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WILLIAM DE LA POLE, DUKE OF SUFFOLK.
A LETTER? (DATED APRIL 28, 1450) FROM WILLIAM DE LA POLE, DUKE OF SUFFOLK, TO HIS SON, JOHN DE LA POLE.
(FROM "THE PASTON LETTERS.")
My dere and only welbeloved Sone, I beseche oure Lord in Heven, the maker of alle the world, to blesse you and to sende you ever grace to love hym and to drede hym, to the which, as ferre (for) as a fader may charge his child, I both charge you and prei you to sette alle your spirites and wittes to do and to knowe his holy Lawes and Comaundments, by the which ye shall with his grete mercy passe alle the grete tempestes and troubles of this wrecched world, and that also wetyngly, 2 (wittingly, knowingly) ye do no thyng for love nor drede of any èrthely creature that shuld displese hym.
And there as (whenever) any freelte (frailty) maketh you to falle besecheth (beseech) hys mercy soone to calle you to hym agen with repentaunce, satisfaccioun, and contricioun of your herte, never more in will to offende hym.
Secoundly, next hym, above alle erthely thyng, to be trewe lieget man in hert, in wille, in thought, in dede unto the kyng oure alder mostó (most of all, greatest) high and dredde Sovereygne Lord, to whom bothe ye and I been (are) so
(1) “May not this well-written epistle alone entitle this duke to a place among the noble authors of England? Doubtless, in that age, the letter was much admired, as even at this period of refined literature it may be called a good and an affecting composition"-Fenn, editor of “The Paston Letters."
This letter seems to have been written only a few days before the writer's death. “Suffolk " is one of the principal characters in Shakspere's Second Part of Henry VI. The poet's estimate, which is the same as that of Hume and others, gives a different notion of the man from that which one would gather from this excellent letter,
(2) Wittingly, fr. A.S. witendlice, knowingly. See Gen. xlviii. 14. (3) Besecheth. The early form of the imper, mood, once more.
(4) Lieye-man, fr. Fr. homme lige, wh. fr. Lat. ligare, to bind. The liege-man is bound to do service as a vassal, and the lord is also bound to aid the vassal: and hence is frequently called the liege.
(5) Alder most. See note 2, p. 18.
moche bounde too; chargyng you as fader can and may, rather to die than to be the contrarye, or to knowe any thyng that were ayenste the welfare or prosperite of his most riall (Royal) persone, but that as ferre as youre body and lyf may strecthe stretch) ye lyve and die to defende prevent) it, and to lete his Highnesse have knowlache thereof in alle the haste ye can.
Thirdly, in the same wyse (manner), I charge you, my dere sone, alwey as ye be bounden by the commaundement of God to do, to love, to worshepel (honour) youre lady and moder, and also that ye obey alwey hyr commaundements, and to beleve (trust, confide in) hyr councelles (counsels) and advises in alle youre werks, the which dredeth not (fear not) but shall be best and trewest to you; and yef (if) any other body wold stere (steer, direct) you to the contrarie, to flee the councell (counsel) in any wyse, for ye shall finde it nought and evyll.
Forthermore, as ferre as fader may and can, I charge you in any wyse to flee the company and councel (counsel) of proude men, of coveitowse men, and of flateryng men the more especially, and myghtily to withstonde hem (them) and not to drawe ne (nor) to medle3 (mingle) with hem, with all youre myght and power, and to drawe to you and to your company good and virtuowse men, and such as ben (are) of good conversacon and of trouthe, and be (by) them shal ye never be desey ved ner (nor) repente you off.
Moreover, never follow youre owne witte (understanding) in no wyse, but in alle youre werkes, of suche folks as I write of above, axeth (ask) youre advise and counsel, and doying thus, with the mercy of God ye shall do right well and lyve in right
(1) Worshepe. See note 5, p. 29.
