The Pleasant History of the Two Angry Women of Abington
GENTLEMEN, I come to ye like one that lacks and would borrow, but was loth to
ask, lest he should be denied: I would ask, but I would ask to obtain; O, would
I knew that manner of asking! To beg were base; and to couch low, and to carry
an humble show of entreaty, were too dog-like, that fawns on his master to get a
bone from his trencher: out, cur! I cannot abide it; to put on the shape and
habit of this new world's new-found beggars, mis-termed soldiers, as thus:
"Sweet gentlemen, let a poor scholar implore and exerate that your would make
him rich in the possession of a mite of your favours, to keep him a true man in
wit, and to pay for his lodging among the Muses! so God him help, he is driven
to a most low estate! 'tis not unknown what service of words he hath been at; he
lost his limbs in a late conflict of flout; a brave repulse and a hot assault it
was, he doth protest, as ever he saw, since he knew what the report of a volley
of jests were; he shall therefore desire you"—A plague upon it, each beadle
disdained would whip him from your company. Well, gentlemen, I cannot tell how
to get your favours better than by desert: then the worse luck, or the worse
wit, or somewhat, for I shall not now deserve it. Well, then, I commit myself to
my fortunes and your contents; contented to die, if your severe judgments shall
judge me to be stung to death with the adder's hiss.
SIR RALPH SMITH.
DICK COOMES, Servant to Master Goursey.
HODGE, Servant to Master Goursey.
NICHOLAS, alias PROVERBS, Servant to Master Barnes.
WILL, Servant to Sir Ralph Smith.
SCENE—ABINGDON and the Neighbourhood.
ACT THE FIRST.
SCENE I.—Master BARNES'S House.
Enter Master GOURSEY and his Wife, and Master BARNES and his Wife,
with their two Sons, FRANCIS and PHILIP, and their two Servants.
MAST. GOUR. Good Master Barnes, this entertain of yours,
So full of courtesy and rich delight,
Makes me misdoubt my poor ability
In quittance of this friendly courtesy.
Mast. Bar. O Master Goursey, neighbour-amity
Is such a jewel of high-reckoned worth,
As for the attain of it what would not I
Disburse, it is so precious in my thoughts!
Mast. Gour. Kind sir, near-dwelling amity indeed
Offers the heart's inquiry better view
Than love that's seated in a farther soil:
As prospectives, the nearer that they be,
Yield better judgment to the judging eye;
Things seen far off are lessened in the eye,
When their true shape is seen being hard by.
Mast. Bar. True, sir, 'tis so; and truly I esteem
Mere amity, familiar neighbourhood,
The cousin-german unto wedded love.
Mast. Gour. Ay, sir, there's surely some alliance 'twixt them,
For they have both the offspring from the heart:
Within the heart's-blood-ocean still are found
Jewels of amity and gems of love.
Mast. Bar. Ay, Master Goursey, I have in my time
Seen many shipwrecks of true honesty;
But incident such dangers ever are
To them that without compass sail so far:
Why, what need men to swim, when they may wade?—
But leave this talk, enough of this is said:
And, Master Goursey, in good faith, sir, welcome;—
And, Mistress Goursey, I am much in debt
Unto your kindness that would visit me.
Mis. Gour. O Master Barnes, you put me but in mind
Of that which I should say; 'tis we that are
Indebted to your kindness for this cheer:
Which debt that we may repay, I pray let's have
Sometimes your company at our homely house.
Mis. Bar. That, Mistress Goursey, you shall surely have;
He will be a bold guest, I warrant ye,
And bolder too with you than I would have him.
Mis. Gour. How, do you mean he will be bold with me?
Mis. Bar. Why, he will trouble you at home, forsooth,
Often call in, and ask ye how ye do;
And sit and chat with you all day till night,
And all night too, if he might have his will.
Mast. Bar. Ay, wife, indeed I thank her for her kindness;
She hath made me much good cheer passing that way.
Mis. Bar. Passing well-done of her, she is a kind wench.
I thank ye, Mistress Goursey, for my husband;
And if it hap your husband come our way
A-hunting or such ordinary sports,
I'll do as much for yours as you for mine.
Mast. Gour. Pray do, forsooth.—God's Lord, what means the woman?
She speaks it scornfully: faith, I care not;
Things are well-spoken, if they be well-taken. [Aside.
What, Mistress Barnes, is it not time to part?
Mis. Bar. What's a-clock, sirrah?
Nich. 'Tis but new-struck one.
Mast. Gour. I have some business in the town by three.
Mast. Bar. Till then let's walk into the orchard, sir.
What, can you play at tables?
Mast. Gour. Yes, I can.
Mast. Bar. What, shall we have a game?
Mast. Gour. And if you please.
Mast. Bar. I'faith, content; we'll spend an hour so. Sirrah, fetch the
Nich. I will, sir. [Exit.
Phil. Sirrah Frank, whilst they are playing here,
We'll to the green to bowls.
Fran. Philip, content, Coomes, come hither, sirrah:
When our fathers part, call us upon the green.
Philip, come, a rubber, and so leave.
Phil. Come on. [Exeunt PHILIP and FRANCIS.
Coomes. 'Sblood, I do not like the humour of these springals; they'll
spend all their father's good at gaming. But let them trowl the bowls upon the
green. I'll trowl the bowls in the buttery by the leave of God and Master
Barnes: an his men be good fellows, so it is; if they be not, let them go snick
Enter NICHOLAS with the tables.
Mast. Bar. So, set them down.
Mistress Goursey, how do you like this game?
Mis. Gour. Well, sir.
Mast. Bar. Can ye play at it?
Mis. Gour. A little, sir.
Mast. Bar. Faith, so can my wife.
Mis. Gour. Why, then, Master Barnes, and if you please,
Our wives shall try the quarrel 'twixt us two,
And we'll look on.
Mast. Bar. I am content. What, woman, will you play?
Mis. Gour. I care not greatly.
Mis. Bar. Nor I, but that I think she'll play me false.
Mast. Gour. I'll see she shall not.
Mis. Bar. Nay, sir, she will be sure you shall not see; You, of all
men, shall not mark her hand;
She hath such close conveyance in her play.
Mast. Gour. Is she so cunning grown? Come, come, let's see.
Mis. Gour. Yea, Mistress Barnes, will ye not house your jests,
But let them roam abroad so carelessly?
Faith, if your jealous tongue utter another,
I'll cross ye with a jest, an ye were my mother.—
Come, shall we play? [Aside.
Mis. Bar. Ay, what shall we play a game?
Mis. Gour. A pound a game.
Mast. Gour. How, wife?
Mis. Gour. Faith, husband, not a farthing less.
Mast. Gour. It is too much; a shilling were good game.
Mis. Gour. No, we'll be ill-huswives once;
You have been oft ill husbands: let's alone.
Mast. Bar. Wife, will you play so much?
Mis. Bar. I would be loth to be so frank a gamester
As Mistress Goursey is; and yet for once
I'll play a pound a game as well as she.
Mast. Bar. Go to, you'll have your will.
[Offers to go from them.
Mis. Bar. Come, there's my stake.
Mis. Gour. And there's mine.
Mis. Bar. Throw for the dice. Ill luck! then they are yours.
Mast. Bar. Master Goursey, who says that gaming's bad,
When such good angels walk 'twixt every cast?
Mast. Gour. This is not noble sport, but royal play.
Mast. Bar. It must be so, where royals wall so fast.
Mis.Bar. Play right, I pray.
Mis. Gour. Why, so I do.
Mis. Bar. Where stands your man?
Mis. Gour. In his right place.
Mis. Bar. Good faith, I think ye play me foul an ace.
Mast. Bar. No, wife, she plays ye true.
Mis. Bar. Peace, husband, peace; I'll not be judged by you.
Mis. Gour. Husband, Master Barnes, pray, both go walk!
We cannot play if standers-by do talk.
Mast. Gour. Well, to your game; we will not trouble ye. [Goes from
Mis. Gour. Where stands your man now?
Mis. Bar. Doth he not stand right?
Mis. Gour. It stands between the points.
Mis. Bar. And that's my spite.
But yet methinks the dice runs much uneven,
That I throw but deuce-ace and you eleven.
Mis. Gour. And yet you see that I cast down the hill.
Mis. Bar. Ay, I beshrew ye, 'tis not with my will.
Mis. Gour. Do ye beshrew me?
Mis. Bar. No, I beshrew the dice,
That turn you up more at once than me at twice.
Mis. Gour. Well, you shall see them turn for you anon.
Mis. Bar. But I care not for them, when your game is done.
Mis. Gour. My game! what game?
Mis. Bar. Your game, your game at tables.
Mis. Gour. Well, mistress, well; I have read Æsop's fables,
And know your moral meaning well enough.
Mis. Bar. Lo, you'll be angry now! here's good stuff.
Mast. Gour. How now, woman? who hath won the game?
Mis. Gour. Nobody yet.
Mast. Bar. Your wife's the fairest for't.
Mis. Bar. Ay, in your eye.
Mis. Gour. How do you mean?
Mis. Bar. He holds you fairer for't than I.
Mis. Gour. For what, forsooth?
Mis. Bar. Good gamester, for your game.
Mast. Bar. Well, try it out; 'tis all but in the bearing.
Mis. Bar. Nay, if it come to bearing, she'll be best.
Mis. Gour. Why, you're as good a bearer as the rest.
Mis. Bar. Nay, that's not so; you bear one man too many.
Mis. Gour. Better do so than bear not any.
Mast. Bar. Beshrew me, but my wife's jests grow too bitter;
Plainer speeches for her were more fitter:
Malice lies embowelled in her tongue,
And new hatched hate makes every jest a wrong.
Mis. Gour. Look ye, mistress, now I hit ye.
Mis. Bar. Why, ay, you never use to miss a blot,
Especially when it stands so fair to hit.
Mis. Gour. How mean ye, Mistress Barnes?
Mis. Bar. That Mistress Goursey's in the hitting vein.
Mis. Gour. I hit your man.
Mis. Bar. Ay, ay, my man, my man; but, had I known,
I would have had my man stood nearer home.
Mis. Gour. Why, had ye kept your man in his right place,
I should not then have hit him with an ace.
Mis. Bar. Right, by the Lord! a plague upon the bones!
Mis. Gour. And a hot mischief on the curser too!
Mast. Bar. How now, wife?
Mast. Gour. Why, what's the matter, woman?
Mis. Gour. It is no matter; I am—
Mis. Bar. Ay, you are—
Mis. Gour. What am I?
Mis. Bar. Why, that's as you will be ever.
Mis. Gour. That's every day as good as Barnes's wife.
Mis. Bar. And better too: then, what needs all this trouble?
A single horse is worse than that bears double.
Mast. Bar. Wife, go to, have regard to what you say;
Let not your words pass forth the verge of reason,
But keep within the bounds of modesty;
For ill-report doth like a bailiff stand,
To pound the straying and the wit-lost tongue,
And makes it forfeit into folly's hands.
Well, wife, you know it is no honest part
To entertain such guests with jests and wrongs:
What will the neighbouring country vulgar say,
When as they hear that you fell out at dinner?
Forsooth, they'll call it a pot-quarrel straight;
The best they'll name it is a woman's jangling.
Go to, be ruled, be ruled.
Mis. Bar. God's Lord, be ruled, be ruled!
What, think ye I have such a baby's wit,
To have a rod's correction for my tongue?
School infancy! I am of age to speak,
And I know when to speak: shall I be chid
For such a—
Mis. Gour. What-a? nay, mistress, speak it out;
I scorn your stopped compares: compare not me
To any but your equals, Mistress Barnes.
Mast. Gour. Peace, wife, be quiet.
Mast. Bar. O, persuade, persuade!
Wife, Mistress Goursey, shall I win your thoughts
To composition of some kind effects?
Wife, if you love your credit, leave this strife,
And come shake hands with Mistress Goursey here.
Mis. Bar. Shall I shake hands? let her go shake her heels;
She gets nor hands nor friendship at my hands:
And so, sir, while I live, I will take heed
What guests I bid again unto my house.
Mast. Bar. Impatient woman, will you be so stiff
In this absurdness?
Mis. Bar. I am impatient now I speak;
But, sir, I'll tell you more another time:
Go to, I will not take it as I have done. [Exit.
Mis. Gour. Nay, she might stay; I will not long be here
To trouble her. Well, Master Barnes,
I am sorry that it was our haps to-day
To have our pleasures parted with this fray:
I am sorry too for all that is amiss,
Especially that you are moved in this;
But be not so, 'tis but a woman's jar:
Their tongues are weapons, words their blows of war;
'Twas but a while we buffeted, you saw,
And each of us was willing to withdraw;
There was no harm nor bloodshed, you did see:
Tush, fear us not, for we shall well agree.
I take my leave, sir. Come, kind-hearted man,
That speaks his wife so fair—ay, now and then;
I know you would not for an hundred pound
That I should hear your voice's churlish sound;
I know you have a far more milder tune
Than "Peace, be quiet, wife;" but I have done.
Will ye go home? the door directs the way;
But, if you will not, my duty is to stay. [Exit.
Mast. Bar. Ha, ha! why, here's a right woman, is there not?
They both have dined, yet see what stomachs they have!
Mast. Gour. Well, Master Barnes, we cannot do withal:
Let us be friends still—
Mast. Bar. O Master Goursey, the mettle of our minds,
Having the temper of true reason in them,
Affords a better edge of argument
For the maintain of our familiar loves
Than the soft leaden wit of women can;
Wherefore with all the parts of neighbour-love
I do impart myself to Master Goursey.
Mast. Gour. And with exchange of love I do receive it:
Then here we'll part, partners of two cursed wives.
Mast. Bar. O, where shall we find a man so blessed that is not?
But come; your business and my home-affairs
Makes me deliver that unfriendly word
Mast. Gour. Twenty farewells, sir.
Mast. Bar. But hark ye, Master Goursey;
Look ye persuade at home, as I will do:
What, man! we must not always have them foes.
Mast. Gour. If I can help it.
Mast. Bar. God help, God help!
Women are even untoward creatures still. [Exeunt.
SCENE II.—Outside Master BARNES'S House.
Enter PHILIP, FRANCIS, and Boy, from bowling.
Phil. Come on, Frank Goursey: you have had good luck
To win the game.
Fran. Why, tell me, is't not good,
That never played before upon your green?
Phil. 'Tis good, but that it cost me ten good crowns;
That makes it worse.
Fran. Let it not grieve thee, man; come o'er to us;
We will devise some game to make you win
Your money back again, sweet Philip.
Phil. And that shall be ere long, and if I live:
But tell me, Francis, what good horses have ye,
To hunt this summer?
Fran. Two or three jades, or so.
Phil. Be they but jades?
Fran. No, faith; my wag-string here
Did founder one the last time that he rid—
The best grey nag that ever I laid my leg over.
Boy. You mean the flea-bitten.
Fran. Good sir, the same.
Boy. And was the same the best that e'er you rid on?
Fran. Ay, was it, sir.
Boy. I' faith, it was not, sir.
Fran. No! where had I one so good?
Boy. One of my colour, and a better too.
Fran. One of your colour? I ne'er remember him;
One of that colour!
Boy. Or of that complexion.
Fran. What's that ye call complexion in a horse?
Boy. The colour, sir.
Fran. Set me a colour on your jest, or I will—
Boy. Nay, good sir, hold your hands!
Fran. What, shall we have it?
Boy. Why, sir, I cannot paint.
Fran. Well, then, I can;
And I shall find a pencil for ye, sir.
Boy. Then I must find the table, if you do.
Fran. A whoreson, barren, wicked urchin!
Boy. Look how you chafe! you would be angry more,
If I should tell it you.
Fran. Go to, I'll anger ye, and if you do not.
Boy. Why, sir, the horse that I do mean
Hath a leg both straight and clean,
That hath nor spaven, splint, nor flaw,
But is the best that ever ye saw;
A pretty rising knee—O knee!
It is as round as round may be;
The full flank makes the buttock round:
This palfrey standeth on no ground,
When as my master's on her back,
If that he once do say but, tack:
And if he prick her, you shall see
Her gallop amain, she is so free;
And if he give her but a nod,
She thinks it is a riding-rod;
And if he'll have her softly go,
Then she trips it like a doe;
She comes so easy with the rein,
A twine-thread turns her back again;
And truly I did ne'er see yet
A horse play proudlier on the bit:
My master with good managing
Brought her first unto the ring;
He likewise taught her to corvet,
To run, and suddenly to set;
She's cunning in the wild-goose race,
Nay, she's apt to every pace;
And to prove her colour good,
A flea, enamoured of her blood,
Digged for channels in her neck,
And there made many a crimson speck:
I think there's none that use to ride
But can her pleasant trot abide;
She goes so even upon the way,
She will not stumble in a day;
And when my master—
Fran. What do I?
Boy. Nay, nothing, sir.
Phil. O, fie, Frank, fie!
Nay, nay, your reason hath no justice now,
I must needs say; persuade him first to speak,
Then chide him for it! Tell me, pretty wag,
Where stands this prancer, in what inn or stable?
Or hath thy master put her out to run,
Then in what field, what champion, feeds this courser,
This well-paced, bonny steed that thou so praisest?
Boy. Faith, sir, I think—
Fran. Villain, what do ye think?
Boy. I think that you, sir, have been asked by many,
But yet I never heard that ye told any.
Phil. Well, boy, then I will add one more to many,
And ask thy master where this jennet feeds.
Come, Frank, tell me—nay, prythee, tell me, Frank,
My good horse-master, tell me—by this light,
I will not steal her from thee; if I do,
Let me be held a felon to thy love.
Fran. No, Philip, no.
Phil. What, wilt thou wear a point but with one tag?
Well, Francis, well, I see you are a wag.
Coomes. 'Swounds, where be these timber-turners, these trowl-the-bowls,
these green-men, these—
Fran. What, what, sir?
