Play 27, JUDGMENT: FOOTNOTES
1 With a sword
2 After line 364: Fragments of words, / Tutivillus collects those; / Beelzabub [collects] chills, / Belial, belly-ache (see note)
3 Lines 415–16: The devil is a liar / and the father of lies (John 8:44)
4 With their inventions (Psalm 105/106:39)
5 Lines 441–42: And you have made it / a den of thieves (Matthew 21:13)
6 Lines 558–59: He indeed who [does] evil, into eternal fire (see note)
7 Then he stretches out his hands and shows them his wounds
8 Then turning himself toward the good [souls] he says to them
9 Then he should say to the bad [souls]
10 Then he should say to the good [souls]
11 Then he should say to the bad [souls]
12 Here ends the judgment
Play 27, JUDGMENT: EXPLANATORY NOTES
Abbreviations: Chester: The Chester Mystery Cycle, ed. Lumiansky and Mills (1974); CT: The Canterbury Tales, ed. Benson (1987); DSL: Dictionary of the Scots Language; Elliott: The Apocryphal New Testament, ed. Elliott; EP: The Towneley plays, ed. England and Pollard (1897); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MS: Huntington MS HM 1 (“the Towneley manuscript”); N-Town: The N-Town Plays, ed. Sugano (2007); OED: Oxford English Dictionary; REED: Records of Early English Drama; SC: The Towneley Plays, eds. Stevens and Cawley (1994); s.d.: stage direction; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases; York: The York Corpus Christi Plays, ed. Davidson (2011).
The first of the Towneley plays to be edited in full for a modern audience, by Francis Douce on behalf of owner Peregrine Edward Towneley for the Roxburghe Club in 1822, the Judgment play appears to be an adaptation and extension of its York counterpart, with which it shares entire passages almost verbatim. As noted in the Introduction, p. 14, this borrowing might possibly relate to a 1454 agreement between the York Mercers and a group of men headed by one Robert Hewyk, the parish clerk of Leeds, concerning production of the guild’s Judgment pageant (see REED: York, p. 87, pp. 763–64). In any case, the Towneley play includes speeches, verse forms, and characters that are not present in York, including lengthy dialogue between Tutivillus and two other demons, written in the 13-line “bob and wheel” stanza (lines 131–559 and 706–822). Thanks to the similarities, however, the York text may give a good sense as to what is lost from the beginning of the Towneley play due to missing leaves. The York Doomsday pageant, written entirely in 8-line stanzas, opens with a ten stanza (80 line) monologue by God (much like Chester, but not N-Town — see note to line 115 below), followed by full-stanza speeches by two angels and two good souls; the first bad soul then speaks for four stanzas before the three-stanza speech by the second bad soul, which closely resembles that of Bad Soul 3 here, lines 27–50. The eight-stanza speech (in a variant 8-line form) by Towneley’s Bad Soul 4 has no parallel in York, but the angelic speech that follows is again from York (see note to line 115), as is the speech by Jesus immediately after that, although the parallel stanza in York is not only slightly different in wording, but also part of a longer speech. In total, roughly a fifth of the extant Towneley play (174 out of 830 lines) is parallel in phrasing to the York pageant, which though complete is also much shorter (380 lines).
Other documents pertaining to the York Doomsday pageant may or may not be relevant here. The 1433 Mercers’ Indenture (see REED: York, pp. 55–56) famously lists the stage properties used in their production at that time (nearly half a century prior to the registration of the text itself); at least some of those props might be required here (but see note to line 124 below). It may be significant that the description of the York pageant in the 1415 Ordo paginarum refers to four good souls and four bad souls, as are present in Towneley but not in the extant York text; however, that same description calls for six devils, along with characters such as Mary (who has no speaking role in either play as it stands) and twelve apostles (only two of whom speak in York). Moreover, the lines assigned to Towneley’s second and fourth bad souls differ in form as well as content from anything in the York pageant. The relationship between the plays remains mysterious. However, particularly given the sheer length of the piece, which now gives significantly less stage time to the forces (and rewards) of heaven than to Tutivillus and his fellow demons (entirely in the added “bob and wheel” stanzas), it appears that the Towneley play was (re-)designed for stand-alone rather sequential production. The focus here is more on the representation of worldly sin than on the end of the world as in the York original, which adheres fairly closely to the representation of the last judgment as given in Matthew 25:31–46.
1 Full darfe. The word derf can mean “bold” or “brave” but here refers to audacious wickedness. The speech of Bad Soul 2 (five quatrains along with one 6-line stanza that matches in form the first stanza spoken by the fourth bad soul, 51–56) has no counterpart in York.
5–6 Alas, I harde that horne / That callys us to the dome. At least one angel has blown a trumpet in the first, missing portion of the play, calling the dead to judgment; see 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17, and York 47.65: “Aungellis, blawes youre bemys.”
