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A Tragedy on the History of Sr. Thomas More
ca. 1603-
1604
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Harley MS 7368, folio 8 recto

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Harley MS 7368, folio 8 recto
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Copyright status of the Material: The 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (as amended) states that unpublished literary and artistic works remain in copyright in the UK until at least 31 December 2039. Therefore important parts of the library’s collection remain in copyright, including very old manuscripts. However for unpublished material created many centuries ago and in the public domain in most other countries, the Library believes this material to be very unlikely to offend anyone. As an institution whose role it is to support access to knowledge, we have therefore taken the decision to release certain digitised images technically still in copyright in the UK under the Public Domain Mark.

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Title: A Tragedy on the History of Sr. Thomas More
Date: ca. 1603-04
Repository: The British Library, London, UK
Call number and opening: Harley MS 7368, fols. 8r-9v

Item Title
A Tragedy on the History of Sr. Thomas More
Item Date
circa 1603-1604
Repository
The British Library, London, UK
Call Number
Harley MS 7368, fol. 8r

Harley MS 7368, folio 8 verso

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Harley MS 7368, folio 8 verso
Click image to enlarge

Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

From the collections of: THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Terms of use
The British Library has graciously contributed the above images to Shakespeare Documented under a Creative Commons Public Domain Mark.

Copyright status of the Material: The 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (as amended) states that unpublished literary and artistic works remain in copyright in the UK until at least 31 December 2039. Therefore important parts of the library’s collection remain in copyright, including very old manuscripts. However for unpublished material created many centuries ago and in the public domain in most other countries, the Library believes this material to be very unlikely to offend anyone. As an institution whose role it is to support access to knowledge, we have therefore taken the decision to release certain digitised images technically still in copyright in the UK under the Public Domain Mark.

Copy-specific information
Title: A Tragedy on the History of Sr. Thomas More
Date: ca. 1603-04
Repository: The British Library, London, UK
Call number and opening: Harley MS 7368, fols. 8r-9v

Item Title
A Tragedy on the History of Sr. Thomas More
Item Date
ca. 1603-1604
Repository
The British Library, London, UK
Call Number
Harley MS 7368, fol. 8v

Harley MS 7368, folio 9 recto

View Image Assets
Harley MS 7368, folio 9 recto
Click image to enlarge

Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

From the collections of: THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Terms of use
The British Library has graciously contributed the above images to Shakespeare Documented under a Creative Commons Public Domain Mark.

Copyright status of the Material: The 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (as amended) states that unpublished literary and artistic works remain in copyright in the UK until at least 31 December 2039. Therefore important parts of the library’s collection remain in copyright, including very old manuscripts. However for unpublished material created many centuries ago and in the public domain in most other countries, the Library believes this material to be very unlikely to offend anyone. As an institution whose role it is to support access to knowledge, we have therefore taken the decision to release certain digitised images technically still in copyright in the UK under the Public Domain Mark.

Copy-specific information
Title: A Tragedy on the History of Sr. Thomas More
Date: ca. 1603-04
Repository: The British Library, London, UK
Call number and opening: Harley MS 7368, fols. 8r-9v

Item Title
A Tragedy on the History of Sr. Thomas More
Item Date
ca. 1603-1604
Repository
The British Library, London, UK
Call Number
Harley MS 7368, fol. 9r

Harley MS 7368, folio 9 verso

View Image Assets
Harley MS 7368, folio 9 verso
Click image to enlarge

Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

From the collections of: THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Terms of use
The British Library has graciously contributed the above images to Shakespeare Documented under a Creative Commons Public Domain Mark.

Copyright status of the Material: The 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (as amended) states that unpublished literary and artistic works remain in copyright in the UK until at least 31 December 2039. Therefore important parts of the library’s collection remain in copyright, including very old manuscripts. However for unpublished material created many centuries ago and in the public domain in most other countries, the Library believes this material to be very unlikely to offend anyone. As an institution whose role it is to support access to knowledge, we have therefore taken the decision to release certain digitised images technically still in copyright in the UK under the Public Domain Mark.

