Everyman and its Dutch Original, Elckerlijc
EVERYMAN: EXPLANATORY NOTES
Abbreviations: Cawley: Everyman, ed. Cawley (rpt. 1977); Dent: Dent, Proverbial Language in English Drama exclusive of Shakespeare, 1495-1616; Tilley: Tilley, Dictionary of the Proverbs in England; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences and Proverbial Phrases from English Writings.
1-21 The Messenger's speech is not present in the extant text of Elckerlijc, and may be the work of the translator.
6 How transytory we be all daye. Messenger calls attention to the transitory nature of human life. As Cooper and Wortham note in their edition of Everyman (p. 2), this motif appears in the Dance of Death tradition, which is invoked in the title-page woodcut used for the editions of the play printed by John Skot. See Introduction, pp. 6–7.
8 more gracyous. More filled with grace (i.e., God’s saving grace).
10-11 in the begynnynge . . . endynge. Proverbial; see Dent, F386. Compare Worlde and the Chylde, ed. Davidson and Happé, lines 484–85, and Tilley, E128; Whiting, E84. Cawley further suggests a source in Ecclesiasticus 7:36.
16-17 Jolyté . . . Pleasure. A mistake. These two allegorical characters do not appear in the play.
18 vade from thee as floure in Maye. Proverbial. As Death explains in the Lansdowne MS version of Lydgate’s Dance of Death, life “may be likned in all thyng / Unto a Flour . . . / Which with a Froste bigynneth riht sone to fade” (lines 236–38).
20 rekenynge. See Introduction, p. 8n42.
23 unkynde. Not only unappreciative or even blasphemous in speech and act, but also unnatural. An actor playing the role of God would have been positioned at a higher level representing Heaven, as demonstrably is the case in some of the mystery plays. The figure of God is necessarily Christ, who suffered for humankind, as lines 29–33 demonstrate. The iconographic tradition would suggest that he should show his wounds at the appropriate points in his speech.
29 My lawe. Replacing the Old Law of the Old Testament, this is the law of mercy and the offer of salvation made available by Christ’s act of suffering and sacrificial death on the Cross, when he was crowned with thorns and hung between two thieves.
33 I heled theyr fete. A reference to the washing of the disciples’ feet (John 13:4–12).
36-37 Seven Deedly Synnes . . . / As Pryde, Covetyse, Wrathe, and Lechery. Gluttony, Sloth, and Envy are omitted. Cawley notes (p. 29) that these “are sufficient to represent the World, the Flesh, and the Devil,” which were known as the Three Enemies of Man. Elckerlijc likewise presents an incomplete list, including only Pride, Avarice, and Envy — sins that may be regarded as most appropriately mentioned in the context of the Dutch mercantile culture.
41 theyr. There is a shift here to plural, indicating that Everyman means “every man” or, in preferred modern terms, “every person,” all humans.
50 one wolde by envy another up ete. For a comparison with King Lear 4.2.46–50, see Salter, “Lear and the Morality Tradition”; Cawley suggests the influence of Galatians 5:15: “But if you bite and devour one another; take heed you be not consumed one of another.”
51 Charytye. See Introduction, p. 8.
53 mansyon. John 14:2 promises that Heaven will contain “many mansions.”
54 electe. Chosen by God’s divine will, but here not implying predestination since good works are required for salvation. See Ryan, “Doctrine and Dramatic Structure,” pp. 723–25.
57 theyr beynge that I them have lente. Humans are not autonomous creatures, but owe their being to God. Kolve, “Everyman and the Parable of the Talents,” convincingly suggests that a major influence on the play is the parable of the talents, in which the servants are required to make a reckoning to their master upon his return from a distant land (Matthew 25:14–30).
63 messengere. Death is God’s agent who brings news of one’s inevitable end, an end common to all men and women, as in the Dance of Death tradition. At line 330, the protagonist calls Death the “hye Kinges chefe offycere.” Owst, Literature and Pulpit, p. 532, calls attention to a comment in a sermon collection (Cambridge, Caius College MS 334) by John Waldeby of the Augustinian friary at York concerning the point in life “when Death, who is God’s Bailiff, shall come to arrest” a man or woman. For another instance in drama in which Death is “Goddys masangere,” see the death of Herod sequence in the N-Town plays (20.168–284), but in that case Death’s role is different since he is an avenger to execute justice on a wicked monarch.
68 pylgrymage. The notion of life as a pilgrimage culminating in death was a commonplace and needs to be seen in the context of pilgrimage practice of the time, when one had to leave one’s comfortable life and possessions behind as one set out from the city gates (in the case of guild members, accompanied only that far by one’s fellow guildsmen) to travel, often walking, to holy sites of worship and veneration, many of them at great distances away. Scholars sometimes speak of pilgrims’ experiences as liminal or liminoid (see Turner, “Liminal to Liminoid”), a term applicable to Everyman in this play.
76 stryke with my darte. Death’s dart or spear is a commonplace of iconography, as in the deathbed scene in the famous Corporal Acts of Mercy window at All Saints, North Street, York. Death’s weaponry is surveyed by Oosterwijk (“Lessons in ‘Hopping’”), who cites the brass of John Rudyng at Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, which not only shows Death armed with several spears but also includes his description of himself, which she translates as follows: “I carry grim weapons, I harrass the world hard with the bite of violent death” (ibid., pp. 262–63, figs. 4–5). Though Death gives no warning, he may carry a bell that does. In MS Douce 322, fol. 19v, Death holds both a spear and a bell, the latter ringing out “dethe, deye, deye” all across the image (Pächt and Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts, no. 1097, pl. 102). As noted in the Introduction to the present edition, the title page of the Vorsterman text of Elckerlijc shows Death striking the protagonist with a spear. In Everyman, lines 178–79, Death threatens to “smyte” without warning and “to the harte.” A short lyric in a fourteenth-century commonplace book (National Library of Scotland, Advocates’ MS 18.7.21, fol. 87) concludes: “Deth is an Hardy Huntere” (Wilson, Descriptive Index, p. 23). See also Introduction, above, pp. 6–7.
