A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Vol. II
by Robert Dodsley
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THE MAID-COOK. What a murrain, I say, what a noise dost thou make! I think that thou be not well in thy wits! I never heard man on this sort to take, With such angry words and hasty fits.

MAN. Why, dost thou remember what is to be bought For the great bridal against to-morrow? The market must be in every place sought For all kinds of meats, God give thee sorrow!

MAID. What banging, what cursing, Long-tongue, is with thee! I made as much speed as I could possibly; I-wis thou mightest have tarried for me, Until in all points I had been ready; I have for thee looked full oft heretofore, And yet for all that said never the more.

MAN. Well, for this once I am with thee content, So that hereafter thou make more haste; Or else, I tell thee, thou wilt it repent, To loiter so long, till the market be past. For there must be bought beef, veal and mutton, And that even such as is good and fat, With pig, geese, conies, and capon; How sayest thou, Blanche? blab it out unto that?

MAID. I cannot tell, Long-tongue, what I should say; Of such good cheer I am so glad, That if I would not eat at all that day, My belly to fill I were very mad!

MAN. There must be also pheasant and swan; There must be heronsew, partridge, and quail; And therefore I must do what I can, That none of all these the gentleman fail. I dare say he looks for many things mo, To be prepared against to-morn; Wherefore, I say, hence let us go: My feet do stand upon a thorn.

MAID. Nay, good Long-tongue, I pray once again To hear yet of my mind a word or twain.

MAN. Come off, then: dispatch, and speak it quickly, For what thing it is thou causest me tarry.

MAID. Of whence is this gentleman that to-morrow is married? Where doth his father and his mother dwell? Above forty miles he hath travelled, As yesternight his servant did tell.

MAN. In very deed he comes a great way, With my master he may not long abide; It hath cost him so much on costly array, That money out of his purse apace doth slide. They say that his friends be rich and wealthy, And in the city of London have their dwelling, But yet of them all he hath no penny To spend and bestow here at his wedding. And if it be true that his servant did say, He hath utterly lost his friends' good-will, Because he would not their counsel obey, And in his own country[320] tarry still; As for this woman, which he shall marry, At Saint Albans always hath spent her life; I think she be a shrew, I tell thee plainly, And full of debate, malice and strife.

MAID. Though I never saw this woman before, Which hither with him this gentleman brought, Yet nevertheless I have tokens in store, To judge of a woman that is forward and naught. The tip of her nose is as sharp as mine, Her tongue and her tune[321] is very shrill; I warrant her she comes of an ungracious kin, And loveth too much her pleasure and will: What though she be now so neat and so nice, And speaketh as gentle as ever I heard: Yet young men, which be both witty and wise, Such looks and such words should not regard.

MAN. Blanche, blab it out; thou sayest very true; I think thou beginnest at length to preach: This thing to me is strange and new, To hear such a fool young men to teach.

MAID. A fool! mine own Long-tongue! why, call'st thou me fool! Though now in the kitchen I waste the day, Yet in times past I went to school, And of my Latin primer I took assay.

MAN. Masters, this woman did take such assay, And then in those days so applied her book, That one word thereof she carried not away, But then of a scholar was made a cook. I dare say she knoweth not how her primer began, Which of her master she learned then.

MAID. I trow it began with Domine labia, aperies.

MAN. What, did it begin with butter de peas?

MAID. I tell thee again, with Domine, labia aperies, If now to hear it be thine ease.

MAN. How, how, with, my madam lay in the pease?

MAID. I think thou art mad! with Domine, labia aperies.

MAN. Yea, marry, I judged it went such ways; It began with, Dorothy, lay up the keys!

MAID. Nay then, good night; I perceive by this gear, That none is so deaf as who will not hear; I spake as plainly as I could devise, Yet me understand thou canst in no wise!

MAN. Why, yet once again, and I will better listen, And look upon thee how thy lips do open.

MAID. Well, mark then, and hearken once for all, Or else hear it again thou never shall; My book, I say, began with Domine, labia aperies.

MAN. Fie, fie, how slow am I of understanding! Was it all this while, Domine, labia aperies? Belike I have lost my sense of hearing, With broiling and burning in the kitchen o' days.[322]

MAID. I promise thee thou seemest to have done little better, For that I wot in my life I never saw One like to thyself in so easy a matter, Unless he were deaf, thus play the daw.[323]

MAN. Come on, come on, we have almost forgotten Such plenty of victuals as we should buy; It were alms,[324] by my troth, thou were well beaten, Because so long thou hast made me tarry.

MAID. Tush, tush, we shall come in very good season, If so be thou goest as fast as I; Take up thy basket, and quickly have done, We will be both there by and by.

MAN. I for my part will never leave running, Until that I come to the sign of the Whiting.

[Here the two Cooks run out, and in cometh the Young Man and the Young Woman his lover.

THE YOUNG WOMAN. Where is my sweeting,[325] whom I do seek? He promised me to have met me here: Till I speak with him I think it a week, For he is my joy, he is my cheer! There is no night, there is no day, But that my thoughts be all of him; I have no delight, if he be away: Such toys in my head do ever swim. But behold at the last, where he doth come. For whom my heart desired long; Now shall I know, all and some,[326] Or else I would say I had great wrong.

THE YOUNG MAN. My darling, my coney,[327] my bird so bright of ble:[328] Sweetheart, I say, all hail to thee! How do our loves? be they fast asleep? Or the old liveliness do they still keep?

YOUNG WOMAN. Do ye ask, and[329] my love be fast asleep? O, if a woman may utter her mind, My love had almost made me to weep, Because that even now I did not you find; I thought it surely a whole hundred year,[330] Till in this place I saw you here.

YOUNG MAN. Alack, alack, I am sorry for this! I had such business, I might not come; But ye may perceive what my wit is, How small regard I have and wisdom.

YOUNG WOMAN. Whereas ye ask me concerning my love, I well assure you it doth daily augment; Nothing can make me start or move; You only to love is mine intent.

YOUNG MAN. And as for my love it doth never relent, For of you I do dream, of you I do think; To dinner and supper I never went, But of beer and wine to you I did drink. Now of such thinks[331] therefore to make an end, Which pitiful lovers do cruelly torment, To marriage, in God's name, let us descend, As unto this hour we have been bent.

YOUNG WOMAN. Your will to accomplish I am as ready As any woman, believe me truly.

YOUNG MAN. This ring then I give you as a token sure, Whereby our love shall always endure.

YOUNG WOMAN. With a pure pretence your pledge I take gladly, For a sign of our love, faith, and fidelity.

YOUNG MAN. Now I am safe, now I am glad, Now I do live, now I do reign; Methought till now I was too sad, Wherefore, sadness, fly hence again! Away with those words which my father brought out! Away with his sageness and exhortation! He could not make me his fool or his lout, And put me besides this delectation. Did he judge that I would go to the school, And might my time spend after this sort? I am not his calf,[332] nor yet his fool; This virgin I kiss is my comfort!

YOUNG WOMAN. Well then, I pray you, let us be married, For methink from it we have long tarried.

YOUNG MAN. Agreed, my sweeting, it shall be then done, Since that thy good-will I have gotten and won.

YOUNG WOMAN. There would this day be very good cheer, That every one his belly may fill, And three or four minstrels would be here, That none in the house sit idle or still.

YOUNG MAN. Take ye no thought for abundance of meat, That should be spent at our bridal, For there shall be enough for all men to eat, And minstrels besides thereto shall not fail. The cooks, I dare say, a good while agone, With such kind of flesh as I did them tell, Are from the market both come home, Or else, my own coney, they do not well. I knew, before that I come to this place, We should be married together this day, Which caused me then forthwith in this case To send for victuals, ere I came away.

YOUNG WOMAN. Wherefore then (I pray ye) shall we go to our inn, And look that everything be made ready? Or else all is not worth a brass pin,[333] Such haste is required in matrimony.

YOUNG MAN. I think six o'clock it is not much past, But yet to the priest we will make haste, That according to custom we may be both coupled, And with a strong knot for ever bound fast: Yet, ere I depart, some song I will sing, To the intent to declare my joy without fear, And in the meantime you may, my sweeting, Rest yourself in this little chair.


_Spite of his spite, which that in vain Doth seek to force my fantasy, I am professed for loss or gain, To be thine own assuredly; Wherefore let my father spite[334] and spurn, My fantasy will never turn!

Although my father of busy wit Doth babble still, I care not tho; I have no fear, nor yet will flit, As doth the water to and fro; Wherefore let my father spite and spurn, My fantasy will never turn!

For I am set and will not swerve, Whom spiteful speech removeth nought; And since that I thy grace deserve, I count it is not dearly bought; Wherefore let my father spite and spurn, My fantasy will never turn!

Who is afraid, let you him fly, For I shall well abide the brunt; Maugre to his lips that listeth to lie, Of busy brains as is the wont; Wherefore let my father spite and spurn, My fantasy will never turn!

Who listeth thereat to laugh or lour,[335] I am not he that ought doth rech;[336] There is no pain that hath the power Out of my breast your love to fetch; Wherefore let my father spite and spurn, My fantasy will never turn!

For whereas he moved me to the school, And only to follow my book and learning: He could never make me such a fool, With all his soft words and fair speaking; Wherefore let my father spite and spurn, My fantasy will never turn!

This minion here, this mincing[337] trull,[338] Doth please me more a thousandfold, Than all the earth that is so full Of precious stones, silver and gold; Wherefore let my father spite and spurn, My fantasy will never turn!

Whatsoever I did it was for her sake, It was for her love and only pleasure; I count it no labour such labour to take, In getting to me so high a treasure; Wherefore, let my father spite and spurn, My fantasy will never turn!

This day I intended for to be merry, Although my hard father be far hence, I know no cause for to be heavy, For all this cost and great expense; Wherefore let my father spite and spurn, My fantasy will never turn!_

YOUNG MAN. How like ye this song, my own sweet rose? Is it well made for our purpose?

YOUNG WOMAN. I never heard in all my life a better, More pleasant, more meet for the matter; Now let us go then, the morning is nigh gone, We cannot any longer here remain: Farewell, good masters every one, Till from the church we come again.