Coomes. These bowlers, sir.
Fran. Well, sir, what say you to bowlers?
Coomes. Why, I say they cannot be saved.
Fran. Your reason, sir?
Coomes. Because they throw away their souls at every mark.
Fran. Their souls! how mean ye?
Phil. Sirrah, he means the soul of the bowl.
Fran. Lord, how his wit holds bias like a bowl!
Coomes. Well, which is the bias?
Fran. This next to you.
Coomes. Nay, turn it this way, then the bowl goes true.
Boy. Rub, rub!
Coomes. Why rub?
Boy. Why, you overcast the mark, and miss the way.
Coomes. Nay, boy, I use to take the fairest of my play.
Phil. Dick Coomes, methinks thou art very pleasant:
Where got'st thou this merry humour?
Coomes. In your father's cellar, the merriest place in th' house.
Phil. Then you have been carousing hard?
Coomes. Yes, faith, 'tis our custom, when your father's men and we
Phil. Thou art very welcome thither, Dick.
Coomes. By God, I thank ye, sir, I thank ye, sir: by
God, I have a quart of wine for ye, sir, in any place of the world. There shall
not a servingman in Barkshire fight better for ye than I will do, if you have
any quarrel on hand: you shall have the maidenhead of my new sword; I paid a
quarter's wages for't, by Jesus.
Phil. O, this meat-failer Dick!
How well't has made the apparel of his wit,
And brought it into fashion of an honour!
Prythee, Dick Coomes, but tell me how thou dost?
Coomes. Faith, sir, like a poor man of service.
Phil. Or servingman.
Coomes. Indeed, so called by the vulgar.
Phil. Why, where the devil hadst thou that word?
Coomes. O, sir, you have the most eloquent ale in all the world; our
blunt soil affords none such.
Fran. Philip, leave talking with this drunken fool. Say, sirrah,
where's my father?
Coomes. "Marry, I thank ye for my very good cheer,—O Lord, it is
not so much worth—You see I am bold with ye.—Indeed, you are not so
bold as welcome; I pray ye, come oft'ner.—Truly, I shall trouble ye." All
these ceremonies are despatched between them, and they are gone.
Fran. Are they so?
Coomes. Ay, before God, are they.
Fran. And wherefore came not you to call me then?
Coomes. Because I was loth to change my game.
Fran. What game?
Coomes. You were at one sort of bowls as I was at another.
Phil. Sirrah, he means the butt'ry bowls of beer.
Coomes. By God, sir, we tickled it.
Fran. Why, what a swearing keeps this drunken ass? Canst thou not say
but swear at every word?
Phil. Peace, do not mar his humour, prythee, Frank.
Coomes. Let him alone; he's a springal; he knows not what belongs to an
Fran. Sirrah, be quiet, or I do protest_____
Coomes. Come, come, what do you protest?
Fran. By heaven, to crack your crown.
Coomes. To crack my crown! I lay ye a crown of that, lay it down, an ye
dare; nay, 'sblood, I'll venture a quarter's wages of that. Crack my crown,
Fran. Will ye not yet be quiet? will ye urge me?
Coomes. Urge ye, with a pox! who urges ye? You might have said so much
to a clown, or one that had not been o'er the sea to see fashions: I have, I
tell ye true; and I know what belongs to a man. Crack my crown, an ye can.
Fran. An I can, ye rascal!
Phil. Hold, hair-brain, hold! dost thou not see he's drunk?
Coomes. Nay, let him come: though he be my master's son, I am my
master's man, and a man is a man in any ground of England.
Come an he dares, a comes upon his death:
I will not budge an inch, no, 'sblood, will I not.
Fran. Will ye not?
Phil. Stay, prythee, Frank. Coomes, dost thou hear?
Coomes. Hear me no hears: stand away, I'll trust none of you all. If I
have my back against a cartwheel, I would not care if the devil came.
Phil. Why, ye fool, I am your friend.
Coomes. Fool on your face! I have a wife.
Fran. She's a whore, then.
Coomes. She's as honest as Nan Lawson.
Phil. What's she?
Coomes. One of his whores.
Phil. Why, hath he so many?
Coomes. Ay, as many as there be churches in London.
Phil. Why, that's a hundred and nine.
Boy. Faith, he lies a hundred.
Phil. Then thou art a witness to nine.
Boy. No, by God, I'll be witness to none.
Coomes. Now do I stand like the George at Colebrook.
Boy. No, thou stand'st like the Bull at St. Alban's.
Coomes. Boy, ye lie—the Horns.
Boy. The bull's bitten; see, how he butts!
Phil. Coomes, Coomes, put up; my friend and thou art friends.
Coomes. I'll hear him say so first.
Phil. Frank, prythee, do; be friends, and tell him so.
Fran. Go to, I am.
Boy. Put up, sir; an ye be a man, put up.
Coomes. I am easily persuaded, boy.
Phil. Ah, ye mad slave!
Coomes. Come, come, a couple of whoremasters I found ye, and so I leave
Phil. Lo, Frank, dost thou not see he's drunk,
That twits thee with thy disposition?
Fran. What disposition?
Phil. Nan Lawson, Nan Lawson.
Fran. Nay, then—
Phil. Go to, ye wag, 'tis well:
If ever ye get a wife, i' faith I'll tell.
Sirrah, at home we have a servingman;
He is not humoured bluntly as Coomes is,
Yet his condition makes me often merry:
I'll tell thee, sirrah, he's a fine neat fellow,
A spruce slave; I warrant ye, he will have
His crewel garters cross about the knee,
His woollen hose as white as th' driven snow,
His shoes dry-leather neat, and tied with red ribbons,
A nosegay bound with laces in his hat—
Bridelaces, sir—and his hat all green,
Green coverlet for such a grass-green wit.
"The goose that grazeth on the green," quoth he,
"May I eat on, when you shall buried be!"
All proverbs in his speech, he's proverbs all.
Fran. Why speaks he proverbs?
Phil. Because he would speak truth,
And proverbs, you'll confess, are old-said sooth.
Fran. I like this well, and one day I will see him:
But shall we part?
Phil. Not yet, I'll bring ye somewhat on your way,
And as we go, between your boy and you
I'll know where that brave prancer stands at livery.
Fran. Come, come, you shall not.
Phil. I' faith, I will. [Exeunt.
ACT THE SECOND.
SCENE I.—Master BARNES'S Garden.
Enter Master BARNES and his Wife.
MAST. BAR. Wife, in my mind to-day you were to blame,
Although my patience did not blame ye for it:
Methought the rules of love and neighbourhood
Did not direct your thoughts; all indiscreet
Were your proceedings in the entertain
Of them that I invited to my house.
Nay, stay, I do not chide, but counsel, wife,
And in the mildest manner that I may:
You need not view me with a servant's eye,
Whose vassal senses tremble at the look
Of his displeasèd master. O my wife,
You are myself! when self sees fault in self,
Self is sin-obstinate, if self amend not:
Indeed, I saw a fault in thee myself,
And it hath set a foil upon thy fame,
Not as the foil doth grace the diamond.
Mis. Bar. What fault, sir, did you see in me to-day?
Mast. Bar. O, do not set the organ of thy voice
On such a grunting key of discontent!
Do not deform the beauty of thy tongue
With such misshapen answers. Rough wrathful words
Are bastards got by rashness in the thoughts:
Fair demeanours are virtue's nuptial babes,
The offspring of the well-instructed soul;
O, let them call thee mother, then, my wife!
So seem not barren of good courtesy.
Mis. Bar. So; have ye done?
Mast. Bar. Ay, and I had done well,
If you would do what I advise for well.
Mis. Bar. What's that?
Mast. Bar. Which is, that you would be good friends
With Mistress Goursey.
Mis. Bar. With Mistress Goursey!
Mast. Bar. Ay, sweet wife.
Mis. Bar. Not so, sweet husband.
Mast. Bar. Could you but show me any grounded cause.
Mis. Bar. The grounded cause I ground, because I will not.
Mast. Bar. Your will hath little reason, then, I think.
Mis. Bar. Yes, sir, my reason equalleth my will.
Mast. Bar. Let's hear your reason, for your will is great.
Mis. Bar. Why, for I will not.
Mast. Bar. Is all your reason "for I will not," wife?
Now, by my soul, I held ye for more wise,
Discreet, and of more temp'rature in sense,
Than in a sullen humour to affect
That woman's will-born, common scholar phrase:
Oft have I heard a timely married girl,
That newly left to call her mother mam,
Her father dad: but yesterday come from
"That's my good girl, God send thee a good husband!"
And now being taught to speak the name of husband,
Will, when she would be wanton in her will,
If her husband asked her why, say "for I will."
Have I chid men for an unmanly choice,
That would not fit their years? have I seen thee
Pupil such green young things, and with thy counsel
Tutor their wits? and art thou now infected
With this disease of imperfection?
I blush for thee, ashamèd at thy shame.
Mis. Bar. A shame on her that makes thee rate me so!
Mast. Bar. O black-mouthed rage, thy breath is boisterous,
And thou mak'st virtue shake at this high storm!
She is of good report; I know thou know'st it.
Mis. Bar. She is not, nor I know not, but I know
That thou dost love her, therefore think'st her so;
Thou bear'st with her because she bears with thee.
Thou may'st be ashamed to stand in her defence:
She is a strumpet, and thou art no honest man
To stand in her defence against thy wife.
If I catch her in my walk, now, by Cock's bones,
I'll scratch out both her eyes.
Mast. Bar. O God!
Mis. Bar. Nay, never say "O God" for the matter:
Thou art the cause; thou bad'st her to my house,
Only to blear the eyes of Goursey, did'st not?
But I will send him word, I warrant thee,
And ere I sleep too, trust upon it, sir. [Exit.
Mast. Bar. Methinks this is a mighty fault in her;
I could be angry with her: O, if I be so,
I shall but put a link unto a torch,
And so give greater light to see her fault.
I'll rather smother it in melancholy:
Nay, wisdom bids me shun that passion;
Then I will study for a remedy.
I have a daughter,—now, Heaven invocate
She be not of like spirit as her mother!
If so, she'll be a plague unto her husband,
If that he be not patient and discreet,
For that I hold the ease of all such trouble.
Well, well, I would my daughter had a husband,
For I would see how she would demean herself
In that estate; it may be, ill enough,—
And, so God shall help me, well-remembered now!
Frank Goursey is his father's son and heir:
A youth that in my heart I have good hope on;
My senses say a match, my soul applauds
The motion: O, but his lands are great,
He will look high; why, I will strain myself
To make her dowry equal with his land.
Good faith, an 'twere a match, 'twould be a means
To make their mothers friends. I'll call my daughter,
To see how she's disposed to marriage.—
Mall, where are ye?
Mall. Father, here I am.
Mast. Bar. Where is your mother?
Mall. I saw her not, forsooth, since you and she Went walking both
together to the garden.
Mast. Bar. Dost thou hear me, girl? I must dispute with thee.
Mall. Father, the question then must not be hard, For I am very weak in
Mast. Bar. Well, this it is; I say 'tis good to marry.
Mall. And this say I, 'tis not good to marry.
Mast. Bar. Were it not good, then all men would not marry;
But now they do.
Mall. Marry, not all; but it is good to marry.
Mast. Bar. It is both good and bad; how can this be?
Mall. Why, it is good to them that marry well;
To them that marry ill, no greater hell.
Mast. Bar. If thou might marry well, wouldst thou agree?
Mall. I cannot tell; Heaven must appoint for me.
Mast. Bar. Wench, I am studying for thy good indeed.
Mall. My hopes and duty wish your thoughts good speed.
Mast. Bar. But tell me, wench, hast thou a mind to marry?
Mall. This question is too hard for bashfulness;
And, father, now ye pose my modesty.
I am a maid, and when ye ask me thus,
I, like a maid, must blush, look pale and wan,
And then look red again; for we change colour,
As our thoughts change. With true-faced passion
Of modest maidenhead I could adorn me,
And to your question make a sober courtsey,
And with close-clipped civility be silent;
Or else say "No, forsooth," or "Ay, forsooth."
If I said, "No, forsooth," I lied forsooth:
To lie upon myself were deadly sin,
Therefore I will speak truth and shame the devil.
Father, when first I heard ye name a husband,
At that same very time my spirits quickened.
Despair before had killed them, they were dead:
Because it was my hap so long to tarry,
I was persuaded I should never marry;
And sitting sewing thus upon the ground,
I fell in trance of meditation;
But coming to myself, "O Lord," said I,
"Shall it be so? must I unmarried die?"
And, being angry, father, farther said—
"Now, by Saint Anne, I will not die a maid!"
Good faith, before I came to this ripe growth,
I did accuse the labouring time of sloth;
Methought the year did run but slow about,
For I thought each year ten I was without.
Being fourteen and toward the tother year,
Good Lord, thought I, fifteen will ne'er be here!
For I have heard my mother say that then
Pretty maids were fit for handsome men:
Fifteen past, sixteen, and seventeen too,
What, thought I, will not this husband do?
Will no man marry me? have men forsworn
Such beauty and such youth? shall youth be worn
As rich men's gowns, more with age than use?
Why, then I let restrainèd fancy loose,
And bad it gaze for pleasure; then love swore me
To do whate'er mother did before me;
Yet, in good faith, I have been very loth,
But now it lies in you to save my oath:
If I shall have a husband, get him quickly,
For maids that wear cork shoes may step awry.
Mast. Bar. Believe me, wench, I do not reprehend thee,
But for this pleasant answer do commend thee.
I must confess, love doth thee mighty wrong,
But I will see thee have thy right ere long;
I know a young man, whom I hold most fit
To have thee both for living and for wit:
I will go write about it presently.
Mall. Good father, do. [Exit. BARNES
O God, methinks I should
Wife it as fine as any woman could!
I could carry a port to be obeyed,
Carry a mastering eye upon my maid,
With "Minion, do your business, or I'll make ye,"
And to all house-authority betake me.
O God! would I were married!—By my troth,
But if I be not, I swear I'll keep my oath.
Enter Mistress BARNES.
Mis. Bar. How now, minion, where have you been gadding?
Mall. Forsooth, my father called me forth to him.
Mis. Bar. Your father! and what said he to ye, I pray?
Mall. Nothing, forsooth.
Mis. Bar. Nothing! that cannot be; something he said.
Mall. Ay, something that as good as nothing was.
Mis. Bar. Come, let me hear that something-nothing, then.
Mall. Nothing but of a husband for me, mother.
Mis. Bar. A husband! that was something; but what husband?
Mall. Nay, faith, I know not, mother: would I did!
Mis. Bar. Ay, "would ye did!" i' faith, are ye so hasty?
Mall. Hasty, mother! why, how old am I?
Mis. Bar. Too young to marry.
Mall. Nay, by the mass, ye lie.
Mother, how old were you when you did marry?
Mis. Bar. How old soe'er I was, yet you shall tarry.
Mall. Then the worse for me. Hark, mother, hark!
The priest forgets that e'er he was a clerk:
When you were at my years, I'll hold my life,
Your mind was to change maidenhead for wife.
Pardon me, mother, I am of your mind,
And, by my troth, I take it but by kind.
Mis. Bar. Do ye hear, daughter? you shall stay my leisure.
Mall. Do you hear, mother? would you stay from pleasure,
When ye have mind to it? Go to, there's no wrong
Like this, to let maids lie alone so long:
Lying alone they muse but in their beds,
How they might lose their long-kept maidenheads.
This is the cause there is so many scapes,
For women that are wise will not lead apes
In hell: I tell ye, mother, I say true;
Therefore come husband: maidenhead adieu! [Exit.
Mis. Bar. Well, lusty guts, I mean to make ye stay,
And set some rubs in your mind's smoothest way.
Mis. Bar. How now, sirrah; where have you been walking?
Phil. Over the meads, half-way to Milton, mother,
To bear my friend, Frank Goursey, company.
Mis. Bar. Where's your blue coat, your sword and buckler, sir?
Get you such like habit for a serving-man,
If you will wait upon the brat of Goursey.
Phil. Mother, that you are moved, this makes me wonder;
When I departed, I did leave ye friends:
What undigested jar hath since betided?
Mis. Bar. Such as almost doth choke thy mother, boy,
And stifles her with the conceit of it;
I am abused, my son, by Goursey's wife.
Phil. By Mistress Goursey.
Mis. Bar. Mistress Flirt—yea, foul strumpet,
Light-a-love, short-heels! Mistress Goursey
Call her again, and thou wert better no.
Phil. O my dear mother, have some patience!
Mis. Bar. Ay, sir, have patience, and see your father
To rifle up the treasure of my love,
And play the spendthrift upon such an harlot!
This same will make me have patience, will it not?
Phil. This same is women's most impatience:
Yet, mother, I have often heard ye say,
That you have found my father temperate,
And ever free from such affections.
Mis. Bar. Ay, till my too much love did glut his thoughts,
And make him seek for change.
Phil. O change your mind!
My father bears more cordial love to you.
Mis. Bar. Thou liest, thou liest, for he loves Goursey's wife,
Phil. Now I swear, mother, you are much to blame;
I durst be sworn he loves you as his soul.
Mis. Bar. Wilt thou be pampered by affection?
Will nature teach thee such vile perjury?
Wilt thou be sworn, ay, forsworn, careless boy?
And if thou swear't, I say he loves me not.
Phil. Mother, he loves ye but too well, I swear,
Unless ye knew much better how to use him.
Mis. Bar. Doth he so, sir? thou unnatural boy!
"Too well," sayest thou? that word shall cost thee somewhat:
O monstrous! have I brought thee up to this?
"Too well!" O unkind, wicked, and degenerate,
Hast thou the heart to say so of thy mother?
Well, God will plague thee for't, I warrant thee:
Out on thee, villain! fie upon thee, wretch!
Out of my sight, out of my sight, I say!
Phil. This air is pleasant, and doth please me well,
And here I will stay.
