How faire Winifred was imprisoned, and condemned to die for her religion: and how Sir Hugh became a Shoomaker, and afterwards came to suffer death with his Loue: showing also how the Shoomakers tools came to be called Saint Hughs bones, and the trade of shoo-making; The Gentle Craft.
AN on after that the doctrine of Christ was made known in Brittaine, and that the worship of heathen Idols was forbidden, yet many troubles did the Christians endure by the outragious bloodthirstinesse of diuers woluish Tyrants, that by the way of inuasion set footing in this Land, as it fell out in the dayes of Dioclesian, that with bloody minds persecuted such as would not yeeld to the Pagan Law: amongst which the Virgin Winifred was one, who, for that she continued constant in faith, was long imprisoned.
During which time, Sir Hugh wrought in a shoomakers shop, hauing learned that trade, through the courteous directions of a kind Iourneyman, where he remained the space of one whole yeere, in which time he had gotten himselfe good apparell, and euerything comely and decent. Notwithstanding though he were now contented to forget his birth, yet could hee not forget the beauty of his Loue: who although she had vtterly forsaken him. yet could he not alter his affections from her, because, indeed affections alter not like a pale-faced coward. The wildest Bull (quoth he) is tamed being tied to a Fig-tree, and the coyest Dame (in time) may yeeld like the stone Charchædonis, which sparkles like fire, and yet melts at the touch of soft wax. Though Roses haue prickles, yet they are gathered; and though women seem froward, yet they will shew themselues kind and friendly. Neither is there any wax so hard but, by often tempering, is made apt to receiue an impression. Admit she hath heretofore been cruell, yet now may she be courteous. A true hearted Louer forgets all trespasses, and a smile cureth the wounding of a frown. Thus, after the manner of fond Louers, he flattered himselfe in his own folly, and in the praise of his faire Ladie he sang this pleasant Dity here following:
The pride of Brittain is my hearts delight,
My Lady hues, my true loue to requite.
And in her life I hue, that else were dead,
Like withered leaues in time of Winter shed.
She is the joy and comfort of my mind,
She is the sun that clearest sight doth blind,
The fairest flower that in the world doth grow,
Whose whitnesse doth surpasse the driuen snow.
Her gentle words more sweet than honey are,
Her eyes for clearnesse dims the brightest star.
0, were her heart, so kind as she is faire,
No Lady might with my true lotte compare.
A thousand griefs for her I haue sustained,
While her proud thoughts my humble suit disdained
And though she would my heart with torments kill,
Yet would I honour, serue and loue her still.
Blest be the place where she doth like to hue:
Blest be the light that doth her comfort giue:
And blessed be all creatures farre and near,
That yeeld relief vnto my Lady dear.
Neuer may sorrow enter where she is,
Neuer may she contented comfort misse,
Neuer may she my proffered loue forsake;
But my good will in thankfull sort to take.
Thus feeding his fancy with the sweet remembrance of her beauty, being neuer satisfied with thinking and speaking in her praise, at length he resolued himselfe to go into Flint-shire, where he might sollicite his suit anew again: but coming neere to the place of her residence; and hearing report of her troubles, he so highly commended her faith and constancy, that at length he was clapt vp in prison by her, and in the end he was condemned to receiue equall torment, for a triall of his own truth.
But during the time that they lay both in prison, the Iourneymen Shoomakers neuer left him, but yeelded him great reliefe continually, so that he wanted nothing that was necessarie for him, in requital of which kindnesse he called them Gentlemen of the Gentle Craft, and a few dayes before his death, he made this song in their due commendations.
Of Craft and Crafts-men, more and
The Gentle Craft I must commend
Whose deeds declare their faithfulnesse,
And hearty lotte vnto their friend:
The Gentle Craft, in midst of strife,
Yeelds comfort to a carefull life,
APrince by birth I am indeed,
The which for Loue forsook this Land;
And when I was in extreme need,
I took the Gentle Craft in hand,
And by the Gentle Craft alone,
Long time I liu’d being still vnknown,
Spending my dayes in sweet content,
With many a pleasant, sugred Song:
Sitting in pleasures complement,
Whilst we recorded Loners wrong:
And while the Gentle Craft we vs’d,
True LoUe by vs was not abus’d.
