The Works of John Dryden, Vol. 6 (of 18) - Limberham; Oedipus; Troilus and Cressida; The Spanish Friar
by John Dryden
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Limberham, or the Kind Keeper, a Comedy Epistle Dedicatory to Lord Vaughan

OEdipus, a Tragedy Preface

Troilus and Cressida, or Truth found too late, a Tragedy Epistle Dedicatory to the Earl of Sunderland Preface

The Spanish Friar, or the Double Discovery Epistle Dedicatory to Lord Haughton

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[Greek: Ken me phages epi rhizan, homos eti karpophoreso. Anthologia Dentera.]

Hic nuptarum insanit amoribus; hic meretricum: Omnes hi metuunt versus; odere poetas. HORAT.


The extreme indelicacy of this play would, in the present times furnish ample and most just grounds for the unfavourable reception it met with from the public. But in the reign of Charles II. many plays were applauded, in which the painting is, at least, as coarse as that of Dryden. "Bellamira, or the Mistress," a gross translation by Sir Charles Sedley of Terence's "Eunuchus," had been often represented with the highest approbation. But the satire of Dryden was rather accounted too personal, than too loose. The character of Limberham has been supposed to represent Lauderdale, whose age and uncouth figure rendered ridiculous his ungainly affectation of fashionable vices. Mr Malone intimates a suspicion, that Shaftesbury was the person levelled at, whose lameness and infirmities made the satire equally poignant. In either supposition, a powerful and leading nobleman was offended, to whose party all seem to have drawn, whose loose conduct, in that loose age, exposed them to be duped like the hero of the play. It is a singular mark of the dissolute manners of those times, that an audience, to whom matrimonial infidelity was nightly held out, not only as the most venial of trespasses, but as a matter of triumphant applause, were unable to brook any ridicule, upon the mere transitory connection formed betwixt the keeper and his mistress. Dryden had spared neither kind of union; and accordingly his opponents exclaimed, "That he lampooned the court, to oblige his friends in the city, and ridiculed the city, to secure a promising lord at court; exposed the kind keepers of Covent Garden, to please the cuckolds of Cheapside; and drolled on the city Do-littles, to tickle the Covent-Garden Limberhams[1]." Even Langbaine, relentless as he is in criticism, seems to have considered the condemnation of Limberham as the vengeance of the faction ridiculed.

"In this play, (which I take to be the best comedy of his) he so much exposed the keeping part of the town, that the play was stopt when it had but thrice appeared on the stage; but the author took a becoming care, that the things that offended on the stage, were either altered or omitted in the press. One of our modern writers, in a short satire against keeping, concludes thus:

"Dryden, good man, thought keepers to reclaim, Writ a kind satire, call'd it Limberham. This all the herd of letchers straight alarms; From Charing-Cross to Bow was up in arms: They damn'd the play all at one fatal blow, And broke the glass, that did their picture show."

Mr Malone mentions his having seen a MS. copy of this play, found by Lord Bolingbroke among the sweepings of Pope's study, in which there occur several indecent passages, not to be found in the printed copy. These, doubtless, constituted the castrations, which, in obedience to the public voice, our author expunged from his play, after its condemnation. It is difficult to guess what could be the nature of the indecencies struck out, when we consider those which the poet deemed himself at liberty to retain.

The reader will probably easily excuse any remarks upon this comedy. It is not absolutely without humour, but is so disgustingly coarse, as entirely to destroy that merit. Langbaine, with his usual anxiety of research, traces back a few of the incidents to the novels of Cinthio Giraldi, and to those of some forgotten French authors.

Plays, even of this nature, being worth preservation, as containing genuine traces of the manners of the age in which they appear, I cannot but remark the promiscuous intercourse, which, in this comedy and others, is represented as taking place betwixt women of character, and those who made no pretensions to it. Bellamira in Sir Charles Sedley's play, and Mrs Tricksy in the following pages, are admitted into company with the modest female characters, without the least hint of exception or impropriety. Such were actually the manners of Charles the II.d's time, where we find the mistresses of the king, and his brothers, familiar in the highest circles. It appears, from the evidence in the case of the duchess of Norfolk for adultery, that Nell Gwyn was living with her Grace in familiar habits; her society, doubtless, paving the way for the intrigue, by which the unfortunate lady lost her rank and reputation[2]. It is always symptomatic of a total decay of morals, where female reputation neither confers dignity, nor excites pride, in its possessor; but is consistent with her mingling in the society of the libertine and the profligate.

Some of Dryden's libellers draw an invidious comparison betwixt his own private life and this satire; and exhort him to

Be to vices, which he practised, kind.

But of the injustice of this charge on Dryden's character, we have spoken fully elsewhere. Undoubtedly he had the licence of this, and his other dramatic writings, in his mind, when he wrote the following verses; where the impurity of the stage is traced to its radical source, the debauchery of the court:

Then courts of kings were held in high renown, Ere made the common brothels of the town. There virgins honourable vows received, But chaste, as maids in monasteries, lived. The king himself, to nuptial rites a slave, No bad example to his poets gave; And they, not bad, but in a vicious age, Had not, to please the prince, debauched the stage. Wife of Bath's Tale.

"Limberham" was acted at the Duke's Theatre in Dorset-Garden; for, being a satire upon a court vice, it was deemed peculiarly calculated for that play-house. The concourse of the citizens thither is alluded to in the prologue to "Marriage-a-la-Mode." Ravenscroft also, in his epilogue to the "Citizen turned Gentleman," acted at the same theatre, disowns the patronage of the courtiers who kept mistresses, probably because they Constituted the minor part of his audience:

From the court party we hope no success; Our author is not one of the noblesse, That bravely does maintain his miss in town, Whilst my great lady is with speed sent down, And forced in country mansion-house to fix. That miss may rattle here in coach-and-six.

The stage for introducing "Limberham" was therefore judiciously chosen, although the piece was ill received, and withdrawn after being only thrice represented. It was printed in 1678.

Footnotes: 1. Reasons for Mr Bayes changing his Religion, p. 24.

2. See State Trials, vol. viii. pp. 17, 18.






I cannot easily excuse the printing of a play at so unseasonable a time[2], when the great plot of the nation, like one of Pharaoh's lean kine, has devoured its younger brethren of the stage. But however weak my defence might be for this, I am sure I should not need any to the world for my dedication to your lordship; and if you can pardon my presumption in it, that a bad poet should address himself to so great a judge of wit, I may hope at least to escape with the excuse of Catullus, when he writ to Cicero:

Gratias tibi maximas Catullus Agit, pessimus omnium, poeta; Tanto pessimus omnium poeta, Quanto tu optimns omnium patronus.

I have seen an epistle of Flecknoe's to a nobleman, who was by some extraordinary chance a scholar; (and you may please to take notice by the way, how natural the connection of thought is betwixt a bad poet and Flecknoe) where he begins thus: Quatuordecim jam elapsi sunt anni, &c.; his Latin, it seems, not holding out to the end of the sentence: but he endeavoured to tell his patron, betwixt two languages which he understood alike, that it was fourteen years since he had the happiness to know him. It is just so long, (and as happy be the omen of dulness to me, as it is to some clergymen and statesmen!) since your lordship has known, that there is a worse poet remaining in the world, than he of scandalous memory, who left it last[3]. I might enlarge upon the subject with my author, and assure you, that I have served as long for you, as one of the patriarchs did for his Old-Testament mistress; but I leave those flourishes, when occasion shall serve, for a greater orator to use, and dare only tell you, that I never passed any part of my life with greater satisfaction or improvement to myself, than those years which I have lived in the honour of your lordship's acquaintance; if I may have only the time abated when the public service called you to another part of the world, which, in imitation of our florid speakers, I might (if I durst presume upon the expression) call the parenthesis of my life.

That I have always honoured you, I suppose I need not tell you at this time of day; for you know I staid not to date my respects to you from that title which now you have, and to which you bring a greater addition by your merit, than you receive from it by the name; but I am proud to let others know, how long it is that I have been made happy by my knowledge of you; because I am sure it will give me a reputation with the present age, and with posterity. And now, my lord, I know you are afraid, lest I should take this occasion, which lies so fair for me, to acquaint the world with some of those excellencies which I have admired in you; but I have reasonably considered, that to acquaint the world, is a phrase of a malicious meaning; for it would imply, that the world were not already acquainted with them. You are so generally known to be above the meanness of my praises, that you have spared my evidence, and spoiled my compliment: Should I take for my common places, your knowledge both of the old and the new philosophy; should I add to these your skill in mathematics and history; and yet farther, your being conversant with all the ancient authors of the Greek and Latin tongues, as well as with the modern—I should tell nothing new to mankind; for when I have once but named you, the world will anticipate all my commendations, and go faster before me than I can follow. Be therefore secure, my lord, that your own fame has freed itself from the danger of a panegyric; and only give me leave to tell you, that I value the candour of your nature, and that one character of friendliness, and, if I may have leave to call it, kindness in you, before all those other which make you considerable in the nation[4].

Some few of our nobility are learned, and therefore I will not conclude an absolute contradiction in the terms of nobleman and scholar; but as the world goes now, 'tis very hard to predicate one upon the other; and 'tis yet more difficult to prove, that a nobleman can be a friend to poetry. Were it not for two or three instances in Whitehall, and in the town, the poets of this age would find so little encouragement for their labours, and so few understanders, that they might have leisure to turn pamphleteers, and augment the number of those abominable scribblers, who, in this time of licence, abuse the press, almost every day, with nonsense, and railing against the government.

