This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Saturday Rave: Fulgens and Lucrece by Henry Medwell

Fulgens and Lucrece by Henry Medwell is the first non-religious play in English that survives.

It was performed before 1500, probably at Lambeth Palace in London in 1497. Cardinal Morton, whose house it was, had important guests (the Ambassadors of Spain and Flanders, no less) and the play was probably put on the amuse them.

Fulgens and Lucrece is based on a Latin work by Buonaccorso da Montemagno that had been translated by the Earl of Worcester and published by William Caxton in 1481. The play itself was printed in about 1512, but quite soon nearly all of it was lost until a copy turned up in an auction in 1919.

The plot concerns Lucrece's choosing of a husband. I tried to read it on-line and found something rather wonderful.

The introduction to the Henry E. Huntington edition is interesting, but it's the text of the play itself that I really wanted to read.

Here's the very end of the text:

3t tlje led pe toil! tatte it in pacience 

3nD pf fyetbe onp offence 

^boto b toljece in o? toe go fcence 


31 1 10 onelp far lacbe of conpnge 

3tiD not l?c /but lji0 toit runpnge 

3; s thereof to blame 

3nD glaDe tool&e &e be/auD rpgfjt fapne 

Cbatfomeman of ftabpUijjapne 

tool&e take on !jpm tlje la&out and papnc 

(C^ts tnater to a mcnDe 

3nD fo be topHpD me fo? to faj> 

3no t^at Done of all tljts plap 

The last line in particular fills me with awe: 

3no t^at Done of all tljts plap

Surely it must mean something extremely deep and marvellous.

If only I had the faintest idea what.

Word To Use Today: plap, I think. Whatever it means. Thackeray used it to mean to fall down with a light slapping sound, but he didn't use it until the middle of the 1800s. 

So what it meant to Henry Medwell - or the computer program that chewed up his work - I really can't imagine.

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