Copy-specific information
Title: A Tragedy on the History of Sr. Thomas More
Date: ca. 1603-04
Repository: The British Library, London, UK
Call number and opening: Harley MS 7368, fols. 8r-9v

Item Title
A Tragedy on the History of Sr. Thomas More
Item Date
ca. 1603-1604
Repository
The British Library, London, UK
Call Number
Harley MS 7368, fol. 9v

Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

From the collections of: THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Terms of use
The British Library has graciously contributed the above images to Shakespeare Documented under a Creative Commons Public Domain Mark.

Copyright status of the Material: The 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (as amended) states that unpublished literary and artistic works remain in copyright in the UK until at least 31 December 2039. Therefore important parts of the library’s collection remain in copyright, including very old manuscripts. However for unpublished material created many centuries ago and in the public domain in most other countries, the Library believes this material to be very unlikely to offend anyone. As an institution whose role it is to support access to knowledge, we have therefore taken the decision to release certain digitised images technically still in copyright in the UK under the Public Domain Mark.

Copy-specific information
Title: A Tragedy on the History of Sr. Thomas More
Date: ca. 1603-04
Repository: The British Library, London, UK
Call number and opening: Harley MS 7368, fols. 8r-9v

Sir Thomas More is a collaboratively written play that survives only in a single manuscript. The play is thought to have been written primarily by Anthony Munday, perhaps, some scholars think, aided by Henry Chettle, in the 1590s, with somewhat later contributions from Thomas Dekker, perhaps from William Shakespeare, and just possibly from Thomas Heywood. Politically controversial passages have been censored by Edmund Tilney, a government official known as the Master of the Revels.

On the basis of poetic style, many scholars believe that a three page revision to the play is in Shakespeare’s handwriting. However, we don’t really know what Shakespeare’s handwriting looks like. Six signatures of Shakespeare, found on four legal documents, are the only handwriting that we know for certain are his. This is too small a sample size to make any sort of reliable comparison.

Scholars have assigned letters to the various styles of handwriting found in this play. Hand D has been associated with Shakespeare; Hand C, an unidentified professional scribe, has made corrections to Hand D's contribution. Hands A, B and E have been linked more or less persuasively with Chettle, Heywood, and Dekker, respectively. Hand S belongs to Anthony Munday. Despite the many changes made perhaps to satisfy the censor, the play was never printed, but neither were more than eighty percent of the plays from this period. And despite the stage directions added by a theatrical employee known as a “bookkeeper” writing Hand C, there is no record of the play's having been performed, again as is the case with a great many plays that are widely presumed nonetheless to have seen the stage.

A full high-resolution reproduction of the book will be available after April 2016 at http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/virtualbooks/.

Semi-diplomatic transcription

[Transcription from W.W. Greg, The Book of Sir Thomas More: The Malone Society reprints, 73-78.]

[8r]

Lincolne                       Peace heare me, he that will not see <a red> hearing a<t> a harry

                                    grote, butter at a levenp<enc>e a p<ounde meale at> nyne shillings a

                                    Bushell and Beeff at fower <nobles a stone lyst> to <me>

[other] GEO BETT       yt will Come to that passe yf stra<ingers be su>fferd marke him

      Linco                      our Countrie is a great eating Country, argo they eate more in

                                    our Countrey then they do in their owne__

[other] BETTS CLOW   by half penny loff a day troy waight______

      Linc                                    they bring in straing rootes, which is meerly to the vndoing of poor

                                    prentizes, for whatʃ [ a watrie] or sorry ᵽsnyp to a good hart

[oth]     WILLIAN          trash trash ; they breed sore eyes and tis enough to infect the

                                    Cytty wt the palsey__________

Lin                               nay yt has infected yt wt the palsey, for theise basterdʃ of dung

                                    as you knowe they growe in Dvng haue infected vs, and yt is our

                                    infeccion will make the Cytty shake which ᵽtly Coms through

                                    the eating of ᵽsnyps________

[o] CLOWN. BETTS      trewe and pumpions togeather_________

      ENTER Seriant       what say <ye to the> mercy of the king  do you refuse yt

                               Lin you <would haue vs> vppon thipp woold you no marry do we not, we

                                    accept of the kingʃ mercy but wee will showe no mercy vppõ

                                    the st<raungers>________________________________

     seriaunt                  you ar the <simplest> thingʃ that eu' stood in such a question

         Lin       how say you now prenti prentisses symple downe wth him_____

                                 all prentisses symple prentisses symple.

