30. The Tapiters' and Couchers' Play: Christ before Pilate I: The Dream of Pilate's Wife

You cursed creatures, that cruelly are crying,
Restrain yourselves from striving for the strength of my strokes.
Make your complaints in my presence-in order applying-
Or else this blade your brains will soon burst and break.
This blade the bone breaks
Of whoever much brawling brews.
That wretch may not worm away from wrack;
Nor his sleight-of-hand may not him slake.
Let that traitor not trust in my truce.

For Sir Caesar was my sire, and I certainly his son-
That excellent emperor, exalted in height,
Who all this wild world with its people, had won-
And my proud mother was Pila, who proud was in sight.
Of Pila the proud, Atus her father was by right.
This "Pila" was added to "Atus";
Now, folk, read you it right?
For thus, briefly, have I showed you in sight
Why I am acknowledged "Pil-Atus."

Lo, Pilate I am, proved a prince of great pride.
I was put into Pontus, the people to oppress.
And since then, Caesar himself, with senators by his side,
Remitted me these realms, the ranks to redress.
And yet, I am granted the grounds, as I guess,
To justify and judge all the Jews.
Ah, love; here, lady?  No less?
Lo, sirs; my worthy wife, that she is,
So seemly, lo, certain she shows.

There was never a judge in Jewry of so jocund a generation,
Nor of so joyful a genealogy, to gentry enjoined
As you, my duke doughty:  deemer of damnation
To those princes and prelates that your precepts purloined.
Whoever your precepts so pertly purloined,
With dread into death you shall send him.
Now I swear, he untruly is enthroned
Who against your behests has moaned;
All to rags shall you rip him and rend him.

I am Dame Precious Procula, of princes the prize,
Wife to Sir Pilate here, prince without peer.
The well of all womanhood I am, witty and wise.
Conceive now my countenance, so comely and clear.
The color of my complexion is clear,
And in richness of robes I am arrayéd.
There is no lord in this land, as I hear,
In faith, that has a friendlier peer
Than you, my lord-though I myself say it.

Well, you may say it safely, for I will certify the same.

Gracious lord, great thanks now; your good word is my gain.

Yet, to comfort my flesh, I must kiss you, madam.

To fulfil your command, my fair lord, I am fain.

Ho, ho!  Good fellows, I am eager again
By these lips to be kissed, very much
(In bed, she is never restrained!).

Yes, sir, there's no need to refrain;
All ladies love both to be both kissed and touched.

My liberal lord, oh, leader of laws,
Oh, shining show, who all shame eschews,
I beseech you, my sovereign, assent to my saws
As you are gentle judge, and justice of Jews.

Now, listen how this churl here chatters of Jews.
Worthless boy, I bid you go away.

Madam, I do that which is due.

Unless you stop talking, that you shall rue,
For a worthless wretch you are, I say.

Now cheer yourself, madam; your mood now amend,
For it seems it were fitting to see what he says.

He has never told news that did not me offend;
But with legal deceits he makes me go my ways.

Indeed, I must now dismiss you, for that is the law.

Oh, lord, this lad with his laws!
Do you think it worthwhile, his preaching to praise?

Yes, love; he knows all our custom,
I know well-

My lord, will you see now the sun in your sight?
For his so-stately strength he now dims, in his beams.
Behold, over your head, he descends from his height
And glides to the ground, with his glittering gleams.
To the ground he goes with his beams
And the night is approaching now soon.
You must not pay attention to dreams,
But let my lady here, as great as she seems,
Quickly go off to her room.

For you must, sir, this same night, judge of life and of limb.
It is not lawful for my lady, by the law of this land,
In this place to remain when the daylight grows dim.
For she may totter in the street unless she strongly can stand.
Let her take her leave while there's light.

Now, my wife, you must go, I command.

I will remain here, sir, at hand.

Look, this man has advised us both right.

Your commandment to go, I prepare to obey.
My lord, by your leave, no more I'll prevent you.

It would be a disgrace if you slunk thus away,
Or went off from this place before with wine you had wet you.
You shall go forth with joy when with wine you have wet you.
Get a drink; what are you doing?  Be done!
Come, seemly one, beside me, and sit you.
Look, now it is here, all that that I said you.
Yes, say it now soberly and soon.

It will make me glad, lord, if you clearly begin.

Now I assent to your counsel so comely and clear.
Now, drink, madam, and leave off this din.

If it please you, my lord, I need not be taught here.
I need not to study this lore.

Give some to your maiden, madam.

In your hand, hold this now; have some; here.

Great thanks to my lady so dear.

Now farewell, and walk on your way.

