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Sir Thomas More: Act I, Scene 2

Sir Thomas More
Act I, Scene 2

London. The Sessions House.

  1. An arras is drawn, and behind it as in sessions sit the Lord
  2. Mayor, Justice Suresby, and other Justices; Sheriff More and
  3. the other Sheriff sitting by. Smart is the plaintiff, Lifter
  4. the prisoner at the bar. Recorder, Officers.

Lord Mayor

1 - 3
  1. Having dispatched our weightier businesses,
  2. We may give ear to petty felonies.
  3. Master Sheriff More, what is this fellow?

More

4 - 5
  1. My lord, he stands indicted for a purse;
  2. He hath been tried, the jury is together.

Lord Mayor

6
  1. Who sent him in?

Suresby

7 - 9
  1.                  That did I, my lord:
  2. Had he had right, he had been hanged ere this;
  3. The only captain of the cutpurse crew.

Lord Mayor

10
  1. What is his name?

Suresby

11 - 12
  1. As his profession is, Lifter, my lord,
  2. One that can lift a purse right cunningly.

Lord Mayor

13
  1. And is that he accuses him?

Suresby

14 - 16
  1. The same, my lord, whom, by your honors leave,
  2. I must say somewhat too, because I find
  3. In some respects he is well worthy blame.

Lord Mayor

17 - 18
  1. Good Master Justice Suresby, speak your mind;
  2. We are well pleased to give you audience.

Suresby

19 - 22
  1. Hear me, Smart; thou art a foolish fellow:
  2. If Lifter be convicted by the law,
  3. As I see not how the jury can acquit him,
  4. I’ll stand too ’t thou art guilty of his death.

More

23
  1. My lord, that’s worthy the hearing.

Lord Mayor

24
  1.                                     Listen, then, good Master More.

Suresby

25 - 42
  1. I tell thee plain, it is a shame for thee,
  2. With such a sum to tempt necessity;
  3. No less than ten pounds, sir, will serve your turn,
  4. To carry in your purse about with ye,
  5. To crake and brag in taverns of your money:
  6. I promise ye, a man that goes abroad
  7. With an intent of truth, meeting such a booty,
  8. May be provoked to that he never meant.
  9. What makes so many pilferers and felons,
  10. But such fond baits that foolish people lay
  11. To tempt the needy miserable wretch?
  12. Ten pounds, odd money; this is a pretty sum
  13. To bear about, which were more safe at home.
  14. ’Fore God, ’twere well to fine ye as much more.
  15. Lord Mayor and More whisper.
  16. To the relief of the poor prisoners,
  17. To teach ye be more careful of your own,
  18. In sooth, I say ye were but rightly served,
  19. If ye had lost as much as twice ten pounds.

More

43 - 44
  1. Good my lord, sooth a point or two for once,
  2. Only to try conclusions in this case.

Lord Mayor

45 - 47
  1. Content, good Master More. We’ll rise awhile,
  2. And, till the jury can return their verdict,
  3. Walk in the garden. How say ye, Justices?

All

48
  1. We like it well, my lord; we’ll follow ye.
  1. Exeunt Lord Mayor and Justices.

More

49 - 51
  1. Nay, plaintiff, go you too;—and officers,
  2. Exit Smart.
  3. Stand you aside, and leave the prisoner
  4. To me awhile. Lifter, come hither.

Lifter

52
  1. What is your worship’s pleasure?

More

53 - 62
  1. Sirrah, you know that you are known to me,
  2. And I have often saved ye from this place,
  3. Since first I came in office. Thou seest beside,
  4. That Justice Suresby is thy heavy friend,
  5. By all the blame that he pretends to Smart,
  6. For tempting thee with such a sum of money.
  7. I tell thee what; devise me but a means
  8. To pick or cut his purse, and, on my credit,
  9. And as I am a Christian and a man,
  10. I will procure they pardon for that jest.

Lifter

63 - 69
  1. Good Master Sheriff, seek not my overthrow:
  2. You know, sir, I have many heavy friends,
  3. And more indictments like to come upon me.
  4. You are too deep for me to deal withal;
  5. You are known to be one of the wisest men
  6. That is in England. I pray ye, Master Sheriff,
  7. Go not about to undermine my life.

