Lists of Places in Early Modern Drama

the 4 ps

Immediately after his appointment as Jupiter’s servant Merry Report leaves the stage and then returns almost immediately. On his return he regales the audience with a list of places he has just visited. At one level this is a relatively simply joke since clearly in the few minutes he was off-stage Merry Report did not have time to visit any of the places that comprise his list. The listing of places was also, however, a feature of fifteenth and early sixteenth-century English drama. It is often associated with Vice figures and in these cases can be seen as part of their ‘boast’ – the speech that a Vice makes on his entry in which he boasts of his skills, abilities and often his evil. The place listing speech of Aristorius the Merchant from the Play of the Sacrament is an example of this device. John Heywood, however, also uses place name lists where there is not an obvious Vice association, for example the list that the Palmer gives the audience when he enters in The Four PP. Merry Report’s list of places may therefore reflect his status as a Vice but it may equally simply be an excuse for whoever played Merry Report, possibly Heywood, to display their skills as an actor.


Now God be here! Who keepeth this place?
Now by my faith I cry you mercy!
Of reason I must sew for grace,
My rudeness showeth me now so homely.

Whereof your pardon asked and won,
I sew you as courtesy doth me bind        
To tell this, which shall be begun
In order as may come best in mind.

I am a palmer as ye se,
Which of my life much part hath spent
In many a fair and far country,
As pilgrims do of good intent.

At Jerusalem have I been,
Before Christ’s blessed sepulchre.  
The mount of Calvary have I seen
A holy place ye may be sure.

To Josophat and Olivet
On foot, God wote, I went right bare.
Many a salt tear did I sweat
Before this carcass could come there.

Yet have I been at Rome also
And gone the stations all a-row;
Saint Peter’s shrine and many mo  
Then if I told all ye do know,

Except that there be any such                  
That hath been there and diligently
Hath taken heed and marked much,        
Then can they speak as much as I.

Then at the Rhodes also I was
And round about to Amias,
At Saint Uncumber and Saint Tronion,
At Saint Botulph and Saint Anne of Buxton,
On the hills of Armony where I see Noah’s ark,
With holy Job and Saint George in Southwark,
At Waltham and at Walsingham,
And at the good Rood of Dagenham,
At Saint Cornelis, at Saint James in Gales,
And at Saint Winifred’s well in Wales,
At our Lady of Boston, at Saint Edmund’s, Bury
And straight to Saint Patrick’s purgatory.
At Redbourn and at the blood of Hales,
Where pilgrims’ pain’s right much avails,
At Saint Davy’s and at Saint Denis,
At Saint Mathew and Saint Mark in Venice,
At master John Shorne, at Canterbury,
The great god of Catway, at King Henry,
At Saint Saviour’s, at our lady of Southwell,
At Crome, at Willesden and at Muswell,
At Saint Richard and at Saint Roke,
At Our Lady that standeth in the oak.
To these with other many one
Devoutly have I prayed and gone,
Praying to them to pray for me
Unto the blessed Trinity,
By whose prayers and my daily pain
I trust the sooner to obtain
For my salvation grace and mercy.
For be ye sure, I think surely,
Who seeketh saints for Christ’s sake;
And namely such as pain do take
On foot to punish thy frail body,
Shall thereby merit more highly
Then by anything done by man.

The Palmer (Pilgrim) lists the shrines to which he has travelled (taken from John Heywood, The Four PP (c. 1533).


Now Christ that is our Creator, from shame he cure us;
He maintain us with mirth that move upon the mould;
Unto his endless joy might he restore us,
All those that in his name in peace well them hold.
For of a merchant most mighty thereof my tale is told;
In Heraclea is none such, whoso will understand.
For of all Aragon I am most mighty of silver and of gold;
For, and it were a country to buy, now would I not wond!

Sir Aristory is my name,
A merchant mighty, of a royal array.
Full wide in this world springeth my fame,
Far kenned and known,the sooth for to say.
In all manner of lands, without any nay,
My merchandise runneth, the sooth for to tell:
In Geneo, and in Jenise, and in Geneway,
In Surrey, and in Saby, and in Salerno I sell;

In Antioch and in Alamain much is my might,
In Brabant and in Britain I am full bold,
In Calabria and in Cologne there range I full right,
In Dordrecht and in Denmark, by the cliffs cold;
In Alexandria I have abundance in the wide world. 
In France and in Faro fresh be my flowers,
In Geldre and in Galice have I bought and sold,
In Hamborough and in Holland much merchandise is ours;

In Jerusalem and in Jericho among the Jews gentle,
Among the Chaldees and Catalans kenned is my coming;
In Raynes and in Rome to Saint Peter’s temple
I am known certainly for buying and selling;

In Maine and in Milan full merry have I been;
Out of Naverne to Naples much good is that I bring;
In Ponder and in Portingale much is my glee;
In Spain and in Spruce much is my speeding;
In Lombardy and in Lachborn, there led is my liking;
In Taryse and in Turkey, there told is my tale;
And in the Dukedom of Orion much have I in wielding:
And thus throughout all this world set is my sail.

No man in this world may wield more riches;
All I thank God of his grace, for he that me sent.
And as a lord’s peer thus live I in worthiness,
My curate waiteth upon me to know mine intent,
And men at my wielding; and all is me lent
My will for to work in this world so wide,
Me dare they not displease by no condescent.
And whoso doth, he is not able to abide.

Aristorius the Merchant lists the ports with which he has traded, from the anonymous Play of the Sacrament, of Croxton.


Both extracts taken from Greg Walker, ed., Medieval Drama: An Anthology (Oxford, Blackwell, 2000), spelling modernised.