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St. Thomas More and his wife debating the necessity of his imprisonment

2 min • Digitized on August 30, 2021

From Life of Sir Thomas More, page 81
By William Roper

When Sir Thomas More had continued a good while in the Tower, my lady, his wife, obtained license to see him. Who, at her first coming, like a simple ignorant woman, and somewhat worldly too, with this manner of salutation bluntly saluted him:

“What the good-yere, Master More,” quoth she, “I marvel that you that have been always hitherto taken for so wise a man will now so play the fool to lie here in this close filthy prison, and be content thus to be shut up among mice and rats, when you might be abroad at your liberty, and with the favour and good will both of the king and his council if you would but do as all the bishops and best learned of this realm have done. And seeing you have at Chelsea a right fair house, your library, your gallery, your garden, your orchard, and all other necessaries so handsome about you, where you might in the company of me your wife, your children, and household, be merry, I muse what a God’s name you mean here still thus fondly to tarry.”

After he had a while quietly heard her, with a cheerful countenance he said unto her: “I pray thee, good Mistress Alice, tell me one thing!”

“What is that?” quoth she.

“Is not this house,” quoth he, “as nigh heaven as mine own?”

To whom she after her accustomed homely fashion, not liking such talk, answered: “Tylle valle, Tylle valle!”

“How say you, Mistress Alice, is it not so?”

“Bone Deus, bone Deus, man, will this gear never be left?” quoth she.

“Well then, Mistress Alice, if it be so,” quoth he, “it is very well. For I see no great cause why I should much joy in my gay house, or in any thing thereunto belonging, when if I should but seven years lie buried under the ground and then arise and come thither again, I should not fail to find some therein that would bid me get out of doors, and tell me it were none of mine. What cause have I then to like such a house as would so soon forget his master?”

So her persuasions moved him but a little.

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