It remains, my lord, that I should give you some account of this comedy, which you have never seen; because it was written and acted in your absence, at your government of Jamaica. It was intended for an honest satire against our crying sin of keeping; how it would have succeeded, I can but guess, for it was permitted to be acted only thrice. The crime, for which it suffered, was that which is objected against the satires of Juvenal, and the epigrams of Catullus, that it expressed too much of the vice which it decried. Your lordship knows what answer was returned by the elder of those poets, whom I last mentioned, to his accusers:

—castum esse decet pium poetam Ipsum. Versiculos nihil necesse est: Qui tum denique habent salem ac leporem Si sint molliculi et parum pudici.

But I dare not make that apology for myself; and therefore have taken a becoming care, that those things which offended on the stage, might be either altered, or omitted in the press; for their authority is, and shall be, ever sacred to me, as much absent as present, and in all alterations of their fortune, who for those reasons have stopped its farther appearance on the theatre. And whatsoever hindrance it has been to me in point of profit, many of my friends can bear me witness, that I have not once murmured against that decree. The same fortune once happened to Moliere, on the occasion of his "Tartuffe;" which, notwithstanding, afterwards has seen the light, in a country more bigot than ours, and is accounted amongst the best pieces of that poet. I will be bold enough to say, that this comedy is of the first rank of those which I have written, and that posterity will be of my opinion. It has nothing of particular satire in it; for whatsoever may have been pretended by some critics in the town, I may safely and solemnly affirm, that no one character has been drawn from any single man; and that I have known so many of the same humour, in every folly which is here exposed, as may serve to warrant it from a particular reflection. It was printed in my absence from the town, this summer, much against my expectation; otherwise I had over-looked the press, and been yet more careful, that neither my friends should have had the least occasion of unkindness against me, nor my enemies of upbraiding me; but if it live to a second impression, I will faithfully perform what has been wanting in this. In the mean time, my lord, I recommend it to your protection, and beg I may keep still that place in your favour which I have hitherto enjoyed; and which I shall reckon as one of the greatest blessings which can befall,

My Lord,

Your Lordship's most obedient, Faithful servant, JOHN DRYDEN.

Footnotes: 1. John, Lord Vaughan, was the eldest surviving son of Richard, Earl of Carbery, to which title he afterwards succeeded. He was a man of literature, and president of the Royal Society from 1686 to 1689. Dryden was distinguished by his patronage as far back as 1664, being fourteen years before the acting of this play. Lord Vaughan had thus the honour of discovering and admiring the poet's genius, before the public applause had fixed his fame; and, probably better deserved the panegyric here bestowed, than was Usual among Dryden's patrons. He wrote a recommendatory copy of verses, which are prefixed to "The Conquest of Granada." Mr Malone informs us, that this accomplished nobleman died at Chelsea, on 16th January, 1712-13.

2. The great popish plot, that scene of mystery and blood, broke out in August 1678.

3. Flecknoe was a Roman Catholic priest, very much addicted to scribbling verses. His name has been chiefly preserved by our author's satire of "Mack-Flecknoe;" in which he has depicted Shadwell, as the literary son and heir of this wretched poetaster. A few farther particulars concerning him may be found prefixed to that poem. Flecknoe, from this dedication, appears to have been just deceased. The particular passage referred to has not been discovered; even Langbaine had never seen it: but Mr Malone points out a letter of Flecknoe to the Cardinal Barberini, whereof the first sentence is in Latin, and the next in English. Our author, in an uncommon strain of self-depreciation, or rather to give a neat turn to his sentence, has avouched himself to be a worse poet than Flecknoe. But expressions of modesty in a dedication, like those of panegyric, are not to be understood literally. As in the latter, Dryden often strains a note beyond Ela, so, on the present occasion, he has certainly sounded the very base string of humility. Poor Flecknoe, indeed, seems to have become proverbial, as the worst of poets. The Earl of Dorset thus begins a satire on Edward Howard:

Those damned antipodes to common sense, Those toils to Flecknoe, pr'ythee, tell me whence Does all this mighty mass of dulness spring, Which in such loads thou to the stage dost bring?

4. There is a very flat and prosaic imitation of this sentiment in the Duke of Buckingham's lines to Pope:

And yet so wondrous, so sublime a thing As the great Iliad, scarce could make me sing; Except I justly could at once commend A good companion, and as firm a friend; One moral, or a mere well-natured deed, Does all desert in sciences exceed.

Thus prose may be humbled, as well as exalted; into poetry.


True wit has seen its best days long ago; It ne'er looked up, since we were dipt in show; When sense in doggrel rhimes and clouds was lost, And dulness flourished at the actor's cost. Nor stopt it here; when tragedy was done, Satire and humour the same fate have run, And comedy is sunk to trick and pun. Now our machining lumber will not sell, And you no longer care for heaven or hell; What stuff will please you next, the Lord can tell. Let them, who the rebellion first began To wit, restore the monarch, if they can; Our author dares not be the first bold man. He, like the prudent citizen, takes care, To keep for better marts his staple ware; His toys are good enough for Sturbridge fair. Tricks were the fashion; if it now be spent, 'Tis time enough at Easter, to invent; No man will make up a new suit for Lent. If now and then he takes a small pretence, To forage for a little wit and sense, Pray pardon him, he meant you no offence. Next summer, Nostradamus tells, they say, That all the critics shall be shipped away, And not enow be left to damn a play. To every sail beside, good heaven, be kind; But drive away that swarm with such a wind, That not one locust may be left behind!


ALDO, an honest, good-natured, free-hearted old gentleman of the town. WOODALL, his son, under a false name; bred abroad, and now returned from travel. LIMBERHAM, a tame, foolish keeper, persuaded by what is last said to him, and changing next word. BRAINSICK, a husband, who, being well conceited of himself, despises his wife: vehement and eloquent, as he thinks; but indeed a talker of nonsense. GERVASE, WOODALL'S man: formal, and apt to give good counsel. GILES, WOODALL'S cast servant.

MRS SAINTLY, an hypocritical fanatic, landlady of the boarding-house. MRS TRICKSY, a termagant kept mistress. MRS PLEASANCE, supposed daughter to MRS SAINTLY: Spiteful and satirical; but secretly in love with WOODALL. MRS BRAINSICK. JUDITH, a maid of the house.

SCENE—A Boarding-house in Town.





SCENE I.—An open Garden-House; a table in it, and chairs.


Wood. Bid the footman receive the trunks and portmantua; and see them placed in the lodgings you have taken for me, while I walk a turn here in the garden.

Gerv. It is already ordered, sir. But they are like to stay in the outer-room, till the mistress of the house return from morning exercise.

Wood. What, she's gone to the parish church, it seems, to her devotions!

Gerv. No, sir; the servants have informed me, that she rises every morning, and goes to a private meeting-house; where they pray for the government, and practise against the authority of it.

Wood. And hast thou trepanned me into a tabernacle of the godly? Is this pious boarding-house a place for me, thou wicked varlet?

Gerv. According to human appearance, I must confess, it is neither fit for you, nor you for it; but have patience, sir; matters are not so bad as they may seem. There are pious bawdy-houses in the world, or conventicles would not be so much frequented. Neither is it impossible, but a devout fanatic landlady of a boarding-house may be a bawd.

Wood. Ay, to those of her own church, I grant you, Gervase; but I am none of those.

Gerv. If I were worthy to read you a lecture in the mystery of wickedness, I would instruct you first in the art of seeming holiness: But, heaven be thanked, you have a toward and pregnant genius to vice, and need not any man's instruction; and I am too good, I thank my stars, for the vile employment of a pimp.

Wood. Then thou art even too good for me; a worse man will serve my turn.

Gerv. I call your conscience to witness, how often I have given you wholesome counsel; how often I have said to you, with tears in my eyes, master, or master Aldo—

Wood. Mr Woodall, you rogue! that is my nomme de guerre. You know I have laid by Aldo, for fear that name should bring me to the notice of my father.

Gerv. Cry you mercy, good Mr Woodall. How often have I said,—Into what courses do you run! Your father sent you into France at twelve years old; bred you up at Paris, first in a college, and then at an academy: At the first, instead of running through a course of philosophy, you ran through all the bawdy-houses in town: At the latter, instead of managing the great horse, you exercised on your master's wife. What you did in Germany, I know not; but that you beat them all at their own weapon, drinking, and have brought home a goblet of plate from Munster, for the prize of swallowing a gallon of Rhenish more than the bishop.

Wood. Gervase, thou shalt be my chronicler; thou losest none of my heroic actions.

Gerv. What a comfort are you like to prove to your good old father! You have run a campaigning among the French these last three years, without his leave; and now he sends for you back, to settle you in the world, and marry you to the heiress of a rich gentleman, of whom he had the guardianship, yet you do not make your application to him.

Wood. Pr'ythee, no more.