7–8 All that ever were borne / Thider behofys theym com. That is, all humanity, alive or dead, is required come to the place of judgment. The good souls have evidently arisen from their graves or tombs and have spoken their lines, as has the first bad soul.
33–34 Bot oft-tymes maide we sacrifice / To Sathanas when othere can slepe. The bad soul confesses to having taken part in satanic rituals — the Witches’ Sabbath (often described and evoked, although no evidence exists to suggest that such events actually ever took place). These lines, like the rest of this speech by Bad Soul 3, closely parallel the opening speech by the second bad soul in York (47.145–68).
36–38 Oure wykyd warkys . . . . will us soroo on ilka syde. The souls carry their deeds on their backs, in written form. The account of judgment in Apocalypse 20:12 refers both to the Book of Life in which the names of the saved are recorded, and to other books in which the deeds of individuals have been written. Later in this play, Tutivillus (“the recording demon” — see note to line 300 below) and the other two demons will sort through their bagfuls of “briefs” (see note to line 210 below) on which are registered the sins of individuals.
97 With myself sore may I grise. That is, I may shudder with horror at myself, for my sins.
107–13 Wo worth ever the fader . . . . That I was borne. Bad Soul 4, responds to recognition of his own sinful life by cursing his birth and his parents (see MED warien (v.), sense 1d, which cites these lines). However, in so doing he exhibits despair, a refusal of the possibility of grace and forgiveness, which is itself a damnable sin (see the notes to 2.361–64, 22.334–36, and 23.311–24). The phrase “bene forlorne” (line 110) here means “perished;” the same phrase, significantly in this context, can mean “been damned” (see MED forlesen (v.), sense 3).
115 Stand not togeder; parte in two. The Angel who divides the good souls from the bad is armed with a sword, and represents the Archangel Michael, who is typically associated with the Last Judgment. Both Michael and Gabriel explicitly appear alongside Jesus in the N-Town Judgment pageant, where Michael speaks the opening lines (42.1). Both likely appear in this play as well: the complete text would almost certainly have included a part for a second Angel although only the first speaks in the extant portion; the equivalent speech in York (47.169–76) is assigned to a third angel.
123 The tyme is commen I will make ende. A virtually identical line ends a stanza assigned to God in the York Doomsday, just prior to God’s calling the angels to blow their trumpets (47.64); however, the rest of this stanza resembles the one in York (47.178–84) that, like this, immediately follows the angel’s separation of the good souls from the bad (York 47.76–80) — see notes to line 115 above, and to 124 below.
124 My Fader of heven will it so be. In York, both this speech (which is notably longer and concludes in a dialogue with two apostles; see York 47.177–216) and the play’s opening lines, spoken by God the Father (as is clear from his reference to the Son, York 47.27), are assigned to Deus (God), apparently played by a single actor; the actor would simply remove the mask he wears as the Father (“a diademe With a veserne [mask] gilted” according to the Mercers’ Indenture, REED: York p. 55, line 29) in order to represent the (human) Son, neatly demonstrating that the two are one (see John 10:30). No such doubling is apparent in this play as it stands, given the speech heading of Jesus used here; it cannot now be known whether the opening included a speech by another actor playing God the Father.
131–32 Oute haro . . . Harkyn to this horne. For other instances of the phrase “out, harrow” see 2.277 (and note) and 7.b.74. The angelic trumpet call has awakened the dead and alerted hell’s forces; SC presume a second trumpet blast occurs just prior to these lines (see p. 637n130 f.) although the demons speak largely in the past tense regarding their reaction to the sound. Dialogue between the demons occupies the bulk of this play, whereas the York Doomsday includes only a brief exchange between three devils (47.217–28; four additional lines, likely assigned to a fourth, are missing), at roughly this same point; the York pageant then cuts immediately to the next, more lengthy speech by “Deus” (who speaks both as Father and as Son in York), which in Towneley starts at line 560.
140–41 I was bonde full fast / In yrens for to last. This line might seem to associate the first demon with Satan himself, bound in chains after the harrowing of hell; see Apocalypse 20:1–3 and the note to 22.367–68. However, according to Jude 1:6, “the angels who kept not their principality, but forsook their own habitation, he hath reserved under darkness in everlasting chains, unto the judgment of the great day.”
146–47 I qwoke / For all that I lerd. That is, I quaked for fear when I learned, by hearing the trumpet, that this is the day of judgment.
161 There I stode on my stumpe. That is, where I stood; “stump” is a jocular term for a leg. See MED stumpe (n.), sense b, which cites this line.
174–77 It sittys you to tente . . . . What case so befell. That is, it would be best for you to pay attention in order to discuss this matter like a peer in Parliament, whatever might happen. The second demon, apparently the younger (see note to lines 715–16 below), uses the more formal “you” when addressing the first, who uses the familiar “thou” in response (see line 184). The second also addresses the first as his master at line 250.
