradventure, nor so great as
our Lord will for that thought deprive him the merit and
reward of his work -- lo, in such cases, as the Apostle saith, the day
of our Lord, which is to the whole world the day of the general
judgment and to every man particular the day of his own
judgment after his death, shall show his work, what manner
thing it is: the fire shall prove and declare. For here in purgatory,
like as the fire can in the clean souls take none hold,
but they shall be therein without any manner pain or grief, so
shall it, in the souls that are uncleansed and have their
works imperfect, unclean, and spotted, hastily catch hold
and keep them fast and burn them with incessant pain till the
filthiness of their sin be clean purged and gone, and that shall be in
some sooner, in some later, as their sins or the spots remaining
thereof be more easy or more hard to get out. And that is
the thing that Paul signifieth by the wood, hay, and straw, of
which the one is a light flame soon ended, the other
smouldereth much longer, and the third is hottest and endureth
longest. But yet hath it an end, and so shall have at length all
the pains of them that shall be purged here. But whatsoever
soul mishap to die in deadly sin and impenitent, since he
is thereby fallen off forever from our Savior Christ that was his
foundation, and hath built up wretched works upon your
ghostly enemy the devil, wherewith he hath so thoroughly
poisoned himself that he can never be purged -- the fire shall
therefore lie burning upon him forever, and his pain never
lessed, nor his filthy spots never the more diminished.
And forasmuch as ye never can conceive a very right imagination

of these things which ye never felt, nor it is not
possible to find you any example in the world very like unto
the pains that silly souls feel when they be departed thence,
we shall therefore put you in remembrance of one kind of
pain which, though it be nothing like for the quantity of
the matter, yet may it somewhat be resembled by reason of the
fashion and manner. If there were embarked many people at once
to be by ship conveyed a long journey by sea, of such as never
came thereon before, and should hap all the way to have the seas
rise high and sore wrought, and sometime soon upon a storm to
lie long after wallowing at an anchor: there should ye find divers
fashions of folk. Some peradventure (but of them very few)
so clean from all evil humors and so well attempered of themselves
that they shall be all that long voyage by sea as lusty and as
jocund as if they were on land. But far the most part shall
ye see sore sick, and yet in many sundry manner: some more, some
less, some longer time diseased, and some much sooner
amended. And divers that a while had weened they should have
died for pain, yet after one vomit or twain, so clean rid
of their grief that they never feel displeasure of it after.
And this happeth after as the body is more or less disposed in
itself thereto. But then shall ye sometimes see there some other
whose body is so incurably corrupted that they shall walter and
tolter and wring their hands and gnash the teeth and
their eyes water, their head ache, their body fret, their
stomach wamble, and all their body shiver for pain, and yet
shall never vomit at all, or if they vomit, yet shall they
vomit still and never find ease thereof. Lo, thus fareth it, as a
small thing may be resembled to a great, by the souls
deceased and departed the world: that such as be clean and
unspotted can in the fire feel no disease at all; and on the
other side, such as come thence so deadly poisoned with sin
that their spots be indelible and their filthiness unpurgeable,
lie fretting and frying in the fire forever. And
only such as neither be fully cleansed nor yet sore defiled, but
that the fire may fret out the spots of their sin: of this

sort only be we that here lie in purgatory, which these cruel
heretics would make you believe that we feel none harm at
all, whereof the blessed Apostle, as we have showed you, writeth
unto the Corinthians the contrary.
Now if they would bear you in hand that because some doctors
do construe those words of the Apostle in divers other
senses -- as they do construe in divers senses almost every text
in scripture, sometimes after the letter, sometimes moral, and
sometimes otherwise, and all to the profit and edifying of the
hearers -- if these heretics would therefore pretend that Saint
Paul in that place meant nothing of purgatory but the fire that
shall be sent before the Doom, or worldly tribulation, or some
such other thing, ye shall well understand that though his
words may be verified and well and profitably applied unto
such things also, yet letteth that nothing these words to be
properly by Saint Paul spoken of purgatory; no more than it
letteth these words to be properly spoken by Christ, "Ego in
flagella paratus sum," and many another verse in the psalter also,
though the same words may be well applied and verified of many
another man offering himself patiently to the sufferance of
unjust punishment. And therefore lest these heretics should
with any such inventions beguile you and make you believe that we,
for the furtherance of our own cause, expound the Apostle's
words wrong and so make them seem to say for our part, ye
shall understand that those words have been expounded and
understood of purgatory this thousand year and more by the
ancient holy doctors of Christ's church, as well Greeks as
Latins. And among other, the great clerk Origen, in more places
of his works than one, declareth plainly that the fore-remembered
words of the Apostle are spoken by the pains of
purgatory. The holy confessor and great pillar of Christ's
church, Saint Augustine, in divers of his godly and erudite
books, expoundeth that place of Saint Paul to be clearly spoken
of purgatory. And over this the blessed pope Saint Gregory in

the fourth book of his godly Dialogues beareth witness that the
Apostle in the place aforesaid wrote those words of purgatory.
So that ye may plainly perceive that this exposition is
neither our device nor any new found fantasy, but a very
truth well perceived and witnessed by great cunning men and
holy blessed saints more than a thousand year ago.
Now if these heretics will be so mad to flit in this case
from Saint Paul and say they be bound to believe nothing
but only the Gospel, let us then yet see further whether we may
not plainly prove you purgatory by the very words of the Gospel
self. Doth not our blessed Savior himself say that there is a
certain sin which a man may so commit against the Holy
Ghost that it shall never be remitted nor forgiven, neither in this
world nor in the world to come? Now as for to dispute what
manner sin that should be, both the matter were very hard and
also we shall here nothing need to touch it. But of one thing
both ye and we may make us very sure, that there is nor can be any
sin committed in the world so sore, so grievous, nor so
abominable, but that if a man work with God's grace by
contrition and heaviness of heart, with humble confession of
mouth and good endeavor of penance and satisfaction in deed
against his thought, word, and deed by which God was offended,
he shall obtain of God's goodness remission, forgiveness,
and pardon.
But it may peradventure so befall that by some kind of
unkindness used toward God, extending to the blasphemy of his
Holy Spirit, the committer of the sin may so far offend that
he shall for his desert and demerit have the grace of Almighty God
so clearly withdrawn from him that our Lord shall never offer
his grace after, nor nevermore call upon him. And then, his
grace once clearly withdrawn from a man, he can never be able
to repent and return again to God. For grace is the light wherewith
men see the way to walk out of sin, and grace is the staff
without help whereof no man is able to rise out of sin, according
to the words of Holy Writ spoken to man in the person of

our Lord God: "Ex te perditio tua, ex me salvatio tua," (Thy perdition
cometh of thyself, but thy salvation cometh of me, by
the aid and help of my grace). Which grace, as we tell you, being from
some man utterly withdrawn for some manner unkind behavior
toward God and blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, that sin
for lack of repentance, which can never come where grace is
clean gone, shall never be forgiven in this world, nor in the
world to come. And in such a manner kind of unkindness toward
God and blasphemy toward the Holy Ghost fall also all
such wretches as have the grace of God ever calling and knocking
upon them for repentance all the days of their life, and yet, all
that notwithstanding, will not use it nor work therewith nor
turn to God, but willingly will die desperate and impenitent
This kind of blasphemers of God's goodness and his Holy
Spirit have, in the miserable passing of their sinful soul out
of their sensual bodies, the grace of God so fully and so finally
withdrawn from them forever that they be thereby fixed
and confirmed in an unchangeable malice, which eternally
dwelling with them is the very special cause of their
everlasting torment. But in this matter, as we said, we wade
out of our purpose, saving that it seemed us yet necessary
since our Savior, in the place that we speak of, doth himself
show that there is a certain sin so touching the Holy Ghost
that it shall never be forgiven neither in this world nor in the
world to come; it seemed, as we say, somewhat necessary to say
somewhat therein, lest some that read it might conceive a wrong
opinion and a false fear drawing them toward despair that
if they mishappened (which our Lord forbid ) to fall into
blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, they could never after be
forgiven, how sore soever they repented, or how heartily and
how busily soever they should pray therefor. In which thing,
since we have showed you what we take for truth, we shall leave

