A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Vol. II
by Robert Dodsley
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REBECCA. So should it be, and I thank my lord Isaac, Such daily lessons at your hand I do not lack.

ISAAC. Why, then, should not I thank the Lord, if it please him, That I shall now be blind, and my sight wax all dim. For whoso to old age will here live and endure, Must of force abide all such defaults of nature.

MIDO. Why, must I be blind too, if I be an old man? How shall I grope the way, or who shall lead me then?

ISAAC. If the Lord have appointed thee such old days to see, He will also provide that shall be meet for thee.

MIDO. I trow, if I were blind, I could go well enou', I could grope the way thus, and go as I do now. I have done so ere now both by day and by night, As I see you grope the way, and have hit it right.

REBECCA. Yea, sir boy, will ye play any such childish knack As to counterfeit your blind master Isaac? That is but to mock him for his impediment.

MIDO. Nay, I never did it in any such intent.

REBECCA. Nay, it is to tempt God, before thou have need, Whereby thou may'st provoke him, in very deed, With some great misfortune or plague to punish thee.

MIDO. Then will I never more do so, while I may see: But against I be blind, I will be so perfit That, though no man lead me, I will go at midnight.

ISAAC. Now, wife, touching the purpose that I sought for you.

REBECCA, What say'th my lord Isaac to his handmaid now?

ISAAC. Ye have oft in covert words been right earnest To have me grant unto you a boon and request: But ye never told me yet plainly what it was; Therefore I have ever yet let the matter pass. And now of late, by oft being from me absent, I have half suspected you to be scarce content. But, wife Rebecca, I would not have you to mourn, As though I did your honest petition scorn.[260] For I never meant to deny in all my life Any lawful or honest request to my wife. But in case it be a thing unreasonable, Then must I needs be to you untractable. Now therefore say on, and tell me what is your case.

REBECCA. I would, if I were sure in your heart to find grace; Else, sir, I would be loth.

ISAAC. To speak do not refrain, And if it be reasonable, ye shall obtain: Otherwise, ye must pardon me, gentle sweet wife.

REBECCA. Sir, ye know your son Esau, and see his life, How loose it is, and how stiff he is and stubborn, How retchlessly he doth himself misgovern: He giveth himself to hunting out of reason, And serveth the Lord and us at no time or season. These conditions cannot be acceptable In the sight of God, nor to men allowable. Now his brother Jacob, your younger son and mine, Doth more apply his heart to seek the ways divine. He liveth here quietly at home in the tent, There is no man nor child but is with him content.

ISAAC. O wife, I perceive ye speak of affection; To Jacob ye bear love, and to his brother none.

REBECCA. Indeed, sir, I cannot love Esau so well As I do Jacob, the plain truth to you to tell. For I have no comfort of Esau, God wot: I scarce know whe'r I have a son of him or not. He goeth abroad so early before daylight, And retumeth home again so late in the night; And unneth I set eye on him in the whole week: No, sometime not in twain, though I do for him seek. And all the neighbours see him as seldom as I; But when they would take rest, they hear him blow and cry. Some see him so seldom, they ask if he be sick: Sometimes some demand, whether he be dead or quick. But, to make short tale, such his conditions be, That I wish of God he had ne'er been born of me.

ISAAC. Well, wife, I love Esau, and must for causes twain.

REBECCA. Surely your love is bestowed on him in vain?

ISAAC. First, active he is, as any young man can be, And many a good morsel he bringeth home to me. Then he is mine eldest and first-begotten son.

REBECCA. If God were so pleased, I would that were foredone. [Aside.

ISAAC. And the eldest son is called the father's might.

REBECCA. If yours rest in Esau, God give us good night!

ISAAC. A prerogative he hath in every thing.

REBECCA. More pity he should have it without deserving.

ISAAC. Of all the goods his portion is greater.

REBECCA. That the worthy should have it, I think much better.

ISAAC. Among his brethren he hath the pre-eminence.

REBECCA. Where Esau is chief, there is a gay presence!

ISAAC. Over his brethren he is sovereign and lord.

REBECCA. Such dignity in Esau doth ill accord.

ISAAC. He is the head of the father's succession.

REBECCA, I would Esau had lost that possession.

ISAAC. And he hath the chief title of inheritance.

REBECCA. Wisdom would in Esau change that ordinance.

ISAAC. To the eldest son is due the father's blessing.

REBECCA. That should be Jacob's, if I might have my wishing. [Aside.

ISAAC. And the chief endowment of the father's substance.

REBECCA. Which will thrive well in Esau his governance.

ISAAC. By title of eldership he hath his birthright.

REBECCA. And that would I remove to Jacob, if I might. [Aside.

ISAAC. He must have double portion to another.

REBECCA. That were more fit for Jacob his younger brother.

ISAAC. In all manner of things divided by a rate.

REBECCA. Well given goods to him, that the Lord doth hate!

ISAAC. Why say ye so of Esau, mine eldest son?

REBECCA. I say true, if he proceed, as he hath begun.

ISAAC. Is he not your son too, as well as he is mine? Wherefore do ye then against him thus sore repine?

REBECCA. Because that in my spirit verily I know, God will set up Jacob, and Esau down throw. I have showed you many a time ere this day, What the Lord of them being in my womb did say. I use not for to lie, and I believe certain, That the Lord spake not these words to me in vain. And Jacob it is (I know), in whom the Lord will His promises to you made and to your seed fulfil.

ISAAC. I doubt not his promise made to me and my seed, Leaving to his conveyance how it shall proceed. The Lord after his way may change th'inheritance; But I may not wittingly break our ordinance.

REBECCA. Now would God I could persuade my lord Isaac Jacob to prefer, and Esau to put back.

ISAAC. I may not do it, wife, I pray you be content: The title of birthright, that cometh by descent, Or the place of eldership coming by due course, I may not change nor shift for better nor for worse. Nature's law it is, the eldest son to knowledge, And in no wise to bar him of his heritage: And ye shall of Esau one day have comfort.

REBECCA. Set a good long day then, or else we shall come short.

ISAAC. I warrant you, he will do well enough at length.

REBECCA. You must needs commend him, being your might and strength.

ISAAC. Well, now go we hence; little Mido, where art thou?

MIDO. I have stood here all this while, list'ning, how you And my dame Rebecca have been laying the law; But she hath as quick answers as ever I saw. Ye could not speak anything unto her so thick, But she had her answer as ready and as quick.

ISAAC. Yea, women's answers are but few times to seek.

MIDO. But I did not see Esau neither all this same week. Nor do I love your son Esau so well, As I do love your son Jacob by a great deal.

ISAAC. No, doest thou, Mido? and tell me the cause why.

MIDO. Why? for I do not: And none other cause know I. But everybody, as well one as other, Do wish that Jacob had been the elder brother.

ISAAC. Well, come on, let us go.

MIDO. And who shall lead you? I?

REBECCA. No, it is my office as long as I am by. And I would all wives, as the world this day is, Would unto their husbands likewise do their office.

MIDO. Why, dame Rebecca, then all wedded men should be blind.

REBECCA. What, thou foolish lad, no such thing was in my mind.


RAGAN, the servant of Esau.

RAGAN. I have heard it oft, but now I feel a wonder, In what grievous pain they die, that die for hunger. O my greedy stomach, how it doth bite and gnaw? If I were at a rack, I could eat hay or straw. Mine empty guts do fret, my maw doth even tear, Would God I had a piece of some horsebread here. Yet is master Esau in worse case than I. If he have not some meat, the sooner he will die: He hath sunk for faintness twice or thrice by the way, And not one seely bit we got since yesterday. All that ever he hath, he would have given to-day To have had but three morsels his hunger to allay. Or in the field to have met with some hogs; I could scarcely keep him from eating of these dogs. He hath sent me afore some meat for to provide, And cometh creeping after, scarce able to stride. But if I know where to get of any man, For to ease mine own self, as hungry as I am, I pray God I stink; but if any come to me, Die who die will; for sure I will first served be. I will see, if any be ready here at home, Or whether Jacob have any, that peakish mome. But first I must put all my dogs up, And lay up this gear, and then God send us the cup.


ESAU, the master. RAGAN, the servant.

[Esau cometh in so faint, that he can scarce go.

ESAU. O, what a grievous pain is hunger to a man? Take all that I have for meat, help who that can. O Lord, some good body, for God's sake, give me meat. I force not what it were, so that I had to eat. Meat or drink, save my life—or bread, I reck not what: If there be nothing else, some man give me a cat. If any good body on me will do so much cost, I will tear and eat her raw, she shall ne'er be rost; I promise of honesty I will eat her raw. And what a noddy was I, and a whoreson daw, To let Ragan go with all my dogs at once: A shoulder of a dog were now meat for the nonce. O, what shall I do? my teeth I can scarcely charm From gnawing away the brawn of my very arm. I can no longer stand for faint, I must needs lie. And except meat come soon, remediless I die. And where art thou, Ragan, whom I sent before? Unless thou come at once, I never see thee more. Where art thou, Ragan; I hear not of thee yet?

RAGAN. Here, as fast as I can, but no meat can I get. Not one draught of drink, not one poor morsel of bread. Not one bit or crumb, though I should straightway be dead. Therefore ye may now see, how much ye are to blame, That will thus starve yourself for following your game.

ESAU. Ah, thou villain, tellest thou me this now? If [I] had thee, I would eat thee, to God I vow. Ah, meat, thou whoreson, why hast thou not brought me meat?

RAGAN. Would you have me bring you that, I can nowhere get?

ESAU. Come hither, let me tell thee a word in thine ear.

RAGAN. Nay, speak out aloud: I will not come a foot near. Fall ye to snatching at folks? adieu, I am gone.

ESAU. Nay, for God's love, Ragan, leave me not alone: I will not eat thee, Ragan, so God me help.

RAGAN. No, I shall desire you to choose some other whelp. Being in your best lust, I would topple with ye, And pluck a good crow, ere ye brake your fast with me. What? are you mankin[261] now? I reckon it best, I, To bind your hands behind you, even as ye lie.

ESAU. Nay, have mercy on me, and let me not perish.

RAGAN. In faith, nought could I get, wherewith you to cherish.

ESAU. Was there nothing to be had among so many?

RAGAN. I could not find one but Jacob that had any, And no grant would he make for ought that I could say, Yet no man alive with fairer words could him pray. But the best red pottage he hath, that ever was.

ESAU. Go, pray him, I may speak with him once, ere I pass.

RAGAN. That message, by God's grace, shall not long be undone.