Mis. Bar. Wilt thou, stubborn villain?
Re-enter Master BARNES.
Mast. Bar. How now, what's the matter?
Mis. Bar. Thou sett'st thy son to scoff and mock at me:
Is't not sufficient I am wronged of thee,
But he must be an agent to abuse me?
Must I be subject to my cradle too?
O God, O God, amend it! [Exit.
Mast. Bar. Why, how now, Philip? is this true, my son?
Phil. Dear father, she is much impatient:
Ne'er let that hand assist me in my need,
If I more said than that she thought amiss
To think that you were so licentious given;
And thus much more, when she inferred it more,
I swore an oath you loved her but too well:
In that as guilty I do hold myself.
Now that I come to more considerate trial,
I know my fault: I should have borne with her:
Blame me for rashness, then, not for want of duty.
Mast. Bar. I do absolve thee; and come hither, Philip:
I have writ a letter unto Master Goursey,
And I will tell thee the contents thereof;
But tell me first, think'st thou Frank Goursey loves thee?
Phil. If that a man devoted to a man,
Loyal, religious in love's hallowed vows—
If that a man that is sole laboursome
To work his own thoughts to his friend's delight,
May purchase good opinion with his friend,
Then I may say, I have done this so well,
That I may think Frank Goursey loves me well.
Mast. Bar. 'Tis well; and I am much deceived in him,
And if he be not sober, wise, and valiant.
Phil. I hope my father takes me for thus wise,
I will not glue myself in love to one
That hath not some desert of virtue in him:
Whate'er you think of him, believe me, father,
He will be answerable to your thoughts
In any quality commendable.
Mast. Bar. Thou cheer'st my hopes in him; and, in good faith,
Thou'st made my love complete unto thy friend:
Philip, I love him, and I love him so,
I could afford him a good wife, I know.
Phil. Father, a wife!
Mast. Bar. Philip, a wife.
Phil. I lay my life—my sister!
Mast. Bar. Ay, in good faith.
Phil. Then, father, he shall have her; he shall, I swear.
Mast. Bar. How can'st thou say so, knowing not his mind?
Phil. All's one for that; I will go to him straight.
Father, if you would seek this seven-years'-day,
You could not find a fitter match for her;
And he shall have her, I swear he shall;
He were as good be hanged, as once deny her.
I' faith, I'll to him.
Mast. Bar. Hairbrain, hairbrain, stay!
As yet we do not know his father's mind:
Why, what will Master Goursey say, my son,
If we should motion it without his knowledge?
Go to, he's a wise and discreet gentleman,
And that expects from me all honest parts;
Nor shall he fail his expectation;
First I do mean to make him privy to it:
Philip, this letter is to that effect.
Phil. Father, for God's sake, send it quickly, then:
I'll call your man. What Hugh! where's Hugh, there, ho?
Mast. Bar. Philip, if this would prove a match,
It were the only means that could be found
To make thy mother friends with Mistress Goursey.
Phil. How, a match! I'll warrant ye, a match.
My sister's fair, Frank Goursey he is rich;
Her dowry, too, will be sufficient;
Frank's young, and youth is apt to love;
And, by my troth, my sister's maidenhead
Stands like a game at tennis: if the ball
Hit into the hole, or hazard, farewell all!
Mast. Bar. How now, where's Hugh?
Phil. Why, what doth this proverbial with us?
Why, where's Hugh?
Mast. Bar. Peace, peace.
Phil. Where's Hugh, I say?
Mast. Bar. Be not so hasty, Philip.
Phil. Father, let me alone;
I do it but to make myself some sport.
This formal fool, your man, speaks nought but proverbs,
And speak men what they can to him, he'll answer
With some rhyme-rotten sentence or old saying,
Such spokes as th' ancient of the parish use,
With, "Neighbour, 'tis an old proverb and a true,
Goose giblets are good meat, old sack better than new;"
Then says another, "Neighbour, that is true:"
And when each man hath drunk his gallon round—
A penny pot, for that's the old man's gallon—
Then doth he lick his lips, and stroke his beard,
That's glued together with his slavering drops
Of yeasty ale, and when he scarce can trim
His gouty fingers, thus he'll fillip it,
And with a rotten hem, say, "Ay, my hearts,
Merry go sorry! cock and pie, my hearts"!
But then their saving penny proverb comes,
And that is this, "They that will to the wine,
By'r Lady mistress shall lay their penny to mine."
This was one of this penny-father's bastards,
For, on my life, he was never begot
Without the consent of some great proverb-monger.
Mast. Bar. O, ye are a wag.
Phil. Well, now unto my business.
'Swounds, will that mouth, that's made of old-said saws
And nothing else, say nothing to us now?
Nich. O Master Philip, forbear; you must not leap over the stile,
before you come at it; haste makes waste; soft fire makes sweet malt; not too
fast for falling; there's no haste to hang true men.
Phil. Father, we ha't, ye see, we ha't. Now will I see if my memory
will serve for some proverbs too. O—a painted cloth were as well worth a
shilling as a thief worth a halter; well, after my hearty commendations, as I
was at the making hereof, so it is, that I hope as you speed, so you're sure; a
swift horse will tire, but he that trots easily will endure. You have most
learnedly proverbed it, commending the virtue of patience or forbearance, but
yet, you know, forbearance is no quittance.
Nich. I promise ye, Master Philip, you have spoken as true as steel.
Phil. Father, there's a proverb well applied.
Nich. And it seemeth unto me, ay, it seems to me, that you, Master
Philip, mock me: do you not know, qui mocat mocabitur? mock age, and see how
it will prosper.
Phil. Why ye whoreson proverb-book bound up in folio,
Have ye no other sense to answer me
But every word a proverb? no other English?
Well, I'll fulfil a proverb on thee straight.
Nich. What is it, sir?
Phil. I'll fetch my fist from thine ear.
Nich. Bear witness, he threatens me!
Phil. That same is the coward's common proverb.
But come, come, sirrah, tell me where Hugh is.
Nich. I may an I will; I need not, except I list; you shall not command
me, you give me neither meat, drink, nor wages; I am your father's man, and a
man's a man, an a have but a hose on his head; do not misuse me so, do not; for
though he that is bound must obey, yet he that will not tarry, may run
away—so he may.
Mast. Bar. Peace, Nick, I'll see he shall use thee well;
Go to, peace, sirrah: here, Nick, take this letter,
Carry it to him to whom it is directed.
Nich. To whom is it?
Mast. Bar. Why, read it: canst thou read?
Nich. Forsooth, though none of the best, yet meanly.
Mast. Bar. Why, dost thou not use it?
Nich. Forsooth, as use makes perfectness, so seldom seen is soon
Mast. Bar. Well-said: but go: it is to Master Goursey.
Phil. Now, sir, what proverb have ye to deliver a letter?
Nich. What need you to care? who speaks to you? you may speak when ye
are spoken to, and keep your wind to cool your pottage. Well, well, you are my
master's son, and you look for his land; but they that hope for dead men's shoes
may hap go barefoot: take heed, as soon goes the young sheep to the pot as the
old. I pray God save my master's life, for seldom comes the better!
Phil. O, he hath given it me! Farewell, Proverbs.
Nich. Farewell, frost.
Phil. Shall I fling an old shoe after ye?
Nich. No; you should say, God send fair weather after me!
Phil. I mean for good luck.
Nich. A good luck on ye! [Exit.
Mast. Bar. Alas, poor fool! he uses all his wit.
Philip, in faith this mirth hath cheerèd thought,
And cosened it of his right play of passion.
Go after Nick, and when thou think'st he's there,
Go in and urge to that which I have writ:
I'll in these meadows make a circling walk,
And in my meditation conjure so,
As that same fiend of thought, self-eating anger,
Shall by my spells of reason vanish quite:
Away, and let me hear from thee to-night.
Phil. To-night! yes, that you shall: but hark ye, father;
Look that you my sister waking keep,
For Frank, I swear, shall kiss her, ere I sleep. [Exeunt.
SCENE II.—Inside Master GOURSEY'S House.
Enter FRANCIS and Boy.
Fran. I am very dry with walking o'er the green.—
Butler, some beer! Sirrah, call the butler.
Boy. Nay, faith, sir, we must have some smith to give the butler a
drench, or cut him in the forehead, for he hath got a horse's disease, namely
the staggers; to night he's a good huswife, he reels all that he wrought to-day;
and he were good now to play at dice, for he casts excellent well.
Fran. How mean'st thou? is he drunk?
Boy. I cannot tell; but I am sure he hath more liquor in him than a
whole dicker of hides; he's soaked thoroughly, i' faith:
Fran. Well, go and call him; bid him bring me drink.
Boy. I will, sir. [Exit.
Fran. My mother pouts, and will look merrily
Neither upon my father nor on me:
He says she fell out with Mistress Barnes to-day;
Then I am sure they'll not be quickly friends.
Good Lord, what kind of creatures women are!
Their love is lightly won and lightly lost;
And then their hate is deadly and extreme:
He that doth take a wife betakes himself
To all the cares and troubles of the world.
Now her disquietness doth grieve my father,
Grieves me, and troubles all the house besides.
What, shall I have some drink? [Horn sounded within]—
How now? a horn!
Belike the drunken knave is fall'n asleep,
And now the boy doth wake him with his horn.
How now, sirrah, where's the butler?
Boy. Marry, sir, where he was even now, asleep; but I waked him, and
when he waked he thought he was in Master Barnes's buttery, for he stretched
himself thus, and yawning, said, "Nick, honest Nick, fill a fresh bowl of ale;
stand to it, Nick, an thou beest a man of God's making, stand to it;" and then I
winded my horn, and he's horn-mad.
Hod. Boy, hey! ho, boy! an thou beest a man, draw—O, here's a
blessed moonshine, God be thanked!—Boy, is not this goodly weather for
Boy. Spoken like a right malstter, Hodge; but dost thou hear? thou art
Hod. No, I scorn that, i' faith.
Boy. But thy fellow Dick Coomes is mightily drunk.
Hod. Drunk! a plague on it, when a man cannot carry his drink well!
'sblood, I'll stand to it.
Boy. Hold, man; see, an thou canst stand first.
Hod. Drunk! he's a beast, an he be drunk; there's no man that is a
sober man will be drunk; he's a boy, an he be drunk.
Boy. No, he's a man as thou art.
Hod. Thus 'tis, when a man will not be ruled by his friends: I bad him
keep under the lee, but he kept down the weather two bows; I told him he would
be taken with a planet, but the wisest of us all may fall.
Boy. True, Hodge. [Boy trips him.
Hod. Whoop! lend me thy hand, Dick, I am fallen into a well; lend me thy
hand, I shall be drowned else.
Boy. Hold fast by the bucket, Hodge.
Hod. A rope on it!
Boy. Ay, there is a rope on it; but where art thou, Hodge?
Hod. In a well; I prithee, draw up.
Boy. Come, give up thy body; wind up, hoist!
Hod. I am over head and ears.
Boy. In all, Hodge, in all
Fran. How loathsome is this beast-man's shape to me, This mould of
reason so unreasonable!—
Sirrah, why dost thou trip him down, seeing he's drunk?
Boy. Because, sir, I would have drunkards cheap.
Fran. How mean ye?
Boy. Why, they say that, when anything hath a fall, it is cheap; and so
Fran. Go to, help him up: [Knocking without] but, hark, who knocks?
[Boy goes to the door and returns.
Boy. Sir, here's one of Master Barnes's men with a letter to my old
Fran. Which of them is it?
Boy. They call him Nicholas, sir.
Fran. Go, call him in. [Exit Boy.
Coomes. By your leave, ho! How now, young master, how is't?
Fran. Look ye, sirrah, where your fellow lies; He's in a fine taking,
is he not?
Coomes. Whoop, Hodge! where art thou, man, where art thou?
Hod. O, in a well.
Coomes. In a well, man! nay, then thou art deep in understanding.
Fran. Ay, one to-day you were almost so, sir.
Coomes. Who, I! go to, young master, I do not like this humour in ye, I
tell ye true; give every man his due, and give him no more: say I was in such a
case! go to, 'tis the greatest indignation that can be offered to a man; and,
but a man's more godlier given, you were able to make him swear out his heart-
blood. What, though that honest Hodge have cut his finger here, or, as some say,
cut a feather: what, though he be mump, misled, blind, or as it were—'tis
no consequent to me: you know I have drunk all the alehouses in Abington dry,
and laid the taps on the tables, when I had done: 'sblood, I'll challenge all
the true rob-pots in Europe to leap up to the chin in a barrel of beer, and if I
cannot drink it down to my foot, ere I leave, and then set the tap in the midst
of the house, and then turn a good turn on the toe on it, let me be counted
nobody, a pingler,—nay, let me be bound to drink nothing but small-beer
seven years after—and I had as lief be hanged.
Fran. Peace, sir, I must speak with one.—Nicholas, I think, your
Nich. True as the skin between your brows.
Fran. Well, how doth thy master?
Nich. Forsooth, live, and the best doth no better.
Fran. Where is the letter he hath sent me?
Nich. Ecce signum! here it is.
Fran. 'Tis right as Philip said, 'tis a fine fool [Aside].—
This letter is directed to my father;
I'll carry it to him. Dick Coomes, make him drink.
Coomes. Ay, I'll make him drunk, an he will.
Nich. Not so, Richard; it is good to be merry and wise.
Coomes. Well, Nicholas, as thou art Nicholas, welcome; but as thou art
Nicholas and a boon companion, ten times welcome. Nicholas, give me thy hand:
shall we be merry? an we shall, say but we shall, and let the first word stand.
Nich. Indeed, as long lives the merry man as the sad; an ounce of debt
will not pay a pound of care.
Coomes. Nay, a pound of care will not pay an ounce of debt.
Nich. Well, 'tis a good horse never stumbles: but who lies here?
Coomes. 'Tis our Hodge, and I think he lies asleep: you made him drunk
at your house to-day; but I'll pepper some of you for't.
Nich. Ay, Richard, I know you'll put a man over the shoes, and if you
can; but he's a fool will take more than will do him good.
Coomes. 'Sblood, ye shall take more than will do ye good, or I'll make
ye clap under the table.
Nich. Nay, I hope, as I have temperance to forbear drink, so have I
patience to endure drink: I'll do as company doth; for when a man doth to Rome
come, he must do as there is done.
Coomes. Ha, my resolved Nick, froligozene! Fill the pot, hostess;
'swouns, you whore! Harry Hook's a rascal. Help me, but carry my fellow Hodge
in, and we'll carouse it, i' faith. [Exeunt.
SCENE III.—Before Master GOURSEY'S House.
Phil. By this, I think, the letter is delivered,
And 'twill be shortly time that I step in,
And woo their favours for my sister's fortune:
And yet I need not; she may do as well,
But yet not better, as the case doth stand
Between our mothers; it may make them friends;
Nay, I would swear that she would do as well,
Were she a stranger to one quality;
But they are so acquainted, they'll ne'er part.
Why, she will flout the devil, and make blush
The boldest face of man that e'er man saw;
He that hath best opinion of his wit,
And hath his brainpan fraught with bitter jests,
Or of his own, or stol'n, or howsoever,
Let him stand ne'er so high in his own conceit,
Her wit's a sun that melts him down like butter,
And makes him sit at table pancake-wise,
Flat, fiat, God knows, and ne'er a word to say;
Yet she'll not leave him then, but like a tyrant
She'll persecute the poor wit-beaten man,
And so bebang him with dry bobs and scoffs,
When he is down, most coward-like, good faith,
As I have pitied the poor patient.
There came a farmer's son a-wooing to her,
A proper man: well-landed too he was,
A man that for his wit need not to ask
what time a year 'twere good to sow his oats,
Nor yet his barley; no, nor when to reap,
To plough his fallows, or to fell his trees,
Well-experienced thus each kind of way;
After a two months' labour at the most—
And yet 'twas well he held it out so long—
He left his love, she had so laced his lips
He could say nothing to her but "God be with ye!"
Why she, when men have dined and call for cheese,
Will straight maintain jests bitter to disgest;
And then some one will fall to argument,
Who if he over-master her with reason,
Then she'll begin to buffet him with mocks.
Well, I do doubt Francis hath so much spleen,
They'll ne'er agree; but I will moderate.
By this time it is time, I think, to enter:
This is the house; shall I knock? no; I will not.
Nor wait, while one comes out to answer me:
I'll in, and let them be as bold with us. [Exit.
SCENE IV.—A Room in Master GOURSEY'S House.
Enter Master GOURSEY, reading a letter.
Mast. Gour. "If that they like, her dowry shall be equal
To your son's wealth or possibility:
It is a means to make our wives good friends,
And to continue friendship 'twixt us two."
'Tis so, indeed: I like this motion,
And it hath my consent, because my wife
Is sore infected and heart-sick with hate;
And I have sought the Galen of advice,
Which only tells me this same potion
To be most sovereign for her sickness' cure.
Enter FRANCIS and PHILIP.
Here comes my son, conferring with his friend.—
Francis, how do you like your friend's discourse?
I know he is persuading to this motion.
Fran. Father, as matter that befits a friend,
But yet not me, that am too young to marry.
Mast. Gour. Nay, if thy mind be forward with thy years,
The time is lost thou tarriest. Trust me, boy,
This match is answerable to thy birth;
Her blood and portion give each other grace;
These indented lines promise a sum,
And I do like the value: if it hap
Thy liking to accord to my consent,
It is a match. Wilt thou go see the maid?
Fran. Ne'er trust me, father, the shackles of marriage,
Which I do see in others, seem so severe,
I dare not put my youngling liberty
Under the awe of that instruction;
And yet I grant the limits of free youth
Going astray are often restrained by that.
But Mistress Wedlock, to my scholar-thoughts,
Will be too cursed, I fear: O, should she snip
My pleasure-aiming mind, I shall be sad,
And swear, when I did marry, I was mad!