78 almes dedes. Good works, essential for salvation.
81 Full lytell he thynketh on my cummynge. Death is also utterly unexpected in the Dance of Death by Lydgate. It is proverbial that death is certain, the time of death uncertain. A Latin form of this proverb is included in John of Grimestone’s commonplace book (fol. 87v); quoted by Wilson, Descriptive Index, p. 25. See also Tilley, Elizabethan Proverb Lore, p. 82.
95 in the hevenly spere. Since Elckerlijc has “in sijn rijck” (“in his kingdom”), this is a sign that the translator thought more specifically of an actor playing God stationed at a higher level that represents the region in medieval cosmology which is identified as the sphere encircling all the lower spheres of the moon, the sun, the planets, and the stars.
113 gyve. The original reading was apparently “gyve now,” to rhyme with “thou” (Kölbing, “Kleine Beiträge zur Erklärung,” as cited by Cawley, p. 31).
114 I knowe thee not. In their edition Cooper and Wortham compare Everyman’s failure to recognize Death with the Dance of Death “whereby Death is not recognized by the other participants of the dance until he singles them out” (p. 14).
116 rest. Compare Hamlet 5.2.336–37: “As this fell sergeant, Death, / Is strict in his arrest.”
126 pope, emperoure, kynge, duke, ne prynces. The order is reminiscent of the “descending order of importance” of the characters in the Dance of Death (Cawley, p. 31).
127 and I wolde receyve geftes. It is proverbial that Death takes no bribes. Tilley, D149; Dent, D149.
132 Deth geveth no warnynge. Proverbial. See explanatory note to line 81, above.
142 prove thy frendes yf thou can. In the tradition of friendship going back to antiquity, testing of one’s friends was considered to be “the first law of friendship” (Conley, “Doctrine of Friendship in Everyman,” p. 375). In the form of the story recorded in the Gesta Romanorum, the young man, a knight, sets out first to find and then to test friends at the behest of his father, a Roman emperor (Early English Versions of the Gesta Romanorum, ed. Herrtage, pp. 127–31). Everyman keeps to the motif of testing more clearly than Elckerlijc.
143 the tyde abydeth no man. Proverbial; see Whiting, T318; Dent, T323.
145 For Adams synne must dye of nature. See Genesis 3:19. In line 585, below, Adam is said to have “forfeyted” life “by his dysobedyens”; hence all humans, who inherit Adam’s lapsarian state, require redemption from their natural condition.
148 saynt charyté. Holy charity. Not a saint, but the invocation of charitable acts, by which salvation is made possible for the individual Christian. See Introduction, p. 8.
149 Sholde I not come agayne shortly? To this question, Death (in lines 150–52) will affirm the finality of dying and thus will deny metempsychosis or the return of the soul to earthly life within another body.
153 in hye sete celestyall. Another sign that God is imagined by the writer to be positioned on high, in this case on a throne, as in the Towneley Creation pageant where such a seat is indicated.
155 vale terestyall. As God exists on a (heavenly) height (see line 153), so also humans dwell in an earthly valley.
164 it was but lend thee. Referring to both life and possessions, mentioned in lines 161–62. Because of death, ownership can only be temporary. In the lines which follow, Death will continue to explain how property will be passed on to others, who in turn will also eventually need to surrender it. Absolute control of one’s life and possessions is an illusion. For an example in an earlier morality play, see Castle of Perseverance, lines 2969–3007, and Fletcher, “Coveytyse Copbord.” Anderson, Drama and Imagery, p. 77, calls attention to a misericord in a Dance of Death series at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, in which the rich man, situated among his chests of treasure and other signs of wealth, is approached by Death. There was a shift to concern about covetousness that corresponded with the increased wealth of the late Middle Ages; see Little, “Pride Goes before Avarice.”
168 wyttes fyve. Here the reference is merely to the five senses and not to the personification, Five Wits, who will later appear in the play at line 669.
171 whether shall I flee. Compare Vulgate Psalm 138:7.
178 to the harte sodenly I shall smyte. The Dutch had specified “int crijt” (“in the ring”), which would refer to a duel or tournament; in either case, a circle or other marked-out space for a competition.
182-83 “This is the day . . . awaye.” Proverbial. The day of death, but the words also may echo the opening words (in Latin) of the gradual for Easter: “Haec dies.” It is a time of terror for Everyman, but it is also, even for one who has been neglectful of his spiritual life, a time that ultimately will translate into hope and then joy, which have been made possible by the Resurrection of Christ.
199 affyaunce. As Cooper and Wortham note in their edition, this word’s meaning also extends to a legal sense, “solemn promise or sworn agreement” (p. 18).
215 well spoken and lovyngly. Corresponding to “Ghi segt wel, boven screve” (“You speak well, certainly”) in Elckerlijc, a line omitted in van Elslander, and numbered 205 — with the next line numbered 205a — in our edition to maintain consistent line numbering for convenient reference to his edition. This line occurs not only in the Vorsterman edition but also in the Govaert Bac edition of c. 1501 and Brussels, Bibliothèque royale MS. IV–592. It is lacking only in the Snellaert edition of 1496.
217 I have pytye . . . destresse. The corresponding line in Dutch literally reads “you are so full of sadness, one could cut it out of you.”
218 ye shall revenged be. Fellowship is prone to wrath, of which being quick to revenge is a characteristic. However, as demonstrated subsequently, he is bluffing and hence proves himself to be both a braggart and a coward. See also lines 281–82.
