The poet reminds his audience that "[t]hese Romeyns wyves lovede so here name/At thilke tyme, and dredde so the shame,/That, what for fer of sclaunder
and drede of deth" (1812-14).
He claims that this account is written for Elizabeth in response to the stories circulating about her cousin, 'quha allwa [who always] are for your part no less desirous to understand the truth, than we for ours to auoide sclaunder
For instance, John Bale, writing in 1553, casually described the marriage of Bishop Standish: "As for doctor inkepot, that blenking cockescombe Standish, that saieth he marryed agaynst his conscience, it is the less sclaunder
, sayng he hath alwayes bene more fitte to make a riding fool of, than a chaplaine for a King." (34) Literature also contains references to charivaresque situations.
These Romeyns wyves lovede so here name At thilke tyme, and dredde so the shame, That, what for fer of sclaunder
and drede of deth, She loste bothe at ones wit and breth, And in a swogh she lay, and wex so ded Men myghte stayten of hire arm or hed; She feleth no thyng, neyther foul ne fayr.
He then goes on to discuss slander, identifying it not only with blasphemy, but also with heresy: "Sclaunder
of God is specialliche whan wrong is seid on God or his halowes or when men spekep a [g] enst pe sacramentis of Holy Chirche, as doth mysbileuynge men as charmers and wicches and opre suche" (220).
At the same time, the Beast conjures up the poet Malfont/Bonfont, who is punished for "bold speaches," "lewd poems," and generally being "a welhed / Of euill words, and wicked sclaunders
" (V.ix.25.6-7, 26.8-9).