[Dramatis Personae (in order of appearance)
Four GENTLEMEN of the Chamber, the first named LA NOVE
The LADY, sister to the Duke
The PASSIONATE LORD, kinsman to the Duke
A SERVANT to Shamont
A SOLDIER, brother to Shamont
A Lady disguised as CUPID
Six women MASQUERS
Two BROTHERS to the Cupid
GALOSHIO, a clown
Two SERVANTS to the Lady
A SERVANT to the Duke
A PLAIN FELLOW
BASE, the Passionate Lord's jester
A SERVANT to the Passionate Lord
It's grown in fashion of late in these days
To come and beg a sufferance to our plays;
Faith, gentlemen, our poet ever writ
Language so good, mix'd with such sprightly wit,
He made the theatre so sovereign
With his rare scenes, he scorn'd this crouching vein:
We stabb'd him with keen daggers when we pray'd
Him write a preface to a play well made.
He could not write these toys; 'twas easier far
To bring a felon to appear at th' bar,
So much he hated baseness, which this day,
His scenes will best convince you of in's play.
I.i. [The palace]
Enter Duke, Shamont, and four Gentlemen [including La Nove].
Shamont, welcome; we have miss'd thee long,
Though absent but two days: I hope your sports
Answer['d] your time and wishes.
Very nobly, sir:
We found game worthy your delight, my lord,
It was so royal.
I've enough to hear on't;
Prithee bestow 't upon me in discourse.
[They walk apart.]
What is this gentleman, coz? You are a courtier,
Therefore know all their insides.
No farther than the taffety goes, good coz,
For the most part, which is indeed the best part
Of the most general inside. Marry, thus far
I can with boldness speak this one's man's character,
And upon honour pass it for a true one:
He has that strength of manly merit in him
That it exceeds his sovereign's power of gracing;
He's faithfully true to valour, that he hates
The man from Caesar's time, or farther off,
That ever took disgrace unreveng'd,
And if he chance to read his abject story,
He tears his memory out, and holds it virtuous
Not to let shame have so much life amongst us.
There is not such a curious piece of courage
Amongst man's fellowship, or one so jealous
Of honour's loss or reputation's glory:
There's so much perfect of his growing story.
'Twould make one dote on virtue as you tell it.
I ha' told it to much loss, believe it, coz.
How the duke graces him! What is he, brother?
Do you not yet know him? A vainglorious coxcomb,
As proud as he that fell for't:
Set but aside his valour, no virtue,
Which is indeed not fit for any courtier;
And we his fellows are as good as he,
Perhaps as capable of favour too,
For one thing or another, if 'twere look'd into.
Give me a man, were I a sovereign now,
Has a good stroke at tennis, and a stiff one,
Can play at equinoctium with the line,
As even as the thirteenth of September,
When day and night lie in a scale together.
Or may I thrive as I deserve at billiards,
No otherwise at chess, or at primero?
These are the parts requir'd, why not advanc'd?
Trust me, it was no less than excellent pleasure,
And I'm right glad 'twas thine. [To Gentlemen] How fares our kinsman?
Who can resolve us best?
I can, my lord.
There if I had a pity without bounds,
It might be all bestow'd. A man so lost
In the wild ways of passion, that he's sensible
Of naught but what torments him!
True, my lord,
He runs through all the passions of mankind,
And shifts 'em strangely too: one while in love,
And that so violent, that for want of business
He'll court the very prentice of a laundress,
Though she have kib'd heels: and in's melancholy again,
He will not brook an empress, though thrice fairer
Than ever Maud was, or higher spirited
Than Cleopatra or your English countess.
Then on a sudden he's so merry again,
Out-laughs a waiting woman before her first child;
And [in the] turning of a hand, so angry
H'as almost beat the northern fellow blind,
That is for that use only: if that mood hold, my lord,
H'ad need of a fresh man; I'll undertake
He shall bruise three a month.
I pity him dearly,
And let it be your charge, with his kind brother,
To see his moods observ'd; let every passion
Be fed ev'n to a surfeit, which in time
May breed a loathing: let him have enough
Of every object that his sense is rapt with.
And being once glutted, then the taste of folly
Will come into [disrelish].
I shall see
Your charge, my lord, most faithfully effected.
Exit [Duke with the three other Gentlemen].
And how does noble Shamont?
Never ill, man,
Until I hear of baseness, then I sicken;
I am the healthful'st man i' th' kingdom else.
Enter Lapet [and stands apart].
Be arm'd then for a fit: here comes a fellow
Will make you sick at heart, if baseness do't.
Let me be gone. What is he?
Let me tell you first
It can be but a qualm; pray, stay it out, sir:
Come, y'ave borne more than this.
Borne? Never anything
That was injurious.
Ha, I am far from that!
He looks as like a man as I have seen one.
What would you speak of him? Speak well, I prithee,
Even for humanity's cause.
You'd have it truth though?
What else, sir? I have no reason to wrong heav'n
To favour nature; let her bear her own shame
If she be faulty.
Monstrous faulty there, sir.
I'm ill at ease already.
Pray bear up, sir.
I prithee let me take him down with speed then,
Like a wild object that I would not look upon.
Then thus: he's one that will endure as much
As can be laid upon him.
That may be noble:
I'm kept too long from his acquaintance.
Take heed of rash repentance; y'are too forward
To find out virtue where it never settled:
Take the particulars first of what he endures,
Videlicet, bastinadoes by the great--
Thumps by the dozen, and your kicks by wholesale.
No more of him.
The twinges by the nostril he snuffs up,
And holds it the best remedy for sneezing.
H'as been thrice switz'd from seven a' clock till nine,
Yet with a cart-horse stomach fell to breakfast,
Forgetful of his smart.
Nay, the disgrace on't;
There is no smart but that: base things are felt
More by their shames than hurts. [To Lapet] Sir, I know you not,
But that you live an injury to nature,
I'm heartily angry with you.
Pray give your blow or kick, and be gone then,
For I ne'er saw you before, and indeed
Have nothing to say to you, for I know you not.
Why, wouldst thou take a blow?
I would not, sir,
Unless 'twere offer'd me, and if from an enemy,
I'd be loath to deny it from a stranger.
What, a blow?
Endure a blow? And shall he live that gives it?
Many a fair year. Why not, sir?
Let me wonder!
As full a man to see too, and as perfect!
I prithee live not long!
Let me entreat it:
Thou dost not know what wrong thou dost mankind
To walk so long here, not to die betimes.
Let me advise thee, while thou hast to live here,
Ev'n for man's honour['s] sake, take not a blow more.
You should advise them not to strike me then, sir,
For I'll take none, I assure you, 'less they are given.
How fain would I preserve man's form from shame
And cannot get it done! However, sir,
I charge thee live not long.
This is worse than beating.
Of what profession art thou, tell me, sir,
Besides a tailor, for I'll know the truth.
A tailor! I'm as a good a gentleman,
Can show my arms and all.
How black and blue they are!
Is that your manifestation? Upon pain
Of pounding thee to dust, assume not wrongfully
The name of gentleman, because I am one
That must not let thee live.
I have done, I have done, sir.
If there be any harm, beshrew the herald;
I'm sure I ha' not been so long a gentleman
To make this anger: I have nothing nowhere
But what I dearly pay for.
Groom, be gone!
I never was so heartsick yet of man.
Enter Lady, the Duke's sister, [and] Lapet's Wife.
Here comes a cordial, sir, from t'other sex,
Able to make a dying face look cheerful.
The blessedness of ladies!
Y'are well met, sir.
The sight of you has put an evil from me
Whose breath was able to make virtue sicken.
I'm glad I came so fortunately. What was't, sir?
A thing that takes a blow, lives and eats after it
In very good health; you ha' not seen the like, madam:
A monster worth your sixpence, lovely worth.
Speak low, sir; by all likelihoods, 'tis her husband
That now bestow'd a visitation on thee.
Husband! Is't possible that he has a wife?
Would any creature have him? 'Twas some forc'd match;
If he were not kick'd to th' church o' th' wedding day,
I'll never come at court. Can be no otherwise.
Perhaps he was rich. Speak, Mistress Lapet,
Was it not so?
Nay, that's without all question.
Oh ho, he would not want kickers enow then!
If you are wise, I much suspect your honesty,
For wisdom never fastens constantly
But upon merit. If you incline to fool,
You are alike unfit for his society;
Nay, if it were not boldness in the man
That honours you to advise you, troth, his company
Should not be frequent with you.
'Tis good counsel, sir.
Oh, I am so careful where I reverence,
So just to goodness and her precious purity,
I am as equally jealous and as fearful
That any undeserved stain might fall
Upon her sanctified whiteness, as of the sin
That comes by willfulness.
Sir, I love your thoughts,
And honour you for your counsel and your care.
We are your servants.
[Aside] He's but a gentleman
O' th' chamber; he might have kiss'd me. Faith,
Where shall one find less courtesy than at court?
Say I have an undeserver to my husband,
That's ne'er the worse for him: well, strange-lipp'd man,
'Tis but a kiss lost, there'll more come again.
Exit. Enter the Passionate Lord, the Duke's kinsman, makes a congie or two to nothing.
Look who comes here, sir; his love-fit's upon him:
I know it by that set smile and those congies.
How courteous he's to nothing, which indeed
Is the next kin to woman; only shadow['s]
The elder sister of the twain, because 'tis seen too.
See how it kisses the forefinger still,
Which is the last edition, and being come
So near the thumb, every cobbler has got it.
What a ridiculous piece humanity
Here makes itself!
Nay, good, give leave a little, sir,
Y'are so precise a manhood.
It afflicts me
When I behold unseemliness in an image
So near the godhead; 'tis an injury
To glorious eternity.
Pray use patience, sir.
[To La Nove] I do confess it freely, precious lady,
And love's suit is so: the longer it hangs,
The worse it is; better cut off, sweet madam.
Oh, that same drawing-in your nether lip there
Foreshows no goodness, lady. Make you question on't?
Shame on me but I love you.
Who is't, sir,
You are at all this pains for? May I know her?
For thee, thou fairest yet the falsest woman
That ever broke man's heartstrings.
How? How's this, sir?
What, the old trick of ladies? Man's apparel?
Will 't ne'er be left amongst you? Steal from court in't?
[Aside to Shamont] I see the fit grows stronger.
Pray let's talk a little.
[Aside to La Nove] I can endure no more!
[Aside to Shamont] Good, let us alone a little.
You are so exact a work: love light things somewhat, sir.
[Aside to La Nove] Th'are all but shames.
What is't you'd say to me, sir?
Can you be so forgetful to enquire it, lady?
Yes, truly, sir.
The more I admire your flintiness.
What cause have I given you, illustrious madam,
To play this strange part with me?
Do but look back, sir, into your memory,
Your love to other women. Oh, lewd man,
'T 'as almost kill'd my heart! You see I'm chang'd with it;
I ha' lost the fashion of my sex with grief on't.
When I have seen you courting of a dowdy,
Compar'd with me, and kissing your forefinger
To one o' th' blackguards' mistresses: would not this
Crack a poor lady's heart that believ'd love
And waited for the comfort? But 'twas said, sir,
A lady of my hair cannot want pitying.
The country's coming up; farewell to you, sir.
Whither intend you, sir?
A long journey, sir:
The truth is, I'm with child and go to travel.
With child? I never got it.
I heard you were busy
At the same time, sir, and was loath to trouble you.
Why, are not you a whore then, excellent madam?
Oh, by no means: 'twas done, sir, in the state
Of my belief in you, and that quits me;
It lies upon your falsehood.
Does it so?
You shall not carry her though, sir; she's my contract.
I prithee, thou four elements ill-brew'd,
Torment none but thyself! Away, I say,
Thou beast of passion, as the drunkard is
The beast of wine! Dishonour to thy making,
Thou man in fragments!
Hear me, precious madam.
[Aside] Kneel for thy wits to heaven.
Lady, I'll father it,
Whoe'er begot it: 'tis the course of greatness.
[Aside] How virtue groans at this!
I'll raise the court,
But I'll stay your flight.
How wretched is that piece!
He's the duke's kinsman, sir.
That cannot take a passion away, sir,
Nor cut a fit but one poor hour shorter;
He must endure as much as the poorest beggar
That cannot change his money: there's the equality
In our impartial essence.
Enter a Servant.
What's the news now?
Your worthy brother, sir, has left his charge
And come to see you.
Enter Shamont's brother, a Soldier.
[Embracing him] Oh, the noblest welcome
That ever came from man meet thy deservings!
Methinks I've all joy's treasure in mine arms now.
You are so fortunate in prevention, brother,
You always leave the answerer barren, sir;
You comprehend in few words so much worth.
'Tis all too little for thee; come, th'art welcome,
So I include all. Take especial knowledge, pray,
Of this dear gentleman, my absolute friend,
That loves a soldier far above a mistress,
Though excellently faithful to 'em both:
But love to manhood owns the purer troth.