Gerv. You are come over, have been in town above a week incognito, haunting play-houses, and other places, which for modesty I name not; and have changed your name from Aldo to Woodall, for fear of being discovered to him: You have not so much as inquired where he is lodged, though you know he is most commonly in London: And lastly, you have discharged my honest fellow-servant Giles, because—

Wood. Because he was too saucy, and was ever offering to give me counsel: Mark that, and tremble at his destiny.

Gerv. I know the reason why I am kept; because you cannot be discovered by my means; for you took me up in France, and your father knows me not.

Wood. I must have a ramble in the town: When I have spent my money, I will grow dutiful, see my father, and ask for more. In the mean time, I have beheld a handsome woman at a play, I am fallen in love with her, and have found her easy: Thou, I thank thee, hast traced her to her lodging in this boarding-house, and hither I am come, to accomplish my design.

Gerv. Well, heaven mend all. I hear our landlady's voice without; [Noise.] and therefore shall defer my counsel to a fitter season.

Wood. Not a syllable of counsel: The next grave sentence, thou marchest after Giles. Woodall's my name; remember that.

Enter Mrs SAINTLY.

Is this the lady of the house?

Gerv. Yes, Mr Woodall, for want of a better, as she will tell you.

Wood. She has a notable smack with her! I believe zeal first taught the art of kissing close. [Saluting her.

Saint. You are welcome, gentleman. Woodall is your name?

Wood. I call myself so.

Saint. You look like a sober discreet gentleman; there is grace in your countenance.

Wood. Some sprinklings of it, madam: We must not boast.

Saint. Verily, boasting is of an evil principle.

Wood. Faith, madam—

Saint. No swearing, I beseech you. Of what church are you?

Wood. Why, of Covent-Garden church, I think.

Gerv. How lewdly and ignorantly he answers! [Aside] She means, of what religion are you?

Wood. O, does she so?—Why, I am of your religion, be it what it will; I warrant it a right one: I'll not stand with you for a trifle; presbyterian, independent, anabaptist, they are all of them too good for us, unless we had the grace to follow them.

Saint. I see you are ignorant; but verily, you are a new vessel, and I may season you. I hope you do not use the parish-church.

Wood. Faith, madam—cry you mercy; (I forgot again) I have been in England but five days.

Saint. I find a certain motion within me to this young man, and must secure him to myself, ere he see my lodgers. [Aside.]—O, seriously, I had forgotten; your trunk and portmantua are standing in the hall; your lodgings are ready, and your man may place them, if he please, while you and I confer together.

Wood. Go, Gervase, and do as you are directed. [Exit GER.

Saint. In the first place, you must know, we are a company of ourselves, and expect you should live conformably and lovingly amongst us.

Wood. There you have hit me. I am the most loving soul, and shall be conformable to all of you.

Saint. And to me especially. Then, I hope, you are no keeper of late hours.

Wood. No, no, my hours are very early; betwixt three and four in the morning, commonly.

Saint. That must be amended; but, to remedy the inconvenience, I will myself sit up for you. I hope, you would not offer violence to me?

Wood. I think I should not, if I were sober.

Saint. Then, if you were overtaken, and should offer violence, and I consent not, you may do your filthy part, and I am blameless.

Wood. [Aside.] I think the devil's in her; she has given me the hint again.—Well, it shall go hard, but I will offer violence sometimes; will that content you?

Saint. I have a cup of cordial water in my closet, which will help to strengthen nature, and to carry off a debauch: I do not invite you thither; but the house will be safe a-bed, and scandal will be avoided.

Wood. Hang scandal; I am above it at those times.

Saint. But scandal is the greatest part of the offence; you must be secret. And I must warn you of another thing; there are, besides myself, two more young women in my house.

Wood. [Aside.] That, besides herself, is a cooling card.—Pray, how young are they?

Saint. About my age: some eighteen, or twenty, or thereabouts.

Wood. Oh, very good! Two more young women besides yourself, and both handsome?

Saint. No, verily, they are painted outsides; you must not cast your eyes upon them, nor listen to their conversation: You are already chosen for a better work.

Wood. I warrant you, let me alone: I am chosen, I.

Saint. They are a couple of alluring wanton minxes.

Wood. Are they very alluring, say you? very wanton?

Saint. You appear exalted, when I mention those pit-falls of iniquity.

Wood. Who, I exalted? Good faith, I am as sober, a melancholy poor soul!—

Saint. I see this abominable sin of swearing is rooted in you. Tear it out; oh, tear it out! it will destroy your precious soul.

Wood. I find we two shall scarce agree: I must not come to your closet when I have got a bottle; for, at such a time, I am horribly given to it.

Saint. Verily, a little swearing may be then allowable: You may swear you love me, it is a lawful oath; but then, you must not look on harlots.

Wood. I must wheedle her, and whet my courage first on her; as a good musician always preludes before a tune. Come, here is my first oath. [Embracing her.

Enter ALDO.

Aldo. How now, Mrs Saintly! what work have we here towards?

Wood. [Aside.] Aldo, my own natural father, as I live! I remember the lines of that hide-bound face: Does he lodge here? If he should know me, I am ruined.

Saint. Curse on his coming! he has disturbed us. [Aside.] Well, young gentleman, I shall take a time to instruct you better.

Wood. You shall find me an apt scholar.

Saint. I must go abroad upon some business; but remember your promise, to carry yourself soberly, and without scandal in my family; and so I leave you to this gentleman, who is a member of it. [Exit SAINT.

Aldo. [Aside.] Before George, a proper fellow, and a swinger he should be, by his make! the rogue would humble a whore, I warrant him.—You are welcome, sir, amongst us; most heartily welcome, as I may say.

Wood. All's well: he knows me not.—Sir, your civility is obliging to a stranger, and may befriend me, in the acquaintance of our fellow-lodgers.

Aldo. Hold you there, sir: I must first understand you a little better; and yet, methinks, you should be true to love.

Wood. Drinking and wenching are but slips of youth: I had those two good qualities from my father.

Aldo. Thou, boy! Aha, boy! a true Trojan, I warrant thee! [Hugging him.] Well, I say no more; but you are lighted into such a family, such food for concupiscence, such bona roba's!

Wood. One I know, indeed; a wife: But bona roba's, say you?

Aldo. I say, bona roba's, in the plural number.

Wood. Why, what a Turk Mahomet shall I be! No, I will not make myself drunk with the conceit of so much joy: The fortune's too great for mortal man; and I a poor unworthy sinner.

Aldo. Would I lie to my friend? Am I a man? Am I a christian? There is that wife you mentioned, a delicate little wheedling devil, with such an appearance of simplicity; and with that, she does so undermine, so fool her conceited husband, that he despises her!

Wood. Just ripe for horns: His destiny, like a Turk's, is written in his forehead.[1]

Aldo. Peace, peace! thou art yet ordained for greater things. There is another, too, a kept mistress, a brave strapping jade, a two-handed whore!

Wood. A kept mistress, too! my bowels yearn to her already: she is certain prize.

Aldo. But this lady is so termagant an empress! and he is so submissive, so tame, so led a keeper, and as proud of his slavery as a Frenchman. I am confident he dares not find her false, for fear of a quarrel with her; because he is sure to be at the charges of the war. She knows he cannot live without her, and therefore seeks occasions of falling out, to make him purchase peace. I believe she is now aiming at a settlement.

Wood. Might not I ask you one civil question? How pass you your time in this noble family? For I find you are a lover of the game, and I should be loth to hunt in your purlieus.

Aldo. I must first tell you something of my condition. I am here a friend to all of them; I am their factotum, do all their business; for, not to boast, sir, I am a man of general acquaintance: There is no news in town, either foreign or domestic, but I have it first; no mortgage of lands, no sale of houses, but I have a finger in them.

Wood. Then, I suppose, you are a gainer by your pains.

Aldo. No, I do all gratis, and am most commonly a loser; only a buck sometimes from this good lord, or that good lady in the country: and I eat it not alone, I must have company.

Wood. Pray, what company do you invite?

Aldo. Peace, peace, I am coming to you: Why, you must know I am tender-natured; and if any unhappy difference have arisen betwixt a mistress and her gallant, then I strike in, to do good offices betwixt them; and, at my own proper charges, conclude the quarrel with a reconciling supper.

Wood. I find the ladies of pleasure are beholden to you.

Aldo. Before George, I love the poor little devils. I am indeed a father to them, and so they call me: I give them my counsel, and assist them with my purse. I cannot see a pretty sinner hurried to prison by the land-pirates, but nature works, and I must bail her; or want a supper, but I have a couple of crammed chickens, a cream tart, and a bottle of wine to offer her.

Wood. Sure you expect some kindness in return.

Aldo. Faith, not much: Nature in me is at low water-mark; my body's a jade, and tires under me; yet I love to smuggle still in a corner; pat them down, and pur over them; but, after that, I can do them little harm.

Wood. Then I'm acquainted with your business: You would be a kind of deputy-fumbler under me.

Aldo. You have me right. Be you the lion, to devour the prey; I am your jackall, to provide it for you: There will be a bone for me to pick.

Wood. Your humility becomes your age. For my part, I am vigorous, and throw at all.

Aldo. As right as if I had begot thee! Wilt thou give me leave to call thee son?

Wood. With all my heart.

Aldo. Ha, mad son!

Wood. Mad daddy!

Aldo. Your man told me, you were just returned from travel: What parts have you last visited?

Wood. I came from France.