[Here they go out, and in cometh the Priest alone.

PRIEST. Sirs, by my troth it is a world to see[339] The exceeding negligence of every one, Even from the highest to the lowest degree Both goodness and conscience is clean gone. There is a young gentleman in this town, Who this same day now must be married: Yet though I would bestow a crown, That knave the clerk cannot be spied; For he is safe, if that in the alehouse He may sit tippling of nut-brown ale, That oft he comes forth as drunk as a mouse, With a nose of his own not greatly pale; And this is not once, but every day Almost, of my faith, throughout the whole year, That he these tricks doth use to play, Without all shame, dread and fear. He knoweth himself, that yesternight The said young gentleman came to me, And then desired that he might This morning betimes married be; But now I doubt it will be high noon, Ere that his business be quite ended, Unless the knavish fool come very soon, That this same thing may be despatched; And therefore, since that this naughty pack Hath at this present me thus served, He is like henceforward my good-will to lack, Or else unwise I might be judged. I am taught hereafter how such a one to trust In any matter concerning the church; For, if I should, I perceive that I must Of mine own honesty lose very much. And yet for all this, from week to week, For his stipend and wages he ever[340] crieth, And for the same continually doth seek, As from time to time plainly appeareth; But whether his wages he hath deserved, Unto you all I do me report, Since that his duty he hath not fulfilled, Nor to the church will scant resort; That many a time and oft[341] I am fain To play the priest, clerk, and all, Though thus to do it is great pain, And my reward but very small. Wherefore (God willing) I will such order take, Before that I be many days elder, That he shall be glad this town to forsake, And learn evermore to please his better, And in such wise all they shall be used, Which in this parish intend to be clerks; Great pity it were the church should be disordered, Because that such swillbowls[342] do not their works. And to say truth, in many a place, And other great towns beside this same, The priests and parishioners be in the like case, Which to the churchwardens may be a shame. How should the priest his office fulfil, Accordingly as indeed he ought, When that the clerk will have a self-will, And always in service-time must be sought? Notwithstanding at this present there is no remedy, But to take time, as it doth fall, Wherefore I will go hence and make me ready, For it helpeth not to chafe or brawl.

[Here the Priest goeth out, and in cometh the Rich Man.

THE RICH MAN. Coming this day forth of my chamber, Even as for water to wash I did call, By chance I espied a certain stranger, Standing beneath within my hall; Who in very deed came from the innholder, Whereas for a time my son did lie, And said that his master had sent me a letter, And bad him to bring it with all speed possible; Wherein he did write that as this day That unthrift,[343] my son, to a certain maid Should then be wedded without further delay, And hath borrowed more than will be paid; And since that he heard he was my son By a gentleman or two this other day, He thought that it should be very well done To let me have knowledge thereof by the way; And willed me, if that I would any thing Of him to be done of me in this matter, That then he his servant such word should bring, As at his coming he might do hereafter: I bad him thank his master most heartily, And sent him by him a piece of venison, For that he vouchsafed to write so gently, Touching the marrying and state of my son; But notwithstanding I sent him no money To pay such debts as my son did owe, Because he had me forsaken utterly, And me for his good father would not know; And said that with him I would not make From that day forward during my life, But as he had brewed, that so he should bake, Since of his own choosing he gat him a wife. Thus, when his servant from me departed, Into my chamber I went again, And there a great while I bitterly weeped: This news to me was so great pain. And thus with these words I began to moan, Lamenting and mourning myself all alone: O madness, O doting of those young folk! O minds without wit, advice and discretion, With whom their parents can bear no stroke In their first matrimonial conjunction: They know not what misery, grief and unquietness Will hereafter ensue of their extreme foolishness; Of all such labours they be clean ignorant, Which, in the nourishing and keeping of children, To their great charges it is convenient Either of them henceforth to sustain: Concerning expenses bestowed in a house, They perceive as little as doth the mouse. On the one side the wife will brawl and scold, On the other side the infant will cry in the cradle: Anon, when the child waxeth somewhat old, For meat and drink he begins to babble: Hereupon cometh it that at markets and fairs A husband is forced to buy many wares. Yet for all this hath my foolish son, As wise [as] a woodcock,[344] without any wit, Despising his father's mind and opinion, Married a wife for him most unfit, Supposing that mirth to be everlasting, Which then at the first was greatly pleasing. How they two will live, I cannot tell; Whereto they may trust, they have nothing. My mind giveth me, that they will come dwell At length by their father for want of living; But my son doubtless, for anything that I know, Shall reap in such wise as he did sow; True he shall find, that Hipponax did write, Who said with a wife are two days of pleasure; The first is the joy of the marriage-day and night, The second to be at the wife's sepulture: And this by experience he shall prove true, That of his bridal great evils do ensue. And (as I suppose) it will prove in his life, When he shall wish that to him it may chance, Which unto Eupolis and also his wife, The night they were wedded, fell for a vengeance; Who with the heavy ruin of the bed were slain, As the Poet Ovid in these two verses make plain:

Sit tibi conjugii nox prima novissimi vitae, Eupolis hoc periit et nova nupta modo.

Ovidius, writing against one Ibis his enemy, That the first night of his marriage did wish The last of his life might be certainly, For so (quoth he) did Eupolis and his wife perish. Yet to my son I pray God to send, Because thereunto me nature doth bind, Though he hath offended, a better end Than Eupolis and his wife did find. And now I shall long ever anon, Till some of those quarters come riding hither, Unto the which my son is gone, To know how they do live together. But I am fasting, and it is almost noon, And more than time that I had dined: Wherefore from hence I will go soon; I think by this time my meat is burned.

[Here the Rich Man goeth out, and in cometh the Young Man his son with the Young Woman, being both married.

THE HUSBAND. O my sweet wife, my pretty coney!

THE WIFE. O my husband, as pleasant as honey.

HUSBAND. O Lord, what pleasures and great commodity Are heaped together in matrimony!

WIFE. How vehement, how strong a thing love is! How many smirks and dulsome[345] kisses!

HUSBAND. What smiling, what laughing! What sport, pastime, and playing!

WIFE. What tickling, what toying! What dallying, what joying!

HUSBAND. The man with the wife is wholly delighted, And with many causes to laughter enforced.

WIFE. When they two drink, they drink together; They never eat but one with another.

HUSBAND. Sometimes to their garden forth they walk, And into the fields sometimes they go, With merry tricks and gestures they talk, As they do move their feet to and fro.

WIFE. Sometimes they ride into the country, Passing the time with mirth and sport; And when with their friends they have been merry, Home to their own house they do resort.

HUSBAND. Sometimes abroad they go to see plays, And other trim sights for to behold: When often they meet in the highways Much of their acquaintance they knew of old.

WIFE. Sometimes to the church they do repair, To hear the sermon that shall be made, Though it to remember they shall have small care; For why they be now but few of that trade.

HUSBAND. Sometimes at home at cards they play, Sometimes at this game, sometimes at that; They need not with sadness to pass the day, Nor yet to sit still, or stand in one plat.

WIFE. And as for us wives, occasions do move Sometimes with our gossips to make good cheer, Or else we did not, as did us behove, For certain days and weeks in the year.

HUSBAND. I think that a man might spend a whole day, Declaring the joys and endless bliss, Which married persons receive alway, If they love faithfully, as meet it is.

WIFE. Wives cannot choose but love earnestly, If that their husbands do all things well; Or else, my sweetheart, we shall espy, That in quietness they cannot dwell.

HUSBAND. If they do not, it may be a shame, For I love you heartily, I you assure: Or else I were truly greatly to blame, Ye are so loving, so kind and demure.

WIFE. I trust that with neither hand or foot Ye shall see any occasion by me: But that I love you even from the heart-root, And during my life so intend to be.

HUSBAND. Who then merry marriage can discommend, And will not with Aristotle in his Ethics[346] agree? But will say, that misery is the end, When otherwise I find it to be: A politic man will marry a wife, As the philosopher makes declaration, Not only to have children by his life, But also for living, help, and sustentation.

WIFE. Who will not with H'erocles plainly confess, That mankind to society is wholly adjoining, And in this society nevertheless Of worthy wedlock took the beginning: Without the which no city can stand, Nor household be perfect in any land?

HUSBAND. Pythagoras, Socrates, and Crates also, Which truly were men of very small substance, As I heard my father tell long ago, Did take them wives with a safe conscience; And dwelled together, supposing that they Were unto philosophy nother stop nor stay.

WIFE. Yea, what can be more according to kind, Than a man to a woman himself to bind?

HUSBAND. Away with those therefore, that marriage despise, And of dangers thereof invent many lies!

WIFE. But what is he that cometh yonder? Do ye not think it is our man? Somewhat there is that he hasteth hither, For he makes as much speed as he can.

[Here the servant of the Rich Man's Son cometh in, with an errand to his master.

SERVANT. Master, there is a stranger at home, He would very fain with you talk: For until that to him ye do come, Forth of the doors he will not walk.

HUSBAND. Come on then, my wife, if it be so, Let us depart hence for a season: For I am not well, till I do know Of that man's coming the very reason.

[Here they both go out, and their Servant doth tarry behind alone.

SERVANT. Let them go both, and do what they will, And with communication fill their belly: For I, by Saint George, will tarry here still, In all my life I was never so weary! I have this day filled so many pots With all manner wine, ale, and beer, That I wished their bellies full of bots,[347] Long of whom[348] was made such cheer. What kinds of meat, both flesh and fish, Have I, poor knave, to the table carried From time to time, dish after dish; My legs from going never ceased! What running had I for apples and nuts! What calling for biscuits, comfits, and caraways![349] A vengeance, said I, light on their guts, That makes me to turn so many ways! What crying was there for cards and dice! What roisting,[350] what ruffling made they within! I counted them all not greatly wise, For my head did almost ache with din. What babbling, what jangling[351] was in the house! What quaffing, what bibbing with many a cup! That some lay along as drunk as a mouse, Not able so much as their heads to hold up! What dancing, what leaping, what jumping about, From bench to bench, and stool to stool, That I wondered their brains did not fall out, When they so outrageously played the fool! What juggling was there upon the boards! What thrusting of knives through many a nose! What bearing of forms, what holding of swords, And putting of botkins[352] through leg and hose! Yet for all that they called for drink, And said they could not play for dry, That many at me did nod and wink, Because I should bring it by and by. Howsoever they sported, the pot did still walk: If that were away, then all was lost, For ever anon the jug was their talk, They passed[353] not who bare such charge and cost. Therefore let him look his purse be right good, That it may discharge all that is spent, Or else it will make his hair grow through his hood,[354] There was such havoc made at this present; But I am afeard my master be angry, That I did abide thus long behind: Yet for his anger I pass[355] not greatly, His words they be but only wind! Now that I have rested so long in this place, Homeward again I will hie me apace.