II.i. [A gallery in the palace]
Enter Shamont's brother, a Soldier, and a Lady, the Duke's sister.
There should be in this gallery-- Oh, th'are here.
Pray sit down; believe me, sir, I'm weary.
It well becomes a lady to complain a little
Of what she never feels. Your walk was short, madam:
You can be but afraid of weariness,
Which well [implies] the softness of your sex;
As for the thing itself, you never came to't.
Y'are wondrously well read in ladies, sir.
Shall I think such a creature as you, madam,
Was ever born to feel pain but in travail?
There's your full portion, besides a little toothache
In the breeding, which a kind husband too
Takes from you, madam.
But where do ladies, sir,
Find such kind husbands? Perhaps you have heard
The rheumatic story of some loving chandler now,
Or some such melting fellow, that you talk
So prodigal of men's kindness: I confess, sir,
Many of those wives are happy; their ambition
Does reach no higher than to love and ignorance,
Which makes an excellent husband, and a fond one.
Now, sir, your great ones aim at height and cunning,
And so are oft deceiv'd, yet they must venture it,
For 'tis a lady's contumely, sir,
To have a lord an ignorant; then the world's voice
Will deem her for a wanton ere she taste on't:
But to deceive a wise man, to whose circumspection
The world resigns itself with all his envy,
'Tis less dishonour to us then to fall
Because his believ'd wisdom keeps out all.
Would I were the man, lady, that should venture
His wisdom to your goodness.
You might fail
In the return, as many men have done, sir.
I dare not justify what is to come of me,
Because I know it not, though I hope virtuously;
Marry, what's past or present, I durst put
Into a good man's hand, which if he take
Upon my word for good, it shall not cozen him.
No, nor hereafter?
It may hap so too, sir.
A woman's goodness, when she is a wife,
Lies much upon a man's desert, believe it, sir;
If there be fault in her, I'll pawn my life on't,
'Tis first in him, if she were ever good,
That makes one. Knowing not a husband yet,
Or what he may be, I promise no more virtues
Than I may well perform, for that were cozenage.
Happy were he that had you with all fears,
That's my opinion, lady.
Enter Shamont and a Servant list'ning. [They remain hidden and talk apart.]
What say you now, sir?
Dare you give confidence to your own eyes?
Not yet I dare not.
Scarce yet, or yet,
Although I see 'tis he. Why can a thing
That's but myself divided be so false?
Nay, do but mark how the chair plays his part too:
How amorously 'tis bent!
Hell take thy bad thoughts,
For they are strange ones; never take delight
To make a torment worse! Look on 'em, heaven,
For that's a brother: send me a fair enemy
And take him, for a fouler fiend there breathes not.
I will not sin to think there's ill in her
But what's of his producing;
Yet goodness, whose enclosure is but flesh,
Holds out oft times but sorrily, but as black, sir,
As ever kindred was: I hate mine own blood,
Because it is so near thine. Live without honesty,
And mayst thou die with an unmoist'ned eye,
And no tear follow thee.
Exeunt Shamont, Servant.
Y'are wondrous merry, sir;
I would your brother heard you.
[Or] my sister;
I would not out o' th' way let fall my words, lady,
For the precisest humour.
Enter Passionate Lord.
[Aside] Yea, so close?
Th'are merry, that's the worst you can report on 'em;
Th'are neither dangerous nor immodest.
Shall I believe you, think you?
Who's this, lady?
Oh, the duke's cousin; he came late from travel, sir.
Respect belongs to him.
For as I said, lady,
Th'are merry, that's the worst you can report of 'em;
Th'are neither dangerous nor immodest.
And there I think I left.
Now to proceed, lady: perhaps I swore I lov'd you;
If you believe me not, y'are much the wiser.
He speaks still in my person and derides me!
For I can cog with you.
You can all do so:
We make no question of men's promptness that way.
And smile, and wave a chair with comely grace too,
Play with our tassel gently, and do fine things
That catch a lady sooner than a virtue.
I never us'd to let man live so long
That wrong'd me!
Talk of battalions, woo you in a skirmish;
Divine my mind to you, lady, and being sharp set,
Can court you at half-pike, or name your weapon,
We cannot fail you, lady.
Enter First Gentleman [La Nove].
[Drawing his sword] Now he dies!
Were all succeeding hopes stor'd up within him.
Oh, fie! I' th' court, sir?
I most dearly thank you, sir.
[He puts up his sword.]
'Tis rage ill spent upon a passionate madman.
That shall not privilege him forever, sir.
A madman call you him? I have found too much reason
Sound in his injury to me to believe him so.
If ever truth from man's lips may be held
In reputation with you, give this confidence,
And this his love-fit, which we observe still,
By's flattering and his fineness: at some other time,
He'll go as slovenly as heart can wish.
The love and pity that his highness shows to him
Makes every man the more respectful of him.
H'as never a passion but is well provided for;
As this of love, he is full fed in all,
His swinge as I may term it. Have but patience,
And ye shall witness somewhat.
Still he mocks me,
Look you, in action, in behaviour, sir!
Hold still the chair, with a grand mischief to you,
Or I'll set so much strength upon your heart, sir!
I feel some power has restrain'd me, lady:
If it be sent from love, say, I obey it,
And ever keep a voice to welcome it.
Enter [a lady] like a Cupid off'ring to shoot at him.
I prithee hold, thou sweet, celestial boy;
I'm not requited yet with love enough
For the first arrow that I have within me:
And if thou be an equal archer, Cupid,
Shoot this lady and twenty more for me.
[Aside to her] 'Tis nothing but device, fear it not, lady;
You may be as good a maid after that shaft, madam,
As e'er your mother was at twelve and a half:
'Tis like the boy that draws it, 't 'as no sting yet.
[Aside] 'Tis like the miserable maid that draws it
That sees no comfort yet, seeing him so passionate.
Strike me the Duchess of Valois in love with me
With all the speed thou canst, and two of her women.
You shall have more.
Tell 'em I tarry for 'em.
[Aside to the Soldier] Who would be angry with that walking trouble now
That hurts none but itself?
I am better quieted.
I'll have all womenkind struck in time for me
After thirteen once:
I see this Cupid will not let me want,
And let him spend his forty shafts an hour;
They shall be all found from the duke's exchequer.
Enter again the same Cupid, [her] two Brothers, six women masquers, Cupid's bow bent all the way towards them, the first woman singing and playing, a Priest.
He's come already.
What a felicity of whores are here!
And all my concubines struck bleeding new!
A man can in his lifetime make but one woman,
But he may make his fifty queans a month.
[The Cupid takes her Brothers and the Priest aside.]
Have you rememb'red a priest, honest brothers?
Yes, sister, and this is the young gentleman;
Make you no question of our faithfulness.
[This] growing shame, sister, provokes our care.
He must be taken in this fit of love, gentlemen.
What else, sir? He shall do't.
Be cheerful, wench.
A dance, Cupid leading.
Now by the stroke of pleasure, a deep oath.
Nimbly hopp'd, ladies all. What height they bear too!
A story higher than your common statures;
A little man must go upstairs to kiss 'em.
What a great space there is
Betwixt love's dining chamber and his garret!
I'll try the utmost height. The garret stoops methinks;
The rooms are made all bending, I see that,
And not so high as a man takes 'em for.
Now if you'll follow me, sir, I've that power
To make them follow you.
Are they all shot?
All, all, sir, every mother's daughter of 'em.
Then there's no fear of following; if they be
Once shot, they'll follow a man to th' devil.
As for you, sir--
Exit with the Lady, [the Cupid, the Brothers, the Priest] and the Masquers.
Nay, sweet sir.
A noise, a threat'ning! Did you not hear it, sir?
Without regard, sir, so would I [have] you.
This must come to something: never talk of that, sir;
You never saw it otherwise.
Nay, dear merit--
Me, above all men!
Troth, you wrong your anger.
I will be arm'd, my honourable lecher--
Oh, fie, sweet sir!
That devours women's honesties by lumps
And never chaw'st thy pleasure.
What do you mean, sir?
What, does he mean t' engross all to himself?
There's others love a whore as well as he, sir.
Oh, an' that be part o' th' fury, we have a city
Is very well provided for that case.
Let him alone with her, sir; we have women
Are very charitable to proper men,
And to a soldier that has all his limbs.
Marry, the sick and lame gets not a penny:
Right women's charity, and the husbands
Follow 't too.
Enter Duke and lords [the three other Gentlemen].
Here comes his highness, sir.
I'll walk to cool myself.
The brother of Shamont.
He's brother then
To all the court's love, they that love discreetly
And place their friendliness upon desert;
As for the rest, that with a double face
Look upon merit, much like fortune's visage,
That looks two ways, both to life's calms and storms,
I'll so provide for him, chiefly for him:
He shall not wish their loves nor dread their envies.
And here comes my Shamont.
[Aside] That lady's virtues are my only joys,
And he to offer to lay siege to them!
[Aside] Her goodness is my pride; in all discourses,
As often as I hear rash-tongued gallants
Speak rudely of a woman, presently
I give in but her name and th'are all silent.
Oh, who would lose this benefit?
Come hither, sir.
[Aside] 'Tis like the gift of healing but diviner,
For that but cures diseases in the body,
This works a cure on fame, on reputation,
The noblest piece of surgery upon earth.
Shamont. He minds me not.
[Aside] A brother do't?
Shamont I say!
Gives him a touch with his switch.
If he be mortal, by this hand he perishes!
Unless it be a stroke from heaven, he dies for't!
Why, how now, sir? 'Twas I.
The more's my misery.
Why, what's the matter, prithee?
Can you ask it, sir?
No man else should; stood forty lives before him,
By this I would have op'd my way to him.
It could not be you, sir; excuse him not,
Whate'er he be, as y'are dear to honour,
That I may find my peace again.
Forbear, I say.
Upon my love to truth, 'twas none but I.
Come, come, what ails you, sir?
Never sat shame cooling so long upon me
Without a satisfaction in revenge,
And heaven has made it here a sin to wish it.
Hark you, sir!
Oh, y'ave undone me!
Cruelly undone me;
I have lost my peace, and reputation by you:
Sir, pardon me, I can never love you more.
What language call you this, sirs?
Truth, my lord,
I've seldom heard a stranger.
He is a man of a most curious valour,
Wondrous precise, and punctual in that virtue.
But why to me so punctual? My last thought
Was most entirely fix'd on his advancement:
Why, I came now to put him in possession
Of his fair fortunes. What a misconceiver 'tis!
And from a gentleman of our chamber merely
[Make] him vice-admiral; I was settled in't.
I love him next to health. Call him, gentlemen.
Exit First Gentleman [La Nove].
Why, would not you or you ha' taken as much
And never murmur'd?
Troth, I think we should, my lord,
And there's a fellow walks about the court
Would take a hundred of 'em.
I hate you all for't,
And rather praise his high-pitch'd fortitude,
Though in extremes for niceness: now I think on't,
I would I had never done 't.
Enter First Gentleman [La Nove].
Now, sir, where is he?
His suit is only, sir, to be excus'd.
He shall not be excus'd, I love him dearlier:
Say we entreat him; go, he must not leave us.
[Exeunt La Nove and Second] Gentleman.
So virtue bless me, I ne'er knew him parallell'd;
Why, he's more precious to me now than ever.
Enter [La Nove, Second] Gentleman and Shamont.
With much fair language, w'ave brought him.
Where is he?
Come forward, man.
Pray pardon me, I'm asham'd to be seen, sir.
Was ever such a touchy man heard of?
Prithee come nearer.
More into the light?
Put not such cruelty into your requests, my lord,
First to disgrace me publicly, and then draw me
Into men's eyesight, with the shame yet hot
Upon my reputation.
What disgrace, sir?
Such as there can be no forgiveness for
That I can find in honour.
That's most strange, sir.
Yet I have search'd my bosom to find one,
And wrestled with my inclination,
But 'twill not be: would you had kill'd me, sir,
With what an ease had I forgiven you then!
But to endure a stroke from any hand
Under a punishing angel's, which is justice,
Honour disclaim that man, for my part chiefly.
Had it been yet the malice of your sword,
Though it had cleft me, 't had been noble to me;
You should have found my thanks paid in a smile
If I had fell unworded: but to shame me
With the correction that your horse should have,
Were you ten thousand times my royal lord,
I cannot love you never, nor desire
To serve you more.
If your drum call me I am vowed to valour,
But peace shall never know me yours again,
Because I've lost mine own; I speak to die, sir.
Would you were gracious that way to take off shame,
With the same swiftness as you pour it on:
And since it is not in the power of monarchs
To make a gentleman, which is a substance
Only begot of merit, they should be careful
Not to destroy the worth of one so rare,
Which neither they can make nor lost, repair.