180 What draght so be drawne. Whatever draught is drawn — that is, whatever happens. See also lines 298–99. The phrase comes from a chess term; see MED drauen (v.), sense 2a(e).
186 Watlyn strete. While SC and others have referred to this line as evidence of a Wakefield connection (see SC p. 637n186), Watling Street was the name of several Roman roads that ran across various parts of England, most notably between Wroxeter and Dover via London, but also through part of North Yorkshire, and from Manchester north through Lancashire, indeed, not far from Whalley or Towneley Hall.
196 Bot fast take oure rentals. That is, our written records or accounts (see MED rental (n.)) of sins committed; see also the note to lines 36–38 above.
198–99 For as this fals / The great sentence. That is, judgment will be dealt out according to this — the record of sins (see note to line 196 above).
200 Thai ar here in my dals. The only attestations in the MED for dal (n.) meaning “hand,” come from the Towneley MS — here and at line 273, and in the second Shepherds play, 9.1059 (see note).
208 Of pride and of lust. This line explicitly names two of the traditional seven deadly sins, the others being wrath, envy, covetousness, gluttony, and sloth; see the note to lines 443–46, below, as well as 3.75–77 and note. Pride is mentioned almost immediately again, at line 220, and is implicated throughout much of the demons’ conversation, most particular in relation to clothing (being explicitly mentioned again in lines 345, 382); see also line 670.
209 Of wraggers and wrears. See note to 8.85.
210 A bag full of brefes. See note to lines 36–38 above. These briefs (also line 328) — lists or registers of individual sins — are also referred to as books (line 206) and bills (line 224), but mostly as rolls (lines 238, 269, 326, 553), and would likely be represented as lengthy, densely written parchment rolls kept in bags.
212–13 Of mychers and thefes, / Of lurdans and lyars. These same pairings are repeated in lines 521–22. The term mitcher can refer to a thief as well as to a sneak or loiterer. See OED mitcher (n.), senses 1 and 2.
216 renderars of reffys. The meaning of “renderer” here is unclear. The MED doubtfully glosses this same phrase — the sole entry under renderer (n.) — as “a bail bondsman associated with a sheriff or other municipal official” or “one who reports crimes to a sheriff or to a reeve” — that is, an informant. However, it could refer to those who commit robbery, or whose predation serves someone else, such as those who collect exorbitant taxes. See also line 238 and note.
217–21 This can I . . . . Twenty so many. That is, I know this concerning all ranks of people that pass by; I know twenty times as many whose sin is wretched pride, which God hates. The latter sinners would doubtless include the demons themselves as fallen angels — one source for the other demon’s laughter (see line 223). But the first demon’s listing of sins would likely also be accompanied by comic gestures.
227–28 thai wold synke / Thare foes in a fyere still. They would invariably push their enemies into a fire — that is, see to their destruction.
231–33 Bot before hym . . . . he mase hym. That is, if he should praise him to his face, he would also slander him behind his back, and thus confuse him with duplicity.
238 Of rolles for to render. The verb “render” here could mean either to read or to deliver up (see line 216 and note), but the sense — and the misogynist sentiment, made still more obvious in the lines that follow — is clear either way: women’s sins are innumerable.
243–44 Yll fetyld, / She that is most meke. SC gloss fetyld as “ill-tempered” (p. 638n243), in evident contradiction of the meekness likewise asserted in these lines, but the term here means “shaped” (see MED fetlen (v.)) — that is, ‘properly’ meek women are inevitably ill-shaped or unattractive.
265–68 Now gett we dowbill store . . . . Both sam to be harrid. Now we shall get twice as many dead bodies (see MED miscarien (v.), sense 1a) as we had souls there — that is, in hell — to be harried or molested. All the souls that left hell (see lines 170–71) join their resurrected bodies when summoned for judgment, doubling the demons’ body count, however temporarily.
270–71 bakbytars . . . And fals quest-dytars. That is, slanderers and those who falsely arrange or testify at a trial or inquest. See 17.36–39 and 19.23–26 and notes regarding similar terms likewise used in 13-line “bob and wheel” stanzas.
298–99 Bot if this draght be well drawen, / Don is in the myre. That is, unless this move is well-made (see line 180 and note), we are stuck. The second phrase, “Don is in the myre,” is proverbial (see Whiting D434). Dun is a typical name for a horse.
300 Tutivillus. “The recording demon” was associated with keeping accounts of sins, particularly minor verbal sins such as mumbling services and idle chatter in church (see line 430), and is often represented holding or writing on a scroll. While the origins of his name are obscure, they are likely rooted in a phrase from Plautus referring to a titivillitio or small trifle (see Jennings, Tutivillus, pp. 37–38). Here, however, much like Titivillus in the play of Mankind, he has greater scope in his collection of sins and sinners. On the other hand, the role here appears to have been intended for a young actor — see lines 337–38 and note.