[Here the Servant goeth out, and in cometh first the Wife, and shortly after the Husband.

THE WIFE. Where is my husband? was he not here? I marvel much whither he is gone! Then I perceive I am [not] much the near:[356] But lo, where he cometh hither alone! Wot ye what, husband, from day to day With dainty dishes our bodies have been filled? What meat to-morrow next shall we assay, Whereby we may then be both refreshed?

HUSBAND. Do ye now provide and give a regard For victuals hereafter to be prepared?

WIFE. But that I know, husband, it lieth us in hand Of things to come to have a consideration, I would not once will you to understand About such business my careful provision: It is needful therefore to work we make haste, That to get both our livings we may know the cast.

HUSBAND. To trouble me now, and make me vexed, This mischievous means hast thou invented.

WIFE. What trouble for thee, what kind of vexation, Have I to disquiet thee caused at this present? My only mind is thou make expedition To seek for our profit, as is convenient.[357] Wherefore to thee I say once again, Because to take pains thou art so loth, By Christ, it were best with might and main To fall to some work, I swear a great oath!

HUSBAND. Yet, for a time, if it may thee please, Let me be quiet, and take mine ease.

WIFE. Wilt thou have us then through hunger be starved?

HUSBAND. I would not we should for hunger be killed.

WIFE. Then, I say then, this gear[358] go about, And look that thou labour diligently, Or else thou shalt shortly prove without doubt, Thy sluggishness will not please me greatly.

HUSBAND. Beginnest thou even now to be painful and grievous, And to thy husband a woman so troublous?

WIFE. What words have we here, thou misbegotten: Is there not already enough to be spoken?

HUSBAND. O mirth, O joy, O pastime and pleasure, How little a space do you endure!

WIFE. I see my commandment can take no place; Thou shalt aby therefore, I swear by the mass!

[Here the Wife must strike her Husband handsomely about the shoulders with something.

HUSBAND. Alas, good wife! good wife, alas, alas! Strike not so hard, I pray thee heartily! Whatsoever thou wilt have brought to pass, It shall be done with all speed possible.

WIFE. Lay these faggots, man, upon thy shoulder, And carry this wood from street to street, To sell the same, that we both together Our living may get, as is most meet. Hence, nidiot, hence without more delay! What meanest thou thus to stagger and stay?

HUSBAND. O Lord! what, how miserable men be those, Which to their wives as wretches be wedded, And have them continually their mortal foes, Serving them thus, as slaves that be hired! Now by experience true I do find, Which oftentimes unto me heretofore My father did say, declaring his mind, That in matrimony was pain evermore; What shall I do, most pitiful creature? Just cause I have, alas, to lament: That frantic woman my death will procure, If so be this day without gain be spent: For unless for my wood some money be taken, Like a dog with a cudgel I shall be beaten! Ho, thou good fellow, which standest so nigh, Of these heavy bundles ease my sore back, And somewhat therefore give me by and by, Or else I die, for silver I do lack. Now that I have some money received For this my burthen, home I will go, And lest that my wife be discontented, What I have take, I will her show. Wife, I am come: I went a long way, And here is the profit and gains of this day!

WIFE. Why, thou lout, thou fool, thou whoreson folt,[359] Is this thy wood money, thou peevish[360] dolt? Thou shalt smart for this gear, I make God a vow! Thou knowest no more to sell wood than doth the sow!

HUSBAND. By God's precious, I will not unwisely suffer To do as I have done any longer.

WIFE. Why, dost thou rise against me, villain? Take heed I scratch not out thy eyes twain!

HUSBAND. Scratch, and thou dare, for I have a knife: Perchance I will rid thee of thy life!

WIFE. Slay me with thy knife, thou shitten dastard! Dost thou think to find me such a dissard? By Cock's bones, I will make thy skin to rattle, And the brains in thy skull more deeply to settle.

[Here the Wife must lay on load upon her Husband.

HUSBAND. Good wife, be content! forgive me this fault! I will never again do that which is naught.

WIFE. Go to, foolish calf, go to, and uprise, And put up thy knife, I thee advise.

HUSBAND. I will do your commandments whatsoever.

WIFE. Hence away, then, and fill this with water.

HUSBAND. O merciful God, in what lamentable state Is he, of whom the wife is the master? Would God I had been predestinate On my marriage day to have died with a fever! O wretched creature, what may I do? My grievous wife shall I return unto? Lo, wife, behold! without further delay The water ye sent for here I do bring.

WIFE. What, I say? what meaneth this weeping? What aileth thee to make all this crying?

HUSBAND. I weep not, forsooth, nor cry not as yet.

WIFE. No, nor thou wilt not, if thou hast any wit; It is not thy weeping that can ought avail, And therefore this matter no longer bewail. Come off, I say, and run by the river, And wash these clothes in the water.

HUSBAND. Wife, I will thither hie me fast.

WIFE. Yet I advise thee, thou cullon,[361] make haste.

HUSBAND. O, how unhappy and eke unfortunate Is the most part of married men's condition! I would to death I had been agate,[362] When my mother in bearing me made lamentation. What shall I do? whither shall I turn? Most careful man now under the sky! In the flaming fire I had rather burn, Than with extreme pain live so heavily. There is no shift; to my wife I must go, Whom that I did wed; I am full wo! Where are ye, wife? your clothes are washed clean, As white as a lily,[363] without spot or stain.

WIFE. Thou thief, thou caitiff, why is not this lace Washed as fair as all the rest? Thou shalt for this gear now smoke apace! By Jis,[364] I swear, thou brutish beast!

[Here she must knock her Husband.

HUSBAND. Alas, alas! I am almost quite dead! My wife so pitifully hath broken my head!

[Here her Husband must lie along on the ground, as though he were sore beaten and wounded.

WIFE. Well, I perceive the time will away, And into the country to go I have promised; Look therefore thou go not from hence to-day, Till home again I am returned. Take heed, I say, this house thee retain, And stir not for any thing out of my door, Until that I come hither again, As thou wilt be rewarded therefore.

[Here his Wife goeth out, and the Husband tarrieth behind alone.

HUSBAND. The flying fiend[365] go with my wife, And in her journey ill may she speed! I pray God Almighty to shorten her life! The earth at no time doth bear such a weed! Although that I be a gentleman born, And come by my ancetors of a good blood, Yet am I like to wear a coat torn, And hither and thither go carry wood! But rather than I this life will abide, To-morrow morning I do intend Home to my father again to ride, If some man to me his horse will lend. She is to her gossips gone to make merry, And there she will be for three or four days: She cares not, though I do now miscarry, And suffer such pain and sorrow always. She leaveth to me neither bread nor drink, But such, as I judge, no body would eat: I might by the walls lie dead and stink, For any great wholesomeness in my meat. She walketh abroad, and taketh her pleasure: Herself to cherish is all her care: She passeth not what grief I endure, Or how I can live with noughty[366] fare: And since it is so, without further delay To my father to-morrow I will away.

[Here he goeth out, and in cometh the Devil.[367]

SATAN THE DEVIL. Ho, ho, ho, what a fellow am I! Give room, I say, both more and less: My strength and power, hence to the sky, No earthly tongue can well express! O, what inventions, crafts and wiles Is there contained within this head! I know that he is within few miles, Which of the same is throughly sped. O, it was all my study day and night Cunningly to bring this matter to pass: In all the earth there is no wight, But I can make to cry alas. This man and wife, that not long ago Fell in this place together by the ears: It was only I that this strife did sow, And have been about it certain years. For after that I had taken a smell Of their good will and fervent love, Me-thought I should not tarry in hell, But unto debate them shortly move: O, it was I that made him to despise All wisdom, goodness, virtue, and learning, That he afterward could in no wise Once in his heart fancy teaching: O, it was I that made him refuse The wholesome monition of his father dear, And caused him still of a wife to muse, As though she should be his joy and cheer! O, it was I that made him go hence, And suppose that his father was very unkind; It was I that did drive him to such expense, And made him as bare as an ape is behind. And now that I have this business ended, And joined him and his wife together, I think that I have my part well played: None of you all would do it better. Ho, ho, ho! this well-favoured head of mine, What thing soever it hath in hand, Is never troubled with ale or wine, Neither by sea, nor yet by land. I tell you I am a marvellous body, As any is at this day living: My head doth devise each thing so trimly, That all men may wonder of the ending. O, I have such fetches,[368] such toys in this head, Such crafty devices and subtle train, That whomsoever of you I do wed, Ye are like at my hands to take small gain. There is no gentleman, knight, or lord: There is no duke, earl, or king, But, if I list, I can with one word Shortly send unto their lodging. Some I disquiet with covetousness: Some with wrath, pride and lechery; And some I do thrust into such distress, That he feeleth only pain and misery. Some I allure to have their delight Always in gluttony, envy and murder, And those things to practise with all their might, Either by land or else by water. Ho, ho, ho! there is none to be compared To me, I tell you, in any point: With a great sort[369] myself I have tried, That boldly ventured many a joint, And when for a long time we had wrestled, And showed our strength on either side, Yet oftentimes a fall they received, When through my policy their feet did slide. Wherefore (my dear children) I warn ye all: Take heed, take heed of my temptation, For commonly at the last ye have the fall, And also [be] brought to desperation. O! it is a folly for many to strive, And think of me to get the upper hand, For unless that God make them to thrive, They cannot against me stick or stand: And though that God on high have his dominion, And ruleth the world everywhere, Yet by your leave I have a portion Of this same earth that standeth here. The kingdom of God is above in heaven, And mine is, I tell you, beneath in hell; But yet a greater place, if he had dealt even, He should have given me and mine to dwell: For to my palace of every nation, Of what degree or birth soever they be, Come running in with such festination,[370] That otherwhiles they amazed me. O, all the Jews and all the Turks, Yea, and a great part of Christendom, When they have done my will and my works, In the end they fly hither all and some:[371] There is no minute of the day, There is no minute of the night, But that in my palace there is alway Crowding together a marvellous sight; They come on thicker than swarms of bees, And make such a noise and crying out, That many a one lieth on his knees, With thousands kept under and closed about: Not so much as my parlours, halls, and every chamber: My porches, my galleries, and my court: My entries, my kitchen, and my larder, But with all manner people be filled throughout! What shall I say more, I cannot tell, But of this (my children) I am certain, There comes more in one hour unto hell, Than unto heaven in a month or twain. And yet for all this my nature is such, That I am not pleased with this company, But out of my kingdom I must walk much, That one or other I may take tardy. Ho, ho, ho! I am never once afraid With these my claws you for to touch, For I will not leave, till you be paid Such treasure as is within my pouch. The world is my son, and I am his father, And also the flesh is a daughter of mine; It is I alone that taught them to gather Both gold and silver that is so fine; Wherefore I suppose that they love me well, And my commandments gladly obey, That at the last then unto hell They may come all the ready way. But now (I know), since I came hither, There is such a multitude at my gate, That I must again repair down thither After mine old manner and rate.