(2) Beleve or leve, fr. A.S. gelyfan or geleafan or lyfan. The exact etymology of the radical of this word is very doubtful. Some connect it with leave, others with live, and, strangest of all, Archdeacon Smith (“Common Words with Curious Derivations") derives it from libido! Possibly, however, it may be more plausibly connected with A.S. leof or 0.E. leve, dear, and may signify to hold dear, a sense which is favoured by the meaning in the above passage," belrve her counsels," hold them dear, value them highly. So “I believe in doctrine," i.e. hold it dear, trust to it.
(3) Medle, probably fr. Fr. mêler (wh. fr. low Lat. misculari), with the strengthening consonant d. We also have mell in the same sense. It simply means to mix or mingle, and is used in 0.E. concurrently with the A.S., mengian, fr. wh. we have mingle. Its connection with the Eng. meddle, intermeddle, medley, pella mell, and the Fr. mélée, melange, pêle-méle, is obvious. Wiclif has “ Wyn medlid with gall;" Chaucer_" Medling of colours ;” and Bishop Hall—" Mell not with holy things."
moche worship (in very great honour) and grete herts rest and
And I wyll be to you as good lord and fader as my hert can thynke.
And last of all, as hertily and as lovyngly as ever fader blessed his childe in (on) erthe, I geve you the blessyng of Oure Lord and of me (and my own), which (who of his infynite mercy encrece you (prosper you) in alle vertu and good lyvyng, and that youre blood may by his grace, from kynredel (kindred, generation) to kynrede multiply in (on) this erthe to his servise in such wyse as (that) after the departyng fro this wreched world here, ye and théi may glorifye hym eternally amongs his aungelys in hevyn.
Wreten of (by) myn hand, the day of my departying fro this land,
Your trewe and loving fader, April, 1450.
WILLIAM PASTON. A LETTER FROM AN ETON BOY, OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY, TO HIS BROTHER.
(WRITTEN FEBRUARY 23, 1467-8.)
To his Worchepfull broder John Paston be thys delyvered
in hast. RYGAT reverent and worchepfull broder, after all dewtes of recomendacioun I recomaunde me to you (I present my compli
(1) Kynrede, fr. A.S. cynren. The term. is not accounted for, but the introduotion of the d to strengthen the liquid n is common. So soun is now sound.
(2) This letter combines, as Knight remarks, “very curiously an account of the writer's schoolboy studies and progress with that of his courtship and a description of his mistress.” It is referred to by Hallam (" State of Europe during the Middle Ages," iii. 597) as showing that “Latin versification was taught at Eton as early as the beginning of Edward the Fourth's reign. It is true that the specimen he (Master W. Paston) rather proudly exhibits, does not differ much from what we denominate nonsense verses. But a more material observation is, that the song of country gentlemen living at a considerable distance were already sent to public schools for grammatical education." Young Paston seems to have been an oppidan, not a foundationer; and was, probably (says Sir John Fenn), about 18 or 20 at this time.
ments to you), desyryng to here of yower prosperite and welfare, whyche I pray God long to contynew to hys plesore, and to yower herts desyr; letyng yow wete (know) that I receyved a letter from yow, in the whyche letter was viiid (eightpence), with the whyche I schuld bye' a peyer of slyppers.
Ferthermor certyfying yow as for the xiijs iiija (138. 4d.) whyche ye sende (sent) by a Jentylmannys (gentleman's) man cawlyd Thomas Newton, for my borde (board), was delyvered to myn hostes (hostess, dame) and soo to my Creancer (Fr. creancier, creditor) Mr. Thomas Stevenson, and he hertely recomended hym to you (sent his compliments to you).
Also ye sende (sent) me worde in the letter of xijfyggs? (12 lbs. of figs) and viijú reysons (8 lbs. of raisins); I have them not delyvered (i.e. I have not received them) but í dowte not I shal have, for Alwedyr tolde me of them, and he seyde that they came aftyr in an other barge.
