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VINCENT: I have tarried somewhat the longer, uncle, partly because I was loth to come over-soon, lest my soon-coming might have happed to have made you wake too soon. But I tarried especially for the reason that I was delayed by someone who showed me a letter, dated at Constantinople, by which it appeareth that the great Turk prepareth a marvellous mighty army. And yet whither he will go with it, that can there yet no man tell. But I fear in good faith, uncle, that his voyage shall be hither. Howbeit, he who wrote the letter saith that it is secretly said in Constantinople that a great part of his army shall be shipped and sent either into Naples or into Sicily.
ANTHONY: It may fortune, cousin, that the letter of a Venetian, dated at Constantinople, was devised at Venice. From thence come there some letters—and sometimes from Rome, too, and sometimes also from some other places—all stuffed full of such tidings that the Turk is ready to do some great exploit. These tidings they blow about for the furtherance of some such affairs as they have themselves then in hand.
The Turk hath also so many men of arms in his retinue at his continual charge that, lest they should lie still and do nothing, but peradventure fall in devising of some novelties among themselves, he is fain yearly to make some assembly and some changing of them from one place unto another, and part some asunder, that they wax not over-well acquainted by dwelling over-long together. By these ways also, he maketh those that he intendeth suddenly to invade indeed, to look the less for it, and thereby to make the less preparation before. For they see him so many times make a great visage of war when he intendeth it not, but then, at one time or another, they suddenly feel it when they fear it not.
Howbeit, cousin, it is of very truth full likely that into this realm of Hungary he will not fail to come. For neither is there any country throughout Christendom that lieth so convenient for him, nor never was there any time till now in which he might so well and surely win it. For now we call him in ourselves, God save us, as Æsop telleth that the sheep took in the wolf among them to keep them from the dogs.
VINCENT: Then are there, good uncle, all those tribulations very like to fall upon us here, that I spoke of in the beginning of our first communication here the other day.
ANTHONY: Very truth it is, cousin, that so there will of likelihood in a while, but not forthwith all at first. For since he cometh under the colour of aid for the one against the other, he will somewhat see the proof before he fully show himself. But in conclusion, if he be able to get it for that one, you shall see him so handle it that he shall not fail to get it from him, and that forthwith out of hand, ere ever he suffer him to settle himself over-sure therein.
VINCENT: Yet say they, uncle, that he useth not to force any man to forsake his faith.
ANTHONY: Not any man, cousin? They say more than they can make good, those who tell you so. He maketh a solemn oath, among the ceremonies of that feast in which he first taketh upon him his authority, that he will diminish the faith of Christ, in all that he possibly can, and dilate the faith of Mahomet. But yet hath he not used to force every whole country at once to forsake their faith. For of some countries hath he been content only to take a tribute yearly and let them then live as they will. Out of some he taketh the whole people away, dispersing them for slaves among many sundry countries of his, very far from their own, without any sufferance of regress. In some countries, so great and populous that they cannot well be carried and conveyed thence, he destroyeth the gentlefolk and giveth the lands partly to such as he bringeth and partly to such as willingly will deny their faith, and keepeth the others in such misery that they might as well (in a manner) be dead at once. In rest he suffereth else no Christian man almost, but those that resort as merchants or those that offer themselves to serve him in his war.
But as for those Christian countries that he useth not only for tributaries, as he doth Chios, Cyprus, or Crete, but reckoneth for clear conquest and utterly taketh for his own, as Morea, Greece, and Macedonia, and such others—and as I verily think he will Hungary, if he get it—in all those he useth Christian people after sundry fashions. He letteth them dwell there, indeed, because they would be too many to carry all away, and too many to kill them all, too, unless he should either leave the land dispeopled and desolate or else, from some other countries of his own, should convey the people thither (which would not be well done) to people that land with. There, lo, those who will not be turned from their faith, of which God—lauded be his holy name!—keepeth very many, he suffereth to dwell still in peace. But yet is their peace for all that not very peaceable. For he suffereth them to have no lands of their own, honourable offices they bear none; with occasions of his wars, he plucketh them unto the bare bones with taxes and tallages. Their children he chooseth where he will in their youth, and taketh them from their parents, conveying them whither he will, where their friends never see them after, and abuseth them as he will. Some young maidens he maketh harlots, some young men he bringeth up in war, and some young children he causeth to be gelded—not their stones cut out as the custom was of old, but their whole members cut off by the body; how few escape and live he little careth, for he will have enough! And all whom he so taketh young, to any use of his own, are betaken unto such Turks or false renegades to keep, that they are turned from the faith of Christ every one. Or else they are so handled that, as for this world, they come to an evil end. For, besides many other contumelies and despites that the Turks and the false renegade Christians many times do to good Christian people who still persevere and abide by the faith, they find the means sometimes to make some false knaves say that they heard such-and-such a Christian man speak opprobrious words against Mahomet. And upon that point, falsely testified, they will take occasion to compel him to forsake the faith of Christ and turn to the profession of their shameful superstitious sect, or else will they put him to death with cruel intolerable torments.
VINCENT: Our Lord, uncle, for his mighty mercy, keep those wretches hence! For, by my troth, if they hap to come hither, methinketh I see many more tokens than one that we shall have some of our own folk here ready to fall in with them.
For as before a great storm the sea beginneth sometimes to work and roar in itself, ere ever the winds wax boisterous, so methinketh I hear at mine ear some of our own here among us, who within these few years could no more have borne the name of Turk than the name of devil, begin now to find little fault in them—yea, and some to praise them little by little, as they can, more glad to find faults at every state of Christendom: priests, princes, rites, ceremonies, sacraments, laws, and customs spiritual, temporal, and all.
