PEDIGREE: For this piece, as for a number of others, Mr. Furnivall cites William Carew Hazlitt’s “Remains of the Early Popular Poetry of England” (volume 4 here) of 1866. Both Hazlitt and Furnivall mention several Stationers Register entries for licenses to Sampson (John?) Awdeley, John Charlwood and John Kyng. Two copies of printings by Kyng survived, at least through the nineteenth century. One undated “with a woodcut on title of two women conversing”, and one dated 1560 “with a woodcut on title of a man with purses at his girdle”. Hazlitt’s transcription includes the woodcut of the two women, both wearing Tudor hoods / gable headdresses with lappets (interesting…would such hoods be considered outdated by 1560?).
SYNOPSIS: The title page reads, “The Proud Wives Pater noster that wolde go gay, and undyd her husbonde and went her way.” The proud wife of the title goes to church with the other women, and as she repeats her prayers, thinks only of her clothing and that of her friends:
“Adveniat regnu tuu– thy kingdom come to us
After this lyfe, when we hens shall wende;
But whyle we be here now, swete Jesus,
As other women have, such grace in me sende,
That I may have, Lorde, my heede in to wrap,
After the guyse, kerchefes that be fyne,
And thereon to sette some lusty trymme cap,
With smockes well wrought, sewed with sylke twyne.
Fiat voluntas tua — thy well (will) fulfylled be,
Lorde god, alway as thys tyme dothe requyre,
And as my gossep that sytteth here by me,
So let me be trymmed: nought elles I desyre…”
After church, the proud wife confers with her gossips and bemoans how her husband will not pay for all the “gaye gere” she desires. After one last discussion with the husband, she takes his money (while he is consulting with his curate about the situation) to get herself another husband, and the goodly gear she wants. Another poem follows this tale, titled, “The Golden Paternoster of Devocion”, which incorporates the lines of the Lord’s Prayer into rhymes with a more sacred theme. Hazlitt commented in the footnotes that he included “this wretched doggerel” only so as not to affect “the integrity of the poem, to which it is appended”.
AVAILABILITY: Google Books has a copy of Volume 4 of “Remains of the Early Popular Poetry of England” here:
“The Proud Wives Paternoster” starts on page 147.