Aldo. Then, perhaps, you may have known an ungracious boy of mine there.

Wood. Like enough: Pray, what's his name?

Aldo. George Aldo.

Wood. I must confess I do know the gentleman; satisfy yourself, he's in health, and upon his return.

Aldo. That's some comfort: But, I hear, a very rogue, a lewd young fellow.

Wood. The worst I know of him is, that he loves a wench; and that good quality he has not stolen. [Music at the Balcony over head: Mrs TRICKSY and JUDITH appear.]—Hark! There's music above.

Aldo. 'Tis at my daughter Tricksy's lodging; the kept mistress I told you of, the lass of mettle. But for all she carries it so high, I know her pedigree; her mother's a sempstress in Dog-and-Bitch yard, and was, in her youth, as right as she is.

Wood. Then she's a two-piled punk, a punk of two descents.

Aldo. And her father, the famous cobler, who taught Walsingham to the black-birds. How stand thy affections to her, thou lusty rogue?

Wood. All on fire: A most urging creature!

Aldo. Peace! they are beginning.



'Gainst keepers we petition, Who would inclose the common: 'Tis enough to raise sedition In the free-born subject, woman. Because for his gold, I my body have sold, He thinks I'm a slave for my life; He rants, domineers, He swaggers and swears, And would keep me as bare as his wife.


'Gainst keepers we petition, &c. 'Tis honest and fair, That a feast I prepare; But when his dull appetite's o'er, I'll treat with the rest Some welcomer guest, For the reckoning was paid me before.

Wood. A song against keepers! this makes well for us lusty lovers.

Trick. [Above.] Father, father Aldo!

Aldo. Daughter Tricksy, are you there, child? your friends at Barnet are all well, and your dear master Limberham, that noble Hephestion, is returning with them.

Trick. And you are come upon the spur before, to acquaint me with the news.

Aldo. Well, thou art the happiest rogue in a kind keeper! He drank thy health five times, supernaculum,[2] to my son Brain-sick; and dipt my daughter Pleasance's little finger, to make it go down more glibly:[3] And, before George, I grew tory rory, as they say, and strained a brimmer through the lily-white smock, i'faith.

Trick. You will never leave these fumbling tricks, father, till you are taken up on suspicion of manhood, and have a bastard laid at your door: I am sure you would own it, for your credit.

Aldo. Before George, I should not see it starve, for the mother's sake: For, if she were a punk, she was good-natured, I warrant her.

Wood. [Aside.] Well, if ever son was blest with a hopeful father, I am.

Trick. Who is that gentleman with you?

Aldo. A young monsieur returned from travel; a lusty young rogue; a true-milled whoremaster, with the right stamp. He is a fellow-lodger, incorporate in our society: For whose sake he came hither, let him tell you.

Wood. [Aside.] Are you gloating already? then there's hopes, i'faith.

Trick. You seem to know him, father.

Aldo. Know him! from his cradle—What's your name?

Wood. Woodall.

Ald. Woodall of Woodall; I knew his father; we were contemporaries, and fellow-wenchers in our youth.

Wood. [Aside.] My honest father stumbles into truth, in spite of lying.

Trick. I was just coming down to the garden-house, before you came. [TRICKSY descends.

Aldo. I am sorry I cannot stay to present my son, Woodall, to you; but I have set you together, that's enough for me. [Exit.

Wood. [Alone.] 'Twas my study to avoid my father, and I have run full into his mouth: and yet I have a strong hank upon him too; for I am privy to as many of his virtues, as he is of mine. After all, if I had an ounce of discretion left, I should pursue this business no farther: but two fine women in a house! well, it is resolved, come what will on it, thou art answerable for all my sins, old Aldo—

Enter TRICKSY, with a box of essences.

Here she comes, this heir-apparent of a sempstress, and a cobler! and yet, as she's adorned, she looks like any princess of the blood. [Salutes her.

Trick. [Aside.] What a difference there is between this gentleman, and my feeble keeper, Mr Limberham! he's to my wish, if he would but make the least advances to me.—Father Aldo tells me, sir, you are a traveller: What adventures have you had in foreign countries?

Wood. I have no adventures of my own, can deserve your curiosity; but, now I think on it, I can tell you one that happened to a French cavalier, a friend of mine, at Tripoli.

Trick. No wars, I beseech you: I am so weary of father Aldo's Loraine and Crequi.

Wood. Then this is as you would desire it, a love-adventure. This French gentleman was made a slave to the Dey of Tripoli; by his good qualities, gained his master's favour; and after, by corrupting an eunuch, was brought into the seraglio privately, to see the Dey's mistress.

Trick. This is somewhat; proceed, sweet sir.

Wood. He was so much amazed, when he first beheld her leaning over a balcony, that he scarcely dared to lift his eyes, or speak to her.

Trick. [Aside.] I find him now.—But what followed of this dumb interview?

Wood. The nymph was gracious, and came down to him; but with so goddess-like a presence, that the poor gentleman was thunder-struck again.

Trick. That savoured little of the monsieur's gallantry, especially when the lady gave him encouragement.

Wood The gentleman was not so dull, but he understood the favour, and was presuming enough to try if she were mortal. He advanced with more assurance, and took her fair hands: was he not too bold, madam? and would not you have drawn back yours, had you been in the sultana's place?

Trick. If the sultana liked him well enough to come down into the garden to him, I suppose she came not thither to gather nosegays.

Wood. Give me leave, madam, to thank you, in my friend's behalf, for your favourable judgment. [Kisses her hand.] He kissed her hand with an exceeding transport; and finding that she prest his at the same instant, he proceeded with a greater eagerness to her lips—but, madam, the story would be without life, unless you give me leave to act the circumstances. [Kisses her.

Trick. Well, I'll swear you are the most natural historian!

Wood. But now, madam, my heart beats with joy, when I come to tell you the sweetest part of his adventure: opportunity was favourable, and love was on his side; he told her, the chamber was more private, and a fitter scene for pleasure. Then, looking on her eyes, he found them languishing; he saw her cheeks blushing, and heard her voice faultering in a half-denial: he seized her hand with an amorous ecstacy, and— [Takes her hand.

Trick. Hold, sir, you act your part too far. Your friend was unconscionable, if he desired more favours at the first interview.

Wood. He both desired and obtained them, madam, and so will—

Trick. [A noise within.] Heavens! I hear Mr Limberham's voice: he's returned from Barnet.

Wood. I'll avoid him.

Trick. That's impossible; he'll meet you. Let me think a moment:—Mrs Saintly is abroad, and cannot discover you: have any of the servants seen you?

Wood. None.

Trick. Then you shall pass for my Italian merchant of essences: here's a little box of them just ready.

Wood. But I speak no Italian; only a few broken scraps, which I picked from Scaramouch and Harlequin at Paris.

Trick. You must venture that: When we are rid of Limberham, 'tis but slipping into your chamber, throwing off your black perriwig, and riding suit, and you come out an Englishman. No more; he's here.


Limb. Why, how now, Pug? Nay, I must lay you over the lips, to take hansel of them, for my welcome.

Trick. [Putting him back.] Foh! how you smell of sweat, dear!

Limb. I have put myself into this same unsavoury heat, out of my violent affection to see thee, Pug. Before George, as father Aldo says, I could not live without thee; thou art the purest bed-fellow, though I say it, that I did nothing but dream of thee all night; and then I was so troublesome to father Aldo, (for you must know he and I were lodged together) that, in my conscience, I did so kiss him, and so hug him in my sleep!

Trick. I dare be sworn 'twas in your sleep; for, when you are waking, you are the most honest, quiet bed-fellow, that ever lay by woman.

Limb. Well, Pug, all shall be amended; I am come home on purpose to pay old debts. But who is that same fellow there? What makes he in our territories?

Trick. You oaf you, do you not perceive it is the Italian seignior, who is come to sell me essences?

Limb. Is this the seignior? I warrant you, it is he the lampoon was made on. [Sings the tune of Seignior, and ends with, Ho, ho.

Trick. Pr'ythee leave thy foppery, that we may have done with him. He asks an unreasonable price, and we cannot agree. Here, seignior, take your trinkets, and be gone.

Wood. [Taking the box.] A dio, seigniora.

Limb. Hold, pray stay a little, seignior; a thing is come into my head of the sudden.

Trick. What would you have, you eternal sot? the man's in haste.

Limb. But why should you be in your frumps, Pug, when I design only to oblige you? I must present you with this box of essences; nothing can be too dear for thee.

Trick. Pray let him go, he understands no English.

Limb. Then how could you drive a bargain with him, Pug?

Trick. Why, by signs, you coxcomb.

Limb. Very good! then I'll first pull him by the sleeve, that's a sign to stay. Look you, Mr Seignior, I would make a present of your essences to this lady; for I find I cannot speak too plain to you, because you understand no English. Be not you refractory now, but take ready money: that's a rule.

Wood. Seignioro, non intendo Inglese.

Limb. This is a very dull fellow! he says, he does not intend English. How much shall I offer him, Pug?

Trick. If you will present me, I have bidden him ten guineas.

Limb. And, before George, you bid him fair. Look you, Mr Seignior, I will give you all these. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. Do you see, Seignior?

Wood. Seignior, si.

Limb. Lo' you there, Pug, he does see. Here, will you take me at my word?