Mast. Gour. But, boy, let my experience teach thee this—
Yet, in good faith, thou speak'st not much amiss—
When first thy mother's fame to me did come,
Thy grandsire thus then came to me his son,
And even my words to thee to me he said,
And as to me thou say'st to him I said,—
But in a greater huff and hotter blood,
I tell ye, on youth's tip-toes then I stood—
Says he (good faith, this was his very say),
"When I was young, I was but reason's fool,
And went to wedding as to wisdom's school;
It taught me much, and much I did forget,
But, beaten much, by it I got some wit;
Though I was shackled from an often scout,
Yet I would wanton it, when I was out;
'Twas comfort old acquaintance then to meet,
Restrainèd liberty attained is sweet."
Thus said my father to thy father, son,
And thou mayst do this too, as I have done.
Phil. In faith, good counsel, Frank: what say'st thou to it?
Fran. Philip, what should I say?
Phil. Why, either ay or no.
Fran. O, but which rather?
Phil. Why, that which was persuaded by thy father.
Fran. That's ay then. Ay. O, should it fall out ill, Then I, for I am
guilty of that ill!—
I'll not be guilty. No.
Phil. What, backward gone!
Fran. Philip, no whit backward; that is, on.
Phil. On, then.
Fran. O, stay!
Phil. Tush, there is no good luck in this delay.
Come, come; late-comers, man, are shent.
Fran. Heigho, I fear I shall repent!
Well, which way, Philip?
Phil. Why, this way.
Fran. Canst thou tell,
And takest upon thee to be my guide to hell?—
But which way, father?
Mast. Gour. That way.
Fran. Ay, you know,
You found the way to sorrow long ago.
Father, God be wi' ye: you have sent your son
To seek on earth an earthly day of doom,
Where I shall be adjudged, alack the ruth,
To penance for the follies of my youth!
Well, I must go; but, by my troth, my mind
Is not capable to love in that kind.
O, I have looked upon this mould of men,
As I have done upon a lion's den!
Praisèd I have the gallant beast I saw,
Yet wished me no acquaintance with his paw:
And must I now be grated with them? well,
Yet I may hap to prove a Daniel;
And, if I do, sure it would make me laugh,
To be among wild beasts and yet be safe.
Is there a remedy to abate their rage?
Yes, many catch them, and put them in a cage.
Ay, but how catch them? marry, in your hand
Carry me forth a burning firebrand,
For with his sparkling shine, old rumour says,
A firebrand the swiftest runner frays:
This I may do; but, if it prove not so,
Then man goes out to seek his adjunct woe.
Philip, away! and, father, now adieu!
In quest of sorrow I am sent by you.
Mast. Gour. Return, the messenger of joy, my son.
Fran. Seldom in this world such a work is done.
Phil. Nay, nay, make haste, it will be quickly night.
Fran. Why, is it not good to woo by candle-light?
Phil. But, if we make not haste, they'll be abed.
Fran. The better, candles out and curtains spread.
[Exeunt FRANCIS and PHILIP
Mast. Gour. I know, though that my son's years be not many,
Yet he hath wit to woo as well as any.
Here comes my wife: I am glad my boy is gone,
Enter Mistress GOURSEY.
Ere she came hither. How now, wife? how is't?
What, are yet yet in charity and love
With Mistress Barnes?
Mis. Gour. With Mistress Barnes! why Mistress Barnes, I pray?
Mast. Gour. Because she is your neighbour and—
Mis. Gour. And what?
And a jealous, slandering, spiteful quean she is,
One that would blur my reputation
With her opprobrious malice, if she could;
She wrongs her husband, to abuse my fame:
'Tis known that I have lived in honest name
All my lifetime, and been your right true wife.
Mast. Gour. I entertain no other thought, my wife,
And my opinion's sound of your behaviour.
Mis. Gour. And my behaviour is as sound as it;
But her ill-speeches seeks to rot my credit,
And eat it with the worm of hate and malice.
Mast. Gour. Why, then, preserve it you by patience.
Mis. Gour. By patience! would ye have me shame myself,
And cosen myself to bear her injuries?
Not while her eyes be open will I yield
A word, a letter, a syllable's value,
But equal and make even her wrongs to me
To her again.
Mast. Gour. Then, in good faith, wife, ye are more to blame.
Mis. Gour. Am I to blame, sir? pray, what letter's this? [Snatches the letter.
Mast. Gour. There is a dearth of manners in ye, wife, Rudely to snatch it
from me. Give it me.
Mis. Gour. You shall not have it, sir, till I have read it.
Mast. Gour. Give me it, then, and I will read it to you.
Mis. Gour. No, no, it shall not need: I am a scholar Good enough to
read a letter, sir.
Mast. Gour. God's passion, if she know but the contents,
She'll seek to cross this match! she shall not read it.
Wife, give it me; come, come, give it me.
Mis. Gour. Husband, in very deed, you shall not have it.
Mast. Gour. What, will you move me to impatience, then?
Mis. Gour. Tut, tell me not of your impatience;
But since you talk, sir, of impatience,
You shall not have the letter, by this light,
Till I have read it; soul, I'll burn it first!
Mast. Gour. Go to, ye move me, wife; give me the letter;
In troth, I shall grow angry, if you do not.
Mis. Gour. Grow to the house-top with your anger, sir!
Ne'er tell me, I care not thus much for it.
Mast. Gour. Well, I can bear enough, but not too much.
Come, give it me; 'twere best you be persuaded;
By God—ye make me swear—now God forgive me!—
Give me, I say, and stand not long upon it;
Go to, I am angry at the heart, my very heart.
Mis. Gour. Heart me no hearts! you shall not have it, sir,
No, you shall not; ne'er look so big,
I will not be afraid at your great looks;
You shall not have it, no, you shall not have it.
Mast. Gour. Shall I not have it? in troth, I'll try that:
Minion, I'll ha' 't; shall I not ha' 't?—I am loth—
Go to, take pausement, be advised—
In faith, I will; and stand not long upon it—
A woman of your years! I am ashamed
A couple of so long continuance
Should thus—God's foot—I cry God heart'ly mercy!—
Go to, ye vex me; and I'll vex ye for it;
Before I leave ye, I will make ye glad
To tender it on your knees; hear ye, I will, I will.
What, worse and worse stomach! true faith,
Shall I be crossed by you in my old age?
And where I should have greatest comfort, too,
A nurse of you?—nurse in the devil's name!—
Go to, mistress; by God's precious deer,
If ye delay—
Mis. Gour. Lord, Lord, why, in what a fit
Are you in, husband! so enraged, so moved,
And for so slight a cause, to read a letter!
Did this letter, love, contain my death,
Should you deny my sight of it, I would not
Nor see my sorrow nor eschew my danger,
But willingly yield me a patient
Unto the doom that your displeasure gave.
Here is the letter; not for that your incensement
[Gives back the letter.
Makes me make offer of it, but your health,
Which anger, I do fear, hath crazed,
And viper-like hath sucked away the blood
That wont was to be cheerful in this cheek:
How pale ye look!
Mast. Gour. Pale! Can ye blame me for it? I tell you true,
An easy matter could not thus have moved me.
Well, this resignment—and so forth—but, woman,
This fortnight shall I not forget ye for it.—
Ha, ha, I see that roughness can do somewhat!
I did not think, good faith, I could have set
So sour a face upon it, and to her,
My bed-embracer, my right bosom friend.
I would not that she should have seen the letter—
As poor a man as I am—by my troth,
For twenty pound: well, I am glad I have it. [Aside.
Ha, here's ado about a thing of nothing!
What, stomach, ha! 'tis happy you're come down. [Exit.
Mis. Gour. Well, crafty fox, I'll hunt ye, by my troth,
Deal ye so closely! Well, I see his drift:
He would not let me see the letter, lest
That I should cross the match; and I will cross it.
Mis. Gour. Come hither, Dick; thou art a man I love, And one whom I
have much in my regard.
Coomes. I thank ye for it, mistress, I thank ye for it.
Mis. Gour. Nay, here's my hand, I will do very much
For thee, if e'er thou stand'st in need of me;
Thou shalt not lack, whilst thou hast a day to live,
Coomes. And sword and bucklers?
Mis. Gour. And sword and bucklers too, my gallant Dick,
So thou wilt use but this in my defence.
[Pointing to his sword.
Coomes. This! no, faith, I have no mind to this; break my head, if this
break not, if we come to any tough play. Nay, mistress, I had a sword, ay, the
flower of Smithfield for a sword, a right fox, i' faith; with that, an a man had
come over with a smooth and a sharp stroke, it would have cried twang, and then,
when I had doubled my point, traced my ground, and had carried my buckler before
me like a garden-butt, and then come in with a cross blow, and over the pick of
his buckler two ells long, it would have cried twang, twang, metal, metal: but a
dog hath his day; 'tis gone, and there are few good ones made now. I see by this
dearth of good swords, that dearth of sword-and-buckler fight begins to grow
out: I am sorry for it; I shall never see good manhood again, if it be once
gone; this poking fight of rapier and dagger will come up then; then a man, a
tall man, and a good sword-and-buckler man, will be spitted like a cat or a
coney; then a boy will be as good as a man, unless the Lord show mercy unto us;
well, I had as lief be hanged as live to see that day. Well, mistress, what
shall I do? what shall I do?
Mis. Gour. Why, this, brave Dick. Thou knowest that Barnes's wife
And I am foes: now, man me to her house;
And though it be dark, Dick, yet we'll have no light,
Lest that thy master should prevent our journey
By seeing our depart. Then, when we come,
And if that she and I do fall to words,
Set in thy foot and quarrel with her men,
Draw, fight, strike, hurt, but do not kill the slaves,
And make as though thou struckest at a man,
And hit her, an thou canst,—a plague upon her!—
She hath misused me, Dick: wilt thou do this?
Coomes. Yes, mistress, I will strike her men; but God forbid that e'er
Dick Coomes should be seen to strike a woman!
Mis. Gour. Why, she is mankind; therefore thou mayest strike her.
Coomes. Mankind! nay, an she have any part of a man, I'll strike her, I
Mis. Gour. That's my good Dick, that's my sweet Dick!
Coomes. 'Swouns, who would not be a man of valour to have such words of
a gentlewoman! one of their words are more to me than twenty of these russet-
coats, cheese-cakes, and butter-makers. Well, I thank God, I am none of these
cowards; well, an a man have any virtue in him, I see he shall be regarded.
Mis. Gour. Art thou resolved, Dick? wilt thou do this for me?
And if thou wilt, here is an earnest-penny
Of that rich guerdon I do mean to give thee.
Coomes. An angel, mistress! let me see. Stand you on my left hand, and
let the angel lie on my buckler on my right hand, for fear of losing. Now, here
stand I to be tempted. They say, every man hath two spirits attending on him,
either good or bad; now, I say, a man hath no other spirits but either his
wealth or his wife: now, which is the better of them? Why, that is as they are
used; for use neither of them well, and they are both nought. But this is a
miracle to me, that gold that is heavy hath the upper, and a woman that is light
doth soonest fall, considering that light things aspire, and heavy things
soonest go down: but leave these considerations to Sir John; they become a
black-coat better than a blue. Well, mistress, I had no mind to-day to quarrel;
but a woman is made to be a man's seducer; you say, quarrel?
Mis. Gour. Ay.
Coomes. There speaks an angel: is it good?
Mis. Gour. Ay.
Coomes. Then, I cannot do amiss; the good angel goes with me.
ACT THE THIRD.
SCENE I.—In the Forest.
Enter SIR RALPH SMITH, LADY SMITH, WILL, and Attendants.
SIR RALPH. Come on, my hearts: i' faith, it is ill luck
To hunt all day, and not kill anything.
What sayest thou lady? art thou weary yet?
L. Smith. I must not say so, sir.
Sir Ralph. Although thou art!
Will. And can you blame her, to be forth so long,
And see no better sport?
Sir Ralph. Good faith, 'twas very hard.
L. Smith. No, 'twas not ill,
Because, you know, it is not good to kill.
Sir Ralph. Yes, venison, lady.
L. Smith. No, indeed, nor them;
Life is as dear in deer as 'tis in men.
Sir Ralph. But they are killed for sport.
L. Smith. But that's bad play,
When they are made to sport their lives away.
Sir Ralph. 'Tis fine to see them run.
L. Smith. What, out of breath?
They run but ill that run themselves to death.
Sir Ralph. They might make, then, less haste, and keep their wind.
L. Smith. Why, then, they see the hounds brings death behind.
Sir Ralph. Then, 'twere as good for them at first to stay,
As to run long, and run their lives away.
L. Smith. Ay, but the stoutest of you all that's here
Would run from death and nimbly scud for fear.
Now, by my troth, I pity these poor elves.
Sir Ralph. Well, they have made us but bad sport to-day.
L. Smith. Yes, 'twas my sport to see them 'scape away.
Will. I wish that I had been at one buck's fall.
L. Smith. Out, thou wood-tyrant! thou art worst of all.
Will. A wood-man, lady, but no tyrant I.
L. Smith. Yes, tyrant-like thou lov'st to see lives die.
Sir Ralph. Lady, no more: I do not like this luck,
To hunt all day, and yet not kill a buck.
Well, it is late; but yet I swear I will
Stay here all night, but I a buck will kill.
L. Smith. All night! nay, good Sir Ralph Smith, do not so.
Sir Ralph. Content ye, lady. Will, go fetch my bow:
A bevy of fair roes I saw to-day
Down by the groves, and there I'll take my stand,
And shoot at one—God send a lucky hand!
L. Smith. Will ye not, then, Sir Ralph, go home with me?
Sir Ralph. No, but my men shall bear thee company.—
Sirs, man her home. Will, bid the huntsmen couple,
And bid them well reward their hounds to-night.—
Lady, farewell. Will, haste ye with the bow;
I'll stay for thee here by the grove below.
Will. I will; but 'twill be dark, I shall not see:
How shall I see ye, then?
Sir Ralph. Why, halloo to me, and I will answer thee.
Will. Enough, I will.
Sir Ralph. Farewell. [Exit.
L. Smith. How willingly dost thou consent to go
To fetch thy master that same killing bow!
Will. Guilty of death I willing am in this,
Because 'twas our ill-haps to-day to miss:
To hunt, and not to kill, is hunter's sorrow.
Come, lady, we'll have venison ere to-morrow.
SCENE II.—Outside Master BARNES'S House.
Enter PHILIP and FRANCIS.
Phil. Come, Frank, now are we hard by the house:
But how now? Sad?
Fran. No, to study how to woo thy sister.
Phil. How, man? how to woo her! why, no matter how;
I am sure thou wilt not be ashamed to woo.
Thy cheek's not subject to a childish blush,
Thou hast a better warrant by thy wit;
I know thy oratory can unfold
A quick invention, plausible discourse,
And set such painted beauty on thy tongue,
As it shall ravish every maiden sense;
For, Frank, thou art not like the russet youth
I told thee of, that went to woo a wench,
And being full stuffed up with fallow wit
And meadow-matter, asked the pretty maid
How they sold corn last market-day with them,
Saying, "Indeed, 'twas very dear with us."
And, do ye hear, ye had not need be so,
For she will, Francis, throughly try your wit;
Sirrah, she'll bow the metal of your wits,
And, if they crack, she will not hold ye current;
Nay, she will weigh your wit, as men weigh angels,
And, if it lack a grain, she will not change with ye.
I cannot speak it but in passion,
She is a wicked wench to make a jest;
Ah me, how full of flouts and mocks she is!
Fran. Some aqua-vitæ reason to recover
This sick discourser! Sound not, prythee, Philip.
Tush, tush, I do not think her as thou sayest:
Perhaps she is opinion's darling, Philip,
Wise in repute, the crow's bird. O my friend,
Some judgments slave themselves to small desert,
And wondernise the birth of common wit,
When their own strangeness do but make that strange,
And their ill errors do but make that good:
And why should men debase to make that good?
Perhaps such admiration wins her wit.
Phil. Well, I am glad to hear this bold prepare
For this encounter. Forward, hardy Frank!
Yonder's the window with the candle in't;
Belike she's putting on her night attire:
I told ye, Frank, 'twas late. Well, I will call her,
Marry, softly, that my mother may not hear.
Mall, sister Mall!
MALL appears at the window.
Mall. How now, who's there?
Phil. 'Tis I.
Mall. 'Tis I! Who I? I, quoth the dog, or what?
A Christcross row I?
Phil. No, sweet pinkany.
Mall. O, is't you, wild-oats?
Phil. Ay, forsooth, wanton.
Mall. Well said, scapethrift.
Fran. Philip, be these your usual best salutes?
Phil. Is this the harmless chiding of that dove?
Fran. Dove! One of those that draw the queen of love? [Aside.
Mall. How now? who's that, brother? who's that with ye?
Phil. A gentleman, my friend.
Mall. By'r lady, he hath a pure wit.
Fran. How means your holy judgment?
Mall. O, well put-in, sir!
Fran. Up, you would say.
Mall. Well climbed, gentleman!
I pray, sir, tell me, do you cart the queen of love?
Fran. Not cart her, but couch her in your eye,
And a fit place for gentle love to lie.
Mall. Ay, but methinks you speak without the book,
To place a four-wheel waggon in my look:
Where will you have room to have the coachman sit?
Fran. Nay, that were but small manners, and not fit:
His duty is before you bare to stand,
Having a lusty whipstock in his hand.
Mall. The place is void; will you provide me one?
Fran. And if you please, I will supply the room.
Mall. But are ye cunning in the carman's lash?
And can ye whistle well?
Fran. Yes, I can well direct the coach of love.
Mall. Ah, cruel carter! would you whip a dove?
Phil. Hark ye, sister—
Mall. Nay, but hark ye, brother;
Whose white boy is that same? know ye his mother?
Phil. He is a gentleman of a good house.