222 set not a straw. Proverbial; see Whiting, S813; Dent, S917.
229 a good frende at nede. An echo of the proverb “A friend in need is a friend indeed”; see Tilley, F693; Whiting, F634.
245 Adonay. God (Hebrew), as a judge.
248 Promyse is dutye. Proverbial; compare Dent, P603; and Tilley, P603: “Promise is debt.”
265 by God that all hath bought. Through his atonement, Christ “bought” those who will be saved from Satan, whose rights to these souls were thus abrogated.
267 For no man . . . lyvynge. The literal translation of the corresponding line in the Dutch text is “for all creatures that God allows to live.”
272-273 ete and drynke . . . haunte to women. Implying Gluttony and Lechery, two of the Seven Deadly Sins that were associated with Fellowship. In the speech of God at the beginning of the play, Gluttony was not mentioned; see note to lines 36–37, above.
288 By Saynt Johnn. An appropriate oath, since St. John the Baptist has associations with the revelry of Midsummer, which occurred on the vigil of this saint’s nativity (St. John’s Eve, June 23).
292 gyve me a new gowne. Lester, citing the Paston Letters, notes that “payments were sometimes made in this way, and an old gown was sometimes given as a gratuity” (Everyman, ed. Lester, p. 75). But a new gown would be an expensive gift. The reference to a gown is absent in Elckerlijc.
302 partynge is mournynge. Proverbial; see Tilley, P82. Cawley cites Romeo and Juliet 2.2.184: “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”
309-10 “In prosperyté . . . unkynde.” Proverbial. Compare Ecclesiasticus 6:10: “And there is a friend, a companion at the table, and he will not abide in the day of distress.” See also Whiting, F659; Dent, T301.
316 For kynde wyll crepe where it may not go. Proverbial; Whiting, K34; Dent, K49. Kinship relations may be called on covertly if not openly. Cawley notes the Towneley Secunda Pastorum: “I trow kynde will crepe / Where it may not go” (Towneley Plays, ed. Stevens and Cawley, 13.853–54). Elckerlijc has the Dutch proverb corresponding to the modern “Blood is thicker than water.”
318 frendes and kynnesmen. The Dutch has “Maghe,” kin on his mother’s side, and “Neve,” kin on his father’s side; these have been identified in our translation of Elckerlijc for convenience as Kinsman and Cousin.
334 great enemy that hath me in wayte. The Devil, whose purpose is to capture Everyman’s soul at the moment of death. The iconography occurs in treatises on dying in which a devil waits in proximity to the deathbed. The wicked will be snatched away by him, while those who merit salvation will be saved from his clutches by their guardian angels.
346 I had lever fast breed and water. Probably proverbial; see Dent, B611.11.
348 Alas that ever I was borne. A sign of despair that is warned against in the ars moriendi texts, of which The Art and Crafte to Knowe Well to Dye (1490) was the first English edition. For a convenient summary, see Beaty, Craft of Dying, pp. 12–13. The phrasing here is proverbial; see Dent, B140.1.
353 by Saynt Anne. St. Anne, the Virgin Mary’s mother, was a popular saint, suitable here for Kindred’s oath, though her name also provides a convenient rhyme.
379 fayre wordes maketh fooles fayne. Proverbial; see Dent, W794. Cawley (p. 33) cites Early English Miscellanies, ed. Halliwell: “Fayre promese ofte maketh foollis fayne.”
411 to clene and puryfye. Theologically this would only be possible through the action of baptism, penance, and absolution, which are activated through God’s sanctifying grace. See line 536, below, in which Everyman is urged by Knowledge to go to Confession, who is described as a “clensynge ryvere” — and in line 545 also as a “gloryous fountayne that all unclennes doth clarify.”
413 “money maketh all ryght that is wronge.” Proverbial; see Whiting, M630; Dent, M1072. A verse in John of Grimestone’s commonplace book begins “Pecunia maket wrong riht” (fol. 14; quoted by Owst, Literature and Pulpit, p. 317).
414 I synge another songe. Proverbial; see Whiting S478 and Dent, S637.
419 Thy rekenynge I have made blotted and blynde. A sign of Goods’ envy (one of the Seven Deadly Sins), which would lead Everyman to his damnation, as Cooper and Wortham note in their edition (p. 28). Everyman, in turn, is here identified with Covetousness, another of the Deadly Sins (cited in line 37, above), for his love of Goods.
423 ferefull answere. The answer (giving an accounting) that Everyman must give to God at the Last Judgment.
431 yf thou had me loved moderately. If you had valued riches as a means rather than an end.
437 wenest thou that I am thyne? See explanatory note on line 164, above.
458 I gave thee that whiche shulde be the Lordes above. Inordinate love of Goods is idolatry. Cawley, p. 33, further cites Chaucer’s Parson’s Tale: “Soothly, whan man loveth any creature moore than Jhesu Crist oure Creatour, thanne is it deedly synne” (CT X[I]357). See St. Augustine, On Christian Doctrine 3.10.16 for an authoritative definition of the proposition.
481 Good Dede. The Dutch text specifies “Duecht.” This term appears in our translation as Virtue but implies very much the same thing as Good Deeds.
486 colde in the grounde. Not lying ill in bed, paralyzed, as in Elckerlijc; see note to line 487, below, for the more theologically astute reference in Everyman to being in bondage, with the physical depiction symbolizing spiritual condition.
487 synnes have me so sore bounde. Good Deeds’ fetters represent the bonds of sin from which release is possible, according to Catholic theology, only through loosing by means of the power of the keys granted to St. Peter and thereafter to the Church; see Matthew 16:19. The crisis for Everyman is that he cannot achieve Salvation unless he is loosed from the weight of his sins and his Good Deeds released from her bondage to assist him to his salvation, for without her he is lost. See lines 509–10 below, in which Everyman begs Good Deeds’ help, “Or els I am forever damned indede.” Good deeds are also proclaimed as a requirement for salvation in Elckerlijc.