Wood. [Shrugging up] Troppo poco, troppo poco.

Limb. A poco, a poco! why a pox on you too, an' you go to that. Stay, now I think on't, I can tickle him up with French; he'll understand that sure. Monsieur, voulez vous prendre ces dix guinees, pour ces essences? mon foy c'est assez.

Wood. Chi vala, amici: Ho di casa! taratapa, taratapa, eus, matou, meau!—[To her.] I am at the end of my Italian; what will become of me?

Trick. [To him.] Speak any thing, and make it pass for Italian; but be sure you take his money.

Wood. Seignior, io non canno takare ten guinneo possibilmente; 'tis to my losso.

Limb. That is, Pug, he cannot possibly take ten guineas, 'tis to his loss: Now I understand him; this is almost English.

Trick. English! away, you fop: 'tis a kind of lingua Franca, as I have heard the merchants call it; a certain compound language, made up of all tongues, that passes through the Levant.

Limb. This lingua, what you call it, is the most rarest language! I understand it as well as if it were English; you shall see me answer him: Seignioro, stay a littlo, and consider wello, ten guinnio is monyo, a very considerablo summo.

Trick. Come, you shall make it twelve, and he shall take it for my sake.

Limb. Then, Seignioro, for Pugsakio, addo two moro: je vous donne bon advise: prenez vitement: prenez me a mon mot.

Wood. Io losero multo; ma pergagnare il vestro costumo, datemi hansello.

Limb. There is both hansello and guinnio; tako, tako, and so good-morrow.

Trick. Good-morrow, seignior; I like your spirits very well; pray let me have all your essence you can spare.

Limb. Come, Puggio, and let us retire in secreto, like lovers, into our chambro; for I grow impatiento—bon matin, monsieur, bon matin et bon jour. [Exeunt LIMBERHAM and TRICKSY.

Wood. Well, get thee gone, 'squire Limberhamo, for the easiest fool I ever knew, next my naunt of fairies in the Alchemist[4]. I have escaped, thanks to my mistress's lingua Franca: I'll steal to my chamber, shift my perriwig and clothes; and then, with the help of resty Gervase, concert the business of the next campaign. My father sticks in my stomach still; but I am resolved to be Woodall with him, and Aldo with the women. [Exit.



Wood. Hitherto, sweet Gervase, we have carried matters swimmingly. I have danced in a net before my father, almost check-mated the keeper, retired to my chamber undiscovered, shifted my habit, and am come out an absolute monsieur, to allure the ladies. How sits my chedreux?

Gerv. O very finely! with the locks combed down, like a mermaid's on a sign-post. Well, you think now your father may live in the same house with you till doomsday, and never find you; or, when he has found you, he will be kind enough not to consider what a property you have made of him. My employment is at an end; you have got a better pimp, thanks to your filial reverence.

Wood. Pr'ythee, what should a man do with such a father, but use him thus? besides, he does journey-work under me; 'tis his humour to fumble, and my duty to provide for his old age.

Gerv. Take my advice yet; down o' your marrow bones, and ask forgiveness; espouse the wife he has provided for you; lie by the side of a wholesome woman, and procreate your own progeny in the fear of heaven.

Wood. I have no vocation to it, Gervase: A man of sense is not made for marriage; 'tis a game, which none but dull plodding fellows can play at well; and 'tis as natural to them, as crimp is to a Dutchman.

Gerv. Think on't, however, sir; debauchery is upon its last legs in England: Witty men began the fashion, and now the fops are got into it, 'tis time to leave it.

Enter ALDO.

Aldo. Son Woodall, thou vigorous young rogue, I congratulate thy good fortune; thy man has told me the adventure of the Italian merchant.

Wood. Well, they are now retired together, like Rinaldo and Armida, to private dalliance; but we shall find a time to separate their loves, and strike in betwixt them, daddy. But I hear there's another lady in the house, my landlady's fair daughter; how came you to leave her out of your catalogue?

Aldo. She's pretty, I confess, but most damnably honest; have a care of her, I warn you, for she's prying and malicious.

Wood. A twang of the mother; but I love to graff on such a crab-tree; she may bear good fruit another year.

Aldo. No, no, avoid her; I warrant thee, young Alexander, I will provide thee more worlds to conquer.

Gerv. [Aside.] My old master would fain pass for Philip of Macedon, when he is little better than Sir Pandarus of Troy.

Wood. If you get this keeper out of doors, father, and give me but an opportunity—

Aldo. Trust my diligence; I will smoke him out, as they do bees, but I will make him leave his honey-comb.

Gerv. [Aside.] If I had a thousand sons, none of the race of the Gervases should ever be educated by thee, thou vile old Satan!

Aldo. Away, boy! Fix thy arms, and whet, like the lusty German boys, before a charge: He shall bolt immediately.

Wood. O, fear not the vigorous five-and-twenty.

Aldo. Hold, a word first: Thou saidst my son was shortly to come over.

Wood. So he told me.

Aldo. Thou art my bosom friend.

Gerv. [Aside.] Of an hour's acquaintance.

Aldo. Be sure thou dost not discover my frailties to the young scoundrel: 'Twere enough to make the boy my master. I must keep up the dignity of old age with him.

Wood. Keep but your own counsel, father; for whatever he knows, must come from you.

Aldo. The truth on't is, I sent for him over; partly to have married him, and partly because his villainous bills came so thick upon me, that I grew weary of the charge.

Gerv. He spared for nothing; he laid it on, sir, as I have heard.

Wood. Peace, you lying rogue!—Believe me, sir, bating his necessary expences of women, which I know you would not have him want, in all things else, he was the best manager of your allowance; and, though I say it—

Gerv. [Aside.] That should not say it.

Wood. The most hopeful young gentleman in Paris.

Aldo. Report speaks otherwise; and, before George, I shall read him a wormwood lecture, when I see him. But, hark, I hear the door unlock; the lovers are coming out: I'll stay here, to wheedle him abroad; but you must vanish.

Wood. Like night and the moon, in the Maid's Tragedy: I into mist; you into day[5]. [Exeunt WOOD. and GER.

SCENE changes to LIMBERHAM'S apartment.


Limb. Nay, but dear sweet honey Pug, forgive me but this once: It may be any man's case, when his desires are too vehement.

Trick. Let me alone; I care not.

Limb. But then thou wilt not love me, Pug.

Aldo. How now, son Limberham? There's no quarrel towards, I hope.

Trick. You had best tell now, and make yourself ridiculous.

Limb. She's in passion: Pray do you moderate this matter, father Aldo.

Trick. Father Aldo! I wonder you are not ashamed to call him so; you may be his father, if the truth were known.

Aldo. Before George, I smell a rat, son Limberham. I doubt, I doubt, here has been some great omission in love affairs.

Limb. I think all the stars in heaven have conspired my ruin. I'll look in my almanack.—As I hope for mercy, 'tis cross day now.

Trick. Hang your pitiful excuses. 'Tis well known what offers I have had, and what fortunes I might have made with others, like a fool as I was, to throw away my youth and beauty upon you. I could have had a young handsome lord, that offered me my coach and six; besides many a good knight and gentleman, that would have parted with their own ladies, and have settled half they had upon me.

Limb. Ay, you said so.

Trick. I said so, sir! Who am I? Is not my word as good as yours?

Limb. As mine gentlewoman? though I say it, my word will go for thousands.

Trick. The more shame for you, that you have done no more for me: But I am resolved I'll not lose my time with you; I'll part.

Limb. Do, who cares? Go to Dog-and-Bitch yard, and help your mother to make footmen's shirts.

Trick. I defy you, slanderer; I defy you.

Aldo. Nay, dear daughter!

Limb. I defy her too.

Aldo. Nay, good son!

Trick. Let me alone: I'll have him cudgelled by my footman.


Saint. Bless us! what's here to do? My neighbours will think I keep a nest of unclean birds here.

Limb. You had best peach now, and make her house be thought a bawdy-house!

Trick. No, no: While you are in it, you will secure it from that scandal.—Hark hither, Mrs Saintly. [Whispers.]

Limb. Do, tell, tell, no matter for that.

Saint. Who would have imagined you had been such a kind of man, Mr Limberham! O heaven, O heaven! [Exit.

Limb. So, now you have spit your venom, and the storm's over.

Aldo. [Crying.] That I should ever live to see this day!

Trick. To show I can live honest, in spite of all mankind, I'll go into a nunnery, and that is my resolution.

Limb. Do not hinder her, good father Aldo; I am sure she will come back from France, before she gets half way over to Calais.

Aldo. Nay, but son Limberham, this must not be. A word in private;—you will never get such another woman, for love nor money. Do but look upon her; she is a mistress for an emperor.

Limb. Let her be a mistress for a pope, like a whore of Babylon, as she is.

Aldo. Would I were worthy to be a young man, for her sake! She should eat pearls, if she would have them.

Limb. She can digest them, and gold too. Let me tell you, father Aldo, she has the stomach of an ostrich.

Aldo. Daughter Tricksy, a word with you.

Trick. I'll hear nothing: I am for a nunnery.

Aldo. I never saw a woman, before you, but first or last she would be brought to reason. Hark you, child, you will scarcely find so kind a keeper. What if he has some impediment one way? Every body is not a Hercules. You shall have my son Woodall, to supply his wants; but, as long as he maintains you, be ruled by him that bears the purse.