Y'ave set a fair light, sir, before my judgment,
Which burns with wondrous clearness; I acknowledge it,
And your worth with it: but then, sir, my love,
My love-- What, gone again?
And full of scorn, my lord.
That language will undo the man that keeps it
Who knows no difference 'twixt contempt and manhood.
Upon your love to goodness, gentlemen,
Let me not lose him long.
Enter a Huntsman.
The game's at height, my lord.
Confound both thee and it: hence break it off;
He hates me brings me news of any pleasure.
I felt not such a conflict since I could
Distinguish betwixt worthiness and blood.
III.i. [The palace]
Enter the two Brothers, First Gentleman [La Nove], with those that were the Masquers, and the Cupid.
I heartily commend your project, gentlemen;
'Twas wise and virtuous.
'Twas for the safety
Of precious honour, sir, which near blood binds us to:
He promis'd the poor easy fool there marriage;
There was a good maidenhead lost i 'th' belief on't,
Beshrew her hasty confidence.
Oh, no more, sir,
You make her weep again! Alas, poor Cupid.
Shall she not shift herself?
Oh, by no means, sir.
We dare not have her seen yet; all the while
She keeps this shape, 'tis but thought device,
And she may follow him so without suspicion,
To see if she can draw all his wild passions,
To one point only, and that's love, the main point:
So far his highness grants, and gave at first,
Large approbation to the quick conceit,
Which then was quick indeed.
You make her blush, in sooth.
I fear 'tis more the flag of shame than grace, sir.
They both give but one kind of colour, sir:
If it be bashfulness in that kind taken,
It is the same with grace; and there she weeps again.
In truth y'are too hard, much, much too bitter, sir,
Unless you mean to have her weep her eyes out,
To play a Cupid truly.
Come, ha' done then:
We should all fear to sin first, for 'tis certain,
When 'tis once lodg'd, though entertain'd in mirth,
It must be wept out if it e'er come forth.
Now 'tis so well, I'll leave you.
Faithfully welcome, sir.
[Exit La Nove.]
Go, Cupid, to your charge; he's your own now:
If he want love, none will be blam'd but you.
[Aside] The strangest marriage and unfortunat'st bride
That ever human memory contain'd;
I cannot be myself for't.
Exit [with Masquers]. Enter [Galoshio] the clown.
How now, sir, what's the matter?
His melancholy passion is half spent already, then comes his angry fit at the very tail on't, then comes in my pain, gentlemen; h'as beaten me e'en to a cullis. I am nothing, right worshipful, but very pap and jelly: I have no bones, my body's all one [burstness]. They talk of ribs and chines most freely abroad i' th' world; why, I have no such thing: whoever lives to see me dead, gentlemen, shall find me all mummy, good to fill gallipots and long dildo glasses; I shall not have a bone to throw at a dog.
Alas, poor vassal, how he goes!
I am unjointed, do but think o' that.
My breast is beat into my maw, that what I eat,
I am fain to take 't in all at mouth with spoons;
A lamentable hearing, and 'tis well known
My belly is driven into my back.
I earn'd four crowns a month most dearly, gentlemen,
And one he must have when the fit's upon him;
The privy purse allows it, and 'tis thriftiness:
He would break else some forty pounds in casements,
And in five hundred years undo the kingdom;
I have cast it up to a quarrel.
There's a fellow
Kick'd about court; I would he had his place, brother,
But for one fit of his indignation.
And suddenly I have thought upon a means for't.
I prithee, how?
'Tis but preferring, brother,
This stockfish to his service, with a letter
Of commendations, the same way he wishes it,
And then you win his heart, for o' my knowledge
He has laid wait this half-year for a fellow
That will be beaten; and with a safe conscience
We may commend the carriage of this man in't.
No servants he has kept--lusty, tall feeders--
But they have beat him and turn'd themselves away:
Now one that would endure is like to stay
And get good wages of him; and the service too
Is ten times milder, brother, I would not wish it else.
I see the fellow has a sore crush'd body,
And the more need he has to be kick'd at ease.
Ay, sweet gentlemen, a kick of ease;
Send me to such a master.
No more I say;
We have one for thee, a soft-footed master,
One that wears wool in's toes.
Soft garments may you wear, soft skins may you wed,
But as plump as pillows, both for white and red!
And now will I reveal a secret to you,
Since you provide for my poor flesh so tenderly:
H'as hir'd mere rogues out of his chamber window
To beat the soldier, Monsieur Shamont's brother.
That nothing concerns us, sir.
For no cause, gentlemen,
Unless it be for wearing shoulder-points
With longer tags than his.
Is not that somewhat?
Birlakin, sir, the difference of long tags
Has cost many a man's life, and advanc'd other some.
Come, follow me.
[Aside] See what a gull am I!
Oh, every man in his profession!
I know a thump now, as judiciously
As the proudest he that walks, I'll except none.
Come to a tag, how short I fall! I'm gone.
[III.ii. The palace]
I have been ruminating with myself
What honour a man loses by a kick.
Why, what's a kick? The fury of a foot,
Whose indignation commonly is stamp'd
Upon the hinder quarter of a man,
Which is a place very unfit for honour;
The world will confess so much.
Then what disgrace I pray does that part suffer
Where honour never comes? I'd fain know that!
This being well-forc'd and urg'd may have the power
To move most gallants to take kicks in time,
And spurn out the duelloes out o' th' kingdom,
For they that stand upon their honour most,
When they conceive there is no honour lost,
As by a table that I have invented
For that purpose alone shall appear plainly,
Which shows the vanity of all blows at large,
And with what ease they may be took of all sides,
Numbering but twice o'er the letters "Patience"
From P. to E. I doubt not but in small time
To see a dissolution of all bloodshed
If the reform'd kick do but once get up,
For what a lamentable folly 'tis,
If we observe 't, for every little justle,
Which is but the ninth part of a sound thump
In our meek computation. We must fight forsooth, yes:
If I kill, I'm hang'd; if I be kill'd myself,
I die for't also. Is not this trim wisdom?
Now for the con: a man may be well-beaten,
Yet pass away his fourscore years smooth after;
I had a father did it, and to my power
I will not be behind him.
Oh, well met.
[Aside] Now a fine punch or two, I look for't duly.
I've been to seek you.
Let me know your lodging, sir,
I'll come to you once a day and use your pleasure, sir.
I'm made the fittest man for thy society;
I'll live and die with thee. Come, show me a chamber;
There is no house but thine, but only thine,
That's fit to cover me: I've took a blow, sirrah.
I would you had indeed; why, you may see, sir,
You'll all come to't in time when my book's out.
Since I did see thee last, I've took a blow.
Fa, sir, that's nothing; I ha' took forty since.
What? And I charg'd thee thou shouldst not!
You might charge your pleasure, but they would give 't me,
Whether I would or no.
Oh, I walk
Without my peace, I've no companion now!
Prithee resolve me, for I cannot ask
A man more beaten to experience
Than thou art in this kind, what manner of blow
Is held the most disgraceful or distasteful?
For thou dost only censure 'em by the hurt,
Not by the shame they do thee: yet having felt
Abuses of all kinds, thou mayst deliver,
Though 't be by chance, the most injurious one.
You put me to't, sir; but to tell you truth,
Th'are all as one with me, little exception.
That little may do much; let's have it from you.
With all the speed I may: first then and foremost,
I hold so reverently of the bastinado, sir,
That if it were the dearest friend i' th' world
I'd put it into his hand.
Go to, I'll pass
Y'are the more happy, sir; would I
Were past it too, but being accustom'd to't,
It is the better carried.
Will you forward?
Then there's your souse, your wherret, and your doust,
Tugs on the hair, your bob o' th' lips, a whelp on't:
I ne'er could find much difference. Now your thump,
A thing deriv'd first from your hemp-beaters,
Takes a man's wind away most spitefully:
There's nothing that destroys a colic like it,
For't leaves no wind i' th' body.
On, sir, on.
Pray give me leave; I'm out of breath with thinking on't.
This is far off yet.
For the twinge by th' nose,
'Tis certainly unsightly, so my table says,
But helps against the headache wondrous strangely.
Oh, your crush'd nostrils slakes your oppilation
And makes your pent powers flush to wholesome sneezes.
I never thought there had been half that virtue
In a wrung nose before.
Oh, plenitude, sir:
Now come we lower to our modern kick,
Which has been mightily in use of late,
Since our young men drank coltsfoot: and I grant you,
'Tis a most scornful wrong, 'cause the foot plays it;
But mark again how we that take 't, requite it
With the like scorn, for we receive it backward,
And can there be a worse disgrace retorted?
And is this all?
All but a lug by th' ear,
Or such a trifle.
All this is nothing to the wrong I bear:
I see the worst disgrace thou never felt'st yet;
It is so far from thee, thou canst not think on't,
Nor dare I let thee know, it is so abject.
I would you would though, that I might prepare for't,
For I shall ha't at one time or another:
If't be a thwack, I make account of that;
There's no new fashion'd swap that e'er came up yet
But I've the first on 'em, I thank 'em for't.
Enter the Lady and Servants.
Hast thou enquir'd?
But can hear nothing, madam.
[Aside to Lapet] If there be but so much substance in thee
To make a shelter for a man disgrac'd,
Hide my departure from that glorious woman
That comes with all perfection about her,
So noble that I dare not be seen of her
Since shame took hold of me. Upon thy life
No mention of me.
[Aside to Shamont] I'll cut out my tongue first
Before I'll lose my life, there's more belongs to't.
See, there's a gentleman: enquire of him.
For Monsieur Shamont, madam?
For whom else, sir?
Why, this fellow dares not see him.
His very name's worse than a fever to him,
And when he cries, there's nothing stills him sooner.
Madam, your page of thirteen is too hard for him;
'Twas try'd i' th' wood-yard.
Alas, poor, grieved merit!
What is become of him? If he once fail,
Virtue shall find small friendship. Farewell then
To ladies' worths for any hope in men:
He lov'd for goodness, not for wealth or lust,
After the world's foul dotage; he ne'er courted
The body but the beauty of the mind,
A thing which common courtship never thinks on.
All his affections were so sweet and fair;
There is no hope for fame if he despair.
Exeunt Lady and Servants. Enter [Galoshio] the clown. He kicks Lapet [and gives him letter].
Good morrow to you again most heartily, sir;
Cry you mercy I heard you not, I was somewhat busy.
[Aside] He takes it as familiarly as an ave
Or precious salutation: I was sick
Till I had one, because I am so us'd to't.
However you deserve, your friends and mine here
Give you large commendations i' this letter;
They say you will endure well.
I'd be loath
To prove 'em liars: I've endur'd as much
As mortal pen and ink can set me down for.
Say you me so?
I know and feel it so, sir:
I have it under black and white already;
I need no pen to paint me out.
[Aside] He fits me,
And hits my wishes pat, pat: I was ne'er
In possibility to be better mann'd,
For he's half lam'd already; I see 't plain,
But take no notice on't for fear I make
The rascal proud and dear to advance his wages.--
First let me grow into particulars with you.
What have you endur'd of worth? Let me hear.
Marry, sir, I'm almost beaten blind.
That's pretty well for a beginning,
But many a millhorse has endur'd as much.
Shame o' the miller's heart for his unkindness then.
Well, sir, what then?
I've been twice thrown downstairs just before supper.
Puh, so have I! That's nothing.
Ay, but, sir,
Was yours pray before supper?
There thou posest me.
Ay, marry, that's it; 't 'ad been less grief to me
Had I but fill'd my belly and then tumbled,
But to be flung down fasting, there's the dolour.
It would have griev'd me, that indeed. Proceed, sir.
I have been pluck'd and tugg'd by th' hair o' th' head
About a gallery, half an acre long.
Yes, that's a good one, I must needs confess,
A principal good one that, an absolute good one;
I have been trod upon, and spurn'd about,
But never tugg'd by th' hair, I thank my fates.
Oh, 'tis a spiteful pain!
Peace, never speak on't
For putting me in mind on't.
I'm bursten, sir: my belly will hold no meat.
No? That makes amends for all.
Unless 't be puddings
Or such fast food: any loose thing beguiles me;
I'm ne'er the better for't.
Sheepsheads will stay
Yes, sir, or chaldrons.
Very well, sir.
Any your bursten fellows must take heed of surfeits.
Strange things it seems you have endur'd.
Too true, sir.
But now the question is, what you will endure
Hereafter in my service?
That shall be reason, sir, for I'm but froth;
Much like a thing new-calv'd, or come more nearer, sir,
Y'ave seen a cluster of frog-spawns in April:
E'en such a starch am I, as weak and tender
As a green woman yet.
Now I know this,
I will be very gently angry with thee
And kick thee carefully.
Oh, ay, sweet sir!
Peace, when thou art offer'd well, lest I begin now.
Your friends and mine have writ here for your truth;
They'll pass their words themselves and I must meet 'em.