494 of Jerusalem Kynge. The heavenly Jerusalem, of which Christ is King.
501 Yf ye had perfytely chered me. Conley, “‘If ye had parfytely chered me,’” notes a range of meanings for cheren and argues that Everyman should have extended to Good Deeds, now in the position of a person needing charity, those acts of kindness which would have included welcoming her into his house, giving her to drink and eat, and allowing her to warm herself at his fire — that is, three of the acts specified in Matthew 25 which later were codified as Corporal Acts of Mercy.
520 Knowlege. In the moral and spiritual sense of the word as well as an indication of knowledge of Christian doctrine and practice. This therefore implies self-knowledge in the sense of recognition of one’s faults and sins.
527 she. Knowledge, which will lead Everyman to the House of Salvation where his “smarte” or source of pain will be healed; sin is conceived as an illness. The emendation to “she” is based on the identification of Knowledge as Good Deeds’ sister (line 519), as suggested by Cooper and Wortham. Her gender is consistent with Elckerlijc.
540 House of Salvacyon. Meant to be understood as a specific location, probably a booth set at the back of the stage as depicted in Flemish illustrations of the time; see Hummelen, “Drama of the Dutch Rhetoricians,” p. 235. The House of Salvation of course represents the Church, the structure within which salvation is possible.
543 Confessyon. Below cited as Shrift, the “mother of Salvacyon” (line 552), though, differing from Elckerlijc, Confession is identified by masculine pronouns. Auricular confession is the second part of the Sacrament of Penance, following Contrition.
545 gloryous fountayne. See explanatory note to line 411. For the fountain as a sign of saving grace made effective through the Eucharist, see Davidson, “Repentance and the Fountain.” Cawley cites Zacharias 13:1: “In that day there shall be a fountain open to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem: for the washing of the sinner, and of the unclean woman.” In a poem in Arundel MS 286, Jesus’ “woundes so wide / ben welles of life” from which people are urged “to drinke” in order “to fle fro the fendes of helle” (Browne, Religious Lyrics of the Fifteenth Century, p. 149). Cunningham cites an accession prayer, included in the Burntisland edition of the Sarum missal, which not only mentions the medicinal and cleansing benefits (spiritually speaking) of coming to the fountain of mercy but also outlines “in small the journey which Everyman makes” (“Comedic and Liturgical Restoration,” pp. 164–65). Everyman corrects the Dutch text as it has come down to us and which specifies “Bloome” (“flower”).
549 full contrycyon. Sorrow for one’s sins; the second part of the Sacrament of Penance, designated by Confession as a jewel (line 557).
561 scurge. The scourge of penance, in this case made of rope, since it is described as having knots at line 576. Though the type of penitential scourge varies, this is conventional iconography; see Nichols, Seeable Signs, pp. 235–38. Anderson, Drama and Imagery, p. 80, cites a misericord at New College, Oxford, which has Confession set off against, on the other side, a figure scourging himself. With the scourge one would have been expected to replicate the suffering of Christ at his scourging (see line 563) and thereby to identify with his Passion. (An excellent depiction of knotted rope scourges may be found in a Scourging in the Hildburgh Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum; see Cheetham, English Medieval Alabasters, no. 163.) However, while Jesus was innocent, Everyman has clearly been guilty, as he indicates when he turns the scourge on himself at lines 611–18, and the self-punishment is a way of expiation for him. For an explicit connection between satisfaction and flagellation in the Sherborne Missal, see Nichols, Seeable Signs, p. 236. On the other hand, the scene is also a theatrically effective piece of work. Good Deeds regains her strength as Everyman beats himself ever harder — a bit of simple theater “magic” and one place to argue for the text as a real playscript.
569 ye wyll saved be. This conditional promise by Confession has been taken as a signifying absolution (Cawley, p. 33), the third part of the Sacrament of Penance, though the words of absolution are missing and the fourth part, satisfaction, is yet to come. See also Discretion’s promise at line 693 “That all shall be well.”
572 Oyle of Forgyvenes. Promised to Adam in legend and subsequently identified with God’s mercy as extended through the Savior; see Conley, “The Phrase ‘the Oyle of Forgyuenes’ in ‘Everyman’.” Cawley had argued for seeing the “Oyle of Forgyvenes” as a reference to the rite of Extreme Unction (p. 34).
589 Raunsomer and Redemer. Reference to the ransom theory of atonement in which the Devil was held to have been given rights over human souls on account of the Fall of Adam; this condition required Jesus to be sacrificed in order to ransom the souls of his people, including the faithful who lived prior to his incarnation. These were released from Hell at the Harrowing, just as ordinary Christians will be saved ultimately, even if necessarily after a period of time in Purgatory, described at line 618 as “that sharpe fyre” in the Pynson fragment and the Huntington text of Everyman.
596 Moyses table. The two tables of the Law were interpreted as representing Baptism and Penance. This is an alteration of the meaning of the Dutch text, which refers to the book of life; see Wood, “Elckerlijc–Everyman,” p. 292.
597-98 Mary, pray . . . / Me for to helpe at my endynge. Invoking the Virgin Mary to mediate between the individual and her Son was held to be effective, since the Son would be especially responsive to the mother. The Hail Mary added to the biblical text the words “Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and in the hour of our death.”
599 my enemy. The Devil.
614 delytest to go gaye and fresshe. Fashionably dressed, in bright colors. Cooper and Wortham, citing the Wife of Bath’s Tale in which the wife says her fifth husband was “fressh and gay” — i.e., sexually proficient and alluring — suggest an erotic connotation (p. 40). But principally such clothing denotes pride. This reference again sharpens the reference to recklessness traceable to the body.