Mall. Why, is his house of gold?
Is it not made of lime and stone like this?
Phil. I mean he's well-descended.
Mall. God be thanked!
Did he descend some steeple or some ladder?
Phil. Well, you will still be cross; I tell ye, sister—
This gentleman, by all your friends' consent
Must be your husband.
Mall. Nay, not all, some sing another note;
My mother will say no, I hold a groat.
But I thought 'twas somewhat, he would be a carter;
He hath been whipping lately some blind bear,
And now he would ferk the blind boy here with us.
Phil. Well, do you hear, you, sister, mistress that would have—
You that do long for somewhat, I know what—
My father told me—go to, I'll tell all,
If ye be cross—do you hear me? I have laboured
A year's work in this afternoon for ye:
Come from your cloister, votary, chaste nun,
Come down and kiss Frank Goursey's mother's son.
Mall. Kiss him, I pray?
Phil. Go to, stale maidenhead! come down, I say,
You seventeen and upward, come, come down;
You'll stay till twenty else for your wedding gown.
Mall. Nun, votary, stale maidenhead, seventeen and upward!
Here be names! what, nothing else?
Fran. Yes, or a fair-built steeple without bells.
Mall. Steeple! good people, nay, another cast.
Fran. Ay, or a well-made ship without a mast.
Mall. Fie, not so big, sir, by one part of four.
Fran. Why, then, ye are a boat without an oar.
Mall. O well rowed wit! but what's your fare, I pray?
Fran. Your fair self must be my fairest pay.
Mall. Nay, an you be so dear, I'll choose another.
Fran. Why, take your first man, wench, and go no further. [Aside.
Phil. Peace, Francis. Hark ye, sister, this I say:
You know my mind; or answer ay or nay.
Your wit and judgment hath resolved his mind,
And he foresees what after he shall find:
If such discretion, then, shall govern you,
Vow love to him, he'll do the like to you.
Mall. Vow love! who would not love such a comely feature,
Nor high nor low, but of the middle stature?
A middle man, that's the best size indeed;
I like him well: love grant us well to speed!
Fran. And let me see a woman of that tallness,
So slender and of such a middle smallness,
So old enough, and in each part so fit,
So fair, so kind, endued with so much wit,
Of so much wit as it is held a wonder,
'Twere pity to keep love and her asunder;
Therefore go up, my joy, call down my bliss;
Bid her come seal the bargain with a kiss.
Mall. Frank, Frank, I come through dangers, death, and harms,
To make love's patent with my seal of arms.
Phil. But, sister, softly, lest my mother hear.
Mall. Hush, then; mum, mouse in cheese, cat is near [Exit MALL.
Fran. Now, in good faith, Philip, this makes me smile,
That I have wooed and won in so small while.
Phil. Francis, indeed my sister, I dare say,
Was not determinèd to say thee nay;
For this same tother thing, called maidenhead,
Hangs by so small a hair or spider's thread,
And worn so too with time, it must needs fall,
And, like a well-lured hawk, she knows her call.
Mall. Whist, brother, whist! my mother heard my tread,
And asked, "Who's there?" I would not answer her,
She called, "A light!" and up she's gone to seek me:
There when she finds me not, she'll hither come;
Therefore dispatch, let it be quickly done.
Francis, my love's lease I do let to thee,
Date of my life and thine: what sayest thou to me?
The ent'ring, fine, or income thou must pay,
Are kisses and embraces every day;
And quarterly I must receive my rent;
You know my mind?
Fran. I guess at thy intent:
Thou shalt not miss a minute of thy time.
Mall. Why, then, sweet Francis, I am only thine.—
Brother, bear witness.
Phil. Do ye deliver this as your deed?
Mall. I do, I do.
Phil. God send ye both good speed!
God's Lord, my mother! Stand aside,
And closely too, lest that you be espied.
Enter Mistress BARNES.
Mis. Bar. Who's there?
Phil. Mother, 'tis I.
Mis. Bar. You disobedient ruffian, careless wretch,
That said your father loved me but too well!
I'll think on't, when thou think'st I have forgot it:
Who's with thee else?—How now, minion? you!
With whom? with him!—Why, what make you here, sir, [Discovers FRANCIS
And thus late too? what, hath your mother sent ye
To cut my throat, that here you be in wait?—
Come from him, mistress, and let go his hand.—
Will ye not, sir?
Fran. Stay, Mistress Barnes, or mother—what ye will;
She is my wife, and here she shall be still.
Mis. Bar. How, sir? your wife! wouldst thou my daughter have?
I'll rather have her married to her grave.
Go to; be gone, and quickly, or I swear
I'll have my men beat ye for staying here.
Phil. Beat him, mother! as I am true man,
They were better beat the devil and his dam.
Mis. Bar. What, wilt thou take his part?
Phil. To do him good,
An 'twere to wade hitherto up in blood.
Fran. God-a-mercy, Philip!—But, mother, hear me.
Mis. Bar. Call'st thou me mother? no, thy mother's name
Carries about with it reproach and shame.
Give me my daughter: ere that she shall wed
A strumpet's son, and have her so misled,
I'll marry her to a carter; come, I say,
Give me her from thee.
Fran. Mother, not to-day,
Nor yet to-morrow, till my life's last morrow
Make me leave that which I with leave did borrow:
Here I have borrowed love, I'll not denay it.—
Thy wedding night's my day, then I'll repay it.—
Till then she'll trust me. Wench, is't not so?
And if it be, say "ay," if not, say "no."
Mall. Mother, good mother, hear me! O good God,
Now we are even, what, would you make us odd?
Now, I beseech ye, for the love of Christ,
To give me leave once to do what I list.
I am as you were, when you were a maid;
Guess by yourself how long you would have stayed,
Might you have had your will: as good begin
At first as last, it saves us from much sin;
Lying alone, we muse on things and things,
And in our minds one thought another brings:
This maid's life, mother, is an idle life,
Therefore I'll be, ay, I will be a wife;
And, mother, do not mistrust my age or power,
I am sufficient, I lack ne'er an hour;
I had both wit to grant, when he did woo me,
And strength to bear whate'er he can do to me.
Mis. Bar. Well, bold-face, but I mean to make ye stay.
Go to, come from him, or I'll make ye come:
Will ye not come?
Phil. Mother, I pray, forbear;
This match is for my sister.
Mis. Bar. Villain, 'tis not;
Nor she shall not be so matched now.
Phil. In troth, she shall, and your unruly hate
Shall not rule us! we'll end all this debate
By this begun device.
Mis. Bar. Ay, end what you begun! Villains, thieves,
Give me my daughter! will ye rob me of her?—
Help, help! they'll rob me here, they'll rob me here!
Enter Master BARNES, NICHOLAS and BOY.
Mast. Bar. How now? what outcry's here? why, how now, woman?
Mis. Bar. Why, Goursey's son, confederate with this boy,
This wretch unnatural and undutiful,
Seeks hence to steal my daughter: will you suffer it?
Shall he, that's son to my arch-enemy,
Enjoy her? Have I brought her up to this.
O God, he shall not have her, no, he shall not!
Mast. Bar. I am sorry she knows it. [Aside.]—Hark ye, wife,
Let reason moderate your rage a little.
If you examine but his birth and living,
His wit and good behaviour, you will say,
Though that ill-hate make your opinion bad,
He doth deserve as good a wife as she.
Mis. Bar. Why, will you give consent he shall enjoy her?
Mast. Bar. Ay, so that thy mind would agree with mine.
Mis. Bar. My mind shall ne'er agree to this agreement.
Enter Mistress GOURSEY and COOMES.
Mast. Bar. And yet it shall go forward:—but who's here?
What, Mistress Goursey! how knew she of this?
Phil. Frank, thy mother!
Fran. 'Sowns, where? a plague upon it!
I think the devil is set to cross this match.
Mis. Gour. This is the house, Dick Coomes, and yonder's th' light:
Let us go near. How now? methinks I see
My son stand hand in hand with Barnes's daughter.
Why, how now, sirrah? is this time of night
For you to be abroad? what have we here?
I hope that love hath not thus coupled you.
Fran. Love, by my troth, mother, love: she loves me,
And I love her; then we must needs agree.
Mis. Bar. Ay, but I'll keep her sure enough from thee.
Mis. Gour. It shall no need, I'll keep him safe enough;
Be sure he shall not graft in such a stock.
Mis. Bar. What stock, forsooth? as good a stock as thine:
I do not mean that he shall graft in mine.
Mis. Gour. Nor shall he, mistress. Hark, boy; th'art but mad
To love the branch that hath a root so bad.
Fran. Then, mother, I will graft a pippin on a crab.
Mis. Gour. It will not prove well.
Fran. But I will prove my skill.
Mis. Bar. Sir, but you shall not.
Fran. Mothers both, I will.
Mast. Bar. Hark, Philip: send away thy sister straight;
Let Francis meet her where thou shalt appoint;
Let them go several to shun suspicion,
And bid them go to Oxford both this night;
There to-morrow say that we will meet them,
And there determine of their marriage. [Aside.
Phil. I will: though it be very late and dark,
My sister will endure it for a husband. [Aside.
Mast. Bar. Well, then, at Carfax, boy, I mean to meet them. [Aside.
Phil. Enough. [Exit Master BARNES.
Would they would begin to chide!
For I would have them brawling, that meanwhile
They may steal hence, to meet where I appoint it. [Aside.
What, mother, will you let this match go forward?
Or, Mistress Goursey, will you first agree?
Mis. Gour. Shall I agree first?
Phil. Ay, why not? come, come.
Mis. Gour. Come from her, son, and if thou lov'st thy mother.
Mis. Bar. With the like spell, daughter, I conjure thee.
Mis. Gour. Francis, by fair means let me win thee from her,
And I will gild my blessing, gentle son,
With store of angels. I would not have thee
Check thy good fortune by this cos'ning choice:
O, do not thrall thy happy liberty
In such a bondage! if thou'lt needs be bound,
Be then to better worth; this worthless choice
Is not fit for thee.
Mis. Bar. Is't not fit for him? wherefore is't not fit?
Is he too brave a gentleman, I pray?
No, 'tis not fit; she shall not fit his turn:
If she were wise, she would be fitter for
Three times his better. Minion, go in, or I'll make ye;
I'll keep ye safe from him, I warrant ye.
Mis. Gour. Come, Francis, come from her.
Fran. Mothers, with both hands shove I hate from love,
That like an ill-companion would infect
The infant mind of our affection:
Within this cradle shall this minute's babe
Be laid to rest; and thus I'll hug my joy.
Mis. Gour. Wilt thou be obstinate, thou self-willed boy?
Nay, then, perforce I'll part ye, since ye will not.
Coomes. Do ye hear, mistress? pray ye give me leave to talk two or
three cold words with my young master.—Hark ye, sir, ye are my master's
son, and so forth; and indeed I bear ye some good-will, partly for his sake, and
partly for your own; and I do hope you do the like to me,—I should be sorry
else. I must needs say ye are a young man; and for mine own part, I have seen
the world, and I know what belongs to causes, and the experience that I have, I
thank God I have travelled for it.
Fran. Why, how far have ye travelled for it?
Boy. From my master's house to the ale-house.
Coomes. How, sir?
Boy. So, sir.
Coomes. Go to. I pray, correct your boy; 'twas ne'er a good world,
since a boy would face a man so.
Fran. Go to. Forward, man.
Coomes. Well, sir, so it is, I would not wish ye to marry without my
Fran. And why?
Coomes. Nay, there's ne'er a why but there is a wherefore; I have known
some have done the like, and they have danced a galliard at beggars'-bush for
Boy. At beggars'-bush! Hear him no more, master; he doth bedaub ye with
his dirty speech. Do ye hear, sir? how far stands beggars'-bush from your
father's house, sir? Why, thou whoreson refuge of a tailor, that wert 'prentice
to a tailor half an age, and because, if thou hadst served ten ages thou wouldst
prove but a botcher, thou leapst from the shop-board to a blue coat, doth it
become thee to use thy terms so? well, thou degree above a hackney, and ten
degrees under a page, sew up your lubber lips, or 'tis not your sword and
buckler shall keep my poniard from your breast.
Coomes. Do ye hear, sir? this is your boy.
Fran. How then?
Coomes. You must breech him for it.
Fran. Must I? how, if I will not?
Coomes. Why, then, 'tis a fine world, when boys keep boys, and know not
how to use them.
Fran. Boy, ye rascal!
Mis. Gour. Strike him, an thou darest.
Coomes. Strike me? alas, he were better strike his father! 'Sowns, go
to, put up your bodkin.
Fran. Mother, stand by; I'll teach that rascal—
Coomes. Go to, give me good words, or by God's dines, I'll buckle ye
for all your bird-spit.
Fran. Will you so, sir?
Phil. Stay, Frank, this pitch of frenzy will defile thee;
Meddle not with it: thy unreprovèd valour
Should be high-minded; couch it not so low.
Dost hear me? take occasion to slip hence,
But secretly, let not thy mother see thee:
At the back-side there is a coney-green;
Stay there for me, and Mall and I will come to thee.
Fran. Enough, I will [Aside.] Mother, you do me wrong
To be so peremptory in your command,
And see that rascal to abuse me so.
Coomes. Rascal! take that and take all! Do ye hear, sir? I do not mean
to pocket up this wrong.
Boy. I know why that is.
Boy. Because you have ne'er a pocket.
Coomes. A whip, sirrah, a whip! But, sir, provide your tools against
to-morrow morning; 'tis somewhat dark now, indeed: you know Dawson's close,
between the hedge and the pond; 'tis good even ground; I'll meet you there; an I
do not, call me cut; an you be a man, show yourself a man; we'll have a bout or
two; and so we'll part for that present.
Fran. Well, sir, well.
Nich. Boy, have they appointed to fight?
Boy. Ay, Nicholas; wilt not thou go see the fray?
Nich. No, indeed; even as they brew, so let them bake. I will not
thrust my hand into the flame, an I need not; 'tis not good to have an oar in
another man's boat; little said is soon amended, and in little meddling cometh
great rest; 'tis good sleeping in a whole skin; so a man might come home by
Weeping-Cross; no, by lady, a friend is not so soon gotten as lost; blessed are
the peace-makers; they that strike with the sword, shall be beaten with the
Phil. Well-said, Proverbs: ne'er another to that purpose?
Nich. Yes, I could have said to you, sir, Take heed is a good reed.
Phil. Why to me, take heed?
Nich. For happy is he whom other men's harms do make to beware.
Phil. O, beware, Frank! Slip away, Mall, you know what I told ye. I'll
hold our mothers both in talk meanwhile. [Aside.] Mother and Mistress
Goursey, methinks you should not stand in hatred so hard with one another.
Mis. Bar. Should I not, sir? should I not hate a harlot,
That robs me of my right, vile boy?
Mis. Gour. That title I return unto thy teeth,
[Exeunt FRANCIS and Mall.
And spit the name of harlot in thy face.
Mis. Bar. Well, 'tis not time of night to hold out chat
With such a scold as thou art; therefore now
Think that I hate thee, as I do the devil.
Mis. Gour. The devil take thee, if thou dost not, wretch!
Mis. Bar. Out upon thee, strumpet!
Mis. Gour. Out upon thee, harlot!
Mis. Bar. Well, I will find a time to be revenged:
Meantime I'll keep my daughter from thy son.—
Where are ye, minion? how now, are ye gone?
Phil. She went in, mother.
Mis. Gour. Francis, where are ye?
Mis. Bar. He is not here. O, then, they slipped away,
And both together!
Phil. I'll assure ye, no:
My sister she went in—into the house.
Mis. Bar. But then she'll out again at the back door,
And meet with him: but I will search about
All these same fields and paths near to my house;
They are not far, I am sure, if I make haste. [Exit.
Mis. Gour. O God, how went he hence, I did not see him?
It was when Barnes's wife did scold with me:
A plague on her!—Dick, why didst not thou look to him?
Coomes. What should I look for him? no, no,
I look not for him while to-morrow morning.
Mis. Gour. Come, go with me to help me look him out.
Alas! I have nor light, nor link, nor torch!
Though it be dark, I will take any pains
To cross this match. I prithee, Dick, away.
Coomes. Mistress, because I brought ye out, I'll bring ye home; but, if
I should follow, so he might have the law on his side.
Mis. Gour. Come, 'tis no matter; prythee, go with me. [Exeunt. Mis.
GOURSEY and COOMES.
Mast. Bar. Philip, thy mother's gone to seek thy sister,
And in a rage, i'faith: but who comes here?
Phil. Old Master Goursey, as I think, 'tis he.
Mast. Bar. 'Tis so, indeed.
Enter Master GOURSEY and HODGE.
Mast. Gour. Who's there?
Mast. Bar. A friend of yours.
Mast. Gour. What, Master Barnes! did ye not see my wife?
Mast. Bar. Yes, sir, I saw her; she was here even now.
Mast. Gour. I doubted that; that made me come unto you:
But whither is she gone?
Phil. To seek your son, who slipped away from her
To meet with Mall my sister in a place,
Where I appointed; and my mother too
Seeks for my sister; so they both are gone:
My mother hath a torch; marry, your wife
Goes darkling up and down, and Coomes before her.
Mast. Gour. I thought that knave was with her; but 'tis well:
I pray God, they may come by ne'er a light,
But both be led a dark dance in the night!
Hod. Why, is my fellow, Dick, in the dark with my mistress? I pray God,
they be honest, for there may be much knavery in the dark: faith, if I were
there, I would have some knavery with them. [Aside.] Good master, will ye
carry the torch yourself, and give me leave to play at blindman-buff with my
Phil. On that condition thou wilt do thy best
To keep thy mistress and thy fellow, Dick,
Both from my sister and thy master's son,
I will entreat thy master let thee go.
Hod. O, ay, I warrant ye, I'll have fine tricks to cosen them.
Mast. Gour. Well, sir, then, go your ways; I give you leave.