Now farewell, the friendliest, against foes to defend.

Now farewell, the fairest figure that ever did feed,
And farewell, you, maiden, indeed.

My lord, I commend me to your royalty.

Fair lady, here is one who will lead;
Sir, go with this worthy person with speed,
And what she bids you do, look that obedient you be.

I am proud and ready to pass on apace,
To go with this gracious one, her good self to guide.

Be attent to my order; deviate in no trace.
Come back and tell me if any tidings betide.

If any tidings to my lady betide
I shall at once, sir, come back to say.
This seemly one shall I show to one side
At once, sir; no longer we abide.

Now farewell, and walk on your way.

My wife now is gone, though it was not her will.
And she goes to her rest as if bothered by naught.
It is time now, I tell you, to attend me until.
And make this quick, my good man, for to bed I were brought.
And look I be richly arrayed.

As your servant I have soberly it sought,
And this night, sir, annoying shall be nought,
I dare say, fron your being lovingly laid.

I command you to come near, for I will go to my couch.
Have me in your hands, handily, and heave me from hence.
But look that you vex me not with your handling, but tenderly me 	touch.

Ah!  Sir, you wiegh much.

			Yes; I have wet me with wine.
Now, lay me down and cover me here
For I will secretly sleep for a time..
Look that no man or minion of mine
With no noise may come anywhere near.

Sir, whatever warlock awakens you with words full wild,
That boy, for his brawling, were better to be unborn.

Yes, whoever chatters, him chastise be he churl or child,
For, if he escapes unscathed it would be to us great scorn;
If unscathed he escaped it were scorn.
Whatever ribald readlily shall roar,
I shall meet with that minion in the morn,
And for his late lewdness teach him to be torn.

Ah!  So, sir, sleep now, and say no more.

Now we are at home.  Do help if you may,
For I will make ready to go to my rest.

You are weary, madam, for walking your way;
Do get you to bed, for that I think best.

Here is a bed, arranged with the best.

Do help me, and then go away.

Madam, everything is now duly dressed.

With no stalking or strife you'll be stressed.

Now hold you your peace, all this chatting and cry.

Out!  Out!  Harrow!
Into bale am I brought!  This bargain may I ban!
Unless I work some wile, then woe have I won!
This gentleman Jesus, ah!  Curse me he can;
By all the signs, I see that he must be God's son.
If he be slain, our solace will cease.
He will save man's soul from our claws,
And deprive us of our lands and laws.
I will resolutely, with no pause,
Go to Pilate's wife, steathily, and try this at least.

Oh, woman, be wise and aware, and know with your wit
Unjustly shall be judged a gentleman, Jesus,
Before your husband in haste, and by scoundrels shall be hit.
If that good man today to death should be condemned thus
For his preaching, then Sir Pilate and you
Must needs be especially annoyed:
Your strength and your efforts destroyed,
Your riches lost-you'll not avoid
Vengeance, that dare I avow.

Ah!  I am torn with a dream, full fearfully to dread.
Say, child, rise up rapidly, and rest no more now.
You must rush to my lord, and to him bow your head;
Commend me to his reverence, as soon I will do.

Oh, what, must I get up so early this tide?
Madam, by the annoying of Heaven,
Such business is a bother to mention;
And it's getting towards midnight full even.

Go get, boy, I bid you no longer abide.

And say to my sovereign, this same is the truth that I tell him:
All naked this night as I napped,
With pain and with guile was I trapped,
With a dream that with speed me enwrapped
Of one Jesus, a just man the Jews would undo.
Say, "Take heed to that true man; with pain be not trapped,
But as a judge, duly, be addressing,
And in good faith, let that man be freed."

Madam, I'm addressed to that deed.
But first I will nap in this need,
For he has need of a morning sleep who midnight is missing.

Sir Caiaphas, you know well this captive we have snatched
Who, oftentimes in our temple has taught untruly.
Our minions with their might at midnight him matched,
And have driven him to his doom, for his deeds unruly.
Therefore I counsel that, by custom, we go
To Sir Pilate, our prince, and pray him
That he for our rights will arraign him,
This liar, for his falsehoods to flay him.
For once we tell him the truth it will vex him, I know.

Sir Annas, this sport you have speedily espied,
As I am pontifical prince of all priests.
We will press on to Sir Pilate, and present him with pride
With this scoundrel, that has hewed our hearts from our breasts,
Through the telling of his tales untrue.
And therefore, sir knights-


Sir knights, that are courteous and kind,
We charge you, that that churl be well chained.
Get going, and quickly him bind,
And tug him with ropes so his lies he shall rue.