Then have you all.
As for my honesty there is no fear of that,
For I have ne'er a whole bone about me.
[III.iii. The Passionate Lord's chambers]
Music. Enter the Passionate [Lord], rudely and carelessly apparell'd, unbrac'd and untruss'd, the Cupid following.
Think upon love, which makes all creatures handsome,
Seemly for eyesight; go not so diffusedly:
There are great ladies purpose, sir, to visit you.
Grand plagues, shut in my casements, that the breaths
Of their coach-mares reek not into my nostrils;
Those beasts are but a kind of bawdy forerunners.
It is not well with you when you speak ill of fair ladies.
Fair mischiefs! Give me a nest of owls, and take 'em!
Happy is he, say I, whose window opens
To a brown baker's chimney: he shall be sure there
To hear the bird sometimes after twilight.
What a fine thing 'tis, methinks, to have our garments
Sit loose upon us thus, thus carelessly;
It is more manly and more mortifying,
For w'are so much the readier for our shrouds:
For how ridiculous were 't to have death come
And take a fellow pinn'd up like a mistress?
About his neck a ruff, like a pinch'd lanthorn,
Which schoolboys make in winter, and his doublet
So close and pent, as if he fear'd one prison
Would not be strong enough to keep his soul in,
But's tailor makes another?
An' trust me, for I know 't when I lov'd, Cupid,
He does endure much pain for the poor praise
Of a neat-sitting suit.
One may be handsome, sir,
And yet not pain'd nor proud.
There you lie, Cupid,
As bad as Mercury: there is no handsomeness
But has a wash of pride and luxury,
And you go there too, Cupid. Away, dissembler,
Thou tak'st the deed's part which befools us all;
Thy arrowheads shoot [but] sinners: hence, away,
And after thee I'll send a powerful charm
Shall banish thee forever.
I am too sure thine own.
Fountainheads and pathless groves,
Places which pale passion loves,
Moonlight walks, when all the fowls
Are warmly hous'd save bats and owls;
A midnight bell, a parting groan,
These are the sounds we feed upon,
Then stretch our bones in a still gloomy valley:
Nothing's so dainty sweet as lovely melancholy.
[III.iv. The palace]
Enter Lapet, at another door the Cupid's Brothers watching his coming [and talking apart].
So, so, the woodcock's ginn'd; keep this door fast, brother.
I'll warrant this.
I'll go incense him instantly;
I know the way to't.
Will 't not be too soon,
Think you, and make two fits break into one?
Pah, no, no; the tail of his melancholy
Is always the head of his anger, and follows as close
As the report follows the powder.
[Exeunt the Brothers severally.]
This is the appointed place and the hour struck;
If I can get security for's truth,
I'll never mind his honesty. Poor worm,
I durst lay him by my wife, which is a benefit
Which many masters ha' not: I shall ha' no maid
Now got with child but what I get myself,
And that's no small felicity. In most places
Th'are got by th' men, and put upon the masters.
Nor shall I be resisted when I strike,
For he can hardly stand; these are great blessings.
PASSIONATE LORD within
I want my food, deliver me a varlet!
How now? From whence comes that?
[Within] I am allow'd
A carcass to insult on. Where's the villain?
He means not me, I hope.
[Within] My maintenance, rascals!
My bulk, my exhibition!
Bless us all,
What names are these? Would I were gone again.
The Passionate [Lord] enters in fury with a truncheon.
No, truly, sir, I thought 't had been a squirrel,
Shaving a hazelnut.
Death, hell, fiends, and darkness,
I will thrash thy mangy carcass!
Oh, sweet sir!
There cannot be too many tortures
Spent upon those lousy quarters!
Falls down for dead.
Thy bones shall rue, thy bones shall rue!
May I open mine eyes yet and safely peep?
I'll try a groan first. Oh! Nay, then he's gone.
There was no other policy but to die,
He would ha' made me else. Ribs, are you sore?
I was ne'er beaten to a tune before.
Enter the two Brothers.
Look, look, he's flat again,
And stretched out like a corse, a handful longer
Than he walks, trust me, brother. Why, Lapet!
I hold my life we shall not get him speak now.
Monsieur Lapet? It must be a privy token
If anything fetch him, he's so far gone.
We come to pass our words for your man's truth.
Oh, gentlemen, y'are welcome! I have been thrash'd, i'faith.
How! Thrash'd, sir?
Never was Shrove Tuesday bird
So cudgell'd, gentlemen.
Pray how? By whom, sir?
Nay, that I know not.
Not who did this wrong?
Only a thing came like a walking song.
What, beaten with a song?
Never more tightly, gentlemen.
Such crotchets happen now and then; methinks
He that endures well of all waters drinks.
IV.i. [A chamber in the palace, outside the palace, and in front
of Lapet's house]
Enter Shamont's brother the Soldier, [having been beaten,] and First Gentleman [La Nove].
Yes, yes, this was a madman, sir, with you,
A passionate madman.
Who would ha' look'd for this, sir?
And must be privileg'd? A pox privilege him!
I was never so dry-beaten since I was born,
And by a litter of rogues, mere rogues, the whole twenty
Had not above nine elbows amongst 'em all too!
And the most part of those left-handed rascals
The very vomit, sir, of hospitals,
Bridewells and spitalhouses, such nasty smellers,
That if they'd been unfurnish'd of club-truncheons,
They might have cudgell'd me with their very stinks,
It was so strong and sturdy. And shall this,
This filthy injury, be set off with madness?
Nay, take your own blood's counsel, sir; hereafter
I'll deal no further in't, if you remember
It was not come to blows when I advis'd you.
No, but I ever said 'twould come to something,
And 'tis upon me, thank him: were he kin
To all the mighty emperors upon earth,
He has not now in life three hours to reckon;
I watch but a free time.
Your noble brother, sir; I'll leave you now.
Soldier, I would I could persuade my thoughts
From thinking thee a brother, as I can
My tongue from naming on't: thou hast no friend here
But fortune and thy own strength, trust to them.
How? What's the incitement, sir?
Treachery to virtue,
Thy treachery, thy faithless circumvention.
Has honour so few daughters, never fewer,
And must thou aim thy treachery at the best,
The very front of virtue, that bless'd lady,
The duke's sister?
Created more for admiration's cause
Than for love's ends, whose excellency sparkles
More in divinity than mortal beauty,
And as much difference 'twixt her mind and body
As 'twixt this earth's poor centre and the sun.
And couldst thou be so injurious to fair goodness,
Once to attempt to court her down to frailty?
Or put her but in mind that there is weakness,
Sin and desire, which she should never hear of?
Wretch, thou'st committed worse than sacrilege
In the attempting on't, and oughtst to die for't.
I rather ought to do my best, to live, sir.
Provoke me not, for I've a wrong sits on me
That makes me apt for mischief; I shall lose
All respects suddenly of friendship, brotherhood,
Or any sound that way.
But 'ware me most,
For I come with a two-edg'd injury,
Both my disgrace and thy apparent falsehood,
Which must be dangerous.
I courted her, sir:
Love starve me with delays when I confess it not.
There's nothing then but death
Can be a penance fit for that confession.
But far from any vicious taint.
Vice is a mighty stranger grown to courtship.
Nay then, the fury of my wrong light on thee.
[They draw.] Enter First Gentleman [La Nove] and others [the three other Gentlemen].
Forbear, the duke's at hand,
Here, hard at hand, upon my reputation.
I must do something now.
I'll follow you close, sir.
We must entreat you must not, for the duke
Desires some conference with you.
Let me go,
As y'are gentlemen.
Faith, we dare not, sir.
Dare ye be false to honour, and yet dare not
Do a man justice? Give me leave.
Good, sweet sir,
H'as sent twice for you.
Is this brave or manly?
I prithee be conform'd.
Peace, he's come, in troth.
Oh, have you betray'd me to my shame afresh?
How am I bound to loathe you!
I sent twice.
But, my lord, he never heard on't.
Pray pardon him for his falseness. I did, sir,
Both times; I'd rather be found rude than faithless.
I love that bluntness dearly: h'as no vice
But is more manly than some other's virtue,
That sets it out only for show or profit.
[Exeunt La Nove and the three other Gentlemen.]
Will't please you quit me, sir? I've urgent business.
Come, you're so hasty now: I sent for you
To a better end.
And if it be an end,
Better or worse, I thank your goodness for't.
I've ever kept that bounty in condition
And thankfulness in blood, which well becomes
Both prince and subject, that where any wrong
Bears my impression, or the hasty figure
Of my repented anger, I'm a law
Ev'n to myself, and doom myself most strictly
To justice and a noble satisfaction:
So that, what you in tenderness of honour
Conceive to be loss to you, which is nothing
But curious opinion, I'll restore again,
Although I give you the best part of Genoa,
And take to boot but thanks for your amends.
Oh, miserable satisfaction,
Ten times more wretched than the wrong itself!
Never was ill better made good with worse.
Shall it be said that my posterity
Shall live the sole heirs of their father's shame,
And raise their wealth and glory from my stripes?
You have provided nobly bounteous, sir,
For my disgrace, to make it live forever,
Outlasting brass or marble;
This is my fear's construction, and a deep one,
Which neither argument nor time can alter:
Yet I durst swear I wrong your goodness in't, sir,
And the most fair intent on't, which I reverence
With admiration, that in you a prince
Should be so sweet and temperate a condition
To offer to restore where you may ruin,
And do't with justice, and in me a servant,
So harsh a disposition, that I cannot
Forgive where I should honour, and am bound to't.
But I have ever had that curiosity
In blood and tenderness of reputation,
Such an antipathy against a blow--
I cannot speak the rest. Good sir, discharge me;
It is not fit that I should serve you more,
Nor come so near you. I'm made now for privacy
And a retir'd condition; that's my suit,
To part from court forever, my last suit,
And as you profess bounty, grant me that, sir.
I would deny thee nothing.
Health reward you, sir.
He's gone again already, and takes hold
Of any opportunity; not riches
Can purchase him, nor honours, peaceably,
And force were brutish: what a great worth's gone with him,
And but a gentleman! Well, for his sake
I'll ne'er offend more those I cannot make:
They were his words, and shall be dear to memory.
Say I desire to see him once again--
Yet stay, he's so well forward of his peace,
'Twere pity to disturb him: he would groan
Like a soul fetch'd again, and that were injury,
And I've wrong'd his degree too much already.
Call forth the gentlemen of our chamber instantly.
I shall, my lord.
I may forget again,
And therefore will prevent: the strain of this
Troubles me so; one would not hazard more.
Enter First Gentleman [La Nove] and diverse others [the three other Gentlemen].
Your will, my lord?
Yes; I discharge you all.
Your places shall be otherwise dispos'd of.
Reply not, I dismiss you all.
Y'are gentlemen, your worths will find you fortunes;
Nor shall your farewell tax me of ingratitude:
I'll give you all noble remembrances,
As testimonies 'gainst reproach and malice,
That you departed lov'd.
This is most strange, sir.
But how is your grace furnish'd, these dismiss'd?
Seek me out grooms,
Men more insensible of reputation,
Less curious and precise in terms of honour,
That if my anger chance let fall a stroke,
As we are all subject to impetuous passions,
Yet it may pass unmurmur'd, undisputed,
And not with braver fury prosecuted.
It shall be done, my lord.
Know you the cause, sir?
Not I, kind gentlemen, but by conjectures,
And so much shall be yours when you please.
We shall i' th' meantime think ourselves guilty
Of some foul fault, through ignorance committed.
No, 'tis not that, nor that way.
For my part,
I shall be disinherited, I know so much.
Why, sir, for what?
My sire's of a strange humour;
He'll form faults for me, and then swear 'em mine,
And commonly the first begins with lechery.
He knows his own youth's trespass.
Before you go,
I'll come and take my leave, and tell you all, sirs.
Thou wert ever just and kind.
That's my poor virtue, sir,
And parcel valiant, but it's hard to be perfect.
[Exeunt the three other Gentlemen.]
The choosing of these fellows now will puzzle me,
Horribly puzzle me, and there's no judgment
Goes true upon man's outside, there's the mischief:
He must be touch'd and try'd for gold or dross.
There is no other way for't, and that's dangerous too;
But since I'm put in trust, I will attempt it:
The duke shall keep one daring man about him.
Enter a Gallant.
[Aside] Soft, who comes here? A pretty bravery this:
Everyone goes so like a gentleman,
'Tis hard to find a difference but by th' touch.
I'll try your mettle sure.
[Boxes his ear.]
Why, what do you mean, sir?
Nay, and you understand it not, I do not.
Yes, would you should well know;
I understand it for a box o' th' ear, sir.
And o' my troth, that's all I gave it for.
'Twere best it be so.
[Aside] This is a brave coward,
A jolly threat'ning coward; he shall be captain.--
Sir, let me meet you an hour hence i' th' lobby.