615 the waye of dampnacyon. As opposed to the way of salvation. These are the two paths which humans may travel. The one avoided here is the “primrose way to th’ everlasting bonfire” (Macbeth 2.3.19).
617 I wyll wade the water clere. Penance reaffirms the cleansing effect of one’s baptism.
618 from Hell and from the fyre. This reading differs from the Huntington print and the Pynson fragment, which have “Purgatory and that sharpe fyre.” It would be hard to argue for a Protestant reading here, however, since the understanding of Priesthood and the Sacraments in the Huth text remains firmly Catholic, and this kind of extreme punishment was also believed to be present in Purgatory, albeit without condemnation to such suffering for eternity, as in Hell. Protestants of course rejected the idea of Purgatory.
619 now I can walke and go. Confession and Penance have had a healing effect as made visible through the ability of his Good Deeds to achieve health, to be delivered from “wo” (depression), and to rise up, stand, and walk. (See the beginning of Chaucer’s Parson’s Tale with its admonition from Jeremias 6:5 and 6:10 to arise, stand, see, walk, and find.) Good Deeds are meritorious toward salvation only when one’s sins are forgiven through these rites. In Elckerlijc, Virtue is explicitly returned to health.
623 be mery and gladde. Everyman has overcome despair, and, as line 627 says, his heart is permanently “lyght” and therefore free.
643 garmente of Sorowe. The garment of Contrition could have been made of rough, undyed cloth, in contrast to the fashionable clothes that Everyman had worn up to this point (see line 614). However, Craik (Tudor Interlude, p. 79) more plausibly offers the suggestion that it was a penitential robe of white that public penitents were required to put on. Such a change of costume, representing transformation of character, was conventional, but here would have, as Craik notes, the additional value of representing the shroud worn by Everyman when he subsequently enters the grave. The theological point is more clearly presented in Elckerlijc, which calls it a “garment of Remorse.”
660 Dyscressyon. The Dutch words wijsheit and vroetscap could be translated as “wisdom,” but Prudence is preferable as it adds experience, or common sense, to wisdom. This is consistent with Discretion in Everyman, but see also the explanatory note to line 686, below.
686 Five Wits. These are sight, hearing, smell, taste, and feeling, which are conveniently listed in The Worlde and the Chylde, lines 888–90, alongside the “other” five (spiritual) wits (lines 894–97). Discretion is the faculty of judgment applied to the Five Wits, and hence discriminates between true and false sensory perceptions. Conley, “Identity of Discretion in Everyman,” identifies the term with Prudence. In the play it is a translation from the Dutch Vroetscap.
687 for swete nor soure. Whether things turn out well or badly.
699 In almes half my good. For the importance of charity for salvation, see Introduction, pp. 8–9. That a rich man might give half his property to charity would not have been unusual.
701-02 the other halfe . . . / In quyet to be returned there it ought to be. Half his property is to be returned by way of a bequest to rightful owners. Restitution is, like giving to charity, necessary for Everyman’s account book to be set straight. Everyman uses the appropriate legal terminology that is missing in Elckerlijc.
707 Pryesthode. Subsequent lines, spoken by Five Wits, set forth the Catholic view of the Sacraments and the priest’s role in administering them as well as the doctrine of transubstantiation, the late medieval view of the elements of the Eucharist as changed into “Goddes precyous flesshe and blode” (line 724) under the forms of bread and wine. This view is reiterated at lines 737–39.
717 He bereth the keyes. See explanatory note to line 487, above. In Elckerlijc, the singular “slotel” designates the power to forgive sins.
719-20 God for our soules medycyne / Gave us out of his harte with great pyne. Referring specifically to Christ’s blood, given during his Crucifixion, which is identified with the Eucharistic act that reenacts his sacrifice “in this transytory lyfe for thee and me” (line 721); hence the Crucifixion becomes an event contemporary with the person who sees or partakes of the elements. Not uncommonly in late medieval depictions of the Crucifixion do we see angels with chalices collecting the blood flowing from the Savior’s wounds.
725 Penaunce. This Sacrament had been omitted from the corresponding passage in Elckerlijc and, as Cawley notes (p. 36), is oddly placed at the end here whereas traditionally it was third or fourth in the listing of Sacraments.
728 Fayne wolde I receyve that holy body. Everyman will receive only the bread, which in the rite is believed to have been transformed into the body of Christ; in Roman Catholic practice, the cup was reserved for the clergy until the Second Vatican Council.
737 With five wordes. The words of consecration in the Canon of the Mass are “Hoc est enim Corpus meum” (“This is my body”), derived from Luke 22:19.
740 byndeth and unbyndeth. The priest’s power to bind and loose sins. See explanatory note to line 487, above.
744 surgyon that cureth synne deedly. As mediators between God and penitents, priests function as physicians to cure the disease of deadly sin. See also explanatory note on lines 719–20, above.
747 God gave pryest that dygnyté. The power of the keys; see explanatory note to line 487, above.
749 above angelles in degré. Bevington (Tudor Drama and Politics, p. 36) cites Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ 4.5: “Grand is this Mystery; great too is the dignity of the Priests, to whom has been granted that which is not permitted to Angels. For none but Priests duly ordained in the Church, have power to celebrate this Sacrament, and to consecrate the Body of Christ.” Thomas likewise sees priests above the angels (ibid., 4.11), an idea that also may be found in a quotation attributed to St. John Chrysostom in a sermon in British Library MS Royal 18.B.xxiii (Middle English Sermons, ed. Ross): “This office of presthod ther myght never pure man ordeyn, nothur aungell, nothur archaungell. . . . And so perfite [God] mad presthode that never non aungell atteyned to so high perfite an office” (p. 280).