Sir, your sayings shall be served shortly, and soon.
Yeah, come fellows, by your faith; let us bind this liar fast.

I am ready for this deed; come on now, have done.
Let us pull on with pride, till his power has passed.

Tie him fast; make it hold at his hands.

This same is the one that so carelessly boasted,
And that he was God's son, he granted.

He is hurled from the highness he haunted.
Look, he's frightened of us; he stares where he stands.

Now is the bastard bound, for all the boasts that he's blown;
On the Last Day, he said, no lordlings might bruise him.

Yes; he believed that this world had been wholly his own.
As you are strongest today, to his doom you shall draw him,
And then we shall know how he tries to excuse.

Here, you folks, stand aside; make us way.
We must step to this star of estate.

We must quickly go in by this way;
For he that comes to court, to courtesy must use him.

Just rap on those ranks; let's arise with this fellow.
Come on, Sir Coward; why cower you behind?

What brawlers are you, that play tricks and bellow?

Ah, good sir, be not angry, for words are like wind.

Troublemakers, go back with your gauds.

Be patient with us, I beseech you,
And more of this matter we'll teach you.

Why, you ignorant knaves, if I catch you,
I shall fell you, by my faith, for all your false frauds.

Now, fellow, be damned!  What churls are so chattering?

My lord, ignorant knaves.  They cry and they call.

Go quickly, at once, and those bastards get battering,
And put them in prison, on the pain that may fall.
But speedily ask them if any sport they can spell,
Yes, and find out what people they be.

My lord, who loves tranquillity,
I obey, and at once, cheerfully.

And if they talk any tidings, come quickly to tell.

Can you talk any tidings, by your faith, my fellows?

Yes, sir:  Sir Caiaphas and Annas are both come together
To Sir Pilate of Pontus, the prince of our laws,
And they have caught a foul wretch, outlawed altogether.

My lord, my lord!


My lord, get up now at once where you lie.
Sir Caiaphas to your court has been carried,
And Sir Annas; but a traitor made them tarry.
That wizard has cursed very many;
They have brought him in bonds, to pay for his lies.

Are these charges for certain, in truth, that you say?

Yes, lord, the princes now stand, and for strife they are stunned.

Now, then, I am light as a deer, and eager for day.
Go bid them come in, and the boy they have bound.

Sirs, my lord gives his leave in for to come.

Hail, prince that is peerless in price;
You are the leader of laws in this land;
Your help has been always at hand.

Hail, strong in your office to stand;
All this doom must be given by your lawful advice.

Who is there?  My prelates?

			Yes, lord.

					Now, welcome indeed.

We thank you, my sovereign.  But we ask you all the same:
We awoke you, but be not more wroth than you need,
For we brought you a captive; he looks like a lamb.

Come in, you both, and to the bench get you.

No, sir, lower is good enough for us.

Ah, Sir Caiaphas, now be courteous.

Nay, good lord, it may not be thus.

Say no more, but come sit down humbly beside me as I said you.

Hail, O seemliest sire under the sun sought!
Hail, dearest duke, and most mighty of men!

Now, welcome, good sir, and what word have you brought?
Has my lady come down with some sickness again?

Sir, that comely one commends her to you
And says, naked all night as she napped,
With trouble and toil was she trapped,
With a dream that at once her enwrapped
Of one Jesus, the just man the Jews will undo.

She beseeches you as her sovereign, that good man to save;
Doom him not to death, for vengeance may fall.

What?  I think this is he, that to me hauled you have.

Yes, sir, the same and the self.  But this is some spell;
With witchcraft this trick he has wrought.
Some devilish slave he has sent
And instructed your wife, ere he went.

Enough!  To death he'll not wrongly be sent;
That is both true and certain.  The truth should be sought.

Yes, through phantoms and falsehoods and crafts of the fiend
He has made many wonders where he walked far and wide.
Therefore, my lord, it is fitting his life now should end.

Be you ever so angry, you both must abide
Till the traitor is caught in a lie.
And therefore, be still; speak no more.
I will certainly send himself for,
And see what words he has in store.
Beadle, go bring him; for him, pity have I.

This order to obey, I am eager in heart.
Say, Jesus, the judges and the Jews have me enjoined
To bring you before them, even bound as you are.
Those lords:  your destruction they've long had in mind.
But first I shall worship you with my wit and my will.
This reverence I do you hereby;
For men that were miser than I,
They worshipped you wholly, on high,
And with solmenity sing Hosanna still.

My lord, who is leader of laws in this place,
All beadles to your bidding should be obedient and bain;
And yet this boy here before you boldly bowed down his face
To worship this warlock.  I think we work all in vain.