[Here the Devil goeth out, and in cometh the Rich Man's Son alone.

THE SON. How glad am I that my journey is ended, Which I was about this whole day! My horse to stand still I never suffered, Because I would come to the end of my way: But yet I am sorry that I cannot find My loving father at home at his place, That unto him I may break my mind, And let him know my miserable case.

[Here he confesseth his naughtiness, uttering the same with a pitiful voice.

I have been wild, I have been wanton, I have ever followed my fancy and will: I have been to my father a froward son, And from day to day continued still. I have always proudly disdained those That in my madness gave me good counsel: I counted them most my mortal foes, And stoutly against them did rebel. The thing that was good I greatly hated, As one which lacked both wit and reason; The thing that was evil I ever loved, Which now I see is my confusion. I could not abide of the school to hear; Masters and teachers my heart abhorred; Methought the book was not fit gear For my tender fingers to have handled; I counted it a pleasure to be daintily fed, And to be clothed in costly array: I would most commonly slug in my bed, Until it were very far-forth day. And (to be short) anon after this, There came such fancies in my brain, That to have a wife, whom I might kiss, I reckoned to be the greatest gain. But yet, alas, I was quite deceived; The thing itself doth easily appear; I would, alas, I had been buried, When to my father I gave not ear! That which I had I have clean spent, And kept so much riot with the same, That now I am fain a coat that is rent, Alas, to wear for very shame. I have not a cross left in my purse To help myself now in my need, That well I am worthy of God's curse, And of my father to have small meed.

[Here the Rich Man must be as it were coming in.

But except mine eyes do me beguile, That man is my father, whom I do see: And now that he comes, without craft or wile, To him I will bend on either knee. Ah, father, father, my father most dear!

FATHER. Ah! mine own child, with thee what cheer?

SON. All such sayings as in my mind At the first time ye studied to settle, Most true, alas, I do them find, As though they were written in the Gospel.

FATHER. Those words, my son, I have almost forgotten; Stand up, therefore, and kneel no longer, And what it was I spake so often, At two or three words recite to thy father.

SON. If that ye be, father, well remembered, As the same I believe ye cannot forget, You said that, so soon as I were married, Much pain and trouble thereby I should get.

FATHER. Hast thou by proof, son, this thing tried?

SON. Yea, alas, too much I have experienced: My wife I did wed all full of frenzy. My seely poor shoulders hath now so bruised, That like to a cripple I move me weakly, Being full often with the staff thwacked: She spareth no more my flesh and bone, Than if my body were made of stone! Her will, her mind, and her commandment From that day hither I have fulfilled, Which if I did not, I was bitterly shent, And with many strokes grievously punished: That would God, the hour when I was married, In the midst of the church I might have sinked. I think there is no man under the sun, That here on the earth beareth life, Which would do such drudgery as I have done, At the unkind words of such a wife; For how I was used, and in what wise, A day to declare will not suffice. If this be not true, as I have spoken, To my good neighbours I me report, Who other whiles, when I was smitten, My wife to be gentle did then exhort: For glad I was to abide all labour, Whereby the less might be my dolour.[372] Wherefore, good father, I you humbly desire To have pity of me and some compassion, Or else I am like to lie fast in the mire, Without any succour or consolation: For at this hour I have not a penny, Myself to help in this great misery.

FATHER. For so much as by my advice and counsel In no manner wise thou wouldest be ruled. Therefore to thee I cannot do well, But let thee still suffer as thou hast deserved, For that thou hast suffered is yet nothing To that tribulation which is behind coming.

SON. Alas, father, what shall I do? My wits of themselves cannot devise What thing I were best go unto, Whereof an honest living may arise: Wherefore, gentle father, in this distress, Somewhat assuage mine heaviness.

FATHER. What should I do, I cannot tell, For now that thou hast taken a wife, With me thy father thou mayest not dwell, But always with her spend thy life. Thou mayest not again thy wife forsake, Which during life to thee thou didst take.

SON. Alas, I am not able thus to endure, Though thereunto I were never so willing; For my wife is of such a crooked nature, As no woman else in this day living, And if the very truth I shall confess, She is to me an evil that is endless.

FATHER. If that thou thinkest thyself alone Only to lead this irksome life, Thou may'st learn what grief, sorrow and moan, Socrates had with Xantippe his wife[373]; Her husband full oft she taunted and checked, And, as the book saith, unhonestly mocked.

SON. I cannot tell what was Socrates wife, But mine I do know, alas, too well; She is one that is evermore full of strife, And of all scolders beareth the bell. When she speaketh best, then brawleth her tongue; When she is still, she fighteth apace; She is an old witch, though she be young: No mirth with her, no joy or solace!

FATHER. I cannot, my son, thy state redress; Me thy father thou didst refuse; Wherefore now help thy own foolishness, And of thy wife no longer muse.

SON. My wife went forth into the country With certain gossips to make good cheer, And bad me at home still to be, That at her return she might find me there: And if that she do take me from home,[374] My bones, alas, she will make to crackle, And me her husband, as a stark mome,[375] With knocking and mocking she will handle; And, therefore, if I may not here remain, Yet, loving father, give me your reward, That I may with speed ride home again, That to my wife's words have some regard.

FATHER. If that at the first thou wouldest have been ordered, And done as thy father counselled thee, So wretched a life had never chanced, Whereof at this present thou complainest to me; But yet come on, to my house we will be going, And there thou shalt see what I will give:— A little to help thy need living, Since that in such penury thou dost live; And that once done, thou must hence again, For I am not he that will thee retain.

[Here the Rich Man and his Son go out, and in cometh the Perorator.[376]


This Interlude here, good gentle audience, Which presently before you we have played, Was set forth with such care and diligence, As by us truly might well be shewed. Short it is, I deny not, and full of brevity, But if ye mark thereof the matter, Then choose ye cannot but see plainly, How pain and pleasure be knit together. By this little play the father is taught After what manner his child to use, Lest that through cockering[377] at length he be brought His father's commandment to refuse; Here he may learn a witty[378] lesson Betimes to correct his son being tender, And not let him be lost and undone With wantonness, of mischief the mother; For as long as the twig is gentle and pliant (Every man knoweth this by experience), With small force and strength it may be bent, Putting thereto but little diligence; But after that it waxeth somewhat bigger, And to cast his branches largely beginneth, It is scant the might of all thy power, That one bough thereof easily bendeth: This twig to a child may well be applied, Which, in his childhood and age of infancy, With small correction may be amended, Embracing the school with heart and body, Who afterward, with overmuch liberty, And ranging abroad with the bridle of will, Despiseth all virtue, learning, and honesty, And also his father's mind to fulfil: Whereby at the length it so falleth out That this the young stripling, after that day Runs into confusion without any doubt, And like for evermore quite to decay. Wherefore take heed, all ye that be parents, And follow a part after my counsel; Instruct your children and make them students, That unto all goodness they do not rebel; Remember what writeth Solomon the wise: Qui parcit virgae, odit filium. Therefore for as much as ye can devise, Spare not the rod, but follow wisdom: Further, ye young men and children also, Listen to me and hearken a while, What in few words for you I will show Without any flattery, fraud, or guile. This rich man's son whom we did set forth Here evidently before our eyes, Was (as it chanced) nothing worth: Given to all noughtiness, vice, and lies. The cause whereof was this for a truth: His time full idly he did spend, And would not study in his youth, Which might have brought him to a good end; His father's commandment he would not obey, But wantonly followed his fantasy, For nothing that he could do or say Would bring this child to honesty. And at the last (as here ye might see) Upon a wife he fixed his mind, Thinking the same to be felicity, When indeed misery came behind; For by this wife he carefully[379] lived, Who under his father did want nothing, And in such sort was hereby tormented, That ever anon he went lamenting. His father did will him lightness[380] to leave, And only to give himself unto study, But yet unto virtue he would not cleave, Which is commodious for soul and body. You heard that by sentences ancient and old, He stirred his son as he best thought; But he, as an unthrift stout and bold, His wholesome counsel did set at nought; And since that he despised his father, God unto him did suddenly then send Such poverty with a wife and grief together, That shame and sorrow was his end. Wherefore to conclude, I warn you all By your loving parents always be ruled, Or else be well assured of such a fall, As unto this young man worthily chanced. Worship God daily, which is the chief thing, And his holy laws do not offend: Look that ye truly serve the king, And all your faults be glad to amend: Moreover, be true of hand and tongue, And learn to do all things that be honest, For no time so fit, as when ye be young, Because that age only is the aptest. I have no more to speak at this season, For very good will these things I did say, Because I do see that virtue is geason[381] With most men and children at this day.