that matter and show you how those words of Christ prove you
our principal purpose, that is to say, that there is a purgatory.
Howbeit we shall scantly need to show you that, for the very
words be plain and evident of themselves. For when our Lord
saith that the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be
forgiven neither in this world nor in the world to come, he
giveth us clear knowledge that of other sins some shall be forgiven
in this world and some in the world to come.
Now are there in this world every sin forgiven in such as
shall be saved souls, except such venial sins, and such
temporal pain as yet due to the deadly sins, rest and remain
to be purged here in purgatory. For none other place is there
than this in the world to come after man's life, in which
either sin or pain due to any sin shall be remitted. For into
heaven shall neither sin nor pain enter, and in hell shall
never none be released. And therefore when Christ, by showing
that some kind of sin shall not be remitted in the world
to come, doth give men knowledge that, on the other side, some
sins shall in the world to come be remitted and forgiven.
And then, since no man doubteth but that neither in hell shall any
sins be forgiven nor in heaven, very reason teacheth that the
place in which some sins shall be forgiven after this life can
be none other but purgatory.
There is, as we suppose, no Christian man living but he will
think that any one place of holy scripture is enough to the
proof of any truth. Now have we proved you purgatory by the
plain texts of more places than one, two, or three. And yet shall we
give you another so plain, as we suppose, and so evident for the
proof of purgatory, as none heretic shall find any good
color of escape. For our Savior Christ saith, as it is rehearsed
in the twelfth chapter of Matthew, that men shall yield a
reckoning of every idle word, and that shall be after this
present life. Then wotteth every man that by that reckoning is

understood a punishment therefor, which shall not be in
hell and much less in heaven. And therefore can it be nowhere
else but in purgatory.
Lo, thus may ye see purgatory clearly proved by the very scripture
self -- by the book of the Kings, by the prophet Zachary, by
the holy book of the Machabees, by the words of Saint John, by
the apostle Saint Peter, by the writing of our Savior Christ himself;
so that we not a little marvel either of the ignorance or
shameless boldness of all such as having any learning dare
call themselves Christian men and yet deny purgatory. For if they
have learning and perceive not these clear and open texts, we
marvel of their ignorance. With which while they join a
proud pretense of learning, they fall into the reproof that Saint
Paul spoke of the paynim philosophers: "Dicentes se esse sapientes,
stulti facti sunt" (While they called themselves wise they
proved stark fools). Now if they perceive well these texts of
holy scripture so plainly proving purgatory and yet themselves
stick stiff in the denying, we then marvel much more
that they dare for shame call themselves Christian men, and then
deny the thing which the blessed apostles of Christ, the sacred
majesty of our Savior Christ himself in the holy scripture,
in his Holy Gospels, so manifestly and so plainly affirmeth.
And yet many another plain text is there in holy scripture
that, as the old holy doctors bear witness, well privet our
purpose for purgatory, which we speak here nothing of, since
fewer texts than we have already showed you both might and
ought to suffice you. For any one plain text of scripture
sufficeth for the proof of any truth, except any man be of the
mind that he will have God tell his tale twice ere he believe
Now if these heretics fall to their accustomed frowardness
and, as they be wont to do, will rather deny that the
swan is white and the crow black than agree that any text in
holy scripture hath any other sense than themselves list to say;
and will in this point for the maintenance of their heresy

set at naught Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome, Saint Ambrose,
Saint Gregory, Saint Chrysostom, Saint Basil, Saint
Cyprian, and finally all the old holy fathers and blessed
saints that anything say against them -- yet can they neither
deny that the Catholic Church of Christ hath always believed
purgatory, condemning for heretics all such as would
hold the contrary. Nor if they grant that, can they then by any
manner means avoid it but that the thing is true that all the
church so full and whole so long hath in such wise believed, although
there were not found in all holy scripture one text that
so plainly proved it, as they might find many that
seemed to say the contrary -- except they will not only say that
our blessed Lady lost her virginity after the birth of Christ, but
over that be driven further to diminish the strength and authority
of the very Gospel self, which, if the church may err in
the right faith, had clearly lost its credence.
And therefore, as we say, whereas we by plain scripture have
proved you purgatory, yet if there were therein not one text that
anything seemed to say for it, but divers and many texts
which as far seemed unto the misunderstanders to speak
against purgatory (as many divers texts of the Gospel appeared
unto the great heretic Helvidius to speak against the
perpetual virginity of Christ's blessed mother), yet since the Catholic
Church of Christ hath always so firmly believed it for a
plain truth that they have always taken the obstinate
affirmers of the contrary for plain erroneous heretics, it is
a proof full and sufficient for purgatory to any man that will be
taken for a member of Christ's church, and is alone a thing
sufficient in any good Christian audience to stop the mouths
of all the proud, high-hearted, malicious heretics that anything
would bark against us.
But when they be so confuted and concluded that they have
nothing to say, yet can they not hold their peace, but fall to
blasphemy and ask why there cometh none of us out of purgatory

and speak with them. By which blasphemous question
they may as well deny hell and heaven too, as they deny
purgatory. For there cometh as many to them out of purgatory
as out of either of the other twain. And surely if there came one
out of any of them all three unto folk of such incredulity as
those heretics be, yet would they be never the better. For if
they believe not now them whom they should believe, no more
would they believe him neither that should come out of purgatory
to tell it them: as Abraham answered the rich man that required
the same in hell, and as it well appeared also by the
miscreant Jews which were so little amended by the coming
again of Lazarus out of limbus patrum, that lest others
should believe him they devised to destroy him. And yet if the
thing that they require would content them, it hath not lacked.
For there hath in every country and in every age apparitions
been had and well-known and testified, by which men have
had sufficient revelation and proof of purgatory, except
such as list not to believe them, and they be such as would be
never the better if they saw them.
For whoso listeth to believe that all together is lies that he
heareth so much people speak of and seeth so many good men write
of -- for no country is there in Christendom in which he shall not
hear credibly reported of such apparitions divers times there
seen and appearing; and in the books of many a holy saint's
writing shall he find such apparitions in such wise told and
testified as no good man could in any wise mistrust them; and,
over this, when the apostles at Christ's appearing to the eleven in the
house took him at the first for a spirit, it well appeareth that
apparitions of spirits was no new thing among the Jews
(which ye may well perceive also by that the better sort of them said
in excusing of Saint Paul: "What if some angel or some spirit
have spoken to him," as is mentioned in the Apostles' Acts) -- so
that, as we say, whoso list to take all this for lies, and is so
faithless and so proudly curious that he looketh, ere he believe

them, to have such apparitions specially showed unto himself
and miracles wrought in his presence, would wax the worse and he
saw them, and would ascribe it either to some fantasy or to the
devil's works, as did those Jews that ascribed Christ's miracles
to Beelzebub.
For surely if such people were in the case of Saint Thomas
of India, that they were otherwise very virtuous and good,
having in that only point some hardness of belief as he had in
Christ's Resurrection, our Lord, we doubt not, would of his special
goodness provide some special way for their satisfaction to
recover them with. But now since they be plain carnal, high-hearted,
and malicious, longing for miracles as did these
crooked-hearted Jews which said unto Christ that they longed to
see him show some miracle, he doth therefore with these folk as
Christ did with them. For as he answered them by the example of
Jonas the prophet, that he would none show before that perverse
and faithless people till he were dead, so answereth he these
perverse and crooked malicious people that he will show them no
such apparitions till they be dead. And then shall he send
them where they shall see it so surely, and to their pain see such a
grisly sight as shall so grieve their hearts to look thereon, that
they shall say as Christ said to Saint Thomas of India: "Beati qui
non viderunt et crediderunt" (Blessed and happy be they that
believed this gear and never saw it). For surely in this world the
goodness of God so tempereth such apparitions as his high
wisdom seeth it most profitable for help and relief of the dead
and instruction and amendment of the quick, keeping such
apparitions of his great mercy most commonly from the sight of
such as would turn his goodness into their own harm. And
surely of his tender favor toward you, doth his great goodness
provide that such apparitions, revelations, and miracles
should not be too copious and common, whereby good men
seeing the thing at eye should lose the great part of that they
now merit by faith, and evil folk when they were once familiar