Meet you? The world might laugh at me then, i'faith.
Lay by your scorn and pride, they're scurvy qualities,
And meet me, or I'll box you while I have you,
And carry you gambrell'd thither like a mutton.
Nay, an' you be in earnest, here's my hand
I will not fail you.
'Tis for your own good.
Too much for your own good, sir, a pox on you.
I prithee curse me all day long so.
[Aside] I'll make him mad; he's loath to curse too much to me.--
Indeed I never yet took box o' th' ear
But it redounded, I must needs say so.
Will you be gone?
Curse, curse, and then I go.
[Aside] Look how he grins; I've anger'd him to th' kidneys.
Was ever such a prigging coxcomb seen?
One might have beat him dumb now in this humour,
And he'd ha' grinn'd it out still.
Enter a Plain Fellow.
Oh, here's one
Made to my hand, methinks looks like a craven;
Less pains will serve his trial: some slight justle.
How! [Striking him] Take you that, sir, and if that content you not--
Yes, very well, sir, I desire no more.
I think you need not, for you have not lost by't.
Who would ha' thought this would have prov'd a gentleman?
I'll never trust long chins and little legs again;
I'll know 'em sure for gentlemen hereafter:
A gristle but in show, but gave his cuff
With such a fetch and reach of gentry,
As if h' had had his arms before the flood.
I have took a villainous hard task upon me;
Now I begin to have a feeling on't.
Enter Lapet [carrying a printers' proof] and [Galoshio the] clown his servant, and so habited.
[Aside] Oh, here comes a try'd piece now, the reformed
The millions of punches, spurns, and nips
That he has endur'd! His buttock's all black lead,
He's half a negro backward; he was past a Spaniard
In eighty-eight, and more Egyptian-like.
His table and his book come both out shortly,
And all the cowards in the town expect it,
So if I fail of my full number now,
I shall be sure to find 'em at church corners,
Where Dives and the suff'ring ballads hang.
[To Galoshio] Well, since thou art of so mild a temper,
Of so meek a spirit, thou mayst live with me
Till better times do smile on thy deserts.
I am glad I am got home again.
I am happy
In your service, sir; you'll keep me from the hospital.
So, bring me the last proof; this is corrected.
Ay, y'are too full of your correction, sir.
Look, I have perfect books within this half hour.
Bid him put all the thumps in pica Roman,
And with great T's, you vermin, as thumps should be.
Then in what letter will you have your kicks?
All in Italica, your backward blows
All in Italica, you hermaphrodite!
When shall I teach you wit?
[Aside] Oh, let it alone
Till you have some yourself, sir.
The victuals are lock'd up; I'm kept from mumbling.
He prints my blows upon pot-paper too, the rogue,
Which had been proper for some drunken pamphlet.
Monsieur Lapet? How the world rings of you, sir!
Your name sounds far and near.
A good report
It bears for an enduring name.
What luck have you, sir!
Why, what's the matter?
I'm but thinking on't.
I've heard you wish this five year for a place:
Now there's one fall'n, and freely without money too;
And empty yet, and yet you cannot have 't.
No? What's the reason? I'll give money for't
Rather than go without, sir.
That's not it, sir;
The troth is, there's no gentleman must have it
Either for love or money: 'tis decreed so;
I was heartily sorry when I thought upon you.
Had you not been a gentleman I had fitted you.
Who, I a gentleman? A pox, I'm none, sir.
How? Why, did you ever think I was?
What? Not a gentleman?
I would thou'd'st put it upon me, i'faith.
Did not my grandfather cry coney-skins,
My father aqua vitae? A hot gentleman:
All this I speak on i' your time and memory too;
Only a rich uncle died and left me chattels,
You know all this so well too.
Pray excuse me, sir,
Ha' not you arms?
Yes, a poor couple here
That serve to thrust in wild fowl.
Symbols of gentry, sir: you know my meaning;
They've been shown and seen.
I'fecks, have they!
Why, I confess, at my wife's instigation once,
As women love these heralds' kickshaws naturally,
I bought 'em, but what are they, think you? Puffs.
Why, that's proper to your name being Lapet,
Which is La Fart, after the English letter.
The herald, sir, had much ado to find it.
And can you blame him?
Why, 'tis the only thing that puzzles the devil.
At last he look'd upon my name again,
And having well compar'd it, this he gave me:
The two colics playing upon a wind instrument.
An excellent proper one. But I pray tell me,
How does he express the colics? They are hard things.
The colics? With hot trenchers at their bellies;
There's nothing better, sir, to blaze a colic.
And are not you a gentleman by this, sir?
No, I disclaim 't:
No bellyache upon earth shall make me one;
He shall not think to put his gripes upon me
And wring out gentry so, and ten pound first.
If the wind instrument will make my wife one,
Let her enjoy 't, for she was a harper's grandchild,
But, sir, for my particular, I renounce it.
Or to be call'd so?
Ay, sir, or imagin'd.
None fitter for the place: give me thy hand.
A hundred thousand thanks, beside a bribe, sir.
You must take heed of thinking toward a gentleman now.
Pish, I am not mad, I warrant you. Nay, more, sir,
If one should twit me i' th' teeth that I'm a gentleman,
Twit me their worst, I am but one since Lammas,
That I can prove, if they would see my heart out.
Marry, in any case keep me that evidence.
Enter [Galoshio the] clown [with printers' proofs].
Here comes my servant, sir, Galoshio.
H'as not his name for naught, he will be trod upon.
What says my printer now?
Here's your last proof, sir.
You shall have perfect books now in a twinkling.
These marks are ugly.
He says, sir, they're proper:
Blows should have marks, or else they are nothing worth.
But why a peel-crow here?
I told ['im] so, sir:
A scarecrow had been better.
How, slave! Look you, sir,
Did not I say this wherret and this bob
Should be both pica Roman?
So said I, sir,
Both picked Romans, and he has made 'em Welsh bills;
Indeed I know not what to make on 'em.
Heyday! A souse Italica?
Yes, that may hold, sir,
Souse is a bona roba, so is flops too.
But why stands bastinado so far off here?
Alas, you must allow him room to lay about him, sir.
Why lies this spurn lower than that spurn, sir?
Marry, this signifies one kick'd downstairs, sir,
The other in a gallery. I ask'd him all these questions.
Your book's name? Prithee, Lapet, mind me,
You never told me yet.
Marry, but shall, sir:
'Tis call'd The Uprising of the Kick,
And the Downfall of the Duello.
Bring that to pass you'll prove a happy member
And do your country service: your young bloods
Will thank you then when they see fourscore.
To save my hundred gentlemen a month by't,
Which will be very good for the private house.
Look you, your table's finish'd, sir, already.
Why then, behold my masterpiece: see, see, sir,
Here's all your blows and blow-men whatsoever,
Set in their lively colours, givers and takers.
Troth, wondrous fine, sir.
Nay, but mark the postures:
The standing of the takers I admire
More than the givers; they stand scornfully,
Most contumeliously, I like not them.
Oh, here's one cast into a comely figure.
My master means him there that's cast down headlong.
How sweetly does this fellow take his doust,
Stoops like a camel, that heroic beast,
At a great load of nutmegs! And how meekly
This other fellow here receives his wherret!
Oh, master, here's a fellow stands most gallantly,
Taking his kick in private behind the hangings,
And raising up his hips to't! But oh, sir,
How daintily this man lies trampled on!
Would I were in thy place, whate'er thou art.
How lovely he endures it!
But will not
These things, sir, be hard to practise, think you?
Oh, easy, sir: I'll teach 'em in a dance.
How! In a dance?
I'll lose my new place else,
Whate'er it be; I know not what 'tis yet.
And now you put me in mind, I could employ it well
For your grace specially, for the duke's cousin
Is by this time in's violent fit of mirth,
And a device must be sought out for suddenly
To overcloy the passion.
Say no more, sir;
I'll fit you with my scholars, new practitioners,
Endurers of the time.
Whereof I am one, sir.
You carry it away smooth; give me thy hand, sir.
V.i. [The palace]
Enter the two Brothers.
PASSIONATE LORD within
Ha, ha, ha!
Hark, hark, how loud his fit's grown.
[Within] Ha, ha, ha!
Now let our sister lose no time, but ply it
With all the power she has.
Her shame grows big, brother;
The Cupid's shape will hardly hold it longer:
'Twould take up half an ell of China damask more,
And all too little, it struts per'lously.
There is no tamp'ring with these Cupids long;
The mere conceit with womankind works strong.
[Within] Ha, ha, ha!
The laugh comes nearer now;
'Twere good we were not seen yet.
Exeunt Brothers. Enter Passionate Lord and Base his jester.
Ha, ha, ha!
And was he bastinado'd to the life?
Ha, ha, ha! I prithee say, lord general,
How did the rascals entrench themselves?
Most deeply, politicly, all in ditches.
Ha, ha, ha!
'Tis thought he'll ne'er bear arms i' th' field again;
H'as much ado to lift 'em to his head, sir.
I would he had.
On either side round truncheons
Play'd so thick that shoulders, chines, nay, flanks
Were paid to th' quick.
Well said, lord general! Ha, ha, ha!
But pray how grew the difference first betwixt you?
There was never any, sir; there lies the jest, man:
Only because he was taller than his brother,
There's all my quarrel to him, and methought
He should be beaten for't; my mind so gave me, sir,
I could not sleep for't. Ha, ha, ha, ha!
Another good jest quickly, while 'tis hot now;
Let me not laugh in vain: ply me, oh, ply me,
As you will answer 't to my cousin duke.
Alas, who has a good jest?
I fall, I dwindle in't.
Ten crowns for a good jest!
Ha' you a good jest, sir?
A pretty moral one.
Let's ha't, whate'er it be.
There comes a Cupid
Drawn by six fools.
Help it, help it then.
I ha' known six hundred fools drawn by a Cupid.
Ay, that, that, that's the smarter moral! Ha, ha, ha!
Now I begin to be song-ripe, methinks.
I'll sing you a pleasant air, sir, before you ebb.
Oh, how my lungs do tickle! [Ho], ho, ho!
Set a sharp jest
Against my breast,
Then how my lungs do tickle
And things in cambric rails
Sing best against a prickle!
Ha, ha, ha, ha!
Ho, ho, ho, ho, ha!
A smile is for a simpering novice.
One that ne'er tasted caviar.
Nor knows the smack of dear anchovies.
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho!
A giggling waiting-wench for me,
That shows her teeth how white they be.
A thing not fit for gravity,
For theirs are foul and hardly three.
Ha, ha, ha!
Ho, ho, ho!
Democritus, thou ancient fleerer,
Now I miss thy laugh, and ha' since.
There you nam'd the famous jeerer,
That ever jeer'd in Rome or Athens.
Ha, ha, ha!
Ho, ho, ho!
How brave lives he that keeps a fool,
Although the rate be deeper!
But he that is his own fool, sir,
Does live a great deal cheaper.
Sure I shall burst, burst, quite break, thou art so witty.
'Tis rare to break at court, for that belongs to th' city.
Ha, ha, my spleen is almost worn to the last laughter!
Oh, keep a corner for a friend, a jest may come hereafter!
Enter Lapet and [Galoshio the] clown and four other like fools, dancing, the Cupid leading and bearing his table, and holding it up to Lapet at every strain and acting the postures. [First strain.]
Twinge all now, twinge, I say!
Souse upon souse!
Enter Soldier, Shamont's brother, his sword drawn.
Not angry law nor doors of brass shall keep me
From my wrong's expiation; to thy bowels
I return my disgrace, and after turn
My face to any death that can be sentenc'd.
[Stabs the Passionate Lord, throws down and tramples Lapet and Galoshio, and exits.]
Murder, oh, murder! Stop the murderer there!
I am glad he's gone; h'as almost trod my guts out:
Follow him who list for me, I'll ha' no hand in't.
Oh, 'twas your luck and mine to be squelch'd, master.
H'as stamp'd my very puddings into pancakes.
Oh, brothers, oh, I fear 'tis mortal! Help, oh, help!
I'm made the wretched'st woman by this accident
That ever love beguil'd.
Enter [her] two Brothers.
We are undone, brother,
Our shames are too apparent. Away, receptacle
Of luxury and dishonour! Most unfortunate,
To make thyself but lucky to thy spoil,
After thy sex's manner! Lift him up, brother;
He breathes not to our comfort, he's too wasted
Ever to cheer us more. A chirurgeon, speedily!
Hence, the unhappiest that e'er stepp'd aside!
She'll be a mother before she's known a bride.
Thou hadst a most unfortunate conception,
Whate'er thou prov'st to be; in midst of mirth
Comes ruin for a welcome to thy birth.
V.ii. [A field in the country]
This is a beautiful life now, privacy
The sweetness and the benefit of essence.