I my own jailor was; my only foe, Who did my liberty forego; I was a prisoner, because I would be so.

Aldo. Why, look you now, son Limberham, is this a song to be sung at such a time, when I am labouring your reconcilement? Come, daughter Tricksy, you must be ruled; I'll be the peace-maker.

Trick. No, I'm just going.

Limb. The devil take me, if I call you back.

Trick. And his dam take me, if I return, except you do.

Aldo. So, now you will part, for a mere punctilio! Turn to him, daughter: Speak to her, son: Why should you be so refractory both, to bring my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave?

Limb. I'll not be forsworn, I swore first;

Trick. Thou art a forsworn man, however; for thou sworest to love me eternally.

Limb. Yes, I was such a fool, to swear so.

Aldo. And will you have that dreadful oath lie gnawing on your conscience?

Trick. Let him be damned; and so farewell for ever.—[Going.]

Limb. Pug!

Trick. Did you call, Mr Limberham?

Limb. It may be, ay; it may be, no.

Trick. Well, I am going to the nunnery; but, to shew I am in charity, I'll pray for you.

Aldo. Pray for him! fy, daughter, fy; is that an answer for a Christian?

Limb. What did Pug say? will she pray for me? Well, to shew I am in charity, she shall not pray for me. Come back, Pug. But did I ever think thou couldst have been so unkind to have parted with me? [Cries.

Aldo. Look you, daughter, see how nature works in him.

Limb. I'll settle two hundred a-year upon thee, because thou said'st thou would'st pray for me.

Aldo. Before George, son Limberham, you will spoil all, if you underbid so. Come, down with your dust, man: What, shew a base mind, when a fair lady's in question!

Limb. Well, if I must give three hundred—

Trick. No, it is no matter; my thoughts are on a better place.

Aldo. Come, there is no better place than little London. You shall not part for a trifle. What, son Limberham! four hundred a year is a square sum, and you shall give it.

Limb. It is a round sum indeed; I wish a three-cornered sum would have served her turn.—Why should you be so pervicacious now, Pug? Pray take three hundred. Nay, rather than part, Pug, it shall be so.— [She frowns.]

Aldo. It shall be so, it shall be so: Come, now buss, and seal the bargain.

Trick. [Kissing him.] You see what a good natured fool I am, Mr Limberham, to come back into a wicked world, for love of you.—You will see the writings drawn, father?

Aldo. Ay; and pay the lawyer too. Why, this is as it should be! I'll be at the charge of the reconciling supper.—[To her aside.] Daughter, my son Woodall is waiting for you.—Come away, son Limberham to the temple.

Limb. With all my heart, while she is in a good humour: It would cost me another hundred, if I should stay till Pug were in wrath again. Adieu, sweet Pug.—[Exeunt ALDO, and LIMB.]

Trick. That he should be so silly to imagine I would go into a nunnery! it is likely; I have much nun's flesh about me. But here comes my gentleman.

Enter WOODALL, not seeing her.

Wood. Now the wife's returned, and the daughter too, and I have seen them both, and am more distracted than before: I would enjoy all, and have not yet determined with which I should begin. It is but a kind of clergy-covetousness in me, to desire so many; if I stand gaping after pluralities, one of them is in danger to be made a sine cure—[Sees her.] O, fortune has determined for me. It is just here, as it is in the world; the mistress will be served before the wife.

Trick. How now, sir, are you rehearsing your lingua Franca by yourself, that you walk so pensively?

Wood. No faith, madam, I was thinking of the fair lady, who, at parting, bespoke so cunningly of me all my essences.

Trick. But there are other beauties in the house; and I should be impatient of a rival: for I am apt to be partial to myself, and think I deserve to be preferred before them.

Wood. Your beauty will allow of no competition; and I am sure my love could make none.

Trick. Yes, you have seen Mrs Brainsick; she's a beauty.

Wood. You mean, I suppose, the peaking creature, the married woman, with a sideling look, as if one cheek carried more bias than the other?

Trick. Yes, and with a high nose, as visible as a land-mark.

Wood. With one cheek blue, the other red; just like the covering of Lambeth Palace.

Trick. Nay, but her legs, if you could see them—

Wood. She was so foolish to wear short petticoats, and show them. They are pillars, gross enough to support a larger building; of the Tuscan order, by my troth.

Trick. And her little head, upon that long neck, shows like a traitor's skull upon a pole. Then, for her wit—

Wood. She can have none: There's not room enough for a thought to play in.

Trick. I think indeed I may safely trust you with such charms; and you have pleased me with your description of her.

Wood. I wish you would give me leave to please you better. But you transact as gravely with me as a Spaniard; and are losing love, as he does Flanders: you consider and demur, when the monarch is up in arms, and at your gates[6].

Trick. But to yield upon the first summons, ere you have laid a formal siege—To-morrow may prove a luckier day to you.

Wood. Believe me, madam, lovers are not to trust to-morrow. Love may die upon our hands, or opportunity be wanting; 'tis best securing the present hour.

Trick. No, love's like fruit; it must have time to ripen on the tree; if it be green gathered, 'twill but wither afterwards.

Wood. Rather 'tis like gun powder; that which fires quickest, is commonly the strongest.—By this burning kiss—

Trick. You lovers are such froward children, ever crying for the breast; and, when you have once had it, fall fast asleep in the nurse's arms. And with what face should I look upon my keeper after it?

Wood. With the same face that all mistresses look upon theirs. Come, come.

Trick. But my reputation!

Wood. Nay, that's no argument, if I should be so base to tell; for women get good fortunes now-a-days, by losing their credit, as a cunning citizen does by breaking.

Trick. But, I'm so shame-faced! Well, I'll go in, and hide my blushes. [Exit.

Wood. I'll not be long after you; for I think I have hidden my blushes where I shall never find them.

Re-enter TRICKSY.

Trick. As I live, Mr Limberham and father Aldo are just returned; I saw them entering. My settlement will miscarry, if you are found here: What shall we do?

Wood. Go you into your bed-chamber, and leave me to my fortune.

Trick. That you should be so dull! their suspicion will be as strong still: for what should make you here?

Wood. The curse on't is too, I bid my man tell the family I was gone abroad; so that, if I am seen, you are infallibly discovered. [Noise.

Trick. Hark, I hear them! Here's a chest which I borrowed of Mrs Pleasance; get quickly into it, and I will lock you up: there's nothing in't but clothes of Limberham's, and a box of writings.

Wood. I shall be smothered.

Trick. Make haste, for heaven's sake; they'll quickly be gone, and then—

Wood. That then will make a man venture any thing. [He goes in, and she locks the chest.


Limb. Dost thou not wonder to see me come again so quickly, Pug?

Trick. No, I am prepared for any foolish freak of yours: I knew you would have a qualm, when you came to settlement.

Limb. Your settlement depends most absolutely on that chest.

Trick. Father Aldo, a word with you, for heaven's sake.

Aldo. No, no, I'll not whisper. Do not stand in your own light, but produce the keys, daughter.

Limb. Be not musty, my pretty St Peter, but produce the keys. I must have the writings out, that concern thy settlement.

Trick. Now I see you are so reasonable, I'll show you I dare trust your honesty; the settlement shall be deferred till another day.

Aldo. No deferring in these cases, daughter.

Trick. But I have lost the keys.

Limb. That's a jest! let me feel in thy pocket, for I must oblige thee.

Trick. You shall feel no where: I have felt already and am sure they are lost.

Aldo. But feel again, the lawyer stays.

Trick. Well, to satisfy you, I will feel.—They are not here—nor here neither. [She pulls out her handkerchief, and the keys drop after it: LIMBERHAM takes them up.

Limb. Look you now, Pug! who's in the right? Well, thou art born to be a lucky Pug, in spite of thyself.

Trick [Aside.] O, I am ruined!—One word, I beseech you, father Aldo.

Aldo. Not a syllable. What the devil's in you, daughter? Open, son, open.

Trick. [Aloud.] It shall not be opened; I will have my will, though I lose my settlement. Would I were within the chest! I would hold it down, to spite you. I say again, would I were within the chest, I would hold it so fast, you should not open it.—The best on't is, there's good inkle on the top of the inside, if he have the wit to lay hold on't. [Aside.

Limb. [Going to open it.] Before George, I think you have the devil in a string, Pug; I cannot open it, for the guts of me. Hictius doctius! what's here to do? I believe, in my conscience, Pug can conjure: Marry, God bless us all good Christians!

Aldo. Push hard, son.

Limb. I cannot push; I was never good at pushing. When I push, I think the devil pushes too. Well, I must let it alone, for I am a fumbler. Here, take the keys, Pug.

Trick. [Aside.] Then all's safe again.


Jud. Madam, Mrs Pleasance has sent for the chest you borrowed of her. She has present occasion for it; and has desired us to carry it away.

Limb. Well, that's but reason: If she must have it, she must have it.

Trick Tell her, it shall be returned some time to-day; at present we must crave her pardon, because we have some writings in it, which must first be taken out, when we can open it.

Limb. Nay, that's but reason too: Then she must not have it.

Gerv. Let me come to't; I'll break it open, and you may take out your writings.