with it would then as little regard it as they now little
believe it.
Now it is a world to see with what folly they fortify their false
belief, and into what fond fantasies they fall while they
decline from the truth. For while they deny purgatory, they
now affirm (and especially Luther himself) that souls unto
Doomsday do nothing else but sleep. Woe would they be if they
fell in such a sleep as many a soul sleepeth here, and as Judas hath
already slept fifteen hundred year in hell.
Then say they that if there were any purgatory, out of
which the pope might deliver any soul by his pardon, then
were he very cruel in that he delivereth them not without
money, and also that he riddeth them not hence altogether at
once. The first is a great folly, that since our Lord sendeth them
thither for satisfaction to be made in some manner for their
sin, the pope should rather, against God's purpose, deliver
them free than change the manner of their satisfaction from
pain into prayer, almsdeed, or other good works to be
done by their friends for them, in some point profitable and
necessary for the whole corps of Christendom or some good member
of the same.
Now is there in the second not only much more folly, but it
importeth also plain and open blasphemy. For presupposed
that the pope may deliver all souls out of purgatory, yet if he
were therefore cruel as often as he leaveth any there, this unreasonable
reason layeth cruelty to the blame of God, which may undoubtedly
deliver all souls thence; and yet he leaveth them there. This
blasphemy should also touch his high majesty for keeping any
soul in hell, from whence no man doubteth but that he might, if
he list, deliver them all forever. But as he will not deliver any
thence, so will he not without good order deliver any soul
hence. For as of his justice they be worthy to lie there forever, so
be we worthy to lie here for the while, and in God no cruelty,
though he suffer his mercy to be commonly suspended and
tempered with the balance of his justice. And though he take
us not hence all at once, orderless and at adventure, his high

wisdom is praiseworthy, and not worthy blame. Our Lord forbid
that ever we so should (and such is his grace that we never shall for
any pain possible that we can suffer here) hold ourselves content to
hear such foolish words as imply so plain blasphemy against
God's high, merciful majesty. For surely these folk in putting
forth of this their unwise argument make a countenance to
throw it against the pope, but in very deed they cast it at
God's head.
For as for the pope, whoso consider it well, goeth farther
from the example of God that is set for Christ's vicar in his church
by giving over liberal pardon, than by being therein too scarce
and strait. For God remitteth not here at adventure, though he
may do his pleasure, but observeth right good and great respect
as the prayers and intercessions made for us or other
satisfaction done for us by some other men. And this order
useth and of reason ought to use his vicar also in the dispensing
toward our relief the precious treasure of our
comfort that Christ hath put in his keeping. For else if either
the pope or God should always forthwith deliver every man here --
or rather keep every man hence, as these heretics would make
men believe that God doth indeed, and would that the world
should so take it -- then should God or the pope, as we somewhat
have said before, give a great occasion to men boldly to fall
in sin and little to care or force how slowly they rise again.
Which thing neither were meet for the pope's office nor
agreeable to the great wisdom of God, and much less meet
for his mercy. For by that means should he give innumerable
folk great occasion of damnation, which presuming upon
such easy short remission, would lustily draw to lewdness
with little care of amendment.
And so appeareth it that the thing which these wise men
would have ye take for cruel is of truth most merciful; and
the thing which they would have to seem very benign and
piteous is in very deed most rigorous and most cruel,
likewise as a sharp master that chastiseth his servant is in

that point more favorable than is an easy one that for lack of
punishment letteth them run on the bridle and giveth
them occasion of hanging. Which thing hath place also
between the father and the child. And therefore in holy scripture
that father is not accounted for unloving and cruel that beateth
his child, but rather he that leaveth it undone. For he that
spareth the rod, saith Holy Writ, hateth the child. And God,
therefore, that is of all fathers the most tender, loving, and most
benign and merciful, leaveth no child of his uncorrected, but
scourgeth every child that he taketh to him. And therefore
neither God remitteth at adventure the pains of purgatory,
nor no more must the pope neither but if that he will, while he
laboreth to do good and be piteous to us that are dead, be
cruel and do much more harm to them that be quick, and while
he will draw us out of purgatory, drive many of them into
hell. From desire of which kind of help we so far abhor
that we would all rather choose to dwell here long in most bitter
pain than by such way to get hence as might give occasion of
any man's damnation.
Now where they likewise object in countenance against
the clergy, but yet in very deed they strike the stroke at us
whom they would bereave the suffrages of good people, objecting
that no man may satisfy for another, nor that the
prayer nor alms nor other good deed done by one man may
stand another in stead, but that every man must needs, allthing
that he will have help of, do it every whit himself, and so that
no man's good deed done among you for us in relief of our
pain could in any manner serve us: this opinion, as it is
toward us very pestilent and pernicious, so is it of itself
very false and foolish. For first, if all that ever must avail
any man must needs be done by himself, and no man's
merit may be applied to the help of another, then were
wiped away from all men all the merits of Christ's bitter Passion,
in which, though it be true that God died on the cross

because of the unity of God and man in person, yet had his
tender manhood all the pain for us and his impassible godhead
felt no pain at all. Whereof serveth also the prayers that every
man prayeth for other? Wherefore did Saint Paul pray for all
other Christian men and desire them all to pray for him also and
each of them for other, that they might be saved?
And why is there so special a mention made in the Acts of
the apostles that at the delivery of Saint Peter out of prison the
church made continual prayer and intercession for him, but
for to show that God the rather delivered him for other
men's prayers? And think ye that if God have pity upon
one man for another's sake, and delivereth him at another
man's petition from a little pain or imprisonment in the
world there upon earth, he hath not at other man's humble
and hearty prayer much more pity upon such as lie in
much more heavy pain and torment here in the hot fire of
Then find these folk another knot hard, as they think, to
undo. For they say that if another man's merits may serve me,
whereto should I need to do any good myself? This objection is
much like as if they would say: if other men may take me out of the
fire, whereto should I labor to rise myself? Very truth it is
that sometimes the good works of one man, wrought with good
affection, may purchase another man grace for to mend and
work for himself. But surely, of common course, he that will not
himself work with them getteth little good of other men's
good deeds. For if thyself do still draw backward while other
good men with their prayer labor to pull thee forward, it
will be long ere thou make any good day's journey. And therefore
that holy doctor Saint Augustine, in the blessed book that he
made of the cure and care that men should have of us silly departed
souls, toucheth quickly the very point that there can none take
profit of other men's good deeds but only such as have
deserved by some good thing in their own deeds that other

men's deeds should help them, and that hath every man done,
at the least wise by his final repentance and purpose of
amendment, that departeth the world in the state of grace.
For he that is out of that state cannot take the profit of
other men's merits done for him. And therefore damned
souls cannot by other men's merits be delivered of damnation,
nor in likewise he that intendeth to persevere in
sin and do no good for himself. But since that we be not in that
case but have with help of God's grace deserved to be partners
of such good deeds as ye that are our friends will of your
goodness do for us, ye may by your merits highly relieve us here
and help to get us hence. And surely great wonder were it if
we should not be able to take profit by your prayers. For there
will no wise man doubt but that the prayer of any member of
Christendom may profit any other that it is made for, which
hath need and is a member of the same. But none is there yet
living that is more very member of Christ's mystical body -- that is,
his church -- than we be, nor no man living that hath more need
of help than we. For in surety of salvation we be fellows with
angels; in need of relief we be yet fellows with you. And
therefore, being so sure members of one body with angels, holy
saints, and you, and having necessity both of their help
and yours, there is no doubt but since every member that need
hath may take good by other, we stand in the case that both
angels' and saints' intercessions and your good prayers and
almsdeed done for us, whatsoever these heretics babble,
may do us marvelous much good.
How many have by God's most gracious favor appeared
unto their friends after the death and showed themselves
helped and delivered hence by pilgrimage, almsdeed, and
prayer, and especially by the sacred oblation of that Holy Sacrament
offered for them in the Mass. If these heretics say that
all such things be lies, then be they much worse yet than

their master was, Luther himself, as long as any spark of
shame was in him. For he confesseth in his sermons that many
such apparitions be true, and his heart could not nor for very
shame serve him that so many so often told in so many places,
so faithfully reported by so many honest folk, and so substantially
written by so many blessed saints, should be all false.
Wherein if these men list like lusty scholars to pass and overgo
their mad master in this point and deny these things altogether,
yet shall there stick in their teeth the scripture of the
Machabees, whereof we told you that Judas Macchabeus gathered
and sent a great offering to Jerusalem for to buy sacrifice to be
offered for them that he found slain in the field, and certain
things about them taken of the idols forbidden them by the
law, which caused him to fear lest they were for their sin
fallen after their death into pain, and therefore made that
gathering, that alms and offering as himself saith, that they
might thereby be loosed and delivered of their sins. So that
there appeareth plainly by scripture that such suffrages stand
us silly souls in stead. Against which authority if they will
with their master labor to break out and deny that book for holy
scripture, we have stopped them that gap already with such
a bush of thorns as will prick their hands through a pair of
hedging gloves ere they pull it out.
And finally, for this point that the suffrages of the church
and the prayers of good Christian people stand us here in relief
and comfort, there needeth in this world (as Saint Augustine saith
and Saint Damascene) none other manner proof than that all Christendom
hath ever used to do so, and have thought themselves
always so bound to do, damning always for heretics all them
that would affirm the contrary.
And in this point may they have a marvelous great thing
against them in the judgment of every good man, the great
antiquity of the service of Christ's church by which the church
hath so long ago customably recommended in their prayers all