306 Now thou art myn awne querestur. By referring to Tutivillus as his chorister — one who sings in response to him — the demon claims him as his follower.
310 And sithen courte rollar. That is, he has since served as keeper of the court rolls or records.
311 master Lollar. The Lollards, associated with the reformist teachings of John Wyclif, were considered heretical by the established church. They looked to scripture, which they believed should be available in the vernacular; most importantly, they did not believe in transubstantiation, by which the Eucharistic host becomes the true body and blood of Christ while retaining the appearance of bread. The name, though, appears to derive from a Dutch word for one who mumbles, linking them to Tutivillus in his primary role as collector of verbal sins (see note to line 300 above). On the other hand, Jennings (Tutivillus, p. 60) argues that the term here refers less to the historical Lollards (whose beliefs are not, after all, referred to in what follows) than to idlers — those who loll about. See OED Lollard (n.), sense 2.
318 som of ferray. The phrase “of foray” means to be on a foray or a raid — a hostile incursion of some sort, in contrast to sitting at an alehouse (line 317).
319–20 Som cursid, som bande, / Som yei, som nay. The verbs to curse and to ban mean roughly the same thing, but are frequently paired like this. The yay/nay pairing here effectively means “some came willingly, while others did not.”
321–22 So many / Thus broght I on blure. Thus I brought many to grief. The term “blure” literally refers to bloating or blistering (see OED blure (n.)), here referred to ironically as a “cure” (line 323); see 6.306, where the plague of flies is said to “make grete blowre” (“makis mekill blure” in York 11.294).
326–27 Here a roll of ragman / Of the rownde tabill. While “ragman” is itself a term for a devil (see the note to 1.137), a Ragman roll is “a document recording accusations or offenses” (see MED rag(e-man (n.), sense 1b) — that is, one of the “briefs” that this devil carries in his bag (see line 328 and the note to line 210 above). It is also the name of a specific historical “collection of instruments of homage and fealty made in 1291 by which the nobility and gentry of Scotland pledged allegiance to Edward I” (MED rag(e-man (n.), sense 2d)), so named because of the many dangling strips to which individual seals were attached. But here it is associated with the Round Table of Arthurian legend.
330–32 Unethes may I wag . . . . Whils I set my stag, man. These lines may indicate that Tutivillus has entered riding a horse, giving additional force to the proverbial reference to a horse in the line just prior to his entrance; however, the horse (or “stag”) and stable may be imaginary, like Cain’s team of animals or the flock of sheep in the Shepherds plays.
333–34 ye ar abill / To take wage. That is, you have earned your wages.
336 Bot lay downe the dewe. That is, lay down the list of accounts of human sins that are due for judgment.
337–38 thou will be a shrew / Be thou com at age. These lines seem to indicate that the role of Tutivillus was to be played by a boy rather than by an adult actor (see also the note to lines 300 and lines 358–59), despite his claims to extensive experience (as in lines 309–11); also see the note to lines 715–16.
339–40 Here have I be gesse / Of many nyce hoket. That is, I guess that I have many nice tricks here. He goes on to cite examples of the sins he has collected. The first of these lines has been emended to include a verb (have; see Textual Note); given the repetition of the rhymeword “hoket,” it is possible that the final word here was miscopied and that these lines should be emended differently.
343–51 Gay gere and witles . . . . And his barnes bredeles. Tutivillus describes not one but many men of a particular type (as suggested by the use of the plural “their” in line 348), the focus here being on wasteful extravagance — fashionable headgear on a foolish head, ample sleeves with no purse to hide within, and fancy shoes, even if it means that their children go hungry.
352 A horne and a Duch ax. “Dutch” here means “German” (Deutsch); both items here are fashionable accessories.
358–59 Thou art best on thi wax / That ever was clekyt. That is, for your size or age, you are the best ever born. See note to lines 337–38 above.
After 364 Fragmina verborum . . . . belium doliorum. The last phrase here appears to be a mock-Latin reference to belly-aches, “belium” being Latin only in form, and dolorum being the genitive plural form of dolor, meaning pain or suffering. However, these extrametrical Latin lines begin with an oft-quoted line that appears in a late thirteenth-century work on penitence by John of Wales (see Jennings, Tutivillus, p. 16); the Roxburghe Club edition of this play cites an early fifteenth-century poem in which the same line follows a more extensive description of Tutivillus’ targets, translated there as “Prating minstrels, jesters, nappers that sleep when they should sing, gapers or yawners, fellows who draw out and improperly lengthen their tones [and] skippers of words” (Douce, Judicium, pp. 26–27).
369–70 Of femallys a quantité / Here fynde I parte. That is, here I find something concerning many women.
372 Godys forbot thou sparté. That is, God forbid that you should spare it — telling us the part about women.
378 If she be never so fowll a dowde. That is, even if she is exceedingly unattractive — the word “dowd” (as in dowdy) being applied almost exclusively to women. See MED doude (n.).