Hod. O brave! but whereabout are they?
Phil. About our coney-green they surely are,
If thou canst find them.
Hod. O let me alone to grope for cunnies. [Exit.
Phil. Well, now will I to Frank and to my sister.
Stand you two hearkening near the coney-green;
But sure your light in you must not be seen;
Or else let Nicholas stand afar off with it,
And as his life keep it from Mistress Goursey.
Shall this be done?
Mast. Bar. Philip, it shall.
Phil. God be with ye! I'll be gone. [Exit.
Mast. Bar. Come on, Master Goursey: this same is a means
To make our wives friends, if they resist not.
Mast. Gour. Tut, sir, howsoever, it shall go forward.
Mast. Bar. Come, then, let's do as Philip hath advised. [Exeunt.
ACT THE FOURTH.
SCENE I.—In the Warren.
MALL. Here is the place where Philip bade me stay,
Till Francis came; but wherefore did my brother
Appoint it here? why in the coney-
He had some meaning in't, I warrant ye. [burrow?
Well, here I'll set me down under this tree,
And think upon the matter all alone.
Good Lord, what pretty things these conies are!
How finely they do feed till they be fat,
And then what a sweet meat a coney is!
And what smooth skins they have, both black and gray!
They say they run more in the night than day:
What is the reason? mark; why in the light
They see more passengers than in the night;
For harmful men many a hay do set,
And laugh to see them tumble in the net;
And they put ferrets in the holes—fie, fie!—
And they go up and down where conies lie;
And they lie still, they have so little wit:
I marvel the warrener will suffer it;
Nay, nay, they are so bad, that they themselves
Do give consent to catch these pretty elves.
How if the warrener should spy me here?
He would take me for a coney, I dare swear.
But when that Francis comes, what will he say?
"Look, boy, there lies a coney in my way!"
But, soft, a light! who's that? soul, my mother!
Nay, then, all-hid: i'faith, she shall not see me;
I'll play bo-peep with her behind this tree.
Enter Mistress BARNES.
Mis. Bar. I marvel where this wench doth hide herself
So closely; I have searched in many a bush.
Mall. Belike my mother took me for a thrush. [Aside.
Mis. Bar. She's hid in this same warren, I'll lay money.
Mall. Close as a rabbit-sucker from an old coney. [Aside.
Mis. Bar. O God, I would to God that I could find her!
I would keep her from her love's toys yet.
Mall. Ay, so you might, if your daughter had no wit. [Aside.
Mis. Bar. What a vile girl 'tis, that would hav't so young!
Mall. A murrain take that dissembling tongue!
Ere your calf's teeth were out, you thought it long. [Aside.
Mis. Bar. But, minion, yet I'll keep you from the man.
Mall. To save a lie, mother, say, if you can. [Aside.
Mis. Bar. Well, now to look for her.
Mall. Ay, there's the spite:
What trick shall I now have to 'scape her light? [Aside.
Mis. Bar. Who's there? what, minion, is it you?—
Beshrew her heart, what a fright she put me to!
But I am glad I found her, though I was afraid. [Aside.
Come on your ways; you are a handsome maid!
Why steal you forth a-doors so late at night?
Why, whither go ye? come, stand still, I say.
Mall. No, indeed, mother! this is my best way.
Mis. Bar. 'Tis not the best way; stand by me, I tell ye.
Mall. No; you would catch me, mother. O, I smell ye!
Mis. Bar. Will ye not stand still?
Mall. No, by lady, no.
Mis. Bar. But I will make ye,
Mall. Nay, then, trip-and-go.
Mis. Bar. Mistress, I'll make ye weary, ere I have done.
Mall. Faith, mother, then, I'll try how you can run.
Mis. Bar. Will ye?
Mall. Yes, faith. [Exeunt.
Enter FRANCIS and Boy.
Fran. Mall, sweet-heart, Mall! what, not a word?
Boy. A little farther, master; call again.
Fran. Why, Mall! I prythee, speak; why, Mall, I say!
I know thou art not far, if thou wilt speak;
But now I see she's in her merry vein,
To make me call, and put me to more pain.
Well, I must bear with her; she'll bear with me:
But I will call, lest that it be not so.—
What, Mall! what, Mall, I say! Boy, we are right?
Have we not missed the way this same dark night?
Boy. Mass, it may be so: as I am true man,
I have not seen a coney since I came;
Yet at the coney-burrow we should meet.
But, hark! I hear the trampling of some feet.
Fran. It may be so, then; therefore, let's lie close.
Enter Mistress GOURSEY and COOMES.
Mis. Gour. Where art thou, Dick?
Coomes. Where am I, quoth-a! marry, I may be where anybody will say I
am! either in France or at Rome, or at Jerusalem, they may say I am, for I am
not able to disprove them, because I cannot tell where I am.
Mis. Gour. O, what a blindfold walk have we had, Dick,
To seek my son! and yet I cannot find him.
Coomes. Why, then, mistress, let's go home.
Mis. Gour. Why, 'tis so dark we shall not find the way.
Fran. I pray God, ye may not, mother, till it be day!
Coomes. 'Sblood, take heed, mistress, here's a tree.
Mis. Gour. Lead thou the way, and let me hold by thee.
Boy. Dick Coomes, what difference is there between a blind man and he
that cannot see?
Fran. Peace, a pox on thee!
Coomes. Swounds, somebody spake.
Mis. Gour. Dick, look about;
It may be here we may find them out.
Coomes. I see the glimpse of somebody here.—
An ye be a sprite, I'll fray the bugbear.—
There a-goes, mistress.
Mis. Gour. O, sir, have I spied you?
Fran. A plague on the boy! t'was he that descried me. [Exeunt.
Phil. How like a beauteous lady masked in black
Looks that same large circumference of Heaven!
The sky, that was so fair three hours ago,
Is in three hours become an Ethiop;
And being angry at her beauteous change,
She will not have one of those pearlèd stars
To blab her sable metamorphosis:
'Tis very dark. I did appoint my sister
To meet me at the coney-burrow below,
And Francis too; but neither can I see.
Belike my mother happened on that place,
And frayed them from it, and they both are now
Wand'ring about the fields: how shall I find them?
It is so dark, I scarce can see my hand:
Why, then, I'll halloo for them—no, not so;
So will his voice betray him to our mothers,
And if he answer, bring them where he is.
What shall I then do? it must not be so—
'Sblood, it must be so; how else, I pray?
Shall I stand gaping here all night till day,
And then be ne'er the near? So ho, so ho!
Will. So ho! I come: where are ye? where art thou? here!
Phil. How now, Frank, where hast thou been?
Will. Frank! what Frank? sblood, is Sir Ralph mad? [Aside.] Here's
Phil. I have not been much private with that voice:
Methinks Frank Goursey's talk and his doth tell me
I am mistaken; especially by his bow;
Frank had no bow. Well I will leave this fellow,
And halloo somewhat farther in the fields. [Aside.—
Dost thou hear, fellow? I perceive by thee
That we are both mistaken: I took thee
For one thou art not; likewise thou took'st me
For Sir Ralph Smith, but sure I am not he:
And so, farewell; I must go seek my friend.
So ho! [Exit.
Will. So ho, so ho! nay, then, Sir Ralph, so whore!
For a whore she was sure, if you had her here
So late. Now, you are Sir Ralph Smith, I know!
Well do ye counterfeit and change your voice,
But yet I know ye. But what should be that Francis?
Belike that Francis cosened him of his wench,
And he conceals himself to find her out;
'Tis so, upon my life. Well, I will go,
And help him ring his peal of—so ho, so ho! [Exit.
SCENE II.—Another part of the Warren.
Fran. A plague on Coomes! a plague upon the boy!
A plague, too—not on my mother for an hundred pound!
Twas time to run; and yet I had not thought
My mother could have followed me so close;
Her legs with age I thought had founderèd;
She made me quite run through a quickset hedge,
Or she had taken me. Well, I may say,
I have run through the briars for a wench;
And yet I have her not—the worse luck mine.
Methought I heard one halloo hereabout;
I judge it Philip; O, the slave will laugh,
Whenas he hears how that my mother scared me!
Well, here I'll stand until I hear him halloo,
And then I'll answer him; he is not far.
Enter Sir RALPH SMITH.
Sir Ralph. My man is hallooing for me up and down,
And yet I cannot meet with him. So ho!
Fran. So ho!
Sir Ralph. Why, what a pox, wert thou so near me, man,
And would'st not speak?
Fran. 'Sblood, ye're very hot.
Sir Ralph. No, sir, I am cold enough with staying here
For such a knave as you.
Fran. Knave! how now, Philip?
Art mad, art mad?
Sir Ralph. Why, art thou not my man,
That went to fetch my bow?
Fran. Indeed, a bow
Might shoot me ten bows down the weather so:
I your man!
Sir Ralph. What art thou, then?
Fran. A man: but what's thy name?
Sir Ralph. Some call me Ralph.
Fran. Then, honest Ralph, farewell.
Sir Ralph. Well said, familiar Will! Plain Ralph, i'faith.
[PHILIP and WILL shout within.
Fran. There calls my man.
Sir Ralph. But there goes mine away;
And yet I'll hear what this next call will say,
And here I'll tarry, till he call again. [Retires.
Will. So ho!
Fran. So ho! where art thou, Philip?
Will. 'Sblood, Philip!
But now he called me Francis: this is fine. [Aside.
Fran. Why studiest thou? I prythee, tell me, Philip, Where the wench is.
Will. Even now he asked me (Francis) for the wench.
And now he asks me (Philip) for the wench. [Aside.
Well, Sir Ralph, I must needs tell ye now,
It is not for your credit to be forth
So late a-wenching in this order.
Fran. What's this? so late a-wenching doth he say?
Indeed 'tis true I am thus late a-wenching,
But I am forced to wench without a wench.
Will. Why, then, you might have ta'en your bow at first,
And gone and killed a buck, and not have been
So long a-drabbing, and be ne'er the near.
Fran. Swounds, what a puzzle am I in this night!
But yet I'll put this fellow farther question. [Aside.
Dost thou hear, man? I am not Sir Ralph Smith,
As thou dost think I am; but I did meet him,
Even as thou sayest, in pursuit of a wench.
I met the wench too, and she asked for thee,
Saying 'twas thou that wert her love, her dear,
And that Sir Ralph was not an honest knight
To train her thither, and to use her so.
Will. 'Sblood, my wench! swounds, were he ten Sir Ralphs—
Fran. Nay, 'tis true, look to it; and so, farewell. [Exit.
Will. Indeed, I do love Nan our dairymaid:
And hath he trained her forth to that intent,
Or for another? I carry his crossbow,
And he doth cross me, shooting in my bow.
What shall I do? [Exit.
Phil. So ho!
Sir Ralph [Advancing]. So ho!
Phil. Francis, art thou there?
Sir Ralph. No, here's no Francis. Art thou Will, my man?
Phil. Will Fool your man, Will Goose your man!
My back, sir, scorns to wear your livery.
Sir Ralph. Nay, sir, I moved but such a question to you,
And it hath not disparaged you, I hope;
'Twas but mistaking; such a night as this
May well deceive a man. God be w'ye, sir. [Exit.
Phil. God's will, 'tis Sir Ralph Smith, a virtuous knight!
How gently entertains he my hard answer!
Rude anger made my tongue unmannerly:
I cry him mercy. Well, but all this while
I cannot find a Francis.—Francis, ho!
Will. Francis, ho! O, you call Francis now!
How have ye used my Nan? come, tell me, how.
Phil. Thy Nan! what Nan?
Will. Ay, what Nan, now! say, do you not seek a wench?
Phil. Yes, I do.
Will. Then, sir, that is she.
Phil. Art not thou he I met withal before?
Will. Yes, sir; and you did counterfeit before,
And said to me you were not Sir Ralph Smith.
Phil. No more I am not. I met Sir Ralph Smith;
Even now he asked me, if I saw his man,
Will. O, fine!
Phil. Why, sirrah, thou art much deceived in me:
Good faith, I am not he thou think'st I am.
Will. What are ye, then?
Phil. Why, one that seeks one Francis and a wench.
Will. And Francis seeks one Philip and a wench.
Phil. How canst thou tell?
Will. I met him seeking Philip and a wench.
As I was seeking Sir Ralph and a wench.
Phil. Why, then, I know the matter: we met cross,
And so we missed; now here we find our loss.
Well, if thou wilt, we two will keep together,
And so we shall meet right with one or other.
Will. I am content: but, do you hear me, sir?
Did not Sir Ralph Smith ask ye for a wench?
Phil. No, I promise thee, nor did he look
For any but thyself, as I could guess.
Will. Why, this is strange: but come, sir, let's away:
I fear that we shall walk here, till't be day. [Exeunt.
SCENE III.—Open Fields.
Boy. O God, I have run so far into the wind, that I have run myself out
of wind! They say a man is near his end, when he lacks breath; and I am at the
end of my race, for I can run no farther; then here I be in my breath-bed, not
in my death-bed. [Exit.
Coomes. They say men moil and toil for a poor living; so I moil and
toil, and am living, I thank God; in good time be it spoken. It had been better
for me my mistress's angel had been light, for then perhaps it had not led me
into this darkness. Well, the devil never blesses a man better, when he purses
up angels by owl-light. I ran through a hedge to take the boy, but I stuck in
the ditch, and lost the boy. [Falls.] 'Swounds, a plague on that clod, that
molehill, that ditch, or what the devil so e'er it were, for a man cannot see
what it was! Well, I would not, for the price of my sword and buckler, anybody
should see me in this taking, for it would make me but cut off their legs for
laughing at me. Well, down I am, and down I mean to be, because I am weary; but
to tumble down thus, it was no part of my meaning: then, since I am down, here
I'll rest me, and no man shall remove me.
Hod. O, I have sport in coney, i'faith! I have almost burst myself with
laughing at Mistress Barnes. She was following of her daughter; and I, hearing
her, put on my fellow Dick's sword- and-buckler voice and his swounds and
sblood words, and led her such a dance in the dark as it passes. "Here she
is," quoth I. "Where?" quoth she. "Here," quoth I. O, it hath been a brave here-
and-there night! but, O, what a soft-natured thing the dirt is! how it would
endure my hard treading, and kiss my feet for acquaintance! and how courteous
and mannerly were the clods to make me stumble only of purpose to entreat me lie
down and rest me! But now, an I could find my fellow Dick, I would play the
knave with him honestly, i'faith. Well, I will grope in the dark for him, or
I'll poke with my staff, like a blind man, to prevent a ditch.
[He stumbles on DICK COOMES.
Coomes. Who's that, with a pox?
Hod. Who art thou, with a pestilence?
Coomes. Why, I am Dick Coomes.
Hod. What, have I found thee, Dick? nay, then, I am for ye, Dick.
[Aside.]—Where are ye, Dick?
Coomes. What can I tell, where I am?
Hod. Can ye not tell? come, come, ye wait on your mistress well! come
on your ways; I have sought you till I am weary, and called ye, till I am
hoarse: good Lord, what a jaunt I have had this night, heigho!
Coomes. Is't you, mistress, that came over me? 'Sblood, 'twere a good
deed to come over you for this night's work. I cannot afford all this pains for
an angel: I tell ye true; a kiss were not cast away upon a good fellow, that
hath deserved more that way than a kiss, if your kindness would afford it him:
what, shall I have't, mistress?
Hod. Fie, fie, I must not kiss my man.
Coomes. Nay, nay, ne'er stand; shall I, shall I? nobody sees: say but I
shall, and I'll smack it soundly, i'faith.
Hod. Away, bawdy man! in truth, I'll tell your master.
Coomes. My master! go to, ne'er tell me of my master: he may pray for
them that may, he is past it: and for mine own part, I can do somewhat that way,
I thank God; I am not now to learn, and 'tis your part to have your whole
Hod. Fie, fie, I am ashamed of you: would you tempt your mistress to
Coomes. To lewdness! no, by my troth, there's no such matter in't, it
is for kindness; and, by my troth, if you like my gentle offer, you shall have
what courteously I can afford ye.
Hod. Shall I indeed, Dick? I'faith, if I thought nobody would see—
Coomes. Tush, fear not that; swoons, they must have cats' eyes, then.
Hod. Then, kiss me, Dick.
Coomes. A kind wench, i'faith! [Aside.]—Where are ye,
Hod. Here, Dick. O, I am in the dark! Dick, go about.
Coomes. Nay, I'll throw sure: where are ye?
Coomes. A plague on this post! I would the carpenter had been hanged,
that set it up, for me. Where are ye now?
Coomes. Here! O, I come. [Exit.] A plague on it, I am in a pond,
Hod. Ha, ha! I have led him into a pond.—Where art thou, Dick?
Coomes. [Within]. Up to the middle in a pond!
Hod. Make a boat of thy buckler, then, and swim out. Are ye so hot,
with a pox? would you kiss my mistress? cool ye there, then, good Dick Coomes.
O, when he comes forth, the skirts of his blue coat will drop like a pent-house!
O, that I could see, and not be seen; how he would spaniel it, and shake
himself, when he comes out of the pond! But I'll be gone; for now he'll fight
with a fly, if he but buzz in his ear. [Exit.
Coomes. Here's so-ho-ing with a plague! so hang, an ye will; for I have
been almost drowned. A pox of your stones, an ye call this kissing! Ye talk of a
drowned rat, but 'twas time to swim like a dog; I had been served like a drowned
cat else. I would he had digged his grave that digged the pond! my feet were
foul indeed, but a less pail than a pond would have served my turn to wash them.