                                                            Enter the L. maier Surrey

                                                            Shrewsbury

   [Sher] MAIOR           hold in the kingʃ name hold

   Surrey                       frendʃ masters Countreymen

   mayer                       peace how peace I [sh] Charg you keep the peace

   Shro.                         my maisters Countreymen__

   WILLIAMSON           The noble Earle of Shrowsbury lettʃ hear him

GE      bettʃ                  weele heare the earle of Surrey__________

   Linc                           the earle of Shrowsbury__________

   bettʃ                          weele heare both____

   all                             both both both both____

   Linc                           Peace I say peace ar you men of Wisdome [ar] or

                                    what ar you_________

   Surr                          [But] what you will haue them but not men of Wisdome

   all                             weele not heare my L of Surrey, [  ] no no no no no

                                    _______________________________Shrewsbury shr

   moor                                    whiles they ar ore the banck of their obedyenc

                                    thus will they bere downe all th<ings>_________

   Linc                           Shreiff moor speakes shall we heare shreef moor speake

   Doll                           Lettʃ heare him <a> keepes a plentyfull shrevaltry, and a made my

                                    Brother Arther watch<ins> Seriant S<af>es yeoman letʃ heare

                                    shreeve moore

   all                             Shreiue moor moor more Shreue moore

 

[8v]

   moor                                    <even> by the rule you haue among yor sealues

                                    <comand sti>ll audience______________________

   all                             <Surrey S>ury

   all                             <moor moor>_

Lincolne bettʃ              peace peace scilens peace.________

   moor                                    You that haue voyce and Credyt wt the [Mv] nvmber

                                    Comaund them to a silnes______

   Lincolne                    a plaigue on them they will not hold their peace the deule

                                    Cannot rule them_____________

   Moor                                    Then what a rough and ryotous charge haue you

                                    to Leade those that the deule Cannot rule

                                    good masters heare me speake__

   Doll                           I byth mas will we moor thart a good howskeeper and I

                                    thanck thy good worship for my Brother Arthur watchins

   all                             peace peace

   moor                                    look what you do offend you Cry vppõ

                                    that is the peace, not <            of you heare> present

                                    had there such fellowes, lyv<d w>hen you wer babes

                                    that coold haue topt the p<eace> as nowe you woold

                                    the peace wherin you haue till nowe growne vp

                                    had bin tane from you, and the bloody tymes

                                    coold not haue brought you to [          ] the state of men

                                    alas poor thingʃ what is yt you haue gott

                                    although we graunt you geat the thing you seeke___________

   [D] Bett                    marry the removing of the straingers wch cannot choose but

                                    much [helpe] advauntage the poor handycraftes of the Cytty

   moor                                    graunt them remoued and graunt that this yor [y] noyce

                                    hath Chidd downe all the matie of Ingland

                                    ymagin that you see the wretched straingers

                                    their babyes al their backʃ, and their poor lugage

                                    plodding tooth portʃ and costʃ for transportacion

                                    and that you sytt as kingʃ in your desyres

                                    aucthoryty quyte sylenct by yor braule

                                    and you in ruff of yor [yo] opynions clothd

                                    what had you gott, I'le tell you, you had taught

                                    how insolenc and strong hand shoold prevayle

                                    how ordere shoold be quelld, and by this patterne

                                    not on of you shoold lyve an aged man

                                    for other ruffians as their fancies wrought

                                    with sealf same hand sealf reasons and sealf right

                                    woold shark on you and men lyke ravenous fishes

                                    woold feed on on another___________

   Doll                           before god thatʃ as trewe as the gospell_

[Bettʃ] LINCOLN          nay this a sound fellowe I tell you lets mark him__

   MOOR                      Lett me sett vp before yor thoughts good freindʃ

                                    on supposytion which if you will marke

                                    you shall ᵽceaue howe horrible a shape

                                    yor ynnovation beres, first tis a sinn

                                    which oft thappostle did forwarne vs of vrging obedienc to aucthory<ty

                                    and twere [   ] no error yf I told you all   you wer in armes gainst g<

[9r]

