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A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Volume 2

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CHARITY.Jesu that his arms did spread,And on a tree was done to dead,From all perils he you defend!I desire audience till I have made an end,For I am come from God aboveTo occupy his laws to your behove,And am named Charity;There may no man saved beWithout the help of me,For he that Charity doth refuse,Other virtues though he do use,Without Charity it will not be,For it is written in the faith:Qui manet in charitate in Deo manet.I am the gate, I tell thee,Of heaven, that joyful city;There may no man thither come,But of charity he must have some,Or ye may not come, i-wis,Unto heaven, the city of bliss;Therefore Charity, who will him take,A pure soul it will him makeBefore the face of God:In the ABC, of books the least,It is written Deus charitas est.Lo! charity is a great thing,Of all virtues it is the king:When God in earth was here living,Of charity he found none ending.I was planted in his heart;We two might not depart.[3]Out of his heart I did spring,Through the might of the heaven-king:And all priests that be,May sing no mass without charity:And charity to them they do not take,They may not receive him, that did them makeAnd all this world of nought.

YOUTH.Aback, fellows, and give me room,Or I shall make you to avoid soon!I am goodly of person;I am peerless, wherever I come.My name is Youth, I tell thee,I flourish as the vine-tree:Who may be likened unto me,In my youth and jollity?My hair[4] is royal and bushed thick;My body pliant as a hazel-stick;Mine arms be both big[5] and strong,My fingers be both fair and long;My chest big as a tun,My legs be full light for to run,To hop and dance, and make merry.By the mass, I reck not a cherry,Whatsoever I do!I am the heir of all my father's land,And it is come into my hand:I care for no more.

CHARITY.Are you so disposed to do,To follow vice, and let virtue go!

YOUTH.Yea, sir, even so:For now-a-days he is not set by,Without he be unthrifty.

CHARITY.You had need to ask God mercy;Why did you so praise your body?

YOUTH.Why, knave, what is that to thee?Wilt thou let[6] me to praise my body?Why should I not praise it, and it be goodly?I will not let for thee.

CHARITY.What shall it be, when thou shalt flitFro thy wealth into the pit?Therefore of it be not too bold,Lest thou forethink[7] it, when thou art old:Ye may be likened to a tree,In youth flourishing with royalty,And in age it is cut down,And to the fire is thrown:So shalt thou, but thou amend,Be burned in hell without end!

YOUTH.Ye whoreson, trowest thou so?Beware, lest thou thither go!Hence, caitiff, go thy way,Or with my dagger I shall thee slay!Hence, knave, out of this place,Or I shall lay thee on the face!Sayest thou that I shall go to hell,For evermore there to dwell?I had liever thou had evil fare.[8]

CHARITY.Ah, yet, sir, do by my reed,And ask mercy for thy misdeed,And thou shalt be an heritor of bliss,Where all joy and mirth is;Where thou shalt see a glorious sightOf angels singing, with saints bright,Before the face of God....