ESAU. Hie thee, go apace, and return again soon. If Jacob have due brotherly compassion, He will not see me faint after this fashion; But I daresay, the wretch had rather see me throst, Than he would find in his heart to do so much cost. For where is, between one fremman[262] and another, Less love found than now between brother and brother? Will Jacob come forth to shew comfort unto me? The whoreson hypocrite will as soon hanged be. Yet, peace, methinketh Jacob is coming indeed: And my mind giveth me at his hand I shall speed, For he is as gentle and loving as can be, As full of compassion and pity. But let me see, doth he come? no, I warrant you. He come, quod I? tush, he come? then hang Esau! For there is not this day in all the world round Such another hodypeak wretch to be found, And Ragan my man, is not that a fine knave? Have any mo masters such a man as I have? So idle, so loit'ring, so trifling, so toying? So prattling, so trattling, so chiding, so boying? So jesting, so wresting, so mocking, so mowing? So nipping, so tripping, so cocking, so crowing? So knappish, so snappish, so elvish, so froward? So crabbed, so wrabbed, so stiff, so untoward? In play or in pastime so jocund, so merry? In work or in labour so dead or so weary? O, that I had his ear between my teeth now, I should shake him, even as a dog that lulleth a sow. But in faith, if ever I recover myself, There was never none trounced, as I shall trounce that elf. He and Jacob are agreed, I daresay, I, Not to come at all, but to suffer me here to die. Which if they do, they shall find this same word true That, after I am dead, my soul shall them pursue. I will be avenged on all foes, till I die: Yea, and take vengeance, when I am dead too, I. For, I mistrust, against me agreed they have: For thone is but a fool, and thother a stark knave.

Enter RAGAN and JACOB behind, conversing.

RAGAN. I assure you, Jacob, the man is very weak.

ESAU. But hark once again, methink I hear them speak!

RAGAN. I promise you, I fear his life be already pass'd.

JACOB. May God forbid!

ESAU. Lo, now they come at last.

RAGAN. If ye believe not me, see yourself, where he is.

JACOB. Fie, brother Esau, what a folly is this? About vain pastime to wander abroad and peak, Till with hunger you make yourself thus faint and weak.

ESAU. Brother Jacob, I pray you chide now no longer, But give me somewhat, wherewith to slake mine hunger.

JACOB. Alack, brother, I have in my little cottage Nothing but a mess of gross and homely pottage.

ESAU. Refresh me therewithall, and boldly ask of me The best thing that I have, whatsoever it be. I were a very beast, when thou my life dost save, If I should stick with thee for the best thing I have.

JACOB. Can ye be content to sell your birthright to me?

ESAU. Hold, here is my hand, I do sell it here to thee. With all the profits thereof henceforth to be thine, As free, as full, as large, as ever it was mine.

JACOB. Then swear thou hand in hand before the living Lord This bargain to fulfil, and to stand by thy word.

ESAU. Before the Lord I swear, to whom each heart is known, That my birthright that was from henceforth is thine own.

JACOB. Thou shalt also with me by this promise indent, With this bargain and sale to hold thyself content.

ESAU. If each penny thereof might be worth twenty pound, I willingly to thee surrender it this stound. And if each cicle might be worth a whole talent, I promise with this sale to hold me content.

JACOB. Come, let us set him on foot, that he may go sup.

RAGAN. Nay, first I will know a thing, ere I help him up, Sirrah, will ye eat folk, when ye are long fasting?

ESAU. No, I pray thee help me up, and leave thy jesting.

RAGAN. No, trow, eat your brother Jacob now, if you lust; For you shall not eat me, I tell you, that is just.

JACOB. Come, that with my pottage thou may'st refreshed be.

ESAU. There is no meat on earth, that so well liketh me.

RAGAN. Yet I may tell you, it is pottage dearly bought.

ESAU. No, not a whit, for my bargain take thou no thought. I defy that birthright that should be of more price Than helping of one's self: I am not so unwise.

RAGAN. And how then, sir, shall poor Ragan have no meat?

ESAU. Yes, and if thou canst my brother Jacob intreat.

JACOB. God grant I have enough for Esau alone.

RAGAN. Why then I perceive poor Ragan shall have none.

[Esau, entering into Jacob's tent, shaketh Ragan off.

Well, much good do it you with your pottage of rice: I would fast and fare ill, ere I ate of that price. Would I sell my birthright, being an eldest son? Forsooth then were it a fair thread that I had spun. And then to let it go for a mess of pottage! What is that but both unthriftiness and dotage? Alack, alack, good blessed father Isaac, That ever son of thine should play such a lewd knack! And yet I do not think but God this thing hath wrought, For Jacob is as good, as Esau is nought. But forth cometh Mido, as fast as he can trot: For a cicle, whether to call me in or not?


MIDO, the boy. RAGAN.

[Mido cometh in clapping his hands and laughing.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, Now who saw e'er such another as Esau? By my truth, I will not lie to thee, Ragan, Since I was born, I never see any man So greedily eat rice out of a pot or pan. He would not have a dish, but take the pot and sup. Ye never saw hungry dog so stab[263] potage up.

RAGAN. Why, how did he sup it? I pray thee, tell me, how?

MIDO. Marry, even thus, as thou shalt see me do now. [Here he counterfeiteth supping out of the pot. O, I thank you, Jacob: with all my heart, Jacob. Gently done, Jacob: a friendly part, Jacob! I can sup so, Jacob! Yea, then will I sup too, Jacob. Here is good meat, Jacob!

RAGAN. As ere was eat, Jacob!

MIDO. As e'er I saw, Jacob!

RAGAN. Esau a daw, Jacob!

MIDO. Sweet rice pottage, Jacob!

RAGAN. By Esau's dotage, Jacob.

MIDO. Jolly good cheer, Jacob!

RAGAN. But bought full dear, Jacob!

MIDO. I was hungry, Jacob.

RAGAN. I was an unthrift, Jacob.

MIDO. Ye will none now, Jacob.

RAGAN. I cannot for you, Jacob.

MIDO. I will eat all, Jacob.

RAGAN. The devil go with all, Jacob.

MIDO. Thou art a good son, Jacob.

RAGAN. And would he never have done, Jacob?

MIDO. No, but still coggl'd[264] in, like Jackdaw that cries ka bob! That to be kill'd I could not laughing forbear: And therefore I came out, I durst not abide there.

RAGAN. Is there any pottage left for me, that thou wot?

MIDO. No, I left Esau about to lick the pot.

RAGAN. Lick, quod thou? now a shame take him that can all lick.

MIDO. The pot shall need no washing, he will it so lick; And by this he is sitting down to bread and drink.

RAGAN. And shall I have no part with him, dost thou think?

MIDO. No, for he pray'd Jacob, ere he did begin, To shut the tent fast, that no mo guests come in.

RAGAN. And made he no mention of me his servant?

MIDO. He said thou were a knave, and bad thee hence avaunt: Go shift, where thou couldest, thou gottest nothing there.

RAGAN. God yield you, Esau, with all my stomach cheer![265]

MIDO. I must in again, lest perhaps I be shent, For I asked noboby licence, when I went. [Exeat.

RAGAN. Nay, it is his nature, do what ye can for him, No thank at his hand; but choose you, sink or swim. Then reason it with him in a meet time and place, And he shall be ready to flee straight in your face. This proverb in Esau may be understand: Claw a churl by the tail, and he will file[266] your hand. Well i-wis, Esau, ye did know well enou', That I had as much need to be meated as you. Have I trotted and trudged all night and all day, And now leave me without door, and so go your way? Have I spent so much labour for you to provide, And you nothing regard what of me may betide? Have I run with you while I was able to go, And now you purchase food for yourself and no mo? Have I taken so long pain you truly to serve, And can ye be content, that I famish and starve? I must lacquey and come lugging greyhound and hound, And carry the weight, I dare say, of twenty pound, And to help his hunger purchase grace and favour, And now to be shut out fasting for my labour! By my faith, I may say I serve a good master, Nay, nay, I serve an ill husband and a waster. That neither profit regardeth nor honesty, What marvel I then, if he pass so light on me? But, Esau, now that ye have sold your birthright, I commend me to you, and God give you good night. And let a friend tell him his fau't at any time, Ye shall hear him chafe beyond all reason or rhyme. Except it were a friend or a very hell-hound, Ye never saw the match of him in any ground. When I shew him of good-will, what others do say, He will fall out with me, and offer me a fray. And what can there be a worser condition, Than to do ill, and refuse admonition? Can such a one prosper, or come to a good end? Then I care not how many children God me send. Once Esau shall not beguile me, I can tell: Except he shall fortune to amend, or do well. Therefore why do I about him waste thus much talk, Whom no man can induce ordinately to walk? But some man perchance doth not a little wonder, How I, who but right now did roar out for hunger, Have now so much vacant and void time of leisure, To walk and to talk, and discourse all of pleasure. I told you at the first, I would provide for one: My mother taught me that lesson a good while agone. When I came to Jacob, his friendship to require, I drew near and near till I came to the fire: There hard beside me stood the pottage-pot, Even as God would have it, neither cold nor hot; Good simple Jacob could not turn his back so thick, But I at the ladle got a gulp or a lick; So that, ere I went, I made a very good meal, And din'd better cheap than Esau a good deal. But here cometh now master Esau forth.



RAGAN. Ah, sir, when one is hungry, good meat is much worth. And well fare a good brother yet in time of need,

[Esau cometh forth, wiping his mouth.

The world is now meetly well amended indeed,

ESAU. By my truth, if I had bidden[267] from meat any longer, I think my very maw would have fret asunder. Then had I been dead and gone, I make God a vow.

RAGAN. Surely then the world had had a great loss of you; For where should we have had your fellow in your place? [Aside.

ESAU. What should I have done with my birthright in this case?

RAGAN. Kept it still, and you had not been a very ass. [Aside.

ESAU. But the best pottage it was yet, that ever was. It were sin not to sell one's soul for such gear.

RAGAN. Ye have done no less in my conscience, I fear. [Aside.

ESAU. Who is this that standeth clattering at my back?

RAGAN. A poor man of yours, sir, that doth his dinner lack.

ESAU. Dinner, whoreson knave? dinner at this time a' day? Nothing with thee but dinner and munching alway. Why, thy whoreson villain slave, who is hungry now?

RAGAN. Indeed, sir (as seemeth by your words) not you.

ESAU. A man were better fill the bellies of some twelfe, Than to fill the gut of one such whoreson elf; That doth none other good but eat, and drink, and sleep.

RAGAN. He shall do something else, whom ye shall have to keep. [Aside.

ESAU. And that maketh thee so slothful and so lither, I dare say he was six hours coming hither, When I sent him to make provision afore, Not passing a mile hence or very little more. And yet being so far pass'd the hour of dining, See, and the knave be not for his dinner whining! Fast a while, fast with a mischief, greedy slave, Must I provide meat for every glutton knave?