Yes, and in your presence he asked him for peace;
Kneeling on knees to this knave,
He asked him his servant to save.

Look, lord, such heresy among them they have,
It is sorrow to see; none can make it cease.

It is no honour to you, who are so much in might,
To permit such offences that falsely are feigned;
Such spites in special should be eschewed in your sight.

Sirs!  Do not speak in this way, but be well restrained;
That courtesy, I guess, had some cause.

In your sight, sir, the truth I will say.
As you are a prince, take heed, I you pray.
Such a villain unloyal, I dare to say,
Might cause many lords of our land to break laws.

Say, knave, who gave you leave thus to honour that lad,
And give him solace in my sight, in the way that I saw?

Ah, gracious lord, grieve not, for a good cause I had.
You commanded me to go, as you very well know,
To Jerusalem, on a long trip.
And there, this seemly one on an ass was set,
And many men humbly him met;
As a God on that ground they did greet
Him, and sang psalms on his way, with loyal worship.

"Hosanna," they sang, "O son of David."
Rich men with their robes, they ran to his feet,
And poor folk fetched flowers, and did
Make such mirth and melody, this man for to meet.

Now, good sir, by your faith, what is "Hosanna" to say?

Sir, construe it we may by the language of this land, I believe.
I think it means, as I conceive
(Your prelates in this place can prove),
"Our saviour and sovereign, save us, we pray."

Well, sirs, now how think you?  The truth I have said.

But, lord, this lad is deceived, by this light.
If his sayings were searched, and soberly assayed-
Save your reverence, his reasons do not reckon up right.
This villain misleadingly tells us.

Sirs, truly the truth I have told
Of this man who a prisoner you hold.

I say, villain, your tongue you should hold,
And not against your masters dispute thus.

Do cease of your speaking, and I shall examine him here.

Sir, doom him to death or put him away.

Sir, are you done?

		Yes, lord.

			Then sit down, with calmness and care.
No man who is loyal shall I ever destroy.
But step forth and stand up on height
And listen to my bidding, now, boy.
And, for the record, give us an "oy."

I am here at your hand, to halloo a "hoy;"
Now proclaim all your order; I'll shout it out right.

Cry "Oyez."


		Again, by your faith.


Yet louder, that every person may hear.
Cry peace in this crowd, upon pain thereupon;
Bid them cease all their noise, swiftly, all here,
And leave off their arguing and stand still as a stone.
Call Jesus, descendent of Jacob, the Jew.
Come quickly and appear.
To the bar draw near,
To your judgement here,
To be judged for your deeds undue.

Well, look at this hooligan's misconduct here;
This scoundrel to my lord does not care to bow.

Say, beggar, why fight us?  Go on to the bar.

Step on the stand; it's strong enough, now.

Step on the stand and stay still.

Sir Coward, to court you must go-

-to learn of our laws, so you'll know.

Get going, and bad luck to you.

Say, warlock, you're lacking in will.

Oh, Jesus ignoble!  Your joy is in jokes.
You cannot be courteous.  You!  Villain, I call you;
It would be right to rig you up, rip you with ropes.
Why don't you fall flat here, foully fall you,
For fear of my father so free?
You know not his wisdom, I guess;
All your hope in his hands as it is,
How soon he might save you from this.
Obey him, you villain, I say.

Now, Jesus, you are welcome indeed, as I mean.
Be not afraid, but boldly come up to the bar.
The elders who accuse you, I surely have seen
(To work on this warlock?  His wits are not here.).
Come, priest, on your oath, and appear,
And sir prelates, your points must you prove.
Why do you this fellow accuse?
This matter to me you must move,
And quickly, in haste, let us hear.

Sir Pilate of Pontus, prince of great price,
We trust you will trust that our tales will be true,
And doom him to death, with your lawful device.
For cursedness this knave has in mind.  If you knew,
In heart you would hate this man too.
For if it were not so
(We meant not to misdo;
Agree, sir, you must thereto),
We would not have him taken to you.

Sir, your tales I'd believe, but they are not to the point.
What cause can you find now, this man for to kill?

Our Sabbath he keeps not; he does freely assent
To work, unwisely, and that I know well.
He works when he will; I know that,
And therefore, in heart, him we hate.
It befits you, to preserve your estate,
To kill this wretch for his foul life.

To kill men for their manner of living is not lawful.
Your laws are their own; to your laws it belongs
To settle this business with punishments awful,
And woe you may work him by law, if he is wrong.
Therefore, take him yourselves right along,
And, if your own laws that way lead,
Then doom him to death for his deed.