382 She can make it full prowde. That is, she can make herself look splendid. The focus of this stanza is on older women who cunningly hide their flaws.
391–94 She is hornyd like a kowe . . . . Furrid with a cat skyn. The fashionable woman wears an elaborate headdress that looks like horns, and her collar is long and covered with the fur of a cat, mimicking something more expensive. According to Mendal G. Frampton (“The Date,” pp. 632–44), the fashions described here and throughout this play (see especially lines 419–20 and 458–59) suggest a date of composition toward the mid-fifteenth century, a century or more prior to the Towneley manuscript itself.
396 Thai ar commen of youre kyn. They are descended from your kind — that is, devils.
403 breke thare awne spowsage. They — that is, men attracted to these falsely attractive women — commit adultery, breaking both their marriage vows and the sixth commandment (Exodus 20:14).
406 fals swerars. That is, those who violate the eighth commandment against bearing false witness (Exodus 20:16).
408–09 In sweryng . . . more and more. These lines refer to the widespread idea that swearing, particularly by various parts of the body of Jesus (see note to 12.168), subjected him to further torture.
414 gederars of greyn wax. That is, those who collect fines and other revenue on behalf of the king’s Exchequer, whose documents were sealed with green wax.
419–20 Of prankyd gownes . . . flokkys sewyd wythin. Pleated gowns with padded shoulders (using moss and cotton wads — the “pillows” of line 423) were fashionable for men by about 1440, during the reign of Henry VI; see note to lines 391–94 above.
441–42 Et eam fecistis / Speluncam latronum. These lines quote Jesus’ expulsion of the moneylenders from the temple in Matthew 21:13; Tutivillus claims authority over those who similarly sin in church.
443-46 Yit of the synnes seven . . . . That renys over all. Of the seven deadly sins, the first — named at line 208 (see note, above) and emblematized in this stanza — is pride. The others are lust (also named at line 208), envy (named at line 482), wrath or ire (lines 92, 224, 295, 482), covetousness (lines 29, 91 and 484; also called avarice or greed, see line 768), gluttony (line 484), and sloth (line 495). See also 3.75–77 and note.
449–51 At ee to be even / Purturd in pall / As kyngys. That is, they appear to be equal to kings, adorned with fine scarlet robes.
452 May he dug hym a doket. The meaning of this line is obscure. SC p. 641n452–5 follow the MED, which doubtfully defines doket (n.) as meaning “rag” on the basis of this line alone, and defines the otherwise unattested dug as “to cut out (a rag for sb.),” further suggesting that “he” here refers to the devil. As the MED definition might suggest, “dug” here is likely a variation on (or error for) the verb daggen, referring to the fashionable slashing of fabric for decoration — more specifically, in the mid-fifteenth century, the bottom edges of a garment, into points that were themselves termed “dags” (see MED dagge (n.1)). A more obvious meaning for “doket” here, then, would derive from dock (see OED dock (n.2) and MED dok (n.)) as referring to a (short) tail, anticipating line 455 with its sexual innuendo, following the reference to the codpiece in line 453 (see the following note).
453–55 A kodpese like a pokett . . . . when he wryngys. The codpiece came into fashion in the fifteenth century as upper garments for men grew shorter, exposing the gap between the shirt and the hose. Codpieces (“cod” being a word for a pillow — see 8.33 — as well as for a bag, or for the scrotum) did indeed serve as pockets or purses, as alluded to in lines 454–55, becoming ostentatious signs of pride rather than modest coverings; the stuffing (and other decoration) could also render access to the “tail” difficult — no “hoket,” or easy trick (see MED hoket (n.), and lines 340 and 342). The final phrase here could also refer to urination — a figurative wringing out of his tail.
457 walk-mylne cloggys. Workers at a waulk or fulling mill wore wooden clogs for the purpose of cleaning and felting wool. The allusion here is to the visibility of separate buttocks due to pieced hose and fashionably short upper garments.
458–59 His hede is like a stowke / Hurlyd as hoggys. That is, his hair is like a stook (sheaves of grain; see MED stouk(e (n.)); it is bristled like a hog’s. Short cropped hair was popular throughout the fifteenth century, but particularly 1430–40 (see Frampton, “The Date,” pp. 641–42, and note to lines 391–94 above).
460–61 A woll-blawen bowke / Thise fryggys as froggys. A well-inflated belly, these fidget like frogs. This appears to be the earliest attestation for the verb “to frig,” which can also mean to rub or — at least in later usage — to engage in sexual intercourse; see OED frig (v.), sense 3.