RAGAN. I may fast, for any meat that of you I have. [Aside.

ESAU. Or deserve thy dinner, before thou do't crave.

RAGAN. If I have not deserved it at this season, I shall never deserve it in mine own reason. Ye promised I should eat, till I cried ho.

ESAU. Yea, that was, if we took either hare, teg, or doe.

RAGAN. But when yourself were hungry, ye said, I wot what——

ESAU. What, thou villain slave, tellest thou me now of that?

RAGAN. Then, help, run apace, Ragan, my good servant.

ESAU. Yea then was then, now is it otherwise: avaunt! Have I nothing to do but provide meat for you?

RAGAN. Ye might have given me some part, when ye had enough.

ESAU. What, of the red rice pottage with Jacob I had? Why, the crow would not give it her bird—thou art mad, Is that meat for you? nay, it would make you too rank. Nay, soft, brother mine, I must keep you more lank. It hath made me ever[268] since so lusty and[269] fresh, As though I had eaten all delicates of flesh. I feel no manner faintness whereof to complain.

RAGAN. Yet to-morrow ye must be as hungry again, Then must ye and will ye wish again for good cheer: And repent you, that ever ye bought this so dear.

ESAU. Repent me? wherefore? then the Lord give me sorrow; If it were to do, I would do it to-morrow. For, thou foolish knave, what hath Jacob of me bought?

RAGAN. But a matter of a straw and a thing of nought!

ESAU. My birthright and whole title of mine eldership, Marry, sir, I pray God much good do it his maship, If I die to-morrow, what good would it do me? If he die to-morrow, what benefit hath he? And for a thing hanging on such casuality, Better a mess of pottage than nothing, pardy! If my father live long, when should I it enjoy? If my father die soon, then it is but a toy. For if the time were come, thinkest thou that Jacob Should find Esau such a lout or such a lob To suffer him to enjoy my birthright in rest? Nay, I will first toss him and trounce him of the best; I think to find it a matter of conscience, And Jacob first to have a fart, sir reverence. When my father Isaac shall the matter know, He will not let Jacob have my birthright, I trow. Or if he should keep it as his own, I pray you, Might not I live without it, and do well enou'? Do none but men's eldest sons prosper well? How live younger brethren then, I beseech you, tell? Once, if anything be by the sword to be got, This falchion and I will have part to our lot. But now come on, go we abroad awhile and walk, Let my birthright go, and of other matters talk.

RAGAN. Who—I, walk? nay, I trow not, till I have better din'd. It is more time to seek, where I may some meat find.

ESAU. What say'st thou, drawlatch? come forth, with a mischief! Wilt thou not go with me? on, forward, whoreson thief? Shall it be as pleaseth you, or as pleaseth me?

RAGAN. Nay, as pleaseth you, sir, methink it must be.

ESAU. And where be my dogs and my hound? be they all well?

RAGAN. Better than your man, for they be in their kennel.

ESAU. Then go see all be well in my part of the tent.

RAGAN. With a right good will, sir, I go incontinent.

ESAU. And I will to my field, the which I cleansed last, To see what hope there is, that it will yield fruit fast.


JACOB. MIDO. REBECCA. ABRA, the handmaid.

JACOB. Thou knowest, little Mido, where my mother is.

MIDO. I can go to her as straight as a thread, and not miss.

JACOB. Go call her, and come again with her thine own self.

MIDO. Yes, ye shall see me scud like a little elf.

JACOB. Where I have, by the enticement of my mother, Bargained and bought the birthright of my brother. Turn it all to good, O Lord, if it be thy will: Thou knowest my heart, Lord, I did it for no ill. And whatever shall please thee to work or to do, Thou shalt find me prest and obedient thereto. But here is my mother Rebecca now in place.

MIDO. How say you, master Jacob, ran not I apace?

JACOB. Yes, and a good son to go quick on your errand.

REBECCA. Son, how goeth the matter? let me understand.

JACOB. Forsooth, mother, I did so, as ye me bad, Esau to sell me all his birthright persuade.

REBECCA. Hast thou bought it indeed, and he therewith content?

JACOB. Yea, and have his promise, that he will never repent.

REBECCA. Is the bargain through? hast thou paid him his price?

JACOB. Yea, that I have, a mess of red pottage of rice, And he ate it up every whit, well I wot.

MIDO. When he had supp'd up all, I saw him lick the pot; Thus he licked, and thus he licked, and this way: I thought to have lick'd the pot myself once to-day; But Esau beguil'd me, I shrew him for that, And left not so much as a lick for puss our cat.

REBECCA. Son Jacob, forasmuch as thou hast so well sped, With an hymn or psalm let the Lord be praised. Sing we all together, and give thanks to the Lord, Whose promise and performance do so well accord.

MIDO. Shall we sing the same hymn, that all our house doth sing? For Abraham and his seed to give God praising.

REBECCA, Yea, the very same.

MIDO. Then must we all kneel down thus, And Abra, our maid, here must also sing with us, Kneel down, Abra; what, I say, will ye not kneel down? Kneel, when I bid you, the slackest wench in this town!

[Here they kneel down to sing all four, saving that Abra is slackest, and Mido is quickest.]


Blessed be thou, O the God of Abraham, For thou art the Lord our God, and none but thou: What thou workest to the glory of thy name, Passeth man's reason to search what way or how. Thy promise it was Abraham should have seed More than the stars of the sky to be told; He believed, and had Isaac indeed, When both he and Sara seemed very old. Isaac many years longed for a son, Rebecca, thy handmaid, long time was barren, By prayer in thy sight such favour he won, That at one birth she brought him forth sons twain, Wherefore, O Lord, we do confess and believe, That both thou canst and wilt thy promise fulfil: But how it shall come, we can no reason give, Save all to be wrought according to thy will. Blessed be thou, O God of Abraham, &c.

REBECCA. Now, doubt not, Jacob, but God hath appointed thee As the eldest son unto Isaac to be: And now have no doubt, but thou art sure elected, And that unthrift Esau of God is rejected. And to sell thee his birthright since he was so mad, I warrant thee the blessing that he should have had.

JACOB. Yea? how may that be wrought?

REBECCA. Yes, yes, let me alone. Our[270] good old Isaac is blind, and cannot see, So that by policy he may beguiled be, I shall devise how for no ill intent ne thought, But to bring to pass that I know God will have wrought, And I charge you twain, Abra and little Mido.

MIDO. Nay, ye should have set Mido before Abra, I trow, For I am a man toward, and so is not she.

ABRA. No, but yet I am more woman toward than ye.

REBECCA. I charge you both that, whatever hath been spoken, Ye do not to any living body open.

ABRA. For my part it shall to no body uttered be.

MIDO. And slit my tongue, if ever it come out for me: But if any tell, Abra here will be prattling. For they say, women will ever be clattering.

ABRA. There is none here that prattleth so much as you.

REBECCA. No mo words, but hence we altogether now.

[Exeunt omnes.



ESAU. Now, since I last saw mine old father Isaac, Both I do think it long, and he will judge me slack, But he cometh forth; I will here listen and see, Whether he shall chance to speak any word of me. [Steps aside.

ISAAC. On, lead me forth, Mido, to the bench on this hand, That I may sit me down, for I cannot long stand.

MIDO. Here, sir, this same way, and ye be at the bench now, Where ye may sit down in God's name, if please you.

ISAAC. I marvel, where Esau my son doth become, That he doth now of days visit me so seldom. But it is oft seen, whom fathers do best favour, Of them they have least love again for their labour. I think, since I saw him, it is a whole week. In faith, little Mido, I would thou wouldest him seek.

MIDO. Forsooth, Master Isaac, and I knew it where, It should not be very long ere I would be there. But shall I at adventure go seek where he is?

ESAU. Seek no farther, Mido: already here he is.

ISAAC. Methinketh, I have Esau his voice perceived.

ESAU. Ye guess truly, father, ye are not deceived.

MIDO. Here he is come now invisible, by my soul: For I saw him not, till he spake hard at my poll!

ISAAC. Now, go thou in, Mido, let us two here alone.

MIDO. Sir, if ye command me, full quickly I am gone.

ISAAC. Yet, and if I call thee, see thou be not slack.

MIDO. I come at the first call, good Master Isaac.

ISAAC. Son Esau.

ESAU. Here, father.

ISAAC. Is none here but we?

ESAU. None to harken our talk, father, that I do see.

[Rebecca entereth behind unseen, and listens.

ISAAC. Son Esau, why hast thou been from me so long?

ESAU. I cry you mercy, father, if I have done wrong. But I am both to trouble you, having nothing To present you withal, nor venison to bring.

ISAAC. Son Esau, thou knowest that I do thee love.

ESAU. I thank you for it, father, as doth me behove.

ISAAC. And now thou seest my days draw towards an end.

ESAU. That is to me great ruth, if I could it amend.

ISAAC. I must go the way of all mortal flesh, Therefore, while my memory and wit is yet fresh, I would thee endow mine heritage to succeed: And bless thee, as I ought, to multiply my seed. The God of my father Abraham and of me Hath promised, that our seed as the sand shall be. He is a God of truth, and in his words just. Therefore in my working shall be no fault, I trust. Now, therefore, son Esau, get thee forth to hunt, With thy bow and quiver, as erst thou hast been wont; [And] bring me of thy venison that is good.

ESAU. Ye shall have of the best that runneth in the wood.

ISAAC. When thou comest home, to dress it it shall behove, And to make for mine own tooth such meat as I love. Thus do, mine own dear son, and then I shall thee kiss With the kiss of peace, and thee for ever bless.

ESAU. Your will t'accomplish, most dear father Isaac, With all good haste and speed I shall not be found slack.

ISAAC. Then help lead me home, in my tent that I were set, And then go, when thou wilt.

ESAU. I shall withouten let.



REBECCA. This talk of Isaac in secret have I heard, And what end it should come to, my heart is afeard, Ne'er had I so much ado to forbear to speak. But the Lord, I trust, will Isaac's purpose break. [Here she kneeleth down, and prayeth. O God of Abraham, make it of none effect: Let Jacob have the blessing, whom thou hast elect. I for my part shall work what may be wrought, That it may to Jacob from Esau be brought, And in will I go to see what I can devise, That Isaac's intent may fail in any wise.



RAGAN. Nay, we must on hunting go yet once more again,

[Here he cometh forth with his hunting staff and other things, and a bag of victuals.