[Here the rest of the Players come in, and kneel down all together, each of them saying one of these verses:

And last of all to make an end, O God, to thee we most humbly pray, That to Queen Elizabeth thou do send Thy lively path and perfect way! Grant her in health to reign With us many years most prosperously, And after this life for to attain The eternal bliss, joy, and felicity! Our bishops, pastors, and ministers also, The true understanding of thy word, Both night and day, now mercifully show, That their life and preaching may godly accord. The lords of the council and the nobility, Most heavenly father, we thee desire With grace, wisdom, and godly policy Their hearts and minds always inspire. And that we thy people, duly considering The power of our queen and great auctority, May please thee and serve her without feigning, Living in peace, rest, and tranquillity.



Why doth the world study vain glory to attain, The prosperity whereof is short and transitory, Whose mighty power doth fall down again, Like earthen pots, that breaketh suddenly? Believe rather words that be written in ice, Than the wretched world with his subtlety, Deceitful in gifts, men only to entice, Destitute of all sure credence and fidelity. Give credit more to men of true judgments Than to the worldly renown and joys, Replenished with dreams and vain intents, Abounding in wicked and naughty toys. Where is now Salomon, in wisdom so excellent? Where is now Samson, in battle so strong? Where is now Absalom, in beauty resplendent? Where is now good Jonathas, hid so long? Where is now Caesar, in victory triumphing? Where is now Dives, in dishes so dainty? Where is now Tully, in eloquence exceeding? Where is now Aristotle, learned so deeply? What emperors, kings, and dukes in times past, What earls and lords, and captains of war, What popes and bishops, all at the last In the twinkling of an eye are fled so far? How short a feast is this worldly joying? Even as a shadow it passeth away, Depriving a man of gifts everlasting, Leading to darkness and not to day! O meat of worms, O heap of dust, O like to dew, climb not too high! To live to-morrow thou canst not trust, Therefore now betime help the needy. The fleshly beauty, whereat thou dost wonder, In holy Scripture is likened to hay, And as a leaf in a stormy weather, So is man's life blowen clean away. Call nothing thine that may be lost: The world doth give and take again, But set thy mind on the Holy Ghost; Despite the world that is so vain!



[The title of the old copy is: A new and Pleasaunt enterlude intituled the mariage of Witte and Science. Imprinted at London in Flete Streete, neare vnto sainct Dunstones churche by Thomas Marshe. 4 deg., black letter.

There is no date, but the size is a small 4to, and it probably appeared in 1570, having been licensed in 1569-70 to Marsh. Some further particulars of the play, now first reprinted from the only known copy in the Malone collection at Oxford, may be found in Hazlitt's "Handbook," 1867, p. 465; Collier's "Extr. from the Stat. Reg.," i. 204; and Collier's "Hist. Engl. Dram. Poetry," ii. 341-7, where there is a somewhat long review of the piece, with extracts. Mr Collier, who bestows considerable praise on this interlude, observes: —"The moral play of 'The Marriage of Wit and Science' contains a remarkable external feature not belonging to any other piece of this class that I remember to have met with: it is regularly divided into five acts, and each of the scenes is also marked." The anonymous author appears to have borrowed to some extent from the older performance by John Redford, printed from a MS. by the Shakespeare Society in 1848; but the two productions must, nevertheless, be regarded as distinct and independent.]




[ACT I.]


Grand lady, mother of every mortal thing: Nurse of the world, conservative of kind: Cause of increase, of life and soul the spring; At whose instinct the noble heaven doth wind, To whose award all creatures are assigned, I come in place to treat with this my son, For his avail how he the path may find, Whereby his race in honour he may run: Come, tender child, unripe and green for age, In whom the parent sets her chief delight, Wit is thy name, but far from wisdom sage, Till tract of time shall work and frame aright, This peerless brain, not yet in perfect plight: But when it shall be wrought, methinks I see, As in a glass beforehand with my sight, A certain perfect piece of work in thee, And now so far as I [can] guess by signs, Some great attempt is fixed in thy breast: Speak on, my son, whereto thy heart inclines, And let me deal to set thy heart at rest. He salves the sore, that knows the patient best: As I do thee, my son, my chiefest care, In whom my special praise and joy doth rest; To me therefore these thoughts of thine declare.

WIT. Nature, my sovereign queen and parent passing dear, Whose force I am enforced to know and 'knowledge everywhere, This care of mine, though it be bred within my breast, Yet it is not so ripe as yet to breed me great unrest, So run I to and fro with hap luck as I find, Now fast, now loose: now hot, now cold: inconstant as the wind, I feel myself in love, yet not inflamed so, But causes move me now and then to let such fancies go, Which causes prevailing sets each thing else in doubt Much like the nail, that last came in, and drives the former out. Wherefore my suit is this: that it would please your grace To settle this unsettled head in some assured place: To lead me through the thick, to guide me all the way, To point me where I may achieve my most desired pray, For now again of late I kindle in desire, And pleasure pricketh forth my youth to feel a greater fire. What though I be too young to show her sport in bed, Yet are there many in this land that at my years do wed, And though I wed not yet, yet am I old enou' To serve my lady to my power, and to begin to woo.

NATURE. What is that lady, son, which thus thy heart doth move?

WIT. A lady, whom it might beseem high Jove himself to love.

NATURE. Who taught thee her to love, or hast thou seen her face?

WIT. Nor this nor that, but I heard men talk of her apace.

NATURE. What is her name?

WIT. Reason is her sire, Experience her dame, The lady now is in her flower, and Science is her name. Lo, where she dwells; lo, where my heart is all possest; Lo, where my body would abide; lo, where my soul doth rest. Her have I borne good-will these many years tofore, But now she lodgeth in my thought a hundred parts the more, And since I do persuade myself that this is she, Which ought above all earthly wights to be most dear to me; And since I wot not how to compass my desire, And since for shame I cannot now nor mind not to retire, Help on, I you beseech, and bring this thing about Without your hurt to my great ease, and set all out of doubt.

NATURE. Thou askest more than is in me to give, More than thy cause, more than thy state, will bear, They are two things to able thee to live, And to live so, that none should be thy peer, The first from me proceedeth everywhere; But this by toil and practice of the mind, Is set full far, God wot, and bought full dear, By those that seek the fruit thereof to find, To match thee then with Science in degree, To knit that knot that few may reach unto, I tell thee plain, it lieth not in me. Why should I challenge that I cannot do? But thou must take another way to woo, And beat thy brain, and bend thy curious head, Both ride and run, and travel to and fro, If thou intend that famous dame to wed.

WIT. You name yourself the lady of this world.

NATURE. It is true.

WIT. And can there be within this world a thing too hard for you?

NATURE. My power it is not absolute in jurisdiction, For I cognise another lord above, That hath received unto his disposition The soul of man, which he of special love To gifts of grace and learning eke doth move. A work so far beyond my reach and call, That into part of praise with him myself to show Might soon procure my well-deserved fall: He makes the frame, and [I] receive it so, No jot therein altered for my head; And as I it receive, I let it go, Causing therein such sparkles to be bred, As he commits to me, by whom I must be led: Who guides me first, and in me guides the rest, All which in their due course and kind are spread Of gifts from me such as may serve them best, To thee, son Wit, he will'd me to inspire, The love of knowledge and certain seeds divine, Which ground might be a mean to bring thee here, If thereunto thyself thou wilt incline: The massy gold the cunning hand makes fine: Good grounds are till'd, as well as are the worst, The rankest flower will ask a springing time; So is man's wit unperfit at the first.

WIT. If cunning be the key and well of wordly[382] bliss Me-thinketh God might at the first as well endue all with this.

NATURE. As cunning is the key of bliss, so it is worthy praise: The worthiest things are won with pain in tract of time always.

WIT. And yet right worthy things there are, you will confess, I trow, Which notwithstanding at our birth God doth on us bestow.

NATURE. There are; but such as unto you, that have the great to name, I rather that bestow, than win thereby immortal fame.

WIT. Fain would I learn what harm or detriment ensued, If any man were at his birth with these good gifts endued.

NATURE. There should be nothing left, wherein men might excel, No blame for sin, no praise to them that had designed well: Virtue should lose her price, and learning would abound; And as man would admire the thing, that each-where might be found. The great [e]state, that have of me and fortune what they will, Should have no need to look to those, whose heads are fraught with skill. The meaner sort, that now excels in virtues of the mind, Should not be once accepted there, where now they succour find. For great men should be sped of all, and would have need of none, And he that were not born to land should lack to live upon. These and five thousand causes mo, which I forbear to tell, The noble virtue of the mind have caused there to dwell, Where none may have access, but such as can get in Through many double doors: through heat, through cold, through thick and thin.

WIT. Suppose I would address myself to seek her out, And to refuse no pain that lieth thereabout; Should I be sure to speed?

NATURE. Trust me, and have no doubt, Thou canst not choose but speed with travail and with time: These two are they that must direct thee how to climb.

WIT. With travail and with time? must they needs join in one?

NATURE. Nor that nor this can do thee good, if they be took alone.

WIT. Time worketh all with ease, and gives the greatest dint: In him soft water drops can hollow hardest flint. Again with labour by itself great matters compass'd be, Even at a gird, in very little time or none we see. Wherefore in my conceit good reason it is, Either this without that to look, or that without this.

NATURE. Set case thou didst attempt to climb Parnassus hill: Take time five hundred thousand years and longer, if thou will, Trowest thou to touch the top thereof by standing still? Again work out thy heart, and spend thyself with toil: Take time withal, or else I dare assure thee of the foil.

WIT. Madam, I trust I have your licence and your leave, With your good-will and so much help as you to me can give; With further aid also, when you shall spy your time, To make a proof to give attempt this famous hill to climb; And now I here request your blessing and your prayer; For sure, before I sleep, I will to yonder fort repair.

NATURE. I bless thee here with all such gifts as nature can bestow, And for thy sake I would they were as many hundred mo. Take there withal this child, to wait upon thee still: A bird of mine, some kin to thee: his name is Will.

