A Tale of a Tub (Jonson)

A Tale of a Tub
by Ben Jonson

A Tale of a Tub is a Caroline era stage play, a comedy written by Ben Jonson. The last of his plays to be staged during his lifetime, it was performed in 1633 and published in 1640 in the second folio of Jonson's works.

- from Wikipedia

This text follows the original spelling of the 1640 folio. Roll-over notes have been added to translate obscure spellings.


No State-affairs, nor any politick Club,
   Pretend we in our Tale, here, of a Tub:
But acts of Clowns and Constables, to day
   Stuff out the Scenes of our ridiculous Play.
A Coopers wit, or some such busie Spark,
   Illumining the high Constable, and his Clerk.
And all the Neighbour-hood, from old Records,
   Of antick Proverbs, drawn from Whitson-Lords.
And their Authorities, at Wakes and Ales,
   With Country precedents, and old Wives Tales;
We bring you now, to shew what different things
   The Cotes of Clowns, are from the Courts of Kings.

The Persons that ActEdit

Cham Hugh, Vicar of Pancrass, and Captain Thums.
Squire Tub, Of Totten-Court,[1] or Squire Tripoly.
Basket-Hilts, His Man, and Governor.
Just. Preamble, Of Maribone, alias Bramble.
Miles Metaphor, His Clerk.
Lady Tub, Of Totten,[1] the Squire's Mother.
Pol-Marten, Her Huisher: Dido Wisp her Woman.[2]
Tobie Turfe, High Constable of Kentish Town.
Da. Sibil Turfe, His Wife.
Mrs. Awdrey Turfe, Their Daughter the Bride.
John Clay, Of Kilborn Tile-maker, the appointed Bride Groom.
In-and-in Medlay, Of Islington, cooper and Headborough.[3]
Rasi. Clench, Of Hamsted, Farrier, and petty Constable.
To-Pan, Tinker, or Mettal-man of Belsise, Thirdborough.
D'oge. Scriben, Of Chalcot, the great writer.
Ball Puppy, The high Constable's Man.
Father Rosin, The Minstrel, and his two Boys.
Jone, Joyce,
Madge, Parnel,
Grisel, Kate,
        Maids of the Bridal.
Black Jack, The Lady Tub's Butler.
Two Grooms.

The Scene,Edit



Act IEdit

Act IIEdit

Act IIIEdit

Act IVEdit

Act VEdit



  1. 1.0 1.1 Tottenham Court Road is a road in Central London, England, running from St. Giles' Circus (the junction of Oxford Street and Charing Cross Road) north to Euston Road, near the border of the City of Westminster and the London Borough of Camden. In the time of Henry III (1216 – 1272) a manorhouse situated slightly to the north-west of the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street belonged to one William de Tottenhall. After changing hands several times, the manor was leased for ninety-nine years to Queen Elizabeth, when it came popularly to be called Tottenham Court. —from Wikipedia
  2. Pol-Marten and Dido Wisp are two separate characters, her usher and her hand-maid respectively.
  3. A headborough was a parish officer, with much the same duties as a petty constable.