Christian souls to God. For we trust that though these heretics
find many men both glad to hear and light to believe every
lewd tale that can be surmised against the church that now is,
yet trust we that they shall find few or none so far out of all
frame that they will at the least believe that there hath been
some good and godly men, wise and well-learned too, among the
clergy in days past, one time or other. Go then to the old time
and to the good men that then were, and hear what they said, and
see what they did, and believe and follow them. There remaineth
yet, and books enough thereof, the very Mass in the very form and
fashion as Saint Basil and Saint Chrysostom and other holy
fathers in that virtuous time said it, in which ye shall find
that in their daily Masses they prayed ever for all Christian souls.
We shall also perceive clearly by Saint Chrysostom in a sermon
of his that in his time there were in the funeral service at
the burying of the corpse the selfsame psalms sung that ye
sing now at the dirge. Whereby it well appeareth that it is no new
found thing, for his time was far above a thousand year ago, and yet
was that thing long used before his days. And because ye shall
know that the more surely, he saith that the guise and custom to
pray for souls was instituted and begun in the church by the
blessed apostles themselves. And so while so good men so long ago
began it and good folk hath ever since continued it, ye
may soon guess whether they be good men or no that now provoke
you to break it.
Now where they say that if the Mass could do us any good,
that then the priests be very cruel that will say none for us but
they be waged: this word is as true as their intent is fraudulent
and false. For their purpose is in those words to make the
world ween that the clergy were so covetous and cruel therewith
that there will no priest pray for us poor souls here
without he be hired thereto; whereof, our Lord be thanked, we
find full well the contrary. For albeit that of Luther's
priests we can have none help, since their Masses offer not up
the Sacrament to God neither for quick nor dead, nor make no
very priests among them since they take priesthood for no sacrament:

yet of good Christian priests we find great relief as well
in their dirges and much other suffrages by old institution
of the church specially said for us, though no man give
them one penny through the year. And so may all the world wit
that this word of these heretics hath much malice and little
effect therein.
But now though the priests pray for us of their own
charity, yet when good people desire them thereto and give
them their alms therefor, then are they double bound,
and then riseth there much more good and profit upon all
sides. For then take we fruit both of the prayer of the one and
the alms of the other. And then taketh the priest benefit of
his own prayer made both for the giver and for us. The
giver also getteth fruit both of his own merciful alms
and of double prayer also: that is to wit, both the prayer of
the priest that prayeth for us, which commonly prayeth for him
too, and also the prayer of us which with great fervor of
heart pray for our benefactors incessantly and are so far forth
in God's undoubted favor that very few men living upon
earth are so well heard as we; besides that of all kind of alms
that any man can give, the most meritorious is that which is
bestowed upon us, as well for that it is unto the most needy, and
also to them that are absent, and finally, for that of all manner
alms it is most grounded upon the foundation of all
Christian virtuous faith. For as for to poor folk, a natural man
will give alms, either for pity of some piteous sight or for
weariness of their importunate crying. But as for us poor
souls past the world, whom he that giveth alms neither
seeth nor heareth, would never bestow one penny upon us but if
he had a faith that we live still, and that he feared that we lie in
pain, and hoped of his reward in heaven. Which kind of
faith and good hope, joined with his gift and good work, must
needs make it one of the best kind of almsdeed that any man
can do in the world.
And since that it so is, as indeed it is, what uncharitable and

what unfaithful folk are these, that for hatred which they owe to
priests would make you believe that there were no purgatory,
and would rather wish by their wills that their own fathers should
lie here in fire till the Day of Doom, than any man should give
a priest one penny to pray for them?
And yet is there here one thing well to be considered, that
they rather hate priests for hatred of Christ's faith than speak
against purgatory for hatred of priests. Which thing, though it
seem you dark at the first hearing, ye shall yet, if ye look
well, very well perceive. For if it so were that this kind of
people did speak against purgatory only for the hatred of the
pope and the clergy, then would they grant that saved souls are yet
purged in the fire here for their sins unsatisfied in the
world, and it should then suffice them to say for their purpose
that neither priest nor pope nor any man else, nor any
man's alms or prayer, can in this place of punishment anything
relieve us. For this were enough, ye see well, to serve their
purpose against the clergy. But yet because they have a far
farther purpose against all good Christian faith, they be not content
therefore to leave at this point, but step them forth
farther and deny purgatory utterly, to the end that men should
take boldness to care the less for their sin. And if they
might once be believed therein, then would they step yet farther and
deny hell and all, and after that heaven too. But as for heaven,
albeit that as yet they deny it not, yet pull they many a simple
soul thence which, were it not for their mischievous doctrine,
were else well likely to be there a full bright and glorious saint.
And surely the more that wise men advise themselves upon
this matter, the more shall they marvel of the mad mind of
them that deny purgatory, or say that the prayers or good
works of men living in the world can do us here no good. For
every man that any wit hath, wotteth well that the surest way
were, in every doubt, best to be taken. Now suppose then that
purgatory could in no wise be proved, and that some would yet say

plainly that there were one, and some would say plainly nay: let us
now see whether sort of these twain might take most harm, if
their part were the wrong. First, he that believed there were
purgatory, and that his prayer and good works wrought for
his friend's soul might relieve them therein, and because
thereof used much prayer and alms for them: he could not
lose the reward of his good will, although his opinion were
untrue and that there were no purgatory at all, no more than he
loseth his labor now that prayeth for one whom he feareth to lie in
purgatory, whereas he is already in heaven. But on the other side,
he that believeth there is none and therefore prayeth for none,
if his opinion be false and that there be purgatory indeed -- as
indeed there is -- he loseth much good and getteth him also
much harm, for he both feareth much the less to sin and to
lie long in purgatory, saving that his heresy shall save him
thence and send him down deep into hell.
And it fareth between these two kind of folk as it fared
between a lewd gallant and a poor frere. Whom when the gallant
saw going barefoot in a great frost and snow, he asked him
why he did take such pain. And he answered that it was very
little pain if a man would remember hell. "Yea, Frere," quoth the
gallant, "but what and there be none hell? Then art thou a great
fool." "Yea, Master," quoth the frere, "but what and there be hell? Then
is your mastership a much more fool."
Moreover, there was never yet any of that sort that could
for shame say that any man is in peril for believing that there
is purgatory. But they say only that there is none indeed,
and that they may without any sin affirm their opinion
for truth. But now upon the other side many a hundred
thousand -- that is to wit, all the whole church of Christ that is or
ever hath been -- affirm that the affirming of their opinion
against purgatory is a plain damnable heresy. Wherefore it
well and plainly appeareth, and every wise man well seeth, that
it is the far surer way to believe in such wise as both the parties
agree to be out of peril, than that way which so far the
greater part and much farther the better part affirm to be

undoubted deadly sin. And now whereas every fool may see
that any wise man will take the surest way, which is, as ye see
double proved, to believe that there is purgatory, yet said the
wise proctor of beggars that wise men will say there is none.
For he saith that many great lettered men and right cunning men
will not let to put themselves in jeopardy of shame and of death also,
to show their minds that there is no purgatory. He is loath
to say that these be heretics, but he saith these be they that men
call heretics. Wherein he speaketh much like as if he would
point with his finger to a flock of fat wethers and say, "These be
such beasts as men call sheep."
But now would we fain see which be these wise men and well
lettered which shall not fail upon their own confession to
agree that their adversaries take the sure way and farthest
out of peril, and themselves the most dangerous and
furthest from all surety. But yet would we for the while fain hear
who they be. Surely none other but Luther and Tyndale and
this beggars' proctor and a few such of that sect, men of such
virtue, wisdom, and learning as their lewd writing and
much more their lewd living showeth.
But now are they far another manner sort, both in number,
wisdom, learning, truth, and good living, which affirm
and say the contrary. And surely if three or four hundred good and
honest men would faithfully come forth and tell one that some of his
friends were in a far country for debt kept in prison, and that his
charity might relieve them thence; if then three or four fond
fellows would come and say the contrary, and tell him plain there
is no such prison at all as he is borne in hand that his friends are
imprisoned in; if he would now be so light to believe those three
or four naughty persons against those three or four hundred good and
honest men, he then should well decipher himself and well
declare thereby that he would gladly catch hold of some small handle
to keep his money fast, rather than help his friends in
their necessity.
Now if ye consider how late this lewd sect began which
among Christian men barketh against purgatory, and how few