And as for the yong Jentylwoman (gentlewoman, lady) I wol certyfye you (inform you) how I fryste (first) felle in queyntaince3 with (fell into acquaintance, came to know) hyr; hir ffader is dede, there be ij systers of them, the elder is just weddyd; at the whych weddyng I was with myn hostess (dame) and also desyred (invited) by the jentylman hym selfe cawlyd Wyllm Swanne whos dwyllynge is in Eton. So it fortuned (happened that myn hostes reportyd on me odyrwyse than I was wordy (i.e. beyond what I was worthy of or deserved), so that hyr modir comaundyd hyr to make me good chere (to look favourably on me), and soo in good feythe sche did; sche is not a bydynge (living) ther (where) sche is now; hyr dwellyng is
(1) 1 schuld bye, not I will buy. This idiom, answering to what in Latin is called obliqua oratio, was once much more common than it is now. It indicates here," with which money you told me I was to buy a pair of slippers." The fundamental meaning of shall and should is duty or obligation, not the will of the actor, which is marked by the use of will. This construction with should may be seen in the A S. extract from “ Alfred”: “ Then said they that the harper's wife should die,” sceolde acquelan, had to die, died. See note 2, p. 3.
(2) Xiili fyggs, twelve libræ (pounds) figs. These and the raisins were sent to supplement the boy's subsistence in Lent. On Palm Sunday especially (which is called in some parts of England Fig Sunday), figs used to be eaten largely, in memory of “our Lord's desiring to eat of the fig-tree on the Monday following that Sunday." (See “Kalendar of the English Church.”) The syntax may be worth noticing-twelve pound figs, as in Ger. drei paar schuhen, three pair of shoes.
(3) Queyntaince, acquaintance, fr. Fr. accointer, wh. fr. low Lat. accognitare, wh. fr. cognitus, p.p. of cognoscere. The Fr. der, accointance is the immediate origin of acquaintance, which in 0.E. is also spelt acoyntance and aqueyntawnse.
in London. But hyr moder and sche com to a place of hyrs v mile' (five miles) from Eton were the weddyng was, for because it was nye to the jentylman whych weddyd hyr Dowtyr (daughter). And on Monday next comynge, that is to sey, the fyrst Monday of clene Lente, hyr moder and sche wyl goo to the pardon (the sale of indulgences ?) at Schene (Richmond) and soo furthe to London, and ther to abide in a place of hyrs in Bowe Chyrche yerde; and if it plese yow to inquere of hyr (make inquiry about her), hyr modyrs name is Mistres Alborow; the name of the dowtyr is Margarete Alborow, the age of hyr is be all lykelyod (by all likelihood, probably) xviij or xix yere at the fertheste; and as for the mony and plate it is redy when soo ever sche were weddyd, but as for the lyvelod? (livelihood, maintenance) I trow3 (believe) not tyll after hyr modyrs désese (decease), but I can not telle you for very certeyn, but yow may know by inquerying.
And as for hyr bewte, juge yow that when ye see hyr, yf so be that ye take the laubore (trouble); and specialy beolde hyr handys (look at her hands) for and if it be as it is tolde me sche is dysposyd to be thyke (i.e. her hands are not delicate and slender).
And as for my comynge from Eton (leaving Eton) I lake (lack, am deficient in) no thynge but wersyfyynge (versifying, versification) whyche I troste to have with a lytyll contynuance (with a little perseverance). Qr. Qo. non valet hora valet mora, unde dim Arbore jam videas exemplum, non die possunt omnia supleri, sed tum illa mora.
And thes too verse (these two verses) afore seyde be of myn own makyng.
No more to yow at thys tyme, but God have yow in hys kepvng.
Wretyn at Eton the even of Seynt Mathy the Apostyll (eve of St. Matthias's day), in haste, with the hande of yowr broder,
WYLLM PastoN, JUNR. Eton, Wednesday,
23rd of February, 1467-8.
(1) Mile, not miles. So in our mod. idiom pound is used for pounds, the prefixed numeral being supposed to indicate the plurality, without inflecting the noun.
(2) Lyvelod or lifelod, fr. A.S. lifláde, life supply or life support. So that the hood, which has been put on this word, does not belong to it at all, and is founded on a false analogy. - (3) Trowe, fr. A.S. treowian, to trust, believe; whence true, truth, and troth, as hele, health.