462–64 This Jelian Jowke . . . . To felter. To jouk is to lie asleep or at rest (see MED jouken); thus “Julian Jouk” (see also “This Gill knave,” line 477) would serve as a nickname for a lazy man, who would have little interest in driving dogs together to “felter” in any sense — that is, either to fight or to copulate. See MED filteren (v.), sense a, which cites this line. The use of second-person pronouns in the four lines that follow may indicate that Tutivillus goes on to address a specific member of the audience (blond — “with youre yolow lokkys,” line 465) as an exemplar of such laziness.
471–72 Tent well youre twyfyls / Youre nek abowte as mylke. The phrase “as milk” refers to the whiteness of Nell’s skin; “twyfyls” is otherwise unattested and obscure (see MED twifil). If not simply an error for “trifles,” it would seem to refer to “twofold” braids or ribbons, or some other form of decoration worn around the neck. Again (see previous note), the use of second-person pronouns may indicate that Tutivillus is addressing a specific member of the audience, this time female.
473–77 With youre bendys and youre bridyls . . . . This Gill knave. That is, with your ribbons and other trifles that are the bridles of Satan, the means by which Satan controls you and makes you idle for the likes of this knave, Gill (or Julian, see line 462), specifically to tempt him into sloth and lust. Line 475 is the sole cited instance of “idle” as a verb in the MED (idelen), where it is glossed doubtfully as “?to make (sb.) vain; ?make (sb.) empty or worthless.”
478 It is open behynde. That is, Nell’s smock, which the wind can blow open (see line 481).
491 hawvell and jawvell. “Havel” and “javel” are frequently paired, and sometimes capitalized as nicknames, both referring to worthless fellows or rascals, often with an additional sense of brawlers or jabbering gossips (the related word “chavel” meaning to chatter idly or wag the jaws). See OED havel and chavel.
492 Syngyng of lawvell. That is, singing drinking songs. A lavel is a bowl or drinking cup; see MED lavel, which cites this line.
506–07 Bot thar hym not lang it / What commys therafter. That is, he need not long for the service that follows the ringing of the bells, given his sinful condition.
508 ye Janettys of the stewys. The name Janet, a diminutive of Jane, is used here as a term for prostitutes.
513 I shall you set softe. That is, I shall place you softly — ironic, given that he is to place them in hell. Softness was associated with sloth but also with lust, in part due to Saint Paul’s condemnation in 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 of what the Vulgate translation calls molles (“soft ones” — often translated as “the effeminate”) along with adulterers.
515 Com to my crofte. A croft is a small enclosed field, usually adjacent to a home, but ostensibly here refers to a section of hell. See MED croft (n.), sense 1c, which cites this line.
520 Welcom to my see. A see is the abode or seat of authority — normally the seat of a bishop or ruler.
521–22 Ye lurdans and lyars / Mychers and thefes. See lines 212–13 and note.
527–29 usurars . . . . To tell. To tell is to count or to be counted — an appropriate ambiguity given that he is referring to his enumeration of usurers, who lend money at interest, and who commit simony, the sale of sacred, ostensibly unsellable things; see 14.167 and note.
549–50 When I will, may I go / If thou be by. That is, if you (the second demon) are with me, I can go.
559 In ignem eternum. This Latin line quotes Matthew 25:41, where the damned are sent to hell, “into everlasting fire.”
560–705 Ilka creatoure take tente . . . . Sathanas the feynde. In this speech by Jesus, correspondence with the York text resumes (see York 47.229–372, though with some alterations noted below). York’s final stanza, also spoken by Jesus, has no equivalent here, although this play ends with an 8-line stanza typical of York, attributed to one of the good souls; see lines 823–30 and note.
573 Of joy. The equivalent line at York 47.242 reads “Of ire” (not cancelled but apparently corrected in the MS to “care”), which is consistent with the negative terms that follow, rather than opposed to them.
578 hande and syde. The York text (47.247) has the alliterative pairing of “hande” and “hide” (skin), and so avoids the duplication of the rhyme-word “syde.”
585 Also ther full throly was I thrett. The equivalent line in York begins “As theffe . . .” (York 47.254), instead of with “Also ther.”
589 A spere unto my harte thai sett. The York text refers to “This spere” (York 47.258), implying the presence of a specific stage property.
601 thus behovid thee borud to be. That is, you needed to be ransomed in this way.
608-705 Mi blissid barnes . . . . sit bi Sathanas the feynde. This section of the play, largely from York, is based on Matthew 25:34–46. The good deeds for which Jesus praises the good souls (and for lack of which he damns the bad) constitute six of the seven traditional corporeal acts of mercy, namely, to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, and visit the imprisoned; the seventh, based on Tobias 1:20–21, is to bury the dead.
638 When had thou nede of oure fordede. A “fordeed” is something done for or on behalf of someone else, like the corporeal acts of mercy (see the previous note, and MED fore-dede (n.)).