ANTHONY: In good faith, cousin, so begin we to fare here indeed, and that but even now of late. For since the title of the crown hath come in question, the good rule of this realm hath very sore decayed, as little a while as it is. And undoubtedly Hungary shall never do well as long as men's minds hearken after novelty and have their hearts hanging upon a change. And much the worse I like it, when their words walk so large toward the favour of the Turk's sect, which they were ever wont to have in so great abomination, as every true-minded Christian man—and Christian woman, too—must have.
I am of such age as you see, and verily from as far as I can remember, it hath been marked and often proved true, that when children in Buda have fallen in a fancy by themselves to draw together and in their playing make as it were corpses carried to church, and sing after their childish fashion the tune of the dirge, great death hath followed shortly thereafter. And twice or thrice I can remember in my day when children in divers parts of this realm have gathered themselves in sundry companies and made as it were troops and battles. And after their battles in sport, in which some children have yet taken great hurt, there hath fallen true battle and deadly war indeed. These tokens were somewhat like your example of the sea, since they are tokens going before, of things that afterward follow, through some secret motion or instinct of which the cause is unknown.
But, by St. Mary, cousin, these tokens like I much worse—these tokens, I say, not of children's play nor of children's songs, but old knaves' large open words, so boldly spoken in the favour of Mahomet's sect in this realm of Hungary, which hath been ever hitherto a very sure key of Christendom. And without doubt if Hungary be lost and the Turk have it once fast in his possession, he shall, ere it be long afterward, have an open ready way into almost all the rest of Christendom. Though he win it not all in a week, the great part will be won, I fear me, within very few years after.
VINCENT: But yet evermore I trust in Christ, good uncle, that he shall not suffer that abominable sect of his mortal enemies in such wise to prevail against his Christian countries.
ANTHONY: That is very well said, cousin. Let us have our sure hope in him, and then shall we be very sure that we shall not be deceived. For we shall have either the thing that we hope for, or a better thing in its stead. For, as for the thing itself that we pray for and hope to have, God will not always send it to us. And therefore, as I said in our first communication, in all things save only for heaven, our prayer and our hope may never be too precise, although the thing may be lawful to ask.
Verily, if we people of the Christian nations were such as would God we were, I would little fear all the preparations that the great Turk could make. No, nor yet, being as bad as we are, I doubt not at all but that in conclusion, however base Christendom be brought, it shall spring up again, till the time be come very near to the day of judgment, some tokens of which methinketh are not come yet. But somewhat before that time shall Christendom be straitened sore, and brought into so narrow a compass that, according to Christ's words, "When the Son of Man shall come again"—that is, to the day of general judgment—"thinkest thou that he shall find faith in the earth?" as who should say, "but a little." For, as appeareth in the Apocalypse and other places of scripture, the faith shall be at that time so far faded that he shall, for the love of his elect, lest they should fall and perish too, abridge those days and accelerate his coming. But, as I say, methinketh I miss yet in my mind some of those tokens that shall, by the scripture, come a good while before that. And among others, the coming in of the Jews and the dilating of Christendom again before the world come to that strait. So I say that for mine own mind I have little doubt that this ungracious sect of Mahomet shall have a foul fall, and Christendom spring and spread, flower and increase again. Howbeit, the pleasure and comfort shall they see who shall be born after we are buried, I fear me, both twain. For God giveth us great likelihood that for our sinful wretched living he goeth about to make these infidels, who are his open professed enemies, the sorrowful scourge of correction over evil Christian people who should be faithful and who are of truth his falsely professing friends.
And surely, cousin, albeit that methinketh I see divers evil tokens of this misery coming to us, yet can there not, to my mind, be a worse prognostication of it than this ungracious token that you note here yourself. For undoubtedly, cousin, this new manner of men's favourable fashion in their language toward these ungracious Turks declareth plainly not only that their minds give them that hither shall he come, but also that they can be content both to live under him and, beside that, to fall from the true faith of Christ into Mahomet's false abominable sect.
VINCENT: Verily, mine uncle, as I go about more than you, so must I needs hear more (which is a heavy hearing in mine ear) the manner of men in this matter, which increaseth about us here—I trust that in other places of this realm, by God's grace, it is otherwise. But in this quarter here about us, many of these fellows who are fit for the war were wont at first, as it were in sport, to talk as though they looked for a day when, with a turn to the Turk's faith, they should be made masters here of true Christian men's bodies and owners of all their goods. And, in a while after that, they began to talk so half between game and earnest—and now, by our Lady, not far from fair flat earnest indeed.
ANTHONY: Though I go out but little, cousin, yet hear I sometimes—when I say little!—almost as much as that. But since there is no man to whom we can complain for redress, what remedy is there but patience, and to sit still and hold our peace? For of these two who strive which of them both shall reign over us—and each of them calleth himself king, and both twain put the people to pain—one is, as you know well, too far from our quarter here to help us in this behalf. And the other, since he looketh for the Turk's aid, either will not, or (I suppose) dare not find any fault with them that favour the Turk and his sect. For of natural Turks this country lacketh none now; they are living here under divers pretexts, and of everything they advertise the great Turk full surely. And therefore, cousin, albeit that I would advise every man to pray still and call unto God to hold his gracious hand over us and keep away this wretchedness if his pleasure be, yet would I further advise every good Christian body to remember and consider that it is very likely to come. And therefore I would advise him to make his reckoning and count his pennyworths before, and I would advise every man (and every woman, too) to appoint with God's help in their own mind beforehand what they intend to do if the very worst should befall.
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