WIT. Welcome to me, my Will, what service canst thou do?

WILL. All things forsooth, sir, when me list, and more too.

WIT. But whether[383] wilt thou list, when I shall list, I trow?

WILL. Trust not to that; peradventure yea, peradventure no.

WIT. When I have need of thee, thou wilt not serve me so.

WILL. If ye bid me run, perhaps I will go.

WIT. Cock's soul, this is a boy for the nonce amongst twenty mo!

WILL. I am plain, I tell you, at a word and a blow.

WIT. Then must I prick you, child, if you be drown'd in sloth.

NATURE. Agree, you twain, for I must leave you both; Farewell, my son: farewell, mine own good Will, Be ruled by Wit, and be obedient still; Force thee I cannot, but as far as lies in me, I will help thy master to make a good servant of thee. Farewell— [Exit.

WIT. Adieu, lady mother, with thanks for all your pain; And now let me bethink myself again and eke again, To match with Science is the thing that I have took in hand: A matter of more weight, I see, than I did understand. Will must be won to this, or else it will be hard; Will must go break the matter first, or else my game[384] is marr'd, Sir boy, are you content to take such part for me, As God shall send, and help it forth as much as lies in thee?

WILL. Yea, master, by his wounds, or else cut off his head.

WIT. Come then, and let us two devise what trace were best to tread; Nature is on my side, and Will my boy is fast. There is no doubt I shall obtain my joys at last.




WIT. What, Will, I say, Will boy, come again, foolish elf!

WILL. I cry you mercy, sir, you are a tall man yourself.

WIT. Such a crackbrain as thou art, I never saw the like to it.

WILL. Truth, in respect of you, that are nothing else but Wit!

WIT. Canst thou tell me thy errand, because thou art gone so soon?

WILL. I can remember a long tale of a man in the moon, With such a circumstance and such flim-flam? I will tell, at a word, whose servant I am: Wherefore I come, and what I have to say, And call for her answer, before I come away. What, should I make a broad tree of every little shrub, And keep her a great while with a tale of a tub?

WIT. Yet thou must commend me to be rich, lusty, pleasant, and wise.

WILL. I cannot commend you, but I must make twenty lies. Rich, quoth you? that appeareth by the port that you keep: Even as rich as a new-shorn sheep! Of pleasant conceits, ten bushels to the peck, Lusty like a herring, with a bell about his neck, Wise as a woodcock: as brag as a bodylouse, A man of your hands, to match with a mouse! How say you, are not these proper qualities to praise you with?

WIT. Leave these mad toys of thine, and come to the pith: One part of the errand should have been To give her this picture of mine to be seen, And to request her the same to accept, Safely until my coming to be kept, Which I suspend till thy return, and then, If it like her ladyship to appoint me where and when, I will wait upon her gladly out of hand.

WILL. Sir, let me alone: your mind I understand. I will handle the matter, so that you shall owe me thanks, But what, if she find fault with these spindle-shanks, Or else with these black spots on your nose?

WIT. In faith, sir boy, this talk deserveth blows.

WILL. You will not misuse your best servant, I suppose? For, by his nails and by his fingers too, I will mar your marriage, if you do so.[385]

WIT. I pray thee go thy ways, and leave this clatter.

WILL. First shall I be so bold to break to you a matter.

WIT. Tush, thou art disposed to spend words in waste, And yet thou knowest this business asketh haste.

WILL. But even two words, and then I am gone.

WIT. If it be worth the hearing, say on.

WILL. I would not have you think that I, for my part, From my promise or from your service will depart, But yet now and then it goeth to my heart, When I think how this marriage may be to my smart.

WIT. Why so?

WILL. I would tell you the cause, if I durst for shame.

WIT. Speak hardily what thou wilt without any blame.

WILL. I am not disposed as yet to be tame, And therefore I am loth to be under a dame, Now you are a bachelor, a man may soon win you, Me-thinks there is some good fellowship in you; We may laugh and be merry at board and at bed, You are not so testy as those that be wed. Mild in behaviour and loth to fall out, You may run, you may ride and rove round about, With wealth at your will and all thing at ease, Free, frank and lusty: easy to please. But when you be clogged and tied by the toe, So fast that you shall not have pow'r to let go, You will tell me another lesson soon after. And cry peccavi too, except your luck be the better. Then farewell good fellowship! then come at a call! Then wait at an inch, you idle knaves all: Then sparing and pinching, and nothing of gift: No talk with our master, but all for his thrift! Solemn and sour, and angry as a wasp, All things must be kept under lock and hasp; All[386] that which will make me to fare full ill. All your care shall be to hamper poor Will.

WIT. I warrant thee, for that take thou no thought, Thou shalt be made of, whosoever be set at nought: As dear to me, as mine own dear brother, Whosoever be one, thou shalt be another.

WILL. Yea, but your wife will play the shrew; perde, it is she that I fear.

WIT. The message will cause her some favour to bear, For my sake and thy sake, and for her own likewise, If thou use thyself discreetly in this enterprise.

WILL. She hath a father, a testy, sour old man: I doubt lest he and I shall fall out now and then.

WIT. Give him fair words, forbear him for his age; Thou must consider him to be ancient and sage. Shew thyself officious and serviceable still, And then shall Reason make very much of Will.

WILL. If your wife be ever complaining, how then?

WIT. My wife will have nothing to do with my men.

WILL. If she do, believe her not in any wise. And when you once perceive her stomach to arise, Then cut her short at the first, and you shall see A marvellous virtue in that medicine to be. Give her not the bridle for a year or twain, And you shall see her bridle it without a rein, Break her betimes, and bring her under by force, Or else the grey mare will be the better horse.

WIT. If thou have done, begone, and spend no time in vain.

WILL. Where shall I find you, when I come again?

WIT. At home.

WILL. Good, enough, take your ease: let me alone with this. [Exit Wit. Surely a treasure of all treasures it is To serve such a master, as I hope him to be, And to have such a servant as he hath of me; For I am quick, nimble, proper and nice; He is full good, gentle, sober and wise. He is full both to chide or to check, And I am as willing to serve at a beck, He orders me well, and speaks me so fair, That for his sake no travail I must spare. But now am I come to the gate of this lady, I will pause a while to frame mine errant finely. And lo, where she cometh; yet will I not come nigh her; But among these fellows will I stand to eye her.



SCIENCE. My parents, ye know, how many fall and lapse,[387] That do ascribe to me the cause of their mishaps? How many seek, that come too short of their desire: How many do attempt, that daily do retire. How many rove about the mark on every side: How many think to hit, when they are much too wide: How many run too far, how many light too low: How few to good effect their travail do bestow! And how all these impute their losses unto me: Should I have joy to think of marriage now, trow ye? What saith[388] the world? my love alone, say they, Is bought so dear, that life and goods for it must pay Strong youth must spend itself, and yet, when all is done, We hear of few or none, that have this lady won. On me they make outcries, and charge me with the blood Of those, that for my sake adventure life and good. This grief doth wound my heart so, that suitors more as yet I see no cause nor reason why I should admit.

REASON. Ah, daughter, say not so; there is great cause and skill, For which you should mislike to live unmarried thus alone, What comfort can you have remaining thus unknown? How shall the commonwealth by you advanced be, If you abide inclosed here, where no man may you see? It is not for your state yourself to take the pain: All strangers shall resort to you to entertain. To suffer free access of all that come and go: To be at each man's call: to travel to and fro. What then, since God hath plac'd such treasure in your breast, Wherewith so many thousand think by you to be refresh'd, Needs must you have some one of high and secret trust, By whom these things may be well-order'd and discuss'd. To him you must disclose the depth of all your thought; By him, as time shall serve, all matters must be wrought: To him alone you must content yourself to be at call; Ye must be his, he must be yours, he must be all in all.

EXPERIENCE. My lord, your father tells you truth, perde, And that in time yourself shall find and try.

SCIENCE. I could allege more than as yet I have said, But I must yield, and you must be obey'd. Fall out, as it will: there is no help, I see; Some one or other in time must marry me.

WILL. In time? nay, out of hand, madam, if it please you; In faith, I know a younker that will ease you, A lively young gentleman, as fresh as any flower, That will not stick to marry you within this hour.

SCIENCE. Such haste might haply turn to waste to some; But I pray thee, my pretty boy, whence art thou come?

WILL. If it please your good ladyship to accept me so, I have a solemn message to tell, ere I go; Not anything in secret your honour to stain, But in the presence and hearing of you twain.

REASON. Speak.

WILL. The lady of this world, which lady Nature hight, Hath one a peerless son, in whom she taketh delight, On him she chargeth men to be attendant still, Both kin[389] to her: his name is Wit, my name is Will. The noble child doth feel the force of Cupid's flame, And seeketh[390] now for ease, by counsel of his dame. His mother taught him first to love, while he was young: Which love with age increaseth sore, and waxeth wondrous strong; For very fame displays your bounty more and more, And at this pinch he burneth so as never heretofore. Not fantasies forsooth,[391] not vain and idle toys of love; Not hope of that which commonly doth other suitors move; But fixed fast good-will that never shall relent, And virtue's force, that shines in you, bad him give this attempt. He hath no need of wealth, he wooes not for your good; His kindred is such he need not to seek to match with noble blood, Such store of friends that, where he list, he may command, And none so hardy to presume his pleasure to withstand. Yourself it is, [madam,] your virtue and your grace, Your noble gifts, your endless praise in every place: You alone, I say, the mark that he would hit, The hoped joy, the dearest prey, that can befal to Wit.

EXPERIENCE. I have not heard a message more trimly done.

SCIENCE. Nor I; what age art thou of, my good son?

WILL. Between eleven and twelve, madam, more or less.

REASON. He hath been instructed this errand, as I guess.

SCIENCE. How old is the gentleman thy master, canst thou tell?

WILL. Seventeen or thereabout, I wot not very well.

SCIENCE. What stature, of what making, what kind of port bears he?