always for very shame of their folly hath hitherto fallen into
them; and then if ye consider on the other side how full and
whole the great corps of all Christian countries, so many hundred
years, have ever told you the contrary: ye shall, we be very sure,
for every person speaking against purgatory find for the
other part more than many a hundred.
Now if these men will peradventure say that they care not for
such comparison, neither of time with time, number with
number, nor company with company, but since some one man is
in credence worth some seven score, if they will therefore call us to
some other reckoning and will that we compare of the best choice on
both sides a certain, and match them man for man; then have we
(if we might for shame match such blessed saints with a sort
so far unlike) Saint Augustine against frere Luther, Saint
Jerome against frere Lambert, Saint Ambrose against frere
Huessgen, Saint Gregory against priest Pomerane, Saint
Chrysostom against Tyndale, Saint Basil against the beggars'
Now if our enemies will for lack of other choice help forth
their own part with their wives, then have they some
advantage indeed, for the other holy saints had none. But yet
shall we not lack blessed holy women against these freres' wives.
For we shall have Saint Anastasia against frere Luther's wife,
Saint Hildegarde against frere Huessgen's wife, Saint Bridget
against frere Lambert's wife, and Saint Catherine of Siena
against priest Pomerane's wife. Now if they will have in these
matches the qualities of either side considered, then have we
wisdom against folly, cunning against ignorance, charity
against malice, true faith against heresies, humility against
arrogance, revelations against illusions, inspiration of God
against inventions of the devil, constance against wavering,
abstinence against gluttony, continence against lechery, and
finally every kind of virtue against every kind of vice. And
over this, whereas we be not yet very sure whether that all these
naughty persons whom we have rehearsed you of the worse side
be fully fallen so mad as utterly to deny purgatory, saving in that

we see them in many things all of one sect, yet if there were of
them far many such more, they shall not yet find of that simple
suit half so many as for our part remaineth holy blessed
saints to match them. For likewise as many their holy
works, eruditely written and by the help of the Holy Ghost indited,
evidently declare that not only Saint Augustine, Saint
Jerome, Saint Ambrose, and that holy pope Saint Gregory, with
Saint Chrysostom and Saint Basil fore-remembered, and those
holy women also that we have spoken of, but over that the great
solemn doctor Origen, all the three great doctors and holy
saints of one name in Greece -- Gregory Nazianzenus,
Gregory Nissenus, Gregory Emissenus -- Saint Cyril,
Saint Damascene, the famous doctor and holy martyr Saint
Cyprian, Saint Hilary, Saint Bede, and Saint Thomas, and
finally all such as are of the suit and sort either Greeks or Latins,
have ever taught and testified and exhorted the people to pray for
all Christian souls and preached for purgatory: so doth there no man
doubt but that all good and devout Christian people from Christ's days
hitherto hath firm and fast been of the same belief, and with
their daily prayers and almsdeed done for us have done us
great relief. So that, as we said, both for number of many folk
and goodness of chosen folk, our enemies are far under us.
And yet have we for the vantage, as we have before declared
you, the fear of Ezechias, the book of the Kings, the words of
the prophet Zachary, the faith of Macchabeus, the authority of
Saint John, the words of Saint Peter, the sentence of Saint
Paul, the testimony of Saint Matthew, and the plain sentence
of our Savior Christ.
Now if these heretics be so stiff and stubborn that rather
than they will confess themselves concluded, they will hold
on their old ways and fall from worse to worse, and like as
they have already against their former promise first rejected
reason and after, law, and then all the doctors and old holy
fathers of Christ's church, and finally the whole church itself;
so if they will at length, as we greatly fear they will, reject all
scripture and cast off Christ and all; now, as we say, if they so do, yet

have we left at the worst way Luther against Luther, Huessgen
against Huessgen, Tyndale against Tyndale, and finally every
heretic against himself. And then when these folk sit in
Almaine upon their bare bench in judgment on us and our matters,
we may -- as the knight of King Alexander appealed from
Alexander to Alexander, from Alexander the drunk to Alexander
the sober -- so shall we appeal from Luther to Luther, from
Luther the drunken to Luther the sober, from Luther the heretic
to Luther the Catholic, and likewise in all the remnant.
For this doth no man doubt but that every one of them all,
before they fell drunk of the dregs of old poisoned heresies
in which they fell a quaffing with the devil, they did full sadly
and soberly pray for all Christian souls. But since that they be
fallen drunk in wretched and sinful heresies, they neither care
for other men's souls nor for their own neither. And on the
other side, if ever they work with grace to purge themselves of
those poisoned heresies wherewith they be now so drunk, they
will then give sentence on our side as they did before. It were
not evil that we showed you somewhat, for example, whereby ye
may see that soberness they were in before, and in what drunkenness
the devil's draught hath brought them. And in whom
should we show it better than in Luther himself, arch-heretic
and father abbot of all that drunken fellowship? First,
this man was so fast of our side while he was well and sober, that
yet when he began to be well washed, he could not find in his
heart utterly to fall from us. But when his head first began to daze
of that evil drink, he wrote that purgatory could not be
proved by scripture. And yet, that notwithstanding, he wrote in
this wise therewith: "I am very sure that there is purgatory, and it
little moveth me what heretics babble. Should I believe a heretic
born of late scant fifty years ago and say the faith were
false that hath been held so many hundred year?" Lo, here
this man spoke well upon our side. But yet said he therewith
one thing or twain that could not stand therewith, and thereby
may ye see that he began to reel. For he both affirmed that

purgatory could not be proved by scripture, and affirmed further
that nothing could be taken for a sure and certain truth but
if it appeared by clear and evident scripture. Which two
things presupposed, how could any man be sure of purgatory?
But the help is that both those points be false. For both is
purgatory proved by scripture, and the Catholic faith of
Christ's church were sufficient to make men sure thereof, albeit
there were not in all scripture one text for it, and divers that
seemed against it, as we have showed you before.
But here, as we say, ye see how shamefully he staggered and began
to reel; howbeit soon after being so dowsy drunk that he could
neither stand nor reel, but fell down sow-drunk in the mire;
then like one that nothing remembered what he had said nor
heard, not his own voice, he began to be himself that babbling
heretic against whom he had written before; and being not fully
fifty year old, began to gainsay the faith of almost fifteen hundred
year before his days in the church of Christ, besides fifteen hundred year
three times told among other faithful folk before. For now in
his drunken sermon that he wrote upon the Gospel of the rich
man and Lazarus, whereas he had in his other books before
framed of his own fantasy new fond fashions of purgatory
and told them forth for as plain matters as though he had been
here and seen them, now in this mad sermon of his he saith
plainly that there is none at all, but that all souls lie still and
sleep, and so sleep shall until the Day of Doom. O sow-drunken
soul drowned in such an insensible sleep that he lieth and
routeth while the apostles, the evangelists, all the doctors
of Christ's church, all the whole Christian people, and among
them Christ himself, stand and cry at his ear that we silly
Christian souls lie and burn in purgatory, and he cannot hear, but
lieth still in the mire and snorteth and there dreameth that we
lie still and sleep as he doth.

And thus where the beggars' proctor writeth that wise men
say there is no purgatory, ye see now yourself how wise is he
whom they take for the wisest of all that sort, as him
that is now the very wellspring and arch-heretic of all their
sect. Of all which wise men we leave it to your wisdom to
consider whether ye find any whom your wisdoms would in
wisdom compare with any of those old holy doctors and
saints whom we have rehearsed you before. But this man, we
wot well, for another of these wise men meaneth William
Tyndale. Whose wisdom well appeareth in that matter by that he
layeth against it nothing but scoffing, wherein he saith that the
pope may be bold in purgatory because it is, he saith, a thing of
his own making; whereas we have proved you by scripture
that purgatory was perceived and taught and dead men's
souls prayed for so long ere ever any pope began.
But forasmuch as he saith that wise men will say there is no
purgatory -- among which wise men we doubt not but the wise
man accounteth himself (for he layeth for that part, as himself
weeneth, very wise and weighty reasons, the wisdom whereof we
have already proved you very plain frantic folly) -- we will
now finish the dispicions of all this debate and question
with the declaration of one or two points of his especial
wisdom, and with one of which himself wisely destroyeth
all his whole matter.
First, ye see well that albeit indeed he intendeth to go further
if his bill were once well sped, yet he pretendeth nothing in
visage but only the spoil, wedding, and beating of the
clergy, to whom he layeth not all only such faults as ye have
heard, and hath proved his purpose with such grounds as we
have proved false, but also layeth one great necessity to take all
from them, because they break the statute made of mortmain and
purchase more lands still against the provision thereof. And
then saith he that any land which once cometh in their hands
cometh never out again. For he saith that they have such laws
concerning their lands as they may neither give any nor sell.