750-63 This criticism of unworthy priests also appeared in Elckerlijc, and represents a common complaint of the time which after 1517 led to the Protestant Reformation’s condemnation of indulgences and sacerdotal celibacy. Disapproval of the sale of indulgences, simony, and sexual abuses was not a preserve of Protestantism, however, since such behavior was at that time found at the highest levels of the hierarchy.
753 same Sacrament. Cawley (p. 36) supposes an error, since Elckerlijc has “Sacramenten seven.” In their edition of Everyman, Conley et al. emend the text to “seven sacramentes.” Cooper and Wortham point out, however, that “same Sacrament” is credible as the “one great Sacrament, the institution of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ,” from which “the seven individual sacraments ensued” (Summoning of Everyman, p. 48).
755-57 Saynt Peter the apostle . . . do bye or sell. Denunciation of simony. See Acts 8:18–24.
767 shepe . . . shepeherdes. Conventional metaphor for clergy and laypeople; see John 10:1–28.
770 satysfaccyon. See explanatory notes to lines 561 and 569, above. Everyman has now completed his penance, which began with contrition.
778 Rodde. Persons about to expire were advised to keep focused on a Crucifix (Rood), according to treatises on dying. However, Wood, “Elckerlijc–Everyman,” p. 279, suggested that a pilgrim’s staff (rod) might be meant, though he notes that Humulus, a Latin translation of the play, offered the word crucem.
787 Judas Machabé. Judas Maccabeus, one of the Nine Worthies, recognized as powerful men in history. Conley, “Reference to Judas Maccabeus,” however, points to the Nine Worthies as symbols of the vanity of the world — and hence the reference to this figure is appropriate for Strength, who in spite of his protests will desert Everyman only a few lines later. The author of Everyman has added the name here for the sake of rhyme.
793 turne to erth. In addition to the Ash Wednesday liturgy (“Remember, man, that you are earth and to earth you shall return”), see also the popular poem Erthe upon Erthe (ed. Murray). A version of this poem appeared in a wall painting at Statford-upon-Avon in conjunction with a representation of the Dance of Death; see Davidson, Guild Chapel Wall Paintings at Stratford-upon-Avon, pp. 30, 48–49, fig. 14.
801 I take my tappe in my lap. Bevington, Medieval Drama, p. 960, glosses: “I’ll gather up my spinning and be on my way.” In addition to flax on a distaff, the word “tappe” may simply mean “a bundle of combed wool prepared for spinning” (OED). The reading cap of the Huth print seems to be an error. The reference to an apparent stage property in Everyman does not appear in Elckerlijc.
803 I loke not behynde me. The Dutch text literally reads “I polish my behind.” The meaning is that Beauty’s promise is retracted.
804 and thou wolde gyve me all the golde in thy chest. In iconography, the wealth of the dying man could be represented as a chest at the foot of his bed; see the Introduction, pp. 5–6, for reference to Hieronymus Bosch’s Death of the Miser. Hence this can be read as “If you give me all the gold that you have accumulated” — less extravagant than the Dutch play’s “all the world’s riches.” Logically, of course, Beauty must be left behind at death, as also will be his Strength, Discretion, Five Wits, and, at the last, Knowledge, who is not able to pass into the grave with Everyman. See lines 862–63, for Knowledge’s promise not to leave Everyman until “I se where ye shall become” — i.e., if he successfully passes into the life after death.
817 Ye be olde ynough. Sarcasm.
828 She. Strength as a feminine personification is an oddity. A male is represented in the factotum woodcut in the Huth edition (sig. A1v) showing the characters in the play. In the extant fragment The Pride of Life, Strength is presented as a knight who challenges Death.
843 whan Deth bloweth his blaste. The sound of the trumpet. This instrument is associated with Judgment, especially the Last Judgment, when angels were believed to be prepared to sound their trumpets. But there were variants of this iconography. Devils attempt to blow horns in the Doomsday wall painting at Stratford-upon-Avon; see Davidson, Guild Chapel Wall Paintings, fig. 17. In Continental examples, Death also might be shown blowing a horn; see Briesemeister, Bilder des Todes, figs. 1, 3, 32, 34, 38.
850 and there an ende. Proverbial; see Dent, E113.1.
852 I wyll byde wyth thee. Good Deeds will prove to be the only friend to abide with Everyman unto his judgment before the high seat of Heaven, even though he had loved all the others (as listed in lines 871–72) better.
863 Tyll I se where ye shall become. See explanatory note to line 804, above.
867 all ye that this do here or se. Hearing and seeing imply actual stage production, but this line is directly translated from Elkerlijc and hence cannot be cited as proof with regard to the English play. Everyman’s admonition to the audience seems modeled on the O vos omnes tradition of Christ’s speech to bystanders from the Cross; for an example, see Browne, Religious Lyrics of the Fifteenth Century, pp. 151–56. See also the discussion in Woolf, English Religious Lyric in the Middle Ages, pp. 40–45.
870 All erthly thynge is but vanyté. See Ecclesiastes 12:8: “all things are vanity.”
875 stande by me thou moder and mayde, holy Mary. See note to lines 597–98, above. According to the doctrine of her perpetual virginity, Mary is a maid, or virgin, though she is married to Joseph, conventionally depicted as an old (and impotent) man. See the antiphon Alma redemptoris mater, the song of the “litel clergeon” in the Prologue to Chaucer’s Prioress’ Tale: “You who, while nature wondered, gave birth to your own sacred Creator and yet remained a virgin afterward as before” (text, translation, and transcription of the Sarum rite music in Davidson, Substance and Manner, p. 22).