WILL. Such as your ladyship cannot mislike, trust me. Well-grown, well-made, a stripling clean and tall: Well-favoured, somewhat black, and manly therewithal; And that you may conceive his personage the better, Lo, here of him the very shape and lively picture! This hath he sent to you to view and to behold: I dare advouch no joint therein, no jot, to be controll'd.

SCIENCE. In good faith, I thank thy master with my heart; I perceive that nature in him hath done her part.

WILL. Farther, if it please your honour to know: My master would be glad to run, ride, or go, At your commandment to any place far or near, To have but a sight of your ladyship there. I beseech you appoint him the place and the hour, You shall see, how readily to you he will scour.

REASON. Do so.

EXPERIENCE. Yea, in any wise, daughter; for, hear you me, He seemeth a right worthy and trim young man to be.

SCIENCE. Commend me then to Wit, and let him understand, That I accept with all my heart this present at his hand, And that I would be glad, when he doth see his time, To hear and see him face to face within this house of mine. Then may he break his mind, and talk with me his fill; Till then, adieu, both he and thou, mine own sweet little Will.

[Exeunt Science, Reason, Experience.


WILL. Ah flattering quean, how neatly she can talk, How minionly she trips, how sadly she can walk! Well, wanton, yet beware that ye be sound and sure, Fair words are wont ofttimes fair women to allure, Now must I get me home, and make report of this To him, that thinks it long till my return, i-wis.




WIT. Say'st thou me so, boy? will she have me indeed?

WILL. Be of good cheer, sir; I warrant you to speed.

WIT. Did both her parents speak well to her of me?

WILL. As heart can think; go on, and you shall see.

WIT. How took she the picture? How liketh she my person?

WILL. She never had done toting[392] and looking thereon.

WIT. And when must I come to talk with her my fill?

WILL. Whensoever you please, and as oft as you will.

WIT. O my sweet boy, how shall I recompense Thy faithful heart and painful diligence? My hope, my stay, my wealth, the key of all my joy!

WILL. I pray you, sir, call me your man, and not your boy.

WIT. Thou shalt be what thou wilt, all in all.

WILL. Promise me faithfully that, if your wife brawl, Or set her father to check me out of measure, You will not see me abused to their pleasure.

WIT. Give me thy hand, take here my faith and troth, I will maintain thee, howsoever the world goeth.


The house of SCIENCE. WILL, WIT; also REASON and SCIENCE behind.

WIT. What shall we do? Shall we stand lingering here?

WILL. If you be a man, press in and go near.

WIT. What, if there be some other suitor there?

WILL. And if there be, yet need you not to fear; Until I bring his head to you upon a spear. I will not look you in the face, nor in your sight appear.

REASON. Nay, Wit, advise yourself, and pause a while, Or else this haste of yours will you beguile.

SCIENCE. No haste but good, take time and learn to fight, Learn to assault, learn to defend a right: Your match[393] is monstrous to behold and full of might, Whom you must vanquish, not by force, but by sleight.

WIT. Madam, stand to your promise; if I win, I am sped, Am I not?

SCIENCE. Yea, truly.

WILL. Good enough, if we fight not, I would we were dead, No man shall stay us, that bears a head.

EXPERIENCE. Young man, a word or twain, and then adieu: Your years are few, your practice green and new; Mark what I say, and ye shall find it true: You are the first that shall this rashness rue. Be ruled here: our counsel do thereafter. Lay good ground, your work shall be the faster. This headlong haste may sooner miss than hit; Take heed both of witless[394] Will and wilful Wit. We have within a gentleman, our retainer and our friend, With servants twain, that do on him attend— Instruction, Study, Diligence: these three At your commandment in this attempt shall be. Hear them instead of us, and as they shall devise, So hardily cast your[395] cards in this enterprise. I will send them to you, and leave you for now.

WIT. The more company the merrier; boy, what say'st thou?

WILL. It is a good fault to have more than enou': I care not, so as we may put the knaves down, I would we were at it, I pass not how soon.

WIT. If it shall please you to send those three hither, We will follow your counsel, and go together.

WILL. I warrant her a shrew, whosoever be another, God make the daughter good, I like not the mother. [Aside.

WIT.[396] Yet would not I for no good to have forgone her. [Aside.

WILL. Marry, sir, indeed she talks and takes on her, Like a dame, nay, like a duchess or a queen, With such a solemnity as I have not seen.

REASON. She is a queen, I tell thee, in her degree.

WILL. Let her be what she list, with a vengeance, for me! I will keep me out of her reach, if I can. [Aside.

REASON. If this marriage go forward, thou must be her man.

WILL. Marriage or marriage not, beshrew me then, I have but one master, and I will serve no mo, And if he anger me, I will forsake him too.

REASON. She shall not hurt thee, unless her cause be juster.

WILL. By the faith of my body, sir, I intend not to trust her.


WILL. Take[397] me this woman, that talks so roundly, That be so wise, that reason so soundly: That look so narrow, that speak so shrill: Their words are not so cursed, but their deeds are ill.

REASON. It is but thy fancy, I see no such thing in her.

WILL. Perhaps you had never occasion to try her?

REASON. That were great marvel in so many years.

WILL. She hath won the mastery of you, it appears.

WIT. Well, quiet yourself; thou shalt take no wrong, Methink our three companions tarry very long.



INSTRUCTION. Sir, we are come to know your pleasure.

REASON. You are come in good time, Instruction, our treasure; This gentleman craveth your acquaintance and aid. What you may do for him, let him not be denay'd.

WIT. Welcome, good fellows, will ye dwell with me?

DILIGENCE. If all parties be pleased, content are we.

WIT. Welcome, Instruction, with all my heart.

WILL. What, three new servants! then, farewell, my part. [Aside.

INSTRUCTION. I heartily thank you, and look what I can do; I[398] shall be always ready to pleasure you.

REASON. Consider and talk together with these, And you shall find in your travail great ease. Take here of me, before I take my leave, This glass of crystal clear, which I you give, Accept it, and reserve it for my sake most sure, Much good to you in time it may procure. Behold yourself therein, and view and pry: Mark what defects it will discover and descry; And so with judgment ripe and curious eye, What is amiss endeavour to supply, Farewell—

WIT. Farewell to you, right honourable sir: And commend me to my love, my heart's desire, Let her think on me, when she sees me not, and wish me well.

WILL. Farewell, master Reason, think upon us, when you see us not, And in any wise let not Will be forgot.

WIT. Since I must take advice and counsel of you three, I must intreat you all to dwell in house with me, And look what order you shall prescribe as needful, To keep the same you shall find me as heedful: Come.


WIT. [I] go.




WILL. Tush, tush, Instruction, your talk is of no force: You tell us a tale of a roasted horse, Which, by his wounds, except we set to it, As fast as we make, these[399] fellows will undo it, Their talk is nothing but soft, and fair, and tarry; If you follow their counsel, you shall never marry.

INSTRUCTION. To follow our counsel your charge and promise was.

WIT. I would I had never known you, by the mass. Must I look so long, and spend my life with toil? Nay, sure, I will either win it, or take the foil.

STUDY. The surer is your ground, the better you shall bear it.

WILL. Ground us no ground; let him win it, and wear it.

INSTRUCTION. Good sir, be ruled, and leave this peevish elf.

WIT. I had even as lief ye bad me hang myself; Leave him? no, no, I would you all knew, You be but loiterers to him, my Will tells me true. I could be content with a week, yea a month or twain, But three or four years! marry, that were a pain. So long to keep me, and lie like a hog.

WILL. A life, with all my heart, I would not wish a dog.

WIT. Will a week serve?


WIT. A month?

STUDY. Neither.

WIT. No?

STUDY. Not so.

INSTRUCTION. No, nor so many mo.

WIT. Then, farewell all, for, as I hope to thrive, I will prove him, ere I sleep, if I be alive, And if ye be mine, and good fellows all three, Go thither out of hand, and take your chance with me.

INSTRUCTION. For my part, I know I can do you no good.

WILL. You are a proper man of your hands, by the rood! Yet well fare him, that never his master forsaketh.

WIT. What say'st thou, Study?

STUDY. My head acheth.

WIT. Out upon thee, coward! speak, Diligence.

DILIGENCE. Against Instruction's mind, I am loth to go hence, Yet I will make one, rather than you should lack.

WIT. Perhaps we may find them at this time in bed.

WILL. So much the rather look you to be sped, Care for no more, but once to come within her, And when you have done, then let another win her.

WIT. To come within her, child? what meanest thou by that?

WILL. One mass for a penny, you know what is what!

WIT. Heard you ever such a counsel of such a Jack sprat?

WILL. Why, sir, do ye think to do any good, If ye stand in a corner like Robin Hood? Nay, you must stout it, and face it out with the best: Set on a good countenance, make the most of the least, Whosoever skip in, look to your part, And while you live, beware of a false heart.

WIT. Both blame and shame rash boldness doth breed.

WILL. You must adventure both: spare to speak, spare to speed. What tell you me of shame? it is shame to steal a horse.

WIT. More haste than good speed makes many fare the worse.

WILL. But he that takes not such time, while he may, Shall leap at a whiting, when time is away.

WIT. But he that leaps, before he look, good son, May leap in the mire, and miss when he hath done.

[Enter Science, Season, and Experience.

SCIENCE. Methink I hear the voice of Will, Wit's boy.

WIT. I see her come, her sorrow and my joy, My salve and yet my sore, my comfort and my care, The causer of my wound, and yet the well of my welfare; O happy wight, that have the saint of your request, O hopeless hope, that holdeth me from that which likes me best! Twixt hope and fear I stand, to mar or else to make, This day to be relieved quite, or else my death-wound to take.

REASON. Here let us rest awhile, and pause all three:

EXPERIENCE. Daughter, sit down, belike this same is he.

WILL. Be of good cheer, sir; be ruled by me. Women are best pleased, till they be used homely, Look her in the face, and tell your tale stoutly.