For which cause, lest they should at length have all, he deviseth
to let them have nothing.
Now first, where he maketh as though there came yet, for all the
statute, daily much land in to them, and that there can none at all
come from them: neither is the one so much as he would make it
seem, and the other is very false. For truly there may come and
doth come land from them by escheat, as we be sure many of you
have had experience; and also, what laws soever they have of
their own that prohibit them to sell their lands, yet of this are
we very sure, that notwithstanding all the laws they have, they
may sell in such wise, if they will, all the land they have, that they
can never recover foot again. And besides all that, albeit there be
laws made by the church against such sales as shrewd husbands
would else boldly make of the lands of their monasteries,
yet is there not so precise provision made against all sales
of their lands but that they may be aliened for cause reasonable
approved by the advice and counsel of their chief head. And many
a man is there in the realm that hath lands given or sold out of
abbeys and out of bishoprics both, so that this part is a plain lie.
The other part is also neither very certain nor very much to
purpose. For truly though that in the city of London, to which
there is granted by authority of Parliament that men may
there devise their lands into mortmain by their testaments,
there is somewhat among given into the church, and
yet not all to them but the great part unto the companies and
fellowships of the crafts, in other places of the realm there is
nowadays no great thing given, but if it be sometimes some
small thing for the foundation of a chantry. For as for abbeys
or such other great foundations, there be not nowadays
many made, nor have been of good while, except somewhat
done in the universities. And yet, whoso consider those great
foundations that have this great while been made anywhere,
shall well perceive that the substance of them be not all founded
upon temporal lands new taken out of the temporal
hands into the church, but of such as the church had long before,

and now the same translated from one place unto another.
And over this shall he find that many an abbey, whose whole
living this man weeneth stood all by temporal lands given
them in their foundation, have the great part thereof in benefices
given in and impropriated unto them. So that if he consider
the substance of all the great foundations made this
great while and all that hath into any such these many days
been given, and then consider well therewith how cold the charity
of Christian people waxeth by the means of such devils' proctors
as under pretext of begging for the poor intend and
labor to quench the fervor of devotion to Godward in simple
and soon led souls, he shall not need to fear that all the
temporal land in the realm shall come into the spiritualty.
And yet if men went now so fast to give in still to the church
as they did before, while devotion was fervent in the people
and virtue plenteous in the church, yet might it be and in other
countries is provided for well enough, both that men's devotion
might be favored and yet not the church have all.
But this wise man, lest they should have all, would leave
them right naught. For his wisdom weeneth there were no
mean way between every whit and never a whit but nothing
at all. And surely where that he layeth so sore unto them the
new purchasing of more temporal lands, either bought or
given them, it appeareth well he would say sore to them if they
pulled the land from men by force, which now layeth so highly
to their charge because they take it when men give it them --
which thing we suppose himself, as holy as he is, would not
much refuse. Nor they be not much to be blamed if they
receive men's devotion, but if they bestow it not well. And
yet where he saith there can no statute hold them, but they
purchase still and break the statute, wherein he would seem
cunning because he had a little smattering in the law, it
were good, ere he be so bold to put his ignorance in writing,
that he should see the statute better. Which when he list to look

upon again and let some wiser man look with him, if he
consider well what remedy the statutes provide and for whom, he
shall find that the makers of the statute not so much feared the great
high point that pricketh him now -- lest the whole temporal
lands should come into the church -- as they did the loss of
their wards and their unlikelihood of escheats and some other
commodities that they lacked when their lands were aliened into
the church, and yet not into the church only, but also into any
mortmain. And for this they provided that if any more were
aliened into the church or into any manner of mortmain, the
king or any other lord mediate or immediate that might take
loss thereby might enter thereinto, to the intent that, ere ever the
purchase were made, they should be fain in such wise to sue to
every one of them for his license and good will that each of them
should be arbiter of his own hurt or loss and take his
amends at his own hand. And this statute is not made only
for the advantage of the temporal lords against the clergy,
but it is made indifferently against all mortmain: which is as
well temporal folk as spiritual, and for the benefit as well of
spiritual men as temporal. For as well shall a bishop or an
abbot have the advantage of that statute if his tenant alien
his lands into any mortmain, as shall an earl or a duke. And
now when the church pulleth not away the land from the owner
by force, but hath it of his devotion and his gift given of his
own offer unasked, and yet not without license of all such as the
statute limiteth: where is this great fault of theirs for which,
lest they should take more in the same manner, he would they should
lose all that they have already? What wisdom is this when he
layeth against them their deed wherein they break no law? And
yet since they cannot take it without the king and the lords,
his words, if they weighed aught, should run to the reproach and
blame of them whom he would fain flatter, without fault found
in them whom he so sore accuseth. But now the special high
point of his wisdom, for which we be driven to speak of this
matter, he specially declareth in this. Ye see well that he would that
the temporal men should take from the clergy not only all these

lands purchased since the statute of mortmain, but also all
that ever they had before too, and yet over this all the whole
living that ever they have by any manner means besides, because he
thinketh that they have too much by all together. And when he
hath given his advice thereto and said that they have too much,
then saith he, by and by, that if there were any purgatory indeed,
it were well done to give them yet more, and that they
have then a great deal too little. But now so is it that purgatory
there is indeed, nor no good Christian man is there but he will
and must believe and confess the same. Whereof it plainly
followeth that his own agreement, added unto the truth -- that is
to say that the church hath, as he saith, too little if there be a
purgatory -- added unto the truth that there is a purgatory and
that every true Christian man doth and must confess it: then hath,
lo, the wise man brought all his purpose so substantially to
pass that by his own plain agreement, added unto the
undoubtable truth, no man may do that he would have all men
do, spoil and pill the church, but he that will first plainly
profess himself a plain and undoubted heretic.
And therefore, since ye now see the wit of this wise man that
laboreth to bring us out of your remembrance, since ye see
the simple ground of his proud supplication, and ye perceive
the rancor and malice that his matter standeth on -- for
fulfilling whereof he would by his will bring all the world in
trouble -- and since ye see that he hateth the clergy for the faith
and us for the clergy, and in reproving purgatory privet
himself an infidel; since we have made it you clear that your
prayer may do us good and have showed it you so plainly
that a child may perceive it, not only by the common opinion
of all people and the fast infallible faith of all Christian
people from Christ's days until your own time, confirmed
by the doctrine of all holy doctors, declared by good reason,
and proved by the scripture of God, both apostles and evangelists
and our Savior Christ himself: we will encumber
you no further with disputing upon the matter, nor argue
the thing as doubtful that is undoubted and questionless.

But letting pass over such heretics as are our malicious
mortal enemies, praying God of his grace to give them
better mind, we shall turn us to you that are faithful folk
and our dear loving friends, beseeching your goodness of your
tender pity that we may be remembered with your charitable
alms and prayer. And in this part, albeit we stand in
such case that it better becometh us to beseech and pray
every man than to find any fault with any man, yet are we
somewhat constrained not to make any matter of quarrel or complaint
against any man's unkindness, but surely to mourn
and lament our own hard fortune and chance in the lack of
relief and comfort which we miss from our friends, not of
evil mind withdrawn us, or of unfaithfulness, but of negligence
forslothed and foded forth of forgetfulness. If ye that are
such (for ye be not all such) might look upon us and behold in
what heavy plight we lie, your sloth would soon be quickened and
your oblivion turn to fresh remembrance.
For if your father, your mother, your child, your
brother, your sister, your husband, your wife, or a very
stranger too, lay in your sight somewhere in fire and that
your means might help him, what heart were so hard, what
stomach were so stony that could sit in rest at supper or sleep
in rest abed and let a man lie and burn? We find therefore
full true that old said saw: out of sight, out of mind.
And yet surely, to say the truth, we cannot therein with reason
much complain upon you. For while we were with you there,
for wantonness of that wretched world we forgot in like wise our
good friends here. And therefore can we not marvel much
though the justice of God suffer us to be forgotten of you as others
have been before forgotten of us. But we beseech our Lord, for
both our sakes, to give you the grace to mend for your part that
common fault of us both, lest when ye come hither hereafter, God
of like justice suffer you to be forgotten of them that ye leave
there behind you, as ye forget us that are come hither before
you. But albeit we cannot well, as we say, for the like fault in ourselves