 

   all                             marry god forbid that___

   moo                          nay certainly you ar

                                    for to the king god hath his offyce lent

                                    of dread of Iustyce, power and Comaund

                                    hath bid him rule, and willd you to obay

                                    and to add ampler mat̃ie. to this

                                he [god] hath not [le] only lent the king his figure

                                    his throne [his] sword, but gyven him his owne name

                                    calls him a god on earth, what do you then

                                    rysing gainst him that god himsealf enstalls

                                    but ryse gainst god, what do you to yor sowles

                                    in doing this o desperat [ar] as you are.

                                    wash your foule mynds wt teares and those same handʃ

                                    that you lyke rebells lyft against the peace

                                    lift vp for peace, and your vnreuerent knees

                                    [that] make them your feet to kneele to be forgyven

                                    [is safer warrs, than euer you can make]

                                    [whose discipline id ryot ; why euen yor [warrs] hurly] [in in to yor obedienc.]                               

                                    [cannot proceed but by obedienc] TELL ME BUT THIS what rebell captaine

                                    as mutynes ar incident, by his name

                                    can still the rout who will obay [th] a traytor

                                    or howe can well that proclamation sounde

                                    when ther is no adicion but a rebell

                                    to quallyfy a rebell, youle put downe straingers

                                    kill them cutt their throts possesse their howses

                                    and leade the matie of lawe in liom

                                    to slipp him lyke a hound ; [saying] [alas alas] say nowe the king

                                    as he is clement, yf thoffendor moorne

                                    shoold so much com to short of your great trespas

                                    as but to banysh you, whether woold you go.

                                    what Country by the nature of yor error

                                    shoold gyve you harber go you to ffraunc or flanders

                                    to any Iarman province, [to] spane or portigall

                                    nay any where [why you] that not adheres to Ingland

                                    why you must needʃ be straingers. woold you be pleasd

                                    to find a nation of such barbarous temper

                                    that breaking out in hiddious violence

                                    woold not afoord you, an abode on earth

                                    whett their detested knyves against yor throtes

                                    spurne you lyke doggʃ, and lyke as yf that god

                                    owed not nor made not you, nor that the elamentʃ

                                    wer not all appropriat to [ther] yor Comfortʃ.

                                    but Charterd vnto them, what woold you thinck

                                    to be thus vsd, this is the straingers case

   all                             and this your momtanish inhumanyty__________

                                    fayth a saies trewe letts vs do as we may be doon by

   [all] LINCO               weele be ruld by you master moor yf youle stand our

                                    freind to procure our ᵽdon_________

   moor                                    Submyt you to theise noble gentlemen

                                    entreate their mediation to the kinge

                                    gyve vp yor sealf to forme obay the maiestrate

                                    and thers no doubt, but mercy may be found. yf you so seek it

[9v is blank]

Co-written by Folger staff and Paul Werstine

Sources

Martin Wiggins and Catherine Richardson, British Drama 1533-1642: A Catalogue. Vol. IV, 1598-1602 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), s.v. "1277. Sir Thomas More."  

John Jowett, ed., Sir Thomas More original text by Anthony Munday and Henry Chettle, censored by Edmund Tilney, revisions co-ordinated by Hand C, revised by Henry Chettle, Thomas Dekker, Thomas Heywood and William Shakespeare (London: Arden Shakespeare, 2011).

Nina Levine, "Citizens' Games: Differentiating Collaboration and 'Sir Thomas More'," Shakespeare Quarterly, 58:1 (Spring, 2007): 31-64.

Thomas Merriam, "Determining a Date," Notes and Queries, 61:2 (2014): 260-265.          

Lois Potter, The Life of William Shakespeare: A Critical Biography (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), 271-274. 

Paul Werstine, Early Modern Playhouse Manuscripts and the Editing of Shakespeare (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013).