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THREE MAY-DAYS IN LONDON.

I. THE MAY-POLE IN CORNHILL. (1517).

THERE was fear and trouble in London on
the eve of May-day, in the ninth year of King
Henry the Eighth.

The sun was setting as John Rest, the Mayor,
hurried into the Guildhall, where the Aldermen,
and the Recorder, and the Sheriffs had
been suddenly assembled. He spake to them
with a tremulous voice, saying that he had
just come from the great Cardinal, at York
House, who had told him, of his own sure
knowledge, that it was the intention of the
young and riotous people to rise and
distress the strangers; and that the Cardinal
had bid him go home, and wisely foresee that
matter.

Then uprose a worshipful man, and said, that
the grievances of the citizens were very great,
and that the blood of the apprentices might be
stirred to avenge their masters. "For," said he,
"did I not hear Dr. Bell preach, on Easter
Tuesday, and set forth how the aliens and
strangers eat the bread from the poor fatherless
children, and take the living from all the
artificers, and the intercourse from all the
merchants?" And then another worshipful man
arose, and declared how he had heard John
Lincoln, the broker, hold forth to a great crowd
at the Porch of St. Mary, Spital, that the English
merchants could have no utterance; for the
merchant strangers bring in all silks, cloth of
gold, wine, iron, and such other merchandise,
that no man, almost, buys of an Englishman;
and carry outward so much English tin, wool,
and lead, that Englishmen that adventure
outward can have no living. And then the
worshipful assembly, with one or two
exceptions, joined in the outcry against the
merchant strangers, and especially against
those who dealt in foreign nails, locks,
baskets, cupboards, stools, tables, chests, and
girdles; which, if they were wrought here,
Englishmen might have some work and
living.

Thus the guardians of the king's peace
began to murmur, and clamour as bitterly as
Dr. Bell or John Lincoln; and some were for
doing nothing, and some were for calling out
the watch, if the riot should take place, and
the aliens should be slain.

But amidst these heats stood up the Under
Sheriff, Master Thomas More; and there was
instant silence.

"Good, my masters," said he, "our
business is to prevent a riot, not redress a
grievance: and, moreover, I think the grievance,
such as it be, is not to be redressed,
either by noise or staff-striking. If the
stranger exchanges his wine and oil for our
wool and tin, he gives us what we want in
return for what he wants; and God's gifts
are not hidden in a corner. If the alien sells
baskets, and girdles, and painted cloths, why
is it that you can't sell the same work of your
own hands? Because your workmanship is
less skilful. We must amend ourselves
before we blame the stranger for our poverty.
My counsel is, that you all go to your own
homes; lock up your apprentices till to-
morrow's matin-bell; exhort them to
peacefulness; and we will bring in the May with
our old jollity, and the shaft of St. Andrew s
hall be set up to the old song of, 'Mighty
Flora, goddess of fresh flowers.'"

The council was broken up: and in all
haste each Alderman sent round his ward,
that no man should stir out of his house after
nine of the clock, and every one should keep
his doors shut, and his servants within till
seven of the morning. But the command
was a fruitless one. There was in Chepe, as
was the wont on May Even, a company of
young men playing at bucklersthe good old
English game which we now call single-stick.
The moon was struggling with light clouds;
but the young men went on with their
play, for there was a bonfire in the street,
and they were heedless or ignorant of the
Alderman's command. Paul's clock struck
nine, and they were still at play. Then
rushed into the midst of them the
Worshipful Sir John Mondey, Alderman of
Chepe; and he cried with a mighty voice,
"Stop!"

But the young men did not stop. And
louder called the Alderman; and faster and
more furious was the play. And then the
Serjeants of the ward rushed in upon the
young men to take them to the Counter.
Then uprose that cry which the Blue Cloaks
had so often raised, to the terror of their
masters, and "Clubs! Clubs!" was echoed
through Chepe and Cornhill; and in a short
space the streets were filled. The buckler-

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