greatly rebuke or blame this negligence and forgetfulness
in you, yet would we for the better wish you that ye might,
without your pain, once at the leastwise behold, perceive,
and see what heaviness of heart and what a sorrowful shame the silly
soul hath at his first coming hither, to look his old friends
in the face here whom he remembereth himself to have so foul
forgotten while he lived there. When, albeit that in this place no
man can be angry, yet their piteous look and lamentable
countenance casteth his unkind forgetfulness into his mind,
wit ye well, dear friends, that among the manifold great and
grievous pains which he suffereth here -- whereof God send you
the grace to suffer either none or few -- the grudge and grief of
his conscience in the consideration of his unkind forgetfulness
is not of all them the least. Therefore, dear friends, let our
folly learn you wisdom. Send hither your prayer, send
hither your alms before you, so shall we find ease thereof,
and yet shall ye find it still. For as he that lighteth another the
candle hath never the less light himself, and he that bloweth the
fire for another to warm him doth warm himself also therewith,
so surely, good friends, the good that ye send hither before
you both greatly refresheth us and yet is wholly reserved here
for you, with our prayers added thereto for your further
Would God we could have done ourselves as we now counsel you.
And God give you the grace which many of us refused, to make
better provision while ye live than many of us have done. For
much have we left in our executors' hands, which would God we
had bestowed upon poor folk for our own souls and our
friends, with our own hands. Much have many of us bestowed
upon rich men in gold rings and black gowns, much in
many tapers and torches, much in worldly pomp and high solemn
ceremonies about our funerals, whereof the brittle
glory standeth us here, God wot, in very little stead, but hath on the
other side done us great displeasure. For albeit that the kind

solicitude and loving diligence of the quick used about the
burying of the dead is well allowed and approved before the
face of God, yet much superfluous charge used for boast and
ostentation -- namely, devised by the dead before his death -- is
of God greatly misliked, and most especially that kind and
fashion thereof wherein some of us have fallen, and many besides
us that now lie damned in hell. For some hath there of us, while
we were in health, not so much studied how we might die
penitent and in good Christian plight, as how we might be solemnly
borne out to burying, having gay and goodly funerals
with heralds at our hearses and offering up our helmets,
setting up our escutcheon and coat armors on the wall, though
there never came harness on our backs nor never ancestor
of ours ever bore arms before. Then devised we some doctor
to make a sermon at our Mass in our month's mind and
there preach to our praise with some fond fantasy devised of
our name; and after Mass much feasting, riotous and costly;
and finally, like mad men, made men merry at our death and
take our burying for a bride-ale. For special punishment
whereof, some of us have been by our evil angels brought
forth full heavily in full great despite to behold our own
burying, and so stood in great pain invisible among the
press, and made to look on our carrion corpse carried out with
great pomp, whereof our Lord knoweth we have taken heavy
Yet would ye peradventure ween that we were in one thing
well eased, in that we were for the time taken hence out of the
fire of our purgatory. But in this point if ye so think, ye be
far deceived. For likewise as good angels and saved souls
in heaven never lose nor lessen their joy by changing of
their places, but though there be any special place appointed
for heaven, furthest from the center of the whole world or wheresoever
it be, be it bodily or above all bodily space, the blessed
heavenly spirits, wheresoever they be come, be either still in
heaven or in their heavenly joy; nor Gabriel when he came down

to our Lady never forbore any part of his pleasure, but he had
it peradventure with some new degree increased by the comfort
of his joyful message, but diminished might it never be,
not and he had an errand into hell; right so fareth it, on the other
side, that neither damned wretches at any time nor we for
the space of our cleansing time, though we have for the generalty
our common place of pain appointed us here in purgatory,
yet if it please our Lord that at any season our guardians
convey some of us to be for some considerations any time elsewhere,
as some, percase, to appear to some friend of ours and show
him how we stand and by the sufferance of God's sovereign
goodness to tell him with what alms, prayer, pilgrimage,
or other good deed done for us he may help us hence, in
which thing the devil is loath to walk with us, but he may not
choose and can no further withstand us than God will give him
leave, but whithersoever he carry us, we carry our pain with us;
and like as the body that hath a hot fever as fervently burneth if
he ride on horseback as if he lay lapped in his bed, so carry we
still about no less heat with us than if we lay bound here.
And yet the despiteful sights that our evil angels bring
us to behold abroad so far augmenteth our torment, that we
would wish to be drowned in the darkness that is here rather
than see the sights that they show us there.
For among they convey us into our own houses, and there
double is our pain with sight sometimes of the selfsame
things which, while we lived, was half our heaven to behold.
There show they us our substance and our bags stuffed with
gold, which when we now see, we set much less by them
than would an old man that found a bag of cherry stones which he
laid up when he was a child. What a sorrow hath it been to some
of us when the devils have in despiteful mockage cast in our
teeth our old love borne to our money, and then showed us our
executors as busy rifling and ransacking our houses as though
they were men of war that had taken a town by force.
How heavily hath it, think you, gone unto our heart when

our evil angels have grinned and laughed and showed us
our late wives so soon waxen wanton, and forgetting us, their old
husbands that have loved them so tenderly and left them so
rich, sit and laugh and make merry, and more too sometimes,
with their new wooers, while our keepers in despite keep us
there in pain to stand still and look on. Many times would we
then speak, if we could be suffered, and sore we long to say to her,
"Ah, wife, wife, iwis this was not covenable, wife, when ye
wept and told me that if I left you to live by, ye would never
wed again." We see there our children too, whom we loved so
well, pipe, sing, and dance, and no more think on their
fathers' souls than on their old shoes, saving that sometimes
cometh out, "God have mercy on all Christian souls!" But it cometh
out so coldly and with so dull affection, that it lieth but
in the lips and never came near the heart. Yet hear we sometimes
our wives pray for us more warmly. For in chiding with
her second husband, to spite him withal, "God have mercy,"
saith she, "on my first husband's soul, for he was, iwis, an
honest man, far unlike you." And then marvel we much when
we hear them say so well by us. For they were ever wont to
tell us otherwise.
But when we find in this wise our wives or children and
friends so soon and so clearly forget us, and see our executors
rap and rend unto themselves -- catch every man what he can,
and hold fast that he catcheth, and care nothing for us: Lord
God, what it grieveth us that we left so much behind us and had
not sent hither more of our substance before us by our own
hands! For happy find we him among us that sendeth before
all that may be forborne. And he that is so loath to part with aught,
that hoardeth up his goods and had as lief die almost as to break
his heap, and then at last when there is none other remedy but
that he must needs leave it, repenteth himself suddenly and
lacketh time to dispose it, and therefore biddeth his friends to
bestow it well for him, our Lord is yet so merciful that of his
goodness he accepted the good deeds that his executors do in performing

his device. And since that late is better than never, our
Lord somewhat alloweth the man's mind, by which he would
his goods that he hath immoderately gathered and greedily
kept together as long as he might, were yet at the leastwise
well bestowed at last when he must needs go from them. Which
mind yet more pleaseth God than that a man cared not what
were done with them. And therefore, as we say, the goodness of God
somewhat doth accept it. But yet, surely, since we might and
ought to have done it ourselves, and of a filthy affection toward
our goods could not find in our heart to part from any part
of them, if our executors now deceive us and do no more for us
than we did for ourselves, our Lord did us no wrong though he
never gave us thanks of all our whole testament, but imputed the
frustration and not performing of our last will unto our
own fault, since the delay of our good deeds driven off to our
death grew but of our own sloth and fleshly love to the
worldward, with faintness of devotion to Godward and of
little respect and regard unto our own soul. And over this, if
our executors do these good things in deed that we do thus at
last devise in our testament, yet our default driving all to
our death as we told you before, though God, as we said, of his
high goodness leaveth not all unrewarded, yet this warning will
we give you, that ye deceive not yourself: we that have so
died have thus found it that the goods disposed after us
get our executors great thanks and be toward usward accounted
before God much less than half our own, nor our
thanks nothing like to that it would have been if we had in our
health given half as much for God's sake with our own hands.
Of which we give you this friendly warning, not for that we
would discourage you to dispose well your goods when ye die,
but for that we would advise you to dispose them better while ye
And among all your alms, somewhat remember us; our
wives there, remember here your husbands. Our children