671 Mi flesh, my bloode, ye oft forswore. That is, they did not attend mass to receive the Eucharist.
673-74 yode I nakyd, / Mi myschefe sagh ye. The Towneley text is missing two lines between these two. See York 47.343–44: “House ne herborow, helpe ne holde / Hadde I none of you, thof I quaked.” The reference to “harbor” or shelter is echoed in line 681 (as in York 47.352).
686-89 Alas . . . . I not avoyde. This four line stanza, which effectively interrupts the dialogue, separating the questions of the other bad souls from the response by Jesus, has no equivalent in York.
687 Alas, that ever I it abode. That is, alas that I ever saw this day come.
712 Hyte, hyderwarde, ho. Hyte and ho are conventional cries to urge an animal forward (see 2.57 and note).
713 Harry Ruskyne. This appears to be the name of the first demon. “Old Harry” was a common name for the Devil in northern England, at least in later centuries (see OED Harry (n.2), sense 4), while “ruskin” is a term for the red fur of a squirrel, suggesting that the demon wears a furred garment as costume.
715-16 The meyn shall ye nebyll, / And I shall syng the trebill. The second demon tells the first to “nibble” — that is, to attempt to sing — the mean (or middle voice) while he takes the higher part as they sing in harmony. Singing treble normally suggests a boy’s part (see 9.270–72), which could mean that both the second demon and Tutivillus are played by boy actors (see the note to lines 337–38 above). On the other hand it is possible that these lines constitute a joking reference to other, more diabolical noises rather than to actual song.
717-18 Arevant the devill / Till all this hole rowte. The MED (revant (n.)) suggests that the original MS reading (A revant) involves a scribal error for tenour (n., sense 3), so that Tutivillus is to take the tenor part and sing with the two Demons, who take the (higher) mean and treble parts (see lines 715–16). SC argue instead that the otherwise unattested and obscure term Arevant is a form of the verb “to arrive” meaning “to bring” (OED arrive (v.), sense 4) — that is, they will sing, bringing the devil Tutivillus to the company of bad souls (SC p. 644n717), although of course they also bring themselves, and bring those souls to the devil in hell. The phrase could possibly name the song they are to sing, which would translate as “robbing the Devil” (see MED areven (v.)). It is also possible that the lines should be emended to read “A revenant the devill / Till, all this hole rowte” — that is, a returning to the devil of this whole company of bad souls, back to hell.
736-37 Gay gyrdyls, jaggid hode / Prankyd gownes, whedir. That is, where are your delightful belts, fashionably slashed hoods, and pleated gowns? For similar costume references, see notes to lines 419–20 and 452 above; however, this line implies that the bad souls are not thus dressed.
741 And youre synnes in youre nekkys. This line refers to the concept of “original sin,” the common inheritance of the sin of Adam and Eve, inherent in the flesh from birth, but with an allusion to sin as an offense worthy of hanging.
742-44 I beshrew thaym that rekkys / He comes to late that bekkys / Youre bodyes to borow. That is, I curse those who take pity on you; it is too late for anyone to offer (indicate a willingness) to ransom your bodies and save you from this punishment.
745-46 I wold cut thaym a skawte / And make theym be knawne. The word skawte is obscure but likely related to the Old Norse skaut, which can refer to a sheet or to the skirt of a garment. SC follow the MED in suggesting that the word here refers to a shroud, in contrast to the fine clothes these sinners once wore (p. 645n745). These lines would thus mean: I would cut a shroud for each of them, and let them be gnawed by worms (thus reading the last verb as a possible, if uncited, variation of MED gnauen (v.) — see SC p. 685 knawne) or perhaps by devils as in various medieval depictions of hell. However, a shroud seems redundant at this point, post-resurrection. More likely, “knawne” here means “known” in the sense of “revealed” or even “notorious” (see MED knouen (v.), sense 14), and the reference to the “skawte” is a mocking reference to the kind of fashion that is a sign of their sinfulness.
756-57 Bot now ar thai flemyd / From sayntys to recover. That is, all bad souls are now banished to hell, to take the place of the saintly souls who can no longer be kept there; see the note to lines 265–68, above.
754-55 Thare neghburs thai demyd / Thaymself as it semyd. That is, in judging others they have judged themselves; see Matthew 7:1–2.
777-79 It is commen in vowgard, / Youre Dame Malison / To bynde it. That is, your life of sin and your ill-gotten gains have preceded you to hell, awaiting your curse (while the curses of others against you await as well, as the next few lines suggest). A “malisoun” is a curse (see MED and OED malison), though here “Dame Malison” is a play on the common name of Alison.
782 prase at the partyng. The proverbial phrase “praise at the parting” means “save your praise until the departure” or the end of a performance (see line 8.385 and note), here referring not to praise, but to the curses laid upon sinners in life that now meet them in hell. See Whiting P39.
788 so falsly it falys. That is, lecherous and adulterous pleasures end falsely.
792 For moton. Mutton is of course the meat of a sheep, but also a slang term for ‘loose’ women and prostitutes. See OED mutton (n.), sense 4.