876 I wyll speke for thee. Good deeds, especially the Corporal Acts of Mercy, are the distinguishing factor at the judgment of the individual by God. Depictions of the Last Judgment occasionally included the traditional iconographic motif of the weighing of souls on a set of scales, sometimes with the Virgin Mary helping to tip the scales to the person’s benefit by placing a rosary on it to counteract his or her bad deeds. See Perry, “On the Psychostasis in Christian Art — II,” p. 215.
880 Into thy handes, Lord, my soule I commende. In imitation of Jesus, echoing his dying words on the Cross, according to Luke 23:46. The Latin text is recited in lines 886–87 as Everyman is about to enter the grave with Good Deeds. For a similar case of a dying man speaking the Latin text, see The Rohan Master: A Book of Hours, pl. 63. Rastall, “Music and Liturgy in Everyman,” p. 308, points out that “these words belong to the additional verses said following the office of Extreme Unction.” They are also recommended in the ars moriendi texts; see Beaty, Craft of Dying, p. 21.
885 saved at the Dome. Everyman’s soul is now directly facing the particular Judgment, to be followed at the end of history by the general Judgment when all must appear before God to be dispersed to Heaven or to Hell.
891 I here angelles synge. Veni electa mea and Veni de libano sponsa mea are perhaps the best candidates for the item to be sung here since these are the alternatives suggested by line 894; other possibilities are listed by Rastall, “Music and Liturgy in Everyman,” p. 309. Veni electa mea was used in the York Assumption play, and, since it alludes to the Song of Songs, this is one of the available items appropriate for “the soul’s mystical marriage to Christ,” as Cowling suggests (“Angels’ Song in Everyman,” p. 302).
894 Cume, excellent electe spouse. See explanatory note to line 891, above, and compare the Angel’s speech in Elckerlijc.
895 Here above. Further verification that the location for Heaven was to be thought of as raised above the playing area.
897 Now thy soule is taken thy body fro. If the body has entered into the grave, how the soul is subsequently to appear to be separated from the body is unclear. In the visual arts, the soul is often a small doll-like figure that is taken from the dying man’s mouth at his last breath. In the Carthusian Miscellany (British Library MS 37,049, fol. 29), for example, the soul of the dying man is saved by an angel, who rescues it from a waiting devil, who in turn expresses his anger at the loss in the accompanying text. For a brief discussion of the iconography, see Rogers, “Particular Judgement,” pp. 125–27.
899 Now shalt thou into the hevenly spere. The text in the Carthusian Miscellany that accompanies the angel’s rescue promises the dying man that he will “bere thi saule to blis on hye” (British Library MS 37,049, fol. 29r).
901 Day of Dome. Last Judgment, at the end of history. Following this line, Rastall, “Music and Liturgy in Everyman,” p. 311, suggests music as the angel takes Everyman’s soul up to Heaven, probably in a napkin as in a conventional iconography (e.g., in a tomb sculpture at Ely Cathedral or, for a Continental example, on an altarpiece attributed to Simon Marmion, both illustrated in Boase, Death in the Middle Ages, figs. 29, 31).
902 DOCTOR. In Everyman, the epilogue is assigned to the Doctor (of theology or philosophy), who speaks of the play as a “memoryall” (but called a “morall” only in the Huntington print). The object has been to construct a drama that will call to mind the existential realities of life lived between deadly sin (Pride, which in some sense encompasses all the Seven Deadly Sins) and the necessity for charitable works (Good Deeds), which are one’s only true friends.
912 after deth amendes may no man make. The time of mercy is past, as line 913 indicates.
915 Ite maledicti in ignem eternum. “Go, wicked ones, into the eternal fire”; see Matthew 25:41, Jesus’ condemnation of those who have failed to do the Corporal Acts of Mercy and who hence will be consigned to Hell. Compare Matthew 25:30, which similarly damns the “unprofitable servant” in the parable of the talents to “the exterior darkness” where “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
917 Hye in Heven he shall be crounde. In Heaven the souls of the righteous will receive crowns.
919 body and soule togyther. For the resurrection of the body, see the Nicene Creed.
922 Amen. Rastall, “Music and Liturgy in Everyman,” p. 311, suggests the possibility of the audience joining the cast in saying “Amen” at the end of the play. In the Dutch text, it will be noted, “Amen” preceded the Epilogue.
EVERYMAN: TEXTUAL NOTES
Only the principal variants from the copytext (Huth 32) are given here. Complete bibliographic information for the editions cited in the list of abbreviations below appears in the Select Bibliography.
Abbreviations: BL: British Library C.21.c.17; Cawley: Everyman, ed. Cawley (rpt. 1977); Douce: Douce Fragment, Bodleian Library; Hunt: Huntington Library copy; Huth: British Library, Huth 32.
14 thy soule. So Huth. Hunt: the soule.
29 lawe. So Huth, Hunt. Cawley: love.
30 so. So Huth. Hunt omits.
31 cannot. So Hunt. Huth: caunot.
41 not. So Huth. Hunt: nothynge.
73 cruelly. So Hunt. Huth: truely.
77 depart. So Huth. Hunt: to departe.
109 spente. So Hunt. Huth: spede.
111 ado that thou. So Cawley. Huth: ado that we; Hunt: I do we.
113 rekenynge. So Hunt. Huth: rekenyuge.
119 whan. So Hunt. Huth: what.
129 All. So Huth. Hunt: But.
135 twelve. Huth, Hunt: .xii.
141 thee. Huth: the; Hunt: that.
168 Everyman. So Hunt. Huth: Euenyman.
mad, that. So Huth. Hunt: made thou.
180 out of. So Huth. Hunt: out of thy.
205 good felawshyp. So Hunt. Huth: god felawshyp.
248 dutye. Huth: duyte; Hunt: duty.
252 here as. So Huth. Hunt: here as well as.