there, remember here your parents. Our parents there, remember
here your children. Our husbands there, remember
here your wives. Ah, sweet husbands, while we lived there in
that wretched world with you, while ye were glad to please us, ye
bestowed much upon us and put yourself to great cost and did
us great harm therewith. With gay gowns and gay kirtles and
much waste in apparel, rings, ouches, with partlets and
pastes garnished with pearl, with which proud picking up
both ye took hurt and we too, many more ways than one, though we
told you not so then. But two things were there special, of
which yourself felt then the one, and we feel now the other.
For ye had us the higher-hearted and the more stubborn to you,
and God had us in less favor, and that, alack, we feel. For now
that gay gear burneth upon our backs, and those proud, pearled
pastes hang hot about our cheeks, those partlets and
those ouches hang heavy about our necks and cleave fast, fire-hot,
that woe be we there and wish that while we lived ye
never had followed our fantasies, nor never had so cockered us
nor made us so wanton, nor had given us other ouches than
onions or great garlic heads, nor other pearls for our partlets
and our pastes than fair orient peas. But now, forasmuch as
that is past and cannot be called again, we beseech you, since ye
gave them us, let us have them still; let them hurt none other
woman, but help to do us good; sell them for our sakes to set in
saints' copes, and send the money hither by mass-pennies and by
poor men that may pray for our souls.
Our fathers also, who while we lived fostered us up so tenderly
and could not have endured to see us suffer pain, now open
your hearts and fatherly affection and help us at the leastwise with
a poor man's alms. Ye would not, when we were with you, have
letted to lay out much money for a great marriage. Which if ye
meant for our sakes and not for your own worldly worship, give us
now some part thereof and relieve us here with much less cost than
one marriage, and more pleasure than fifteen, though every one were
a prince or a princess of a realm.

Finally, all our other friends and every good Christian man and
woman, open your hearts and have some pity upon us. If ye believe
not that we need your help, alas the lack of faith! If ye believe our
need and care not for us, alas the lack of pity! For whoso pitieth
not us, whom can he pity? If ye pity the poor, there is none so
poor as we, that have not a brat to put on our backs. If ye pity
the blind, there is none so blind as we, which are here in the
dark, saving for sights unpleasant and loathsome, till some comfort
come. If ye pity the lame, there is none so lame as we, that
neither can creep one foot out of the fire nor have one hand at
liberty to defend our face from the flame. Finally, if ye pity
any man in pain, never knew ye pain comparable to ours,
whose fire as far passeth in heat all the fires that ever burned
upon earth, as the hottest of all those passeth a feigned fire
painted on a wall. If ever ye lay sick and thought the night long,
and longed sore for day while every hour seemed longer than
five, bethink you then what a long night we silly souls endure,
that lie sleepless, restless, burning and broiling in the dark
fire one long night of many days, of many weeks, and some of
many years together. You walter, peradventure, and tolter in
sickness from side to side and find little rest in any part of the bed;
we lie bound to the brands and cannot lift up our heads.
You have your physicians with you that sometimes cure and heal
you; no physic will help our pain, nor no plaster cool our heat.
Your keepers do you great ease and put you in good comfort; our
keepers are such as God keep you from, cruel damned spirits,
odious, envious, and hateful, dispiteous enemies and
despiteful tormenters, and their company more horrible
and grievous to us than is the pain itself and the intolerable
torment that they do us, wherewith from top to toe they cease not
continually to tear us.
But now if our other enemies, these heretics, almost as cruel as
they, procuring to their power that we should be long left in the
devil's hands, will as their usage is to rail instead of reasoning,

make a game and a jest now of our heavy pain, and peradventure
laugh at our lamentation because we speak of our
heads, our hands, our feet, and such other gross
bodily members as lie buried in our graves, and of our garments
that we did wear which come not hither with us: we beseech
you, for our dear Lady's love, to let their folly go by and to
consider in your own wisdom that it were impossible to make
any mortal man living perceive what manner pain and in what
manner wise we bodiless souls do suffer and sustain; or to
make any man upon earth perfectly to conceive in his imagination
and fantasy what manner of substance we be, much
more impossible than to make a born-blind man to perceive in
his mind the nature and difference of colors. And therefore,
except we should of our painful state tell you nothing at all (and
there would they have it) we must of necessity use you such
words as yourself understand, and use you the similitudes of
such things as yourself is in ure with. For since neither God,
angel, nor soul is in such wise blind, dumb, deaf, or lame,
as be those men that for lack of eyes, legs, hands, tongue, or
ear be weak and impotent in the powers that proceed from them, but
have in themselves a far more excellent sight, hearing, deliverness,
and speech, by means incogitable to man, than any
man can have living there on the earth: therefore doth holy scripture
in speaking of such things use to represent them to the
people by the names of such powers, instruments, and members
as men in such things use and occupy themselves.
Which manner of speaking in such case, whosoever have in
derision, declareth very well how little faith he hath in Christ's
own words, in which our Savior himself speaking of the
souls of the rich glutton and poor needy Lazarus, and of the
patriarch Abraham, also speaketh in like manner as we do, of finger
and tongue too, whereof they had neither nother there. And therefore
whoso maketh a mock at our words in this point, ye may
soon see what credence ye should give him; wherein we be content

ye give him even as much as ye see yourself that he giveth to
God, for more ye ought not and surely less ye cannot. For he
giveth God not a whit, but taketh in his heart that story told by
God for a very fantastic fable.
And therefore, as we say, passing over such jesting and railing
of those uncharitable heretics, mortal enemies unto us and to
themselves both, consider you our pains and pity them in your
hearts, and help us with your prayers, pilgrimages, and
other almsdeeds; and of allthing in especial, procure us the
suffrages and blessed oblation of the holy Mass, whereof no
man living so well can tell the fruit as we that here feel it.
The comfort that we have here, except our continual hope in
our Lord God, cometh at seasons from our Lady, with such
glorious saints as either ourselves with our own devotion
while we lived, or ye with yours for us since our decease and
departing, have made intercessors for us. And among other,
right especially be we beholden to the blessed spirits, our own
proper good angels. Whom when we behold coming with
comfort to us, albeit that we take great pleasure and greatly
rejoice therein, yet is it not without much confusion and shamefastness
to consider how little we regarded our good angels and
how seldom we thought upon them while we lived. They carry
up our prayers to God and good saints for us, and they bring down
from them the comfort and consolation to us. With which when
they come and comfort us, only God and we know what joy it is to
our hearts and how heartily we pray for you. And therefore if God
accept the prayer after his own favor borne toward him that
prayeth and the affection that he prayeth with, our prayer must
needs be profitable, for we stand sure of his grace. And our
prayer is for you so fervent, that ye can nowhere find any
such affection upon earth. And therefore, since we lie so sore in
pains and have in our great necessity so great need of your help, and
that ye may so well do it, whereby shall also rebound upon yourself
an inestimable profit, let never any slothful oblivion

raze us out of your remembrance, or malicious enemy of ours
cause you to be careless of us, or any greedy mind upon your
goods withdraw your gracious alms from us. Think how soon
ye shall come hither to us; think what great grief and rebuke
would then your unkindness be to you; what comfort, on the contrary
part, when all we shall thank you; what help ye shall have
here of your goods sent hither. Remember what kin ye and we be
together; what familiar friendship hath ere this been between us;
what sweet words ye have spoken and what promise you have
made us. Let now your words appear and your fair promise be
kept. Now, dear friends, remember how nature and Christendom
bindeth you to remember us. If any point of your old favor,
any piece of your old love, any kindness of kindred, any care of
acquaintance, any favor of old friendship, any spark of charity,
any tender point of pity, any regard of nature, any
respect of Christendom be left in your breasts, let never the
malice of a few fond fellows, a few pestilent persons borne toward
priesthood, religion, and your Christian faith, raze out
of your hearts the care of your kindred, all force of your old
friends, and all remembrance of all Christian souls. Remember
our thirst while ye sit and drink; our hunger while ye be feasting;
our restless watch while ye be sleeping; our sore and grievous
pain while ye be playing; our hot burning fire while ye be in
pleasure and sporting: so mote God make your offspring after
remember you; so God keep you hence, or not long here, but
bring you shortly to that bliss to which, for our Lord's love,
help you to bring us, and we shall set hand to help you thither
to us.
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