Our sHoos we sowed with merry notes,
And by our mirth expeld all mone:
Like Nightingales, from whose sweet throats,
Most pleasant tunes are nightly blown;
The Gentle Craft is fittest, then,
For poore, distressed Gentlemen.
Their minds do mount in courtesie,
And they disdain a niggards feast:
Their bodies are for Chiualry,
All cowardnesse they do detest.
For Sword and Shield, for bowe and Shaft,
No man can stain the Gentle Craft.
Yea sundry Princes sore distrest,
Shall seek for succour by this Trade:
Whereby their griefs shall be redrest,
Of foes they shall not be afraid.
Amid many men of fame likewise
Shall front the Gentle Craft arise.
If we want money ouer night,
Ere next day noon God will it send,
Thus may we keep our selues vpright,
And be no churl vnto our friend:
Thus do we hue where pleasure springs,
In our conceit like petty Kings.
Our hearts with care we may not kill,
Mans life surpasseth wordly wealth,
Content surpasseth riches still,
And fie on knaues that hue by stealth:
This Trade therefore both great and small
The Gentle Craft shall euer call.
When the Iourney-men Shoomakers had heard this song, and the faire title that Sir Hugh had giuen their Trade, they engraued the same so deeply in their minds, that to this day it could neuer be razed out: like a remembrance in a Marble stone, which continueth time out of mind.
But not long after came that dolefull day, wherein these two Louers must lose their liues, who like to meeke Lambs were led to the slaughter: the bloody performance thereof was to be done hard by that fair Fountain, where the Loue-despising Lady made her most abode: and because she was a Kings daughter, the bloody Tyrant gaue her the priuiledge to chuse her own death: to the which she passed with as good a countenance, as if she had been a fair young Bride prepared for marriage.
(viz) When they were come to the place of execution, and mounted vpon the Scaffold, they seemed for beauty like two bright stars, Castor and Pollex; there they imbraced each other with such chaste desires, as all those that beheld them, admired to see how stedfast and firme both these Louers were, ready in hearts and minds to heauen itself.
At what time the Lady turned her selfe to Sir Hugh and spake to this effect: Now do I find thee a perfect Louer indeed, that hauing setled thy affections aboue the skies, art readie to yeeld thy life for thy Loue, who, in requitall thereof will giue thee thy life foreuer.
The loue of earthly creatures is mixed with many miseries, and interlaced with sundrie sorrows; and here grief shall abate the pleasures of loue but be wel assured that ioy shall follow the same.
Thou didst wooe me for loue, and now I haue won thee to loue, where, sething both our selues vpon God His loue, we will loue one another; and in token of that heauenly loue receiue of me I pray thee, a chaste and louing kisse from my dying lips.
Fair Winifred (quoth he) it is true indeed; I neuer loued truly vntill thou taughtest me to loue; for then my loue was full of discontent: but now altogether pleasing, and more sweet is the thought thereof than any tongue can expresse. The thing that I euer before called Loue, was but a shadow of loue, a sweetnesse tempered with gall, a dying life, and a lining death, where the heart was continually tossed vpon the Seas of tempestuous sorrows, and wherein the mind had no calme quietnesse: and therefore blessed be the time that I euer learned this lone.
With that he was interrupted by the Tyrant who said, You are not come hither to talk, but to die; I haue sworn you both shall die at this instant.
Thou Tyrant (said Sir Hugh) the verie like sentence is pronounced against thy selfe; for Nature bath doomed thou shalt die likewise, and albeit the execution thereof be something deferred, yet at length it will come, and that shortly, for neuer did Tyrant carrie gray hairs to the graue.
