I write in response to thy note of January 23, 1353, titled, “Warning to Pay Rents or Quit.”
I know that thou art a noble land-lord, and I am but an execrable tenant. It is said that God Himself decreed it so, in private talks with ye lords long-ago. There-fore didst thou inherit these lands, which thou overtook upon finishing thy graduate schooling. How lucky are we to have a youngly Master of Business Administration as land-lord!
Any-way, as my lord, thou hast every right to levy rents from my labour, and if I pay not, to evict, expel, and oust me from this dear land which I have tilled for all my ungentle life. All this is right-wise and justicial.
And, aye, it is truthful that I am late with my rently payments. Never-the-less, I ask beseechingly for thy forbearance, o mild-hearted Land-Lord.
As thou-self knowest, these lands have long been over-set by the Magna Pestilencia (or “Black Death,” in the common tongue). Many have died during these ugsome times. But God hath shown me much mercy. When I was infected with plague, I lost only my sense of smell, which was a blessing any-how, for these days all-things smell like death, am I right-wise? Ha-ha 😉
But seriously, though I have survived, I have misfared gravely. I have been tilling the land alone since the summer, because of the deceasing of all my neighbors. Then, last month, perceiving my weakfulness, a pack of wolves did most rudely over-take my land and logging-place. I wrote thee a letter about this—didst thou get it? I pointed out-ward that, per our rently agreement, defending against wolves was the duty of the land-lord. But thou answered not.
I was there-fore forced into a peace agreement with the wolves. I agreed to ever-more pay them a tri-part of my farming yield as a “protection fee.” This seemed like a lot, but as they reminded me, they are wolves. Any-way, this is making the rently payments all-the-more difficult.
I am sorrowful to vex thee, busy-most lord, with these tales of woe. I have no doubt that this Black Death hath been a heavy time for thee, as well. Thy profits have been taried because so many of thy tenants have died—dang it, I say! Also, the King decreed a moratorium on the evicting of us tenants still-living—a great head-pain for thou! As the saying goeth: When it rains, it rains a lot.
Now, the King hath ended the moratorium—this I know. Never-the-less, I beg that thou allowest me a little more time for these unblissful back-rents. Pardon me, but it seems that a land-lord of thy wealth can do well-enough without them for now?
I meen, come on-ward, my lord! Come on-ward.
Because, to be honest, thou seemest to have excessive-much wealth for someone who labours so little. Every-time thou comest around for rents in thy six-horse German sports chariot, I have the same irreligious thought: Perchance thou were not fore-chosen by God, but art just saying that to get away with exploiting thy equals. Perchance there is no God at all, and religion is just some kind of delicious poppy tincture for the masses!
Any-how, why would God desire so unjusticial an arrangement as this, wherein thou receivest a lifelong income just by owning property? How can earnings be passive? Isn’t that, like, an oxy-dotard?
And, lo — injustice on injustice — thou dost not even hold up your end of this most convenient-for-thou arrangement! When I complained last twelve-month that my roof was down-fallen, thou claimed it was a new “skylight.” And then thou increased my rent because of it! I discussed this with the wolves, and they said that thou were over-screwing me.
There-fore—knowest thou what?—I am thinking I shall not be paying thy back-rents, after-all. Because although I am a humble tenant, I have the right to a logging-place—special-mostly in a time of plague (which is still going, by the way).
Verily, it is clear that land-lords like thou-self are the most wicked of all the sinners on earth. Now I am understanding it all for the first-most time. Or perchance I am just fanatical with fever. Whether-so-ever. There is but a thin line twixt wisdom and madness—or so say the wolves.
Wybert Sallow, Logging-Place #307