A man shall be served thus always when he follows any of these females: but 'tis
my kind heart that makes me thus forward in kindness unto them: well, God amend
them, and make them thankful to them that would do them pleasure. I am not
drunk, I would ye should well know it; and yet I have druuk more than will do me
good, for I might have had a pump set up with as good March beer as this was,
and ne'er set up an ale-bush for the matter. Well, I am somewhat in wrath, I
must needs say; and yet I am not more angry than wise, nor more wise than angry;
but I'll fight with the next man I meet, an it be but for luck's sake; and if he
love to see himself hurt, let him bring light with him; I'll do it by darkling
else, by God's dines. Well, here will I walk, whosoever says nay.
Nich. He that worse may, must hold the candle; but my master is not so
wise as God might have made him. He is gone to seek a hare in a hen's nest, a
needle in a bottle of hay, which is as seldom seen as a black swan: he is gone
to seek my young mistress; and I think she is better lost than found, for
whosoever hath her hath but a wet eel by the tail. But they may do as they list;
the law is in their own hands; but an they would be ruled by me, they should set
her on the lee-land, and bid the devil split her; beshrew her fingers, she hath
made me watch past mine hour; but l'll watch her a good turn for it.
Coomes. How, who's that? Nicholas!—So, first come, first served; I
am for him [Aside.].—How now, Proverb, Proverb? 'sblood, how now,
Nich. My name is Nicholas, Richard; and I know your meaning, and I hope
ye mean no harm. I thank ye: I am the better for your asking.
Coomes. Where have ye been a-whoring thus late, ha?
Nich. Master Richard, the good wife would not seek her daughter in the
oven, unless she had been there herself: but, good Lord, you are knuckle-deep in
dirt!—I warrant, when he was in, he swore Walsingham, and chafed terrible
for the time [Aside.]—Look, the water drops from you as fast as hops.
Coomes. What need'st thou to care, whip-her-jenny, tripe-cheeks? out,
you fat ass!
Nich. Good words cost nought: ill words corrupt good manners, Richard;
for a hasty man never wants woe. And I had thought you had been my friend; but I
see all is not gold that glitters; there's falsehood in fellowship; amicus
certus in re certa cernitur; time and truth tries all; and 'tis an old
proverb, and not so old as true, bought wit is the best; I can see day at a
little hole; I know your mind as well as though I were within you; 'tis ill
halting before a cripple: go to, you seek to quarrel; but beware of had I wist;
so long goes the pot to the water, at length it comes home broken; I know you
are as good a man as ever drew sword, or as was e'er girt in a girdle, or as
e'er went on neat's leather, or as one shall see on a summer's day, or as e'er
looked man in the face, or as e'er trod on God's earth, or as e'er broke bread
or drunk drink; but he is proper that hath proper conditions; but be not you
like the cow, that gives a good sop of milk, and casts it down with her heels; I
speak plainly, for plain-dealing is a jewel, and he that useth it shall die a
beggar; well, that happens in an hour that happens not in seven years; a man is
not so soon whole as hurt; an you should kill a man, you would kiss
his—well, I say little, but I think the more. Yet I'll give him good words;
'tis good to hold the candle before the devil; yet, by God's dines, I'll take no
wrong, if he had a head as big as Brass, or looked as high as Paul's steeple.
Coomes. Sirrah, thou grasshoper, that shalt skip from my sword as from a
scythe; I'll cut thee out in collops and eggs, in steaks, in sliced beef, and
fry thee with the fire I shall strike from the pike of thy buckler.
Nich. Ay, Brag's a good dog; threatened folks live long.
Coomes. What say ye, sir?
Nich. Why, I say not so much as, How do ye?
Coomes. Do ye not so, sir?
Nich. No, indeed, whatsoe'er I think; and thought is free.
Coomes. You whoreson wafer-cake, by God's dines, I'll crush ye for
Nich. Give an inch, and you'll take an ell; I will not put my finger in
a hole, I warrant ye: what, man! ne'er crow so fast, for a blind man may kill a
hare; I have known when a plain fellow hath hurt a fencer, so I have: what! a
man may be as slow as a snail, but as fierce as a lion, an he be moved; indeed,
I am patient, I must needs say, for patience in adversity brings a man to the
Three Cranes in the Vintry.
Coomes. Do ye hear? set down your torch; draw, fight, I am for ye.
Nich. And I am for ye too, though it be from this midnight to the next
Coomes. Where be your tools?
Nich. Within a mile of an oak, sir; he's a proud horse will not carry
his own provender, I warrant ye.
Coomes. Now am I in my quarrelling humour, and now can I say nothing
but, zounds, draw! but I'll untruss, and then have to it. [Aside.
Re-enter severally HODGE and Boy.
Hod. Who's there? boy! honest boy, well-met: where hast thou been?
Boy. O Hodge, Dick Coomes hath been as good as a cry of hounds, to make
a breathed hare of me! but did'st thou see my master?
Hod. I met him even now, and he asked me for thee, and he is gone up
and down, whooing like an owl for thee.
Boy. Owl, ye ass!
Hod. Ass! no, nor glass, for then it had been Owl-glass: but who's
Boy. By the mass, 'tis our Coomes and Nicholas; and it seems they are
providing to fight.
Hod. Then we shall have fine sport, i' faith. Sirrah, let's stand
close, and when they have fought a bout or two, we'll run away with the torch,
and leave them to fight darkling, shall we?
Boy. Content; I'll get the torch: stand close.
Coomes. So now my back bath room to reach: I do not love to be laced
in, when I go to lace a rascal. I pray God, Nicholas prove not a fly: it would
do me good to deal with a good man now, that we might have half-a-dozen good
smart strokes. Ha, I have seen the day I could have danced in my fight, one,
two, three, four, and five, on the head of him; six, seven, eight, nine, and ten
on the sides of him; and, if I went so far as fifteen, I warrant I showed him a
trick of one-and-twenty; but I have not fought this four days, and I lack a
little practice of my ward; but I shall make a shift: ha, close
[Aside].—Are ye disposed, sir?
Nich. Yes, indeed, I fear no colours: change sides, Richard.
Coomes. Change the gallows! I'll see thee hanged first.
Nich. Well, I see the fool will not leave his bauble for the Tower of
Coomes. Fool, ye rogue! nay, then, fall to it.
Nich. Good goose, bite not.
Coomes. 'Sblood, how pursy I am Well, I see exercise is all! I must
practise my weapons oftener; I must have a goal or two at foot-ball, before I
come to my right kind [Aside]. Give me thy hand, Nicholas: thou art a better
man than I took thee for, and yet thou art not so good a man as I.
Nich. You dwell by ill-neighbours, Richard; that makes ye praise
Coomes. Why, I hope thou wilt say I am a man?
Nich. Yes, I'll say so, if I should see ye hanged.
Coomes. Hanged, ye rogue! nay, then, have at ye.
[While they fight, exeunt HODGE and Boy with the torch.]
Zounds, the light is gone!
Nich. O Lord, it is as dark as pitch!
Coomes. Well, here I'll lie with my buckler thus, lest striking up and
down at randall the rogue might hurt me, for I cannot see to save it, and I hold
my peace, lest my voice should bring him where I am. [Stands aside.
Nich. 'Tis good to have a cloak for the rain; a bad shift is better than
none at all; I'll sit here, as if I were as dead as a door-nail. [Stands aside.
Enter Master BARNES and Master GOURSEY.
Mast. Gour. Hark! there's one hallooes.
Mast. Barnes. And there's another.
Mast. Gour. And everywhere we come, I hear some halloo,
And yet it is our haps to meet with none.
Mast. Bar. I marvel where your Hodge is and my man.
Mast. Gour. Ay, and our wives? we cannot meet with them,
Nor with the boy, nor Mall, nor Frank, nor Philip,
Nor yet with Coomes, and yet we ne'er stood still.
Well, I am very angry with my wife,
And she shall find I am not pleased with her,
If we meet ne'er so soon: but 'tis my hope
She hath had as blind a journey on't as we;
Pray God, she have, and worse, if worse may be!
Mast. Bar. This is but short-lived envy, Master Goursey:
But, come, what say ye to my policy?
Mast. Gour. I' faith, 'tis good, and we will practise it;
But, sir, it must be handled cunningly,
Or all is marred; our wives have subtle heads,
And they will soon perceive a drift device.
Enter Sir RALPH SMITH.
Sir Ralph. So ho!
Mast. Gour. So ho!
Sir Ralph. Who there?
Mast. Bar. Here's one or two.
Sir Ralph. Is Will there?
Mast. Bar. No, Philip?
Mast. Gour. Frank?
Sir Ralph. No, no.—
Was ever man deluded thus like me?
I think some spirit leads me thus amiss,
As I have often heard that some have been
Thus in the nights.
But yet this mazes me; where'er I come,
Some asks me still for Frank or Philip,
And none of them can tell me where Will is. [Aside.
Will. So ho!
Phil. So ho!
Hod. So ho!
Boy. So ho! [They halloo within.
Sir Ralph. Zounds, now I hear four halloo at the least!
One had a little voice; then, that's the wench
My man hath lost: well, I will answer all. [Aside.
Hod. Whoop, whoop!
Sir Ralph. Who's there? Will?
Hod. No, sir; honest Hodge: but, I pray ye, sir, did ye not meet with a
boy with a torch? he is run away from me, a plague on him!
Sir Ralph. Heyday, from Frank and Philip to a torch,
And to a boy! nay, zounds, then hap as 'twill. [Aside.
[Exeunt Sir RALPH and HODGE severally.
Mast. Gour. Who goes there?
Will. Guess here.
Mast. Bar. Philip?
Will. Philip! no, faith; my name's Will—ill-Will, for I was never
worse: I was even now with him, and might have been still, but that I fell into
a ditch and lost him, and now I am going up and down to seek him.
Mast. Gour. What would'st thou do with him?
Will. Why, I would have him go with me to my master's.
Mast. Gour. Who's thy master?
Will. Why, Sir Ralph Smith; and thither he promised me he would come;
if he keep his word, so 'tis.
Mast. Bar. What was a doing, when thou first found'st him?
Will. Why, he hallooed for one Francis, and Francis hallooed for him; I
hallooed for my master, and my master for me; but we missed still, meeting
contrary, Philip and Francis with me and my master, and I and my master with
Philip and Frank.
Mast. Gour. Why, wherefore is Sir Ralph so late abroad?
Will. Why, he meant to kill a buck; I'll say so to save his honesty,
but my Nan was his mark [Aside]. And he sent me for his bow, and when I
came, I hallooed for him; but I never saw such luck to miss him; it hath almost
made me mad.
Mast. Bar. Well, stay with us; perhaps Sir Ralph and he will come anon:
hark! I do hear one halloo.
Phil. Is this broad waking in a winter's night?
I am broad walking in a winter's night—
Broad indeed, because I am abroad—
But these broad fields, methinks, are not so broad
That they may keep me forth of narrow ditches.
Here's a hard world!
For I can hardly keep myself upright in it:
I am marvellous dutiful—but, so ho!
Will. So ho!
Phil. Who's there?
Will. Here's Will.
Phil. What, Will! how scap'st thou?
Will. What, sir?
Phil. Nay, not hanging, but drowning: wert thou in a pond or a ditch?
Will. A pestilence on it! is't you, Philip? no, faith, I was but dirty
a little: but here's one or two asked for ye.
Phil. Who be they, man?
Mast. Bar. Philip, 'tis I and Master Goursey.
Phil. Father, O father, I have heard them say
The days of ignorance are passed and done;
But I am sure the nights of ignorance
Are not yet passed, for this is one of them.
But where's my sister?
Mast. Bar. Why, we cannot tell.
Phil. Where's Francis?
Mast. Gour. Neither saw we him.
Phil. Why, this is fine.
What, neither he nor I, nor she nor you,
Nor I nor she, nor you and I, till now,
Can meet, could meet, or e'er, I think, shall meet!
Call ye this wooing? no, 'tis Christmas sport
Of Hob-man-blind, all blind, all seek to catch,
All miss—but who comes here?
Enter FRANCIS and Boy.
Fran. O, have I catched ye, sir? It was your doing
That made me have this pretty dance to-night;
Had not you spoken, my mother had not scared me:
But I will swinge ye for it.
Phil. Keep the king's peace!
Fran. How! art thou become a constable?
Why, Philip, where hast thou been all this while?
Phil. Why, where you were not: but, I pray, where's my sister?
Fran. Why, man, I saw her not; but I have sought her, As I should
Phil. A needle, have ye not?
Why you, man, are the needle that she seeks
To work withal! Well, Francis, do you hear?
You must not answer so, that you have sought her;
But have ye found her? faith, and if you have,
God give ye joy of that ye found with her!
Fran. I saw her not: how could I find her?
Mast. Gour. Why, could ye miss from Master Barnes's house
Unto his coney-burrow?
Fran. Whether I could or no, father, I did.
Phil. Father, I did! Well, Frank, wilt thou believe me?
Thou dost not know how much this same doth grieve me:
Shall it be said thou missed so plain a way,
When as so fair a wench did for thee stay?
Fran. Zounds, man!
Phil. Zounds, man! and if thou hadst been blind,
The coney-burrow thou needest must find.
I tell thee, Francis, had it been my case,
And I had been a wooer in thy place,
I would have laid my head unto the ground,
And scented out my wench's way like a hound;
I would have crept upon my knees all night,
And have made the flintstones links to give me light;
Nay, man, I would.
Fran. Good Lord, what you would do!
Well, we shall see one day how you can woo.
Mast. Gour. Come, come, we see that we have all been crossed;
Therefore, let's go, and seek them we have lost. [Exeunt.
ACT THE FIFTH.
SCENE I.—In the Fields.
MALL. Am I alone? doth not my mother come?
Her torch I see not, which I well might see,
If any way she were coming toward me:
Why, then, belike she's gone some other way;
And may she go, till I bid her to turn!
Far shall her way be then, and little fair,
For she hath hindered me of my good turn;
God send her wet and weary ere she turn!
I had been at Oxenford, and to-morrow
Have been released from all my maiden's sorrow,
And tasted joy, had not my mother been;
God, I beseech thee, make it her worst sin!
How many maids this night lie in their beds,
And dream that they have lost their maidenheads!
Such dreams, such slumbers I had too enjoyed,
If waking malice had not them destroyed.
A starvèd man with double death doth die,
To have the meat might save him in his eye,
And may not have it: so am I tormented,
To starve for joy I see, yet am prevented.
Well, Frank, although thou wooedst and quickly won,
Yet shall my love to thee be never done;
I'll run through hedge and ditch, through brakes and briars,
To come to thee, sole lord of my desires:
Short wooing is the best, an hour, not years,
For long-debating love is full of fears.
But hark! I hear one tread. O, were't my brother,
Or Frank, or any man, but not my mother!
Enter Sir RALPH SMITH.
Sir Ralph. O, when will this same year of night have end?
Long-looked for days' sun, when wilt thou ascend?
Let not this thieve-friend, misty veil of night,
Encroach on day, and shadow thy fair light,
Whilst thou com'st tardy from thy Thetis' bed,
Blushing forth golden hair and glorious red;
O, stay not long, bright lanthorn of the day,
To light my missed-way feet to my right way!
Mall. It is a man, his big voice tells me so,
Much am I not acquainted with it, though;
And yet mine ear, sound's true distinguisher,
Boys that I have been more familiar
With it than now I am: well, I do judge
It is no envious fellow, out of grudge;
Therefore I'll plead acquaintance, hire his guiding,
And buy of him some place of close abiding,
Till that my mother's malice be expired,
And we may joy in that is long desired. [Aside.]—
Sir Ralph. Are ye a maid? No question, this is she
My man doth miss: faith, since she lights on me,
I do not mean till day to let her go;
For whe'er she is my man's love, I will know. [Aside.
Hark ye, my maid, if maid, are ye so light,
That you can see to wander in the night?
Mall. Hark ye, true man, if true, I tell ye, no;
I cannot see at all which way I go.
Sir Ralph. Fair maid, is't so? say, had ye ne'er a fall?
Mall. Fair man, not so; no, I had none at all.
Sir Ralph. Could you not stumble on one man, I pray?
Mall. No, no such block till now came in my way.
Sir Ralph. Am I that block, sweet tripe; then, fall and try.
Mall. The ground's too hard a feather-bed; not I!
Sir Ralph. Why, how an you had met with such a stump?
Mall. Why, if he had been your height, I meant to jump.
Sir Ralph. Are ye so nimble?
Mall. Nimble as a doe.
Sir Ralph. Baked in a pie.
Mall. Of ye.
Sir Ralph. Good meat, ye know.
Mall. Ye hunt sometimes?
Sir Ralph. I do.
Mall. What take ye?
Sir Ralph. Deer.
Mall. You'll ne'er strike rascal?
Sir Ralph. Yes, when ye are there.
Mall. Will ye strike me?
Sir Ralph. Yes: will ye strike again?
Mall. No, sir: it fits not maids to fight with men.
Sir Ralph. I wonder, wench, how I thy name might know.
Mall. Why, you may find it, sir, in th' Christcross row.
Sir Ralph. Be my schoolmistress, teach me how to spell it.
Mall. No, faith, I care not greatly, if I tell it;
My name is Mary Barnes.
Sir Ralph. How, wench? Mall Barnes!
Mall. The very same.
Sir Ralph. Why, this is strange.
Mall. I pray, sir, what's your name?
Sir Ralph. Why, Sir Ralph Smith doth wonder, wench, at this;
Why, what's the cause thou art abroad so late?
Mall. What, Sir Ralph Smith! nay, then, I will disclose
All the whole cause to him, in him repose
My hopes, my love: God him, I hope, did send
Our loves and both our mothers' hates to end. [Aside.]—
Gentle Sir Ralph, if you my blush might see,
You then would say I am ashamed to be
Found, like a wand'ring stray, by such a knight,
So far from home at such a time of night:
But my excuse is good; love first by fate
Is crossed, controlled, and sundered by fell hate.