And never come home now, except we speed certain, But I trow for hunger I have provided here: That whatever befal, I, Ragan, shall have cheer. I have no time to tell what delicates here be, But (think this to be true) they're fit for better men than me. And what? shall Esau hereof have any part? Nay, I trust to convey it by such pretty art That, till the bag be clear, he shall it never see. I shall, and if he faint, feed him as he fed me: I shall requite his shutting me out of the door That, if he bid me run to get him meat afore, I shall run as fast as my feet were made of lead, And tell him there is none, though I may well be sped. I will be even with him for my fare last day, When he was with Jacob.

[Esau enters suddenly behind him.

ESAU. What is it that thou dost say?

RAGAN. Sir, on your behalf I earnestly wish and pray That, if like need chance, ye may fare as last day, When ye were with Jacob.

ESAU. Well, come on, let us go.

RAGAN. Even when ye will, is there let in me or no?

[Exeunt ambo.



REBECCA. Son Jacob, even now is come the very hour That, if thou have any grace, or heart, or power, To play thy part well, and stick unto it throughout Esau his blessing will be thine without doubt.

JACOB. Mother, I know your good-will to be unfeigned; But I see not which way the thing may be attained.

REBECCA. I have it contrived, how all things shall be done, Do thou as I shall bid thee, and it will be won.

JACOB. Mother, in me shall be no fault or negligence.

REBECCA. Then harken very well unto this my sentence. I heard old Isaac, in a long, solemn talk, Bid thy brother Esau to the field to walk, And there with his bow to kill him some venison, Which brought and dressed, he is to have his benison. For I am aged (said Isaac truly), And would bless thee, dear son, before that I die. Now is Esau gone to do it even so; But while he is away, I would have thee to go Abroad unto the flock, and fetch me kids twain, Of which I shall with a trice make such meat certain, As shall say, Come, eat me, and shall make old Isaac Lick his lips thereat, so toothsome shall it smack. I shall make him thereof such as he doth love, Which in thy brother's stead to bless thee shall him move.

JACOB. O sweet and dear mother, this device is but vain, For Esau is rough, and I am smooth certain. And so, when I shall to my father bring this meat, Perchance he will feel me, before that he will eat. Old men be mistrustful: he shall the matter take, That I went about my father a fool to make. Mother, by such a prank the matter will be worse: And I instead of blessing shall purchase me his curse.

REBECCA. On me be thy curse, my son, let it light on me: Only fetch thou the kids hither, as I bid thee, Do thou thy true devoir, and let God work therein.

JACOB. Upon your word, mother, I will the thing begin, Send me little Mido to help me bear a kid.

REBECCA. He shall come by and by, for so I shall him bid. Now, Lord, and if thou please that this thing shall take place, Further this our enterprise, helping with thy grace.




MIDO. Are ye here, master Jacob? I came you to look, And here dame Rebecca hath sent you your sheep-crook; And hath commanded me to wait on you this day, But wherefore or why, she would nothing to me say.

JACOB. Come on then, follow me, Mido, a little ways.

MIDO. Whither ye shall lead me; I am at all assays.

JACOB. And art thou able to bear a kid on thy back?

MIDO. I am able, I trow, to bear a quarter-sack. How say you to this corpse? is it not fat and round? How say ye to these legs? come they not to the ground? And be not here arms able your matter to speed? Be not here likely shoulders to do such a deed? Therefore come, master Jacob, if this your doubt be For bringing home of kids, lay the biggest on me, So that if we make a feast, I may have some part.

JACOB. Yes, that shalt thou, Mido; right worthy thou art.



REBECCA. I come to see, if Jacob be gone a-field yet; A little slacking may all our purpose let. But now that he is gone, he will be here at once, Therefore I will call my maid Abra for the nonce, That all thing within may be in a readiness. Abra, where be ye, Abra?

ABRA. Here within, mistress.

REBECCA. Come forth: when, Abra? what, Abra, I say!

ABRA. Anon.

REBECCA. Must I call so oft? why come ye not by and by?

ABRA. I was washing my vessel forsooth, mistress, I.

REBECCA. And in very deed, look that all your vessels be clean.

ABRA. There is not one foul piece in all our tent, I ween.

REBECCA. Then make a great fire, and make ready your pot, And see there be plenty of water, cold and hot; And see the spit be scoured as clean as any pearl.

ABRA. If this be not quickly done, call me naughty girl.

REBECCA. Nay, soft, whither away? I have not yet all done.

ABRA. I thought ye would have had me as quick to be gone, As when ye call Abra, ye would have me to come.

REBECCA. Then see ye have made ready cloves, mace, and cinnamon: Pepper and saffron; then fet herbs for the pot;

ABRA. We will have the best that by me can be got.

REBECCA. And let no foul corner be about all the tent.

ABRA. If ye find any fault, hardly let me be shent. Is there anything else but that I may go now?

REBECCA. Nought but that, when I come, I find no fault in you.

ABRA. No, I warrant you, I will not let my matters sleep.

REBECCA. Any good wench will at her dame's bidding take keep. Now, God of Abraham, as I trust in thy grace, Send Jacob the blessing in Esau his place. As thou hast ordained, right so must all thing be: Perform thine own words, Lord, which thou spakest to me. Now will I go in to see, that mine old husband May of my secret working nothing understand. Or in case he smell what we have thus far begun, He may think it all for Esau to be done.


ABRA, the maid, DEBORAH, the nurse.

ABRA. He, that were now within, should find all thing, I ween, As trim as a trencher, as trick, as sweet, as clean. And seeing that my dame prepareth such a feast, I will not, I trow, be found such a sluttish beast, That there shall any filth about our tent be kept, But that both within and without it shall be swept.

[Then let her sweep with a broom, and while she doth it, sing this song, and when she hath sung, let her say thus:[271]


_It hath been a proverb, before I was born, Young doth it prick, that will be a thorn. Who will be evil, or who will be good; Who given to truth, or who to falsehood. Each body's youth showeth a great likelihood. For young doth it prick, that will be a thorn.

Who so in youth will no goodness embrace, But follow pleasure, and not virtue's trace, Great marvel it is, if such come to grace. For young doth it prick, that will be a thorn.

Such as in youth will refuse to be taught, Or will be slack to work, as he ought, When they come to age, their proof will be nought. For young doth it prick, that will be a thorn.

If a child have been given to any vice, Except he be guided by such as be wise, He will thereof all his life have a spice. For young doth it prick, that will be a thorn.

It hath been a proverb, &c_.

ABRA. Now have I done, and, as it should be for the nonce, My sweeping and my song are ended both at once. Now but for fetting mine herbs I might go play. Deborah, nurse Deborah, a word, I you pray.


DEBORAH. What is the matter? who calleth me Deborah?

ABRA. Forsooth, gentle nurse, even I, little Abra, I pray you, sweet Deborah, take in this same broom, And look well to all thing, till I return home: I must to the garden as fast as I can trot, As I was commanded, to fet herbs for the pot. But, in the meantime, I pray you, nurse, look about, And see well to the fire, that it go not out; I will amble so fast, that I will soon be there, And here again, I trow, ere an horse lick his ear. [Exit.

DEBORAH. There is not a prettier girl within this mile, Than this Abra will be within this little while. As true as any steel, ye may trust her with gold. Though it were a bushel, and not a penny told. As quick about her work, that must be quickly sped As any wench in twenty mile about her tread. As fine a piece it is, as I know but a few, Yet perchance her husband of her may have a shrew. Cat after kind (say'th the proverb) sweet milk will lap; If the mother be a shrew, the daughter cannot 'scape. One sure[272] mark she hath: I marvel, if she slip: For her nose is growing above her over lip. But it is time, that I into the tent be gone, Lest she come and chide me; she will come now anon.



ABRA. How say ye? have not I despatched me quickly? A straw for that wench that doth not somewhat likely, I have brought here good herbs, and of them plenty, To make both broth and farcing,[273] and that full dainty, I trust to make such broth that, when all things are in, God Almighty self may wet his finger therein. Here is thyme and parsley, spinach and rosemary. Endive, succory, lacture, violet, clary, Liverwort, marigold, sorrel, hart's-tongue, and sage: Pennyroyal, purslane, bugloss, and borage, With many very good herbs, mo than I do name. But to tarry here thus long, I am much to blame. For if Jacob should come, I not in readiness, I must of covenant be shent of our mistress. And I would not for twenty pound, I tell ye, That any point of default should be found in me.




REBECCA. I come to see, if Jacob do not return yet, I cannot marvel enough what should be his let, And greatly wonder he is away thus long. I fear much of his absence, lest something be wrong. As well as heart can wish, all thing is ready here; And now to me each moment seemeth a whole year. But hark, methinketh I hear a young kid blea! It is so indeed; I see Jacob; well is me!

MIDO. Hark, master Jacob, heard ye ever kid blea so? I ween she knoweth aforehand, whereto she shall go.

JACOB. I would not my father Isaac should hear;

MIDO. Nay, she will scarcely be still when she is dead, I do fear.

JACOB. But lo, I see my mother stand before the tent.

Enter JACOB and MIDO.

REBECCA. O Lord, methinketh long, son Jacob, since thou went.

JACOB. And methinketh, mother, we have hied us well.

MIDO. I have made many feet to follow, I can tell.

REBECCA. Give me thy kid, my son, and now let me alone, Bring thou in thine, Mido, and see thou be a stone.

MIDO. A stone? how should that be, mistress? I am a lad, And a boy alive, as good as e'er ye had: And now, in bringing home this kid, I have, I trow, Tried myself a man and a pretty fellow.

REBECCA. I meant thou shouldest nothing say.

MIDO. One warning is enough; ye bad us so last day.

REBECCA. Well, let me go in, and venison hereof make:

JACOB. And hearest thou, Mido? see that good heed thou take In any wise to come in my father's sight.

MIDO. Why, he seeth no better at noon than at midnight. Is he not blind long since, and doth his eyes lack? Therefore go in, dame, I bear an heavy pack.

REBECCA. I leave you here, Jacob, and heartily you pray That, when need shall require, you be not far away.

JACOB. I shall be ready, mother, whensoe'er you call.

[Exit Rebecca.



JACOB. O, how happy is that same daughter or that son, Whom the parents love with hearty affection! And among all others how fortunate am I, Whom my mother Rebecca tend'reth so greatly? If it lay in her to do any good, ye see, She would do her earnest devoir to prefer me. But as for this matter, which she doth now intend, Without thy aid, O Lord, how should it come to end? Nevertheless, forasmuch as my said mother Worketh upon thy word, O Lord, and none other, It shall become me to show mine obedience, And to thy promise, O Lord, to give due credence. For what is so impossible to man's judgment, Which thou canst not with a beck perform incontinent? Therefore thy will, O Lord, be done for evermore.

MIDO. O Jacob, I was never so afeard afore.