More

70 - 78
  1. Lifter, I am true subject to my king;
  2. Thou much mistak’st me. And, for thou shall not think
  3. I mean by this to hurt thy life at all,
  4. I will maintain the act when thou hast done it.
  5. Thou knowest there are such matters in my hands,
  6. As if I pleased to give them to the jury,
  7. I should not need this way to circumvent thee.
  8. All that I aim at is a merry jest:
  9. Perform it, Lifter, and expect my best.

Lifter

79 - 81
  1. I thank your worship. God preserve your life!
  2. But Master Justice Suresby is gone in;
  3. I know not how to come near where he is.

More

82 - 85
  1. Let me alone for that; I’ll be thy setter;
  2. I’ll send him hither to thee presently,
  3. Under the color of thine own request
  4. Of private matters to acquaint him with.

Lifter

86 - 87
  1. If ye do so, sir, then let me alone;
  2. Forty to one but then his purse is gone.

More

88 - 90
  1. Well said. But see that thou diminish not
  2. One penny of the money, but give it me;
  3. It is the cunning act that credits thee.

Lifter

91 - 97
  1. I will, good Master Sheriff, I assure ye.
  2. Exit More.
  3. I see the purpose of this gentleman
  4. Is but to check the folly of the Justice,
  5. For blaming others in a desperate case,
  6. Wherein himself may fall as soon as any.
  7. To save my life, it is a good adventure:
  8. Silence there, ho! Now doth the Justice enter.
  1. Enter Justice Suresby.

Suresby

98 - 100
  1. Now, sirrah, now, what is your will with me?
  2. Wilt thou discharge thy conscience like an honest man?
  3. What sayest to me, sirrah? Be brief, be brief.

Lifter

101 - 102
  1. As brief, sir, as I can.
  2. Aside.
  3. If ye stand fair, I will be brief anon.

Suresby

103
  1. Speak out, and mumble not. What sayest thou, sirrah?

Lifter

104 - 105
  1. Sir, I am charged, as God shall be my comfort,
  2. With more than’s true.

Suresby

106 - 112
  1. Sir, sir, ye are indeed, with more than’s true,
  2. For you are flatly charged with felony;
  3. You’re charged with more than truth, and that is theft;
  4. More than a true man should be charged withal;
  5. Thou art a varlet, that’s no more than true.
  6. Trifle not with me; do not, do not, sirrah;
  7. Confess but what thou knowest, I ask no more.

Lifter

113
  1. There be, sir, there be, if’t shall please your worship

Suresby

114 - 115
  1. There be, varlet! What be there? Tell me what there be.
  2. Come off or on. There be! What be there, knave?

Lifter

116 - 118
  1. There be, sir, diverse very cunning fellows,
  2. That, while you stand and look them in the face,
  3. Will have your purse.

Suresby

119 - 121
  1.                       Th’art an honest knave:
  2. Tell me what are they? Where they may be caught?
  3. Aye, those are they I look for.

Lifter

122 - 125
  1.                                 You talk of me, sir;
  2. Alas, I am a puny! There’s one indeed
  3. Goes by my name, he puts down all for purses;
  4. He’ll steal your worship’s purse under your nose.

Suresby

126 - 129
  1. Ha, ha! Art thou so sure, varlet?
  2. Well, well,
  3. Be as familiar as thou wilt, my knave;
  4. Tis this I long to know.

Lifter

130 - 134
  1. And you shall have your longing ere ye go.
  2. This fellow, sir, perhaps will meet ye thus,
  3. Or thus, or thus, and in kind compliment
  4. Pretend acquaintance, somewhat doubtfully;
  5. And these embraces serve

Suresby

135
  1. Aye, marry, Lifter, wherefore serve they?
  1. Shrugging gladly.

Lifter

136 - 138
  1. Only to feel
  2. Whether you go full under sail or no,
  3. Or that your lading be aboard your bark.