Frank Goursey is my love, and he loves me;
But both our mothers hate and disagree;
Our fathers like the match and wish it done;
And so it had, had not our mothers come;
To Oxford we concluded both to go;
Going to meet, they came; we parted so;
My mother followed me, but I ran fast,
Thinking who went from hate had need make haste;
Take me she cannot, though she still pursue:
But now, sweet knight, I do repose on you;
Be you my orator and plead my right,
And get me one good day for this bad night.
Sir Ralph. Alas, good heart, I pity thy hard hap!
And I'll employ all that I may for thee.
Frank Goursey, wench! I do commend thy choice:
Now I remember I met one Francis,
As I did seek my man,—then, that was he,—
And Philip too,—belike that was thy brother:
Why, now I find how I did lose myself,
And wander up and down, mistaking so.
Give me thy hand, Mall: I will never leave,
Till I have made your mothers friends again,
And purchased to ye both your hearts' delight,
And for this same one bad many a good night.
'Twill not be long, ere that Aurora will,
Decked in the glory of a golden sun,
Open the crystal windows of the east,
To make the earth enamoured of her face,
When we shall have clear light to see our way:
Come; night being done, expect a happy day. [Exeunt.
Enter Mistress BARNES.
Mis. Bar. O, what a race this peevish girl hath led me!
How fast I ran, and now how weary I am!
I am so out of breath I scarce can speak,—
What shall I do?—and cannot overtake her.
'Tis late and dark, and I am far from home:
May there not thieves lie watching hereabout,
Intending mischief unto them they meet?
There may; and I am much afraid of them,
Being alone without all company.
I do repent me of my coming forth;
And yet I do not,—they had else been married,
And that I would not for ten times more labour.
But what a winter of cold fear I thole,
Freezing my heart, lest danger should betide me!
What shall I do to purchase company?
I hear some halloo here about the fields:
Then here I'll set my torch upon this hill,
Whose light shall beacon-like conduct them to it;
They that have lost their way, seeing a light,
For it may be seen far off in the night,
Will come to it. Well, here I'll lie unseen,
And look who comes, and choose my company.
Perhaps my daughter may first come to it.
Enter Mistress GOURSEY.
Mis. Gour. Where am I now? nay, where was I even now?
Nor now, nor then, nor where I shall be, know I.
I think I am going home: I may as well
Be going from home; 'tis so very dark,
I cannot see how to direct a step.
I lost my man, pursuing of my son;
My son escaped me too: now, all alone,
I am enforced to wander up and down.
Barnes's wife's abroad: pray God, that she
May have as good a dance, nay, ten times worse;
O, but I fear she hath not; she hath light
To see her way. O, that some bridge would break,
That she might fall into some deep-digged ditch,
And either break her bones or drown herself!
I would these mischiefs I could wish to her
Might light on her!—but, soft; I see a light:
I will go near; it is comfortable,
After this night's sad spirits-dulling darkness.
How now? what, is it set to keep itself?
Mis. Bar. A plague on't, is she there? [Aside.
Mis. Gour. O, how it cheers and quickens up my thoughts!
Mis. Bar. O that it were the basilisk's fell eye,
To poison thee! [Aside.
Mis. Gour. I care not, if I take it—
Sure none is here to hinder me—
And light me home.
Mis. Bar. I had rather she were hanged
Than I should set it there to do her good. [Aside.
Mis. Gour. I' faith, I will.
Mis. Bar. I' faith, you shall not, mistress;
I'll venture a burnt finger but I'll have it. [Aside.
Mis. Gour. Yet Barnes's wife would chafe, if that she knew
That I had this good luck to get a light.
Mis. Bar. And so she doth; but praise your luck at parting. [Aside.
Mis. Gour. O, that it were her light, good faith, that she
Might darkling walk about as well as I!
Mis. Bar. O, how this mads me, that she hath her wish! [Aside.
Mis. Gour. How I would laugh to see her trot about!
Mis. Bar. O, I could cry for anger and for rage! [Aside.
Mis. Gour. But who should set it here, I marvel, a God's name.
Mis. Bar. One that will have't from you in the devil's name. [Aside.
Mis. Gour. I'll lay my life that it was Barnes's son.
Mis. Bar. No, forsooth, it was Barnes's wife.
Mis. Gour. A plague upon her, how she made me start! [Aside.
Mistress, let go the torch.
Mis. Bar. No, but I will not.
Mis. Gour. I'll thrust it in thy face, then.
Mis. Bar. But you shall not.
Mis. Gour. Let go, I say.
Mis. Bar. Let you go, for 'tis mine.
Mis. Gour. But my possession says, it is none of thine.
Mis. Bar. Nay, I have hold too.
Mis. Gour. Well, let go thy hold,
Or I will spurn thee.
Mis. Bar. Do; I can spurn thee too.
Mis. Gour. Canst thou?
Mis. Bar. Ay, that I can.
Enter Master GOURSEY and Master BARNES, PHILIP, FRANCIS, COOMES, HODGE,
NICHOLAS, and WILL.
Mast. Gour. Why, how now, women? how unlike to women
Are ye both now! come, part, come, part, I say.
Mast. Bar. Why, what immodesty is this in you!
Come, part, I say; fie, fie.
Mis. Bar. Fie, fie? I say she shall not have my torch.—
Give me thy torch, boy:—I will run a-tilt,
And burn out both her eyes in my encounter.
Mis. Gour. Give room, and let us have this hot career.
Mast. Gour. I say ye shall not: wife, go to, tame your thoughts,
That are so mad with fury.
Mast. Bar. And, sweet wife,
Temper your rage with patience; do not be
Subject so much to such misgovernment.
Mis. Bar. Shall I not, sir, when such a strumpet wrongs me?
Mast. Gour. How, strumpet, Mistress Barnes! nay, I pray, hark ye:
I oft indeed have heard ye call her so,
And I have thought upon it, why ye should
Twit her with name of strumpet; do you know
Any hurt by her, that you term her so?
Mast. Bar. No, on my life; rage only makes her say so.
Mast. Gour. But I would know whence this same rage should come;
Where's smoke, there's fire; and my heart misgives
My wife's intemperance hath got that name;—
And, Mistress Barnes, I doubt and shrewdly doubt,
And some great cause begets this doubt in me,
Your husband and my wife doth wrong us both.
Mast. Bar. How, think ye so? nay, Master Goursey, then,
You run in debt to my opinion,
Because you pay not such advisèd wisdom,
As I think due unto my good conceit.
Mast. Gour. Then still I fear I shall your debtor prove.
Mast. Bar. Then I arrest you in the name of love;
Not bail, but present answer to my plea;
And in the court of reason we will try,
If that good thoughts should believe jealousy.
Phil. Why, look ye, mother, this is 'long of you.—
For God's sake, father, hark! why, these effects
Come still from women's malice; part, I pray.—
Coomes, Will, and Hodge, come all, and help us part them!—
Father, but hear me speak one word—no more.
Fran. Father, but hear him speak, then use your will.
Phil. Cry peace between ye for a little while.
Mis. Gour. Good husband, hear him speak.
Mis. Bar. Good husband, hear him.
Coomes. Master, hear him speak; he's a good wise young stripling for
his years, I tell ye, and perhaps may speak wiser than an elder body; therefore
Hod. Master, hear, and make an end; you may kill one another in jest,
and be hanged in earnest.
Mast. Gour. Come, let us hear him. Then speak quickly, Philip.
Mast. Bar. Thou shouldst have done ere this; speak, Philip, speak.
Mis. Bar. O Lord, what haste you make to hurt yourselves!—
Good Philip, use some good persuasions
To make them friends.
Phil. Yes, I'll do what I can.—
Father and Master Goursey, both attend.
It is presumption in so young a man
To teach where he might learn, or to direct,
Where he hath had direction; but in duty
He may persuade as long as his persuase
Is backed with reason and a rightful suit.
Physic's first rule is this, as I have learned:
Kill the effect by cutting off the cause.
The same effects of ruffian outrages
Comes by the cause of malice in your wives;
Had not they two been foes, you had been friends,
And we had been at home, and this same war
In peaceful sleep had ne'er been dreamt upon.
Mother and Mistress Goursey, to make them friends,
Is to be friends yourselves: you are the cause,
And these effects proceed, you know, from you;
Your hates gives life unto these killing strifes,
But die, and if that envy die in you.—
Fathers, yet stay.—O, speak!—O, stay a while!—
Francis, persuade thy mother.—Master Goursey,
If that thy mother will resolve your mind
That 'tis but mere suspect, not common proof,
And if my father swear he's innocent,
As I durst pawn my soul with him he is,
And if your wife vow truth and constancy,
Will you be then persuaded?
Mast. Gour. Philip, if thy father will remit
The wounds I gave him, and if these conditions
May be performed, I banish all my wrath.
Mast. Bar. And if thy mother will but clear me, Philip.
As I am ready to protest I am,
Then Master Goursey is my friend again.
Phil. Hark, mother; now you hear that your desires
May be accomplished; they will both be friends,
If you'll perform these easy articles.
Mis. Bar. Shall I be friends with such an enemy?
Phil. What say you mother, unto my persuase?
Mis. Bar. I say she is my deadly enemy.
Phil. Ay, but she will be your friend, if you revolt,
Mis. Bar. The words I said! what, shall I eat a truth?
Phil. Why, hark ye, mother.
Fran. Mother, what say you?
Mis. Gour. Why, this I say, she slandered my good name.
Fran. But if she now deny it, 'tis no defame.
Mis. Gour. What, shall I think her hate will yield so much?
Fran. Why, doubt it not; her spirit may be such.
Mis. Gour. Why, will it be?
Phil. Yet stay, I have some hope.
Mother, why, mother, why, hear ye:
Give me your hand; it is no more but thus;
'Tis easy labour to shake hands with her:
Little breath is spent in speaking of fair words,
When wrath hath violent delivery.
Mast. Bar. What, shall we be resolved?
Mis. Bar. O husband, stay!—
Stay, Master Goursey: though your wife doth hate me,
And bears unto me malice infinite
And endless, yet I will respect your safeties;
I would not have you perish by our means:
I must confess that only suspect,
And no proof else, hath fed my hate to her.
Mis. Gour. And, husband, I protest by Heaven and earth
That her suspect is causeless and unjust,
And that I ne'er had such a vile intent;
Harm she imagined, where as none was meant.
Phil. Lo, sir, what would ye more?
Mast. Bar. Yes, Philip, this;
That I confirm him in my innocence
By this large universe.
Mast. Gour. By that I swear,
I'll credit none of you, until I hear
Friendship concluded straight between them two:
If I see that they willingly will do,
Then I'll imagine all suspicion ends;
I may be then assured, they being friends.
Phil. Mother, make full my wish, and be it so.
Mis. Bar. What, shall I sue for friendship to my foe?
Phil. No: if she yield, will you?
Mis. Bar. It may be, ay.
Phil. Why, this is well. The other I will try.—
Come, Mistress Goursey, do you first agree.
Mis. Gour. What, shall I yield unto mine enemy?
Phil. Why, if she will, will you?
Mis. Gour. Perhaps I will.
Phil. Nay, then, I find this goes well forward still.
Mother, give me your hand [to Mis. GOURSEY], give me yours too—
Be not so loth; some good thing I must do;
But lay your torches by, I like not them;
Come, come, deliver them unto your men:
Give me your hands. So, now, sir, here I stand,
Holding two angry women in my hand:
And I must please them both; I could please t'one,
But it is hard when there is two to one,
Especially of women; but 'tis so,
They shall be pleased, whether they will or no.—
Which will come first? what, both give back! ha, neither!
Why, then, yond help that both may come together.
So, stand still, stand still but a little while,
And see how I your angers will beguile.
Well, yet there is no hurt; why, then, let me
Join these two hands, and see how they'll agree:
Peace, peace! they cry; look how they friendly kiss!
Well, all this while there is no harm in this:
Are not these twins? twins should be both alike,
If t'one speaks fair, the t'other should not strike:
Jesus, the warriors will not offer blows!
Why, then, tis strange that you two should be foes.
O yes, you'll say, your weapons are your tongues;
Touch lip with lip, and they are bound from wrongs:
Go to, embrace, and say, if you be friends,
That here the angry women's quarrel ends.
Mis. Gour. Then here it ends, if Mistress Barnes say so.
Mis. Bar. If you say ay, I list not to say no.
Mast. Gour. If they be friends, by promise we agree.
Mast. Bar. And may this league of friendship ever be
Phil. What say'st thou, Frank? doth not this fall out well?
Fran. Yes, if my Mall were here, then all were well.
Re-enter Sir RALPH SMITH with MALL, who stays behind.
Sir Ralph. Yonder they be, Mall: stay, stand close, and stir not
Until I call. God save ye, gentlemen!
Mast. Bar. What, Sir Ralph Smith! you are welcome, man:
We wondered when we heard you were abroad.
Sir Ralph. Why, sir, how heard ye that I was abroad?
Mast. Bar. By your man.
Sir Ralph. My man! where is he?
Sir Ralph. O, ye are a trusty squire!
Nich. It had been better, an he had said, a sure card.
Phil. Why, sir?
Nich. Because it is the proverb.
Phil. Away, ye ass!
Nich. An ass goes o' four legs; I go of two, Christ cross.
Phil. Hold your tongue.
Nich. And make no more ado.
Mast. Gour. Go to, no more ado. Gentle Sir Ralph,
Your man is not in fault for missing you,
For he mistook by us, and we by him.
Sir Ralph. And I by you, which now I well perceive.
But tell me, gentlemen, what made ye all
Be from your beds this night, and why thus late
Are your wives walking here about the fields:
'Tis strange to see such women of accompt
Here; but I guess some great occasion prompt.
Mast. Gour. Faith, this occasion, sir: women will jar
And jar they did to-day, and so they parted;
We, knowing women's malice let alone
Will, canker-like, eat farther in their hearts,
Did seek a sudden cure, and thus it was:
A match between his daughter and my son;
No sooner motioned but it was agreed,
And they no sooner saw but wooed and liked:
They have it sought to cross, and crossed it thus.
Sir Ralph. Fie, Mistress Barnes and Mistress Goursey both;
The greatest sin wherein your souls may sin,
I think, is this, in crossing of true love.
Let me persuade ye.
Mis. Bar. Sir, we are persuaded,
And I and Mistress Goursey are both friends;
And, if my daughter were but found again,
Who now is missing, she had my consent
To be disposed of to her own content.
Sir Ralph. I do rejoice that what I thought to do,
Ere I begin, I find already done:
Why, this will please your friends at Abington.
Frank, if thou seek'st that way, there thou shalt find
Her, whom I hold the comfort of thy mind.
Mall. He shall not seek me; I will seek him out,
Since of my mother's grant I need not doubt.
Mis. Bar. Thy mother grants, my girl, and she doth pray
To send unto you both a joyful day!
Hod. Nay, Mistress Barnes, I wish her better: that those joyful days
may be turned to joyful nights.
Coomes. Faith, 'tis a pretty wench, and 'tis pity but she should have
Nich. And, Mistress Mary, when ye go to bed, God send you good rest,
and a peck of fleas in your nest, every one as big as Francis!
Phil. Well said, wisdom! God send thee wise children.
Nich. And you more money.
Phil. Ay, so wish I.
Nich. 'Twill be a good while, ere you wish your skin full of eyelet-
Phil. Frank, hark ye: brother, now your wooing's done,
The next thing now you do is for a son,
I prythee; for i'faith, I should be glad
To have myself called nunkle, and thou dad.
Well, sister, if that Francis play the man,
My mother must be grandam and you mam.
To it, Francis—to it, sister!—God send ye joy!
'Tis fine to sing, dancey, my own sweet boy!
Fran. Well, sir, jest on.
Phil. Nay, do you jest on.
Mast. Bar. Well, may she prove a happy wife to him!
Mast. Gour. And may he prove as happy unto her!
Sir Ralph. Well, gentlemen, good hap betide them both!
Since 'twas my hap thus happily to meet,
To be a witness of this sweet contràct,
I do rejoice; wherefore, to have this joy
Longer present with me, I do request
That all of you will be my promised guests:
This long night's labour doth desire some rest,
Besides this wishèd end; therefore, I pray,
Let me detain ye but a dinner time:
Tell me, I pray, shall I obtain so much?
Mast. Bar. Gentle Sir Ralph, your courtesy is such,
As may impose command unto us all;
We will be thankful bold at your request.
Phil. I pray, Sir Ralph, what cheer shall we have?
Sir Ralph. I'faith, country fare, mutton and veal, Perchance a duck or
Mall. O, I am sick!
All. How now, Mall? what's the matter?
Mall. Father and mother, if you needs would know,
He named a goose, which is my stomach's foe.
Phil. Come, come, she is with child of some odd jest
And now she's sick, till that she bring it forth.
Mall. A jest, quoth you! well, brother, if it be,
I fear 'twill prove an earnest unto me.
Goose, said ye, sir? O, that same very name
Hath in it much variety of shame!
Of all the birds that ever yet was seen,
I would not have them graze upon this green;
I hope they will not, for this crop is poor,
And they may pasture upon greater store:
But yet 'tis pity that they let them pass,
And like a common bite the Muse's grass.
Yet this I fear: if Frank and I should kiss,
Some creaking goose would chide us with a hiss;
I mean not that goose that
Sings it knows not what;
'Tis not that hiss, when one says, "hist, come hither,'
Nor that same hiss that setteth dogs together,
Nor that same hiss that by a fire doth stand,
And hisseth T. or F. upon the hand;
But 'tis a hiss, and I'll unlace my coat,
For I should sound sure, if I heard that note,
And then green ginger for the green goose cries,
Serves not the turn—I turned the white of eyes.
The rosa-solis yet that makes me live
Is favour that these gentlemen may give;
But if they be displeased, then pleased am I
To yield myself a hissing death to die.
Yet I hope here is none consents to kill,
But kindly take the favour of good-will.
If anything be in the pen to blame,
Then here stand I to blush the writer's shame:
If this be bad, he promises a better;
Trust him, and he will prove a right true debtor.