The Laddie Doth Protest Too Much: A 1583 Rant on the Depravity of Playgoers

Do they not maintain bawdry,

insinuate foolery,

and renew the remembrance of heathen idolatry?

Do they not induce whoredom and uncleanness?

Nay, are they not rather plain devourers of maidenly virginity and chastity?

For proof whereof but mark the flocking and running to Theaters and Curtains,

daily and hourly, night and day, time and tide,

to see plays and interludes where such wanton gestures,

such bawdy speeches,







winking, and


of wanton eyes,

is wonderful to behold.

Then these goodly pageants being ended,

every mate sorts to his mate,

brings another homeward of their way very friendly,

and in their secret conclaves (covertly)

they play the sodomites, or worse.

And these be the fruits of plays and interludes.

And whereas, you say, there are good examples to be learnt in them:

Truly, so there are;

if you will learn falsehood and cozenage,

to deceive; to play the hypocrite,

to cog, to lie and falsify;

if you will learn to jest, laugh and fleer,

to grin, to nod and mow;

if you will learn to play the Vice,

to swear, tear and blaspheme both heaven and earth;

if you will learn to become a bawd, unclean,

and to devirginate maids, to deflower honest wives;

if you will learn to murder, flay, kill, pick, steal, rob and rove;

if you will learn to rebel against princes,

to commit treasons,

to consume treasures,

to practice idleness,

to sing and talk of bawdy love and venery;

if you will learn to deride, scoff, mock and flout,

to flatter and smooth;

if you will learn to play the whoremaster,

the glutton, drunkard, or incestuous person;

if you will learn to become proud, haughty and arrogant;

if you will learn to condemn God and all His laws,

to care neither for Heaven nor Hell,

and to commit all kinds of sin and mischief,

you need go to no other school,

for all these good examples may you see painted before your eyes in interludes and plays.

~ Philip Stubbes, The Anatomie of Abuses (1583).