JACOB. Why, what new thing is chanced, Mido, I pray thee?

MIDO. Old Isaac, your father, heard your young kid blea. He asked what it was: I said, a kid. Who brought it from the fold? I said you did. For what purpose? forsooth, sir, said I, There is some matter that Jacob would remedy. And where has thou been so long, little Mido, quod he, That all this whole hour thou wert not once with me? Forsooth (quod I), when I went from you last of all, You bad me be no more, but be ready at your call.

JACOB. But of the kid's bleaing he did speak no more?

MIDO. No; but, and if he had called me afore, I must have told him all, or else I must have made a lie, Which would not have been a good boy's part truly. But I will to him, and no longer here remain, Lest he should happen to call for Mido again.

[Exit Mido.



JACOB. I were best also to get me into the tent That, if my mother need me, I may be present. But I see her come forth, and nurse Deborah also, And bring the gear with them, whatsoe'er it shall do.

REBECCA. Where is my son Jacob? I do him now espy. Come apace, Deborah, I pray thee let us hie, That all thing were dispatched somewhat to my mind.

DEBORAH. It is happy, that Jacob ready here ye find.

JACOB. Mother, what have ye brought, and what things are those?

REBECCA. Gear that I have prepared to serve our purpose; And because that Esau is so rough with hair, I have brought sleeves of kid next to thy skin to wear. They be made glovelike, and for each finger a stall: So that thy father's feeling soon beguile they shall. Then have I brought a collar of rough kid's hair, Fast unto the skin round about thy neck to wear. Come, let me do it on, and if Isaac feel, He shall therewith be beguiled wondrous well. [Here she doth the sleeves upon Jacob's arms.

JACOB. And what shall this gear do, that ye have brought?

REBECCA. It shall serve anon, I warrant you, take no thought. Now, thoroughly to ravish thy father Isaac, Thou shalt here incontinent put upon thy back Esau his best apparel, whose fragrant flavour Shall conjure Isaac to bear thee his favour.

DEBORAH. Marry, sir, now is master Jacob trim indeed, That is all tricksy and gallant, so God me speed! Now I see apparel setteth out a man. Doth it become Esau so? nay, beshrew me then.

REBECCA. Ye may now go in, nurse, and leave looking on him.

DEBORAH. I go; marry, sir, Jacob is now gay and trim.

[Jacob standeth looking on himself.

JACOB. No, forsooth, mother, this raiment liketh not me. I could with mine own gear better contented be. And, but for satisfying of your mind and will, I would not wear it, to have it for mine own still. I love not to wear another bird's feathers: Mine own poor homely gear will serve for all weathers.

REBECCA. Well, content thyself, and follow my mind this day. Now the meat by this time is ready, I dare say. Before that with too much enough it be all spilt, Take thy time, and assail thy father, when thou wilt.

JACOB. Yea, but have ye provided, mother, I you pray, That nobody within may your counsel bewray?

REBECCA. I warrant the matter all safe from uttering, I have stopped all mouths fro once muttering. Therefore, while the time serveth, I thee warn; To slack, when all things are ready, may do harm.

JACOB. Go before, and I follow: but my cheeks will blush red, To be seen among our folk thus appareled.



ISAAC. Come, Mido, for without thee I can nothing do.

MIDO. What is it, sir, that ye would have my help unto?

ISAAC. Nothing but to sit abroad, and take th' open air.

MIDO. That shall be well done; the weather is very fair.

ISAAC. Praised be the God of my father Abraham, Who sendeth all thing needful for the use of man, And most tenderly provideth he for me Isaac, Better than I can feel or perceive what I lack.

Enter JACOB disguised.

JACOB. Where is my most dear father? as I would have it; Taking the open air, here I see him sit. O my most dear father Isaac, well thou be!

ISAAC. Here I am, my sweet son, and who art thou, tell me?

JACOB. Dear father, I am Esau, thine eldest son, According as thou badest me, so have I done. Come in, dear father, and eat of my venison, That thy soul may give unto me thy benison.

ISAAC. But how hast thou sped so soon? let me understand.

JACOB. The Lord thy God at the first brought it to my hand,

ISAAC. And art thou Esau, mine elder son indeed?

JACOB. To ask that question, father, what doth it need?

ISAAC. Come near, that I may feel, whether thou be he or not, For Esau is rough of hair as any goat. Let me feel thy hand; right! Esau, by the hair: And yet the voice of Jacob soconeth in mine ear. God bless thee, my son, and so will I do anon, As soon as I have tasted of thy venison. Come on, lead me in; I will eat a pittance: A little thing, God wot, to me is suffisance. [They go in.

MIDO. I may now go play; Jacob leadeth Isaac. But I never saw such a pretty knack, How Jacob beguiled his father, how sleightly: Now I see it true, the blind eat many a fly! I quaked once for fear, that Jacob would be caught, But, as hap was, he had his lesson well taught. But what will Esau say, when he cometh home? Choose him; but for me to go in it is wisdom.




REBECCA. Now I beseech the Lord prosper Jacob my son In our hardy enterprise, which we have begun. Isaac is eating such meat as he doth love, Which thing to bless Jacob, I doubt not, will him move: If he obtain the blessing, as I trust he shall, Then shall my soul give to God laud perpetual. But I will in to harken, how the thing doth frame.

ABRA.[274] Come in, dame Rebecca.

REBECCA. Who is it, that doth me name?

ABRA. My master Isaac is coming forth straightway.

REBECCA. He shall not find me here in no wise, if I may.



ISAAC. Set me down on the bench, where thou didst me first find: Now forsooth I have ate meat even to my mind. It hath refreshed my soul wonderfully well. Nor never drank I better wine that I can tell.

JACOB. If it were to your liking, I am very glad.

ISAAC. It was the best meat and wine that ever I had. Come kiss me, son Esau, with the kiss of peace,

[Jacob kisseth Isaac; and then kneeleth down to have his blessing.

That my love towards thee may the more increase. I bless thee here for ever, my son, in this place, The Lord my God of might endue thee with his grace. What sweet flavour my son's raiment doth yield! Even the fragrant smell that cometh from a field, Which the Lord hath blessed, and the same Lord bless thee With the dew of heaven! the Lord thy ground increase, That the fatness of the earth may never cease! The Lord send thee abundance of corn and wine, And prosper continually all thing that is thine! The Lord make great people servants unto thee: And nations to do homage and fealty! And here, to succeed my place, mine heir I thee make, Of all things that I have possession to take. Lord and ruler be thou over thy brethren all, And bow to thee as head thy mother's children shall! Cursed be that man, that shall thee curse or mis-say, And who that blesseth thee, blessed be he for aye! Thus here have I made my last will and testament, Which the Lord God ratify never to repent. Serve the Lord our God, and then well shalt thou speed, And he shall keep promise to multiply thy seed. My day draweth on, for old and feeble I am. When I die, put me to my father Abraham. Now kiss me once again, my son, and then depart, And enter upon all, whereof now lord thou art.

JACOB. The Lord God reward your fatherly tenderness, Which ye have here showed me of your mere goodness.

ISAAC. Go in peace, my dear son, leaving me here alone: And send little Mido to lead me in anon. [Exeat Jacob.

Lord God, when thou shalt see time, as thou thinkest best, Dissolve this feeble carcase, and take me to thy rest.

Enter MIDO.

MIDO. How do ye, master Isaac? I am here now. For my master Jacob did bid me come to you.

ISAAC. Nay, boy, it was not Jacob, I dare well say so.

MIDO. Forsooth, it was Jacob, if my name be Mido.

ISAAC. If that be a true tale, somebody is come slack, But, Lord, that I have done I will not now call back. But yet I will go see, if I be deceived: For indeed methought Jacob's voice I perceived.




[Then she speaketh kneeling, and holding up her hands.

REBECCA. O Lord, the God of Isaac and Abraham, I render thanks to thee, though a sinful woman, Because of thy word and promise true art thou, In sending Jacob the blessing of Esau; And for thus regarding a sinner, as I am, I eftsoons thank thee, O Lord God of Abraham. Thy mercy and wisdom shall I sing evermore: And magnify thy name, for God's there is no more. But I will to my husband Isaac, and see, That for this matter he take no grief at me.



[Ragan bringeth venison at his back.

Nay, now at last we have well sped, I warrant you: Good luck is not evermore against Esau. He coursed and coursed again with his dogs here: But they could at no time take either hare or deer. At last he killed this with his bow, as God would. And to say that it is fat venison I be bold. But dressed it must be at once in all the haste, That old father Isaac may have his repast. Then without delay Esau shall blessed be, Then, faith, cock-on-hoop, all is ours! then, who but he? But I must in, that it may be dressed in time likely, And I trow ye shall see it made ready quickly. [Exit.



MIDO. Nay now, old master Isaac (I warrant you) Hath blessed Jacob in the place of Esau. At home here with us it is judged no small change, But a case wonderful, and also very strange. The younger brother is made elder: and again The elder must now serve the younger as his swain.[275] And from henceforth we must all make courtesy and bow, Unto master Jacob, and not to Esau now: And Esau himself must under Jacob be, At his commandment, even as well as we. But I care not, I warrant you: for our household Love Jacob better than Esau twentyfold. None loveth Esau but for his father's sake: But all good folks are glad Jacob's part to take. And now by Esau no man will set a pin, But yonder he cometh now; I will get me in.



ESAU. I trow I have now won my spurs for ever; For once better venison killed I never, And though it were somewhat long, ere I could it take, Yet the goodness thereof doth some recompense make. My father Isaac shall thereof have such meat, As in all his life he hath not the better eat. Whereupon, I doubt not, after tender kissing, To be straight endowed with his godly blessing: As his full and true heir in his place to succeed, And t'enjoy the promise that God made to his seed, And when I am once in my place of succession, And have all manner things in full possession: I shall wring all louts and make them stoop (I trow); I shall make the slaves couch as low as dog, and bow. I shall ruffle among them of another sort Than Isaac hath done, and with another port. But now will go see, what haste within they make, That part of my hunting my old father may take.




ISAAC. Mido, come, Mido, where art thou, little Mido?

MIDO. Here ready, master Isaac, what shall I do?

ISAAC. Come, lead me to mine old place, that I may sit down.

MIDO. That can I as well as any boy in this town.

ISAAC. O Lord my God, how deep and unsearchable Are all thy judgments, and how immutable? Of thy justice, whom it pleaseth thee, thou dost reject; Of thy mercy, whom it pleaseth thee, thou dost elect In my two sons, O Lord, thou hast wrought thy will, And as thy pleasure hath wrought, so shall it stand still. Since thou hast set Jacob in Esau his place, I commit him to the governance of thy grace.