I see there is no man but may make his paradise,
And it is nothing but his love and dotage
Upon the world's foul joys that keeps him out on't,
For he that lives retir'd in mind and spirit
Is still in paradise, and has his innocence,
Partly allow'd for his companion too,
As much as stands with justice. Here no eyes
Shoot their sharp pointed scorns upon my shame;
They know no terms of reputation here,
No punctual limits, or precise dimensions:
Plain downright honesty is all the beauty
And elegancy of life found amongst shepherds,
For knowing nothing nicely or desiring it
Quits many a vexation from the mind,
With which our quainter knowledge does abuse us.
The name of envy is a stranger here,
That dries men's bloods abroad, robs health and rest;
Why, here's no such fury thought on, no, nor falsehood,
That brotherly disease, fellow-like devil,
That plays within our bosom and betrays us.
Enter First Gentleman [La Nove].
Oh, are you here?
La Nove, 'tis strange to see thee.
I ha' rid one horse to death to find you out, sir.
I am not to be found of any man
That saw my shame, nor seen long.
Good, your attention:
You ought to be seen now and found out, sir,
If ever you desire before your ending
To perform one good office, nay, a dear one;
Man's time can hardly match it.
Be't as precious
As reputation, if it come from court
I will not hear on't.
You must hear of this, sir.
You shall hear it.
I love thee, that thou'lt die.
'Twere nobler in me
Than in you living: you will live a murderer
If you deny this office.
Ev'n to death, sir.
Why, then you'll kill your brother.
Your brother, sir:
Bear witness, heaven, this man destroys his brother
When he may save him, his least breath may save him.
Can there be wilfuller destruction?
He was forc'd to take a most unmanly wrong,
Above the suff'ring virtue of a soldier,
Has kill'd his injurer, a work of honour,
For which, unless you save him, he dies speedily.
My conscience is discharg'd; I'm but a friend:
A brother should go forward where I end.
Say he be naught, that's nothing to my goodness,
Which ought to shine through use, or else it loses
The glorious name 'tis known by: he's my brother;
Yet peace is above blood. Let him go, ay.
But where's the nobleness of affection then?
That must be car'd for too, or I'm imperfect:
The same blood that stood up in wrath against him
Now in his misery runs all to pity.
I'd rather die than speak one syllable
To save myself, but living as I am,
There's no avoiding on't: the world's humanity
Expects it hourly from me. Curse of fortune,
I took my leave so well too. Let him die,
'Tis but a brother lost; so pleasingly
And swiftly I came off, 'twere more than irksomeness
To tread that path again, and I shall never
Depart so handsomely. But then where's posterity?
The consummation of our house and name?
I'm torn in pieces betwixt love and shame.
V.iii. [The palace]
Enter Lapet, Clown, Poltrot, Moulbazon, and others, the new court officers.
Good morrow, fellow Poltrot, and Moulbazon,
Good morrow fellows all.
[Giving them books] Look, I've rememb'red you; here's books apiece for you.
Oh, sir, we dearly thank you.
So you may;
There's two impressions gone already, sirs.
What? No! In so short a time?
'Tis as I tell you, sir;
My Kick sells gallantly, I thank my stars.
So does your table; you may thank the moon too.
'Tis the book sells the table.
But 'tis the bookseller
That has the money for 'em, I'm sure o' that.
'Twill much enrich the company of stationers;
'Tis thought 'twill prove a lasting benefit,
Like The Wise Masters, and the almanacs,
The Hundred Novels, and The Book of Cookery,
For they begin already to engross it
And make it a stock-book, thinking indeed
'Twill prove too great a benefit and help
For one that's new set up: they know their way
And make him warden ere his beard be gray.
Is't possible such virtue should lie hid,
And in so little paper?
How? Why, there was The Carpenter,
An unknown thing, an odoriferous pamphlet,
Yet no more paper, by all computation,
Than Ajax Telamon would use at once;
Your Herring prov'd the like, able to buy
Another Fisher's Folly, and your Pasquill
Went not below the Mad-Caps of that time.
And shall my elaborate Kick come behind, think you?
Yes, it must come behind: 'tis in Italica too,
According to your humour.
Not in sale, varlet.
In sale, sir? It shall sail beyond 'em all, I trow.
What have you there now? Oh, page twenty-one.
That page is come to his years; he should be a serving-man.
Mark how I snap up The Duello there:
One would not use a dog so,
I must needs say, but's for the common good.
Nay, sir, your commons seldom fight at sharp,
But buffet in a warehouse.
This will save
Many a gentleman of good blood from bleeding, sirs.
I have a curse from many a barber-surgeon;
They'd give but too much money to call 't in.
Turn to page forty-five, see what you find there.
Oh, out upon him! Page forty-five: that's an old thief indeed.
Enter Duke, the Lady his sister, First Gentleman [La Nove].
The duke! Clap down your books! Away, Galoshio.
Indeed I am too foul to be i' th' presence;
They use to shake me off at the chamber door still.
Good my lord, grant my suit; let me not rise
Without the comfort on't: I have not often
Been tedious in this kind.
Sister, you wrong yourself
And those great virtues that your fame is made of
To waste so much breath for a murderer's life.
You cannot hate th' offense more than I do, sir,
Nor the offender: the respect I owe
Unto his absent brother makes me a [suitor],
A most importunate [suitor]; make me worthy
But of this one request.
I am deaf
To any importunacy, and sorry
For your forgetfulness; you never injur'd
Your worth so much, you ought to be rebuk'd for't:
Pursue good ways, end as you did begin;
'Tis half the guilt to speak for such a sin.
This is love's beggary right that now is ours,
When ladies love and cannot show their powers.
Are these our new attendants?
We are, my lord, and will endure as much
As better men, my lord, and more I trust.
My lord, a decay'd gentleman
That will do any service.
A decay'd one?
A renounc'd one indeed, for this place only.
We renounce him then; go, discharge him instantly.
He that disclaims his gentry for mere gains,
That man's too base to make a vassal on.
What says the duke?
Faith, little to your comfort, sir:
You must be a gentleman again.
There's no remedy.
Marry, the fates forfend! Ne'er while I breathe, sir.
The duke will have it so, there's no resisting.
He spy'd it i' your forehead.
My wife's doing.
She thought she should be put below her betters now,
And sued to ha' me a gentleman again.
And very likely, sir.
Marry, I'll give you this comfort: when all's done,
You'll never pass but for a scurvy one;
That's all the help you have. Come, show your pace.
The heaviest gentleman that e'er lost place;
Bear witness I am forc'd to't.
Exit [with La Nove].
Though you have a coarser title yet upon you
Than those that left your places without blame,
'Tis in your power to make yourselves the same.
I cannot make you gentlemen: that's a work
Rais'd from your own deservings; merit, manners,
And inborn virtue does it. Let your own goodness
Make you so great, my power shall make you greater;
And more t' encourage you, this I add again,
There's many grooms now exact gentlemen.
Enter Shamont [and stands apart].
Methinks 'tis strange to me to enter here.
Is there in nature such an awful power
To force me to this place and make me do this?
Is man's affections stronger than his will,
His resolution? Was I not resolv'd
Never to see this place more? Do I bear
Within my breast one blood that confounds th'other,
The blood of love and will, and the last weakest?
Had I ten millions, I would give it all now
I were but past it, or 'twould never come,
For I shall never do't, or not do't well,
But spoil it utterly betwixt two passions.
Yonder's the duke himself; I will not do't now,
Had twenty lives their several sufferings in him.
Who's that went out now?
I saw none, my lord.
I saw the glimpse of one, my lord.
Whate'er it was, methought it pleas'd me strangely,
And suddenly my joy was ready for't.
Did you not mark it better?
POLTROT and MOULBAZON
Troth, my lord,
We gave no great heed to't.
[Aside] 'Twill not be answer'd;
It brings me hither still, by main force hither.
Either I must give over to profess humanity
Or I must speak for him.
'Tis here again:
No marvel 'twas so pleasing, 'tis delight
And worth itself, now it appears unclouded.
[Aside] He turns away from me. By this hand,
I am ill-us'd of all sides: 'tis a fault
That fortune ever had t' abuse a goodness.
Methought you were saying somewhat.
[Aside] Mark the language,
As coy as fate; I see 'twill ne'er be granted.
We little look'd in troth to see you here yet.
[Aside] Not till the day after my brother's death, I think.
Sure some great business drew you.
No, in sooth, sir,
Only to come to see a brother die, sir,
That I may learn to go too; and if he deceive me not,
I think he will do well in't of a soldier,
Manly and honestly: and if he weep then,
I shall not think the worse on's manhood for't,
Because he's leaving of that part that has it.
H'as slain a noble gentleman, think on't, sir!
I would I could not, sir.
Our kinsman too.
All this is but worse, sir.
When 'tis at worst,
Yet seeing thee, he lives.
Believe it as thy bliss, he dies not for't.
Will this make satisfaction for things past?
[Kneeling] Oh, my lord!
Will it? Speak.
With greater shame to my unworthiness.
Rise then, we're ev'n. I never found it harder
To keep just with a man; my great work's ended.
I knew your brother's pardon was your suit, sir,
However your nice modesty held it back.
I take a joy now to confess it, sir.
Enter First Gentleman [La Nove].
Hear me first, sir, whate'er your news be:
Set free the soldier instantly.
'Tis done, my lord.
In effect: 'twas part of my news too;
There's fair hope of your noble kinsman's life, sir.
What sayst thou?
And the most admired change
That living flesh e'er had. He's not the man, my lord;
Death cannot be more free from passions, sir,
Than he is at this instant: he's so meek now,
He makes those seem passionate [were] never thought of,
And for he fears his moods have oft disturb'd you, sir,
He's only hasty now for his forgiveness;
And here behold him, sir.
Enter Passionate Lord, the Cupid, and [her] two Brothers.
Let me give thanks first.
Our worthy cousin.
Your unworthy trouble, sir,
For which, with all acknowledg'd reverence,
I ask your pardon; and for injury
More known and willful, I have chose a wife
Without your counsel or consent, my lord.
A wife? Where is she, sir?
This noble gentlewoman.
Whose honour my forgetful times much wrong'd.
He's madder than he was.
I would ha' sworn for him.
The Cupid, cousin?
Yes, this worthy lady, sir.
Still worse and worse.
Our sister, under pardon, my lord.
Which shape love taught her to assume.
Is't truth then?
It appears plainly now below the waist, my lord.
Shamont, didst ever read of a she-Cupid?
Never in fiction yet, but it might hold, sir,
For desire is of both genders.
Enter [the Lady,] the Duke's sister.
Make that good here:
I take thee at thy word, sir.
He joins Shamont's hand and his sister's.
Oh, my lord,
Love would appear too bold and rude from me:
Honour and admiration are her rights;
Her goodness is my saint, my lord.
Y'are both too modest to bestow yourselves:
I'll save that virtue still; 'tis but my pains.
Come, it shall be so.
This gift does but set forth my poverty.
Sir, that which you complain of is my riches.
Enter Shamont's brother the Soldier.
Soldier, now every noise sounds peace, th'art welcome.
[Kneeling] Sir, my repentance sues for your bless'd favour,
Which once obtain'd no injury shall lose it;
I'll suffer mightier wrongs.
Rise, lov'd and pardon'd,
For where hope fail'd, nay, art itself resign'd;
Thou'st wrought that cure, which skill could never find,
Nor did there cease, but to our peace extend:
Never could wrongs boast of a nobler end.
The Nice Valour was first published in the Beaumont and Fletcher Folio of 1647, but most scholars since Cyrus Hoy's 1960 Studies in Bibliography article have attributed it to Middleton, either in entirety or as a significant revision of an earlier Fletcher play. (David Lake's textual analysis finds possible remnants of Fletcher in all but III and V.i.) A recent edition exists in Volume 7 of The Dramatic Works in the Beaumont and Fletcher Canon (1989), edited by George Walton Williams.
Modern readers may feel disoriented in their initial reading of this play because Middleton's comedy frequently plays upon a variety of values, beliefs, and theatrical conventions that, at least in their Jacobean incarnations, are not readily recognizable to us today; I have discussed some of these in the glossary below. Difficulty may also arise in that much of this play is visual, e.g., the scenes involving the masquers and the low physical comedy of beatings, which, given good blocking, can be horribly funny. (Imagine, if you would, not being able to see but only to read the stage directions of a modern equivalent: "Moe spreads two fingers and attempts to poke him in the eyes. Curly thwarts him by placing his hand lengthwise in front of his nose. He chuckles. Moe counters by using the index fingers of both hands.") However, the low comedy is not extraneous: it is inherently a part of Middleton's satirical examination of honor and valor as a social code, those entirely lacking in them (e.g., Lapet), as well as those who are overly scrupulous, or "nice" (Shamont). I am reminded of John Milton's remark about his own youth, in which he had "a certain niceness of nature, an honest haughtiness." Shamont is certainly guilty of haughtiness; the degree to which I believe it is honest I will comment about later.