The young Lady desired first to die, saying to Sir Hugh, Come, dear friend, and learn magnanimity of a Maide: now shalt thou see a silly woman scorn death at his teeth, and make as small account of his cruelty, as the tyrant doth of our hues; and there withall stript up her silken sleeues, and commited her Alabaster arms into the executioners foule hands, hauing made choice to die in bleeding: at what time, being pricked in euery vain, the scarlet blood sprang out in plentifull sort, much like a precious fountain lately filled with Claret wine.
And while she thus bled, she said: Here do I sacrifice my blood to him that bought me, who by his blood washt away all my sinnes. 0 my sweet Sauiour, thus were thy sides pierced for my transgressions, and in this sort sprang thy precious blood from thee, and all for the loue thou bearest to mankind: I feele my heart to faint, but my soule receiueth strength, I come sweet Christ I come. And therewithall her body fainting, and the blood failing, like a Conduit suddenly drawn drie, the young Princesse fell down dead, at what time a pale colour ouer-spread her faire face in such comely sort, ash a heap of Roses had been shadowed with a sheet of pure Lawn.
But it is to be remembred, that all the while the young Princesse bled, her blood was receiued into certain basons, which being in that Sort saued together, the Tyrant caused it to be tempered with poyson, and prepared it to be the last drink that Sir Hugh should haue, saying; That by her loue whom he so dearely loued he should receiue his death. And thereupon, incontinently, without any further delaying of time, he caused a cup of that most deadly poysoned blood to be deliuered into his hands, who with a louely and cheerfull countenance receiued the same and then vttered his mind in this manner.
0 thou cruell Tyrant (quoth he) what a poore spite is this to inflict vpon a dying man, that is as carelesse how he dies, as when he dies; Easie it is for thee to glut me with blood, although with blood thou art not satisfied. Sweet blood (quoth he) precious and pure, how faire a colour dost thou cast before mine eyes? Sweet I say wast thou, before such time as this ill-sauouring poyson did infect thee: and yet as thou art I nothing despise thee. 0 my dear Winifred, full little did I think that euer I should come to drink of thy heart blood.
My greedy eye, that glutton-like did feed vpon thy beauty, and yet like the Sea was neuer satisfied, is now with thy gore blood fully gorged. Now may I quench my thirsty desire with loue, that like hot, burning coals set my heart in such an extreme heat, that it could not be quenched before this time; for if fair Winifred could spare any loue from heauen, assuredly she left it in her blood; her sweet, heart blood I mean, that nourished her chast life: see, here is a caudle to cool my vain affections. Far be it that any true Louers should euer tast the like.
But this punishment haue the iust heauens poured vpon me, for the preferring the loue of an earthly creature, before the loue of an heauenly Creator; Pardon, 0 Lord, the foule sins of superstitious Louers, that while they make Idols of their Ladies, they forget the honour of thy diuine Maiesty. Yet doth it do my heart much good to think that I must bury sweet Winifreds blood in my body, whose loue was lodged long ago in my heart: and therewithall drinking the first draught, he said, 0 Lord, me seemeth this portion hath a comfortable taste, far doth it surpasse that Nectar wherewith the gods were nourished.
Well (said the tyrant) seeing it pleaseth thee so well, thou shalt haue more; and therewith another cup of the same blood was giuen him to drink.
Yes come (quoth he) my thirst is not quenched; for the first draught gaue me but a taste of sweetnesse, and like a longing woman, I desire the rest; and with that he drank the second draught. The third being deliuered him, he took the cup into his hand, and, looking about, he said: Lo here I drink to all the kind Yeomen of the Gentle Craft.
I drink to you all (quoth he) but I cannot spare you one drop to pledge me. Had I any good thing to giue, you should soon receiue it: but my selfe the Tyrant doth take, and my flesh is bequeathed to the fowls, so that nothing is left but onely my bones to pleasure you withall; and those, if they will do you any good, take them: and so I humbly take my leaue, bidding you all farewell.
There with the last draught, he finished his life, whose dead carkasse after hanged vp where the fowls deuoured his flesh; and the young Princesse was contemptuously buried by the Well where she had so long hued. Then had he the title of St. Hugh giuen him, and she of Saint Winifred, by which termes they are both so called to this day.