Enter ESAU.

ESAU. Now where is Isaac, that he may come and eat? Lo, where he is sitting abroad upon his seat. Dear father Isaac, the Lord thy God thee save.

ISAAC. Who art thou, my son? what thing wouldest thou have?

ESAU. I am your eldest son, Esau by my name, New come home from hunting, where I had joyly[276] game, I have made meat thereof for your own appetite, Meat for your own tooth, wherein you will much delight. Come, eat your part, dear father, that, when ye have done, Your soul may bless me as your heir and eldest son.

ISAAC. Ah Esau, Esau, thou comest too late, Another to thy blessing was predestinate, And clean gone it is from thee, Esau.

ESAU. Alas! Then am I the unhappiest that ever was, I would the savage beasts had my body torn.

ISAAC. The blessing that thou shouldest have had, another hath.

ESAU. Alas, what wretched villain hath done me such scath?

ISAAC. Thy brother Jacob came to me by subtlety, And brought me venison, and so prevented[277] thee. I ate with him, ere thou cam'st, and with my good-will Blessed him I have, and blessed he shall be still.

ESAU. Ah Jacob, Jacob, well may he be called so: For he hath undermined me times two. For first mine heritage he took away me fro, And see, now hath he away my blessing also. Ah father, father, though Jacob hath done this thing: Yet let me Esau also have thy blessing. Shall all my good huntings for thee be in vain?

ISAAC. That is done and passed, cannot be called again. Mine act must now stand in force of necessity.

ESAU. And hast thou never a blessing then left for me?

ISAAC. Behold, I have made thy brother Jacob thy lord.

ESAU. A most poignant sword unto my heart is that word.

ISAAC. All his mother's children his servants have I made.

ESAU. That word is to me sharper than a razor's blade.

ISAAC. I have also 'stablished him with wine and corn.

ESAU. Woe be the day and hour that ever I was born!

ISAAC. What am I able to do for thee, my son?

ESAU. Ah Jacob, Jacob, that thou hast me thus undone! O unhappy hap: O misfortune! well away! That ever I should live to see this woful day. But hast thou one blessing and no mo, my father? Let me also have some blessing, good sweet father.

ISAAC. Well, nature pricketh me some remorse on thee to have. Behold, thy dwelling-place the earth's fatness shall have, And the dew of heaven, which down from above shall fall: And with dint of sword thy living get thou shall, And to thy brother Jacob thou shalt be servant.

ESAU. O, to my younger brother must I be servant? O, that ever a man should be so oppressed!

ISAAC. Thine own fault it is, that thou art dispossessed.

ESAU. Father, change that piece of thy sentence and judgment.

ISAAC. Things done cannot be undone; therefore be content, Let me be in quiet, and trouble me no more. Come, Mido, in God's name, lead me in at the door. [Exeunt Isaac and Mido.

ESAU. O, would not this chafe a man, and fret his guts out, To live as an underling under such a lout? Ah hypocrite, Ah hedgecreeper, Ah 'sembling wretch! I will be even with thee for this subtle fetch. O God of Abraham, what reason is herein, That to sle one's enemy it should be made sin? Were not one as good his part of heaven forego, As not to be revenged on his deadly foe? God was angry with Cain for killing Abel: Else might I kill Jacob marvellously well. I may fortune one day him to dispatch and rid: The Lord will not see all things; something may be hid. But as for these misers[278] within my father's tent, Which to the supplanting of me put their consent, Not one, but I shall coil them, till they stink for pain, And then for their stinking coil them off fresh again. I will take no days[279]; but, while the matter is hot, Not one of them shall 'scape, but they shall to the pot.



Where are we now become? marry, sir, here is array! With Esau, my master, this is a black day. I told you Esau one day would shit a rag, Have we not well hunted, of blessing to come lag?[280] Nay, I thought ever it would come to such a pass, Since he sold his heritage like a very ass. But, in faith, some of them, I dare jeopard a groat, If he may reach them, will have on the petticoat.[281]



ESAU. Come out, whores and thieves; come out, come out, I say!

RAGAN.[282] I told you, did I not, that there would be a fray? [Aside.

ESAU. Come out, little whoreson ape, come out of thy den.

MIDO. Take my life for a penny, whither shall I ren?[283]

ESAU. Come out, thou little fiend, come out, thou skittish gill.

ABRA. Out, alas, alas! Esau will us all kill.

ESAU. And come out, thou mother Mab;[284] out, old rotten witch! As white as midnight's arsehole or virgin pitch. Where be ye? come together in a cluster.

RAGAN. In faith, and these three will make a noble muster.

ESAU. Ere ye escape my fingers, ye shall all be taught, For these be they which have all this against me wrought.

MIDO. I wrought not a stroke this day, but led Isaac: If I wrought one stroke to-day, lay me on the jack.

ESAU. Hence then, get thee in, and do against me no more.

MIDO. I care as much for you now, as I did before. [Aside.

ESAU. What sayest thou, little thief? if I may thee catch.

MIDO. Ye shall run apace then, I ween, so God me snatch.

RAGAN. Now to go, Mido, ere thou art caught in a trip.

[Exit MIDO.

ESAU. Nay, for his sake, Abra, ye shall drink of the whip.

ABRA. Nay, for God's love, good sweet master Esau, Hurt not me for Mido: speak for me, Ragan.

RAGAN. Sir, spare little Abra, she hath done none evil.

ESAU. A little fiend it is, and will be a right devil, And she is one of them that love not me a deal.

ABRA. If ye let me go, I will love you very well.

ESAU. And never any more ado against me make?

ABRA. Ragan shall be surety.

RAGAN. Sir, I undertake.

ESAU. Then hence, out of my sight at once, and get thee in.

ABRA. Adieu, I set not a straw by you nor a pin.

ESAU. What sayest thou, thou fib? once ye shall have a rap.

RAGAN. The best end of suretyship is to get a clap. [Aside.

ESAU. Now, come on, thou old hag, what shall I say to thee?

DEBORAH. Say what ye lust, so ye do not touch me.

ESAU. Yes, and make powder of thee, for I dare say thou Hast been the cause of all this feast to Esau.

DEBORAH. No, it was Jacob's feast that I did help to dress.

ESAU. Nay, I thought such a witch would do such business.

DEBORAH.[285] But, by my truth, if I should die incontinent, I knew not of the purpose, wherefore it was meant.

ESAU. But wilt thou tell me truth, if I do forgive thee?

DEBORAH. Yea, if I can, Master Esau, believe me.

ESAU. Is it true that, when I and my brother were first born, And I by God's ordinance came forth him beforne, Jacob came forthwith, holding me fast by the heel?

DEBORAH. It is true; I was there, and saw it very well.

ESAU. Is it true? well, Jacob, I pray God I be dead, But for my heel's sake, I will have thee by the head. What devil was in me, that I had not the grace, With kicking back my heel, to mar his mopish face? But my father Isaac will not long live now; If he were gone, Jacob, I would soon meet with you. For my soul hateth Jacob even to the death, And I will ne'er but hate him, while I shall have breath. I may well dissemble, until I see a day, But trust me, Jacob, I will pay thee when I may. But if ever I hear that thou speak word of this, I shall cut out thy tongue, I will not miss. [This he speaketh to Deborah. But come on, Ragan, with me: so mote I thrive, I will get a good sword, for thereby must I live.

RAGAN. Live, quod you? we are like to live, God knoweth how.

ESAU. What, ye saucy merchant,[286] are ye a prater now?

[Exeunt ESAU and RAGAN.



DEBORAH. I am glad that Esau is now gone, certes. For an evil-disposed man he is, doubtless. Yet am I no gladder of his departure hence, Than I am that Rebecca is come in presence.


REBECCA. Deborah, what doest thou, tarrying here so long? I came full ill afeard, lest something had been wrong; For Mido and Abra told me of Esau.

DEBORAH. Indeed here he was, and departed hence but now: And one thing I tell you, dame: let Jacob beware, For Esau to mischief Jacob doth prepare.

REBECCA. Call Jacob hither, that I may show him my mind. Send him hither quickly, and tarry ye behind, That he give place awhile, it is expedient, And how he may be sure, I will the way invent.



JACOB. Mother Rebecca, did ye send for me hither?

REBECCA. Yea, and the cause is this, thou must go somewhither, To hide thee from thy brother Esau a space.

JACOB. Indeed, to men's malice we must sometime give place.

REBECCA. He lieth in await to sle thee, if he can: Thou shalt therefore, by my reed, fle hence to Haran: And lie with my brother Laban, a man aged, Till Esau's wrath be somewhat assuaged. When all things are forgotten, and his fury passed, I shall send for thee again in all goodly haste.

JACOB. Yea, but, how will my father herewith be content?

REBECCA. Thou shalt see me win him thereto incontinent. And here he cometh happily: Jacob, hear me; Make a sign to Mido, that he do not name thee, Then get thee in privily, till I do thee call.

JACOB. As ye command me, mother Rebecca, I shall.



ISAAC. Where be ye, good wife?

MIDO. My dame Rebecca is here.

REBECCA. I am glad, sweet husband, that I see you appear, For[287] I have a word or two unto you to say.

ISAAC. Whatsoever it be, tell it me, I you pray.

REBECCA. Sir, ye know that now our life-days are but short, And we had never so great need of comfort. Now Esau his wives being Hittites both, Ye know, to please us are much unwilling and both. That if Jacob eke would take any Hittite to wife, Small joy should we both have or comfort of our life.

ISAAC. Wife, ye speak this well, and I will provide therefore, Call Jacob quickly, that he appear me before.

MIDO. I can run apace for him, if ye bid me go.

REBECCA. Go, hie thee at once then, like a good son, Mido.

[Exit Mido, but returns directly with Jacob.

ISAAC. O Lord, save thou my son from mis-carrying.

MIDO. Come, master Jacob, ye must make no tarrying, For I it is that shall be shent, if you be slack, Here is your son Jacob now, master Isaac.

ISAAC. Son Jacob, make thee ready, as fast [as] thou can, And in all haste possible get thee unto Laban. He is thine own uncle, and a right godly man, Marry of his daughters, and not of Canaan. In Mesopotamia shalt thou lead thy life. The Lord prosper thee here without debate or strife; And the God of Abraham prosper thee in peace; He multiply thy seed, and make it to increase! Now kiss me, dear son Jacob, and so go thy way.

REBECCA. Kiss me also, sweet son, and hence without delay.

JACOB. Now, most tender parents, as well with heart and word I bid you well to fare, and leave you to the Lord.

MIDO. Nay, master Jacob, let me have an hand also.

JACOB. Even with all my heart: farewell, little Mido. [Exit Jacob.