LA NOVE: Middleton had a penchant for not naming major characters, which is most apparent in this play. Nonetheless, two of these characters, unnamed in F's speech prefixes and stage directions, are actually called by their proper names in the dialogue ("after the fact, as if were," as Williams has probably deduced correctly). La Nove is identified merely as the "First Gentleman" in F.
LAPET: as indicated in the dialogue, his name derives from la pet (Fr.), "the fart"
GALOSHIO: His name derives from galosh, a wooden shoe or sandal, the relevance being, of course, his tendency to be frequently kicked. Identified merely as "Clowne" in F.
POLTROT: Following the practice of properly identifying the first lord as La Nove and the clown as Galoshio, some editors conflate this role with that of the Gallant of IV.i, which is certainly reasonable, especially in performance. However, the two are not necessarily identical, and I have identified the Gallant separately in order to emphasize the juxtaposition of him with the Plain Fellow in terms of their social status and valor. His name possibly derives from polt, to beat or thrash, or, less likely, is a fusion of polt-trot, a polt-foot being a club-foot.
toys: trifles; cf. The Witch II.i, Anything for a Quiet Life III.i, The Changeling I.i, No Wit, No Help like a Woman's V.i, The Revenger's Tragedy IV.i, Hengist, King of Kent III.i.
Marry: an oath derived from the Virgin Mary
tears his memory out: i.e., banishes the account of that disgrace from his recollection
There's so much perfect of: 1) this is a perfect encapsulation of, or 2) there are many areas in which he has achieved perfection
his growing story: his young life so far
he that fell for't: Lucifer, expelled from heaven for his pride
play at equinoctium with the line...together: The allusion is to the autumnal equinox (approximately September 23), one of two times during the year when the sun crosses the equator, making day and night of equal length, cf. Anything for a Quiet Life I.i. The Gentleman is possibly referring to his ability to play both close and far back from the net; click here for contemporary images of tennis.
primero: a popular card game of the time
kib'd: Kibes are chapped or ulcerated sores, inflammation, or swelling, especially on the heel, caused by exposure to cold; cf. Hamlet V.i, King Lear I.v, The Tempest II.i, The Merry Wives of Windsor I.iii.
brook: i.e., approach or tolerate
Maud: Probably the Empress Maud, daughter of Henry I, and mother of Henry II
Cleopatra: often represented in the contemporary literature as willful and highly passionate
your English countess: "Nares...says that the lady here alluded to 'was probably the Countess of Essex, afterwards of Somerset, whose infamous amours and plots ended in the poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury,'--a strange conjecture, truly! The Countess in question was, perhaps, the fabulous Countess of Salisbury who is said to have defended Wark Castle against the Scots, and afterwards to have resisted the dishonourable addresses of Edward the Third" (Dyce).
northern: clownish; he is referring to Galoshio
[disrelish]: his rellish (F)
I am far from that: i.e., that is far from my thoughts
rash repentance: repentance from being rash
Videlicet: that is to say, namely
bastinadoes: beatings or canings, especially on the soles of the feet; cf. Anything for a Quiet Life I.i, The Puritan III.iv, The Bloody Banquet III.i.
by the great: by the gross
switz'd: whipped with a switch
Besides a tailor: Tailors were proverbially dishonest and held in contempt; cf. Anything for a Quiet Life II.ii, Your Five Gallants III.v, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside IV.i, Blurt, Master Constable III.iii, The Changeling I.ii, The Puritan III.i.
cordial: food, drink, or medicine that strengthens or stimulates
strange-lipp'd: shy about kissing
congie: congee, a formal salutation of bowing
being come/So near the thumb, every cobbler has got it: with a pun on cobbler, i.e., botcher, clumsy workman
So near the godhead: alluding to the belief that man is made in God's image
heartstrings: The heart was supposedly braced with strings (tendons or nerves) that could be broken with emotional stress. The concept was often likened to the strings of a musical instrument, where there was a handy pun on "fret": 1) stress, worry, 2) a bar of gut, wood, or metal on the fingerboard used to regulate the fingering. Cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside I.ii, A Yorkshire Tragedy x, The Revenger's Tragedy I.i, The Roaring Girl I.ii, Hamlet III.ii, Henry VIII III.ii, Chapman's Monsieur D'Olive.
love light things somewhat: tolerate trivialities or peccadilloes
of my hair: of my character (pregnant), with a sexual innuendo
country's coming up: i.e., a trip to the country is planned in order to deliver the baby secretly, as Francisca does in The Witch
Whither intend you, sir: The Passionate Lord is not wavering in his perception of La Nove being a lady: "sir" and "sirrah" were sometimes used when addressing women.
[SHAMONT]: 2 Gent. (F)
four elements ill-brew'd: In Renaissance psychology, an individual had four basic "humours," or temperaments, which were determined by the amount of their corresponding bodily fluids secreted in the spleen. The four humours are choleric (anger) derived from bile (as in The Revenger's Tragedy II.iii & The Roaring Girl II.i), phlegmatic (cold torpor) from phlegm, sanguine (geniality) from blood, and melancholy from black bile (as in The Revenger's Tragedy IV.i, The Witch I.i). The spleen, often regarded as the seat of passions and/or impulsive behavior, was also held responsible for sexual desire (as in The Old Law III.ii, Anything for a Quiet Life III.ii). Shamont sees the Passionate Lord as "fragmented" and these humours "ill-brew'd" because they are not mixed in a healthful way, causing the madman to manifest one temperament entirely and then change to another sporadically. Cf. the illustration above.
there's the equality/In our impartial essence: i.e., despite his kinship with the duke, we are all equal in that we are inherently responsible for our conduct. The metaphor is the madman with his one predominating humour is like a beggar who has one coin of high value but nothing smaller by which to live.
prevention: anticipation; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside IV.i, The Family of Love II.iii, The Old Law I.i, The Phoenix II.iii, A Trick to Catch the Old One III.i, Your Five Gallants I.i, The Changeling V.iii, The Revenger's Tragedy I.iii, Hengist, King of Kent V.ii.
[implies]: employes (F)
travail: the travel/travail pun is common to this period, but in Middleton cf. The Witch III.ii, The Phoenix II.ii, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside IV.i, The Revenger's Tragedy I.i.
toothache: Supposedly one suffered from a toothache after having fallen in love; cf. Much Ado about Nothing III.ii & V.i.
rheumatic: rheum-inducing, i.e., tearful
venture: risk, wager; pronounced (and sometimes spelled) 'venter.' Cf. Anything for a Quiet Life III.ii, The Old Law passim, The Puritan IV.ii, The Phoenix II.i, The Changeling I.i, The Bloody Banquet I.i, I.iv, The Revenger's Tragedy II.i, Hengist, King of Kent III.ii.
one: i.e., a fault.
enclosure: clothing, i.e., outsides; cf. Hengist, King of Kent I.i.
[Or]: O (F)
cog: wheedle, fawn, employ feigned flattery; cf. The Roaring Girl IV.ii, The Merry Wives of Windsor III.iii, Westward Ho! II.i.
half-pike: 1) shaft with an iron or steel head used as a weapon, 2) penis; cf. The Witch I.i, The Old Law III.ii.
swinge: free scope, license, liberty
liver: traditionally held to be the seat of love
[a lady]: one (F)
device: inventions, subterfuges; cf. the final gloss of The Puritan
After thirteen: older than thirteen
They shall be all found from the duke's exchequer: i.e., the duke's treasury will not have to pay for his illegitimate children
queans: whores, strumpets; cf. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's I.ii, A Yorkshire Tragedy v, Your Five Gallants III.ii, The Witch III.ii, A Trick to Catch the Old One III.iv, The Family of Love IV.iii, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside II.ii, The Roaring Girl II.i.
[This]: His (F); the Second Brother is referring to her pregnancy. The device of a woman masquerading as a boy at court to hide an unwanted pregnancy had already been used by Middleton in More Dissemblers besides Women; the tone of that play is generally somber, and the issue is treated with relative seriousness, especially when the water suddenly breaks in the middle of a comic dancing lesson scene. When compared to More Dissemblers, Middleton's farcical treatment in The Nice Valour is readily apparent.
I'll try the utmost height...for: This speech indicates the physical comedy of the Passionate Lord's interactions during the dance. Apparently the masque involves some women leaping, probably into the arms of others and so being carried around, hence their "height." When the madman attempts to kiss them, by standing on his tiptoes for instance, they drop back to the floor.
[have]: heare (F). Williams accepts the emendation of Henry Weber (1812), and while "have" makes better sense, the original may be understood as, "So I would hear your threats without regard," i.e., "I would prefer to believe you will not act upon your threats."
engross: monopolize or obtain exclusive possession of; cf. The Roaring Girl II.i, Anything for a Quiet Life III.i, Dekker's If This Be Not a Good Play, the Devil Is in It II.i.
case: with the sexual pun of case = vagina; cf. II.ii, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside II.i, Your Five Gallants III.ii, The Changeling II.ii, Women Beware Women IV.ii, The Roaring Girl III.i, Westward Ho! I.i.
limbs: with the bawdy innuendo
fortune's visage: Click here for the Elizabethan/Jacobean symbolism of Fortune; also cf. The Revenger's Tragedy II.i, The Roaring Girl I.ii, Hengist, King of Kent D.S.i.
fame: reputation; cf. Your Five Gallants II.i, The Witch III.ii, The Family of Love Prologue, Blurt, Master Constable V.iii, The Changeling V.i, Hengist, King of Kent IV.ii.
[Make]: Made (F)
shift herself: change her clothes, take off her disguise
quick: 1) lively, witty 2) pregnant
cullis: a strong broth, in which gold and pearls were used, given to the sick; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside V.ii, A Mad World, My Masters II.vi, Your Five Gallants IV.viii, The Family of Love III.i, The Witch II.i.
[burstness]: Dyce's emendation of busines (F); rupture, hernia
mummy: a pulpy substance
gallipots: small earthen glazed pots, especially those used by apothecaries for ointments and medicines; cf. the character Gallipot in The Roaring Girl.
dildo glasses: cylindrical glasses or test-tubes
[BROTHERS]: Omnes. (F)
maw: stomach; cf. The Old Law II.i.
one he must have: Galoshio is making a pun on his own crown, which his master is to beat.
privy purse: the allowance from the public revenue for the private expenses of the monarch
cast it up to a quarrel: i.e., figured it out to the last window (a quarrel being a diamond-shaped pane of glass of the kind used in making lattice-windows)
stockfish: fish, such as cod, haddock, or hake, preserved by splitting and drying in the air without salt; cf. Your Five Gallants IV.v, Measure for Measure III.ii.
No: Now (F)
lusty: full of healthy vigor; cf. The Roaring Girl II.ii, the "Lusty Servant" in A Yorkshire Tragedy
white and red: flesh and blood; cf. The Bloody Banquet II.iii, No Wit, No Help like a Woman's epil., Love's Labours Lost I.ii, Pericles IV.vi, Venus and Adonis.
shoulder-points: a lace at the shoulder used for securing the doublet, the ornateness of which was a point of pride
Birlakin: a contraction of "by our Ladykin, or little Lady;" cf. A Trick to Catch the Old One IV.ii ("Berlady"), Anything for a Quiet Life IV.ii, A Midsummer Night's Dream III.i.
spurn: trample, kick
table: "i.e. a picture, which was afterwards engraved and sold along with Lapet's book" (Weber)
letters: i.e., word
P. to E.: C. P. to E. (F)
con: the reason against, as in pro and con
resolve: satisfy, inform
souse: a heavy blow or thump
wherret: A sharp blow, especially a box on the ear or slap on the face; cf. The Puritan IV.ii.
doust: a firm blow, a punch
bob: a blow with the fist, a firm rap
hemp-beaters: a person employed in beating the rotted stems of hemp, so as to detach the fiber
colic: properly severe stomach pains, but often used for mere flatulence; cf. The Family of Love V.i, Anything for a Quiet Life V.i.
table: tables (F)
drank: smoked; cf. The Roaring Girl II.i, The Shoemakers' Holiday III.ii.
coltsfoot: a common weed whose large spreading leaves were smoked to cure asthma; it seems that Galoshio's only reason for specifically mentioning it is the "foot" connection
swap: long or sweeping stroke
ave: hail (Lat.)
me: men (F)
bursten: past participle (obs.) of "burst", here referring back to "burstness"
Sheepsheads: either a dish made from the head of a sheep, or a large saltwater food fish related to the porgie
chaldrons: chawdrons, sauces consisting of chopped entrails, spices, and other ingredients
starch: in the form of a gummy liquid or paste
green woman: a woman suffering from green sickness, or chlorosis, an anemic disease affecting young women in puberty; Elizabethans attributed it to love-sickness; cf. The Family of Love V.iii, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside I.i, Hengist, King of Kent III.ii.