793-94 He that to that gam gose / Now namely on old tose. The MED glosses this last phrase as meaning simply “in old age,” but the lines also allude to what Chaucer refers to as “the olde daunce,” danced by the likes of the Wife of Bath (CT I[A] 476), old governesses (in the Physician’s Tale, CT VI[C] 79), and of course Pandarus (in Troilus and Cressida 3.694–95); “that gam” (see MED game (n.), senses 1 and 2d) is played or danced on old — that is experienced — toes (see MED olde (adj.), senses 1c and 5d). Yet the association of lechery with old age, here as in Chaucer, also ties in with reference to women as “mutton” (line 792 and note) — old sheep, as opposed to young lamb — and may have additional force onstage if both Tutivillus and the second demon are played by actors notably younger than the first demon (see note to lines 337–38 above) and possibly much of the audience.
809 A mese of ill ostre. The term “ostre” here is also a pun on hostelry (see MED hostri(e) — the lodging in hell will make the souls as sick as eating bad oysters would do.
812 Blaw wolfys-hede and oute-horne. The same two terms, referring to raising an outcry in pursuit of an outlaw, are also used in the Buffeting (see 18.202 and note).
814 Illa-haill were ye borne. See 18.196 and the note above to 27.812 regarding another repetition from the same stanza in the Buffeting; “illa-hail” is also found in the Pharaoh play (6.258), borrowed from York (11.245[b]).
343 We love thee . . . . With Te Deum laudamus. This 8-line stanza resembles in form those of the York play, which ends with a speech by Jesus, extending by one stanza his speech at lines 690–705 here; his speech is then followed by a stage direction indicating that angels should sing an unspecified melody. This speech by the first good soul, with a clear direction to sing the well-known Te Deum laudamus (see 22.416 and note), could well have formed the original ending to the York play as well, following the speech by “Deus” (see note to line 131–32, above).
Play 27, JUDGMENT: TEXTUAL NOTES
The edition by Stevens and Cawley for the Early English Text Society, along with the facsimile edition that they likewise co-edited, remains the chief source for analysis of the Towneley manuscript and its various textual annotations, corrections, marginalia, and other particularities. Unlike theirs, the current edition makes no note of most minor corrections, such as an obviously misplaced and crossed-out letter before a correctly written word, except where these might potentially affect understanding of the established text.
Abbreviations: EP: The Towneley Plays, ed. England and Pollard (EETS, 1897); Facs: The Towneley Cycle: A Facsimile of Huntington MS HM 1, ed. Cawley and Stevens; MED: Middle English Dictionary; MS: Huntington MS HM 1 (base text); SC: The Towneley Plays, ed. Stevens and Cawley (EETS, 1994); s.d.: stage direction; Surtees: The Towneley Mysteries, ed. Raine; York: The York Corpus Christi Plays, ed. Davidson (2011).
37 on oure. MS: oure on with short double strokes above the o in each word to indicate the transposition.
98 am I quyt. So SC. MS: am quyt.
114, s.d. Cum gladio. While other editions place this descriptive stage direction after the speech heading (including Douce’s 1822 Roxburghe Club transcription — see Judicium, p. iii), these two words are written above (and likely added after) the speech heading (primus angelus or Angel 1).
155 all. MS: written in a different hand over erasure.
157 to. MS: written in a different hand over erasure.
287 tokyn. So SC. MS: to kon.
315 ten thowsand. So EP. SC: x ml. MS: Xml.
339 Here have I be gesse. MS: Here I be gesse, emended for sense and rhythm. (See Explanatory Note to lines 339–40.)
407 thowsand. So EP. MS: >i
426 David in his sawtere says thus. MS: Yit of thise kyrkchaterars (anticipating line 430) crossed out before this line.
443 seven. So EP. MS: vij.
450 Purturd. So SC. EP: pictured. MS: puturd (d with flourish possibly signifying final e).
575, s.d. vulnera. SC: wulnera. MS: Wlnera.
636 Good Soul 3 (speech heading). MS: just below the speech heading (Tercius bonus) is a >i
678 Bad Soul 1 (speech heading). MS: the speech heading is wrongly cued to the following line.
688 am I dampned. MS: I inserted above line in another hand.
701, s.d. Tunc dicet malis. MS: the Latin stage direction is added in a different hand.
703 hell. So EP, SC. MS: hall.
706 go furth go. So SC. MS: the final word is smudged and nearly illegible.
717 Arevant. So SC. MS: A revant. See Explanatory Note to lines 717–18.
743 comes. MS: a partial letter is before this word.
766 hart-sare. MS: the long s is written heavily over another letter.
777 in. MS: written over an erasure and badly smudged.
After 830 Explicit Judicium. MS: underneath this, which is written in red, a later hand has written Explicit iuditium in small black letters.