ISAAC. Now will I depart hence into the tent again.

REBECCA. As pleaseth God and you, but I will here remain.



ESAU. And is he gone indeed to mine uncle Laban, In Mesopotamia at the town of Haran? And is Jacob gone to the house of Bethuel? The whirlwind with him, and flinging fiend of hell! But I shall meet with him yet one day well enough. And who is this? my mother? whom I see here now.

RAGAN. She stood here all this while, sir, did ye not her see?

ESAU. Didst thou see her stand here, and wouldest not warn me?

REBECCA. Son Esau, afore God, thou art much to blame, And to do, as I hear of thee, is a foul shame.

ESAU. Mother, what is it ye heard of me of late?

REBECCA. That thou dost thy brother Jacob deadly hate.

ESAU. Hate Jacob? I hate him, and will do, till I die, For he hath done me both great wrong and villainy; And that shall he well know, if the Lord give me life.

REBECCA. Fie upon thee, to speak so, like a lewd caitiff!

RAGAN. My master Esau is of nature much hot, But he will be better than he saith, fear not.

ESAU. My birthright to sell did he not make me consent?

REBECCA. But the same to do wert not thyself content? There is no man to blame for it but thine own self.

ESAU. Yea, mother, I see that ye hold with that mopish elf. It is your dainty darling, your prinkox, your golpol; He can never be praised enough of your soul; He must ever be extolled above the moon: It is never amiss that he hath said or done. I would he were rocked or dandled in your lap; Or I would with this falchion I might give him pap. I marvel why ye should so love him, and me not? Ye groaned as well for the one as thother, I wot. But Jacob must be advanced in any wise: But I shall one day handle him of the new guise.[288]

REBECCA. Both on thy father's blessing and mine, I charge thee, That thy soul intend never such iniquity; Beware by the example of Cain, I thee reed, That thou bring not the Lord's curse upon thy head.

ESAU. And what, should I take all this wrong at Jacob's hand?

REBECCA. Forgive, and the Lord shall prosper thee in the land. My son Esau, hear me; I am thy mother: For my sake, let pass this grudge against thy brother.

RAGAN. Sir, your mother's request is but reasonable, Which for you to grant shall be much commendable.

ESAU. Mother, though it be a great thing that ye require: Yet must all malice pass at your desire; And for your cause, mother, this mine anger shall slake.

REBECCA. I thank thee, my son, that thou dost it for my sake.

ESAU. For your sake, with Jacob I will be at accord.

REBECCA. And shall I call thy father to be as record?

ESAU. As pleaseth you, mother, I can be well content.

REBECCA. Then will I go call him hither incontinent. And where he doth already love thee very well, This will make him to love thee better a great deal.

RAGAN. Truly, sir, this is of you a right gentle part: At least, if it come from the bottom of your heart.

ESAU. It must now be thus; but when I shall Jacob find, I shall then do as God shall put into my mind.

Enter ISAAC and MIDO with REBECCA.

REBECCA. He hath at my word remitted all his quarrel.

ISAAC. Forsooth! love him the better a great deal. And if he be here, I would commend his doing.

ESAU.[289] All prest here, father, to tarry on your coming.

ISAAC. Son Esau, thou hast thyself well acquitted, That all quarrel to Jacob thou hast remitted. It was the Lord's pleasure that it should thus be, Against whose ordinance to stand is not for thee: But now, to the intent it may please the Lord, To knit your hearts one day in a perfect concord, We shall first in a song give laud unto His name, And then with all gladness within confirm the same.

REBECCA. As ye think best, dear husband, I agree thereto.

ESAU. Me ye may command to what ye will have me to do: And so may ye do also Ragan my man.

ISAAC. I see none; but praise we the Lord the best we can, Call forth all our household, that with one accord We may all with one voice sing unto the Lord.

[Ragan calleth all to sing.

_This song must be sung after the prayer.

O Lord, the God of our father Abraham, How deep and unsearchable are thy judgments! Thy almightiful hand did create and frame Both heaven and earth, and all the elements. Man of the earth thou hast formed and create; Some do thee worship, and some stray awry, Whom pleaseth thee, thou dost choose or reprobate, And no flesh can ask thee wherefore or why? Of thine own will thou didst Abraham elect, Promising him seed as stars of the sky, And them as thy chosen people to protect, That they might thy mercies praise and magnify. Perform thou, O Lord, thine eternal decree To me and my seed, the sons of Abraham; And whom thou hast chosen thine own people to be, Guide and defend to the glory of thy name_.


[Then entereth the Poet, and the rest stand still till he have done.

THE POET. When Adam, for breaking God's commandment, Had sentence of death, and all his posterity: Yet the Lord our God, who is omnipotent, Had in his own self by his eternal decree Appointed to restore man, and to make him free. He purposed to save mankind by his mercy, Whom he once had created unto his glory. Yet not all flesh did he then predestinate, But only the adopted children of promise: For he foreknew that many would degenerate, And wilfully give cause to be put from that bliss, So on God's behalf no manner default there is; But where he chooseth, he showeth his great mercy: And where he refuseth, he doth none injury, But thus far surmounteth man's intellection,[290] To attain or conceive, and (much more) to discuss: All must be referred to God's election And to his sacred judgment. It is meet for us, With Paul the apostle, to confess, and say thus: O, the deepness of the riches of God's wisdom! How unsearchable are his ways to man's reason? Our part therefore is first to believe God's word, Not doubting but that he will his elected save: Then to put full trust in the goodness of the Lord, That we be of the number, which shall mercy have: Thirdly, so to live, as we may his promise crave. Thus if we do, we shall Abraham's children be, And come with Jacob to endless felicity.

[All the rest of the actors answer, Amen.

Then followeth the prayer.

ISAAC. Now unto God let us pray for all the whole clergy, To give them grace to advance God's honour and glory.

REBECCA. Then for the Queen's majesty let us pray Unto God to keep her in health and wealth night and day, And that, of his mere mercy and great benignity, He will defend and maintain her estate and dignity; That she, being grieved with any outward hostility, May against her enemies always have victory.

JACOB. God save the Queen's councillors most noble and true, And with all godliness their noble hearts endue.

ESAU. Lord save the nobility and preserve them all: And prosper the Queen's subjects universal.


Thus endeth this Comedy or Enterlude of Jacob and Esau.





So little is known respecting the history of the following tract, that it is rather from an unwillingness to depart from the usual custom of affixing introductions to our reprints, than from any expectation of satisfying the slightest curiosity, that a few lines are here prefixed. The interlude of "The Disobedient Child" was written about the middle of the sixteenth century, by Thomas Ingelend, who is described in the early printed copy as "late student in Cambridge," and his fame seems to rest entirely on that production, for he is not to be traced in any other early literary record.[292] It has been supposed by some writers, from a few indistinct allusions in the play to Catholic customs, that it was composed in the reign of Henry VIII.; but if this be the case, the notice of Queen Elizabeth, introduced towards the close of the drama, must be an interpolation, a supposition not unlikely to be correct, for the audience are elsewhere reminded to "serve the king." The printed edition by Colwell is without date, but it was published about the year 1560. Two copies of this work which I have collated differ in some slight particulars from each other, but there is not sufficient reason for thinking that there were two editions, for it was formerly a very common practice to correct and alter the press whilst the impression was being taken.[293]

[It is observable that the present interlude marks a considerable advance, in point of literary merit, on those which precede it in this collection. The author was evidently a man of taste and judgment, and many passages might be pointed out which possess no mean share of picturesqueness, elegance, and dramatic propriety. Contrary to the usual practice, in old as well as modern pieces, "The Disobedient Child" concludes unhappily, though without any attempt at a highly wrought tragical catastrophe; the Rich man persists in his unrelenting conduct, and we are left to imagine that his son returns to live and die in misery with his termagant wife.]




Now, forasmuch as in these latter days, Throughout the whole world in every land, Vice doth encrease, and virtue decays, Iniquity having the upper hand; We therefore intend, good gentle audience, A pretty short interlude to play at this present: Desiring your leave and quiet silence To show the same, as is meet and expedient.[295] The sum whereof, matter and argument, In two or three verses briefly to declare, Since that it is for an honest intent, I will somewhat bestow my care. In the city of London there was a rich man Who, loving his son most tenderly, Moved him earnestly now and then, That he would give his mind to study, Saying that by knowledge, science and learning, Is at the last gotten a pleasant life, But through the want and lack of this thing Is purchased poverty, sorrow and strife. His son, notwithstanding this gentle monition, As one that was clean devoid of grace, Did turn to a mock and open derision Most wickedly with an unshamefast[296] face; Insomuch that, contrary to his father's will, Unto a young woman he did consent, Whereby of lust he might have his fill, And married the same incontinent.[297] Not long after that, the child began To feel his wife's great frowardness, And called himself unhappy man, Oppressed with pains and heaviness: Who, before that time, did live blessedly, Whilst he was under his father's wing; But now, being wedded, mourning and misery Did him torment without ending. But now it is time for me to be going, And hence to depart for a certain space, For I do hear the Rich Man coming With the wanton boy into this place.

[Here the Prologue Speaker goeth out, and in cometh the Rich Man and his son.

SON. Father, I beseech you, father, show me the way, What thing I were best to take in hand, Whereby this short life so spend I may, That all grief and trouble I might withstand.

FATHER. What is the meaning, my child, I thee pray, This question to demand of me? For that thing to do I am glad alway, Which should not be grievous to thee.

SON. Marry, but therefore of you counsel I take, Seeing now my childhood I am clean past, That unto me ye plainly do make What to a young man is best for to taste.

FATHER. I see nothing truly, my son, so meet, And to prove so profitable for thee, As unto the school to move thy feet, With studious lads there for to be.

SON. What, the school! nay, father, nay! Go to the school is not the best way.

FATHER. Say what thou list, for I cannot invent A way more commodious to my judgment.[298]

SON. It is well known how that ye have loved Me heretofore at all times most tenderly; But now (me-think) ye have plainly showed Certain tokens of hatred; For if I should go to my book after your advice, Which have spent my childhood so pleasantly, I may then seem driven out of paradise, To take pain and woe, grief and misery. All things I had rather sustain and abide, The business of the school once cast aside; Therefore, though ye cry, till ye reve[299] asunder, I will not meddle with such a matter.

FATHER. Why, cannot I thee thus much persuade? For that in my mind is the best trade.

SON. When all is said and all is done, Concerning all things, both more and less, Yet like to the school none under the sun Bringeth to children so much heaviness.