Limb. That's true: 'Tis but reasonable it should be broken open.

Trick. Then I may be bound to make good the loss.

Limb. 'Tis unreasonable it should be broken open.

Aldo. Before George, Gervase and I will carry it away; and a smith shall be sent for to my daughter Pleasance's chamber, to open it without damage.

Limb. Why, who says against it? Let it be carried; I'm all for reason.

Trick. Hold; I say it shall not stir.

Aldo. What? every one must have their own; Fiat justitia, aut ruat mundus.

Limb. Ay, fiat justitia, Pug: She must have her own; for justitia is Latin for justice. [ALDO and GERV. lift at it.

Aldo. I think the devil's in't.

Gerv. There's somewhat bounces, like him, in't. 'Tis plaguy heavy; but we'll take t'other heave.

Trick. [Taking hold of the chest.] Then you shall carry me too. Help, murder, murder! [A confused gabbling among them.

Enter Mrs SAINTLY.

Saint. Verily, I think all hell's broke loose among you. What, a schism in my family! Does this become the purity of my house? What will the ungodly say?

Limb. No matter for the ungodly; this is all among ourselves: For, look you, the business is this. Mrs Pleasance has sent for this same business here, which she lent to Pug; now Pug has some private businesses within this business, which she would take out first, and the business will not be opened: and this makes all the business.

Saint. Verily, I am raised up for a judge amongst you; and I say—

Trick. I'll have no judge: it shall not go.

Aldo. Why son, why daughter, why Mrs Saintly; are you all mad? Hear me, I am sober, I am discreet; let a smith be sent for hither, let him break open the chest; let the things contained be taken out, and the thing containing be restored.

Limb. Now hear me too, for I am sober and discreet; father Aldo is an oracle: It shall be so.

Trick. Well, to show I am reasonable, I am content. Mr Gervase and I will fetch an instrument from the next smith; in the mean time, let the chest remain where it now stands, and let every one depart the chamber.

Limb. That no violence be offered to the person of the chest, in Pug's absence.

Aldo. Then this matter is composed.

Trick. [Aside.] Now I shall have leisure to instruct his man, and set him free, without discovery. Come, Mr Gervase. [Exeunt all but SAINTLY.

Saint. There is a certain motion put into my mind, and it is of good. I have keys here, which a precious brother, a devout blacksmith, made me, and which will open any lock of the same bore. Verily, it can be no sin to unlock this chest therewith, and take from thence the spoils of the ungodly. I will satisfy my conscience, by giving part thereof to the hungry and the needy; some to our pastor, that he may prove it lawful; and some I will sanctify to my own use. [She unlocks the chest, and WOODALL starts up.

Wood. Let me embrace you, my dear deliverer! Bless us! is it you, Mrs Saintly? [She shrieks.

Saint. [Shrieking.] Heaven of his mercy! Stop thief, stop thief!

Wood. What will become of me now?

Saint. According to thy wickedness, shall it be done unto thee. Have I discovered thy backslidings, thou unfaithful man! thy treachery to me shall be rewarded, verily; for I will testify against thee.

Wood. Nay, since you are so revengeful, you shall suffer your part of the disgrace; if you testify against me for adultery, I shall testify against you for theft: There's an eighth for your seventh. [Noise.

Saint. Verily, they are approaching: Return to my embraces, and it shall be forgiven thee.

Wood. Thank you, for your own sake. Hark! they are coming! cry thief again, and help to save all yet.

Saint. Stop thief, stop thief!

Wood. Thank you for your own sake; but I fear 'tis too late.


Trick. [Entering.] The chest open, and Woodall discovered! I am ruined.

Limb. Why all this shrieking, Mrs Saintly?

Wood. [Rushing him down.] Stop thief, stop thief! cry you mercy, gentleman, if I have hurt you.

Limb. [Rising.] 'Tis a fine time to cry a man mercy, when you have beaten his wind out of his body.

Saint. As I watched the chest, behold a vision rushed out of it, on the sudden; and I lifted up my voice, and shrieked.

Limb. A vision, landlady! what, have we Gog and Magog in our chamber?

Trick. A thief, I warrant you, who had gotten into the chest.

Wood. Most certainly a thief; for, hearing my landlady cry out, I flew from my chamber to her help, and met him running down stairs, and then he turned back to the balcony, and leapt into the street.

Limb. I thought, indeed, that something held down the chest, when I would have opened it:—But my writings are there still, that's one comfort.—Oh seignioro, are you here?

Wood. Do you speak to me, sir?

Saint. This is Mr Woodall, your new fellow-lodger.

Limb. Cry you mercy, sir; I durst have sworn you could have spoken lingua Franca—I thought, in my conscience, Pug, this had been thy Italian merchanto.

Wood. Sir, I see you mistake me for some other: I should be happy to be better known to you.

Limb. Sir, I beg your pardon, with all my hearto. Before George, I was caught again there! But you are so very like a paltry fellow, who came to sell Pug essences this morning, that one would swear those eyes, and that nose and mouth, belonged to that rascal.

Wood. You must pardon me, sir, if I do not much relish the close of your compliment.

Trick. Their eyes are nothing like:—you'll have a quarrel.

Limb. Not very like, I confess.

Trick. Their nose and mouth are quite different.

Limb. As Pug says, they are quite different, indeed; but I durst have sworn it had been he; and, therefore, once again, I demand your pardono.

Trick. Come, let us go down; by this time Gervase has brought the smith, and then Mrs Pleasance may have her chest. Please you, sir, to bear us company.

Wood. At your service, madam.

Limb. Pray lead the way, sir.

Wood. 'Tis against my will, sir; but I must leave you in possession. [Exeunt.



Pleas. Never fear it, I'll be a spy upon his actions; he shall neither whisper nor gloat on either of them, but I'll ring him such a peal!

Saint. Above all things, have a care of him yourself; for surely there is witchcraft betwixt his lips: He is a wolf within the sheepfold; and therefore I will be earnest, that you may not fall. [Exit.

Pleas. Why should my mother be so inquisitive about this lodger? I half suspect old Eve herself has a mind to be nibbling at the pippin. He makes love to one of them, I am confident; it may be to both; for, methinks, I should have done so, if I had been a man; but the damned petticoats have perverted me to honesty, and therefore I have a grudge to him for the privilege of his sex. He shuns me, too, and that vexes me; for, though I would deny him, I scorn he should not think me worth a civil question.


Mrs Brain. Come, your works, your works; they shall have the approbation of Mrs Pleasance.

Trick. No more apologies; give Judith the words, she sings at sight.

Jud. I'll try my skill.


By a dismal cypress lying, Damon cried, all pale and dying,— Kind is death, that ends my pain, But cruel she I loved in vain. The mossy fountains Murmur my trouble, And hollow mountains My groans redouble: Every nymph mourns me, Thus while I languish; She only scorns me, Who caused my anguish. No love returning me, but all hope denying; By a dismal cypress lying, Like a swan, so sung he dying,— Kind is death, that ends my pain, But cruel she I loved in vain.

Pleas. By these languishing eyes, and those simagres of yours, we are given to understand, sir, you have a mistress in this company; come, make a free discovery which of them your poetry is to charm, and put the other out of pain.

Trick. No doubt 'twas meant to Mrs Brainsick.

Mrs Brain. We wives are despicable creatures; we know it, madam, when a mistress is in presence.

Pleas. Why this ceremony betwixt you? 'Tis a likely proper fellow, and looks as he could people a new isle of Pines[7].

Mrs Brain. 'Twere a work of charity to convert a fair young schismatick, like you, if 'twere but to gain you to a better opinion of the government.

Pleas. If I am not mistaken in you, too, he has works of charity enough upon his hands already; but 'tis a willing soul, I'll warrant him, eager upon the quarry, and as sharp as a governor of Covent-Garden.

Wood. Sure this is not the phrase of your family! I thought to have found a sanctified sister; but I suspect now, madam, that if your mother kept a pension in your father's time, there might be some gentleman-lodger in the house; for I humbly conceive you are of the half-strain at least.

Pleas. For all the rudeness of your language, I am resolved to know upon what voyage you are bound; your privateer of love, you Argier's man, that cruize up and down for prize in the Straitsmouth; which of the vessels would you snap now?

Trick. We are both under safe convoy, madam; a lover and a husband.

Pleas. Nay, for your part, you are notably guarded, I confess; but keepers have their rooks, as well as gamesters; but they only venture under them till they pick up a sum, and then push for themselves.

Wood. [Aside.] A plague of her suspicions; they'll ruin me on that side.

Pleas. So; let but little minx go proud, and the dogs in Covent-Garden have her in the wind immediately; all pursue the scent.

Trick. Not to a boarding-house, I hope?

Pleas. If they were wise, they would rather go to a brothel-house; for there most mistresses have left behind them their maiden-heads, of blessed memory: and those, which would not go off in that market, are carried about by bawds, and sold at doors, like stale flesh in baskets. Then, for your honesty, or justness, as you call it, to your keepers, your kept-mistress is originally a punk; and let the cat be changed into a lady never so formally, she still retains her natural property of mousing.

Mrs. Brain. You are very sharp upon the mistresses; but I hope you'll spare the wives.

Pleas. Yes, as much as your husbands do after the first month of marriage; but you requite their negligence in household-duties, by making them husbands of the first head, ere the year be over.