Suresby

139 - 140
  1. In plainer English, Lifter, if my purse
  2. Be stored or no?

Lifter

141
  1.                  Ye have it, sir.

Suresby

142
  1.                  Excellent, excellent.

Lifter

143 - 146
  1. Then, sir, you cannot but for manner’s sake
  2. Walk on with him; for he will walk your way,
  3. Alleging either you have much forgot him,
  4. Or he mistakes you.

Suresby

147
  1. But in this time has he my purse or no?

Lifter

148 - 150
  1. Not yet, sir, fie!—
  2. Aside.
  3. No, nor I have not yours.
  4. Enter Lord Mayor, and c.
  5. But now we must forbear; my lords return.

Suresby

151 - 156
  1. A murrain on’t!—Lifter, we’ll more anon:
  2. Aye, thou sayest true, there are shrewd knaves indeed:
  3. He sits down.
  4. But let them gull me, widgen me, rook me, fop me!
  5. I’faith, i’faith, they are too short for me.
  6. Knaves and fools meet when purses go:
  7. Wise men look to their purses well enough.

More

157
  1. Aside.
  2. Lifter, is it done?

Lifter

158
  1. Aside.
  2.                     Done, Master Sheriff; and there it is.

More

159
  1. Aside.
  2. Then build upon my word. I’ll save thy life.

Recorder

160 - 162
  1. Lifter, stand to the bar:
  2. The jury have returned the guilty; thou must die,
  3. According to the custom. Look to it, Master Shreeve.

Lord Mayor

163 - 167
  1. Then, gentlemen, as you are wont to do,
  2. Because as yet we have no burial place,
  3. What charity your meaning’s to bestow
  4. Toward burial of the prisoners now condemned,
  5. Let it be given. There is first for me.

Recorder

168
  1. And there for me.

First Officer

169
  1.                   And me.

Suresby

170 - 171
  1.         Body of me,
  2. My purse is gone!

More

172
  1.                   Gone, sir! What, here! How can that be?

Lord Mayor

173
  1. Against all reason, sitting on the bench.

Suresby

174
  1. Lifter, I talked with you; you have not lifted me? Ha?

Lifter

175
  1. Suspect ye me, sir? Oh, what a world is this!

More

176 - 177
  1. But hear ye, master Suresby; are ye sure
  2. Ye had a purse about ye?

Suresby

178 - 179
  1. Sure, Master Sheriff! As sure as you are there,
  2. And in it seven pounds, odd money, on my faith.

More

180 - 196
  1. Seven pounds, odd money! What, were you so mad,
  2. Being a wise man and a magistrate,
  3. To trust your purse with such a liberal sum?
  4. Seven pounds, odd money! ’Fore God, it is a shame,
  5. With such a sum to tempt necessity:
  6. I promise ye, a man that goes abroad
  7. With an intent of truth, meeting such a booty,
  8. May be wrought to that he never thought.
  9. What makes so many pilferers and felons,
  10. But these fond baits that foolish people lay
  11. To tempt the needy miserable wretch?
  12. Should he be taken now that has your purse,
  13. I’d stand to’t, you are guilty of his death;
  14. For, questionless, he would be cast by law.
  15. Twere a good deed to fine ye as much more,
  16. To the relief of the poor prisoners,
  17. To teach ye lock your money up at home.

Suresby

197 - 198
  1. Well, Master More, you are a merry man;
  2. I find ye, sir, I find ye well enough.

More

199 - 204
  1. Nay, ye shall see, sir, trusting thus your money,
  2. And Lifter here in trial for like case,
  3. But that the poor man is a prisoner,
  4. It would be now suspected that he had it.
  5. Thus may ye see what mischief often comes
  6. By the fond carriage of such needless sums.

Lord Mayor

205 - 207
  1. Believe me, Master Suresby, this is strange,
  2. You, being a man so settled in assurance,
  3. Will fall in that which you condemned in other.

More

208 - 210
  1. Well, Master Suresby, there’s your purse again,
  2. And all your money. Fear nothing of More;
  3. Wisdom still keeps the mean and locks the door.
  1. Exeunt.
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