FATHER. What, though it be painful, what, though it be grievous, For so be all things at the first learning, Yet marvellous pleasure it bringeth unto us, As a reward for such painstaking. Wherefore come off, and be of good cheer, And go to thy book without any fear, For a man without knowledge (as I have read) May well be compared to one that is dead.

SON. No more of the school; no more of the book; That woful work is not for my purpose, For upon those books I may not look: If so I did, my labour I should lose.

FATHER. Why then to me thy fancy [doth] express, That the school matters to thee are counted weariness.

SON. Even as to a great man, wealthy and rich, Service and bondage is a hard thing, So to a boy, both dainty and nice,[300] Learning and study is greatly displeasing.

FATHER. What, my child, displeasing, I pray thee, That maketh a man live so happily?

SON. Yea, by my troth, such kind of wisdom Is to my heart, I tell you, very loathsome.

FATHER. What trial thereof hast thou taken, That the school of thee is so ill bespoken?

SON. What trial thereof would ye fain know? Nothing more easy than this to show: At other boys' hands I have it learned, And that of those truly, most of all other, Which for a certain time have remained In the house and prison of a schoolmaster.

FATHER. I dare well say that there is no misery, But rather joy, pastime and pleasure Always with scholars keeping company: No life to this, I thee well assure.

SON. It is not true, father, which you do say; The contrary thereof is proved alway, For as the bruit goeth by many a one, Their tender bodies both night and day Are whipped and scourged, and beat[301] like a stone, That from top to toe the skin is away.

FATHER. Is there not (say they) for them in this case Given other while for pardon some place?

SON. None, truly, none; but that alas, alas, Diseases among them do grow apace; For out of their back and side doth flow Of very gore-blood marvellous abundance; And yet for all that is not suffered to go, Till death be almost seen in their countenance. Should I be content thither then to run, Where the blood from my breech thus should spun,[302] So long as my wits shall be mine own, The schoolhouse for me shall stand alone.[303]

FATHER. But I am sure that this kind of fashion Is not showed to children of honest condition.

SON. Of truth, with these masters is no difference, For alike towards all is their wrath and violence.

FATHER. Son, in this point thou art quite deceived, And without doubt falsely persuaded, For it is not to be judged that any schoolmaster Is of so great fierceness and cruelty, And of young infants so sore a tormentor, That the breath should be about to leave the body.

SON. Father, this thing I could not have believed, But of late days I did behold An honest man's son hereby buried, Which through many stripes was dead and cold.

FATHER. Peraventure, the child of some disease did labour, Which was the cause of his sepulture.[304]

SON. With no disease, surely, was he disquieted, As unto me it was then reported.

FATHER. If that with no such thing he were infected, What was the cause that he departed?

SON. Men say that of[305] this man, his bloody master, Who like a lion most commonly frowned, Being hanged up by the heels together, Was belly and buttocks grievously whipped; And last of all (which to speak I tremble),[306] That his head to the wall he had often crushed.[307]

FATHER. Thus to think, son, thou art beguiled verily, And I would wish thee to suppose the contrary, And not for such tales my counsel to forsake, Which only do covet thee learned to make.

SON. If Demosthenes and Tully were present truly, They could not print[308] it within my head [more] deeply.

FATHER. Yet, by thy father's will and intercession, Thou shalt be content that thing to pardon.

SON. Command what ye list, that only excepted, And I will be ready your mind to fulfil, But whereas I should to the school have resorted, My hand to the palmer[309] submitting still, I will not obey ye therein, to be plain, Though with a thousand strokes I be slain.

FATHER. Woe is me, my son, woe is me! This heavy and doleful day to see.

SON. I grant indeed I am your son; But you my father shall not be, If that you will cast me into that prison, Where torn in pieces ye might me see.

FATHER. Where I might see thee torn and rent? O Lord, I could not such a deed invent!

SON. Nay, by the mass, I hold[310] ye a groat, Those cruel tyrants cut not my throat: Better it were myself did slay, Than they with the rod my flesh should flay. Well, I would we did this talk omit, For it is loathsome to me every whit.

FATHER. What trade then, I pray thee, shall I devise, Whereof thy living at length may arise? Wilt thou follow warfare, and a soldier be 'ppointed, And so among Troyans and Romans be numbered?

SON. See ye not, masters, my father's advice? Have ye the like at any time heard? To will me thereto he is not wise, If my years and strength he did regard; Ye speak worse and worse, whatsoever ye say; This manner of life is not a good way, For no kind of office can me please, Which is subject to wounds and strokes always.

FATHER. Somewhat to do it is meet and convenient; Wilt thou then give thy diligent endeavour To let thy youth unhonestly be spent, And do as poor knaves, which jaxes[311] do scour? For I do not see that any good art, Or else any honest science or occupation, Thou wilt be content to have a part, After thy father's mind and exhortation.

SON. Ha, ha, ha, ha, labour in very deed! God send him that life which stands in need: There be many fathers that children have, And yet not make the worst of them a slave, Might not you of yourself be well ashamed. Which would have your son thither constrained?

FATHER. I would not have thee driven to that succour, Yet for because the scriptures declare, That he should not eat, which will not labour, Some work to do it must be thy care.

SON. Father, it is but a folly with you to strive, But yet notwithstanding I hope to thrive.

FATHER. That this thine intent may take good success, I pray God heartily of his goodness.

SON. Well, well, shall I in few words rehearse What thing doth most my conscience pierce.

FATHER. Therewith I am, son, very well contented.

SON. Yea, but I think that ye will not be pleased.

FATHER. Indeed, peradventure it may so chance.

SON. Nay, but I pray ye, without any perchance, Shall not my request turn to your grievance?

FATHER. If it be just and lawful, which thou dost require.

SON. Both just and lawful, have ye no fear.

FATHER. Now therefore ask; what is thy petition?

SON. Lo, this it is, without further dilation;[312] For so much as all young men for this my beauty, As the moon the stars, I do far excel, Therefore out of hand[313] with all speed possibly To have a wife, methink, would do well, For now I am young, lively, and lusty, And welcome besides to all men's company.

FATHER. Good Lord, good Lord, what do I hear?

SON. Is this your beginning to perform my desire?

FATHER. Alas! my child, what meaneth thy doting? Why dost thou covet thy own undoing?

SON (Aside). I know not in the world how to do the thing, That to his stomach may be delighting.

FATHER. Why, foolish idiot, thou goest about a wife, Which is a burthen and yoke all thy life.

SON. Admit she shall as a burthen with me remain, Yet will I take one, if your good-will I attain.

FATHER. Son, it shall not be thus, by my counsel.

SON. I trust ye will not me otherwise compel.

FATHER. If thou were as wise as I have judged thee, Thou wouldest in this case be ruled by me.

SON. To follow the contrary I cannot be turned; My heart thereon is stifly fixed.

FATHER. What, I say, about thine own destruction?

SON. No, no, but about mine own salvation: For if I be helped, I swear by the mass, It is only marriage that brings it to pass. It is not the school, it is not the book: It is not science or occupation, It is not to be a barber or cook, Wherein is now set my consolation; And since it is thus, be, father, content; For to marry a wife I am full bent.

FATHER. Well, if thou wilt not, my son, be ruled, But needs will follow thine own foolishness, Take heed hereafter, if thou be troubled, At me thou never seek redress; For I am certain thou canst not abide Any pain at all, grief or vexation. Thy childhood with me so easily did slide, Full of all pastime and delectation; And if thou wouldest follow the book and learning, And with thyself also take a wise way, Then thou mayst get a gentleman's living, And with many other bear a great sway:[314] Besides this, I would in time to come, After my power and small hability, Help thee and further thee, as my wisdom Should me most counsel for thy commodity. And such a wife I would prepare for thee As should be virtuous, wise, and honest, And give thee with her after my degree, Whereby thou mightest always live in rest.

SON. I cannot, I tell ye again, so much of my life Consume at my book without a wife.

FATHER. I perceive therefore I have done too well, And showed overmuch favour to thee, That now against me thou dost rebel, And for thine own furtherance wilt not agree; Wherefore of my goods thou gettest not a penny, Nor any succour else at my hands, For such a child is most unworthy To have any part of his father's lands.

SON. I do not esteem, father, your goods or lands, Or any part of all your treasure; For I judge it enough to be out of bands, And from this day forward to take my pleasure.

FATHER. Well, if it shall chance thee thy folly to repent, As thou art like within short space, Think none but thyself worthy to be shent,[315] Letting my counsel to take no place.

SON. As touching that matter, I will no man blame: Now, farewell, father, most heartily for the same.

FATHER. Farewell, my son, depart in God's name!

SON. Room,[316] I say; room, let me be gone: My father, if he list, shall tarry alone.

[Here the Son goeth out, and the Rich Man tarrieth behind alone.

THE FATHER. Now at the last I do myself consider, How great grief it is and heaviness To every man that is a father, To suffer his child to follow wantonness: If I might live a hundred years longer, And should have sons and daughters many, Yet for this boy's sake I will not suffer One of them all at home with me to tarry; They should not be kept thus under my wing, And have all that which they desire; For why it is but their only undoing, And, after the proverb, we put oil to the fire.[317] Wherefore we parents must have a regard Our children in time for to subdue, Or else we shall have them ever untoward, Yea, spiteful, disdainful, naught and untrue. And let us them thrust alway to the school, Whereby at their books they may be kept under: And so we shall shortly their courage cool, And bring them to honesty, virtue and nurture. But, alas, now-a-days (the more is the pity), Science and learning is so little regarded, That none of us doth muse or study To see our children well taught and instructed. We deck them, we trim them with gorgeous array, We pamper and feed them, and keep them so gay, That in the end of all this they be our foes. We bass them, [we] kiss them, we look round about; We marvel and wonder to see them so lean; We ever anon do invent and seek out To make them go tricksy,[318] gallant, and clean: Which is nothing else but the very provoking To all unthriftiness, vice, and iniquity; It puffeth them up, it is an alluring Their fathers and mothers at length to defy. Which thing mine own son doth plainly declare, Whom I always entirely have loved; He was so my joy, he was so my care, That now of the same I am despised. And how he is hence from me departed, He hath no delight with me to dwell; He is not merry, until he be married, He hath of knavery took such a smell.[319] But yet seeing that he is my son, He doth me constrain bitterly to weep, I am not (methink) well till I be gone; For this place I can no longer keep.

[Here the Rich Man goeth out, and the two Cooks cometh in; first the one, and then the other.

THE MAN-COOK. Make haste, Blanche, blab it out, and come away, For we have enough to do all this whole day; Why, Blanche, blab it out, wilt thou not come, And knowest what business there is to be done? If thou may be set with the pot at thy nose, Thou carest not how other matters goes; Come away, I bid thee, and tarry no longer, To trust to thy help I am much the better!

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