[Lord]: Cousen (F)
unbrac'd and untruss'd: without his doublet and with his clothes unfastened or loose; Elizabethan/Jacobean dramatists used this detail to indicate various things about the character, from his being mad to his just having risen from bed. Cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside II.iii, The Phoenix III.i, Your Five Gallants IV.ii, The Witch V.i, The Old Law II.i, The Puritan II.i, The Revenger's Tragedy II.ii.
diffusedly: disorderly, negligently; Henry V V.ii.
Those beasts are but a kind of bawdy forerunners: Coaches were popular places for love-making; cf. The Phoenix II.iii, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside III.iii, Your Five Gallants II.i, No Wit, No Help like a Woman's V.i, The Puritan II.i, The Revenger's Tragedy II.i, The Roaring Girl II.i, Hengist, King of Kent III.i.
brown baker: a baker of brown bread
Give me a nest of owls...twilight: "'The bird' means one of 'the owls' previously spoken of. In a note on the words in Hamlet, 'They say the owl was a baker's daughter', act iv. sc. 5, Douce gives the story...of the baker's daughter being transformed into an owl by our Saviour,--a story evidently alluded to in that passage, and, I believe, in the present one also" (Dyce).
neat-sitting: "The temptation to read 'neat-fitting' is strong, but the Folio term is probably correct, such a suit being the opposite of one that will 'Sit loose'" (Williams).
luxury: lechery; for its various forms (e.g., luxur, luxurious) cf. The Old Law I.i, No Wit, No Help like a Woman's IV.ii, The Revenger's Tragedy, passim.
[but]: out (F)
Hence, all you vain delights: Dyce provides an extended gloss comparing this song with Milton's Il Penseroso.
Lapet, at another door: at another doore Lapet (F)
woodcock: a bird easily trapped and hence a dupe; cf. The Witch II.iii, The Family of Love II.iv, the character Woodcock in Blurt, Master Constable, No Wit, No Help like a Woman's III.i, The Roaring Girl III.iii, Hengist, King of Kent V.i, Northward Ho! V.i.
bulk: carcass, dead body (obs.)
exhibition: maintenance, support
[Lord]: man (F)
truncheon: cudgel, short club
[PASSIONATE LORD]: He (F)
lousy: lice-ridden; cf. The Puritan I.ii, The Roaring Girl IV.ii.
Than he walks: than when he is walking
privy token: i.e., a sign of familiarity, which is his next sentence, said to Lapet
Shrove Tuesday bird: the Tuesday immediately preceding Ash Wednesday, often called pancake day, a time of feasting
crotchets: 1) whimsical fancy, 2) in music, symbol for a note of half the value of a minim
dry-beaten: beaten severely; cf. The Roaring Girl III.iii.
Had not above nine elbows amongst 'em all too: out at the elbows = have a coat worn out at the elbows, to be ragged, poor, in bad condition; cf. The Roaring Girl V.i, Hengist, King of Kent V.i.
left-handed: traditionally associated with dishonesty, hence the connotation of the word "sinister" today
Bridewells: Originally a palace given by Edward VI as a workhouse for the poor, Bridewell had degenerated to a prison for prostitutes; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside II.i, The Roaring Girl III.iii.
blood: disposition, temperament
Genoa: possibly evidence of rewriting, as most of the named characters have French names
to boot: for my gain in return
stripes: scars from whipping
forward of: aggressively committed to
Like a soul fetch'd again: cf. Constantius's withdraw from society in Hengist, King of Kent I.i.
parcel valiant: i.e., part of being valiant
[Exeunt the three other Gentlemen.]: Exit (F)
touch'd: tested (the fineness of gold was tested by rubbing it on a touchstone); cf. Your Five Gallants II.i, The Phoenix III.i, The Bloody Banquet III.i, Timon of Athens III.iii, The Revenger's Tragedy I.iii, Hengist, King of Kent IV.ii.
bravery: splendidly dressed gallant; cf. The Old Law II.i, The Witch II.i, Anything for a Quiet Life I.i, The Changeling II.ii, No Wit, No Help like a Woman's III.i, The Revenger's Tragedy I.i.
gambrell'd: spread and suspended by a hooked stick used by butchers
redounded: came back as a punishment to the giver
prigging: cant term for pilfering or haggling; cf. A Trick to Catch the Old One III.iii.
long chins: i.e., beards grown long, not clipped close like courtiers'
a gristle: bones, i.e., under-nourished; cf. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's I.i, The Witch I.ii.
eighty-eight: with the allusion to the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588
I shall be sure to find 'em...hang: "Mr. Chappell, in his Nat. English Airs...cites a passage from Sandys's Christmas Carols...which mentions that one sort of carols was 'of a more Scriptural or serious nature, sung in churches.... It was to this sort of carol that the term of 'suffering ballads' was probably applied.... The carol of Dives and Lazarus...is one of those still in print'" (Dyce).
I am glad I am got home again: As Dyce points out, the action has shifted from a chamber of the palace, to an outside place where La Nove would naturally run into the Gallant and the Plain Fellow, and finally to the front of Lapet's house.
All in Italica, your backward blows...hermaphrodite: A favorite joke of Middleton's is the Italian's supposed propensity to anal intercourse; cf. the similar pun in V.iii, More Dissemblers besides Women I.iv, Michaelmas Term III.i, A Game at Chess I.i.
pot-paper: a size of printing or writing paper, originally bearing the watermark of a pot
aqua vitae: liquor; cf. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's III.i, Hengist, King of Kent V.i, Romeo and Juliet III.ii, Blurt, Master Constable III.iii, Marston's The Malcontent V.i.
I'fecks: In faith
kickshaws: fancy dishes; cf. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's III.i.
blaze: 1) drive away by heat, 2) blazon, describe heraldically
gripes: grips, grasp; cf. Henry VIII V.iii.
Lammas: August 1, one of the four quarter-days which by custom marked off the quarters of the year. In England and Ireland the quarter-days are Lady Day (March 25), Midsummer Day (June 24), Michaelmas (Sept. 29), and Christmas (Dec. 25), but in Scotland they are Candlemas (Feb. 2), Whit-sunday (May 15), Lammas (Aug. 1), and Martinmas (Nov. 11). cf. Anything for a Quiet Life I.i.
peel-crow: pilcrow (obs.), or a mark indicating a paragraph
['im]: 'em (F)
picked: piked, i.e., holding pikes
Welsh bills: A bill is a pike with a pointed hook; cf. Blurt, Master Constable I.ii. Galoshio refers here specifically to the Welsh glaive, or halberd.
bona roba: wanton or courtesan, with which "souse" and "flops" are synonymous; cf. The Roaring Girl II.i, Blurt, Master Constable II.ii, 2 The Honest Whore I.i.
private house: private theaters, frequented by gallants
ell: a measure of length (in England, 45 inches), chiefly used in measuring cloth; cf. The Old Law IV.i, 2 Honest Whore II.ii, Anything for a Quiet Life II.ii, The Roaring Girl II.i.
China damask: a rich silk fabric imported from China, woven with elaborate designs and figures, with the pun on damask/rosy-cheeked, conjuring up the image of sexual license; cf. similar connections in The Bloody Banquet II.i, Love's Labours Lost V.ii, Twelfth Night II.iv.
long: longer (F). I have accepted the emendation of Dyce, who argued that "assuredly...these lines were intended to rhyme with each other." Williams, who retains the F reading, rejects this argument for a rhyming couplet, which "seems singularly out of place"--I agree--but the reason to emend lies in the fact that the Brother is speaking about Cupids in general, the "mere conceit" of love, whereas "longer" would be more appropriate when speaking about his sister's disguise in particular. As Williams mentions, the error probably resulted from the word "longer" three lines above.
lungs do tickle: for this phrase, cf. Hamlet II.ii.
[Ho]: oh, oh (F). Williams's rationale for emendation is reasonable: "(I) The pattern of Base's response in this song...is always 'ho' rather than 'oh'. The F spelling, which may reflect compositorial preference, is, therefore, normalized, following Dyce, since there seems to be no significance in the variation of the two spellings. (2) The number of syllables in Base's response regularly matches the number in his Master's line, with [one] single exception."
cambric: a kind of fine white linen, originally made at Cambray, France, or the clothing made from it; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside I.i, The Roaring Girl II.i.
rails: loose gowns
prickle: with the sexual innuendo; cf. The Old Law II.ii.
Democritus: Greek philosopher (b. c. 460 BC) who wrote about the natural sciences, mathematics, morals and music; Juvenal mentions his having laughed at the follies of mankind, and he is called the "laughing philosopher," as opposed to Heraclitus, the "melancholy philosopher."
fleerer: sneerer; cf. The Puritan I.iv.
[BASE].: Pas. (F)
Kicksey-buttock: probably a formation from kicksey-winsey, a fantastic device, a whim or erratic fancy; cf. kickshiwinshes in Nashe's Lenten Stuff.
Down-derry]: a ballad refrain and not a specific action directing the masquers to perform some kind of physical comedy
squelch'd: crushed; cf. A Game at Chess V.iii.
To make thyself but lucky to thy spoil: i.e., you act in ways that make your ruination your most likely fate
chirurgeon: surgeon (archaic); cf. The Roaring Girl III.i.
This is a beautiful life now: This scene, the only one in this play outside the influence of the court, sheds a striking light on Shamont's character and elucidates Middleton's critique of social codes. Whereas before he rigorously adhered to his own exaggeration of society's concept of honor, now Shamont revels in his freedom from it; and now that he has abandoned the very concept that defined his life, we can say that he in fact has no personal identity whatsoever. After La Nove's visit several lines later, we see that for Shamont the issue of returning to the court is not to be measured by his compassion for his brother or by an inherent and inflexible honor, but rather by the yardstick by which society will judge him. As he remarks, his departure from the court had a theatrical impact, one he is loath to negate by returning to make amends, proving that in a world ruled by social codes, appearance is everything. But ultimately this darker critical element yields to the joyful Fletcherian resolution, in which loose ends are tied, bad characters reformed, and everyone is magnanimously forgiven.
you may thank the moon too: i.e., because it has made many people crazy enough to buy it. The moon was believed to be the source of various maladies including lunacy, (being made mad by Luna, the moon); cf. The Witch IV.i, The Phoenix IV.i, The Changeling III.iii, The Revenger's Tragedy II.iii, The Roaring Girl V.ii, Hengist, King of Kent II.iii, The Winter's Tale II.ii.
company of stationers: The Stationers' and Newspaper Makers' Company was chartered in 1557 and controlled publication of books, which were registered at Stationers' Hall near Ludgate until 1911.
The Wise Masters: 'The Wise Masters of Rome...much admired by the lower class of readers" (Reed). The joke here is that Lapet is comparing his book to a list of others that would be seen as "low-brow" but popular, just the kind of best-seller that the stationers would be eager to control financially.
almanacs: For the background on almanacs, cf. my notes to No Wit, No Help like a Woman's.
The Hundred Novels: A Hundred Merry Tales, a jest-book
The Book of Cookery: "What particular cookery-book is meant here, it would be useless to inquire" (Dyce). The point is that it's mass-market.
The Carpenter: "Is the allusion to A little Tractate, entituled The Carpenter, which is appended to a work by Henoch Clapham called Theological Axioms or Conclusions, &c. 1597?" (Dyce).
Ajax Telamon: Ajax, son of Telamon, but the pun is on "a jakes," i.e., toilet; cf. Love's Labours Lost V.ii.
Herring: Nashe's Lenten Stuff, containing the Description and first Procreation and Increase of the town of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, With a New Play, never played before, of the praise of the Red Herring, &c. (1599) by Thomas Nashe (1567-1601), prose satirist (to the right, a print of him under arrest)
Fisher's Folly: Fisher's Folly unfolded, or the Vaunting Jesuit's Vanity discovered in a challenge of his (by him proudly made, but on his part poorly performed)... by the Puritan George Walker. According to Dyce, this was first printed in 1624, which seems to indicate that at least this allusion was a later addition to The Nice Valour.
Pasquill: the pen-name of Nashe
Mad-Caps: Pasquil's Mad-Cap (1600) by Nicholas Breton (?1555-1626)
The Duello: The Duello, or Single Combat (1610) by John Selden (1584-1654), historian and antiquarian
at sharp: i.e., with sharp weapons
They use to shake me off at the chamber door still: an allusion to the origin of his name
[suitor]: sister (F); same emendation in the next line
decay'd: fallen from prosperity; cf. Touchwood Sr. in A Chaste Maid in Cheapside and Low-water in No Wit, No Help like a Woman's
He's not the man: i.e., he's not the man he was
[were]: was (F)
that cure: the terms upon which the duke was reconciled with Shamont
labour'd: i.e., a product of hard labor