Wood. [Aside.] She has me there, too!

Pleas. And as for you, young gallant—

Wood. Hold, I beseech you! a truce for me.

Pleas. In troth, I pity you; for you have undertaken a most difficult task,—to cozen two women, who are no babies in their art: if you bring it about, you perform as much as he that cheated the very lottery.

Wood. Ladies, I am sorry this should happen to you for my sake: She is in a raging fit, you see; 'tis best withdrawing, till the spirit of prophecy has left her.

Trick. I'll take shelter in my chamber,—whither, I hope, he'll have the grace to follow me. [Aside.

Mrs Brain. And now I think on't, I have some letters to dispatch. [Exit TRICK. and MRS BRAIN. severally.

Pleas. Now, good John among the maids, how mean you to bestow your time? Away to your study, I advise you; invoke your muses, and make madrigals upon absence.

Wood. I would go to China, or Japan, to be rid of that impetuous clack of yours. Farewell, thou legion of tongues in one woman!

Pleas. Will you not stay, sir? it may be I have a little business with you.

Wood. Yes, the second part of the same tune! Strike by yourself, sweet larum; you're true bell-metal I warrant you. [Exit.

Pleas. This spitefulness of mine will be my ruin: To rail them off, was well enough; but to talk him away, too! O tongue, tongue, thou wert given for a curse to all our sex!


Jud. Madam, your mother would speak with you.

Pleas. I will not come; I'm mad, I think; I come immediately. Well, I'll go in, and vent my passion, by railing at them, and him too. [Exit.

Jud. You may enter in safety, sir; the enemy's marched off.

Re-enter WOODALL.

Wood. Nothing, but the love I bear thy mistress, could keep me in the house with such a fury. When will the bright nymph appear?

Jud. Immediately; I hear her coming.

Wood. That I could find her coming, Mrs Judith!


You have made me languish in expectation, madam. Was it nothing, do you think, to be so near a happiness, with violent desires, and to be delayed?

Mrs Brain. Is it nothing, do you think, for a woman of honour, to overcome the ties of virtue and reputation; to do that for you, which I thought I should never have ventured for the sake of any man?

Wood. But my comfort is, that love has overcome. Your honour is, in other words, but your good repute; and 'tis my part to take care of that: for the fountain of a woman's honour is in the lover, as that of the subject is in the king.

Mrs Brain. You had concluded well, if you had been my husband: you know where our subjection lies.

Wood. But cannot I be yours without a priest? They were cunning people, doubtless, who began that trade; to have a double hank upon us, for two worlds: that no pleasure here, or hereafter, should be had, without a bribe to them.

Mrs Brain. Well, I'm resolved, I'll read, against the next time I see you; for the truth is, I am not very well prepared with arguments for marriage; meanwhile, farewell.

Wood. I stand corrected; you have reason indeed to go, if I can use my time no better: We'll withdraw if you please, and dispute the rest within.

Mrs Brain. Perhaps, I meant not so.

Wood, I understand your meaning at your eyes. You'll watch, Judith?

Mrs Brain. Nay, if that were all, I expect not my husband till to-morrow. The truth is, he is so oddly humoured, that, if I were ill inclined, it would half justify a woman; he's such a kind of man!

Wood. Or, if he be not, well make him such a kind of man.

Mrs Brain. So fantastical, so musical, his talk all rapture, and half nonsense: like a clock out of order, set him a-going, and he strikes eternally. Besides, he thinks me such a fool, that I could half resolve to revenge myself, in justification of my wit.

Wood. Come, come, no half resolutions among lovers; I'll hear no more of him, till I have revenged you fully. Go out and watch, Judith. [Exit JUDITH.

Mrs Brain. Yet, I could say, in my defence, that my friends married me to him against my will.

Wood. Then let us put your friends, too, into the quarrel: it shall go hard, but I'll give you a revenge for them.

Enter JUDITH again, hastily.

How now? what's the matter?

Mrs Brain. Can'st thou not speak? hast thou seen a ghost?—As I live, she signs horns! that must be for my husband: he's returned. [JUDITH looks ghastly, and signs horns.

Jud. I would have told you so, if I could have spoken for fear.

Mrs Brain. Hark, a knocking! What shall we do? [Knocking. There's no dallying in this case: here you must not be found, that's certain; but Judith hath a chamber within mine; haste quickly thither; I'll secure the rest.

Jud. Follow me, sir. [Exeunt WOODALL, JUDITH.

Knocking again. She opens: Enter BRAINSICK.

Brain. What's the matter, gentlewoman? Am I excluded from my own fortress; and by the way of barricado? Am I to dance attendance at the door, as if I were some base plebeian groom? I'll have you know, that, when my foot assaults, the lightning and the thunder are not so terrible as the strokes: brazen gates shall tremble, and bolts of adamant dismount from off their hinges, to admit me.

Mrs Brain. Who would have thought, that 'nown dear would have come so soon? I was even lying down on my bed, and dreaming of him. Tum a' me, and buss, poor dear; piddee buss.

Brain. I nauseate these foolish feats of love.

Mrs Brain. Nay, but why should he be so fretful now? and knows I dote on him? to leave a poor dear so long without him, and then come home in an angry humour! indeed I'll ky.

Brain. Pr'ythee, leave thy fulsome fondness; I have surfeited on conjugal embraces.

Mrs Brain. I thought so: some light huswife has bewitched him from me: I was a little fool, so I was, to leave a dear behind at Barnet, when I knew the women would run mad for him.

Brain. I have a luscious air forming, like a Pallas, in my brain-pain: and now thou com'st across my fancy, to disturb the rich ideas, with the yellow jaundice of thy jealousy. [Noise within. Hark, what noise is that within, about Judith's bed?

Mrs Brain. I believe, dear, she's making it.—Would the fool would go! [Aside.

Brain. Hark, again!

Mrs Brain. [Aside] I have a dismal apprehension in my head, that he's giving my maid a cast of his office, in my stead. O, how it stings me! [WOODALL sneezes.

Brain. I'll enter, and find the reason of this tumult.

Mrs Brain. [Holding him.] Not for the world: there may be a thief there; and should I put 'nown dear in danger of his life?—What shall I do? betwixt the jealousy of my love, and fear of this fool, I am distracted: I must not venture them together, whatever comes on it. [Aside.] Why Judith, I say! come forth, damsel.

Wood. [Within.] The danger's over; I may come out safely.

Jud. [Within.] Are you mad? you shall not.

Mrs Brain. [Aside.] So, now I'm ruined unavoidably.

Brain. Whoever thou art, I have pronounced thy doom; the dreadful Brainsick bares his brawny arm in tearing terror; kneeling queens in vain should beg thy being.—Sa, sa, there.

Mrs Brain. [Aside.] Though I believe he dares not venture in, yet I must not put it to the trial. Why Judith, come out, come out, huswife.

Enter JUDITH, trembling.

What villain have you hid within?

Jud. O Lord, madam, what shall I say?

Mrs Brain. How should I know what you should say? Mr Brainsick has heard a man's voice within; if you know what he makes there, confess the truth; I am almost dead with fear, and he stands shaking.

Brain. Terror, I! 'tis indignation shakes me. With this sabre I'll slice him as small as atoms; he shall be doomed by the judge, and damned upon the gibbet.

Jud. [Kneeling.] My master's so outrageous! sweet madam, do you intercede for me, and I'll tell you all in private. [Whispers. If I say it is a thief, he'll call up help; I know not what of the sudden to invent.

Mrs Brain. Let me alone.—And is this all? Why would you not confess it before, Judith? when you know I am an indulgent mistress. [Laughs.

Brain. What has she confessed?

Mrs Brain. A venial love-trespass, dear: 'tis a sweetheart of hers; one that is to marry her; and she was unwilling I should know it, so she hid him in her chamber.

Enter ALDO.

Aldo. What's the matter trow? what, in martial posture, son Brainsick?

Jud. Pray, father Aldo, do you beg my pardon of my master. I have committed a fault; I have hidden a gentleman in my chamber, who is to marry me without his friends' consent, and therefore came in private to me.

Aldo. That thou should'st think to keep this secret! why, I know it as well as he that made thee.

Mrs Brain. [Aside.] Heaven be praised, for this knower of all things! Now will he lie three or four rapping volunteers, rather than be thought ignorant in any thing.

Brain. Do you know his friends, father Aldo?

Aldo. Know them! I think I do. His mother was an arch-deacon's daughter; as honest a woman as ever broke bread: she and I have been cater-cousins in our youth; we have tumbled together between a pair of sheets, i'faith.

Brain. An honest woman, and yet you two have tumbled together! those are inconsistent.

Aldo. No matter for that.

Mrs Brain. He blunders; I must help him. [Aside.] I warrant 'twas before marriage, that you were so great.

Aldo. Before George, and so it was: for she had the prettiest black mole upon her left ancle, it does me good to think on't! His father was squire What-d'ye-call-him, of what-d'ye-call-em shire. What think you, little Judith? do I know him now?

Jud. I suppose you may be mistaken: my servant's father is a knight of Hampshire.

Aldo. I meant of Hampshire. But that I should forget he was a knight, when I got him knighted, at the king's coming in! Two fat bucks, I am sure he sent me.

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