No, no, sir.  Such a thing must we dread.

We are not allowed to bring life to an end.

What?  Then you want me to do it?  May the Devil you draw!
So many are his foes, so few are his friends.
To deprive him of life belongs to no law,
Nor no cause can I logically perceive
Why that he should lose his life.

Ah, good sir, the trouble is rife;
Everywhere he has stirred such a strife
Among lawbiding folk; this believe.

Sir, lame men and wounded he healed in all haste;
The deaf and the dumb he delivered from dole
By witchcraft, I warrant-his wits must waste-
For the marvels he deals in, they follow that fool;
Our folk he frightens altogether.

The dead he raises, I own.
One Lazarus who low laid alone
He made to rise up, flesh and bone,
And openly thus proved his power.

Now, good sirs, I say, just what is your will?

Sir, to death for to do him; to death him to draw.

Ah, because he does good things, I must have him killed?
Get a job as a jester; where learned you such a law?
This touches no treason, I tell you.
You prelates, so praised to the skies,
You should be both clever and wise
And expound the law just where it lies;
Our matters you must move thus among you.

Misplease not your person, O prince without peer;
It touches on treason, this tale I shall tell:
This vagrant did readily bid to forbear
The tribute to the emperor.  Thus would he compel
Our people thus his words to apply.

The people, he says, he shall save,
And "Christ" makes them call him, that knave,
And says he will the high kingdom have.
Now judge whether he ought to die.

To die he deserves if he does thus indeed.
But I will see for myself what he says.
Speak, Jesus, and take now your turn, with all speed.
These lords both allege that you violate our laws;
They accuse you, cruelly, and keen.
Therefore, as a chieftain, I charge you:
If you are Christ, you must tell me-
If "God's Son" you do not scruple to call you-
For this is the matter I mean.

You say so yourself.  I am truly the same,
Here dwelling in the world to work all my will.
My Father is faithful to end all your fame;
Without trespass or trouble I am taken you till.

Well, bishops?  Why blame you this boy?
I think it is truth that he says.
You allege all the malice you may
With your traps and your wiles to shut him away,
Unjustly this man to destroy.

Not so, sir.  If his saying is literal truth,
He dooms all our people, in prison to bind.

Sir, doubtless we judge him deserving of death,
This fool that you favour.  Great faults we can find
This day for to doom him to die.

You villain, you lie, by this light!
No, you rascal, you reckon not right.

Consider, with main and with might,
And wreak not your wrath wrongfully.

I like not your language; you presume much with me.

Ah, mercy, lord, humbly, no malice we meant.

Well, think it forgotten.  And now, candidly,
Talk on that "traitor," and tell your intent.
That man is subtle, you say.
Good sirs, where learned he such lore?

In faith, we cannot find where.

Did his father keep some wiles in store
And teach this lad of his ways?

No, no, sir, we know that he was but a wright;
No subtlety he showed that any man saw.

Then you mean, in pure malice, to destroy him by might,
And to curse and convict for no cause that you know.
I marvel you do so amiss.

Sir, from Galilee, and all the land through,
Great numbers of folk to him did go,
This warlock inciting to woe,
And of all his work bear witness.

What?  Has he been to Galilee, that troublesome lad?

Yes, born and bred there, that foul man.

Now, in all truth, my friends, I surely am glad,
For now all our strife shall certainly end.
Sir Herod is king of that land;
His power is sufficient, and best
To free him or rob him of rest.
And therefore, to go with your guest,
Take with you our manliest men.

As wit and as wisdom, your will shall be wrought.
Here are the men; they are eager to the king for to go.

Now, sirs, I say to you, since the truth shall be sought,
Unless he quickly is sent, it may hurt us all.  So,
I say to you, knights-

Sir knights, who are cruel and keen,
That warlock you bind painfully;
And be sure to beat him eagerly.
Now, take up that traitor, you between.

To Herod in haste with this man go, quickly.
Commend me with courtesy to his great might.
Say, the doom of this boy, to judge him to die,
Is bestowed on him duly, as the law says is right;
Or, his life, if it please him, to grant.
Say, if I can assist any way,
I am his own servant, always.

My lord, we shall go there today.
Come here with this traitor flagrant.

Good sirs, I bid you be not too bold,
But remember our tribute truly to entreat.

My lord, we shall go; to your wish we shall hold,
And perform it all wisely, with will and with wit.

So, sirs, I think it is fitting.

May Mahound, good sirs, honour you with might-

-and save you, sir, seemly in sight.

Now, with a vengeance, walk on with that wight,
And briskly be off in your flitting.

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