WIT. O pearl of passing price, sent down from God on high, The sweetest beauty to entice, that hath been seen with eye: The well of wealth to all, that no man doth annoy: The key of kingdoms and the seal of everlasting joy. The treasure and the store, whom all good things began, The nurse of lady Wisdom's love, the link of man and man. What words shall me suffice to utter my desire? What heat of talk shall I devise, for to express my fire? I burn and yet I freeze, I flame and cool as fast, In hope to win and for to lese, my pensiveness doth last; Why should my dull spirit appal my courage so? O, salve my sore, or sle me quite, by saying yea or no! You are the mark at whom I shoot to hit or miss, My life it stays on you alone, to you my suit it is, A suit[400] not much unmeet with you some grace[401] to find, Dame Nature's son, my name is Wit, that fancieth you by kind, And here I come this day to wait and to attend, In hope to have my hoped prey,[402] or else my life to end.

SCIENCE. Good cause there is, wherefore I should embrace, This loving heart which you have borne to me, And glad I am, that we be both in place, Each one of us each other's looks to see. Your picture and your person doth agree, Your prince-like port and eke your noble face; Wherein so many signs of virtue be: That I must needs be moved in your case.

REASON. Friend Wit, are you the man indeed, which you intend?[403] Can you be well content, until your life doth end, To join and knit most sure with this my daughter here, And unto her alone your fixed faith to bear?

WIT. As I am bent to this, so let my suit be sped, If I do fail, ten thousand plagues and more light on my head!

EXPERIENCE. There are, that promise fair, and mean as well, As any heart[404] can think, or tongue can tell: Which at the first are hot, and kindle in desire, But in one month or twain quite quenched is the fire. Such is the train[405] of youth, whom fancy's force doth lead, Whose love is only at the plunge, and cannot long proceed.

WIT. Credit my words, and ye shall find me true.

EXPERIENCE. Suppose you keep not touch, who should this bargain rue?

WIT. I will be sworn here solemnly before you both.

EXPERIENCE. Who breaketh promise, will not stick likewise to break his oath.

WIT. I will be bound in all that ever I can make.

EXPERIENCE. What good were that to us, if we th'advantage take?

WIT. Will neither promise serve, nor oath, nor bands?[406] What other assurance will ye ask at my hands?

WILL. My master is a gentleman, I tell you, and his word, I would you knew it, shall with his deeds accord.

REASON. We know not whom to trust, the world is so ill.

WILL. Indeed, sir, as you say, you may mend, when ye will; But in good earnest, madam, speak—off or on? Shall we speed at your hand, or shall we be gone? I love not these delays; say so, if we shall have you, If not, say no; and let another crave you.

WIT. Soft and fair, sir boy, you talk, you wot not what. [Aside.

WILL. Can you abide to be driven off with this and that, Can they ask any more than good assurance at your hands? [Aside.

EXPERIENCE. All is now too little, son, as the matter stands.

WILL. If all be too little, both goods and lands, I know not what will please you, except Darby's bands.[407]

SCIENCE. I have an enemy, my friend Wit, a mortal foe to me; And therewithal the greatest plague that can befal to thee.

WIT. Must I fight with him?

REASON. Can you fight, if need be?

WILL. If any such thing fall, count the charge to me, Trouble not yourself.

WIT. Hold thy peace, elf.

SCIENCE. Hear out my tale; I have a mortal foe, That lurketh in the wood hereby, as you come and go; This monstrous giant bears a grudge to me and mine, And will attempt to keep thee back from this desire of thine. The bane of youth, the root of ruin and distress:[408] Devouring those that sue to me, his name is Tediousness. No sooner he espies the noble Wit begin: To stir and pain itself the love of me to win. But forth he steps, and with strong hands by might and main. He beats and buffets down the force and liveliness of brain. That done, in deep despair he drowns him villainously: Ten thousand suitors in a year are cast away thereby. Now, if your mind be surely fixed so, That for no toil nor cost my love you will forego, Bethink you well, and of this monster take good heed, Then may you have with me the greater hope to speed. Herein use good advice, to make you strong and stout, To feud and keep him off a while, until his rage be out. Then when you feel yourself well able to prevail, Bid you the battle, and that so courageously assail. If you can win the field, present me with his head, I ask no more, and I forthwith shall be your own to bed.

WIT. Ill might I thrive, and lack that likes me best, If I be not a scourge to him, that breedeth[409] your unrest. Madam, assure yourself, he lives not in the land, With whom I would not in your cause encounter hand to hand. And as for Tediousness that wretch, your common foe, Let me alone, we twain shall cope, before I sleep, I trow.

WILL. Lustily spoken, let me claw thee by the back: How say you now sir, here are three against twain!

STUDY. Go, that go list, I will at home remain, I have more need to take a nap in my bed.

WILL. Do so, and, hear you, couch a cod's-head! [Aside.

INSTRUCTION. Well, since it will none otherwise frame, Let us twain, Study, return[410] from whence we came.

STUDY. Agreed. [Exit.

WIT. And let us three bestir ourselves like men; Unlikely things are brought to pass by courage now and then. My Will, be always prest, and ready at an inch, To save thyself, to succour me, to help at every pinch. Both twain on either side assault him, if ye can, And you shall see me in the middes, how I will play the man; This is the deadly den, as far as I perceive, Approach we near, and valiantly let us the onset give. Come forth, thou monster fell, in drowsy darkness hid, For here is Wit, Dame Nature's son, that doth thee battle bid.



TEDIOUSNESS. What princox have we here, that dares me to assail? Alas, poor boy, and weenest thou against me to prevail? Full small was he thy friend, whoever sent thee hither, For I must drive thee back with shame, or slay thee altogether.

WIT. Great boast, small roast: I warrant thee, do thy best, Thy head must serve my turn this day to set my heart at rest.

WILL. And I must have a leg of thee, if I can catch it.

TEDIOUSNESS. First I must quite this brain of thine, if I can reach it. [Fight, strike at Will. WIT. Well shifted, Will; now have at thee, sir knave.

TEDIOUSNESS. These friscols shall not serve your turn for all your vaunts so brave; Ho, ho! did I not tell thee thou cam'st to thy pain!

DILIGENCE. Help, help, help, our master is slain.

WILL. Help, help, help, &c.

TEDIOUSNESS. Where are these lusty bloods, that make their match with me? Here lies a pattern for them all, to look at and to see. To teach them to conspire against my force and might; To promise, for their woman's love, to vanquish me in fight: Now let them go and crake, how wisely they have sped, Such is the end of those, that seek this curious dame to wed.

[Exit TED.



WILL. Rub and chafe him: For God's love, haste; see, lo, where he doth lie.

RECREATION. He is not cold, I warrant him, I.


_Give a leg, give an arm; arise, arise. Hold up[411] thy head, lift us thy eyes,

1 A leg to stand upright:

2 An arm to fight amain,

1 The head to hold thy brains in plight,

2 The eyes to look again. Awake, ye drowned powers. Ye sprites, for-dull with toil: Resign to me this care of yours, And from dead sleep recoil. Think not upon your loathsome luck, But arise, and dance with us a-pluck.

[Both sing, Give a leg, as is before.

2 What, though thou hast not hit The top of thy desire, Time is not so far spent as yet To cause thee to retire. Arise, and ease thyself of pain, And make thee strong to fight again_.


Let not thy foes rejoice; Let not thy friends lament; Let not thy lady's rueful voice In sobs and sighs be spent; Thy faith is plight, forget it not, Twixt her and thee to knit the knot.


_Give a leg, &c. This is no deadly wound: It may be cured well. See here what physic we have found Thy sorrows to expel.

[Wit lifting himself up, sitting on the ground.

The way is plain, the mark is fair, Lodge not thyself in deep despair_.

WIT.[412] What noise is this, that ringeth in my ears, Her noise that grieveth my mishap with tears? Ah, my mishap, my desperate mishap, On[413] whom ill-fortune poureth down all mishap at a clap, What shall become of me, where shall I hide my head? O, what a death is it to live for him that would be dead? But since it chanceth so, whatever wight thou be, That findeth me here in heavy plight, go, tell her this from me. Causeless I perish here, and cause to curse I have. The time that erst I lived to love, and now must die her slave, The match was over-much for me, she understood, Alas, why hath she this delight to lap in guiltless blood? How did I give her cause to show me this despite, To match me where she wist full well I should be slain in fight? But go, and tell her plain, although too late for me, Accursed be the time and hour, which first I did her see. Accursed be the wight, that will'd me first thereto, And cursed be they all at once, that had therewith to do. Now get thee hence in haste, and suffer me to die. Whom scornful chance and lawless love have slain most traitorously.

RECREATION. O noble Wit, the miracle of God and eke of Nature: Why cursest thou thyself and every other creature? What causeth thee thine innocent dear lady to accuse? Who would lament it more than she to hear this woful news? Why wilt thou die, whereas thou may'st be sure of health? Whereas thou seest a plain pathway to worship and to wealth. Not every foil doth make a fall, nor every soil doth slay; Comfort thyself: be sure thy luck will mend from day to day.

WILL. These gentlewomen of good skill are[414] come to make you sound, They know which way to salve your sore, and how to cure your wound. Good sir, be ruled by her then, and pluck your spirit to you: There is no doubt, but you shall find your loving lady true.

WIT. Ah, Will, art thou alive that doth my heart some ease, The sight of thee, sweet boy, my sorrows doth appease: How hast thou 'scap'd? what fortune thee befel?

WILL. It was no trusting to my hands, my heels did serve me well, I ran with open mouth to cry for help amain, And, as good fortune would, I hit upon these twain.

WIT. I thank both thee and them; what will ye have me do?

RECREATION. To rise and dance a little space with us two.

WIT. What then?

RECREATION. That done, repair again to Study and Instruction; Take better hold by their advice, your foe to set upon.

WIT. Can any recompense recover this my fall?

RECREATION. My life to yours, it may be mended all.

WIT. Speak, Will.

WILL. I have no doubt, sir, it shall be, as you would wish.

WIT. But yet this repulse of mine they will lay in my dish.

RECREATION. No man shall let them know thereof, unless yourself do it.

WIT. On that condition, a God's name, fall we to it.

WILL. Nay, stand we to it, and let us fall no more.

WIT. Will dancing serve, and I will dance, until my bones be sore, Pipe us up a galliard, minstrel, to begin.

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