260 agayne cume. So Cawley. Huth: cume agayne; Hunt: come agayne.
278 to folye wyll. So Huth. Hunt: wyll.
300 omit FELLOWSHIP (misplaced in Huth).
301 FELLOWSHIP. So Hunt. Huth: EVERYMAN.
endynge. So Cawley. Huth, Hunt: ende.
303 EVERYMAN. So Hunt. Huth omits.
317 them. So Cawley. Huth, Hunt, BL: them go.
327 Gramercy. So Hunt, BL. Huth: Geamercy.
365 Now. So Hunt. BL: Nowe; Huth: Nw.
375 my owne. So Huth. Hunt: myne owne; BL: myne owne lyfe.
390 It. So Huth, BL. Hunt: He.
401 trouble. So Huth. Hunt, BL: sorowe.
406 gyve. So Hunt, BL. Huth: gyne.
415 vyages. Greg notes possibly vyages longe.
432 of. So Hunt. Huth: for; BL: for the love of.
436 my spendynge. So Huth, Hunt. BL: myspending.
442 condycyon. So Hunt. BL: condition; Huth: condycyons.
455 gladde. So Huth, Hunt. BL: right gladde.
457 longe. So Hunt. Huth omits.
475 into. So Hunt, BL. Huth: in.
489 feare. So Huth. Hunt: fere; BL: great feare.
504 Beholde. So Huth. Hunt, BL: Ase.
527 she. Huth, Hunt, BL: he.
530 at. So Hunt, BL. Huth: at the.
538 you. So Hunt, BL. Huth: yon.
instructe me by intelleccyon. So Huth. Hunt: gyve me cognycyon; BL: gyve me cognisyon.
539 man. So Hunt, BL. Huth: vertue.
549 Repent . . . full. So BL. Hunt: Redempte . . . full; Huth: Redempe . . . full of.
565 scape that paynful. So Huth, Hunt. BL: passe thy.
566 Knowlege, kepe hym. So Hunt, BL. Huth: Knowlege hym and kepe hym.
568 sure. So Huth. Hunt, BL: seker.
580 clerely. So Hunt, BL. Huth: crelery.
594 of thy benygnyté. So Huth. Hunt, BL: in this hevy lyfe.
unworthy. So Hunt, BL. Omit Huth.
602 partetaker. So Huth. Hunt: partynere; BL: partinere.
603 meanes. So Hunt. Huth, BL: meane.
606 gyve acqueyntaunce. So Hunt. Huth: gyve a quytaunce. BL: have aquaintaunce.
610 And. So Hunt. BL: Nowe; Huth: Thus.
615 the. So Hunt, BL. Huth omits.
616 and. So Huth. Hunt, BL: of.
618 Hell and from the. So Huth. Hunt: purgatory and that sharpe; BL: purgatory that sharpe.
622 good. So Hunt, BL. Huth: god.
624 do come. So Huth. Hunt: cometh now; BL: commeth nowe.
640 Lest . . . it be unswete. So Huth. Hunt: Or elles . . . you may it mysse; BL: Or els . . . ye may it misse.
656 KNOWLEDGE. So Cawley. Huth, Hunt: KINDRED; BL: KINDREDE.
666 KNOWLEDGE. So Cawley. Huth, Hunt: KINDRED; BL: KINDREDE.
670 redy. So Huth, BL. Hunt: all redy.
692 vertuous. So Hunt, BL, Douce. Huth: vertues.
702 In quyet. So Huth. Hunt: In queth; BL, Douce: I it bequethe.
716 benygne. So Hunt, Douce. BL: benigne; Huth: benynge.
717 he cure. So Huth. Hunt: the cure; BL, Douce: cure.
726 seven. Huth, Hunt, BL, Douce: .vii.
732 good Pryesthod. So Huth. Hunt, BL, Douce: preesthode.
737 five. Huth, Hunt, BL, Douce: .v.
738 make. So Huth, Hunt. BL, Douce: take.
746 all onely. So Huth, Hunt. BL, Douce: alone on.
770 satysfaccyon. So Hunt. BL: satisfaction; Huth: satysfaccoon.
774 than. So Hunt. Huth: thou. BL omits.
782 gone. So Huth, BL, Douce. Hunt: done.
786 STRENGTH. So BL. Huth, Hunt, Douce omit.
793 to erth. So Hunt. Huth: to the erth; BL, Douce: to the erthe.
801 tappe. So Hunt, BL. Huth: cap.
806 goeth . . . and from me. So Huth. Hunt: gothe . . . fro me; Douce: gothe . . . and hye; BL: dothe . . . hye.
827 He that. So Huth, Hunt, Douce. BL: But I se well he that.
828 She hym deceyveth. So Huth, Hunt, Douce. BL: Is greatly disceyved.
829 Both . . . forsaketh me. So Huth, Douce. Hunt: Bothe . . . forsaketh me; BL: For . . . hath forsaken me.
830 fayre and lovyngly. So Huth, Hunt, Douce. BL: stedfast to be.
838 ones pyteously. So Huth, Hunt. Douce: ones petyously; BL: and thou shalt se.
854 good. So Hunt, BL, Douce. Huth: god.
855 Dedes. So Hunt, BL, Douce. Huth: Dede.
870 erthly. Hunt, Douce. Huth: ertly; BL: erthely.
885 Dome. So Huth, Douce. Hunt, BL: Day of Dome.
902 memoryall. So Huth, BL, Douce. Hunt: morall.
914 rekenynge. So Hunt, Douce. BL: rekening; Huth: rekenyuge.
915 eternum. So Hunt, BL, Douce. Huth: eternam.
921 Say ye. So Huth. Hunt, BL, Douce: Amen saye ye.
922 Amen. So Huth. Hunt, BL, Douce: Finis.
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